Scion of Gryffindor
41 - Goodbye, Dursleys
Harry / Tonks ship
The intercom tone sounded.
Vernon Dursley reached over to press the button. "What?" he growled, eyes still on the balance sheets in front of him.
"Vice-President Cummings wishes to speak to you, sir," she answered, her voice a scared rush.
"WHAT?" Dursley shouted, half-standing from his plush swivel chair. "Why didn't you tell me earlier, you useless little -"
"His office called just now," she objected timidly.
"When did he want to see me?"
"Immediately." Her voice barely came out in a squeak this time.
His finger came off the intercom button. "Worthless bint," he muttered, hurriedly gathering a handful of pages of the latest sales figures. He came out of his office, strode past his very young secretary without a word or glance, and hurried to his boss's office.
Cummings's secretary, a no-nonsense type that didn't like him for reasons he'd never fathomed, barely glanced at him. "Conference room," she stated shortly.
Muttering a curse under his breath at the woman, why she couldn't have told HIS secretary that in the first place, though maybe she did and the bitch didn't tell me, he mentally growled, Dursley turned around and headed toward the conference room.
Once there, he peeked in the window embedded in the door. Director Cummings was at one side of the table, speaking with another man whose back was to the door. A woman was sitting a few places down from the unknown man.
After a polite knock on the door, he entered the room with an obsequient smile. "Mister Vice-President? You asked to see me?"
Cummings looked up. "Dursley, yes, come in. Take a seat."
Vernon did just that, taking a place at his boss's right side, papers stacked neatly in front of him, pen beside the stack. He looked at Cummings attentively, waiting to learn why he'd been summoned.
Cummings waved a hand at the other man. "Mr. Griffin here has purchased enough Grunnings stock that he now has a controlling interest."
Dursley immediately sat up straighter and smiled at the man. Owning that much stock in the company that employed him made him the most important man in the room. He was a little on the young side to have that much wealth but was otherwise unremarkable in appearance. Brown hair, blue eyes, bland face, and a Saville Row suit. A stunningly beautiful woman was seated a couple places down from Griffin, steno pad in front of her. Dursley didn't recognize her. An air-head secretary to follow her boss around, do the fetch-and-carry work and warm his bed at night, no doubt, he thought uncharitably.
Cummings continued, "Mr. Griffin has assured me that he is not planning on suggesting any changes here at Grunnings, but he wanted to meet the senior staff."
Dursley smiled even wider at the man and extended his hand. "Vernon Dursley, sir. Pleasure to meet you."
Griffin smiled slightly and took his hand for a moment. "Yes, yes," he said vaguely. "I simply want to get a sense of the people in charge. Tell me a bit about yourself, Mr. Dursley."
Chest puffing out in pride, Vernon started giving him a long, detailed exposition of just why he was the most important thing to happen to Grunnings Drill Company since they started business.
After a minute, Griffin held up a hand. "I've already read the company reports of your employment, Mr. Dursley. I'm more interested in what you're like outside of work. Civic activities, volunteer work, church, family, that sort of thing."
Vernon was temporarily panicked at the beginning of Griffin's words. Civic activities and volunteer work were a waste of his hard-earned money and valuable time. Church was attended only at Christmas and Easter in order to keep up appearances. But Griffin had hit the important word at the end. "Ah, yes. My family is quite important to me. My wife, Petunia, is active with a neighborhood group of friends and in her flower garden. We've a son, Dudley, who attends Smeltings. He's a successful pugilist as well, my boy is. Division champion in his weight class! Of course, he has his own circle of friends as well. Good group of boys." Vernon forcefully shut his mouth. He knew he was on the verge of babbling, but he didn't know what it was that Mr. Griffin wanted.
Whatever it was, he was bound and determined to give it to him.
He was a major stockholder, after all.
Griffin nodded politely. "No other family or dependants, then?"
"Well, my sister, Marge, is visiting for the week, but she doesn't live with us. Has her own place out in the country. Breeds purebred bulldogs."
The attractive air-head started leafing through the papers in front of her. Not even trying to take dictation on the important meeting she's here for! Vernon thought in disgust, keeping his face from revealing his opinion.
Griffin continued his questions, "And your opinion on what Her Majesty's government should do with criminals?"
Vernon looked at him with a slight frown. "I'm afraid, sir, that I don't quite understand your question."
"Ah, sorry. Do you advocate punishment through incarceration and monetary fines, or do you advocate more strict or more lenient punishments for those who break our laws?"
