If you are confused as to why this has popped up as updated, yet seems to finish in the same place. The new chapter is in fact Chapter 4.
"We are going to miss it."
"Daisy we are half an hour early," said Dudley as his wife struggled to push his daughter's unwieldy trolley across the floor of Kings Cross Station. The owl, now christened Powell by popular vote, hooted nervously from its unsteady perch atop the large trunk. Dudley would have helped, but his hands were full with his mother's wheelchair. She sat, tight-lipped and doll-like amongst a multitude of blankets. She hadn't spoken to him for weeks after he had told her. She wouldn't look at him, even now.
Yet here she was. All it had taken was Daisy asking. She had taken her grandmother's hand after the inevitable shouting match that had occurred at the news of her going to Hogwarts. Please, Grandma, please don't be angry, please come see me off. Dudley knew that she didn't understand what she was asking of her grandmother in that moment. But to his astonishment Petunia had stared at her for a long time, then wrapped her in a bony hug; and here she was, voluntarily stepping foot into the wizarding world. He honestly hadn't thought she had it in her.
They made their way through the packed station. Fellow parents were easily spotted pushing similar trunk-cage combos. The boys ran on ahead, racing to find the spot where platforms nine and ten met.
They watched as one family slid nonchalantly towards a remarkably unremarkable column. They needn't have bothered, nobody so much as glanced their way as three carts in a row, complete with screeching owls, disappeared though a supposedly solid wall. Dudley had to will himself to watch what they did. His mind was telling him that there were so many other things he needed to do than stare at some silly wall… He shook his head, refocusing and saw Brandon and Theo do the same thing. He felt the shilling grow warm against his skin, and the pressure to look away eased somewhat.
Theo walked determinedly up to wall and pushed. At first it seemed as if the wall would stay solid, then it yielded and his arm disappeared up to the elbow. With a cocky grin, he pushed onward and disappeared. Petunia muttered something as Brandon quickly followed him and Amanda and Daisy shoved the trolley through.
Not giving Petunia time to object, he passed through the brickwork at a fast jog. They slowed to a halt just beyond the gate. Petunia gripped the arms of her wheelchair and stared, tight lipped at the multitude of robed parents and their children whirling in and out of the fog made from the bright red steam train. It had not changed in the quarter of a century since the one and only time Dudley had stood, terrified waiting for his weirdo cousin to get off of the train. He suddenly wondered if Petunia had ever seen her little sister off on the same train, if it seemed as unchanging to her as it did to him.
He stared down at her pinched face, her eyes focused on the distant past, and was suddenly overcome with sympathy for her. Coming here obviously caused her a great deal of pain and he was grateful that, however grudgingly, she had managed this show of support for her granddaughter's sake.
It was then that Harry and his family stepped out of the steam. Dudley saw him do a literal double take when he saw Petunia.
"Well well." He heard him mummer as they approached. "Hell really has frozen over."
"Hello Aunt Petunia."
Petunia placed her hands primly in her lap and refused to look at him as he stepped forward to greet them all. Harry's kids were all pushing identical trunk and owl sets before them. The boys peered curiously at their cousin's grandmother but were quickly distracted by their cousin's greetings.
Lily was more bold, she stared unabashedly at her great aunt, her red little head tilted in that queer way of hers. Dudley knew when his mother's eyes landed on the child, he heard her breath hitch for a moment, and then continue. To Dudley's surprise and possibly Petunia's as well she addressed Harry's daughter.
"And what is your name?" She asked, her voice almost lost amount the sea of noise.
"Lily Luna Potter," the little girl replied promptly. Petunia nodded almost to herself, Dudley glanced up and saw that Harry was also watching the quiet little scene, his eyes unreadable. Daisy was glancing between the two of them, a worried expression on her face. Lilly reached over and firmly grasped her hand. "We are best friends you know," she said, a touch of defiance entering her voice. Clearly, Daisy had confided in her cousin her fears about her grandmother's reaction.
Petunia regarded them both, standing there in their Hogwarts robes for a long moment. One thin and blond, proper and prim; the other small and redheaded, mischievous and fey. The almost-echo of a different day long ago.
Dudley held his breath as she unfolded a frail arm and grasped her grandniece gently under the chin. She examined Lily's pointed little face and sorrel brown eyes, searching perhaps for the echo of her namesake.
"Well Lily Potter," she said at last, "I wish you the best at your new school, I hope you have many happy years ahead of you." To those who did not know her well, her voice was the picture of polite gentility, yet Harry glanced sharply at her, a complex expression passing over his features. Dudley stared at his mothers very nearly unwavering face and wondered how long such words had echoed around the quiet chambers of her heart and if it helped to speak time aloud in memory of the little girl who could never hear them.
