Dudley Dursley stared at the barrier between platforms 9 and 10, wishing it didn't look quite so... solid.
"Dad, come on," his daughter said, tugging on his hand. "I don't want to be late!"
"I don't know if I can do this, Hannah," he said. "What if the barrier doesn't open for me? I am a muggle, after all."
"Dad!" Hannah exclaimed, rolling her eyes. "I already told you that muggles can get through the barrier as long as they know that Platform 9 3/4 exists. I read about it in the chapter about the Hogwarts Express in Hogwarts: A History."
Dudley was fairly certain that his daughter had done nothing the entire summer except read that damn book over and over and over again. She must have had the whole thing memorized by now. He honestly didn't know where she had gotten her love of books from. He certainly never read. And he was fairly certain that Hannah's mother had never sat still long enough to get through an entire book before. She was so flighty. He had thought that maybe she would change when she had gotten pregnant with Hannah, that she would marry him and settle down, but she hadn't. She had simply given birth and left the baby with him, saying she wasn't ready be a wife or a mum yet. Then she had disappeared for good. Last he had heard, she was living somewhere in New Zealand.
"Dad!" Hannah whined. "Come on!"
Dudley hoped that Hannah didn't end up like her mother. She seemed to be much more sensible, but sometimes he worried that when she got a little older she would grow into the flightiness and immaturity she was bound to have inherited from her mother.
"Hey, fatty, get out of the way!" a teenage boy called out as he passed by. He and his friends burst out into a round of raucous laughter and Dudley felt his face heating up.
"I've been on a diet," he muttered angrily.
Hannah squeezed his hand. "And you can totally tell," she said. "You look great, Dad."
Dudley smiled down at his daughter. What would he do without her?
He turned back to face the barrier and squared his shoulders. "Let's do this," he said.
Hannah grinned, her pink braces showing. The two of them set off at a brisk pace toward the very solid brick wall in front of them. Dudley squeezed his eyes shut and...
"Dad, open your eyes!"
Dudley's eyes popped open and he found himself staring at a scarlet steam engine, complete with smoke puffing out of the smokestack on top. There were people all around, strange-looking people with cloaks and odd hats.
"Maybe I should have gotten an owl," Hannah said, looking around at the countless bird cages perched on top of trunks.
"You don't need an owl," Dudley said, picking up her trunk. "Owls make awful pets. Complete nuisances."
How do you know?" she demanded, following him as he made his way toward the train.
"My cousin had one," he grunted, heaving the trunk up into an empty compartment.
"I read about him," she said quietly. "Harry Potter. According to my book, he's their savior."
"Yeah, well," said Dudley, unsure of how to respond. It was a bit difficult to think of someone as any kind of savior when you had dunked that person's head in the toilet multiple times as a kid.
Hannah didn't seem to notice his lack of response to her statement. She was too busy staring up at the train nervously.
"What are you waiting for?" he asked. "I thought you were excited about going to school."
"What if I'm rubbish?" she asked, her blue eyes wide. "They'll all know so much more than me."
"Hannah, listen," he said, kneeling down in front of her, placing his hands on her shoulders. "You've read every book on magic that you could get your hands on. There's no way those kids will know more than you."
"It doesn't matter that you were raised in the muggle world. My cousin was raised by muggles and it obviously didn't hold him back."
She smiled a bit. "True."
He wrapped his arms around her. "You'll do great, kid. You're gonna kick ass."
She hugged him back tightly. "I love you, Daddy."
"I love you too, Hannah."
He stood watching as she boarded the train, smiling as she was joined by a girl with pigtails and a boy with ears that were too big for his head. She pressed her forehead up against the window and waved goodbye, as the train began to roll away, picking up speed as it went, until finally it disappeared from sight.
For a minute, Dudley didn't move, staring forlornly at the place where the train had once been. Hannah had never been away from him for more than a night or two before this. And now he wouldn't see her until Christmas. His daughter was only 11 years old and he was already an empty nester.
