"It's all so tidy." To anyone that was in earshot who lived in the neighborhood the words that came out of Harry's wife's mouth would have been a compliment. Harry doesn't have to sneak a look at Ginny's face to know that she doesn't mean it as a compliment. Harry really can't blame her - the neighborhood is giving him an odd sense of deja vu because it doesn't differ much from the neighborhood he had spent the first ten years of his life in. "Any idea what he wants?"
"Not a clue really." Harry glances at the piece of parchment clutched in his hand with the address and directions written on it, the numbers on the paper matched the numbers on the simple white mailbox. 411 Dursley. "You were there when the letter turned up, bit curious to see what he's been up to. I always made sure that he had a way to contact me, just in case."
"I know you have, but why now? It's been, what? Six? Seven years?" Ginny's eyes suspiciously sweep over the yard and the front door as Harry pulls the car into the empty driveway. She hadn't exactly been thrilled when Dudley's letter had turned up in their rarely used Muggle mailbox. Harry suspected that Ginny had never forgiven his family for being terrible to Harry though she had never said anything of that nature to him.
Originally Harry had suggested that he just go alone, part of him had been fearful that Dudley was going to tell him that he's lost one of the few family members remaining. Ginny had responded that he was going alone over her dead body - that both she and James were going to be accompanying Harry on his trip to visit his cousin. Really Harry had been relieved, he didn't want to have to face this on his own and maybe a small vindictive part of him wanted to prove to his only living relatives that what he had now was good. He had a beautiful wife, a brand new son and a successful career, his life was on track even by their standards.
Because of his Auror training Harry was able to detect even the slightest movement even if he wasn't intending to, so when he saw the curtains in the front window move ever so slightly he shut the car off. "We've been spotted then, are we going in?"
"Well of course we're going in, we've come all this way." That statement is just the beginning as she gets out of the car and moves around to unbuckle James from his car seat she goes on a tirade about coming by Muggle transportation. Harry briefly wonders if he should mention to her that she's starting to sound like her mother on the topic but he's not sure if the comment would help or hurt the situation so he keeps his mouth shut.
By the time she reaches the other side of the car she's completed her rant and Harry can't help but grin like an idiot at her. It was an expression she had to be getting used to because Harry felt such a surge of pride when he saw her holding their son that he couldn't help but look like a dope in the process. He couldn't wait for Ron to become a father so that he could lay off Harry for a bit about looking like such an idiot all the time.
Harry wrapped and arm around Ginny's waist and ushered them up the rest of the walk to the front door. The house was just like its neighbors, a clean white house with differing colored trim. Dudley's was a cheerful red and just as Harry is about to knock on the door it's pulled open and Harry is standing in front of his cousin for the first time in the better part of a decade.
For the most part Harry finds him greatly changed, he's still larger than you're average person but most of it now is muscle bulk. He could easily be the same sort of bullying figure that Harry had grown up with but his demeanor has changed and Harry accepts his hand shake when it's extended. "I'm glad you found it, not that the directions are particularly difficult but I didn't really know how you would be..." Dudley allowed his sentence to trail off but then stepped aside to allow them to pass into the house. "Please come in. Elizabeth, darling, they're here."
"I gathered as much, I figured you weren't out here talking to yourself, although really you never know." A woman came bustling into the room toward them carrying a tea tray with her. She's pretty in a very simple, plain way, with brown hair cut into a simple bob and brown eyes that dominated most of her features giving her a sweet deer in the headlights kind of look. "Please do come in." She gestures toward the living room and Harry and Ginny follow her urging and find themselves sitting together on a plump love seat.
Introductions are over when Dudley says, "I really am so glad you could make it today Harry. I didn't think you would, it's been so many years." He shifts uncomfortably on the couch across from them, it's clear that he has something that he wants to say but doesn't know where to begin.
"I must say, it's not the most surprising letter I've ever received but it was unexpected." Harry's lips twitch at the statement and he wonders if Dudley ever looks back on the many letters that Harry had received when he had lived with his family. Harry wonders if any of those times are something that Dudley can look back on with amusement or if it was all really just a horrible dream for his cousin that he tried not to dwell on.
"Yes, well, I imagine not." Harry doesn't miss the way the corners of Dudley's lips pull up slightly as he says this and Harry feels a sense of relief.
Dudley clears his throat, pauses a moment and then finally began to speak, "I know it's odd that I asked you here after all these years. It's just...I know that we never did right by you, me and my parents. We treated you horribly for your entire life and even though I never knew the justification of it I never did anything about it. I embraced it, you were my favorite target."
"Dud..." Harry was uncomfortable with the way this conversation was going. He hadn't come for an apology from his cousin, he had let go of the years of torment a long time ago. At this point in his life it felt like it was a totally different lifetime, he hadn't expected and apology when he came here today and didn't necessarily want one.
"Please," Dudley cut off Harry's protest, "let me finish? I have a point, I promise and it's not just to apologize for the way we treated you. It wasn't until I met Elizabeth three years ago that I ever fully realized just how horrible we were to you. I always was dense. I understood what you'd done for me in the alleyway that summer but I'd never really realized that your entire life was horrible, or that we were the only family you had in the world. We were all you had and you were treated like filth. My wife is an orphan," at this statement Dudley took her hand, "she lost her parents when she was ten years old.
"She had no family members to take her in, no matter how horribly they could have treated her so she did what they call aging out of the system. We found out that we are going to be expecting our first child a couple weeks ago." Dudley paused in his speech to warmly accept their congratulations. "And it's gotten both of us thinking, because here's the thing; between the two of us the only family we have in this entire world is my parents...and you, Harry." He smiled at Ginny. "And you of course Ginny and your son. I don't want us to be strangers, I know it will take time to heal all of the old wounds - we can't just jump into being a family. Ultimately though, that is what I want. I want to know that if anything is ever to happen to us that our children will have someone to look after them. We'd like the both of you to be our children's godparents."
Dudley stops speaking suddenly, he certainly didn't need to say anymore and Harry's eyes connect with Ginny's who was brimming with tears. He wonders if she's seeing Teddy in her head as he is, Teddy who sometimes it was hard to even rouse from bed in the morning because it was difficult to not dwell on why Lupin and Tonks were not there to do it. Teddy who had been asking more and more hard questions about his parents with the birth of James, who couldn't fully understand why he didn't have parents but knew what his parents had been like because he had family to keep their memories alive.
How could they say no to this request? Harry knew better than anyone the importance of a godfather and he's opening his mouth to tell Dudley that of course they would be their unborn child's grandparents when Ginny beats him to it. "We'd be honored. You're absolutely correct, family is incredibly important. And hey we have our own little reference when it comes to being god parents. Harry's godson Teddy lives with us part of the time."
Ginny has hardly finished speaking before Elizabeth has thrown her arms around both her and James who was sleeping peacefully in his mother's arms. "You really don't know how much this means to me." Before long the two women who had been strangers up until half an hour ago are half crying, half laughing in each other's arms.
Dudley clears his throat and shrugs at a Harry. "Why don't I show you the house?" The two stand up and Harry follows Dudley out of the house, all of it feels right. It feels right to leave Ginny to get to know Dudley's wife, to get to know what Dudley has been up to, because both he and Ginny were right - family was important. The Weasley's were his family, they had been the first people to really welcome him into their lives long before he had married their daughter but Dudley was his only blood relation and that was something to be embraced.