The Sugar Quill
Author: Moon Goddess (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Breach In the Wall  Chapter: Prologue: Between the Lines
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

A Breach In The Wall

Disclaimer: These characters are J. K. Rowling’s creation. It is her depth of insight into the human condition and her love of twists that inspires me to imagine more to her characters than we have so far been privy to. My story is only an exercise in writing and is for personal enjoyment only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Warning: This story is a spoiler for all six Harry Potter books.

Apology: The Prologue, previously posted as, Between the Lines, (not to be confused with a story now on SQ with the same name) has been modified to fit with the rest of my story. My apologies to those that read the first version and must re-read it now for pertinent changes.

Summary: The Prologue begins the night after Petunia receives the howler in OotP. Part One fills in the gap between the end of OotP and the beginning of HBP. Part Two begins as HBP ends and goes through the summer. Part Three covers the start of the school year through the Christmas holidays. Part Four is from the holidays up to exams. Part Five chronicles the battle with Voldemort (with another memory aside thrown in). The Epilogue fills in any missing pieces and concludes the story. Throughout, I emphasize the thoughts, feelings and motivations of the characters, especially the Dursleys. I stay only as true to canon as suits my purposes.

This story is meant to add understanding and depth to the characters and as an outlet for my wondering “what will happen next?” – all totally inspired by Rowling’s great storytelling and the many loose ends and tidbits she has given us to play with. Wonderful Rowling shows us the world mainly from Harry’s point of view. When ones’ point of view is changed, often the truth is changed as well.

Much thanks to my past Beta Reader, Mysterious Muggle for his input on the Prologue and Part One and for encouraging me to finish the story, and to my current Beta Reader, PirateQueen for her willingness to take me on, and for her corrections and patience.


Buddhist saying: That while everything is flawed, “the crack is where the light comes through.”




The arrival of the dementors in Little Whinging seemed to have caused a breach in the great, invisible wall that divided the relentlessly non-magical world of Privet Drive and the world beyond. Harry’s two lives had somehow become fused and everything had been turned upside down . . . – OotP p 37


PROLOGUE: Between the Lines


“Ah, and this must be Petunia. . . . Albus Dumbledore,” said Dumbledore, when Uncle Vernon failed to effect an introduction. “We have corresponded, of course.” Harry thought this an odd way of reminding Aunt Petunia that he had sent her an exploding letter, but Aunt Petunia did not challenge the term. – HBP p 46 & 47

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” –Dumbledore, CoS p 333


“Remember my Last, Petunia!” The words echoed, reverberating through her mind, punctuating her fierce strokes. She leaned forward, her elbows locked, putting her weight into it. Her back ached, but she did not relent. Dragging an arm across her forehead, she shoved sweaty hair out of her face, then reached over and repositioned the flashlight so that its oblique shine fell across the mark. Tears pooled in the corner of her eyes as she blinked at the spot in recognition. Releasing the scrub brush, and tugging one rubber glove off, she slid a finger through the soapy water. The light had revealed that it was not a scuff mark, but a deep dent. It was not the first time she had set herself the impossible task of scrubbing out the scar left long ago by a tumbling highchair. She wiped her finger on her already spoiled nightgown and with the back of her hand smeared the tears away. She was not a stupid woman. She knew her incessant cleaning was more often than not an unconscious attempt to clean up the mess of her past, to undo what could not be undone, to forget what could not be forgotten. Petunia sat back on her heels, her soaked nightgown clinging to her stinging knees. Remember? I wish I could forget. But she couldn’t. Not today, not ever.

That was not so in the beginning. Sometimes she actually believed that it was only a dream brought on by the probable envy she had felt when Lily received her letter and her parents had been so proud. However, there was only one time she had ever really wanted to be like Lily, and that was years later when she was much older. If she took the dream as reality, and not a trick of her imagination, then her letter had dropped through the mail slot into their small flat while everyone else was out buying her birthday cake. She had read the letter with incredulity, having already learned to deny anything that made her different. At a precociously young age she had figured out how to control her outbursts and emotions so that she would not cause trouble. And that was what she dearly wanted, for she understood very early on, that they had enough trouble.

