A change of heart

Harry receives gratitude from a most unexpected corner

Extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling

'But ... surely you know where your nephew is going?’ she asked, looking bewildered.

‘Certainly we know,’ said Vernon Dursley. ‘He’s off with some of your lot, isn’t he? Right, Dudley, let’s get in the car, you heard the man, we’re in a hurry.’

Again, Vernon Dursley marched as far as the front door, but Dudley did not follow.

‘Off with some of our lot?’

Hestia looked outraged. Harry had met this attitude before: witches and wizards seemed stunned that his closest living relatives took so little interest in the famous Harry Potter.

‘It’s fine,’ Harry assured her. ‘It doesn’t matter, honestly.’

‘Doesn’t matter?’ repeated Hestia, her voice rising ominously. ‘Don’t these people realise what you’ve been through? What danger you are in? The unique position you hold in the hearts of the anti-Voldemort movement?’

‘Er – no, they don’t,’ said Harry. ‘They think I’m a waste of space, actually, but I’m used to –’

‘I don’t think you’re a waste of space.’

If Harry had not seen Dudley’s lips move, he might not have believed it. As it was, he stared at Dudley for several seconds before accepting that it must have been his cousin who had spoken; for one thing, Dudley had turned red. Harry was embarrassed and astonished himself.

‘Well ... er ... thanks, Dudley.’

Again, Dudley appeared to grapple with thoughts too unwieldy for expression before mumbling, ‘You saved my life.’

‘Not really,’ said Harry. ‘It was your soul the Dementor would have taken ...’

He looked curiously at his cousin. They had had virtually no contact during this summer or last, as Harry had come back to Privet Drive so briefly and kept to his room so much. It now dawned on Harry, however, that the cup of cold tea on which he had trodden that morning might not have been a booby trap at all. Although rather touched, he was nevertheless quite relieved that Dudley appeared to have exhausted his ability to express his feelings.

After opening his mouth once or twice more, Dudley subsided into scarlet-faced silence.

Aunt Petunia burst into tears. Hestia Jones gave her an approving look which changed to outrage as Aunt Petunia ran forwards and embraced Dudley rather than Harry.

‘S – So sweet, Dudders ...’ she sobbed into his massive chest, ‘s – such a lovely b – boy ... s – saying thank you ...’

‘But he hasn’t said thank you at all!’ said Hestia indignantly. ‘He only said he didn’t think Harry was a waste of space!’

‘Yeah, but coming from Dudley that’s like “I love you”,’ said Harry, torn between annoyance and a desire to laugh as Aunt Petunia continued to clutch at Dudley as if he had just saved Harry from a burning building.

‘Are we going or not?’ roared Uncle Vernon, reappearing yet again at the living-room door. ‘I thought we were on a tight schedule!’

‘Yes – yes, we are,’ said Dedalus Diggle, who had been watching these exchanges with an air of bemusement and now seemed to pull himself together. ‘We really must be off. Harry –’

He tripped forwards and wrung Harry’s hand with both of his own.

‘– good luck. I hope we meet again. The hopes of the wizarding world rest upon your shoulders.’

‘Oh,’ said Harry, ‘right. Thanks.’

‘Farewell, Harry,’ said Hestia, also clasping his hand. ‘Our thoughts go with you.’

‘I hope everything’s OK,’ said Harry, with a glance towards Aunt Petunia and Dudley.

‘Oh, I’m sure we shall end up the best of chums,’ said Diggle brightly, waving his hat as he left the room. Hestia followed him.

Dudley gently released himself from his mother’s clutches and walked towards Harry, who had to repress an urge to threaten him with magic. Then Dudley held out his large, pink hand.

‘Blimey, Dudley,’ said Harry, over Aunt Petunia’s renewed sobs, ‘did the Dementors blow a different personality into you?’

‘Dunno,’ muttered Dudley. ‘See you, Harry.’

‘Yeah ...’ said Harry, taking Dudley’s hand and shaking it. ‘Maybe. Take care, Big D.’

Dudley nearly smiled, then lumbered from the room. Harry heard his heavy footfalls on the gravelled drive, and then a car door slammed.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling