Chapter 1 : A Dursley Christmas Carol
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Lily and James were dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of their burial was signed by the head of the Wizengamot, the Minister of Magic and Minerva McGonagall.
Their child was an orphan.
The Dursleys knew they were dead. How otherwise would they have inherited their child? They were forced into the role of family, caretaker and solely responsible for their spawn. Even so, Petunia and Vernon were not overly sad for the occurrence. They had long ago cut ties with them and their freakish ways. To say the least, the sight of their child left on their doorstop like a bottle of milk, did not please Petunia and Vernon in the least. They had their own, perfectly normal, child to raise.
Vernon had plans, big plans for his job at Grunnings. They would move to a better house in a better neighborhood. Petunia was content to stay at home with their chubby baby boy. Have I mentioned that they were normal? Their normal car parked next to their abnormally neat, normal house in a normal neighborhood with a very normal schedule. Every morning Petunia arose promptly and feed their normal son. She would retreat to her normal to prepare Vernon’s breakfast. As it was placed on their normal kitchen table, Vernon would appear. They would share breakfast, full English, of course for Vernon and a more modest repast for herself. Vernon would then depart for his normal job while Petunia began a rigid list of daily chores to ensure nothing was out of normal before his return. In the afternoon, she would put her son in his perfectly normal pram for a walk in the fresh air. There was no room in her schedule for another child, particularly that child.
He shouldn’t have even been in her home, Petunia reasoned. Those kinds of freaks should stick together. Had not his god-father been dumped in jail for life, she would gladly have bundled the child up and dumped it on his doorstep. After all, he had caused the death of the child’s parents, the child should be his responsibility. It fit neatly to her, regardless of the thought that she would be consigning her nephew to a murderer. Vernon and she had talked about it. They had even considered the werewolf that her sister had befriended. Better with him than disturbing their normal lives, they reasoned. Unfortunately for them and the babe in question, they had no idea how to contact a werewolf.
Nobody stopped Petunia in the street to say, ‘Petunia, where did you get the little one?’ The ones who had glimpsed the second child on hurried afternoon walks found themselves encouraged to compliment the normal child while Petunia only state briefly that they were temporarily looking after the child of a distant relation until placement could be found. In no way, did either Petunia or Vernon claim the orphan as a nephew.
Their life was normal and that was the very thing he liked. To edge their way along their chosen path of life, determined to keep the freakishness out of their normal lives. Their dreadfully boring, completely sporadic, horrible normal lives. Little did the Dursleys know that the “freakishness” they so feared had infiltrated their perfectly normal world.
Arabella Figg was a squib. That should be understood. However just because she was a squib did not mean she was stupid. Once her cousin mentioned the concern about the muggles that would be raising the baby, she had been more than willing to move in down the street from the Dursleys. An unassuming woman and a squib, most people, muggle and wizard, tended to overlook her as a crazy “cat-lady.” Both groups would have been surprised had they really known the real Arabella. She belonged to a small group of squibs who had successfully merged into the muggle community.
The local grocer kept a small crystal on the shelf below the register. It enabled him to determine whether his customers were muggle or magical. He kept a small area heavily warded against muggles where he sold specially enchanted objects to assist squibs. It was here that Arabella had gotten her special cozy with kept her tea hot. He also sold some of the kneazles that Arabella bred.
“Good-morning, Mrs. Dursley. Got a nice bit of brisket on sale today.” A glance at the crystal confirmed the trace of magic. It had to be the new baby as it had never flickered before the during the Dursley family shopping trips. He managed a nod to Arabella. “Have you met, Mrs. Figg, yet? She just moved in down the street from you. Mrs. Figg, this is Mrs. Petunia Dursley, her son Dudley and the little tyke is…”
Petunia nodded. She was unimpressed by the dowdily dressed woman who smelled of cat. “I’ve noticed your cats around the neighborhood. I’m making a special dinner tonight.” Petunia said. “I’ll take the brisket.”
