The Continuing Saga of the Post Hogwarts life of Dudley and his cousin.
Disclaimer: I have no rights to these characters, they being the sole property of JK Rowling and am making no money from said story.
The Start of Something New
Chapter 1. An Old Acquaintance!
It was the Thursday before the start of the Christmas holidays in my last year at Bristol University. I had been studying towards a diploma in Social Work, and was living in rented accommodation with four other students. They weren’t a bad lot if a little immature, into drugs and parties. I missed having a girlfriend, Lisa and I had drifted apart when she went abroad to work after going back to Hogwarts to complete her education. I still had regular communication with Harry, although, we weren’t close, at least we were still friendly to each other.
My housemates thought me a little odd because I had an owl that seemed to visit me at irregular intervals, and well educated because I regularly read a foreign newspaper, which is what the Daily Prophet looked like to muggles.
I was packing up to go home for the holidays when Athena, Harry’s owl came flying in through the open window. I took the letter from her leg and she flew to the desk and settled down, I quickly opened the envelope, when she stayed like that it meant Harry was expecting a reply.
‘Dudley, can you meet me in London at the Leaky Cauldron tomorrow night at eight? I’ve got good news and some slightly bad news. Don’t worry, not that bad, though! Send your reply with Athena. Harry.’
I liked Harry’s owl and I think she was alright with me, at least she’d never tried to bite me like his first one had, but I wondered why Harry didn’t telephone me, with something that needed a quick reply. I’d even got him one of the new wizard mobile phones, but I don’t think he’d ever used it, and whenever I called it, it had always gone straight to voicemail.
Usually if I wanted to communicate with him I would have to go into town and the wizard post office and send a letter using one of their owls.
I penned a quick reply. ‘See you there, I’ll drive down and then drive home to Mum and Dad’s afterwards, Dudley; and she flew back out the window back to Harry.
I finished my packing, all the laundry I hadn’t got round to, and the coursework I had to complete over the Christmas holidays and presents for Mum, Dad and Harry, and packed them in the Mini that had been given to me after I passed my Driving Test.
I shoved everything into the car and locked it up and headed back to into the house. I wondered what Harry’s good news was, and the bad. I phoned Mum to tell her I would be late getting back as I was meeting Harry and his cryptic message. “Ok, Dudley, drive safe and give your friends my best. I’ll see you later tomorrow night. Do you want me to leave a meal ready for you?”
“No thanks Mum, I’ll eat at the Leaky Cauldron before meeting Harry, and I won’t drink, as I’m driving, so don’t bother telling me!” She laughed and hung up; she had to be careful what she said in the house. Dad was still vehemently anti-Harry and anti-magic, although he didn’t say much in Mum’s presence but you could tell, whenever Harry was mentioned he would huff and start mumbling under his breath.
It was a little disconcerting being back in the Leaky Cauldron and the Magical world. Although I had been writing to Harry and getting regular news through the Daily Prophet, I hadn’t stepped into the magical world proper for over two years. I walked through the door expecting to see the familiar face of Tom behind the bar, but there was a different face behind the bar.
“Hello Dudley! It is Dudley, isn’t it?” she looked at the puzzled expression on my face.
“You’ve gone and forgotten me, haven’t you?”
I looked at the barmaid, where had she seen me before? Where had I met her? “It’s Hannah isn’t it? We met at Justin’s birthday party. How are you and Ernie?”
“I’m fine! I don’t know how Ernie is. We broke up after our last year at Hogwarts.”
“Oh. So are you seeing anyone now?”
“Yes, I am,” she pulled her wand and shot green stars up the stairs behind the bar.
There was the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs, and a voice called out, “hang on Hannah, I’m coming.”
A tall man about our age came running down the stairs and hit the bar in his effort to stop.
“What is it? What’s wrong? He panted, wand in hand.
“Neville put the wand away. I sent up green sparks not red. I just wanted to introduce you to someone.” Neville looked at me, obviously trying to work out who I was. “Dudley, this is my boyfriend Neville Longbottom.”
Neville and I looked at each other over the bar. Neville was a good looking wizard, but his face was crisscrossed with several old scars. He shook my hand, “I think I saw you at Hogwarts on Harry’s birthday after the battle. You gave him a new owl.”
“I didn’t see you there! Where were you hiding?”
“I wasn’t. I was on the Ravenclaw table talking to one of the professors about retaking my N.E.W.T.s. the next year. I’d missed out on the exams after the Carrows’ had decided I was surplus to requirements, becoming too much trouble. I holed up in the Room of Requirement and plotted insurrection from there.”
“So you were a Ravenclaw then?”
“No, for the first four years I was the worst student in our year, I was in Gryffindor with Harry. I was useless; I couldn’t get the hang of the simplest spells. That all changed in our fifth year, partially with the newest Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher...”
“I take it you mean Harry, I heard he taught it in his fifth year; Dumbledore’s Army.”
“Yeah, I do, there were other reasons that helped as well.
