"The caravan is leaving in five minutes!" Dudley called up the stairs. "Any Dursley, Potter, Weasley or Longbottom not buckled up and ready to go by then gets to walk to Kings Cross!"
The house practically shook as the sound of a dozen children and their trunks came thundering down the stairs. Dudley dove off to the side and out of the way of the stampede. They all rushed past him and out the door to load up the cars waiting to ferry everyone to the train station.
"Bloody hell..." he wiped his forehead and breathed a sigh of relief at having narrowly dodged death.
"We have a lot of kids," Harry chuckled as he came from the kitchen.
"Yes we do," Fred laughed.
"And we're going to have more," George, who was following behind his twin, practically sang. More than a month it had been since he learned he was going to be a father and he still sounded like he was opening presents at Christmas every time he talked about it.
Harry offered a hand to Dudley to pull himself off the floor. Everyone had spent all of yesterday at the Dursley home as a final farewell to summer. No one wanted to cut short the fun so it was decided on that all of the Hogwarts age children would stay the night and their parents would just apparate back in the morning with their trunks. Neville and Luna would be meeting them at the station with Tavis' trunk since Bailintin was only a few weeks old and they didn't want to subject everyone to a crying baby all night. Luna also wanted to keep an eye on her son's luggage to make sure no Nargles tried to stow away.
It was first suggested that they all sleep together in the living room, or outside in one of the expandable tents. Both places would have easily accommodated everyone but one glace at the all to eager looks on Teddy, Victoire and Tavis' faces made Dudley and Bill think it was not a good idea at all. In fact, it seemed like a much better idea to them if all the girls spent the night in the guest house, and all the boys spent the night in the living room. It would of course remain Bill and Dudley's little secret that Bill put an undetectable charm around the house to alert them if anyone under the age of twenty-five with a Y chromosome left the approved areas. Teddy and Victoire were still trying to figure out how they got caught trying to go for a midnight stroll.
"Daddy, why can't we go!" Holly cried to her father.
"Yeah, it's not fair," Lily stomped her little foot, which was quite impressive since she was seated at the kitchen table.
"We already told you why you aren't going," Harry said to the two girls eating breakfast. "You can't go to Hogwarts until you're eleven and after last year when you tried to sneak onto the train, it's better for our sanity that you just stay here."
The little girls let out a collective whine.
"You'll still have fun today," Rose said, as she and Hermione did dishes. "Uncle Charlie is going to stay with you and you will all have a wonderful time."
The girls' mood greatly improved and they wolfed down the rest of their cereal before scrambling out of the kitchen and up the stairs to find Hadden and the other children who weren't being allowed to go to the train station either. Usually Ron and Lavender would come over to help Charlie watch the hoard but with Lavender ready to deliver any day now, and Ron refusing to leave her side, Charlie was on his own. Something he assured all of the other parents they owed him big for.
Dudley, Harry, Fred and George made their way out to the drive way to help load the trunks and possibly play referee should there be a fight. It was a good thing too, because just as they exited the house, the familiar sounds of bickering met their ears.
"I said give it back, Harry!" Alyssa roared at her little brother, as he and Albus tossed what looked like a book between the two of them in a game of keep away.
"Not until you hand back over my quidditch magazine!"
"Uncle Ron gave that magazine to the both of us!"
"Yeah but he handed it to me."
"Dad said if I wanted to try out for the team this year he'd get me a broom and I was looking up models! I'll give it back when I'm done."
"Then I'll give this back when I'm done."
"Harry Michael Dursley, you've got ten seconds to give me back my book or I'm going to tell all the kids on the train how you two spent all morning keeping my romance novel from me," Alyssa put her hands on her hips.
"Romance Nov...EWWW!" Albus tossed the book back to Harry, who tossed it at his sister like it had acid on it. Both boys ran past their fathers and uncles back inside the house. They seemed to be shouting something back and forth about needing bleach.
"And just where, young lady, did you get a romance novel?" Dudley asked with a frown.
"It's actually the new advanced potions book Aunt Hermione gave me for my birthday, but telling them it was a romance novel made them give it back sooner," the girl gave her father a cheeky smile.
