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Chapter 4 : The Outing
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p.s. I'm really sorry for the long wait. I hope this chapter's okay :)
“Oh, come on now, Greggers, I told you to comb your hair ten minutes ago!” cried Katrina as she frantically flattened her son’s blonde hair.
“It’s fine how it is,” he mumbled huffily. “When we went round their house, the Potters looked like they’d just rolled out of bed. I don’t see why I should make an effort.”
“Because we are Dursleys, and we pride ourselves in looking presentable at all times. Now, go get your father- they’ll be here any minute.”
Mrs Dursley applied some lipstick while Greg grudgingly set off to find his father.
The Potters arrived some twenty minutes later in a large black car.
“I’m so sorry we’re late,” Ginny apologized as she entered the house, followed by her sons and Harry who was holding Lily’s hand. “The kids demanded we stopped off at Wizburgers; you know how they can be if they’re not fed a million times a day.” She rolled her eyes.
“I know what you mean. Our Gregory eats like a horse. Growing boys need a healthy appetite, mind,” replied Katrina with a pleasant smile. “And don’t worry, we haven’t been waiting long, have we?”
“Well actually, we –” Greg stopped short at the threatening look on his mother’s face, “- we, er, haven’t been waiting long at all.”
The Potters and Dursleys shuffled into the dining room and sat around the oak table.
“So, on the phone you said you needed our help?” said Harry, smiling at the family opposite him.
“Yes. The thing is, it’s Greg’s birthday today, and he got an unexpected letter in the mail,” began Dudley tentatively.
“Having a good day so far, Greg?” asked fourteen-year-old James, who had grown a considerable amount since they had last met.
“Yeah,” Greg replied. There was a plate of biscuits in the middle of the table and his fingers were itching to grab one.
“He absolutely adores the presents you got him,” added Katrina.
Greg bit his tongue to stop himself from saying, “apart from the fact I have no clue what it is.”
“I’m glad. Those games never get old,” said Harry.
“We’re going a bit off topic here, guys,” said James. “Back to the letter.”
Dudley cleared his throat. “So, Greg got many letters today, but there was one in particular which caused a bit of surprise.” He pulled a letter with a red wax seal out of his trouser pocket. “A letter accepting him into Hogwarts.”
None of the Potters looked very surprised at all, only politely interested.
“We told you so,” said Albus to break the silence. Ginny gave him a stern look.
“Well done, Greg! We knew you had it in you,” Harry winked at him.
“Are you alright now with it all, Dudley? Katrina?” asked Ginny.
Dudley nodded. “We just have no idea how to get him all his school supplies, where to go, what to pay with and all that palaver. The letter doesn’t give directions or anything like that, and Hogwarts isn’t even mentioned anywhere online- we checked before we rang. It’s as if it doesn’t even exist.”
“A Professor is meant to come and explain everything to muggleborns, although I suppose Greg is a half-blood, isn’t he? The magical quill mustn’t have detected Greg as someone who needed a Professor to clarify everything,” supposed Ginny.
“All this blood status business is very confusing,” Katrina said, rubbing her forehead.
“Well you’ve got us to help you now. We could go straight to Diagon Alley to get everything he needs if you like. We were planning to head there ourselves actually for Al and James’ new school books,” said Harry.
Dudley was about to agree when the doorbell rang. “Who’s this?” he muttered.
He left the room and opened the front door where a grinning elderly couple were standing. The woman was holding a large rectangular parcel wrapped in a big blue bow.
“Bob, Ginger! It's been far too long,” Dudley said in surprise as he let them in his house. “Katrina said you were at a, er, winged horse race or something.”
“Well it’s not every day your grandson turns eleven is it?” boomed his father-in-law, Mr Vega. He wandered into the dining room and was seemingly oblivious of the other guests as he gave Greg a good squeeze. “Merlin’s beard, boy, you’re getting porkier every time I see you.”
“Granddad!” Greg squealed as he got up from his chair. “Nana! PRESENT!!”
He eagerly took the heavy parcel out of her hands and tore it open.
“What is it?” he asked in confusion. Why was everyone getting him such strange presents this year? What happened to video games and chocolate?
“It’s a toad!” exclaimed his grandmother.
“It’s going to make such a mess,” muttered Katrina, peering at it with an utterly disgusted expression on her face.
“But it’s purple!” He took it out of its box and gave it a once-over.
“Indeed it is, Greg, dear. Purple toads are a huge hit with the younger generation nowadays, I’m told. I don’t want you to miss out.”
“That’s not exactly true. My friend Frank has one and people tease him about it,” said James.
They finally acknowledged the Potters.
“Oh my, you’re Harry Potter. Such a pleasure to finally meet you!” Mr Vega beamed and shook Harry’s hand jovially. “I’m Robert Vega. This is Ginger Vega.”
“Nice to meet you, too,” said Harry politely. “This is my wife, Ginny, and our children James, Albus and Lily.”
“It’s lovely to meet you,” Ginny smiled as they shook hands.
“Wait, you were in Legends of The Dragon King, weren’t you? That’s my favourite movie!” cried Albus excitedly.