“The first time Harry defeated Voldemort when he was a baby, some of his followers tried to find his whereabouts by torturing two Aurors using the Cruciatus Curse. They were my parents. The Death Eaters tortured them until they went insane. They’re still in St Mungos to this day. I was raised by my Grandmother, but during the fifth year, they escaped from Azkaban, and the desire for revenge helped me as well. I was determined to avenge my parents.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your parents, is there no hope for them?”
“None, the medi-wizards have tried everything. There was just too much damage done at the time. They’ll be in the hospital until the day they die. I still go to visit them, but I’m never sure if they even recognise me.”
"I’m sorry! But I just noticed one thing; you called ‘You Know Who’ by his proper name, most wizards still use some other thing to refer to him. The Prophet is always talking about the uncaught Death Eaters and they still don’t refer to him by name. Why is that?”
“It’s a habit I caught off Harry, he always used the proper name; ‘fear of a name only increases the fear of the thing itself.’ For a time the name was jinxed, it caused magical alarms to go up anytime his name was mentioned because only his enemies used it, but that’s all over now. But the habit is still there with a lot of people. Old fears die hard.”
“I know about old fears, I still have occasional nightmares about those bloody dementors attacking me, and Harry saving my life. Those things really creeped me out.
“I never had to deal with them, but just the thought of them gives me the creeps.”
“They would anybody. But enough of that, what’s happened to Tom? Are you the new owners of the bar?”
Hannah laughed, “No, he’s visiting his son in Australia for Christmas, and we’re looking after it for him. It has its advantages!”
Neville grinned. “Like no gran. She’s very happy that I’ve got a girlfriend but she’s very old fashioned in her way. She had Tom put caterwauling charms on mine and Hannah’s bedroom doors. If both of us are in either bedroom at the same time, it sounds an alarm in her house. She’d be here faster than a Quidditch seeker after the snitch. So we sleep in a third bedroom!”
“NEVILLE!” Hannah blushed.
I laughed. “Don’t worry your secret is safe with me. As long as I can get something to eat, I’m meeting Harry here in an hour and it’s been a long day.
“No problem.” Hannah took my order and motioned me to sit at one of the side tables, and bought me a butterbeer. I sat reading the Daily Prophet looking at the couple of other patrons that were in the bar. One of them was a rather disreputable looking fellow who looked like he needed a bath; he was keeping a constant eye on the door as if he were looking to run at the first sign of trouble. I couldn’t place him but I knew I’d seen him somewhere before! I sat drinking the warm butterbeer and trying to figure out who the disreputable looking wizard was, to no avail. I couldn’t put a name to the face; so I asked Hannah when she brought my meal. “That’s Mundungus Fletcher, a small time crook and con man; you don’t want anything to do with him. He probably heard you mention Harry and is looking to flee when he arrives.”
“No. The name means nothing, but I’m positive I’ve seen him somewhere before!” I sat there eating my meal and tried to remember where I’d seen him before.
As I finished eating and ordered another butterbeer and continued to wait for Harry, the disreputable looking wizard came over to me. “I think I owe you an apology.”
“Well forgive me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you Harry Potter’s cousin? You see if you are, it was because of me that you get attacked by them dementors. You see I’d just received news of a load of cauldrons going cheap and well it were too good a business opportunity to miss you see.”
“I don’t understand... hang on, was it you that apparated on our front lawn and got attacked by Mrs. Figg? If it was I think you did me a favour!”
“Blimey! Are you touched in the ‘ead or summat? Being attacked by them bleeding things and you think I did you a favour, you must be.”
“You misunderstand me! Those dementors did me some good; they made me see what my life had been like. I was a bully and a lazy layabout. Without them, attacking me, I’d never have made it up with Harry. I’d have lost my only cousin. Don’t get me wrong I still have nightmares about that night, but could you have got rid of them before I was attacked?”
“Dunno! Never mastered that Patronus thingy. I would have gone to get ‘elp though!”
“So, do you think the help would have got their in time to stop the dementors attacking Harry and I?”
“Well! Most likely. Bit ‘ard to tell ain’t it?”
I looked him in the eye. A disconcerting experience as his eyes seemed to be looking constantly at the doors to the premises and never at me. “So, it didn’t really make that much of a difference did it? They’d still have attacked me, and Harry would still have had to intervene to save my life?”
“Suppose so! But its more than likely that the bleedin’ ‘orrible things would’ve gone f’ me, innit? I mean, I’m not exactly the most respectable of people like! So it might’ve spared you bein’ attacked like?”
“I don’t know? I don’t know that much about you Mr. Fletcher, only vaguely what I remember when Mrs. Figg was attacking you with her umbrella that night, and what I’ve heard from Hannah tonight. But I wasn’t exactly a saint myself. I’d spent years bullying Harry and the other kids in our neighbourhood. I lied, I cheated, I wasn’t the perfect kid by any means.”
