Business Trip

Disclaimer: I own nothing. I received no money for this.

***Warnings: Spoilers for the ending of the 7th book. Takes place about 5 years or so after the main ending, but before the epilogue.***

Summary: Dudley Dursley is sent on a business trip to New York City. On the plane, he meets a wizard. Can each survive without killing the other? No pairings.


Dudley Dursley grunted a bit as he hefted his carry-on luggage over his head and smashed it into the overhead bin. Even in first class, the luggage compartment was woefully small. With a satisfying click, the bin snapped shut. Dudley released a long sigh as he plopped onto the aisle seat. He shut his eyes, hoping to drown out the sounds of other passengers settling down around him.

It wasn't his first time traveling overseas for business. His company routinely sent him out on trips when they needed an expert eye. And Dudley was one of the best.

As well I should be, he thought, recalling how exactly his instincts had been honed to a fine edge.

Despite his father's wishes, Dudley had rallied against joining his father at Grunnings and instead opted to enroll in a local uni and study, of all things, security. And not just physical security either. Dudley plowed ahead with cyber security, personal security, and perimeter security. After escaping into hiding during the last year of his primary schooling, Dudley had shed his poundage like a snake. When he finally emerged at Reading University in the fall for his first year, he had gone from a pudgy doughboy into a stocky, well muscled man. And a mature man at that.

The wizards guarding the Dursleys had been cordial enough, but Dudley had sensed their ire at having to babysit a family such as theirs. Especially when their friends were dying in a war. It took Dudley exactly two months to muster up the courage to talk to one of the wizard guards (behind his parents' backs, of course), but it had been well worth it. The witch – a young girl not more than twenty-five – beamed at him when he showed a small growing interest in her wand work.

She was setting the perimeter, she had explained, waving her wand delicately through the air. Even a Muggle like him could see the intricate weaves settling over the house. When he asked what exactly they did, she launched into an explanation so intense it left him with a headache.

And a burning desire to learn.

A first for Dudley.

So he studied the various wizards and witches as they came and went, and focused on their explanations of the weak points of each hidey-hole they found, and exactly what spells and physical defenses were needed to counter those weaknesses.

He watched. And listened. And asked question after question. And learned.

When word came through six months later that their lives were allowed to return to normal, Dudley Dursley had become an expert on security. Though he may never need to know exactly what charm was needed to counter this curse, or just how to wave his wand so the spell reflected the effects just so of that enchantment, the intuitive aspect of seeking out weak spots and plugging them with the right type of defense stayed with him.

He breezed through his classes (well, except maybe cyber security – he would be the first to admit it was hard and he wasn't that smart) and was recruited into one of the top security firms in Britain. Dudley fast showed his merit after pointing out an enormous flaw in a banquet hosted by the Prime Minister and from then was given the esteemed position of Scouting.

A Scout (according to his company) was supposed to survey the client's object of security – be it a dinner party, a safe house, or even a motorcade escorting a teen celebrity – and analyze the weaknesses and strengths of it before reporting back to his firm. From there, his company would plan accordingly.

He loved it. Mostly because they paid him well and sent him on cushy assignments, like this one to survey an art gallery in New York City for a gala displaying some incredible pieces of priceless art, and perhaps one or two VIPs. After all, spotting possible sniping positions was decidedly easier than pondering over which curse to layer first. He reveled in his good fortune.

Dudley would swear on his mother's life that he felt the glare an instant before he heard the annoyed cough. His eyes popped open and he found himself staring into the face of a man with long platinum blonde hair whose icy gray eyes bore into him with disgust.

"That's my seat," the man said in a low, even voice. He tilted his black cane in the direction of the window. "If you would be so kind as to move?"

"Sure thing," Dudley said cheerfully, rising to allow the man to step into the window seat. "Do you have any luggage you need to stow?"

"No," came the curt reply. The man shifted his long cloak around him, settling into the wide leather chair.

"At least put up your coat," Dudley offered. "You'll swelter to death in here."

