Chapter One-Back to Privet Drive
The moment Harry registered the familiar sights
and smells of Privet Drive a surge of resentment welled up in his chest.
He took a deep breath and looked around the living room, feeling like
Harry stepped toward the mantle. Shoving aside
a horrid-looking vase, his gaze fell across a picture of Dudley in a white
tuxedo, grinning, with one of his flabby arms around his bony bride. Harry
couldn't see her face; a veil covered it. Who took pictures with her wedding
veil on? Harry thought a moment and grinned broadly when he came to the
conclusion that the person wasn't really that attractive or was too embarrassed
to see herself in photos actually marrying Dudley.
Harry remembered receiving the invitation in the
mail around his twentieth birthday. Dudley hadn't been using any level
of tact when he had sent Harry a wedding announcement; he was obviously
fishing for wedding presents. (Harry had thoughtfully sent him a box of
candies as a present. Even though he hadn't laced the candies with anything,
Harry happily thought of how much Dudley would worry about being cursed.)
Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had given the couple the Privet Drive house
as a wedding present. They were retired, living in a beach home in Majorca.
Harry turned at the creak of the stairs and silently
watched his cousin meander towards the kitchen. Dudley didn't notice him
until he was just steps from the pantry. He forgot to stop moving, at
the sight of Harry, and the pantry door shuddered terribly as he ran into
"You could ring the doorbell like a NORMAL person!"
Dudley huffed, winded from his walk and the surprise of seeing Harry.
Harry studied his cousin with interest. Twenty-five
apparently wasn't a good age for Dudley. He looked almost in his mid-thirties.
Not surprisingly, he looked just like Uncle Vernon...minus the moustache-
probably still couldn't grow a full one. Of course, Uncle Vernon only
had a double chin. Dudley's was quadruple.
Harry raised an eyebrow, "Hello to you too."
Dudley pointed to Harry's wand, still in hand,
"Put that ridiculous thing away!"
"Pardon?" said Harry calmly, "I was under the assumption that I was an
invited guest in your home."
"Right," grumbled Dudley, "None of that wizard rubbish--" Dudley then
struggled to form the word, "Please."
Harry sat down in an armchair without being offered a seat and waited
for Dudley to tell him why he was here. Dudley clomped over to the sagging
couch and plopped himself into it, setting off the orchestra of the couch
springs in horrible popping and screeching noise.
There was a long silence, in which the cousins
sized each other up, seeing exactly what had changed in the eight-year
absence. "GARDENIA!!!!" bellowed Dudley, "He's here!"
Harry tried to conceal his smile. Dudley had married someone named Gardenia?
He supposed the Dursley men had a thing for women with horrible flower
names. Not that all flower names were bad. His mother's name, Lily, was
lovely but… Gardenia? Petunia? Who was next- Daffodil or Marigold? Harry
was willing to bet that she looked exactly like Aunt Petunia. He sat back
ready to be amused by this person who ACTUALLY married Dudley.
He wasn't disappointed; Gardenia Dursley could only be described as entertaining
to look at.
She minced into the room in her neon-blue high heels, tight yellow Capri
pants, which looked as if they were painted on her, a neon green tube
top and an enormous frizz of teased blond hair. Bright pink blush was
streaked on her bony cheeks and the many layers of makeup were visible
over her bright-orange fake tan. Gardenia peered at Harry almost face
to face. Harry leaned back, trying to avoid the smell of cigarette smoke
"That's your cousin, Duddy-doll?" she asked in a voice that sounded like
nails on a chalkboard. "Lucky for me, I married the handsome man of the
family." She giggled and perched herself on Dudley's knee, caressing one
of his chins.
"Lucky you?" muttered Harry to himself.
Gardenia popped her gum and batted her goopy, blue mascara slathered eyelashes,
"Hasn't got much fashion sense, has he?"
Harry glanced quickly from the yellow capri pants to his emerald green
Dudley snorted with laughter, "No, my pet-ums, he hasn't."
Harry gave Dudley a winning smile. "You know what, Dudley? " he said in
an overly nice voice. "I'm thinking that your fireplace over there is
looking…really shall we say... dull? What do you say I just blow it up,
for old times' sake?" he said, picking up his wand out of his lap.
Dudley looked panicked and his watery blue eyes bulged, making him look
exceptionally like Uncle Vernon.