Dad considered himself an entrepreneur, and only reluctantly took odd jobs when absolutely necessary. Mum was sickly and wasn’t getting better. Petunia would hurry home from school to find her despondent, curled in a chair, the curtains pulled, and Dad off somewhere pursuing another opportunity. Cajoling her all the while, Petunia would let the light in, wash the breakfast dishes and set out a simple snack. Lily always walked home with friends and by the time she arrived, the house would be bright and Mum would have rallied enough to sit at the small kitchen table with them. When Lily thanked their mum for the snack, no-one ever corrected her. It was a small deception, but Lily was a sensitive child with a sixth sense about people and their emotions and easily upset. So if they could spare her the worry and fear that Petunia felt, then it was worth it. She was always relieved that Mum seemed better when Lily was there, even if it was, perhaps, only an act. It was hard to tell for sure, everyone’s spirits naturally brighten whenever Lily was around.

They moved often as their dad chased dreams, and wherever they lived, Petunia did her best to transform it into a typical home. While she did what she could, she dreamed of having a normal family, with a normal home, and the normal life of a child. It was all she ever wanted, to be normal, to fit in, and to be liked. Lily was outgoing and made friends easily in each new place. It took Petunia longer. Always though, Lily would eventually cause something to happen. Petunia would offer plausible explanations, but whispers would spread and inevitably her still tenuous friendships would be lost. Soon after they would move again.

And now this: A letter saying that she really was different in a way that she had never dreamed of. A letter offering her a chance for a real, though unusual, childhood. But, even if she wanted to, how could she? They didn’t have any money and someone had to nurse mother, clean the house, and look after Dad and Lily. Besides, if she was different, which she doubted, Lily was much more so. It would be best to stay and let Lily go next year. Petunia threw Dumbledore’s first letter into the bin.

But that was only the first letter. She had two others, and though she had not read them for over fourteen years, she had lived with their words every day. Now, as she changed her nightgown in the dark and slid between the crisp sheets, she felt a growing compulsion to read them again, to search between the lines, to ascertain that her reasoning and actions were justified. It wasn’t like she had been given a choice. She had considered every chilling detail. Had meticulously run the frightful scenarios through her head and done what she had to do. And it had been the best she knew how. But was it good enough? She hadn’t counted on how bitterness and hate would feed upon themselves, engorging till they had a life of their own. She hadn’t even counted on the simple force of habit. Would Lily forgive that? No. How could she? If Lily had treated Dudley the way she and Vernon had treated Harry . . . Petunia shivered at the notion, pulling the sheet up tight under her chin.

The box won’t open anyway, she thought. I won’t be able to read the letters. Not now, after all these years. Moonlight slid unerringly across the neat, clean bedroom rendering shades of grey from the dark and transforming in its wake familiar objects into menacing monsters. Vernon snored, his mass sprawled against her rigid body. Petunia turned toward him, seeking the security she found in his bulk. Maybe if she focussed on the regular rhythm of his snoring. There was comfort in order and the ordinary. She had learned that minute details and the banal kept her busy, kept her mind from wandering and gave her a sense of control.

Vernon shifted in his sleep, rolling over with his back towards her. Petunia grasped the sheet with both fists and tugged hard, but it didn’t budge. It was securely tucked and its flimsy covering offered no sense of protection or hiding place anyway. If only she could shut out the world and bury her feelings. But the desire to justify herself only grew stronger. If I’m going to try, it has to be before moon set. With an aching sigh that lodged deep in her chest, she slipped back out of bed. Though it was a hot summer night, she wrapped a robe around her, hoping to ease her shivering. Her hands shook as she quietly rummaged amongst her many storage boxes, finally withdrawing one from the very back of the closet. For a moment, she stood frozen, listening to Vernon’s loud, undisturbed snoring. Then, without a sound, she grasped the box to her breast and scurried down the hall to the bathroom, locking the door behind her.

