That's the thing with magic. You've got to know it's still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you."...prompt given for Hogwarts Online Forum
Disclaimer: Still not mine.
Lily sat on the ground in the back yard, a bottle of orange soda nestled in the diamond of her legs and a biscuit between her teeth. She had not moved for five full minutes, a fact not lost on her mother.
"Harry?" Ginny called from her vantage point at the window above the kitchen sink. "What is she doing?"
Harry padded over, wearing only his pyjama bottoms and holding a mug of hot tea between his hands. "She's going to catch a cold."
"Not that. I mean…look at her."
"I dunno," he said with a yawn. "We're out of milk."
"How should I know? She's…playing."
"I don't think so. Yesterday she put a shoe on her head and sat for almost fifteen minutes without moving."
"I didn't ask."
"Wise." He leaned over, kissed her cheek and returned to the table. "She shouldn't be eating sweets before breakfast."
"She's not. She's just sitting there." Ginny's brow wrinkled in concentration as she chewed on a fingernail. "Do you think there's something…you know…wrong with her?"
"Not as wrong as a grown woman biting her fingers down to nubs," he said with a grin that quickly faded when she turned and shot him a glare. "It's a phase. I mean her…not you."
"You need to go talk to her." Ginny turned back to the window. "She's up to eight minutes."
"I'd hate to break her record. You said she made it to fifteen yesterday. Let's give her some time."
"Harry Potter! You need to get her in here. She's freezing out there."
"Why me?" He said incredulously, putting down his tea, standing up and waving his hands at his bare chest and pyjama bottoms. "You're the one that's dressed."
"Your boots are by the door." She craned her neck to try to get a better look at Lily.
"Fine, just remember this when she blames me," he muttered.
He grumbled as he slid his boots over bare feet and took the only jumper off the hook, throwing it over his shoulders and then stomped into the yard. Sitting down in front of Lily, he waited for her to talk first.
"Button?" he called her after she had reached the sixteen-minute mark. "What'cha doing?"
"Dad," she whined, grabbing the biscuit from her teeth and taking a bite of it. "Now it's ruined."
"Your Mum made me," he said flatly, looking back at the kitchen window where Ginny still stood watching.
"You look silly," Lily giggled.
"Do I look cold? Because I am. How about we finish this up in the house before you catch a cold and your soda freezes?"
"It's not that cold." She pouted. "Does Mum let you wear her clothes? Cuz she don't let me."
Harry looked down at the pink angora that he had wrapped around his shoulders. "Not usually. Only when it is really cold and she is worried about you."
"I can't do it anyway," she sighed.
"Do what?" He stood up and picked up the soda, waiting for her to join him.
"Al says that Hogwarts only takes kids that knows how to concentrate and since I can't I can't go and then he said that sometimes we can sneak in and Jay Jay says my magic…"
"Breathe," he chuckled. "Now start over….slow."
He opened the back door and stepped aside, holding his finger to his lips to give Ginny the hint not to interrupt their conversation. Hanging up the jumper, and toeing off his shoes he listened as Lily rambled on about finding her centre and using a focal point.
"Okay kid-o, let me tell you something. Your brothers …"
"Harry? Not now," Ginny said quietly, shaking her head at him.
"Okay, we'll talk about it later. Okay, Button?"
"How many eggs do you want?" Ginny asked as she automatically cracked two for him and one for Lily.'
"I don't have time" He stood and ruffled Lily's hair. "Remember?"
"Oh, Merlin…it's today?" Ginny turned to look at the calendar seeing the big red circle that had been there so long she no longer paid attention to it.
Harry had been on assignment in London. Wearing his normal street clothes, he had taken the train to the Ministry only to find himself in the same compartment as his cousin. He was unable to politely ignore him, and as he would admit later to Ginny a small part of him had been glad to see his old nemesis. Sitting down next to him, he and Dudley actually had a decent conversation.
Harry had watched for his stop, then watched as it slid away, deciding instead to stay with Dudley. Once on the platform he was reluctant to walk away and sensed the same in the almost stranger that stood with him. .
"Do you make it into the city often?" Harry had asked, watching Dudley for any sign of avoidance.
"Got to give a quarterly report. Don't know why. Could just as well send it over in the computer."
"Yeah, damned shame that," Harry had grinned. "Of course I don't use them. I'd offer you an owl but they can get a bit messy."
"Member how Mum would throw a hissy?"
"Yeah, won't soon forget," Harry said, envisioning Petunia screech, her hands thrown up in the air as an owl flew around the house.
"If you aren't busy we could…umm…you know….maybe…"
"Have lunch," Harry had supplied.
They had both agreed to a time and place to meet, then in a moment of embarrassment had awkwardly slapped each other's shoulders and gone their separate ways. Harry remembered thinking how far off the date was, now, he was surprise it had come so fast.
Lily pulled her chair over to the calendar and drew a line through the date, the scratch on the parchment bringing Harry back from his daydream.
"Is he like an uncle or something?"
