Chapter 4: The Mysterious Man

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August 1881

"Harry," Alfred called gently, patting the boy’s shoulder to rouse him. “Harry, it’s been a whole day. You’re starting to worry us.”

“What?” Harry said groggily as he opened his eyes. It took effort for him to sit up. His muscles felt like chalk scratching against a wooden box.

“Breakfast is ready,” Alfred said, handing him his glasses.

“Break – oh no! I didn’t help—”

“You needed the sleep, clearly,” he said. “I’ve never seen someone sleep so soundly before.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, rubbing his eyes and pulling his too-small broken glasses on.

“It’s alright. Let’s get some food in you, eh?” Harry nodded and followed him into the washroom to clean up before joining the others in the servant’s hall. They were all rather relieved to see him awake.

“You’d think you’d died, boy,” Marie said with a hand over her heart.

“I’ve never slept a whole day away before,” Sean chuckled. “Must feel nice.”

“Actually, I’m still sleepy,” Harry yawned. “But I’ve slept enough. I need to get back to work.”

“As do we all,” Alfred said pointedly. “Dudley’s party is this Friday, and the house needs another good cleaning in time.”

Harry was a little slower than usual in washing the pans, stalled by occasional yawns and rubbing his eyes. He knew he’d slept plenty, but he was still so tired. He set about helping make the family breakfast, starting with eggs, but when he cracked the first of a new dozen, it was not a yolk that fell out but a folded letter with a wax seal. The chef balked at the sight, cracking another – the same. All dozen of the eggs bore more of the mysterious letters rather than yolks, along with another one in the fresh milk bottle.

The family was already in the dining room when Harry reported to his position in the hall. As breakfast came to a close, the doorbell chimed, and Harry hurried over to answer it. The painter had arrived with the family portrait covered in a velvet cloth. Harry helped him situate it in the Hall next to the end of the staircase on a tripod, and Rose was the first one to squeal in delight when she saw the setup after breakfast.

“MUMMY!” she giggled.

“What is it, dear – oh!”

“Ah, the painting – finally, some good news!” Master Vernon said, clapping his hands together.

“Let’s see it, then,” Mistress Marge ordered.

“I’m quite proud of it,” the artist said, standing up tall. “I think I’ve accomplished a rather slimming colour set, and Miss Rose looks especially—”

“Just show us already!” Dudley barked.

The artist startled, flustered, but then turned to the portrait and smiled at them. “The perfect family,” he announced, removing the velvet. They gasped, but it wasn’t a gasp of delight. Rather, it was a gasp of shock and awe. Harry's eyes widened in disbelief, then narrowed in vague recognition. The painting didn’t show the five Dursleys with ‘slimming’ colours. There wasn’t an oversized chin at all in the image.

Instead, the painting showed a happy couple upon their wedding. The man was Asian with charming hazel eyes, wearing some sort of Asian attire that Harry didn’t recognize. The woman’s gown was white made of a cloud-like material falling from her bust, which was heavily pearled. There was a large soft bow in the back and rounded princess sleeves. A pale jade hair stick held half her long wavy blonde hair up, and her bright green almost-shaped eyes seemed to sparkle.

Harry had never seen the couple before, but he instantly knew exactly who they were. “Mum? Dad?” Their kind eyes seemed to sparkle in the portrait.

“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS!?” Master Vernon demanded from the painter, who looked just as bewildered as they did.

“It was the right portrait just a few moments ago, I swear! I checked when we arranged it!”

“I really do look just like Aunt Lily!” Rose exclaimed, petting her hair.

Harry looked at her. The resemblance was startling, except that Rose had freckles across her nose. Even Mistress Petunia looked like her sister. It seemed, for the first time, that she noticed that Harry, too, bore the resemblance to both of his parents. She stared at him as if she’d never seen him before, covering her mouth and glancing between the green-eyed children and the painting before standing up straight and balling her fists at her sides in determination.

Mistress Petunia clapped her hands together, glaring at Harry with her head held high. “Cover that insufferable display at once!” she snapped through gritted teeth.

“Yes, madam,” the painter shuddered, throwing the velvet over it. However, rather than forming a cover of a rectangular painting, the velvet seemed to fall right through it to the tripod – actually, it seemed the portrait had completely vanished under the velvet. “AHH!” the painter yelped, pulling the velvet away again. But there was nothing on the stand at all. “But…where—”

Madam Marge growled, grabbing Harry by the hair and dragging him to the servant stair. He grit his teeth and tried to soften her grip by holding his hair around her fist, but it was still quite painful for her to steer him down the stairs and up the hall by the top of his braid. She hauled him through the passage past gasping servants and into the storeroom at the back of the house under the stable.