Vernon set his face into hard lines. "The stricter the better. Drifters and thieves stealing valuables from us hard-working folk? And what do they get for it? A slap on the wrist and then they go out and continue sponging off of society. No, sir. Put 'em to hard labor so they EARN their keep."
The secretary paused in her search to make a small notation on the pad in front of her.
"And your opinion on alternate lifestyles?" His attention pulled back to Griffin, Dursley looked at him in blank confusion, so Griffin explained, "Oh, unwed couples living together, for instance. Same gender couples as another example. Any living arrangements that are outside of the usual family structure."
Vernon paused for a moment, trying to decide how to phrase this next part. "I . . . strongly disagree with such living arrangements. A family should be a man and wife taking care of their children."
"You don't believe in adoption, then?"
"Oh, certainly. I meant to say that the couple should take proper care of all the children in their custody."
"I see. Based upon your obvious moral stance, Mr. Dursley, may I assume you believe in honesty, fair wages, and evenhanded business dealings as well?"
Dursley nodded firmly. "Yes, sir."
Griffin turned. "Mr. Cummings, could you excuse use for a moment?"
Cummings simply nodded and left the room.
Dursley looked at Griffin with a slightly confused expression.
Grinning, Harry let his morph relax.
Dursley's face faded to near-white before it rapidly shifted to a purple that Harry had never seen before.
Wandlessly and silently, Harry petrified his uncle.
"Just to prevent you from doing anything rash, here, Uncle Vernon," Harry said conversationally, "I've immobilized you with my magic.
"Now, the first thing you need to know is that I've been recording this conversation. You have been recording, haven't you, dear?"
"Yep!" Tonks cheerfully replied, holding up a small tape recorder that she'd had on her lap.
Harry nodded and turned back to Dursley. "The part about being a major stockholder is true. Between that, this recording saying what a fine, upstanding citizen you claim to be, and the fact that your employer doesn't know Harry Potter exists . . ." Harry trailed off, letting Vernon draw his own conclusions. "How many of the health fairs, company picnics, or holiday parties did you ever take me to? They've no idea you had another child living with you. Now, what do you think would happen if I showed Mr. Cummings a copy of my school record, giving my address?
"Anyway, I think you will agree that I could get you sacked very easily." He paused before theatrically smacking himself in the forehead. "Sorry, I'll release you in a second so we can actually talk. Before you have some microscopic thought about attacking me, you should know that this lovely young lady would cheerfully gut you like a fish if I asked her to."
Tonks, eyes suddenly blood-red, nodded vigorously, a demented grin in place. Her tongue came out and wet her lips as she looked over at Harry. "Anything you command, My Lord," she said, voice a soft groan.
"Now, now. No need to scare him unless he deserves it, dear."
Harry had to hide his smile at her show. Turning his head, Harry nodded at Dursley.
Suddenly free of the magic holding him in place, Vernon's eyes widened. Moving slowly, he placed his hands flat on the table. "Vice President Cummings knows you're in here with me," he said in a shaking voice. He seemed incapable of taking his eyes off of Tonks.
For her part, she steadily stared at him with a slight grin teasing the corners of her mouth.
"Oh, certainly," Harry agreed with Vernon's words. "He won't see anything unusual with my talking to you. When he said that I wanted to meet all the senior staff, he was right. I've met with each of you privately like this. Like I've said, I really do own a lot of stock, and I just wanted to make sure most of the employees are honest and trustworthy.
"Now, back to the topic. I asked if you agreed that I could probably get you fired if I wanted to."
Swallowing hard, Dursley moved his eyes over to Harry and nodded once.
"Very good. Nice to see that you can recognize the basic facts. Now, listen very carefully." Harry leaned forward just a little and dropped his voice. "I'm not planning to."
Dursley leaned back in his chair. His eyes went even wider, now flickering back and forth between the two seated in front of him.
Harry smiled pleasantly and nodded. "That's what I thought. You're surprised. Because you expected me to get you sacked. Which means, somewhere deep down - very, very deep down - you actually recognize how badly you've treated me and that you believe you deserve to be punished for it.
"Much as I'd enjoy getting you fired and then stringing you up by your entrails," Harry ignored Tonks's sharp inhalation, "I've long since decided that I'm going to try to be a better person that you."
Tonks made a frustrated noise.
Harry turned to her again. "I spoil you shamelessly on most things, my dear, but not on this. It took too long to clean up after the last one."
Tonks came close to sulking for a moment. In a whisper, she said, "Forgive me, My Lord."
Harry affectionately smiled at her. "No worries. I'm just letting you know why I'm planning on leaving him alive at the end of our little conversation."