“Yes, I was!” Mr Vega sat in the seat opposite Albus that Greg had vacated. “I played the poor soul that got set on fire by a Hungarian Horntail in the end. Peak of my acting career, that was,” he said reminiscently.
“You were in a movie, Granddad? How come I was never told about this?” Greg said crossly.
“Ah, well you see, Greg,” he scratched the back of his neck, “it’s not a movie for, er, well…” He gave Katrina a meaningful look.
“But Dad… our Greg isn’t a Muggle, it turns out,” Katrina said quietly.
“I am completely sick of this word ‘Muggle’. Will someone please explain to me what it means?” Greg grumbled.
“A Muggle is a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world,” replied his Grandmother as if she were quoting a dictionary. “Wait a second… Kat, what did you say?”
“Greg’s a wizard,” she said as she put an arm around his shoulders.
“But that’s just wonderful! Absolutely delightful!” cried Mrs Vega. “Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”
“We had an inkling you’d get the powers, Greg. I’m so proud.” Mr Vega ruffled his grandson’s hair.
“Now you can put Mr Snuggles to use and take him with you to Hogwarts! That’s already one item crossed off your ‘to get’ list, eh?” said his grandmother happily.
“Mr Snuggles?” scoffed Greg. “My toad is called Henry. Mr Snuggles is just insulting.”
“We were just planning to go buy his school stuff, actually,” said Dudley. “You can come along if you’d like.”
“Oh, yes please!” said Mrs Vega. She re-buttoned up her coat and held out her arms. “Who wants to side-along with me?”
“Actually, Mrs Vega, we thought it’d be easier to go by car.”
“That’s fine by me! Apparating at my age can’t be good for my health anyway.”
Harry offered to take everyone in his car. Greg had to do a double take as he stepped into the shiny black vehicle.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” he stated numbly, feeling like the Doctor’s companions from his favourite TV show when they first saw the TARDIS. There were about double the amount of seats than a usual car with plenty of space to spare. He walked all around the car to make sure he wasn’t imagining it.
“Yeah, it’s been charmed so we can fit more stuff in here. Quite useful really,” replied James. He laughed at Greg’s bewildered expression. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
Harry and Dudley sat in the front two seats, Katrina, Ginny and Lily sat in the second row, Mr and Mrs Vega sat in row behind them, and that left James, Al and Greg to sit in the very back.
“You never told us, Dudley; how did you and Harry meet?” called Mr Vega. Harry turned the radio down so their voices could be heard more easily.
“Yeah… Harry lived with me and my parents."
"I did," Harry agreed, thinking back to all those horrible years he spent in the cupboard under the stairs and the summers he was kept away from his friends.
“Oh boy. I bet you never thought your cousin would become the boy to save the entire Wizarding World, Dudley,” Mr Vega chuckled.
“Not at all,” Dudley said. “I wasn’t exactly the most supportive cousin ever.”
“Ah, well a bit of family rivalry is healthy, I say.”
There was a lull of conversation as the car drove on. Albus coughed awkwardly. “Who wants to have a sing-song to pass the time?” offered Mrs Vega.
“No,” everyone groaned, including Mr Vega.
“I’m dead bored,” Greg declared. Maybe he should have brought that strange pack of cards the Potters had got him to pass the time.
“My poor baby,” cooed Katrina. “I’m sure we’ll be there soon.”
Eventually they arrived at the Leaky Cauldron.
“I swear that building wasn’t there a minute ago,” muttered Dudley as they approached it. Harry tapped on the wall and let them through to Diagon Alley. The Dursleys looked apprehensive as they took in the narrow cobbled alleyway full of people wearing bright and somewhat extravagant clothing holding oddly shaped packages. Greg marvelled at the scene around him. It was like something he’d see on the television; he pinched himself to make sure it was real.
A shop with the most extravagant window display Greg had ever seen caught his eye. It was Honeydukes, in the spot where Florean Fortescue’s Ice-cream Parlour once stood. He was almost drooling as he gazed at the assortments of chocolates and sweets.
“Mum, can we go into Honeydukes?” asked Lily eagerly, tugging on her mother’s sleeve.
“I don’t think so, love, we’ve got enough sweets at home to last us a year.”
Lily pouted but knew she would be fighting a losing battle.
Greg, however, wasn’t having no for an answer.
“Mum,” he said, pulling her away from the shop window of Madam Primpernelle’s Beautifying Potions. “I’m starving after that long car journey. We could grab something from in there.” He pointed at Honeydukes.
“Good idea, darling, but –” Katrina looked at Harry, “- I only have normal money. I don’t think they’ll accept it here.”
“Oh, we can go down to Gringotts, the bank,” Harry replied. “They’ll get your money sorted.”
“But I’m absolutely starving,” Greg whined. He put his hands over his belly and groaned for good measure. “I need food now.”
“Me too,” Lily added, giving her father her trademark puppy-dog eyes. Harry sighed as he unwillingly looked at the same pair of chocolate brown eyes that Ginny had.
