Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all recognizable characters are the property of JK Rowling. I just take them out from time to time to play with them a bit and occasionally throw in an OC.
The tall man with messy black hair looked at the front of the house curiously and with some apparent sign of uncertainty. He glanced at the envelope in his hand and back to the house once more before taking a deep breath and tucking the paper back into his pocket. With clam, even steps he walked up and rang the bell.
The door opened a moment later to reveal a tallish, slender woman wearing a simple but attractive dress of soft blue. It matched her rather pretty blue eyes, which were set in an oval face that was framed by a head of flame colored curls. Her nose was a bit too wide for her delicate face, but otherwise she was rather pretty. She peered at him curiously. "May I help you?"
The man cleared his throat. "Good afternoon. Is this the home of Dudley Dursley?"
The woman smiled and nodded. "Yes, it is." She peered at him more closely. "Are you his cousin, then? Are you Harry?"
The man nodded. "Yes, I'm Harry Potter. You would be Dudley's wife, then?"
The pretty woman's smile brightened as she nodded. "Evangeline, though you can call me 'Evan' or 'Evie'. Everyone does. Please, come in! Come in!" She stood back to allow him entry, turning her head to call down the narrow hallway. "Dudley! Your cousin's here!"
"Coming, Sweets!" Dudley's voice was deep and slightly nasal as it sounded from what was likely the living room. A moment later the very large and muscular form of Dudley Dursley came into view. He looked towards Harry, hesitating for a moment before moving forward with one large hand extended. "Hullo, Harry. It's been… a long time."
That was true. The last time Harry had seen Dudley Dursley they had been saying good-bye shortly before Harry's 17th birthday. He'd been sending his relatives into hiding to protect them from Voldemort and his followers. It had also been the day that the relationship between he and Dudley had become, if not exactly friendly, at least more amicable. "Yeah, it has."
Clearly marriage agreed with Dudley. He was no longer as obese as he had once been, though he was still large. Now, however, it was muscle rather than fat. Though she was taller than the average woman, Evangeline was still thinly built and looked quite dwarfed by her husband.
Evan seemed to notice the air of discomfort between the two men and offered a gentle smile. "I'll go make us some tea, shall I?" With a nod she hurried off to the kitchen, leaving Dudley and Harry in the hall.
Harry looked about and noticed it was a rather nice home. Everything was tidy and clean. Glancing into a sitting room he saw that it was decorated with handsome, sturdy furniture designed to withstand heavy use that fit in well with the warm wine colored wallpaper and heavy curtains. "So… it was a surprise hearing from you, Dudley. I didn't know you knew how to reach me."
"Asked Mum. They told her how to contact you when you were sent off to school. There's apparently an office at your Ministry that deals with such things."
"Oh, you mean the Muggleborn Family Support Office, then? Yeah, they help Muggles who have magical children keep abreast of things in our world." He looked about again. "Your letter said that… that you needed my help with something?"
"Yeah, I do." Dudley rubbed the back of his neck, swallowing. "I need you to take a look at Jessie."
Harry blinked. "At whom?"
Dudley pointed to a picture of a rosy-cheeked little girl with strawberry blond curls and wearing a pink organdy dress. Dimpled knees peeked out from the hem of her ruffled skirt and her eyes were a brilliant blue that sparkled with mischief. "My youngest, though she's bigger than that now. Almost eight."
He was surprised to say the least. "You need me to take a look at your daughter?" Dudley nodded. "Why?"
"Just… things that happen from time to time. Things like what used to happen with you at school when we were younger. Last week there was a bully who was bothering her and all of the sudden he was chucked in a rubbish bin but no one can say how he got there. Before that she was upset because her bike got run over by the neighbor's car and it seemed to fix itself. Just… stuff."
"Oh." Harry looked form Dudley to the picture of the pretty little girl. "Stuff. I see. You think… you think she might be…"
"Like you. Yeah." Dudley gave a shrug. "I talked to Evan about it. Explained all about you to her. Didn't believe me at first, but after the thing with the bike she was willing to keep an open mind about it. She suggested that we ask you to come and see if… if I'm right. We figured you'd be able to tell for cert."
