Dudley Dursley heaved a sigh of relief, slumped back on his comfortable office chair and closed his eyes. He was beefy and large, although not as large as one might have expected seeing him in his childhood photographs, had a pink face with a large, bushy moustache which, unlike his father, was blonde and not black. The table in front of him held a small label which read "Director: Grunnings" facing the door. Beside it was a digital clock which told that it was half past seven, half an hour later than he would have liked himself here. On the left side of the table was a picture frame which held a photograph depicting a large, fat man with a large, bushy moustache and a rather thin lady with a neck which seemed to be of twice the normal length. A caption below the photograph read "MUM & DAD". Another picture frame was placed adjacent to it which depicted Dudley with his wife Maria who was thin and blonde and a ten year old daughter Jennifer with auburn hair who smiled happily to the camera. He remembered the day when this picture was taken vividly. It was a summer afternoon on the beach. Jennifer had been insistent on building a sand castle. She held the small bucket even in the picture, her hair flying and sand up to her elbows.
This day was a particularly tiring one for Dudley Dursley, or Mr Dursley as he came to be known as these days since he succeeded his father two months ago. He had to double check all the deals with Grunnings in the past few years as he could not find a deal mentioned by the name "Mackintosh" in any of the files. Neither could he remember ever signing it. Finally, after a hard day's work, he found the details of the "Mackintosh" deal in a folder dated a year before his joining.
Mr and Mrs Dursley, Dudley Dursley's parents where currently on a trip to Aunt Marge's place. Aunt Marge was Mr Dursley's sister. He himself never liked her but an idea of a holiday to get a break from the heavy workload was enticing. He was musing over air castles of various holiday destinations when a sudden knock brought him back to the mundane world.
"Come in." He growled. Upon seeing the visitor, he softened his expressions. Thankfully, it wasn't one of his accounts department staff or his demeanor would not have changed.
"Good evening, Mr Dursley" said the visitor who was tall, thin and impossibly blonde.
"Ah Mr Malfoy. Come, sit" said Dudley in a way of greeting. Draco Malfoy was an employ in Grunnings ever since the war had ended and they came back to their house. He was polite and rarely took any interest in gossips and such. All in all, a No-Nonsense sort of person which suited Dudley very well.
"Mr Dursley I came here to ask your favor for granting me one day leave" Draco Malfoy said, extending a hand holding a letter. Dudley took the letter and read it. After signing it he held it for Draco to take it back and said, smiling for the first time since the last eight hours "How old is your son, Mr Malfoy?"
"Scorpius turned eleven this June" Draco answered.
"So, completed his primary education? Is this school co-educational?"
"Ah good. Where did you say this school is? "
"Oh. Do tell me when the forms come up. You see my daughter will complete her primary education this year. My dad sent me to the school he went to. Smelting's that is. You must have heard of it. Haven't you?" Dudley waited for an opinion but since none of it came, he continued "A very fine school, Smelting's but unfortunately it is all-boys. So?" Dudley asked to press the matter further as he wanted to make it sure that Draco had heard him. Meanwhile, Draco was thinking of ways how to get out of this situation. He had a firm hand on his wand as he thought that if the things continued this way, he surely would have to confound Dudley.
"What did you say the name of the school is?" asked Dudley.
"Hogwarts" Draco replied before he could think. In an attempt to correct his slip, he said "Hogwarts High School"
Dudley went thoughtful for a moment. Then as if in a deep thought he said "I've heard this name before." Draco's grip on his wand tightened.
"I'm sure you might have, Mr Dursley" Draco replied.
"But it was…. something else…perhaps…ah yes! Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry"
Draco lost his grip. The wand would have fallen down with a clatter if not for the holster in his sleeve. His face, if possible, became paler.
"You are one of them. Aren't you?" asked Dudley smiling slightly.
"I'm sure I don't understand your question, Mr Dursley" Draco replied politely. "One of them?"
"Oh yes. What do you call yourself? A wizard. Aren't you one?"
"Don't worry Mr Malfoy, and certainly, do not attempt to look innocent. My cousin was one. So yes, I know about you lot. In fact my whole family was forced to go in hiding about twenty years ago. They said a madman wanted to lay his hands on us to get hold of my cousin."
