Chapter 2 : Chapter 2: Not so Normal
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5:45 a.m. Dudley groaned as he looked at his alarm clock, tired and not to mention groggy. Who on earth wakes up at 5:45 in the morning? And not just any morning, but on a Saturday morning no less?
That's when he was reminded of the date by the circled day on the calendar in his bedroom. It wasn't just any Saturday morning, but it was the Saturday morning.
May 25th. To any other family, just another day, But to the Dursleys…
Will's birthday, Dudley thought in a sleep-induced haze before reaching over and laying a hand on Diane's shoulder. "Diane, wake up…"
A groan was the only response he got from his wife, but Dudley knew that his wife was awake. Even while half awake, he knew that groan could be translated to 'Why on earth are you trying to wake me up at such an ungodly hour?'
"It's the 25th Diane. Will's-" Unfortunately Dudley wasn't able to finish his sentence when the sound of footsteps were heard, much heavier and faster than Marigold's, which could only mean…
"He wouldn't…" Diane muttered from under their comforter.
The racing footsteps made their way down the hall, gaining speed.
Dudley groaned, "He would."
And he did. Just as Dudley's alarm clock hit 5:47 a.m., William made his grand entrance into his parent's room, which included him making a flying leap onto his parent's bed, just as he had for as long as anyone could remember. Both Diane and Dudley hoped every year that on his birthday that Will would decide that he was too old to jump on his parent's bed at dawn and alert the entire neighborhood that he was a whole year older, that maybe one year, he would decide to just sleep in.
Unfortunately, Will had decided that he liked his self made tradition.
"It's my birthday! Happy Birthday to me! I'm 11 now, I'm 11!" Will laughed joyously, bouncing with every word he shouted. Dudley groaned at every bounce and Diane hid under the covers, trying to hide from her son.
"William, can't you be like normal boys and sleep in on a Saturday morning?" Dudley said half jokingly as he sat up, just as William plopped down next to him.
Will only grinned, "No way dad! I'll never be normal! What's so special about being normal?"
A muffled response caused both Dursley men to look over at Diane.
"I'm sorry sweetheart, what was that?" Dudley looked at Will, trying not to grin.
Diane poked her head out of the covers, her short brown hair mused up with bed head, "I said 'Normal people get to sleep in', but what do I know? I don't get to sleep in."
At this, both blonde's laughed. "Aww, I'm sorry mum." Will tried to say with a straight face, but Diane didn't buy it.
"William Jeremiah Dursley, don't you every lie to my face like that." Diane put on her best stern face, but it melted quickly as she watched her son, "Now come here so I can give you your birthday kiss." Ah yes, the birthday kiss. It was Diane's own tradition, one that Dudley swears was revenge for Will waking her up on her days off, but he knew better than to question his wife.
"Mum! Do I have to?" The smaller blonde wrinkled his nose, but made his way over to his mother. Dudley stifled a laugh as Diane gave Will a sloppy wet kiss on his son's cheek. "Yuck! It's wet!" Will grimaced, scrubbing to get his mothers kiss off his cheek.
"Well, if that's how you're going to be, than I guess I'll just give the rest to your father." Diane smirked, leaning over to peck Dudley on the lips. "Good morning." She said with a soft smile.
Dudley smiled in return, "Good morning to you too."
"ZOO!" All three Dursleys sitting on the bed turned to look at Marigold, who had woken up during all the commotion. Giggling, Mari climbed up next to her brother, "We're going to the zoo!"
How could Dudley have forgotten? Will had asked that they take a few of his friends to the zoo with him for the day before having cake and ice cream with his parents back at their house. Oh the irony…Dudley mused, not sure if irony was even the proper name for the situation. Perhaps a coincidence…
Or an omen.
"Come on dad! I want to see the snakes!" Will laughed at Dudley, who was walking behind them at a slower pace than normal.
Dudley looked up from his ice cream and at his son, "You run ahead, I'll catch up!" Of course, Will didn't need to be told twice, running with his friends Andrew Monroe and Luke Redtree. Dudley watched as his son ran off, lost in his own memories. It seemed like it was only yesterday that he was 11, back when he thought he owned the world.
