It occurred to Apollonia while she was talking to Harry about George that the Dursleys had not yet been released from the Fidelius Charm that protected them for the last year when they was forced to go into hiding for their own protection. Close to a week had passed since Harry destroyed Voldemort, thus saving the Wizarding World from the tyranny that Voldemort would have inflicted upon them, and this was, without a doubt, one of the things that needed to be dealt with now that the war was over. The Dursleys never liked dealing with magic, yet they were forced to deal with it for a year due to their connection to Harry. Unfortunately, the only one who ever cared anything about her and Harry was Dudley, and that was really all thanks to something Harry did for him close to three years ago.
Eventually, Harry needed to talk to Dudley. It had to happen at some point. The fact that Harry and Dudley made some attempt at trying to become friends meant that Apollonia was doing the right thing. Dudley cared about them, whether his parents did or not. In the last sixteen months, Apollonia and Dudley had been in contact with one another, trying to make it so that things would be better for everyone. Apollonia felt that it would be better if Harry had someone in his family in his corner, someone who was willing to support Harry no matter what happened; whether it was Dudley or Petunia. Though, in all honesty, it was better for Harry if Dudley was the one to support Harry; and, thanks to Apollonia’s support, that became a reality, at least for a little while. Petunia would not be willing to do that, not with how uncomfortable she was around her and Harry. So, Dudley was the best person for the job; he was willing to help Apollonia, so he might be willing to help Harry.
Apollonia had no clue as to how she was going to go about letting Harry and Dudley reconnect. While Dudley was willing to reconnect with his cousin, Harry wanted nothing to do with his aunt, uncle, and cousin. He went through years of abuse by the Dursleys’ hand; she heard about it from Harry, and had it confirmed by Dudley. And, even though Dudley had a hand in the abuse inflicted upon Harry, he was willing to change; a fact that Apollonia needed to prove to Harry. But, she didn’t know how she was going to do that.
It wasn’t until the following morning, while she was eating breakfast; that Apollonia came up with an idea. And, even then, she wasn’t sure if it was even going to work. Before Harry would have the chance to leave, Apollonia apparated out to the Burrow and pulled her brother with her. She ignored the yelling from Ron and disapparated out to the location of the Dursley safe house, Harry in tow. “What are we doing in a barren field?” he asked.
“Oh, yeah; you don’t know that any of this happened. It occurred during the seven Potters escape, the night that George lost his ear,” Apollonia remembered. “Mr. Weasley and I had to place the Fidelius around this place. It was the only way that things would remain safe.” She was careful to avoid that this was the place where the Dursley were staying; Apollonia brought him here without giving him a reason for all of this. And, she couldn’t reveal that Dudley was here, not with Harry’s attitude about this. She pulled out her wand and pointed at the area in which Harry referred to a barren field. “Fidelius finite.” The house appeared to Harry and Apollonia turned to her brother, trying to explain things to him before he exploded upon discovering that this was the Dursley safe house. “I need you to come with me, Harry. Just trust me on this, okay? I know exactly what I’m doing.”
“How can I believe that?” Harry asked.
“Because Harry, I wouldn’t have pulled you out of there unless I had a good reason for it,” Apollonia answered. Yeah, because you need to have a talk with Dudley about everything he’s done over the last year to help me keep what’s left of our family intact. It’s because of him that Vernon and Petunia are even in hiding. “Now, come on; we need to go in.”
“Why was this place under the Fidelius?” Harry wondered.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Apollonia replied, hoping to avoid the real reason for this. If he knew, there was really no telling of the argument that might occur. Yelling had to be kept to a minimum, especially when Vernon realized that this was happening. Can’t do it. Can’t let something like that happen. “Now, come on, Harry. I’m not letting you leave until this is done.”
“No,” she argued, knocking on the door to the Dursley safe house. Please be Dudley. Please be Dudley. If it was Vernon or Petunia, an argument was sure to break out.
