Three years later…
The letter came by normal post.
It came in a normal envelope, with one stamp placed in the proper location, and it was delivered by the normal mailman through the same mail slot as the rest of the post.
As Petunia Dursley sorted through the bills and tossed out the junk catalogs, the only thing about that average envelope that caught her eye, was the handwritten address. The writing was familiar, and just as untidy as it had always been.
“Any good post today?” asked a voice from behind an open newspaper in the sitting room.
“Just a lot of nonsense,” she answered vaguely.
Stepping silently past her husband, who never once looked up from his recliner or his newspaper, Petunia took the untidily addressed envelope into the kitchen. Curious in spite of herself, but still a little wary, she ripped it open and extracted its contents. She pulled out a heavy, stiff card and what looked like a note written on a strange bit of parchment paper – as she did so, a small photograph fluttered out of the envelope and to the floor. Picking it up, she let out a small gasp before she could stop herself.
“Everything all right, Petunia?” called Vernon from the other room.
“Yes – yes, I – just a paper cut,” she responded, staring at the photo.
“That’s nice, dear,” her husband said absently.
Petunia pursed her lips and shot a perturbed glance in the direction of the sitting room.
Looking back at the photo in her hand, she realized that it was not what it had appeared to be at first. The girl in the picture did not look anything like her sister, once you got past the brilliant red hair. But at first glance, the image had appeared to be a scene from over twenty years ago. It was one of those bizarre moving photos – and despite the benign image, she had to suppress a shudder.
In the photo, a young man with unruly black hair and glasses had his arm around a redheaded young woman with bright brown eyes. Even someone as critical as Petunia had to admit, the girl was quite pretty. The couple were both beaming, and every few seconds, one of the two would plant a playful, loving kiss on the other’s cheek.
Harry hadn’t changed much in appearance since the last time Petunia had seen him, about four years ago. A little older, maybe, but then again, the last time she had seen him, he looked as if he had aged several years over the course of one. About a year after Harry and his strange acquaintances had sent the Dursleys into hiding, Harry had returned for them. That time, he was accompanied by a plain-looking brunette girl called Hermione and the tall, bald man called Kingsley. Petunia remembered them because they had been almost normal-acting, except for the fact that they carried wands, so they were obviously not normal – and they had respectfully shown up wearing normal clothing.
Harry had said very little to her then, though he had addressed her more directly than he had Vernon or Dudley. (He had been friendly enough towards Dudley; he had barely acknowledged that Vernon was even present.)
“He’s gone, Aunt Petunia,” Harry had said. The tone of his voice told Petunia exactly which “he” Harry was referring to.
“If you wish,” the man called Kingsley had said, “you may return to your home and your normal life. I’m sorry if you’ve been inconvenienced. It was all for your protection.”
Hermione had explained that they could arrange it so that nobody would realize the Dursleys had been gone for a year.
Vernon, being Vernon, had grumbled, “Damn right, we’ve been inconvenienced! You’re mad if you think we’re going to let you back under our roof now that you’re finished at that lunatic school!”
Harry had stared back rather emotionlessly and responded, “I have a home, and I’m not asking you for anything. I just wanted to let you know it’s safe for you now.”
And as they had said their final goodbye, some part of Petunia was glad that the boy had not been badly harmed.
“MOTHER!!” yelled a deep voice from upstairs, interrupting Petunia’s reverie.
She sighed. “Yes, Diddykins?” she called.
“My rugby mates are coming over for lunch, and we’ll need it in half an hour!”
She sighed again. “All of your mates, dearest?”
“Yes, all of them, Mother!”
She looked down at the pieces of paper in her hand. The stiff card was covered in an elegant, feminine script, which read:
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Weasley
Joyously announce the marriage of their daughter
Ginevra Molly Weasley
Harry James Potter
On the 23rd Day of June
In the year 2002
At The Burrow
It was not an invitation, but an announcement – Petunia was versed enough in etiquette to know the difference. Half of her mouth twisted up in a humorless smile. Of course, they would not have been invited, and of course, if they had been, they would never have attended.
Turning to the enclosed note, she recognized the same untidy scrawl that covered the front of the envelope.
I know it’s been years, and I know you probably don’t want to hear from me. I promise I’m not expecting anything by sending you this. But, as you’re family, I think this is the proper thing to do.
I hope you’re well, and Uncle Vernon and Dudley too. You can tell them I send my regards, if you think that won’t cause too much trouble – if it will, I understand.
She stared for a moment at the note, then the announcement, then the photograph, then the note again.
She would not tell Vernon or Dudley.
She would not send any response.
She would not, in any way, acknowledge that anything out of the ordinary had happened.
But she smiled slightly to herself as she tucked the envelope and its contents into her apron pocket and began preparing lunch for two dozen hungry boys.
A/N: I'd like to thank all of you who have faithfully read and reviewed this story. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!