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Harry Potter Alternate Universe >> Fitting the Definition of Family by summerpotter

Simple Text - To view MORE chapters use the chapter jump box to the right.
Fitting the Definition of a Family

A/N: I came up with this little excerpt story while walking to school one day and I had a lot of fun with it. I've kept the dialogue from OotP and DH mostly intact, if not for a few instances of grammar. I do not take any credit for this borrowed dialogue, or anything pertaining to the Harry Potter universe!

I hope you enjoy this little one-shot. More than this, I hope you can find something to like about the Dursleys, because I don't believe they're all such terrible people. Please review : ) s

Dad was ranting to Mum about Harry again.

Not that I usually cared or paid much attention to what went on at home. Usually I was out with friends so I never cared what my parents were up to or what my cousin was doing. Mum and Dad liked to say that they didn't care about what my cousin was doing either, but the truth was that sometimes they paid more attention to my cousin than they spent minding their own business. Me, on the other hand, I had decided a few summers ago that whatever he did locked up in his room, was his business and I wasn't going to interfere. I owed him that much.

Summer was always an uncomfortable couple of months whenever I was at home. Mum and Dad were always bothered by Harry's presence in the house, even when he was out of their mind and out of sight. Any little thing that Harry did or didn't do usually started an angry rant about him whether Harry was in the room or not. I used to think it was funny—I used to think that he deserved it. I used to call him a bunch of names both to his face and with my friends. I used to mock that weird Harry Potter. I used to break his glasses and take anything that he really wanted.

I grew up a little, of course. I'd like to just leave it at 'I grew up,' but I can't give myself that much credit. Instead of participating in my parents' anti-Harry agenda, I blocked it out with television and computer games. I decided that it wasn't any of my business and I didn't care about what Harry did with his life. This changed again, of course. Two summers ago he saved my life and ever since that day, I can't help but pay attention to what goes on at my house.

Harry and I have never actually talked like we were cousins, friends, or anything resembling people on friendly terms. I know I gave him a hard time growing up—I'm really not stupid enough to pretend this is not my fault.

I made the kids at school dislike him.

I made sure that he got very little from my parents.

I made sure that I always got my way.

I made sure that I got to be happy.

Part of me wonders what made him save me. If I were him, I'd have let me die. I didn't deserve his help or his sympathy. And yet, for some unknown reason, he saved me.

That memory from two summers ago still haunts me whenever I let myself think about it. I'd never admit it, but I've dreamt about it and thought about it a lot since then. There's something absolutely terrifying about an unknown, invisible force that's trying to kill you.

I remember how very cold it was and how difficult it felt to breathe. I remember my heart pounding in my chest, the sound of it loud in my ears. I remember being really scared for the first time in my life.

I was giving Harry a hard time in an alleyway, taunting him over the nightmares I knew he was having. I heard him shouting out, crying, moaning and yet, I choose to use it to humiliate him. A tiny voice in my head was whispering that I'd gone far enough when I saw his expression and the obvious pain in his eyes— I didn't need to hear him yelling in his sleep to know that something really bad had happened, but I didn't care. Once I started, I never could stop. I'd look weak and stupid.

Suddenly he pointed the thing at my chest and that ugly, angry part of me that can't back down reared its head and I kept going—determined not to lose this fight with my scrawny, pathetic cousin.

I was ready to punch him square in the jaw as he pressed the wand into my chest harder, gritting his teeth. My hands rolled into quivering fists as I stared holes into his head. "GET THAT THING AWAY FROM-"

And then all the warmth of the night evaporated and we were blanketed in an icy chill. Shocked, we both looked up to find the sky was quickly turning black. As the light from the stars quickly disappeared, I got a glimpse of Harry's face and I knew that something was very wrong. Harry had lowered his wand and I could hear his breathing pick up again in the same quick, shallow way that I recognized from the kids I'd beat up. The alley continued to grow darker and I began to feel an incredible urge to get away from the alley and from Harry, but my feet seemed unable to move.

"W-what are you d-doing? St- stop it!"

Even as I asked him, I already knew that it wasn't Harry doing this. Still, I was desperate to believe that even if he didn't do it, he could stop it. After all, he had the power to do things… maybe he was doing it by accident?