A shudder ran down the blonde's spine at the thought.
"Dudley?" Diane looked at him, aware of his uncharacteristic behavior. "Is the ice cream not agreeing with you? I told you that the high fructose corn syrup would only make you sick."
Dudley shook his head, "No, it's not that. Come on; let's catch up to the boys." He gave his wife his best smile, and to his relief, she smiled back.
"Alright then, I'm sure Mari's absolutely tormenting them in there." She laughed as they made their way into the reptile house. The moment she saw her daughter in her little brown plaits, Diane made her way over to her, careful to let the boys have their space.
Meanwhile, Dudley watched as William marveled at the various reptiles, especially the large snakes.
Just like Harry did…
The older Dursley male paused. This was the second time in two days that his thoughts had been drawn to Harry, more than Dudley had thought about him after he met Diane. Perhaps it was the fact that he was in the same place that seemed to landmark Harry's…ability.
Am I so afraid to say it? Dudley mused. Surely he wasn't still scared of the cousin that saved his life…was he? No, I'm not…alright then…magic, there, I said it… Surprisingly, he didn't feel as disgusted at the forbidden 'm word' as his parents had led him to believe. Sure, it was unnatural and should be impossible, but according to science, bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly, yet they do. Does that make bumblebees magical?
At this thought, Dudley couldn't help but smile as his hand touched the python exhibit. The glass was cold, and he could see various fingerprints and smudges from guests past, but he could also see his own reflection. The last time he had been there, he was yelling at the lazy snake to move, only to abandon the cold blooded animal in search of something with more instant gratification. But Harry didn't. Harry stayed behind, even tried to talk to the python.
Probably just wanted to talk to someone, even if it was a snake… At this, Dudley felt a knot tighten in his gut at the horrible treatment of his cousin. How Harry managed to remain sane was beyond him…well, as sane as talking to a snake could be.
But something else about that day stuck out in Dudley's memory. That was the day he learned that there are stronger things that physical strength. Even when he felt like losing his temper, he would always remember how he shoved Harry out of the way to see the then-moving python. Harry had in turn not raised his voice or his fist, but had simply made the glass vanish. Dudley might have been bigger, but Harry was definitely stronger. Strength didn't come from muscles…
Dudley started, surprised by the sudden calling of his 'name'. The older blonde looked away from his reflection and turned towards his son.
"Come on dad, Grandma and Grandpa are waiting for us at home for cake and ice cream!" Will's eyes were bright and full of life. Dudley could only smile at them.
"Alright, alright, I'm coming." Dudley laughed before following his son to the car.
"There's my Darling William!" Petunia Dursley cooed, almost crushing the small blonde in a massive hug as they arrived from dropping off Andrew and Luke. The Dursley family had hardly made it into their own house before Dudley's mother had rushed to greet her only grandson. To his credit, Will tried not to squirm too much as his grandmother almost squeezed the life out of him.
"Grandma!" Will laughed, "Let me go, I can't breathe." Dudley watched as his son expertly moved from his grandmother's arms, still smiling as Vernon Dursley clapped him soundly on the back.
"William my boy, it's good to see you grow one step closer into becoming a man." The oldest Dursley man said gruffly, adding his own chuckle. William smiled the best he could, having heard the same greeting from his grandfather for as long as he could remember. Diane shared a look with Dudley, obviously sharing Will's train of thought.
Mari was the one to break up the grandparent greeting party, "I want cake!"
Diane lit up, eager to divert her in-laws attention, "Yes, cake sounds delicious right about now. I'll just go get it from the kitchen. Why don't you all go into the dining room to wait?" Her voice was almost too chipper to Dudley's ears as she made her way into the kitchen. Without a second thought, he followed her.
"You sound eager to get out of the room." Dudley joked; kissing his wife's cheek as she carefully frosted the cake she had baked earlier.
Diane looked at him sheepishly, "I'm sorry Dudley, I try my best, but your parents are..."
"Overbearing?" The blonde offered, stealing a sample of the frosting, "Mmm, Will really does like the chocolate, doesn't he?"
