Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter :)
Chapter 2: Attempted Explanations and Hurried Assumptions
Harry was beginning to feel anxious.
Aunt Petunia hadn't said a single word to him since they had departed from Doctor… Eccles, that's what it was, Doctor Eccles' office, and when she had finally come back into the examining room she looked very near tears. He couldn't fathom why, but anything that brought Aunt Petunia to tears that wasn't Dudley was bad in Harry's book.
Walking through the Pharmacy car park after picking up the prescriptions the doctor had written them, she had put her hand on his shoulder, as though she was leading him towards Uncle Vernon's company car. Harry had jumped violently at the unexpected touch causing Aunt Petunia to withdraw her hand just as suddenly as she had placed it.
They were in the car now, Aunt Petunia eyes wholly focused on the rode ahead of her, but Harry had seen her cast glances at him through the rearview mirror. Harry yawned loudly, covering his mouth at the last minute for manner's sake. He heard a very distinguishable sniff and cast his own glance in the rearview mirror. Aunt Petunia was blinking fast, it seemed like her eye was irritated, but Harry saw her bring up a hand to wipe an escaped tear.
"Aunt Petunia?" he called tentatively, he hadn't felt this unsure of talking to her since he had asked why he hadn't gotten a birthday present when he was four.
"Hmm?" her chin was twitching, and Harry could tell she was holding back sobs. But what in Merlin's name was she crying for; it couldn't possibly be… him, could it? Harry almost laughed at the absurdity of it.
"Are you, er, all right?" asked Harry uncertainly.
"Of course Harry, why wouldn't I be?" Now that was the Aunt Petunia he knew, denying the blatant obvious, like the fact the Dudley looked like a whale out of water or her beloved son's horrible eating habits.
But she had used his name.
Harry didn't think he could ever remember a time when she had.
Harry tapped the fingers on his right hand against the leg of his trousers, contemplating what to say next without causing an impromptu fight. Besides, he didn't want to upset her anymore then she already was, as weird as that sounded.
He tried again.
"You seem upset; did the doctor say something about Dudley?" He spoke the last part of his sentence in a rush, glancing up at her through the rearview mirror apprehensively.
They made eye contact for a second and Harry was shocked to see something akin to pity and sympathy in her swimming eyes.
Now Harry was positive he'd lost it.
He shook his head perplexed and promptly groaned and clutched his now pounding cranium. He couldn't help the small groaned that slipped through his gritted teeth and out of his parted lips. He hoped to Merlin there was a pain reliever in that pharmacy bag. Leaning back in his seat he lowered his head to the head rest as gently as possible.
"You can recline your chair, if you'd like," said Petunia after a moment's hesitation.
Harry's eyes popped open, Aunt Petunia's was determinedly keeping her eyes on the road and a foreign blush bloomed on the back of her neck. "Erm, yeah… I- thanks," said Harry blinking owlishly as he tried to make certain that it was really Aunt Petunia talking to him.
Really Aunt Petunia…
Harry held back a groan, it all made sense now.
Why Aunt Petunia was being so nice, the doctor visit, her hand on his shoulder, the tears, they were fake, of course! Why the hell hadn't he seen it before?
Aunt Petunia was being impersonated, he was sure of it, and now he was alone with the 'fake' Petunia in a car, miles from anyone that would help him. Discreetly as possible he checked to see if 'Aunt Petunia' was watching, seeing that she wasn't, he twitched his forearm to make his holly wand hidden there slide into his hand.
Harry tried to take a deep breath, but it hitched in his throat, he was going cough. Barely having enough time to raise his eyes towards the heavens demanding the reason as to why it was always him, loud, dry, painful coughs racked through chest, burning their way up his throat. He saw the fake Aunt Petunia glance at him in the mirror, as his coughs subsided Aunt Petunia pulled into a petrol station that wasn't quite far from Privet Drive but far enough that Harry was sure he couldn't make a run for it.
Clearing his throat and wincing Harry tightened his grip on his wand as Imposter Petunia opened her door and slid from the front seat making her way around the car to open his side. Harry's breathing quickened; a hundred different scenarios running through his head. Unbuckling himself, Harry slid across the row of car seats until his back hit the opposite side of the car. Cursing the stupidity of vans with only one door entrance and exits, Harry braced himself, his Phoenix feather wand brandished in front of him; he swallowed the fighting stance reminded him horridly of the fight in the Department of Mysteries.
Fight? If he wasn't trying to keep quiet he would have scoffed, it was more breaking, entering, running, and hiding then anything else.
The sliding door opposite him was pulled open and Aunt Petunia appeared on the other side biting her lip worriedly, a timid expression on her normally pinched face.
Aunt Petunia gasped in shock, "What do you think you are doing, boy! Put that…that thing away, quick! Before someone sees it."
