Aunt Marge's Biggest Mistake
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any other names, places, or ideas related to the world of Harry Potter. They are the property of J.K. Rowling.
Harry Potter was back at Number four Privet Drive, for another summer. He had just finished his sixth year at Hogwarts and was feeling rather depressed. As per Dumbledore's last request, he had headed back to his Aunt and Uncle's house just one last time. Well, that's something, at least, Harry thought to himself as he lay rather languidly on his bed, after this week, I never have to come back here again. At the thought of his final freedom from the Dursley's, Harry's flagging spirits began to rise. Unfortunately, at that very same moment, Vernon Dursley was on the phone with his sister Marge.
"Marge? YOU WHAT?" roared Vernon. There was a slight pause.
"Oh…of course. Well, yes, you must bring him along for your visit too. You will be driving yourself down?" There was another pause, before, "Alright we'll see you tomorrow." After that, Uncle Vernon rang off. "Petunia! Come here, I need to talk to you!"
Harry's interest was piqued. What could Aunt Marge have done to cause Uncle Vernon to be shocked and rather upset? For indeed, both emotions were being conveyed in Uncle Vernon's tone of voice. Harry's mind began whirring with the possibilities…Maybe she gave up dog breeding and has joined the circus as the bearded lady, wait, no one would believe that she was a lady…Maybe her precious Ripper killed someone and she's on the lamb…Harry's thoughts kept getting wilder and crazier until he remembered something that Uncle Vernon had said on the phone—"You must bring him along for your visit."
This caused Harry to realize several things at once, and none of them were very pleasant. The first thought that Harry had on recalling this bit of information was that Marge was coming to visit. That was never a good thing. He didn't want a repeat of her last visit—he knew that the Ministry would not be so lenient with him this time if he accidentally caused a magical mishap. The second thing that Harry belatedly realized was that Aunt Marge was bringing someone with her; a him. It was this thought more than the first that caused Harry's insides to squirm. Anyone that Aunt Marge would be associating with, in particularly someone that she was close enough with to bring on a visit, had to be a great big muggle lump just like her. Harry instantly envisioned two Aunt Marges in the same house—he began to sweat.
Just as Harry began to think of ways to get out of seeing Marge and her "him," Aunt Petunia's dress could be heard swishing down the stairs. Harry jumped off of his bed and quietly crept across his room. He carefully began to open his door, just a crack so that he could hear his Aunt and Uncle's conversation. He caught his breath as the door creaked, but no one seemed to have heard it. Harry let out a soft sigh and began to listen intently to what was being said downstairs.
"Yes, Vernon?" his Aunt's simpering voice was barely audible to Harry.
"I just got off the phone, with Marge." Vernon Dursley's booming voice was much easier for Harry to discern. "You will not believe what that crack-pot sister of mine did!" Aunt Petunia mumbled a response that Harry could not hear. Harry didn't really think that anything that Petunia would say would be very important to what he was trying to find out—namely who this "him" of Marge's was, but he still began to whish that he had one of Fred and George's Extendable Ears.
Meanwhile, Uncle Vernon was continuing to roar, "She got married, that's what she did! Out of the middle of nowhere she just up and decided to get married!" Again Aunt Petunia said something that Harry couldn't quite make out. This set Uncle Vernon laughing in a rather cruel and raucous manner. "How right you are Petunia, how right you are! But let me tell you who she married." There was a dramatic pause, as if Uncle Vernon was planning on imparting the world's greatest secret to a spell-bound audience; and not a less-than-slightly interested Petunia. "The man she married is Colonel Fubster!"
Harry felt kind of let down by Uncle Vernon's statement. He had never met the man, but from the little he knew about him, he wasn't surprised that if Aunt Marge had married someone, that it would be him. Harry had heard Marge mention him a few times, and had been able to gather that Marge and the Colonel were neighbors and that the Colonel would sometimes drown dogs for Marge. Harry was disgusted at the thought of being in such close proximity to such a vile man. Harry had been lost in thought, but his Aunt's next statement, which was spoken in a very shrill voice, invaded his thoughts.
"But, Vernon, isn't the man rather off his rocker?" though her voice was shrill, the question was asked rather timidly.