“Are you sure these Wizarding sweets are safe?” said Dudley, fiddling with his gold watch. “I seem to recall eating one once that nearly suffocated me.”
“Oh, that was a Ton-Tongue Toffee from a different shop…" Harry recalled, smiling slightly at the memory. "Honeydukes sweets should be completely safe." Dudley nodded. Harry turned to Lily and Greg, “Come on then, I’ll get you some sweets as long as you’re good for the rest of the day.” Greg was through the doorway before Harry finished his sentence. He thought he had seen all the sweets in the world during his eleven short years of life, but this shop proved him wrong. Who knew mice and slugs could taste so good?
Shopping in Diagon alley was different to being dragged around the town centre by his mother. He was actually finding it fun.
After exchanging pounds and pence for Galleons and Sickles, Madam Malkin’s was their next stop while the Potters went to Flourish and Blotts. They agreed to meet again inside the Leaky Cauldron once they were done. Greg was getting measured round his belly by a squat little lady when a red-haired girl walked in with her mother. They seemed to be having an argument.
“But mum, I don’t need new robes! My current ones fit just fine!” she moaned. “I hate getting robes fitted; the lady pinches and pokes me and I really don’t like it!” she added in a whisper loud enough for Greg to hear.
“You should stop growing then, Rosie,” her mother answered. “You can blame your father for the tall gene. I’ve always been relatively short compared to him.”
The girl sighed dramatically and crossed her arms as she turned away from her mother. “Dad wouldn’t make me buy new robes. I wish he was here,” she muttered.
“Oh, don’t be difficult.” The woman put her finger and thumb on the bridge of her nose. “I’ll get you a pygmy puff if you get your robes fitted without fuss.”
Her face lit up. “Really? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mum!” She hugged her mother.
“So I’m suddenly the nice parent rather than Ron for once,” she muttered with a small smile.
“I won’t be a minute, dears,” the squat woman said to them before disappearing through a door. The girl stood on the platform next to Greg while her mother began a conversation with Katrina and the elder Vegas.
She turned to look at him. “I’m Rose Weasley. Who are you?”
“Gregory Dursley. Most people call me Greg, though.”
“How gratifying to meet you. You have the same first name as an old Death Eater’s son. Are you getting Hogwarts robes too?” she asked, unaware of his confusion at the term ‘Death Eater’.
He nodded. It still felt weird to him knowing he was going to this school he never knew existed before now. He was a bit worried he’d never be able to remember all these strange terms and people would laugh at him.
“What year are you in?”
She stuck her nose in the air. “I’m going into second year. If you ask me, first year is the most substandard. I already knew half the spells they taught us, it was so insipid.” She twirled a strand of red hair around her finger thoughtfully. “Are you clever?” she asked suddenly.
“Erm…” Greg scratched his head. He wasn’t really sure of the meanings of some of the words Rose said, but she seemed to know what she was saying so he went along with it. “Well, I hated most lessons at primary school. Art is alright though.”
Rose made a tutting noise. “Oh dear. The teachers won’t be at all impressed.”
Greg didn’t know how to reply. Usually he would tell people like her to ‘get lost and give me your chocolate’, but now his tongue was tied. Perhaps he had finally found his match.
“Are you any good at Quidditch?” she inquired. Greg felt like he was getting interrogated, with one question after another.
“What’s Quidditch?” he asked, furrowing his blonde eyebrows.
“You don’t know what Quidditch is?” Rose looked unimpressed. “It’s only the most momentous sport of the Wizarding World. Honestly, you must be living with your head in the clouds.”
He turned away from her. Luckily the short lady finally came bustling back into the room. “Got your robes,” she said, holding them up as proof.
“It says here he also needs a black plain pointed hat,” said Katrina, reading off the list.
“Of course,” said the shopkeeper. She pulled one out from behind the counter and placed it on Greg’s head.
“I look ridiculous,” he stated, staring at himself in the mirror with the silly hat perched on the top of his head as he pulled funny faces.
“You’ll fit right in at Hogwarts with it on, though,” his grandmother replied, patting his back. They paid and left the shop. Greg ignored Rose as she called after him, “Study hard, Gregory! You don’t want to fail your classes and become the anomaly of the school, do you?”
Afterwards, Greg bought his school books, a cauldron, a wand (which he wouldn’t let out of his sight), a glass phial, a telescope, brass scales and a deluxe scratching post from Magical Menagerie for Henry. He scanned over his check list and was finally satisfied he had everything.
“I’m ready to go, Dad!” he grinned. “Now how do we get there?”
“Term doesn’t start till September 1st, son,” laughed Dudley. “But you’ll get there by… train, I think?” He looked at Harry for confirmation, who nodded.
The ride home wasn’t half as dull as the ride there since everyone was discussing what they’d bought and seen. Greg stared out the car window at the twinkling stars which he was sure formed the shape of the hat he had bought at Madam Malkin’s. He mentioned this to James who laughed and said it looked more like an upside down ice-cream. One thing was for sure; Greg couldn’t wait till September the first when he could finally put all his new items to use.
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