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got braces?

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Potter Musings". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: This one was the first fanfic I wrote. In it, Harry's home for the summer, and the Dursleys have gone to great lengths to cut him off from his friends. And it's working. But they didn't count on 'Take Your Daughter to Work Day' and Dudley's teeth...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Non-BtVS/AtS Stories(Recent Donor)CaptainBoulangerFR1313,926052,36426 Sep 0326 Sep 03Yes
got braces?

a Harry Potter fanfic
by CaptainBoulanger


- Disclaimer: For entertainment purposes only. I make no claim at ownership of any characters or settings from the 'Harry Potter' novels used within.

Summary: It's summer, Harry is back at Privet Drive, and the Dursleys have gone
to new lengths to distance him from his friends. But the second Friday of summer
vacation, Dudley has to get braces, and Harry gets dragged along...



Author's Notes: This short story takes place during the summer following
Harry's sixth year - though that's not all that important to the plot.
It was originally written pre-Order.

Oh, BTW, the December 2002 National Geographic magazine had an article on Snowy
Owls (pp. 104-118, especially page 117) which mentions Harry and Hedwig (though
not by name). Just thought I might mention that. An interesting trivia for Harry
fans, showing how life imitates art. (It comes up in the story.)


----------
King's Cross
Platform 9 (and no fractions)
----------


Harry pulled himself up straight, looking at Uncle Vernon. "Come on, boy,"
Vernon was complaining, hurrying Harry. Not that he was bothering to help push
the trolley containing nearly all of Harry's personal belongings, including
Hedwig in her cage. "We've got to go pick up your aunt and your cousin."

"Where are they?" Harry asked, curiously.

"Ha! Boy, you expected them to be here to welcome you back?" He waved a meaty
arm at the commuter-clogged Muggle side of King's Cross.

Harry thought for a split second. No, they hadn't come before. "No. Just
wondering where we were picking them up from, Uncle Vernon."

"The dentist's, boy. The doctors said Dudley might have a cavity and he should
see one."

Harry's mood brightened a bit, with the mental image of Dudley having to be
wedged into a dentist's chair for a filling. And the implied pain cheered him up
a bit more. Perhaps the beginning of this summer would not be entirely
depressing, as every June since he'd first gone off to Hogwarts.

Thirty minutes later, after insisting that caged owls didn't belong in the boot
of the car, and subsequently being forced to ride with Hedwig's cage on his lap
(despite the empty seats where Aunt Petunia and Dudley usually sat), Harry
watched the buildings whizz by as Uncle Vernon drove, yelling at other drivers
that he was late. It did not seem to matter that, as all the car windows were
closed, only Harry and Hedwig could hear him.

When they got to the dentist's office building, Harry didn't even have a chance
to read the sign on the building. Aunt Petunia and Dudley were already waiting
at the door, and quickly came out to the car. Uncle Vernon started to drive away
even before their doors were closed. "I hate those places. So, what did they
have to say?"

Aunt Petunia refused to address the dentist by name, just as Uncle Vernon often
did with Harry. "The dentist said that he didn't think Dudley has any cavities."

"Good. Then this was a waste of a trip into London. We could just as well have
stayed home." After a hoot of protest from the half-asleep Hedwig, Uncle Vernon
added, "Will you keep that bloody bird quiet, boy! Or I'll lock it up all
summer again!"

Harry's mood quickly returned to his usual June gloom. "I'll try, Uncle Vernon."

"Good. I won't have the bloody neighbors calling the police on us, thinking
we're keeping some nuisance in our house." What he didn't say, thankfully, was
his obvious opinion that Harry was far more of a nuisance than Hedwig could ever
be.

Aunt Petunia waited for a pause. "Unfortunately."

Vernon looked red, and Dudley cowered. The last time Harry had heard Aunt
Petunia say that was when she'd put Dudley on a forced diet the summer of the
Quidditch World Cup, after a note from the school that they didn't make large
enough knickerbockers for Dudley. "The dentist said he thought Dudley might need
braces. They're going to look at the films and call us in a day or two."

"Braces?" Uncle Vernon turned, staring at Harry for a second, then returning his
gaze to the road. "Must be your side of the family, Petunia. The Dursleys have
always had perfectly straight teeth."

