AUTHOR'S NOTES:sees many faces, all of whom were probably expecting a new chapter of HPatFH, not some angsty one-shot: Er... :points accusingly at her muse: Dom did it.
Dom- :smugly: And what are you going to do about it? Scold me? Not bloody likely.
:promptly shoves Dom back into the Props Closet: There's a reason I chose not to inflict him on my lovely readers... :sweatdrops: Erm... read and enjoy? Heheh... (By Bob, Tado, if you kick me for shoving him back in the Prop Closet... I'll probably just rub the abused area and sulk. :pause: That's not quite as threatening as it's supposed to sound...)
DISCLAIMER: All rights and privileges of any familiar characters from Harry Potter is strict property of JK Rowling. I make no profit from the glory that is the HP fandom, and you shouldn't either. (A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend.)
STATUS: One-shot; could be a part two if it's well received, but no more than that. I really don't need another epic in my life, thanks all the same. :grins sheepishly:
TIME LINE: Thirteen years after the fall of Voldemort... assuming that Harry defeats Voldemort in the seventh book.
WARNING: Angst alert! This isn't a happy one, folks. Well, I managed to turn the ending into quite the little fluff fest in comparison with the story as a whole, but still... Not fluffy. Also an original character, but not super-Mary Sue or anything. Oh, and faint mentioning of SLASH at the very end...
SUMMARY: Future!fic one-shot! Abigail Dursley, age eleven. Normal girl, normal family, normal life... Until the arrival of a certain letter, that is...
SPECIAL NOTE: In Harry Potter and the Forgotten Heirs, my plan is to focus a scene entirely on Dudley Dursley's character. Well, that got me thinking (uh-oh...) about dear Dudders in his adulthood, and how his parents raising him the way they do would impact him on his own family life. Add his own daughter being one of the "freaks" the Dursley family abhorred so much, and my sadistic muse just couldn't let the plot bunny die.
There's also an ulterior motive for this piece -if you read HpatFH, I'd very much appreciate it if you would take the time to give me feedback on how I interpret Dudley's character from his daughter's eyes. Even though he's an adult figure in this fic, I would very much appreciate it if you would take a small moment to tell me if he's spot-on, or if I've taken a wrong turn somewhere.
The Importance of Family
Capricious Purple Clarity
"The family you come from isn't as important as the family you're going to have."
Abigail Dursley wasn't anyone special. In fact, if there was anything remarkable about Abigail, it was the fact that she was completely unremarkable. The same could be said for her quotidian family.
Abigail (though she preferred to be called Addie, no matter how much her father balked at the shortened form of her name) was the only child of Marie and Dudley Dursley. She was not as rotund as her father, but she couldn't exactly be described as slim, either. She was rather short for her age, and when she stood next to the other girls in her class, she appeared awkward and stocky in comparison. Her hair was a shade of blonde that only adolescence could produce naturally, though she suspected it would eventually darken into the same muddy blonde shade as her father's. She had a round face and rosy cheeks, which wasn't as much of a blessing to someone who looked like her. Give any other eleven year old girl rosy cheeks, and she would be the most adorable girl alive. Addie's rosy cheeks just made her skin look blotchy. There was only one physical attribute that Addie liked about herself, and that was her otherworldly eyes. Unlike her father's small, watery eyes and her mother's average brown eyes, Addie's eyes were a brilliant, vibrant shade of green that rivaled the liveliness and virility of even the greenest of Scotland's countryside. Sometimes Addie suspected it was her eyes that drew attention to her, as the rest of her was, in fact, very unremarkable.
Her father wasn't too fond of her eyes, though Addie didn't know why that was. She rather liked the color of her eyes.
Academically, Addie made average grades at the average school she attended. Like most children her age, she had regular playmates, both in school and outside of school. She didn't dare label them as anything more than what they were -playmates. Oh, she liked them well enough, and she liked to think that her fondness for them was returned. That didn't mean she actually counted any of them as her friends. She wasn't invited to their numerous sleep overs and, likewise, she didn't invite any of them to spend the night at her house as a normal girl her age would. Her mother thought Addie was a little too guarded with her feelings, and that was why Addie didn't have any friends. However, Addie was rather content with her status amongst her playmates. Friends shared a lot of things with one another, whether it be toys or feelings or even childhood stories about their families. Addie didn't have a problem sharing her toys; it was putting her feelings into words that bothered her, not to mention that the stories she could tell about her family -her dad, in particular- didn't quite sound as close-knit and warm as her playmates' accounts.
