|Author's Note: the characters of the Harry Potter novels are the property
of their creator, J.K. Rowling, and are used here without her knowledge
or permission. All other characters property of the author. 53,000 words.
January, 2002. Adult situations, mild sexual content and violence.
Chapter One – Aunt Marge's New Look.
It was the hottest
summer in recent memory, and the small house at Number Four Privet Drive
was all but unbearable from the heat and the humidity. Harry Potter hardly
noticed. He'd spent most of the summer away, touring the continent with
some new friends he'd made during his previous year at Hogwarts School
of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Not that he let on that he'd met them there.
As far as Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were concerned, Harry had gone
vacationing with some nice, bland, mundane Americans.
other words. That being the wizarding-world term for non-magical folk.
Harry had spent the first several years of his life as a Muggle, with no
idea that there was any other way to be. He'd never known about his parents,
or the Dark wizard who'd killed them. All of that had been revealed to
him on his eleventh birthday.
had seemed so new and novel to him then was now familiar, and muchly missed.
His life at Hogwarts was far preferable to that of Privet Drive. True,
he had to share his bedroom at Hogwarts with four other students, while
the small second bedroom he occupied here was entirely his own, but he
would have gladly given up all that privacy for the freedom and understanding
of his wizarding peers.
By now, Harry
was used to magic and fantastic things. He'd encountered dragons, basilisks,
hippogriffs, phoenixes, trolls, unicorns, half-giants – one of his closest
friends, Hagrid the gamekeeper, was in fact half-giant – elves, centaurs
… the list went on and on. He'd foiled more than a few evil plots and been
in mortal danger more times than most boys his age. He'd witnessed the
death of a friend (rival though that friend had been), helped a convicted-but-innocent
criminal escape from unjust justice, and generally led a life the likes
of which the lonely child who'd slept in the cupboard beneath the stairs
for so long could never have imagined.
to say that Harry's life was easy now. He still had to endure the summers
with his aunt, uncle, and cousin Dudley. None of them liked him, a sentiment
that Harry wholeheartedly returned. Aunt Petunia despised Harry because
he was her sister's son, her sister the witch, the freak. Dudley, his cousin,
hated Harry with a selfish spitefulness that stemmed from Dudley's spoiled,
piggy nature. And Uncle Vernon …
had never been sure exactly why Uncle Vernon loathed him so. It couldn't
be the added expense of having been forced to take in his wife's orphaned
nephew; Harry had survived on hand-me-downs and leftovers. If anything,
the Dursleys got a free servant in Harry, for when he was living with them
he'd worked like a house-elf. It was something else that offended Uncle
Vernon. Something about Harry and the very fact of his being a wizard.
Just why that should bother Uncle Vernon even more than it did Aunt Petunia
was a mystery to Harry. Unless it was because Vernon Dursley, being a plodding
and unimaginative sort, just couldn't cope with anything out of the ordinary.
And things had
been plenty out of the ordinary with Harry around. His earliest, unconscious
uses of magic had led to various inexplicable events in his younger years.
Then, once Harry had been accepted at Hogwarts, the events had gotten slightly
more extreme. The time Hagrid had given Dudley a pig's tail, for instance.
Or the time that Dobby, a house-elf of Harry's acquaintance, had ruined
an important dinner party.
Or, most of
all, the time that Harry had blown up Aunt Marge. Marge Dursley was Uncle
Vernon's sister, a large and solidly-built woman with a hard face and harder
manner. Her disdain for Harry and her remarks about his shiftless, good-for-nothing
parents had finally made him boil over. He hadn't meant to cast
a spell. But in all honesty, he had to admit it hadn't entirely been an
the blowing-up of Aunt Marge, was one that lived more clearly in Harry's
memory than in anyone else's. The Ministry of Magic had come on the run,
reducing Aunt Marge from her parade-balloon size to her normal (though
still substantial) girth, and had smoothed everything over in her mind
and the minds of the Dursleys with a few minor, judicious Memory Charms.
So it was that
only Harry really remembered what had happened that day. The rest of the
family remained vaguely uneasy about Aunt Marge's last visit, aware that
had gone amiss but nobody was all that sure what. Harry was certainly unwilling
to remind them. He lived in dread of Marge's next visit.
She hadn't been
to see her brother in quite some time. Not since the blowing-up business,
as it happened. The following year, she'd written to say she was taking
her holiday somewhere else, at a spa in Sweden. This had occupied her ever
since. But all good things did not last.