Harry's panicked voice made my fear begin to develop nausea. "I'm not doing anything! Shut up and don't move!"

There was no reasonable explanation as to why it seemed to be getting darker by the second. Within moments, I felt blind. I raised my shaking hands up to my face but I couldn't see them. I stumbled forwards, accidentally knocking into Harry who was shoved sideways several steps.

I touched my eyes, feeling my lids opening and close, but still I couldn't see anything. "I c-can't see! I've g-gone blind! I-"

Harry cursed somewhere near me and I heard him moving in the darkness as my hands slid along the alley wall, trying to get my bearings so I could go home. I just had to get home. Mum and Dad would lock him up again if he let me get hurt. I'd beat the living daylights out of him when we got out of this…

The only sound in the alley was of our breathing, mine louder and more labored as I stumbled in the alley, my feet kicking tin cans and pebbles as I moved.

"I said shut up!" Harry snapped viciously.

I moved along the wall, blinking quickly, hoping to suddenly regain use of my eyes. My knees shook so badly that I didn't make it very far before I had to stop. Why was this happening? How was this happening? With the blackness and the chill in the air, I began to feel hopeless. Would I die in this alley with my stupid cousin?

"I'll t-tell Dad!" I whispered, although he must know as well as I did how empty the threat was. I would never tell Dad because I wasn't sure that I'd ever see my parents again.

Trying to control the panic in my voice, I tried to sound angry again. "W-where are you? What are you d-do-?"

"Will you shut up?" he hissed at me somewhere behind me. "I'm trying to lis—"

Harry stopped talking and for one awful moment, I wondered if he was dead by something terrifying and silent. I didn't doubt that there was a way for his lot to kill that way. Just as I was about to reach out to find him, I heard his own startled gasp and his feet moving on the cement, coming closer to me. It was then that I heard that something else was in the alley with us—or at least, I thought I heard something. At the very least, I had the distinct impression that we were not alone.

Harry was moving toward me in the darkness so I forced my shaking legs to move. I groped along the wall as if looking for a light switch, even though I knew there was nothing. As blind as I was, I felt the tears well up in my eyes as I began to struggle to breathe. It was so cold.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and turned my head, looking for the outline of my cousin. Whatever was in the alley with us was very close. Why couldn't he make it go away? Why had he summoned it here in the first place? Who was it? What was it? Or was this all a joke to get back at him for being such a jerk?

"C-cut it out! Stop doing it! I'll h-hit you, I swear I will!"

"Dudley, shut—"

I took a few more steps, but the coldness somehow got into my veins as if I'd stepped into an ice bath. I couldn't breathe anymore. Panicked, I wheeled around to go in the opposite direction but I felt my hand connect with something sweaty and hard—likely Harry's head, though I barely noticed. I had to get out. I had to get out now.

"You moron, Dudley!" Harry was yelling at me, but I didn't care. I found oxygen a few steps in the other direction, although it wasn't much.

He could call me any name in the book, he could have all my stuff, my room, he could have all the friends he wanted, if it meant I could go home. My legs seemed to find strength now as I moved forward toward the glint of metal in the near-distance. I had a feeling I was finally leaving the alley—it looked like I was heading toward a fence. I'd broken through those cheap, chain fences before and with how desperate I was to get out, I had no doubts about my ability to break this one now.

I felt a tiny ray of hope in the darkness but Harry sensed what I was going to do and shouted at me.

"DUDLEY, COME BACK! YOU'RE RUNNNG RIGHT AT IT!"

I slammed into the fence earlier than I expected and I gripped the metal tightly, glad for something familiar. My relief was short-lived, however. I'd barely slid my fingers around the metal when I was pulled backwards by an impossibly strong force. My fingers, slick with sweat, slid off the metal and I was pulled away from my escape route.

I was unable to scream the cold air was so intense. The air disappeared again and I knew that I was going to die.

Behind me, I could hear Harry yelling again. "DUDLEY, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! WHATEVER YOU DO, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!"

Keep my mouth shut? I wasn't going to get the chance to give any information to whoever or whatever this was. I couldn't breathe, let alone speak. In that cold and terrifying moment, I felt all the happiness I'd worked so hard to take for myself being sucked out of me. All the terribleness that I'd inflicted on Harry and other kids was coming back in horrible waves.