It was to Apollonia’s immense relief that a blond young man opened the door; Dudley. Although, the Slytherin barely recognized it as her cousin, for he had lost a lot of weight, especially between when Harry left and now. The only reason Apollonia knew that it was him was because she had visited at intervals between now and then. I wonder if Harry would even recognize Dudley, she thought wickedly. “You know, you might not really want to be here, Apollonia. Mum and Dad could see you. And, you know what happens every time that happens.”
“I do,” the Slytherin nodded. “However, I think they might want to hear this. Have you heard anything from Hestia or Dedalus?” Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle were witch and wizard who stayed here on a regular basis, since it was impossible for anyone else to do so. The last time Apollonia had contact with either if them was when she told them the secret.
“You’re the only one who tells me anything,” Dudley reminded her. “Mum and Dad made it seem as if none of them cared about what happened there, why we’ve been here since late July.”
“I thought so,” Apollonia mused. “Well, the war is over. It has been for the last week. It’s time for you guys to return home. It should be safe for the moment. I don’t think any Death Eaters would risk going back there to take revenge on Harry for anything.”
“And, that’s why Harry is here?” he asked.
“Kind of,” Apollonia replied.
“What’s going on here?” Harry asked.
“Funny you should ask that, Harry,” his sister laughed. She quickly turned to her cousin and whispered something to him: “Harry and I were able to work things out after he finished everything. He knows that I’m his sister.” Seeing as she informed Dudley of what was going on, at least what she was allowed to—what helped convince Vernon and Petunia to go into hiding—she might as well tell Dudley that the fight between her and Harry was resolved.
“Well, that’s good,” he said. “Now, what about us?”
“I’m working on that,” she assured her cousin.
“Is it going to work?” Dudley wondered.
“We’re about to find out,” she muttered.
Harry looked between Apollonia and Dudley for a moment before settling his attention on Apollonia. “Exactly what is going on here? Why did you take me here?” he questioned.
She shrugged. “I needed to break the Fidelius.”
“You could have done that without me,” he scowled.
“Oh, I know,” Apollonia said brightly. “I just needed to make you aware of something. I doubt you’ve even thought about any of this. Harry, you may not even believe this, but I’m talking to Dudley.”
“Talking to Dudley?” he asked.
“Caught you off-guard there, did I?” she laughed.
“No shit!” Harry grumbled. “He’s nice to you!”
“Well of course,” Apollonia said, somewhat obviously. It seemed as if Harry never noticed what was going on during the summer she spent time there. Harry must have been annoyed by the fact that she was even there, so that he completely tuned out anything that she might have been doing during the holiday. “Didn’t you ever wonder why I was usually spending time with Dudley last summer? I distanced myself from you after what happened between Dad and Dumbledore, instead spending time with Dudley. I actually got pretty close to him because of that, what with me trying to help him strike some sort of friendship with you. He was feeling guilty about how he treated you in the past.”
“You’re joking,” Harry insisted.
“No, I’m not,” she replied.
“So, you were helping Dudley will all those attempts?” Harry asked skeptically. Apollonia nodded. “I wondered why Dudley wasn’t bothering me all that much during the summer; you were with him. Except for that stupid tea cup I stepped on at the end of July, there was nothing.”
“You’re welcome,” Apollonia smirked. “Though, you shouldn’t have stepped on it. Dudley was really trying to make a nice gesture towards you, one that you rejected. Weren’t you, Dudley?”
Dudley looked over. “Uh, yeah.”
Harry looked over at Dudley. “I didn’t think you had it in you, Big D. You actually being nice to your relatives? Who would’ve thunk it?” With that, he apparated away.
Once Harry was gone, as Apollonia expected him to do at some point, the Slytherin turned back to her cousin. “That’s a slight improvement,” she noted. “Not much, but it is an improvement.” Apollonia doubted that she would have much luck in trying to convince Harry that Dudley was trying to change his ways. But, she had to try. It was for the best. Apollonia could not be the only family member that Harry ever had contact with; it would do well for him to be able to confide in Dudley as well, especially given his knowledge—and tolerance—of magic. She looked at her cousin. “Now, why don’t we see if we can’t convince Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon to go back to Privet Drive?”
“You know they’ll jump at the chance,” Dudley said.
“Of course,” Apollonia smirked.
