A/N: This story was born from me wondering what happened to the Dursleys after they left. It's also done as a precursor to another story I planned, but first Dudley must go through all the changes. Anyway, hope this story is enjoyed. Updates, due to sporadic access to a computer, will be unpredictable, though I'll sincerely try not to let a gap over a week long come between them. On a final note, all characters belong to J.K Rowling, as does the world in which they reside.
He was coming. The one whose name Dudley had heard Harry say, so defiantly, yet voice laced with a tightly controlled fear. Voldemort.
The name sounded as if it might belong to the final boss in a cheap, generic videogame. And yet, he was feared. Feared by people who could accomplish the most amazing feats with the wave of a small piece of wood. And now, because of that, Dudley's life had changed, and changed drastically. Not that it hadn't been changing before this, however.
He struggled to not look back as the car left the drive, resisting only because he knew how his parents felt about the situation. And, yet, he had the urge to look, to look back and assure himself that, somehow, Harry was going to save them.
He didn't really understand why he was so adamant to believe in Harry, he had certainly never cared about him before now. Or, actually, not since two years prior to now, shortly before the dementor attack.
He had been searching through Harry's room, intending to find out more about the Cedric person Harry kept yelling about in his sleep, when he had come across the floorboard. Harry had clearly been in a hurry, or perhaps angry the last time he had used it, as it had barely been put back at all, sticking up at a very obvious angle. Inside, he had found the letters.
Though never really renowned for his cognitive abilities, he had been able to fill the holes in the story the letters presented, and thus got his first view of what Harry's life was truly like.
He had suddenly felt sympathy for Harry, how anyone could live through all that pressure, to him, was a pure mystery. Yet, when he had left that room and rejoined his friends, he himself had been exposed to pressure. He found that he, again and again, began to rationalize the things he did, and could not bring himself to stop, lest his friends call him down for it. And then had come the dementors.
He remembered that day with a burning shame. He remembered the shock, not of the physical coldness that had suddenly permeated the air, but of the revelations of that night. For the first time, he saw himself for what he truly was… and he'd been horrified, horrified of continuing life that way.
Still, he remembered, despite that revelation the shock had been too much, and he'd lashed out at Harry, purely of reflex, looking for something, someone to blame. That was the true origin of his shame. Rather than thank Harry for saving his life, his soul, he'd reacted with malice, exactly as he'd seen himself that night. And he had never thanked Harry. Not truly.
Instead, as soon as Harry had left, he had begun the most trying ordeal of his life. He'd instantly cut contact with his "friends", and tossed out all his cigarettes. In their place he'd turned all his attentions to his boxing, combating his loneliness and his addiction. And even boxing had changed. No longer did he set out to prove he could pummel the other guy, or throw subtle (or the even more common not-so-subtle) illegal punches. Losses no longer angered him as they'd used to, and he accepted hints and criticisms. Boxing had become something he loved, and something he needed, sending him to the next level. He'd never thanked Harry for that, either.
But he had begun to think, and to act, something he was sure Harry would prefer, anyway. Several times in the past two years he'd approached his parents about their stance on magic. Though nothing had come from those "discussions" but a lot of shouting, he felt the effort had been worth it. Of course, he also felt a bit lucky that shouting was all that had come of it. It wasn't as if he had been asking them to start taking double dates with magical couples or anything, just to find a logical reason for their dislike of magic.
Dedalus, quiet after giving up on striking conversation with Vernon, suddenly instructed Dudley's father to turn into the drive of a rather ramshackle building, one that reminded Dudley strongly of the hut on the rock they had stayed in, the year the letters had come. Vernon complied, pulling into the driveway, then putting the car in park. Only then did he look up to see the building, if it could be called that.
"What!?" He exclaimed, "We are not, we are not staying in this, this hovel!"
Hestia, seated beside his mother, behind Dedalus in the passenger seat, leaned toward the driver's seat, causing his mother to tense and pull back as far as possible into her own seat, looking as if she were trying to be absorbed through the material. She smirked, "Of course you're not."
"Wait, we're not?" Dudley was almost amused by the confusion in his father's voice. Almost, because he was just as confused.
"No. Now if you could so kindly put this car behind the hovel, we can apparate from there." The chill in her voice contradicted the warm summer night. Apparently she was still very angry with his father.
Vernon looked relieved, for a moment, his shoulders relaxing, then they visibly tightened again. "Why can't you just poof us from here?" He asked.
"The car would be more easily seen." Dedalus intervened, before Hestia could open her mouth. "We don't want anyone to find it too quickly, it would be best if they thought you just fled the house, like several of the other muggles who've noticed the strange goings-on. Best to keep it secret that you're with wizards as long as we can."
"Wh-wh-what!? We're leaving my car, at this dump?" His father started strong, clearly objecting to the very idea, but his voice grew weaker as Hestia's glare worked on him.
