It was morning and all was quiet, for now. The clean up last night had only taken a few minutes; but the party was spectacular. It had been Harry’s 40th birthday and Ginny threw a fantastic party. Harry lay there thinking of the huge cake Ginny had levitated into the room encouraging him with a smile when he glanced at her before he blew out his candles. He thought of the children applauding and slapping him on the back. “There you go, dad.” James had said then gave Harry a big hug. Birthdays were always a big deal in the Potter household. Harry had not forgotten how he longed for a birthday party as a child.
Maggie, Harry and Ginny’s owl, was sleeping peacefully on her perch. She was a beautiful and quite graceful snowy owl. She was joined, quite to her consternation by Phoenix, Albus’ owl. Phoenix was a small owl and loved spending time with Maggie. Harry got out of bed and walked over to the two birds.
“Hi you two. You know Maggie you don’t have to be such a grump, after all.”
Maggie replied with a flutter of her large wings sending feathers everywhere including right in Harry’s face.
“Maggie, that was just rude.” Harry scolded her.
Ginny sat up in bed having heard the whole thing.
“Harry your hopeless. You never give up trying to coax Maggie, or should I say Her Highness, into being friendlier.”
“I know” replied Harry; I guess I just love hopeless cases.”
Ginny put on her robe and kissed Harry good morning and went down to conjure some breakfast.
Albus and Lily were already in the kitchen arguing over whether they wanted their mother to produce porridge, sausages, eggs or all three. “Well, I’ll tell you, how about some bacon and eggs and scones and jam. You know your father likes that jam.”
“And tea as well” said Lily. Ginny kissed her youngest child on the forehead and Lily scolded her “Oh mum”. Ginny handed her a cup of tea.
“Be careful then.” She warned her daughter. “It’s a bit hot.”
Harry came into the kitchen and kissed Lily on top of the head. He gave Albus a very mature ‘
“Good Morning, son,” And turned to James “Good party last night.”
James answered, “The best, dad,” James grabbed his cup of tea and a copy of The Daily Prophet and sat down at the table.
Harry said to Lily and Albus “We have a bit of a gnome problem in the garden, and I think it’s high time you two got out there and did some weeding.”
“No problem” Lily replied but Albus didn’t like the idea. After all if the gnomes were happy, he felt really bad about disturbing them. He would much rather be catching up on his reading. Aunt Hermione’s latest book “The History of Unforgivable Curses and Their Effects and Outcome in Modern Times” was riveting.
Harry leaned over to his middle boy and said “Don’t feel too bad Albus, you know they are quite nasty and they’d pull you out of a hedge in a minute if they had the chance.” Albus laughed picturing him being pulled feet first from the hedgerows in the garden by an angry gnome and flung over the wall.
Lily got up to go upstairs and change her clothes for her close encounters with the gnomes. She rather enjoyed it. They made a mess of things out there and they were an ungrateful lot as well. As she was passing the front door it made a knocking sound. Lily stopped, remaining quite still. There it was again. The door was actually knocking. She walked over to it slowly and asked it very bravely what it wanted. “Well door, what do want, you’re being very noisy.” The door replied
“Hello? Is Harry Potter at home?”
“Are you trying to be funny, door?” Lily asked incredulously.
“The thought never occurred to me” replied the door. Just then Ginny appeared in the entry way.
“Who are you talking to, Lily?” she asked. “Mum I think the door is bewitched it keeps knocking and asking ridiculous questions.” Ginny looked from her daughter to the door when the knocking occurred one more time.
“Hello?” it said. Ginny smiled at her daughter and said “Wait here, I’m going to answer the door.”
“I already tried that” said Lily.
Ginny had her wand in her hand but out of sight when she opened the door. He stood there with a herringbone cap on his head a cigar stump in his mouth which he quickly removed at the sight of the mistress of the house. He also swiped his hat from his head revealing a thinning thatch of light brown hair, burned his hand on his cigar, swore unintentionally, jumped at the sight of the neighbor’s cat and squeaked “The Potter residence, I presume?”
Ginny’s wand hand was twitching a bit as she replied “Yes it is do you need help, then?”
“Well, yeah of a sort, I should introduce myself I suppose.” He said, although he seemed quite reluctant to do so. “Oh well here goes...my name is Dursley, Dudley Dursley. You may have heard something about me.” Ginny’s eyes narrowed, her wand sparked and she stiffened noticeably. “Yes, Yes”, he replied “I can see you may have a notion as to who I am. I must apologize for disturbing you all so early on such a beautiful morning. “He shifted his weight, which was considerable but looked as though he had trained a bit. Ginny said nothing. She turned to Lily and said “Go and get your father, NOW.” Lily had never heard that tone before and went straightaway. Dudley complemented Ginny on what looked like a beautiful home, telling her that Harry was always smart and quite creative; yes that was the thing, quite creative.