This action only received him a firm swat on his hand, "Stop that! And as for your parents, I was going to use the term suffocating, but that's a good word too." Diane's brow furrowed, "The frosting is melting, Dudley could you open the window?"
Dudley nodded, reaching over to open the kitchen window, facing the dining room. "Is that better, darling?"
Blue eyes narrowed at him, but all in good humor, "Why yes my Diddykins, thank you so very much." A grin spread across her lips as Dudley groaned.
"I wish my mother had never told you that nickname, it's embarrassing." At this, Diane laughed.
"Whatever you say, Big D." Dudley shook his head as his wife's nimble hands frosted the cake with a calm ease that not even his mother had ever managed to have. Before he knew it, his son's cake was wonderfully frosted and had 11 blue candle's standing straight up. "Shall we wish our son a happy birthday?" Diane said with a sweet smile, the smile that Dudley had fallen in love with.
"Of course, lead the way." Diane rolled her eyes as Dudley picked up Will's cake and proceeded to carry it to the dining room, where his son was being questioned by Dudley's father about his lack of sports while Marigold sat awkwardly in her grandmother's lap. In the background, Dudley could see the small pile of presents his parents had brought. He silently prayed they hadn't tried to match the number of presents he got for his 11th birthday.
Honestly, what child needs 37 gifts? There couldn't possibly have been 37 things I had wanted… Dudley tried not to roll his eyes at his younger self's greed and focused on the present, and more importantly, his children.
"Grandmaaaaa, I can sit in my own chair!" Mari whined, trying to get into her own chair. Dudley chuckled.
"Mum, could you take a picture of Will with his cake? I need a few of the whole family with him." He could have sworn he heard Mari give a sigh of relief when his mother set the 9 year old girl down to take Dudley's camera.
Will frowned, "Do we have to?" Diane leaned forward to whisper something in her son's ear, but Dudley didn't hear it. But whatever she said made William's attitude make a complete turnaround, smiling brightly for his grandmother as Dudley moved beside his wife behind his son, who was seated at the head of the table. Mari tugged on her father's trouser leg.
"Daddy, pick me up!" Dudley smiled at his daughter before taking her into his arms. His little girl's eyes seemed to brighten as she hugged her father.
Meanwhile, Dudley's own mother beamed from behind the camera, "My precious little Diddykins and his family!" She cooed as the camera flashed several times, taking multiple pictures. It seemed every time anyone made any movement, it justified 10 more pictures.
"Grandma! I want to blow out my candles before they melt all over the cake!" Will finally exclaimed after 15 minutes of Petunia taking photo after photo.
Pursing her lips, Petunia finally set the camera down as Diane started singing,
"Happy Birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear William
Happy Birthday to you!"
Dudley was content not to try and sing with the rest of his family, but rather listen to his wife standing next to him. The only other time he got to hear her sing was when she was in the shower, but that was a secret he'd never tell.
"Make a wish Will!" Dudley urged his son, grinning from ear to ear.
Eager to please his father, William took a deep breath and, after a moment or so to ponder his wish, blew out the candles. Each and every one.
But before Dudley and his family could cheer, another noise filled the room. A noise Dudley hadn't heard in years.
The rustling of feathers.
In an instant, Dudley's eyes darted to the window that he had opened just minutes before just in time to see a barn owl swoop in, startling everyone at the party. The bird seemed only to flap around the room for a few moments, dropping feathers over the room before flying back out.
There was a moment of silence. Before Diane started laughing, "My goodness! I guess I shouldn't leave that window open anymore! What a shock, wouldn't you say Dudley? ...Dudley?"
Unfortunately for Diane, Dudley wasn't paying the least bit of attention to his wife. It seemed that the bird had dropped more than feathers in the room.
Vernon Dursley was turning bright red; while Petunia Dursley was turning stark white. But Dudley could swear that he felt his heart stop as he saw the letter sticking straight out of his son's birthday cake.
A letter written in emerald ink.
Suddenly Dudley Dursley's life wasn't so normal anymore.
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