Both the grocer and Mrs. Figg took note of the failure to name the other baby. Arabella vowed to pay extra special attention to the occupants of number four privet drive. “Have your finished your Christmas shopping yet, Mrs. Dursley. I expect the little ones will be expecting a visit from Father Christmas.”
“Yes,” Petunia said proudly. “Dudley was a bit too young to appreciate the holiday last year. He’s starting to crawl and this will be his first real Christmas. I’ve had his presents for ages.”
“And the little one?” The grocer motioned towards the other, quieter child.
“Hopefully, he will be settled with a family by then.” Petunia said curtly.
“Surely you’ve a few for the lad?” The grocer pressed. “Just in case, the placement doesn’t come through.”
“There are plenty of things that Dudley has outgrown. I’m sure they’ll do.”
Arabella left herself out of the store. Things Dudley has outgrown. Surely the woman could not be so heartless. This would not do. This would not do at all. Well, if Albus Knows Everything Dumbledore would not help the poor lad, she would. It was time to take things into her own hands, before too much damage was done. She might not be able to do magic itself, but there were still rituals and other things that she could accomplish. In this case, she knew just what to do and this very night.
Petunia gasped and jerked back from the kitchen window, heedless that she was dripping dishwater on her pristine floor. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed a cloth for her hands and cautiously peered out the window again. What was a filthy vagrant doing in her back yard? Petunia looked around carefully but there was no one there. It had to have been her imagination.
Vernon pulled into his drive contentedly. It had been a successful day at work, another contract secured. Halfway home, a deviant had almost made him put the car in the side ditch. By the time, he got out, ready to give him a sound thrashing, he had disappeared. Back in the car, the pervert was quickly forgotten in ponderings as to what Pet would serve for dinner.
Vernon slammed his brakes. The pervert was in his garage. He blinked his eyes. How had the pervert gotten here so fast and how did he know where he lived? He would show him a thing or two. Vernon heaved himself out of the car. Where had that vagrant gone? Unable to find him, Vernon parked his car properly as normal. His nerves were strained from earlier, Vernon decided. Putting it aside, he left himself into the house. “Pet, I’m home. Where’s my boy?”
Petunia met him at the stairs taking his coat to hang it. “He seemed a bit flushed after his walk. I feed and put him down early.”
Vernon was disappointed. He found he quite liked the tyke crawling to meet him. “And it?”
“In his cupboard.”
“How was your day?” Petunia asked dutifully. As the evening began strictly on schedule, both forget the vagrant who both had seen.
Promptly at quarter past ten, Petunia slid into bed having given Dudley another feed and changing him. Turning out the light, she laid next to Vernon who was already beginning to drift off. Both were destined to be awake much longer as a light slipped into the room from the hall door and the window. As Petunia sat up, the door to their room flew open, handle banging on the wall.
“Here now,” Vernon bellowed as a shape appeared in the door way. “Who are you and by what right do you dare enter our home?”
“You do not know me.” The shape became a man. Dark hair, unkempt. Clothing wore and old-of-date. And perhaps most oddly, carrying chains. “In life, I was known as Tom Riddle.”
“Balderdash.” Vernon pushed himself up so that he could roll to his feet. “Are you one of those actor types? Bunch of degenerates. Did Wilton put you up to this?”
“I am here for your sakes.”
“See here, we don’t associate with your type.” Vernon began.
The man laughed. “How alike we truly are.”
“My Vernon is a good man, hard working. He has a good future.” Petunia spoke up.
“So too, was mine.” The man moved to sit in the chair by the wardrobe. “Listen and heed my words or you will share my fate. In life…”
“What are you going on about?” Vernon belted his dressing gown securely and approached the man. “Pet, call the police. Get out of my house you…” Vernon grasped the intruder by his lapel or he tried to grab him. His hand went through the man and Vernon stumbled back in shock and fright and Petunia shrieked. “What are you?”
The apparition laughed harshly. “I told you. In life, I was Tom Riddle. A muggle like yourself.”
“Muggle? Did that little freak cause this?”
