A Familiar Face (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

Early one morning, just as Harry and Hermione were sitting down to  breakfast, there was a knock at the door.  Before either of them could wonder who it was, a voice called, “Package for the Potters!”  Curious, they left the kitchen and headed for the front door.

Opening it, they saw their postman standing there with a strange look on his face.  He was swaying on his feet, and started to collapse as he handed the package to Hermione.

Harry’s Quidditch reflexes kicked in, and he caught the man and pulled him over the threshold.  Once the door was safely shut, he levitated the man into the living room, laying him on the sofa.  Staring intently at Harry, the main said, “Don’t believe anything I say when I wake up,” then lost consciousness.

Harry and Hermione stared at each other for a few seconds.  “I don’t know what’s going on, Harry, but before you wake him, you should really take a look at this package,” Hermione said, handing it over the back of the sofa to her husband.

Curious, Harry took the package from her and examined it.  It was wrapped in lain brown paper and taped shut, but the odd part was the way it was addressed: Mr. H. Potter, The Cupboard Under the Stairs, 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.  Before Harry could say anything, he noticed more word written below the address, words he knew hadn’t been there a moment before: They’re trying to get to you through me.  Don’t let them, no matter what happens.—D

As he read the message, realisation dawned.  Handing Hermione the package, Harry removed the man’s cap and stared down into his face.  It was him!

“Hermione, I know you’ve seen him a couple times with his parents over the years while we were in school, but you were never formally introduced.  Meet our cousin, Dudley.”

“Dudley!”

“Yeah.  He’s lost a lot of weight, which makes him look different, but it’s definitely him.  Read the message under the address.”  Harry indicated the package.  Hermione read the message, then stared back at Harry, even more bewildered than before.

“Harry, what the bloody hell is going on?  Why is Dudley our postman, and what does this message mean?”

“I don’t know, Hermione, but I intend to find out.  You’re the expert on memory charms, has his mind been messed with in any way?  I don’t want to wake him up till I know what’s been done to him.”

Hermione ran some diagnostic spells on Dudley, frowning at the results.  “His memory’s been modified, which I can easily fix.  The question is, why?  More importantly, how was he able to fight it off for so long?”

“That part’s easy,” Harry answered.  “At the very least he’s a Squib, with just enough innate magical ability to be able to fight off a memory charm long enough to warn us.  At most, he’s a wizard as well.”

Seeing her confusion, he said, “Think about it, Hermione.  Why else would two people so violently opposed to the magical world treat us both the way they did?  They were trying to stamp the magic out of me, but he got absolutely everything handed to him, no matter what it was.

“Uncle Vernon may not have known, but I’ll bet you Aunt Petunia caught him doing accidental magic when he was a baby, recognised it for what it was, and vowed never to tell anyone about it, especially not her git of a husband.  The easiest way to keep people from finding out is to always let him have his way, so that he doesn’t perform accidental magic to get what he wants.  That would turn almost anyone into the spoiled rotten git that Dudley became.

“I don’t know if Dudley ever figured out the truth or not, but it’s a safe bet whoever did this to him has no clue.  I don’t know any Muggle, no matter how strong-willed, that could fight off a memory charm like that.  He risked a lot warning us; that could leave deep mental scars, and yet he fought it off long enough to warn us anyway.  It’s a good thing we had a truce of sorts when they went into hiding, or we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.

“Let’s Floo Kingsley, then wake him up and see what false memories they put inside his head, and what message he was supposed to deliver to us.”

“We should probably wait to wake him, Harry, until after we’ve talked to Kingsley.  We don’t know what they’ve done to him, remember?  Waking him up before we extract the relevant memory for a Pensieve may destroy the memory entirely,” Hermione suggested.

“Good idea,” Harry agreed.  “Okay, first we Floo Kingsley and extract the memory, then when we’re sure we have what we need we can wake Dudley and find out what’s going on.”

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