As forcefully as she could, she tossed Harry into the room. He collided with a discarded side table, causing its spindly legs to break and drop him into a pile of sharp wood shards on the floor with a gasp of pain.

Never before had Madam Marge looked so murderous, but Harry tried to show no fear beyond the trembling that he couldn’t stop. “I’ve had enough of your queerness, boy,” she snarled, her hairy lip quivering like a dog staring down a wharf rat. “It’s passed time that you learned obedience.”

“What does obedience have to do with a painting of my parents or letters from no one?” Harry challenged.

“That’s right,” she smirked. “They are from no one – after all, who would want to contact a worthless, spineless, pathetic half-bred bastard orphan? You’re not worth the effort!”

“If you hate me that much, just get rid of me!” Harry hissed.

He yelped as she kicked him hard in the side and grabbed his hair, yanking him up as she bent down over him, dragging him to his knees. “Don’t push me, brat. I just might.”

She threw him down, his braid slipping open and curtaining his face as he panted into the stone. The door clanked loudly as it was slammed shut, and the lock slid into place.

~~~

Pam Ferris as Marge Dursley (same as the film)

Despite Sean’s valiant effort to pick the lock, Harry was trapped in the storeroom all day into the next with no meals or water. He didn’t sleep. The room was cold despite the summer and the darkness seemed heavier from the dust on the discarded furniture and textiles. It was as effective as a prison cell.

The servant bells to each room of the house were positioned on the other side of Elinor’s office wall in the passage, so that the chimes could be heard all through the basement. Harry recognized the distinctive sounds of each bell – the tinkering of the dining room, the dull clank of the drawing room, the whisper of the library, the gong of the entry. He could tell time just by listening to each through the day.

10 am – breakfast finished. 10:15 – Vernon calling for a carriage for work. 10:45 tea in the drawing room. 11 am – morning room consultation with the chef. 11:30 – Dudley’s mid-morning snacks. 12:45 – lunch summoning. 1 pm – lunch served. 2 pm – lunch complete. 3 pm – Rose’s lessons in the library end. 3:30 – tea and cakes in the drawing room. 4 pm – Petunia calls for her hat and gloves for a walk in the park with Rose. 4:30 – more snacks for Dudley while his mother is away. 5 pm – Petunia with guests in the drawing room. 6:45 – more snacks for Dudley in his bedroom. 7:45 – dinner summoning. 8 pm, dinner served. 9 pm – dinner complete. 9:15 – dessert for Dudley in his bedroom. 10 pm – Vernon’s nightcap in the library.

The next day, though, there were additional unexpected gongs from the entry, signalling either guests or letters. There weren’t accompanying clanks for tea, so Harry suspected that it was letters, but there were far too many. In fact, the entry bell gonged every hour on the hour, based on the coincidence with the breakfast, chef, lunch, lessons, walk, guests, and dinner bells. Was it more of the same dastardly blank letters, or was something else afoot?

The gonging mail calls lasted all day, starting as early as six in the morning. They didn’t stop at lunch or dinner but continued well past the maid’s retirement after their nightly cleaning. Alfred was cursing vehemently by one in the morning, and it sounded like he was lying in wait in the entry by three, only to return exhausted to his room to dress at six on Wednesday.

The door finally opened around seven. Sean entered and embraced Harry before walking him out and into the servant’s hall. Harry yanked his hair into a high knot before shovelling chicken and rice into his mouth desperately at the table.

“Easy, lad, easy,” Sean warned, offering him a cup of water. Harry grabbed the jug, gulping hurriedly at the canteen before returning to the rice. “You’ll be sick if you keep at that! Slow down unless you want it to come back up, mate!”

“Sorry,” Harry mumbled, sitting back and nibbling on a chicken thigh.

“Can’t blame you. You haven’t eaten in two days.”

Gong, gong, gong. A collective groan resounded through the basement and Alfred let out an enraged yell from his bedroom across the hall.

“Not another one,” Sean said, dropping his head into his hand.

“Did anyone sleep last night?” Harry asked.

“The kids and Marge, and us in the coach house. That damned bell kept everyone else up. Even the Mistress was exhausted. She gave Marie the key without even thinking. That’s how I got you out.”

“What’s the point of it?” Harry demanded. “The letters are blank, aren’t they?”

“Every bloody one!” Alfred confirmed, shredding the latest one and thrusting it into the fire before collapsing into a chair. “When I find out who’s behind this, I’m going to—”