"Oh yes he is indeed Petunia! That's what's so shocking about all this business. Mind, I haven't seen him for years—since before Dudders was born—but Fubster most certainly was a weirdo! He dressed almost like .." here Uncle Vernon lowered his voice to a whisper and Harry had to strain his ears to catch what he said, "one of those...things!"
Harry almost wanted to laugh! There was no way that an Aunt-Marge-marrying, puppy killer was a wizard! Then a thought struck Harry…what if Aunt Marge had married a Death Eater! Harry mentally shook himself. This is ridiculous! Not even a Death Eater would marry Aunt Marge!
Harry tuned out the rest of his Aunt and Uncle's conversation; he didn't really care about clean linens or the arrival time of his overblown "relation" and her new husband. Harry flopped back on his bed and continued his morbid musings that he had been entertaining himself with all summer.
That night at dinner, as Harry was rather morosely picking at his food, Uncle Vernon began his usual pre-Marge visit tirade. "So, boy," Vernon barked at Harry, "my sister Marge is coming to visit tomorrow. And, she's bringing along her new husband." Uncle Vernon was doing his best to keep his face devoid of emotion, but at the mention of his sister's recently obtained spouse, his face twinged a little bit, causing his moustache to quiver in a jerky manner. Harry found this rather amusing as his uncle had a piece of lettuce stuck to the side of his mouth. Harry involuntarily smiled. Unfortunately, his uncle saw the little movement and completely misconstrued what Harry was smiling about. He leaned in closer to Harry and said,
"Do you find it amusing, boy, that my sister and her husband are coming to stay? Because you can just wipe that smirk off your face! I will not allow you to do any more harm to my poor sister with that…freakish thing of yours!" As Vernon got agitated, the piece of lettuce began to shake more and more violently and by the end of his little speech, it flew off of his mouth and landed on the lens of Harry's glasses.
Harry calmly wiped the lettuce away with the back of his hand before looking his uncle squarely in the eyes, he then boldly declared, "I have no intention of doing magic on Aunt Marge" Uncle Vernon gave him a dirty look and opened his mouth. Before he could say anything Harry quickly added, "Or her new husband." Uncle Vernon grunted in acknowledgement. "In fact," Harry continued, "I don't plan on seeing them at all."
Uncle Vernon eyed Harry suspiciously, as if he thought that he was up to something. Deciding that perhaps Harry was indeed not up to something, Vernon continued the discussion by saying in a very resigned sort of way, "If only it were that simple. It would seem that the Colonel, Marge's husband, fancies himself a…"good changer of people" is how I believe Marge put it. Marge told him about your, er, delinquent ways. The Colonel feels that he can change anybody into a productive member of society. This means that you will have to meet him, so he can change you!" At this Uncle Vernon grinned nastily at Harry, whom was starting to like the idea of this Colonel less and less. Harry opened his mouth to argue, but then thought better of it and got up from the table. As Harry reached out to grab the doorknob, his Uncle's voice hit him again, "Oh, and you will be sleeping in the cupboard for their stay. The Colonel will need your room." Before Harry had even fully digested that statement, his Aunt began to talk. "Vernon, they're married. I am sure that they will not mind sleeping in the same room. In fact, I am sure that they would prefer it." She then turned to Harry and said, "You can stay in your room." Harry simply nodded, before running out of the room and up the stairs, all the while silently laughing at the look of pure disgust that had settled on his uncle's face at Petunia's comments. As Harry walked down the upstairs hallway to his bedroom, he distinctly heard the sounds of someone retching in the kitchen. He opened his door and walked into his room, deciding that he could endure anything that this colonel could throw at him, all because having him around would clearly make his uncle uncomfortable. Harry smiled to himself. Perhaps this visit wasn't going to be too bad after all.
Harry got up early the next morning, so that he could fully enjoy his final hours of relative freedom before the arrival of Marge and the Colonel. He crept quietly out of his room and started to head for the door. He thought that it might be nice to take a walk. However, his uncle had also gotten up early, and caught Harry sneaking out of the house. "Boy!" Uncle Vernon's voice was hoarse sounding, as if he had been sick all night. "Did you really think that I would let you escape? Oh no, if I am going to endure this, then so are you." With that said, he set Harry a long list of chores to be completed before the arrival of the newlyweds. It seemed that the only solace that Uncle Vernon could find was ensuring that Harry was at least as miserable as he was.
