The Homecoming: Part 1
"Well?! Come on, boy, we haven't got all day!" Vernon Dursley stated, for once oddly being almost civil to his 12 year old nephew. "Gotta get back to those freaks, after all. Heaven forbid they find us missing. Hell, that grossly overweight, chocolate scoffing Vicar is the sanest of the lot of them!" Harry raised one amused eyebrow. While unsure of what his uncle was talking about, Harry wasn't going to spoil the miraculously civil mood Vernon was in with questions. Better to let Vernon rant, and find out what he was talking about that way.
Vernon grimaced. "And don't get me started on the insanity, nay, the freakishness, that must have invaded the Church of England! Honestly! Women Vicars! What next, homosexual Bishops?!" Vernon was working himself up into a blazing temper. Harry was deeply grateful that his uncle's vitriol for once wasn't aimed at him. Ron, Hermione and various others were watching the unfolding scene with curiosity, apprehension, and various other mixed emotions.
"Vernon, calm down. Even the freak's friends are looking at us strangely. There's time enough to rant at the boy when we're in the car." Petunia Dursley attempted to placate her husband. She then turned to her nephew. "Well, you'll be a welcome change,. Harry. With you, all we need to worry about is that weird stick and where it's pointing. I never would have imagined moving to Dilby or whatever it's called would mean having weirdos, nutcases and deviants for neighbours, or I wouldn't have agreed to it. As it is, you and the Vicar are likely to be the sanest people there, barring us."
Petunia paused, as though in thought, before continuing to tell Harry about the Dursley's new neighbours. "Oh, and a pair of dentists who recently moved there. They've got a daughter who's away at some boarding school in Scotland, but they can't tell us much more about it. Girl's name is Hermione. Hopefully she's just training to be in MI5 or something sane like that."
"Um, not the Drs. Granger, by any chance?" Harry dared to ask. "Yes. How did you know?" Petunia was suspicious. "Aunt, unfortunately Hermione is just as bad as I am. Hell, she's even in my House, and she's one of my best friends!" Harry replied, now worried.
"Hmmm. Her parents spent some time singing the praises of a boy named 'Harry Potter' to us. Vernon just assumed it was another Harry Potter, and humoured them about how wonderful the boy is. If you got up to even HALF of what the Drs Granger have been telling us, then I have a spanking with your name on it, young man! I will NOT have you putting your life in danger like that, don't you realise just how precious you are to so many people?!"
Harry gaped at her. "What are you talking about, Aunt? You hate me. At least Uncle does, and you and Dudley don't really give me much reason to believe you feel any differently. The whole world hates me. Either that, or they worship me for something I have no idea about." Harry was bewildered, and for once was daring to voice his feelings. Petunia looked confused for a few seconds, as though trying to work out why her only nephew thought she hated him, before her eyes cleared and she nodded at him, smiling sadly.
"Vernon doesn't hate you, Harry. He was badly traumatised by one of our world's 'magicians' once, and when he tried to copy some of another 'magician's' tricks, his parents punished him, because he got it wrong and ruined one of his father's good ties and hats. Since then, he has been terrified of anything that appears out of thin air, or does what it isn't meant to. He's so terrified of it that he didn't want anything 'unnatural' in the house. I had to convince him to let you stay in that stupid cupboard, because he didn't want Dudley 'contaminated', or some such rubbish, by whatever it was that made you do strange things. He's terrified of whatever it is. I think Dudley only bullies you to please his father."
She smiled, as though remembering something fondly, before starting to talk again. "I have to admit that having a half-full teacup I had only just put down on my saucer suddenly become a gerbil didn't exactly endear Lily's unique skills to me, either. I have to admit that I actually feared them for some time, until I found a few books explaining wand movements among other things. I was fascinated by them, but couldn't do any. On the other hand, I apparently have a gift for Potions. Of course our parents were more proud of Lily, because her tricks were more noticeable. That used to make Lily mad, now I remember for some reason. I made a really good fertiliser for our garden, but it was Lily who got the credit for it, no matter how many times she told our parents it wasn't her."
"Ah." Harry smiled, hoping the single word would convey his understanding. "Well that explains an awful lot. I'm guessing finding Muggles who are stranger than I am has really thrown poor Uncle for a loop?" "Indeed." Petunia looked amused. "And where did you learn a line like that? I didn't think your lot used our vernacular." "Oh we use whatever speech patterns fit the situation. I'll probably stuff up and say 'Merlin's Beard' at some point. I know I said 'for God's sake" at least twice, and got looked as strangely."
Petunia laughed at this. "I can well imagine. I meant it though, young man. If I find out you got up to even HALF of what the Drs Granger are claiming, then you, me and the hairbrush are having a LONG conversation." Harry blinked rapidly several times, before turning to Hermione, who was standing nearby. "Is this what having a family who cares about you feels like?" "Yep. Don't bother trying to escape it, you're better off just taking it at the time. 'Get it over with' and all that jazz. Then the whole situation just blows over, and everything goes back to what I call normal." "That's good. I'd like to avoid what I call normal." Harry replied. "Seconded" from Vernon of all people. "Motion carried unanimously" Petunia added, before starting to laugh at the astounded look on Harry's face. It was at this point that Dudley decided to insert his greeting to Harry, which began, oddly enough, in the form of correcting his mother.
"The place is called DIBLEY, Mum. Honestly, we move to a new town and Mum can't even bother trying to get the name right!" Harry had been wondering when he would hear from the remaining Dursley. Oddly, Dudley seemed to have only good things to say about their new neighbourhood. "Hello, Harry. You might be interested to know we've finally met someone who's more hooked on junk food than Dad and me combined, and people who are crazier than your lot. Having said that, Gerry's really nice, even if she should go on a diet."
Well, that was a bit rich. Porky and The Lardball suggesting someone else needed to go on a diet was just too much for Harry, and he gave in to the moment of weakness that allowing his eyes to bulge slightly would be perceived as. Oddly enough, Vernon clapped him on the shoulder, clearly misinterpreting Harry shock. "Ah, good. I see we actually managed to instill some NORMAL values in you at some point, Harry!" The man chortled, before taking hold of Harry's trunk. Come on, the car's just over here, we've got a bit of a drive before we reach our new home area."
Harry just nodded. "Yes, Sir." When Vernon's mood was this good, the safest answer to any comment for Harry was a quiet 'Yes, Sir'. Harry had learned this early, and it seemed to satisfy his uncle. Harry picked up Hedwig's cage and followed his family to the car they were waiting by. It seemed Uncle Vernon had gotten a new car, but this one looked a lot nicer than the one they used to have, and there was a lot more room for everyone. Also, oddly, the backseat had a minibar-type fridge, which Dudley said was full of juices and various flavoured waters. Apparantly, someone at Smeltings had gotten Dudley hooked on flavoured water, and now Dudley was converting the rest of the family. Would wonders never cease.
AN: Okay, chapter one out of the way. Up next: Dibley meets Harry Potter, and Harry meets some of the most interesting characters he's ever seen.