Removing the lid from the shoe box, she pushed aside the tissue and lifted out a seamless metal box. In its top left hand corner was painted: “To Petunia.” Diagonally across were the words: “From Lily.” Between the loopy handwriting, Lily had painted cascading pink petunias. She had also painted the lunar phases around its sides. Though charmingly amateur now, Petunia had thought it most beautiful when Lily had given it to her as a birthday present. The box was sealed with a verbal charm that Lily had just learned to compose during her second year at Hogwarts. Petunia gingerly set it on the windowsill in a pool of moonlight. After all these years, after all that has happened, did she even dare speak the words? Her fingers trembled as she laid them gently on the names and mouthed the incantation.

“Th-th-the garden grows many a flower.

And though some admire the lily

I am happy to attest

that the petunia so cheery and friendly

is the flower I love best.

“Now witness my Petunia before you,

changing yet changeless Moon above

and see into her heart ...”

A lump rose in her throat. Dreading the next lines, she swallowed, screwed her eyes shut and haltingly continued.

“and j-j-judging her a sister of true love,

allow this lid from box to part.”

Her voice cracked, her hands falling to her side. This is stupid. It won’t work. I know it won’t. Why should it? Moments slipped by before her resolve returned enough for her to tentatively replace her fingers.

“And may your opening confirm

that no matter how often we disagree

I promise now and forever

to love my Petunia through all eternity

with a love that can never waver.”

For a moment nothing happened. Then she sensed a faint quivering and snatched her fingers away as if they were burning. From the tip of one of the slivered painted moons a seam emerged and encircled the box.

“Oh Lily!” Petunia gasped, slipping to the floor, great choking sobs racking her body as she cradled the box. She had seen the box open a thousand times in the past, but now? “Oh Lily, oh Lily,” she moaned in rasping breaths as she rocked back and forth.

Slowly, the tears subsided. Petunia mopped her face with a huge wad of tissue. She stood up unsteadily, and then slumped down onto the toilet lid. The charm had worked. Maybe, just maybe . . .


Petunia gently tilted back the lid. One end of the soft pink velvet interior was stuffed with papers gathered into bundles and tied with ribbons. The other end held an array of small trinkets. Her fingers went immediately to a small vial that she stroked momentarily before turning her attention to the bundles. Most of the bundles were neat stacks of letters addressed in Lily’s flowery hand and dating to the years Lily had attended Hogwarts. The top bundle, however, was comprised of wedding invitations, baby announcements, obituaries, news clippings, and some notes and letters, including two in a crisp, slanted, script. Petunia picked up the bundle and untied the old, frayed, hair ribbon. In her hand was the rationale for everything she had done in the past sixteen years. She fingered the top letter, Dumbledore’s last letter, then set it aside on the sink’s edge. Leafing back through the stack, she found a pink envelope with a flower border in Lily’s hand, and carefully withdrew the parchment:

My Dear Sweet Pet,

CONGRATULATIONS! WOW! I didn’t even know you were seeing anyone special. And I thought we told each other everything. Shame on you for keeping Vernon a secret! You should have told us at Christmas, when I announced my engagement to James. You could have invited Vernon up and we would have had a double celebration.

I am amazed at how closely our lives are mirrored. Another one of our coincidences? (I know you’ve finagled many of them. Mum told me how hard you worked for that scholarship after I did so well on my O.W.L.s. Marriage won’t change your college plans I hope. You’d make a great research botanist!)

We will drive everyone crazy with our weddings so close together! Too bad we can’t have a double wedding. But since Vernon’s friends, or perhaps I should say my friends, are from a different world, so to speak, that won’t work. Luckily for Dad, we have received permission to have our wedding on the Hogwarts’ grounds, down by the lake -- right where James proposed to me. Most of the arrangements will be magical and won’t cost Dad anything -- which means you can plan the wedding you so deserve. When you come up next month to try on your bridesmaid dress, bring Vernon. We all want to meet him.

So tell me everything. You mentioned to Mum that he was on the rugby team and is interested in pursuing politics after university. Have you known him long? I seem to recall you mentioning a bully at your school named Vernon. Is this the same person? Don’t be embarrassed if it is. People change. Remember, I told you that James used to be an awful, pompous boy that got away with everything because he was popular and the seeker on our Quidditch team? Well, now he’s my loving, adorable James.