“You’ll do nothing,” Elinor said, her hands on her hips. “It’s likely the same ruffian what ruined the entry and kidnapped our sweet Harry. Here,” she said, putting a brandy in his hand. “For your nerves. It’s to be a rough enough day today what with no one getting any sleep. We don’t need you threatening to strangle anyone over an un-shined shoe or some such nonsense. And you—” She turned to Harry with a tender look. “Off to bed with you in Sean’s room – and wash, young man!”

“Thanks, Elinor,” Harry nodded, grabbing an apple from the bowl and making his way up the rear stairs.

“You.”

Harry gasped and dropped the apple, looking up to find Madam Marge gripping her riding crop tightly in her hand. Of course – seven sharp, Marge’s ride to the kennel. How could he have forgotten?

“Who let you out?” she demanded, stalking closer to him.

“Mistress Petunia gave Marie the key,” Harry muttered.

WHAP! Harry slammed into the stall wall and slid to the ground, gripping his burning cheek.

“I put you in there! I decide when you leave!”

“It’s her house!” Harry responded before he could stop himself.

“Her house?” Madam Marge repeated in outrage. “HER House!? I’ll show you whose house it is—”

She grabbed him by the collar and dragged him back into the house, passed the footmen who were setting the table and into the staircase hall.

However, the moment that they crossed the stairs, a letter mysterious floated past them. Madam Marge and Harry both looked to the stairs just in time to see a cloud of letters fluttering down from the skylight above the staircase, much to the awe of the family, who rushed out to see what the feather-like noise was. There must have been thirty – forty – fifty letters that rained down until one seemed to perfectly aim for Harry's hand.

“AHHHHHHHHH!” Marge bellowed, grabbing the letter and shredding it apart. She pointed her crop at Harry, who took a step back toward the stairs and slipped on the letters, falling to the ground.

“NOOOO!” Rose shrieked from above.

“Stay out of this, girl!” Marge warned.

“LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Rose screamed.

“You—” but Marge paused, staring at the finger she’d been pointing up at her niece. Harry looked at it, too. It had expanded like a squeezed grape at the tip. Then the knuckle beneath blossomed, and the one below that. Marge opened her hand and found the affliction spreading, inflating her hand and arm as if a bee were crawling through her body and poisoning every muscle. Her sleeve pulsed before slitting all the way up to the shoulder. Her bust seemed to expand intensely before her blouse buttons exploded onto the stairs, making Harry duck for cover.

When he looked up up, the busk of her corset had blasted apart so that her torso could escape, covered only by her chemise, the only piece of clothing wide enough to grow with her. The affliction continued to her other arm and her legs, and she started to float up. Her cheeks stretched, her eyes bulging, her moustache twitching as she widened and levitated up the light well.

Harry rushed to the stairs, following her progress as Vernon gibbered in horror and Petunia gaped in distress. Dudley waddled out of his bedroom as Harry passed the landing, glaring in disbelief and awe at the state of his aunt. Rose had her hands over her mouth as Marge floated up to her and came to a stop, bumping into the skylight over the staircase. She bounced against the skylight, her arms spread helplessly like an oversized walrus trapped under ice.

Vernon and Petunia rushed up to the upper landing as well, panicking and searching for something to retrieve her with while she blubbered, unable to speak. “WHAT DID YOU DO!?” Petunia demanded in a shrill, terrified voice.

“I didn’t do anything!” Harry argued.

“Maybe she’s allergic to something?” Rose suggested.

Petunia and Vernon looked at each other before nodding. “Oh, you smart girl!”

“Good girl, Rose! That’s right!” Vernon insisted. “Boy – fetch a doctor now!” Harry nodded with a jump before making his way back down the stairs, glancing up occasionally.

~~~

“How is she?” Mistress Petunia asked the doctor urgently as he left Madam Marge’s bedroom.

“Recovering, ma’am,” he assured her. “The swelling will reduce over the course of the day. I’ve administered some medicine now, and I’ll return later for another dose. In the meantime, your husband mentioned a servant that she was interacting with?” Harry sighed before standing up from the stairs where he’d been sitting with Rose. “Ah, yes,” the doctor said, approaching the teen. He looked over Harry before reaching out and dusting off Harry's shoulder. “Yes, that would do it.”