"Your cousin? Not many muggles went into hiding. Your cousin must have made him really angry. The only muggle relatives that might have needed protections far as I can think is Harry Potter's family"
"Oh! So, you accept it then. And yes. We went into hiding because my cousin is Harry Potter"
Draco felt as if his stomach had dropped. All this while, he was thinking that he was leading a life of oblivion and yet, somehow, the first person in the magical world who knew about his muggle job had to be none other than Harry Potter. He managed a weak smile and said, standing up "I must leave Mr Dursley. Thank you for the grant." He walked briskly out of the room leaving a very puzzled Dudley Dursley behind.
Maria and Jennifer had gone to visit Maria's parents. Dudley insisted on them answering the call but lying alone in his king size bed, he resented his idea. It certainly felt lonely in this big house without family. He turned in his bed in an attempt to find a better posture to sleep. His mind went to the talk he had with Mr Malfoy back in his office. He somewhat seemed to be ashamed by the fact that he was working with Harry's cousin, himself, that is. Well he certainly couldn't have been more ashamed than Dudley himself was, for not being able to reach him, not that he hadn't tried and even further, for not treating Harry even as a human and still being saved by him. He had no idea how wrong he could be.
The next morning, Dudley and Draco entered the Grunning's head office with their own resolutions. Draco's was to avoid Dudley as much as possible and Dudley's was to make Draco talk and try to contact Harry with his help, of course. As Dudley was The Director and Draco merely Senior Manager of the company, although it was the second highest post of the company, next only to Dudley himself, it is unnecessary to even ponder on who would have to give his resolution a damn.
Two hours later Draco found himself in the Director's cabin. "Tea?" Dudley asked.
Draco knew why he was here so he accepted the offer.
"Do you know him? Harry I mean." Dudley asked "Do you know him?"
Draco took a deep breath and said, "It depends Mr Dursley on what you believe to be knowing someone."
"Harry Potter was in my school as you have already guessed. He was in a different house, actually, a house rival to mine. We had a few classes together though."
"Must be courageous, those teachers of yours, placing two rival houses in the same classroom with those sticks you all carry" Dudley tried to joke trying to lighten the atmosphere as Draco seemed to be worried by something.
"You are forgetting Mr Dursley, our teachers carry wands too. And besides there are rules that forbid us from hurting anyone." Draco said, staring his cup. He was lost in his train of thoughts and continued, "Not that it stopped me from trying and neither did my behavior stop him from saving my life. Idiot Potter." He missed the expression of shock that Dudley had. Then, as if he realized what he had spoken he lifted up his head and smiled apologetically, "Sorry Mr Dursley, I didn't mean …."
"It's all right Mr Malfoy. Even I think of him sometimes like that. He was definitely an idiot. Saving life of people who hurt him. Idiot Potter. Definitely."
Malfoy raised an eyebrow in surprise.
Dudley smiled and took a sip from his now-cold tea while Draco non-verbally warmed his own. Slowly he answered, "I was not a friendly cousin to him Mr Malfoy. I bullied him a lot. It was evening, before he went to his school for fifth year, we were arguing and it was dark. I was slightly afraid when it suddenly started raining and he seemed to be scared too. Then suddenly I felt as if I'll never be happy again." Dudley shuddered at the memory of the night. "He sent that thing away. I couldn't see anything and he was shouting for me to get away from it and to keep my mouth shut. He was desperately trying to save me. He could have left me. Nice revenge. But I heard him sometime say that no one deserves it." He took a deep breath and continued, "Don't know where he gets that stupid big heart of his from."
"Dementors?" Draco asked, "Near your house?"
"Seriously, these people are daft. Must be Professor Umbridge. No one else is that crazy."
None of them spoke for a while. After the tea was finished, Draco asked his leave only to be stopped for a final question,
"Mr Malfoy, Can you tell him that I want to meet him? I don't have his address and neither any sort of message carrying owl. So…"
"I will Mr Dursley", before leaving the room and further adding "It's time that I stop avoiding the truth."
And thus, Two hours later, Ginny found Harry in his study writing a letter which read
'Definitely Malfoy. How does tomorrow lunch-time sound? I'll be apperating in Dudley's office. See you!
He looked at Ginny and said smiling, "It's time we start building bridges. Don't you think? After-all what has passed is past. Isn't it?"
Mirroring his smile Ginny replied, "Of course sweetheart."