Nine Months Without My Cousin
Disclaimer: Don't own HP, alrighty?
A/N: You know, you're all evil. You really are. I had hoped to abandon this, but nooo. Everyone wants to know what happened to Dudley in Year 1. OK, fine. Here's the rest of it. ;) I don't think I'll be doing a year 2 Dudley side. It's too hard weaving two storylines together. Not to mention I had to reread chapter 1 three times to remember what I was going to do with it.
Dudley spent the next week reading the book Rico had given him, memorizing the different pictures and visualizing how they worked in his own arms and hands.
He also spent time each evening handling the crafted hilt, channeling his Chi into it a little at a time. Remembering what had happened when he had used up all of his Chi, he stopped once he started getting tired and went to bed.
Dudley couldn't feel any difference in his Chi by the next weekend, but he was excited anyways. By the time Rico was supposed to show up, he was all but bouncing off the walls with nervous energy.
Vernon smiled at him. "Calm down Dudders, he'll be here soon enough."
Dudley nodded. "I know, I know. But I still can't wait Dad."
A knock at the door forestalled any answer Vernon could give, as Dudley jumped up and ran towards the door. "I GOT IT!"
Opening the door, Dudley saw Rico standing outside, with a large punching bag slung over his shoulder.
"Gonna let me in Dudley? I need to get this set up for you out back before we head over to my place to train."
Dudley nodded and took a step back to allow the large man through. "Sure, come on in."
Rico stepped inside the house, being careful to not hit anything with the bag. Dudley noticed he also was carrying a box which gave off a clanking noise whenever it was jostled.
Vernon stepped out of the living room to greet Rico. "He got the door faster than I could even get off the couch. Sorry for not meeting you at the door."
Rico shrugged and nodded towards Dudley. "Quick on his feet. Uzuki told me as much." He looked towards the backdoor and then hefted the bag on his shoulder. "Mind if I go ahead and set it up now?"
"Go ahead, go ahead." Vernon stepped aside, allowing Rico to pass through the living room and out towards the backyard. Dudley and Vernon followed behind him, and Vernon spoke up again. "How heavy did you get that bag for him anyways? We already had a two hundred pound bag. That one can't be as heavy if you're carrying it so easily."
Rico walked out the backdoor and dropped the bag on the ground, then turned around, cracking his neck. "This one? Since Dudley's not at the same level I am yet, I only brought him a three hundred pound bag."
Vernon's eyes bulged as he looked between the bag and Rico. "You, um, haven't filled it yet then, I take it?"
Rico snorted. "Yes, it's filled." Vernon's eyes got wider, and Dudley grinned at his dad. "It's not that bad, since it's only a commercial bag. The one I have at home for my own use is the hard one to move. I had to ask Uzuki where to get it made, as they don't normally make eight hundred pound punch bags."
Vernon just shook his head and tried to move past the man's strength. "Y- Yes… well, anyway… You're taking him over to your home to train afterwards?"
"Alright. And you live…?" Vernon trailed off.
"Oh, right. You wouldn't let me just leave without knowing where I was taking him, would you?" Rico remarked. "It's not that far from here. Outta this neighborhood, though. 17 Lacan Lane. You know where that is?"
"Yes, I do. I'll leave you to set it up then." Vernon walked back inside, muttering to himself along the way.
Rico turned to Dudley and commented, "Strange man, your dad."
Dudley laughed quietly. "You should have seen him when Sensei Uzuki used his Chi in front of him. Broke a cinder block with a finger. Dad went completely ballistic, tried to remove me from the class."
Rico nodded in understanding. "Your dad doesn't understand it, so he doesn't like it. Not to mention I don't think he could ever learn it. He's just not in the right shape for it."
Rico started rummaging through the box he was carrying, and pulled out heavy-duty sections of poles. "Come here, Dudley. You're gonna help put this up." Tossing a few pieces of pole to Dudley, he dumped the rest of the box. Picking up a piece of paper, he showed it to Dudley. "It's the stand for the bag. Let's start putting it together."