“I am here,” the man said, “to give you the opportunity to change. Before it is too late.”
“This is a dream, just a dream, Pet.” Vernon comforted her. “Must have been a bit of bad beef. We’re just dreaming.”
“This is no dream.” The word reverberated around the room causing it to shake. “Heed my words, mortals or be doomed to my fate. I did not choose to come here lightly. I am here because of a plea, you will listen.” Again, vibrations caused the room to shake.
“We’re listening.” Pet clung to Vernon. “Aren’t we, Pet?” She could only nod.
“Good. Now, I will begin again. Do not interrupt me…” The man said ominously. “In life, I was Tom Riddle, a muggle. My parents owned a large estate in Little Hangleton. I was their only child. Next to our property lived a poor family, the Gaunts. When I was only a teen, I eloped with the daughter, Merope. My parents and the community were shocked. I was besotted. Nearly a year later, I returned home with a fantastic tale which of course my parents didn’t believe. I was “tarnished” in their eyes and my future was ruined. I was angry and bitter.”
“I fail to…” Vernon immediately shut up and the man’s glower.
“You see, Merope was a witch. She feed me a love potion. After we married, she convinced herself that I loved her and she stopped giving me the potion. I immediately returned home knowing she was pregnant. I saw her once after that day. She came to me just before the child’s birth. She wanted me to acknowledge her child as my heir. Of course, knowing that it was magical, I refused. I had her drug away.”
Riddle rose and made his way to the window. “The next I heard, she was dead. The child, a boy, was at an orphanage and they wanted me to accept him. I refused. Time after time, a representative would come and ask me to take the boy in to my home. Again, and again, I refused. Each link is this chain represents the sins I committed against my son.”
“They could have found him a home.”
“No, they could not. You see, his mother ruined my life and I ruined his. I refused to take him in, but I refused to sever my parental rights. I condemned him to the orphanage knowingly. Each time I cast an evil thought, called him a freak, refused his legacy I forged a heavier chain. I refused to pay for his school things. I refused to provide any support at all but in the end, I paid. He saw that I paid.”
“How…” Petunia started to speak before freezing.
“How did I pay?” Riddle turned to face them. “He had just finished school. I believe you are familiar with Hogwarts. He came to the estate to face me. He demanded that I accept him. Demanded his birthright and I laughed. Laughed right in his face. So, he killed me. He drew his wand and cursed me and my parents. It ended my family line. Now the estate lies in ruins.”
“What has this to do with us?”
“You haven’t met my son. Yet. But you know of him.”
“We do not associate with freaks.”
“Ahhh, but to him you are the freaks. My son no longer uses the muggle name Merope gave him.” A gruesome smile appeared on the ghost’s face. “You know him as Lord Voldemort.”
“He’s the who murdered Lily.”
“Yes, he murdered Lily and James Potter, orphaning their child. But he has killed many more. Scores of people magical and muggle, especially muggle.”
“Dumbledore said he’s gone.”
“Gone? Maybe for now. Dead? No. Believe me, I would know.” Riddle faced the window again. “One day he will rise again and the babe you call a freak may be your only salvation.”
“Rubbish.” Vernon stood. “We have no quarrel with him.”
“You think that matters? He would as soon kill you as to breath and he does it so easily…” Riddle’s voice faded away. Turning around, he floated briskly to the door. “I have told you my tale and warned you that your bigotry has wound chains much heavier than mine around your souls. You will be given a chance…but only one chance. You will be visited by three spirits. Expect the first at one. Listen well to each and heed their warnings. This is the only chance you will have to save yourself, your son and the world.”
“See here, don’t you threaten our son.” Vernon raged. It did no good. Riddle was gone. The sound of the chains could be heard fading into the night.
“Dudley…” Petunia leapt from the bed and dashed to the nursery next door. She sagged against the crib in relief as she noted her beautiful boy sleeping peacefully. Taking her by the arm, Vernon lead her back to their room. “What if they harm him?”
