An Unexpected Meeting
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me. All rights go to JK Rowling/Warner Bros. I do not profit in any way.
Harry was glad that it was the first day of summer. He looked around his kitchen, which was in no way immaculate; what with the crayon drawings that a younger Lily had decorated their wallpaper with, and the watermarks on the sink. It was home though, and Harry wouldn't have it any other way.
"DAD!" Screamed a young female voice, which Harry instantly recognized as Lily's. She was twelve now - Harry could hardly believe it! She was starting her second year at Hogwarts in September.
Harry ran up the stairs."What is it, Lily?" he said, as he leaped up the last two stairs, grabbing the chipped banister for support, and onto the pale blue landing carpet.
"James... won't... get... UP!" She said, and as Harry walked into his eldest son's room, he saw his daughter poking his eldest son. James grunted and rolled over. Harry smirked, and looked at the clock. 10am. Sometimes, James distinctly reminded him of his best mate during his Hogwarts years.
Harry winked at Lily, and put his finger to his lips in a 'shh' gesture. Lily grinned back at him; knowing that her father had something up his sleeve and nodded, her sparkling bright brown eyes exactly like Ginny's.
Harry crept over to the end of James' bed, carefully stepping over the creaky floorboard. He grabbed both of the corners of the duvet within his reach, and yanked it onto the floor. James shivered slightly, and curled up into a tight ball. Laughing, Harry grabbed his wand out of his robes and cast a freezing charm on his son's bed.
Lily laughed loudly as James jumped off the bed with a yelp, and landed on the floor in a pile. Grumbling to himself, James turned to his father and younger sister, who were hysterically laughing at his expense.
"OKAY! Okay. I'm up. Happy?" James glared at his red-haired sister when she nodded enthusiastically.
He stomped past them down the stairs. Harry and Lily followed close behind, still laughing.
As James slumped into his usual seat at the dining table, Ginny and Albus came in through the French doors leading from the kitchen to the garden. Their hair windswept, it was obvious they had been practising Quidditch. Albus was going into his fifth year, and was hoping to get onto the Gryffindor team this year. Seeing as seventh-year James was the captain, Albus didn't want to give his brother any reason to turn him down at trials.
"Morning, honey." Ginny said, placing a kiss on James' head, which he hastily wiped off, still grumpy from being so rudely awoken. She laughed at her teenage son's attitude.
"Morning, Harry," she said, reaching up to kiss him on the lips, to which he responded enthusiastically – much to their children's disgust.
After all this time, Harry still couldn't get used to this feeling of contentment. Having his kids had meant the world to him. He finally had a proper family, for the first time since he was one. Marrying Ginny had been one of the best days of his life, tied with the births of each of his children (although these had been significantly more stressful). Sometimes he thought about his own childhood with the Dursleys, and he was determined to make his children's far happier than his had been. Harry got up to help Ginny with the food; leaving his three children bickering at the table, the two dark-haired heads contrasting with his daughter's flaming one.
Ginny lined up five eggs in midair with a levitating spell.
"Diffindo!" Harry said, pointing his wand at the eggs, whose shells cracked, and the contents fell into the frying pan. Ginny quickly vanished the egg shells, and grinned at Harry. They finally had the cooking spells mastered, after so many years of practise.
They toasted ten pieces of bread with their wands, and buttered it hastily, quickly rescuing the eggs before they burnt; and returned to their kids, breakfast hovering along behind them.
It was an average morning in the Potter household.
"James!" Ginny said, as her eldest son dropped an entire fried egg into his mouth. James always ate like a pig; Ginny was convinced that he had picked up his Uncle Ron's eating habits.
Lily and Albus were bickering; Lily was adamant that the Holyhead Harpies were the best Quidditch team of all time, whereas Albus was an avid Chudley Cannons supporter.
Harry just tried to block out the noise, reading crime reports in the Daily Prophet.
Suddenly, the table jogged violently, and James made a strangled sound - trying to dislodge the egg from his windpipe. Ginny sighed and whipped out her wand to vanish the egg, as Lily and Albus laughed.
"Serves you right for being so disgusting," said Lily scornfully.
Harry looked down at the disruption. He saw an unfamiliar brown barn owl with a scroll of thin, white parchment attached. Puzzled, Harry reached out to untie the scroll. As soon as the owl's leg was unburdened, the it shook its feathers, and took off again out through the open French doors.
As Harry got a closer look at the scroll, he realised it was paper. Paper. Who would write to him on paper? He undid the scroll, and began to read the scruffy, large scrawl.
Hi. I don't know how to do this really - I managed to get a bit of information off mum how this wizard mail thing works. I really hope this gets to you – I rented an owl from a strange man on the street.
I haven't seen you in over twenty years, and the more I think about it, the more I wish that I'd treated you better when we were children. I'm sorry.
If you would like to meet me sometime I'd love that.