So my beloved sister, this may seem premature . . . but James and I have an immense favour to ask. We have decided that once we are married that we want to start a family right away. We have this nagging feeling of urgency. As you know, things are not as one might wish in our magical world. That wizard we were discussing at Christmas, and his force of like-minded, power-hungry followers, are gaining strength. There have been some really terrible incidences. Oh, sometimes I have the most horrible dreams . . . Anyway, we have asked Sirius if he would be the Godfather of any children we might have -- and we want you to be the Godmother. Please, please say yes! It would greatly put my heart at ease.

Your loving sister,


That odd, confused mixture of sisterly love and sibling rivalry that had been their relationship, and admittedly, caused more than a few rash actions and hurts washed over her. Was that once my life? The same life-span I’m in now? Petunia reluctantly folded the letter and gently placed it in the box. They had still been naive, hopeful and almost happy then.

Petunia chose another letter in Lily’s hand. This one had been ripped and taped back together.

Dear Pet,

Please . . .

You have every reason to be upset about what happened at your wedding, but you have to believe me -- it wasn’t James! I have questioned him and the rest of our magical friends and they all swear they had nothing to do with it! As you know, there are serious repercussions if any of us do magic in the company of uninitiated Muggles, which, of course, there were plenty of at your wedding.

I understand why you and Vernon are reluctant to accept our word, after what happened to Vernon at James’s bachelor party. You KNOW that when I heard about the prank and that Vernon and you had left and weren’t coming back, I was so incensed with James that I almost called off the wedding. It broke my heart not to have you by my side. This isn’t an excuse, but they really only intended to poke fun, and I think it only got out of hand because they needed a release after our last bout with You-Know-Who! We have so many counter-jinxes and spells to fix things, that we sometimes forget how a Muggle, new to the idea of magic, might react. James says to tell Vernon that he, and the others, apologize again. He also personally promised me, on our love (and I truly believe him), that he will never, ever play his “pranks” on anyone again -- another reason I know he had nothing to do with what happened at your wedding.

Honestly, you have to admit, neither incident was really that bad. In a few years, you will look back on both episodes and laugh. Funny stories to tell your child!

Yeah, Mum told me. Don’t be mad. I’m hurt, however, that I did not hear it from you. You beat me this time! But not by much. I’m due about a month after you.

Please, please dear Sis, put this all behind us. I need you more than ever. You are the only sister I have or want. Sometimes I have this really terrible feeling of foreboding. Please, for the sake of your future Godchild and mine -- you haven’t changed your mind about our pact, I hope.

Your loving sister,


She had hated missing Lily and James’s wedding, but couldn’t do otherwise. It had taken pleadings, promises and threats for Vernon to finally agree to let her invite them and the others to their wedding. And then . . . what a fiasco.

Vernon had ripped the letter from her hand. He had been so incensed and humiliated both times. It didn’t matter that she knew it wasn’t James or Lily’s fault. She couldn’t tell Vernon the truth. Maybe she could have patched things up if there had been enough time. But with everything that was happening in both families -- Mum’s sickness, Vernon’s disgruntled job search, babies, the Wizard war and . . . she pushed the thought of him from her mind -- she had put it off. Then that awful, dreadful night came, when she was sure she and Dudley were dying. And to top it off, Harry appeared the very next night on their doorstep clutching a letter. A letter that destroyed her hopes and froze her heart. It was easy to find in the pile, all crumpled and tear-stained.

Dear Mrs. Dursley,


It is with my deepest regret that I must inform you that your sister Lily is dead, as is James and your parents. This is your nephew, little Harry Potter. I humbly request that you take him into your heart and home and raise him as your own. I fear you are his only hope of survival. If you refuse, your family’s sacrifice may be in vain. Please allow me to explain.

As you are aware, there is a Wizard war going on. James and Lily had been fighting against a group of renegades led by a powerful wizard who calls himself Voldemort. Voldemort tried to kill Harry to fulfill or thwart a prophecy about a child born in the seventh month. James died protecting his family. With James out of the way, Voldemort aimed the killing curse at Harry. Lily, in desperation and love, called forth everything within her to save her child. The answering spell -- an ancient blood spell -- saved Harry by deflecting a large portion of Voldemort’s spell back on himself, perhaps destroying him, and then dispersing the remainder of its effect to those bound to Lily by blood. Lily took the brunt of it, sacrificing herself. Harry, protected by Lily’s love, survived. Your parents, being in the vicinity, also absorbed a great deal. They have been confirmed dead by Muggle authorities. As Lily’s only sibling, I assume you also undoubtedly felt a substantial amount of the spell as evidenced by any unexplained pain and anguish you might have felt the night before last. I want you to know that Lily did not choose to use this spell. It is not the type of spell that can be taught or used on command, but is called forth out of a deep, desperate love. She could not have known the toll it would take on your family.

