Court Ordered Diet
by Surplus Imagination
Disclaimer: Harry Potter, Dudley Dursley and the other characters of the Harry Potter Universe belong to J.K. Rowling. This writing is for pleasure only. No profit is intended.
A/N: Yeah! The End! I hope you like the finish. I've agonized over it and rewrote it at least five times. Then, I lost the file on all but 774 words and had to rewrite the rest. Lesson to be learned: always print a hard copy when the chapter is complete! I hope you enjoy.
It's All True, Every Word
The next day brought myriad changes. Harry woke refreshed for the first time in weeks. After a much needed shower and change of clothes, Harry was surprised to find Aunt Petunia cooking breakfast downstairs. Not only was she cooking, she had set a place for Harry as well.
Uncle Vernon still looked pale, but tucked into his eggs, sausage and tomatoes with gusto. Dudley was eating a bowl of bran cereal without the usual disgusted look on his face. Everyone was completely silent. That suited Harry just fine as he inhaled all the food placed in front of him. Mumbling his thanks, Harry went out the back door to work on the garden.
Sometime around noon, the back door opened and a plate with two sandwiches was placed on the step. Surprised, Harry broke for lunch tearing hungrily into the unexpected meal. While he was eating, a brown school-owl delivered a letter from Dumbledore saying he was coming, this Friday evening, to take Harry to the Burrow. Dumbledore was coming to Privet Drive? That was as strange as Snape's appearance. Harry had to wonder if Snape had talked to Dumbledore about what happened. If the letter hadn't mentioned the Burrow, Harry would have thought that Dumbledore was coming to expel him and break his wand.
That evening, Dudley had another father-supervised weigh-in. It wasn't pleasant.
"You're down twelve pounds," Uncle Vernon exclaimed to a stunned Dudley. "Dammed scale must be broken," he muttered, glowering at Harry. "You had better not put any of your funny-business on this scale!"
"No, Uncle Vernon. Dudley has been keeping to task," Harry was able to truthfully say. Privately, he was fairly impressed with twelve pounds, considering the week they just had. Dudley was half way to his judge-ordered weight loss goals.
"Daaaddddd! I can't believe that you don't believe that I can't lose weight!" Dudley cried, stepping off the scale. One chubby foot kicked the metal instrument halfway across the room.
Harry clamped down on his tongue, hard, to keep from pointing out that he couldn't 'believe' that statement. The double, or was it triple, negative was just screaming to be identified. For some strange reason, Harry kept noticing the grammatical errors around him. Somehow, he was certain that Snape was responsible. It had been happening since the 'incident'.
Dudley erupted into a teen's version of a temper tantrum as he sensed the imminent break in parental control. Uncle Vernon was sure to give in to Dudley's temper. There was no mystery as to origin of Dudley's worst personal habits. Father and son deserved each other, each the product of the other's manipulation. Harry rolled his eyes in disgust as Uncle Vernon comforted a distraught Dudley with a meaty wad of cash.
The next couple of days passed quickly. Aunt Petunia continued to cook all the meals and kept Harry's plate full. She also pointedly avoided looking him directly in the eye, much to Harry's intense relief. The events of the last week were still too fuzzy and painful. Harry didn't really want confirmation of what he thought had happened with Snape was true. Deep down, he knew it was. Harry just wasn't ready to deal with his Aunt about it.
Dudley kept to his diet, performed his workouts on schedule and even kept up with his studies. For the first time in his fifteen years of life, Dudley was trying. Harry felt the surprising stir of pride in Dudley's accomplishments and his own abilities as a reluctant teacher.
Not everything was perfect, though. Dudley's maturing behavior often relapsed into a childish one. Oddly, Dudley started to recognize these regressive moments and took to cutting them off more quickly. Dudley was growing up. Harry still spent several frustrating hours, each day, correcting Dudley's work and trying to explain the confusing elements of commas, hyphens and semicolons. Dudley struggled to learn and actually made progress.
Each evening, Dudley would spend hours grooming his hair and trying on different types of clothing for his coming date with Rita. Harry made the appropriate gagging noises when asked his opinion of Dudley's fashion sense. Harry's life had never been so, well, normal.
The deep ache of Sirius' loss crept into Harry's mind at odd moments. The work in the garden no longer kept the memories at bay. Harry was never again able to regain the fever-pitch of effort needed to block the world out. At least each episode was somewhat less painful than the previous time. He was even remembering the good times instead of just the Veil. Harry supposed that he was healing. He wasn't really sure what to make of that. He would be sure to ask Hermione when next he saw her.
