After the Incident with the Dementors Dudley has made peace of a sort with Harry. This is hopefully the furtherance of their friendship / family relationship after they leave school and move on to ...
Chapter 4: New Year with Old Friends.
The next day after an excellent breakfast prepared by Mrs. Weasley, Harry offered to take me to a quidditch match. It was a charity match being held on behalf of St. Mungos’, the wizard hospital, being held not far from here. I’d read about quidditch in Harry’s school books and some of the books I’d borrowed from the library in Tinworth, but I’d never got the chance to see a match and jumped at the opportunity. The only bad thing about it was, we’d have to apparate there.
We went out into the garden and I took hold of Harry’s arm. With the now familiar sickening feeling we were in the middle of a field somewhere. We started tramping through the frozen field, while Harry told me a little about the game. It was between the Chudley Cannons and Pride of Portree, so unfortunately, the result was a foregone conclusion. I questioned this as it made no sense to me. It seems the Cannons were the worst team in the league, finishing bottom for the past 75 years. It was Harry’s opinion that they couldn’t win if the other team played without broomsticks, but it should still be fun for me to watch.
Suddenly I felt slightly sick and disorientated as we were moving towards the edge of the next field, I tripped and Harry grabbed my arm to stop me falling face first into the dirt.
“What’s up Dudley? Are you alright?”
“I feel sick and as if I shouldn’t be here, uneasy, disorientated!”
He looked concerned for a few seconds, then grinned and waved his wand in my direction. Suddenly I felt a lot better. “I forgot, sorry, it’s the Muggle Repelling Charm on the field we’re going to. You’re a muggle, so you suddenly thought you shouldn’t be here.” I took the card from my wallet and placed it inside the glove I was wearing, to stop the discomfort returning, although I expected the spell Harry had put on me would work all day, and followed Harry the rest of the way. The field was dominated by a reasonably sized stadium, Harry paid for the both of us to get into the stadium and we took seats somewhere in the middle of the stadium.
Four and a half hours later, after what had been an extremely hectic match to my eyes, the result had been what Harry predicted. The Cannons lost 350 points to 70. I’d missed several of the goals being scored, but I had seen the seeker catch the snitch, which Harry had missed, watching the chasers at the other end of the field. The seeker had made a dive, nearly hitting the pitch, but had managed to catch the snitch. I could see the reason why it was popular though. It certainly had been impressive with 15 people in the air on broomsticks at the same time.
Back at the Burrow, Ron and Ginny had returned from working in their brother’s shop, and the inevitable discussion of the match began and went on most of the night through another excellent meal and right up to the time we all headed up to bed, lasting longer than the match itself. Most of it went over my head talk of cobbing, wonky feints and several other types of foul that went over my head, but I enjoyed the evening just as much as the match itself.
Harry and I spent the next couple of days going round together, me playing the tourist and him the guide. What really surprised us both though when he showed me his vault at Gringotts, was that apparently I also had an account there.
On speaking to the Head Goblin with Harry, it transpired that I had been responsible for the goblins being allowed to invest in the Muggle stock market and an account had been opened in my name. I was quite surprised at this and very astonished at how much was in the account, apparently, mine was one of a few Gringotts accounts that earned interest from my money, something almost unheard of in wizarding circles. According to Harry later, it was quite a respectable amount, in wizarding terms, as we made our way to George’s joke shop, me with my new key to my Gringotts vault in my wallet along with my card.
On New Year’s Eve we were all joined at the Burrow by a few more people, there was Bill and Fleur with their young daughter, Victoire, Percy, his pregnant wife Audrey and George. We were expecting the other brother, Charlie, but apparently there was some sort of back-up in the floo system and he was stuck in Romania. Great, even wizards had traffic jams. Harry was the only one who got the joke and spent at least half an hour explaining my comment to Arthur Weasley, who still seemed fascinated by Muggles.
That afternoon it was decided that all of our generation would take part in a quidditch match in the Weasleys orchard, I was quite expecting to sit on the sidelines and watch when to my surprise I was handed a broom and a beaters bat by Ron. As everyone mounted their brooms I tried to get mine to fly, but I remained firmly on the ground. I was going to have to sit and watch anyway. Then, I remembered the card and got it from my wallet. As soon as it was in my hand the broom rose quickly into the air and I promptly fell off it and headed towards the icy ground. Fully expecting to fall and break my nose I was quite surprised when I floated quite gently to the floor, no harder than if I’d fallen off a cushion. Harry came flying over to me, wand in hand. “What happened Dudley?”
I showed him the card, “I can only use the broom when I’m holding this and I don’t think I’ll be able to hold this and the broom and the beaters bat.” I was quite disappointed in a way, quidditch looked awesome and I was looking forward to playing it myself. Harry thought for a moment, then whistled the other players to join us both on the ground and explained my dilemma. A heated discussion went on for a couple of minutes then Ginny took the card from me, waved me wand at it, and the card was suspended from a ribbon. I placed this ribbon over my head and inside my shirt where it was touching my skin and I could feel the broom want to respond in my hand.
Harry, Ginny and I were playing George, Ron and Bill; Percy was referee and apparently also in control of making the balls didn’t leave the orchard, to be seen by the local Muggles. The rules were somewhat different to the formal game as we didn’t have the full complement of players, Harry and I were combined beaters and chasers, with George and Ron taking the same position on their team, Ginny and Bill were seekers and keepers combined.
Although I was not that confident a flyer, feeling like I still needed ‘training wheels so to speak’ on my broomstick, I had great fun. I managed to score one goal with the basketball that was used as a makeshift quaffle and managed to hit George quite squarely in the face with the football that was being used as a bludger.
