It has been an inexcusable amount of time since I last updated this. Like, literally two years. I'm extremely ashamed of myself. If any of you reading were my original readers, I just want you to know that I definitely did NOT ever forget about this story – I've had all but the very last 350 words of this chapter written for two years! I just wasn't sure how to wrap this up, but I finally pulled it up today and decided I needed to just write an end to this chapter – because I really do want to finish the story! I've known where it's headed from the beginning! And yes, I still have every intention of finishing this. I'm so sorry I've made you all wait such a ridiculously long time for this, and I hope you can look past that and continue enjoying this story.
Since it's been so long, a reminder of what's happened so far: Dudley's a security guard, living with his girlfriend Penny. It's been seven years since Dudley last spoke to Harry, and in that seven years he's had a lot of time to think about the way he and his parents treated him. Away from the influence of his parents, he's trying to become a decent and self sufficient human being. Out of the blue, Dudley receives an invitation to Harry's wedding, delivered by an owl and all. He explains about Harry and the wizarding world to Penny, who tells him she will go to the wedding with him. In the last chapter, Dudley learned that his parents had also been invited to the wedding, but that Vernon, predictably, refused to go. On the phone, for the first time Dudley could remember, his mother spoke about her sister with sadness, and shamefully admitted how upset she would've been if she could've seen how they treated Harry.
(And that's what you missed on GLEE)
A week later, Dudley sat on the couch in his very plain suit, looking much calmer than he felt as he waited for the man who was to come fetch them. Penny was still getting ready, having finally decided on a dress; he wasn't sure what criteria she was using to determine what to wear to the wedding of her boyfriend's estranged cousin who also happened to be a wizard, but she'd apparently found something she deemed appropriate. He sighed as he glanced at the clock on the DVD player. They had a few more minutes, assuming that whoever was coming would be exactly on time. He remembered once before, when they'd been waiting for the wizards who were to pick up Harry for the summer and they had been half an hour late. Of course, he supposed that was because they'd been trying to pop up in a fireplace that was boarded up. He had a brief moment of worry as he glanced around and realised that there wasn't a fireplace in the small flat, but he was sure they would have accounted for that.
At two o'clock on the dot, there was a loud crack that made him jump and warranted a little scream from the bedroom where Penny was still fussing with her hair, and then there was a tall, thin man with perfectly combed red hair and horn-rimmed glasses standing in his living room. He had the air of a very important, very well-groomed man, which paired oddly with the robes he had on—though Dudley supposed they were probably very nice, very clean robes. Looking at the man closer, he realised that he was only a few years older than himself. It was the inexpressible air of authority about him that made him seem older—that and the way his hair was styled so neatly.
"What did you break, Dudley?" called Penny.
"Our ride to the wedding is here," he called back. He turned to the man.
"Percy Weasley," the man said briskly, holding out his hand. Dudley took it and Percy Weasley shook, grasping it firmly. "You must be Dudley Dursley."
Penny came bursting into the room then, her eyes wide as she stared at the man who had appeared out of thin air. Dudley went to her and pulled her over to Percy, who shook her hand too.
"Penny Martin," she said. "You're the bride's brother?"
"One of many," he replied, pulling out a very odd looking watch that seemed to have far too many hands. "Now, we're on a very tight schedule, lots to do. Only the guests who spent the night are there yet, but Mum figured since you're Harry's cousin, you should be part of the preparations. We should go."
Dudley nodded and bent down and picked up the box on the coffee table, which Penny had elaborately wrapped in sparkly white paper and tied with gold ribbon.
"Alright," said Percy Weasley. "You'll want to hold my hands very tightly." He took Penny's hand. Dudley tucked the box under one arm and hesitantly offered his other hand, which Percy took and squeezed. There was a loud crack and they were off.
There was no air, no air at all, and it was as if he was in a tube that was too small for him and he was trying to slide down it but it was too tight and it squeezed around his sides and he gripped Percy's hand very tightly and made sure to keep a good grip around the box. He tried to gasp in a breath and could only hope that Penny was taking care to hold on tightly as well, and he was just thinking that if this went on for another second he was surely going to vomit when they abruptly landed.
Dudley stumbled and caught his balance, fumbling the package and almost dropping it. Percy had grabbed Penny's hand to keep her from tumbling forward, and now she was fixing her hair and straightening her dress. Percy seemed completely unfazed, and, after ascertaining that they were fine, he started marching forward purposefully.
Dudley looked up and gaped. They were in front of the most un-Dursleyish house he had ever laid eyes on. It was extremely shabby, looking as though it had started off as something resembling a large pigpen and then had extra rooms randomly added to it, so that it was sprawling and several stories high but very crooked, and in fact looked as though it should have toppled long ago. There was one chicken wandering around the grass.
The front door flew open and a short, round woman with wild red hair flecked with grey came storming out, brandishing a thin stick of wood.