"Look over there," he heard someone behind him whisper. "It's Harry Potter."
Dudley whipped his head around, his gaze following the pointed fingers until he spotted the person they were pointed at.
Harry Potter was standing next to his wife Ginny on the opposite end of the platform.
For a moment, Dudley considered leaving right then. He didn't really need to say hello to Harry. After all, he hadn't seen him since that day, 25 years before, when the two of them had shook hands and made peace for this first time in their lives. They had exchanged a few letters in the years immediately following that, but soon those had stopped. Dudley had never even told Harry that he had a daughter, as he had been 32 when she was born and that had been long after he and Harry had stopped exchanging letters.
Deciding that saying hello would be the right thing to do, Dudley made his way through the crowd of people and over to his cousin.
"Harry!" he called out.
Harry turned around, and for a second he just stared blankly. Then his mouth dropped open in shock.
"Dudley?" he asked.
Dudley shoved his hands in his pockets and smiled weakly. "Hey."
"What are you doing here?" Harry asked, his green eyes wide behind his glasses.
"Dropping my daughter off," Dudley replied. "It turns out she's a witch."
He gave a little chuckle at the sight of his cousin's face.
"That's..." Harry seemed to be at a loss for words.
"Harry, dear," Ginny said. "Are you going to introduce me?"
"Yeah, of course, " Harry said. "Ginny, this is my cousin, Dudley. Dudley, this is my wife, Ginny."
"It's nice to meet you," Dudley said, shaking her hand.
"So is your daughter a first year?" Harry asked.
"Is her mum a witch?"
"Nope, she's a muggle."
"Is she here?" Harry asked, looking around.
Dudley shook his head. "She's not... a part of Hannah's life."
"Are the two of you divorced?" Ginny asked.
"We were never married."
"Ah," Harry said.
Before Dudley could respond, they were joined by two other people, a women with bushy brown hair and a scowling man with red hair.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked the man.
"Rose was snogging that Scorpius Malfoy kid," he muttered angrily.
Scorpius Malfoy. What an odd name, Dudley thought.
"Who's this?" the man asked, noticing Dudley at last.
"My cousin, Dudley," Harry replied. "Dudley, these are my friends, Ron and Hermione."
Ron let out a howl of laughter. "The last time I saw you," he said, "was when we were picking up Harry for the Quidditch World Cup and my brother Fred dropped those Ton-Tongue Toffees. I heard your tongue reached four feet before my dad was able to shrink it back to normal."
"Thank you for bringing that up," Dudley said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Really, it was such a wonderful experience. I wish I could relive it every day."
"What are you doing here anyway?" Ron demanded. "Didn't you people despise magic?"
"My daughter's a witch," Dudley replied stiffly.
"Is she really?" Hermione asked. "How wonderful."
"Did you try to smother it out of her?" Ron asked. "Like your father did to Harry."
Dudley's eyes narrowed. "I'm not my father," he hissed.
"How is Uncle Vernon?" Harry asked.
"Dead," Dudley replied flatly.
"Oh," Harry said. "Er, I'm sorry to hear that."
An awkward silence fell over the group. The crowd of people had started to disperse around them. Only a few stragglers remained, chatting in small groups like their's.
"So is your daughter excited to start at Hogwarts?" Ginny asked, in an attempt to diffuse the tension.
Dudley nodded. "She's probably read Hogwarts: A History fifty times this summer."
"Hey," Ron said, "she sounds just like you, Hermione."
"It's a wonderful book," Hermione said, smiling. "Although no too many people actually read it..." She trailed off, looking lost in thought.
"So how are your kids?" Dudley asked Harry.
"They're great," Harry replied. "My oldest son, James, is a seventh year. Albus is in his sixth year and Lily is in her fourth."
Dudley nodded. "Well," he said, glancing down at his watch. "I really need to be going."
"It was nice seeing you," Harry said. "I'll write to my kids and tell them to say hello to your daughter."
