Changes

Dudley woke the next morning an hour earlier than usual. He couldn't help it. He hadn't felt this way about anyone since, well ever. He hummed like his father did as he got ready for work, and nearly skipped down the stairs. Life was good, he had to say. He could wave to her on the way to work, and perhaps stop by afterwards.

He was out of the apartment and down the stairs in record time, whistling as he went. He'd put Annabelle's number into his phone the night before, so he wasn't worried about that. Now, he was wondering where to take her to dinner. What did she like? Was she allergic to anything? He was so flustered about this, he entirely passed by the shop without realizing it. He made to turn back, but not wanting to look like a moron, he kept going.

His day wasn't out to a good start because of this. He was tapping a pen on his desk at about on o'clock when a co-worker entered the room; a dark haired, lanky young man with a drive to match his fathers.

"Hey Dursley, you alright? You've been out of it since yesterday." He said, picking imaginary lint from his sleeve, coffee balanced perfectly in one hand on top of a notebook. Dudley sighed, glaring at him. It was hard enough to concentrate on the work in front of him.

"Promise not to tell my father, Jacob?" he asked. That was the pain when you worked with family, word got around.

"Yeah, sure." Jacob said. He wasn't too fond of Vernon Dursley, he'd worked under him for three years and only just gotten out from underfoot.

"Met this girl yesterday." Dudley finally sighed. "Briefly, really, runs the flower shop on Drussel Ave. Her name is Annabelle."

"Oh? Whats she look like?" Jacob asked, smirking.

"Red hair and green eyes, petite." Dudley said, making Jacob roll his eyes.

"No, I mean 'whats she look like'?" and he sat down his notebook to suggestively cup his hands in front of his chest and wiggled his fingers with a wink. Dudley laughed and chucked a pen harmlessly at him.

"She's the best thing on two legs." He grinned in sport. He was a guy, come on. He was going to think that way. Jacob caught the pen and leaned back against the counter.

"So, taking her to dinner?" he asked. Dudley shrugged.

"Not sure yet. She's right on my way to work, so it seems pointless to call. Can just walk in and say hello. I'll have to figure something out and ask her to dinner, not sure where though."

"I can help there, give me some slack, I can search up a few places." Jacob said, scratching his hair. "Now, I'm curious, why don't you want your parents to know?" Dudley sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

"My mother will freak, and my father won't shut up, and then my mum will start pestering me about getting married and having kids. I want to avoid that as long as possible." He loved his parents, but he was over wanting to be coddled by them. Jacob was thinking still about the restaurant, but he laughed at Dudley's dilemma.

"Well, I can't help you with the parents, but you said this girl might own the flower shop?" He asked. Dudley nodded.

"Didn't ask, but it's possible. I didn't see anyone else there."

"Then I wouldn't take her anywhere too fancy. Maybe Italian, just not five star. Wait awhile for that, wouldn't want to make her uncomfortable." Dudley nodded at this. It made sense.

"Italian does sound like a good idea." He said. "Sure, what the hell, if you really want to, you can help me look up a few places." He grinned. "Come back around break time, we can walk across the street to that diner if you want." He knew he'd be desperate to get out by then. Jacob grinned with a wink and sauntered off with his coffee and notebook. Dudley sighed, Jacob was a good worker, so he'd let him this once. Not that the guy didn't mess around anyway. He was always ahead, and was probably a little more qualified for this spot than he himself was, but Dudley was grateful that his father had gotten him into it.

At lunchtime, he and Jacob sat in the diner across the way like many of the others in their building. The other young man had a list of three or four promising places, and by the end of break, Dudley had his choice. He'd been to the restaurant once before, several years ago with a girl so he knew it was good.

And so, with heart in mouth, he left work that day with a nervous twitch in his step, making his way down the familiar path home. He paused as he turned the corner to the street her shop was on and checked the time so those around him wouldn't notice he was trying to calm frayed nerves. Never before had a girl made him feel this flustered. He thought of all the things he'd done when he was younger and felt gloom settling in his heart, he didn't deserve a girl like that. She seemed far too nice of a woman to be with a guy like him. Sure, he was better now but still… Shaking his head, he moved forward, smoothing his hair and making sure his tie was straight.

The shop was still open, and his heart seemed to go from beating steady to a sort of jittery tap dance. He paused before he'd be visible through the window, took a deep breath, and went inside, smiling.

He was caught completely off guard. He wasn't sure exactly why he assumed she would be wearing a skirt and blouse again today, but he certainly wasn't expecting the tattered, dirty jeans or worn old band shirt. She had her hair pulled into a high ponytail today, and in addition to her soiled clothes, she had a smudge of dirt on her face where she must have wiped sweat off her brow.

When she heard the bell twinkling above her shop door, Annabelle looked dup to see Dudley, she flushed nearly scarlet and hurriedly tried to wipe her hands clean, making him laugh.

"So sorry." She said as Dudley tried not to laugh, his grin gave it away though. "Re-potting, you know. He said, nodding meaningfully at the many empty pots waiting to be rinsed and have new plants added to them.

"I see that." He chuckled, then cleared his throat and straightened his face to something a little less amused.

"So what brings you by here?" Annabelle asked with a smile. "I doubt you're bying flowers for your mum again." Dudley laughed.

"Actually, I work right around the corner from here." He said. "And since it's on my way back home, I thought instead of waiting to call, I'd stop in and ask you properly out to dinner." He closed his eyes, turned away, then back around, somehow keeping a straight face. This was terribly out of character for him. "Miss. Annabelle, I would be delighted if you would accompany me to dinner tomorrow evening." Anna belle was trying not to giggle, her face back to bright red.

"I would be absolutely charmed." She said with a smile.

"What time would work for you?" Dudley asked, still grinning.

"I close my shop at six every weekday, and three on Saturdays. I keep closed on Sundays." She said. "The only day I'm busy is Tuesday."

"How about Friday?" He asked. "Nine o'clock?" Annabelle smiled.

"That sounds wonderful." She said. Dudley smiled and left to let her close up for the day. It was only two days until Friday.

Two incredibly long days.

Dudley wasn't sure how he made it, but Wednesday and Thursday took forever. Even the shows he liked to watch took far too long. He hardly slept his nerves were so high. He stopped by Annabelle's shop to make sure he knew where she lived, and then headed home to get ready.

Come nine o'clock he was turning down her street. She lived a ways outside the city where it was a little more country than the surrounding suburbs. Her home was small and made of brick with a brick wall surrounding the yard and he could see a garden in one corner. The front yard had flowering shrubs and flower pots. He wondered when she had the time to keep her yard looking this way when she ran her own business.

He parked his car in the driveway and headed up to the house. He flattened his hair again and rang the doorbell, hoping he wasn't too early, or that she'd changed her mind. In the few moments it took for her to open the door, Dudley was sure it was a lot longer.

Annabelle had her hair pulled back in a simple half ponytail, the rest hung down her back in waves and was wearing a nice blouse and long skirt.

"You ready?" Dudley asked. Annabelle smiled.

"Yes." She said, taking his arm when he offered it. He opened the car door for her, and took the few moments between her door closing and him getting into the car to take a deep breath and calm himself.


Authors Note: Here's chapter two :)

I wanted to update all three of my active fic's on my birthday today :)

Hope you enjoy it, let me know if you want the actual date or a summary.