The letter informing
the Dursleys of her plan to come calling arrived on a day so hot that the
streets seemed sticky from melting tar. Dudley was most miserable of all,
carrying as he did all those extra pounds. His every effort at losing weight
– well, Aunt Petunia's every effort at forcing him, since Dudley would
slack on his exercises and cheat on his diets and generally make life so
hellish for all of them that she lost the heart to press further – had
proved fruitless. Dudley, the same age as Harry, was four times as heavy
and had to have special chairs now because he'd broken half the furniture
in the house.
Maybe that was
another reason he had to hate Harry, a reason that had become more pronounced
recently. As a child, Harry had been small and skinny, and Dudley had been
able to beat up on him. Now sixteen, Harry had shot up a few inches and
put on some weight, not a lot but good lean muscle that was well-toned
by his hours of diligent Quidditch practice.
Harry was taller
than Dudley now, with long legs that could have easily outrun his cousin.
Not that he had to. Dudley never gave chase anymore, and even if he had,
Harry was confident enough that he would have stood his ground, faced Dudley
down, and given back as good a thrashing as he got. Or better.
had grown up some and filled out, Harry was otherwise markedly the same.
He had the same unkempt black hair, the same vivid green eyes behind the
same glasses, and as always, the same lightning-bolt scar on his forehead.
The only real difference about his face was that he'd lately been noticing
a fine black fuzz on his cheeks and chin, enough to necessitate shaving
once a week.
He studied himself
in the mirror sometimes and had finally concluded that while he was never
going to be ruggedly handsome, he wasn't exactly homely, either. Dudley,
whose flat face was surrounded by jowls and chins and topped with a ludicrous
crop of yellow curls, had taken to glaring at Harry all the more resentfully
was all in a dither when Marge's letter arrived. She always went all-out
trying to impress Marge, always fretted that it would never be good enough.
She seemed to live in fear that Marge would sniff and scoff and make remarks
about how Vernon could have done better.
"Says here she's
bringing a friend for dinner," Uncle Vernon said as he perused the letter,
frowning in his ponderous way. "A gentleman friend."
A dish smashed
on the floor as Aunt Petunia whirled away from the sink. "A what?"
friend," Vernon repeated in a tone that said he couldn't quite believe
sounding uncannily like the pig that Hagrid had intended to turn him into.
Harry kept, with great effort, an even expression and went on coring apples
for a pie that Aunt Petunia wished to bake. But inwardly, he was as boggled
as the rest of them. Aunt Marge had never come across as anything but a
solidly spinster aunt, and the very idea of her with a gentleman friend
was as absurd as …
Harry cut off
that line of thought, for most of the absurd things he could think of had
already happened to him. In a world where even Professor Severus Snape
could have a girlfriend …
made him grow a little warm. He cringed at the same time, as if he could
actually hear Hermione's cutting remark. She didn't trust Ophidia
Winterwind, who had taken over halfway through their last term as the Defense
Against the Dark Arts teacher. It was Hermione who got them all thinking
Professor Winterwind was a vampire, an opinion supported by the way she
looked and the fact that she only conduced her classes at night while hardly
being seen during the day.
And there was
the curiously coincidental matter of the jar of blood-flavored lollipops
she kept on the corner of her desk …
mind back to the present, Harry listened as Uncle Vernon read aloud choice
bits from his sister's letter. It had gotten delayed at the post office
– one of the drawbacks of using conventional post services and not the
speedy, reliable delivery of owls, but Harry knew better than to say such
a thing in front of everyone – and the crux of it was that Marge was due
to arrive the very next day.
clutched at her heart when Uncle Vernon announced the specific day and
time. She flung a worried, warning look at Harry.
"Is she certain
she wants to?" Aunt Petunia asked anxiously. "After what went on last time?"
none of them could exactly recall just what had gone on last time.
Harry busied himself with the apples and tried to look innocent, hoping
that the Memory Charms held.
to be fine," Uncle Vernon announced. He glowered at Harry. "Won't it, boy?"
"I don't see
why it wouldn't, uncle," Harry said.
"He'd just love
for something to go wrong," said Dudley. "He'd love to pull one of his
pranks on us right in front of her."
By the way he
covered his mouth as he said this, Harry knew Dudley was thinking of the
time he'd eaten a jinxed toffee and his tongue had puffed up like a party
favor. Seeing that no one else was watching him just then, Harry stuck
out his own tongue at Dudley. His cousin's eyes narrowed until they almost
disappeared in the folds and bulges of his cheeks.
