The title says it all; just a little plot bunny that needed to be snared.
Daisy Lyons was not a very attractive or intelligent young woman. 'Dumpy' might be the kindest description of her body, and 'average' would be a of a bit generous estimate of her intellectual abilities. What no one questioned was that she was a sweet person, with a pretty smile.
Similarly, few people (other than his parents) thought highly of Dudley Dursley. He had never attended University. His professional boxing career lasted for nine fights over four years (3-6-0, 1 TKO, and while he had been TKO'd once, losing the other five fights by decision). He had started working in the Grunnings' warehouse in early 2002 through his father's influence, but had actually taken to the job once his boxing career had ended later that year.
It was there he had met Daisy, a shipping clerk. They had started dating in the early autumn of 2002. Dudley had, fairly willingly, become an active member of the Anglican Church at Daisy's behest, and Daisy had joined Dudley in the exercise program he still maintained. Their workouts would never make them slim, but it at least kept them from bloating into being morbidly obese, as Dudley had been as a fifteen year old.
In the late spring of 2004, Dudley had persuaded Daisy into another form of exercise, which explained why they now had to plan an August, 2004, wedding.
It was a pleasant Saturday in early July, and Dudley was fixing their lunch in Daisy's little flat (Dudley still lived with his parents, although he now spent the weekends with his fiancee) while Daisy opened her mail.
"Dudley, who's Harry Potter?"
Had Dudley been carrying anything, he would have dropped it. As it was, he nearly burned himself on the stove. "How the he, err, devil did you hear about him?"
She waved an RSVP. "Your mother must have sent him an invitation. Who is he?"
Dudley turned off the stove and sat down, scratching his head to figure out what he could say. "Well, Mum had a younger sister, named Lily. She married this bloke called James Potter. To Mum and Dad, they were, well, odd. Left-over hippies, New Age types, or something. They had one kid, Harry. They died in some sort of explosion. Mum used to say it was a car accident, but Dad claims maybe they were making drugs or something." He shrugged. "Considering how much Dad dislikes Harry, that might just be wishful thinking. He was dumped on us the autumn after our first birthday, and I do mean dumped. They just left him in a basket on the doorstep."
"The cult the Potters were involved with." Daisy wrinkled her nose at the world 'cult', as Dudley had thought she might. "He didn't like us, we didn't like him. . . ."
"But if he was in a basket, he must have been only what, one?" Daisy asked, aghast.
Dudley winced. "Like I said, it was after both of our first birthdays -- he's a month younger than I am -- so okay, it was probably mostly Mum and Dad's fault. His parents didn't leave him much, so far as I know, but they did leave him a full scholarship to the weirdo school his parents' group operates up in Scotland. He left home for good right after his seventeenth birthday. July, 1997, that was." Dudley frowned. "I'm surprised Mum even has an address for him."
Daisy frowned and pulled out a folded-up piece of parchment from the envelope. "How odd."
"That's Harry," Dudley said.
Daisy unfolded the piece of parchment and read: "Dear Dudley. I was quite surprised to get an invitation for your wedding from Aunt Petunia, but not surprised she included a detailed list of all the stores where you are registered for gifts, plus the command not to send anything else."
Daisy frowned. "That was a bit rude of your mother." Dudley could only shrug. Daisy read on. "Still, despite our happy separation, I was interested to learn you are getting married. I could make all sorts of comments, but I'll just say I hope you have found someone who makes you as happy as my wife Luna has made me, and that you try to make your Daisy as happy as I try to make my wife." Daisy glared at Dudley.
"No, I had no idea he was married," Dudley said, defending himself.
"I rather think Aunt Petunia was merely fishing for a present for you (do you still do a gift count?), and would prefer we not appear. However, it is not her wedding. If you wish us to come, we shall be happy to. If you would prefer we keep ourselves apart from your branch of the family, we will abide by that as well. In any event, we do wish you happiness. PS, if we do come, please place us as far away from Aunt Marge as possible."
Daisy looked at Dudley.
"Aunt Marge's dogs never liked Harry," Dudley said quickly.
"Do I write him to come, or not?" Daisy asked flatly.
Dudley sighed. There was no doubt that his father, mother, and aunt would be very happy if Harry merely sent an acceptable present and leave things there. There was equally no doubt what Daisy, sweetheart and generous true Christian that she was, would prefer. "If Mum really didn't want Harry to show up, she shouldn't have sent him an invite," he said.
Daisy nodded, and wrote Harry a note, which she would send to the post office of a small town called Loch Hog in Scotland.
