Harry walks towards the kitchen after getting the children into bed for the night. As he passes the window he sees an owl waiting patiently to be noticed. Feeding the owl a few treats, Harry opens up the proffered letter and begins reading its contents.
Noticing that her husband hasn't made it into the kitchen, Ginny walks towards the hallway and sees him standing as though he is frozen. "Harry? What is it?"
Without looking up he responds, "It's a letter from my cousin."
Walking towards him in curiosity she asks, "When was the last time you heard from him?"
Scratching his head, Harry continues to stare at the letter in his hands before his responds. "I don't know. It's been a few years."
Waiting for him to continue, Ginny stares at her husband. Eventually she asks, "Well, what does he want?"
Finally looking up at her Harry says, "His parents died."
"Yeah, they were killed in a car crash and he wants me to come to the funeral," Harry says as looks back down at the letter.
"Oh. Wow. Do—do you want to go to the funeral?" Ginny hesitantly asks.
"He wants me there," Harry replies stoically.
"Yes, but—," Ginny begins again.
"He wants me there and I'll be there. For him," he responds forcefully.
Reaching a hand out to her husband Ginny responds, "Okay." Waiting a beat she timidly asks, "Are you okay?"
Moving away from her outstretched hand Harry says, "I have to—I have to run some errands. I'll be back later, Gin."
Walking quickly to the fireplace, Harry throws in some floo powder and disappears.
Sitting in the living room tapping her foot and flipping through Witch Weekly, Ginny waits impatiently for Harry to come downstairs. Hearing his thundering feet, she rises out of her seat. Wearing a dark suit and dress coat, Harry comes into the living room with a look of trepidation upon his face.
Looking at him Ginny asks, "Are you sure you want to go?"
Staring at her he responds, "I told my cousin I'd be there."
"I know, but I'm sure he would understand if you didn't go," she says as she walks towards him.
"I'm going, Ginny," Harry says forcefully.
Sighing she says, "Okay." Walking over to her husband, Ginny gives him a hug and a kiss. As she pulls away she says, "Harry?"
"Yeah, Gin?" he asks with a slight edge in his voice.
"I love you."
Looking into his wife's face and seeing the unconditional love radiating from her being he replies, "I love you, too."
The wind and cold are unrelenting as Harry stands in the back during the service. Hands in pockets, Harry watches the small gathering of people as they wipe away tears and stifle sobs. His face, however, remains impassive. Harry is shaken out of his stupor as the gathering of people begin to stand and leave. Taking a deep breath, Harry slowly walks towards the emptying chairs. As he approaches, Harry sees Dudley standing with his wife and children. Noticing Harry's approach, Dudley walks towards his cousin.
"Harry," Dudley says with a smile as he hugs his cousin.
Harry also smiles as he says, "Dudley," returning the hug.
Letting go, the two young men step back and look at each other. With sincerity lacing his words Dudley says, "Thanks for coming, mate. We saved a seat in the front for you with the rest of the family, but I wasn't sure if you were going to come. It really means a lot to me that you're here."
"Of course," Harry replies shifting uncomfortably.
Silence surrounds the two cousins as Harry stares at the two headstones.
Noticing where Harry's eyes are focused Dudley clears his throat and says, "We're all going back to the house if you want to…"
Breaking out of his trance Harry looks back at Dudley replying, "Thanks, but no. I have to get back home."
Dudley nods and says, "Yeah. Sure. Of course."
Shaking hands before pulling each other into a hug, Dudley repeats his thanks to Harry and releases his hold. After a few steps Dudley turns around to address Harry, "Let's grab drinks sometime, yeah? I don't want it to be another few years before we see each other." He smiles a hopeful smile at Harry as he awaits his response.
With a slight smile Harry nods, "Sure, mate. We'll do that."
"Good. I'll see you soon, mate."
Harry waits until Dudley's form disappears before he approaches the headstones. He stares at the names waiting for the voices of the people for whom they are for to start speaking. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Harry kneels down on the cold, hard ground.
"I didn't come here for you," he states. "I came here for your son. Because no matter how hard you tried to pit us against each other, we became friends. Maybe even family. And that is no thanks to you."
Leaning forward he continues, "Do you know how many years I spent wondering why you didn't love me? Wondering what I did wrong for you to hate me so much? I wanted to be a part of your family, to be loved and cared for. But you wouldn't let me. We were blood and you tossed me away without a second thought."
"I used to tell people that you were my mum and dad when I was little. I thought that if I believed in it hard enough, it would become true. I was so naïve," he laughs humorlessly.
"I remember making a card for you when I was five and addressing it to mummy and daddy and you know what you did? You tore it up in front of me, told me that you would never be my parents, and then locked me in my cupboard for a week. All because I had the audacity to think of you as my parents."
Making his hands into fists Harry continues, "But year after year I tried to become your son. I followed your rules and stayed hidden away, but it wasn't enough."
"And as an adult you still had control over me," Harry yells as he stands up. "I was so scared that I wouldn't be able to love anyone because I didn't grow up in a house where love was given to me. I was terrified when I had children because I was so sure I was going to be just. Like. You."
Shaking his head he points at the headstones and forcefully says, "No more. You no longer have control over me. I won't let you have control over me. You're gone now. And I'm finally free."
Feeling lighter than he has in years, Harry doesn't notice Dudley watching him as he walks away nor does he see the proud smile that adorns Dudley's face.