I began to feel horrible things: despair, loneliness, pain, rejection. I saw fists and hard shoes coming at me and I physically felt their impact. Helpless to stop the physical pain and the stream of emotions, I fell to the ground, gasping for breath.

I was sure that I was going to die on the cement. At that moment, I saw myself for what I had become and despite every awful thing about that moment- the cold, the pain, the fear – I felt remorse for what I had become.

Somewhere, Harry was shouting my name. "DUDLEY?"

Unable to answer back, I slipped farther from consciousness. I was silently screaming that I was sorry for what I had done, pleading for mercy, when there was a burst of light. A cool breeze whipped over me and then died suddenly, leaving me lying on the cold cement in the warm summer's night. Lights exploded overhead, though my vision was still too blurry to make sense of my surroundings.

I could hear Harry panting and his own shaky footsteps near my head, but my eyes couldn't focus so I closed them instead. My head rolled to the side and the cement felt good against my cheek. There was also another set of footsteps, lighter, and decidedly not Harry's. Help had come too late.

I could hear a woman shouting, but I didn't recognize her voice. I tried very hard to focus on the voice, to stay awake, but it was very difficult.

"What if there are more of them around?" She was demanding wildly.

A few seconds later, a foot tapped my shoulder sharply, just as real as the ones that kicked me before. "You! Get your fat bottom off the ground, quick!"

I knew she was talking to me, but I was having difficulty moving anything. Everything hurt and my limbs felt as heavy as lead. I could breathe now, but my head was swimming and my stomach was churning. I wasn't sure what had happened or why it happened, but I was sure that I had nearly died a few moments ago.

The next memory I have is my mother shouting in panic and both my parents helping me into the house. When I was helped into the nearest armchair and had the kitchen garbage pale shoved into my shaking, weak hands, my parents began demanding to know what happened.

I remember swaying where I sat, wishing that I could lie down. I raised my eyes, finally spotting Harry by the stairs. He could explain everything better than I could. All I knew was that I almost died, and Harry, somehow, had saved me. He'd made the lights come back and he'd brought me home.

"Him," I managed to get out. Speaking only made the urge to vomit greater, so my one-word felt like quite an accomplishment. I lowered my head again, all my focus going into not throwing up.

However, my parents took my attempt to explain things as an accusation and they started yelling at Harry. I leaned forward, my head over the garbage as I tried to ignore the fury of my parents. I was called back into the conversation when Mum put her hand on my head and leaned down to my ear.

"What did he do to you, Diddy?" A light pressure began padding my front. My eyes dropped down to see that she was cleaning vomit off my jacket. "Was it—was it you-know-what, darling? Did he use – his thing?"

He saved me, I wanted to say, but it was too much. Unable to do anything else, I nodded, closing my eyes again. The yelling continued and I remember bits of it—my Dad trying to kick my cousin out of the house, my Mum screeching. The angrier they got, the worse I felt. Unfortunately, I was beyond the point of being alert and I think what little words I got out, probably made a worse case for Harry.

The last clear memory I have is one that I think everyone, Harry included, will remember forever. When the red envelope burst to flames and a terrible voice filled the kitchen, but it was directed at my mother. And while none of us understood what the voice meant, it made my Mum suddenly change her mind about kicking Harry out.

And now, it's two summers later and there's a weird tension in the air. It's as if the world knows that something bad is about to happen, but no one knows what it is. Well, I think Harry does. And as much as I've tried to pretend that I don't know that my cousin is a wizard and that he goes to a school to learn 'magic,' I wish I could talk to him to find out what horrible thing is about to happen. I felt a moment like it already, in that alleyway, and I never, ever want to know that feeling again.

I doubt he's noticed how much nicer I've tried to be to him. I've kept out of his way, I haven't brought my friends around as much, and I don't talk about him with my parents or with my friends. This morning, I made him a cup of tea and left it outside his door. He seemed particularly distracted these last few weeks and judging by the way he was acting and the way my parents were acting, I'd say this bad thing was going to happen very, very soon. I made the tea as a means to have a chance to talk to him. I didn't need very long—only a few minutes—and all I wanted to do was ask what was going on before we were uprooted.