The two worked on it for another ten minutes, before Rico attached the last pieces. "Just about done."
Dudley looked over the metal stand. "It's going to be awfully easy to move; even with the bag on it."
Rico shook his head. "Nah, that's what these are for." He held up a set of thick metal spikes.
Dudley eyed them dubiously. "If you say so."
"I do. Just hold on a sec, I need to go grab something out of my car." Rico went back into the house and after a second Dudley heard the front door open. A moment later it closed and Rico came back outside. "Just make sure your Dad isn't watching. He might not like what I'm about to do." Rico was holding a small sledgehammer.
Rico chained both the top and bottom of the bag onto the frame, and then moved it onto a corner of the porch. He angled one of the spikes down into a suitable spot, and then raised the sledge. Dudley felt a momentary channeling of his Chi, and then Rico brought the sledge down. The spike seemed to disappear deep into the concrete porch, and surprisingly without cracking the area around it. Rico repeated this seven more times, firmly setting the bag into place.
He gestured towards the bag. "Alright Dudley, punch it. Hard as you can."
Nodding, Dudley channeled his Chi, and then punched as hard as he could at the bag. The bag flexed a bit, but the frame held down onto the porch.
"See? Just fine. C'mon, let's go." Rico picked up the sledge and extra tools lying around. They both walked out of the house, Dudley waving goodbye to his parents.
Dudley looked around Rico's living room, which had apparently been converted into a training room.
Rico let out a cough to draw Dudley's attention. "I'm going to go over the theory once, and then we'll go straight into practice. I abhor teaching theory, so study as much as you want at home. I'll correct you here, but we're not going to sit down and discuss it for hours before we do anything, ok?"
Dudley nodded enthusiastically, ready to learn a new move.
"Alright, so here's the theory. You read that book and figured out about how your muscles move, right?" Dudley nodded. "Good. Now instead of just channeling your Chi into your hand and letting it go the way it wants, you want to channel it along the muscles and tendons. Channel it all the way to the tips of your fingers, keeping it on the muscles. And you probably want to start channeling at your fingers and work your way back to your elbow."
"Okay, I can try that. You want me to try it now?"
Rico nodded. "Go ahead and use my punching bag. I'll watch. Before you hit the bag though, make sure you can channel enough to your whole hand, so you don't break it when you punch."
Dudley squared up against the punching bag and channeled his Chi. It was different, working from his hand in, instead of just letting it flow down his arm and into his fist. Closing his eyes, he remembered what the muscles were supposed to look like in his hand. Pushing his Chi into his fingertips, Dudley tried to follow the patterns the muscles made.
To his surprise, he felt the Chi slip through his fingers, following a different path, but close to what he thought it should have been. Letting it go, he looked up at Rico. "It didn't go the same way as it looked in the book."
Rico didn't look concerned. "Every person differs slightly. Keep doing it, and follow it all the way through."
Dudley absently nodded, already closing his eyes again. Channeling his Chi, he worked his way down his fingers, and into his hand.
"Don't let it go in your hand Dudley!" Came Rico's voice.
Shaken, Dudley lost contact with his Chi and it slipped away. He opened his eyes again, and looked at Rico. "Say again?"
"Keep it at the same level you started with in your fingers. That much Chi, the whole way through. Don't move the Chi away from you fingers into your palm; add more Chi connecting your fingers to your palm."
Dudley closed his eyes again. It's going to be a long afternoon.
Dudley staggered up the walk, completely exhausted. He turned to look at Rico, who was still sitting in his car, which was idling in the driveway. "Enjoy your week Dudley, I'll pick you up again next Saturday morning. Maybe I'll see you at The Dojo as well." Rico called to him.
Dudley waved half-heartedly back, and walked into the house. He saw his mum sitting in the living room and waved to her. "Evenin' Mum."
Petunia turned around and smiled at him. "Welcome home, honey. Did you enjoy your lesson with Mr. Rico?"
Grinning a bit, Dudley nodded. "Yeah. He wants me to call him Rico though. He gets mad if you call him 'Mr.' anything. But I had fun. What's for dinner?"