It wasn't like she doubted her daddy's love for her. That wasn't the case at all. She knew her daddy loved her, even if he was rather standoffish about making his feelings known. Her daddy was just always tired from running the drilling company that he'd inherited from Grandpa, who died from a heart attack when Addie was just a baby. When her daddy wasn't working, he liked to indulge himself. He and her mum went out a lot, leaving Addie with a sitter on a regular occasion. Addie thought her father deserved some time for himself, especially since he always talked about how stressful his job was or how little time he had for what he called "me time." She didn't mind that her dad's "me time" left no room for a child. She didn't need her father's attention as proof that he loved her just as much as any other girl's father. Addie couldn't remember an occasion where her dad tucked her in and kissed her goodnight, or had taken the time to read her a bedtime story, or even taken her to the local park to play.
Just because her daddy was a virtual stranger didn't mean he didn't love her. However, she knew other people thought differently. She wasn't deaf; she heard everyone from her babysitter to her teachers murmuring about how Dudley Dursley was a selfish and inattentive parent. They would make vague noises of concern in their throats and say something like, "Poor girl doesn't even seem to realize that if it came down to her needs verses his needs, his needs will always come first." She hated how they always talked about her daddy that way because she knew that her daddy loved her no less than any other daddy out there. Her grandma said that Dad had an amazing capacity for love and empathy, and she would always go on to say he could have been something as great as the Prime Minister if he didn't have Grandpa's drilling company to run. Grandma would know better than anyone, seeing as how she was the one who raised Addie's father.
Marie Dursley was another Dursley woman who stood by Addie's dad one-hundred percent. Addie's mother didn't have a career, though she would inform anyone who would listen that raising a child and keeping her family comfortable and healthy was a full-time job alone. Addie wasn't so sure about the credibility of what her mother said, though. Oh, her mother was an excellent cook, a dutiful wife, an exceptional mother, and kept the checkbook balanced and the house clean, but from what Addie could see, being a stay at home mother wasn't as hard as her mother made it out to be. Her mother would spend perhaps most of her morning attending to chores, and once a month she would take the time to make sure the bank statement matched what was in the checkbook. However, a majority of her mother's day was spent in front of the television and indulging in daytime programs like talk shows and soaps. During the summer, Addie tended to quietly dismiss herself from her mother's presence, knowing that her mother would prefer not to be disturbed during her "down time." Her mum would be completely enamored with the telly until a few hours before her husband was due home, where she would then begin the process of making dinner.
It was her mother who explained why Dad was the way he was when it came to showing affection. She'd explained that, once, a very long time ago, her dad had admitted that he was an only child, but only technically; Addie's grandparents had graciously taken in a troublesome orphan when her father was only a year old, and the little orphan boy had taken a lot of his parents' attention away from him. The little orphan boy would terrorize Addie's father all the way into adulthood, and his parents wouldn't do the right thing and send the orphan away to a facility that catered to delinquents like him.
"I can only assume your grandmother thought she was doing the right thing, keeping that orphan until he reached his majority," Marie had mused aloud. It was also because of the orphan that Addie didn't have a little brother or sister; her daddy felt that Addie would have appreciated being an only child when he wanted the same thing for himself when he was her age. Truthfully, Addie would have preferred a sibling to keep her company when her parents were too busy for her.
Addie had one great passion in life. She loved to read. Oh, nothing of the educational variety; she'd never been terribly interested in non-fiction or even classic literature. She loved books with fantasy and adventure; where things like elves and dragons and dwarves and warlocks roamed the pages looking for the next solution to their great strife. Sometimes she would spend hours on end in her room, lying across her bed as she lost herself in the adrenaline-driven battles between heros and villains. Her father would think it all rather ridiculous and a waste of time; the few times the subject of the abnormal came across her father, he would always look furious. He forbade any literature that pertained to anything that involved elves and magic and dragons, and whenever a magic show came on the telly, he would immediately change the channel with pressed lips, his eyes flashing with suppressed anger. Her mother had once timidly tried to assure her husband that the magicians on television only meant to entertain, but her father's temper exploded about how unnatural and freakish it all was.
