THUMP THUMP THUMP! Petunia pounded impatiently on the door to Harry's bedroom.
"Boy! Get out here and set the table, We've got dinner guests coming in half an hour!"
Thump! She pounded on the door again and then went back downstairs into the kitchen. Good grief, she thought, making her way to the sink, I am never going to get all this done by the time Vernon's colleagues arrive. She frowned and scrubbed a little harder at the saucepan. If that boy didn't come down here in 3 minutes, he was going to get it. She scrubbed the pan a little harder. He'd been nothing but trouble ever since they found him on the doorstep. Asking awkward questions and making strange things happen ever since he was old enough to walk and talk. Petunia stopped mid scrub, and stared out the kitchen window, thinking. How horrible it must be to not have any real parents. She felt a strange feeling in her stomach. What was it? Pity? Regret? She frowned again. Absolutely not, she felt no pity for people who didn't deserve it. No, it was probably just stress. Vernon was desperate to impress his colleagues, and she had been working all day. She let out an angry sigh, and put down the saucepan. Impatiently, she wiped her hands on a dishtowel, and stomped back upstairs to Harry's bedroom door.
"Boy, if you don't come out of there this instant, there's going to be serious trouble! And I mean it!"
Silence. Petunia eyes bulged. The nasty little brat! She barged into his room, fuming,
"YOU INSOLENT LITTLE BOY! HOW DARE YOU! WE PUT CLOTHES ON YOUR BACK" she flipped on the light switch "."
Hedwig squawked grumpily from her cage. Bewildered, Petunia glanced around the room, where was he? She walked over to the closet and threw the doors open. When she saw nothing she rolled her eyes. Of course he wasn't hiding in the closet.
"Boy?" she called uselessly, "Harry?"
The feeling was back. In the pit of her stomach, except this time it was accompanied by something else. Something she wasn't accustomed to feeling, but she wasn't quite sure what it was. Worry? She shook her head impatiently. Don't be ridiculous Petunia, she thought, what is there to worry about? He's probably on a walk. Yes, that was it, Petunia thought. On a walk. Besides, since when had she cared where he was or where he went? As long as he was out from under her feet. THUMP. Petunia jumped and whirled around. Then rolled her eyes at herself when she realized it was the front door closing,
"Petunia, I'm home!" Shouted Vernon from downstairs.
Petunia smiled and made her way downstairs to greet Vernon. The guests would be here soon, she'd think about it later. In the meantime, the table needed setting. Harry would probably be back soon from his walk. Not that she cared, of course.
The sound of raucous laughter drifted in through the crack under the kitchen door from the dining room. Petunia closed her eyes and swallowed, wondering what was wrong with her. She angrily continued putting dollops of cream on the chocolate pudding and strawberries that she'd made for dessert. Honestly Petunia, you've wished he'd just disappear since he arrived, it doesn't matter where he is, she said to herself. She'd told Vernon about the boy.
"Good riddance!" he'd exclaimed "Let's hope he doesn't come back."
She shook her head picked up the tray of pudding. Plastering a false smile on her face, she kicked open the kitchen door and brought out the dessert.
"Ah, there she is!" exclaimed Mr. Robinson, Vernon's colleague and superior, "I can't tell you how delicious this dinner was Petunia, and that dessert looks excellent"
Petunia smiled and set down the tray on the table.
"Well thank you Mr. Robinson" she straightened "If you'll all excuse me I'm going to pop upstairs for a second."
Vernon smiled at her and as she made her way upstairs, she heard them start their conversation again. She quietly opened Harry's door and peered in, half hoping to see him there. She sighed. Why am I doing this? Why do I care? He's a useless boy and there is no reason why I shouldn't just go downstairs and enjoy the conversation. As much as she wanted to, she knew she might as well get it over with. She went to Harry's desk and rummaged through the drawers until she found a battered pencil and a piece of paper. She quickly scrawled
Mr. Dumbledore, although it is of no concern to me, it might interest you to know that my nephew has gone missing. I have already gone through enough trouble to send this with his owl, so please do not send her back
Petunia stepped over to Hedwig's cage and stared at the sleeping owl. She grimaced and tapped delicately on the snowy owls cage. Hedwig opened one eye, and gazed insolently at her. Although she felt silly for talking to an animal, Petunia said
"The boy's gone, and wellI don't suppose well, you wouldn't happen to want to take this letter somewhere would you?"