Harry turned back to Dursley. "Where were we? Oh, yes, my letting you live. I'm just saying goodbye to you." Harry let all expression drain from his face. Pushing a little magic into his voice, he gave it an echoing, powerful effect. "Be warned, Dursley. I will be watching. If you or yours steps over the line, I will be back. You really don't want me to do that."
Closing his eyes, Harry took a deep breath. His features reverted back to Mr. Griffin before Dursley's incredulous eyes.
Potter's eyes, now an ice cold blue, snapped open. "Leave," he flatly commanded.
Vernon Dursley, sweating heavily, bolted for the door.
At four that afternoon, Remus was under an invisibility cloak and following behind Harry and Tonks as they walked up Privet Drive.
Harry, again looking like Mr. Griffin, wore a Saville Row suit with his three family crests done upon the left breast in exquisite detail. Tonks, still in her secretary persona, wore a fashionable business suit and was walking one step behind Harry on his left side.
As they approached Number Four, Harry took note of the overlapping wards. They were all stable but looked very weak. He couldn't identify all of them, but those that he recognized included identification and anti-apparition wards. Squaring his shoulders, he walked briskly toward the door and firmly rapped on it.
Within a minute, Petunia Dursley opened the door. "Hello, how may I help you?"
He smiled at her charmingly. "You are Mrs. Petunia Dursley, is that correct?"
She nodded, confusion clear in her eyes.
"Might we come inside? We have something of a private nature to discuss, and I believe you would prefer to do this behind closed door, ma'am."
Harry could see the thought processes going on behind her eyes without needing Legilimency: a clearly wealthy man comes to her home and wishes to speak privately with her? No matter what the cause, it would no doubt be good for her reputation and probably pocketbook.
"Certainly! Please come in!" A patently fake smile plastered on her face, Petunia waved them forward.
Harry entered, Tonks right behind him. As previously agreed, Remus stayed outside under the cloak. Harry glanced around the front room quickly. Unsurprisingly, not a thing had changed since Harry had been there last, at the end of July.
Petunia took one of the chairs and said, "Please have a seat."
Tonks sat at one end of the couch primly. Harry took the other end of the same couch, facing his aunt.
Petunia was looking at them, eyes narrowed slightly. "Forgive me, sir, but I'm afraid I don't recognize you."
Tonks spoke up. "Formally, his name is Lord-Baron Potter-Black-Gryffindor."
It took a few seconds for that to sink into Petunia's mind. Her jaw dropped open.
Harry let a slightly sarcastic grin form as he relaxed his morph. Tonks changed her hair to a shocking purple and shifted around so that she laid her stockinged feet onto Harry's lap, lounging against the opposite arm of the couch as she did so.
"Y - You . . . POTTER?" Petunia screeched.
"Hello, Aunt Petunia," Harry stated flatly, one hand casually resting on Tonks's ankles. "How've you been?"
Her face now wearing an ugly scowl, Petunia stood.
Harry looked mildly up at her. In a level tone of voice, he said, "You really don't want to do anything stupid. I'm fully within my rights to use magic, so sit down and save your threats."
Even without his wand visible, this was apparently enough to convince her. She slowly sank back down into her chair. "What did she call you?" she finally asked, eyes resting on Tonks with distinct distaste.
"Lord-Baron Potter-Black-Gryffindor," Tonks answered airily, smiling back at the scowling look.
"What does that all mean?" Petunia snapped back. "Normal folk don't have titles like that. And don't you have any shame? Sitting there like some scarlet woman, it's disgraceful!"
Without missing a beat, Tonks shifted her hair color to a flaming scarlet. After a moment of concentration, her skin also changed color to a red as if she'd spent hours under a tropical sun. Grinning at Petunia's dumbfounded expression, she answered the question, "Lord-Baron is a combination of titles. 'Lord' is a family title for having performed a heroic deed for the public. 'Baron' is because he's sufficiently wealthy. Technically, he's a Lord twice over and a Baron three times, but calling him Lord-Lord-Baron-Baron-Baron just sounds wrong."
"How about Lord-Baron-Baron-Lord-Baron?" Harry asked her.
"Nah. Baron-Lord-Baron-Lord-Baron flows better. Just sounds silly, is all."
"Hmm, true. Okay, Lord-Baron it is."
Petunia scowled at the pair's light tone. After a few seconds what Tonks had said apparently registered, and a slightly crafty look came into Petunia's eyes. "Wealthy, are you? Well, perhaps that Potter boy my sister married wasn't completely worthless after all. In that case, I demand you pay us back the money we spent in raising you."
Tonks, skin back to something normal looking, stiffened in place, and her eyes flared.
