AN: I do not own Harry Potter. I hope you enjoy this fic.
A Little Help
Dudley Dursley hadn't been to the London Zoo in years and he had told his fiancé as much when she had suggested that they spend their Saturday afternoon there. Claire had firmly told him that he was going with her and her nephew whether he liked it or not. And when Dudley's parents heard of their little family outing, they insisted on coming along.
So that was how Dudley ended up being dragged around the Zoo by a seven-year-old while his mother and father bragged about how well Dudley was with children.
"I want ice cream, Uncle Dud!" Conner demanded, crossing his small arms.
"We're going to see the wolves first, Conner, and then we're going to have lunch," Dudley told him, looking at the map of the Zoo.
"No! Now!" Conner cried.
"Ah, little tyke," Vernon chuckled, "Reminds me of you, Dudley. We brought you up the same way. A man always gets what he wants."
Dudley looked aghast as he watched his father ruffle little Conner's blond hair and as his mother went to get the ice cream. Dudley was reminded of his last visit to the Zoo when he was eleven. He had thrown a similar tantrum as Conner and he had also gotten his way. Dudley felt a familiar feeling of guilt as he thought about that day. He remembered beating on his cousin behind his parents' backs and throwing several fits to get Harry in trouble. He also remembered how Harry was locked in his cupboard for weeks afterwards. At least there was no one else here for Conner to get in trouble. At least Conner couldn't do the same damage that Dudley did as a boy.
"Why don't we go see the wolves while Auntie Petunia gets your ice cream, Conner?" Claire asked, taking the boy's other hand.
"Okay!" Conner cheered. Dudley, Vernon, and Claire walked together towards the wolves. Claire, Vernon, and Conner were talking animatedly, but Dudley was silent, thinking about his cousin, not for the first time in seven years. Often, he wondered where Harry was and what he was doing. He knew that the wizard Dark Lord had been vanquished. That's why Mr. Diggle and Ms. Jones let them go back to Privet Drive. But none of the Dursleys ever saw Harry afterwards.
"You're awful quiet, Dudley," Claire observed, placing a hand on his arm as they stood watching Connor look at the wolves.
"I'm just thinking about the last time I was here," he told her, "It was a long time ago."
"Yes, yes. For your eleventh birthday, son," Vernon said, "That was quite a day."
"A snake got loose," Dudley explained, shrugging. He left out the part about Harry magically vanishing the glass.
"Oh my goodness! That's terrible!" Claire gasped, shaken by the thought of a snake roaming the zoo. Dudley gave a small smile and shook his head.
"They're boring!" Conner suddenly exclaimed, pointing to the wolves, who were laying in the shade, barely concerned with the people looking in on them.
"They're asleep, buddy," Dudley answered, shrugging a little.
"Can't you make them do something?" Conner asked.
"Move!" Vernon shouted at the wolves. They didn't even look at him. Dudley strongly was reminded of his father shouting and tapping on the glass of a Brazilian snake.
"Let's go," Claire suggested, eyeing her nephew, looking for signs of a tantrum. She evidently saw that a meltdown was coming. They were just about to leave the wolf cages when a thin, black-haired boy caught Dudley's attention. The boy's hair was messy and unruly, not unlike Harry's. For a moment, Dudley thought he was looking at his cousin again.
"Look! There's the wolves! Arooo!" the boy howled at the wolves. Then the strangest thing happened. The biggest wolf, a sleek, silver fellow, stood up and howled back to the boy. Dudley gaped at him. Conner looked back and ran to the railing and shoved himself in between the boy and another person. The boy looked a little disgruntled as he was shoved a little.
"Wow!" Conner breathed, clearly in awe of the silver wolf, who had suddenly started to growl.
"Ted! Teddy!" a man started shouting. The boy turned around and both his and Dudley's eyes landed on a thin man with messy black hair, green eyes, and a thin lightning bolt scar on his forehead. Dudley gaped at his cousin.
The boy grinned at Harry.