That Monday evening after dinner, not realizing that his father could overhear, Dudley asked, "Mummy, why did you send Harry an invitation to the wedding?"
Petunia didn't even have time to open her mouth.
"WHAT?" Vernon demanded, coming into the kitchen. "You sent that damn freak an invitation?"
"The children need as much help. . . ."
Vernon turned on Dudley. "Did he turn it down?"
Dudley shook his head. "He and his wife. . . ."
"That's what he said," Dudley managed to say. "He did ask to be seated far away from Aunt Marge. . . ." Vernon, now nearing purple, growled. "Not that it should matter, since she won't be bringing that new dog. . . ."
"Of course she'll have Ripper III," Vernon snapped. He stomped off to get a large drink.
"Oh, dear. . . ." Petunia was now seated at the kitchen table, stunned.
"He did send us an invitation to his wedding. . . ."
"Really? When was that?"
"Oh, about five years ago, actually."
"And what did you send him?"
Petunia made a face. "Why would we send him a present?"
"Then why would he send me one?" Dudley demanded. He didn't realize that it was a question that he would not have asked just two years before.
"Why wouldn't he, Sweet'ums?" Petunia asked, confused.
Dudley repressed a sigh. Knowing Daisy had opened his eyes to his own behavior to some degree. "Is that how you have his address?"
"No," she answered. "The freaks maintain a mailbox drop in Scotland. I was surprised it was the same old post box number." Seeing Dudley was confused, she went on, "There's one number for the school. Lily had another number, and the Boy has the same number."
Later that evening, Dudley cleared some old junk off his printer and sat down at his computer.
First of all, let me say that I had no idea that Mummy had sent you an invitation, just like I didn't know that you were married, let alone that you had sent Mummy an invitation to your wedding. I suspect she was just trying to raise my present count, just as you said.
I work at Grunnings now, although just in the warehouse. I think I have worked up to second foreman on my own, but I have to admit Daddy certainly helped. Daisy works there, too, and she is the nicest person I have ever met. You probably think she would have to be, that or crazy, to have fallen in love with me. I don't know how to explain you to her.
I told her you and your parents were part of a cult, because I didn't know what else to say. She's a very devote High Church member, so I probably shouldn't have said that. She would still like to see you come to the wedding, as she doesn't like Mummy or Daddy for some reason. Part of me is afraid to see you come. Part of me knows that once Mummy wrote you, it was out of my control.
I should tell you that Aunt Marge will be bringing her new dog, Ripper III. I wish she wouldn't, for everyone's sake. If you must use your, well, your thing on someone or something, I will understand you doing something to that dog. He hates everyone except Aunt Marge and Daddy.
If you have any normal photos of you and your wife, Daisy would like to see you before the wedding.
The next Saturday, Dudley and Daisy came back to her flat from window shopping for furniture. They had worked out hard that morning, and then walked for two hours, and so they were rewarding themselves with some fish-and-chips and bitter for lunch.
As Dudley set the little kitchen table, Daisy flipped through a stack of mail. "H'mmm."
"A big thick envelope." She turned it over. "I think it's from your cousin."
Dudley gulped nervously. Daisy held out the envelope, but Dudley shook his head. "We can look at it together, after lunch."
She nodded, and the pair sat down.
Daisy didn't have a sofa, just one battered chair in the small entrance room of the flat. The pair therefore had to sit on the bed, which no doubt had encouraged her present state.
This time, instead of parchment Harry had written on a very expensive and embossed paper. Daisy's eyebrows went up at the Coat of Arms at the top of the sheet.
"My grandfather worked at the Royal College of Arms until he retired," she said softly. "If this is real, your cousin is knight of some kind."
Dudley could merely shrug his shoulders.
Thank you for your note. I am not surprised Aunt Petunia never told you about the wedding. I am certain she never spoke of it to your father, either.
Ms Lyons, or if you do not mind, Daisy, Dudley told you we are part of a cult. No doubt, that brought to mind some very odd, or even disturbing, images. We are part of an extended group which may be called 'counter-cultural' or even 'odd'. Religion, however, does not enter into it. As a group, we probably cover as wide a range of beliefs as the general population (well, there are probably a lower percentage in various Dissenting groups than the general population). Luna and I attend various Anglican Churches in England and Wales and Episcopal Churches in Scotland.
A little research, in fact, revealed that your second cousin on your father's side, is Penny Weasley (Dudley flinched at the name 'Weasley', but Daisy didn't notice) nee Clearwater; and that the Creevy siblings (Colin, Dennis, Eliza, Flora, George, and Harriet) are your second cousins once removed on your mother's side. All were at school with us.