So, Harry spent the morning washing windows and tending to the lawn. At a quarter to two, Harry put the shrub clippers back in the shed and went inside to clean up. After a very quick shower, Harry slowly trudged back downstairs. "Hurry up!" hissed a very anxious Uncle Vernon. "They'll be here any minute!" Harry looked wearily at his relations. Aunt Petunia was wearing a sedate cocktail dress, Uncle Vernon was wearing slacks and a waistcoat, and Dudley was wearing a very hideous suit with his old bowtie. Harry was rather shocked to see that the tie, which hadn't been worn since Marge's last visit three summers ago, was still able to fit around his cousin's pudgy neck. Harry then looked down at his own clothing—a large, ratty jumper and a pair of very old, very faded jeans. He let out a soft sigh. Well Harry thought at least Aunt Marge and her husband won't be disappointed by my appearance—I look exactly like their idea of a delinquent.
Harry snapped out of his reverie by Uncle Vernon's voice. "Remember, that you are going to answer the door, while we walk in from the parlor. You had also better remember your manners. It's Aunt Marge and Colonel Fubster. Be respectful when addressing the Colonel. He's a war hero. And most of all, no funny business!" Harry just nodded. At that moment, a car could be heard pulling into the drive. Harry's relations quickly ran, or in Dudley's case waddled, into the living room. Harry stood by the door anxiously waiting for the bell to ring. It never did. Instead, there was a sharp rapping on the door. Harry took a deep breath. This is it. He stepped forward, eyes downcast, and opened the door.
Before the door was even fully opened, Harry mechanically muttered a "Good afternoon Aunt Marge." The door opened fully, and outlined by the doorframe stood Aunt Marge and her new husband. The first thing that Harry, who was still looking down, noticed about the Colonel was his highly polished shoes. His eyes then began a slow upward perusal of the Colonel's body. The next thing that Harry observed was that Fubster's pants appeared to be those of a member of the Royal British Army from World War II. He then noticed the man's long white beard, which reached all the way to his belt. That's Strange, thought Harry. Harry then saw that the Colonel was wearing the matching shirt of the pants, proudly displaying a well decorated chest. This guy is really way too presumptuous Harry thoughtas he said, "It's a pleasure to meet you Colonel—DUMBLEDORE!" For at that moment, Harry's eyes had reached the face of the man standing in front of him, a man with twinkling blue eyes hidden behind a pair of half-moon spectacles. Unquestionably, the man on the door step of number four Privet Drive, was indeed Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Harry stood stock-still, in complete shock. Aunt Marge eyed him warily, before saying,
"No boy! This is my husband the esteemed Colonel Gordon Fubster." Harry didn't even acknowledge that she had spoken. Uncle Vernon came barreling in, drawn by the loud noise that Harry had uttered.
He nailed Harry with his best glare and said in a deprecating voice, "Don't just stand there like an idiot! Invite them in!" After having said that, Uncle Vernon looked up and he too noticed Dumbledore standing on his doorstep with his sister. Though he had only seen the man (as Dumbledore) once in his life during the previous summer, Uncle Vernon quickly recognized him for who and what he was. Albus Dumbledore was not someone that was easily forgotten. "Dumbledore," growled Vernon. (In the years to follow, Harry would have sworn that at this point he thought he heard someone mumble, "Darn! I knew this address sounded familiar!")
A very bewildered and now upset Marge shook her head frantically. "No Vernon, this is my husband Gordon Fubster!" It was only then that Vernon made the connection between the strange man that he had met over twenty years ago and the wizard that he had met last summer. Not that this realization did him much good. A moment after Vernon's mind made the connection; Dumbledore sighed and reached up the sleeve of his military uniform, pulled out his wand and distinctly said "Obliviate." Harry snapped out of his trance as he felt the spell rush past him. Both Aunt Marge and Uncle Vernon suddenly had a glazed, drunken look about themselves, and their eyes rolled out of focus. It was at this moment that Harry snapped.
"Profe—I mean Colonel," Harry emphasized the word "colonel" as if it were a particularly vulgar expletive, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING! I MEAN—"
"Harry, this is not the place." Dumbledore looked pointedly at Marge and Vernon, who seemed to be regaining their sense of coherent thinking. Harry, his eyes still burning, nodded in a jerky manner.
