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Beyond Repair by MuggleMaybe
Format: Short story collection
Chapter 1: Daddy's Little Flowers
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Everything recognizable belongs to the amazing JKR.
Daddy's Little Flowers
30 January 1960
Petunia’s feet swung from the chair. It was far too tall for her. She squirmed, trying to find a comfortable position on the hard wooden seat where Nana had left her. The room was big, brightly lit, and full of blue curtains. It was the sort of place where talking didn’t feel allowed, but there was plenty of noise. Hushed words, and clicking footsteps and, just behind the nearest curtain, shrieks of pain and heavy, desperate breaths. The baby is coming.
It was an eternity of waiting.
A lifetime later: “Sweetheart, you can come in now.” Petunia didn’t know the lady, but her voice was kind. She wore a white lace cap and a white smock. Briskly, she took the tot’s hand.
“Where is Mummy?” The little girl popped her free thumb into her mouth. She hadn’t seen Mummy or Daddy for hours.
“She’s just in here,” the lady said. She pulled Petunia behind the curtain, and there was Mummy, propped up in bed with her hair splayed out behind her like a queen. Daddy sat on the bed, on Mummy’s feet. He was holding something, looking at it like he didn’t remember anything else. Baby.
Mummy smiled at her daughter, who ran to her. But the nurse put a hand on Petunia’s shoulder. “Mummy needs rest,” she said. “Why don’t you meet your new sister?”
Petunia turned back to daddy. He looked at her now, smiling. “Climb up here Pet, and you can hold her.”
She scrambled onto the bed and climbed into Daddy’s lap. He placed her arms gently along his own, and together they cradled the sleeping baby. She was heavy in the little girl’s arms. They sat that way for a few minutes, daddy making sleepy time sounds at his daughter’s back.
Slowly, the baby opened her eyes. They were a startling green, wide in her small face. “Hi, Lily,” Daddy cooed. “Pet, can you say hi to your sister?”
“Lily.” The word was slippery in her mouth.
Lily blinked. Petunia’s stomach wiggled, and a sweet, honey scented feeling burst in her chest. Sister. Petunia bent down and placed her lips against her sister’s squishy hand. Baby Lily. My sister.
“Good girl,” Daddy said. Petunia felt the soft weight of a kiss on her head. “My two flowers.”
“Bring her here.” Mummy’s voice was warm and tired.
Daddy took Lily’s full weight, scooped her up, and placed her on Mummy’s breast. Petunia crawled up the scratchy quilt to her mother, curling against her. Mummy and Daddy were cooing again, laughing softly and full of smiles. “Who’s Daddy’s little flower?” he was saying, his voice a song. Daddy always called Petunia his flower. She didn’t like Lily to be his flower, too. She buried her face in her mother’s side.
“Oh, sweet. I love you,” Mummy said. Petunia peeked out, expecting a cozy squeeze, but Mummy was talking to the baby, her nose nuzzling the soft, bald head. “Yes I do,” Mummy murmured. “I love you so much.” Petunia watched her mother’s lips form the words, and a slow chill of dread stilled her heart for a moment.
Then the squeeze did come, and Mummy loved Petunia again, and the moment passed.
AN: I hope you liked the story! More coming soon. And a HUGE thank you to HeyMrsPotter for helping me out as a quick beta and giving me the confidence to post this story. You're the best!!
Chapter 2: Don't Let Go
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JKR owns all.
Don't Let Go
5 June 1964
Tuney was magic. Lily had no doubt about this. Petunia could read books with no pictures, and write the whole alphabet without the letters going wonky. She could draw trees with branches and leaves, and even a bird or two. She knew clapping games and jump rope rhymes Lily had never learned before, and when Lily asked How come or What is, Petunia always had an answer.
Each morning, Lily watched longingly over her cereal bowl as her sister left for school. Each afternoon, she waited at the kitchen table, hungrily eyeing the matching plates mum set out: two red apples, two biscuits, two cups of milk. Finally, just when Lily was about to cave in and eat her biscuit, the front door would open, and Petunia would prance in carrying a library book and a picture made of macaroni noodles. Mum hung her jumper and book bag on a peg in the hall, and together Lily and Tuney ate their snack.
On the last day of school, Petunia came home pouting, with wet spots still on her cheeks. “I miss Mrs. Gardener!” She moaned. “I don’t want to be in second form!”
Mummy took Petunia into her lap and patted her back. “It’s alright baby, you’ll love you’re new teacher. And think of all the amazing things you’ll get to learn next year!”
“I don’t want to!” Petunia shrieked.
“But, Tuney,” Lily smiled, “now we can play together all day!”
“You’re just a baby! I don’t want to play with you!”
Mummy was already scolding, but the words were out, flying like arrows to spear Lily in the chest. “Tuney!” She cried, and ran from the room, tears falling heavily.