"Hardly." The word came out as a sarcastic drawl. The man turned away to stare out of the window. The horizon lightened with a pre-dawn glow. Their flight was scheduled to depart Heathrow International at just before 6:45 in the morning and would arrive early in the evening. Including the time change. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one trip. First class. Even though Dudley had long since shed his image of a bloated pig, some habits were just exceedingly hard to break. Including perking up over the idea of free food, even free airline food.

With a shrug of nonchalance, Dudley sat back down in his seat. The man absently twirled his cane on the floor as he stared unblinking out the window. It was an impressive cane, edged with the gleaming silver head of an open-mouthed cobra, hissing. Green gems of some kind dotted the eyes. Dudley guessed it was worth a lot more than it appeared.

"I'm Dudley," he said, sticking out his hand. The man turned and stared at his proffered hand as if he had grown an extra arm: a mixture of surprise, disgust, and haughty arrogance. Dudley discretely sniffed at his armpit, wondering if he was releasing some kind of body odor that he didn't know about.

Nope, nothing stinky from his side.

Must be just his personality. Just another rich snob, Dudley thought. But regardless, I still have to work out my penance.

His self-inflicted penance – and a life-long one at that – was to be polite, cordial, and overly friendly to those who were exceedingly rude and nasty. It was something he had thought up while holed away with the wizards. After all, his parents treated them like scum, but they still remained steadfastly by their sides, never once wavering in their resolution to protect their charges – however much they loathed them.

Dudley, ironically enough, was the only saving grace for the wizards. It took him a long while, but eventually the wizards warmed up to him. Dudley still recalled how horribly he treated Harry when he was a kid, and vowed right then and there to make up for it. Since he all but knew he would never see Harry again, he vowed to borrow a page from an old adage of "pay it forward". Still, nine hours cooped up in an airplane with this man might try his nerves.

I'll treat it like a challenge, he thought.

"So why are you headed to New York?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.

"Business," came the unexpected yet curt reply. Still, it was an answer.

"What kind of business?"

"None of yours."

Oh snap, he had walked into that one. He let out a chuckle of appreciation. "Good one," he complimented.

The man remained silent.

"Oh, come on," Dudley wheedled, "at least tell me your name."

"Lucius Malfoy, not that the name means anything to you, you simpleton."

Actually, the name did ring a faint bell in the back of his mind. Malfoy... where have I heard that name? He slipped into silence, pondering it. Malfoy, taking his silence as he proof had finally insulted the man enough to earn some peace, turned back to the window.

No such luck. Dudley shook himself out of his stupor. Time to think about it later.

"So you're pretty well-known, then?" he asked.

"You might say that."

"But only in certain circles?" Dudley guessed.

"Clearly."

"So what kind of work do you do?"

"I consult some for the government."

"The government pays for first class tickets overseas?"

"No, I pay for first class tickets overseas. My preferred means of travel have been exhausted, and as punishment I'm forced to endure this horrific contraption conceived by apes with barely enough presence of mind to muster up energy to trudge through the daily grind of what they call existence. But because that infuriating Shacklebolt finds some sardonic pleasure in forcing me to use such means of transportation, here I am."

"You're afraid of flying?"

"Nonsense! I am afraid of nothing!" Malfoy glared at Dudley with such icy ferocity that a lesser man would have shrunk back. But Dudley lived with a champion of icy glares – though admittedly none of them were ever directed at him – and he had built a rather strong immunity to them.

"Suit yourself," Dudley shrugged. "What is your preferred method of travel then, if not by plane? Boat?"

"Hardly. I wouldn't expect one of your... upbringing... to understand."

There it was again, that sneer of disgust. A bit more subtle this time, Malfoy only curled the edge of his lip, but the arrogance remained. This man clearly thought he was better than everyone else, most especially the worm known as Dudley sitting beside him.

And perhaps he was, mused Dudley. After all, it didn't take much to be a better man than him. Though in his defense he was trying mighty hard to redeem himself. Maybe one day if he ever faced Harry again, he could do so without shame.

