Nineteen Years Later
The air in the Dursley house was split by squeals in the early morning, followed by near-hysterical giggling. The sharp noises had jerked Dudley awake, but the laughter assured him nothing was likely to be on fire, so he lay back on his pillow. The form next to him in bed shifted and muttered.
"Tol'ko pyat' minut," said Oksana Dursley. "Ona mozhet zhdat' yeshe pyat' minut, poka ya prosupayus."
"Davai, dorogaya," said Dudley, nudging his wife awake. "Ona kazhetsya deyatel'naya."
It had taken a while, but his years of study had paid off; Russian and English blended seamlessly together over the family's breakfast table. Two languages seemed to be his limit, however, as Irfan was always quick to point out.
There was a quick knock on the bedroom door, the click of wood on wood. The male voice called through the door, managing to sound both bored and amused.
"You two better get out here. Chrissy is practically running laps around the kitchen, and she'll come bursting in there next. Also, do you know where the sandpaper is? I got a scratch I want to smooth out."
Dudley stifled a yawn before answering his son.
"Top drawer by the counter. Tell her we'll be right out."
Irfan went off in search of the paper, leaving Dudley to get dressed. Oksana curled back into the warm covers, smiling.
"You think it's actually the letter?"
"It's got to be. We've all known it was coming for years, and she would have been fine if James hadn't gotten her all worked up about it."
"You're probably right. So how soon before she and Al are planning a party to celebrate?"
"What're the chances she's on the phone right now?"
They both smiled, picturing the usual scene at the Potter's house: Chrissy and Al trading back and forth anxieties about the future, Lily playing with her dolls, James and Irfan trying to look too cool and mature to play with the kids. But the thought of family visits did bring up another thought.
"I'm going to miss dinner on Saturday. Is that alright?"
Oksana cocked an eyebrow as she finally worked her way out of bed. Both of their work schedules were so hectic, that missed dinners were never that large of an issue.
"Is everything alright?"
"Yes, but I got a letter from Aunt Marge the other day. She's not doing too well, and I think she could use the company."
She put on a tight smile, but he could see the clenched muscles in her jaw.
"Tell her I say 'zdravstvuite'."
They had stopped discussing Marge years ago, both having made their points, but the memories still stung. Oksana had put up with the old woman's comments about foreigners for quite some time, even when they popped up in less than inappropriate places (like their wedding reception), but the first Christmas after they adopted Irfan had been too much for either of them to stand. Marge had gotten Chrissy a large set of dolls, complete with outfits and accessories, honestly too much for the little three year old. She had turned to the eight year old and handed him a rubber ball; it looked like a dog toy.
Dudley and Oksana had agreed that the children were never going back to the house in the country, and he told Marge as much. She had seemed legitimately confused; Chrissy was their actual daughter, Irfan was just the boy staying with them, what did the gifts matter? Dudley had tried to explain, to make it clear that they were both his children, but he never got through. He still visited her occasionally, alone; her health was not doing well, between her age and her lifestyle. But she seemed happy, with all of her dogs and puppies. If that was what got her through the day, more luck to her. But he would not let her poison his family. They were too important to toy with.
As if cued by his thoughts, the pink-faced little girl burst through the door and practically flew onto their bed. An envelope was clutched in each hand and waved enthusiastically through the air.
"Mama! Dad! They both came! On the same day! I've never seen an owl that big; I think they had just the one fly all the way from Russia! Could I maybe get an owl? I'd use it to write you guys all the time, I promise!"
Dudley plucked the yellow parchment letter out of her hands and looked it over. It looked just like the ones that had flown down the chimney at Privet Drive, before he had even known about magic; it was decorated with the Hogwarts seal and addressed to "Miss Chrysanthemum H. Dursley". Oksana looked over the other envelope, reading the Cyrillic letters printed onto the silvery paper.
"So," she asked her daughter. "Do you know which one it's going to be?"
Chrissy's face shifted into a look of concentration in a second flat.
"I don't know. I want to go to school with Al and James and everyone. But Lucy keeps telling me about Evdokimov, and it sounds so cool, and I'd get to actually go to school with all my pen pals, and maybe go see Dedushka and Dedulya on the weekends. But if I go there, would I still get to see you guys on breaks?"
Dudley ruffled his hands through her blonde hair, laughing.
"We're there all the time anyway. Why would it ever be a problem? Irfan can come during breaks from Stonewall, but that goes for either school. You have time to choose."
"Oh. Okay. Hey, can we invite Molly and Lucy over for dinner? I want to tell them, and ask them all about Evdokimov. I've got to know before dinner with Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny, because James is going to try to get me all mixed up. Please?"
"I think Percy and Lucy are still in Greece, dear. But we can invite over Molly, and I need to talk to her mum about some work stuff." Chrissy nodded and wandered back out to the kitchen, not wanting to get caught in a conversation about Ministry work.
Not that he could blame her. Dudley's work with the Ministry often brought politics into the house: not the most interesting topic for an eleven year old girl. He wasn't officially associated with the Ministry of Magic, but his position in the WRA meant he spent a lot of time in the magical bureaucracy, arguing out matters of territories and passports and prisoner treatment. It was actually through his job that he met Oksana. Audrey had brought him along on a diplomatic trip to speak to the Russian Ministry of Magic about travel regulations for werewolves: having the cousin of a national hero come along made a powerful statement. The Russian side of the discussions just happened to contain a Muggle as well, a woman who had been born a werewolf and spent her entire life in the community. It had taken years to get to know her and get into her good graces, but they had managed to build their own little pack.
When he got finally out to the kitchen, he was glad to see that Irfan had found the sandpaper just fine. He had stripped off the outer, skin-toned, layer of his left arm and was rubbing at the scratched wood underneath, smoothing down the rough edges.