Hedwig gazed back, unblinking. Well, though Petunia, No response is a good response. I hope. She delicately opened Hedwig's cage and held her hand out palm up to the bird, who was had now opened both eyes and looked at though she was contemplating whether or not to bite her. Why oh why am I doing this, wailed Petunia silently.
"Please?" she asked.
Hedwig ruffled her feathers grumpily and stepped on to Petunias hand. Petunia exhaled, and carefully removed her from her cage. Hedwig stuck her beak in the air and extended her leg. Petunia quickly gave her the folded note. She stepped to the window and opened it.
"To Dumbledore please" she whispered
Hedwig glared at her and then took off into the night. Petunia sighed, the knot in her stomach lessened somewhat. Feeling better, she went back downstairs and joined her husband and their guests.
"I'm so sorry" she apologized with a smile.
"Oh that's quite all right" responded Mr. Robinson, "we were just complimenting this excellent dessert"
Harry woke up slowly, a little bit of his brain at a time, until he opened his eyes. The site that met them however, was not the one he had expected to see. He was in an unfamiliar room, lying on a squashy four-poster bed. There was a desk in one corner and a big red armchair in the other. All the furniture was dark and glossy, in a Victorian style and there were tapestries hanging on the walls as well as candleholders. The candles flickered dimly and gave the room a cozy glow. Harry sat up abruptly as he remembered:
He was sitting on his bead reading several letters he'd just received from Ron and Hermione. They were enjoying themselves at the Burrow; Hermione was happily studying for the apparition tests. Ron hadn't gotten around to that yet. He looked up, smiling. He couldn't believe that he was seventeen. This was the last summer he'd ever have to spend with the Dursley's. The thought filled him with an incredible elation. He'd gotten a letter from Ginny as well. His heart thumped dangerously at the thought. Ginny had certainly changed from the shy clumsy little girl he was used to thinking of her as. She was much more confident now, she smiled at everyone and made friends with almost anyone. She was also incredibly attractive. Harry didn't think he was the only one that had noticed it either. He'd seen many boys at Hogwarts watching her as she went by. For some reason it always made him grumpy. Harry's thoughts were interrupted as another large owl swooped through the window. It was an unfamiliar one, but he looked somewhat like one of the school owls. Hope filled his him, maybe Dumbledore had decided to let him go to the burrow for the rest of the summer. Harry took the letter from the owl, who swooped immediately out the window, and looked at it. It didn't say anything on the envelope, but paper was thick like parchment and off-white, much the same to all the other letters he'd received from Dumbledore. He quickly ripped it open and unfolded the letter. There was a puff of gray-blue smoke. Harry inhaled, and began to feel sleepy. Just as he was falling asleep, he registered the familiar tug behind his navel, and new thought briefly that he should be more careful when opening his post.
"Damn!" he said out loud.
Just then, an old woman came bustling through the doorway with a tray in hand. It held a glass of water, something in a bowl that smelled delicious, and a small cup filled with a dark green liquid.
"Well now I'm glad to see you're awake, I've brought you some food and something to clear that fuzzy head of yours." The old woman said warmly.
Harry just frowned.
"You'll forgive me if I don't smile and nod, but I'd really rather know what the hell I'm doing here." He said somewhat heatedly.
The old woman's smile lessened slightly. She sighed,
"I know dear, I keep telling him he can't just snatch people out of the blue whenever he wants to talk to them but no, its not use." She looked at him apologetically, " I can't tell you why you're here but I promise that you'll get your answers very soon. Now eat up and I'll go get Merlin."