Lily curled up in her usual hiding spot behind the two tall lilac bushes in the back garden. They were in full bloom that day, and their sweet, heady scent enveloped her like a blanket. For a moment she simply sat there, cross-legged on the grass, watching an ant make its way along a green branch.
As her tears settled, she found herself hoping. Petunia didn’t mean it. She couldn’t. They were best friends. They were Daddy’s little flowers. They played princesses, and mermaids, and circus tigers. Did Tuney really think she was just a baby? A pest? Well, anyway, next year Lily would be at nursery school, and Petunia wouldn’t be the only one with fancy teachers, and library books, and macaroni pictures. They could take the bus together, and eat lunch together, and no one would ever think Lily was a baby again. Feeling considerably better, Lily plucked two dandelions from the ground and began weaving a daisy chain. Another thing Petunia had taught her.
The sun was dripping further toward the edge of the sky, and the dandelion chain had gotten rather long, when Lily finally heard footsteps behind her.
“Tuney?” She asked hopefully, turning around at once to face her. It was mum.
“Can I sit down?”
Lily nodded her consent. They were quiet for a little while. Mum added a flower to the chain. The girl climbed into her mother’s lap and made a confession. “What Petunia said wasn’t nice.”
“No, not nice at all. Are you very upset?”
Lily considered. “I’m better now, mostly.” A pause. “Do you think she meant it? That she doesn’t want to play anymore?”
“No, of course not. She’s just sad to say goodbye to her teacher, and her friends at school.”
“But she still has me to be her friend!” Lily answered, indignant.
Mum laughed. “And you’re the best friend anyone could ever ask for!”
Lily felt the weight of Mummy’s lips on the top of her head. She snuggled against the warm chest. “I love you, Mummy.”
“I love you more,” Mummy answered, like always.
“Oh, yes I do!” Mummy wrapped her up in a bear hug, tickling, and Lily let out a joyful screech of laughter.
At bedtime, Lily brushed her teeth, and Daddy carried her to Petunia’s room to hear a chapter of The Little White Horse. She danced into the room, excited, until she caught sight of Petunia, wearing a summer nightie under a pale blue sheet, and the memory of her sister’s harsh words floated back to the surface.
Lily bit her lip nervously, and the older girl scooted over in bed and turned down the sheet. Smiling at the invitation, Lily scrambled in, and together she and Tuney oohed and awed there way through the story.
The next day was Tuney’s first day of summer hols, and Lily had a very important plan. The moment she’d slurped up the last drop of milk from breakfast, she slid on her trainers, presented her feet to Mum for double knotting, and then guided her sister’s bicycle across the dew covered lawn to the front walk. Lily had seen Petunia ride a hundred times, flying past her toward whatever adventure awaited. Not this summer. This summer it would be Lily and Petunia, Petunia and Lily. Always.
She swung a leg over the bike. The seat was too high; she had to stand on the absolute tips of her toes and do a little hop to get on. It was surprisingly uncomfortable, and she wiggled, trying to find a softer spot. The movement sent her toppling. She tried again. And again. On her third attempt, Lily managed to get both feet on the pedals. Shakily, imaging herself a tightrope walker, she pushed forward with her legs, and the contraption of gears began to turn, moving her slowly along. She didn’t get far. Her feet just barely connected with the downward position of the pedals, relying on a certain elasticity in her knees. She made it to the mailbox before she fell, grazing her arm roughly on the cement. A sharp sting radiated out from her elbow. She twisted to look at it, and found the scrape coarse and bloody. It hurt, and for a teary-eyed moment she considered crying for Mum, but that was no good; she'd have to stop her bicycle practice. Anyway, why bother? Breathing deeply, she stared fiercely at the wound for a minute or two, willing it to calm, and soon enough it stopping bleeding and the pain receded into the past. Much better.
Seven falls later, Petunia emerged from the house. “That’s my bicycle.”
Lily turned toward her sister with what she hoped was an elegant and defiant expression. Her cheeks were brushed rosy by morning sun, framed by hair gone lush and messy from her repeated tumbles. In truth, she looked like nothing so much as a wild creature, albeit a rather lovely one. “I’m teaching myself to ride,” she pronounced.
Petunia giggled and tugged on her braid. “I saw you fall. Twice.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Lily lied, but her reddening face betrayed her.
“I saw it in the telly screen.” The Evans' television, in the corner of the front room, had the rude habit of reflecting on its glass whatever scene the picture window near the door happened to capture.
“Yes, well,” Lily conceded. “What about it?”
“I’ll help you,” Petunia said brightly. She went to the bike, which still lay on its side, stood it up, and grasped its neck in her hands, holding it steady. “On you go, then.”
Lily grinned and hopped on. The necessarily wiggle of her hips set a smile on Tuney’s face. Carefully, determined to make her sister proud, Lily started pedaling. She began to pick up speed.