Harry's jaw must have dropped, because Ginny and the children were asking questions and grabbing for the paper. Harry passed it to Ginny quickly, and she read through it, her eyes narrowing. Harry had told her plenty of stories about his childhood, and previously Harry had had to restrain her from hunting down his relatives.
"Well," Ginny said, passing the letter to her curious children, "are you going to go?"
Harry thought carefully. This boy had plagued him for the majority of his childhood. He had woken up every morning, thinking out plans to avoid him, and things that he could say to get him back, which never worked; Dudley's skin was far too thick and his brain far too slow for that.
But then he thought forward to the summer of his seventeenth birthday. How Dudley had tried to make amends, how he had gone against his parents views, and he thought of his old headmaster. Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore was one to forgive and forget; second chances were his specialty, and Harry couldn't think of a better role model.
"Yes, I'm going."
Harry finished tying the scroll to his return letter and hastily attached it to the impatient grey owl's leg. Gramps was James' owl. He was grey and scruffy, his feathers all sticking out at odd angles – Ginny had often said it reminded her of Harry's hair.
Harry sighed as he saw the owl fly off into the distance. His letter was brief, only suggesting that they meet in London the following day. Ginny had offered to come with him, but he knew that this was something that he would have to do alone.
Harry didn't sleep much that night. His mind was consumed with memories of his childhood, and sometimes he wished that he had just declined the offer to meet his long-lost cousin. But deep down Harry knew that Dudley had changed. He wondered how different their lives were now. They were both turning forty this summer. He tried in vain to envision an adult Dudley; one who had a muggle job – one who had a position of responsibility.
Ginny sighed and rolled over in her sleep. Harry looked down at the battered golden watch that Mr Weasley had given him on his seventeenth birthday. 3 o'clock. He plumped his pillow, and turned over, trying to fall asleep – to clear his mind of all thought. Harry had never been good at that though, and the attempted blocking of his thoughts only made them buzz louder.
Would Dudley have a wife? Kids?
The idea was far too odd to think about.
And with this, Harry fell asleep.
"Harry," A familiar female voice urged; "Wake up!"
Harry opened his eyes, smelling the comforting flowery scent, and saw a curtain of red hair swinging around his wife's blurry face. He snatched his glasses and wand from the bedside table, and sat up.
"What time is it, Gin?" Harry asked, trying adamantly to smooth his hair down, to no avail.
"1pm," she replied in an amused tone, "I thought that James got his sloth-like tendencies from his uncle, but obviously not."
Harry laughed, and grabbed a pillow to hit her with. Ginny fell down on her side on the mattress, and narrowed her eyes as she sat up.
"I would say 'It's so on, Potter,' but unfortunately, you're meeting your cousin in London in... half an hour," she said, smirking, looking down at her watch.
Harry jumped out of bed. "Half an hour?" he squeaked. "Why didn't you wake me earlier!"
Ginny grinned and kissed his forehead. "You'll be fine, you know how to apparate!" She chuckled, before leaving the room.
Harry ran around the peach-walled room in a frenzy, pulling on his shirt whilst brushing his teeth. He searched the wardrobe for his shoes, and only finding one, began to just chuck everything out onto the floor. Finally, it occurred to him to grab his wand from his jeans pocket.
"Accio shoe!" He said in a desperate tone, and it flew towards him. Harry gratefully put it on and ran down the stairs, only pausing to look at the mess that he had made in his and Ginny's bedroom. She was going to kill him later.
"Bye, Ginny!" Harry yelled before he turned on the spot and disapparated. He appeared in a busy high-street, not far from the Leaky Cauldron.
"Harry?" asked a voice from behind him. Harry turned sharply, and standing before him, was a middle-aged Dudley. His mousey brown hair – which had darkened from the blond of his childhood – was combed and well cared for. The fat that used to surround the features of his face was gone, and he was far slimmer than he had been in his youth. Dudley – it seemed – had grown up.
"Hi, Dudley," Harry smiled, trying to think of what to say to avoid the awkwardness, which was somewhat inevitable.
"Erm... shall we have a drink?" Harry asked, gesturing towards the Leaky Cauldron opposite.
Dudley's expression became confused, his eyes focused on the pub slowly.
"Woah," he said dizzily.
"You can only see it if you know it's there," smiled Harry, amused at Dudley's look of awe; and remembering his first trip into the wizarding world with Hagrid.
The two men walked through the dark wooden doors in silence which was not entirely uncomfortable.
"Two Butterbeers please," Harry said to the barman, ordering for Dudley as well as himself as he remembered that muggle drinks were named differently.
Harry took the drinks with a "thanks," and carefully carried them through the bar, Dudley following behind him, entranced by all of the magic going on around him. There were cloths on each table wiping up residue from drinks unassisted, and empty goblets were floating back to the bar. Dudley took a seat opposite Harry, who passed him his drink.
