it all belongs to JK

A Long Vigil

For nearly an entire year Dudley Dursley had been worrying. For nearly a year he had been hiding, eager to finish his last year of school but unable to do so because of the people that hunted him and his family.

His parents were the same as ever, whinging and whining about the lack of comfort the rooms that the wizard Elphias Doge, and the witch Hestia Jones, had deemed to be the safest place for them to stay that night. For his part Dudley was just glad to have found somewhere that they could stay that was as far as possible from the strange men in masks that pursued them. They inspired a sort of terror in him that he had not felt since the night of the Dementors.

Dudley found his way to the small living room of the motel room where they were staying tonight and began to pace, pretending to be focusing on the TV screen. The pacing was his ritual, he did it every night no matter where they were staying, Dudley found that pounding out a steady rhythm on the floor with his feet kept his thoughts flowing properly and made it more easy for him to handle things.

His first thought as always was of his cousin, Harry. Where was he? And what was he doing? It had been nearly a year since Harry had been separated from the rest of the family. Only now that Harry had gone had Dudley begun to feel some remorse for the years of torture that he had put his cousin through during his childhood. Well that wasn't completely true, he'd been feeling remorse since a few weeks after the Dementor attack, but Harry had been long gone, withdrawn into himself, by the time he had returned for the next summer holidays. Dudley knew that Harry had not even known that his cousin had had a change of feeling over him until the night of their parting.

It was more than just the fact that Harry had saved his life, or his soul, which was far more invaluable; there was something else that had made Dudley change. That night, when the Dementors had attacked him had been the most frightening night of his life, yet he had also had a great insight into his cousin's life and what it had been like for Harry.

You see, the thing that Dudley had seen when he was faced with Dementors was not a thing, it was a feeling. A feeling of loneliness and exclusion. Of being totally cut off from everyone that mattered in your life and being put in a cage. Dudley had nearly died from the terror of that sensation of being all alone.

A few weeks of solid reflection told him that he hadn't been reliving memories from his own memory but from his cousins. Dudley had been a spoilt child he had never known loneliness because his mother and father were always there for him, in fact, the only loneliness he'd ever been in contact with was his cousin who had always been seen as something of an outcast.

It was with a shock that Dudley came to the realisation that being Harry was his worst nightmare, the most terrible fear that he had. Guilt had flooded him as he now understood the feelings that must have plagued his cousin all through his childhood; to live such an unloved life was a terrible thing.

This realisation had slowly led to a respect and love for his cousin; after all, he had put Harry through his own worst nightmare. Been his cousin's own personal torturer for eleven years, but somehow Harry had found it in himself to save the despicable person that had put him through that grief. More still he had done so without even thinking it through; there hadn't been even a moment when he'd considered leaving Dudley there.

Dudley now cringed at the unpleasant memories he must have brought up for his cousin by mentioning the name 'Cedric Diggory' for he had later discovered that Harry had watched this boy be murdered right in front of him. It was no wonder his cousin had been having nightmares, who wouldn't?

In fact after hearing all the stories about this Lord Voldemort, Dudley was tempted to up and join the wizard's rebellion the Order of The Phoenix himself. It was as important a cause as he had ever come across and he wanted to help, but as Hestia and Elphias were constantly telling him, fists were no good in this fight, you needed a wand to be able to do any damage.

Still desperate to help with bringing down Voldemort Dudley had filched the wands from the limp figures of a group of 'Death Eaters' who had been stunned by Hestia and Elphias as they tried to pursue the Dursleys. Maybe Dudley could not fight with a wand but at least he could stop the other side from having weapons.

When Hestia had found the wands and understood why she had taken them she began to do the same herself. Hestia said that it would take time for the Death Eaters to replace their wands and taking them would put them out of action for a few weeks at the least. Dudley had been pleased, he had made an impact on the rebellion despite the fact that he was a Muggle.

His parents had of course been displeased with him for helping 'that lot'. Dudley had had a huge fight with them over it, in fact he'd had a few huge fights with his parents over the course of the past year. His father constantly mentioned Harry's death in a nonchalant way, as though it was something he hoped for and it made Dudley afraid. It made him afraid that he may never see Harry again, afraid that he may never be able to make up for the past.

Dudley did not think he would be able to get over the constant horrible guilt that overwhelmed him if he could not make things up with his cousin. It had been horrible finding out towards the end of the summer holidays that Harry had run off with two friends and no-one knew where they were anymore. Dudley had had to assume though that Harry's judgement had been good and that he knew what he was doing and would come out of this whole thing ok, alive at least.

"Elphias?" A voice called softly as Hestia entered the room, she had been out doing rounds of the motel just to make sure that no-one was there who shouldn't be. She seemed calm enough so Dudley assumed that there were no Death Eaters in this particular motel.

"He's asleep Hestia what's happening?" Over the past few months Dudley had managed to build up a relationship with the two wizards who were acting as their guardians. It could even be said that he was friends with these people, again something that his parents hated. Dudley could not believe it had taken his soul almost being sucked out of his body for him to realise that his parents' prejudices were just ridiculous. Most of the wizard's were well meaning people, it was Voldemort's lot that was the scum.

