Disclaimer: JKR owns most of the characters and settings of this story, and I thank her for creating a world so alive and fun to be in that I could jump in, play, and produce this story. The characters of Sam, Ellery, Lyra, Time, and May, however, are mine. I have vague plans for them, so even though they're not in this story much, please don't borrow them.

Rating: For some language.

Pairing: Dudley/Harry friendship, and… a little bit of H/Hr. Please see the author's note before flouncing.

Author's Notes: On the H/Hr pairing: This story was written originally for my own enjoyment. Inspired to write for the HP world after watching the last movie, I decided to put down a few ideas I had about a Dudley/Harry friendship story that has been brewing ever since the fifth book came out. I have always been convinced that Harry and Hermione needed to end up together (for very good reasons, I think, which I once wrote an essay about and am happy to distribute to anyone interested), so in this story Harry is married to Hermione rather than Ginny. I thought about changing it to make it canon, but I was convinced by some very wise people to preserve the integrity of the piece and keep it the way I love it. If you have a problem with that…well, if you can tell me respectfully, that's fine. Otherwise, let it go. It's a story. It will not ruin your life, I promise.

(Edit 2/2/14: Yes, I feel incredibly vindicated right now in light of Rowling's recent admission to my stance on H/Hr. It's good enough for me: it is now canon.)

On a separate-but-related note: I, like many others, have changed the Potter children's names. Again, I thought about keeping them canon, but the way the story turned out, this just makes a lot of sense to me. Since it was Hermione involved in the naming process rather than Ginny, I think this is a lot more in character. The explanation was originally snuck in through a scene that has now been cut, and though I may add it to the end as a deleted scene if there is interest, I'm including the naming bit here for you:

Harry, being the passionate and sentimental one, wanted to name their children after important people in their lives: his parents, Dumbledore, Severus Snape, etc. But Hermione, being the sensible, forward-thinking one (and backed by Ron's enthusiastic agreement from his own personal experience), convinced him that the children needed to have their own names, and let the honoring of the fallen be in their children's middle names instead. They would already be expected to live up to a lot, Hermione reasoned, considering their parents' legacy; a specific name to follow would be like living in a shadow all their lives. So their firstborn was named Samuel James Severus, their second Ellery Albus, and their third Lyra Lily.

Dedication: To my idea-bouncing-boards Babblefest and my brother Allen: you made the story what it is. Thank you for your encouragement, ideas, and laughter, and thanks again to Babblefest for telling me that with a little focus and direction, I could actually turn this into something worthy of sharing with others.

To my betas, Babblefest, Tattoodragon (thank you for the titles!): I love you both so much!

And to the fabulous folks at FFA on facebook: thanks for helping me be brave enough to publish the story as I want to, and not how I think others want me to. There's a lesson to be learned in that.

And Then an Owl Flew into the Kitchen

Chapter One

Vernon and Petunia Dursley loved their grandchildren.

They visited often—but not too often: Dudders needed time alone with his family, of course—and they always brought presents. Or money. Or both. Mortimer was going to Smelting's soon, and much of the extra funds needed for this expensive private school were to be provided happily by Vernon and Petunia. They were already looking into upstanding girl's private schools to send May to when she was old enough. She was only six now, but it was never too early to start saving.

Vernon thought that Mortimer might be involved in politics, while May would make an excellent secretary for a CEO somewhere in London. Petunia didn't particularly care what the grandkids might become as adults because she knew they were being raised right and would choose something sensible. They decided when Mortimer was born to leave the house on Privet Drive in all of the grandkids' names, so that at least one of them would be guaranteed a nice suburban home to move into when they wanted to settle down.

They had it all planned out, and they were very happy. Just like Dudley was.

None of them gave a thought to magical world; not since they'd been released from their protective captivity with a very strange witch who compulsively peeked out through the curtains of their well-hidden house and a tiny excitable wizard who, when he wasn't snoring, talked in his sleep about grindylows wearing Father Christmas hats. Dudley would remember Harry and his kind occasionally, as one might remember an unpleasant childhood memory, but that was all.