"Yes. If nothing else, this car is a fair trade for the lives of your wife and child. Is it not?" Hestia asked. Calmly. If a viper awaiting its prey in its pit was calm.
Vernon put the car into drive, and slowly brought it around behind the shack, hidden from the road, and without a word. As soon as the car was in park Dedalus got out, as did Hestia. His mother looked suddenly relieved at no longer being in such close proximity to the witch. They sat for a moment, then, seeing that neither of his parents looked about to move, Dudley took a gulp and opened his door.
His movement seemed to have snapped his parents back to reality, and they too got out. Vernon pressed the button to unlock the trunk. Dudley followed him around back only to see that the trunk was empty. Vernon opened his mouth to shout again, but a raised eyebrow from Hestia stopped him dead, mouth hanging open stupidly.
"We took the liberty of sending your belongings ahead of you." Hestia said, looking pleased that she already had Vernon so well tamed.
"Hurry!" Both Dedalus and his watch exclaimed, following Petunia to the back of the car. "We mustn't tarry, I imagine Harry has already gone from your house. We're behind schedule." He shot a look at Vernon, as if it had been his slow driving that had resulted in their timing. Perhaps it had been, at that.
"I will be taking two of you, Dedalus the other. All you need to do is grab onto my hand." Hestia explained, reaching out a hand towards them.
Dudley flinched back, along with his parents. It had sounded tolerable when it had just been a thought, but now memories were beginning to resurface. The giant snake winding its way straight toward him, the look on the surgeon's face when he saw exactly what he was operating on, after the giant, Hagrid had come, the dementors… No, the dementors had not been any good wizard's fault, of that he was sure. And Harry proved there were good wizards.
Harry… How fun had it been for Harry to come back and face the dementor attacking his cousin? Especially since he knew exactly what it was they could do. He must have been brave to do that, so very brave, and here Dudley was, afraid of taking a hand, a hand that meant him no harm. Well, he wouldn't stand for it, if Harry could be so brave, Dudley would try his best to emulate him. Slowly he moved forward, until he had her hand.
Hestia reached out her other hand, giving the other two Dursleys a stern look. "Now."
Tentatively Petunia made her war to Dedalus as Vernon grabbed Hestia's hand as if it were a used nose rag. Seeing the way his father was reacting, Dudley tried to relax his own muscles, act as if this were a normal, everyday occasion. Still, he realized, it would take more time before he would be used to this.
Without warning the world was gone and the ground no longer beneath his feet. Feeling as if he'd been shoved down one of those enclosed slides that happened to be a couple sizes too small, he increased his grip on Hestia's hand, nearly crushing the comparatively miniscule bones. Suddenly the ground was back beneath him, and her hand wrenched away.
"Hey!" Hestia screamed, "There was no need for that!"
"Sorry." Dudley breathed heavily, barely hearing himself over the throbbing of his heart.
For the first time that day, Hestia's face softened as she saw Dudley's state of being, and recognized his apology as heartfelt. "Sorry, I should have warned you what it would be like."
"Now Hestia, let's get moving. We're still not safe, you know." Dedalus said, appearing beside her with Dudley's mother in tow.
Dudley noticed they were on the edge of a small clearing surrounded on all sides by woods. Dedalus and Hestia began to walk towards the center of the clearing, and Dudley followed, trailed by his parents, both of whom were distinctly pale.
About a quarter of the way to the other end of the field, Dedalus stopped and waved his wand. Suddenly a large building appeared in front of them.
"Only a select few are given the security spell that allows access. Anyone else would have to break through a powerful series of barriers to gain entrance." Dedalus explained as he led the way inside.
"This house looks rather big." Dudley mentioned as he followed Dedalus through the front door. "Are there going to be more people than just us?"
"Are they going to be normal, like us?" Vernon asked right on top of him.
"Normal." Dedalus seemed to have tired of Vernon's constant stream of insults now, as well.
Looking towards Hestia nervously, Vernon rephrased his question. "I mean… uh, muggles, I think the boy called us."
"Yes, there will be other people here, and most of them muggles. But remember, they will all be here because, like you, they are related to a witch or wizard, and they are much more accepting than you, seeing as many of them have magical children. I'd be careful of insulting any of them."
As they made it through the door, Dudley was suddenly hit by the immensity of the house. The first floor alone looked to be just as large as the house had looked on the outside, and he spotted two flights of stairs, and a lift!
Turning to see Dudley's look of stupefaction, Dedalus smiled. "The house is magically expanded, on the inside. There are five floors. Your room is on the fifth floor, but we'll take the stairs, so you can receive a tour of what is to become your home for the foreseeable future."
