Dudley Dursley had always been a fairly rowdy boy.
From the tender age of two months he had it figured out that maximum tantrums equalled maximum attention, and this was something he would use to its' full potential. It was always the same thing. He screamed, his mother in turn fussed, and his father patted his head, smiling proudly. What else would a young child wish for than love and attention from the people who cared for him?
This was when Dudley learned that causing a ruckus got him the attention he craved.
Things changed after not too long however, when another baby arrived. Dudley didn't know who this baby was or where he had come from, but he did know that his two idols, his wonderful parents, clearly disliked him a lot, and so Dudley responded in kind, and took to poking and prodding the black haired child at every given opportunity, to interesting results.
While the baby, whose name Dudley didn't know, would snivel and cry each time he did this, his mother would merely shush the boy and then fuss over Dudley even more, apologising for "the nasty boy" upsetting him. His father would respond in a similar manner, often taking Dudley for ice cream if he thought he was upset enough.
And so Dudley learned that hurting the black haired boy earned him extra attention, and sometimes ice cream.
Several years passed without much change. Dudley's waistline increased at the same rate as that of his father's, while his mother's waistline seemed to steadily shrink, as did that of the black haired boy's - whose name, Dudley eventually discovered, was Harry.
Dudley was a popular boy in school. He and his gang of friends ruled the playground all the way through primary, and he soon realised that the more thuggish he acted, the more the other students did what he told them to. None of the teachers did anything to stop him - because what exactly could they do? - and if anything his parents just chuckled at his actions. His dad would often ruffle his hair if he got into a fight, proudly proclaiming "that's my boy!"
Harry wasn't nearly as popular. Dudley didn't want any of the people in school associating the two of them more than they already did so anyone who attempted to make contact with the tiny runt was quickly dealt with, and his parents were so repulsed by the boy that Dudley didn't want them to think he liked him. What if his dad stopped ruffling his hair and buying him cool presents, and taking him out for fast food? What if they started treating him like they treated Harry? No, he couldn't allow that to happen, absolutely not.
And so Dudley learned that keeping the boy isolated was the best way to keep himself on top.
Things changed again when he was eleven, this time significantly more. After terrifying incident on his birthday, when he was attacked by a snake at the zoo - one that sparked off months of nightmares and a severe fear of snakes that would last for the rest of his young life - Harry started getting letters. Strange letters. Scary letters.
Or at least, he assumed they were strange and scary, when he looked at his parents' reactions to the first one that arrived. His dad's face turned an very odd colour, one Dudley hadn't seen on him before, and his hands began shaking, while his mum looked ready to faint as she took in the writing on the front of the envelope. He had never seen his parents react to something in this way before. Never. He had to know what that letter was about.
However, his attempts to find out were alarming failures. His parents hadn't let him look. They had said no. They had never said no before, at least not to him, and he didn't know what to do. Because of this, he did whatever he did when people said no to him, and threw a tantrum.
He screamed, he shouted, he hit his dad and Harry with his brand new Smeltings stick, and it did nothing to help. He was sent to his room for it. This was new. This was different. Very different and Dudley didn't know much, but he knew he didn't like it. This was a bad sign.
Harry himself was as close to being rewarded as Dudley had ever seen after he said that the envelope had "had my cupboard on it". He had been given Dudley's second bedroom, and this made Dudley furious.
He needed that room. Where else was he supposed to keep all his broken toys and unwanted birthday presents? Harry already had a place to sleep, he didn't need one of his rooms, did he?
But again, all the tantrums in the world did nothing to change his parents' minds, even when he threw his stupid tortoise out of the window. Whatever was in that letter was related to Harry, and as Dudley saw it that letter was ruining his life, so this meant that Potter was no longer just a nuisance, but he was also a problem.
And so Dudley learned that Harry Potter wasn't his cousin, he was his enemy.
From here on out, Dudley's life only worsened. He was dragged from his home when it was invaded by the terrible, life-ruining letters, making him miss all his favourite TV shows and the birthday party of his crush, Amanda Sprigg, who would refuse to talk to him once he finally returned home.