"Did you bribe the sorting hat into putting you into Ravenclaw because there is no way you aren't a Slytherin," George said.
Dudley shook his head and chuckled before helping Fred Jr wedge his trunk into the back of one of the cars. The trunk was being particularly stubborn and he and Fred Sr. were still trying to shove the uncooperative luggage in when a third car pulled up the drive way.
A very amused Petunia exited the vehicle, chatting happily away with Molly and Arthur.
"Absolutely brilliant these muggles!" Arthur exclaimed, exiting the passenger seat. "Seats that heat up without magic? What will they think of next?"
"Having fun?" Harry chuckled as he gave his aunt a hug.
"I told them last night about my new car and Arthur practically begged for a ride in it so they apperated to my place first," Petunia said. "With how much he fussed over the radio and air conditioning controls, you'd think he was a visiting a candy store for the first time."
The men snorted in laughter as Arthur's ears turned red, "Yes well," he cleared his throat and tried to at serious. "You have a fine machine there, Petunia."
"Thank you, Arthur," Petunia smiled. "I am quite proud of it. Picked it out all on my own too."
Dudley and Harry shared a knowing smile. Petunia had, forgive the pun, bloomed over the past month. Picking out her own car was just another step in reclaiming her independance.
Hermione had drawn up the divorce papers before they even left the party that day in July and Petunia had handed the papers to Vernon herself when they arrived the next day for her things. As it turned out when Vernon arrived home that evening a giant lion made completely out of fireworks had leaped out of the trunk of his car and chased him down the street while it shouted rude comments about his weight. He got four blocks down before the lion pounced on him and erupted in to a spectacular fireworks display. Much to her fears, in retaliation Vernon had destroyed her great grandmother's china, but his vindictiveness didn't stop there. He also burned several of her old photo albums and threw all of her clothes, shoes and underwear on the front lawn for the whole block to gawk at. A simple spell cast by Harry restored the china and packed away her clothes but the photos were a lost cause. He would have been able to restore them as well if he'd had the ashes but Vernon had rinsed them down the drain in the kitchen. Realizing all of her childhood memories were now floating through the city sewers system Petunia couldn't hold back the tears. The twins did not take kindly to their new favorite family member being reduced to hysterical tears by a vindictive bastard. Neither did Ron and Harry for that matter. It was possible that her ex husband was still suffering the effects of the hexes and curses all four of the wizards had thrown at him, but she had no idea how long an itching jinx or a slug vomiting charm actually lasted. In all honestly she had no idea what a Furnunculus curse even was though the jelly legs jinx seemed fairly self explanatory.
As promised, Hermione had the divorced finalized in record time. Apparently one of the perks of having a witch for an attorney was that your husband told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help him God. This including admitting to an affair he had during their fifth year of marriage. According to the prenuptial agreement they had created and signed, if either of them committed adultery the culprit surrendered the entire estate. That meant that Vernon got nothing. Out of the pure goodness of her heart, and to ensure she would never have to deal with him ever again, Petunia paid off all the debt they had and gave Vernon three thousand pounds to start another life. He now lived in a tiny flat at the heart of London where he did nothing but work, sleep, and curse magic under his breath.
Petunia sold off everything, even most of the furniture. She wanted nothing to remind her of her life with Vernon, save for Dudley of course. She even donated most of her clothes to a local shelter, realizing that the only reason she had bought most of them in the first place way because Vernon had liked them, not her. With nothing tying her to the city Petunia bought the property next to Dudley and Rose. For the past month she had been living happily in the three bedroom cottage where she spent her time baking, gardening and being visited almost daily by her grandchildren and Molly. The fresh air and love she was now constantly submerged in had breathed new life into Petunia and she felt like a new person. A person she knew her sister would be proud of.
In celebration of her new freedom Hermione, Rose, Ginny and Molly had taken Petunia for a full day of shopping and pampering. The expedition was of course funded by Harry and Dudley. Whether the two men actually knew they had funded the trip was of course up for debate.