The sight of Dudley Dursley being nice to both him and Apollonia was slightly unsettling for Harry. He spent years – most of his life actually – under the assumption that the Dursleys would never change; that there would never be an instance in which they would ever be nice to Harry. But, Dudley proved him wrong, and that freaked Harry out quite a bit. All preconceptions about his family, at least the ones about Dudley, were thrown out the window with this one unexpected act.
“What was that about?” Ginny asked.
“Later,” Harry muttered, not wanting to deal with it at the moment. None of the Weasley ever really understood the issue that Harry had with the Dursleys. No, that certainly wasn’t true; Ron, Fred, and George rescued him from the cruelty that was the Dursleys. So, maybe George might understand and accept what Harry was going through. It seemed fairly obvious that Ron never would, so he would have to try George; if that was at all possible. “I’d rather not discuss it.”
“It shouldn’t even have happened!” Ron yelled.
Harry shook his head as Ron started cutting into Apollonia, for what seemed like the millionth time this week. And, yet again, George was the one to help Harry defend her. While this was occurring, Harry caught Hermione’s eye. She was shaking her head at what Ron was doing, at the fact that Ron still held onto such bigoted views. It was annoying her as well as Harry and George. Two more days, Harry thought. Just two more days until the Malfoy trial and Apollonia should be able to prove herself. He only hoped that might be enough.
While he was thinking about this—well, it was more like drowning out the now usual occurrence that was George yelling at his younger brother about the way that Ron was treating Apollonia—it occurred to Harry that there was a part of him that was doing the same thing to Dudley. There was a part of Harry that couldn’t seem to let go of the image he held of Dudley for so long. How could Dudley have changed so much, and Harry didn’t notice? If he ever got the chance to speak with his sister again, and he really didn’t know if he would, Harry would have to ask Apollonia about it; to find out what affected Dudley to such a degree.
It did not take Apollonia long to get the Dursleys to come with her to Privet Drive. So, Apollonia headed to Surrey for a few minutes to break the Fidelius over the Dursley home. Upon sensing that wave of magic that was the Fidelius crash around her, Apollonia returned to the Dursley safe house and informed everyone that the Dursleys could go home. Vernon and Petunia were ecstatic at the news, at the thought of getting away from the magic they despised so much and return to their normal lives, but it appeared as if Dudley was hesitant about going back. It made Apollonia wonder what happened while she was not around. How had her relatives fared in the safe house while she was at Hogwarts or the Burrow? She would have to ask Dudley about that when they were was more time.
“Freak! How long until we’re home?” Vernon barked.
“If we’re driving, a few hours. If I use magic, two minutes,” Apollonia informed her uncle with a smirk. “And, if I were you, I wouldn’t be calling your protector a freak. I might just leave you here.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” Petunia yelled.
“I would!” Apollonia yelled. “Unlike Harry, I won’t stand for the use of the term freak, especially when you use it to denote those of magical blood. What if Dudley was a wizard?”
“That would never happen!” Petunia insisted, glaring at Apollonia menacingly. “My precious Dudders would never be contaminated with same plague that infected my sister.”
“A plague! A contamination!” she yelled angrily. “Is that really what you think of the magic that Mum, Harry, and I have?” The more Aunt Petunia spoke out against magic, the more infuriated Apollonia became with the woman that was supposed to be her aunt. Was she really this callous about something as beautiful as magic? While it was true that magic ultimately killed Lily Potter, that didn’t mean that magic was as terrible as Petunia Dursley thought.
“Of course!” Petunia shrieked.
“I cannot believe you!” Apollonia screamed at her aunt. “She’s your sister; your blood! Surely Dumbledore told you why Harry was sent to live with you. I’m sure he did; the old man would not have sent Harry to you without explaining anything to you.” Although, Apollonia definitely would have preferred that Harry come to live with her instead of the Dursleys. Anything less was than that should not have happened all those years ago; Harry was her blood, and she would have been able to protect Harry just as well as Petunia and Dudley were able to.
“Oh, he told us all right!” she grumbled. “Didn’t let us forget it.”