On Tuesday, Dudley went to the police station and repainted their front door, with Harry's help that is.
"Stop slopping paint all over the place," Harry barked at his green-splattered cousin. "It takes a whole lot longer to get paint off of things than to put it on correctly." Harry sighed as Dudley sloshed green paint on his new, white trainers. "Dudley! Watch what you are doing!"
"I am, Harry. Move your bloody feet somewhere else," Dudley replied. The overweight teen's face was flushed with the summer heat. His tongue stuck out the side of his mouth in a gesture of concentration. Dudley was painting a figure outline of a girl on the police station's door; a girl with obviously large . . . assets. Other than the overblown proportions, the drawing was rather good, in a crude way.
"Rita?" Harry asked, impressed.
"Rita," Dudley affirmed, with a nod. "Of course, there's not enough room to really show her . . . " Dudley finished with a burlesque bump and grind and a gesture of cupped hands.
Harry responded to that little show with a wipe of paint across the masterpiece. "Let's get finished, Romeo."
"Who?" Dudley gaped.
"Right," Harry said, completely covering the figure. "We'll get to Shakespeare right after tea."
Harry also reworked Mrs. Figg's garden in decorative cabbages and larkspur, as promised. Mrs. Figg supervised the renovation from her front window, surrounded by her cats. The woman never blinked. Harry was just a little creeped-out by all the surveillance. Mr. Tibble's stare was the most unnerving. He didn't blink either.
Dudley was absolutely no help. He just played with the new kittens all day and regaled Harry with tales of Rita's attributes. For some reason, Harry didn't mind Dudley's ramblings. He would never admit it, but he actually enjoyed the babble.
On Wednesday, the package from Snape arrived. Dressed-up in a pair of khaki pants and a flowered Hawaiian shirt, Dudley downed the 'love potion' in one gulp and sauntered off to ask Rita out. That evening, Harry relaxed in the finished back garden. It was magnificent. Perfect. The fragrance of the blooming Fairy's Lure was sweet in the evening air. The garden contest was scheduled for the next morning. Harry was confident of another win.
Dudley came home at dusk sporting a lipstick smear on one cheek and a goofy grin on top of his double-chin. The potion worked. A date with Rita had been set for the coming Saturday.
"Told you that all I needed was a foot in the door," Dudley crowed. "The Dursley charm never fails." Dudley two-stepped his way up the back steps, dancing with an imaginary partner. On the top step, Dudley tripped and landed noisily into the back door. He may have charm, but he definitely lacks grace, Harry mused to himself.
Harry felt a pang of regret that he would not be at Privet Drive to find out how the date went. That is, if Dumbledore was serious about taking Harry to the Burrow.
As the week passed, that event seemed more and more unlikely. After all, things were going far too smoothly and the events of last week seemed like a vague dream. And there was that continuing grammar obsession . . .
When Friday arrived, Harry convinced himself that Dumbledore's letter was all a hoax. He didn't pack his things, or say anything to his relatives. He had received another letter from Ginny cheerfully describing the antics of her new puppy, Snitch, and the summer happenings of her current boyfriend, Dean Thomas. Harry's chest constricted with an unnamed emotion as he read the letter. Dudley was wrong about Ginny's previous letter. Ginny didn't like him. He was happy about that, right? Harry's emotions swirled from relaxed to depressed in regular cycles.
As the sun set on Privet Drive that Friday evening, Harry saw not one, but three fairies flitting about the back garden. They were beautiful little things, innocent and playful. He also caught sight of a garden gnome tugging at the blue ribbon proclaiming 'First Place' resting on the freshly painted garden fence. The pond still lacked magical Koi, but the garden was filled with magical beauty. Smiling at his accomplishments, Harry went inside to go to bed.
Harry read the letter from Dumbledore for the millionth time. He was still uncertain what would happen at eleven o'clock. Clutching the letter in his hand, Harry felt deeply asleep dreaming of fairies, judge's gavels and a red-haired Ginny.
The Burrow, 4:45 a.m.
"I'm telling you, it's all true," Harry protested against laughter. "Every word."
"Honestly, Harry, the entire tale is completely implausible. Dudley poisoned your uncle with a weight loss potion you brewed in your kitchen?" Hermione sat cross-legged on the floor in Ron's bedroom. A look of complete skepticism dominated her face. "You actually brewed a successful potion in your kitchen?" Her voice went up on the last word.
"Don't forget the part about Dudders getting stuck in the cupboard under the stairs," Ron interjected. "Tell that part again. I love it that he got stuck!"