It was amazing how much better a simple foot massage and pedicure could make someone feel. Vernon had never allowed her to waste money on such frivolous things for herself. For years she had agreed with him that she could paint her toe nails just as well as some over priced bint at a salon could, even if he never allowed her to paint them anything other than various shades of red, pink or clear.
But at the end of the day armed with a new wardrobe, a new hair cut, and purple toe nails Petunia felt happier than she had in a long, long time. Younger even. With the stress of keeping up to her husband's standards no longer looming over her, Petunia was constantly glowing with a joy she hadn't felt in years. She finally realized just how much of her self she had surrendered to Vernon. That being said, Petunia made it a goal to be just a little more self sufficient than the day before. Which is why picking out and purchasing a car all on her own had made her so down right giddy.
"Grandma!" Holly and Hadden exclaimed as they tore from the house and threw their arms around Petunia.
There were always brief moments of feeling that could possibly be considered as remorse for the lose of her marriage, but then her grandchildren wrapped their arms around her and it vanished without a second thought.
Dudley smiled, and then called over his shoulder, "Alright, the grandparents are here, lets get a move on!"
Everyone piled into the cars, each of which had to be expanded by magic on the inside to accommodate the twenty-five passengers, and Dudley pulled out of the drive way, followed by Rose and then Petunia. Fred and George had offered to drive but Hermione headed them off by telling Dudley the night before that neither of them actually knew how to drive, let alone had licences to do so.
"I think we should just invest in a bus," Dudley said to Harry, who resided in the passenger seat next to him.
"I thought about that, but I don't want to think about what the twins would do to it."
"Take your pick," the emerald eyed wizard chuckled.
The drive took about three hours but it passed by pleasantly with easy conversation and laughter. Soon the caravan pulled into the Kings Cross parking lot. They ignored the stares they were getting as at least eight people filed out of each five seater cars. Petunia donned a very fetching sun hat that went with her new outfit. The calf length sundress and matching heels had been a gift from Rose. The pale blue fabric brought out her eyes.
It was Petunia's first time to plate form 9 ¾ and she didn't bother hiding her excitement. Once through the barrier, they quickly spotted Neville and Luna, and Tavis ran up to get his trunk.
"Where are the other kids?" Neville asked greeting Dudley with a hand shake.
"At home with Charlie," he replied. "I suspect they have him tied to a chair and gagged by now."
Neville laughed, despite the fact he knew it was probably true. The next few minutes were a blur with trying to get all the kids and their trunks on the train. Albus was feeling nervous but his father took him aside for a moment and soon he was once again bouncing with excitement as he and little Harry ran off to find a car.
"You'll look after your brother, won't you?" Rose hugged Alyssa.
"I will, Mum, I promise," she said.
"We'll miss you, Princess," Dudley kissed his daughter on the forehead and hugged her tight.
"I'll miss you too, Daddy," she kissed him on the cheek. "I promise I'll write though."
"Don't forget to write me either," Petunia hugged her as well.
"Lyssa, come on we're gonna miss the train!" James called.
"I have to go," she smiled at her parents and grandmother and waved as she took off after James and Tavis.
The parents and grandparents waved goodbye as the train pulled out of the station. Albus and Harry waved back at their parents until they disappeared down the tracks.
"Does it ever get easier to watch them go off like that?" Rose asked a loud.
"No," Molly chuckled softly. "I still get this feeling when my children leave after a party."
"Well no use standing here looking pathetic, how about lunch?" Fred said.
"An excellent notion, my good twin," George replied. "If I'm not mistaken the pub isn't far from here. I say we pop in to say hello to Sarah."
A nod of agreement rippled through the adults. Most of the group disapperated on the spot leaving behind Harry, Ginny, Rose, Dudley, Hermione and Petunia to bring the cars. Hermione would have apperated too but she didn't feel it was a good idea while being pregnant. The remaining few turned to leave for the parking lot when a sudden shout halted them. A tall impressive man with dark skin and billowing robes was waving as he stalked towards them.
"Harry Potter!" the man exclaimed and extended his hand to Harry.
"Minister Shacklebolt," Harry greeted happily and shook his hand. "Good to see you, Sir."