Lately, we've been talking about going into hiding because of this 'Voldemort' guy. Well, it's more that my parents talk about it in private and I've overheard them. They don't like to involve me in talking about Harry— I think they think they're protecting me, but I think it's the stupidest idea ever. Being kept in the dark about something so bad—and I get the feeling that this is a very bad situation, only makes me want to know more. I need to know more… even if I don't have a secret life like Harry, it affects me and it affects my parents.

Anyway, today is the day that we're supposed to leave. I'm not entirely sure that we actually will leave because Dad is furious about the idea, but that's the plan. I was sitting on the couch across from my mother when Harry was called into the room. He looks exhausted and cranky these days, as if he rarely slept and something is really bothering him. This made me very anxious—something was definitely very wrong.

Dad and Harry got into a row quickly, as I knew that they would. Harry got angrier and more red in the face, the more Dad argued with him. I was tired of the fighting and really, the reason behind the fights were just getting dumber and dumber.

Dad thought that us leaving was a plot to get the house? Harry hated living here and he hated all of us. I was sure that the moment he was done school, he'd move out and we'd never see him again.

"But what about my work? What about Dudley's school? I don't suppose those things matter to a bunch of layabout wizards –"

Harry interrupted my Dad, his voice louder and more anxious than I'd ever heard him. "Don't you understand? They will torture and kill you like they did my parents!"

Those words settled over the living room, ominous and full of truth. I decided that it was time that I spoke up. I'd been listening to similar arguments for days now and I'd had enough. Whether or not Harry was right about their family being directly in danger, it was better to be safe.

"Dad," I said, startling both my parents into looking at me. "Dad – I'm going with these Order people."

I didn't want to add the 'with or without you' to the end of that sentence, but I'd already believed I was going to die at the hands of a force I couldn't see. I wasn't going to wait around and see if we could avoid another encounter with something magical, especially without the protection of Harry or another wizard.

Harry regarded me for a moment before folding his arms across his chest and nodding his approval. "Dudley, for the first time in your life, you're talking sense."

Harry and I looked at each other for a moment before we both looked away. It felt strange to have him actually look at me and talk to me politely. We had never, ever spoken civilly to each other before. If it weren't such a serious situation, I'd might make some small joke about this first-time occurrence. It had been a long time since I hated my cousin—I respected the hell out of him.

"They'll be here in about five minutes," Harry added quietly before leaving the room.

I glanced at my parents, sensing their defeat. They would go with me and accept the help that Harry was offering— at least the sick, spoiled way they treated me was doing something positive for a change.

When our escort arrived (a cheerful man and woman), I realized that I still felt nervous around other witches and wizards after my last encounter with one. I knew deep down that these people wouldn't hurt me, but that giant had tried to turn me into a pig because I'd taken Harry's birthday cake. Who knew what stupid thing I'd accidentally say and get myself turned into a toad or a bug?

With our plans taken care of, we all stood and prepared to leave. A new wave of awkwardness filled the room as the woman suggested she and the other wizard wait in the hallway. I watched as my Dad said a cool goodbye to Harry and made as if to offer his hand, but then changed his mind at the last moment, avoiding his eye.

Mum checked behind her as if looking for anything she might have forgotten and then began fiddling with her purse, again avoiding Harry's eye. I didn't like this—being led off with these strange people while Harry stayed here. And even worse, neither of my parents could bring themselves to say a proper goodbye or even to thank their nephew for anything?

"Come along, then," Dad said grumpily, moving toward the exit.

"I don't understand," I blurted, more to myself than to anyone in particular.

"What don't you understand, Popkin?"

I glanced around, confused and a little worried before pointing at Harry. "Why isn't he coming with us?"

My parents froze and stared at me, as if they couldn't believe that this was a legitimate question. Their disbelief made me feel worse for Harry—he really must hate us all.

"What?"

I looked at my Dad evenly, demanding an honest answer. I didn't know what I'd do if Dad told me Harry wasn't coming with us because he wasn't invited. "Why isn't he coming too?"

Dad seemed anxious at being asked such a question. "Well, he – he doesn't want to," he replied quickly, hastily tacking on a "you don't want to, do you?"

Harry shook his head, his expression calm. "Not in the slightest."