This little girl took these words with a solemnity Dudley wished he could thank her for. She took her great aunt's hand for a moment, and then smiled Harry's smile at her. Only Dudley would be close enough to hear Petunia's breath stopping for a long moment, and he thought perhaps that it was another thing inherited from her grandmother.
"Thanks Aunt Petunia," she said, and ran off to talk to her friends, her red flag of hair streaming behind her. His mother watched her go, her eyes swimming in carefully controlled emotion.
Dudley met Harry's eyes for a moment, and then the two silent witnesses turned away.
His boys really were doing well he noted with pride as they chatted animatedly to their departing family and friends. He could see the longing flicker across their faces as they gazed at the train and all the excited children, but they seemed to be resolved to send their sister off in good cheer. They were gathered in a huddle, all promising to write to each other and to visit in the holidays.
They were doing better than he was to be honest. The whispers were following Harry once again, and Dudley noticed that the pointing seemed to now include his family as well. Not all of those faces looked friendly, he wondered how much was known about how Harry had been treated growing up. He gripped the handles of his mother's wheelchair and tried to tell himself that this was the best thing for Daisy. Denying her this would be rejecting an essential part of her. He'd known this all along. It had been the only thing that had made him pick up the phone instead of picking up his family and running as far away as he could manage. He couldn't have bared to ask her to shut away all the joy that was so evident at each touch of magic. To have told her that that part of her was wrong and freakish and should be suppressed. He loved her too much.
But here, on the precipice of her leap into the unknown he fought the urge to snatch her up into his arms and never let her go. She was so young, and he was sending her to a place where he couldn't protect her, wouldn't even understand and could never really be part of. She would be all alone, away from her family…
Dudley focused on her little blond head, almost lost amongst the sea of red and black and brown that surrounded her. She wasn't alone, he realised looking at the knot of nattering youngsters. She was surrounded by family. The Potter children and their friends were obviously used to the stares and the whispers, and they encircled their two youngest members protectively, shielding them with laughter and chatter from the curiosity of the crowd. She would go there with a dozen friends and family to look out for her, to help her when she struggled or got lost or down…
He had picked up the phone and Harry, without a second thought, had welcomed them into his world. He had owed his poor excuse for a family nothing but resentment for the childhood he had endured. But instead of bitterness, he had taken his little niece and her frightened father and offered them family, and friendship and guidance….
He turned to Harry, who was watching the children with a fond smile. He grasped his arm.
"Thank you." It was suddenly very important that he said it. "For…for everything. Thank you."
Harry looked startled for a moment.
"Ahh D-man, that's what family is for," he said with a smile and a clap on the back, but his eyes looked misty as he turned away.
The children were saying their goodbyes now, with many hugs and kisses to go around. Daisy came back to them, chatting earnestly with her brothers as she did so, Dudley caught snatchers of their whispered conversation.
"I really don't think you should try brewing potions in the loo, I don't think it wo-"
He decided to deal with that later. His little girl stood before them, a brother at each elbow. She really didn't look old enough he thought as Amanda knelt down to hug her, a stream of last minute instructions pouring out in a choked voice. Petunia, who had been cocooned quietly in her blankets suddenly leant forward and enfolded her in a tight hug.
"You be careful there sweetie." She said fiercely, her eyes bright. "There are dangers as well as wonders at that school, you must make sure you look after yourself." Daisy nodded seriously and leant forward to give her grandmother a kiss.
"Thank you for coming grandma." She said, and Dudley wondered if perhaps she was a lot more shewed than he had thought.
He knelt down and his daughter flew into his arms.
"Goodbye daddy," she said seriously, peppering his wet face with kisses. "I'll write every week and definitely come home for the holidays."
"You'd better," he said hoarsely. "Be safe my little chickpea. If anyone gives you trouble, tell your cousins OK, and if anything-"
"I'll be fine dad," she said laughing at him. "I've got loads of friends and I've even met some of the teachers already, don't worry so much."
"I can't help it chickpea, that's what dads are for," he said smiling a little wanly.
Finally after all the hugs and kisses were done, it was time for them to board. As he watched Lily took Daisy's hand, the Potter children and their friends formed almost of phalanx around them as they headed towards the train.
All of a sudden, Petunias hand shot out and gripped Harry's arm, he looked down at her in surprise.
"Promise she will be safe, she said staring almost desperately into his face. "Promise me that no harm will come to her in that place."
A myriad of expression passed over Harry's face in that moment, but the one that it settled on was sympathy. He knelt down beside his birdlike aunt's wheelchair, ignoring the fresh outbreak of whispering that it caused and pointed towards Daisy's honour guard as they entered the train.
"She won't ever be alone Aunt." He said gently, "she has her family right there with her."
Harry stood, smiling and waving at their daughters, both handing out of one window as the train whistle blew. He placed a hand on her thin shoulder.
"You know I can't promise perfect safety," he said as the train pulled away in a cloud of steam. "But trust me, they will be some of the happiest years of her life."