Different Dudley, New Nightmare
Chapter 1: Different Dudley, New Nightmare
A shrill scream from the kitchen of Four Privet Drive was the first sound to meet Harry Potter’s ears on his first day of summer holidays. Harry had intended to lie-in his first morning back from school, but instead, the high-pitched screech of his horse-faced Aunt Petunia jarred him from his dreams.
He opened his sleep-heavy eyes and looked about the room to see what could possibly have been the matter. Harry fumbled across his bed and grabbed his thin-framed glasses from the bedside table then started scanning the room to see what he might have done to offend Aunt Petunia. Then again, the Dursleys rarely needed a reason to find him offensive.
His search was abruptly cut off by another shout, this time low and growling.
‘Get down here boy!’ Uncle Vernon’s voice rushed up the stairs. Harry’s eyes darted around the room one last time and landed on Hedwig’s open golden cage.
‘Oh no,’ he muttered to himself as he grabbed a pair of jogging bottoms and ran down the stairs to try and save his owl from whatever torment the Dursley’s had surely made her suffer. He ran down the stairs jumping three at a time, ignoring the squeaking banister and forgetting to duck at the end of the staircase. WHACK!
Harry fell backwards and landed hard on his shoulder. He looked up from the unforgiving hallway floor to see his uncle’s robust form waddling -as that was really the best way to describe Vernon’s movements - as quickly as it could toward him.
‘Get up off the floor you lazy ingrate!’ Vernon grunted, voice filled with the usual disgust reserved for Harry.
‘I fell down!’ Harry spat as he held the growing welt on his forehead.
‘What are you holding your head for? Worried what’s left in there might spill out?’ Vernon laughed an unusually high laugh at his own joke.
Harry, used to his uncle’s constant jibes about his intelligence, normally would not have given him the satisfaction of a reaction. Though this morning, he had been rudely awakened, and bashed his head on the plaster above the stairs; not exactly incentive to think straight.
‘No, I’m trying to cover my eyes so that your face isn’t the first thing I have to see in the morning.’ Harry regretted this the moment it came out of his mouth. Vernon’s fat purple face darkened and he lunged forward, grabbing Harry’s ear between his sausage-like fingers.
‘Now you listen to me boy. Your ruddy kind might allow that sort of ungrateful talk, but in this house you will respect those who have taken you in off the street. Do I make myself clear?’ Vernon growled in Harry’s face so closely that spittle rained down onto his cheeks. Wanting to escape his uncle’s sweaty clutch and putrid breath, Harry nodded quickly and pulled himself free, wiping his face. After a final glare, Harry strode into the kitchen trying to ignore the throbbing pain in his forehead and looking around for his pet owl.
He immediately spotted her perched on the butter dish in the center of the dinner table, nibbling bacon off of Aunt Petunia’s breakfast plate. His aunt looked on in disgust and horror from behind the kitchen island, while Dudley held his ground at the table, stuffing as much food into his mouth as he could. Had the situation not been so dire, Harry might have laughed.
‘Look at what your filthy creature has done!’ Petunia shrieked through pronounced teeth. She cringed as the owl dipped its head down for another strip of bacon.
Vernon hobbled into the room and stood behind Petunia, his face fat and blotchy. ‘If you don’t get that beast out of our kitchen this instant, I will lock it in its cage forever!’ he threatened, pulling out a padlock for effect.
Harry rushed forward, intending to grab Hedwig and bring her to safety, but stubbed his foot and stumbled forward. Dudley, thinking that Harry was about to nick something from his plate, took a swing at him. Hedwig jumped across the table knocking all the trays of breakfast around the floor, and finally spread her wings, setting off over Petunia’s head and out the opened kitchen window.
‘It tried to attack me!’ Petunia shrieked, wide-eyed and terrified. ‘Did you see it Vernon, it nearly pecked out my eyes,’ she sobbed into his chest.
Vernon looked up at his nephew and the look in his eyes told Harry that, whatever it was he was planning, it wouldn’t be good. ‘Boy, go and get your school things from your room and bring them down here this instant!’ he ground out in a tone as though daring Harry to challenge him.