Dudley looked around, aware that his parents were doing the same behind him, and noticed how the place strongly resembled one of the large hotels in London, with a few glaring differences. First was the lack of a receptionist's desk. The second was, though there was a lobby, there were not any television sets. Instead were several tables set up for various games, the only one of which he recognized being chess. Now that he looked at it, there wasn't anything to do with electricity. No computers, no ceiling fans, not even any lamps…
"Where's the light coming from?" Vernon asked, seemingly before he could help himself.
Seeing that Vernon obviously caught the answer before he'd finished his question, Dedalus ignored it. "As you can see, this is the lobby area, where you can interact with others who are in the same situation as you," he began, his voice taking on the tone of one who'd said the same thing various times, "It is also a common area to take meals, tables will be set up at mealtimes."
They followed Dedalus, Hestia disappearing somewhere along the tour. The first floor was mostly what Dedalus had outlined, a common area and dining room, but also, to Dudley's surprise, a training room, with a gym behind that. He took back his first observation of the building, it was certainly more than a hotel. On the way up the first flight of steps, Dudley was surprised to see that the pictures were moving.
Dedalus chuckled as Dudley mentioned this. "Ah, my favourite part about showing muggles around; you always show such surprise that the pictures are moving. Tell me, is it not muggles that sit around, watching moving pictures all day?"
Dudley realized he was talking about television. "Well, um… that's different." He muttered, though unable to think of why it was different.
"Yes, that's why there is a company called 'Motion Pictures', is it not?" Dedalus said, still chuckling.
With that they were on the second floor, which held a very large pool, an inside tennis court, and the Laundromat. And, just as he'd thought that was all, Dedalus had shown them the bowling alley. Dudley finally realized that, if anything, magic should be respected, considering the amazing feats it seemed capable of.
The third floor, to him was not so exciting, at first. Nearly completely taken up by a muggle-wizard combined library, with only a small section of computers as relief from the books ("and with high speed internet, all the muggles seem to love that fact…") he continued on, until catching movement from the corner of his eye. He stopped and turned. It was a girl.
He had seen people, at the chess tables, in the gym, and even an elderly couple in the stairwell, but he'd forgotten about people his age being here. And to think, he was here with a clean slate. No longer would people avoid the presence of "Big D", as Big D was, for all intents and purposes, dead. As she disappeared behind a bookshelf, he definitely considered wandering by the library sometime, as much as he hated reading.
It turned out that the fourth and fifth floors were dedicated entirely to residency, although not nearly all the rooms were filled. Their room was on the fifth floor. Dedalus stopped them outside their door.
"That's it. Now, to get in your room, all you need is this little card," he produced a scanning card exactly like the kind you would receive for your room at a hotel, "We got that idea from the muggles." He added as he handed it to Vernon, as if that would make him more comfortable. "Oh, and we will send you a house-elf for your dinner." Dedalus then left them, standing outside the room.
Vernon turned and swiped the card through the slot. The little light on the handle turned from red to green, and he took a moment to relish the moment of normalcy, before turning the handle and walking in.
The interior of the room much resembled a hotel room, with two large, comfortable looking beds, a writing desk, and, surprisingly, a television. Their stuff was waiting for them on the beds, stacked neatly. Suddenly a crack pierced the air, and a small, batty looking creature was in their midst. Dudley jumped back away from it, startled. The only thing he'd ever seen even resembling this creature was one of the evil gremlins.
No, wait, last year. He'd nearly forgotten through want of peaceful memories, but hadn't Harry called one of those creatures to his house? Yes, Kreacher. Remembering the unpleasant demeanor of the old, strange-looking creature he had met last year, he felt no more inclined to approach this one.
"Hello sirs, madam. What would you like to eat?" It asked in a high, squeaky voice.
Hadn't Harry muttered a lot about one of those, the year the Masons had come? Funny, how he now found himself trying to recall every word Harry had ever spoken within his hearing, hoping it would help him in this new setting. So far, though, between Harry's mutterings and the one he'd met, these creatures weren't looking that good. "What do you have?
"Anything, sir," the elf answered, looking relieved that someone was talking.
"In that case, get me… um…," Dudley didn't really feel like having to think of something to eat, "Whatever the most common choice is." He decided. He figured he'd like just about anything that anyone else did, so long as they weren't a bunch of vegetarians.
He watched as his mother decided to have the same thing he did, then turned to observe his father, beginning to look resigned to the nature of the situation they were in.
"Same as them, I guess." He finally said. The elf nodded, and with another crack, disappeared.
Standing in silence for a moment, Vernon was the first to break it, for the first time that day. "Might as well see what's on the television…" He muttered.
This was definitely going to be an interesting stay, Dudley thought to himself.
Chapter two preview:
Dudley is forced into social interaction, and just as
he begins to really love the place, he finds
just how dangerous the magical world
can be as tragedy strikes.