Harry Potter - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Harry Potter and the Werewolf Prophecy ❯ THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT ( Chapter 14 )
It was early morning, and Harry was alone in the Weasley’s kitchen. He had returned from Hogwarts as soon as he possibly could. A crateful of books had followed him, with the various teaching materials for Defence Against The Dark Arts for all seven years.
The family had sat up late, celebrating Ron’s new job, and Ginny and Harry’s return to Hogwarts, and they were still asleep. Harry had woken early. He’d wandered downstairs and made himself a cup of coffee. It was strange, given the terrifying adventures that had occupied much of his childhood, that he should be so nervous about his new job. He’d spent almost every waking hour studying the course. So much of it seemed to be pointless theorising and ancient history. What was the point of describing some monster last seen in the 1500’s in North Wales?
He was surprised to see an owl sitting patiently on the window ledge. He wondered who it might be from. Hermione had written regularly, but two large letters had arrived only yesterday.
He raised the window and the owl presented him with a letter. The envelope was of plain white paper rather than parchment. Harry tossed the owl a silver coin and looked at the address, which was printed rather than written. It said “Harry Potter, Box 99, Little Whingeing, Surrey”. Over this was scrawled in a typical wizard hand “redirected by the Muggle/Wizard postal service: The Burrow, Ottery St. Catchpole, Devon”. It was the same service that the Dursley family had used on the rare occasions when they had written to him at Hogwarts. He hadn’t had a letter since he’d left their house forever.
He tore it open and there was a single sheet inside – again, printed. The contents were brief – “Dear Harry, hope you are well. I have important news for you. Please meet me beside the Albert Memorial at 12 noon the day before your birthday. Tell no-one. Your affectionate cousin Dudley.”
Harry frowned to himself. He had hardly thought about the Dursleys since leaving Privet Drive. His mother’s sister had brought him up, but had never showed him affection. Worse, she had never told him anything about his mother – something he’d never been able to forgive. Still, they were his only living relatives. He’d made some kind of peace with Dudley when they last spoke. What could he possibly want?
The door to the kitchen opened and Arthur Weasley wandered in, yawning. “What’s that, Harry?” he asked. “Another mysterious missive?”
Harry nodded. “At least it’s from someone who’s still alive this time,” he said. “Arthur, I’m afraid I’m going to have to go. My cousin…” He tailed off, finding it difficult to explain to one of the Weasleys how remote close relatives could be.
“Cousin, Harry? Not that awful boy who used to bully you? Well, blood’s thicker than water, I suppose.”
Harry tried to remember where the Albert Memorial was. “I think I’ll need to use the Floo Network, then apparate. I don’t know London very well.”
“I’ll just get down the V to X,” said Arthur. “I always use it when I go somewhere new.” He reached to an upper shelf and took down a huge leather-bound volume.
Arthur was easily able to interpret the book, and Harry was able to find a direct Floo link to the Albert Hall. The Weasleys had a preference for the Floo network, and were very skilled at using it to get around the country. Ron in particular had formed a dislike for apparating, after his splinching accident.
He flung a pinch of Floo powder into the Weasley’s huge fireplace, stepped into the emerald fire and said “Albert Hall”. He felt himself starting to spin, and a succession of rooms presented themselves to him in turn, flashing in front of his eyes more and more quickly. Suddenly they stopped and he found himself flung on the floor in a room full of dusty musical instruments, mostly in a state of disrepair.
He wasn’t surprised to see that the dirty floor was covered in footprints. The Floo network was available to all wizards, and was frequently busy. He crept to the door and peered out. This particular fireplace was marked “Warning – Muggle area” and wizards were cautioned to avoid being noticed. Harry wandered through a maze of corridors, and eventually found an exit to the street.
He was momentarily lost, but realised that the Albert Memorial was clearly visible a short walk away. He broke into a trot. The roads were almost empty, and it was misty and cold.
Kensington Gardens were quiet, but there were a number of people strolling around. A young woman jogging smiled at Harry as she went passed. For a second he thought he recognised her, but felt embarrassed to look around. He passed a tramp muttering to himself, who gave a start as he ran past.
