Dudley had to hurry.
He had parked his car beside his fathers, and had jogged out into the street, glancing up and down for the person he had seen. How many times had he noticed them, and just looked the other way? Pretending they weren't there?
Their fashion sense was really very strange, and he did wish they would try to blend in better. Some just didn't seem to care. This one, however, seemed to be about his age, and the only difference was the scarlet shirt that looked like a sports jersey with a great golden lion on the back. He knew the significance of this, because he had seen it many times hanging in Harry's room if his door had been left open too far. He chased after him, hoping to catch him before he vanished. He had seen them do this on a number of occasions.
"Hey! Wait up!" He yelled, shoving through a few business men, too wrapped up in the time to bother moving out of the way. The man he was trying to catch the attention of didn't seem to realize he was being addressed, and Dudley wracked his brain for anything that might help. Scarlett… Golden lion… what had been the name on the shirts and flags? He finally remembered, just as the wizard paused to spin on his heel. "GRYFFINDOR! Hold UP!" He almost screamed. No one paused but the wizard, looking around in curiosity. Dudley slowed, trying to catch his breath. "Hold.. up." He gasped, stopping beside him.
"You okay there?" The wizard asked. Dudley nodded, noting that this particular wizard had reddish hair, and looked as he'd been involved in a few explosions. His hair was singed in the front, and his eyebrows were half grown back.
"I need a favor." Dudley said, straightening up and fixing his hair. "I'm not like you, I'm a… what do call 'em…" He frowned, trying to think.
"Muggles?" The wizard offered helpfully. Dudley nodded.
"Yeah, those. My cousin, he's one of you. And I know how your mail system works, sort of. I wanted to know if you had an owl." The wizard seemed a little taken aback, but nodded.
"Yeah, sure I do." He said.
"Would you mind meeting somewhere later in the day, here, maybe? And you could send the letter for me." Dudley said, feeling incredibly awkward. The wizard seemed to be along the same lines of thought.
"Well who's the letter for?" He asked. Dudley relaxed a little. He'd forgotten Harry was a celebrity.
"Harry Potter." He said. The reaction was almost instant. The Wizards eyes bugged out a little and he shook his head.
"Really? You're the cousin he always complained about?" He asked. "Seamus Finnagin (sp), nice to meet you Dursley." He grinned, offering a hand. Dudley frowned, taking his hand.
"Nice to… meet you too?" He said. How much had Harry complained? This Seamus guy probably thought he was some fat guy who got everything his way.
"Alright, how about 12:30, I'll meet you back here. That's lunch break for me. I'll take your letter and have my owl deliver. I haven't talked to Harry in years, geeze." He shook his head. "I imagine you haven't either?"
"Not really." Dudley shrugged. He glanced at his watch and then back and Seamus. "I gotta go, if I show up late my dad's going to interrogate me. Thanks again, I'll be here."
"And so will I!" and with that, he vanished with a spin on his heel and a pop, making Dudley jump.
Well… he'd have to get used to it.
Over the next four hours, Dudley worked, leaving a document open for the letter. He moved back to it as he thought of how to word things, and at about 12 o'clock, he checked to be sure the coast was clear, and printed it out, snatching it from the printer before anyone, especially Jacob, could see it. He sat down and leaned back, reading it over again before setting it in an envelope, sealing, and addressing it with his home address, and Harry's name written in large letters in the middle. He headed down to street level, skirting his father's office, and made it to the spot he had stopped Seamus at, hoping he hadn't forgotten.
At exactly 12:30, Seamus popped back into existence, nearly giving Dudley a heart attack. Rubbing his chest, he handed the letter to an apologetic Seamus.
"Thanks again." Dudley said. "This actually does mean a lot."
"Sure, no problem." Seamus smiled. "Just remember, keep this to a down low with the other muggles, since not everyone knows we exist and all." He said. Dudley nodded.
"I know. And ah, might wanna take it easy with the explosives there." He said, nodding to his singed hair. Seamus rolled his eyes, and was gone in an instant.
At the end of the day, Dudley left early, going to the shop. Annabelle greeted him with a smile.
"Hey! You're off early today!" She said. He smiled, kissing her cheek. He noticed she often had a relieved look on her face when she saw him, like she was afraid he'd simply stop coming in. Today it was rather more pronounced. Was it because he hadn't seen her at lunch time?