"There you are. Now, come on, we're off." He left the room without looking back at Harry.

Mum sighed and moved to follow him, but I couldn't leave like this. Not yet. Why wasn't he coming with us? If things were so dangerous that we had to go into hiding when we weren't even like him, then why wasn't he going to this 'safe location' too?

"What now?" Came Dad's angry voice.

"But where's he going to go?" I pressed the room at large, staring at my cousin with disbelief. Did no one else care about him? Not even the slightest curiosity about where he'd be going? Hadn't Harry proved himself as being 'good' when he'd saved me two summers ago?

"But… surely you know where your nephew is going?" The woman asked confusedly, glancing from me and back to my parents uncertainly.

"Certainly we know. He's off with some of your lot, isn't he? Right, Dudley, let's get in the car, you heard the man, we're in a hurry."

Dad moved to leave again, missing the angry look on the woman's face. "Off with some of our lot?"

Harry stepped forward, his hands raised placatingly toward the woman. He looked faintly embarrassed by the whole scene. "It's fine," he said calmly. "It doesn't matter, honestly."

But it did matter. I knew it, the witch and wizard knew it, and I'm sure that Harry knew it. This was not how normal families behaved, especially in these circumstances. And while for my entire life, I had participated in the understanding that Harry was not family, but this wasn't right. He was my cousin and he'd saved my life when I didn't deserve his help.

"Doesn't matter?" The witch repeated in horror. "Don't these people realize what you've been through? What danger you are in? The unique position you hold in the hearts of the anti-Voldemort movement?"

And as she said it, I realized that it had been sixteen years of living with my cousin and I knew nothing about him. I knew nothing about what he'd been through – choosing instead to mock him and make his life miserable because it made me feel powerful. I barely had any kind of grasp on what kind of danger he was in, but after that incident in the alleyway, I sensed that this was life or death. I knew I had no knowledge about Voldemort or what kind of role he played in whatever movement she was talking about. I knew by the way that the witch and wizard were looking at Harry that he was more important than I realized. And in this moment, I also knew that there was a good chance that Harry might not survive whatever terrible thing was about to happen. He needed his own private guard of protection and his only relatives were at risk of being tortured, kidnapped or murdered. Harry was in grave danger— his Aunt and Uncle didn't care.

"Er – no, they don't," Harry replied, again keeping his voice level. "They think I'm a waste of space, actually, but I'm used to –"

"I don't think you're a waste of space."

The words were out of my mouth before I made any decision to speak them. I felt sick thinking about all the awful things I'd done, all the things that I'd let my parents say, which made him used to the fact that his only family hated him.

Harry was staring at him, disbelief breaking through his mask of calm. His lips twitched slightly, as if he were repressing an uncomfortable smile.

"Well… er … thanks, Dudley."

There was a long pause in which I tried to figure out how to word an apology that was sixteen years overdue. I wanted to tell him everything I'd realized since that night in the alleyway, but I wasn't sure how to say it or where to start.

I shrugged, knowing this was the very least I could say or do right now. I owed him much, much more, of course. "You saved my life," I said as a way of explanation. I was hoping that if he knew I recognized my debt to him, he'd know that I didn't hate him anymore.

Harry hesitated before saying quietly, "Not really. It was your soul the Dementor would have taken…"

I don't understand the difference between this and death and I don't think it really matters. The point was that I'd been a jerk to my cousin for sixteen years and I'd made his life hell when he already spent every other day of his life in hell. Someone was out to kill him and Harry was some kind of hero in his world—I knew nothing about my cousin.

I felt my face heat up as we both fell into silence, neither of us knowing what to say next. Mum burst into tears and threw herself on me and it was all I could do not to push her away. The hug felt wrong—as if it were an example of everything that was wrong with this family.

"S- So sweet, Dudders…." Mum cried hysterically. "S-such a lovely b-boy… s-saying thank you…"

The witch made a noise of disgust, which embarrassed me even further. "But he hasn't said thank you at all! He only said he didn't think Harry was a waste of space!"

I opened my mouth to tell him thank you before I lost my chance, but Harry spoke first, sounding a bit amused for the first time this summer. "Yeah, but coming from Dudley that's like 'I love you," he joked lightly.

