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New Leaf to Turn

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Dudley Dursley would be the first to tell you that he lived a very normal life. He had a good job, a small home in a quiet neighborhood that reminded him of home, a loving wife and wonderful children. The thought of his family always brought a smile to his face, even as he was driving home from a long day at work. Even if his job was stressed or things weren't going right, Dudley could always count on his drive home to lift his spirits as he thought of his perfectly normal life.

Such was the exact frame of mind that Dudley Dursley found himself as he got into his car after work. It was late, having stayed at the high school he taught at to help coach his boxing team in preparation for the next big match, and he was tired. As he started the engine, he looked out of the car window to see some of his students leave the school, some driving, some being picked up by parents. Dudley couldn't help but chuckle; there had been a time when the thought of being a parent seemed absurd to him. He was still chuckling to himself as he pulled out of the parking lot when he reminded himself how he thought he would never get married either.

But here he was, happily married for 15 years and the proud father of two wonderful children, the perfect amount in his opinion (then again, he could be biased). And of course, he had the cliché white picket house in a quiet neighborhood that reminded him of his home growing up. It was ordinary, but Dudley liked ordinary, he liked being ordinary. He didn't mind having a normal life, because had you asked him 19 years previously, he might have told you his life was anything but normal.

Because 19 years previously, he had been rushed out of his house in a panic due to a war no one in his world knew about.

A war that centered about his cousin, Harry Potter.

Dudley blinked. He hadn't thought about his cousin in years…had it really been 19 years since he had last seen Harry? It must have been, that last memory of the green eyed boy had been when Dudley had offered a feeble apology to his cousin for the years of torment he had given him. A chill went down Dudley's spine at the thought. All those years that he had been spoiled by his parents and bullying smaller children, Harry had been selflessly saving the world, not once, but several times. Even while his aunt and uncle, Dudley's own parents, had belittled and tried to 'beat out' his magical powers, Harry still cared enough to worry about their safety, even saving Dudley's life when they were 15.

Gripping the steering wheel tightly, Dudley tried not to dwell on the actual event of almost having his soul drained. The event was horrific and traumatizing, but he did have to admit that it was in that horrible night that Dudley's life had changed forever. Before that night, he was a spoiled bully who was gaining weight faster than a drag racer gains speed. But after…

After that night, Dudley saw who he was and was disgusted with himself. And it was then that he began to see his smaller cousin in the light he deserved. He had saved his life just minutes after Dudley had tormented him about nightmares that he had been plagued with. Before that night, Dudley could have never comprehended such selflessness, such courage…and he knew he needed to change.

Change had been slow at first because Dudley had no idea where to start. But his starting point (at least in his mind) had come in the form of letting his cousin know that he was grateful. That moment had let him let go of who he was, and slowly but surely he was able to gain momentum in changing who he was. The first was being his weight.

At this thought, Dudley couldn't help but laugh outright. It had been the first thing he had done at his university, joined the cross country team. Running...something Harry had been doing for a long time. And ironically, it was Dudley's turn to be teased for being abnormal (for his size, of course). It reminded him of how much he had tormented Harry, and this gave him that much more incentive to try harder and prove that he could change. The thought of Harry had pushed Dudley to the point that by his sophomore year, he not only could see his belt buckle and touch his toes, he could run a six minute mile.

Not to mention manage to get a steady girlfriend.

As he took a turn from the main road, Dudley smiled. Diane was everything he wanted in a woman: beautiful, sweet, witty and best of all, could cook better than his mom (not that he would ever tell his mom that such a thing was possible). It surprised when she accepted his invitation to dinner one night, and from then on, they hit it off. By his junior year, his parents had insisted that Diane call them "mum and dad" and by his senior year, both his parents and her parents were hinting that he should propose. And, being the gentlemen that he had recently shaped himself to be, he took Diane to their favorite restaurant the night after graduation and proposed, on one knee and with her father's blessing, to the love of his life.

The wedding was scarcely a year later.

And it was shortly after their 4th wedding anniversary that Dudley had the second happiest day of his life, his son William was born. Will was the spitting image of his father, but thankfully, due to Diane's insight on food (being that she was a dietitian at the local hospital), Dudley's girth as a child was nowhere to be found on William. As the boy grew, Dudley was happy to see how much of his mother was in William. He was selfless, even if he had a habit of getting into trouble. Once Dudley had been called from work because William had set fire to the teacher's toupee in the middle of a lecture and Dudley needed to pick him up from school, although Will would argue that he did no such thing to his teacher, even though he was mad at the teacher for punishing him for wearing the wrong colored socks.

Dudley was seeing less and less office buildings now, and more houses as he made his way into the neighborhoods. As he watched some small children played in their front yards, he couldn't help but smile at the thought of Marigold, his youngest.

William had been two years old when Marigold was born. Unlike when William had been born, Dudley had almost been scared to find that he had a daughter. He knew what to expect with a son, having been one himself, but a daughter? Dudley had no sisters, or even a female cousin, so the idea of raising a little girl had him intimidated. But when he held little Mari for the first time, the fear and 'what if…'s melted away and he knew that he could and would raise this girl to be the type of woman her mother was. And after nine years, he would like to think he was doing a good job of doing so.

Spirits lifted and not so tired anymore, Dudley pulled into the driveway of number 16, Chestnut avenue. The house was quaint, not too big and not too small, just right for their sized family. The grass was green and trimly cut, as Dudley mowed it every Saturday, and the white picket fence added a sweet touch. Even if it is a little cliché, He thought as he got out of the car and walked through the front door.

"Honey, kids, I'm home!" Dudley was greeted by the sound of footsteps gaining speed down the hall towards him. Couldn't be too far now…he braced himself for impact…

"DADDY!" Marigold shouted as she took a flying leap into her father's arms, giggling.

"Hey pumpkin! " Dudley was positively grinning now, setting Mari down as William came into view.

"Hey dad, did practice run late tonight?" The blonde boy asked, looking up at his dad. Dudley could tell that there could be a chance that William could take up Dudley's interest in boxing, but time could only tell.

Dudley chuckled, "Yeah, you know how it is. We have that big match against Smeltings coming up." The older blonde could appreciate the irony in his statement, even if his children couldn't.

Diane made her way into the hall as Dudley set Mari down onto the floor, and try as he might, he couldn't help but take a few moments to just look at his wife.

She surely wasn't as thin as she was in their university years, but Dudley would never fault her on that. She did carry his two children for nine months each, plus he liked the slight curve she had on her hips, even if she didn't. Her face did have a few wrinkles, but they weren't from worry or stress, but from laughing and smiling. He thought he saw a gray hair or two, but this he would never tell his wife. Ever. He could also tell from her flushed face as well as the flour on her hands and shirt that she spent her day off in a hot kitchen making a wonderful dinner.

She was beautiful.

"Stop staring at me and come over here, you loon." Diane laughed, hugging her husband. Dudley smiled before kissing her cheek.

"You're beautiful." He whispered

"You're mental." She replied, going back to their dining room to serve dinner. Dudley smiled and followed his wife and children for dinner.

Yes, Dudley Dursley had a very normal life.