"Yeah, thought I'd leave a little early." He smiled.
"You get your letter sent?" She asked, he nodded, twitching his shirt a little.
"Yes, and I was also thinking, We've been dating for three, four weeks now…" he paused at the flicker of worry that ran through her eyes.
"Would you like to come to my parents for dinner?" He asked. "Sudden, I know, but I just thought of it and figured I'd ask. Still have to talk to my father, but I'm sure they won't mind." He frowned hoping the look on her face wasn't fear, or horror.
It was neither, as she broke out into what he thought was the most dazzling smile he had ever seen.
"I'd love to meet your parents." She said. They'd spoken so much the night before, she really did want to meet them, although Dudley was a little, well embarrassed. Especially by his mother's nicknames for him. He shuddered as 'diddykins' ran through his mind.
"Well, let me go catch my dad before he drives off, and I'll be right back." He said, kissing her over the counter and then hurrying back out the door to jog across the street to the parking area for their business building. He caught the large man just as he was unlocking the car, whistling as he thought about what Petunia was making for dinner.
"Dad!" Dudley called, jogging up to the car. "Dad, wait a sec." Vernon paused, but grinned as he saw his son.
"Ah, Dudley! Missed you leaving, I suppose. How is work going? Getting your Drills all finished?"
"Er, yeah. Caught up now." He said sheepishly. In wake of dating Annabelle, he had fallen slightly behind of where he normally was.
"Excellent! You know your mother has been worried about you, seem to be a little under the weather lately, my boy." Dudley smiled a little at this. His mother over reacted a lot.
"Not under the weather dad, actually, been quite above it." After Vernon gave him a dry look, he gave in. "Listen, I've been seeing a girl for a few weeks now…" He held up a hand to stop whatever his father was going to say as a grin spread across his face. "She's very nice, very pretty, and perfectly normal. Please, I beg you, don't go interrogating her like you did the last girl! This one is very important to me, and she, well I think she might have some issues concerning relationships. Mainly people staying by her. She gets slightly panicky whenever I leave for something out of the ordinary and if you start asking her all those weird questions, I think you might scare her off." Dudley was pleading by the end of his small speech. HE honestly didn't blame Annabelle for having slight panic attacks, and was actually a little flattered by them. If she cared enough to be that worried he'd leave her, she must really think something of him. Or maybe she honestly just didn't like being alone. Being truthful to himself however, Dudley did like the scenario that stroked his ego a tad.
Vernon, however, was chortling. "If you, my boy, picked out a girl, she must be the most normal being on earth! Not having any of that wishy-washy nonsense you're mothers sister got into I see! There's a good lad!" Dudle smiled, but felt like it was more of a grimace. If only his father knew what he had done at lunch time. He wondered vaguely if the owl had reached his cousin… damn it was weird to think that way.
"Anyway, would mother object to a short notice dinner guest?" He asked. Vernon laughed.
"I doubt it! Tell you what son, I'll give you a call when I get home. I'm sure she'll be as excited as I am." He grinned. "Proud of you son! Proud of you!" He clapped Dudley on the shoulder, got into the car, and drove off, leaving Dudley feeling very confused and slightly torn. He loved his parents, but he felt obligated to patch the hole between him and Harry. And, thinking about it after a moment, he thought Annabelle might enjoy that part of their world too.
An hour later, Dudley and Annabelle were pulling into the driveway of Number 4 Privet Drive. Dudley was as nervous as Annabelle, but he had nothing to worry about as he opened her door for her and led her up the walk, pointing out a few things. Like Harry's favorite hiding spot the summer after their fifth year of school. Despite his mothers efforts, somehow the dirt just never seemed to fill that dip his body had made as he lay listening to the news.
"Your cousin was a bit of an oddball, wasn't he?" She asked with a smile. Dudley nodded.
"Well, he was kind of forced to be." He said. He ended the short conversation there, but not without a warning to not speak about Harry, as his parents still pretended most of the time that he didn't exist. Annabelle nodded, and he knocked on the door.
It swung open almost immediately.
Petunia had decided she had needed to dress up and was wearing a dress Dudley had recently seen her in at a dinner party. He could smell her cooking and did indeed notice it was stronger and more enticing than Annabelle's, but he did love her cooking.