"It's in the microwave. Go sit down and I'll warm it up for you." Petunia stood up and they walked into the kitchen.
Sitting down, Dudley quickly had a warm plate with dinner on it in front of him. "Mmm… Thanks Mum. Rico had me-" He let out a big yawn. "-had me working really hard today. I'm bushed."
"Oh?" Petunia sat down at the table as well. "What did he have you doing today?"
Dudley looked up from the plate, which he'd already eaten half of. "Using my Chi differently. It doesn't make me stronger yet, but Rico said once I learned it this way, I could channel it twice and make my hits twice as strong."
Petunia blinked. "Aside from the fact that I didn't understand much of that, as long as you're happy." She stood up. "Want anymore?"
Dudley looked down at his plate, which he'd cleaned. "No thanks mum. I'm just gonna go to bed."
"Sleep well then, Sweetums." She mussed his hair and gave him a kiss.
Stopping halfway up the stairs, Dudley looked back down. "Night Dad!" he shouted towards the living room.
"Night Dudders!" Came the answering reply.
Over the next two months, Rico pushed Dudley into being able to channel most of his Chi through the muscles in his arms, finally allowing him to drop down the amount he was channeling, so he could allow his Chi to be channeled the way he originally did as well.
He continued going to The Dojo as well, where Sensei Uzuki kept pushing to teach him control for the techniques that Rico was teaching him. He was pretty much regularly sparring against Valda, who enjoyed the competition with him. She had said she'd not had as much fun with the other students, as some of them didn't have Chi high enough to last in a spar while using Chi.
She also kept him up to date on what was happening in the martial arts club at school. Dudley didn't have much hope for being able to rejoin, but Valda said she was pushing to have him allowed back in. It looked like he wouldn't be able to rejoin until the next school year though.
It was about two weeks before Christmas when something truly strange happened.
Sunday afternoon, Dudley was outside beating on his punching bag when a brown owl soared down and landed on the bag's frame, with a letter tied to its leg.
"Hey, cool. Whatcha got?" Dudley reached up and the owl held out its leg. After carefully untying the note, the bird flew up and found a perch on the big tree in the backyard. "Hmm… what's this? 'To the guardians of Harry Potter'."
Shrugging, Dudley took it inside. His parents were sitting in the living room, watching something on the telly. "Hey, an owl just landed in the backyard; it had a note for you."
Vernon's face immediately purpled. "What! That boy knows better than to try to ruin what normalcy we get around here. Give me that letter." His dad snatched the letter, tearing it open. "Probably got himself expelled and wants us to help him."
Vernon quickly read through the note, laughed, and then threw the note onto the table. Petunia picked it up and read it as well.
She took a few moments longer to read it, and Dudley couldn't help himself. "What's it say? Did Harry get into trouble?"
She shook her head. "No, he didn't. The letter is from the school. The owl outside is waiting for us to give it a present for Harry."
Vernon grumbled, "That ruddy owl can bloody well rot out there. I am not giving that boy anything, you hear?"
Petunia gave Dudley a smile outside of Vernon's view, and spoke up. "But dear, the owl may end up staying there until you do give it something. What will the neighbors think?"
Vernon stopped watching the telly, and considered what she'd said. He then grinned wickedly. "Okay then, hold on a moment." He stood up and walked over to an end table next to the couch, and pulled out an envelope and a piece of paper. Briefly writing something down on it, he pulled a coin out of his pocket and dropped it in the envelope. "There. The boy has a gift now. Maybe that owl will take it and leave."
Petunia stopped him from sealing it. "Wait dear, I want to write something as well, and I'll send it off with the owl."
Vernon sunk into his seat with an irritated look on his face. "Fine, whatever."
Dudley followed his mum into the kitchen, where she sat down for a moment and wrote a short note after whatever his dad had written. She then looked up to him. "Dudley, you want to write him something as well?"
