I wonder what would happen if Dudley grew up in the wizarding world but still as a muggle? like kind of reverse AU where his parents are dead and he has to go to Lily for whatever reason? do you think he would become bitter like Petunia about magic?
Lily remembered her sister, how there had been a time she was curious and delighted about magic, before it slowly sank in that she could look and not touch.
The last thing Petunia had said to Lily before she died was a chilly goodbye, ending a holiday dinner where they’d had a shrieking row in the entryway. Petunia had said freak and Lily had hissed better than this, better than this being my whole fucking world, Tune, do you even see yourself, are you happy–
And now here was Dudley Vernon Dursley fussing himself to sleep as Lily walked the halls of the Godric’s Hollow house. His tiny soft hands with their tiny soft fingernails curled under her chin, the same way Harry always had.
She passed James, who was gently bouncing his way up the hall the opposite way. “I think he’s asleep,” James mouthed over Harry’s tousled head. His hair was the same mess, bent down to peer at his sleeping son.
Lily stopped where she stood, her nephew heavy on her chest, her husband smiling, her sister buried. “James,” she said. “How are we going to do this?”
“Oh,” he said. “Hey. Don’t you cry, you’ll start them off– unless you need to cry, I mean, you go ahead, hey, sweetheart, hey, it’s alright, you just let it out.” He stepped forward, shifting Harry gently to his other shoulder, and pressed his forehead to hers. “We tuck them in, okay, that’s what we do next. Then we go to our own bed, okay, and go to sleep, and when we wake up it’ll be a new day.”
“A new day,” she said. “Another day– James, that’s the– I’m so tired.”
“So let’s sleep. It’ll look better in the morning,” he said. “And if it doesn’t look better this morning, it’ll look better in the next one.”
“Better than that. I’ll show you. Every day,” he said and kissed her cold forehead.
Dudley had not shown up on the Potters’ doorstep with the milk bottles. Lily had gotten a phone call from the landline she still had installed in Godric’s Hollow, about an accident, and she had gone down to the Muggle police station to identify the bodies.
The cupboard under the stairs was filled with spiders, broomsticks, and the sewing machine Lily’s mother had given her when she married James– that’s all. Dudley slept downstairs. Uncle Remus taught Dudley and Harry to knock out coded messages through the wall their rooms shared.
In the backyard, beside a rickety porch and an ambitious hedge, James taught them to fly– first on little tot brooms where their toes brushed the grass the whole time, then out of the barrels of practice brooms James used for lessons and coaching Little League Quidditch.
When the boys turned ten, five weeks apart, they both got shiny new Nimbuses on Dudley’s birthday (which came first), and a set of enchanted Quidditch balls on Harry’s, to share. The Bludgers were enchanted to be very kind but Dudley spent long afternoons whacking them far afield while Harry chased the Snitch at his back.
Harry had a scar on his forehead, like a jagged bit of lightning. Dudley had no scars– the car crash that had killed his parents hadn’t touched him where he sat strapped into a car seat in the back, chewing on a stuffed dinosaur toy.
Lily did not believe in lying to the children. She was bare years off being a child herself, and spare moments on the far side of a war. When Dudley asked about his parents, she told him there had been an accident. She pulled pictures off the shelf and wrote Petunia’s old university friends for more.
Photographs came by mailman, the images still and unnatural to Dudley’s eye. Every day he’d gone out to play, for years, he’d been waving at the picture near the back door of his aunt and uncle on their wedding day, and they waved back every time.
“She was very clever,” Lily said. “Your mom liked to know everything.”
“And my dad?”
“Vernon liked… cars?” James offered. “That’s the word, right, Lily?”
“I didn’t know him very well,” Lily said. “He liked drills, I think; he worked for a firm that made them, and he talked about that a lot.”
Dudley brushed his thumbs over the dull edges of the photos. When Lily went off to Auror headquarters the next morning for work, James bundled the boys up and took them on an impromptu invisible tour of Grunnings Drill Manufacturing Inc.
They tiptoed down halls and past water coolers and ringing fellytones. They held hands under the Cloak as they dodged around the machines on the manufacturing floor, thumping and pounding and whirring away loudly enough that Harry and Dudley could whisper to each other under the noise. An elevator took them all the way up to the top floor. Harry whistled cheerily and eerily along with the elevator music while the Muggles slowly edged toward the doors and pressed floor buttons lower than they’d originally wanted.
