Author: Marks (marksykins)
Summary: An impelling action or force - Dudley Dursley trained every day for this moment.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Snape/Harry (very mild)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is owned by JK Rowling, Scholastic, Raincoast, Warner Brothers, and probably fifty other people who aren't me. Apologies to Ambrose Bierce also might be in order.
Original Story: Impulse by dracofiend
"Your cousin." The words drifted through the thick wooden door and bounced off the cold stone slabs. "He's taken an interest in the wizarding world?"
Dudley Dursley folded his arms across his massive chest and leant against the wall, head tilted toward the door, listening just in case that greasy, ugly bloke tried to pull any moves on his cousin. Of course Dudley knew that Harry was like that, a queer, you know; Dudley wasn't quite as dumb as he looked, after all, and even when that shaggable ginger girl showed up with the rescue mission, he caught the way Harry's eyes instead slid to her brothers (all of them), but who was Dudley to judge? He knew what hormones were like, too. Plus, it wasn't as though the signs weren't already there. To start, when Dudders woke up sweaty and clutching his sheets, it wasn't because he'd been dreaming about people named Cedric and Sirius or whatever new name added itself to the list.
He'd gotten over it, though. He'd had a...what d'ya call it? A near-death experience, going toward the light and all, though his mum said he hadn't been hurt, just passed out when the bad man in the mask shot something out of his stick -- his wand, whatever -- and Harry saved them all. Dudley had had an epiphany then, halleluiah. Harry was a freak in about fifteen different ways, but he was still blood, and if a weak little poofter like Harry could save Dudley's life, then Dudley could sure as hell save his right back.
"Why? Can't outrun a curse. Or beat it senseless." The oily bastard's voice slimed into the hall again, making Dudley scowl severely at the wooden door. What the hell did he know anyway?
And that was why Dudley didn't want Snape anywhere near his cousin. Even if Harry liked to bend over every now and then, it shouldn't be for greasy old men who flapped around in bat robes. And what was with that get-up anyway? Did he think he was in the comics or on the telly or something, a vigilante for justice saving the world from baddies who wanted to corrupt the fragile innocence of youth?
Yeah, right. Dudley snorted and kicked away from the wall, pacing back and forth in front of Snape's office like a sentinel keeping watch. He'd heard that Snape was a wanker of the highest degree, the kind of teacher whose food would have got jerked off in at Smeltings, and if Harry wanted to bend Greasy over instead of being the bent one himself, he'd probably have to do a six-foot arse-polendectomy first.
Dudley suddenly froze, mid-pace, and stopped listening to the weird conversation between Harry and his 'favourite' former professor. Footsteps. Yeah, yeah, those were definitely footsteps. That wasn't weird, though, Dudley tried reassuring himself, as he turned a corner, away from Snape's office. He was in a school and there had to be little snots wandering around everywhere, even after curfew. He'd gone to boarding school; he knew how these things worked. But there were little pin prickles of fear running up and down his arms, making every hair stand up.
"Who's there?" Dudley called. He held up his fists. "I'll kick the crap out of you, just try me."
Nearby someone laughed. "I know you. You're related to Potter." Dudley knew that voice; that had been what he'd heard when Harry came to his rescue.
The door to Snape's office clicked and swung open the same split-second Dudley tried spinning to see who had spoken. A hand clamped over Dudley's mouth just as he realized Harry had been leaving.
"I--" said Harry, his voice echoing eerily in the corridor. "Did you-- Did you want to come to my flat, or...?"
Dudley's preservation instincts kicked in, clawing at his attacker's arm, but the hand held fast.
"Whichever you prefer," Snape replied.
'It's just self-defence, you've done this loads of times,' Dudley thought frantically. 'If I can elbow him in the gut and flip him over my back, he'll be dazed enough that I can grab Harry and run, and to hell with that greasy bugger.'
"Okay," said Harry, too busy making dates to realize imminent danger. What kind of hero was that? "I'll think about it. Night, Professor."
The bad guy spoke again, close to Dudley's ear, his damp breath heavy against his skin. "This has been fun, but I've got to go. And I suppose so do you."
