: Neither BtVS nor Harry Potter belong to me.A/N
: I was in a bad mood when I wrote the first chapter, and Dudley channeled my aggression…I hadn't originally intended to start out with him so hostile, so I got stuck for a bit afterwards, but then it led to this…I'd appreciate feedback on how well (or not), you think the story's working…thanks to everyone who reviewed, by the way. If you hadn't, I probably wouldn't have bothered to find a way to continue the story. Also, there's a bit of cursing in this chapter
, which I'm sure is weird and awkward, because in real life cuss words make me cringe…but for some reason I felt inclined to write them.
***Once again, I'm in trouble with my only friend…
Think of all the starving millions
Don't talk politics and don't throw stones…
Well, of course I'd like to sit around and chat
Well, of course I'd like to chew the fat…
But someone's listening in
Once again, we are hungry for a lynching
That's a strange mistake to make
You should turn the other cheek
Living in a glass house
~Radiohead, excerpts from "Life in a Glass House"March 1999
On the second day of spring break during his first year of university, Dudley could be found sitting in the park with what was left of his neighborhood gang, smoking a few fags and talking about old times.
In the distance, he saw Patrice Evans, who was roughly a year younger than him and the prettiest girl in Little Whinging—although, in Dudley's opinion, a bit of a cold fish. (He had asked her out several years ago only to be shot down. Rather rudely, he might add.)
But that was a long time ago, when he had been younger and far flabbier. A lot had changed since then, he thought, as he watched her march past the pavilion towards their group.
"Alright, Evans?" Gordon sneered unctuously, likely in a futile attempt to appear charming.
"Would you care if I wasn't, pickle dick?" She shot back provocatively.
"You shut your gob, you greasy-faced cunt," Dennis retaliated for his gobsmacked friend.
"You want to be taken down a few pegs, bitch?" Malcolm growled; he, like Dudley, had a history of being rejected by the girl. "Because we can manage that, I'm sure."
"Guys," Dudley intervened authoritatively. "Shut up."
Gordon and Dennis relaxed immediately. Malcolm scowled and crossed his arms.
There was a flicker of some unidentifiable emotion in Patrice's eyes at the interaction.
"That's right," she said, and there was malice in her voice. "You're in charge, aren't you?"
Dudley shrugged, wondering what this was about. "You might say that."
"Well, then why did you stop them? You've ordered them to beat up kids younger and less mouthy than I am before—you and your lackeys
tormented my little brother for years
, so why not me? Am I not helpless
enough for you to get off on my pain
?—Just show me what you did to him, you fucking sadists
By the time she finished her rant, she was screaming. All Dudley could think was they were lucky the park was deserted. After a moment of hesitation brought on by shock, Malcolm broke the silence.
"Well, alright then," he smirked. "Hold her arms," he instructed Gordon and Dennis. Apparently he had become the gang's de facto leader in Dudley's absence.
Dudley's response was to punch him in the head, deliberately putting his full weight behind the blow. When Malcolm fell to the ground, unconscious, Gordon and Dennis looked to the champion boxer for leadership once again.
"Go home," he told them.
As they began to obey, Dudley turned back towards the empty-eyed Patrice.
***Staring at the shadows at the edge of my bed. ~Radiohead
Dudley rang the doorbell twice, shifting impatiently as he waited on the porch for someone to answer.
After several long minutes, a disheveled-looking Piers appeared in the entryway.
"Dudley, what are you doing here," he mumbled grumpily. "It's five in the damn morning."
Not to mention that it had been nearly a year since they had spoken, and they had not parted on the best of terms, but at the moment, that detail seemed entirely irrelevant to Dudley. He needed to talk to someone about this; he had not been able to sleep at all last night, because he could not stop thinking about it…
"What do you think about suicide?" he blurted.
"Um…tell me you're not considering…"
"Don't be a prat," Dudley interrupted, exasperatedly. "Of course I'm
Piers was still staring.
Upon reflection, Dudley conceded he had introduced the subject rather untactfully. He forced himself to spit the rest out…he needed to talk about it, but that didn't mean he wanted to. "You haven't heard? About Mark Evans?"
"That kid we used to slap around?" Piers asked, a glint of recognition and remorse in his eyes. "What about him?"
No one had ever accused Piers of being quick on the uptake.
"Yeah," Dudley confirmed solemnly. "…Apparently he had really low self-esteem. He slit his wrists two days ago…his mum found him after he bled out in their upstairs bathroom."
"Yeah…." Dudley took a modicum of comfort in the fact that Piers actually seemed to care.
Nobody else, with the exception of the Evans family, seemed at all bothered that a fourteen-year-old boy who had grown up in their neighborhood had looked around two days ago and decided that there was nothing here worth living for.
"…His sister blames me. Said I might as well have murdered him…and…lots of other things…""Think you're gallant, don't you, refusing to hit a girl? You as good as murdered my brother, you sack of shit!….Don't touch me. Don't even look at me. You're disgusting…"
Dudley couldn't get it out of his head, the revulsion in her voice and the accusation in her eyes. After calling him a murderer, she had even suggested that his cousin Harry had been pushed over the edge by his bullying, too, but the Dursleys had covered it up (and that was why Harry went missing without his family filing a missing person's report)…
All of which was ridiculous speculation, of course…but the more Dudley thought about, the more he realized it didn't matter if it had happened or not, because it could have. It already had. A fourteen year old boy was dead, and it was a direct consequence of Dudley's actions…
Consequences. He'd never had to deal with those before…
He felt sick, clammy, cold. The feeling brought back memories of when he was fifteen, and Harry had saved him from those soul-sucking whatevers…he'd wondered, immediately afterward, if the thing had been successful, but Harry assured him it had not. Now, reminded of the parodoxically invasive sensation of hollowness he had experienced four years ago, Dudley pondered what it meant, exactly, to have a soul…
If it was his soul that made him feel this way, he wasn't sure he wanted one…
"I need to talk to someone," he finally admitted aloud. Piers ushered him inside.