The Sugar Quill
Author: Moon Goddess (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Breach In the Wall  Chapter: Chapter Two: Death Dreams
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Death Dreams

Death Dreams

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He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn’t approve of imagination. – Vernon, SS p 5


Dementors caused a person to relive the worst moments of their life. . . . What would spoiled, pampered, bullying Dudley have been forced to hear? – Harry, OotP p 30

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Dudley fished the wad of paper out of the bin for maybe the twentieth time. He had thrown the note away as soon as he got home from the station, not even wanting to touch it. He had no intention of giving it to Harry. He wouldn’t have anyway, but especially not now. Firstly, Harry had secluded himself in his room upon arriving home, so Dudley hadn’t even seen him. There was evidence that he came out when they were gone, and they heard him prowling the kitchen after they were in bed. Occasionally, when Dudley suddenly turned his music off, he would hear restless steps on the other side of the wall. He sometimes heard the same incessant pacing late at night. In fact, he could hear him right now. But mainly there was an eerie quiet that forbade interruption. Second, his parents repeated, at every opportunity -- over the dinner table at night in anguished whispers, out in the car with loud indignation -- everything that had transpired at the station. All in all, it seemed best that Harry was avoiding them, and that they avoid Harry.


But over the past few days, Dudley had gingerly picked the note out of the rubbish numerous times, turned it over and around on his desk, before tossing it back into the bin. Finally, late last night, curiosity overcame fear, and he unfolded the sheet and read it. Puzzled, he left it spread on his desk while he slept. But his dreams were strange and unsettling. Awakened from them early, Dudley immediately crumpled the note and threw it back in the bin, swearing he was finished with it. Yet here he was again, in the middle of the night, smoothing out the wrinkles in the pool of light on his desk, and reading it for a second time.


Dear Harry,


Concerning what we were talking about: It’s like a passageway to another place. The veil in the room proves it. We both heard them.


I think Sirius could contact you, or maybe even come back, if he really wanted to. But you have to understand he may not want to. I know you’re wondering, ‘Why wouldn’t he want to?’


Well, something once (or twice?) happened to me. I’m not sure when, because I can remember all the way back to when I was a baby. I once asked my mum and my dad, if anything had happened even earlier, and they said “no.” Maybe it’s from a past life or something like that. Anyway, what I remember is this: I didn’t want to come back. In my case though, something or someone MADE me come back anyway.


Your friend,

Luna


The nightmare that Dudley had just awoke from, was the same as last night’s. This girl Luna and the beauty from King’s Cross were shooting fireworks from their wands fighting a losing battle. He had to make a choice. He could run away to safety, or he could stay and help. He knew they had no chance. He was afraid. Someone was screaming. He realized it was him. Then without knowing exactly how, he was fighting, punching, a right hook to the jaw and then another. Green flash and shattering pain and he was punching . . . nothing, his fists sailing through the air as he fell into a thick, inky substance, like black oil. The more he struggled, the deeper he sank. Deeper, deeper, his lungs burning for breath, until he was too tired . . . far too tired.


Peaceful, he effortlessly rose to the surface. There, he floated, suspended on the blackness beneath him. Above, lights shone brighter and more beautiful than the Hubble telescope photos of star clusters he’d seen on the telly. He focused on one and felt an overwhelming love beyond anything that he could put into words. It felt like homecoming. A place where he belonged. He was just starting to rise toward it, when he was grabbed from beneath and jerked back into the thick, suffocating blackness. Gasping for air, he had awakened, drenched with sweat, his face buried in his wet pillow and the tangled sheets wrapped around him.


The dream had a feeling both of premonition and memory. He was pretty sure, though he couldn’t say why, that this dream and the note were both about dying. If so, someone close to Harry, named Sirius, had died. And the weird girl was Luna. Too bad he’d rejected getting the other girl’s name. He really did want to know it. He’d tried out many names on the face he saw when he closed his eyes, but none seemed to fit.


On impulse, he opened his desk drawer and pulled out a pencil and a sheet of notebook paper. He started sketching the face in his mind. He was surprised at how well he was able to capture her. This was something he hadn’t done since . . . The memory suddenly flashed clear. He was in kindergarten. Every day they had an art session: Finger painting, crayon drawings, cutting and pasting -- that sort of thing. The other kids, including Harry, took their work home each day, but his teacher had asked to keep his. She told him they were very good and she wanted to show them to someone. A few weeks later she handed him a manila folder with all his artwork inside, along with a letter for his parents. Mum read the letter, hugged him and told him what a talented artist he was. Then she covered the refrigerator with his drawings.


But Dad’s reaction when he got home from work was different. Though Dudley had not previously recalled the incident, he could now hear each painful word. “His teacher says here that they’re extraordinary for his age. Unusual. That’s YOUR side of the family showing up. I don’t want him to have anything to do with it! It will draw attention! Make him stand out! It’s not safe! Besides, I won’t have some arty little pansy for a son!” He then ripped the paintings from the fridge, and crumpled them in his huge fist. His other hand landed hard on Dudley’s small shoulder and squeezed until it started to hurt. “Look at me, Dudley!”