“Dudley will be fine.”
“But the spirits…”
“I’ll soon put an end to this rubbish.” Vernon vowed. “I’ll not have my sleep interrupted for this nonsense. Now, come to bed, Pet.”
Stave 2: The First of the Three Spirits
The two returned to bed but found sleep elusive. When the hall clock struck one, Petunia felt herself begin to relax. Perhaps it had been a dream.
“Rise!” The voice echoed and the two Dursleys sat up straight. “Rise and join me.” The voice called from the doorway.
“No. We are decent, normal people. We’ve no need of your kind here.”
“My kind? What would you know of my kind?” The spirit came closer.
“Who are you?”
“Were you not told to expect me? I am the first spirit. I am the ghost of Christmas past.”
“No. Hogwarts.” With a move of the spirit’s hand, Petunia and Vernon found themselves standing next to the spirit and then almost instantly in a large stone room neither had ever seen before.
A young red-headed girl sat at an empty table reading a book.
“Lily. Look what my mother sent us.” A dark-haired boy rushed in with a box and placed it on the table next to her book. “Biscuits. What’s wrong?”
“My parents are probably leaving for church right now. Petunia is singing lead in the choir tonight.”
“I know how much you want to be there but…”
“I know. With my parents and Petunia going on holiday, I would have had to come back early anyway and it wasn’t really practical.” The girl’s eyes welled up with tears. “I just wanted to see Petunia sing.” As she burst into tears, the dark-haired boy put his arm around her shoulders.
“You know them.” The ghost said.
“My sister, Lily and that horrid Snape boy from the neighborhood. He infected Lily with his freakishness.” Petunia shivered delicately.
“Lily had magic before she met him. You remember, the light shows she used to make on your nursery wall. She missed you most dreadfully. Especially the first couple years. Then when you stopped writing…”
“I grew up. I learned how abnormal it was. Magic.” Petunia spat.
“Let’s see, you stopped writing about…fourth year, wasn’t it?”
The room shimmered for a minute and an older girl sat at the same table. This time, the dark-haired boy sat across from her. “I hate to leave you alone but my father has insisted I came home.”
“I understand, Severus. I’ll be fine.”
Lily smiled sadly. “The last thing your father would want was me coming home with you.”
“If you wrote your parents and told them…”
“No. This is for the best. They need to concentrate on Petunia. She’s so angry with me lately. It’s almost like she …. like she hates me.”
“She doesn’t hate you, Lily.”
“She doesn’t want me to come home for Christmas. She told my parents that if I came, she was going to stay with a friend. She doesn’t want me under the same roof.” Tears rolled down the girl’s cheeks. “I miss her. I miss my sister. I just want it to be like it was before. I offered to quit Hogwarts.”
“What! Lily, they’ll snap your wand and bind your magic and obliviate you. You can’t do that.”
“If it means getting my family… my sister back… I’d do it.”
“Lily, give it some time.”
“That’s what my parents said but…” The girl pulled a small box from her bag. A tap of her wand enlarged the box. “Petunia wanted this dress so badly. I mail ordered it and sent it to her for Christmas.”
Snape carefully opened the lid. Inside was nothing but shreds of material. “For the love of Merlin.”
“My mother wrote me a rather harsh letter. She told me that I need to be kinder to Petunia. My parents think I didn’t get Petunia anything because of how Petunia is acting. I couldn’t tell her about the dress.”
“So, you let your mother think you petty instead of telling her what her precious older daughter did?”
“What good would it have done?”
“Lily, where did you get the money to buy this?” Snape knew his friend was on a strict allowance and the material was obviously expensive. “Lily.”
“I did some essays for some of the seventh years.” The red-head admitted.
“Lily, if anyone finds out you could be expelled.”
“I know. I just thought if I could give her something she truly wanted… maybe…” The memory ended as before with the red head in tears on the boy’s shoulder.”