He nodded, and Petunia turned the paper over to him. Thinking for a moment, he just added a single line. Harry, send me a letter or something. If it has to come by owl like this message did, try to get the owl to leave it in the tree out back. Dudley.
Christmas was always interesting, and this year proved no different.
Dudley's dad had gone all out, and both the inside and outside of the house were decked out in full Christmas decoration. On Christmas morning, Dudley raced downstairs, yelling,
There were dozens of presents under the tree, all with his name on them. He grabbed the first one. Looking up to his parents who were themselves just now coming down the stairs, he yelled at them. "Come on, hurry up!"
Vernon smiled merrily. "That's my Dudders."
Once they had sat down on the couch, Dudley proceeded to tear into his packages. "Awesome! A Super Nintendo! Thanks!" He beamed his pleasure to his parents, before turning to the next wrapped box.
Quickly unwrapping it, he found it was not a box, but a book. "'Energies of the mind and body as written by P. Flamel'? What's that?" Dudley turned to his parents, questioningly.
His mum answered. "I went to the bookstore, looking to add to your collection, and the shopkeeper said that book is about 'Chi' and things like that. I thought you might like it."
Dudley looked at the book again, and opened it up to a random page. Reading through a few lines, he looked back up. "It might be interesting. Thanks Mum."
Dudley quickly went through the rest of his presents, which included several games for his new Super Nintendo, new training clothes, and a set of starter weights.
Near the beginning of February, Rico finally acknowledged him as being competent in using his Chi the way he was being taught.
"Okay, Dudley. Channel your Chi starting at your elbow this time, all the way down to your fingertips in your fist." Rico stood off to the side, observing his technique.
Dudley nodded, and opened the flow of his Chi, directing it into arm. Pushing it down into his arm, he guided it along the muscle groups, feeling it infuse his arm. Reaching his fingertips, he held the Chi there, and closed his hand into a fist.
"Good. Now, channel more of your Chi down your arm, like you would in Uzuki's class." Rico watched him intensely.
Dudley let more of his Chi flow down his arm again, guiding it down his arm and into his fist.
"Now, hold onto that energy in your fist, and hit the punching bag. As hard as you can."
Dudley did as he was told, and stepped into a fighting stance. He struck out, hard, and the punching bag in front of him bent slightly around his fist. Dudley jumped back, holding his hand. "Oww…"
Rico laughed. "That's part of the reason I had you go all the way through your arm muscles with your Chi, Dudley. If you didn't, the extra energy in the impact would probably break your wrist. Let me see your hand." Dudley held his hand up, and Rico carefully examined it. "Doesn't look like you broke any fingers either. Pretty good for your first real attempt. Especially since you were hitting a much heavier bag than you're used to."
Rico beckoned him outside. "Alright, let's get you home. I want you to practice on that bag of yours. Also, now that you've learned to channel your Chi this way in your strong hand, you need to learn to do it through the muscles in your other arm, and your legs. I'll let you do it at your own pace, but I do expect you to make some headway."
Dudley got into Rico's car, as Rico slid into the driver's seat.
On the drive back, Rico started asking him a few questions. "You know, your Chi is actually growing at a pretty fair rate. What are you doing to drain your Chi at night, Dudley?"
Dudley was quiet, wondering if he should say anything about the hilt Harry had given him.
"I mean, you'd probably have destroyed that punching bag by now if you'd nearly drained your Chi by attacking it every night, and I doubt your dad would have volunteered to become your training dummy."
Dudley laughed, and decided it was alright to tell him. "No. My cousin gave me something before he left for his school. It's really neat; it seems to just absorb my Chi without doing anything."
Rico was quiet for a moment, obviously thinking. "Huh… Think I could see it, Dudley? I don't think I've ever heard of anything like that before."
"I don't see why not. I just can't let my dad see it. He doesn't like Harry's school, or anything that might have to do with it."
Once they got back to Privet Drive, Dudley raced upstairs to grab the hilt. He pulled it out from under his bed, went back downstairs, and out into the backyard where Rico was softly punching on Dudley's punching bag.