The hand tightened around Dudley's mouth, a point something pressed to his temple. 'On three,' Dudley thought to himself. 'One. Two--'
Dudley Dursley was a little hungry. His mum had already given him dinner, and dessert, and his after-dessert snack, but sometimes he got a bit peckish even after that, and he was old enough now that he could fix something for himself after his evening reps. A sandwich, crisps, and half a jar of pickled onions would probably do, but in case it didn't, he could always go back for the leftover ham from dinner. He led a good life, as long as he ignored the...thing that sometimes occupied his second bedroom.
He was headed back toward the stairs when the mailslot rattled and the front door exploded into thousands of splinters. Dudley barely took in the sight of black material and eerie white masks before his parents ran to the landing and his mother was screaming and Harry was leaping over the banister and jumping in front of him. A burst of white light shot out of Harry's wand and Dudley passed out from fear, spilling pickled onions and mustard all down his front.
In the aftermath of the attack, all sorts of weirdoes trudged in and out of his house, and though Dudley never got used to seeing men in flowing purple dresses, most of the weirdoes turned out to be only a little weird, like the types that hung out near the Underground stations when he snuck into London with his friends. Most of them even left him alone about his reaction to the scary masks, except for those red-headed twins who gave him the rotten sweets, and when Dudley acted more embarrassed than confrontational about the whole incident, even they left him alone. Dudley moved his workouts upstairs, did curls while he overheard snatches of conversation about that school Harry went to, found out how Harry wasn't going back for his last year, and started shadowing his cousin whenever he was around the house.
When Harry left after a couple of weeks, telling everyone the protection was off Number Four Privet Drive now that his birthday had passed and that was why the house had been attacked in the first place, he also said he'd be back once more to see if the changes in the Dursley's had stuck. Dudley considered urging his family to move. He didn't, though; instead, he bulked up, worked out more and more, became invincible, became Bigger Big D, and waited. And one day Harry came back with that quiet, raggedy man in tow, the one who looked like a strong breeze might knock him over -- Lupin, that was it.
Dudley greeted his cousin at the door, and told him right off that the next time Harry left, Dudley was coming with him. He'd even bought a whole portable gym with rubber band tensions, even though he really preferred pumping real iron, but he understood that he'd be expected to make sacrifices.
Harry shrugged as soon as Dudley said his piece, but the Lupin bloke looked concerned. "The reason wizards hide from Muggles has as much to do with protecting them as it does with protecting us. I'd advise against it."
"What harm could it do?" Harry asked. "He's pretty strong."
"I box," Dudley added.
"You can't punch a curse," Lupin said. "Or an Unforgivable."
Dudley bristled from head-to-toe. "I can do it," he insisted.
Dudley Dursley, who'd trained every day for this moment, who'd been the best boxer in the history of Smeltings, howled at the top of his lungs and flipped his attacker onto his back, completely flooring him. It was like a karate film, only a million times better.
"Run!" he screamed, rounding the corner back toward Snape's office. Harry didn't react fast enough, so Dudley grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him. They ran together, leaving the greasy bat blinking in shock. If this had been a few years earlier, Dudley would have been huffing and puffing from all of the running, but not now, not when he'd conditioned himself to top form. Dudley was a comet, Dudley was the Flash, he was a leaf on the wind, and he was paying back the debt that he'd owed Harry since his house had been attacked.
Through twisting corridors, Dudley kept saving Harry. He kicked one Death Eater, took down another with a one-handed punch, and a third with a sharp headbutt, all before they could even get their wooden sticks to fire. If Dudley could get Harry outside, if they could get off the grounds, Harry could do that thing where he popped them out of existence and they'd be safe.
Dudley still had Harry by the wrist when the heavy doors of the Great Hall came into view. His large hand pulled at the handle, pulled the thing right off its hinges. They spilled out onto the steps of the castle and ran and ran to the front gates, until Dudley thought his lungs were going to bust out of his chest, and then, in the distance...freedom. He could see that place with the awesome sweets shop -- Pigsfeet? Hogsmeat? -- from there. He did it! He'd saved Harry Potter, game over, who was the big hero now, huh?
Dudley stretched out his fingers and choked and stumbled and fell down, down, down, and was enveloped in green light.
Dudley Dursley fell to the floor in a crumpled heap in the Slytherin dungeons, a plan in his mind and a word of warning on his lips. Harry Potter was just leaving Severus Snape's office as Snape shut the door behind him.