Chapter 21 : Chapter 21
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Dudley Dursley opened the front door of Number 4, Privet Drive, to admit his cousin, Harry Potter and his fiancée Ginny Weasley. They went into the living room and as they passed the dining table Harry noticed a large chart. He stopped to examine it.
“What’s this then Dud?” he asked.
“That’s my family tree,” he said, “Susie got me interested in it. She has traced her family back to 1271. It’s fascinating once you get started. I’ve only got back to 1780 so far.”
“Actually Dudley, we share the same grandparents on our mother’s side, so part of this is my family tree as well.
“Yeah, that’s right. When it’s finished I’ll make you a copy, if you like. Just the bits relevant to you of course.”
“Thanks, I think I’d like that.” They turned around as Petunia entered the room.
“Hello Harry, Jenny, How are you?” Harry shook her hand.
“Fine thanks, Aunt Petunia, and it’s Ginny not Jenny.” Harry’s correction was gentle.
“Of course it is. I’m so sorry my dear.” she said to Ginny,
“No problem, Mrs. Dursley.”
“Please call me Petunia. Please sit.” Ginny agreed. They made small talk for a few minutes before Petunia got down to business.
“Now Harry, I wanted to tell you about your mother. The first time I noticed anything unusual about her I was about seven or eight years old. Lily would have been five or six. She and I were sitting at a table doing some drawing and colouring. Lily was always a bit untidy, her pencils and crayons were spread about in front of her. Mine were all in my pencil box. I wanted a dark orange crayon but I couldn’t find one in my box. There was one on the table but it was out of my reach, so I asked Lily to pass it to me. She carried on drawing, I saw her reach out for the crayon and when her hand was three or four inches from it, it seemed to jump into her fingers. I asked her how she had done it, but she didn’t know what I was talking about, she didn’t believe me. She had no idea what she had done. I asked her for another crayon. She passed one but she had to pick it up.”
“Over the next few years there were other instances. It took me a long time to notice that it only seemed to happen when she wasn’t thinking about what she was doing, like the first time when she continued drawing. Then one night in the room we shared, she reached out to switch off the bedside lamp and before she touched it there was a click and the light went out. She screamed and Mum and Dad came in to see what was wrong. Lily explained what had happened, they calmed her down.” Harry frowned,
“That happened to me too. I thought I had imagined it, but I’m sure that my bedside light went out before I touched it. I’m sorry Aunt Petunia, please carry on.”
“Well once Lily had calmed down, they made to leave the room I saw a look pass between them. I knew instantly that they had seen Lily do odd things as well. I thought Lily would forget about it but she didn’t. She started to try to make things happen. It was not long before she succeeded, and then she began to become more and more adventurous. She tormented me at times, always moving things that I was reaching for, but I don’t think there was any malice in it. Lily just thought it was amusing. To tell you the truth Harry, I tried to do similar thing as well, in secret of course, but nothing ever worked for me. The next thing was that the Snape boy turned up. What a horrible creature he was.”
“He may have been a horrible person, Aunt Petunia, but I owe him my life several times over. He was killed during the troubles in our world. I didn’t like him as a person either, and he didn’t like me, but after my mother was killed he made a promise to help Dumbledore to protect me. I was unaware of the promise until shortly before his death, but he kept that promise until the day he died. Some of the things he did for me took a great deal of courage, and for that he has my respect and admiration.”
“Why would he promise something like that?”
“Because almost from the time he met her until his death, he loved my mother, your sister, more than life itself. He made the promise purely because I was her son.”
“I find that astonishing.” Petunia continued, “Anyway, he kept turning up like a bad penny and going on about letters and a place called Hogwarts. He encouraged Lily, although by this time she didn’t need much encouragement. Our parents were delighted and I think that’s how the jealousy started. I imagined that because I wasn’t extraordinary, they didn’t love me as much. Now of course I know that was silly, but I started to treat Lily very badly. I even told her that I hated her. When her letter arrived you would have thought that Lily had been made Queen. I felt sidelined, isolated. When they went to that place where you get your uniforms and books…”
“Diagon Alley.” said Ginny helpfully.
“Yes, well… I had to stay at home. I was so angry,” she paused, “and when they came home I threw a tantrum and if I had managed to get hold of the stuff she’d bought I would have destroyed the lot. Throughout her years at Hogwarts that anger never died. She left school and shortly after she married your father and you came along. We rarely saw each other; I didn’t even invite her to the wedding when I married Vernon, and when Dudley was born. Through all that Harry, the anger and jealousy burned, below the surface yes, but there nevertheless.” she sighed deeply, “Dudley, would you make some coffee please. I’m as dry as a bone.” Dudley went to the kitchen as Petunia continued. “I had not told Vernon about Lily, I’m not sure if he would have believed me anyway. So you can imagine my consternation the morning that I opened the front door to find you on the doorstep.