Petunia still held her straight. “You’re going too fast,” she panted. “No wonder you kept falling. It’s best to start slow.”
Lily relaxed her pace a little, and found Petunia was right. Now she was almost to the end of the lawn. Now, almost to the neighbor’s walk. A sudden jilt caused by uneven pavement stones sped her heart and made her sway so badly, she surely would have fallen if not for Petunia’s steady hold.
“Don’t let go, Tuney. Don’t let go,” she pleaded.
“I won’t, I won’t. Just keep riding.”
They made it past another few houses. Lily’s heart danced gladly. She forgot to control her speed. She pedaled eagerly, the freshness of wind in her face egging her on.
“Slow down, Lily! You’re going to run me over!” Petunia laughed.
“No, I can do it. I want to fly!”
“I’m letting go.”
“I can’t go that fast.” Petunia released her hold and jumped backward onto the grass verge.
Lily zoomed toward the end of the block, utterly ecstatic, until a horrible thought occurred to her. “Tuney! Help me! I don’t know how to stop!”
But Petunia was still catching up, and Lily’s words were tossed aside by the wind. In only a second she would be in the street. It was Canfield Avenue, only a block down from the high street. She and Petunia were forbidden to cross it, and for good reason. She heard the bustle of traffic grow louder, and then swell to a roar, and she knew she had to stop now or die trying. With a violent scream, Lily threw all her weight toward the verge.
A white-faced Petunia found her tangled up on the warm grass. By some stroke of luck, the bicycle had not landed in the street. “Oh my gosh, Lily! Are you alright?”
Lily’s eyes were wide open, her chest rising and falling steeply. The tiniest of smiles crept onto her face. “Well, I did fly, Tuney, didn’t I?”
Petunia shook her head fondly. “You’re a nutter, you know that?” A giggle slipped from her lips, and Lily echoed it. “Come on, I’ll ride back. You can stand on the pegs.”
Lily stepped up onto the pegs and rested her hands on her big sister’s narrow shoulders. And together, they flew.
The Little White Horse is a children's novel by Elizabeth Goudge. For anyone kind enough to be reading this a second time, you might remember I previously had them read Matilda by Roald Dahl. As it turns out, Matilda wasn't written until much later, so I had to find something else. I chose The Little White Horse because it was reportedly one of JKR's favoritites, and retains an element of magic that I wanted to include.
Many thanks to Penny for her very helpful review!
Chapter 3: Sailing
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Lily and Petunia Evans belong to JKR.
1 July 1965
Lily flipped over, the sheet twisting around her, and let out a sigh. In the morning she and her family were leaving for a weeklong holiday in Brighton, but Lily was beginning to doubt the morning would ever come. This must certainly be the longest night in the world.
“Are you awake?” Petunia’s whisper rose warmly in the dark room, and Lily sat up in bed, relieved to no longer be feigning sleep.
“Yes. I’m too excited to sleep,” she mumbled.
“I know, me too. Just imagine— the ocean!”
Lily leapt gracefully out of bed and took her sister’s hands in her own, leading them around in a circular dance. “Tuney, do you think the sea is as big as they say? Daddy says it’s so wide, you can’t even see across! Is that true?”
“Of course it’s true, silly! Everyone knows that!” Petunia giggled, but her voice was kind.
“And, you know, they say the waves are enormous! Mum says be careful, or they’ll snatch you right up!” With a rush of movement, she tackled Lily onto the tangled bedcovers, tickling her in that perfect, unendurable way only a big sister can manage.
“St-stop!” Lily could hardly get the words out through her laughter, her breath coming in gasps between ecstatic peals. “Stop! I—can’t—breathe!”
Petunia ceased her affectionate torture, and climbed onto the bed, where Lily lay recovering from the onslaught of giggles.
They rolled toward each other, and Petunia filled with gladness at the sight of her sister’s eyes sparkling in the darkness.
Lily inched away, uncertain for a moment if Tuney’s smile was a prelude to more tickles. Then an imagined ocean washed through her again. “What if we’re on a boat?” She began. “What if we’re on a boat, sailing to an island?”
“With mermaids!” Petunia nodded.
Lily shimmied up to her pillow and took it in both hands like the wheel of a ship, turning quickly in the strong wind. Behind her, her first mate was adjusting the sails like a pro.
“Steady as she goes!” Petunia declared, gripping tight to a rope pulled from thin air.
“Rein ‘er in!” Lily commanded, covering one eye with her hand to serve as a makeshift patch.
“Aye, aye, captain!” Petunia returned. “Oh, no! A tidal wave,” she pointed, and both girls screamed and shielded their heads as the wall of water collided with their twin-sized vessel.
“Help me, Tuney, help me!” Lily shrieked, as the tide pulled her off the bed and into the sea.
