Part One of this two-shot: This is mostly Dudley and Hestia, waiting to find out what will happen after the final battle. I don't know if Dedalus was actually there, but I decided he would have left to go to the battle as soon as he found out. I don't own anything.
Tap, tap, tap.
Hestia Jones was drumming her fingers on the table – something she did whenever she was worried or upset – and it was driving Dudley crazy.
Much to his parents' chagrin, Dudley liked Hestia – she was, he thought, exactly the kind of person you'd want to be with if you really did have to go into hiding for an indefinite period of time. Chronically cheerful, but with a witty, sarcastic sense of humor and a fondness for bad jokes which had been the icebreaker between her and Dudley. Even his parents couldn't help liking her, and that, Dudley reflected wryly, was a real sign of charisma.
And Dedalus. Well, you couldn't help but like Dedalus, unless you were Vernon or Petunia Dursley. The excitable little man had gotten on Dudley's parents' bad side on day one, when he insisted on fiddling with all the "little dials and knobs" inside Vernon's company car while Vernon was attempting to drive, and accidentally getting the windshield wipers stuck on "on" for the rest of the drive. But Dudley liked him, too. He refused to be intimidated, even by Vernon and Petunia, and though he could be irritating at times he could also be very helpful. And he was Hestia's best audience, too, for her jokes.
All in all, Dudley realized, the two of them were the perfect people to balance out his parents' general unpleasantness towards life in general. And Dudley was attempting to reform himself from that unpleasantness as well – but if Hestia didn't stop tapping her fingers he might just have to strangle her. It had been hours she'd been sitting there, staring at the old-fashioned wireless radio in the middle of the table, waiting for it to blare on.
She'd introduced them to the program Potterwatch over the year, and she and Dedalus listened to it obsessively, whenever it was on. Vernon and Petunia had huffed out of the room the first time they'd turned it on, but Dudley stayed. He liked listening. He had decided that the Wizarding world was actually pretty interesting – and he wanted to find out more about his cousin's whereabouts. It had even gotten to the point where he started being afraid for the witches and wizards he had never met, and his heart jumped into his throat every time he heard Harry's name.
He'd resolved to apologize to Harry for the hell he'd put him through as soon as he got out of hiding, but Hestia pointed out that he could only do that if Harry was still alive. This thought still haunted Dudley. At least he'd begun to make amends, he tried to console himself, but it didn't work very well.
A few hours ago, they'd gotten an emergency broadcast on the radio, saying that all members of the Order of the Phoenix were to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as soon as possible, where apparently Voldemort was preparing to attack. Hestia and Dedalus had both wanted to go, but then they had realized that one of them should stay behind with the Dursleys. So Dedalus had Disapparated – it was still an odd sight to watch him simply disappear into thin air, even though Dudley had already done it with him twice – to go to Hogwarts, leaving Hestia here, sitting where she had been for the last several hours, staring at the radio and drumming her fingers on the table.
"Hestia" – began Dudley.
The chair landed on the floor with a clatter, and she was standing in front of him with her wand jammed into his throat and a wild look in her eyes before he had even seen her move. When she noticed it was him, she relaxed and withdrew her wand.
"Sorry Dudley," she said, a bit embarrassedly. "It's just . . . I didn't know you were still up, and I thought maybe Death Eaters" –
Before Dudley could reassure her that he understood, there was a thumping, and his parents came rushing down the stairs, apparently having heard the chair crash to the floor. When they saw Hestia and Dudley standing nose to nose in the dining room, one of Hestia's hands still on her wand, and a chair on the floor, Vernon bellowed, "What the hell?" at the same time Petunia shrieked, "What are you doing to my Dudders?"
Hestia smirked, the way she did whenever Petunia called Dudley one of her ridiculous names, and Dudley was inclined to agree with her. "Really, Mum," he sighed. "Nothing happened. I just startled her, that's all."
"Well, keep it down," grumbled Vernon. "We're trying to sleep," and they turned around and retreated back up the stairs.
