When his parents died–he from his heart,
she from hers–Dudley inherited
Number Four Privet Drive. He had been
a bouncer at a club in London, but
now he had money and leisure
and time, time.
A quiet knock late one morning.
Shambling forward in his pajamas
to see an old man in weird clothes
(some kind of dress plus a bowler
hat) on the doorstep. “I’ve come to see
where Harry Potter grew up.”
At first it was a joke. Dudley ushered
him in, and then the next one, and the next.
His parents never told him about this, but
then, they wouldn’t have, would they?
Just slammed the door in face after face.
Dudley woke up one morning hoping one
would come. He dressed early. He
became careful to do his shopping late
at night, so as not to miss one.
The tour, in those days, was brief: The
Cupboard under the Stairs, Harry’s Room
(which Dudley still thought of as his own
second bedroom), the Kitchen.
But things came back to him: the visitors
seemed to find the story of the blocked fireplace
funny, and they politely covered their smirks
when he showed them where Aunt Marge
had floated away. And they taught him about
his own home–the garden where Harry had
departed with six other Harrys for the last time,
the wall where Dumbledore had met the cat
McGonagall. Their devotion amused him, shamed
him. By the time he opened the door when
he was thirty, he had a one-hour tour.
She was twenty-seven, doing graduate studies
in Potter. Instead of announcing she was there
for the tour, she stared. And he stared. “You’re
Dudley?” she asked, disbelieving. He nodded.
When the silence grew deep, he gestured her inside.
Her black robe slid along his arm.
Now they run Privet House as a B&B, a small bronze
plaque with a lightning bolt above the doorbell.
She kisses the regret from his voice, and
he cooks vegetarian meals for every guest
who comes to stay in his old bedroom.