It wasn't a sentiment that Addie shared. She found it all fascinating, and cherished the moments that her father wasn't home or her parents were out, and she got to watch the magicians on the telly with the single-mindedness only a child could muster. She realized early on that the magic on the telly was smoke, mirrors and, in some cases, special affects. It didn't damper her appreciation for things that weren't normal, things that her father so obviously clung to. She thought, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if things like dragons and magic actually existed?" On a subconscious level, she was convinced that there had to be some truth behind the hype; logically, however, there was no possible way that magic, no matter what she desired, was real. Life, simply put, was just too mundane.
Yet, like in many ways, life has an unquestionable urge to prove even the staunchest of critics wrong. And Abigail Dursley wasn't exempt from this rule of thumb.
The day had started off like any other day in the summer, save for the fact that Addie woke up later than usual. She had been up half the night immersed in her latest fantasy novel, and had completely lost track of how late it had become before she reluctantly slid a bookmark into place, her eyelids simply too heavy to read any longer. On her way downstairs for a late breakfast, she paused in her journey to stoop down and collect the post that had come through the mail slot. On her way to the kitchen, she idly flipped through the mail, barely aware of the credit card offers addressed to her mother or the bills for her father.
Then she came across a rather odd envelope bearing her name. She paused just outside the kitchen, frowning down at the oddly thick, off-white envelope, the paper rough against the pads of her fingers. It wasn't at all as smooth and stark as the mail for her parents. The envelope bore no logo or return address, nor did it have a stamp that indicated it came from the post office at all. Her name and address had been written in beautiful script in emerald green ink. Upon inspecting the back of the envelope, she was surprised to see that, instead of having a normal seal, it had been sealed in what looked to be red wax stamped with a sort of coat of arms that sported what looked to be a badger, a raven, a snake, and a lion. Around the edges of the coat of arms, she could make out a phrase that looked to be Latin.
"Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus," she murmured slowly, testing the Latin phrase on her lips. She blinked, taken aback when it looked as if the coat of arms had reacted to her words, the animals making some minuscule movement that was enough for her to notice, but slight enough for Addie to believe it may have been her mind playing tricks on her.
Bemused, she pushed the swinging door open to see her mum diligently working to wipe away all evidence of breakfast having already been eaten. She was just loading the dishes into the dishwasher when she turned to Addie with a smile. "Good morning, luv. Decided to sleep in this morning?"
Addie's father was no where to be found. A cursory glance at the clock on the wall proved that the elder Dursley had already left for work. "Well, it wasn't as much of a decision as something that just happened," Addie replied absently, laying all but her letter on the counter. She sat down at the table, slowly breaking the seal on the back of the envelope.
"That today's post then?" she heard her mother ask, but Addie found herself unable to reply in favor of reading the letter.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Minerva McGonagall
(Order of Merlin, Second Class, Chf. Sorceress, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Miss Dursley,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. A representative of the school will be sent to your residence later this evening to explain the significance of your acceptance.
Addie blinked and carefully read the letter through once more, her brain struggling to process the information. Hogwarts? Witchcraft? Wizardry? That just wasn't possible! Like an automaton, she reached into the folds of the envelope and found, just as the letter had promised, another piece of thick paper that listed the strangest items.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
First year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
5. One set dress robes
Please note that all pupil's clothes should carry name tags
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Side of Magic (Volume 1) by Samantha Sato
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 set brass scale
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS
"Good Lord, Addie," her mother exclaimed, "what's gotten into you?"
"Nothing, Mum," Addie replied, trying to reign in on the laughter that had so suddenly and swiftly overtaken her. "Just somebody having a good laugh at my expense. Though I have to give them credit for going to such lengths."
Even though she was amused by the prank on one level (it really was an ingenious concept, sending out letters for a fake magician school), on another level, she was a little disheartened by it. She couldn't remember there ever being a time in her life that she didn't wish magic was real, just to make life a little more exciting. Going to such incredible lengths just for a joke was all good and fun, but for someone like her, it was sort of... cruel. Addie was sure that cruelty had not been the sender's intention, and that thought cheered her up a little. Nonetheless, she still felt a little down and, informing her mother of her lack of appitite, she dismissed herself to her bedroom once more.
