It really wasn't the best way to meet the Headmistress of one's daughters' school, he decided, but at least, despite hair tightly tucked tightly into a bun and austere black robes, the woman's reputation for being a termagant seemed to have been exaggerated.
After Snape had fed him a toffee that had caused his tongue to swell to pythonesque proportions, the black hearted bastard had left him and it flopping around the floor. The tongue had ended up in places he'd have been dubious about putting his hands in even in gloves. As soon as the unruly muscle had contracted sufficiently (down to his belt and covered in a a layer of muck that thickened as the tongue shrank), he'd retreated to the toilets and been copiously sick. Professor Granger had discovered him there, listened to his choked explanations and dealt efficiently with the unpleasantness. She had then introduced herself, taken him into a small but cosy office, and fed him tea. After his third cup he'd had felt up to talking about what had happened.
'Well, after Chloe got her Hogwarts letter we got a visit from a great uncle of mine. Turned out that he's a wizard.'
Professor Granger sat up a little straighter. 'John Dursley is it?
'Yes, it is. But . . ..'
'Oh, Harry's a friend of mine.'
'Oh.' John was a little surprised that Harry hadn't mentioned knowing the headmistress, but then Harry didn't talk much asbout himself at all. 'So how are Chloe and Emma doing?'
'They're both doing well. And I believe that you have a boy as well?'
'Yes. Dudley. Named after his grandfather.' John and his father had visited John's grandfather and told him about little Chloe. They had tried asking about Harry, and he had seemed to understand the question but, after all the alarms went off, the nurse had thrown them out. John hadn't realised that blood pressure went that high. Or that someone so frail looking could be so strong. It had taken both of them to get the old man's hands from around John's throat.
'So, Mr. Dursley, what are you doing here? I trust that you are not unwell?'
'No. Nothing like that. Harry introduced me to a few of his friends and my company, that's Dursley and Dursley, were taken on to sort out the 'Cannon's' finances. That's a Quiddich club.'
Professor Granger harrumphed.
'Sorry. Of course you'd know that. Apparently 'Magicals' lack imagination or, at least, financial acumen, so my company was taken on to help rearrange the club's finances. Apparently they were able to take on some new players. We heard that they were doing rather better.
'They've won the cup for the last three years,' said Professor Granger, sounding slightly sour.
'Really? Well, in that case, I don't think I understand. Last week we received a visit from Mr. Weasley, he's the manager? He said that they wouldn't be requiring our services any more. He didn't look well. Mr. Weasley, he was covered in . . . well they looked like raspberries and then they burst and things flew out and they flew off making . . . raspberry noises. And then, this morning, we got a roc from Saint Mungo's.
'An owl, Mr. Dursley.'
'It was delivering mail so, yes, technically, I suppose it might have been. The bloody thing was enormous. It jumped all over me and then the neighbours complained to the RSPCA and I spent the afternoon trying to persuade the Police that I wasn't doing whatever it was they thought I was doing to the beast. As if. I was supposed to see the Board about Saint Mungo's finances this afternoon. Chloe got me in here, but she seems to have have disappeared. She went off with a red haired lad. You wouldn't happen to know who he is?'
'I'm afraid that red hair is not a sufficient description,' said the Headmistress, 'but I'm sure we can find her.'
'Fine. Anyway, I was a bit late, and I ended up seeing the Director: a Mr. Snape. I don't know if you know him?'
Professor Granger pulled open a draw. 'This is where my daughter keeps the gin,' she said, pulling out bottles, ice and a lemon and working methodically through the construction of a pair of stiff drinks before sliding one over the desk towards him. He accepted it gratefully.
Dammit, thought John Dursley, the woman fixes a mean gin and tonic. He relaxed back into his chair. 'Too much to hope that that ton tongue toffee thing means that Snape bastard's sacked us?'
'I think it unlikely. Have you any idea what you might have done to upset Mr. Snape?'
'Not the faintest.' he took a deep swallow of his drink. 'Because I'm a Muggle, perhaps? I hear there's a certain amount of prejudice.'
'I think if you'd been a wizard it would've been worse than 'Ton-Tongue-Toffee. Snape's not entirely unreasonable. You must have done something.'
'Nothing!' he protested. 'I was warned. Don't talk about the war. Don't talk about You-Know-Who.'
Professor Granger's eyes closed. 'Oh dear. You don't know much about our world, at all. Do you?'
'I read Chloe's school books. Can't say I made much sense of them, Arithmancy aside. Although those Goblin Wars have to be the most soporific thing known to humanity.' An extremely nasty thought occurred. 'You don't think Snape poisoned that Weasley fellow, do you?'
'Oh no, that would be my husband's dear brothers testing out their latest product.'
'Ronald Weasley. His brothers are the proprietors of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes.'
'My deepest sympathies.' He winced. 'Raspberry Ruffles?'
'I'm afraid so.' Professor Granger sighed. 'So what did you talk about with Mr. Snape.?'
'Well nothing really. As I said, I'd been warned. Don't talk about the war. Don't talk about You-Know-Who. You know? Some Moldewort chappie? We just talked about what Saint Mungo's wanted us to do and . . ..'
'Not that 'You-Know-Who.' Professor Granger's hair was showing signs of rebellion and escaping from the tight bun.
'You've more than one? Look. I swear. Nothing controversial. I don't know enough to be controversial. I just asked him if he knew uncle Harry.'