Harry got to the door right then and leaned forward to open it further. Ginny watched him as he looked at Dudley. The expression on his face reminded Ginny of the teenager she knew at Hogwarts. Dudley was also transfixed as he took in those green eyes and black hair and those glasses, still those glasses. Harry recovered first “Well, Dudley. What in the world.., how did you find us?” Dudley was grateful for a direct question he could attempt to answer.
“It wasn’t hard, you see, I looked you up.” He said with an attempt at humor. Dudley looked from one of them to the other.
“I see” was all Harry could think to say. “Well...” Harry said “Do come in, I suppose.” Harry was not really sure what Dudley could want or whether he wanted anything at all. The whole thing was quite surreal and Harry felt a dull ache in his stomach. An ache he first experienced at 4 Privet Drive. An ache he was surprised was still there.
Dudley entered their home and stood in the flag stone foyer. He was glad to be off the front stair. Harry had quickly conjured himself into jeans a T shirt and blazer before coming to the door. Dudley looked down for a while and Ginny looked at Harry and gestured toward the sitting room. “Of course” Harry said. “Dudley, would you like to come in and sit down?”
“Yes, Harry I would really. It’s been quite a trip and I’m a bit wobbly.” Ginny left for a moment to get some tea and cakes and as she was leaving she took Harry’s hand and squeezed it. He looked at her as if to say hurry back. Harry sat opposite Dudley. You have a lovely daughter; I assumed the young girl who your wife was speaking to is your daughter. Harry nodded.
“I have two older sons as well” Harry told him. Harry waited but Dudley did not volunteer any information about his own family.
Ginny finally came back in set the tea tray down and poured Dudley a hot cup of tea.
“So, Ginny said “Are you married Dudley. Do you have a family?”
Dudley began talking very fast “Oh Yes” said Dudley. “Suzanne, that’s my wife and I have two children. Two boys, yeah Edward and”…this name he said very low, almost a whisper, “Brian”. Dudley stopped talking and the silence in the room was awkward.
All at once Dudley leaned forward toward Harry and said “That’s why I’m here, Harry,” Harry could not get used to Dudley using his actual name instead of some insulting superlative.
Harry sat forward, and asked “What’s going on Dudley?” Dudley stood up quickly startling Harry a bit.
“Harry I tell you, I don’t know what to do or where to turn.” He was wringing his hat and dug into his pocket and resurrected his cigar stump, putting it in his mouth and began speaking around it which didn’t help Harry at all. “I’ve got troubles Harry, I’ve got troubles. I’ve tried, you know, tried to keep it down to a minimum but I know that wouldn’t work. Oh no, nothing will work, I knew that. And now it’s quite out of control. I’ve seen it before; I don’t have to tell you.” Harry and Ginny were more than a little puzzled.
“What in the world are you going on about, Dudley?” By this time the three Potter children had gotten themselves ensconced on the staircase where they could hear everything and see most of it.
Dudley abruptly left the room going right past the children sitting on the stair. Harry and Ginny were startled and they followed him to the front door and watched as he went to his car. Two boys emerged; one was big like Dudley the other a smaller boy. They followed Dudley up to the door and back into the house. Dudley walked past Harry and Ginny right back into the living room. Harry and Ginny followed them. James, Albus and Lily went undetected again and found themselves moving their heads back and forth like watching a tennis match.
Dudley announced “This is my son. Son, this is your Uncle Harry, I was telling you about.” Harry looked at the boy who was about James’ height and said “Nice to meet you, Brian”
“What?” Edward blustered, “I’m not that little…”
Dudley boomed “Be Quiet.” Dudley meant it. He did not like Edward’s attitude at all. “Go back outside” Dudley commanded.
“Fine,” Edward went towards the front door and turned to notice Harry’s children sitting on the stair. He looked at each one lingering a bit on Lily which prompted James to begin to stand up. Edward smirked and continued out of the door. The children turned their heads back toward the living room.
“I’m Brian” said the boy whose head was still down.
Harry looked down at the top of Brian’s still bowed head. “I’m Harry… well you can call me Uncle Harry if you like and this is my wife, Ginny.”
The boy did not respond and Dudley knelt in front of him. Ginny was about to interrupt fearing Dudley was going to be as stern with this child as he had been with the older one when Dudley took the child’s face in his hands and they touched foreheads.
“Brian, you’re okay here. I want you to talk freely, do you understand?”
Harry was astounded at Dudley’s gentleness. He blinked hard.
“Dudley what is this about?” Harry asked with concern now.
Dudley said nothing more but stood out of the way and let Brian stand apart from him. The child finally looked up at Harry and Ginny. Ginny let out a small gasp. Harry stepped back a full pace. Brian was astonished as well as he looked into Harry’s face.
“Blimey, you look just like me!” The child’s green eyes sparkled at Harry. His raven hair was longer than it should have been and almost covered his eyes.
“Brian Dursley” the boy continued and thrust out his small hand to shake with Harry. Harry stepped forward and shook the child’s hand.