Lies. He would always be ashamed of what he did to Harry. But that was in the past.

At present, the man continued to glare around him with that same frosty disdain. He muttered something else under his breath that Dudley didn't catch, but from the man's dark expression, he was probably glad of that.

Before he could continue talking, the lights dimmed and an attendant came forward to explain the safety features of the flight. The wheels began to turn as the doors were locked and attendants scurried around securing everything.

Beside him, Lucius gripped his cane until his knuckles turned white. He stared intently at the snake.

"Would you gentlemen care for a pre-flight drink before we depart?" a steward asked, poised at his shoulder.

"Scotch. Double on the rocks," Dudley replied. He glanced at Malfoy, but the man remained staring ahead with stoney silence. "Better make it two," he said. The attendant nodded and within minutes both drinks arrived. Dudley handed one to Malfoy. "Here," he said. "This will calm you."

He half expected a protest from the blonde that he didn't need calming, but Malfoy reached over and gulped the contents of the glass in one go. Forgoing his own needs in an impulsive act of kindness (or was it pity?) for his neighbor, Dudley handed his own drink to the man, who downed it again just as fast.

"Better?" he asked.

"Not yet," came the reply, though Malfoy's breathing eased slightly.

"I thought you weren't afraid of flying?" Dudley baited.

"I'm not! I love flying. I just prefer to be the one in control."

"Understandable."

As the wheels lifted from the runway, Malfoy gripped the cane with both hands as if he was going to wring the poor snake's head.

"Relax," Dudley assured him. "This is first class."

The man sneered even as he stared at the floor. "This is so far below even what my servants are used to it's pathetic."

So the man has servants, thought Dudley. "Why aren't you on a private jet, then?"

"I told you," Lucius gritted out through clenched teeth. "I'm being punished."

Realizing that the man had broken out in a cold sweat, Dudley patted around in his suit pocket before offering a monogrammed handkerchief. "Here," he said, holding it out.

There was that look again. Malfoy stared at the cloth as if Dudley had just offered him a blood-drenched bandage. Malfoy reached into his own cloak and withdrew a pristine silver cloth embroidered with dark green thread and a coat of arms of some kind on one corner. He dabbed his head with it primly before returning it to the folds of his cloak. It was only then that Dudley noticed his clothes mirrored the same trend of green and silver.

"Fraternity colors?" Dudley asked.

"Something like that. They were the colors representing my house."

"House?"

"At my school. It was how we were divided."

"Ah." Boarding school then. "My cousin went to a boarding school." There, maybe he could start with a thread of a bond.

The sneer resurfaced. "I'm sure he did." Hmm, or maybe not.

"My cousin had similar items, to represent his school."

"That's nice." There was no niceness in the reply, but Dudley ignored it, as usual.

"What was your house called?"

"Slytherin."

Nope. No name recognition there.

"Hmm, I don't recognize it," Dudley said aloud.

A short mocking laugh. "I don't expect you to."

Dudley shrugged. "I don't know, for a moment there, I thought I recognized your name."

Lucius looked at him sharply. "I highly doubt it. Someone such as yourself would never recognize my name."

Dudley merely stared head. "Perhaps. But it triggered something in the back of my mind when you introduced yourself. Something... I can't place where."

Lucius continued studying him with his cool calculating gaze. Dudley wasn't worried. After a while, Lucius turned to stare out the window. He was distinctly more relaxed now, either due to the alcohol or the fact they flew smoothly through the air.

Dudley reached into his briefcase and withdrew a piece of paper and a pen. He sketched the interior and exterior of the plane and penned a miniature stick figure avatar of himself. Just for fun, he drew another stick figure beside him with long hair. He decided to forgo protecting himself for this round and designated Lucius as his target protectee.

It was a hobby of his, surveying a location and plotting the weaknesses and strengths. What made this different from his real job was he forced himself to use curses, counter-curses, and spells he recalled from his final year in hiding. Despite Harry's teasing about his intelligence, he could really learn something if he put his mind to it.