"Ah, Gordon m'boy," Uncle Vernon began in a jovial manner that was completely alien to him, "it's so good to see you again!" He pushed past Harry and clapped Dumbledore on the shoulder. Aunt Marge looked shocked.
"Vernon," she squealed, "I didn't know that you and Gordon were acquainted!"
"Oh yes," her brother replied, "You introduced us about, oh, sixteen years back."
Marge looked dumbfounded for a moment before agreeing with him. "You're right. Now that I think about it, I can remember."
Uncle Vernon nodded. "Now Marge, Colonel, do come in!" The three adults moved past a silently brooding Harry, who turned and followed them into the living room. When the four reached the parlor, it became obvious to Harry that Dumbledore's memory charm had clearly altered the memories of both his aunt and cousin, even though they had been in a different room when the spell was cast. His Aunt seemed to only know him as the somewhat reclusive Col. Gordon Fubster, and Dudley didn't appear to know him at all. Despite his hurt and anger, Harry marveled at the strength of Dumbledore's magical powers.
Harry let the meaningless prattle wash over him. He didn't really care about Marge's and Dumbledore's drive or their honeymoon. Only one thought kept running through his mind: Dumbledore's alive and he lied to me and everyone else! Harry would not have realized that everyone was leaving the room for dinner, if he had not heard his name mentioned. Dumbledore was telling Uncle Vernon that he would like to have a private word with Harry after dinner. Uncle Vernon grinned evilly at Harry before readily agreeing.
Dinner seemed to fly past Harry. He didn't hear a word of the conversation. Everyone at the table could have been insulting him and his parents and he wouldn't have noticed. All he could do was ruminate about Dumbledore's sudden appearance. After the meal, Harry hadn't managed to eat anything. Everyone rose to move back into the living room and Harry followed suit. Harry was about to follow his cousin out of the dinning room when he heard a gentle "Ahem" behind him. He turned around to find Dumbledore looking at him. Dumbledore pointed to Harry's recently vacated chair. Harry sat back down. Dumbledore then cast several silencing charms about the room and an Imperturbable spell on the door. "Well, Harry," Dumbledore conjectured calmly, "I suppose you want to know why I am alive and married to your aunt."
At this point, the floodgate that had been blocking Harry's tongue broke and all of Harry's unguarded thoughts loosed themselves on his former headmaster.
"YOU FAKED YOUR OWN DEATH! YOU ABANDONED THE SCHOOL! YOU ABANDONED ME! ALLTHE WIZARDING WORLD THINKS YOU'RE DEAD—WE HELD YOUR FUNERAL! PEOPLE CRIED FOR YOU, AND THE WHOLE TIME YOU WERE PROBABLY JUST LAUGHING AT US, HAVING A BIT OF FUN AT OUR EXPENSE! EVERYONE, EVERYONE…" Here Harry broke down into deep sobs, unable to control the tears of both anger and hurt from flowing down his face. The pressure had been building for so long and now that it was finally released, Harry could do nothing to stop the torrent of his emotions. As his tears flowed unchecked down his reddened checks, Harry just kept mumbling, more to himself than to Dumbledore, "You abandoned me…you abandoned me." If Harry had been able to look up into the face of his former headmaster, he would have seen silent rivulets of water streaming down Albus' face; meandering through his many wrinkles, before finally slipping off into his beard.
Dumbledore let out a soft sigh. "Harry…"he began quietly. "Harry," he repeated more firmly. Harry reluctantly looked up into the face that he had come to know so well. "I never met to hurt anyone…especially not you." Harry looked up, with an incredulous look on his face.
"Did I do it then?" Dumbledore interrupted with a wry smile faintly playing about his lips.
Harry mutely nodded.
"Because Harry, of the greatest magic in this world."
Harry looked utterly bewildered and seeing that Dumbledore wasn't going on, he asked, "Sir…? I am afraid that I don't understand." Harry's voice was very small and it had nothing to do with the fact that he had been yelling. He hated not understanding things, and even though Dumbledore didn't do it on purpose, he always made Harry feel slightly dumb.
