Title: Enough Wonder In Small Things
Warnings: Comment fic, of sorts. Also, I don't actually remember what happened to Dudley in book seven.
Disclaimer: Do not own.
Fandom: Harry Potter
When Harry appears on his doorstep - still too thin, Dudley notes with disapproval from the safe solidity of his body - he's quite surprised. More so because Harry is soaking wet, even though it's not raining.
It's been years since Dudley's seen his cousin, and since he was alone and living on his own, with time to think and time to wonder, he had. He wondered where Harry was, what he was doing. If the war they had spoken of, the secret behind those months of odd terrorist attacks, was over, and who'd won it. It never occurred to him to wonder if Harry survived. He thought about magic, and remembered half-heard conversations about blood and ancestry. He started dropping coins in wishing wells.
"Heard you were looking for me," Harry says, and gives him a tentative grin.
Harry had not, of course, left them with any way of contacting him, and Dudley was neither surprised nor hurt by this; he had been complicit in Harry’s suffering. His own less-than-perfect childhood did not excuse his actions – he had known even then that the way they treated Harry was not right. One of the things he thinks about is the thousand possible presents that could have been if only this, if only that. But they were not, and he did not know if he would ever find his cousin.
These days, when he’s wondering, he gets books from the library on magic and wishes, and spends an afternoon a week or so trying things out. He’s taken trips to remote fields full of dandelions and clover, and blown the dandelion clocks until the sky grew golden in the blue. He found toadstool circles and stood in them, hollow trees to whisper in, blew eyelashes from his fingertips and stood under rowan trees. He talks to animals and leaves milk out for brownies, and he doesn’t feel foolish at all. It's fun, and he’s found himself laughing for no reason at all.
"I've been putting the word out, yeah," Dudley agrees, and gestures him in. "Want a cuppa?"
Dudley was really not expecting Harry to show up. The old traditions and fairy tales are nothing like the magic Harry had, none of that light and spark, and Dudley knows perfectly well that he has all the magic of a particularly mundane teakettle. The things he does are partially repentance and partially acceptance, all he can do to say that here is one of Harry's family who does not reject him. And they're something else, too - sometimes he thinks that if he could’ve, this is what he would've done as a child. He would've searched out the mystery from the earth and water, and looked for strangeness in ordinary things, and the fall of light through the trees would've been magic enough for his searching to be worthwhile. It still is, actually. Dudley wonders why they tell people to grow up, when that means missing this.
"Love one." Harry looks around, and Dudley enjoys his cousin's curiosity, takes a pleasure even more unexpected than Harry's appearance in Harry's appreciation of his space. It doesn't look like Privet Drive at all, really; there are broken things and dented things, pebbles and plants and posters. He's still deciding about a pet.
Harry shivers, and Dudley frowns.
“You’re cold. I’ll fetch you a towel, shall I?”
His cousin starts, grins a little. It’s the grin of someone who has once again forgotten something very simple. Dudley thinks that perhaps he expects to be scolded for this forgetting. That Harry finds some rebellious pleasure in being here, where the things he forgets will not be thought extraordinary.
“Nah, don’t bother, I’ll fix it.” He takes out his wand from his sleeve. Dudley watches, fascinated, as with a mutter and a gesture Harry is dry and neat. “I was up North in a rainstorm, decided to come visit.”
Dudley suspects he was sulking on a cliff. It happens.
He goes into the kitchen, fills the kettle, turns on the stove. There are still some biscuits in the tin from his last shopping day. He thinks about putting them on a plate, and doesn’t.
Dudley takes two mugs from the cupboard. One mug is blue. It has a chip in the handle and the rim, and Pollyanna Power is written on it in bold black letters. The other mug is white, unbroken, and says I Voted Saxon.
Harry is standing behind him. He moves differently now, smoothly, but with the same little hiccup at the end of a gesture or a step like he is surprised by the motion’s conclusion, like he expects another inch before he has to stop. Harry has always seemed limited by the bounds of his body.
“You’re really, really different,” Harry tells him quietly. “I knew you would be different. But I didn’t – this. It’s unexpected. You’re unexpected.”
“Lots of time to think,” Dudley replies. “Started wondering who I was, after.”
After what, Harry doesn’t ask. Dudley doesn’t need to wonder if he knows.
“Thought it was sort of stupid,” Dudley continues. “Death making everything change. Or it did once I started thinking about it. Thought it would’ve been better to get there on my own, but who knows. Might never have done, if – but that’s. You know.”
“Yeah,” Harry is quiet. A mistake, Dudley thinks as he remembers Harry’s dead, and then, but it doesn’t matter. “Never thought to be angry at them for that, and now – well, there’s no point now.”
“Milk, lemon, sugar, wizard stuff, nothing?” Dudley asks, and pours the water into their mugs, gesturing at Harry to take one. Harry stares at them. Apparently it is a difficult decision. In the end, he snorts and takes the I Voted Saxon mug.
“Milk, please.” He leans up against the cabinets by the refrigerator. Dudley opens it, takes out the milk, pours a little in both mugs. Harry sips it. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” He takes his own tea, and they sit down at the table with the biscuits, which are orange flavored and spicy. “How’s life?”
“Not bad. I’m – well, I don’t know yet. What I want to do. Went through Auror training,” he looks at Dudley to see if he remembers the word, and when he nods, continues, “and – no. I’ve practically been an Auror since I was eleven. So I’m working in my friend’s shop, and, yeah, just looking around. You?”
“I’ve just graduated.” Dudley wonders what else to say. They are only related; it is not as if they are friends. “Don’t really know what I want to do yet either. I’ve been working at a shop down the road till I figure it out.”
“What did you study?”
“Architecture. I liked it alright,” Dudley explains. He knows perfectly well where his life is headed – he will move to a small town currently lacking an architect, and he will build solid houses that do not leak or let in drafts, where the furniture fits through the doors and there are no unexpected partitions. It’s a nice life, and there is enough wonder in small things.
He stirs his tea slowly, clockwise, counterclockwise, back and forth. They talk of small things – traffic, weather, garden pests. Favorite television programs, kitchen accidents. It’s been a few years since Dudley had any family to speak of (Aunt Marge has never counted), and he’s never had a brother. The rain comes down from the North, makes art of the windows.
At the door, Harry tells him the war is over.
“We won,” he says, and smiles. “Would you like to go to the pub next week?”
“Stay dry,” Dudley replies, and lets him out.