The October moon hung overhead and a cold wind blew around her as she wrapped herself in her cloak, trying to block the chill from seeping into her bones. It was as if nature knew to match the weather to the somberness that had hung overhead for the last few days.
She looked down at the ground at her feet, waiting in the darkness for the man who had beckoned her arrival. The message had arrived mere moments before by owl; leaving her son in her husband's arms, she said she was stepping out for a stroll.
Instead, she apparated to this very spot, where he'd always told her to come if that particular message came to her. Despite the darkness, the lateness of the hour, the wind that whipped around her, she stood.
Moments later, he arrived.
"It's happened, hasn't it?"
The man nodded, his long white beard swaying in the breeze. "They're in hiding for now, but they and I know it's only a matter of time. It'll come to pass, and it'll happen soon."
She nodded and bit her lips. Behind her, an owl hooted in the darkness. The sound scared her and she whipped around, her head craning over her thin shoulders to try and see the animal in the dark trees.
The old man chuckled. "I promise, no one is around. This is as safe a place as I know of. Trust me, nothing will happen here."
Her eyes were wide with terror. "Please forgive me if I don't entirely trust in that. With everything going on lately, it's hard to believe in safety."
The man nodded. "I understand, probably more than you'll ever know. However, time is short, and we must take care of everything quickly."
Memories of another night like this one, only weeks ago, flooded back in her mind.
"Lily, you can't be serious."
"Petunia, I'm more serious than I want to be. He's coming for us. He's coming for Harry. If he finds us..."
"Lily, listen to yourself. Harry's only a baby. What could he possibly do to you-know-who? Calm down and think rationally for a change."
"Petunia, don't tell me to calm down. I'm telling you the truth. You don't know; you haven't really been paying attention to the wizarding world since marrying that hulking brute of yours. Just because you've forgotten who and what you are doesn't mean I have to. I can't; James and I are in danger. Our son is in danger. And, quite possibly, my sister will be if you're not careful."
"Lily, you're talking crazy. Nothing's going to happen to me. I'm not even involved in this war nonsense. Why do you think I married Vernon anyway? Do you think I want Dudley brought in the middle of this? Thank God he's likely non-magical, otherwise that would make things even more..."
"PETUNIA! Shut up for once and listen to me! Gods, this is not your little sister acting selfish or trying to make your life miserable. This is your little sister asking for your help. I'm begging you, Petunia. For once, listen to me. Please."
"Fine, Lily. I'll listen. But I really don't think that..."
"Will you listen to me, Petunia?"
A voice from behind her. Peering over her shoulder to see a man with blue eyes and a tangled white beard. A man she hadn't seen since leaving school years ago.
"I told you she wouldn't listen to me."
"Lily, calm down." A hand in the air. "Petunia, what Lily has told you is true. Voldemort is looking for Lily and James. They will be after their son. Since you decided to marry into the Muggle world, you are in danger if Voldemort ever finds you. His hatred for Muggles and anyone who sides with them is powerful. I can protect you from his wrath. But..."
Fear in her heart. "But what?"
Sympathy in blue eyes. "But it will come at a price. A price that, I fear, may be too high."
"Are you ready?"
Petunia Dursley nodded.
Albus Dumbledore looked at his former student with searching eyes. She'd never had the heart for the wizarding arts. Her decision to leave during her sixth year proved that. She would be much happier in the Muggle world, despite her inborn traits.
For her, and only for her, the price asked would likely be a blessing.
Without any more delay, he held his wand in his right hand and aimed it directly at her.