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Chapter 3 : Joys and Worries
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Petunia wiped her eyes once more as she saw the name of the sender. Dudley Dursley? Could that be true?
"Dear Mom and Dad.
"I can hardly remember why we fell out - so many things have happened since - but shouldn't we let bygones be bygones?"
She felt tears burn in her eyes. Since they had moved to Devon, Dudley seemed to be in opposition to her and Vernon. Well, he had always had his own ideas of what he wanted and didn't want, but now he started a rebellion against his parents. Among others, he accused them for being so normal that it made him sick; and why did they treat Harry so badly, while giving Dudley everything? Harry, after all, saved his life, and strongly advised the Dursleys to follow the Order people to a safe place. Straight out of Smeltings, he moved to the U.S.A. That was seven years ago, and they hadn't heard anything from their son since then.
"I live in a country house in Virginia with my wife Amy, our big dog Sirius, our sheeps and chickens. And this year I'll get the best birthday present ever: A daughter. I work as a cook in a boarding school, and Amy is a teacher there."
"My Goodness, he has changed!" Dudders used to be supposed to get a streamlined education as a programmer or an engineer - and then he had become a cook! Dudders who had always been more interested in eating than cooking - but wait - what did he write? "And this year I'll get the best birthday present ever: A daughter." Did that mean…? Yes, that could only mean that he was going to become a father - and Petunia was going to become a grandma. She got a warm feeling inside.
"Mom and Dad, you may have expected more of me, and you may be disappointed to hear that I'm only a cook…"
Disappointed? Petunia felt quite ecstatic. Her son had turned his back on her and Vernon for seven years, and eventually, he went back - with good news.
"… but things get even worse yet, hold on: I'm a farmer in my spare time - with blue overalls and John Deere cap, you know. I breed sheps; feed chickens and grow vegetables."
Reading about sheep breeding, Petunia thought that would be water on her sister-in-law's mill. Marge was still a dedicated dog breeder.
Amy is such a good wife, and our neighbour Brad, who's a batchelor, is a nice guy that helps us when things break down. All in all, I'm quite satisfied with my life, but I miss you. Do you think it would be possible to visit us when winter is over? Or even better, when our daughter comes, around the 22nd or 23rd of June? Then we can celebrate my 25th birthday at the same time. Life over here is very different from your life in England, but I'm sure you will like Amy - and it will sure be funny for you to hold your first grandkid in your arms. I hope so to hear from you. Love Dudley."
"Bad news, dear?"
Petunia made a shiver. She hadn't heard Vernon coming.
"You're crying, what's the matter?"
She just smiled through her tears and handed the letter to her husband.
"What? Can that be true? The lost son has come back!" He lifted Petunia up and swung her around. "That's wonderful, dear! Well, it wasn't quite the life I wished for my son, but now at least we know he's alive and all right."
Dudley pressed the mobil number he had googled. Petunia and Vernon sent a moving letter less than a week after he sent his letter to them. They accepted his invitation. Vernon could have his holiday about the time when their child was expected. They were happy to hear from their son again, and they looked forward to visiting him and his family for summer holiday.
Pierce, however, hadn't shown any sign of life yet, so now he would try to call him.
"Hi, Pierce, this is Dudley."
"Dudley?" Who the fuck is Dudley?"
"Dudley Dursley, Big D."
"Ah, you," the voice said indifferently. "What do you want from me?"
"Pierce, I'm your best friend…"
"Best friend," snorted Pierce. "You sacked me seven years ago, and now you call me your best friend. What are you up to since you suddenly need me again?"
Dudley didn't remember why he "sacked" Pierce, but he carefully avoided mentioning his amnesia. "It's so long ago that I hardly remember why," he just said. "We were only boys then. Shouldn't we start a new?"
"So you can't remember? Well, then I can tell you that you suddenly became such a goody-goody, and then such a troublemaker like me wasn't good enough for you anymore. You didn't want to keep in contact when you moved out of Privet Drive."
"Ah, Pierce, I guess we both have changed during seven years, but since we used to be best friends, I also think we might still have something in common."
"Well, in any case it isn't that Donald Duck langueage you're speaking. Are you living in America or something?"