Daisy frowned. "I've never actually met any of them, but they are all supposed to be, well. . . ."
"Odd," Daisy agreed. She continued:
In any event, Dudley mentioned that you and he would like to see a photo or two of us, in part, no doubt, so you know to warn the ushers to sit us in the back corner (just teasing, Big D). It has been seven years, so Dudley might not recognize me from a distance, as I am a bit taller and had my eyes treated, so I no longer need glasses.
All our best, and we hope you like our wedding gift.
"Well, there are two other envelopes," Dudley pointed out.
"This must be the one about the present," Daisy said, pointing out the smaller one. "Let's see the photos first."
Dudley manfully contained his first reaction to that idea. Daisy was trying to teach him patience.
There were nine photos, all 5x7. The first showed six people on a large blanket, eating a picnic. "Do you know any of them, other than your cousin?"
"Not really," Dudley said. "The two red-heads are probably Weasleys, at the least guy is, and the girl looks like she would be his sister. I met the bushy-haired girl once, when she dropped Harry off and picked him up that last summer. I thought she might be Luna, but that blonde must be her, though."
"It does look like they're a couple. I take it, then, that's Harry?"
Daisy looked at the back. "Ron, Hermione, Luna, Harry, Ginny, Neville. Harry's birthday, 1997." She looked at the next one. "Oh, my!" she exclaimed, tears in her eyes.
This photo was set in a cemetery on an autumnal day, with a marker inscribed 'RONALD B. WEASLEY, March 1980 - April 1998'. Hermione was holding a newborn, and Harry and Luna were standing on either side of her, arms around her waist. It was inscribed, 'Ronald Harry Granger-Weasley's baptism, with parents and godparents'
"That's so sad."
The next photo showed Harry and Luna in some sort of formal-looking robes in a church, with Hermione in similar white robes next to Luna and Neville, in black robes, next to Harry. "Must be their wedding," Daisy said, seeing no inscription of the back.
The next photo showed the couple, in regular if stylish clothes, cutting a violet wedding cake. The fifth photo, no doubt of their honeymoon destination, showed them in hiking gear standing in front of an entrance to a Swedish National Forest.
The next two photos were family photos, sent out for Christmas in 2001 and 2003. The first had an infant in Luna's arms. In the second, the baby had grown into a small, smiling boy with messy black hair and large grey eyes, while a new infant occupied Luna's arms. Their names were Sirius Ronald and Dora Hermione.
The pair's eyes bugged out at the next image, as it showed a smiling Harry in full court dress, standing at the center of a group -- Prince Charles, the Queen, Harry, and Prime Minister Blair.
"Dad would say it was faked," Dudley said.
"Grandfather just retired two years ago," Daisy said with a shaky voice. "I'll ask him."
The final photo must have been taken recently. Dudley suspected it had been taken just that week. Harry was standing in front of some sort of stately home, with his toddler daughter in his arms and his impish son standing with his arms around his father's right leg.
Dudley's eyes hurt for a moment, for he realized that Harry was happy, and apparently important.
Everything his parents had hoped Harry would not have, and would not become, Harry now had, and had become. He was healthy, loved, and well-off.
Dudley's attention was brought back to Daisy, and he saw she had opened the small envelope. "What is it?" he asked. Wordlessly, and with a stunned look on her face, Daisy handed over an official looking letter.
It was from the local bank.
To help the young couple, Dudley's parents had put 25% down on a house for them. Daisy, who came from an equally well-off but larger family, was pleased that her parents and grandparents had combined to equal that. Dudley's Aunt Marge had put down 5%. Wedding guests could choose to contribute as well, but so far, only about 4% more had been pledged.
The bank informed them that all the rest of the principle, and most of the fees, had been paid by 'Sir Harry Potter'. At this point, less than 200 pounds remained before their house was free and clear.
The next night, Dudley came back into the kitchen as his father snored in front of the television. "Yes, Sweet'ums?" Petunia asked.
"We got a letter from Harry yesterday," Dudley said.
"Stating he would not be attending the wedding, I would hope," Petunia said with a superior sniff.
"No, we sent along some photos, regular photos, I mean, and his wedding present."
"And what did he send you?"
Dudley looked his mother in the eye. "He paid off the house."
Petunia stared at him, and then asked, "He what?"
"He paid off the remaining forty-one percent of the house." He held out the letter from the bank.
