|beholder_mod (beholder_mod) wrote in hp_beholder,|
@ 2008-04-13 17:54:00
|Entry tags:||dudley dursley, fic, het, luna lovegood|
FIC: 'Freaks, Geeks And Post-War Resolutions' for anguis_1
Title: Freaks, Geeks And Post-War Resolutions
Pairings: Dudley Dursley/Luna Lovegood
Word Count: 2967
Warnings: Minor DH spoilers (minus epilogue)
Summary: Dudley feels out of place at Harry's party until a sweet girl asks him to dance.
Author's Notes: I had a lot of fun writing this, so I hope you'll enjoy it too, anguis_1! :)
"I don't think that you're a waste of space."
It was like holding out an olive branch, albeit a wilting one, but primarily, it was a long-overdue expression of genuine regret.
Perhaps in Dudley Dursley's case, a sudden inclination towards introspection was another important milestone on the way to adulthood.
Looking back, he wishes that he hadn't treated Harry so appallingly.
His had been a disgraceful way to act. You didn't go around bullying a member of your own family, not even a weird, quiet one who had never fit in.
Dudley supposes that he can lay some of the blame for his actions with his father. The man continuously insisted that Harry Potter was a freak, and he made a point of always turning a blind eye to any taunting that went on, too. Perhaps he even approved of it.
Nonetheless, it remained Dudley's own decision to be cruel, despite the fact that Harry never provoked him and rarely got even afterwards.
Perhaps Dudley might have gone easier on his cousin, had he known about all those tragedies the boy had had to deal with over the course of the past few years; the loss of his godfather and some close friends, and the very real and ever-present danger of a Dark Wizard, the same one who had left him orphaned, as well as scarred for life in more ways than one.
Even today, the wizarding world is a difficult concept for Dudley to wrap his head around, but knowing what he does now, he cannot ignore the facts any longer. He has seen too much, and a considerable chunk of it was nowhere near pleasant.
Still, he decides, it's no use dwelling on the past. It's not as though he can turn back the clock, and besides, Harry has forgiven him, and that's what matters the most, isn't it?
Yes, even if from the sound of things, not everyone is quite as charitable.
From his spot by the door, Dudley can hear the red-haired boy standing a few feet away quite clearly.
"Bloody hell, what was Harry thinking, inviting him? What's next? Will we be seeing Malfoy and Goyle's ugly mugs a little later, too?"
The girl standing next to him, all wild bushy hair and wide brown eyes says, "Well, Ron, I suppose that Harry wanted to give some people a second chance after the war. And honestly, I can see his point; can't you? Surely you have to agree, deep down, that there has been more than enough fighting already? Frankly, I think that a fresh start would be a good thing for all of us."
Ron rolls his eyes and heads to the refreshments table, but not before remarking, just loud enough for Dudley to hear, "Harry will never learn, will he? Some people are just rotten to the bone, and that tub of lard over there is one of them. He's really got no business being here."
Hermione sighs and smiles apologetically in Dudley's direction, but Dudley thinks that Ron might have a point. When push comes to shove, this isn't his place and these people aren't his friends—far from it.
Gritting his teeth, he makes his decision. When Harry arrives, he'll just go over, say hello and then take the first bus back home.
There is snooker on the telly this afternoon, and maybe he'll have another go at trying to get to the next level in 'Castlevania', too. That should be a lot more fun than staying here and feeling like chopped liver.
An hour later Harry still hasn't put in an appearance—his meeting with some Ministry officials is taking a lot longer than planned—and Dudley grows increasingly ill at ease.
No, he definitely shouldn't have accepted that invitation, he thinks, taking another sip from his drink. Pumpkin Juice is definitely an acquired taste, but he has found that it's not that bad so long as he adds plenty of sugar.
Briefly, his thoughts drift to his parents.
The two of them are currently taking an extended holiday in Europe. His mother supposedly needs to recover from everything that has happened and she also has to gather her wits before she can even consider facing any of their neighbours again. She is still overly concerned with other people's opinions.
Dudley tries not to be.
Most of his own worries involve his future and what he wants to make of it.
He is as good as certain that he's going to quit boxing. A career in that sport never lasts long, might cause permanent injuries, and most professionals are old before their time.
Maybe he should go back to school, retake his A-levels, and talk to someone from the DHSS about the options available to him.
True enough, he's never been a genius by any stretch of the imagination, but he's no fool either. There should be something out there that suits his interests and capacities, and that will prevent him from turning into the sort of bitter, small-minded man his father is.
God, anything but that…
Just as he's contemplating returning home, an unfamiliar chirpy voice behind him says, "Why, hello there!"
Slightly startled, Dudley turns around.
A petite girl with long blonde hair is standing there. She's wearing a long pink dress, lots of jewellery—some of it quite unusual, and is obviously a witch.
Oddly enough, Dudley doesn't feel as intimidated by her as he normally would.
She has a sweet smile and from what he's seen of her so far—he has noticed her before, but they've never actually spoken—she's quite friendly.