Aunt Petunia almost seemed as if she was going to protest, but she didn't. Harry
hoped Hedwig didn't either. After all, he was from Aunt Petunia's side of the
family. Fortunately, either Hedwig didn't know that or she had fallen completely
asleep.

Many interminable minutes later - Harry keeping himself occupied by spelling his
way through the entire alphabet and the three unforgivable curses, using letters
read off of road signs - they reached Privet Drive, Harry finding the final A
for "Avada Kedavra" off of a crossing street. He shivered, knowing he'd just
used the spell that killed his parents for a game. Well, its name anyway. He
hadn't actually performed the spell. His wand was in his trunk in the boot,
and he wasn't allowed to do magic during the summer anyway. Though Dumbledore was
fighting hard to get that law repealed.

The Dursleys, quite as unhelpfully as usual, didn't even attempt to help Harry
bring his things in from the car. Uncle Vernon simply unlocked the boot and told
him to make sure it was closed when he was finished, and then all three went
into the house. After he'd managed to heft all his belongings up to his upstairs
room, he discovered why Uncle Vernon hadn't made good on his threat to lock
Hedwig up. He scavenged the whole house for paper and envelopes, planning to
send a letter off to Hogwarts to confirm he'd gotten to the Dursleys' safely.
There wasn't any. Not a single scrap of unused paper lay about the entire house.
Even the paper towels were kept in Uncle Vernon's locked liquor cabinet.

So they'd resorted to avoiding the Hedwig problem this time around. It was quite
ingenious, really. Harry couldn't send any letters if he didn't have any paper.


----------
Two Days Later
----------


"Answer that damned phone, boy!" Uncle Vernon called over breakfast. Never mind
that he'd hardly sat down, after cooking and serving. And that the rest of the
household - he'd never again call them family, after the paper incident - had
almost finished their meals.

"Yes, sir, Uncle Vernon." Harry got up, pushing his round, black-framed glasses
slightly up his nose. He picked up the phone. "Dursley residence."

"Hello, this is the dental offices of..." the secretary listed off several
dentists' names too rapidly for Harry to understand, though he had the distinct
impression two of them had been a familiar one, and a repeat. "...We're calling
about Dudley's films."

"Yes." Harry responded, in an adult of a voice as he could muster.

"It seems he does need braces. We'd like to schedule an appointment for him to
come in and have them installed. It will take a few hours."

"Just a moment." He held his hand over the microphone. "Aunt Petunia, it's
Dudley's dentist. They said he does need braces and they want to schedule an
appointment to put them in."

Aunt Petunia grabbed the phone, and walked over to the liquor cabinet. Unlocking
it, with a key hanging from her necklace, she took out a Post-It and a pen
before relocking it. "Yes. About an appointment."

A long pause, as Harry returned to his seat. His mood had brightened again, as
he read the back of Uncle Vernon's newspaper and ate his cold pancakes.
According to the Muggle paper, 'Take Your Daughter to Work' day, whatever that
was, was coming up. Harry had never heard of it before.

"Next Friday, nine forty-five. Right. And no food that morning. It's alright if
he has it the night before?" A pause. "Right, then. See you next Friday."

As usual, Harry could barely read Aunt Petunia's scrawl on the Post-It as she
stuck it to the calendar on the kitchen wall. He idly wondered how many dentists
there were in England. He might be able to work it out, based on how many
patients. oh. To do that kind of math, he'd need paper.

----------

The next Thursday came quickly, and when dinner was served he was astonished to
find that Dudley was served not only his usual Thursday night dinner, but
waffles, strawberries, eggs, toast and jam, bacon, ham, fried potatoes, and
orange juice as well. "Aunt Petunia." Harry started.

"The dentists said he couldn't have any food in the morning. So he's getting his
breakfast now." Uncle Vernon growled, and Harry shut up. Hedwig hooted from
upstairs.

Friday morning, Harry was up making toast as the news came on. "Professionals
all over Britain are taking their daughters to work today for the annual 'Take
Your Daughter to Work Day'. The Prime Minister's daughter will be spending her
morning at Downing Street, and her afternoon at Parliament House. In other news,
a woman in Yorkshire was arrested for striking her ten-year-old daughter with a
broomstick in a grocer's last night. The woman has been judged mentally
disturbed and has been taken to a hospital." Harry thought about that. It was
probably a wizarding family, but if the girl was only ten, he wouldn't know her.

