Harry Potter was four years old the first and last time that the Headmaster of Hogwarts dropped by Little Winging to check on him. It was exactly noon when a knock at the door had Mrs. Dursley rising from the table, blotting at her mouth with a napkin, and asking, "Vernon, are you expecting company?"
The largest Dursley muffled a negative reply around his mouthful of pulled pork and watched his wife exit the kitchen, walk down the front hall, and quickly peer through the peep hole in the door. She gave a terrible start and hastily reached for the doorknob, only to retract her hand as though burnt.
"Who is it, Pet?" Vernon called.
"Oh, no one," the thin woman replied, voice much higher than normal.
"If it's a solicitor tell them we aren't interested."
Petunia made for the door again and paused, ringing her hands. The doorbell rang twice, in a rather jaunty fashion, and the woman glanced back at her husband, son, and nephew who were all watching her curiously.
"Well," said Vernon, "get on with it."
Smiling in a strained manner, she opened the door by a few inches and whispered "Yes? What is it?" "Ah, Mrs. Dursley. Might I come in?" The voice drifted into the kitchen, light and exuberant, despite obviously belonging to someone of very old age.
Vernon Dursley rose from his place at the table, a bit of brown sauce at the corner of his lip, and made his way towards the door. "Who..."
In walked a man wearing the most unusual clothes to ever grace the entrance hall of Number 4, Privet Drive (although no one had given their assent to his entrance). Albus Dumbledore had chosen that day to wear puce yellow robes hemmed with purple and gold begonias, upon which landed the occasional hummingbird. He smiled lightly at everyone in the house, his eyes twinkling particularly when they landed upon the Potter heir. "I see young Harry is coming along well," he addressed Petunia, "I have dropped in on this fine Tuesday to check on the bo—"
"Yes," Petunia interrupted him, and then commanded in a terribly sweet voice, "Boys, go play upstairs while Daddy and I talk with the man."
Dudley, already too spoiled to obey his mother under any circumstances, protested immediately. "But Mummy, I'm not done eating—"
"Upstairs! If you're good we'll take you both out for ice cream later, alright Dumpling?"
"Alright." The rotund boy agreed reluctantly, and added as he trudged up the stairs, "But why do I have to play with him?"
"Dudley, be nice to your cousin. Upstairs. Now."
Confused, hungry, and curious about the flamboyant old man in the sitting room, Dudley stomped to his room and slammed the door to the best of his four year old ability.
Downstairs Petunia's face twitched into a horrible parody of a smile. "He's going through a phase," she said, eyeing the wizard as he sat on the loveseat. She stood next to her husband who appeared to be deeply offended by the old man's very presence. An awkward silence ensued, while Dumbledore surveyed his surroundings with apparent fascination, until Vernon drew himself out of his shock and said, "Who the bloody hell are you, and what are you doing in my house?"
"Ah, forgive my rudeness. I am Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the magical guardian of young Mr. Harry Potter. I couldn't trouble you for tea, could I?" he said with a pointed glance towards the kitchen where the Dursley's lunch was growing cold. "And perhaps something sweet to chew on? It has been a long journey."
Vernon did not appear to have any sort of response to the strange request, and Petunia was shooting nervous glances between her husband, Dumbledore, and the stairs. "What is it you wanted to know about Harry? We've been taking care of him. Fed him, clothed him, provided everything he could need."
"Oh, I don't doubt it," Dumbledore said with an indulgent smile. "I had actually hoped to talk to Harry himself-"
"He's afraid of strangers." Petunia hastily cut in, "And older... people." She glanced at the ghastly yellow robes he was wearing as though she were afraid of them.
"Well then, perhaps you could answer a few questions for me." Dumbledore said, gesturing for the Dursleys to sit.
"What is this, an inquisition?" Demanded Vernon angrily.
"Now, now, darling," Petunia said.
Neither of them moved. "I want to know who this man is and what he is doing in my house!"
Petunia addressed Dumbledore as though she had not heard her husband. "What do you want to know?"
The headmaster's smile hardened a bit and he asked "How is the boy doing? Has he adjusted well to living in this home?"