“What?” Dudley asked stupidly.

“The dust, my boy,” the doctor replied. “It’s likely infested with some dangerous form of mould that your aunt is deathly allergic to. But fear not! Such things are easily managed. Simply clean out the responsible source and all will be well.”

“You heard him, boy,” Mistress Petunia hissed. “Clean that storeroom.”

Harry looked up at the doctor again. There was something terribly familiar about him, but Harry couldn’t quite place where he’d seen him before. He nodded before turning and making his way back down the stairs all way to the basement. Several servants were huddled in the servant’s hall and yanked him in when he passed, all asking him questions at the same time.

“Oh, bugger someone else,” Harry grumbled. “I’ve got a storeroom to clean.”

“But you haven’t slept in two days,” Marie complained. “You’ve got to get some rest, Harry—”

“Apparently, rest is a luxury that I can’t afford,” Harry sighed before shuffling into the cupboard for cleaning supplies.

~~~

Other servants helped him when they could, but it still took all day to clean the storeroom. Alfred met Harry in the hall when he’d finally finished, standing near the bell board. “Ah, there you are. Go get some sleep—”

“Harry,” Marie said from the stairs. “Mistress wants you upstairs in the Madam’s room.”

Harry sighed again. “It never ends, does it?” He wiped his face on his apron before climbing the stairs heavily, exhausted from lack of sleep and hard work. The doctor was back in Madam Marge’s room along with the rest of the family. “Eh – dinner’s ready.”

“There you are,” Mistress Petunia said. “The doctor needs to examine you for symptoms of that dust.”

Harry looked at the familiar stranger and smiled tightly. “I’ve been covered in it all day. I think I’d know if I’d blown up and floated up to the ceiling by now, sir.”

“Ms. Dursley’s reaction was rather strong,” the doctor claimed. “Yours might be milder. I’ll need to check for rashes, swelling, and welts.”

“There are two guest rooms directly above us,” Mistress Petunia said. “You’re welcome to use them.”

“Excellent,” the doctor commended. “Shall we?”

Harry blew his bangs out of his face before turning and going up another flight of stairs to the rarely used guest rooms. The doctor chose one at random and led him in while the dinner bell chimed.

“Remove your clothes, please, lad,” the doctor said, setting his bag on the chest of drawers. Harry hated undressing in front of others, but he was too tired to argue. He removed his vest while kicking off his shoes, but he’d barely unbuttoned his shirt before the doctor turned him around and looked at his chest.

“Oy!” Harry protested. “Give me a minute, will you?”

But the doctor seemed singularly focused on his task and grabbed Harry's defensive hand while using his other to ghost a touch across the boy’s chest, staring intently at the skin. He seemed to freeze for a moment before turning his gaze to Harry's right wrist with eerie attention. “What’s this?” he asked, examining the three-leaf clover mark on Harry's wrist.

“A birthmark,” Harry said, attempting to free his hand. “I’ve had it forever. It’s not from the dust.”

“How very curious,” the doctor said, standing up straight and dragging Harry's wrist closer to his eyes, pulling the boy with him. “So precise…almost unnatural.”

“Oy, let go of me! I thought this was about the dust!”

“Such a small mark, almost like a burn, and so clear,” the doctor continued, stroking his fingers over the mark while Harry struggled against his grip.

“BUGGER OFFI!” Harry yelped, yanking to try to pull away from the man. But he was intent to hold onto the boy, shoving him onto the bed and pinning his hands down next to his head, gazing at Harry, who tried to kick at him. “GET OFF, YOU SICK BASTARD!”

“Language, boy,” the doctor said, leaning over Harry, his disturbing eyes trained on him with a predatory gaze, smirking slightly. “What fascinating eyes you have. Tell me, how are you connected to the Dursleys?”

“None of your business, you tosser!” Harry barked, wrestling to get free.

“Black hair – Asian – green eyes – so like that twit Petunia.” Harry looked up at him in confusion. “It was quite the challenge to find her. We didn’t know she’d married. All those years looking for Petunia Evans only to find that we were looking in the wrong place. Now, tell me – what is your relationship to the bat?”

He tightened his grip on Harry's wrists, making him yelp in pain. “Why!? What’s it to you!?”

“So fiery. Let me make it easier for you – you’re her nephew, aren’t you?”

“H-how did you know that?” Harry asked nervously.

The doctor broke into a gleeful smile before cackling victoriously. “Finally! Oh, Harry – a common shortening for Henry. We’ve been looking for you a long time, Henry Potter.”

“Pot – I’m not Potter,” Harry insisted. “It’s Evans – Harry Evans.”

His smile seemed to sickeningly grow wider, exposing sharp teeth and a deranged glitter in his eyes. “So you are that mudblood’s son, then. I knew it.”

But the eyes glittering like that – why, it was the stoker! The stoker who had been the sweeper! “You! You were one the ship – and here!”

“I would have had you days ago if it weren’t for that bloody officer,” the fiend hissed. “But no matter – I have you now, Potter. Oh, master will reward me so richly for bringing you to him. And this—” he turned his eyes back to the birthmark “—ah, yes. Of course!”

His head snapped like a snake down onto Harry's wrist, his sharp teeth sinking into the skin like a dog on a meaty bone. Harry screamed in pain and wrestled violently away from the fiend, who leaned back giddy, his mouth vermillion with blood.

“HARRY! GET OFF HIM!”

The fiend was ripped off of Harry by Sean and thrown across the room, but he landed on the wall like a fly and looked up at them demonically. Harry cradled his bleeding wrist against his chest as Sean shielded him from the doctor. The beastly aggressor laughed at them before turning as if to flip onto his feet –

But he vanished. He disappeared with a loud crack, his bag vanishing with him.

Sean turned to Harry and ripped off his apron to cover the wound, but Harry felt sick and dizzy, his poor health state catching up to him in the shock of that assault. He fell back unconscious on the mattress.