Harry walked up the creaking stairs and entered the first door on the right of the corridor. His small, dark room held little furniture and contained even less personal belongings as he only received gifts from his friends during the school year or on his birthday. Besides, the few treasured items he got from his friends were more or less magical and were not tolerated by the Dursleys. These were kept hidden in his trunk and out of sight.
A home was meant to reflect the personalities of its inhabitants, and Harry’s stark surroundings were evidence that this place had never truly been his home. Harry looked around the room once again quickly, knowing that he wouldn’t find any of his ‘school stuff’ in the open, other than Hedwig’s cage that remained on the top of his lone, shabby bureau. He slumped past his desk and leaned down at the foot of his bed to grab his school trunk, which still laid unpacked from his fifth year at Hogwarts.
How was he supposed to do his summer assignments if his trunk was locked up again for the summer? Professor Snape would certainly show no mercy.
‘Hurry up, boy!’ Vernon shouted up irritably. ‘Don’t make me come up there.’ A hollow threat, Harry knew, but why look for more trouble.
He hastily opened the top of his trunk and rifled past the books on top to find the most important item inside. He felt his fingers wrap around the slender piece of holly and enjoyed the warm familiarity, then pulled his wand out of the trunk, snapped the top back down, and clicked the buckles closed before rushing over to his bedside. On his knees, Harry pulled up the fourth floorboard from the wall to reveal a tiny hollow containing a minute tin canister. He opened it quickly and placed his wand on top of some old birthday cards he had received from Ron and Hermione. While he could survive without his textbooks and invisibility cloak, Harry knew that he mustn’t risk being defenseless and without a wand. Too many life or death situations presented themselves for him to be found unprotected. Snapping the floorboard back in place, Harry grabbed one of the handles to his trunk and began dragging it forlornly to the top of the staircase.
By the time he reached the bottom of the staircase with the heavy supplies, Harry’s T-shirt was clinging to his back, and he silently wished he could use a hovering charm. Vernon stood waiting with lock and key outside the cupboard under the stairs; the cupboard in which Harry had spent the first eleven years of his life sleeping and being punished. The thought of the damp, dark space, and the dirty spider infested mattress, made Harry cringe and recall too many nasty memories. Harry watched as Vernon carefully opened the trunk’s latches and slowly lifted the top to peer inside. Petunia had appeared at the doorway and was watching intently as her husband delved into her nephew’s privacy while he was forced to watch in silence.
Vernon looked up at Harry with a warning glance and asked him about the trunk. ‘You haven’t set anything funny in here have you? Nothing out of the ordinary will happen if I poke around?’ he asked, not taking his eyes off the trunk’s contents.
‘Of course not,’ Harry answered reluctantly, wishing now that he had set some Filibuster Fireworks to go off if opened by anyone but him.
Vernon cautiously reached into the trunk and shoved some of the books around, carefully counting the contents. Harry almost said something when his uncle’s grubby fingers pulled a shiny, silver cloak from the bottom of the trunk. Luckily, he had no clue what it was and discarded it to the side. Just as Uncle Vernon was about to close the lid again, he spotted something that clearly piqued his interest. Putting on a smug expression, he fished out an old pair of his grey wool socks.
‘Now isn’t this interesting, Petunia?’ he said holding the socks up for her to see. She turned her nose up at them, offended by the ragged things. ‘I believe we gave these to our dear nephew several years ago at Christmas. Isn’t it touching to see that he holds them so dear as to have kept them in here all these years?’ he gloated with a smirk. Harry looked away, gritting his teeth.
‘And he says we never give him anything or treat him right,’ Aunt Petunia added, now also smirking in Harry’s direction.
‘I only kept that sad excuse of a gift to muffle the sound of a -’ he started to say, but then stopped abruptly.