"Come on, boy." Uncle Vernon growled. "We must be going!" He jabbed his finger
at the Post-It.

Harry looked, and his eyes nearly rolled out of their sockets, he opened them so
wide. Right there in Aunt Petunia's scrawl was "9 3/4". "Oh. I didn't see a time
on there, Uncle Vernon."

"It's right there, boy. Clean your glasses. Nine forty-five."


----------
Meanwhile, at the dentists' office
----------


"Well, you'll be with your mother, helping her teach Emily Waterson how to
floss. Then you'll be in with me, I've got to put braces on this rather
oversized boy named Dudley Dursley, and I might need some help. And then, we'll
have you to lunch, followed by a few check-ups and a pair of afternoon
fillings."

Wait a minute. She'd heard that name somewhere. But where? "Sounds familiar."

The orthodontist smiled at his daughter. "Your mother and I really believe in
'Take Your Daughter to Work Day', you know that, daughter of mine." He smiled.
"And it's so refreshing to see you all dolled up and not lugging around those
books of yours. Even if it's only for this and Christmas and school train days."

"You know this took half the morning, Dad." She pointed at her usually
difficult-to-tame hair.

"Yes, but it's a refreshing change once in a while."

----------
Back at 4 Privet Drive
----------

"Come on, boy. Out to the car."

"But, Uncle Vernon, I'm old enough to stay home by myself."

"Yes, and what condition would I find the house in when you got home? No, boy,
you're coming along. And none of your bloody books!" He snatched `Quidditch
Through the Ages' from Harry's hands, setting it on the top of the liquor
cabinet. "You can have that back when we get home. If you behave."

Not that he couldn't get it anyway. He could reach the top of the liquor cabinet
with a chair, and the Dursleys were such sound sleepers he could do it in the
middle of the night and they'd never hear him.

Harry quietly headed out to the car, scooping up the remains of today's Muggle
newspaper for reading material, having been told the dentists' would take hours.
He'd never been, himself, so he didn't know that such places usually have
magazines and such.

An interminable drive to the dentist's office - car rides always seemed longer
when they were not going to or from King's Cross, these last few years -
exhausted Harry's meager reading supplies, and he tossed the newspaper on the
floor of the car in irritation. He'd much rather be re-reading 'Quidditch
Through the Ages'. But that was sitting, uselessly, atop the liquor cabinet on
Privet Drive.

Harry reflected on the nearly two weeks he'd been back from Hogwarts. He hadn't
received a single owl - not, itself, an uncommon experience for him in the
summer. Maybe next year he'd take out a subscription to the Daily Prophet.
Though Uncle Vernon would probably just throw it out when it came anyway. Harry
doubted somehow that the Prophet's delivery owls, rather than his friends'
private ones, would know to deliver to his upstairs window, which he always left
open for that purpose (unless it was raining). The point was, he hadn't heard
anything from anyone. Except insults from the Dursleys, but he had been thinking
of his friends and teachers at Hogwarts. Right now, he'd even be happy to get a
gloating vacation postcard from Malfoy.

"Here we are." Uncle Vernon pulled up the car in the dentists' lot. Despite his
'perfectly straight' teeth, he refused to set foot in the building, and insisted
on staying in the car. Aunt Petunia shrugged, and led the boys to the lift, as
the dentists' was on the fourth floor of a large office building. The ground
floor had a store that sold tourists London clothing, and the other side was a
druggist's, with the lifts in the middle.

Aunt Petunia knew just where to go already, and didn't pause at all at the
directory of the upstairs offices. They reached the dental office a few minutes
late (the lift was slow), and were rushed right through the waiting room and
into an exam room, where the shiny metal pieces that made up Dudley's future
braces already lay on a sterile tray. A clear space next to it, obviously, was
for another tray, probably of tools. The dentist was also absent, as were any
medical charts or films. Aunt Petunia pointed Harry to a chair in the corner,
where he found a rack of outdated magazines. He picked up last December's
National Geographic - it was an American magazine, but he'd heard it had the
best Muggle pictures there were - and started reading through it.

