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Famous Last Words by Hourglass nomineeReview TeamPaid AccountGrimm_Sister

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Rating: PG. Created: November 5th, 2007. Updated: January 7th, 2013. Read Reviews (36)
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not the owner of this fic.

Prologue

Dudley’s Poster

 

            Ginny had been the one to insist that he come.  In fact, she was pretty much blackmailing him to be here.  Her delivery of the blackmail message had been fairly entertaining, actually, as it had been done in front of her family and the…favour…she threatened to withhold was one that her rather large brothers would not have appreciated knowing that she gave him under any circumstances.

            But the amusement wasn’t as strong here and now, approaching the university where Dudley Dursley had decided to study once the War ended.  It was a dreadful, dreary rainy day, so after their ill-planned meeting in a park, both boys hurried in complete silence into the flat Dudley shared with three other students.  One of them, Harry noticed, was a rather pretty girl who smiled warmly at Dudley as he entered with Harry.

            What they had to talk about was too strange and foreign to be discussed in the common areas, so they scurried to Dudley’s room.  On the way, Harry discovered that Dudley’s parents had settled in an outlying suburb to stay close to their baby boy but far from Surrey and that Dudley was on a course of Sports Management and taking an elective class in, of all things, creative writing.  Apparently he was doing rather well with a short story about a boy who finds out he’s a wizard.  Harry decided not to be worried about this.

            The small talk that staved off the awkwardness was mostly about Dudley, because the small talk about Harry that Dudley would find discernible was severely limited.  They had to come around to it, eventually, to hold off the moment when silence would descend on them.  They had never really learned how to talk to each other in the long years they had lived in the same house.

            “So, you got a girlfriend?” Dudley finally asked.

            “Yes,” Harry replied simply.

            “Serious?”

            “Yes,” Harry agreed again, in the same tone.  He wished he could add more, but he was rather afraid he would blurt out, “She’s the reason I’m here after all.  If she can make me do this, I must be quite serious about her.”

            “Met her family yet?” Dudley asked, obviously hoping to prolong the small talk portion of this meeting, especially as the fact that it was raining meant that Harry was likely stranded here for a long while.

            “Met them first,” Harry shrugged.  “It’s Ron’s sister.”  A second later, Harry wondered if he had ever mentioned the name Ronald Weasley to Dudley Dursley.

            Apparently his cousin had picked up on it, because he gave a low whistle.  “I suppose you’d better be serious about her then, eh?” Dudley replied in a jocular tone that sounded foreign and unspeakably wrong when directed at Harry.  “Or those brothers of hers will make you sorry.”

            Harry blinked, suddenly remembering when the Weasleys had descended on Privet Drive to pick him up for the World Cup.  Dudley smiled slightly, laughing off what he imagined was a slight embarrassment as Harry remembered that he had met the Weasleys in a rather dramatic scene and had reason to be afraid of Ginny’s brothers.

            Harry, however, was not struck with embarrassment at having forgotten such an event, amused at the rather funny scene that had emerged, or even thrown by a reference to the time before they had been able to say anything at all polite to each other.  He was thinking of how long ago it seemed that Fred had pretended to drop the sweets that he and George had developed – Ton-Tongue Toffees – and how Dudley had been their first unwilling test subject, of course.  Harry, like most people, had never noticed how much Fred took the lead until after he had gone.

            As Dudley smiled at him and wiggled his tongue a little as if to reassure himself that it was still the same size, Harry was struck by the sudden knowledge that Dudley had no idea that Fred Weasley had been killed.  That was what really stood between Harry and his cousin now.  Their amiable parting had done a great deal to break down the walls of abuse and neglect.  The bigger problem was that Dudley, even after being in hiding for a year, had no notion what Harry had been through or what his freedom, along with the rest of the world’s, had cost.  For all of their lives, something had stood between them: his parents’ blatant abuse and adoration, Harry’s freakish magical ability, and now all of the War that Harry had seen.

            Harry couldn’t bring himself to help make more small talk or discuss some of the events of the past.  The most he could bring himself to do was glance around Dudley’s room, in the hopes of finding something he could safely comment on.

            Dudley gave him a short moment to recover himself before blazing courageously onward.  “So, are you going to Uni?”

            “No, I’ve got a job,” Harry said dully, not even bothering to look at his cousin.

            “Really?  What sort of work?”

            “In the government,” Harry muttered.

            “Got you running errands and getting coffee?” Dudley laughed.

            Harry blinked, but it was not from surprise at his cousin’s ignorance of his fame and importance to the wizarding world.  “We’re restructuring at the moment,” Harry managed to reply, staring at the poster that Dudley had hung on his wall.

            “Just hoping your head’s not on the chopping block then, eh?”

            Harry shuddered.  If Dudley knew, if he had any idea what Harry had been through, if he had ever endured anything like it, he would not have been able to talk that way.  He certainly would never have purchased a poster whose title read, “Famous Last Words” and included, in much small script below this, a long list of the last words of famous men.

            Dudley Dursley would not have been able to laugh at Edmund Gwenn, “Yes, it’s tough, but not as tough as doing comedy,” or Oscar Wilde’s, “Either the wallpaper goes or I do.”  He would not find inspiration from Nathan Hale’s proud declaration, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”  Harry knew too many who had died with no chance to spout pretty words to grace future generations.

            Worse still, he could see, in so many of the quotes, the face of someone he knew, someone who had been lost.  There were phrases, famous last words, that could have been theirs.  Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore, Colin Creevy, Severus Snape…

            Harry would not be able to sleep in a room with a poster that called up such ghosts.  Harry turned to look at Dudley, who was watching him nervously and curiously, wondering what he was upset about.  Dudley was fine here.  He had chosen this poster to decorate his room because he still thought death could be heroic and imagined that it could be made to sound pretty.  Harry smiled slightly to find himself thinking, for the first time since he was eleven years old, that Dudley might well have been the lucky one.

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