Petunia couldn’t lose her, it couldn’t be! Giving a mighty throw, she tossed the rope toward Lily, who caught it just south of the rocking chair. “Hold tight,” she instructed. “I’ll pull you in.”
With great difficulty, First Mate Petunia hauled her captain back into the boat.
“You saved me!” Captain Lily wrapped her rescuer in an enormous hug.
A moment before the rain came, a tangle of lightening flashed outside, and not a heartbeat later the whole house shook with a tremendous drumroll of thunder that ruptured the seams of the night and froze Petunia’s blood solid in shaking veins. The wind cried and swooped low, spattering heavy rain against the glass windowpane.
Lily’s heart accelerated at the sky’s fierceness, and a feeling of timid awe flickered to life within her. Then she noticed a glimmer on Tuney’s cheeks, suddenly ghostly pale.
Petunia looked up at the warmth of a small hand taking hold of her own, gifting her a warmth that thawed her fear into something malleable, pulling her gently back into their magic.
“The storm’s getting worse,” Lily said, swaying where she sat as if tossed by angry waves. “Come on, then, matey! Batten down the hatches!”
Breathing deeply, Petunia moved to follow the orders, securing her little safe haven against the increasing winds. Lily continued to issue orders, steering determinedly away from the gale as her trusty companion bailed water with dizzying speed.
And then, at last, she gave a cry and pointed wildly. “Land ho!”
Another moment of sailing brought them to the island. Lily weighed anchor, and the bone tired crew rowed to shore in a quilted dinghy. They collapsed the moment they reached land, arm in arm. Sisters, home safe.
In the morning, their mother found her two precious daughters curled up together on the floor, smiling as they slept, their hands still clasped between their gently rising hearts.
for SunshineDaisies' Short and Sweet Challenge
A/N: Thank you for reading! As my writing tends to be bttersweet bordering on angsty, this more sugary chapter was hard for me to write. I'd love to hear your thoughts about it, and please share any suggestions that you have! Reviews are better than gold :)
Chapter 4: Light as a Feather
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everything recognizable belongs to J. K. Rowling
Light As A Feather
5 October 1967
Lily kneelt on the sofa and looked out the front window, bouncing with impatience. It was Petunia’s tenth birthday, and any minute now the guests would begin arriving for the slumber party. Lily had never been to a slumber party before. She, Daddy, Mummy, and Petunia had spent the whole morning getting ready. Swirls of pink and yellow crepe paper crisscrossed overhead, bunches of balloons floated in every corner, and the table was set for a lovely afternoon tea. Most beautiful of all was the large chocolate cake that Mum had set in a place of honour in the middle of the dinning room table.
While Lily hopped around in anticipation, Petunia waited quietly on the other side of the room. She was trying to act calm, but Lily could tell from the way she fidgeted and clasped her hands that she was actually quite nervous.
“Aren’t you so excited, Tuney?” Lily smiled, trying to ease her sister’s nerves, and wiggling with genuine glee.
“Excited? I feel sick,” Petunia answered. Then, realizing she’d accidentally dropped her cool façade, she snapped, “And don’t you dare call me Tuney in front of the others!”
Lily turned away from the window, slid down the cushion to sit properly on the couch, and stuck out her tongue in silent protest.
Mum came into the front room and leaned against the big armchair Petunia had chosen. She gently smoothed her older daughter’s hair. “Don’t worry, baby. It’ll be fun. Oh, look, here are the Worths. Get the door, won’t you dear?”
This last bit was said to Daddy, who promptly abandoned the newspaper he’d been reading at the table and opened the door to reveal a ruffled looking woman and two identical girls of Petunia’s age. Each had dark pigtails, a mess of freckles, and a pair of obviously brand new saddle shoes. Their names were Candace and Josephine – Lily didn’t know or care which was which – and they were the most popular, as well as the most despised, girls in fourth form. Tripping up the front steps behind them came Susie, who wore enormous glasses but was really a much better sort than the twins. The rest of Petunia’s school friends trickled in, until there were nine girls. (No boys; unlike Lily, Petunia thought boys were nasty.)
When everyone had arrived, Mum clapped her hands and ushered Lily and the partygoers out into the backyard for games. Daddy started them off with hide and seek, but Petunia halted the game soon after he went inside, in favour of her and Lily’s current favourite fantasy.
Lily knew the story of the game by heart, and joined in right away. She was mid giggle when one of the twins glared, pointed her nose toward the sky, and said, “I didn’t think Petunia would want a little kid to play with us, did you, Josie?”
“Definitely not,” the other twin replied.
Petunia looked from the twins to Lily, and back again. Lily watched her sister’s eyes go from soft uncertainty to steely decision. The older girl moved toward her schoolmates, turning over her shoulder to issue the verdict. “Go inside, Lily. You can’t play with us.”