“She offered to give up magic. To trade it for her sister. I wonder, what would you have given up? Shall we see another?” Without waiting for an answer, the room shimmered again. This time the room changed and Lily stood facing away. A dark-haired man held her from behind taking quietly. “I’m so sorry, Lils. It’ll be okay. Your parents will…”
“No, you can’t tell them.” The woman turned to him. “It would break their heart.”
“She’s broken yours.”
“James…” Lily wiped her cheeks. “You don’t understand. Petunia has had difficulty dealing…”
“Lily, she’s had years to deal. Don’t excuse her. There was no cause for her to be so horrid to you today. We shouldn’t have even invited her to the wedding.”
“She’s my sister. I wanted her here. I wanted my sister by my side…”
“Ahh, yes. I believe you and Lily had an issue at the reception. You were there, weren’t you, Mr. Dursley? You left early to get away from the “freaks.” Didn’t even stay to cut the cake or catch the bouquet.”
Petunia had the grace to look a bit guilty. “I didn’t want to be there, my parents insisted.”
“What should have been the happiest day of her life. You had to spoil even that.” The ghost chided. “Is your heart so full of hate and jealousy?” The spirit tilted his head as church bell rang. “Two o’clock already? My how the time flies. Better get you back, you have another visitor coming.”
Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits
Petunia and Vernon found themselves back in their room on Privet Drive. “There, there, Pet.” Vernon patted his shaking wife.
“I didn’t know.”
“Would it have made a difference?” A voice from the doorway asked. “Forgive me for eavesdropping but I believe you were expecting me. Come along, we have much to do.”
“Listen here. We have had enough of this. Poor Pet is beside herself. We will not be going anywhere else.”
“Ah, but you will…”
Again, the Dursleys felt themselves moved against their will. This time they appeared in an elegant room with antique furnishings. In the corner sat two women, one held a baby on her lap. She was quite austere in appearance. “How are you holding up, Augusta?”
“The medi-wizards say there is no hope. Frank and Alice will spend the rest of their lives in St. Mungos.”
“How will you manage with Neville?”
“We’ll get on.”
“What about the holidays?”
“It will be simple this year.”
“Surely Father Christmas will come. Poor Neville should at least have a normal holiday.”
“Frank and Alice had several things put aside for him. Algie and I have agreed we will put up a small tree and have a few close friends. Just enough, but not enough to appear disrespectful of Frank and Alice.”
“Poor Augusta,” the spirit said. “Her son and daughter-in-law were attacked days after James and Lily were killed. They used the Cruciatus Curse on them until they were driven insane. Now, Neville’s grandmother and great-uncle will raise him. It will not be the life that they planned but they will make the best of what they have. That is the spirit of Christmas and life. Is that your spirit?”
By now the Dursleys were coming to understand that their answers were not expected or even desired. However, Petunia could not let this attack go by. “They had a choice. I’m sure her grandson wasn’t dumped on her doorstep because there was no one else to take him.”
“No one to take him?” The spirit actually sneered. “Shall we?” The trio reappeared in small room with what appeared to be a very drunk man talking to a mirror.
“They won’t even let me see him. Said it’s better this way.” The man took another drink and appeared to breath fire. “Harry needs me. I’m all he has left. But, no…. Werewolves can’t be guardians. Merlin damn them. Damn them all.” As Remus collapsed sobbing on his bed, the room shimmered.
The lounge they appeared in was well-appointed and even elegant. A woman was anxiously pacing. When a man entered, she rushed to him. “Well?”
Amos Diggory took his wife in his arms. “I’m sorry, dear. They say that he has been placed with his family.”
“But they’re muggles. We could raise him with Cedric and give him a brother.”
Amos knew how much his wife wanted another child for he felt the same. Unfortunately, it was not to be. “I’m sorry, love.”
“See, there.” Vernon said pompously. “They want him. Give him to them.”
The room shimmered and a strange room with lots of shining gadgets appeared. The very stern woman from earlier was confronting an old man with the most horrible outfit the Dursleys could imagine. “Albus, let me raise him. He should be here with us.”
“Minerva, the Dursleys are the best choice.”
