|Beth H (bethbethbeth) wrote in hp_beholder,|
@ 2010-04-28 13:26:00
|Entry tags:||beholder_2010, dudley dursley, dudley/oc, fic, het, oc, petunia dursley, petunia/oc, rating:pg|
FIC: "Swings and roundabouts" for donnaimmaculata
Recipient: Donna Immaculata
Author/Artist: strav / Josephine Stravinski
Title: Swings and roundabouts
Pairings: Dudley/OC, Petunia/OC
Word Count: 1,980
Summary: In which Dudley finds, and loses, and rediscovers love, and Petunia hopes he'll find himself.
Author's/Artist's Notes: Thank you to A for bringing Beholder to my attention, thank you the folk who run it. Thanks so much to accioslash for the beta and support. Donna, I know you said you "prefer to pair up canon characters with each other rather than with OCs", but I hope given the canon characters you'll forgive my overlooking this preference.
When Dudley was 6, there were three things he wanted most in the world. A brand new television all of his own, a remote controlled helicopter with full army camouflage, and five year old Heather, sitting one row in front with two neat, blonde plaits, to notice him.
***** ***** *****
His first attempt at an introduction was while they were making papier-mache piggy banks. He ran past her with pudgy, pastey fingers and smeared a generous layer over her neatly plaited hair. She squealed and then cried, but didn't once look at him.
A week later playing rounders, he bowled as she batted. Her cheek held a bruise the shape of his ball for a week, but she didn't turn her back so much as not even care that he was there.
He jumped on the see-saw while she was on the way up, he ran past her swing and pushed her too hard and too high - but even as she brushed the bark off her knees she was walking in the opposite direction.
He tripped her over on the way into class and she glared at the boy beside him, but Dudley may as well have been invisible for all the notice she gave him.
***** ***** *****
The start of term in Dudley's seventh year of school was both the best and worst day of Dudley's life. For one thing, it was his first Harry-free day of school since anyone could be bothered remembering. The untold joy this brought him was muted, however, when he walked into class and found no pigtailed girl one row in front.
For two weeks he tried to overhear where she had gone, with no luck. He couldn't ask any of the girls, of course, because that would involve talking to girls. He could ask the boys, but they of course wouldn't know. So Dudley was left, in his twelfth year of life, facing each day alone.
When Dudley turned 17, Petunia threw a party and invited everyone she knew. It was his last birthday as her little boy - he'd be a man next year.
As Dudley looked around at the food and his friends and the large pile of presents stacked like a fort in the corner, he thought life couldn't get much better than this. Then the door opened, and Dudley heard his mother say, "Heather Hawker, you made it!"
She was older, of course, and looked like a young woman rather than a ten year old girl, but even without the neat twin plaits Dudley recognised her, and nearly choked on an eclair.
***** ***** *****
"You went away," Dudley said. He hadn't meant to say anything. He hadn't meant to walk towards her, but it was perhaps preferable to gaping, so he'd let his feet lead. Now he'd spoken to her, for the first time ever, and it was her turn to speak. To him.
"I did," she said. "I went to school in France."
There. She'd spoken to him.
"France." And he'd spoken back.
"Yes." She glanced behind him. "You know, I'd kill for some sausage rolls." Before Dudley could register what she'd said, a pimply-faced boy passed the table and grabbed the last three. Dudley's life-long reflex was to force the boy to hand them over, but that would mean leaving Heather's side. He wavered, confused.
"Never mind," she waved a hand dismissively, "they'll bring out more."
"Mum said they were the last ones," Dudley muttered nervously, his eyes still on the boy, weighing up his options.
"There, see," Heather said, as she moved away from him - towards the table, and a new plate of sausage rolls.
Dudley, fretting, heard his mother pass and said accusingly, "You said there weren't any more sausage rolls".
"There aren't, Diddles" Petunia replied. Then, glancing towards the table, "They don't seem very popular, though."
Dudley bit back his reply as Heather returned and handed him a plate. He hoped if he kept quiet she'd speak to him again.
***** ***** *****
An hour later the blue elephant pinata wouldn't break, and Dudley wanted to cry. This was meant to be his happy day, and now his game wasn't working. They had tried all nine of his cricket bats, including the one signed by the entire English cricket team. He and his two largest friends had stood at equal points around it, all hitting at the same time and then taking turns, and still no sign of a dent.
Sensing the beginnings of an outburst, Petunia rushed in with a cleaver, offering to hack it to pieces if she had to.
Then, "Wait, I haven't had a turn yet". Petunia froze and looked cautiously at her son, then slowly passed Heather the bat.
Petunia breathed again and loosened her grip on the cleaver as, with one swat, the pinata exploded open and lollies showered over the fretting teenage boys. Dudley grabbed two handfuls, shoving one in his mouth and handing the other to Heather.
***** ***** *****
"France was good." Heather sucked on a caramel, continuing their first ever conversation as though an hour hadn't passed. "I learnt a lot. And Beauxbatons was lovely."
Dudley's brain worked furiously. "Beaux- I've heard of that."
Heather laughed. "No, you wouldn't have heard of it, it's a specialist school."