However, she did take the letter along with her.
Throughout the day, she couldn't help but to go back and read the letter over and over again, and each time she found herself falling a little more disappointed. On more than one occasion, she found herself daydreaming about a representative of this Hogwarts school really coming to her doorstep, telling her that yes, magic was real and she was capable of using it. What if the sender really did come to her door? How would he fool her into thinking that magic wasn't all smoke and mirrors and slight of the hand? Card tricks?
She snorted. Right. She could just imagine how that would work out. "Pick a card, any card," she said sarcastically before, shaking her head free of the cynical thoughts, she shut the letter and the list in one of the drawers of her desk and escaped her room with a book in hand, intending to read the rest of the novel in the living room before her father came home from work. She curled up in the recliner farthest from the television, her mother having already monopolized the couch for her daily soaps.
Addie once again lost herself in a world of adventure and magic when she noticed that the sun was close to setting. Her mother had long ago abandoned the telly, having gone to the kitchen to prepare dinner. The girl wasn't disturbed until her mother poked her head into the living room to inform her daughter that she was going over to the neighbors house to borrow a cup of flour she would be needing for the dessert she was making.
Almost five minutes after her mother left, the doorbell chimed. Addie groaned quietly, reluctantly tearing herself away from the epic battle against the dark, villainous sorcerer that was attempting to rule over the land with an iron fist. She slid the bookmark into place and stretched her legs out before climbing out of the large recliner, tiptoeing to the front door to peer through one of the narrow windows that were on either side of the door. It was too dark to make out any distinguishing features other than the fact that the man on the other side of the door was an adult.
She pulled the door open only enough for her to fit through, not wanting the man to see that her parents were nowhere in sight. Her mother always cautioned her about informing strangers when Addie was left alone for longer than five minutes, reasoning that one could never be too careful these days.
He was a tall man with pitch black hair that was in disarray, as if he didn't have the time or the patience to tame the wild mop of hair. His clothes were a different matter; they were obviously tailor-made, indicating that he could afford such expenditures. He wore black trousers that fit in all the right places and a what appeared to be a silk emerald green shirt that brought out the striking color of his equally vibrant eyes hidden behind small, silver framed glasses. That was the most notable feature about him, in fact; he had the same otherworldly green eyes that Addie herself had.
For a split second, he appeared as if he'd rather be any other place in the world than on her front doorstep. The second he saw her, however, his eyes softened and he appeared far less irritated.
"Hello," he said, his voice a rich baritone that seemed to rumble with confidence. "You must be Abigail." Instead of talking down to her like most adults did, he offered her his hand and a genteel smile. "My name is Harry Potter. You don't know me, but I'm your second cousin."
Second cousin? Though she'd never heard of a Harry Potter on either side of her family tree, she supposed it could be true. Maybe it was his branch of the family that she had inherited her unique eyes.
"I like to be called Addie, actually," she said, feeling a little shy and awkward in front of the stranger as she shook his hand. "Um, I'm sorry for sounding so forward, but Mum and Dad never mentioned a cousin named Harry."
The man laughed ruefully. "Your dad wouldn't. We don't exactly get along," he explained.
"I'm not actually here to see him," Harry explained slowly, seemingly attempting to choose his words carefully. "Well, that's not true. I do have to talk to him and your mother. However, I mainly came here to see you."
"Me?" Why? What was so special about Addie that some estranged cousin she'd never even met needed to talk to her? Curiosity piqued (and despite her parents' stern warnings to never let strangers into the house while they weren't home), she opened the door the rest of the way and stood aside to allow the man entry. Once he was inside, she shut the door behind him as she watched from under her eyelashes as he looked around in mild curiosity.
"Dad hasn't gotten home from work yet," Addie thought to mention, "and Mum stepped out to borrow some flour from the neighbors."
"Oh, good," Harry said, relaxing minutely. "Haven't quite got the reunion planned out with your dear ol' dad," he added wryly, smiling at her lopsidedly. "He's not going to be very happy to see me, considering I was the bane of his existence all throughout childhood. To be fair, he was -and I'm not going to continue that line of conversation because it's never good to badmouth a child's parents to their face, no matter how much I think he deserves it."