Before this could happen however, his life would first change forever, because his dad, his father, the biggest idol in his life, both literally and figuratively, would snap. Dragged to a miserable hut on a stinking rock in the middle of the damn ocean, Dudley truly believed his dad's mind had slipped. Muttering to himself and bringing measly bananas and crisps as their only source of food, he seemed genuinely insane. Even his mum had appeared to be more scared of her husband than she was of the unstable old hut. The letters had done this to his family. The letters related to Potter.
Well, Dudley had known for sure who would be taking the water damaged sofa that night, and who would be left with the sandy, cold floor. This had made him feel slightly better. Slightly.
This too however was quickly rendered moot as well, much to his dismay, because what happened not long after he settled down on the lumpy, hole-ridden sofa, made him forget his TV shows and lovely Amanda Sprigg's birthday entirely. In fact, it made him forget much of what he knew, other than to run and hide behind his dad for safety, which was no longer such an easy feat for him.
This was because, to put it simply, a giant broke down the front door. The towering, lumbering man took up almost half of the pathetic hut on his own, his face large and terrifying and dangerous to Dudley, who quivered with terror at the mere sight of him.
After several seconds, the giant reached down, making Dudley flinch, only for him to... put the door back in its place. Oh. Well, surprisingly this made him relax slightly, but not much. The giant asked for Potter, looked straight at Dudley with black, watchful eyes, before turning to the boy in question, his face breaking out into a delighted smile.
The giant had rambled on about Potter's parents, raged at his parents for lying about their deaths - which couldn't be true, because his parents didn't lie, did they? - and then presented Potter with a cake. A nice, big, chocolatey cake that looked ten times more delicious than it usually would - which for him was saying something - because of his own rumbling stomach, which growled viciously at the sight of the treat.
It looked good. So, so good. He tuned out from whatever was being talked about and edged towards the cake. He was so, so hungry, and cold and tired too. He deserved some compensation for all the recent emotional upheaval, didn't he? Harry never got cake anyway, so he would hardly miss it…
What followed his easily counted as the most traumatic experience of his life. Worse than breaking his arm when he was six. Worse than his school telling him he would need custom uniforms because none of the regular ones fit him. Worse still, than the dreaded snake incident from only a few weeks before.
As he reached towards the chocolate cake, eyes glazing over, he vaguely registered the giant roaring with anger and then a second later, terrible, searing pain as something sprouted - no word of a lie - sprouted, from his behind. Squealing in shock and pain and fear, he shot up straight as his mother screamed and his father shouted in anger, and reached around - with some difficulty - to see what the hell had just happened to him, and what he found almost made him faint.
There was a tail.
There was a tail attached to him. No, not attached - growing from him. The giant had shot him with his weird magic stuff and given him a pig's tail. He felt dizzy for several seconds and numbly noticed that he was yelling in fright and that his mother had taken him by the shoulders and was shaking him and crying and that his father was shouting words at him, none of which he could comprehend or understand. He ached with pain and his knees shook with shock. As his breathing grew thin and he was dragged bodily from the room by his hysterical mother he absently saw the terrifying giant - the giant who was here because of Potter - laughing at him.
That was the night that Dudley learned that magic was something to be feared, because magic caused him pain.
Yes, magic caused pain, and trips to specialised hospitals and worlds of other pains that he never imagined would exist, one of which being Potter disappearing with the violent giant for a whole day and reappearing again later looking happier than Dudley had ever seen him. Potter was magic, and had just visited a place with magic and returned happy. Harry Potter wasn't just an enemy, he was a dangerous enemy.
Dudley learned that if he was to stay safe in his own house he would have to be on the defence from now on, because Potter was going off to learn magic for a whole school year. If he was to ever sleep soundly in his own bed again, Potter had to know that just because he had that freaky magic stuff, didn't mean he was suddenly better than Dudley was.
It would be years before anything happened to change his opinion on magic.
The year after the tail incident, something that gave him nightmares each night for months after, his cousin escaped in a flying car at midnight - which given any other situation he would possibly, possibly find slightly cool - and the year following that, his Aunt was turned into a human balloon by Potter - not that she wasn't already close, but still.
The incident the year after that renewed his fear of magic again though, because when Potter announced that he would be leaving for the rest of that miserable, dieting summer, magic attacked him again. More specifically, his living room was blown apart, and one of those gangly, red headed weirdos attacked him.
