Title: For Her Sake
Characters: Dudley and Pansy
Prompt: Dudley/Any, "Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person." – Tennessee Williams for the dudley_redeemed 2012 fest.
Rating: PG-13
Word count: 1,700
Summary: Dudley's never met anyone like Pansy before, and he's certainly never been in the position to help someone like her.
Warning(s):Violence, attempted rape

)O(

Dudley had never thought that he would miss Harry so much. He had known that he would miss him more than his parents would, but summer felt curiously empty without him around. And it was even worse without his friends…

The grotty little neighbourhood that the Dursleys had moved into (for their own safety, people said) was a far cry from Privet Drive. There weren't any blooming shrubs, no large and well-tended lawns, no housewives pushing children in prams, even now, at the height of summer. It had been a relief for Dudley to go away to school – Smeltings had been comfortably familiar – but now he was back for the summer and completely miserable.

He wondered whether Harry had been successful in whatever it had been that he had been planning to do when he left home a year ago. He wondered whether Harry was dead. He wondered if he would ever see him again.

He wondered all this while he wandered up and down the narrow alleyways that surrounded his family's flat. His parents had warned him against walking around on his own, but Dudley didn't see any reason to stay at home. He was careful, he kept his eyes open, and if any trouble ever arose, he knew that he could win in a fight. Years of boxing had ensured that.

But there hadn't been trouble yet.

Rather, there hadn't been trouble until Dudley heard a great clanging of metal on pavement and heard a girl scream. He froze in place and listened, raising his fists automatically. There were sounds of scuffling in an adjoining alleyway and he edged towards the noise.

"Get the fuck away!" a girl shouted and Dudley rounded the corner.

A girl, perhaps Dudley's age or a little younger, with short, dark hair and wearing what looked like a school uniform was pinned against the wall. She seemed to have kicked over a rubbish bin, which accounted for the noise, and she was being held up off the ground by a large, beefy man.

Dudley sprang into action immediately. He dove forward and grabbed the back of the man's shirt, then pulled him back and delivered a swift, hard blow to his jaw. Out of the corner of his eye, Dudley saw the girl pulling away and landing on the ground in a crouch. She stuck her hand into the pocket of her skirt, but Dudley was more concerned with laying punch after punch – one, two, one, two, one, two, just the way he had learned – on the man's face until she shouted, "Get back and cover your eyes!"

Dudley leapt back immediately and threw one arm up to shield his face, assuming that she had pepper spray. There was a bang, then a heavy thud, then her hand closed around his wrist and Dudley found himself being dragged up the fire escape.

He glanced back and saw the man sprawled, unmoving, on the pavement.

Dudley stared at him in horror for a minute, but the girl yanked on his shirt.

"Come on!" she said. "He'll wake up in a minute and you don't want to be around when he does, do you?"

"I…" Dudley stammered, but she seemed uninterested in his answer. She was darting – half running and half climbing, like a spider – up the fire escape steps and he saw no proper option but to follow her.

The steps were narrow and difficult to navigate, and when they reached the top, the girl didn't stop to climb through a window as he had been expecting her to do, but kept right on running until she reached the edge of the platform at the top, then grabbed onto the edge of the building's flat roof and vaulted up so easily that Dudley thought she might have flown.

"Are you coming?" she demanded, rolling over onto her stomach and looking down at him.

That was, he thought, rather rude of her. The fire escape was already creaking beneath his weight and he doubted that it would survive if he tried to take a running jump off of it. Besides, the roof was level with his neck and definitely not a height that he would be able to vault onto easily, not even under the best of circumstances.

"Oh for the love of- come on!" She leaned over the edge of the roof and grabbed his arm. "Close your eyes."

He hesitated, but shut his eyes tightly. His stomach lurched, he had the distinct sensation of the fire escape disappearing beneath his feet, and the next thing he knew, he was lying face down on the roof. He opened his eyes just in time to see the girl stowing something into her skirt pocket.

"Are you all right?" she asked, her voice calm and business-like. She didn't even sound out of breath.

"I'm… are you all right?" He hoped that he didn't look as confused or flustered as he felt.

"I'm fine," she said, rather shortly. She leaned over and peered over the edge of the roof, squinting down into the alley. "You seem a bit shaky."