"Here ya go, Rico. This is it." Dudley held it out, and Rico got a good look at it.
Taking it from Dudley, Rico spun it around in his hand. "Weird little thing." He commented. "Looks like a sword hilt almost, doesn't it?" Dudley nodded. "You say this thing absorbs Chi?"
"Yeah. I channel a lot of my Chi into it every night before I go to bed. That way I can sleep while my Chi comes back."
Rico nodded sensibly. "Good idea."
Dudley felt a surge of Chi come from Rico, but it didn't go into the hilt. Instead, Rico closed his eyes and then reopened them. For a moment, Dudley thought he saw a flicker of something in Rico's eyes.
"Interesting… This thing isn't just letting you to channel your Chi so you can use it up, it's actually storing it. It's got an aura almost the same as yours Dudley." Rico looked over at him, and Dudley shrugged.
"I don't know. I've just been using it to drain my Chi, like you said. Harry told me when he got it, it was something different, but he overcharged it with his own Chi and broke it. The guy remade it into this for me." Dudley was careful not to mention anything about magic.
"Mind if I channel some of my Chi into it?" Rico asked.
Dudley nodded. "Go ahead. I don't mind."
Dudley felt another surge of Rico's Chi, but this time it did go through his hands and into the hilt. Rico quickly dropped the hilt with a curse, vigorously rubbing his hands.
"Son of a-" He grimaced and held his tongue. "What in the world? The moment my Chi touched it, your Chi that was already stored in there jumped back and pretty much shocked me. Heh, guess you've put too much in there for me to be able to. Wonder if I'd be able to get something like this." Rico now seemed to be talking to himself. "Wonder what you could do with a bunch of stored Chi?"
Dudley picked the hilt back up. "Maybe it's full?" Channeling his Chi through his hands and into the hilt, it easily accepted Dudley's offering. "Guess not."
Rico chuckled softly. "Oh well, enjoy playing with that thing Dudley. I just suggest you don't lose it. I have no idea what something with that much Chi in it would be able to do. If you can do anything at all with it."
Dudley nodded, and Rico took his leave. "I'll see you next weekend, same time."
Dudley nodded again, distracted and still playing with the hilt. "Have a good week, Rico."
It was about mid-April when Dudley finally got some good news from his school as well.
Valda was the one to give it to him. "Hey Dudley, guess what?" She had asked him one night at The Dojo.
Dudley stepped off the mats to talk to her. "What?"
"I finally bugged the teacher in the marital arts club enough that he said he'd seriously consider letting you back in next year. We just need to wait until Roger is out of the school, so he doesn't make a huge fuss."
Dudley grinned. "Really? How'd you manage that?"
Laughing, Valda shook her head. "I complained that I needed a real challenge. To prove my point to him I quit holding anything but Chi back, and kicked the butts of just about everyone there. I told him you were about the only challenge in the school."
Dudley shook his head, amazed. "Won't everyone want to come here and learn now since you said I was a challenge and they weren't?"
"Let 'em. They have to figure out who's my teacher first. You don't have to tell who it is, and Sensei Uzuki doesn't exactly advertise for students. Most of the people here I think came by word of mouth."
Dudley thought back, remembering how he and Harry got there. "Yeah… Dad heard about this place from someone he worked with. I doubt we'd have ever ended up here otherwise."
"See? It's not like they're going to all show up here, demanding to be taught." Valda laughed at the idea. "Anyways, wanna spar? I figure Rico doesn't spar with you all that often. He packs a heck of a punch."
Dudley blinked. "How'd you know Rico was teaching me?"
"It shows. Rico's showed up here a couple of times. I've sparred with him once, and he does more of the same Chi tricks that you use."
Dudley nodded. "Yeah, he's been teaching me a different way to use my Chi. Ever since I got in trouble with Roger, actually. I'll spar with you, though. Sensei does keep me from sparring with part of the class since I don't have as much control as I probably should, and I have a lot more Chi than most of them as well. You know that."
Valda shrugged it off. "Doesn't bother me. As long as you don't try to permanently hurt me, we'll be fine."