He could see the silhouette of a bulky young man standing alone in front of the memorial, holding the handle of a small wheeled suitcase. He looked familiar, but surely that couldn’t be Dudley? He’d lost a lot of weight.
He slowed down, not wanting to look too eager. Yes, it was Dudley, though far less pudgy than when Harry had last seen him. His face was thinner, his expression less petulant.
He looked up as Harry approached. “Harry. What do you want then?”
“What do I want?” said Harry. “You asked to meet me!”
“No, I asked to see both of you,” said a voice from above them.
Harry looked up and saw another familiar face. Gregory Goyle stood high on the Albert Memorial, among the statues of various famous Muggles, his wand levelled at Harry. Harry hadn’t seen him since he’d rescued him from the flames of the Room of Requirement. Clearly, he wasn’t feeling grateful.
Harry grabbed for his own wand, but Goyle shouted “Expelliamus!” and it flew from his hand. Goyle sneered and leaped down, floating gently to the ground. “Long time no see, Potter,” he said, his face contorted with an evil grin. “Clear off, Muggle. You’ve done your job.”
Dudley stepped forward, glaring, his fists clenched by his side. “Filthy Muggle scum,” said Goyle, and swung his wand to point at Dudley. “Avada…”
Almost faster than Harry could see, Dudley jumped at Goyle and snatched his wand from his hand. Goyle stared at him stupidly as Dudley held it in front of his eyes and snapped it in half. “What… what?” he said as Dudley swung a huge fist which smashed into Goyle’s nose, sending a spray of blood.
Harry heard a noise from behind him, and turned. There were a number of figures approaching through the mist, all of them young wizards and witches. He could make out several faces he recognised. Pansy Parkinson and Blaise Zabini, two former enemies from Slytherin. And just behind them, Draco Malfoy. Pansy Parkinson pointed her wand at Harry and a spray of purple light whizzed past his ear, sending his glasses flying.
Of course Malfoy would be here, thought Harry, as he fell to his knees and tried to feel for his wand. Goyle was far too stupid to come up with a trap like this. “Dudley,” he hissed. “Run! They don’t want you, but if you get in their way…”
He could hear regular thumps as Dudley’s fists smashed into Goyle, who was squealing with pain. He felt the familiar shape of his glasses and crammed them back on his face, just in time to see Pansy Parkinson and Draco Malfoy standing over him.
“Shall I, Draco?” squeaked Pansy, almost hysterical with excitement. “Shall I do it?” Her wand was levelled at him, her hand shaking. Harry frantically felt for his own wand, but there was nothing under his hands but gravel.
Malfoy stared at Harry, a thin smile on his face. “No,” he said quietly, then swung his wand to point to Pansy. “Crucio,” he said. Pansy flung her arms up in the air, and gave a blood-curdling scream.
Blaise Zabini ran up on her other side, and flung a binding curse. Pansy collapsed to the floor, twitching and whimpering. Malfoy reached down and picked up Harry’s wand. “This is yours, I believe,” he said, and handed it to Harry. “Perhaps you should tell your cousin that Goyle has had enough. Or perhaps not. He could probably stand another minute or two.”
Harry placed his wand in its holster and looked about him. There were flashes of light piercing the mist all around them, screams of fury and shouted orders.
“Draco, Bulstrode is escaping down Kensington Gore,” said Zabini.
“They’ll cut her off. The park is surrounded by Aurors,” said Malfoy calmly. They moved off. Harry stared after them, bewildered.
Dudley was holding Goyle up by the front of his robes, but he was clearly unconscious. Dudley flung him to the ground and he lay still. “Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything permanent. His face may take a while to get back to normal, but from the look of him that won’t matter very much.”
He stood up and dusted off his hands. “Did he say Goyle? Is that the scary bully used push you around? Is that what passes for hard in your world?” He shook his head. “I don’t know why I was ever frightened of you for so long.”
“You were frightened of me?” asked Harry.
“Terrified,” said Dudley. “You set a giant snake on me! I had to have a pig’s tail amputated!”
“That was Hagrid,” said Harry, quickly.
“If I’d known you were scared of that,” - Dudley gestured at Goyle, who was twitching slightly – “I’d have been a lot less worried. So would Mum.”