Until, of course, one day when he was forced to give Harry quite a considerable amount of thought.

Dudley was walking briskly to his car one evening just after getting off work, eager to return home after a hard day behind the desk playing Solitaire (his best score was currently 10,639, including the time bonus), when he found himself stuck behind two slow-moving women bent over something between them and whispering excitedly. He was about to step off the curb briefly to dodge around them when he heard his cousin's name for the first time in 15 years.

"Absolutely sensational! Honestly, I don't know who to side with…Harry Potter's really done it this time…"

Dudley stopped dead for a moment. Then he shook himself and hurried to catch up to the ladies.

"Excuse me," he said, and they turned in surprise. His usual reserve about approaching strangers and admitting to overhearing them was completely consumed in his sudden and inexplicable need to know. "Did you just say, 'Harry Potter'?"

The women narrowed their eyes at him. "Yes…" one of them said cautiously.

"Well…" Dudley faltered. "Sorry, but…what exactly were you saying about him?" He winced. His mother would be appalled at his behavior. He glanced down nervously and saw something in one woman's hand. "What's that?" he asked, and the woman held it up as if she herself had forgotten what she was carrying.

It was a book. And on the front cover was…

"Harry!" Dudley cried, and the women jumped. He took the book from the lady's hand, causing a yell of shock that he didn't hear. He stared intently at the cover. It was unmistakable. Harry looked much older, of course, but that was definitely his cousin waving at him. Dudley looked up and a sudden, unprecedented impulse came over him. "I want to buy this from you," he said.

The women gaped at him.

Dudley dug into his pocket and pulled out a small handful of bills. He gave them two 20's without thinking about it and said, "you can exchange this for your money, right?"

Perhaps just eager to be rid of this crazy Muggle, the two women nodded, their mouths still agape.

"Thanks," Dudley said, and he turned and ran to his car, leaving the women behind, still blocking the sidewalk from other tired home-goers.


The book was titled, Two Wands, One Feather: An account of Tom M. Riddle and the Boy Who Shared His Soul; it was written by the award-winning author Susan Bones and overseen by Harry Potter himself.

Despite his instinctual trepidation, that night after the kids had gone to bed and his wife was still cleaning up, Dudley had sat down and torn through the first several chapters in one sitting.

The book described the birth and complete life (as far as it could be complete) of Tom Riddle and recounted all of Harry's adventures at school that were pertinent to the complex and intertwined relationship between the two men. The book largely skipped over the 10 years of Harry's life at the Dursley's before he became a Hogwarts student, with only a brief mention of being raised by Muggles, which Dudley felt a bit slighted by (though later he realized that he might not want to be mentioned, considering their not-so-great relationship growing up). But why Harry had decided to write such a book was beyond Dudley. He didn't know who Tom Riddle was, but if he was half as famous as Harry, shouldn't their kind know all this stuff already? What made it so "sensational"?

And perhaps most intriguingly: why was Dudley so fascinated with it? The book was dark and terrifying, filling in holes in Dudley's knowledge of the magical world that he would much rather have been left empty.

Dudley had been absolutely horrified to learn that Tom M. Riddle was an evil tried-to-take-over-the-world-by-mass-murder villain; the very same man who had murdered his own aunt and uncle. Not that Dudley knew or liked his aunt and uncle, but they were blood family (and also, Tom Riddle was apparently the reason that Dudley had to grow up with such a strange and terrifying cousin as Harry Potter in the house). But it was mostly because he'd actually felt empathy and an odd sense of camaraderie (and yes, support) for the man before he disappeared from Britain to learn the Dark Arts, that really made him feel horrified. This man was a human before he was a monster, and Susan Bones and Harry Potter made him feel sorry for the guy. Dudley shuddered. He didn't like to feel such unpleasant things.

Glancing at the clock for the first time in hours, Dudley realized that it was well after midnight. Half-wondering why his wife hadn't asked him to come to bed, he closed the book and hid it in his tiny office so that his family wouldn't find it, and went to bed troubled for the first time in many years.