Addie frowned, wondering what could possibly be the cause of the animosity against her father.
"So how did he react to your letter?" Harry asked, watching her closely in what could have been... concern? "He didn't flip his wig, did he? When Draco told me you were on the list of first years, I knew Dudders wouldn't take it well."
Addie's frown, if possible, became more prominent. "Letter?..."
Harry was aghast. "Merlin, he didn't keep it from you, did he? Talk about like father, like son."
It came to her then. She knew exactly what he was talking about. "You! You're the one who sent that bogus letter for that magic school, aren't you?"
"Bogus?" Harry said, an odd twitch lifting the corner of his mouth. "So he told you it was bogus? Different tactic, same basic principle. Your dad never was one for magic; neither were your grandparents."
"He doesn't know about it," Addie said. "Neither does Mum. I thought it was just a joke."
"I don't blame you," Harry said with a shrug. "I thought it was a joke, too, when I got my Hogwarts letter when I was your age. Getting my letter was quite a chore, let me tell you. Uncle Vernon -your grandfather- was bound and determined to prevent me from ever going to Hogwarts. They eventually had to send someone after me. But I digress.
"Addie," he said, smiling a little as he met her eyes, "hasn't there ever been a time in your life when you were sad or angry or upset... that something strange happened? Something you couldn't explain?"
"No," Addie replied slowly. "But... Mum always said I was rather cautious with my emotions for someone my age."
"Ah," Harry said with a nod. "Well, that might have something to do with the lack of accidental magic around here. I've actually been keeping watch on your family, and I was convinced you weren't going to be like me at all. That's why I was so surprised to find out your name was on the list of incoming first years. Do you mind if we...?" He made a vague gesture toward the living room, lifting an eyebrow inquiringly.
"Oh!" Addie said, blushing a little. "I'm sorry. Um, would you like to sit down?"
"Great," Harry said cheerfully, following Addie into the living room. He sat primly in one of the recliners that faced the couch and, awkwardly, Addie chose to sit on the sofa.
"I'm a professor at Hogwarts," Harry explained. "I teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, which basically means I teach students how to protect themselves against dark wizards, vampires, werewolves and the like to the best of their ability. Not to say that all werewolves are bad; my father's best friend is a werewolf, and you couldn't find a kinder man.
"I guess I should first prove to you that magic is very, very real despite what your dad may or may not have said otherwise," Harry added, appearing oddly rueful. "I'm sorry if I seem a bit scattered; I'm not usually like this, but the thought of having to see Dudders again has completely decimated any composure I could have possibly had."
"Why don't you get along with my dad?" Addie asked, tilting her head curiously.
"Personal reasons," Harry murmured vaguely. "Look, Addie; I'm not out to turn you against your father. In fact, I'm hoping your invitation to Hogwarts turns out better than I suspect it will. When we were children, your dad was very selfish and self-centered, and he went out of his way to beat me up until he found out I am a wizard. He was a nasty git to me up until the day I finally left the Dursleys -your grandparents and him- and I can only hope that parenthood has changed him."
Addie shifted uncomfortably, hating how Harry's description of her father as a child sounded so much like what other people thought of him now. If Harry noticed her discomfort, he didn't mention it. Instead, he looked a little sympathetic.
"So magic -it's real?" Addie blurted, wanting to take the spotlight off of her father.
"It's as real as you and me," Harry replied with a quick, understanding smile, pulling the same cream-colored envelope that Addie had received earlier that morning from the inside of his coat. He handed her the letter, explaining, "I thought I'd bring an extra -just in case. Never can be too careful when it comes your father's muleheadedness. Anyway, you being muggleborn -that means that both of your parents are normal people- the school generally send out representatives to prove to muggleborns that their letters aren't practical jokes. I'm not usually cut out of this kind of thing, if you can't tell, but being related to you, I thought I should give it a shot. I know what to expect if your dad doesn't receive the news well."
She let it rest in her lap, unopened as she looked him over wearily. "You're not going to ask me to pick a card, any card... are you?"