And now, he had a repertoire of a few dozen wizard tricks of defense.

He started off by putting a basic shield charm around Lucius, like the wizards had with him when they moved his family. He debating using Polyjuice Potion, but wasn't certain if some of the other charms would defend against that, so he kept it out.

He added layer upon layer of charms, abbreviated with his shorthand and a few key symbols, of course. He couldn't very well have the flight attendants reading over his shoulder of his plans to put Anti-Trapdoor snares on the aisles, now could he?

This hobby allowed him to expand his mind and hone his senses of thinking outside the box and meticulous planning - both critical elements to his field. After a while, he became aware of Lucius watching him sketch.

"What in the name of Merlin's beard are you doing?" Malfoy asked, staring at him now with astonishment. At least it wasn't disgust.

"If you must know, I work for a security company," Dudley began. "My job is to spot the strengths and weaknesses of certain places and plan accordingly. To keep my mind sharp, I like to make up scenarios on the spot."

"I asked what you were doing, not for your life's story," came the acerbic reply.

"You don't have to watch."

"What does that mean?" Lucius asked, pointing to a wavy line outside of the door. KKWD was printed beside the line, complete with a tiny picture of three circles. To Dudley, it meant he would place a Knock-Knock Who's There charm on the door, which would produce the desired effect of Boo! Boo who? Boo-hoo! and the intruder in question would run screaming from the house at the sight of his own fears. Dudley thought maybe it's official name was Dementor's Effect charm, but he liked his version better.

"Uh, it means there's a lot of security right there. Er, reinforced security."

Lucius stared at him with that superior expression again. At least this time, Dudley felt he had a right to do so. After all, any idiot could see that the doors were the first things to be reinforced for security.

"I can't reveal all my secrets," Dudley said, feeling the rising urge to defend himself.

Lucius turned away from him and Dudley wondered how he could exude such arrogance even when sitting. The next few hours passed in silence, much to the heartfelt joy of Lucius and the disinterest of Dudley. It was at lunch that the next significant moment happened.

Dudley wouldn't have even noticed it had he not turned to Lucius to ask if the man wanted another double shot of scotch. It was only in the briefest of instances. Lucius had reached up to adjust the seat monitor in front of him and his cloak slid down to reveal a pale forearm.

And a faint scar of a mark Dudley would remember for the rest of his life.

He froze, eyes not leaving the area on the skin. If it hadn't been for just the right angle of the light to catch off of the skin, Dudley wouldn't have even noticed the scar. But it was an image that had haunted his nightmares for years.

The Dark Mark.

He recalled it vividly now. Those nights of rushing from one supposed safe house to another, only to look back and see that horrifying thing floating about the abode they had vacated mere minutes before.

And in one flash of a moment, he understood.

The name Malfoy. Harry mentioned it once or twice. He was a schoolmate, and recalling Harry's tone, they were not on friendly terms. This man had to be a relative. A father? An uncle? Maybe even an older brother. In fact, now that he thought on it harder, Dudley recalled several wizards whispering that name when they were guarding him. Powerful. Dangerous. Deadly.

The arrogance. Harry had said numerous times that the people who hunted him viewed Muggles as nothing more than pond scum to be crushed beneath the feet of the pureblood wizards. Surely this man was one such wizard.

The very flight itself. Clearly the man had plenty of wealth. But he mentioned he was being punished. Perhaps for joining up with that murderous cult? His obvious means of transportation relied on something magical. And Dudley guessed those had been banned from him for use for a while.

Dudley felt rage rising in him. Here, beside him, was one of the pins that had kept prodding him and his family further and further down the terrifying path of the unknown that year. Dudley idly wondered where his wand was. After all, Harry was never seen without his wand (except when Vernon locked it up). Perhaps this very man had chased after him himself! Dudley glanced beside him. Malfoy had resumed eating with a dignified air.

"I could kill you right now and you would be defenseless," Dudley said in a low voice.