“What about your dad?” asked Harry.
“Dad was always completely terrified of you. Even when you were a baby. Come on, you blew up his sister.”
Harry laughed. “Well, that was a mistake.”
“Then that crazy guy blew up our fireplace.”
They were both laughing now. In the distance, the screams and flashes were subsiding.
“Is this normal for you?” said Dudley, waving at the park.
“Pretty much, yeah,” said Harry. “When did you learn to do that?” He gestured at Goyle.
“You know I’ve been boxing for years,” said Dudley. “I’ve been taking it seriously. Southern area finals, light heavyweight.”
“Light?” asked Harry.
“Been working out,” said Dudley, scowling.
“Well, you look better than you used to,” said Harry.
“What was he trying to do to me then?” asked Dudley. “Give me donkey ears or what?”
“Er… he was going to kill you,” said Harry. There was a moment’s silence.
“Blimey,” said Dudley. “I wish I’d hit him a bit more now.”
The noise had died down. A number of figures were walking towards them. Harry felt a tap on his shoulder and turned. The tramp he’d seen earlier was standing there.
“Harry – it’s me!” said the tramp. “Ron! Polyjuiced! We didn’t know it was you. The source said there was going to be an attack on a wizard by wannabe Death Eaters.”
“I can guess who the source was,” said Harry. “Malfoy’s changed sides.”
“Malfoy?” said Ron. “Might have known.” He noticed Goyle’s recumbent form. “Bloody hell! What happened to gorgeous Gregory?”
Harry gestured with his thumb. “My cousin, Dudley.”
Ron stared at Dudley. “He did that to the toughest bloke at Hogwarts? Respect.”
Dudley walked over to Harry, ignoring Ron.
“Listen, Harry – I knew this was some kind of trick. No way would you write ‘Dearest cousin Dudley’. Still, I sort of hoped I’d see you. Anyway…”. He scratched his head. “Happy Birthday.” He handed Harry a small parcel.
“Wow, Dudley… I’m sorry, I didn’t…” said Harry, softly.
“Of course you didn’t. When we were eight, you gave me a drawing you did, for my birthday. It was of the two of us. I still have it. It said ‘Friends forever’.” Dudley blinked and looked away. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out, afterwards. This is a watch I was given. I have loads of them, but this is a good one. I wanted… never mind.”
Dudley grabbed Harry’s hand and shook it briefly. He pointed to the suitcase. “That’s the stuff you left. Mum wanted to throw it out but dad was worried that the binmen would see it. Books, those dress things you wear, that kind of stuff. Anyway, see you around”. Dudley strode off.
“Seems a nice bloke,” said Ron, his usual voice started to sound through the tramp’s rasp. “Don’t know why you didn’t like him. Do you remember that picture?”
Harry shook his head. “When I was younger I was always trying to be friends with Dudley. Then I gave up on it,” he said. “I’ve spent most of my life hating him and Malfoy. Now they start messing things about.”
Ron looked down at Pansy and Goyle. “They still seem to be carrying on in the same old way, though. Just not you getting the benefit.”
Various figures were approaching as the mists began to clear. The young woman that Harry had seen earlier strode up to him and grasped him by the hand. “Harry Potter? My name’s Astoria Greengrass. Ravenclaw, just after you.”
“I thought I knew you! You were in SPEW, weren’t you? Your sister was in our year…” Harry tailed off as he saw Daphne Greengrass walking up, tears running down her face.
“Astoria… Millicent Bulstrode is dead. She ran in front of a car.”
Astoria shook her head sadly. She didn’t cry, however.
“We did our best to make this a safe operation,” said Ron, quietly. “She must have just panicked.”
“It’s my fault! If I hadn’t…” said Daphne wildly.
Astoria seized her by the shoulders and shook her gently. “Don’t be silly, Daphne. You saw what happened at Hogwarts. We had to stop this nonsense starting up again. You didn’t want to be part of it. You and Draco were right to come to me.”
“You aren’t an Auror,” said Harry. “How did you…”
“We have a society devoted to the rehabilitation of the people misled by Voldemort. We have contacts in the Auror’s Office. They prefer to have the accused peacefully surrender.”