Hestia rolled her eyes after them, muttering something like, "How they can sleep when the fate of the world . . ." but Dudley cut her off.
"They don't get it, Hestia," he said. "I try to get it, but even I don't see the picture the way you do. We've grown up with Harry as the waste of space, remember?" He cringed as he said those words, remembering how she had looked at them on that farewell scene. Anger, shock, and even disgust. Looking back, he even had to agree with her.
She sighed deeply, and righted the chair. "I'm sorry, Dudley," she said, looking as though she was trying to smile but couldn't quite manage it. "I'm just so jumpy . . . I mean, this battle could very well be it. And if they get Harry . . ." Her voice faltered and died.
Suddenly he got it. How important this battle was. If they lost it, he would never be able to come out of hiding. He would never see his cousin again. He would never be able to see any of this new world about which he had become so curious. Suddenly, he couldn't blame Hestia for tapping her fingers.
He pulled out another chair and joined her vigil, staring at the radio.
They were up all night, staring out the window at the night sky. Their safe house was a lonely place, no one else nearby, to make it harder for the Death Eaters to find them, and so far it had worked. But no streetlights and no signs meant that nights were very, very dark, nothing to see but the stars and faint shadows outside.
They sat there, saying nothing, until the sky grew gray, then pink, and then there was a sunrise, a brilliant flash of gold, and at the same time a loud CRACK appeared outside their house.
Hestia drew her wand and pressed her eye to the keyhole – and then groaned in relief. Dudley peeked out as well – a tired-looking Dedalus, covered in (Dudley's heart gave a jump) blood, was striding up their driveway.
Hestia called outside, "When did you first meet Harry Potter?"
"When he was only a child," he replied, "and I saw him in a Muggle shop. But there's no need for the questions anymore, Hestia! We've won! We've won!"
Hestia's breath caught – she gasped, then shrieked, a wordless cry filled with joy, wrenching open the door. "Won?" she said breathlessly, "won?"
"Yes!" Dedalus cried, throwing his hat into the air, "heavy losses, but we won, Harry did it, he's finished, he's finished at last!"
Relief filled Dudley, a relief so profound he hadn't known he was capable of it in the first place, and he dashed outside and jumped up and down. Hestia caught Dedalus in a fierce hug, and then Dudley, and then all three were hugging and jumping and screaming, and tears were streaming down Hestia's face, and then Dudley's parents were storming down the stairs again.
Vernon's face was his signature purple, he opened his mouth to say something, but Dedalus cut him off by running and embracing him, too. "This is the second time I've done this," he cried, "but this time it is real hope, not false – he is gone, he is gone at last, your nephew finished him, and now you can come out of hiding – oh, you should be so proud!"
A look of disgust on his face, Vernon waited for the man to release him, and as soon as Dedalus did, muttered, "Freaks," under his breath, and then realized something. "You mean – you mean we can go back?" he stammered. Dudley had never heard his father stammer like that, only spluttering in rage. He was rather impressed with Dedalus. And Harry, for being the main cause.
"Yes!" cried Dedalus, throwing his arms in the air, "yes, a thousand times yes!" And he hugged Hestia again, who was still sobbing.
"Finished," she kept murmuring, "really finished . . ."
"Can we see Harry?" asked Dudley.
His parents stared at him, shocked. He had never really mentioned his desire to change to them, nor his newfound respect for the cousin he had once tormented. The cousin who had saved his life, even after Dudley had brought up (what he had learned from Hestia and Dedalus) what was possibly the worst experience of Harry's life at that point. He had no hatred for Harry. He had no scorn for Harry. He had respect, and a desire to see him, and a hope that Harry would let him change.
"Certainly," said Hestia, the first one to talk. "Expecto Patronum!"
That spell always made Dudley shudder – it reminded him of the worst experience of his life. A silvery cheetah soared from Hestia's wandtip, and Hestia spoke to it quietly for a moment. It nodded, and then disappeared.
Moments later, a silver stag appeared in the yard – Vernon and Petunia were still staring in shock, and hadn't spoken a single word yet – and spoke in Harry's voice.
"On my way."