"Oh Hello! Oh, Dudley's told us SO much about you!" Petunia cried, smiling widely. Dudley and Annabelle both grinned. She knew he hadn't told them a thing until today.
"Sorry about the short notice, mum." He said, shedding his jacket. Petunia tutted and took it from him, shutting the door.
"Not to worry, Diddy Darling, Mummy's always prepared for unexpected and pleasant surprises!" She trilled and led them through to the sitting room where Vernon greeted Annabelle warmly. Dudley had winced and felt himself go red at the pet name, but didn't say anything. He introduced everyone, and he relaxed as they sat down to a very enjoyable evening.
After dinner, Petunia broke out the baby pictures, which had Dudley groaning and hiding his face in his hands alternately. Any time she said something gushy, he pointed out what a brat he'd actually been. This didn't seem to bother his mother in the slightest, always convinced that her son was the most perfect human in the world. Annabelle got a laugh out of his baby pictures, and was very polite through his elementary days as she noticed just what he had told her. He'd gained weight rapidly and had gotten to a disgusting size. It was only much later that she confided how astounding it was that they had let it go so far, and listed off a number of psychological reasons her father would have given. Dudley decided her father and his parents would not have gotten on well, although he DID smile at the mental image of him and his father having a conversation.
As the four were talking and laughing, and enjoying a dessert, miles away, a different evening was taking place.
Harry had rebuilt his parents old home in Godric Hollow, and was currently relaxing in his armchair, one from the Weasley's that, while old, was very, very comfortable. Ginny was reading 'What to Expect in a Magical Childbirth' in the rocking chair nearby. Hedwig was perched by the open living room window which was letting in a delightful late summer breeze. He had attached a special room for her during the winter in the attic, so that she could come and go as she pleased and didn't have to wait for a window to be opened for her.
It was to this relaxing scene that Seamus's barn owl swooped into, dropping Dudley's letter into Harry's lap and perched on the back of his chair, hooting quietly. Confused, Harry offered him a treat from the bowl beside him, and the owl swooped out again.
"Who's it from, Harry?" Ginny asked, as confused as he was. Harry shrugged and turned the letter over, and blinked.
"It's, from my cousin…" He muttered.
"The great big prat?" Ginny asked, smiling, though still confused.
"Yeah, that one." Harry said, grinning at her momentarily. Wondering what on earth Dudley of all people could want, and why'd he send an Owl? Harry didn't know that he had ever been in contact with a wizard, ever. Well, not after his few less than pleasant encounters and Harry himself of course.
However, he opened the letter and read though it silently.
This letter, I realize, is years and years overdue.
I want to apologize for everything. Every punch, kick, and insult I threw at you. I can't believe you took it all.
I wish I could say I didn't know any better, but really I should have, even if my parents did nothing.
Things have been a bit… well odd for me lately. Things that have made me think more than usual (here Harry snorted). I wanted to ask if you would like to meet, sit down and talk. An apology in writing just isn't enough. I want to apologize, in person, and I want to learn about you and your world. The one I was too much of a prat to accept when it was right there.
Send me an answer anyway. I'll leave a window open in my apartment. If you send an owl, please don't have it come to work. Dad will flip.
Harry wasn't sure if he should laugh or not. He wasn't sure what he should do. Ginny beckoned, so he handed her the letter. After she too had read through it, they sat in silence.
"I think you should." She said after a moment. "Write back, talk to him. He's made the next move, Harry. He's trying." She said, looking at her husband. Harry frowned. He'd been deeply distrustful of the Dursley's all his life.
"I… Don't… well alright." He said, shaking his head as his wife gave him a pointed look. He summoned a quill and parchment, and as he wrote, Hedwig fluttered over to him and perched on the arm of the chair. When he was done, he tied the letter to her leg and patted her. "Thank you girl." He said. "Now remember, the address, not the addressee. Hang around there till he gets the letter, even left a few treats in there for you for when he gets it." She hooted happily and flew off. He went to the window, watching until her snowy form faded from view.
"Well this was all very strange…" He muttered.
Authors Note: Well, i wanted to update all three of my active stories together,
but as im having trouble with one, figured i'd get the two i have ready updated :)
Well, hope you liked this chapter, decently longer than the others.
Hope you're looking forward to a few comical moments i have planned :)