‘Go on then!’ Vernon prodded Harry painfully in the chest, ‘What is it you’re hiding in here?’ he demanded and poked his fingers into the bundled socks to pull out a minute, spherical device. Harry began to warn him against it, but it was too late. A low humming sound escaped from the contraption as it began to spin wildly in Vernon’s hand, making him instantly drop it and the socks to the floor with a yelp.
The whirring noise continued to rise in volume and pitch as the small object cart-wheeled across the floor at their feet. Harry had to suppress a laugh at the look on his uncle’s face. The feeling to laugh soon evaporated as Vernon’s bewildered face became blotchier than before and darkened with rage to a shade of puce that would have made a blackberry jealous.
‘You said no funny business!’ he roared, spittle raining all over the place.
‘I’d forgotten all about it, I swear it,’ Harry explained, scrambling to pick up the tiny defense system and stuff it back into its home.
‘What was that confounded contraption?’ Vernon demanded, having calmed down slightly to a proud purple.
‘It’s a -’
‘ -sneakoscope,’ Petunia interjected, ‘It spins like mad and makes a loud humming noise whenever danger is near.’ At this she shifted her eyes around the room in alarm and looked all around behind her. ‘Are we in danger, boy?’ she asked, ‘Are there Death Eaters nearby, or could it be Riddle himself?’ She shuddered suddenly in fear.
Harry stood open-mouthed, gaping at his aunt. Had he just heard her correctly, or was he imagining it? The words sneakoscope, Death Eaters and Riddle could not have just come out of her mouth. Where could she have learned about dark Wizard alarms and the cowled minions of the Dark Lord? Last year she had reacted in the same fearful way at the mention of Voldemort, but he didn’t understand why she would be so quick to mention him.
‘What did you just say?’ Harry quietly asked his aunt, looking from her searching figure to the wide-eyed, flabbergasted expression on his uncle’s face.
‘You heard me boy, now answer me,’ Petunia’s shrill voice cut through the silence as she fixed her wandering glare onto him. ‘Have they come to get you? Is HE here?’ she repeated more urgently this time.
‘No, of course not,’ Harry answered his aunt, then watched her figure relax and relief flood her body. ‘You know they can’t get me here,’ he added grudgingly, ‘I’m protected, remember?’
Vernon remained still, only opening and closing his mouth like a fish, no sound escaping as he stared in shock at his wife.
‘Oh, close your mouth Vernon. You heard the boy, we’re safe, no need to worry,’ she stated plainly, snapping almost audibly back to her regular self, and walked out of the room as though nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred in the hallway of number Four Privet Drive.
It took Vernon Dursley several minutes to return from his catatonic state, but when he did, it was as though nothing had happened. He slammed the lid to the trunk shut and locked the clasps tightly, ensuring that nothing abnormal would get out. He then opened the cupboard behind him and began ramming the trunk and all of its contents inside. He pushed and shoved with all his might as Harry watched from the doorway with crossed arms. Harry started to smile as beads of sweat dripped down his uncle’s forehead and his tidy grey hair became a ruffled mess. It was almost as though the trunk was pushing back and refusing to go into the dark hiding place. Several labour intensive minutes later the trunk was stored in it’s new summer resting place, and the cupboard door was locked with the click of a key. Despite being tired out and slightly worse for wear, Vernon appeared particularly pleased with himself for having taken away his nephew’s few cherished items.
‘Now, where has that ruddy owl of yours got to now?’
‘She’s probably out in the back garden, perched peacefully in a tree and minding her own business,’ Harry answered truthfully, wanting to get this over with so he could go on with spending his summer holidays miserably.
‘Right, that’s what you’d like us to think. Petunia and I welcomed you into our home and have given you so much out of the kindness of our hearts, and in return all you offer is ungrateful disobedience at every opportunity!’ Vernon stepped closer to Harry, fixing his eyes into an accusing glare before continuing. ‘After all we’ve given you, you still send that ruddy creature with letters full of lies to those freaks you call friends and that good for nothing convict of a Godfather.’
‘Don’t you talk about him!’ Harry exploded, unable to control his emotions, rage pouring from deep within. ’Don’t you dare talk about my Godfather! He’s my only real family, not you!’