Voldemort, whether dead or near death, has many followers that will continue to do his bidding and search for Harry. Lily’s love, bound by the spell to her blood -- and hence your blood -- is Harry’s only hope. As long as he finds refuge in the home where his mother’s blood resides, he will be protected. With your parents dead, you are the only one left in a direct blood line. I have put additional charms and spells on the house. I suspect that the blood-bond may also work in reverse. Lily’s love, Lily’s blood in Harry’s veins, may offer you a measure of protection.

Of course, secrecy is of utmost importance. I have covered my trail well, but Voldemort has spies, so I strongly suggest you resist talking about this incident, Harry’s parents, or magic in general. It would also be wise to cut any ties you have with the magical community. You can never tell who might be listening or who is untrustworthy. Harry will be best hidden as a completely ordinary boy.

One additional piece of advice. Though I hope that you will love and raise Harry as your own, and though you may feel great empathy for him, he has already experienced more love than most of us ever will. I believe he will be best served by being raised with an emphasis on self-reliance and courage, and not by being pampered or shielded from everyday troubles. That Harry has survived is unheard of, and it is quite likely that destiny has a very difficult, even dangerous, and assuredly almost impossible task in store for him. Please do what you can to prepare him until he is ready to begin his studies at Hogwarts.

I know that I am asking much of you, and your husband, so let me be clear: If you keep Harry, you will have entered into a pact to lend your protection until he becomes of age. If you do not agree, you are likely sealing his fate.

Yours truly,

Albus Dumbledore

Even after all these years, Petunia’s stomach twisted. She gulped for breath as though she was drowning. She again felt herself sinking. Her hands clenched as rage rose within her. She doubted that if Lily had known the consequences that she would have acted differently. Petunia knew enough about how magic worked, to know that at that moment, Lily hadn’t cared about anyone but Harry -- not her, not Dudley, not their parents or any of their relatives. And it had cost her, changed the direction of her life more than anyone knew. She hadn’t even been able to go to her families’ funerals. Her entire extended family was lost to her -- many by death, the rest because she had been forced to cut off contact. Both sides of her parentage, especially the Evans clan, were littered with magic. It was a recessive gene, like red hair. They were proud of it, too, and not overly concerned about being discreet. Petunia often wondered if the blood-bond, or blood “curse,” as she called it, had affected any of her aunts, uncles or cousins, but never had the opportunity to ask. Of course, Vernon didn’t think it any great loss, and even suggested that maybe one of them could take Harry, after she had adamantly refused to send him back. Seal his fate? she remembered thinking. Send him back to them? What kind of people leave a baby alone on someone’s doorstep anyway, especially when he is in danger? If Dumbledore had knocked on the door like anyone else would have, she could have told him no, but what could she do now? She had no choice. Besides, she wasn’t doing it for Dumbledore or the Wizarding world, or even for Harry. Though she was estranged from Lily and therefore had not become Harry’s Godmother, and even if she had, it was understood that if Harry inherited his parents’ abilities, Sirius would be his primary caregiver, she could not put aside the fact that, at one time, she had made a promise to Lily. And no matter how bitter she felt, she understood somewhere deep inside that she would have done the same if Dudley was in danger. Lily didn’t have a choice, and neither did she. And, she pointed out to Vernon, Harry needn’t cost them a lot. She’d read him the part where Dumbledore specifically said not to spoil him. Besides, what is done, is done. She prided herself on being practical . . . at least until a month later, when that awful owl came with its foreboding message.