Harry chuckled, shaking his head. "It's not that kind of magic, Addie." Again he reached into the folds of his coat, pulling out a long, slender piece of wood that vaguely resembled a magician's wand, minus the black plastic sheen and the white tip. He immediately pointed it at an innocuous lamp sitting on the small table that was positioned to Addie's left. She watched, bemused, as he murmured, "Wingardium Leviosa."
To her amazement, the lamp actually began to... levitate? Hesitantly, she reached out and waved her hand both below and above the lamp.
No strings... The lamp was levitating by itself. "Wicked..." Addie breathed, sitting back against the couch.
Harry chuckled again. "I thought so, too, when I got my first glimpse of magic." Using his wand as a guide, he lowered the lamp back onto the table and murmured, "Finite Incantantum. Now do you believe?"
"Starting to," Addie said, still feeling a little lightheaded by the revelation. Magic was real. Magic was real, and Harry said she was going to learn.
"I can do magic?"
"For real?" Addie exclaimed, hardly able to sit still.
Harry seemed amused by her antics. "Yes."
"Not everyone can do it?"
And it was in this that unremarkable, average Abigail Dursley realized that she wasn't so unremarkable, after all.
"But why?" Addie wanted to know.
"That's a good question," Harry said. "In some cases, it runs in the genes. In other cases, it's completely random. My mum was a muggleborn, just like you. After teaching at Hogwarts for as long as I have, one tends to notice that, once there's one muggleborn in the family, more will follow. Your grandmother was a carrier, and your father is clearly a carrier. It stands to reason that while whatever magic they could do is recessive, yours is very dominant. Enough to be invited to the most prestigious school for magic this side of the world."
Harry appeared sheepish all of a sudden, standing from his seated position in the chair. Addie quickly followed suit, looking up at him expectantly. "You wouldn't mind if I used your loo before your parents get home, would you?"
Addie nodded immediately. "It's up the stairs, second door on the right."
"Thanks," Harry said. Just before disappearing up the stairs, he peered around the frame of the living room entryway to smile softly. "Do me a favor, yeah? If your parents come home before I'm done... Stall them? Especially your father. I'd rather talk to him before he finds out."
Addie tilted her head to the side, wondering why Harry would need to confront her father first. Instead of asking, however, she agreed that she wouldn't mention anything about being invited to a magic school.
Almost seconds after she heard the bathroom door close, her mother was coming through the front door, a small bag of flour in her hands. "Sorry I took so long, darling. You know how Mrs. Finch is, always talking about this and that and everything under the sun."
"Mum, there's a man here who says he's my cousin," Addie said, bouncing on her heels excitedly. "He says his name is Harry Potter."
"Oh, Addie," her mother said, anguished. "You let a stranger in? What have I told you about that, sweetie?"
"He said he's Daddy's cousin," Addie said, barely aware of her mother's concern. "We have the same eyes."
"I don't recall your father ever mentioning a cousin," her mother said, sounding worried. "He's still here?"
"He went to the loo. He wanted to talk to Daddy about... something." Something that Addie had told Harry she wouldn't mention until he'd come back. Oh, but how much she wished to blurt out the entire thing to her mother!
"It must be an important something," Mum said, sounding vaguely amused. "I haven't seen you in such a state in quite a long time. I was beginning to wonder if anything would excite you anymore."
Addie would have said more, but the front door swung open again. Her father was home.
He hung his bowler hat on the coat stand and shed his coat, saying, "I don't really feel like staying in tonight. Let's call a sitter and go out."
"Actually, there's apparently someone here to see you," Mum said, dutifully pecking her husband on the cheek. "Addie said his name is Harry Potter, and he says he's your-"
Dad's eyes immediately bulged, and he was visibly upset by the news. "You let him in?"
Mum blinked, apparently as taken aback by his sudden anger as Addie herself was. "Why are you so upset? Is he dangerous?"
But Dudley Dursley's eyes had immediately fallen to the letter that Addie had forgotten she was holding. He lurched forward, grabbing her wrist tightly in his meat hand as he reached forward with the other and tore it from her grasp. The girl cried out at the rough treatment, and her mum exclaimed, "Dudley, what in the world is the matter with you?"