The air in the hallway began to crackle and the lights began to flicker dangerously as the potential for magic rushed around the house. Petunia and Dudley appeared in the corridor to see what the shouting was about and stopped dead in their tracks at the sight before them. Petunia gasped and covered her mouth with a bony hand.
Harry’s already unruly hair rushed in an unfelt wind as the shadows cast from the flickering lights danced and swirled in an increasingly quick circle around him. His eye’s narrowed and the usual sparkling emerald darkened as he clenched his teeth and balled his hands into fists at his sides.
’I’ve sat around for years and done nothing while you insulted me, my mother, my father, and all of my friends. Not anymore! They have warned you, and now I am warning you, you will treat me properly and you will never, and I mean never, speak of Sirius again!′
Two nearby lights on the wall exploded, and all three Dursleys cried out in fear. Harry started toward the kitchen and they all pressed themselves tightly against the wall as he passed. The instant he walked out the kitchen door into the back garden, the wind disappeared and all the lights save for the ones that shattered, returned to normal.
* * *
‘M-master,’ a nervous voice stammered from the doorway of a room bathed in shadows. ‘The others have j-just returned.’ The squat figure sunk back toward the doorway slightly, his fear palpable as he waited.
‘And, did they bring me what I asked for?’ a second voice hissed coldly from the shadows, carrying with it the intense chill of a nuclear winter.
Shaking and stammering more than usual, Peter Pettigrew lowered his head to his master before delivering his news.
‘N-no my Lord, they were not able to penetrate the p-protection left by Lily P-p’
’You dare speak her name!’ Voldemort’s chilling voice rang from the depths of the darkness, and a shadow seemed to slip away from the rest, toward the quivering servant. Two menacing, red eyes traveled closer to the twitchy, balding man where he shook visibly.
‘You speak, Wormtail, as though you still had feelings for that filthy mudblood woman, which leads me to wonder if those feelings must extend to her son as well.’ Voldemort’s bony figure loomed over Wormtail’s cowering body as he lifted a pale, skeletal hand to punish his follower.
‘N-no please my Lord,’ Wormtail stammered, his eyes wide and terrified. ‘I am only loyal to you. I d-do not know why I used that filth’s name. The b-boy means nothing to me. If it weren’t for your n-needing him, I would kill him m-myself,’ he scrambled for words, looking up at his master with desperate eyes.
Voldemort’s cruel, pitiless laughter filled the room as he lifted his wand in Pettigrew’s direction, and said with more than a little pleasure from beneath his cowl, ’All the same, Crucio!’
‘Noo!’ Harry woke up in a panic and sat bolt upright, throwing his hands to the searing pain in his forehead. He pulled his hands away quickly, feeling the white-hot burning hot against his fingers. His scar had never reacted quite like this before and he was not sure what to do. As the pain slowly ebbed away, Harry looked around him to see where he was, and why he was sitting on the cold earthen ground.
Unlike his nightmare, the scene surrounding him now was one of warmth and cheer. The sun was shining brilliantly from its perch in the mid-afternoon sky, where it rested untouched by the few clouds that danced though the rare blue sky. Harry rested upon the trunk of a large oak tree in the Dursley’s back garden, and he was bathed in the cool shade offered by the outstretched branches overhead.
The back of the Dursley’s two-story townhouse was in just as pristine a condition as the front. The paint was perfect, as were the angles of the shutters. The grass in the back garden was cut evenly and trimmed along the edges of the numerous well-placed gardens that followed the walking path through the tiny property. Each contained several bloomed specimens used as Petunia’s claim to fame. She tried every year for the blue ribbon at their neighbourhood garden, but never surpassed the second place. Nonetheless, she doubled her efforts every year, resulting in a more splendorous botanical display each year. A five-foot white picket fence stood guard around the Dursley residence, giving the illusion of security and privacy, when really it just allowed Harry’s aunt the opportunity to work in her garden and speak aloud so to gloat to the neighbours as she pretended they could not see her.