Harry barked out a laugh. "Pay you? If you think I actually owe you anything -"
"We housed and fed you for fifteen years, you ungrateful whelp!"
Harry chuckled bitterly. "Ten years and five individual months of someplace as close to hell as this side of Azkaban can be."
Petunia set her jaw in a stubborn line. "You owe us, Potter!"
Harry shook his head. "You're delusional. Okay, fine. Ten years in the cupboard. Five months in Dudley's second bedroom. Food that I'll charitably call 'barely adequate'. Shall we call it five thousand pounds, just to keep it in round numbers?"
Petunia nodded, a slight grin forming.
Seeing her expression, Harry gave her a shark's grin. "Ah, but now we get to what you owe me. What's a part-time cook cost? How about a full time house cleaning service? Gardening, washing the car, painting the fence and garage twice a year? I figure you owe me about fifty thousand pounds. Oh, and let's not forget the criminal abuse and neglect, nor the fifteen thousand pounds in tax breaks that I'm sure you claimed for raising me." His light tone gave way to a scowl worthy of an angry Snape. In a deadly whisper he finished, "Don't you dare talk to me about what you think I owe you."
Petunia fell back into her chair, eyes widening.
Harry closed his eyes and did one of the calming and centering techniques Shack had taught him. No matter how satisfying it might be in the short run, obliterating her and the house wouldn't do him any good.
Temper back under control, he opened his eyes. "Why, Aunt Petunia?"
She apparently recognized the question he was really asking. "I hate what magic did to my family."
"What did it do?" Harry asked, genuinely curious to catch a glimpse of a family he'd never known.
"My parents loved Lily more than they loved me!" she exploded. "Lily this and Lily that. They were so proud to have a witch in the family. What could little Petunia do to compare to that?" Anger gone as quickly as it had appeared, she slumped down and continued in a low, bitter tone, "No matter what I did, I couldn't be as good, as clever, as loved as Lily was. Can you possibly understand that?"
The moment of silence was broken by Harry's ironic laugh. "Oh, yes, Aunt Petunia, I think I can."
Petunia's face turned gray, and she buried her face into her hands.
Before any of them could say another word, the front door banged open and Marjorie Dursley strode in, one plump hand around a leash leading to Ripper the bulldog. "Petunia? Are you -" She broke off as she spotted Tonks and Harry sharing the couch. "You," she observed in a disgusted tone.
"Yes, me," Harry acknowledged, looking at her disinterestedly.
"You should watch your tone, you little delinquent. And who's the tart with you? Some whore that you've no doubt knocked up? Why you're still -"
"As usual," Harry interrupted her rant, "you're spewing garbage without knowing anything. You'd best shut that large hole in your face before it gets you into trouble."
Face turning even uglier than usual, Marge lunged at the pair on the couch.
Harry waved his hand in a casual gesture and stuck her to the ceiling. "The sooner you realize that you know nothing about me or my parents, the less . . . unpleasantness we'll have between us. Understand?" Through it all, Harry's tone was calm, but there was an underlying intensity to it.
The front door opened again, and Remus entered, minus the cloak. He paused as he took in the scene. Finally shutting the door, he ironically asked, "So how's everything going in here?"
Harry hadn't even looked over at him; he was still looking up at Vernon's sister. "Marge, tell me: if a dog attacks one of her betters in the pack, is it up to the alpha to dish out the punishment or up to the one who was attacked?"
Marge held her tongue, expression growing darker by the second.
Tonks, still reclining comfortably, asked in a dry tone, "Does it matter? In either case, it's up to you."
"True," Harry mused with a thoughtful nod. He turned his attention back to the woman hanging above him. "Keep that in mind. Now, you know nothing about me, so don't you dare say a single word about that which you don't understand. You listened to Vernon's stupid bigotry and hatred instead of trying to figure anything out for yourself. For your information, and in terms you'll understand, it was Petunia who was the runt bitch of the litter, not my mum. Tell me, what does that make your favorite little neffy-poo?" Harry didn't like the metaphor as it applied to his mother, but he figured it would at least register with the canine-obsessed woman.
Marge was quiet for nearly a minute, face going through several expressions, none of them pleasant. "I don't have any idea how you got me up here, but I don't believe a word of what you're saying," she finally said.
Harry shook his head in exasperation. "You remind me of a professor I had last year. Fat, narrow-minded to the point of not recognizing reality, and supposedly female."
This was finally too much for Marge. "Kill!" she shrieked, glaring at Harry.
Ripper reacted to the order from his mistress.
Unfortunately for him, Remus Lupin was standing nearby.