"Harry, I am rather surprised—we have discussed this before. Think Harry. Do you really not yet know what the greatest magic, the greatest force, in the world is? Dumbledore had a rather shocked and slightly disappointed tone of voice. Harry was getting upset again and more than a little angry. How am I supposed to know everything? You don't have a right to be questioning me now! Instead of voicing his feelings, he quietly said, "No, sir" without even looking up.
Dumbledore looked pensive for a moment before replying. "Do you remember that discussion we had back in your fifth year of school? After Sirius died?" Harry snorted derisively. As if he could forget it! "Yes, yes, of course you do. Do you remember what I said about why Voldemort could not fully possess you?" Harry looked up, meeting Dumbledore's eyes for the first time that evening, His eyes still appeared to be more quizzical than Dumbledore would have preferred. Albus sighed before continuing. "I believe that I told you about a room in the Department of Mysteries that is locked at all times?" Here Harry gave a slight nod. "Yes, well that room contains this magic—a force that is at once more wonderful and terrible than death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature. It is the driving impetus that has caused men to kill themselves, start wars, commit murder… and become hermits. It is also however the same force that leads humanity to the highest spires of joy. It is why most people rise every morning and continue living. It is the reason why man ever does anything noble. This force, this magic, this… intangible power… is why Voldemort could not possess you." He then more quietly added, 'It is why your mom died for you."
All of the gears in Harry's mind seemed to slide in to place, but the one word conclusion that Harry had come to made no sense. Still, he needed to know, so he voiced it "Love?"
Dumbledore smiled down at Harry. "Yes, love."
They were both silent for a moment before Harry voiced his uncertainties about this conclusion. "Sir? So what you are telling me is that you gave up everything, everything, because you love…Aunt Marge?"
A dreamy look crossed Dumbledore's face before he simply stated, "Yes Harry."
Harry looked at his professor like he had finally gone 'round the bend. "But sir, you couldn't possibly love Aunt Marge!" Albus looked affronted before addressing Harry sharply with,
"Yes Harry. I could and I do! I thought that you of all people would understand matters of the heart. Perhaps I was mistaken in my overall judgment of you!" Harry looked shocked. He couldn't remember Professor Dumbledore every being so sharp with him…so unduly sharp! Then again, thought Harry, I am not talking to Professor Dumbledore; I am talking to Colonel Fubster!
Doing his best to hide his hurt, Harry defiantly stuck his chin in the air. "I don't think that you know what you are talking about, sir. Marge Dursley is a vile lowlife of a woman. You must be under some sort of a spell. Tell me what's going on with the two of you!" Though he had been trying desperately to stay calm, by the end of his statement, Harry had become very agitated again.
Meanwhile, Dumbledore took a calming breath before again addressing Harry. "There are a few things that you must understand Harry! First and foremost among them is that I never, ever, want to hear you insult my wife again. I love her greatly and will not allow her name to be so maligned!" Dumbledore could tell that Harry was about to interrupt him, but he forestalled him by saying, "The second is that I know a bit more about magic than you do. I appreciate your concerns, but let me assure you that I am under no spell. Believe me, I do know what I am talking about when it comes to Marge. There is just one last thing that I must say before beginning my story." Upon seeing the surprised look on Harry's face, Dumbledore added, "Oh, yes Harry, I will tell it to you. But I want you to understand that I am telling it to you because I want to tell you. Because I feel that you have some right to know. Not because you very rudely told me to tell you. I do not take such orders from sixteen year old boys. Is that understood?"
A very embarrassed Harry shuffled his feet and said "Yes sir. And sir? I'm sorry for my behavior."
With a touch of his usual twinkle returning to his eye, Dumbledore nodded and said, "Yes, it's quite alright Harry. I expect that you've been under rather a lot of stress." There was another slight pause before, "Now, it's time for my story.
"Twenty years ago is where this all began. As I am sure you can imagine, it wasn't the best of times for me, or for the wizarding world. Voldemort was just starting to get control over the country. The Order had just been recently formed, and oh, how naïve and idealistic we all were! When I think back now…I, I..." Here Dumbledore swallowed very hard and then cleared his throat. "Yes, well, things were bad, but not yet so bad. I knew that things were going to get worse, much worse. So I knew that I must seize the opportunity of getting away from all of my troubles just for a short while. Someday Harry, you too will understand the pleasant pull of escapism.