"Oh don't call me that outside of work, Harry, please," he grimaced.
"Of course, Kingsley," Harry chuckled.
"Hermione, you look beautiful!" Kingsley hugged the pregnant woman and gave her a kiss on the cheek before turning to Dudley. "Dudley, good to see you again."
"And you, Sir," Dudley smiled. They had become reacquainted many years ago when the minister had joined the Weasleys' for a Christmas party. Dudley had remembered the tall dark man from when he helped them escape all those years ago and how kind and understanding he'd been towards Dudley. The Minister of course also had a standing invitation at the Dursley home.
"And who..." Kingsley asked finally laying his eyes on Petunia. "Might this lovely creature be?"
"You remember my mother of course, Mr. Shacklebolt," Dudley gestured to her.
"Ah yes, Mrs. Dursley, of course I remember you," Kingsley took Petunia's hand and kissed the knuckles softly. "You haven't aged a day."
"Thank you, Minister, that is very kind of you," Petunia blushed slightly.
"Please call me Kingsley, Mrs. Dursley," he smiled.
"Only if you call me Petunia," she smiled back. "And it's Ms. Evans now if you don't mind."
"Ms. Evans? Oh, I am so sorry to hear that," the gleam in his eye said very clearly that he was not sorry at all.
"Thank you, but I assure you I am not loosing sleep over it," Petunia chuckled. "So nice to run into you after all these years, were you seeing your children off?"
"Ah sadly I was never blessed with children of my own. Never blessed with a wife either for that matter," he smiled at her. A kind of smile that only Rose, Ginny and Hermione seemed to catch. "No, I was seeing my nephew off. He graduates this year and I think he wanted to impress a young lady by having his minister of magic uncle see him off. I think it worked because she wouldn't leave his side."
"Ah to be young and in love," Petunia giggled.
"To be in love period," he winked at her.
"You know, Minister..." Ginny interrupted. "Petunia was wanting to visit Diagon Alley today..."
"She was?" Dudley and Harry echoed
"Yes," Hermione shot them a look. "Her granddaughter Alyssa has been going on all summer about how much she wants to go out for the Ravenclaw Quidditch team this year. Just last night Petunia was telling me she was wanting to look into a broom for Lyssa as a birthday present."
"Alyssa's birthday was in June..."
"Christmas! I meant Christmas."
"Well yes of course, but that's months from now..." Petunia was cut off by Rose.
"Perhaps you could escort her, Minister?" Rose smiled. "We would take her ourselves but we left all of the other children back home with Charlie and have to get back as soon as we can. God knows what they've done to him by now."
"Weren't we just about to go to the pu...OW!" Harry glared at his wife who had just stomped on his foot rather hard.
"I would be honored," Kingsley offered his arm to Petunia who blushed furiously but took it. They walked away a few yards before disappearing with a loud POP.
"Hermione, you'll have to drive her car back," Rose said fishing the extra set of keys Petunia had given her out of her purse.
"Not a problem."
"What just happened?" Dudley finally asked.
"Your mom just went on a date," Rose kissed her shell shocked husband on the cheek and dragged him back towards the car.
"I hope he isn't bothered if she vomits on his shoes," Ginny said and dragged an equally shocked Harry along with them. "First time apperating is a bit dodgy on the stomach."
Harry and Dudley exchanged a look. Their mother, and aunt respectively, was out on a date with the Minister of Magic. They dissolved into hysterical laughter as the irony sank in. Life was weird, and they loved it that way.
A/N: OK so that is the end of this one. I have had a lot of fun writing this sequel. So much fun actually that I am entertaining the idea of just doing a bunch of one shots or short stories based in this universe. Write some about the different families, detailed one shot on Dudley and Rose meeting, a few of the kids at Hogwarts... maybe even a future wedding or two ;-)
R&R my dears! And tell me what you think about doing a Tomato-Verse series.
Check out the next Tomato and Lily installment!
SLOW ON THE UP TAKE
Staring: Tavis Longbottom, James S. Potter and Alyssa Dursley in their 6th year at Hogwarts!