Dudley stared at Heather. "Beaux- it's a school for w-. You're a w-. The sausage rolls were empty, and now they're full-. It wouldn't open-." Then, to make it clear that he knew what he was talking about, "My cousin's a w-"
Heather slid her hand into Dudley's. "Let's go outside".
***** ***** *****
At the park, Heather sat on the only swing Dudley and his friends hadn't vandalised.
"I missed not having anyone to put paste in my hair."
Dudley paused. "You remember that?"
"Of course I remember it. Of course, at the time I hated you for it, but then I went to a posh school where the boys were all so prim and shy and the girls only cared about hair and clothes and legs and breasts, and after a time I longed for a boy to put paste in my hair or chase me around the playground until I cried. Girls are just so..." she trailed off.
Dudley kicked at the ground with his toe. "Imissedyou," he mumbled.
"I set fire to a teacher once. Quite by accident, of course. Then she turned into a frog, and she was alright after that. You're bigger than you were when I left."
Dudley looked down at himself, then tried to look up at himself, wondering if she meant girth, or height. Either way she was right, so he nodded.
"You're not running away from me, that's a good start."
"Come on, I'll show you how to fix the playground so you can vandalise it all over again."
***** ***** *****
In the weeks after his 17th birthday Petunia watched Dudley's behaviour with curiosity. Vernon didn't notice a thing, of course, but it was the small things, like the way Dudley looked at his mother as though she was an actual person, the way he waited for her to leave the table first. The tone in which he asked whether she'd ever received flowers from Daddy, and if so, which sort had she liked best. If Vernon had noticed, he might have been inclined to think his son was becoming a sissy, but Petunia could see Didders was simply trying to learn the ways in which a young man might impress a girl, and in doing so, realising his own mother was one.
Petunia longed to share more with him than the subtle hints he allowed. She longed to share her own memories of the first blush of love, tell him more about the flowers which had meant more to her than any of Vernon's rugged, manly affections.
She'd been 18, working as a secretary in a doctor's surgery. Lily was 16 and home for the holidays, inviting that Potter boy around at every opportunity. James Potter was the antithesis of Ewan Matthews - loud, childish and ill-mannered. "Staid and boring" were the words Potter used to describe "that posh hypochondriac", but Petunia couldn't get past the way Ewan looked directly into her eyes, as though he wanted to know secrets even she had forgotten.
Every Tuesday he made an appointment, for a cough or a spot or a funny feeling somewhere around here; every week being prescribed fresh air and exercise. One week he claimed to be suffering a very specific type of hay fever, so specific he thought it best to bring in a sample of the flowers he thought were triggering it, so the doctor could see exactly what he was dealing with. With the appointment over and their need fulfilled, he presented them, in an elegant bouquet, to Petunia on his way out. She saw through his ruse, of course, and so did the doctor, who said, "See you next week then," before calling his next patient.
"There's no magic in your relationship," the Potter boy's best friend had said, then laughed at his own joke. Petunia ignored him, but later asked her sister.
"Is there m- is there magic in your, you know, with him?"
Lily smiled at her sister, the way she used to before all the funny business started, back when they were little girls who shared all their big achievements with each other. "When he looks at me, my heart leaps. When we touch, I feel sparks."
Petunia squinted, thinking, and Lily laughed. "Oh, not actual sparks, of course! Metaphorical ones. There are no Wizarding laws saying we can't use metaphors too!"
There it was, Petunia thought. "We." Her face closed and Lily, sensing the moment was over, left Petunia's room.
Later Petunia heard laughter from downstairs, and Sirius say, "You should have told her what he does with his wand!" Petunia didn't know if it was a childish euphemism or part of some freakish wizarding sexual ritual, and as long as her sister was safe, she quite frankly didn't care.
Instead she thought of her Ewan - lanky and spotty and shy, worlds apart from James bloody Potter - and felt her own heart skip.
Two months later Ewan's father passed away, and he followed his mother to London. He changed after that, and when Petunia stopped receiving replies to her letters, she wasn't all that surprised. She nursed her fractured heart in private, shielding her humiliation of Lily's own happiness.
When Lily announced her engagement and their father said, "Welcome to the family", Petunia knew where her place was. She took the first boy who took a serious fancy to her, and swore to raise a decent, normal family, and show her sister what a family should be. Vernon was stocky and stammering and spotty, but he gave her a son, who was the apple of her parents' eyes until his cousin was born six weeks later.
If Petunia could find a way to talk to her son, she would say this: do what you want to do because you want to do it, not to prove that you can. Take the one who makes you happy, not the one who makes your tormentors miserable.
If Petunia knew who her son was courting, she would have added, "and do not marry into magic".
"Show him what you can do with your wand!"
Her friends laughed, and Heather turned her back on them as Dudley went red. "I'm sorry," she said. "Ignore them. They're just jealous."
"Can you-" Dudley stuttered. "Is there- What-"
Heather smiled. "Not really. At least, not until you want to."
Dudley turned a shade of purple more often seen on overripe plums.
He didn't know if he wanted to or not. He thought one day he might want to. He wondered briefly what his mother might think, then decided she'd probably be happy he was happy.
He reached out and held Heather's hand, and her fingers twined naturally through his.