"I found the wolves," Teddy announced, proud of himself, "Look, Harry! Arooo!" he howled again, and again, the wolf howled back. Harry looked on in surprise, and it appeared he was a little worried. Dudley wondered why. Then he looked at Claire and his father to see if they noticed Harry and Teddy.
"Amazing!" Claire breathed, staring in wonder at Teddy.
"Unnatural," Vernon said gruffly, "We're people, not animals!" Dudley cringed at this and looked back to Harry, who was walking towards Teddy.
"Ted, you have to be careful. You can't run off like that," Harry said in a low voice. Now Vernon noticed his nephew. Dudley watched as his father turned beat red.
"How'd you do that?" Conner demanded, turning to face the boy. Teddy shrugged.
"Like this. Arooo!" Teddy howled again. Harry looked nervous as the wolf howled again. Dudley couldn't understand why he seemed so jittery.
"Arooo!" Conner tried to howl. Nothing happened. Then Vernon started forwards just as Petunia arrived on the scene.
"Conner, Sweetheart, here is your ice cream!" she called. Harry suddenly stood up straight, recognizing his aunt's voice. He looked stunned to see her. Petunia gave a little scream and dropped the ice cream to the ground.
"You!" Vernon growled striding right up to Harry.
"Uncle Vernon," Harry said, surprised.
"How dare you ruin a perfectly good-"
"I didn't ruin anything!" Harry shouted back indignantly. Vernon looked like he could have slugged Harry.
"What are you doing here, Boy?" Vernon asked roughly, glaring at Harry.
"Visiting the Zoo. Is that a crime?" Harry shot out reproachfully.
"Harry, what's wrong? Who's that?" Teddy asked, looking up at the adults. Harry placed a hand on his shoulder, ready to steer him away from trouble. Vernon sneered.
"Another Potter?" he spat, "I should have known this unnaturalness came from your sort!" Vernon gestured to Teddy. Harry's eye flashed dangerously.
"I'm not unnatural!" Teddy protested, his hair suddenly turning a fiery orange. Vernon jumped back, Dudley gaped, and Petunia and Claire screamed in shock.
"How'd you do that?" Conner roared. Harry pulled Teddy back away from the Dursleys, while Vernon shot out an arm to keep Conner from getting too close.
"FREAK!" Vernon roared. Several people turned to stare, but Harry had already drug Teddy away.
"Who was that?" Claire asked, staring after Harry and Teddy's retreating backs.
"My cousin, Harry," Dudley answered, pushing past his parents and hurrying in the same direction as the Teddy and Harry, ignoring his parents' and Claire's calls.
"Who was that mean muggle, Harry?" Teddy was asking.
"My Uncle," Harry answered quietly. Then he knelt down to Teddy's height, "I'm so sorry you had to see that, Ted. My aunt and uncle…they don't like magic, see?"
"Why not?" Teddy asked.
"They're…they're scared of it. They think it's unnatural. They don't understand that it's a gift," Harry said gently. Teddy nodded in understanding. Dudley could tell that he really idolized Harry. And Harry, for never having a father or a loving guardian, really had a way with the seven-year-old.
"Harry?" Dudley asked, reluctantly interrupting the pair. Harry stood up to his full height and eyed him warily.
"Dudley," Harry said cautiously, placing a hand on Teddy's shoulder. For a moment the cousins just stared at each other. Then Dudley spoke.
"Look, Harry…I'm sorry about that. You know how my dad is," he said, looking at his feet.
"Yeah, well, I'm sorta used to it. It's just Teddy here…" Harry trailed off. Dudley smiled a little.
"Your son?" he asked now that Teddy's hair changed back to black.
"My godson, actually. He likes to impersonate me," Harry shrugged, chuckling a little. Teddy stepped forwards and extended a hand.
"I'm Teddy Lupin," Teddy introduced himself, changing his hair to a bright turquoise. Dudley smiled and shook it.
"I'm Dudley Dursley. I'm Harry's cousin," Dudley said, "How do you change your hair like that?" he asked kindly.
"Oh! I'm a meta-metamorphagous!" Teddy said brightly.