Dumbledore’s letter explained everything. How Lily and James had died, and even how you got your scar. Vernon was furious that I hadn’t told him, and was all for putting you in an orphanage. The letter had explained what danger you were in and that protection had been put on the house to keep you safe. In the end Vernon agreed you could stay. It caused trouble between us Harry and I think that the anger I felt toward Lily transferred to you, so I followed Vernon’s lead. The rest you know Harry, we were not good to you. I’m not proud of it and I’m very, very sorry.”
“If I may be frank Aunt Petunia, to say you were not good to me is putting it mildly. I think…” Ginny interrupted him, taking his hand.
“Stop Harry, don’t say any more. You’ve told me what it was like here but you can see now that it was all caused by anger and jealousy. If you get angry now it will all blow up again. Whatever happened to you here is a large part of the person you grew up to be, the person I fell in love with, and I happen to think I’ve got good taste when it comes to boys. I’ve listened to your Aunt open her heart to you, and I don’t think it was easy for her. She has obviously put away the hate and anger she felt for her sister, and she has apologised. Sincerely I believe. Now you have to do the same. Put it all behind you, please.”
Harry sat back on the sofa and put his head back with his eyes closed. He was silent for the longest time before he opened his eyes and stood up. He walked toward Petunia looking almost grim. Petunia stood with fear in her eyes as if expecting Harry to strike her. He reached out and put his arms around her.
“Thank you Aunt Petunia. I’m going to do what Ginny suggests. I can’t forget but I’m not going to carry a grudge anymore.” He stood back from her as Dudley put one arm around his now sobbing mother.
“Thanks Harry,” he turned to Ginny, “and thank you Ginny, you should be in politics y’know, you’d be Prime Minister in no time.” Ginny smiled,
“I don’t know about that Dudley, I think sometimes I can be too truthful, and that’s not good for a politician is it?” Petunia went to Ginny and kissed her cheek. “No Aunt Petunia,” Petunia looked puzzled as Ginny continued, “That’s not enough, give me a hug too, c’mon.” Petunia did. “I want to show you something I noticed earlier.” said Ginny. She went to the chart on the table, and pointed to an entry on the line as far back as Dudley had reached. The entry gave the name of one of Petunia’s distant ancestors, William Prewett of Devon. “Prewett, that was my mothers’ maiden name,” she said, “it may be just a coincidence, but it makes you think doesn’t it?” They broke apart as Dudley looked out of the window,
“Oh my God, Dad’s home early.” he said.
“We’ll have to leave Ginny, have you got everything?”
“Please stay Harry,” said Dudley, “I want to get this sorted once and for all. OK Mum?” Petunia looked scared but nodded her assent. They all sat down as Vernon Dursley let himself in.
“I’m home early Petunia, what’s for dinner?” He came into the living room and saw that they had visitors. Initially he did not recognise Harry and even started to introduce himself. “Hello, you must be friends of Dudley’s, I’m his…” he stopped as he saw Harry’s scar. “You! What the hell are you doing here? Out now! Petunia what are you thinking of letting these people in. Come on, I said get out. Immediately!” His face was purple and he was waving his arms uncontrollably. Dudley stood and spoke loudly.
“Dad, for heavens sake shut up. This is my home too, Harry and Ginny are my guests and they’re staying.”
“Guests, what are you talking about guests? You know what he is Dudley, he’s a… he’s not normal he… and who is she?” he said pointing at Ginny, “his tart I suppose!” Harry jumped to his feet to confront his uncle, but Dudley and Petunia beat him to it.
Dudley thrust his face close to his father’s purple visage “How dare you talk to my friends like that. Y’know you really are a foul, obnoxious person. I want you to apologise to Ginny immediately.”
“Apologise? In my own home? I think not. What is going on here?” he turned to Harry, “You’ve used magic on him haven’t you, you’re controlling him, I know you are.” Petunia interrupted,
“Vernon don’t be ridiculous. What is happening here is quite simple. My nephew and his fiancée are visiting at my invitation. At my invitation.” She emphasised. “Please behave and apologise to Ginny.”
“I…will…not…apologise.” Vernon spluttered, Dudley spoke again,
“Dad, the only thing that stops me from moving out of here is that I would be leaving Mum alone with you. Now if you can’t be civil, why don’t you go down the pub or something. Please shut up.”