Beside him, the words had their intended effect. The hand stilled for a moment before lowering back to the plate. Dudley turned his head to stare at Lucius. The wizard returned his stare blandly, but Dudley wasn't fooled.

Dudley thought Lucius would verbally react to his remark, even it was just to question his sanity. He was wrong. Lucius didn't even have his usual icy disdain in his eyes. Instead, it contained a certain aloofness, as if he couldn't care less what happened beside him.

"Perhaps you're wondering what brought on this sudden change of heart," Dudley finally spoke. Lucius remained quiet. "Lucius Malfoy," he stated plainly. "I knew I remembered that name. Lucius. Malfoy." He hissed the name back at the man. "I remember!"

"You remember what?"

The question was asked innocently enough, yet to Dudley it came as exceedingly sarcastic. It rankled him even more.

"Your arm."

"Have an aversion to tattoos?" Now the sarcasm was there.

"Just that one."

"That's awfully biased of you." Now Lucius returned to his dinner, picking up his drink and sipping it without a care in the world. Dudley noticed his left hand clenched around his cane, belying his calm exterior. His wand, he realized. No wonder he's so protective of it.

"How did you escape?" Dudley asked, knowing that all the Death Eaters (he thinks that what one wizard had called them) had been rounded up eventually. The wizard guards cheered and partied long into the night when the news came through. Even Dudley slipped in to join the celebrations. He could finally return to a normal life!

"Who says I did?" Lucius mocked lightly.

Dudley wanted to punch the man, but it would do no good to start a fight at eleven thousand meters. It would only end badly. "My name is Dudley Dursley. Does that mean anything to you?"

The return of the derisive gaze. "Not a bit."

Maybe he wasn't part of the group that was sent to hunt me, Dudley thought. No matter, he was still involved.

"How about my cousin's name?"

Lucius sighed, patronizing Dudley. "I accept the bait."

"Harry Potter."

Lucius whipped his head around so fast his hair slapped against the seat. His eyes burned like coals into Dudley's. Dudley returned the gaze with a predatory smirk of his own. Gotcha, he wanted to say. It wasn't necessary. Still, he was tempted.

"Interesting," Lucius murmured, "that you are the family he loathed. It's finally nice to meet someone who made Potter's life miserable when my son couldn't be around to do so. Thank you."

Dudley gasped as if Lucius had socked him in the gut. In the other man's triumphant gaze, he could see that Lucius knew he struck a nerve. "That was... true," he admitted. "I was horrible to Harry. I apologized, and I hope we came to an understanding. After all, he did send my family away under protection."

"And yet you did not know what he has done to help me. Interesting."

"What could he have done for you? What's interesting?"

But Lucius merely returned to calmly eating his dinner, entirely too confident he had the upper hand now.

"Tell me," Dudley demanded sharply.

"After you threatened to kill me?"

Dudley glared at him. "I'm not about to apologize to someone who was responsible for hunting me and my family down for nearly a year."

Lucius shrugged. "If it makes you feel better, I was not tasked with such menial duty."

"No, it does not!"

When Lucius didn't reply, Dudley pulled out his notebook again and began penning a letter.

"What are you doing? Plotting my downfall, now?"

"Writing to Harry."

Lucius chuckled. "You have no owl. You have no way to get it to him," he pointed out.

Darn. This man was sharp. Very clever. And evil. Why would Harry help him?

"Please tell me," Dudley asked.

Lucius looked at him for one long moment, studying him as if he were a specimen at a lab. Finally, he turned away. "He defended me at my trial. You could say his testimony alone would have been enough to pardon me."

"Why would he do that?" Dudley felt hollow inside. He recalled how angry Harry used to get when thought of the wizard who murdered his family. He was so easy to rile that Dudley couldn't believe Harry would show mercy to any of the supporters.

"Perhaps I made some poor decisions. But perhaps maybe, just maybe, I changed in my ways. Perhaps in that last battle, we didn't support that wizard's side. Perhaps my wife is the sole reason Harry Potter draws breath today."