Hestia looked at Dudley through her weary heavily lidded eyes and despite the fact that she was only just middle-aged she looked like an old woman. "Nothing really," she replied, "It's just that tonight is the night of the final battle.. If they manage to kill your cousin then the hope of all witches and wizards will be killed, protecting Harry is crucial, as is killing him. I don't think many Death Eaters will be away from Hogwarts tonight, but it's better to be safe than sorry," she explained the situation trying to smile at the end but only succeeding in looking very weary.

Dudley just nodded he had only recently learnt and understood about Harry's standing in the wizarding community as 'The Boy Who Lived' very recently. It left Dudley in awe the number of times skinny, reedy Harry Potter whom he had managed to beat up during his younger years had grown powerful enough to be a rival to a man who had killed more than a thousand people.

Dudley made himself a cup of tea too, he had already decided that he was going to stay up with Hestia as she kept watch. When Dudley got back to the small white table that Hestia was sitting at, her eyes directed to the door, her wand at easy reaching distance, he placed the cup of tea in front of her.

Hestia looked up at Dudley thankfully; god knows she'd have been asked to be taken off the task of protecting the Dursley's very quickly if it hadn't been for this kid. The parents were just horrible, but Dudley, Dudley reminded Hestia of her own son of around this age who had been lost in his work for the Order Of the Phoenix just a few weeks ago. Dudley had been a constant comfort to her from that point on. She drank from the tea cup thankfully and watched as Dudley settled his weight into a chair on the opposite side of the table and began to read the book on magical theory that he'd put there earlier.

Hestia swore that if performing magic depended on knowing a lot of theory as Dolores Umbridge had thought a few years ago and tried to enforce at Hogwarts, Dudley would be one of the best wizards of the age. She shook her head and smiled, wishing with all her heart that the boy was a part of their world and could help in the rebellion he was so eager to take part. Hestia returned her focus to the door, barely registering the fact that Elphias had entered the room to join this silent vigil.

Dudley read the book on wizarding history carefully absorbing every little detail. It was about a famous duel between Albus Dumbledore, another person who was close to Harry and had died and Grindelwald. Apparently the duel had gone on several hours before Dumbledore had finally managed to finish Grindelwald, both wizards had done things with a wand that no-one else had ever been able to do. Dumbledore sometimes without a wand, Dudley read with curiosity how Dumbledore had seemed very unwilling to finish off Grindelwald and he wondered why you would hesitate. Of course there was the part of you that would never want to kill something, but then there'd be the other side that would tell you that if you didn't do this then countless other people would suffer because you hadn't managed to complete the task that belonged to you.

Dudley had no doubt that his cousin would be the one to face off with Voldemort, it seemed inevitable, there were so many encounters between the two and Harry always escaped unscathed. Voldemort did too, but his pride was injured. Dudley was sure that the next time Harry and Voldemort met his cousin would take out the despicable man who had started this war in the first place. There was still a prickling fear at the back of his mind though.

What if Voldemort was the one who came out triumphant? What if Harry Potter's life was taken by the end of the night? Dudley wished he could be as complacent as his father whose snores cut through the otherwise silent night air, but Dudley could feel the fear rising up in his throat and nearly strangling him as the night wore on and Dudley tried to lose himself in Bathilda Bagshot's historical recount.

He didn't manage it, and come morning he found himself staring straight at the wall. Eyes glazed over and slightly crusty from his sleepless nights. He wasn't really thinking about anything, more just letting his feelings run through him. He was also trying to meditate, which was something he'd been taught at in a yoga class that Pius' mum had forced them to attend.

Pius, Dudley had been out of contact with the boy who had once been his best friend for the past year and a half. Pius had not liked the new Dudley. The one from after the Dementor attack. The Dudley who walked not strutted, who wasn't as self assured as he had once been.

Dudley had walked out on all of that, the gang, his friends. It had been one of the hardest things he'd ever done, but he knew that he couldn't be around these people who beat up ten year olds every other night, until they had all received the same sort of rude awakening that he had. Dudley now despised himself for being one of them in the past.

It was this train of thought that was interrupted by the tap of the tiny owl fluttering its wings against the window. Hestia got up and opened the window opening what both she and Dudley assumed was the post owl that delivered her morning paper, the TruthSeeker, which was a paper, started up by some members of the order and was the only one that told the truth, and that hadn't been taken over by Voldemort and his cronies.

The moment Hestia set eyes on the envelope though; she knew that this was definitely not the TruthSeeker. The envelope was purple and addressed to her Elphias and the Dursley family in a spiky hand that she did not recognise. Cautious as to what the contents of this letter may be Hestia tapped it once with her wand checking for any spells that it may contain. Several Death Eaters had taken to sending curses to their enemies.

Once the envelope had been established as safe she bent down picked it up and cautiously split open the seal. By this time she had been joined by both Dudley and Elphias. Both of whom watched on with the same worried expressions that had adorned their faces so constantly during these dark times.

Hestia read the letter through once quickly before whooping with joy and collapsing onto the chair and dissolving into tears. Elphias snatched up the letter next, worried further by Hestia's odd reaction he sped read the letter. Once he was done he took of his top hat and placed it against his chest.

Dudley worried by both of their reactions, which he found to be very ambiguous in meanings. Unlike the other two Dudley read every word of the letter carefully until he was satisfied that there was no other possible meaning. Voldemort was gone, Harry had defeated him.

Dudley felt the tension seeping from his shoulders he looked down at the name that was signed off on the piece of paper in a neat hand, "Roxanne Greenwell" he would be forever thankful to her wherever she was.