“They hate magic. You saw how they treated Lily.”
“Harry is an innocent baby. No one could possibly mistreat such an innocent child.” As the old man spoke, Vernon and Petunia shared a quick guilty glance at one another. “Besides, as long the Dursleys provide Harry a home. They are all protected. Lily’s sacrifice will protect all of them.”
“And if they don’t act like a family.”
The old man sighed. “The magic will fade and they will all be vulnerable.” He cast a worried look at a crystal shining dully on his desk.
“He’s not dead then.”
“No.” The old man rose and went to look out the window. “Lily and Harry’s magic deal him a severe blow, but Severus has confirmed that the dark mark has not disappeared. Voldemort is still out there and as long as he is alive, Harry and his family are in danger.” Albus turned to face the witch in her tartan robes. “I know that Petunia was not good to Lily but this is different. She is a mother. Give it time, Minerva. I know the Dursleys will accept Harry as part of their family for all of our sakes.”
Without a word, the room shimmered into a kitchen. A red-headed woman watched over six red haired children eating noisily. A soft pop heralded the appearance of a red-haired man. “Arthur, did you speak to him?”
“Albus is firm. Harry is with his family.” The man came to her side.
“But Arthur, we could raise him along with Ron.” She looked lovingly at the smallest in the highchair. “It would be almost like another set of twins. It would be good for them both.”
“Molly, the Dursleys also have a son about Harry’s age.”
“I can’t bear the thought of him being forced to live with… with… muggles.” Molly wiped a tear. “How can they teach him what he needs to know?”
“With love, all is possible. You know that, Mollywobbles.”
Molly sighed deeply. “I just wanted to give him a home and a mother to hold and love him.”
“He has that, Molly. I’m sure that his Aunt will be a fine mother for him. It’s not like they are typical muggles. His Aunt knows about magic. She will love and guide him.”
“How could anyone not?” Molly leaned her head sadly on her husband’s shoulder.
“How could anyone not indeed?” The spirit asked as the clock in the corner struck two. “It appears our time is up.” With a shimmer the Dursleys were once again in their room. Before the spirit disappeared, he appeared to be having an internal debate. Finally, he faced the two. “There are many things that walk the earth. The next spirit is not as… cordial… as we have been. I suggest you not… aggravate… him. Remember not all spirits are benevolent.”
“What do you mean by that?” Vernon demanded as the spirit disappeared.
Stave 4: The Last of the Spirits
“He means that I do not tolerate idiots.” A dark form said from a shadowy corner. “I have no tolerance for child abusers either.”
“See here, we are not child abusers.” Vernon protested.
“And where is the babe that was entrusted to you?” The spirit said maliciously as Vernon and Petunia looked at each other. Unlike the other spirits, this one was cloaked, his face deep within his hood.
“You’re wasting my time.” With no warning, the Dursleys found themselves roughly moved to what appeared to be a hospital. “As you should have realized, I am the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come.” He pointed into a room. “Move it.”
Petunia and Vernon scurried to make their way into the room. Petunia was shocked to see herself draped over an overweight boy in his early teens. In the corner, Vernon was yelling at a woman in a white lab coat. “It’s your fault. You killed our son.”
“Mr. Dursley, I have warned you and your wife repeatedly. Dudley was severely overweight. His cholesterol and other levels have been in the danger zone for years. I told you his heart would not take the strain. I should tell you that I have forced to report his death to the proper authorities.”
“What are you blathering about?”
“Mr. Dursley, you neglected your son’s health to the point that he died.” The doctor said bluntly. “It is considered child abuse.”
“We would never abuse our child.”
“Just other peoples?” The spirit said snidely.
“No. Dudley can’t be dead.” Petunia shook her head. “It’s not possible.”
The Spirit didn’t answer. He pointed back to where the future Vernon was shouting.
“Dudley is big boned like me.”
The doctor sighed wearily. “You aren’t big boned. You are morbidly obese, just as your son was. I have pleaded with you repeatedly to go on a diet with Dudley. You killed your son with your overindulgence. I have other patients.”