Petunia blinked several times, and then sat down, hard. Only then did she read the letter. "It must be a fake. Sir Harry indeed."
Dudley laid the photo of Harry with the Royals and the Prime Minister. "Maybe, but we checked the library yesterday. There was a Harry James Potter on the 1999 New Year's Honours List. Daisy's grandfather painted Coats of Arms for the College of Arms, and he said that the phrasing used was for those in the various secret services. Who's Who just lists his parents names, his wife name, and his children's names, and his birthday. It's Harry, alright."
"My God!" Petunia frowned. "Children?"
Dudley slid over the last Christmas photo and the image of Harry and the two children. Petunia averted her eyes from the happy faces and stood up to unpack the clean dishes from the dishwasher. "Well, it just shows that we managed to do the Boy some good after all."
Somehow, Dudley couldn't bring himself to believe that.
Saturday, August 7, 2004
Dudley and Daisy's wedding day was slightly overcast and cool. Daisy was quite pleased that Petunia had largely left her alone. She was not to know that this was because Petunia was terrified of what her nephew might do whenever he showed up.
Because she was on her guard, Petunia saw that the Potters were two of the last arrivals before the ceremony started. She was gratified that they were dressed fairly normally. Seeing they were sitting well-back in the very uncrowded Dursley side of the church, she let her attention go back to her darling son.
At the reception, Harry and Luna stayed far away from Petunia, Vernon, and Marge, who were happy to return the favor. The couple instead sat with Daisy's grandparents, as her grandfather had actually been the man who had done Harry's Coat of Arms and they had met then. All seemed to get along very well. Petunia, eavesdropping for a moment, was content to hear them talking about their children, not about any forbidden subjects.
Marge had wanted to confront Harry, but was busy trying to keep Ripper III away from the cake or from biting the guests. Not even Petunia could fault Harry in this, as it was Ripper III's normal behavior.
Daisy was very pleased, when she visited the table, to hear that Harry and Luna would be 'dropping by' some time after the honeymoon to talk.
That made Dudley very worried.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Harry, Luna, and little Dora 'dropped in' two weeks later. Dudley and Daisy had only had a one week honeymoon in Harrogate and were already back at work.
"She a beautiful child," Daisy said. While the Potter's son had his father's hair and mother's eyes, Dora was the opposite, with light blonde hair which would likely darken several shades over the years and her father's bright green eyes. "Where's your son?"
"Oh, he's at home of course," Luna said dismissively, unconcerned.
"We own a small estate just inside Wales," Harry said. "Hermione and her son live with us during the summer, so she's minding him."
"Well, I'm very happy to get to talk with you." She eyes her nervous husband. "Not many people would forgive what I take was an unpleasant experience growing up with such forgiveness."
"Or are you here to cause trouble?" Dudley asked. "Dad thinks so."
"He would," Harry agreed mildly. "No, we're here to help you, although your parents won't like it one bit, if you tell them."
"Why?" Dudley asked. Daisy just looked confused.
"Luna, why don't you talk with Daisy, while Big D and I talk outside while he grills the steaks."
"Of course," Luna answered, a serene smile on her face. Harry guided Dudley outside.
"What?" Dudley demanded.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Think, Dudley. What would I have to tell you, that I discovered at the wedding reception? No? Think about me . . . and certain relatives Daisy has on both sides of her family. What do we all have in common?"
"Your, well, you know."
Dudley thought a few more seconds, and the sat down. As there was no chair, his wide bottom smacked on the ground. "Oh, shit!"
Harry nodded. "Your son is magical."
Dudley nearly fainted.
Dudley's vision slowly cleared, and it took him a moment to realize that he was sitting on the ground. He looked up, and saw that his cousin looked very serious. "You're sure?"
"I am," Harry answered. "How magical, we can't tell yet, but both Luna and I are powerful in different ways. We could both tell, so he's likely, almost certain, to be a wizard."
"Mum and Dad will have fits," Dudley said flatly. He looked back at Harry. "Your wife is telling Daisy?"
Harry moved away and placed the steaks on the grill and looked around. "By the way, whoever picked this place out did a nice job. I like it."
"Daisy did," Dudley admitted. He struggled to his feet. He shivered when his cousin turned and glared at him.
"I don't know you any more," Harry said. "The Dudley of seven years ago was still something of a spoiled bully. You seem a bit more reasonable."
"Well, I guess I can see why you'd say that about me," Dudley admitted.
"If you were still that Dudley, let alone how you were before that, we'd wait until Daisy had the baby, then we'd take it, memory charm you all to think he had died, and sterilize the pair of you to make certain you'd never breed again."
