Jul 18, 2019 11:38 AM
Pottervor
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Nearly ten years have passed since the Dursleys woke up to find their nephew 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 another boy lives in the house, too.

Yet Victor Evans is still there, asleep at the moment, but not for long. His Aunt Petunia's awake and it's her shrill voice that makes the first noise of the day.

"Up! Get up! Now!"

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He's awake instantly, and out of the cupboard in fifteen seconds, three of which he spends carefully displacing the spider that was crawling across one of his socks.

"Good morning, Aunt Petunia," he says politely.

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She purses her lips, looking him over from head to toe when he 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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"Yes, Aunt Petunia."

By 'look after the bacon', of course, she means 'make breakfast for everyone'. There is an exact science to making breakfast in the Dursley household. Today being Dudley's birthday, it is not a good moment to burn some of the bacon slightly so they'll let him have it; instead he cooks a few of the slices a little crisper than the rest and surreptitiously cracks them apart, leaving penny-sized fragments among the crumbs on the serving plate. Uncle Vernon gets three eggs sunny-side up with four rashers of bacon and one slice of toast; Aunt Petunia gets two eggs poached with two slices of toast and one rasher of bacon; Cousin Dudley gets four eggs over easy with four rashers of bacon and zero slices of toast; and Victor gets to sit on a stool at the kitchen counter and eat his one scrambled egg off the same plate he served the bacon from, fragments of paper towel and all.

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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. Exactly why Dudley wants a racing bike is left as an exercise to the reader.

Victor's Uncle Vernon enters the kitchen as he'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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His cousin walks into the kitchen with Aunt Petunia a while later, and, after making sure Victor 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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Victor sits quietly on his stool and eats quickly so that no one will notice the shards of crispy bacon hidden among his egg.

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No one's paying attention to Victor; 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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And Dudley starts unwrapping the presents.

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Victor finishes his breakfast and starts washing his plate immediately.

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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 him," she says, jerking her head in Victor's direction.

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Poor Mrs. Figg. Her house isn't the most pleasant place in the world, but it does have the advantage of not containing any Dursleys.

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Dudley's mouth falls open in horror.

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

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"You could leave me at home," he suggests hesitantly.

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She looks like she swallowed a lemon. "And come back to find the house in ruins?"

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It would not be productive to respond to that.

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"We could phone Marge," he suggests.

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