"He is a part of the family. Him and Dudley usually get along very well."
"He doesn't have nightmares? Have there been any behavioral problems?"
Vernon started to reply, but Petunia cut him off once again. "We are all fine. Harry is fine. He doesn't remember anything."
Dumbledore seemed to consider her words. His smile was gone, and the twinkle in his eye had become a piercing glint. Finally he asked "Can you tell me any of his interests?"
It was obviously a test, and Petunia paled at the implications. "Books." She gritted out, "He likes reading." Of course this was a lie. Petunia Dursley did not know a thing about her nephew's interests, and Harry was, in fact, unable to read. He could recognize a few letters of the alphabet (learned from the educational toys that Dudley never played with), and he didn't go to pre-school with his cousin. The Dursleys had made no attempt to educate him beyond basic communication.
"I see," Dumbledore said. "Well then, unless refreshments are forthcoming, I shall take my leave."
Petunia was more than happy to show him out, and she clutched the open door as though afraid it would accidentally close and never open again. As the headmaster exited he added with a mischievous twinkle, "Perhaps you could buy him some books for his birthday— It is coming up, isn't it?"
"Yes." Petunia said, and closed the door in his face.
The Dursleys did not take their son and nephew out for ice cream later. They did not, in fact, leave the house for the rest of the day. Dudley threw a colossal fit, and Harry was banished to the cupboard indefinitely. Petunia had a brief conversation with her husband which devolved at the end to constipated shouts of indignation. Harry could hear them through the wall of the stairs, and knew that they were talking about him. He also knew that he would not be allowed to eat at the table for some time. After all, it was a dangerous place to eat. Anyone could walk right in the front door and see him, a perfect oddity, disgracing his aunt and uncle's presence with his freakishness. Although (he did think with a bit of spite), his cousin was not anything to be respected. More like pushed down the stairs. He rolled over with a smile, pondering whether his fat cousin would fall more like a slinky or a pudding.
It was early in June, and while Petunia had already done most of the birthday shopping for her 'dear Diddums,' the boy had seen something in a commercial which he absolutely had to have, and would not be happy without. So Petunia was in town for some last minute gift gathering. A week had passed since the disruptive visit from the Man Whose Name Wasn't Spoken in the Dursley Household, and things had settled back into a modicum of normalcy. Of course, she had no intention of going out of her way to comply with the... Man's wishes. But as she strode from store to store, tired, anxious, and more than a little fearful for her families safety, it occurred to her that she might actually do something about it.
So, once she had found the deluxe toy her son wanted so dearly, she stopped at a second hand book store. It was on the way home, and she had never been to the place before. It had a large sign out front with books and a smiling child. Let them see, she thought angrily. Let them see all that we do for that ungrateful wretch.
"Can I help you?"
She was startled out of her thoughts by a young man, hunched over, quiet spoken, and peering at her through a pair of thick glasses. "No," she replied curtly, and tried to figure out where to start. Her eyes landed immediately on a desk piled high with children's books and a sign reading Half Off.
She stood looking at the books for a few minutes, hands clasped together above her navel. Anyone looking would have been concerned for her mental health, for she was gazing at the brightly colored books as though they were all written in a foreign language. At length she picked one up, sporting a blank, brown leather cover and binding. She neither opened it nor searched for a title, but picked a bit at the price sticker which read £1.06. She brought it up to the counter and said, "This'll do. It's half off," as though the man were not aware, or might try to pull one over on her, "so I'll only be paying £.53."
"Oh." He set a book down himself, and grabbed the journal to inspect it. "This wasn't suppose to be over there, but-" he added hastily, "I'll give it to you for half off."
Petunia sniffed as though the entire transaction were highly distasteful to her, and started to rummage through her purse. "I have exact change."
"Bit of a funny story, actually," he said, "this book was sold to me by the funniest guy. Really strang— told me to call him Dung, and was dressed like—" the man stopped when he noticed the woman staring at him. She looked as though he had called her funny and strange. They ended the transaction quickly, and Petunia returned home triumphant.