"Go on, go on!" she called, and after a moment, it became obvious that she was trying to herd the chicken into a coop off the side of the house that he hadn't noticed previously. "Get!" She pointed her wand at it and a stream of purple sparks shot out and chased the chicken into the coop. Dudley stumbled backward, his unconscious reaction to magic too ingrained in him after so many bad experiences.
Penny, however, had taken a few steps forward, her mouth a little open as she saw, for the first time, proof that the craziness he'd done his best to explain to her was actually true. "Wow," she whispered. She strode up to the woman fearlessly, and it was only his slightly wounded pride that motivated Dudley to do the same. He was a security guard, after all, and she was what? A school teacher.
"Hello, I'm Penny and this is my boyfriend, Dudley. You must be Mrs. Weasley, the bride's mum?" she was saying, shaking the red-haired woman's hand.
"It's nice to meet you, dear," she said, and Penny seemed barely fazed as Mrs. Weasley pulled her into a hug. "And you," she said, turning to Dudley. "It's wonderful to meet you! We've all heard so much about you from Harry!" Dudley cringed to think what kinds of things she might have heard about him from Harry, but whatever he'd said to her, she reached up and wrapped her arms around him like she'd been doing it his whole life.
"Harry's up in Ron's room—that's the top floor, right under the attic—but I think Ron and Neville might be in there now, best give them some time... I'd ask you to help, but seeing as you don't have wands that just seems—"
"We don't mind, we'd love to help," interrupted Penny.
"No, no, that's just silly. You know what? Arthur would love to meet you, I'm sure he'd show you around. I would, of course, but I'm really very busy, there's so much left to do, we still don't have all the chairs set up, and where are the caterers? They should have been here by now. And I still haven't gotten dressed..."
"Really, if you need an extra set of hands—" Penny started again.
"No, no," Mrs. Weasley said again. "Teddy!" she called suddenly, and a small, blue-haired boy who'd been playing innocuously behind the chicken coop came galloping toward them. "What are you doing? You've gotten your dress robes all dirty!" As they watched, his hair colour deepened into a dark blue, and then a very dark green, and then black. "This is Harry's cousin Dudley and his girlfriend Penny. Can you take them to Arthur?"
"I don't know where he is," the now-black haired boy said. He was maybe six, no older than seven.
"Well go find him, I really need to go get dressed...and I should make sure Ginny hasn't wandered into Harry's room... I swear, that girl has no respect for traditions." She turned to Dudley then. "Here, let me get that for you." Dudley started to protest—he may not have been the most chivalrous of men, but it seemed wrong for the little old lady to carry the box for him—but with a flick of her wand, the box floated away from him and into the house through the open door. He was left staring open-mouthed when she turned to the boy. "Go on," she said. The little boy nodded and started marching off around the side of the house. He seemed to just assume Dudley and Penny would follow, which they did.
"Arthur's probably back here," he said. He picked up a stick as they walked and began waving it about as a sort of wand. "So you guys are muggles?" he asked curiously, turning around and walking backward, still waving the stick around.
"Yeah, we are, " Dudley replied. He was dying to ask how the child knew Harry, but didn't. The boy probably was the bride's nephew, what with her many brothers.
"And you don't have wands?" he raised a dark, thick eyebrow incredulously.
"No, we don't," answered Dudley.
"Huh," Teddy said, and his hair suddenly, for no apparent reason, morphed into orange. "I can't have one until I'm eleven. But once I do I'm going to go to Hogwarts and I'm going to be in Gryffindor and I'm going do lots of spells!" He punctuated this last with a particularly fierce flourish of the stick. "My mum was in Hufflepuff," he continued, "but my dad was in Gryffindor, and so was Harry and Ginny and Neville and Ron and Hermione and George and Bill and Charlie and..." He went on listing people neither of them had ever heard of as they walked.
"Do you have any idea what he's going on about?" Penny whispered into Dudley's ear, and he shook his head.
"None." The boy was cute though, and his hair colour changed several more times as he marched them around the Weasley's property, rambling about houses and rattling off names of people who'd been in each one.
"And Luna was in Ravenclaw," he continued, "and she's nice, but she's kind of weird and also you have to be really smart anyway, and I'm not that smart. Hermione's really smart, though, but I guess she's also brave because she was a Gryffindor, but I never really seen her be brave before but I guess she was since she's friends with Harry and he's like, really brave. Him and Neville both had the sword of GODRIC GRYFFINDOR!" He shouted this last, jabbing the stick in their direction. Penny giggled.
Dudley wasn't really following the child's logic about the mysterious Hermione, nor did he know what sword he was referring to, but he hadn't missed that he seemed to revere Harry.
"How do you know Harry?" Dudley asked. "He's your uncle, isn't he?" he guessed.
"Nope," the kid said. "He's my godfather." He paused, then apparently felt the need to explain. "That means if my parents die he's my dad. Except my parents died when I was a baby and I live with my gran. But if something happens to her, Harry'll take care of me." He was thoughtful for a moment. "And Ginny too, now, I guess."