When her daddy's eyes scanned the front of the letter, his face began to darken with rage. He dropped his daughter's wrist as if scorched, glaring down at her in disgust and... He looked so angry... Addie couldn't understand why her daddy was looking at her like that, like she was the most disgusting thing he'd ever seen, but she didn't like it. Her daddy loved her! Why was he looking at her with such fierce hatred in his eyes?
"Daddy?" she whimpered, her voice cracking. "Daddy, what's-"
"You're one of them," he said accusingly, crumpling the envelope in his hand and throwing it to the floor. "You're a freak, just like him!"
... A freak? Her daddy thought she was a freak? She could feel the tears gather in her eyes, her heart feeling as if her daddy had shoved his hand through her chest and began to maliciously squeeze her heart until it burst. No, he loved her! He did! He couldn't think she was a freak! Her daddy had to have made some kind of mistake!
"Dudley!" her mum gasped.
"You don't understand, Marie," her daddy raged. "It's unnatural, what they can do! You wouldn't believe the torment that freak cousin of mine put me through -setting a boa constrictor on me, giving me a pig's tail, having my tongue swell up until I couldn't breathe, blowing up Aunt Marge! No good can come from having one of them in the family, and I won't stand to have any daughter of mine becoming a bloody freak witch!"
"You're obviously overtaxed," Mum said, sounding frantic. "Dudley, there's no such thing as witches! Take some time off work, we can go away for a weekend, get away from it all. Please, you're making our daughter cry!"
"No daughter of mine... No daughter of mine!..." her daddy raged, incoherent with indignant anger.
Addie, tears falling down her cheeks, tried to placate her father by reaching for his hand, but he immediately knocked her hand away from his. "I'll not stand for it!" he thundered, right before he raised his hand and oh, God, he was going to hit her, her daddy was going to hit her! She braced herself, cringing back almost instinctively, unable to comprehend that her daddy was so angry with her that he would raise his hand to her. She wanted to make promises that she wouldn't, she wouldn't be a freak, she wouldn't be a witch, she wouldn't go to Hogwarts even if she wanted to, just to make her daddy happy again. Just to make her daddy love her again, she would sacrifice every shred of happiness the news of magic existing had brought her.
There was a strange pop that echoed in her ears, and then there was a hand that had wrapped around her father's raised hand, stopping the man from striking his daughter. Addie looked, tears marring her vision, at Harry Potter. The smiling, cheerful man was gone; in his place was a sad, solemn man with deep lines in his face that suggested he'd had the weight of the world on his shoulders many times over.
And he looked furious.
"If I ever see you raise your hand to a child again," Harry said softly, his green eyes dark and implying threat, "no surgery in this world could change you back from your new status as a farm animal. Got it, porkchop?"
Her daddy wrenched his wrist away from Harry's hand, looking for all the world disgusted that his cousin had dared to touch him. "Get out of my house!"
Harry narrowed his eyes on her father. "No. You're going to listen to me, and you're going to listen closely. This isn't just some girl, Dudley -Addie is your daughter. Like it or not, she has an ability that could have dire repercussions for you and your family if she doesn't learn how to control it. Your daughter didn't just become a witch -she's always been one, whether you wanted to acknowledge the possibility or not. And nothing on this earth gives you the right to hit your own flesh and blood, no matter how much you think you do after the abuse you put me through when we were younger."
"Like I give a bloody damn what you say," her daddy hissed. "Get out of my house, Potter! She won't be going to your freak school!"
"You can't just ignore it, Dudley!" Harry replied with an equal amount of scorn in his voice; while Harry's scorn was because of her father, her father's scorn was because of her. Addie couldn't stop the sob that broke free, and Harry looked down at her, his eyes softening marginally. Her father didn't even seem to realize she was there and hurting and so badly wanted him to tell her it was okay. He studiously ignored her very existence.
"You haven't changed a bit," Harry said softly, looking at Dudley Dursley in contempt. "You're still the selfish, abusive, racist prat you've always been. Merlin, and I'd actually hoped that parenthood had changed you. Guess years of being spoiled as much as you would leave you unchanged.
