Standard disclaimers apply!
I do not own Harry Potter. I have nothing to do with Scholastic, Warner Bros or Bloomsbury. I'm not JKR and I am certainly not making any profit out of this.
For what must have been the 100th time in the last 55 minutes, the young man put down his newspaper, checked his watch and then glanced up at the large clock on the wall.
The seconds swept by very, very slowly – and he had to admit that it maybe hadn't been the best idea to get there as early as he had.
THEY certainly weren't early ... in fact they were cutting it a bit fine; the train left at 11 and it was already 10 before.
If they were coming at all ... and if he had the right place.
But he knew he had the right place; and The Daily Prophet had said that Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger were returning to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on September 1st.
The Daily Prophet had said a lot of other things too; things which he'd already heard, but he was still surprised – and weirdly a little bit proud – to see it all in print and moving pictures.
A loud hubbub drew his attention and he quickly snapped open the newspaper again, hiding behind it to watch a crowd of people hurrying toward him laughing and joking loudly as they did so.
God, they were scary. There were just so many of them! Suddenly he wanted to run away and never come back – but one of them had spotted him, nudged Harry and then pointed him out.
Bloody fucking shit! He was stuck now. Harry had acknowledged him with a short nod and held up 5 fingers before following his friends through the wall.
"Looking sharp, Dud."
Dudley jumped slightly and folded his paper before looking up at Harry, feeling at a disadvantage.
"Hi Harry." He stood up and immediately noticed two gingers staring at him slightly suspiciously. "Ron," he nodded hello, "George." God, his ear really WAS gone! "I heard about your brother, sorry."
"Yeah, it happens," George said and turned to Ron. "I'm off back to work, take the day off. I'll catch you both at home later. See you, Dudley."
All three watched him walk off and then stood in an uncomfortable silence for several seconds.
"So ..." Dudley began, and cleared his throat. "You made it."
"Yeah, we made it," Ron said when it became apparent that Harry was just going to stand around staring in disbelief.
Dudley noticed that Ron didn't look unfriendly, but he didn't look friendly either. Regardless, Dudley was grateful that he had spoken.
"Do your Mum and Dad know you're here?" Harry asked suddenly.
"Of course they don't," Dudley mumbled, "can you imagine? God."
"Why ARE you here?" Harry's voice was neutral.
"I just," Dudley fiddled with the cuffs of his new suit and hesitated. "Hestia told me everything that happened – and she sends me that magic newspaper sometimes – but I wanted to see."
"OK." Harry nodded, while behind him Ron shoved his hands in his pockets and relaxed some. "How did it go on your end?"
Dudley snorted rudely. "How do you think?"
Harry laughed at that. "I can imagine."
"Yeah," Dudley offered them a half-smile as Ron chortled in the background. "Mum and Dad didn't take it well."
They lapsed into another silence, looking everywhere but at each other. "Well," Dudley picked up his newspaper, "I'll, ah ... you know ... have to get back to work."
"Right, OK." Harry nodded slowly, "Eh, it was good to see you."
They started to head off in the same direction, and the three of them half laughed again.
"Dud." Harry cleared his throat. "Do want to, um, get a coffee or something?"
Dudley stopped in his tracks and stared at Harry, shocked. "OK."