“Blimey! ‘Oo, you callin’ Mr. Fletcher, almost makes me feel respectable? Most people call me Mundungus, or more usually Dung. I still should’ve been there for ya!”
“In a way, I’m glad you weren’t. Horrible as the dementors were,” I shivered violently at the thought of them, “the experience did me some good. It showed me the error of my ways. If the attack hadn’t happened I might possibly be the same self centred, ignorant, spoiled brat that I had been all my life.”
“Grief! The way you talk about the experience, makes me almost feel like a bleedin’ ‘ero! Changing you for the better like!”
“I wouldn’t exactly call you a hero, but you certainly aren’t the villain of the piece you point yourself out to be. That would be whoever set the dementors on us that night. It can’t have been just coincidence.”
“I weren’t! Didn’t you read the Prophet about sometime in July after Harry finished off ‘You Know Who?’ That ministry toad, Umbridge, she got sent to Azkaban for the abuses what she’d done to Muggleborns, and another one of ‘er crimes was setting them dementors on you and ‘Arry that night.”
“I must have missed that one. It probably came before I got my new ID card from the Ministry.”
“‘Ang on! You’ve got a Ministry ID card. I thought you was a Muggle?”
“I am.” I pulled the card from my wallet and showed it to him. “I think I was one of the first to get one of these?”
He looked at the card and read what it said, “right, I ‘eard summat about that, it were a new initiative by the Ministry to include the family of Muggleborns more in the education of their kids. How come you was one of the first to get one then?”
“It was my idea. All the time I was in hiding, when Harry was doing his part in the wizard war, we had something similar provided for us by the Ministry. It enabled me to properly interact with the wizard world for the first time. I petitioned for something similar after it was returned. Even spoke directly to the Minister about it.”
“Cripes! You spoke to the Minister. You must’ve spun a good line to get one of them things? Wish I had your tongue. Could be useful t’get me outta scrapes sometimes.”
“Not really. I just pointed out some advantages to letting certain Muggle interact with your society. I mean, once they have a wizard in the family, the Statute of Secrecy doesn’t apply to them in the same way. They need to know about your world.”
“Good point...” he suddenly reached into his robes and pulled out a mobile phone. “Sorry gotta take this! Business associate like. Hello Warty, that you... What was that?... I’ll be right over. See you in a bit.” He hung up and stowed the phone back in his robes. “I can’t stand these new bloody phone thingammywhatsits meself. But that's the price of business these days. Nice meeting you.” He shook my hand and quickly left the pub; still trying to look in every direction he could for any sign of the law.”
I went back to reading the paper, really just filling time until Harry arrived. There was a slight cough in front of me; I looked up to see Neville standing at the table. “Was Dung bothering you, sorry didn’t really notice. I was out the back and Hannah was busy serving. Anyway, I’ve got to tell you that Harry rang. He’s slightly delayed due to an accident concerning a friend, but he’ll come and meet you shortly!”
“Oh right, thanks! No, Mr. Fletcher, Dung wasn’t causing any trouble he came to apologise for not being there in our fifth year, when those dementors attacked us. He’d apparated away on some sort of shady business deal, when he should have been guarding Harry; it was then that the dementors attacked. I told him that it wasn’t his fault and in some small way, I’m glad for the attack. After all, I wouldn’t be here waiting to see Harry if they hadn’t. Did Harry give you any idea of what the accident was; I hope it’s nothing serious?”
“Sorry no! He didn’t, but he didn’t sound too worried. Did you want anything else?”
“Not at the moment thanks, I’ll be up shortly to settle the bill.” Neville nodded and left me to finish reading the paper, clearing the table as he went, and I went back to reading the Daily Prophet, but there was really nothing of interest in it at the moment. I finished reading the paper and went over to the bar to settle my tab.
“I’d like to settle up for the meal and another butterbeer please, and could you take for a drink for Mundungus Fletcher, the next time he’s in. Tell him it’s off me!”
Hannah looked a little mystified at this, “that’s a Galleon, 3 knuts then please. But may I ask why you’re buying Dung a drink? You don’t want to be mixing with his sort.”
“It’s something of an old matter. It’s because of him that I’ve still got a cousin who wants to speak to me!” I left the bar and went back to wait for Harry. I was glad this butterbeer stuff wasn’t alcoholic, or I’d be in no fit state to drive home. I wonder what the accident was that was holding up Harry; hopefully he’d tell me when he got here...
Please Review. I will get round to updating as soon as I am able, but I am having difficulty at the moment with internet access at my home, so have to keep using an internet cafe to post my story. I fully intend to follow canon with this story, although I have to admit I have no idea how long it would take Dudley to get his Diploma in Social Work, so I am guessing on three years, this being about the time a lot of degrees take. I hope you enjoy the first chapter of what I hope will be the continuing saga that began in my previous story ‘A New Beginning’. I will be trying to title all my chapters as I go along this time, look out for the next one soon ‘You’ve Been Keeping Secrets’