Dudley Dursley sat and watched the children in front of him go through the barrier one by one. He was surprised that none of them recognized him yet. After all he had come year after year for the past seven years. Lauren no longer came with him after the second year. His lovely wife seemed to know that he needed the time alone. Alone with all the possibilities that never came to be.
The funny thing was that after all these years of watching children come back and forth, he was almost used to all the abnormalness. Which was bizarre considering Harry had lived with him for so many years. Of course he never saw any of the wizards here do any actual magic. No, what he saw and learned was that underneath the magic, the families operated the same way. There were a vast array of different family types and different people. The most difficult thing to watch had been two years ago when he witnessed a family that obviously were not magical and their very magical daughter.
The thing that shocked him to the core was that the parents were neither excited nor acting the way his mother acted towards Harry. The father walked right up to a magical family and started questioning the parents on everything he could. He even took down addresses of the people so he could send them more questions, but was even more shocking to Dudley wa that the magical family welcomed it all. The couple was quickly taken into the group and accepted. Late, the couple had cried when the girl left on the train, and Dudley had felt his own tears well up. They spoke to each other about how it was the right thing for her to go and learn. That she needed to have her own life, and be a part of a world that would accept her.
It was by far the most impactful statement Dudley had ever heard. Jamie was a part of a world that understood him.
Every year he went home to tell his wife about his trip, and furthermore, to deal with the inevitable phone call from his own father. Dudley had no idea if his mother knew about it, but his father always called to talk about how the day was going and undoubtedly would wind around to if he had seen "the boy."
Every year he told his father the same thing. Yes, he had seen him. That was all. Nothing more.
The last two years he swore Jamie glanced over at him but otherwise ignored him. Harry ignored him completely, while Draco would smirk after Harry left with the children and make some nonchalant comment that sounded like nothing but would give him some sort of insight into his life.
The third year it had been, "Thank Merlin he came to us, best flyer in his year would have been using brooms for sweeping instead of flying," or two years ago when with sarcasm he said, "I wonder if you really were in his genetics, Merlin knows YOU weren't first in your class."
They were always sarcastic and cutting, but yet let him into a little small piece of Jamie's life. He hated to admit that he lived for the information.
Speaking of the family, Dudley looked up to see them walking over near him like they did every year. He quickly put his head into the book brought, but kept his ears open.
He heard them speaking but kept his calm and turned the page.
"You go ahead. I'll be there in a moment." Dudley had to force himself to keep his head in the book, and not glance up.
He choked in a breath though when a pair of feet came into view and someone sat down right next to him.
Finally he glanced up and to his side. He wasn't sure if he was shocked or not to see his biological son sitting next to him. Jamie wasn't looking at him though. He was hunched over with his eyes down cast, as if he was in great thought about something.
Dudley knew he wasn't an incredibly smart bloke but somehow he knew that the saying "the jig was up," was going to apply.
"You know," the young man said seriously, his eyes still downcast, "I am graduating at the end of this year. I won't come back here. Well at least not with any regularity for you to come."
Good lord, what was he supposed to say? Dudley felt his tongue go heavy in his mouth. This was so important and yet he had no idea what to say.
"I know." Brilliant Dudley, he thought to himself, way to show him how much you care. However finally curiosity over came his fear.
"How long have you known?"
There was a chuckle though and Jamie glanced at him quickly then back towards the ground. "Well that depends. How long have I known or when did father and dad tell me? I figured it out in the middle of third year, and my parents told me two years ago."
"Oh." Brilliant again Dudley! Why couldn't he say what he wanted to say?
"You must hate me." Dudley blurted out. He couldn't help himself, but he watched Jamie look up at him and then shrug.
"I did. When I found out I destroyed a dorm room, spells going off everywhere. However, over the course of a year I lost my anger. Then when father and dad explained it all, well it made me angry again. I couldn't stay that way though." Jamie grinned then, a quick flash of white teeth. "I've never been able to stay angry for too long. Even when I have every intention of holding a grudge."
"I would have." Dudley knew he would have held a grudge for a very, very long time. It was one thing that he had actually known, or thought he knew, Jamie would do. Jamie wasn't grinning anymore though. He was looking him straight in the eye.
"Yes, well you are who raises you in many ways."