“Then why would you even think of treating Harry the way that you did! Locking him in a cupboard! Making him do all the chores as a way of earning room and board! It’s bloody well ridiculous!” Apollonia screamed, finally able to let out all of her frustration out on what Petunia and Vernon made Harry live through. “I can’t believe that you would ever think to do that to Harry, a boy who lost his parents when he was fifteen months. He was eleven before he knew love, all thanks to you pampering – spoiling – your son and neglecting your nephew.”
“Dudley deserves pampering!” Petunia insisted.
“No, he certainly doesn’t,” Apollonia warned.
Everyone turned to Dudley and looked at him expectantly. Apollonia was fairly sure that Dudley would side with her, especially after the Dementor incident that occurred before fifth year. It changed him in a rather profound way, of which Apollonia was truly thankful for. Otherwise, Apollonia really would be the only family member that Harry could ever count on. She didn’t want that for Harry; she didn’t want to her brother to ever deal with the possibility that he might lose the only family he had left. Once again, Apollonia looked at her cousin, hoping that he might be able to help the young Slytherin. Dudley nodded at her slightly. “Mum, Dad, she’s right; Harry deserved much better than we ever gave him. I don’t know why I never noticed it before; it was so obvious.”
“But…but…but…” Petunia sputtered.
“Like I said,” Apollonia smirked. “Pampering to the point where he could barely do anything and neglect to the point of starvation. That’s what you’ve done to those in your care. And, I’m not about to stand for it. How you two ever had kids is beyond me.” If there was one thing that Apollonia could do for Harry, it was getting rid of Petunia and Vernon; they needed to be reprimanded for what they did. She turned to her cousin. “Dudley, your birthday; when is it?”
“June 23rd,” he replied.
“Right, so I have about a month to explain all of this,” she mused. In the Muggle world, it would not be until Harry was eighteen that he was considered an adult. She had a slim chance that any of this could work, to speak with Child Welfare about everything the Dursleys did to Harry. I might be able to use the Ministry for that. I’ll have to look into it.
“Explain what?” Vernon barked.
Apollonia smirked. “What you did to Harry compared to the way that you treated Dudley. I’m sure that someone would be interested to know that you treated the two children under your care in two completely different ways; I don’t think they would appreciate it very much, especially those in the magical community. Dudley was treated much like his Uncle James while Harry was treated much like my father. You went the two extremes, rather than settling for somewhere in the middle. Harry is the most famous wizard of the age, destroyed the most feared wizard at the age of fifteen months, and just a week ago. I truly doubt that anyone in the Wizarding World—whether you care about what they think or not—would take too kindly to the fact that you neglected, abused their savior. They’ll want justice to be served on those who would do that to Harry, something I will make sure happens.”
“Why would you do that?” Petunia asked.
“Why?” she scoffed. “Well, first things first; you should know! You grew up with my father and ignored what Mum did not! Dad was abused, in much the same way that you abused Harry. Which is even worse in my book. My grandfather was abusive while my grandmother was a workaholic. Petunia, you were around during the day; you could have easily treated Dudley and Harry as equals. But, you didn’t. You thought it was appropriate for Harry to be treated differently from Dudley. And now you’re going to pay for that.”
“You wouldn’t!” Petunia shrieked.
“But, the thing is, I would,” Apollonia hissed. “Dudley here has at least tried to make up with Harry for everything that happened. It was the attack on Harry and Dudley three years ago that helped with that one. But, the two of you; well, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. It’s like you have no remorse!” The Slytherin refused to stand for what was done; they were going to pay for trying to destroy Harry in such a way. I really need to go down to the Ministry and get this settled. It’s the only way. Now that there’s no need for them to stay protected, what with Voldemort gone, they can be prosecuted for what they’ve done.
So, once Apollonia and the others deposited the Dursleys back at Number Four Privet Drive, she slipped into a secluded area and apparated to the Ministry. It had to work. If Harry was ever going to get the Dursleys off his back, whether he was ever going back there or not, then this was the only possible way to do it. Upon reaching the atrium, the Slytherin went through security and headed up to see Kingsley. Though it probably would have worked out better if she went to the Aurors, Apollonia thought Kingsley might work better, as he was familiar with the situation. It might be easier to work with them.