Mum pulled herself off me, but kept a hand on my shoulder as Harry and I looked at each other again. He nodded briefly, perhaps as if he already understood all the things I actually really wanted to say right now.

"Are we going or not?" Dad shouted impatiently. "I thought we were on a tight schedule!"

"Yes—yes, we are," said the wizard. "We really must be off. Harry – good luck. I hope we meet again. The hopes of the wizarding world rest upon your shoulders."

I stared, unsure I'd heard that right. Did he really mean that? Did the hopes of the whole wizarding world depend on Harry?

Harry didn't smile as he shook the man's hand. Instead, he reverted back to his calm, almost expressionless-expression. "Oh. Right, thanks."

"Farewell, Harry. Our thoughts go with you."

Harry shook her hand too and glanced worriedly at me and Mum. "I hope everything's OK."

The man smiled widely without hesitation. "Oh, I'm sure we shall end up the best of chums."

I knew that this was goodbye and I knew that there was no more time to say anything. I didn't want to think about what goodbye might mean, or if my cousin might not make it to next summer. I had been thinking for a long time that I hoped to start again with him, after moving away from my parents. I was sure that we could at least be friendly, if not cousins.

I pulled away from my mum and moved toward him, holding out my hand. We both ignored my mum, who'd begun to cry again.

"Blimey, Dudley," Harry murmured, ignoring my mum. "Did the Dementors blow a different personality into you?"

Maybe, maybe not. I heard that people often found new perspective after a near-death situation. "Dunno," I replied sheepishly.

As we shook hands, I found the regret in my actions again. "See you, Harry," I said casually. I would make it right, someday.

Harry looked at me strangely, as if he thought maybe I was being sincere about seeing him again one day. I meant it, but if he never wanted to see me again, I didn't blame him.

"Yeah… Maybe. Take care, Big D."

I was surprised when the 'maybe' stung me a little. I knew I deserved it, but I also began to wonder if the 'maybe' was his own way of saying he knew he might not get the chance to see me again. It was strange that after thinking I hated my cousin for so long, that it actually hurt to think about losing him.

I forced a smile, ignoring my urge to say anything more that might trigger another embarrassing outburst from my mum and I left the house.

Outside, the air was warm with a cool breeze that ruffled the leaves of the trees. The car was running and waiting on the side of the road, just in front of the driveway. Dad was demanding to know where we were going, but the wizards weren't giving in.

"We'll tell you in the car. It's not safe to talk about anything out here," the witch was explaining patiently.

I glanced around to see Mum walking from the house, her expression troubled as she clutched her handbag, her eyes downcast. Anger burst to life in me at my parents for the first time in years. Usually, they never gave me a reason to be angry at them and I had no idea why I felt so angry now.

I walked back up the path and stopped her. My mum, more than my father, owed Harry more than silence. "Why do you pretend not to care? He's your sister's son! What if that were me? He's my age and someone wants to kill him!"

She stared at me, shocked, but didn't say anything.

After a long pause, I lowered my voice. "There's a good chance he'll be killed, isn't there?"

Slowly, she nodded, glancing nervously at Dad, who was still by the car, oblivious to our conversation. "This… Vol… he won't stop," she whispered, her eyes downcast. "He killed Lily."

I didn't say anything—couldn't say anything. The pain in Mum's voice at saying her sister's name was so deep that I felt bad for snapping on her. I'd never heard her say the name aloud, but I knew now why. There was a long moment of silence, broken by Dad's shouts for us to get in the car.

"I'll find him one day and say I'm sorry for it all," I told her accusingly. I knew that she would never come with or express any desire to apologize, but I wanted her to at least feel guilty for that choice.

Mum stared at me, her eyes searching my face for something. With one final glance at our house, I turned and walked toward the car. Mum walked slowly behind me, her eyes downcast and her shoulders slightly slumped. I got in the back seat next to the wizard and waited for Mum to get in the car.

Perhaps she didn't think anyone was watching her because there was a pause before she got in the final seat in the back. She turned and glanced back at the house and I swear I saw her lips move, but I have no idea what she might have said. Still, the sadness on her face in that moment spoke loudly to me.

I don't think I'm the only one who regrets how we treated family at 4 Privet Drive.

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