He was very matter of fact about the whole thing, which was slightly disturbing to Dudley. Harry's parents had also died when he was a baby, but whenever Dudley had teased him about it—his gut twisted at the thought—he'd seemed very sensitive about it. Teddy seemed not to care at all. But then, he supposed this boy was treated very well by his grandmother, whereas Dudley and his parents had certainly been a less-than-stellar family for Harry. Harry had missed out on more than this boy had because of his parents' deaths. Surely when the kid was actually thinking about the parents he'd lost, he was a lot more sad.
Dudley was dying to know what had happened to them, but that was definitely not an appropriate thing to ask a seven-year-old.
"Teddy?" someone called. "Who are these?" A tall, thin man with horn-rimmed glasses like Percy's and balding red hair approached. Of course, he wasn't entirely unfamiliar; this was the man who'd blown up the living room at number 4 Privet Drive.
"Dudley and Penny," Teddy announced proudly. "They're muggles, and Molly said to bring them to you."
"You must be Mr. Weasley," said Penny, extending a hand. He shook it.
"Call me Arthur," he said. "I don't believe we've met."
"This is my girlfriend, Penny," said Dudley, stepping forward. Arthur grinned.
"Ah, Dudley! How could I forget you?" He clapped Dudley on the back, which somehow felt much more familiar than Mrs. Weasley hugging him. Penny looked at Dudley curiously, but didn't say anything. Arthur turned to Teddy. "Go get yourself cleaned up before Molly sees you." Teddy grinned.
"She already saw me," he said, utterly unconcerned as his hair flashed violet.
"Then go wash up before she sees you again and makes you carry the rings naked." At this, Teddy gave a great shriek and scampered away, dropping the stick as he ran.
"He seems like quite the handful," Penny said, smiling. Mr. Weasley nodded.
"He certainly is. Very enthusiastic."
As it turned out, Mr. Weasley was much more interested in asking them about random, everyday objects than showing them around the property as Mrs. Weasley had said he would.
"So you own a felly-tone, then?" he asked earnestly, seated across from them at the dining room table as redheads bustled around them, chairs and tables floating alongside them as they set up outside.
"I'm sorry, a what?" Penny asked, looking to Dudley for an explanation. He had none.
Arthur Weasley grilled them on all sorts of "extraordinary muggle technologies" as the rest of the family continued setting things up.
Dudley listened with mild amusement, but was much more interested in watching the chairs that were flying around over their heads, the lawn that was crawling with red heads, and wondering nervously when Harry would appear and what he would say to him when he did.
"Magnificent, absolutely magnificent," Arthur was saying, in awe, as Penny attempted to explain to him what the internet was. "The things you muggles come up with. Ingenious, I tell you."
And suddenly, there he was. Looking happier and more at home than Dudley had ever seen him, but unmistakably Harry. He wore robes, of course, and his hair was terribly untidy, even on his wedding day. And that scar, that funny-looking scar in the center of his forehead that had been there as long as Dudley'd known him, and been the subject of much teasing.
He was engaged in a conversation with one of the few non-redheads on the whole property, and he hadn't seen Dudley yet. Dudley was struck with a sudden, unanticipated nervousness at talking to his cousin for the first time in seven years.
Harry hadn't noticed him yet, as he was standing there on the stairs talking with the girl who was definitely not the bride, as her hair was far from the vibrant red that marked the Weasleys – all Dudley could see of her was her shiny brown hair, as she was facing away from him.
Penny, who, for all her socialising with the easily amused Mr. Weasley, had left a gentle hand resting on Dudley's thigh under the table (for her reassurance or his he didn't know), had felt him stiffen and glanced his way. He felt her eyes on him, and a moment later Mr. Weasley's eyes as well, but he couldn't quite bring himself to look away from Harry. Penny followed his gaze, and her eyes found the skinny groom at the top of the stairs, lightning scar just barely visible under a mop of untidy black hair.
A moment later, Mr. Weasley looked up as well, and, seeing Harry, waved to get his attention.
"Harry," he called, and Harry glanced down the stairs at the little group sitting at the table. The girl he'd been talking to turned around as well – and for all Dudley had no idea who she was, he could tell she knew him by the way her eyes lingered over his face and she nudged Harry with her upper arm, a subtle, barely noticeable bump.
He could see the moment that Harry noticed him, too. He had first looked at Mr. Weasley, then to Penny – he could see the wheels turning, and he recognized the look of trying to decide whether or not he knew her – and finally his eyes rested on Dudley. Dudley couldn't decipher anything in his face other than recognition, and his heart began to pound with unfamiliar nervousness as he waited for some reaction, any reaction.
"Your cousin's arrived," Mr. Weasley announced unnecessarily. Dudley felt Penny's fingers rubbing the top of his thigh, but he knew her eyes would be on Harry too.
Finally, Harry's face cracked into a grin.
"Heya, Big D."