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Dec 12, 2019 5:07 PM
Gloria in the Potterverse
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Nearly ten years have passed since the Dursleys woke up to find their niece on the front step, but Privet Drive has hardly changed at all. The sun rises on the same tidy front gardens and lights up the brass number four on the Dursleys' front door; it creeps into their living room, which is almost exactly the same as it was on the night when Mr. Dursley saw that fateful news report about the owls. Only the photographs on the mantelpiece really show how much time has passed. Ten years ago, there were lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball wearing different-colored bonnets - but Dudley Dursley is no longer a baby, and now the photographs show a large blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a carousel at the fair, playing a computer game with his father, being hugged and kissed by his mother. The room holds no sign at all that a girl lives in the house, too.

Yet Dorea Potter is still there, asleep at the moment, but not for long. Her Aunt Petunia's awake and it's her shrill voice that makes the first noise of the day, knocking on the door of her little cupboard under the stairs.

"Up up up you get! It's morning!"

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Sigh.

"Yes, Aunt Petunia," she says, and after a few moments the cupboard door swings open.

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She purses her lips, looking her over from head to toe when she exits the cupboard under the stairs, then says, "I want you to look after the bacon. And don't you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday."

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"Of course, Aunt Petunia."

She doesn't let the bacon burn. She cuts it into slightly smaller pieces than are strictly necessary, nibbles down a few of them hot from the pan when she's very very sure her aunt isn't looking, and arranges the remainder on her relatives' plates in pretty patterns.

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The table's almost hidden beneath all Dudley's birthday presents. It looks as though Dudley has gotten the new computer he wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike. It's unclear why Dudley would want a racing bike.

Dorea's Uncle Vernon enters the kitchen as she's turning over the bacon. He inspects the process from afar, as if trying to spot a flaw and, not finding any, contents himself to sit on a chair, engulfing it with his backside, and read his newspaper.

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Her cousin walks into the kitchen with Aunt Petunia a while later, and, after making sure Dorea doesn't have as many eggs as he does, starts counting his presents, with a huge smile on his face.

Then it falls. "Thirty-six," he says, looking up at his parents. "That's two less than last year."

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"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here under this big one from Mommy and Daddy."

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"All right, thirty-seven then," says Dudley, going red in the face.

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Stupid spoiled slob.

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No one's paying attention to Dorea; all their attention is dedicated to preventing Dudley from exploding.

"And we'll buy you another two presents while we're out today. How's that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?"

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Dudley squints and furrows his brows in concentration, then says slowly, "So I'll have thirty... thirty..."

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"Thirty-nine, sweetums."

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"Oh," he says, sitting back down heavily and grabbing the nearest parcel. "All right, then."

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Crisis averted, Vernon chuckles and ruffles Dudley's hair. "Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like his father. 'Atta boy, Dudley!"

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The phone rings, and Petunia goes to answer it.

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His money's worth. And what money, exactly? Sigh. Typical.

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Dudley proceeds to unwrap a racing bike, a video camera, a remote control airplane, sixteen new computer games, and a VCR. He's ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch -

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- when Petunia comes back from the telephone looking angry and worried. "Bad news, Vernon. Mrs. Figg's broken her leg. She can't take her," she says, jerking her head in Dorea's direction.

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Aw, poor Mrs. Figg.

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Dudley's mouth falls open in horror.

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"Now what?" she asks, looking furiously at Dorea.

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She meets her aunt's gaze with a serenity not quite stepping over the line into insolence. If she didn't think to source a backup babysitter that's her problem, not Dorea's.

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"We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggests.

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"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the girl."

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"What about what's-her-name, your friend - Yvonne?"

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"On vacation in Majorca," she snaps.

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