It was several minutes before Apollonia reached the Minister’s office. She breathed a sigh of relief when she reached it and knocked on the door. “Who’s there?” Kingsley called, not bothering to look up from some paperwork he was looking over at the moment.
“That would be me,” Apollonia announced.
“Ms. Snape!” Kingsley exclaimed, looking up.
“Apollonia is fine, Minister,” she insisted.
“If I’m permitted to address you so informally, you might wish to do the same with him,” Kingsley suggested. “Your brother does the same. Now, what brings you to my office?”
“My brother,” she replied.
“Your brother?” the Minister asked.
The Slytherin nodded. “I just went to take down the Fidelius from the Dursley safe house and Privet Drive. And, while I was telling my aunt and uncle about their impending return home, it occurred to me that maybe the Ministry should do something about what they did to Harry. It was never done before because of the blood wards and then the war against Voldemort. Now there’s no reason for the Dursleys to really be protected for their neglect of Harry,” Apollonia explained, hoping that Kingsley might be able to do something about this. If anyone in the Ministry—or more accurately, someone with a position in the Ministry that could help her with the situation at hand—would understand what she was trying to do for her brother, it would be Kingsley. He spent time around the Dursleys, however brief a time that might have been, and might be of use to the young Slytherin. But, she was intent on trying this, to make the Dursleys understand what they did.
“Isn’t that something that the Aurors should take care of, young lady?” the Minister asked. “Yes, I think that would be best. I’ll just let them know you’re coming down.”
Before Kingsley was able to get a letter written to the Aurors, Apollonia stopped him. “I came to you for a reason, Kingsley. I know perfectly well that this is a matter that might be better suited to the Aurors; however, you understand the sensitivity of the issue. It involves my brother—the savior of the Wizarding World—and our aunt and uncle; the fewer people who know of this, the better. I want a complaint filed against Vernon and Petunia Dursley for abusing the boy-who-lived throughout much of his childhood. And, it has to be done discreetly, so that no one catches wind of what Harry suffered through. That’s why I came to you, because you already have knowledge of this through the Order.”
Kingsley looked at her. “Yes, I suppose that’s true.”
“So, I’m going to need your help, Kingsley. I need a team assembled, so that they can deal with my aunt’s and uncle’s abhorrent behavior towards Harry, and even myself. And, it doesn’t even matter how this takes. I just need to get it started, so that it can be discussed once the Ministry is up and running again,” Apollonia explained. “If Harry is ever to be free of the Dursleys for good, this has to be started now; to be finished once most of the Death Eaters have been rounded up.” She wanted this to work so much; it had to work.
“I will see what I can do for you and Mr. Potter,” Kingsley assured her. “I have seen what Vernon and Petunia Dursley are like. Now, if that is all, I will see you in two days time.”
“Two days?” she asked, before realizing what it was that Kingsley meant. “Oh, yeah. The Malfoy trials.” Apollonia was kind of busy with a few other things to worry about what Draco was going through. It simply slipped her mind. “Yes, I’ll be there to support them.”
“I’d expect nothing less,” Kingsley said.
Upon holding the discussion about the Dursleys with Kingsley, Apollonia returned to Shell Cottage unsure if she would be able to deal with the Dursleys in such a way. Given all that Kingsley had to do in the coming months to reestablish the Ministry as a place that could be trust to protect the Wizarding World, rather than harm it as Voldemort’s Ministry attempted, it was unlikely that the Dursley case would even get touched until at least Christmas. Kingsley needed to reverse all the Voldemort Ministry-approved initiatives before anything could be done about Harry’s childhood suffering at the Dursleys’ hands.
“Did you get what you needed done?” Bill asked when she got back.
“Sort of,” she shrugged, not wanting to say anything more. Until she could be sure that her idea was going to work, Apollonia was going to keep this quiet. Best not get anyone’s hopes up. But, at least there was a plan in place to deal with it. All she had to do was wait for the most opportune time in which to spring this news on Vernon and Petunia Dursley.