"Sort of," Harry said absently. "Gin, maybe you can put those eggs in a sandwich and I can eat them on the way."
"Sure, just hurry up."
"Why's Dad eating if he's going to lunch?"
"Your…umm, Uncle wants to see the Eye. Dad and he…."
"Me too! I wanna go too! I ain't never been! Jay Jay went and I got to go next."
"They have a lot to talk about." She frowned as she slid Lily's plate in front of her. "Perhaps next time."
Lily jumped up and ran up the stairs. She finished dressing before Harry was ready and sat on the top step waiting for him.
"Oh, no…now back to the kitchen."
"Please, please," she clasped her hands together and pleaded with him. "I won't talk. Really. I won't eat. I just really really want to go."
"Ya know, it may not be a bad idea," Ginny said looking up at them from the bottom of the stair. "It may make him feel…you know, that he is missing out on his family."
"I want this to work," Harry said softly, then squatted down and looked a Lily sternly. "You promise to be on your best behaviour?"
Even as he watched her head bob up and down and a wide smile cover her face, he knew she would try but not be able to pull it off. "I don't mean good for a while. I mean the whole day or you're grounded for a month type good."
"A whole month?"
"Yup," he bit back his grin seeing her face fall. "Tell ya what. You stay home this time and…"
"Okay, a whole month," she said, jumping up and almost knocking him over.
Later as she stood looking out at the Thames, Harry was glad he had brought her. Perhaps Ginny was right, perhaps Lily's presence would add an air of normalcy to the situation and make it easier to avoid certain conversations Harry wasn't sure he was ready to have. It wouldn't be possible to discuss the abuse he had suffered as a child or how his aunt and uncle had treated Dudley with Lily there.
"Must look like her mother," Dudley's voice said from over his shoulder. "Too cute to take after you."
"Duds." Harry turned with a smile. "This is Lily. We named her …"
"Yeah, after your Mum." Dudley squatted down and held out his hand to Lily. "Pleased to meet you Lily. I'm your Dad's cousin."
"You mean the fat bully he grew up with?"
"Lily!" Harry hissed.
"That's okay, my kids think you're the idiot Grams put in the loony bin," Dudley laughed.
"I didn't know you were married."
"Yeah, about eight years now."
"Hey, how come you don't look like you do in Dad's old pictures? You're not nearly as fat as you look and your hair is skinny. Did your mum take away your sweets?"
"Lily," Harry sighed and shook his head.
"No, my wife," he said with a grin. "Don't worry about it, Harry. Anyway, you'd like her. She stands up to Mum and tells Dad to shut up at least twice every time they come over."
"Can we go up now?" Lily asked, craning her neck and looking up at the top of the Eye.
Harry was surprised to see Lily take Dudley's hand, and even more surprised to see Dudley seemingly comfortable with her. It occurred to him how little he knew of the man, only remembering the youth he had been. Sometimes, when he had thought back on the family he had never been part of, he would dwell on their good bye in Privet Lane and the handshake Dudley did not know how to give, fumbling and ill at ease.
He felt a sudden empathy of the man that he had become, realizing the he had not been the only one damaged by the Dursley family. Now, watching Lily and Dudley standing at the glass and pointing out landmarks to each other he was determined not to let years pass by before seeing him again.
"Do you have magic?" Harry heard Lily's voice, and quickly put his hand in his pocket, fingering his wand and throwing a silencing spell around the three of them.
"Ah…no," Dudley stammered, looking at Harry, knowing this could be a touchy subject.
"Do your kids?"
"Lily? Now is not a good…."
"No, it's okay, Harry. No they don't, Lily."
"That's too bad. If'n they did they could go to Hogwarts with me. Did ya look everyplace? Sometimes it sort'a gets lost."
"Button, not everyone … believes in magic. It's okay though," Harry said softly, wanting to ask how magic could be lost but figured with Dudley standing here now was not the time.
"You don't?" She tore her eyes off the view of the Tower Bridge and looked up at Dudley. "Bet if you looked every place you could find it before your mum gets mad."
"Well…" Dudley looked from her to Harry, not knowing what to say. "I've seen some use magic, but I still have a hard time with it. You know, it's not like….like something you can see. "
"Dad can show you. It's really hard to see. Almost invisible. "
"Some still think it's all a parlour trick." Harry said flatly, looking at Lily's rapt expression. "Duds, come on. With all you've seen how can you still think that?"
"That's the thing with magic. You've got to know it's still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you." Lily looked up nodding her head.
"Lily, not now," Harry said tersely.
"I know," she said rolling her eye. "I get locked up for a whole month if I'm bad."
"Easy to tell what side of the family she takes after," Dudley said, trying to joke as his voice broke. "My youngest is two. He was two last month. I…I'm worried about him."
"Do you want me to see him?" Harry asked, hearing the panic in his cousin's voice. "We share grandparents, Dud. It would make sense and not be out of the ordinary. Well, my kind of ordinary."
"Yeah, would ya Harry?"
"Sure," Harry put his hand on his cousin's shoulder and looked out at the river with him. "What's family for?"