Harry almost sighed in relief this was most definitely the Aunt Petunia he knew, and shocking as it was he was beginning to miss the familiarity. Still, he should check, no need for another run in with an imposter, he'd had quite enough of that during his fourth year.
Keeping his wand tip level with her nose, Harry squinted through his glasses at Aunt Petunia who still had her hand clutched at her throat and eyes wide and bugging, he watched her expression carefully, looking for the slightest flicker of hesitation.
"Where did you and Uncle Vernon go for your second honeymoon? And where did you leave me and Dudley."
His Aunt seemed to be frozen, but it didn't seem like hesitation, more like bewilderment.
"Answer me," commanded Harry in a tone he only used when in the midst of a battle.
"Now!" Harry gripped his wand tighter a spell already waiting on the tip of his tongue.
"I... I-" stuttered his Aunt the hand clasped over her throat fluttering against her collar bone.
Harry opened his mouth to bark another command, dimly wondering what this must look like to other muggles.
"I- we, you stayed with Mrs. Figg Wisteria Walk and Dudders stayed with Yvonne at Number 4 while Vernon and I stayed in Liverpool for two weeks or so."
Harry blinked in surprise, his wand lowering a fraction; he hadn't expected her to answer so quickly nor so carefully. Perhaps she had thought he was going to curse her. He lowered his wand the rest of the way, stowing it in his sleeve again. There was no longer a doubt in his mind that this was indeed his mother's sister.
He remembered those two weeks quite clearly, he had been six and Dudley had just turned seven, after receiving the news of his Aunt and Uncle's plans his naïve little heart had filled with hope that he'd be able to have just a little bit of happiness and be without constant chores, only to have the spark of flame stamped on harshly when Uncle Vernon handed him a long list of jobs he was to complete everyday despite the fact that he was staying with stinky cabbage, cat hair everywhere Mrs. Figg, as he had so dubbed her.
Dudley had been whining and crying and stomping his feet for the next two days because they had denied his demand to be taken along. Harry's overweight cousin had even packed a suitcase (with nothing but snacks, mind) and set it at the door, stomping his feet and yelling at his parents with all his might, it had all ended of many promises of presents and sweets for him while they were gone.
Harry had watched with a forlorn expression as Aunt Petunia hugged her son, showering him with kisses all over Dudley's puffy face and slicked back blonde hair while Uncle Vernon pat his son proudly on the back his broad chest puffed out as he bellowed about Dudley knowing how to make a proper bargain and how proud he was of him.
Harry had gone back to his cupboard after that with a heavy heart, someone to love him, that was all he wanted. He hadn't cried, but he had stayed up most of the night drawing an imaginary family with a crayon and scrap paper he had nicked from a bin where Dudley had chucked them after he'd gotten bored.
Thinking about it now, Harry realized just how pathetic he'd been, though it did make him wonder whether or not the drawing was still there.
"Sorry Aunt Petunia, I had to check," he said apologetically, scooting forward to get back to his original seat. His blonde Aunt eyed him warily, "I- apologize… for frightening you." She said somewhat hesitantly. Harry stared at her. Maybe he should have kept his wand out, but a niggling at the back of his mind that he couldn't quite identify drove him to give her a chance.
"It's alright, I'm just paranoid a bit lately," Harry phrased his sentence carefully, not wanting to say too much or letting something about the Wizarding World slip. "What are we doing here anyway?" he asked, as he looked around the petrol station, they weren't parked where they could fill the car, so Harry assumed that she must have wanted to by something in the small store inside.
"I was wondering whether you might like something cold," said Aunt Petunia, somewhat stiffly as though determined to get the sentence past her teeth.
Harry frowned at her bemusedly but answered anyway, and feeling confident that this was the real Petunia Dursley, he thought it best to enjoy this strangely kind Petunia while he could.
Nodding her head Petunia stepped away from the door, giving her nephew space to get out. She was still feeling somewhat panicky from her experience, but strode quickly after Harry as he made his way a bit shakily towards the shop's door.
Grasping the handle of the glass door before Harry could and holding it open for him to walk through first, Petunia caught the look of surprise on his face. She offered him an apologetic glance, not quite ready to make open mouthed apologies for shrieking at him in the car for having his wand out.
"What would you like?" Petunia gestured to the row of assorted bottled juices in front of them; Harry looked completely baffled, and his facial expression and body stance screaming uncertainty. "Erm, Raspberry Lemonade sounds good," he replied, self-consciously reaching out a pale hand to pick up the bottle. Petunia hand darted out at snagged the glass bottle before he could get it, her nephew cast her another bewildered before shaking his head, a slight smile on his face as he turned away to walk to the counter.
Extending the hand that wasn't holding the juice bottle, Petunia brushed her fingers lightly over Harry's head. Harry stilled at the touch, but didn't shake her off when she awkwardly brushed her fingers through the hair on the top of his head.