I was extremely glad that we were not using real bludgers as I was hit several times myself; it still hurt though, obviously not as much as a real steel bludger. Our snitch, an enchanted golf ball, was eventually caught by Bill in a magnificent move where he looped the loop over Ginny and snatched it from behind her back. The final score was 230 to 80, so it had been anybody’s until the snitch had been caught. As we made our way back to the house I definitely agreed with Harry that quidditch was the best game, I was going to follow it a bit more closely in the future.
Later that evening were all sitting comfortably in the lounge with drinks in our hands, all chatting amiably about differences between the wizard world and muggle one. Wizards did not have any universities. All education after the students took their N.E.W.T.s was done in an apprenticeship like arrangement. I was quite intrigued by this, because it seemed there was no chance of new trades or inventions in the wizard world. Arthur apparently agreed with my opinion, it was only through my intervention that his department at the ministry had been instigated. The previous new department at the ministry had been over 150 years earlier when the Department for Magical Games and Sports had been set up. It seemed to me, I was responsible for quite a lot of changes in the wizard world. I hadn’t mentioned to anyone the notice I’d seen in Gringotts 3 years ago about coinage being re-issued. I’m sure if the coins in my vault and others at the bank were examined they would be gold plated steel or something else, but then again, knowing about goblin workmanship, this might not be that detectable.
All conversation came to a halt as the flames in the fireplace turned an emerald green and a wizard with long red hair and a dragon tooth earring appeared in the flames. It was the missing brother, the one I hadn’t met, Charlie. He carried several parcels I his arms and proceeded to hand presents to everyone, but looked a little puzzled when he saw me. “Sorry, but I don’t remember seeing you before. Who are you?”
“This is my Muggle cousin, Dudley Dursley! He’s seeing the New Year in with us!”
“Right, a muggle! Hello Dudley. Don’t see many Muggles where I work, unless they’ve got past the muggle repelling charms and got caught by one of the dragons. Hasn’t happened recently though.”
“If it’s the same charms as I felt a few days ago, I’d be surprised if you get any muggles near, I felt awful until Harry realised what was wrong and used some sort of spell on me.”
“They’re similar, but not exactly the same. The usual spells have an adverse affect on the dragons, makes them irritable, but the principle is the same. Believe me you don’t want to be round an irritable dragon, they’re bad enough when in a good mood.”
“I’ll take you at your word, I’m just glad the dragons are in Romania and not round here thanks.”
“You really mean that, right just don’t go near Towyn (i), in Wales then!”
“The Welsh Dragon reserve is near there, bet you can’t guess what that dragon’s favourite food is.”
“It must be sheep obviously, but seriously you’re having me on, dragons in Wales. I’d never have guessed.”
“Sorry, but it’s good dragon country out there, mountains, caves, what do you think caused some of those mining disasters in the past. The muggles tunnelled into a dragon lair by mistake and the coal was ignited by the dragon. They’re fireproof, so it wouldn’t bother them.”
“Have muggles ever seen the dragons then?”
“That’s why there a lot of fatal mountain climbing accidents where the body is never recovered, dragons eating innocent mountaineers. If a dragon is seen by a muggle and they escape, they usually have their memory modified, so they don’t remember it.”
“So it’s just Wales I should avoid then if I don’t want to meet a dragon?”
“No, Scotland as well, there’s dragons there too. We have two breeds in Britain, Draconis Cambrianis Viridis, and Draconis Negris Hebridae!(ii)”
“Common Welsh Green and Hebridean Black dragons, they’re the two British breeds. Theirs dragons all over the world, why should Britain be any different?”
“Never thought about it, really, just you never hear about it on Muggle news, imagine the coup if some news agency could report that!”
“They do occasionally, when some Muggle has managed to photograph a dragon, the film is altered by the Accidental Magical Reversal Squad. What was it the Muggle news called them?... youfee’s or something like that?”
“I think I know what you mean. The term is UFO’s it stands for Unidentified Flying Object. I always thought the type of person who saw them were nutters, I’ll have to change my opinion.”
Our conversation was interrupted by the wizard radio in the corner switching on, “... witches and wizards all over Britain, the New Year is nearly on us, special thanks go to Marvin Lee Aday (iii) for that song, a singer so good he’s even made it into the Muggle charts. Now everyone charge your glasses as we go live to London for the chimes of Big Ben.”
Mr. Weasley flicked his wand and every glass was refilled and we all wished everyone “Happy new year,” as Big Ben (iv) Chimed midnight exactly the same as I usually did at home with Mum and Dad. We all drank a toast to 2002 as the radio clicked itself back off again.
We seemed to have lost the thread of the conversation that had been going on before the chimes, and were suddenly yawning and showing signs of getting ready for bed.
Author note: i) There are three towns called Towyn in Wales, I make no inference that the Dragon Reserve is near to any of them, but if it is, I don’t know which one. It’s a bit like saying Springfield USA, but which one. I’ve been told there’s one in every state; being British I don’t know if this is true!
ii) I apologise if my Latin is a bit rusty with the names of the dragons, it has been a few years since I studied it, but I feel that Charlie being a dragon lover would know the scientific / magical names.
iii) Does anyone know who the singer was I mentioned? No disrespect is meat to the artist in person and no inference is made that he is a wizard, just a humorous tribute to him.
iv) In England the New Year is usually celebrated listening to the chime of Big Ben, which incidentally is the BELL in the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster or Houses of Parliament, not the clock itself.