"Ah." Harry swallowed and gave a nod. "Sure. I can take a look at her if you like." A feeling of unease settled in his stomach. He remembered quite well how the Dursleys responded to magic. He wondered how Dudley and his wife were handling the idea that their daughter might be a witch. "Is… is she home?"
"In the back yard. Playing with her brothers." Dudley gave a smile. "Got three kids in all. Two boys, Michael and Jason, and then little Jessica. " He waved Harry through the house. "Evie, we're going to go out back with the kids. Be back in a bit."
"All right, Darling." Harry caught a glimpse of Dudley's wife buzzing about the kitchen as she gathered a nice collection of cakes and biscuits for their tea. He followed Dudley into the back yard where the shouts of children welcomed them immediately. He was quite familiar with that sound, having three of his own.
There looked to be no more than two years between each child, just as with his own. A slender, tallish girl with long, strawberry blond hair laughed gaily as she tried to dodge a jet of water one of her brothers shot at her from a toy water gun. Successfully avoiding the dowsing, she gave a triumphant shout and stopped to make a face at him, making antlers out of her fingers and wriggling her bottom as she did a bit of a dance. "Slow poke! Pokey pokey! You'll have to do better than that! Aiiee!" She jumped as her other brother managed to get her from behind, a deluge of cold water smacking her in the back and drenching her hair.
The boys were taller; one lean like their mother, the other beefy and muscular like their dad. Both boys laughed uproariously as their sister sputtered. Their laughs quickly froze, however, as their water pistols shot out of their hands, whirled around in mid-air to face them and then discharged right in their faces.
The children all froze, all three surprised by this turn off events. Jessie was the first to shake free, doubling up with mirth as she laughed and pointed at the dumbfounded expression on the boys' faces. A moment later her brothers joined in.
Harry gave Dudley a sideways glance and saw that one corner of his lips twitched, possibly from amusement. He also saw something else in his cousin's eyes; worry. "Uhm, Dudley, I think it's safe to say that Jessica is indeed a witch."
Dudley nodded. "Yeah. I thought she might be." He looked over at Harry. "Evie's probably got tea ready."
Harry gave a nod of his own and walked into the house, leaving the children to their play. Evangeline was setting the tea service down in the parlor, taking a moment to fluff up the pillows on the sturdy sofa there. She looked up as the men came into the room. Her eyes moved to Harry expectantly. "You… you met Jessie?"
"Well, we didn't speak. They were having too much fun." Harry looked around the pretty little parlor and saw more pictures, all of the three Dursley children. All were smiling and bright and happy. "You were right. She's… like me."
Evie gave a sigh. "Well that's answered, then. At least we know." She motioned for him to sit down. "Do you take milk and sugar?"
"Sugar only, please." Worry nibbled at his thoughts. How were they treating the girl? Memories of his life growing up with the Dursleys were still strong in his mind. "How… how are Vernon and Petunia?"
Dudley gave a snort. "Not happy, if that's what you're wondering." Evangeline's pretty face twisted into a scowl. "They weren't happy at all when I told them about Jessie."
Harry didn't doubt that in the slightest. He looked down at the cup he had just accepted from Evie. "No, I suppose they weren't." He turned the cup on its saucer, his thoughts dancing. "I'll have to talk to Ginny, of course, but I don't see any reason why we can't make room for one more."
Evangeline paused halfway in offering a plate of lemon biscuits. "Make room?" She looked to her husband, mouth slightly open.
Dudley looked at Harry. "What do you mean 'make room for one more'?"
Harry blinked at his cousin. "That's… why you asked me here, isn't it? To take Jessica away to live with Ginny and me?"
Evie dropped the plate, which broke on the coffee table. "Take Jessica? Take her? Who do you think you are, coming in here and threatening to take our daughter from us?"
Dudley reached out and put a hand on his wife's shoulder, but his eyes looked at Harry, comprehension dawning upon him. "It's not like that, Harry. Not like that at all!" He put at arm about Evie's shoulders, leaning his massive head against her fiery hair. "He didn't mean any harm. He was just afraid we'd… well… we didn't treat him all that nicely when he was living with us. Not all that nicely at all."