“Tuney!” Lily clapped a hand to her mouth. She hadn’t met to let the nickname slip.
Petunia rounded on her. “Go away, Lily.” Under her hateful stare, the autumn day faded from gold to grey in an instant.
“GO AWAY!” Petunia shrieked.
Lily couldn’t breathe. The flood of tears pushing for release almost overwhelmed her, but she held it back. “I don’t want to play with you anyway!” The sour taste of the words singed her throat and turned her stomach.
She stomped inside.
“Back already?” Daddy asked. Then he caught sight of her face. “Lily, what’s the matter?”
Lily looked up. Mum and Daddy were in the front room, drinking tea with a few of the other parents who had stayed to visit. She wasn’t going to throw a fit in front of all these strange people.
“Nothing,” she lied and added, because her father looked entirely unconvinced, “Just using the loo.” Then she had no choice but to dash up the stairs toward the bathroom before he could call her bluff.
Lily spent the rest of the afternoon reading under the bed with a torch. She didn’t say a word about the fight, but Petunia tattled.
At teatime, Mum said Lily was allowed pudding after dinner, but had to sit alone at the kitchen table as punishment for losing her temper. She couldn’t see the other girls, but she could hear them. She heard the laughter, and Petunia’s protests, as Daddy delivered eleven gentle bumps for luck in the coming year. She heard slurps of tea, happy conversation, and the hush of a wish after the birthday song. Shortly after, Mum returned to the kitchen with a slice of cake for Lily.
“Here, love,” she said, replacing the empty dinner plate with the fancy china. The cake looked delicious. She’d even managed to get part of a purple fondant flower. A petunia, of course.
“Thanks, Mummy.” Lily suddenly didn’t feel very hungry.
Mum patted her cheek and returned to the party. The chocolate frosting was salty with tears.
The evening wore on, until at last Daddy was tucking Lily into bed, and Mum was turning down the lights, spreading sleeping bags in the front room, and begging the other girls to at least try to get some sleep. Lily hid her face in the pillow, and listened to the muffled giggles and whispers sneaking their way up from the room below. It was no fair. Why couldn’t she sleep downstairs with the others? Why did they get to tell secrets and scary stories, while she lay in bed by herself? A great wave of loneliness swept over her, scalding her heart and stealing her breath. One of the girls released a particularly loud squeal of laughter, and Lily simply couldn’t lie in bed another moment.
Quietly, stepping carefully to avoid the squeaky floorboards, she crept past her parent’s bedroom, along the hall, and down the steps. She didn’t reveal herself immediately when she reached the front room, choosing instead to crouch alongside the banister and see what the big girls were doing.
“Come on, Petunia, don’t be such a baby.” The speaker wore a fashionable yellow nightie and sat primly in front of her twin, who was weaving her hair into a clumsy plait.
Lily felt a sense of justice at the familiar, unkind words, but also a strong desire to slap the bully with all her strength. A snarl of words crowded her mouth, and she only just prevented them from escaping.
“Why do I have to go first?” Petunia asked, not quite concealing the tremble in her voice.
“The birthday girl always goes first.”
“I don’t want to do this,” Petunia squeaked.
The reply was predictable. “Are you scared, baby?”
Something wild stirred in Lily’s chest. No one could talk to her sister that way. “You leave her alone!” she demanded, leaping out from her hiding place.
“What are you doing down here?” Petunia hissed, her face flushing. “Go back to bed.”
Josie snorted. “Aww, ickle baby Petunia needs her ickle baby sister to come to her rescue! How sweet!”
Lily stretched out to her full height (which admittedly wasn’t very high) and cast the others what she hoped was a defiant glare. “You’re just a big bully!”
Petunia’s cheeks were growing redder by the second. “Lily, mind your own stupid business, why don’t you!” She turned back to her friends, bit her lip in obvious terror, and stammered, “It’s alright. I’ll – I’ll go first. My baby sister is just being an arse.”
There was a collective intake of breath at the use of a bad word. The twins directed the partygoers to sit in a circle around Petunia. Taking their cue from Petunia, they ignored Lily, who stood, teary eyed, on the outskirts of the room, unable to move for fury.
Each of the girls in the circle placed two fingers under Petunia, who lay rigidly in the centre. They began the chant that always went with the game.
“She’s looking ill.”
A single, dreadful tear snuck down the side of Petunia’s face toward her ear, and the line of her mouth was grim. Well, it served her right! Lily had tried to help, but Petunia didn’t want her.
“She’s looking worse.”
Lily loved Petunia, loved her with the sense-defying, all-forgiving love of a sister. But Petunia didn’t love her back. She mustn’t. How could she love her and then turn around and say such wretched things?
These girls were bullies. Bullies, and cowards too scared to stand up to bullies. And Petunia was a bad as any of them. Angry, disappointed tears crowded Lily’s eyes and dripped down her cheeks.