Harry had been inconsolable, crying constantly those first few weeks. And when Harry cried, Dudley cried, and Petunia felt nauseated and weak. They had initially fixed up a sleeping area for Harry in Dudley’s room. After a week of sleepless nights and trying days, they moved Harry into the spare room to see if that would help. Finally, after a particularly bad night that ended in a nasty fight with Vernon, she spent the entire next day on her hands and knees scrubbing out the closet cubbyhole under the stairs. If he still cried, they couldn’t hear it. It seemed to be the best solution at the time.

That Saturday morning, though, they were enjoying a rare moment of peace and quiet. Petunia was actually feeling a little better as she washed the dishes. Vernon was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and finishing up his cup of coffee. Dudley was in his highchair making a mash of what was left of his scrambled eggs, toast, baked beans and diced tomatoes. Harry, under the table, was mauling a piece of toast – they couldn’t afford two highchairs. Suddenly, an owl flew in the window straight at Dudley. Dudley screamed and flung his plate at the huge bird. Vernon jumped up, swinging his newspaper at the owl and tripping over Harry, who had scooted out from under the table to see what was happening. It’s hard to say who knocked over the highchair, but it went flying and Petunia caught Dudley just inches before he would have hit his head sharply on the hard floor. After making sure that her screaming son was unhurt, she cooed softly to quiet him as she retrieved the brown envelope stuck to his filthy bib, and opened it with one-hand against the counter. Turning it upside down a piece of parchment and a small box slid out. She picked up the note and shook it open. The blood drained from her face. Far away, it seemed, she could hear Vernon cursing and chasing the owl out the window, then slamming it shut. Harry was laughing. It was the very first time that she had ever heard him laugh, and under the circumstances, it struck her as ominous. Eventually, she grew aware that Vernon was yelling at her, his eyes glued on her stricken face. He was frantically asking if Dudley was hurt. “He’s fine . . . for now,” she finally managed to whisper. Clutching her son tight to her chest despite the mess, she handed Vernon the note and sank into a chair.

She now picked up the small, stained, brown envelope that still held the small box with her sister and James’s wedding rings and the note. Petunia didn’t bother to pull them out. She knew, by heart, every word the owl had delivered.

Two sisters’ sons raised side by side

in separate worlds, but by blood tied

The first born must choose to stay away

or be true to blood, and enter the fray

But be forewarned, once he crosses into fire

he can attain his heart’s desire

Or it can cost him nothing less

than everything he does possess

Beware it is what he does lack

that may prevent his coming back.

Vernon had raged. He raged at the owl “who tried to kill his son.” He raged at Harry. He raged at magic. He raged at her. Petunia had never revealed the entire contents of the letters, especially Dumbledore’s. She had simply paraphrased selected details. But as Vernon raged, she perceived dawning comprehension in his face. He had already acquired a dislike of, and anger toward, magic. Harry was a burden, a bother, an annoyance. Now, though, there was a palpable shift. His family -- his son -- was in danger, and he was powerless to protect them. Hate and fear took root. Petunia felt her insides lurch.

The following Monday morning, at Vernon’s insistence, Petunia posted a letter to Dumbledore along with a copy of the owl’s note. The letter demanded that Harry be removed immediately. But that wasn’t all it contained. Petunia had concerns other than Harry on her mind. She had spent all weekend going over everything in her head, putting the pieces of the puzzle together into a fearful, ever more alarming picture.

Petunia picked the letter up off of the sink. It was Dumbledore’s reply, his last letter.

Dear Mrs. Dursley,

I found your recent letter most distressing in all respects. I caution you not to make any rash decisions. Had I known on that tragic night that you were estranged from Lily and that Mr. Dursley held such bitter anger toward James and Lily, I would have found another solution, even if it wasn’t as safe for Harry. I question why you agreed to take him, particularly after the severe reactions you and your son experienced. But now, I’m afraid it is too late to make new arrangements without putting everyone involved in immediate danger (especially considering everything you’ve just written to me). I am resigned to the possibility that little Harry may not be destined for happiness. That he is well and safe may be all that we can hope for.

It pains me to hear that with two small boys in the house, you and your husband have been unable to afford your education and career aspirations. I was not privy to the terms of your parents’ or sister’s Will, but I’m sure if you were a beneficiary, you would have been contacted by now. I regret that we are unable to offer any financial aid without drawing suspicion from both the magical world and from your own government. As I wrote previously, it is best that you keep a low profile and our contact to a minimum until Harry begins school with us.

