Dudley's Spell
by Stellamaru

Harry's first week back with the Dursleys was the most unbearable few days he could ever remember with them, and that was saying a lot. He felt more alone than ever, and the worst part was, it was his fault. If only he had opened Sirius's package earlier. If only he'd listened. If only--

Of course, he couldn't say anything about what had happened to the Dursleys. Even if he could've gotten it out before Uncle Vernon blew his top, they wouldn't care. No one would say, "It's going to be all right," or even, "There, there," to Harry. Aunt Petunia was fulfilling her duty, but only just.

He was out walking the neighborhood, just to get away from Number 4, when he saw Dudley hanging out in the park. This by itself was nothing to remark on--Dudley often lurked around the park with his henchmen, looking for smaller children to terrorize. But something was different: Dudley was alone, and he barely seemed to notice skinny little Mark Evans, who was trying to run past the swings to the other side of the park without calling attention to himself.

Harry was about to turn around and find some other place to sit and think, when he suddenly stopped, transfixed by the oddest thought. Dudley was listlessly picking up stones and tossing them into the small wading pool. He was wearing a dark green jumper (it was summer, but the evenings seemed unusually chilly) and his thick blond hair had fallen forward, brushing his piggy little eyes. Harry stared at Dudley, as if seeing him anew. The thought that came to him was too weird for him to turn away. If you stuck a bicycle pump into Draco Malfoy and puffed him up, Harry thought, he'd look just like Dudley. He laughed out loud, a barking laugh that sounded strange to his ears.

Dudley looked up. "Oh," he said, sneering. "What're you laughing at?" He clenched his meaty fists, but made no move towards Harry.

That only made Harry laugh harder. "You--" he said between laughs. "You reminded me of someone from school."

A worried look flashed across Dudley's face. "I'm nothing like your kind."

"That's just what he would say about you," Harry said, laughing again. He glanced around. Dudley really was alone. "Where's your gang?"

"Around." Dudley hunched his shoulders and picked up some more stones. He tried to skip one in the pool, but it sank straight to the bottom. "Don't want them hanging about all the time."

Harry sighed. "You shouldn't, er, be out alone too late," he mumbled. As much as he loathed Dudley, he didn't want to see him die just because he was related to Harry.

"What's it to you?"

"It's only-- it could be dangerous."

Dudley turned to face him full on. "Is that a threat? You trying to threaten me?"


"I'll go where I like, and I'll be alone if I like," Dudley said, turning back to the pool.

Harry grinned. "Why would you want to be alone?" he said, affecting an innocent tone. "Plotting out what's the best way to stick a ten-year-old's head in a toilet? Scheming how to milk the most birthday presents out of your parents? Writing love poetry to--"

"Shut it!" Dudley whipped around, his face red with anger.

"Oh... that's it, isn't it?" Harry said. "Has Duddy-dinkums got himself a girlfriend? What sort of girl would want--"

"Shut it, or I'll pound you," Dudley said.

"Or is that it? You've got a crush, and she's smart enough not to give you the time of day." Harry chuckled at the thought of Dudley feeling as nervous and clumsy around some girl as he used to feel around Cho. Dudley was now advancing on him, clenching and unclenching his fists. "What you need is a love spell," he said, stepping back and grasping his wand, tucked in his back pocket.

"Don't say-- that word," Dudley said, but he stopped walking towards Harry, and his brow furrowed in concentration.

Harry bit his cheek to keep from laughing at Dudley's expression. "Just a simple love spell. It's nothing, really. You take a bit of chalk and write the girl's name in a circle, then you walk around it three times," he said, taking off his glasses and pretending to rub his eyes while he forced his own face to take on a serious expression.

"You aren't allowed to do you know what," Dudley said, squinting.

"But there isn't a rule that says I can't tell you how to do it," Harry said. "Now, after you've walked around the circle three times, you step halfway in and say, 'Hocus!' Then step out and say 'Pocus!'"

Dudley scoffed. "Hocus-pocus? You're having me on."

"Where do you think that came from in the first place?" Harry said. "Some Muggle must have overheard it once." Dudley still looked skeptical, but he made no move to leave. Instead, he kept his spot in front of Harry, and tried to act as though he wasn't interested. Harry took a breath and continued. "So you do that three times, and then you step all the way into the circle and turn in place three times. Then repeat the whole thing until you've done each thing nine times. Next time you see the girl, she'll be all over you."

Dudley snorted. "That's a load of rubbish. Get out of my way," he said, shoving past Harry towards the park entrance.

"Oh, one more thing," Harry called after him. "You have to do it at the crack of dawn, or it won't work!"

The next day, Harry awoke as the sun rose. He'd been having another nightmare, filled with veils, prophecies, and blood. He reached for his wand instinctively and stood to look out the window. What he saw brought a large smile to his face. Dudley was down on the street, walking around in a circle, stepping in and out of it every few minutes. "Hocus! Pocus!" he said before stepping in and twirling about.

Harry laughed. The sight of Dudley (who was not only the bane of Harry's Muggle existence, but also looked like Draco under the effects of a massive engorgement spell) in the street at the break of dawn doing the Hokey-Pokey was enough to raise anyone's spirits. In a singsong whisper, Harry said in time to Dudley's movements, "That's what it's all about."


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