There were boxes and cabinets and folders and desks and staticky monitor screens full of numbers strewn in endless grids. “Merlin’s knuckles,” said Harry, who was seven and a half and rather proud of this expletive. “People can look at this all day, their whole lives, and not die?”
“Work is hard work,” said James.
“At least mum gets to curse things.”
“But my dad liked it?” Dudley said, peering at a white board that was bleeding enthusiastic marker. “There’s a lot of things, here. Maybe he liked knowing things, too.”
When the boys asked about the scar on Harry’s forehead, Lily and James looked at each other. “You know how sometimes we sit with Uncle Remus and talk about a war?” James said. “Or with Ms. Amelia or Mr. Mundungus.”
“Mr. Mundungus is kinda smelly,” Harry said helpfully.
“It’s not nice to say so though,” said James, and Lily made a face.
“Are we raising them to be nice?” Lily said.
“I’m trying,” said James.
“You talk about a war,” said Harry and shrugged. Dudley nodded.
“There was a very bad man, in those days,” said James.
“Voldemort,” said Lily, and James made a face.
“He was so scary a lot of people don’t like to say his name, even now,” said James. “And he was coming after us because we had been fighting against him, in the war. He came to the house and he tried to hurt you, Harry. But it didn’t work. It hurt him instead, and gave you that scar.”
“Is he going to come back?” said Dudley, who was paler than his normal pink.
“No one’s heard of him since then,” said Lily.
“Where were you?” said Harry, because all his life they had been right there.
“Oh,” said Lily, but her throat closed up.
“We were at Dudley’s mum and dad’s funeral,” said James. “Our friend– our friend Sirius was watching you two. The bad man, he came to the house. He. Well. I.”
“Sirius died,” said Lily, one hand squeezing James’s knee and the other reaching down to brush hair off Dudley’s forehead. “You lived, Harry, and Voldemort vanished. And that’s why sometimes people stare in the streets, baby.” James tweaked Harry’s collar absently.
Two days after they had buried Lily’s sister, the Potters had stood together in the first chills of November and buried James’s brother.
Sirius had been burned off the Black family tree years before. Lily and James had talked to his cousin Andromeda, to Remus, and then they had laid him to rest in the Potter family plot. At the wake, they’d told old jokes about squirrel breath, shedding, and man’s best friend. Remus had fallen asleep on their couch and stayed for a month.
It took a two hour row with HR for Lily to get two passes to the Ministry’s Bring Your Kid To Work Day.
“He’s a Muggle.”
“He’s not,” Lily snapped. “He’s family.”
She had to get permission, sign a million forms, and she also had to take the boys in early so that Dudley could get smothered in the spells that would keep the Anti-Muggle wards around the Ministry from activating on him. “If a Muggle stumbles in somehow, they just see a funny-smelling supply cabinet and turn back around,” Lily told Dudley. He nodded and dragged Harry off by the wrist to go look at the fountain.
The windows were pouring sunlight into the underground room– the maintenance workers had just gotten a win on their contract negotiations and had banished the grimy rain-spattered windows of the previous weeks. The light hit the falling water, the golden statues, and the small excitable crowd of Ministry dependents who were gathering in the atrium. Dudley was fishing about in the fountain for Knuts to toss back out again, elbow-deep, and Harry was laughing and coming up with weird wishes to make on them.
Lily hadn’t said son. She’d said family, and that was true enough, wasn’t it? She didn’t say son– she had a son, and she had a nephew, a ward, another child who came to her after nightmares and scraped knees. It was not less, it was just words.
Lily worried about stealing more things from Petunia. Tuney had shrieked at her, in ladies’ restrooms and suburban foyers, had hissed at her in grocery store aisles and family dinners, because Lily got everything. And now Lily had her son.
Lily could just imagine it– could just see Petunia’s face twisting and chin stabbing at the air. You could have anything, and you took my son– my son!
“You left him to me,” Lily whispered, but that wasn’t quite right. “You left,” she whispered, and that wasn’t quite right either, so she strode off toward the fountain to ask the boys if they wanted to go see the Auror spellwork ranges. Dudley’s sodden shirt sleeves dripped all over the Ministry floors. Harry’s hair fell down into his eyes and they both grinned bright enough to rival the spelled sunlight.