I want to mention that the funerals were really lovely. I am sorry that you could not attend. I know how much they meant to you. Though it will be too little, too late, after Harry is at Hogwarts, I could share my memory of them with you if you like.

Concerning the owl and its package: I fully appreciate your hysterics. Additionally, I am extremely disturbed that you received an owl without my knowledge and from an unknown source obviously aware of the situation. Your photocopy of the note, along with the description of your son’s illness at the time of Voldemort’s attack, totally surprised me -- as did your description of the changes you felt. However, they lead me to only one conclusion: The blood-bond is much stronger than even I suspected. I never considered that, as diluted as it is in your son, that he would have felt anything. Had I known, I again might have chosen differently. I am ashamed of my dereliction. I should have considered all possibilities no matter how remote. That much I owed you. Please forgive my ignorance and what it has cost -- is costing -- you and your family.

The note is a complete mystery. You say that you do not know who sent it, but that you recognize the rings as definitely belonging to James and Lily. What concerns me most is that few people would have had access to their rings after they were murdered. If anything else happens, or if there is additional contact or suspicious behavior, please alert me right away. It is of the utmost importance. As to the note itself, I checked with the Department of Mysteries and was informed that they do not keep track of prophecies concerning non-magical persons -- a grave oversight in my opinion. As to its interpretation, I can only confirm your worst fears.

Now to the last matter you mentioned: I pray that you reconsider. I believe that Mr. Dursley should have a say in this, despite what you’ve told me of his attitude. I do not know what effect, if any, the blood spell would have had on the child you are carrying. I am concerned, though, that you feel something is different. Considering how Dudley reacted, it is quite possible that the fetus was affected. As you also surmise, it is possible that your baby will be magical, as it does run in your family, as you well know. I caution that there is no way to be sure on any of this at this stage. However, as I am indebted to you, and have learned not to discount a mother’s intuition, I am taking your request seriously.

I have spoken to a fine, upstanding, childless couple who are willing to provide a secure, loving and gentle home for your child. They have agreed to take -- in fact, have already taken -- a concoction of potions that I had my potions master formulate. One potion feigns a pregnancy so that even the midwife will not be able to tell the difference. Another is a veracity-altering charm, so that they, themselves, now believe the pregnancy is real. If they end up with your baby, they will know no other truth than that the child is theirs. The depth of the couple’s sacrifice, generosity, and ability to love is such that, before taking the potion, they were made aware that if you change your mind -- and they understand that I am urging you to do so -- they will think that they have lost their first and only child in childbirth. I did assure them, that if that were the case, I would reveal the truth to them as soon as I deemed it safe to do so. As they have Squibs on both sides of the family, they are completely unconcerned that the child may be non-magical.

But let me repeat myself: PETUNIA DURSLEY, ARE YOU SURE? Losing a child under any circumstance is very traumatic. I assume you have given careful consideration to the effect this will have on you and your husband. It is possible that it will be far worse than your assumption about raising magical offspring could ever be. Humans have a great capacity for love, and if given the opportunity to change, often do. I beseech you to give Mr. Dursley this opportunity. But if you are determined, I have included a vial containing a draught that you should take when you begin labor. NOTE: DRINK THE ENTIRE CONTENTS AS THERE IS A RETURN RECEIPT CHARM ATTACHED TO THE VIAL WHEN EMPTIED WHICH WILL INFORM ME OF YOUR INTENTIONS SO THAT I CAN PROCEED ACCORDINGLY.

After drinking the potion, your baby will be born silent, and to all appearances, breathless. Your doctors will attempt to revive the child. This will be your last chance to change your mind! If you wish to keep your baby simply call out to it, and the spell will be broken. But if you remain silent, your baby will feign death, be processed, and a trusted party will take it from there with no one but us three the wiser. I assure you that your baby will not be in discomfort or danger at any time.

Again, I urge you to reconsider. Magical or not, your child should be safe with you as long as you abide by my earlier instructions. As previously discussed, the ancient blood spell that Lily used to save Harry created a very strong blood-bond that flows through his veins, your veins, and apparently those of your children. I have a feeling that blood-bond will draw them together despite our best efforts. Your sacrifice may be for naught, and your decision may haunt you in ways that you cannot possibly foresee. Please, please reconsider. This is not a path you have to choose.