“I’ll sue.” Vernon yelled as she pushed past him and left the room. Looking at his son, future Vernon, began to cry.
“It can’t be true.” Pale and shaking, Vernon looked at his future self.
“Don’t worry. You won’t have to live without him long.” The spirit sneered. “You’ll join him in three years.”
“What are you saying?” Petunia demanded of the spirit.
“Your son and husband will both die.” The spirit sounded bored.
“The freaks… They can save him.” Petunia said. “Take us to them.”
“If you insist.”
The old man identified as Albus earlier was sitting forlornly in a chair with the woman called Minerva wiping tears. The door opened and the red-haired man and woman entered what appeared to be an old-fashioned infirmary.
“Albus, it can’t be. Tell us Ron is wrong.”
He rose slowly. “I’m sorry, Molly. How I wish I could.”
“Harry, love.” Molly pushed past Albus and sat on the edge of the bed where lay a very thin almost emaciated boy with black hair. His green eyes would never open again. Tenderly she brushed the hair from his forehead revealing a jagged scar.
“How could this happen?” Arthur demanded as he watched his wife.
“His core wasn’t strong enough. His relatives… Years of being deprived of food and lack of care took a toll on him. When he faced Voldemort in his first year, his core fractured. Madame Pomfrey and Professor Snape have tried to reverse the damage but it just wasn’t possible…”
“Is it true that…”
“Voldemort has returned. Earlier today he killed Cedric Diggory and used Harry’s blood to return. Harry managed to bring back Cedric’s body but the effort was just too much.”
“Albus, was he the only hope?”
Albus looked sadly at the body of the boy-who-lived. “He was prophesied to be the only one who could destroy Voldemort once and for all.”
“What will happen now?”
“We will carry on the fight.”
“We are doomed, old friend.”
“Maybe Molly and I should send the children to a distant relative in America.”
“You and Molly should go with them. Hopefully, we can slow his progress for a while.” Albus said sadly. “Thought I fear in the end, it will do no good.”
“Next stop.” The world spun. This time the movement whirled them as visions circled them madly. Men in black with masks pointing sticks featured predominantly. The Dursleys saw the Queen fall to a green light. In the background the princes and princesses were being tortured. The Tower of London, the Eiffel Tower, the Sphinx, the Leaning Tower of Pisa were all seen crumbling to dust. Crowds were herded into enclosed areas and waves of green light sent them to the ground. Throughout the visions the image of a man with snake-like features laughing appeared over and over again.
Feeling sick from motion and the gruesome images of torture, Vernon reach out grabbing the Spirit’s sleeve. To his amazement, he could grasp it. “Here, now, stop this.”
The Dursleys found them standing in the rubble of what had once been London. “Stop this?” The spirit laughed malevolently. “I am simply the spirit of what is to come. I have no power to stop this. Why would I? After all, I have you to thank.” The spirit pushed back his hood revealing the man with snake-like features.
“Who are you?” Vernon gasped as he and Petunia shrank back.
“The spirit of Christmas to come,” the man mocked. “Also known as, Lord Voldemort.”
“You… you… you killed…” Petunia stuttered.
“Yes. Yes.” He waved his hand dismissively. “My father. My grandparents. The Queen… yada, yada, yada.”
“Lily.” Petunia finally said.
“Yes, your beloved sister.” The spirit taunted. “And you killed your nephew and your son. My, how alike we are.”
“We’re nothing like you.” Vernon protested.
“Ah, my dear muggle, you are.” From his robe, he produced a blackened crystal which he tossed to Vernon who fumbled and caught it. “Remember this? ‘The magic will fade and they will all be vulnerable.’ The old man judged you incorrectly.”
Lord Voldemort tapped his forehead. “I have a special… insight… into your nephew. I have seen how you treated him. Forcing him to do all the chores, punishing him by starving him, beating him…”
“We never…” Vernon tried to protest.