"Yes, you are. In case you are wondering, my coming here wasn't because I think I made a mistake in giving you up." Shit, Dudley thought to himself as Jamie's eyes went wide, kind of glassy but angry. That could not have come out any worse then it did.
"Now don't get the wrong impression," he started when Jamie started to rise. Obviously intent on storming away and out of his life. "What I meant is you were raised by the right people," Dudley audibly breathed in and out and then looked down at his own hands, his father's hands. "Life with me would not have been a pleasant one for you. I'm not sure what your Dad, or father…Harry, has told you but life for him wasn't pretty. The blame can be put around the table of people, everyone except Harry. Jamie I wouldn't have wanted that for you. I have watched you over the years become a self assured smart young man, and I am sorry to say that wouldn't have been the case for you if you hadn't been adopted." Dudley was relieved he was finally able to word correctly what he wanted to say. Jamie could run away but at least he wasn't taking with him words that were misspoken.
"Why?" The question had come quietly but firmly and Jamie again was sitting down, looking at him curiously.
"Why wouldn't you have been happy? Because Jamie, frankly, you wouldn't have been allowed to be!" Jamie flinched but Dudley rolled on. Knowing that Jamie had to know the full reason. "Jamie, you would have been told to stop any accidental magic. Your paternal grandmother would have looked at you like you were a mistake, and your grandfather would have stayed silent. And I, well Jamie, I don't know what I would have done. Understanding that magic is not, well, abnormal has only come for me in the past few years. No Jamie, I would not have been a good person for you. You would have hated me. Instead you grew up loved, you have friends, and you have always known your value. I thank your fathers for that."
Dudley looked over to see Jamie nod that he understood. He hoped he did. It was important that Jamie realized that his life was better than it ever would have been.
"So what now?" Jamie asked, and for the first time during their talk Dudley saw him as still a child. Even so, he deserved honesty.
"Now you move on, just like I will do. You enjoy your life Jamie. Shoot for the stars in whatever you want to do. And if you ever need it, though I suppose it's doubtful, know that you are always welcome to stop by."
Lord, it was like giving him up again.
Jamie nodded without saying a word. Then he stood up, and turned to walk away. Dudley could feel the tears coming upon him, and hated them. God when did he become so emotional? Jamie turned around a couple feet away, unlocked his trunk and took something out.
Dudley looked down at the thickly bound book that was handed to him, and then into Jamie's eyes.
"Since I knew of your interest I had father make copies." His son took a deep breath then. "It was a pleasure to have met you." He then a gave a very correct bow, and walked away determined. Dudley watched his son walk away without a backward glance.
It was time to go. For the first time Dudley walked away with out glancing back at those pilars.
Dudley heard the knock at the door and looked towards the phone. Blast he had known it was going to come. He wiped at the tears on his face, before he opened the door without a word and then turned away to the counter and poured another cup of coffee. The house was silent, Lauren had taken the children out that morning thankfully.
For once his father said nothing, and took the coffee without a word.
"Well, did you have a pleasant morning?" His father said it gruffly.
"Yes very pleasant. With the children out I was able to have some quiet time. Is there a reason for this unexpected visit?"
His father said nothing. But then again that was expected. Dudley knew his father must have noticed his tears.
"Did you see him?" Dudley knew the question would come, and didn't raise his head from looking into his coffee. He was nodded.
Dudley didn't know why but he found himself pulling the thickly bound book out from under the counter and placing it in front of his father. The man could do what he wanted; suddenly Dudley didn't care.
He half expected his father to toss the book on the floor, but he didn't. Instead, the coffee cup was placed on the counter and straps of the book untied. Dudley couldn't bear to look at the pictures again, and turned to take some snacks out of the cabinet.
He procrastinated, and so it was some minutes later that Dudley turned to find his own father's face with tears streaming down them. Each page in the book covered different events in Jamie's life, and the whole book was filled. His father was on what was obviously a Christmas morning page when Jamie must have been about four.
Ten minutes later the book was done. Closed carefully, the straps in place.
"He's happy." He said quietly.
Silence reigned over the kitchen for countless minutes. Neither said anything. Dudley turned to the kitchen window, not knowing what to do. What words did you say when you partly blamed the man in the room with you? When thoughts raced through your mind of what the outcome would have been if you'd been raised differently, what did you say?
The click of the door resounded through the room, and Dudley heard the car pull out from the drive.
Nothing, was his answer. You said nothing.