Petunia shuddered visibly.
“Light as a feather, stiff as a board.”
Lily’s heart pounded unusually fast, beating an angry rhythm against her chest. Her thoughts were smeared, the words lost to a red fog of hurt. Sweat beaded on her brow as heat surged in her veins.
“Light as a feather, stiff as a board.”
The collective force of so many fingers began to take effect. Slowly, Petunia rose a centimetre off the ground. Her eyelids fluttered at the shock.
“Light as a feather, stiff as a board.”
Susie let out a tremendous shriek, her glasses tumbling to the floor. It took only a moment for the other girls to join in the panic.
Petunia was floating, not a centimetre off the ground, but knee high - now waist high – now shoulder high, and no one was supporting her as she rose toward the ceiling. Petunia herself seemed unable to move. She was not, however, unable to speak. Lily didn’t realize what she was saying until the quiet of the others, their stares directed her way, caught her attention.
Petunia’s screamed again. “Stop it, Lily! Please stop! I’m sorry I teased you! Please put me down!”
The realization hit Lily like a thunderous wave. It was her. She was making Petunia float. She let out an audible gasp and the colour drained from her face. At the same moment, Petunia came crashing back to the floor with a piercing scream.
Lily felt a horrified cry leave her own mouth, and a great wave of relief washed over her that Petunia’s rather rough landing was cushioned by pillows and sleeping bags. She ran to her big sister and threw her arms around Petunia’s shaking form, all anger evaporated in her concern.
“Tuney! I’m so sorry! It was an accident, really. I don’t know what happened!”
Petunia wiggled out of her embrace, pushing her away. “Get off me, freak!” Her eyes remained wide with fear.
Daddy’s footsteps on the stairs silenced them. He entered the room in his pyjamas, his hair messy and his eyes fuzzy with sleep. “What on Earth is going on down here?”
All the girls started talking at once. Only Lily and Petunia remained silent.
“Hush now, hush.” Daddy said. “Petunia, dear, will you please tell me what happened?”
Please don’t tell him, please. Lily couldn’t even imagine what would happen if Daddy knew the truth. The weight of Petunia’s eyes on her, unreadable, sent Lily’s skin prickling with anxiety.
“It was Lily’s fault,” Petunia began, and a lead weight settled in Lily’s stomach. “She”—
“Yes, Pet, keep going,” Daddy encouraged.
“We were playing this game. I guess we got a little scared, and Lily came down and startled us. It was an accident.” She looked around at her friends, daring them to contradict her story. Their silence played loudly in Lily’s ears. It was so quiet she could hear her own heart beating.
After a moment of deliberation, Daddy sighed. “Well, no more playing that game, I think. And it is very late. Everyone needs to get to sleep. Now.” He scooped Lily up and held her at his side. “Let’s get you back to bed, Lily Flower. And I don’t want to hear another peep from down here, or all your parents will hear about it. Is that clear?”
A quiet chorus of, “Yes, Mr. Evans” rose out of the silence. Then Daddy carried Lily back upstairs and tucked her into bed with a kiss. She lay awake all night, memories of odd things she’s done, little things, always quickly explained away, darting ceaselessly through her head. Nothing like this, though. This was something else entirely. But how in the world had she done it?
On Monday, Lily heard the girls in Petunia’s form discussing the party. “I can’t believe you got scared by a stupid game,” one of the twins was saying.
“I wasn’t scared,” another girl put in. “I knew it was pretend the whole time.”
From across the schoolyard, Lily caught Petunia’s eye. Thank you, she mouthed. Petunia gave an almost imperceptible nod, and Lily knew that, although they would never speak of it again, neither girl would ever forget that night.
A/N: Thanks so much for reading. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this chapter!
A big THANK YOU to shazalupin and Penelope Inkwell for their very contrsuctive help with this chapter!
Chapter 5: The Picnic
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J. K. Rowling owns the world of Harry Potter
22 April 1969
Petunia peeked out through the branches of a scraggly bush. When she’d seen Lily sneak out through the back garden – quite clearly without Mum’s permission – she’d immediately chosen to follow. It wasn’t hard to guess who Lily planned to meet, though why she’d want to spend even a moment with that loathsome boy was well beyond Petunia’s understanding.
On the other side of the bush, Lily laid out a chequered blanket and smoothed it over the brown grass. From a sack at her side, she retrieved a bottle of apple juice, a bag of crisps, and two tin lunch pails—Yellow Submarine and Pink Panther, respectively. Annoyance sparked at the sight of the Beatles lunch box; it was Petunia’s, and Lily had taken it without asking.
Leaves rustled on the other side of the clearing, causing both girls to jump and look toward the noise.
Severus Snape. Even his name sounded slimy, like something peeled from the underside of a rock. He looked as ragged and filthy as ever, nearly drowned in his worn and hideous shirt.