~~~

“Tunie! Look at my dress! Isn’t it pretty!?” A charming girl that looked eerily like Rose spun around excitedly before a blonde girl a bit older. She giggled in excitement at how the frock fluttered as she twirled, showing the matching pantalets underneath.

“I don’t want the blue one!” The same girl complained to her patient parents. “I want the pink dress, just like Petunia! I want to be just like her!”

“Petunia, don’t be angry,” the girl begged, her green eyes teary as she looked at her furiously glaring sister. “I don’t know who sent the letters. They just won’t stop coming!”

“Petunia.” The girl was now a beautiful young woman in a stunning green silk ball gown with an emerald jewellery set far richer than the simple pearls that Petunia wore in her frilly wedding gown. Standing next to her was a handsome Chinese man with warm hazel eyes, wearing a thin grey suit, but his long hair was bound only half back with a pale jade hair stick. “Petunia, this is James – James Potter.”

“She’s your baby sister, Petunia,” a sickly women coughed as Petunia busied herself to make tea in a small kitchen. “It’s her wedding day! Can’t you put aside your jealousy—”

“I am not jealous of that heathen!” Petunia snapped, slamming the pot down on the counter.

“It has to be with you,” a mysterious man said to Petunia in a dark hallway. “He’s only safe with you. You can’t send him off. They’ll find him in an instant.”

~~~

Harry gasped as he jolted awake panting. He was clammy, drenched in sweat. His shirt was untucked and his hair unbound. His wrist was burning in pain, wrapped in a bloody bandage. It felt familiar, as though it had happened before.

“Jaysus, Harry,” Sean said, grasping his chest in fright. “You scared the daylights out of me, mate.”

But Harry couldn’t focus on him. He was too enraptured in trying to understand what on earth he’d just seen. A dream? It had seemed so vivid, felt almost like a memory – but it couldn’t be his own memory. That girl – she’d been his mother, Lily. And the man, his father – had she introduced him as Potter? As in the name that the demonic doctor had used?

“Harry?” Sean asked worriedly. The teen’s eyes snapped around the room. He was in the second guest room, and the clock next to the bed read 1:15 pm. Harry tossed the covers aside, ignored his vest and shoes beside the bed, and walked out without a word. “Oy – mate – where are you going?”

He wasn’t listening. He needed to know if it was true. He made his way down the grand staircase and directly into the dining room, where the family was seated for lunch.

“Harry! You’re okay!” Rose cheered.

“Well, about time you—” Marge started, but Harry had no patience for her venom today. He went straight to Petunia, who was seated beside her husband.

“James Potter,” he said clearly.

Petunia’s face lost its redness, fading to a seafoam green. “What?” she whispered. “Where did you—”

“That was his name, wasn’t it?” Harry demanded. “That was my father’s name.”

“You—you remember—”

“They were married,” Harry said strongly. “You lied. I’m not a bastard child. You just didn’t attend their wedding because you were jealous.”

“HOW DARE YOU!?” Vernon bellowed, standing up, his chair clattering to the floor behind him.

“Where did the money come from, Aunt Petunia?” Harry challenged. “Who takes the photographs of me every year that you order? And why every May? Is that when it happened? Is that when they died? Where is the man who brought me here?”

Don’t ask questions, you heathen orphan!” Marge snarled, but her recent incident kept her in her seat.

“YOU DARE QUESTION US!?” Vernon yelled. “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT—”

“MY FATHER’S MONEY BOUGHT THIS HOUSE, YOU INSUFFERABLE PIG!” Harry screamed back. “YOU ONLY LIVE HERE BECAUSE OF ME, SO DON’T YOU DARE SPEAK TO ME OF RIGHTS!”