“Who in the Auror’s Office?” asked Harry. “I don’t know of any… oh, is that Neville’s operation?”
Astoria raised a finger to her lips.
More wizards were approaching. Among the crowd were Neville, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Malfoy. One of them waved a wand at Pansy, releasing her from the body-bind charm. They pulled her to her feet, not unkindly.
Pansy stared at Malfoy, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Why, Draco?”
Malfoy looked at her contemptuously. “Because, you stupid girl, I want my life back. I want my family to be at the centre of the wizarding world, where it belongs, not skulking in cellars indulging in idiotic conspiracies. That half-blood fool Tom Riddle is dead. I’m intelligent enough to realise that.”
Pansy sobbed. “You hurt me.”
“He used Cruciatus,” said Harry, quietly.
“Draco? Is that true?” asked Astoria, sharply.
“I had no choice! She would have killed Potter!” snapped Malfoy, sullenly.
“You could have used Expelliamus,” said Harry.
“Willing to bet your life on it, Potter?” sneered Malfoy.
“We’ll talk about this later,” said Astoria.
“Never used an unforgivable curse yourself? You sliced me open once, remember?” Malfoy was white with anger. “What punishment was it? Detention for an hour or so? No expulsion for the school favourite.”
“I said we’ll talk about it later, Draco!” said Astoria, loudly. There was a moment’s silence.
“Enough chatter,” said Shacklebolt. “Cruciatus is technically legal, pending repeal of the edicts of last year. Malfoy, this is all very well, but if you want amnesty…”
“You want some escaped Death Eaters, not just schoolchildren with ambitions,” said Malfoy. “I think I can satisfy you. There are more than fifty of the Dark Lord’s supporters hiding in our house, under the protection of the Fidelius Charm.”
“Must be a bit cramped, then,” said Ron.
Malfoy peered at him. “Weasley, I suppose. Yes, you Weasleys would think that, living in a hovel piled on top of each other. In my father’s house there are many mansions.”
“Is Greyback there?” demanded Ron, ignoring the slur. After so many years of Malfoy’s insults he didn’t even hear them anymore.
“Fenrir Greyback? The doggy who ate your former girlfriend? No, Weasley, we don’t allow the animals indoors. I have no idea where he might be. Off in the woods somewhere, I imagine.”
“Thought he was a family friend,” Ron muttered.
“Enough!” shouted Shacklebolt. “Malfoy, who is the Secret Keeper?”
Malfoy gave a thin smile. “I am, Minister. I suggest we make haste, in case word leaks out of this little operation.”
“I agree,” said Shacklebolt, briskly. “All right, boys and girls. Prisoner detail, take them to headquarters. Cram them tight, because we’re expecting a lot more soon, I hope. Clean up squad where that poor girl was killed. No need to wipe memories – all they saw was a road accident. Disperse the mist in about an hour, when we’re all clear of the area. Weasley, with me.”
“Minister, what do you want me to do?” asked Harry.
“Eh? Potter? You aren’t part of the operation, I’m afraid. It was a surprise for us all to see you here. We were just told – what was it, Longbottom?”
Harry turned to see Neville. “Attack planned on unidentified wizard, Minister. Time and location, but no identification.” Neville sounded clipped and efficient – quite unlike his usual nervous self.
“You’re just an innocent bystander, Potter. I suggest you return home. Carefully, just in case anyone slipped through the cracks.”
“Nobody slipped through the cracks,” snarled Malfoy. “Seven novice Death Eaters delivered, and apprehended. Is that correct, Minister?”
“I even made sure that Potter survived. Quits, now, Potter.”
Harry grinned. It was so like Malfoy to think like that – setting up a situation where Harry’s life would be in danger, just so that he could rescue him. Having Harry save his life at the Battle of Hogwarts must have really rankled. “Yeah, thanks, Draco. Appreciate it.”
The crowd started to disperse. “Best not use the Albert Hall, Potter,” called Shacklebolt. “It’ll be quite full for a while. There’s a room in the British Museum…”
“I’ll be fine,” called Harry. “You go right ahead.”
In a few moments he found himself standing entirely alone, holding a suitcase full of belongings he’d thought long abandoned.