"It means he can change his appearance at will," Harry explained, "But since he's still so young, he has trouble controlling his powers," he said, producing a hat from his pocket and handing it to Teddy, who sighed and put it over his brightly coloured hair.
"So he's a wizard too?" Dudley asked, suddenly remembering something.
"Yeah. Both his mum and dad were magical and he's been a metamorphagous since he was born, so it's only logical," Harry shrugged, smiling down at Teddy. Dudley nodded.
"So…he'd have to hide his powers when he's around non-magic people?" Dudley asked, figuring out why Harry was so nervous before.
"Yeah, that's the plan," Harry confirmed.
"Right…so…er…does Teddy normally talk to wolves?" Dudley asked.
"Can I talk to wolves?" Teddy asked, looking up at his godfather. Harry hesitated.
"Well, Ted, your dad was a werewolf, so maybe you inherited an affinity with wolves or something," he suggested. Dudley's eyes nearly bugged out of his head.
"Werewolf?" he asked. Harry ran a hand through his messy hair.
"Yeah, but he was a great guy," he shrugged, "Not what you hear about in those horror movies."
"I see," Dudley nodded.
"Harry?" a feminine voice called through the crowd, and then a pregnant red-haired woman holding the hands of two little blond girls appeared in the clearing next to them.
"There you two are!" she exclaimed, smiling warmly at Teddy and Harry, and when she spotted Dudley, she politely asked, "Who are you?"
"I'm Dudley. I'm Harry's cousin," Dudley answered, extending a hand.
"I'm Ginny, Harry's wife," she introduced herself, "And these are my nieces, Victoire and Dominique."
"Nice to meet you," Dudley said kindly, "And congratulations to you both."
"Thanks, Dud," Harry smiled, "You know, I don't think I've seen you since I was seven-teen. How have you been?" he asked.
"I've been good. I'm in the oil business. I'm engaged. It's been good. And you?" Dudley asked.
"About the same. Voldemort's gone. I'm an auror, which is sorta like a wizard policeman, and of course, I'm married and expecting," Harry told him, putting an arm around Ginny and patting her stomach with his free hand. Dudley was struck by how being surrounded by family suited Harry. Dudley had never seen him so happy.
"Congratulations," Dudley said automatically. Harry and Ginny smiled.
"Can we go now?" Teddy asked, "I'm bored!"
"Me too!" one of the girls, Victoire, agreed latching onto Teddy's hand. Dominique was tugging on Harry's pant leg.
"Well, I guess I had better get back to my family," Dudley said. Harry nodded, but was giving his cousin an odd look. Dudley couldn't blame him. Poor Harry was probably expecting Dudley to be just like his parents. It made Dudley feel ashamed.
"Look…Harry, I'm sorry we lost touch over the years and it'd be nice to catch up," Dudley added. Harry looked a little surprised, but he smiled.
"That'd be nice, Dudley," he replied. Dudley jotted down his number on a business card and handed it to Harry.
"And it would be nice to get to know you all a little bit more," Dudley said, smiling at Ginny, Teddy, and the girls.
"We would like that too," Teddy told him, extending a hand to the man, while his godfather gaped at him, "It was nice meeting you, Mr. Dursley."
"It was nice meeting you too, Teddy," Dudley said, "Hopefully I'll see you again."
With that Dudley left to go find Claire and his parents, thinking about the little turquoise-haired boy, who was chattering to his guardians. He was struck by how friendly and polite Teddy Lupin was. He was so different from Conner and he was very different from Dudley at the age of seven. He single-handedly shattered all of the delusions Dudley had about how seven-year-olds should act. Dudley was just about out of earshot of the Potters when he heard little Teddy ask:
"Did I help, Harry?"
"You know what, Ted? I think you did," Harry replied simply.
"Good. I like helping," Teddy said. Dudley stopped suddenly. Yes, Teddy Lupin had completely shattered the notion that children were meant to be spoiled and treated like little kings. Dudley felt a little pang of guilt, realizing that he should have learnt that lesson many years ago from Harry, who had been neglected and abused, yet still had all of the makings of a great man.
Dudley just needed little Teddy Lupin's help to see that fact.