They both got onto the practice mats and squared off against each other. "Full Chi use, right Dudley?" Valda asked.
"Sure." Dudley grinned. "I really haven't been able to do a real match for a long while. Any sparring against Rico is normally something that involves a lot of me moving around, dodging his heavy blows."
Valda nodded, and then Dudley sensed her Chi surge. Quickly getting a feel for her Chi while she was using it, Dudley realized she didn't have even half the amount he did. Dudley opened up his own Chi reserves, channeling it twice through his arms like he'd been working on.
Valda's eyes widened slightly, and Dudley felt another surge of her Chi. A flicker of energy went through her eyes. That must be the Sight that Rico was talking about.
"Wow, that's a lot of Chi, Dudley. Question is, can you use it?" Valda challenged.
Grinning to himself, Dudley ran to her, throwing a quick punch towards her middle. There was another slight surge of Valda's Chi though, and Dudley's punch missed completely, as she wasn't there anymore.
Feeling the move more than anything else, Dudley quickly turned, bringing his arm up to block a hit. Strengthening the amount of Chi running through his arm, Valda's punch impacted against his forearm and she pulled back fast, shaking her fist.
"Good Lord, Dudley. It's like punching a block of solid stone." Valda shook her hand one more time, then got back into a fighting position. "Of course, water erodes stone. So, let's up the water flow, shall we?"
Dudley quickly learned what she meant, as he felt her Chi surge again, and he was forced to block another sudden strike from her. Then his feet were swept out from under him, and Valda calmly stood in front of him. "Although, you don't have a very good foundation, do you?"
Laughing, she pulled him to his feet. "So, did you learn anything, Dudley?"
He thought for a moment. "Well, you're a hell of a lot faster than I thought." She nodded. "And if I want to win against you, I need to be sneaky." Dudley hastily channeled his Chi, and swung an arm at her. A shocked look appeared on her face, before she attempted to block the hit. She didn't quite make it, and she fell to the ground, laughing herself. Dudley helped pull her up this time.
"Yeah, yeah. I won't be caught off guard by you again, Dudley. But seriously, power isn't everything. You've got a lot more Chi than I do, and you can use it for really powerful moves, but if you can't get to me, you can't hit me." Dudley made to say something, and she continued. "Unless you're sneaky, of course." She amended.
"Correct." Both students started, and turned around at Uzuki's voice. "But the same also goes true for you Valda. Should Dudley ever get completely set and ready for you, unless you have strength, you won't be able to move him. You need a balance to be able to go anywhere."
"Yes Sensei." They both chorused.
"Let's get back with the rest of the class now." Uzuki walked back to the other students, and Dudley and Valda joined the rest of the class for the day's lesson.
The school year was coming to an end, and Dudley found himself with more free time, as the classes were focusing on end of year exams. So Dudley found himself sitting in on one of Uzuki's other classes, just watching. He had gotten permission to be there from his parents and Uzuki, so that he could stay out of trouble.
Sensei was sparring with one of the students, -Dudley thought his name was Chad- when all of a sudden Uzuki's Chi flared, seemingly filling the entire room with a very high level of energy.
Uzuki blocked the next attack from Chad, which nearly threw him with the force of it. He immediately took hold of his Chi, and the class felt the energy level in the room drop back to normal.
Uzuki quickly put a hand to his head, and then helped pull Chad back up from the ground. "My apologies. I don't… know what happened." He looked around at the staring class. "I think class is over for the evening. Dudley, I'll call your father to have him come pick you up early."
Dudley nodded quietly and went to change back into his street clothes. He waited on his dad for about twenty minutes before Vernon arrived to pick him up.
Dudley wondered what he had seen happen, but shrugged it off. Dad would be picking Harry up in a couple of weeks, anyways. Then he'd have his sparring partner back.
And we're done. I seriously doubt there will be a year 2. Maybe a few mentions of it during the summer between 2 and 3, but no Dudley year 2.
As always. Read and review. And thank Dr. Gero for keeping my head straight.