Petunia Dursley wailed and moaned as if the world had ended. Dudley Dursley stared wide-eyed all around, only occasionally stammering anything to those who asked about him. Aunt Marge 'tut-tutted', and laid the blame for the man's death on 'undesireable elements' in society.
But Harry Potter, nephew to the man, could only find in himself indifference. And relief. For Vernon Dursley, his uncle and for many long years the only male role model he had, was one of the greatest sources of fear, resentment, and abuse in his life.
The funeral was held on a blustering March day, in a cemetary not far from Little Whinging. Of course, it was hidden from view, as such a macabre place would not be good for everyone to see as they passed in and out, going on with their industrious little lives.A large number of people from the neighborhood showed up, just to say they were there and to 'show their support' to the widowed Petunia and her precious Duddykins. Most beleived that he had died in an attempted mugging while on a cigarette break at work.
The truth was he had been slain by a rogue Death Eater. A dark wizard. Less than two months before, the very same Harry potter mentioned above had destroyed the last horcrux which anchored the darkest wizard in history to life, and the Second Wizarding War was all over except the cleanup.
For you see, Harry Potter was a wizard, too. He was a legend, at first 'The Boy Who Lived', and then later 'The Chosen One'. He had defeated Voldemort the Dark Lord not once, but twice - the first time as an infant, this second and more recent time at the age of seventeen. With Voldemort dead, the dark wizards who followed him had scattered to the four winds. Some tried to go back to lives they had left, while others clung to the torture and depravity that had been part of their lives for so long. It was one of the latter that had killed Vernon Dursley for the crime of harboring Harry Potter since the death of his birth parents.
If the Death Eater had known in what manner the 'esteemed' Mr Dursley had sheltered Harry Potter, he likely would not have killed the man, but instead cheered him and rewarded him. For Vernon -hated- Harry, and everything that he represented, specifically the Wizarding World. He abused, starved, and virtually tortured Harry in an attempt to 'squash' the magic out of him. But instead, the magic awoke, and brought the Boy Who Lived to one of the two places he would consider home in his heart - Hogwart's School for Wizardry and Witchcraft.
Harry watched as the various 'mourners' said their platitudes to his Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley. He also noticed Petunia's eyes drying remarkably swift after the last one left, and only he, and the two Dursleys, remained. Steeling himself, he walked over to her.
As she opened her mouth, probably to hiss at him, blame him for his uncle's death, or who knows what, he silenced both her and his cousin with a wave of his wand. "Dont start. Either of you. I just want to tell you this is the last you will ever see of me. And don't scowl at me. You have what you wanted - he had a rather large life insurance policy, which will support you and allow you to coddle Duddykins for many years to come.
"I just came over here to tell you that the years and months of my life spent in your house were torture. You would bray about 'supporting me', but you never spent a dime you didn't have to. I got the drippings from the table, and the clothes that would otherwise have been thrown out. You kept me in a cupboard... A CUPBOARD! For nearly ten years. You would starve me, beat me, and spit on me. And when I started going to school, when the bruises would show, you let Dudders here beat me, and just blame it on roughousing.
"I despise you, Aunt Petunia. And I pity you, Dudley. And Vernon... wherever he is... I can only wish he had been a better man. That is something I pray with all my heart." With that, Harry Potter turned on his heel, and left the Muggle world forever.
The spirit of Vernon Dursley appeared to be a much younger and fitter man than he had been on his death. In fact, he took the form he had when he had been most proud of himself - at the age of twenty, and fresh from the rugby team at college. However, that brought him nopride, as he beheld the scene in front of him.
You see, the scene was Hell.
Being a bit of a literal sort, the Hell that he saw was a classical one - mountains of sulphur and brimstone pits, torturing the damned in an infinite variety of ways. He, himself, had not yet been consigned to these pits, but had been allowed to wait until his own funeral had completed.
One of the aspects of being dead that added to the true horror of Hell was knowledge. The damned finally understood the evil they had caused, the pain, and the torment. And for many that in and of itself was enough. For Vernon, he may not have been in the pits, but looking at Harry and knowing what he had done to the noble young man was torment enough.
"Well, seems you're not even a success at being evil," chortled one imp guarding him. "Couldn't even break the spirit of a little boy, could you!"
"Silence," snorted a demon behind Vernon. "Let us see what the boy will say to his only remaining blood relatives."
As they listened, the deceased man's soul winced with every accusing word. He quailed, for every single word was true. He despaired, knowing the harm he had done could not be repaid in a lifetime.
However, the moment Harry uttered his final wish, a shockwave seemed to pass through Vernon, the imp, and the demon. The infernals' faces paled, and Vernon merely looked around in confusion. "Wha... what was that?" he stammered.
The demon fixed the shade with a glare. "That, mortal... is your chance at redemption. We are summoned before the Grey."
The Grey was a vast, grey curtain in the deepest pit of hell. Flanked by twin monstrosities that Vernon could not look directly at for fear of losing his sanity, it shimmered and waved in a nonexistant wind. The imp had fled upon learning of their destination, so Vernon stood beside his demon guide, staring intothe misty expanse of the Grey. "What... what do I do?" he asked.
The demon snorted. "You walk through. Anything you need to know will be known to you then."
Vernon swallowed hard. He had never been a brave man, just a blustering one. The unknown terrified him, but the known, in this case, terrified him even more. He took a deep breath...
... and stepped through.
Very soon, the song ended, and Vernon Dursley looked at his new bride, Petunia. Not gorgeous in the least, but not unattractive, she was precisely the sort of wife he wished for - smart enough for long conversations, yet not too smart. Pleasant to be around, but with a sense of propriety. And from a respectable family. Well... nearly respectable.
One of the other couples on that floor were studiously avoided by some present. Though the woman was incredibly beautiful, with fiery red hair and gren eyes, and the man was a veritable Greek demigod with artfully messy black hair and hazel eyes, many of those present seemed to almost sense something wrong about them.Arching an eye, he noted how inappropriately close they were, despite not being married yet. And in a way, he felt ever so slightly jealous at that closeness. The young man and woman were Lily Evans, his new sister-in-law, and her fiance James Potter. And they were witch and wizard.
Scowling slightly as he led his wife off the dance floor, he considered what he knew of wizards and witches, which wasn't much. He knew that witches were burned at the stake in the Middle Ages, and that both performed acts against the nature of reality with impunity. Brooms were not meant to fly, men should not become animals, and the unseen should remain just that, in his opinion.
His gaze lingered briefly upon the two, and he noted their expressions. They were almost staring at each other with an intensity that was almost uncomfortable to bear, focused only on each other and barely hiding a passion that could move mountains. Perhaps literally, he thought uncomfortably. 'And to think,' he wondered, 'that Petunia is so wonderfully normal, and yet her sister is...'
This caused him to pause for a moment. She was his wife's sister. She was part of his family, now, and not just her own. The Evans and the Dursleys were, in a sense, now a single clan.
She was family.
Perhaps... perhaps he should know more before jumping to conclusion. Perhaos he should know the truth about the younger couple before assuming the worst. After all, the best decision is an informed decision.
And after coming to that conclusion, he dragged his wife over to the two, introduced himself, and changed the very direction of his life.