Evangeline looked at her husband with an expression of disbelief. She looked as though she couldn't possibly imagine Dudley ever doing anything unkind to another soul. "What… what do you mean? I thought you said that you… you liked Harry. That he saved your life and everything!"
Harry shifted uncomfortably in his seat, not sure if he should speak or not. Dudley swallowed. "He did, when we were about fifteen. But we didn't get along when we were younger. I was a stupid bully back then, and my parents didn't like him at all. They kept him in the cupboard under the stairs until he started getting those school letters I told you about. They treated him like dirt, really, and I just followed their example. If they could have, they'd have chucked him out when he was just a baby."
Harry was stunned. He looked at his cousin who was still looking at his wife. He then turned his green eyes upon the redhead in something akin to wonder. What had she done to Dudley? He wanted to ask her if she was a witch herself, because surely she had worked some kind of magic on him to turn the 'stupid bully' into this intelligent, thoughtful and clearly sensible person. Sure he had shown something of a turn around that last day he'd seen him, but this was nothing short of a miracle!
Evangeline gaped at her husband. "Would have chucked him out? Why? Just because he… because of what he can do? Is that why your parents have been acting so horrible?" Dudley nodded, looking miserable. She shot to her feet. "Now you want to chuck Jessie out? Pawn her off on your cousin? My little angel?!"
Dudley got to his feet quickly. "No! Never! I'd never let anyone take Jessie from us! Not my little girl!" He grabbed his wife and pulled her tight. "I don't care what my parents say, Evie! They'll just have to learn to accept her or just give up on ever seeing their grandkids again. I won't let them say one cross word against her."
Mrs. Dursley had started crying. "You said you just wanted to be sure she was a witch! You said you just wanted Harry to come and tell us what to expect and if there was anything special we should do!" She was crying so loudly that Harry gave a glance towards the back of the house, certain that the three children outside would hear her and come running. So far, nothing.
"And I was telling the truth, Evie! I swear! Oh, don't cry, Love." Dudley looked over to Harry, clearing asking for help. Harry cleared his throat and set down his cup.
"Evangeline, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. Of course I'll be happy to answer whatever questions you've got. And… you can all come visit Ginny and me. See what a magical household is like and give Jessica a chance to meet with other children like her. My wife comes from a massive family and there are all sorts of cousins she can talk to and different witches and wizards you can meet so you get a good idea of what they're like. It… it could help her know better what to expect when her letter comes."
Evie sniffled, wiping her nose on a napkin. "Letter? You mean the school letter? Dudley said that she'll be invited to some boarding school somewhere."
Harry nodded. "Hogwarts, up north. It's a first rate school for witches and wizards. She'll learn how to control her magic there so the accidents will stop." He gave her a gentle smile. "No one's going to take her away from you. I was stupid in thinking that you wanted me to."
The redhead was calming down, looking from her husband to Harry and back. Dudley gave her a tender smile, wiping the tears from her cheeks. "See, Love? I told you my cousin was an all right sort. He's something of a hero among his kind. Defeated some evil git who was trying to take over and saved a bunch of people. Even when she has to go away to school, I reckon no one will mess with Jessie on account of they'll be too afraid of having to answer to Harry. And it sounds as though she'll have loads of cousins to watch out for her as well."
Looking somewhat better though still a bit nervous, Evie nodded and sat back down next to Dudley. She looked at her broken plate and sighed. Harry relaxed now that the crying was finished and pulled out his wand, repairing the plate in an instant. This made Mrs. Dursley give a little laugh. "Well, that could be handy, having a witch around to fix things."
"Oh, she'll have to wait until she's of age before she can do magic outside of school once she starts. One of our laws, you see. Keeps young witches and wizards from getting into trouble."
Dudley gave a snort. "You got into trouble all the time."
Harry gave a lopsided grin. "Yeah, well, I was a special case, being a hero and all."
Dudley laughed and Evangeline offered Harry a biscuit, which he accepted with a smile. They spent the better part of the next hour talking about the magical world so that Harry could explain everything that they could expect from their special little girl. Later Dudley introduced his children to his cousin Harry and the family sat down to discuss Jessica and her future and to plan a visit to Harry and Ginny's house where they could meet the Potter children and perhaps even a couple of Weasleys.
Jessica Dursley could hardly wait.