"Your wife saved Harry?"

"Lied directly to the Dark Lord himself. Told him Harry was dead when he was breathing just fine."

"That's... brave," said Dudley.

Lucius sniffed. Dudley bet if the man weren't so proper he would have rolled his eyes.

"So you're being punished still?"

Lucius sighed. "More like I'm in disgrace. The current... how shall I say this delicately?... head boss was a high ranking member of the Order." At Dudley's blank gaze, Lucius huffed. "The team of wizards that protected you were in the Order!"

"Oh. They never said that."

"Anyway, he feels the need to remind me of what I have done wrong from time to time."

"Yeah, first class is such a punishment," Dudley remarked dryly.

"I paid for the ticket in first class. My family still has plenty of money, even if we are in a bit of disgrace. Shacklebolt was content to let me sit back there!" He shuddered, as if the very thought of rubbing elbows with Muggles in cramped quarters horrified him. Perhaps it did.

"I said I was going to New York for business. That is still true. Though the Ministry deems it necessary to occasionally... block... my normal means of transportation. They get a rise out of seeing me using lowly Muggle devices." Lucius sneered.

"I'm sorry," Dudley said.

Lucius shrugged. "Nothing I can't get used to."

"No, I meant... about threatening to kill you."

Lucius chuckled darkly. "You didn't stand a chance."

"Yeah, I kind of figured." Dudley nodded to the cane. "Is that your wand?"

Lucius regarded him with surprise. "Indeed. It's hidden inside," he said.

Dudley nodded. "Yeah, you might have killed me. But then, I might have gotten the jump on you. You never can tell with us unpredictable Muggles, can you?" He grinned, then closed his eyes and leaned back to take a nap. "Don't hex me in my sleep now like Harry used to threaten. I won't be pleased."

Lucius didn't dignify himself with a reply, but then Dudley didn't think he would.

When they finally touched down (with Lucius once again gripping his cane tightly and vehemently insisting he was not afraid of flying, much to Dudley's immense amusement), Dudley turned to Lucius before the man could vanish down the aisle.

"If you run into Harry at all, could you tell him I said hello?"

Lucius frowned and straightened, pulling his shoulders straight in an imposing regal stance. "Despite whatever impression you got from me, Potter and I are not exactly on friendly speaking terms."

"Then let this be the only time you are. Just tell him I said hello, okay?"

"And why should I?" Lucius replied evenly.

Dudley did roll his eyes this time. "Call it penance if you want. I'm sure it would take a lot of composure to remain civil to my cousin."

"I daresay you would know."

Dudley grinned. "Perhaps. But he forgave someone like me. I'm sure he could do the same to you."

"What makes you think I want forgiveness?"

"We all want forgiveness."

Lucius turned from him in exasperation and disappeared down the hall, his long platinum hair and cloak billowing behind him. Dudley could swear he heard him mutter something about idiotic Muggles under his breath. Releasing a long sigh of relief, Dudley grabbed his carry on luggage and departed the plane. Lucius Malfoy was nowhere in sight, but Dudley didn't expect to find him again.

"Finally got rid of the arrogant snob," he mumbled, "He puts even father to shame with his icy glares of contempt. Boy, Harry, you must have had a fun time with him. Now, where is that art studio I need to survey?" And digging around in his pack for a minute, he peered at the directions his employer had typed for him before hailing a cab. He was finally in New York City, and he wasn't going to waste a minute of it.

The End


Author's Note: This popped into my head while writing my other story, and since it didn't fit with what I was writing there, I had to pound it out separately before the two characters murdered me in my dreams so I could continue. I wanted to use both of these characters in my other story, but for some reason having both of them in it didn't seem right... somehow. However, I am going to use one of these two in my story. I won't say which character, but one of these two does make a somewhat major appearance. And he will be more in character, because this was just a quick story I needed to pop out and even I will admit both of these guys are somewhat out of character.

So no, there won't be a continuation to this story, but rather you could treat this as a "deleted scene" from the story I'm currently working on.