At Ripper's first motion toward Harry, Remus made a strange growling or barking noise that stopped Ripper in his tracks. The ugly bulldog looked up at Remus for a long moment before his bladder and bowels let loose. A second later, he fell over and didn't move.
Waving one hand in front of her face, Tonks snickered.
Gazing down at the dog, Remus gave a slight shrug. He looked up at Harry. "Oops." His tone was anything except apologetic.
"You killed Ripper!" Marge wailed from the ceiling.
Harry cast a Silencing Spell at her without looking. To Petunia he said, "I originally came to ask you why I was treated worse than a leprous slave while living here. Since I have that answer, I'll simply say goodbye, Aunt Petunia. I'm never coming back." He stood and waved his hand at Marge again.
The Sticking Spell released her from the ceiling, resulting in her falling to the floor. A minor Cushioning Charm prevented any serious injury to her or the floor.
It was pure chance that her face ended up in a warm, lumpy puddle on the carpet beneath her.
After a quick Stunning Spell, removal of the Silencing Spell, and a Memory Charm on the woman on the floor, Harry helped Tonks to her feet.
He then turned and headed out the door without looking back.
That evening, Harry, Tonks, and Remus walked down a hallway in the dormitory wing of Smeltings School for Gentlemen.
Based on the whistles, comments, requests, offers, and suggestions coming at Tonks from every direction, not a one of them was a gentleman.
Reaching the correct door, Harry stopped and knocked. A short wait later, the door opened to reveal Dudley Dursley, wearing only boxers and a t-shirt. He looked surprised to see Harry standing outside his door. After blinking a few times, he asked, "What do you want?"
Harry decided not to say anything about Dudley's choice of clothing, though he thought the Boxers do it with their gloves on slogan was a bit over the top. "Could we come in and talk, Dudley?"
Dursley shrugged and let them in. Harry entered his cousin's small dormitory room to find a television playing a cartoon and a computer game paused during a scene of mass carnage. Tonks and Remus both entered with the teens and stood near the door.
Dudley leered at Tonks. "Nice of you to bring me a present, freak."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I'd be real careful trying anything with her, Dudders. She's the witch equivalent of a constable."
Her smile shifted a little. It suddenly looked more like a smirk.
Dudley shrugged and turned back to Harry. "Why're you here, anyway?"
"I just said goodbye to both of your parents and Aunt Marge. Thought I'd round out the set by visiting my favorite cousin."
"Well, ain't that nice of you? Cut the shite. Why're you here?"
"Wow, you figured that out all on your own? Looks like that education isn't being wasted after all," Harry said, eyeing the dusty textbooks shoved into a corner of the room.
Dudley dropped into the chair in front of the computer. "Talk or leave. I really don't care which."
One eyebrow went up on Harry's face. "I must say, I'm impressed. I expected at least a threat by now."
Dudley shrugged. "Look, shrimp, I don't like you. Why should I bother trying to hurt you, though? I only did that cuz it was what my old man wanted me to do. Now, why're you here?"
"Too bad," Harry mused to himself as if Dudley hadn't spoken. "I had some frustrations I wanted to take out on you."
Tonks spoke up, "Let's get you back home and into bed, and we'll see if we can work through some of those frustrations of yours."
Remus rolled his eyes.
Dudley openly evaluated Tonks. Looking surprised, he turned back to Harry. "She's serious."
Harry shrugged and nodded before turning a fond smile to Nim.
Dudley frowned but didn't pursue it. "So, you're saying goodbye?"
Dudley turned back to his computer. "Fine. Have a good life. Or whatever it is you people do."
"You, too," Harry said, distantly sad to realize that he never really had a chance to connect with his cousin.
"Wait a second," Remus said, surprising everyone. He looked at Dudley for a long moment before giving a decisive nod. "If you ever need to get in touch with Harry -"
"Remus," Harry interrupted him.
"For emergencies," Remus said, turning to his de facto godson. "You know as well as I that they probably won't ever use it, but just in case."
Harry frowned for a moment but shrugged when he saw the logic in Remus's argument.
Remus turned back to the bemused Dursley teen. "Arabella Figg knows how to get in touch with us."
Dudley's eyebrows tried to crawl up and off his face. "Old Mrs. Figg? I always knew she was crazy. One of your sort, then, is she?"
"More or less," Harry agreed. "Anyway, if something comes up, she'll know how to contact me." He grinned, looking somewhere between mischievous and malicious. "If your kids turn out to be magical, for instance. Bye, Dud."
Turning, Harry went through the door that Nim held open for him.
A bunny here (Ripper's fate) came from Herman Tumbleweed's "Rising Phoenix"