Dudley remembered tears streaking down his own face as he gazed up into his father’s red face, feeling afraid of him for perhaps the first time. “Dudley, I want you to really, really listen to me: Stick with facts. Imagination, doing things like this,” Vernon waved the fist of papers in the air, “will make you different. And being different is a bad thing. It will make you unhappy. It will hurt you. People won’t like you. Harry’s different and we don’t like him. You don’t want to be like Harry, do you? Stick with facts and what’s real. That’s what I want my little boy to do if he loves me and if he wants me to love him. You hear?” With that, he dropped the crumpled drawings in the rubbish. After that, Dudley sat quietly during art class, refusing to participate. When the teacher cajoled and pestered him, he would scribble on the page or copy the stick figures of the child next to him.


No wonder he kept hearing Loony Luna’s words in his head. She had called him capable. Had said he could choose who or what he wanted to be. He looked at the likeness before him. It was good. Had he let his father choose for him when he was only five? Had he exchanged his talents for love and acceptance? Had he traded away who he was, who he might become, his very soul when he was too young to realize it? He knew that he was reluctant to try new things. That he had never even attempted to do his best at anything, except boxing. Had he stopped trying, stopped excelling, out of fear of rejection? Was this why they had to praise him simply for breathing as if that were some sort of accomplishment? Why he was always angry, why he felt empty inside? Why they were afraid for him? Why he had that strange, indistinct memory and weird dream of dying? The only thing he knew he was good at was fighting. After all, he’d practiced plenty on Harry over the years. But it wasn’t something that made him happy. Boxing flowed from other, much darker, emotions.

   

Dudley heard Harry stumble past his door on his way to the loo. He quickly stuffed the sketch in his desk and returned his attention to the note. Dudley wasn’t inclined to feel sorry for Harry, but he did feel something. Fascination, perhaps. Morbid fascination. He hadn’t told anyone this other than his mum when he was a very young child, but these latest nightmares were not the first he’d ever had about dying. He had them regularly, especially around Halloween. But they had become worse since the dementors’ attack. It was this terrible feeling of anguished death, of pain beyond imagining that was the memory that the dementors had awakened. What was this memory about? What were his dreams about? What did this note mean? What had happened? Was there a connection? Did Harry know anything about it? If Dudley wanted to know, he’d have to do the unthinkable. He’d have to talk to Harry.

    

It wasn’t really that he hated Harry; despised, detested, maybe, but not hate. He had learned early on that being mean to Harry won his parents’ approval, especially his dad’s, though he hadn’t comprehended why at the time. And it brought Dudley attention and a feeling of superiority and belonging. At such times it was always ‘us’ against ‘him.’ Harry was a good scapegoat. An acceptable way to release the uncontrollable temper that was always rising within him. Soon, it was something of a habit, plus it served to quell the uneasy feelings of fear that surrounded him. And, after Harry started wizard school, it was a way of courting danger, of facing down death. Still, it hadn’t gone unnoticed, even to Dudley, that the puny little kid that often caused strange things to happen, his own pratty cousin that used to run from him, had grown up into a teen that Dudley and his parents now openly feared. I hate myself. Dudley heard the loo flush. Maybe Harry knows something, or maybe he is the cause of my strange dreams. Maybe there’s some other connection. Would he tell me even if he knew? There’s no reason why he should, still maybe I can learn something useful. Too bad I can’t beat it out of him. Without thinking further, Dudley grabbed the note and darted into the hall, blocking Harry’s path. Harry had his head down in the dark and almost stumbled into him. Jumping back, Harry’s hand instinctively swept the air beside him for a wand that wasn’t there. Dudley also took a step back, but just one.


“Leave me alone. I’m not in the mood for any of your games,” Harry hissed.


“Quiet or you’ll wake Mum. I thought you’d like to know I met one of your friends at King’s Cross. Loony Luna.”


“Luna? What? When? If you insulted or bullied her I’ll . . .” Harry’s hand again drifted toward his side.


“Don’t be such a twat!” Dudley snapped. “She’s one of you. Why don’t you ask if she put a spell on me? We actually had a nice talk. Ask her. Here, she wanted me to give you this.” Dudley handed Harry the note.


Harry reached for the paper while considering the spell idea. Dudley talking to Luna? Dudley giving him something, even if it was for him? He had to admit this wasn’t usual Dudley behavior. Harry turned the note to catch the light streaming through Dudley’s open door.


“Who’s Sirius?”


Harry, concentrating on making out the scrawled handwriting in the dim light, answered automatically. “My Godfather.”


“How’d he die? What’s this veil thing?”


Comprehension and anger crossed Harry’s face. “How dare you read my letter!”


“So, tell your little girlfriend to be careful who she passes notes to,” Dudley sneered, standing his ground. “Shouldn’t you be thanking me for giving it to you?” Now that sounded more like Dudley.


Dudley studied Harry’s face as he finished the letter and folded it into a little square. Harry somehow looked very vulnerable and sad in the deep shadows of the hall.


Harry, sensing that he was revealing himself to an enemy, lifted his gaze to stare directly into Dudley’s eyes. Dudley held steady, looking intently at Harry in the dim light. Harry was about to say something snide, but stopped. There was something different about Dudley’s eyes.


After a moment, Dudley stepped aside into his doorway. As Harry passed by, Dudley mumbled, “That girl Luna, there’s something about her. She’s weird. Knows things. But then, you’re all weirdos. But Luna, she’s . . . she’s nice.”

 

Harry glanced over his shoulder at Dudley, who quickly ducked into his room and closed the door. Miracles do happen. There in the dark hall, in the middle of the night, they actually agreed on something. Dudley had talked with Luna, and then given him the note from her. Harry’s friends had told Vernon not to mistreat him and had promised to contact him every three days. If these were any indication, it was going to be a very unusual summer.

//
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