“Oh, but you will… Remind me, where is the brat now?... Oh, yes… crammed into the cupboard under the stairs shivering in cold while your own son dreams peacefully in his snug warm crib.” Lord Voldemort shook his head. “Really, I would have expected Harry to turn out more like me; given the similarity of our lives… Pity, with his power, we would have conquered the world together eradicating the muggle scum.”
“This…” Lord Voldemort gestured to the rubble. “This was not his doing. No, this is your doing. In fact, I have something special for you. A gift if you will…” With the wave of the wand he held in his hand, Dudley appeared or rather something that resembled Dudley. It looked like a tattered Zombie from the old movies.
“What have you done to my son?” Petunia cried.
“You turned my son into a monster.” Vernon raged.
“A monster.” Voldemort’s tone was offended. “An inferius. One of my better creations. They feast upon muggles…” His wand moved again and Dudley started towards them.
“No!” Petunia screamed in horror.
The Dursleys found themselves back in their room clinging to each other in horror. They gazed about themselves in fear and Vernon rushed to the window to look out relieved to see rows of houses standing neatly. “It’s alright, Pet.” Vernon told his wife shakily. “It was just a dream. All just a dream.”
Petunia didn’t answer. She was staring horrified at the blackened crystal that Vernon was holding.
Stave 5: The End of It
“There now.” Vernon sat his son down in front of the tree after helping the baby hang his stocking. “All set for Father Christmas.”
Petunia smiled as she offered Vernon a cup of tea. “It looks wonderful, doesn’t it?” Four bright red stockings hung in a row along the mantel. She watched the two babies playing on the rug in front of the Christmas tree. She winced a bit when a small car flew into her nephew…her son’s, she corrected herself… hand but she smiled as he handed it to his son. “You are such a good brother, Harry. Tell Harry thank-you, Dudley.” Dudley obligingly gurgled as he waved the car in the air.
Vernon had watched the car fly across the room. “We are doing what is right, aren’t we, Pet?” She cuddled close to him in answer.
Later that night, the two placed their sleeping sons in the cribs that sat side by side. The two boys had bonded quickly and would often wake in the night to gurgle back and forth in a conversation only they understood. Magic was still difficult for Petunia and Vernon to accept, but all it took was a look at the blackened crystal on their mantel to remind them that there were worse things on earth.
Knowing Christmas morning would come all too soon, they hurried to place a pile of gifts beneath the tree. Each boy would have a plentiful, but no overly indulgent, stick of gifts to open. The Dursleys had taken the warnings to heart. The two boys were generously cared for but were not overly indulged. In fact, Vernon had modified his own diet cutting back on the after-work brandy and large helpings. Petunia had started cooking filling but well-balanced meals. She would not lose Vernon or Dudley to heart disease if she could help it.
“Happy Christmas, Vernon.”
“Happy Christmas, Pet.” Vernon turned out the light and they snuggled down to sleep.
“I saw the crystal on Albus’ desk during the staff meeting today.”
“And???” Arabella prompted eagerly. She poured her cousin another cup of tea and pushed the Christmas biscuits closer.
“Not a shining beacon, but much brighter than last week. Strange that it has brightened so much lately.”
Before sitting down, the squib went to a cabinet and retrieved a potions bottle.
“If the ministry knew you had this in your home.”
“It was worth the risk.” Arabella sat down.
“You used it on them?”
“The grocer and I sprinkled a bit on their roast.” Arabella saw the look of concern. “Don’t worry, Reginald won’t say a word. Something had to be done.”
“Quite.” Her cousin took a sip of tea. “The Dickens potion is considered extremely dangerous and is highly regulated. Most potion masters won’t even attempt to brew it.”
“Yet, you happened to “lose” a bottle out of your robes on your last visit.”
Severus picked up a biscuit. “Drop the twinkle, Arabella. I get enough of that from the old coot.”
Arabella laughed. “Merlin bless us all…everyone.”
Severus tossed his half-eaten biscuit at her. “Bah Humbug.”
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