Turning back to his Aunt, Harry eyed her critically, "Aunt Petunia, what did the doctor say?" Harry couldn't understand why he hadn't asked earlier but it seemed to have slipped his mind, most likely due to the head ache that couldn't seem to decide which part of his head it wanted to stay in.
Petunia hesitated, "I- he," she stuttered. "We'll talk about it at home. Is there anything else you'd like?"
Frowning in consternation Harry shook his head no. She offered him a small smile before proceeding to the counter to pay for his drink.
Surprised at himself, Harry questioned no further, and found that he rather liked the way Aunt Petunia had said home. Throwing caution to the wind Harry allowed a small smile to form on his face, deciding that he was going to enjoy this kindness while he had it, he followed Aunt Petunia out of the store.
The rest of the ten minute ride to Number 4 was spent in a strangely comfortable silence. By the time they had gotten to the house Harry had dosed off and on, his head ache had receded somewhat and all he wanted to do was get up to his room and have a lie in. The raspberry lemonade from earlier had felt heavenly sliding down his blistered throat, though the soreness made swallowing uncomfortable the lemon had made it slightly better.
Harry turned his heavy-lidded eyes toward the window, the clouds were grey and thick, looks like rain, he thought idly, sliding his eyes from the sky to the houses on Little Whinging.
Number 1, Number 2, Number… ah, here we are.
Feeling disconnected from the world and all things troublesome, Harry unbuckled his seat belt and pulled open the car door as Aunt Petunia shut of the engine and picked up her hand bag. A twinge in his bladder reminded him of the consequences of drinking an eight ounce bottle of juice all at once. Slamming the door shut Harry made his way to the front of the house unconsciously walking all the way around the yard on the pavement instead of just trudging through the well kept grass.
Kept by him, Harry snorted.
Walking through the hall, Harry was surprised to see Dudley already positioned in front of the telly. After all darling Diddy was usually beating up little kids with his 'gang' at about this hour. Shrugging Harry continued down the entrance way to the stairs, which he vaulted quickly as his needs became more urgent. He distantly heard Dudley ask Aunt Petunia something but automatically assumed it was about when the next meal would be.
Though to be fair Dudley had lost quite a bit of weight, huge as ever, but no longer obese. Shaking his head to rid it of idle thought Harry yanked his fly down just as he swung the door to the lav shut, sighing in relief as he completed his needs. Vaguely he wondered how long he'd been holding it. He wasn't sure. No matter, he had been to busy analyzing Aunt Petunia anyway.
Aunt Petunia. His sickness, they were going to talk about it.
Anxiety setting in as he washed his hands, Harry checked his fly twice and smoothed his hands over the back of his head before walking out of the loo in an attempt to maintain confidence and composure. Reassuring himself that there was nothing to worry about and Aunt Petunia just didn't want to discuss sickness where people could hear her, he walked determinedly down the stairway and towards the brightly lit, perpetually sterilized kitchen.
He looked dead on his feet in her opinion, eyes ringed with bruise like purple smudges, face paler then usual, and eyes cloudy with fever and headache. Petunia eyed her nephew critically.
"Go ahead and have a lie in, I'll call you when supper's ready."
"Erm, Aunt Petunia, you said we were going to talk about. Um, what the doctor said?" it came out as more of a question than anything else.
Petunia stilled her cutting motions; squeezing the potato she had been slicing for the beef stew in her hand, she took a deep breath calming her suddenly thumping heart. "We'll talk after supper Harry, if that's all right? Try not to worry yourself, hmm?" it sounded far less casual then she would have hoped, but she felt as though telling Harry everything finalized the doctor's suspicions.
Petunia turned back to the potato, she heard a sigh and then her nephew's receding footsteps as he made his way toward the stairs. Letting out a sigh of her own she continued with supper, filling the pot with all the ingredients and setting it on the cooker, before pulling out three bowls and spoons.
Dudley was still on the settee in the sitting room and he had asked her earlier if she had needed any help, she had denied him but couldn't help the pride that filled her heart at his offer. Dudley was changing, she could see it, and maybe one day, she wouldn't have to lie to herself about him any longer.
Supper was a quiet affair.
Harry was his usual quiet and Dudley kept his head down, and Petunia's gaze flitted between the two worriedly. She wondered how Harry would take to the news. After all, he never complained about anything, but that was due to her and Vernon's treatment of him, she thought bitterly, smashing a small carrot with the back of her spoon. Guilt ate at her insides as she spooned more stew into her mouth, despite her sudden loss of appetite.
Harry cleared his throat nervously, he wasn't quite sure what to do, eating supper with Aunt Petunia and Dudley when his Aunt was being kind to him, and Dudley was being civil, needless to say Harry was at a loss of what to do.