A voice, strangely familiar, came from the doorway. "Good morning, Dudley. I'm
Thomas, and I'll be your orthodontist today." Harry didn't know what an
orthodontist was, but considering that this was a dentist's office, perhaps it
was a dentist that specialized in braces? He decided to look it up when he got
home. Or ask Hermione whenever he got an owl from her. If nothing else, she'd
send something for his birthday.

"Good morning." Aunt Petunia piped up. Dudley scowled. "I'm his mother, Petunia
Dursley. And that's Harry." She pointed into the corner, where Harry waved
meagerly from behind the National Geographic, not even bothering to look up.

"Well, let's get started, shall we. Cera!"

A harried office assistant-type ran in. Obviously, a woman who answered to the
name Cera, which was confirmed by a plastic nametag pinned to her dress. "Yes,
Doctor?"

"Where are this boy's chart and films? And my tools?"

"Your daughter's getting the chart and films. And the tools are in the cabinet
behind you."

"Thanks." She departed, as the doctor turned on the bright light attached to the
crane-like arm, a common dentist's chair light. The glare was enough to fill the
middle of the room. Just then, an all too familiar voice rang out. "Dad, I've
got the Dursley charts and films for you."

Harry peeked out from behind his magazine, but since the light was directly
between them, he couldn't see the girl in the doorway. But he was desperate
enough to believe it, based on her voice alone. "Hermione?"

"Harry?" Hermione shrieked. Or maybe that was Aunt Petunia.

He suddenly stood up, allowing the magazine to fall to the floor, utterly
forgotten. Hermione walked around the room - the dentist had barely started
reading the chart, and dropped it as well, turning to face Harry. Harry blushed
slightly, before realizing who this must be. "Doctor Granger?" From his tone, it
was most definitely a question. "I'm pleased to mee..." Then all the air was
knocked out of him by Hermione's collision - hyphen - hug.

Aunt Petunia, for her part, was livid. She pulled Hermione off of Harry with
such force that Harry's hand-me-down shirt tore, half coming off in Hermione's
hands, and everyone in the room (except Dudley) stared each other down. Aunt
Petunia was the only one daring enough to go for her purse. Harry knew Hermione
probably had her wand on her, but wasn't stupid enough or angry enough - more
shocked - to break the Code for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry over this.

Finally, Petunia Dursley came up with her wallet, and peeling off a note larger
than the sum total of all Muggle money Harry had ever had in his hands before,
told him to "buy a new shirt downstairs and go sit in the car", adding that
she'd be calling his uncle in five minutes to make sure he was there.

Harry glanced at Hermione, who was still red in the face. He knew better than to
say anything more in front of Aunt Petunia, and left the room and the floor,
wordless. Hermione watched him go, not even asking him to send Hedwig to her
later.

Harry went down to the tourist-trap shop downstairs, and picked out the least
gaudy shirt he could find in a minute - fittingly enough, black with a picture
of King's Cross Station on it under "London" in letters as tall as his fingers
were long. He went up to the counter, and asked the cashier for the shirt, a
copy of the New York Times, and pointing at a rack of postcards, as many as the
rest of the money would buy. It wasn't many. Slipping the torn shirt off and the
new one on, he trashed the rags and hid the postcards inside the American Muggle
newspaper, as he approached the car. Uncle Vernon was sitting in the driver's
seat, with the windows down, and reading a book. Just as Harry opened his usual
door, Uncle Vernon's cellular phone rang.

"Yes, the boy's with me." Pause. "Yes, I'll keep him with me." Pause. "Yes,
I'll ask him for it right now. Bye." He turned to Harry. "Your aunt told me she
gave you money for a new shirt. Where's the change?"

Harry winced, then thought quickly. "Tourist prices, you know. Just had enough
extra for this." He held up the newspaper, folded up, the postcards safely
tucked into the 'Sports' section, which even the Dursleys did not mind Harry
reading, as none of them ever read it.

"Fine. Get in the car and stay here, boy."