We are constructing a precarious “house of cards” in this ever-complicated game of secrecy and deceit. Though a reluctant player, I laid the foundation when I asked you to take Harry. Now we must place each card with a careful, steady hand if we hope to succeed. The winds of time are against us. If the foundation is not sound, all will crumble.

Always at your service,

Albus Dumbledore

Petunia sat deadly still, the pain of the silence echoing forth from that fateful day to this moment. The tears were gone, long since cried. Dumbledore was right. Though she had feared the direction Vernon’s rage was taking him, something more essential was lost when he held their “stillborn” daughter. It was as if he had taken his general faith in the goodness of the world and had squeezed it into some small, hidden-away container. She understood completely. Reaching into the box, she held the vial up to the light. She often felt that she had exchanged a portion of her own soul with its original contents, and that’s why she had such a feeling of emptiness deep inside. Or perhaps they had both buried a portion of their soul in the small coffin that she knew was otherwise empty. She would never forgive herself for what she had done to Vernon. She, at least, knew the truth, and could furtively search the faces on the platform at King’s Cross when leaving or picking up Harry.

Petunia sat there rocking slightly, cradling the vial in her palm, the words covering her lap. How long she remained, she did not know. She was startled by a rap on the door.

“Mummy? I need to use the loo.”

“Okay Diddly, just a minute.”

She flushed, using the noise to cover any sound as she quickly stuffed everything back in the box and closed the lid. She splashed some water onto her streaked face, and roughly scrubbed it, while she waited for the seam to disappear. Then, pushing the tissue aside, she gently dropped it in the shoe box. She grabbed another towel off of the door and wrapped it around the box. She glanced in the mirror to see if it looked like a bundle of dirty towels and caught her breath with the semblance it had to a swathed child. With a sigh, she opened the door.

“There you go, Diddlekums. These are dirty. I’ll be right back with a fresh towel.” He was so big now, but still so vulnerable. She and Vernon showered him with all they knew to give. What was it that he possibly could still lack? Dudley frowned as she searched his eyes. “Are you feeling any better?”

“Not really. I still feel terribly cold and I have an awful headache and can’t sleep,” Dudley moaned. She lightly felt his forehead, but resisted the urge to draw him close. “Is there any chocolate left? ” he mumbled.

She dropped her hand. “You ate it all. Did it really help? I might have some baker’s chocolate up in the cabinet. You won’t like it as much. And I think I have something that should help you sleep. I’ll bring them up. You should be fine by morning.”

“Okay, Mum,” Dudley yawned.

With the box and Dudley safely back where they each belonged, Petunia curled beside Vernon and listened to his snoring. No one had any right to fault him. It seemed inconceivable to her now that she had betrayed his trust. And yet she had. She had asked a lot of him. More than he knew. More than she would ever confess. It is only natural for a man to fear what he cannot understand or protect his loved ones from. He’s a good man, she thought. We’re well liked by our friends, and he’s respected by his colleagues -- even without a college degree. And Dudley . . . he simply mirrors what he observes. That’s what children do. She could, and would if necessary, defend them both. But could she defend herself? I keep a clean house and a respectable garden. The neighbors never have cause to complain, or take undue note of us even with Harry’s . . . I keep a keen eye out for anything strange or unusual. It’s been hard but we’ve made it thus far. I’ve been stern, there’s no room for mistakes, but I don’t think of myself as mean and hard-hearted.

But I am, aren’t I? At least to Harry. She had gone to the past for answers. She had read the letters, dug at the roots of the bitterness that had become her constant companion and she did not like what she had uncovered. She could defend her reasoning. It was all right there in the letters: An explanation . . . but not a justification. She had told herself she was doing what was best for her family, but she realized now that her choices had been ruled by fear and guilt and not by love, and most certainly not out of love for herself or for Harry. The hollowness inside expanded to swallow her. She felt trapped by circumstances, by the past, by emotions beyond her control, and by her inability to believe that she could affect change. Or that even if she did, that it would atone for anything.

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