"Which made your uncle sick because Dudley spiked his tea?" Hermione continued.
"Dudley was mad at the moment. Uncle Vernon was yelling at him for gaining back some of the weight he had lost," Harry grinned at the memory.
"Which made your uncle so ill that you were forced to write Snape for help?" Hermione shrieked. "You actually wrote Snape, Harry? Snape? Were you mad?"
"Well, he did send me the original recipe," Harry mused, shifting his weight. Ron's bedroom floor was very hard. His bum was going to sleep. "I know it sounds odd."
Hermione gave Harry a blank stare while Ron rolled around on the floor, laughing himself to agony. Snitch, the golden retriever puppy, scampered in and happily jumped on Ron's prone form.
"I can't go on," Hermione finally stated. "It's just too bizarre."
"Don't forget the blackmail," Ron added from under the wiggling mound of puppy fur. Choking on a hairy mouthful, Ron said in a mock-serious voice, "I, for one, totally believe you, Harry. Never in a million years could you make up a story like that one."
Harry just pulled out a much-folded piece of parchment from his back pocket. He handed it to Hermione with a flourish. He winked at Ron and drug the hyper puppy over to his own lap. Snitch was a really good name for the dog. He moved like a Snitch. Harry wondered where Ginny was, but was too cowardly to ask. He peered hopefully out the open bedroom door. Ginny's bedroom door was firmly closed.
Relieved of puppy mass, Ron levered himself up on one elbow to read over Hermione's hand. "Blimey, Harry! It's all true!"
"Yes," Hermione mused, her lips quirked with amusement before breaking into a wide grin. "Unbelievable!"
"And your Aunt Petunia really pinched Snape's bum?" Ron's face screwed up in disgust. "Ewww!"
"I wonder how that Kneazle got into a Muggle animal shelter," Hermione asked. She patted her lap enticingly to the puppy. "Crookshanks is half-Kneazle, you know. I wonder if there are any more? Magical creatures in Muggle shelters, I mean. How often does that happen?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders. Hermione had researched her pet shortly after the purchase and had told them all, repeatedly, about her findings. Harry also wondered how Dudley could see the Kneazle for what it was, but wisely kept that question to himself. The last thing he needed was for Hermione to start a research project about his relatives.
Harry kept Snitch from switching to Hermione with some basic roughhousing. Snitch obliged by gnawing on Harry's arm with puppy-sharp teeth. Hermione snorted her frustration at his efforts.
Throwing his body back down onto the floor, Ron asked sleepily, "Harry, does all this mean that Dudley is now your mate?"
That was a sobering thought. Harry paused in his play with Snitch. The puppy decided that enough was enough and bounded out the door and down the hall, nails scrambling on the wooden floors. Harry idly watched the puppy scratch at Ginny's door as he considered his answer. What exactly was Dudley to him?
"Dunno, Ron," Harry quietly answered. "I wouldn't go that far." Ginny's door opened a crack to let Snitch in. Harry felt a pang of disappointment that she didn't come out.
"I think it's wonderful," Hermione enthused. "How two boys could be raised in the same household and not feel like brothers is beyond me."
"No," Harry said suddenly. "Dudley's not my brother. He's not my mate. What we have is an understanding," he finished. And that's a whole lot more than it used to be, he added silently.
"Oy, I'm tired," Ron yawned. "I'm for bed."
Hermione clamored to her feet giving Harry's hair a ruffle. "That's some story, Harry. Too bad we can't tell it around."
"Yeah," Harry yawned as well. "Night, Hermione. Say 'night' to Ginny for me, will you?" Hermione gave him a sharp look as she left the room. Harry looked over at Ron on the floor. The gangly redhead was mostly asleep. It was past five in the morning, after all. "Night, Ron." Soft snores answered him.
Harry crawled into the orange blankets on the camp cot set up for him in Ron's room. As he closed his tired eyes, Harry wondered if the fairies would stay in the garden at Privet Drive without him there. It had been such a strange summer. Good, he realized with surprise, but strange.
The time between Harry's falling asleep in his bedroom and the scene at the Burrow is covered in The Half-Blood Prince. I really liked that section of the book. Dumbedore's visit to the Dursley's is a very good read and worth repeating.
An epilogue of letters is still to follow. I still have loose ends (and a swarm of pixies) to tie up. I'm taking requests for items to be included in the letters. You all give me the best ideas!
Thank you all so much for reading. Reviews are like fine chocolates, I'm always begging for more! Please review.