----------

Later that night, Harry had a feeling Hermione would try something dramatic.
She'd seen the state of neglect the Dursleys left him in, with Dudley's
oversized hand-me-downs, which Harry was forced to wear until they wore out by
the simple facts that they would not allow his Hogwarts clothing, nor buy him
any. And she'd seen how they treated him, in person.

He remembered an old saying - he didn't know from where - about midnight being
the 'witching hour'. Surely, if she was going to do anything, it'd be at
midnight. As the grandfather clock started to chime, the phone rang. Harry
quickly snatched it up and whispered, "Hello?"

"Harry." Hermione said. "Relax. I'm not offended. At least at you."

"Hermione, how did you get..."

"The phone number? Your cousin's chart. Of course, we would have never known if
it hadn't been today."

"Why not?"

"I'm not there every day, and my parents haven't met you. Today was 'Take Your
Daughter to Work Day'. The whole thing is dumb Muggle luck."

Harry smiled at their `dumb Muggle luck'. He decided to use one of his valuable
postcards, and whipped it out. "What's your number?"

She gave it to him, then asked, "How come you hadn't sent Hedwig? Did they lock
her up or bar your windows or something?"

"Worse. They simply locked up all the paper in the house. I couldn't send Hedwig
anywhere because I couldn't write anything down. But I solved that today, at
least in the short term."

"How?"

"Used all the change from buying a new shirt to buy postcards."

Just then a voice called out on her side of the line. "Hermione, it's past
midnight."

Harry had a sudden thought. "Muggle post."

"What?" She paused. "Oh. you want my Muggle address?"

"Yeah. I'll give you mine too, but now that they know your name, you'll have to
do something else. Make it look like business, maybe. And probably write in
code. I'll make one up and send it with Hedwig."

"Hermione!"

"Harry, send Hedwig with the code and your address, I'll send her back with
mine. And I'll try to call you. When?"

When was a good question. When did they trust him to be home. "Try in the
morning, around seven thirty. They make me answer during breakfast. I won't be
able to say much, but it's good just to hear your voice."

"You too, Harry. Good night."

And it was a good night. The best since coming south on the train.

----------

Monday morning, at seven-thirty sharp, the phone rang. Since he just happened to
be walking by, Dudley answered, his new braces glinting as he talked. "Hello."

Hermione had to think fast. "Mr. Potter, please."

"Who's this?" Dudley answered, defiantly.

Hermione thought for a moment. "Dudley, lots of curious creatures have tails."

He dropped the phone and ran. "Nooooooo!"

Harry picked up the phone. "I'm sorry about that. How can I help you?"

"Sorry about that, Harry. I thought it'd be you answering. Had to scare your
cousin off."

"No." He'd have said more but Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were staring at him.
But his tone said it all.

Hermione grinned, though of course Harry didn't see it. "Did you send Hedwig off
yet?"

"Yes, earlier this morning."

"Good. I'll have her back to you, safe and sound, in no time. And Harry, might
want to joke about that time Hagrid gave your cousin a pig's tail for a couple
days. Write ya soon." She paused. "Oh, I thought of something on the way home.
I've gotten my father to make copies of a gift-subscription notice from one of
his magazines. That's what my letters will look like. And I'll make sure to send
you a few pounds so you can go buy some paper and stamps and envelopes."

"Thank you."

"Good. In the meantime, I'll see what I can do about telling Ron. Bye." Click.

As Harry hung up the phone, Uncle Vernon stared at him. "What was that, boy?"

Harry thought fast. "Oh, that was... a toaster company. They wanted to know if
we had their brand of toaster, when the last time we used our current toaster
was, and then told me that there's a new toaster being sold that pops up
automatically just before the toast burns, which I thanked them for." Way to go,
Potter!

"Well, then, sit down and eat, before your food is cold." Not that it wasn't
already, but he'd take a phone call from Hermione over warm toast any day of the
year. Well, the summer, at least.

Dudley cowered back into the room, and Harry smiled at him. Really, truly smiled
at him. Then he said what he was feeling in the nicest way he could think of.
"Thank you for waiting until I got home to get your braces, Dudley."

And all because sheer dumb Muggle luck had led him and Hermione together at the
dentist's office. He looked at the Sports page headline, but in his mind, what
he saw was: 'Score: Potter and Granger 1, Dursleys 0.'

The End

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