The rest of
the day passed in an endless torrent of chores. The house had to be cleaned
top to bottom, the guest room aired out. Aunt Petunia was in an agony of
propriety, wondering whether Marge was going to expect her gentleman friend
to stay the night, and if so, where he was going to sleep. She expressed
her concerns in a loud hissing whisper to Uncle Vernon, something about
not wanting to provide a bad example for the boys. Uncle Vernon told her
that she was being silly, that of all people on earth, his sister Marge
was the last one to engage in any sort of inappropriate behavior.
have to lift a finger. He spent the day parked in front of his computer,
pretending to be playing a space adventure game but really, whenever his
mother was out of the room, surfing for dirty pictures.
had gone off to work, after giving Harry a stern shake of the finger and
a glare, which wordlessly reminded Harry of the rules that must be followed
around Aunt Marge. For starters, she had been told that he was a student
at a reformatory, a lie that Marge was all too willing to believe.
That left Aunt
Petunia and Harry to do the cleaning and the cooking. More than once, Harry
was sharply nostalgic for Hogwarts, where all the meals were made and the
tidying was done by a veritable army of happy house-elves (happy despite
his friend Hermione's efforts to convince them they were being shabbily
He also thought
about all the times he'd seen Mrs. Weasley, mother of his other best friend
Ron, go about her housework with a few flips and waves of her wand. He
contemplated sneaking his own wand out and making short work of the chores.
He was old enough now that the Restrictions for Underage Wizardry no longer
strictly applied, so the Ministry wouldn't come knocking … but he could
just imagine Aunt Petunia's shrieks if she walked into the kitchen and
found him casting cleaning spells on the pile of breakfast dishes.
got through that long, tiresome day. He was so exhausted that he didn't
even object when Uncle Vernon came home and told him that it would be best
for all if Harry spent the evening in his room. They didn't, Uncle Vernon
claimed, have adequate seating space or place settings. Not with Marge
bringing a friend and all. Harry didn't want them to set a table with mismatched
plates, did he? Or make someone sit on the rickety kitchen stool?
full well who'd be forced to perch on the stool, was almost glad to oblige.
He agreed to remain upstairs, where he planned to study quietly. He wasn't
even expecting any owls from his regular pen-pals – Ron, Hermione, Hagrid,
or Harry's godfather Sirius Black.
nagged Dudley into leaving his computer long enough to change into his
best clothes, or at least the best ones that still fit with only a minimum
of button-straining gaps all down the shirtfront. Harry was allowed to
make himself a plate of food, not the elaborate meal he'd spent all day
helping Aunt Petunia prepare, but leftover macaroni cheese and some bread.
He was in the process of pouring a glass of milk to go with it when he
glanced out the window and saw a taxi pulling up outside of Number Four
as the back door opened and a woman stepped out. His first thought was
that the taxi had the wrong house. Then he heard Aunt Petunia's disbelieving
squeal from the front room, and blinked, looked again, and concluded that
the woman really was Aunt Marge.
sister had always rather unfortunately taken after him, the family resemblance
strong. She was big, thickset. Marge the Barge, Dudley sometimes called
her, and when he'd been overheard saying it, he'd claimed he was only repeating
what Harry had said first. This turn of affairs resulted in Harry spending
an entire weekend closed in his cupboard with no lights on.
Marge the Barge
… not anymore. The woman emerging from the taxi was still tall, but her
girth had changed dramatically. It was still a figure that would be called
'full,' but her waist was indented for the first time Harry had ever known,
and her hips and bosom actually looked like hips and bosom rather than
geologic formations. Her tailored suit was far more flattering than the
awful tweeds she had previously been fond of. Her hair was styled. She
was wearing makeup.
stayed at the window even though he was supposed to be on his way up with
his re-heated macaroni cheese. He couldn't tear his eyes away from the
spectacle of this new and improved Aunt Marge. He wouldn't have thought
anything could shock him more.
But then a man
got out of the other side of the taxi, and came around to direct the driver
as the luggage was removed from the trunk. The man was dressed in a snappy
blue suit with a shiny silver tie, his blond hair blow-dried and combed,
everything about him as normal and respectable and classy. It was his smile
… the one that had won the Witch Weekly Most Charming Smile contest
five times running … that riveted Harry to the spot.
gentleman friend was none other than Gilderoy Lockhart.