Both he and Oksana had been worried about adopting a boy who had had such a traumatic biting; welcoming a child such as that into an entire family of werewolves could be difficult. But large, sweet eyes had outweighed a missing arm, and besides, Dudley had had a favor to call in. He glanced at the glimmering logo branded into the wood of the false arm: "Nott and Co. Magical Prosthetics".
"Owl came in from Percy earlier," Irfan said. He didn't look up from his arm, but jerked his head towards the counter. "Letter's right there."
Dudley picked up the parchment letter, decorated with an official looking "M.o.M." insignia. Percy's title was stamped in place of a return address: Head of the Being Division. Every now and then he was offered a promotion, usually to the Head of the entire Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, sometimes higher. Percy was happy where he was, of course, and knew he was doing the most good where he was at; he had too many good connections in the werewolf, mermaid and hag communities to move somewhere else, and even the goblins and centaurs were coming along these days. But dreams of grandeur tend to linger, so he compensated by putting his official title on anything he could. Old habits died hard.
The envelope had two sheets of paper: one, an official summary of the interactions with the Greek Ministry of Magic and their discussions concerning lycanthropy: the second, a quick personal letter covering Lucy and his time there. When Percy and Audrey had taken it upon themselves to teach their new daughters Russian, to expand their options for later in life, Lucy had made a wonderful discovery: she didn't have to restrict her motor mouth to one language. She spent her school years absorbing as many different languages as possible and jumped right out of school into a job as a translator. She did not work exclusively with the Ministry, but whenever Percy needed someone who could juggle Mermish, Gobbledegook, Elvish, and Greek in one conversation, he knew who to call.
There was nothing urgent in the letter, nothing that had to be seen to before he headed to work later. He had to organize a meeting later that day, prepare himself for the dinner with Aunt Marge over the weekend, respond to an email from Piers, get tickets for Mill's prize match next month, and plan for the full moon. But for the moment he could sit and drink a cup of coffee.
His wife and daughter conversed in the other room. His son sat next to him. He rested his elbows on the kitchen table and read the newspaper, greeting the new day, surrounded by his family.
Twenty Years of Paw Prints: A Retrospective
By Molinda Weasley
This time next year, every newspaper in the country will be filled with stories looking back on the two decades since the defeat of Voldemort. But for me, this year is the big milestone, the one that I am most moved to write about, and the period of time that I feel the most strongly about. Twenty years ago, I was bitten by a werewolf. My twin sister was as well. We were taken away from our homes, stolen from our families, and forced to live through horrible things for almost a full year. We were five at the time.
We survived. Many did not. But from the day that we were "infected", our lives changed forever. We had entered a whole new category of society, one that was looked down on and discriminated against. Werewolf readers of this article will question the past tense, and they are right to. But for many years I did not dream that I would feel comfortable announcing to the world, in print nonetheless, that I am a lycanthrope. And the Daily Prophet of two decades ago would not have dreamed of hiring a lycanthrope as a writer. So look at how far we have already come. And how far we still have to go.
I have run alongside werewolves in the moonlight, and felt in my bones that they were family, creatures of my own kind. I have also been in bitter fights with werewolves, both in and out of fur, about everything from petty squabbles to our position in the world, in relation to wizards and Muggles alike. I have met good werewolves and bad werewolves, and more werewolves by far that fell between the two, just as I have known good, bad, and in between people of all types, races, and yes, species. We are just like everyone else; we just have a furry little problem.
On my seventeenth birthday, my birth mother showed up. I had not seen her since I was six years old, a little child wondering why her mum did not want to take her back. Insults were traded, tears were shed, and eventually we sat down to talk, mother and daughter. She tried to explain why she had done what she did. She said that she had not been able to deal with the idea of werewolf daughters; that she had preferred to live with the memory of my sister and me as we had been, rather than deal with the realities of what we had become. She had chosen to live in the past, rather than change her present to fit what she needed. She tried to cling to an older version of normality.
I have been blessed to live my life surrounded by driven people, people who do not lie down and take what life hands to them. My mother, my father, my sister, more family members and friends than I can possibly count, all devoted to their respective causes, all trying to make their own lives, the lives of those around them, and the world as a whole a better place. And in a lot of ways, they and many others have succeeded. Werewolf rights in Britain are in a better state than they have been in any living memory; the reformation of the Registry, the Lycanthrope Anti-Discrimination Act, and the election of several lycanthrope politicians to office: all of these are victories. The lycanthrope community has been able to become an actual community, one that stands together and fights for its own rights, in the face of the adversity that still exists in so many places.
All is not well. All will never be well. There is still evil in the world, and perhaps more dangerous, apathy. As long as those two things exist, there will be suffering, and they will always exist. Werewolves, wizards, and people in general must never say that the current state of the world is "good enough", lest we lose what we have fought so hard to gain, due to our own complacency. But while we continue to fight, we can take comfort in what we have accomplished: all of the things that were once beyond imagination but are now part of our daily realities. We can take comfort in the new normal, all the while reaching for the next normal.
(A/N: I just want to take a few moments to hand out some thanks. Thanks to my great betas, Little Miss Artemis and Hot Pink Coffee; this thing would be a typo-laden mess without you. To the mods at Dudley_Redeemed for setting up a great fest that got me writing this beast of a story. To masteroftrouble for the original prompt that piqued my interest and set off this story. And thanks to everyone, on LJ and FF, who has taken the time to read the entirety of this piece. I originally thought it was going to be four pages, maximum, but obviously words just kept coming, and I am glad someone wanted to continue reading them. Thanks everyone!)