Her name is Luna, if he remembers correctly.
"Would you like to dance?" she asks him.
He hesitates for a moment, but then he remembers his resolution. He would keep an open mind and be nice to Harry's friends. After all, they're just people, too.
"Sure," he replies. "I have to warn you that I'm no Fred Astaire, though."
"Fred who?" The girl looks at him in complete confusion.
Dudley shrugs and takes her hand. "Never mind. Some actor you probably haven't heard of."
"An actor." Luna frowns. "A good dancer then, is he?"
"He was one of the best, according to my mum."
"Oh. All right."
"So as I said: careful, I'm not him."
She gives him another sweet smile. "Well, I'm sure we'll manage regardless."
It soon becomes clear that Dudley wasn't lying.
Certainly, his coordination has improved through his boxing, but when it comes to dancing, he still has two left feet.
Not unlike his cousin, he decides, and that might just be one of the very few things the two of them have in common.
Still, if his dance partner actually minds, she doesn't show it. She moves swiftly and gracefully, and to his surprise, he hasn't trod on her toes yet. He suspects that magic might be playing a part there.
"You live entirely like a Muggle, don't you?" she asks, completely out of nowhere.
Dudley frowns. He wonders why 'Muggle' still sounds like an insult. He suspects that it's his father's influence, and he really needs to get over that and put all such prejudices behind him.
"Yes," he says at last, careful to keep his tone friendly. "I never dealt with any magic when I was growing up. Well,"—he tries to make a joke of it—"not counting the few occasions where Harry accidentally blew something up."
Her wide eyes sparkle. They're very intense and pretty, Dudley thinks. Well, so is she, even if she's also a little strange.
'No she isn't,' an inner voice that's probably his conscience reminds him. 'She's just magical.'
"Would you mind showing me?" she asks.
Not understanding her meaning, he frowns. "Show you what?"
"How you live? Your home? Only if it's not too much trouble, of course. I wouldn't want to impose."
Dudley's eyes widen. Number 4, Pivet Drive is quite a distance from where they are; not to mention that the place has been... less than tidy since his parents left, and the cleaning lady doesn't come by until Thursday.
Today is Tuesday, as far as he remembers.
"Er- sure," he finally says. "I mean, I'd be happy to, but it's about sixty miles from here, though, and I don't have a car, but if you don't mind going by public transport, then—"
He hopes that this will be sufficient to deter her, but instead she grins, shakes her head, and replies, "I can Apparate us both, silly. I got my license last month, you know. Took me ages, though. I kept transporting random objects, even a grandfather clock once, and bunnies kept popping up in odd places. The teacher said she'd never seen anything like it. Of course"—she shrugs—"people say things like that all the time when I'm around."
Dudley furrows his brows in concentration. Apparate. He has heard the word before, if only he could also remember what it means.
"Come on," she says and holds out her arm. "We'll go outside first, just in case any furniture wants to come along."
Reluctantly, Dudley nods and fervently hopes that he isn't about to experience something nasty.
Overcome with dizziness, he suddenly finds himself being catapulted onto his lawn, his face missing the sprinkler by mere millimetres.
"Oops," Luna's says, sounding slightly rattled. "I didn't mean to do it like that. Are you all right?"
Dudley sits up carefully to push back the dizziness. He clutches at his head, out of reflex more than anything else, and replies, "Er- yeah, I-I think so. That was—"
"It's brilliant, isn't it? So much more practical than using a boring old broom, I'd say."
He slowly gets up, trying to shake off the after-effects of his far from perfect landing.
"Could you give me a tour of your house?" Luna asks. Her eyes are shining with enthusiasm.
"Sure, if you like. Have you ever been inside a Muggle home before?"
She smiles. "Well, I've visited Muggleborn friends at home—Hermione Granger is one, you know—but it's hardly the same thing. Their parents know about magic and allow it to be a part of their lives, so you sense magic all around you... Your house will be very ordinary in comparison, I imagine."
Noticing the strange expression on his face, she adds quickly, "But I don't mean that in a bad way, of course."
Dudley shakes his head. Considering what witches and wizards are used to, he supposes that seen through their eyes, a regular person's house must be extremely dull.
"Sure," he says, and then something occurs to him. He does have one thing that might actually impress her. "Say, Luna, do you know what a PlayStation is?"
She slowly shakes her head. "No, I don't think so. Does it have anything to do with trains?"
Dudley grins. "No trains, but I will tell you that you haven't properly lived if you've never played a videogame. Come on, I'll show you."
Luna stares at her Ginger Ale in fascination. There are bubbles, and yet there aren't any fish and there certainly isn't any magic either.
'How curious,' she thinks before taking a tentative sip. The drink tastes good, though it's a little sweeter than the natural beverages she's used to.
She didn't really understand the videogame, or why there was so much jumping about, but the moving drawings looked nifty.