"Now, uh, no need to do any of that ma- stuff,"
he sputtered, clutching the couch arm rather forcefully.
"Let's get to the point," said Harry coolly waving his wand.
The coffee table slid across the floor stopping
abruptly in front of his chair. Harry plunked his boots along the top
of it without bothering to see if there was any mud on them.
Dudley attempted to clear his throat but a feeble
noise came from him. Harry was pleased. It was enjoyable to make him squirm
after all those years of Harry-hunting.
"Gardenia and I have a little girl," began Dudley,
still attempting to regain his composure.
Harry glanced at Gardenia, who was twirling a strand
of hair around her finger looking oblivious to everything. Harry was sure
the strand would break at any second, from all the dye.
Dudley mopped his forehead with his sleeve. "Well,
um, what the problem is, is that she isn't a normal child."
"Neither were you Dudley, get to the point. I'm not here to offer psychological
analysis," said Harry.
"She's one of your kind," Dudley spat sharply, "We can't have her
living under our roof."
"How on earth would you know that?" said Harry sitting up, surprised.
"Mummy and Dad told me she has all the signs."
said Dudley firmly, obviously convinced.
"Oh, there's a reliable source," scoffed Harry, "Aunt Petunia and
Uncle Vernon know nothing about anything of that nature, nor will they
ever care to know."
Gardenia spoke up again, looking very confused, "Well, what else could
the little brat be?"
Harry couldn't believe his ears.
Actually, he could- they were Dursleys after all...
He glared at them. "You're willing to take a shot
in the dark and guess that she is a witch? This is your child!" Harry
shouted, becoming more infuriated by the moment.
Dudley paused and continued on as if Harry hadn't said anything, "She's
your kind and we can't handle the little monster anymore," he said as
if he was merely chatting about the weather.
Gardenia continued, "Petunia and Vernon won't even let us come visit with
her and Duddy-kins absolutely needs to see his Mummy."
"Pardon me while I savor this moment of irony," said Harry flatly,
"The impossible has happened to you. Your own child is something
you were taught to despise. You two idiots are responsible for this child,
and instead of dealing with your problems, you want to pass the kid off
to me and forget she ever existed."
"Right!" said Dudley, pleased that Harry
was catching on.
"You bloody scum…" said Harry, gritting
his teeth and clutching his wand.
Gardenia's gum popped loudly, "We have our other child to think of now!
Dudley Jr. could possibly be hurt in one of her jealous rages- the little
Gardenia smirked at Harry, and then pranced out
of the room again.
"She wouldn't be jealous or have rages if you two knew how to raise a
child!" replied Harry hotly.
Dudley squirmed uncomfortably and the couch gave many creaks of protest,
"You don't understand how impossible she is! If you don't take her, we're
going to put her in an orphanage. Dad has it all worked out."
"Oh, but I do understand how she feels," replied Harry, "I had
to be treated like the black sheep for eleven years and I know how your
family is Dudley, don't act like it is her fault!"
Gardenia returned to the room after a moment and displayed a rather porky
looking baby swaddled head to toe in a bunny outfit. "This is Dudley Jr.,"
she said, coddling the child, which belched loudly.
Harry raised an eyebrow, he had seen cuter Christmas turkeys. "That's
great, where's the little girl?"
"At Mrs. Figg's," replied Dudley, "She takes care of her all day, so we
don't have to see her until bedtime."
"Oh really?" Harry said in a sarcastic tone, "Does
she sleep in the cupboard, too?"
Dudley frowned and scratched his head, "Come on Harry, what kind of parents
do you think we are?" he said crossly.
Gardenia nodded, "Only sometimes, when we think the little rat is going
to hurt our baby puddin'..."
Dudley elbowed her in the ribs to shut up.
Harry stood up and raised his wand. Dudley cowered into the back of the
couch and Gardenia gave a loud squeak as she clopped out of the room very
quickly with the baby.
Harry took a deep breath, and lowered his wand.
He wasn't going to let them make him do anything rash.
"I have to think about all this," said Harry harshly, and he watched his
cousin flinch at the sound of his voice, "If anything happens to
that little girl before I make up my mind... I will personally see to
it that your entire house is blown up," he said with a flicking gesture
of his wand.
Dudley trembled again, "You're a nutter. I
always knew it," he braved saying.
With one last disgusted look at Dudley, Harry disapparated.