a/n: this is something i've been working on for a while and while it can be taken as a stand alone it is intended to be a series of one-shots companion pieces for my much longer Phoenix series, all of them revolving around a dinner with the Dursley's and all from Dudley's POV. Please let me know what you think.

It was just another of those lazy summer days. His mother was sitting on the bench in the backyard, drinking homemade lemonade and enjoying a bit of sun while she gossiped away with a friend. His dad was at work doing whatever it was that he did that filled his days—probably yelling. Dudley could clearly picture the vein popping, face purpling as yet another employee managed to do their job properly against all of his dad's expectations.

Dudley was sitting in the kitchen gazing in fond remembrance at the fridge, thinking back on the days when there'd been something worth eating in there. He'd had to settle for some sort of chicken salad thing his mum had whipped up in about two seconds flat. The blow had been softened slightly by the fact that she'd also commented that they'd need to go shopping again soon because his clothes were getting a bit big.

He'd kill for a bloody hamburger dripping in fat and bacon. Cheese. Maybe an extra patty. The piece of lettuce he'd speared onto his fork seemed to wilt slightly under his gaze but that might have been his imagination.

Maybe just a piece of chocolate?

He forced himself to finish off the salad and was just putting the empty bowl into the dishwasher when his mum shrieked his name. The bowl slipped from his fingers, slotting nicely into the dishwasher rather than falling to the floor—thank god, he really didn't want to be cleaning that up. He was out the backdoor in moments and doubled over laughing not a minute later.

His mother's friend had pulled herself as far back onto the bench as she could in an attempt to get away from the large white owl that was perched on the small table they'd set the lemonade up on. His mum seemed to have gotten over the fright at having a big bird swoop down unexpectedly and was reaching what could almost be called an exasperated hand out toward the owl when Dudley recovered himself.

Large amber eyes moved watchfully between his mothers reaching hand and his approaching form.

'Leg,' his mum ordered, a little sharper than she would have had her friend not been sitting right next to her. The owl just stared back at her. 'Hedwig, give me the letter and I'll give you an owl treat.'

Wondering where on earth his mother had been hiding owl treats in the house, Dudley crouched next to Hedwig and offered his arm. Once his mum had removed the roll of parchment attached to her leg she flapped her wings and hopped onto Dudley's outstretched arm. He winced slightly, a reaction to the sharp claws resting gently against his flesh. He'd seen what those claws could do to a mouse.

By the time he'd settled Hedwig in his room with a bowl of water and the promised owl treats he'd rummaged out of the wardrobe in Harry's room—would Harry mind if he moved in there?—his mother had shooed her friend away and was sitting at the kitchen table reading the letter from Harry. Well she was staring at it at least. The look on her face suggested whatever Harry's letter contained it was certainly not what she was expecting.

He reached forward and took the letter from her unresisting hand and sat down opposite to read it.

Dear Petunia,

I'm sorry I haven't written in a while but I've been a bit busy. Dumbledore caught on to what we were doing and that made things even more difficult than they needed to be. I'm safe, mostly unharmed, and still fighting hard against Voldemort. We've done everything we can to make sure he doesn't come after you but I've had some people I trust from MLE put some extra wards around the house. Just don't tell Vernon.

I reckon it's about time we actually saw each other in person rather than just talking through letters and there's someone I think you should meet. How about dinner at Conrad's at 7pm on the 19th? My treat. I doubt you'll get him along but I'll make the booking for five in case you can convince Vernon the free food will be worth it.

See you soon,


Dudley wasn't sure they could convince his dad to go along but it was worth a try. He also didn't see what was so startling about the letter that had his mum looking like she'd seen a ghost.

'Alright, mum? Harry's safe and he's taking us to dinner. This is good news. Isn't it?'

'He wants to take us to dinner,' her voice was a bit hollow and Dudley was starting to feel a bit of concern.

'That's what he says.'

She turned slightly so her eyes were locked with his. Dudley about fell out of his chair when he saw that there were tears in her eyes. 'We treated him like dirt; like we didn't care for an instant if he lived or died. We forced him to sleep in a cupboard!'

Dudley flinched, both at the volume of her words and at the reminder that he had been a humongous bully, a complete bastard to a kid who had never been shown any sort of kindness. The fact that he'd been a kid himself didn't make it any better. They'd treated Harry in the worst possible way, refused him the attention and care, the love, he'd deserved as a kid whose only wrong doing in life was to have the misfortune to lose his parents at such a young age.