"I wasn't shaky until you pulled me onto the roof," Dudley looked at her warily. Maybe she was a strongwoman, that was the only explanation – but if that was the case, why had she not just been able to send the man flying?

"Oh, that." She hesitated for a moment, then said, "I haven't seen you around here before. Did you just move in?"

Dudley frowned. H didn't care for the fact that she was so obviously avoiding his question, but he forced himself not to complain. "A year ago. I was away at school." He remembered the manners his mother had taught him and extended his hand for her to shake. "I'm Dudley."

"Pansy," she said, gripping his hand firmly. "I'm Pansy."

"Pleased to meet you, Pansy."

There was a brief and intensely awkward silence, then a bird swooped low overhead with a loud caw, both Dudley and Pansy threw their arms up to protect themselves, the corner of Pansy's shirt lifted slightly, and Dudley saw a stick poking out of the pocket of her skirt.

A very familiar sort of stick.

"What's that?" he asked, pointing at it, and Pansy's cheeks went bright red.

"This? Nothing. It's just a stick." She pulled her shirt down to conceal it.

"Is that a wand?" he demanded, and Pansy bristled.

"I don't know what you're talking about!"

"You're like my cousin, aren't you?" he asked. His eyes widening. Maybe this girl, Pansy, actually knew Harry, and maybe she could tell him what had happened. "You're a wizard! Or – a witch?"

Pansy stared at him, her eyes narrowing slowly. "Your cousin?"

"My cousin. My cousin Harry. Harry Potter."

Pansy looked shocked. She stared at Dudley, her mouth opening slowly, and then she said, "You… your cousin is Harry Potter?"

"Yes," Dudley said nervously. He wondered whether Pansy might be one of the people who hated Harry and wondered whether he would be able to push her off the roof if she attacked. Or would she be able to fly?

"Well… Hell." A small smile curved her lips and she looked impressed. "You're practically famous, then."

"Famous?"

"Harry's a bit famous," she told him. "Really famous, actually. He's a bit of an idiot, but definitely famous…"

"You know him? Is he all right?"

"Yes and yes. He's gone and saved the world again and I'm sure he's off being showered in praise somewhere, like always. I went to school with him… don't like him much, though," she added. "Like I said, he's a bit of an idiot, and the people he spent time with…" She shook her head, looking mildly disgusted. "You seem better."

Dudley had to suppress a grin. That was the nicest thing anyone had said to him in a long time.

"Besides," she added. "You saved me."

"You're a witch, though," he said. "You could have saved yourself…"

She shrugged. "Not without my wand. I would have been able to get him, but maybe not until he'd already done some damage…"

Dudley shuddered.

"It's all right," she told him, and he thought it was incredibly strange that she telling him that. "He didn't do any damage. You came along and gave him the old one-two, yeah?" She mimed punching someone once with each fist and looked at him questioningly.

"Yeah," he said. "It wasn't any trouble, though…"

"Don't be stupid, of course it was trouble. You're allowed to be proud that you helped someone, you know – you don't have to be all modest."

"But I knew I could beat him, so–"

"Look." Pansy shifted so that she was looking him straight in the eye. "If you hadn't known that you could beat him, getting into a fight would have been stupid, and I'm not particularly fond of people being stupid. And even if you knew you'd win, that doesn't mean that you weren't still putting yourself in a bit of danger. But, you know, if you don't want to admit that you did something for another person, I'd understand."

"It's not that…"

"Good." She glanced over the edge of the roof again, then stood up. "I'm going home. Thanks for your help… I hope I'll see you around." Then, with one last grin over her shoulder, she set off, striding along the roof's edge as easily and without fear as if she was walking along a sidewalk.

"Yeah…" Dudley said quietly.

The problem was, he supposed, simply that he wasn't used to doing things for other people. Charity wasn't something that his parents had encouraged, though even his father would have been hard-pressed to call saving a girl in danger "charity".

Maybe that was the problem, though.

Maybe Dudley wouldn't be quite so miserable if he made a point of doing things to help, and admitting to doing them instead of brushing them off…

Maybe it would alleviate his guilt over how he had treated Harry – and how he had let his parents treat him – just a little bit if he practiced putting himself aside for the sake of other people.

He could start with Pansy.

)O(

Fin