"Well, I worked hard on my plan, and it was near flawless. During the summer break of school, I rented a small cottage out in the country side. I left behind anything that could be used to trace me. I brought only clothes and my wand, which I was only planning on using in case of an emergency. Yes Harry, my idea of a relaxing vacation was to live the life of a reclusive old muggle. There was just one tiny flaw in this plan of mine. I hadn't planned on meeting Marge Dursley.
"One day while I was working in the garden, a gorgeous confection of a woman," here Harry almost gagged, "walked in through my garden gate. Well, I am sure that you can imagine my surprise. I had not in my wildest dreams expected to meet such a woman on my little holiday! She introduced herself with such grace! I was immediately entranced. I could tell that this woman was a muggle, so I knew that I too must be one. I introduced myself as Colonel Gordon Fubster. This might surprise you Harry, but to most muggles the name 'Albus Dumbledore' seems rather odd." Harry almost choked. Like "Colonel Gordon Fubster" wasn't a weird name? "Well, after that everything just seemed to fall into place. We would do everything together! We acted like giddy little children. By the end of the summer, I had completely lost my heart to Marge Henrietta Dursley. As the summer drew to a close, I knew that Marge and I must part. But I could not let it be forever. So, over the past twenty years, I would sneak away to be with her whenever I could. I would place memory charms on her, so that she would never notice the long stretches of my absence. It was very hard on me Harry.
"This year, I finally saw a way out of my problem. The solution I had been looking for! I would, for all intents and purposes, become a muggle and marry my one true love, Marge."
Here, Harry had to interrupt. "But, sir? Why was this year different than any other year? Why couldn't you have faked your own death twenty years ago?"
"Good question Harry! The answer is quite simple: because every other year I was needed. Needed at Hogwarts, needed in the wizarding world…needed by you." This year, that all changed. I was sure that Hogwarts, the wizarding world and the Order could function without me, but most importantly, I was sure that you Harry, could function without me. I had taught you everything that I could to help you defeat Voldemort. I could do no more. Perhaps my faked death was a little selfish of me, but you must admit that after all these years I deserve to be a little selfish." Here Dumbledore paused again. "Well Harry, I guess that's it."
Harry stayed quiet for a moment before asking the Professor a question that had just recently started burning in his mind. "Sir, but what about your death, I saw Snape perform the killing curse on you! I saw you die!"
Dumbledore gave a little laugh. "Harry you certainly have a knack for asking questions that can't be answered to your liking! Alas Harry, some secrets must remain just those. Oh, and it's Professor Snape." Harry gave a slight grin, but just at that moment, one more ugly thought squirmed its way to the front of Harry's mind.
"YOU'RE A PUPPY KILLER!" all of Harry's anger seemed to return in full. Much to his amazement, however, his outburst caused Dumbledore to start laughing hysterically. "I DON'T SEE WHAT'S SO FUNNY!" Dumbledore wiped away the tears streaming down his face.
"Harry! I have never killed a puppy. If Marge does have one flaw, it would be a slight penchant towards violence…especially to innocent animals." Harry did not find this to be such a slight flaw, but he thought better of brining this point up to Dumbledore. "Yes, it is true that Marge has on occasion asked me to …do away with some unwanted animals, but she never stuck around to witness what I did with them! There are several muggle children throughout Britain that have your Aunt to thank for their beautiful little puppy! Please believe me Harry! I would never hurt an animal like that!" It wasn't hard for Harry to believe his former professor's words.
"Yes, of course I believe you." Harry nodded as he spoke.
"Good! I am glad that's all settled! Oh, Harry. Just one more thing, please keep me being alive a secret. It would not do to have the whole wizarding world know that I faked my own death." Harry again nodded in understanding. Though Harry would never be able to understand or condone the actions of his ex-headmaster, he felt quite a bit ameliorated after their talk.
"Well Harry, I think it was time that the two of us headed back inside." Again, Harry just nodded. Dumbledore turned and began to walk towards the house, Harry close behind. With his back turned to him, Dumbledore never noticed the slight smile that played across Harry's lips as he mouthed to himself, "Gordon Fubster!"
A/N: Well, that's it. I hope you enjoyed it! Just a little bit of light reading. Not much plot, not much characterization, not much anything, just an amusing little diversion which could possibly explain away the ending of the 6th book. Please review (Even if you didn't like it)!