She glances around the small kitchen. There are so many unfamiliar appliances. She should probably ask Dudley about them later, what they're called and what they do.
Dudley has a pet tortoise. He showed it to her earlier.
She has to admit that Harry's cousin isn't so bad.
He made some mistakes in the past, certainly, but he's older now and obviously wiser too, and besides, people weren't meant to be perfect.
If only Ron would be willing to see that.
Ron and some of the others. Funny how even after a devastating war, people from the same side are still clinging to mutual grudges.
At least Harry seems to have forgiven him, and for that, Luna is awfully glad. It'll be good for the boy to have a supportive family member around. He misses a real family, Luna knows that for certain, and although the Weasleys try their utmost, nothing can ever replace one's own flesh and blood.
"Say, have you ever had fish and chips?" Dudley asks her.
She blinks. "Well, I've eaten fish courses, and they served us chips at Hogwarts too, sometimes."
"Oh, but I'll bet you never had the real thing." Dudley's eyes are shining, and in that moment it's clear as crystal; the boy loves his grub. "Would you like some? It's almost dinnertime anyway. I promise you, you won't regret it."
She looks at him for a moment. He seems brimming with enthusiasm and she wouldn't want to take that away from him. Besides, she is quite hungry and she has always preferred fish to meat anyway. Eating meat sometimes makes her sad. Maybe she should stop doing that altogether.
"All right," she finally says. "Would you like me to lend a hand with the cooking?"
Dudley grins. "Oh, but we're not going to do any cooking. The chippie is just around the corner. Er- we'll have to walk there, though. People around here aren't very broadminded and get upset easily. Anything they don't understand, either it freaks them out or they hate it on sight."
He has barely spoken those words, or Dudley frowns, realising that he has just described his past self quite aptly.
Still, the past no longer matters.
"All right," Luna says. "Lead the way."
They're sitting at a small table on high stools picking thickly cut chips and fried cod off a newspaper.
Luna has discovered that she likes ketchup a lot more than she does mayonnaise and it never would have occurred to her to prepare fish like this, but the result is very tasty. Dudley tucks in eagerly and she instantly understands why he ordered them both such a large portion.
"Yeah, I probably shouldn't eat this," he says apologetically, noticing her gaze on him. "I started doing sports a few years back, but I still pack on the weight easily, and there's already more than enough of me to go around, right?"
Luna frowns for a moment, studying him carefully. He is quite a large fellow, but she can't say that it bothers her. Looks don't matter to her at all, generally. It's more about the aura of a person.
The boy sitting in front of her has a friendly face and kind eyes. He's growing up to be a good person, in spite of his shaky beginning. She can tell such things.
"Nothing wrong with liking good food," she says. "Vanity is a silly habit to get into anyhow. Some people worry so much about not creasing their clothes or getting their shoes dirty that they completely forget to live."
"Well," Dudley says with a grin, "I don't think anyone could ever accuse me of being vain."
Luna finds herself grinning back. "No, I didn't think you were, either." She picks up another chip and chews thoughtfully before asking, "Do you have anything on tomorrow afternoon?"
"No," he says. "Not really."
He had some vague plans to play some more 'Castlevania' and then head down to the DHSS to have a chat with one of their career advisors.
He decided today, somewhere during the course of the pleasant afternoon, that he will make something of his life, and that he'll stop caring about certain people's small-minded opinions too while he's at it.
Funny really, he considers, how one afternoon in the company of a sweet girl—who also happens to be a witch, but really, who gives a monkey's about that anymore?—can suddenly shed a whole new light on things and make what needs to be done much clearer.
"Well," Luna continues, "The thing is, Harry wants to rebuild Hogwarts, and we're trying to get as many people involved as we can. You see, we won't be able to rely on magic for everything, because it's an old building and it's just been through a terrible war. Casting too many spells at it or even anywhere near it might do more harm than good."
Dudley nods. He doesn't understand the first thing about magic, but he supposes that the gist of what's she's saying makes sense. Someone who's really ill can get worse from too much medication, too.
"You're pretty strong, aren't you?" Luna puts to him. "Aren't you a boxer? And a weightlifter as well, I think Harry said."
"Yeah," he replies, trying to conceal his pride and deciding not to brag about how much he can lift at once. "I suppose I am."
"So would you like to come and join us? We could really use all the help we can possibly get." She looks at him expectantly.
Frowning, Dudley thinks things over for a moment. There isn't anything pressing waiting for him at Pivet Drive, and he does have a few things to make up for, not just to Harry, but to Harry's friends as well.
Those witches and wizards are hardly freaks. Dudley knows that much now. They're just regular people who happen to possess an extraordinary gift of which most others have no knowledge.
Besides, he really wouldn't mind spending some more time with the lovely girl currently sharing a meal with him. No, on second thought, make that a lot more time.
"All right," he finally says.
Luna leans across the table, kisses him full on the lips—right there in front of everyone—and when she pulls back again and he sees the wide, grateful smile on her face, he knows that he has made the right decision.