Dudley began to speak fast and nervous once again “You know Harry I’ve tried to keep him to a low roar, but I couldn’t and neither could he for that matter. Edward is…intolerant and my wife is sick about it. And then, then the letters started arriving, Oh owls everywhere, everywhere Harry. I’ve got them in the car. Addressed to ‘Brian Dursely, The Bedroom Upstairs and on the Right, 12, Marigold Crescent.’ Suzanne was having a nervous breakdown from it all and – right then Dudley began to rise slowly upwards, a few inches at first then more than a full foot and a half off the ground!
But Dudley kept talking.. “-I knew then that I was in trouble (Brian STOP THAT!)” Dudley fell to the floor but kept talking as though this was a usual event. Getting himself to his feet he said “You see Harry he’s a magic person, a bloody wizard I think you call it.” Harry and Ginny were standing there with their mouths open. James, Albus and Lily were in the living room now. Harry stooped down to speak with Brian
“Brian how would you like to go with James, Albus and Lily here and have some tea and some cake?” James smiled and nodded at Brian and they led him toward to kitchen.
Harry turned on Dudley. Ginny knew that Harry was in full control of the situation now. He had his Auror look about him and he also adjusted his glasses.
“Harry I need you to take care of him for me.” Dudley blurted out before Harry could say anything. “I can’t help him. I’m desperate.” Pleaded Dudley
“You want me to take in your son?”
The irony did not escape Dudley. “I know that you have no reason to want to help me. I know that I have no right to even ask. Harry, I can’t take back the...” Dudley was searching for a word when Harry helped him.
“Abuse,” Harry spat.
“Yes,” Dudley replied. “The abuse you endured at the hands of my parents and me. I can say I didn’t know better Harry until later, you know, when you saved my life that night with those words I’ll never forget. ‘Expecto Patronum.’ That was it, wasn’t it Harry? I saw then that there was bravery in you I never realized. Courage I would never have. But by then it was too late, you left shortly after that and I regretted the way I treated you from that day to this.”
Harry walked slowly away from Dudley and found himself looking out of the window onto the garden just in time for a gnome to turn and look at Harry and stick his long horrid tongue out at him. Harry’s thoughts travelled where he did not want them to go. He always resisted those memories. He was in a cupboard under the stairs. He was dirty, frightened, and hungry and he longed for his mother. He was locked in his bedroom without food for days. He was thrown into a bush, the brambles cutting his face and neck, the loneliness and the confusion of who he was and what he was. The child inside him nudged at his heart and he began to feel tears filling his eyes. He quickly wiped them away. No matter how remorseful Dudley was he could never really understand the deep ache of Harry’s childhood...and now this boy. Harry looked at Ginny who was feeling everything he was. Harry had told her of his childhood. She went over to him.
“We need to help this child, Harry, you know that.”
Harry walked away from the window. His face was hard. He put an arm around Dudley and said “Dudley we’ll help Brian, of course.”
Dudley closed his eyes in relief.
“I’m so grateful to you Harry. I mean to you both.”
“I’m not finished.” Harry continued “We’ll take care of Brian…and so will you.”
“You, Dudley, will take your son to Diagon Alley and get what he needs for Hogwarts. Get his robes, his books, his wand,” This last word Harry said with emphasis remembering how scared Dudley was whenever Harry threatened him with his wand. “You will take him to Platform 9 and ¾ and go through the portal and wave him goodbye after you put him on the Hogwarts Express. Oh and he’ll need his own owl, of course.” Dudley was stupefied, even without any spell from Harry.
“How, Harry, how will I do all that? I’ve...I’ve no idea how to...or what I would even…”
“We’ll help you...at first of course. Guide you through the whole thing. Brian can stay here until September 1 while you’ll visit him often and I’ll educate him so he can function in the muggle world and at Hogwarts.” Dudley did not expect this. But he agreed.
“Harry, thank you. I don’t know what to say.”
“We are going to Diagon Alley tomorrow. We leave at 9:00AM sharp by floo powder. You’ll love it.”
This situation began to take on all sorts of interesting and vengeful proportions thought Harry and he couldn’t help but smile.
It was then that the children bounded back into the living room. Brian was holding up a book almost as big as he was. Lily shrugged at Harry and Ginny.
“He saw your study dad, and went like a magnet over to all the books and when he saw this one, well he begged, so...”
“That’s fine,” said Harry.
“Oh that’s another thing, books, books and more books. He can’t get enough.” Dudley said.
Harry would have to write to Hermione and Ron. He thought:
Dear Hermione and Ron, Ginny and I would like to invite you and the kids for dinner; we have a little surprise for you.
Harry went over to Brian and asked what book he had chosen. Brian’s eyes lit up “Great Poets and Playwrights of Hogwarts” Brian replied. Running out of the room to follow James, Albus and Lily, Harry heard him exclaim “Wow the complete works of Shakespeare are in here!”
Oh yeah Harry thought this is going to be brilliant!