“Hi, Sev!” Lily smiled, and bent over the lunch pails, continuing to unpack the picnic she’d brought. Her long, red hair fell in a curtain over one shoulder, obscuring her view of the boy, who took advantage of the moment of privacy to take in the sight of her, his eyes running greedily over her form.
Despite the warm spring breeze in the air, Petunia felt suddenly chilly. The way the boy looked at Lily, like something delicious, was positively creepy. Petunia willed herself to stay hidden, forcing down the impulse to jump out and send him packing with a few well-chosen words.
Lily looked up again, the whole picnic now arranged neatly: two roast beef sandwiches, a bunch of grapes, carrot sticks, crisps, juice, and a large, half-eaten chocolate bar.
“I brought us lunch,” Lily said, unnecessarily. “I thought you might not have eaten.”
At this Petunia stifled a laugh. The boy was so stretched and scraggly, he looked nearly half starved.
His expression darkened, almost as if he heard her thoughts. “There’s nothing to eat most days, is there?” He mumbled.
Petunia tried to prevent her brain from unpuzzling his words, which were sure to reveal a reality she did not care to face, and watched as Lily’s eyes went from casual to concerned.
“Is it bad again?” Lily asked, passing him a sandwich.
Snape shrugged. “At least he’s going after me instead of her, now.”
“That’s not an improvement!” She snapped. Don’t think. Don’t understand.
“Easy for you to say! You don’t have to live with it. I’d rather it was me.”
Lily eyed him shrewdly. “Are you hurt? You had better not lie to me, Sev.”
“I’m fine!” Snape answered, but he gave himself away with a reflexive cradling of his left arm.
Lily grabbed him by the elbow and pushed up his sleeve, entirely missing the look of happiness that washed over him at her touch.
At the sight of his forearm, Petunia very nearly revealed herself with a gasp. Between his wrist and elbow, where the skin ought to have been pale and smooth, were three jagged welts, burnt deeply into raw, scalded flesh. It was a gruesome injury, and Petunia felt an alarming stab of pity. It was not an emotion she welcomed – too much pain, too much burden – and she squirmed uneasily as the strange sensation needled her. It was only Snape, only this skivey, cloaked boy with that inexplicably odd air about him.
Lily’s expression had stretched into a grimace paired with shaking hands, but she was not repulsed enough to move away. “If you come back to the house, my mum could fix you up. She’s a nurse; she’ll know what to do.”
The boy shook his head stubbornly. “It’s a cursed wound, Lily. She can’t fix it.”
“How do you know?”
He shifted uncomfortably on the blanket, his back unnaturally straight. “It just doesn’t work that way. Only magic can fix it.”
The air hung heavy between them for a moment, and Petunia wondered for the thousandth time why her sister bothered with him at all.
“I learnt a new one,” Lily eventually said, in a falsely cheery voice that cut through Petunia’s thoughts like a honeyed knife.
Snape’s body relaxed, his face softening at the change of subject. “Yeah? Can I see?”
Lily grinned and plucked a dandelion from the grass beside her. She stared at it with an intensity Petunia could not fathom, her expression mirrored by the boy as he watched her, each gaze full of desire. Then Lily breathed softly over the yellow petals, and they warmed like a sunset, spreading gracefully until the green stem supported not a weed, but a proper flower with blush coloured petals and a sunny centre.
A soft exhale of awe escaped Petunia’s mouth. How in the world…?
The boy was equally entranced. “How does it work?” He asked eagerly, taking the flower with surprisingly delicate fingers.
“I don’t know, really,” Lily shrugged. “I just sort of command it, and breathe the colour on like a wish…. Does that sound crazy?”
Snape was looking at her hazily, but he snapped to attention at her words. “What? No! It’s brilliant!”
Lily flushed darkly at his words, and hurriedly took a bite of her sandwich in an effort to mask her red cheeks. It seemed to work, if only because he had plucked another flower from the earth and was examining it with great attention. The petals flickered from yellow to blue for a moment, but the change didn’t last. Snape’s mouth twisted impatiently.
“Severus?” He looked up at Lily’s voice. “You said there was a school, a school for people like… like us, didn’t you?”
“Hogwarts,” he nodded. “That’s what it’s called. It’s a castle, a big, magnificent one, and around it there’s a forest, and a lake, and mountains.”
“You’ve been there?”
“No, but everyone knows about Hogwarts,” he said, as if it were obvious, and the sting of his remark was visible on Lily’s face.
“Oh, everyone knows, do they?” She crossed her arms in front of her chest with a glare.
“No, Lily, I didn’t mean it like that! I just meant… my mum told me about it, that’s all.”
“Fine,” Lily huffed, and Petunia could nearly see the gears turning in her sister’s mind as she weighed her irritation against her curiosity. As usual, curiosity won out. “So, what’s it like, anyway?”