Harry’s face hardened as he leaned his head back and closed his eyes to think about what had just happened. This was not good, not good at all. He had let Voldemort into his mind again, without any resistance whatsoever, and in the middle of the garden at midday no less! Who knew what the monster could have claimed as his own while he roamed through the intricate pathways that were Harry’s private thoughts and feelings. Why had he been so weak?
Twisting his fingers in the grass at his side in frustration, he dislodged a clump of grass and sent it sailing over the fence. What had that dream meant? Why was Voldemort so concerned with Wormtail’s feelings for his mother? Everyone knew how much he had despised her even when he had still been friends with the Marauders. And why would Voldemort try and get Harry during the summer while he was protected by his mother’s love? It didn’t make sense.
Harry tried his best to remember all the sinister details of his invasive dream, so that he could later relay it to Dumbledore or one of the other members of the Order. This reminded him that at some point this summer he would be returned to the dark Black Manor that served as Headquarters for the Order of The Phoenix.
Harry sighed and closed his eyes trying not to think of his late Godfather, his image almost constantly tugging at the back of his mind and serving as a constant reminder of what he had lost. Harry was still being tormented in his dreams by the death of Sirius Black almost every night, despite his efforts to clear his mind. Harry understood the importance of Dumbledore’s warnings about Occlumency. Although he was not able to practice the art during the summer, he could practice clearing his mind in order to prevent Voldemort from entering his mind and learning valuable information. This was the first time in a month that Voldemort had broken through the barriers set by Harry for his thoughts, but that he thought was still far too often.
Harry brought his mind back to the present, where he could contemplate his new dilemma. He had used magic once again outside of Hogwarts and thus broke the decree for the use of magic of underage witches and wizards. He would surely be expelled this time and no matter what help Dumbledore offered, it most certainly would not be enough to keep him out of Azkaban. Considering the trial he’d undergone the year prior, and the crazed anger he’d seen in Fudge’s eyes, Harry would have bet all the galleons in his Gringott’s vault that the Minister would be out for blood.
A thought suddenly struck him. He hadn’t used his wand and nothing had exactly happened except for a few shattered lights. Perhaps the Ministry had not even caught wind of the incident. No Muggles, other than the Dursley’s who already knew about his being a wizard would be the wiser, and as far as he could tell no one had been injured and the wizarding world was left uncompromised.
Harry lay back on the soft grass, running a hand through his hair and again checking to see if his scar had returned to what he thought of as normal. In the Dursley’s front corridor, he had simply lost control of his magic as he did every summer away from Hogwarts. Yet this time was different somehow, and Harry could sense that he had changed for a moment in front of his family. The Dursley’s had never before looked so afraid. He had seen the look of utter terror in his cousin’s eyes as they watched the room become cast in shadows, and not once did his family members remove their eyes from him. He wondered what exactly had happened to him to strike such fear into people that he knew had quite a strong resolve when it came to him.
Aunt Petunia came strolling out the kitchen door then in a summer dress and pearls, an iced beverage in one hand and pruning shears in the other. It was time for the afternoon show Harry liked to think of as ‘I’m better than you are’, starring Petunia Dursley. His thoughts were abruptly cut short as his aunt shouted over one of her perfectly pruned rose bushes at him.
‘Get up off your lazy behind and clean up the mess you made. You might think you can get away with whatever you want, but you are sadly mistaken.’ Lowering her voice to such a whisper that he had to lean over the shrub to hear her, she continued. ’You are only safe while you are under my supervision. It is my blood that keeps him away, so don’t you forget it,’ she hissed. ‘Now, do the dishes. You slept through lunch,’ she added from over her shoulder as she pulled several stubborn weeds from their strongholds in a flowerbed.
* * *
The weeks went by slowly in Privet Drive, and Harry still had not heard from either of his best friends, so he decided that it was time to send Hedwig on a flight. He walked over to his desk to pull out some spare parchment, and realised angrily that all of his writing supplies were locked up with the rest of his school things in the cupboard under the stairs.