"What is this?" Dudley asked suspiciously.
"Butterbeer," Harry replied. "It's good," he added as he saw his cousin's hesitant expression.
Dudley took a slow sip, and his eyes widened.
"This is..." he said, evidently too overwhelmed to finish.
"I know," Harry smiled, reminiscing over his first sip of butterbeer.
"It's so... warm!" Dudley said, his eyes still wide with wonder. Harry grinned; for the first time since his cousin had arrived, he was acting like Dudley again.
"You do what!" Dudley asked, eyes wide, as Harry explained about his job.
"I work to capture dark wizards," Harry explained matter-of-factly.
"But isn't that... dangerous?"
Harry smiled. Dudley really had no idea. "Yes, at times. But we always have a second to have our back: if we get injured, for instance."
Dudley laughed nervously, and went on to tell Harry about his career.
"I work as a councillor."
Harry tried to keep his mouth from falling open – this isn't what he had expected! Taking over from his father at the drill company maybe, but a councillor? Helping people?
Seeing Harry's look of surprise, Dudley looked down at the table; refusing to meet his cousin's eyes.
"Yeah. I know. I've changed a lot, Harry. A councillor wasn't my first job, you know." Dudley looked slightly ashamed as he continued.
"I left university, and went straight to Grummings. It was what Dad wanted, and you know, I never really questioned Dad... I thought he was right about things like these. He was always saying how he was so successful..."
Dudley looked up to meet Harry's green eyes, finally, and saw them to be free of judgement and disapproval. Encouraged by this, he continued.
"I made a mistake, Harry. I hated it there, amongst all of those bitter, sad old men. All of a sudden, I caught a woman's attention. Madeline. She was pretty, and I'd never had any attention from women before. She decided that we were dating, and my parents approved, so I didn't argue. You have to understand; she came from a wealthy family with good connections, and my dad thought it was perfect. But then – it was about six months later – we were engaged."
Dudley gulped, and face red, he tore his eyes away from Harry's and mumbled. "The marriage failed within eighteen months."
Feeling awful for his cousin, Harry reached out to awkwardly pat him on the arm.
After Dudley was certain that Harry didn't judge him for his previous bad choices, he opened up to his cousin. One thing that Harry was certain of: Dudley was lonely. He hadn't dated since his ill-fated marriage. When Harry had explained about his family, Dudley had tried to mask his look of envy, but hadn't succeeded. All the same, he had looked happy for his cousin.
Harry and Dudley talked through the afternoon, and into the early hours of the evening.
Harry tried to breach the subject tentatively, but he was curious.
"So... how are your parents?"
Dudley looked startled; evidently he had not expected Harry to bring them up.
"In a home," he said. Harry noticed a trace of guilt on his cousin's face as he continued. "Dad was... he has Alzheimer's. Since last year." He paused, looking down at the table. "Mum's okay. She wouldn't let Dad go to the place on his own though, she's with him." Dudley smiled sadly, "she's still just as stubborn."
"I'm sorry, Dud," Harry said genuinely. And he was. As he aged, he had never really thought about his aunt and uncle aging too.
"Thanks," Dudley replied, not quite able to smile.
It was eight 'o'clock, and Harry knew he should be getting back soon – or face Ginny's wrath. His wife scared him far more than any Dark Wizard ever had.
Dudley was looking a lot happier than he had at the beginning of the night. Harry noted the looks being exchanged between his cousin and the pretty waitress. She was about mid-thirties, had long dark curly hair, and olive skin. Dudley had a stupid smile on his face as he ordered the next round of drinks.
"Last round," Harry said regretfully as the barmaid set the amber liquid down on the table.
Dudley sighed, "But I'm coming round next week to meet your family, yeah?"
"Course," Harry replied.
"And you're going to pick me up? Apparite?"
"Apparate," Harry corrected automatically, and then scolded himself for sounding like Hermione.
"Yeah, I'll pick you up," he confirmed.
Dudley grinned. For someone brought up in a thoroughly anti-magic household by thoroughly non-magical parents, Dudley sure was keen on magic.
When Harry left the pub, Dudley stayed behind.
He hadn't even got to say goodbye to his cousin properly – Dudley was far too engrossed with explaining to the barmaid – Maria – how kettles work. She seemed fascinated. Whether by the kettles or by the muggle – Harry wasn't sure.
With a wry smile Harry disapparated; and as he vanished, he wondered whether Dudley would have magical kids one day. Maybe it was a good thing Mr and Mrs Dursley were already in a home.
He wouldn't be surprised - life was ironic like that.
A/N: A Dudley/Harry reunion story! I always had a soft spot for Dudley after Deathly Hallows, what can I say.
I hope you enjoyed it, please tell me what you think in reviews - it only takes a minute!
Edit: Due to a request from a friend, I may be continuing this story - do you all think I should? Let me know in your reviews.