Dudley had begun to come to terms with this over the past year, even going so far as to talk to someone about it. He'd never tell his dad that though. He'd started making the appropriate changes the moment he'd realised just how bad things were. He'd started taking his diet seriously, put more effort into his school work, and trained harder than ever to be the best boxer he could be.

Because he knew that Harry would save them, they'd ridiculed and emotionally abused him, but he would help them in an instant if he thought they were in trouble. Clearly, despite all of the changes she'd begun to make herself, it hadn't actually hit his mother until just then. Harry's act of kindness, his desire to meet them for dinner, to maintain a connection to the only surviving part of his family, had been a slap to the face.

Confirming his thoughts his mother went on to say, 'Why would he want to have anything to do with us?'

Keeping to himself the fact that it was highly unlikely Harry wanted to have anything to do with his dad; Dudley tried to reassure his mum. 'We're his only family mum and we're doing better, we've been pretty good about it lately. We can't ever make up for what we did to him but we're trying. We're reaching out just as much as he is.'

And since he'd just used up all of the philosophical thought he'd set aside for the next month, he left his mum to it and went to blow up some aliens on his computer. For therapeutic reasons.

When the 19th rolled around Dudley was the only one not nervous about dinner. To be honest the only thing he was really thinking about was the fact that for the first time in about four months he'd be able to eat something that wasn't originally intended for rabbits.

He'd leave the being nervous up to his mum who had changed her dress about twelve times and the grumbling to his dad who had flat out refused to go until his mum pointed out that she had no intention of cooking him anything. That had gotten him dressed pretty quickly and Dudley had rolled his eyes behind his back as he stomped unhappily—and wheezily—up the stairs.

Dudley couldn't say he missed that uncomfortableness.

Losing patience, Dudley was about to suggest they just leave his dad behind when he finally managed to drag himself downstairs and out to the car where he had the audacity to pound the horn like they were the reason they'd be late to dinner.

Through some sort of conspiracy, they were actually able to get to the restaurant early. Dudley felt it may have had something to do with driving like a madman and running a few stop signs but he hadn't wanted to incur his dad's wrath by pointing this out. He felt his mother's tight lipped and sour expression said it all, anyway.

The waitress lead them to a table in the back and after offering them some menus skittered away to take another table's orders. Despite the fact that it was a restaurant they'd been to half a dozen times before—strictly special occasions—Vernon still found the need to critique Harry's choice of restaurant. Dudley tuned him out and concentrated of narrowing down the choices on the menu.

With an efficiency his mother clearly approved of, their waitress was back in a moment asking if she could get them anything to drink while they waited for the rest of their party. Minutes later Dudley was sucking Coke though a straw with a barely concealed moan of pleasure. Sweet sugar!

And promptly choked when Harry sat down with a baby cradled to one shoulder.

Coke went everywhere, missing his mother completely and lightly spraying his father and the table. Too stunned to even begin to clean it up, Dudley just stared at Harry through watery eyes as he coughed in a hopeless attempt to clear his lungs. Across the table his mother had her hand pressed to her chest and she was breathing rapidly.

It was possible his dad was experiencing a stroke.

Harry grinned and signalled for something to clean up the table. As he did so Dudley turned to great the other person that had sat down when Harry arrived. Ally looked a lot different to the last time he'd seen her, admittedly the last time he'd seen her she'd been heavily pregnant and covered in what she had assured him wasn't blood but he'd had a tough time believing her.

Her hair was a bit longer and she was wearing a simple summer dress that Dudley was sure was only reaching passed her knees in order to cover her wand. She smiled at him and greeted his mum pleasantly. She ignored his dad. Harry looked much the same as he had the time he'd unexpectedly dropped by school. Except he was holding a baby.

A baby.

It occurred to him only then that a pregnant Ally might actually have meant there would be a baby in the future. He did some quick math in his head while still scrambling for something to say and came up with a discrepancy. Harry had only met Ally last summer and she'd been pretty far along then. He felt pretty certain the baby wasn't Harry's.

Of course then she shifted in Harry's arms and he was awarded a wide green eyed look. Jesus.

'Her name is Molly,' Harry said, noticing his look. 'She's my daughter.'

Honestly, after that bombshell even a really big and fatty burger couldn't have moved his attention away from the small blonde creature.

'There are some things you should know.'

And that was how Dudley ended up spending a night eating really good unhealthy food while holding a small blonde baby that would one day call him uncle.