It looked only like a toffee, and tasted like one too. A bloody toffee, so how the hell was he supposed to know what it was going to do to him? He didn't remember much of what happened following him eating the stray sweet.
He remembered his tongue swelling. He remembered slowly struggling to breathe and his heart hammering as the thought settled into his mind that he must be dying, and oh God what was he going to do because he couldn't call out for help and his vision was beginning to slowly cloud over and no one was noticing that he couldn't fucking breathe and then he was choking and finally he heard him mother's screams and there was shouting - so much shouting. His legs began to give out and he collapsed to the floor and there was a flash of green flame and the sound of plates smashing against the wall making his ears ring and was his mum trying to pull his tongue from his fucking mouth -
Nothing. His tongue was no longer swelling, but receding back into his mouth and he was shaking harder than he had since the giant and the tail and he felt as though he was going to throw up as he sucked in breath desperately. Tears leaked from his eyes but he furiously brushed them away, because his dad couldn't see him crying. He heard the red-headed man speaking, his tone apologetic, but he couldn't hear the words, too busy concentrating on keeping his measly lunch in his stomach.
The nightmares had lasted almost a year after that, and now his dreams of pigtails and chocolate cakes were joined by dreams of toffees that would have him jolting upright in his bed in the middle of the night, sweating with terror.
Well, at least his renewed nightmares put him off snacking on sweets now.
Yes, it would be another year or so after the horror of the toffee until he saw magic as anything less than something from a horror movie, and even then his opinion would not change much.
In the midst of what must have surely been his death, at the hands of magic just as terrible as he expected it to be, his enemy, his cousin, had saved him - with magic.
He had felt dread. More dread than ever before. More than he had when he was eleven and he had gazed up at that terrifying giant who Potter had liked so much. More so than when his Aunt had inflated right before his eyes. More so even, than when he had looked, quivering, at the identical twins who blasted into his living room and had looked at him with scheming, cruel eyes.
Images appeared in his mind as a force he could not see, only feel, took hold of him, and there was nothing good left in the world, nothing left living for and tears leaked from his eyes as his mind was cast forcibly back to his worst memory, on the day that first damned letter had arrived, addressed to Potter. The letter than had ruined his life forever.
He was begging for death, waiting for the sorrow, the dread, the pain to just stop and for everything to stop because nothing could be worse than this -
He was dropped heavily to the floor of the dimly lit tunnel, a bright light dazzling him as the dread seemed to vanish, replaced by sickness and horror and dizziness because oh shit, magic had gotten him again.
But what had helped him?
Dudley was barely conscious, but he saw his cousin stood with his - his magic thing out, pointed at the air. Had - had Potter done that to him? That strange, blinding light was still dazzling him, but that had gotten rid of whatever was hurting him, right? So what had - what had happened?
Dudley didn't remember anything that happened after that. Potter had dragged him home, and he had been sick, he knew that. His mother had screamed - again. His father had shouted in anger and fear - again. When asked what had happened, he had pointed to his cousin, because there was no other explanation. He had been around magic again, gotten hurt again. When did he ever end up near magic and not get hurt? Yes, Harry Potter was the only explanation.
But then, Potter seemed to have made the thing, feeling, whatever it was, go away. So Potter had… saved him? With magic?
Time would pass and he would slowly stew over that night, and many other nights that had preceded it, and slowly, ever so slowly, Dudley learned that while magic was still bad, maybe Potter wasn't. Maybe Potter was just his cousin.
And then came the day he had to leave the only home he had ever known, because magic was trying to get its insidious claws into him again, but this time he knew his cousin was trying to keep him safe, however involved he was. His parents didn't seem to understand this, but as time had passed, he had begun to think that maybe they weren't always right after all.
When he and Harry Potter parted ways, possibly for the last time - as he now knew his cousin was in danger - Dudley hesitated, before offering him his hand. His cousin wasn't a waste of space, as he had been brought up to believe. His cousin had saved his life that night. He could be saving it again by sending him away from Privet Drive.
This was when Dudley Dursley learned that Harry Potter was not his enemy, whether magic was or not, and maybe when this - this Wizard war was over, he would find his cousin again, and they would go for a pint in the pub. But a normal one, not a magic one.
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