"Addie's magic isn't just going to go away because you want it to," the man continued, this time sparing a glance for Addie's mother, as well. She looked a bit overwhelmed by the situation, as if she didn't know what to think. "It'll always be there, and it'll only get stronger and wilder if she goes on without learning how to control it. Hogwarts can provide that control. Please, for your daughter... She needs to go to Hogwarts."
"You..." her mum gulped, and she sounded dazed and confused. "You appeared... out of thin air."
Harry didn't even crack a smile. "It's something I do from time to time. Something Addie will eventually learn."
"Oh, I don't know," Mum whimpered, putting her hands to her cheeks. "I don't know, I don't know..."
"Mum?" Addie sobbed out, looking imploringly to her mother before turning her attention back to her father. He still wouldn't even acknowledge her. "Daddy?..."
"If she goes," her daddy hissed, "she'll never be allowed back here."
"Dudley!" Harry snapped. "Think about what you're saying! You'd kick your eleven year old daughter out over this?"
"I don't know, I don't-" her mum continued frantically, sounding more and more hysterical by the second.
"I won't have one in the house, Potter," her father growled. "No daughter of mine will ever be a freak like you. You hear me?"
"Then I suggest you don't have another one, Dursley," Harry replied scathingly. "You're a carrier, after all, just like your mum is."
The man kneeled down, resting his palms on Addie's shaking shoulders as he made the girl look at him through her tears. He smiled gently. "I know it might not sound like much right now, Addie, and I know we don't know each other quite that well... but family is family, and you can come with me. That is, if you'll have me?"
Addie sniffled, looking toward her parents again. Her dad looked as if he'd stand by what he said until his last breath, and her mum looked so lost and confused, teetering on the edge of hysterics by having her world turn inside out on her. Her daddy finally met her eyes and... and there was nothing there. No love, no concern, just disgust and hate and fear.
"Okay," she whispered brokenly, tears still falling down her hot cheeks. It seemed so surreal, all of a sudden; she was so happy only moments ago, and then things turned to this...
Harry nodded, sweeping Addie into his arms despite her being a little too old for such handling. He looked to Dudley and Marie Dursley with thinly veiled revulsion in his green eyes before saying flatly, "I'll send someone else for her things. I don't think I can stomach spending another second in your presence, Dudders."
The mocking tone in Harry's voice seemed to set her father off once more. He bellowed, "Get the hell out of my house!"
"Gladly," Harry retorted. The world seemed to bleed away at that very moment, only to be replaced by a very different scenery. Addie, unable to stave her curiosity despite feeling so emotionally drained, lifted her head from Harry's shoulder to see a magnificent castle standing in the distance, surrounded by a large lake and a crop of dark, forbidden-looking forestry.
"I take it," came a smooth, sardonic voice in the darkness, "that your news was about as well-received as you feared?"
"Worse," Harry replied. Addie glanced toward the man he was talking to, seeing a rather handsome man with light blond hair and cold eyes. "As much as I hate to tout your motto, Draco..."
"I know," the man named Draco said darkly. "Damn muggles."
"Addie's going to be staying with me, regardless," Harry added, matching the man's pace as they began their trek toward the castle in the distance. "I told them I'd send for her things. I couldn't stand looking at him anymore."
"Pity you didn't turn him into a slug," the other man said offhandedly.
"Oh, there might be a chance of that happening," Harry said, equally nonchalant. "I didn't tell them I'd planned to send you."
"Oh, fun," Draco said, mockingly cheerful. "I haven't baited muggles in a while. This should prove... entertaining."
"I thought you'd like that," Harry said dryly, shaking his head. "Let's get Addie settled in. After a night like this, I think I deserve a bit of a lay down. Dealing with people like my cousin always brings out the worst in me."
"Lay down? That's all you want to do tonight? Sleep?" Draco sounded absolutely agog. "Bloody hell, forget turning him into a slug. I'm sure I can find more appropriate hexes to use."
"Is se-that all you ever think about?"
"That is on my mind every hour of every day, Potter, and don't you forget it."
Harry's laughter rumbled in his chest under Addie's ear as, exhausted both mentally and physically, her eyes slid shut and she blissfully fell asleep, dreaming of dragons and warlocks and handsome heros who saved her from the cruel villain...
Um. Review?...:points at Props Closet again: DOM'S FAULT!