"That's exactly what I do," Dudley said, not without pride. "I work as a cook, and I'm married with the most beautiful woman you can think of, and we're expecting a daughter for summer. We have a country house, cheeps, chickens, herb garden and a dog. What about you? Are you married and have children? And what kind of job do you have?"
"That's none of your buisness, Dudley Dursley." Pierce cut short.
"I must've insulted him badly." Dudley sat heavily down on the chair in Brad's kitchen.
"Don't worry too much." Brad poured coffee into his cup. "Now you've reached out your hand so to say. I use to say that if it's a close friend he'll come back and take it, and if he remains silent, he may never really have been your friend."
Dudley suddenly couldn't help but laughing. "I was just thinking - you and I sit here drinking coffee and talking confidently, just like a couple of old grannies. That would never happen to Pierce and me."
"You see. People change; develop; and sometimes friends grow apart, and new relations arise. Life isn't stationary, thank God. I used to be a successful buisness man, but a thrombosis put a stop to my career. Now I'm a farmer, and I enjoy my new life. I just need a wife and some children."
Dudley smiled wryly. "It's never too late. We must find a wife to you on the internet."
Spring came, and it was time to cut the sheeps and prepare the herb garden. Dudley enjoyed the work more than he thought he ever would immediately after his accident. He had also begun to work again, and the cook job at the boarding school appeared to be quite the right job to him.
Harry and Ginny sent pictures of their newborn son. "Good luck on the child that you're expecting," they wrote. Dudley looked more and more forward to his daughter as she grew in her mother's stomach. "The best birthday present ever." When he wrote this to his mom and dad, it was only a cliché, but now he really did look forward to this present. He realized that the more he talked about the coming child, the more it filled him with love and happiness. He got ashamed that he could ever have wished his daughter shouldn't be born.
Also, he was moved by the prospect of seeing his parents. However, as summer approached, he got cold feet. Could they avoid discovering his amnesia?
"Why do you want to hide that for your parents?" asked Amy.
"Ah, you don't know them. My dad's gonna disown me when he works out I'm abnormal."
"Nonsense. He may get upset, but disowning one's only child who eventually reach out his hand? No, I don't believe so. Which father would he be, then? He would be deadly lonely when he gets old."
"Well, Amy, couldn't we pretend there's nothing wrong?"
She shrugged. "If you insist. You know my attitude to honesty and lies, but it's your parents, so I'll mind my own business in that matter."
The 9th of June, Dudley hadn't come closer to a solution on how to handle his condition in relation to his parents. They would arrive in less than two weeks, and his memory hadn't yet become intact. He was longing to meet them; on the other hand, he was dreading for the consequenses.
When he was emptying the pockets of his winter jacket before washing, he found the calling card that the nurse gave him back in February when he left hospital. Hannah Evans - Mindbender.
Mindbender? That was exactly what Dudley swore not to attend the day that he watched the wedding video with his wife. On the other hand, if Hannah could help him get his memory back during two weeks…
He soon got other things to think of. In the middle of the night Amy went out of bed and walked restless around. A heavy pain indicated that it was time to go to hospital.
"Dudley, I'm afraid you get your birthday present a bit in advance," Amy smiled between her labour pains.
The delivery was easy. Dudley was moved to tears as he cut the umbilical cord. Standing with his baby daughter in his arms he couldn't believe that he had ever had reservations about becoming a father. "She is… divine," he whispered euphorically.
"Now it's my turn to hold her, Dudley." Amy's voice was cheerful, though she looked very tired.
"Congrats, congrats!" the doctors, nurses and the midwife exclaimed as with one mouth.
"Now, I'd better have a look at the child to make sure she's all right," the pediatrician smiled.
He hummed a happy melody while examining the baby, but suddenly, he got quiet. The parents sent him a puzzled look.
The doctor showed Amy and Dudley their baby's hand. "Can you see that line?" he asked, a in a groomy tone.
"Oh!" Amy's smile turned into a grimace.
"What's the matter?" Dudley raised his brows.
"Don't you know what what it means?" Amy asked impatiently. "Our daughter has Down's syndrome." She was close to tears.
"Down's syndrome?" he whispered. "But… how could that happen? How come it hasn't been discovered at all those examinations?"
"It's not quite certain." The doctor tried to sound calming. "We need a few examinations to work exactly out what it is."
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