Chapter 5 - The one where Dudley thinks, and Vernon becomes happier.

Dudley lay on his bed that night, morose.

Banned from the gym for a fortnight, they said; or until he went to get himself cleared by a doctor.

He'd almost pitched a fit at his parents, but he'd been hit by memories of the previous summer, where for the first time in his memory, they'd resisted his desires for the sake of his health.

Ironically, after all of the effort spent getting him into the gym, his mother was now steadfastly against it.

He groaned into his pillow. Stupid Joe. The moment he started speaking to mother, she seemed to revert to the mindset of his childhood, attempting to smother him with affection.

Not that he objected much to that, but he was a growing boy, damn it! He wasn't so delicate that he'd break from a little exercise... And it was embarrassing when Piers came over later that day.

He rolled off of his bed, dropping into a dozen push-ups before slumping again. He just wasn't feeling it.

Tina, the blonde from earlier, had turned out to be almost pleasant to hang around with, but was apparently only in the area for maybe a week and a half, she'd said.

Just his luck that he'd managed to forget to ask for a number. And with the gym ban...

It was going to be a very boring fortnight, he realised.

Then he glimpsed something under his bed.

The next day saw Dudley doing a whole lot of not a lot. His dad had work, his mum was at her book club discussing some romance novel that she'd briefly attempted to make him read. (Pigs would fly first, he firmly asserted in his head) Piers and the gang were still at school for another week.

After half an hour of jogging around the local park, he'd headed back home to the distraction he'd remembered yesterday.

Why didn't his grandad's rifle work? He knew that his dad had used it once, and what's more, had shown him how to shoot with it, but it hadn't worked in the mirror world. Or Bizzaro-land.


Reaching under his bed, he dismissed naming the place he'd been, and retrieved the rifle, giving it a proper check over by moving all the bits that he remembered were MEANT to move.

It took him less than five minutes to give up and go to his dad's drawers and check it against the original.

"What sort of moron takes a weapon and makes it so it can't even shoot?" Dudley fumed as he stared at the twin rifles.

The one from fake-Privet had had its inner workings, from what he could tell, completely mangled, if not removed or plugged up.

Basically, utterly useless. More like a paperweight than anything remotely threatening.

He replaced the original where he found it. And after a moment of deliberation, decided to hide the scrap metal under some broken toys in the cupboard under the stairs.

Nobody used it these days, after all.

"How was your day, champ?"

Dudley looked to his father from the TV. "Boring. Nobody's out of school yet, and there's nothing more interesting than-" He pulled a face, "-Antiques roadshow on the telly."

His dad's moustache twitched. "Oh? Anything stick out from the chaff?" The mercenary side of the Dursley mentality reared its ugly head, and Dudley saw a chance to drag his dad into something.

"A couple of old World War journals, a uniform, a rifle that looked like grandad's... When was the last time we dusted it off anyway?" As hints went, it was horribly heavy handed. But dad didn't look like he minded it that much, in fact, there was a sudden gleam to his father's eyes.

"Yes... It has been a while since we fired off a round or ten, hasn't it?"

His father had barely touched firearms since a rather strange time when he was eleven, Dudley recalled, a huge and terrifying man had briefly abducted his cousin, destroying his dad's own rifle in the process. The incident had been rather traumatising for them all in various ways.

None of the Dursleys particularly LIKED Harry, but the manner in which he'd been whisked away had opened up Dudley's eyes to a world completely alien to the ordinary existence that the Dursley clan had appeared to cling to.

It'd been a real pig's arse of a situation, all said.

But this sudden shine to Vernon Dursley's eyes... It was rather frightening how well it suited him.

"My boy," He said, "let's go on a little father-son outing tomorrow afternoon, eh?"

It was as if he were suddenly more alive, Dudley decided.

It was the oddest thing.

In the end, they'd spent more time travelling around town looking for a reputable place to buy a weapon than in the coutryside, Dudley mused. Apparently gun control was growing tighter since the government had clamped down on fox hunting.

Not that that would ever be enough to stop a Dursley on a mission, his father had murmured. They'd had to make two trips back to the house for various bits of paper that they'd needed. Though the elder Dursley had been happily surprised to learn that his previous licence covered him for what he was looking to get that day.

"Deer stalking" He'd said. "Old family tradition that I revived a while back. It's been over a decade, but I've been clay pigeon shooting since then." He'd quickly added to Dudley, "I'm confident enough that I should be able to hit centre mass on a pheasant for your mother to cook on Sunday." Knowing wink.

As it turned out, despite extended effort neither of them so much as scratched a bird that evening.

And I'm back! (Take 2 after brief connection failure when attempting to save)

So. That took way longer than it should have. Couldn't really approach the beginning of this chapter in a way that cooperated with my sense of writing. I barked orders at the cast, but apparently Classy D is a bit of a naff actor.

So I skipped any mention of the post-gym, avoided writing Joe, Tina, or Gym extras 1, 2, and 3, and avoided the tantrum that I wanted to write.

But this process took me about a year to actually drill through. Compounded by a general lack of energy from working nights. (Not fun, by any stretch.) Eventually, a friend of mine demanded more soonish after hearing a rough plot synopsis. Guys, please thank RuruLala for being a faithful friendly pest and poking me. She's amazing.

Sorry it's shorter than some. Hope you enjoyed. More to follow.