Dudley again sat down in shock, but fortunately this time there was a chair behind him. The force did bend the aluminum frame a bit.
"Do you really think I'd allow another magical child to be abused like I was?" Harry growled. "There's no cupboard to stash him in, so where will your mother want you to keep him? In your bedroom closet?"
A horrible thought crossed Dudley's mind. "Is Luna telling Daisy all that, too?"
Dudley slumped into his chair. "So, what are you going to do?" he muttered.
"The story of how your parents treated me came out a few years ago, and no, I wasn't behind it. Since I'm rather popular and powerful in my world, the result was a series of laws. Magical births were always automatically recorded. The Ministry of Magic now checks on how children raised outside of the magical community are treated. You will be monitored. Considering your family, probably very closely, although if you treat the child well, you'd never notice it."
Dudley shivered at the thought while Harry turned the steaks. "What can we do, other than our best?" Dudley asked. For once, at least in Harry's knowledge of him, Dudley wasn't whining or protesting his (non-existent) innocence. He truly wanted an honest answer.
"If Daisy accepts this knowledge openly, then I suspect you'll just have to follow her lead and not listen to your parents or aunt," Harry retorted. "She seems to be a very nice person."
"She is," Dudley state. He glared at Harry. "I don't want her hurt."
"I can understand that," Harry agreed. "Of course, if you mean physically, I can't imagine how she could be."
"No," Dudley admitted, "I couldn't see you allowing that," Dudley looked confused for a moment, and then realized what he just admitted. Then Dudley jumped as two women appeared, each with a 'pop'.
The women glared at the cousins. One merely nodded, while the other greeted Harry with just, "Potter." Then they went into the house. Dudley looked at Harry.
"Eliza Creevy and Penelope Weasley," Harry said simply. "Luna must have called them."
"They don't seem to like us," Dudley said mildly.
"They don't like you because they know how you treated me growing up. They don't like me, either."
Dudley frowned. "Why not? I thought you were some sort of hero."
"Some sort," Harry agreed. "Eliza doesn't like me because her oldest brother, Colin, has always been my biggest fanboy. I think he was always a poofter, but she thinks he became so obsessed with me that it turned him queer."
Dudley wrinkled his nose.
"As for Penny, well, her husband has always had a stick up his arse, and doesn't get along well with his family, although they are at least on talking terms these days. He also blames me for Ron's death. She just follows his lead to a degree."
"Why call them? Just because they're related?"
Harry shook his head. "No, they also both work in the Muggle Affairs Office, the folks that would be monitoring you."
Luna came out, juggling two platters with side dishes, which she set down. "Are the steaks done?"
"Yes, luv," Harry responded. Luna pulled cutlery from her pocket and handed them to Harry, then took the two largest steaks and put them on the clean platter Harry had ready for them.
"Penny and Eliza are staying, so we'll split these," Luna said. She glanced around and then snapped her fingers. Six cold bottles of ale appeared on the patio. Luna smiled and went inside.
"Guess we're eating out here, Big D."
Dudley nodded, then said, "You said a son?"
"And he'll be a wizard? Go to that school of yours?"
Harry nodded, but added, "There are other choices, but Hogwarts is the best school with instruction in English outside of two in North America."
"Mum and Dad will have something else to say, but is it expensive?"
"Less than Smeltings," Harry answered, which made Dudley grimace. There was no way he could have afforded to send a son to Smeltings, unless he won a scholarship, which no Dursley ever had. "Don't worry, I'll help out."
"Why?" Dudley asked, honestly curious. Unlike his parents, he did not despise Harry, but he had grown enough in the previous two years to admit that had he been in Harry's position, he would not have helped.
"Two reasons, now that we've learned that your wife is both a nice person and seems to be understanding about magic." Seeing Dudley's unspoken question, Harry explained, "Luna would not have called those two in, and they certainly wouldn't be eating your steak, otherwise."
"So, two reasons. One, I'm helping family." Harry looked Dudley in the eye. "That is what family is supposed to do, isn't it?"
Dudley flushed in shame. "Yes, you're right."
Harry then grinned. "Second, because it will really take the mickey out of your Mum and Dad."
Dudley managed to return the smile. "Let's drink beer and eat steak."
Harry snapped his fingers and two beers were opened and flew into their hands. "To your son."
Dudley paused, and then said, "Yes, and if Daisy agrees, he'll be Harry Dursley, your godson and cousin."
Harry smirked, and they clinked bottles.