Vernon looked like he’d swallowed a baby elephant, a strangled gasping noise issuing from his throat. He looked helplessly to Marge, who was glaring nastily at Harry, but the boy turned his attention back to Petunia, who was trembling.

“You lied to me – you lied to me my whole life! You made me feel like I was a worthless, unwanted, helpless brat at your beck and call. If my father had money enough to buy this house, he had to have someone managing it – meaning that there’s someone else out there who could have raised me as a human being and not as your servant.”

“No,” Petunia argued. “There’s no one else.”

“YOU LIE!” Harry accused, hitting the table next to her, making her jump. “WHO WAS THE MAN WHO BROUGHT ME HERE!?”

Dong. Dong.

Slowly, they all looked toward the dining room door as they heard Alfred hurrying to the entry. Coincidence? Or fate? A man’s voice could be heard beyond, and Harry turned to face the door, his heart racing. Alfred entered first, bowing slightly. “The constable.”

The Chief Constable entered the room, hat in hand and two officers behind him. Harry closed his eyes and exhaled in disappointment.

“May we help you?” Marge asked in annoyance.

“Mr. Vernon Dursley?” the Chief Constable asked.

“Yes,” Vernon said.

“You’ll need to come with us, sir.”

“I beg your pardon,” Vernon asked in bewilderment. “What’s the meaning of this?”

“You’re under arrest,” the Constable announced, “under charges of larceny from the White Star Line.”  

“That is absurd!” Vernon yelled furiously.

“I’m afraid the charges are irrefutable,” one of the officers said. Harry frowned as he recognized him as the same officer from the ship who had saved him from the demonic doctor in disguise. “The S.S. Arabic failed her sea trials due to inadequate equipment. And yet your records show that you spent the budget on the same materials as her sister. You lied. Your bank clearly shows that you bought inferior materials and pocketed the remainder. We have the check stubs, Mr. Dursley.”

He unveiled the stubs from his inside pocket, setting them on the table. Petunia snatched them up, looking them over in horror. “This can’t be right,” she whispered. “This can’t be happening.”

“Lies!” Vernon claimed. “I’ve been framed, I tell you!”

“Tell it to the judge,” the Chief Constable said, taking Vernon’s thick wrists and handcuffing them.

“Release him at once!” Petunia demanded, hurrying after them, but the group was already departing. The officer stopped to reclaim the stubs from Petunia’s seat and looked down at Harry, who was staring at the stubs in shock.

“Alright, boy?” Harry looked up at him, at his kind eyes and gentle smile. The officer’s eyes fell to the bandage on the teen’s wrist. “What happened there?”

“Doctor,” Harry said automatically.

“Seems you should see another,” the officer suggested. “You don’t look well.”

“Allergies,” Marge claimed. “I was plagued with them as well.”

“I’m sure a hot bath will do you wonders,” the officer said, putting on his hat. “No need to worry. You’ll be alright soon, Harry.”

He left the room before his words reached the teen, who looked up after him in shock. What on earth did that mean? Had this officer really remembered his name from an incident a week ago?

“What are you standing around for?” Marge demanded. “Get the dishes downstairs, boy!”

Harry was too distracted and overwhelmed to argue. He grabbed a pair of plates automatically and took them. He wasn’t paying attention to where he was going, taking the hall instead of the servant’s stair, but something fluttering caught his eye in the window to the light well.

The entire well was flooded with fluttering letters falling at a slow pace, twirling and dancing on their way down to the pavement. One caught on the windowsill, and he saw the address:

Mr. H. Potter

Northwest Bedroom

4 Privet Drive

Belfast

Ireland

Harry dropped the plates. Who on earth was sending these letters? And how did they know what he’d only just learned?

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