That old man was visiting again.
Every year on the same day this strange old man came to talk to Harry's Uncle Vernon. He looked about 100 years old due to his long white beard, incredibly wrinkled face, and clothes that were the same as worn by the actors on Aunt Petunia's favourite period drama on tv. Maybe he was an actor.
Harry always got a good look at the man as his uncle insisted that Harry stand silently in the background during the visit.
Harry and the old man never spoke to each other or interacted in any way except the twinkling of the old man's eyes resulting in a strange feeling that Harry got, like a waft of warm air from this head to his toes.
After looking at Harry intensely for at least 5 minutes the old man sighed.
"Satisfied?" his Uncle Vernon barked.
"No, not really" was the reply from the old man with a shake of his head.
"Well too bad. Now leave us in peace" his uncle replied.
The old man turned to leave with a final glance back at Harry. Upon reaching the front door he gave uncle Vernon a small paper bag and an envelope that appeared to have a card in it before walking down the front path.
Uncle Vernon slammed the front door and spun around to shout at Harry "Back to your chores boy!"
Every year as long as Harry could remember it was the same. The old man, the paper bag and the card. And why this day every year? What was so special about the 31th of July Harry wondered as he trudged out to the back yard to continue weeding the flower beds.
Inside his Uncle Vernon opened up the paper bag and counted the stack of 100 pound notes. A small smile appeared on his face as he thought about the holiday this would pay for. He looked at the card in the envelope.
"Happy 7th Birthday? I think not." He said with a snort before tearing it to shreds and dropping the pieces into the rubbish.
"I have found him!" The man said stepping out of the fireplace. "I knew tailing Dumbledore on Potter's birthday would eventually bear fruit. He was careless and went straight there from Gringotts instead of from behind Hogwarts wards. This time he wasn't clever enough to lose me at Hogwarts as he always does."
"That's my clever Ravenclaw. But Dumbledore is getting on in years" said the striking looking woman getting up from the desk she was sitting at. "So which family has him?" she asked.
"Would you believe his muggle Aunt and Uncle. No wonder we couldn't find him. Dumbledore has him behind some impressive wards. Intent based blood wards would you believe!"
The woman laughed and looked at her husband. "Well it will have to be me that goes then. Let's face it, your intent when it comes to anything to do with Dumbledore is not going to get you through those wards. And it wouldn't surprise me if he has not added something special in them especially for you unspeakables. He knows your lot would like to get Potter down into your department to examine the whole immunity to the killing curse thing."
He grimaced. "We just want to have a chat to the boy who lived. That's all. It is not like we would dissect him like some muggle scientists."
The woman laughed again. "You just leave this to your beautiful Slytherin. It will take a bit of thought and dare I say it a cunning plan. That is what you married me for after all. Aside from my stunning good looks of course."
"Of course" he agreed. Merlin knows she was still as beautiful as the day they married. "Just try to keep the body count down. No point in tipping off Dumbledore until it is too late for him to do anything about it."
The elegantly dressed woman who was standing in the doorway looked to Vernon to be a cross between a fashion model and a high powered executive. She was wearing a very expensive skirt and jacket holding a leather briefcase that must have cost as much as his car. Vernon shuddered as he raised his eyes from her silk blouse (that had just one too many buttons undone) to look at her piercing cold blue eyes. Those were the eyes of a very serious and powerful woman, the type he had experienced before whilst attending meetings with the top executives of Grunnings.
And then dazzled him with a wide smile showing her perfect white teeth. "Mister Dursley? I have a business proposition for you. May I please come in?"
"Of course" Vernon spluttered showing the woman into the sitting room. "
This is my wife Petunia" he said introducing the visitor to his wife who looked at the woman and gasped. This woman her husband was introducing her to had appeared in her gossip magazines numerous times. Always in the company of very rich and famous people. But strangely she could not for the life of her remember the woman's name.
As soon as they had settled in the sitting room with cups of tea and small slices of freshly baked cake the woman came straight to the point. She had a business proposition for the Dursleys. One that would change their lives for ever. For the next 30 minutes the Dursleys sat there in shock with what the woman was proposing.
"So to summarise. I take the boy off your hands, pay you the agreed yearly payment, and allow the boy to return for his yearly inspection. He will be in a condition to pass that inspection without raising any eyebrows so you will still get your fee from the old fool and avoid any difficult questions." the woman said. She took a sip of her tea and watched the two muggles over the rim of her tea cup wondering if they were as despicable as they seemed and would give away the child for what was basically a pittance.
"And you will deal with the freaks?" Vernon asked.
The woman suppressed her anger and instead put a long suffering look on her face and replied "Yes I have experience in that area. It is all covered in the contract I discussed. The guardianship, your compensation, the filing of the necessary paperwork with the other ministry."
Petunia and Vernon looked at each other, a brief nod and a smile, and they turned in unison towards the woman. "Deal!" they both said.
This will the tricky part the woman thought. The contract. Up to now everything she had said and done had not set off the intent based wards. After all up till now her intent was just to talk to these people. The magical contract was different. There was definite intent there. She slowly opened her briefcase (the one she kept for these occasions with the muggle combination locks, not the family magic locks) and withdrew the contract.
She waited – no crazy old man bursting through the door spouting inane platitudes about family and love and the greater good. She breathed a sigh of relief. Next she withdrew the blood quill from her briefcase which she expected to burst into flames just being inside Dumbledore's wards as it was definitely a dark object. Again nothing. The old man must be losing his touch.
The Dursleys however were more than happy to grab the strange quill and sign the contract ignoring the slight scratching on the back of their hands. The sooner it was signed the sooner the boy was out of their lives which would return to normal thank you very much.
With the contract securely locked back in her briefcase the woman looked around. "Where is the boy?"
It had been a very strange and confusing night Harry thought. First there was the news that he will no longer be living with the Dursleys and instead would be living with a new family of strangers. He actually welcomed this strange turn in his life. No matter what happened it could not be worse than that the constant beatings, verbal abuse, starvation and endless work he had to endure living with his "relatives". Being locked in his cupboard under the stairs for days on end wishing he no longer lived.
Then there was the conversation with the beautiful woman who had taken him away from the Dursleys.
"You're a wizard Harry Potter!"