Dudley watched as the four of them disappeared back throught the barrier. Before he could follow, he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around. A woman he didn't recognize was smiling up at him nervously. She looked to be in her early to mid thirties. Dudley supposed she was pretty, though rather plain, with short blonde hair and a pastel sweater set.
"Er, can I help you?" he asked.
The woman blushed. "This is going to sound completely mental," she said, "but I saw you talking to Harry Potter and I was wondering what he's like."
"Oh," he said, taken aback "Erm, I don't..."
"I wanted to go up to him and say something, but I was too nervous."
Dudley lifted an eyebrow. "Okaayy."
"Did you get his autograph?" she asked.
"Of course not!" he snapped. "Why in the world would I do that!"
She took a step back. "Oh," she said. "Well I... I only meant... I mean, he is the savior."
"Right," Dudley said, feeling bad about snapping her. She seemed perfectly nice. A little strange maybe, but still nice. "Erm, you should say hello to him next time you see him. He's a really nice bloke."
"Really?" she asked.
"I saw my son sit down in the same compartment as your daughter," the woman said.
"Oh?" Dudley said. "Was he the kid with the big ears?"
The woman's eyes narrowed. "You know, Jack is really sensitive about his ears. The other kids are always teasing him. I'm always telling him that he'll grow into them, but he still gets so upset by the remarks he hears. Children can be so insensitive, you know."
Oh yes, Dudley did know. He had been one of those insensitive kids himself. He decided not to mention this little fact to her though. Her impression of him was probably already bad enough.
"Well, my daughter Hannah definitely won't tease him," he said. "She's a lovely girl."
The woman smiled. "I'm Nora," she said, holding out her hand.
"Dudley," he said, shaking it. She had soft hands, he noticed.
"Well," Nora said. "I really need to be going. My husband's probably wondering where I am."
When he reached the parking lot, Dudley reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Opening it, he discovered it was empty, with only a small piece of paper stuffed inside. He pulled it out and unfolded it.
Remember that you promised to quit smoking. I left some nicotine gum in the kitchen for you.
Dudley shook his head, chuckling. Hannah was always looking out for his health, encouraging him to stick to his diet, to quit smoking, to drink less coffee and more tea. Because of her, Dudley had lost 50 pounds over the past few months. He had even started going to the gym.
When he got home, there was a message from his mum waiting for him on the answering machine.
"Dudley!" Petunia Dursley's shrill voice filled his kitchen. "Call me when you get this message! Immediately!"
Dudley sighed, picking up the phone. His mum answered after only one ring.
"Dudley," she barked. "Where have you been? Why didn't you answer your mobile?"
"It was out of battery."
"Why weren't you home?"
"Mum, it's September 1st. Why do you think I wasn't home?"
Petunia was silent for a moment. When she finally spoke, her voice sounded cold. "I see," she said. "So you're allowing this to happen?"
"Of course I am, Mum," he said, exasperated. "It's who she is."
"It's abnormal!" Petunia hissed.
"I'm done talking about this," Dudley said. "Hannah is my daughter. I can raise her how I please!"
"This is ridiculous," Petunia sputtered. "What would your father say?"
"Well, it doesn't really matter, does it," Dudley replied, his vouce growing louder with each word. "Dad's dead, Mum."
His mum didn't say anything.
"I saw Harry at the train station, "said Dudley, after a minute.
"Did you? she asked, in a falsely polite tone. "How is he?"
"He seems like he's doing well."
"That's nice," Petunia murmured.
"I have to go, Mum."
"Yes, of course. Goodbye Dudley."
Before he could reply, she had hung up. Dudley set the phone down annd looked around. The house seemed strange and empty without Hannah.
He reached for the calender. How many more days were there until Christmas?
I'm not really sure why I suddenly felt it was necessary to write a story about Dudley of all people, especially since I have like three other stories I'm working on right now, but I did. This probably isn't even any good, but I really wanted to write it, so here you go.
This story is going to have seven chapters total (one for each year of Hannah's time at Hogwarts) and maybe an epilogue.