"I'm finished Mum," came Dudley's deep voice as he pushed back his chair and picked up his bowl from the table, clearing his mess. Harry stared, since when did Dudley clean up after himself? Harry shook his head as he scrapped the last of his meal out of his bowl. He was glad he didn't feel nauseated; Aunt Petunia's cooking actually tasted quite good.
"Actually darling, will you stay here a minute? There's something I wanted to talk to you and Harry about." Aunt Petunia was forcing calm, Harry could tell. His breathing quickened.
What had he caught? It couldn't be that contagious or his Aunt wouldn't have allowed him around them.
Petunia's gaze flickered to her nephew; she could see pending panic in his eyes though his face remained stoic.
"I took Harry to Doctor Eccles today sweetums, you remember?" her hand clenched around the silver utensil in her hand before she set it down. "Harry, I- I'm not quite sure how to explain." She looked at him uncertainly.
"Just start from the beginning."
Petunia nodded, "He, Doctor Eccles says that you have the flu, but you've had it so long that we fear it may be something else. He'd like to have you tested at a clinic sooner rather then later." She paused searching Harry's face gauging his expression, his jaw clenched and unclenched but he otherwise seemed unmoved.
"What does he think I have?" Harry dreaded the answer.
"He say's that your symptoms are similar to that of a disease called Hodgkin's-"
Both Petunia and Harry turned to Dudley in surprise.
"What?" asked Harry staring at Dudley who had turned white and was clutching the end of the table.
What the hell was cancer and how did Dudley know about it?
Dudley glanced between the two, "It's a type of cancer, we learned about it in health class." He explained cautiously.
"Wait what is it?" Dudley pays attention in class?
"You don't know?" asked Dudley incredulously, Harry stared at him clueless. "Well, I can't give you a word for word explanation-"
"That's quite alright Dudley darling, the doctor gave me a few pamphlets, we can all read through them together, we may have to learn a bit more about…" Aunt Petunia trailed of biting the corner of her lip and wringing her fingers staring at Harry.
"I'll just…" Harry watched his Aunt stutter before she turned and headed for her room where she had left her handbag. He looked at Dudley who had dropped his gaze to his hands pink spots blooming on his slightly chubby cheeks. It had been the first time Dudley had spoken to him since last summer.
Dudley cleared his throat, snapping Harry back to the present. "I wanted to say, um, I just-" Harry quirked an eyebrow, what in the ruddy hell was going on here?
"I just wantedtosaysorry," his cousin blurted before turning pink and averting his eyes.
Harry blinked, once, twice, had Dudley just apologized to him. I must be dying, thought Harry dimly thinking of how melodramatic he sounded.
"You don't have to say anything, I just wanted to say it for a while now and I wasn't quite sure how to say it." Dudley was speaking to his hands, cheeks still pink with embarrassment.
"I'm dying aren't I, that's why you're saying this?" asked Harry, he glared at his cousin, how very like the Dursleys to start feeling sorry for their wrongdoings when they knew the person they had wronged would no longer be there. Disgusting.
Dudley's eyes widened with shock, but before he could reply Aunt Petunia returned to the kitchen various papers and pamphlets in hand. Wordlessly she handed them to Harry, laying a bony hand on his shoulder in what Harry supposed she thought was comforting. He jerked his shoulder out from under her skinny appendage. She had treated him so nicely because she thought he was dying, though he shouldn't have expected any different.
What was he thinking? That after all these years they would suddenly start to feel differently towards him?
But what if they had?
No, he couldn't that, he'd spent far to many years trying to gain their approval.
But Harry couldn't help the betrayed feeling that crept up his heart.
Pushing out of his chair he stormed down the hall and up the stairs, taking care to slam his door loudly causing the locks on the outside of his door to jingle. The sound angered Harry even more.
They had locked him up, starved him, treated him like dirt, and never gave a damn about anything he had to say, and now, now that he was sick and dying with some kind of disease, they wanted to feel guilty about it. His eyes pricked but Harry pushed the sadness he had buried long ago back down into the recesses of his mind.
Snape would be proud, he thought bitterly, giving his chest of drawers a good kick before sitting down heavily atop his unmade bed.
He looked down at the papers in his hand, ignoring his nervousness and focusing his mind on the new challenge at hand. He calmed his tremulous breath.
Different Types of Cancer and Possible Treatments.
A/N: So I just wanted to let everyone know that the next update wont be for another two weeks or so as i won't be on the computer next week, and I'll have to begin the third chapter the week after next, it takes about three or four days to type and I have a feeling this next chapter will be lengthy. So I hope I lived up to expectations with this one, I'm not exactly happy with it, I think it's kind of dry, but I posted it any how because I won't be on for a while. I didn't have this chapter beta'd by my beta reader RiaRose, because I'm posting right after i finished it, so if there are mistakes, i apologize. I did however have it read over by two friends that I have here on , so thanks to them for helping me out.
Hope you liked it,