Lying down on his bed, Harry stared up at his ceiling and thought of how he might get some parchment from his trunk. Maybe he could bribe his cousin for help. Although Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon acted as though his “tantrum” as they were now referring to it, hadn’t occurred, Dudley had begun to act strangely. He had become almost rebellious toward his parents and less hostile toward Harry. He rarely insulted his cousin and over the past two weeks, hadn’t even complained when Harry watched the television in his spare room three times. He thought it more than a little strange, but didn’t dare question it, taking full advantage instead.
Perhaps he could approach Dudley while no one was around and offer him a week’s worth of his puddings. Dudley, still on his mother’s dreadful diet, would surely be unable to turn that down. He simply needed to wait for a time when his cousin was all alone, and then he could propose the trade.
Picking up some of his oversized, second hand clothes off the ground, Harry quickly tossed Hedwig some owl treats before heading downstairs for tea, where he strode into the kitchen to find his family already sitting at the dinner table enjoying their meal. It was no surprise to him that they had started eating without him, but what shocked him was that Dudley and his parents were having a proper row; something almost unheard of until recently. He was used to Dudley’s typical whining and sulking, but not his genuine upset.
‘But son, you can’t always have everything you want, there are others to think about,’ Uncle Vernon was explaining to his hippo of a son. Harry found this an interesting and foreign concept for his cousin.
‘You see, it’s already begun! Soon you won’t even care anymore,’ Dudley said in a hurt voice to his mother, who actually rolled her eyes and placed her hands on the table next to her untouched dinner plate.
‘Of course we’re not going to stop caring, Duddikins,’ she explained tiredly, ‘We just can’t go spending the lot of our money on every little thing you ask for.’
Harry made his way around his aunt’s chair and sat down in his regular seat to serve himself. As he reached out to spoon some roast potatoes onto his plate, Aunt Petunia’s pale hand reached out and grasped his wrist, stopping him. Harry stared at her in surprise. In all the years he had lived with his aunt, she had probably only touched him intentionally a handful of times.
‘Take mine,’ she said, ‘I’m not feeling all that well and there is no sense in wasting a perfectly nice plate of food. It’s gone cold now anyhow,’ she ended, sliding the plate in front of her nephew.
‘Not again tonight, Petunia,’ Vernon sounded distressed. ‘That’s three times this week already, and it’s only Thursday.’ Uncle Vernon shook his head then flattened his neatly parted grey hair to his head nervously. Had Harry looked at his cousin then, he might have recognised an unmistakably mischievous glint in his eyes, though he still would have been unprepared for his next question.
‘So,’ Dudley started, directing his comment at Harry, who had just taken a bite of steak and peas from his aunt’s plate of cold food, ‘what was it that my Aunt Lily did for a living?’
Aunt Petunia stared at Dudley through wide eyes as though he had just uttered a disgusting swear word. Harry choked on a pea and began coughing madly. With tears in his eyes he looked up to see the disbelieving looks on his aunt and uncle’s faces as they looked on at their son. Harry gulped down some water from his glass, and stared at Dudley for a moment trying to understand what he had meant.
Dudley broke the awkward silence. ‘Well, mum and dad never talk about the freak side of the family, so ... was she a magic teacher, or a magic cop, a magic- ’
‘Dudley! What do you think you are doing?’ Uncle Vernon finally thundered, steak sauce dribbling down his chin.
Aunt Petunia looked paler than usual and as though she might faint. Harry took this opportunity, thinking it would be the perfect chance to get Dudley away from his parents for the trade he had in mind. He knew it was a slim chance, but it might be his only one.
’Maybe we could go for a walk down to the park or around Magnolia Crescent?” Harry suggested standing up and putting his unfinished dinner on the countertop.
‘Oh, no you don’t!’ Uncle Vernon shouted, spraying the dinner table with wine and steak sauce.
‘Yeah, alright,’ Dudley said defiantly, following Harry to the kitchen door. They both walked into the dim light of the setting sun, and Harry could see Uncle Vernon fanning Aunt Petunia from where she lay on the floor, until Dudley’s large form blocked them from sight.