“Shut up? You’re going to make me are you?”
“I can’t make you shut up,” he gave a sly wink to Harry and Ginny, “but I wouldn’t mind betting that Harry could.” Harry and Ginny smiled broadly,
“Easily,” said Harry, “but I won’t. I don’t think that would help the situation. Do you?” Now Ginny joined in asking pleasantly,
“Mr. Dursley, this is the first time we have met. You don’t know me, so just how have I offended you, that you should call me a tart?”
“Yeah Dad answer that.” Dudley said.
“Dudley, if you don’t mind I was talking to your father.” letting him know who was in control, “Well Mr. Dursley what is your answer.”
“I… I don’t know you, but if you are consorting with him, well that’s enough for me. Petunia you’ll back me up I know.”
“Oh no Vernon, not this time. The four of us have spent a very pleasant couple of hours this afternoon. I have found Ginny to be a very polite and intelligent young lady, and I’m ashamed that she should be so insulted in our home. I hope that Harry and I have made our peace with each other…”
“Yes, absolutely.” said Harry.
“and if the invitation still stands, Dudley and I will be going to their wedding.”
“It stands and you’ll be welcome.” said Harry.
“You will not be going! I will not permit it!”
“Dad what you will or won’t permit doesn’t matter any longer. Get used to it.” Dudley was still furious with his father.
“Vernon, I’m sorry to say this but, I think you should go. Not just down the pub, but go for good. I’ve had enough of your bullying. Just leave.” said Petunia, she started to sob as Dudley put his arms around her.
“You’re bluffing Petunia, and I’ll prove it. I’m going to pack some clothes, I’m also going to expose them for what they are.” He left the room and went upstairs. Ginny sighed,
“I think we had better go Dudley, could I use the bathroom first?”
“I’ll show you.” said Harry. He gave her directions and Ginny went upstairs, hardly believing what she was about to do. She could hear Vernon in the master bedroom, she got her wand out and went in. Vernon saw her and he began to speak.
“Langlock.” said Ginny. Vernon spluttered as his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. “Please sit down Mr. Dursley, I want to talk to you.” He did not move but continued gesticulating. She sighed, “Look, you know I could make you sit down if I wanted to, so please just sit down and listen.” she pointed her wand, Vernon’s eyes widened as he sat on the bed.
“Mr. Dursley, I don’t think your wife meant what she said, she is just very upset. She and Harry have just had a long talk, they have cleared the air and want to have a normal relationship as Aunt and Nephew. Is that so wrong? How would you feel if it had been you and your wife that had died and Dudley had gone to live with Lily and James and had been treated as badly as you treated Harry. How would you feel? Harry is willing to put all that behind him. The three of you are all the blood family that he has until such time as I can give him a child. I’m not asking you to love him Mr. Dursley, I love him enough for a thousand people. If you took the trouble to really get to know Harry, you would find out what a good person he is. I’m biased of course because, as I said, I love him.”
She paused and noticed the fear and anger in his eyes. “Mr. Dursley, you have no reason to be afraid of us. We are just like everyone else except that we have abilities that others don’t. As for exposing us, who do you think will believe you? You can't tell I'm a witch just by looking at me, can you? You will only make yourself look ridiculous. Can’t you see what I’m getting at? We fall in love just like anyone else. We do everything the same. We eat, drink… we even make babies the same way you do. Didn’t Shakespeare write something like ‘If you tickle us do we not laugh, If you prick us do we not bleed’. Give them a chance Mr Dursley, please. Harry is no threat to you. If you get that fear out of your mind, you will see that I’ve told you the truth.”
She crouched down in front of him and looked up into his eyes, “Please, Mr. Dursley, think about it.” she paused, “I’m going to release your tongue now. I could get into a lot of serious trouble for doing this, but I had to take that chance. I had to make you listen. Talk to Petunia and Dudley, listen to them. Their opinions are as valid as yours. I’d better be going, they’ll be wondering where I am, I’m only supposed to be having a pee. See, that’s something else we do the same way as you.” She muttered the counter charm. Vernon Dursley moved his jaw as if to see that it still worked. He spoke slowly and clearly in a low voice,
“Where did you learn about Shakespeare?”
“At Hogwarts. We did it in a subject called Muggle Studies.”
“Then you’ll know the end of that quotation. ‘If you wrong us shall we not revenge.’ Now get out of my house. I won’t complain about your behaviour if you leave right away. Just get out.”
Ginny went downstairs where she and Harry said their goodbyes and departed.
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