Snape smiled his relief. “There are four house – everyone says Slytherin is the best one – and on the first day they decide which one you’re in. And of course, they teach all sorts of magic, spells and potions and everything.
Petunia pressed her eyes shut and tried to imagine it: a big, white-walled castle in a glimmering forest, with elegant people walking here and there, and Petunia cast as the prettiest, most popular witch in the whole school—
“Do you know any spells?” Lily’s question interrupted her daydream.
“I can’t do them yet, because you need a wand for proper magic, but I’ve heard of some.” The boy’s voice took on an impressive air.
“Yeah?” Lily moved toward him on the blanket, eager for more.
“There’s a spell, Imperio, that lets you make people do whatever you want,” he said, matching her eagerness.
Magic like that would be helpful at school, Petunia thought. She could keep her friends from bossing her around for a change.
Lily shuddered. “That’s creepy!”
Petunia was taken aback, but didn’t have time to think about it before Snape – who now seemed anxious to change the subject - said, “Really, you can use magic for all kinds of things. When my dad isn’t home, my mum uses magic to wash the dishes. And grown up wizards can apparate.”
“They just disappear and show up wherever they want.”
“Wow! That sounds groovy!” It was better that groovy. It was… Petunia didn’t even have words for how amazing it all sounded.
Lily bounced around in excitement, knocking over the now empty juice bottle in her excitement. “And they’ll teach us to do all that stuff?”
Snape nodded. “Most of it, yeah.”
“Oh, Hogwarts sounds like the best place in the world!” Petunia nodded in silent agreement.
“The best part of all,” Snape went on, “is that Muggles aren’t allowed there, it’s only witches and wizards, so you can do magic whenever you want and not have to keep it secret.”
Petunia’s heart dropped, but Lily sighed and it seemed she wasn’t happy with the idea, either. The thought that her sister wanted her at Hogwarts made Petunia feel suddenly much more relaxed.
“Yes, it does get old having to keep it to myself.” Lily nodded to Snape, and Petunia’s feeling of calm vanished instantly.
The traitor! Lily would leave Petunia behind, would leave her whole family behind, just for some stupid magic tricks? Well, what did it matter? Petunia didn’t even like Lily. Really, she didn’t. Driving these thoughts forcefully into her heart, Petunia snuck out of the brambles and sprinted home, ignoring with all her might the tears that trickled down her cheeks.
Who wanted to go to a stupid castle full of magic, anyway?
A/N: The Pink Panther belongs to MGM. Yellow Submarine belongs the The Beatles.
Thank you so much for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts. And, a just for fun question: did you have any memorable lunchboxes as a child?
Chapter 6: A Highly Unusual Day
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J. K. Rowling owns the Potterverse.
A Highly Unusual Day
15 July 1971
Petunia sat on the edge of the bed, her foot propped on her desk chair while she leaned over to paint each toenail a coral pink. The drawer of nail varnish lay on the floor. She had pulled it clear out of the vanity cabinet to dig through the myriad colors. Normally she painted her nails on the front steps with Lily, but it was one of those summer days when the outside air thickens to a gelatinous, suffocating fog, and so she had cloistered herself in her bedroom instead.
As she painted, the memory of the previous night swept over her again. It had, from the start, been one of those days when nothing seems to go right. Mum was on call at the hospital. They called her in first thing in the morning, which left Petunia alone in the house all day with her sister. Lily followed her around like a magnet, talking nonstop until finally Petunia couldn’t take it anymore.
“My god, Lily! Don’t you ever stop talking?” She snapped, and Lily ran off, crying as if she didn’t entirely deserve what she got.
Then dad came home from work to find Lily sulking on the stoop, and he assumed without questioning it that Petunia was to blame, which was completely unfair. She’d been on the phone arguing with Susie, and his lecture interrupted her phone call. It was totally embarrassing. Really, it had been a terrible day in a number of ways, and Mum had come home too exhausted to be comforting. She even asked Petunia to make dinner.
Petunia had offered to exchange pedicures with Lily, not that she actually wanted to spend time with Lily, not that she felt bad for snapping at her, but just because she was trying to be the bigger person. And what had Lily done? Run off to the park with her shoelaces undone and her hair a mess of red. All told, Petunia was not eager to talk to anyone in her family today. Particularly not Lily, who was, as usual, the cause of it all. It worked out just fine to lock herself in her bedroom, where no one could pester her, rather than on the front stoop. There, in all likelihood, Lily would return, beg to borrow her favorite color nail varnish, and spill half the bottle because what use were eleven year olds, anyway? She had no idea where Lily was - probably off somewhere with that disgusting Snape boy - but she didn’t care. Not one bit.
When she finished painting her toes, she sat back against her pillow and studied the gloomy view out the window. It was the same boring street as always. The beeches and poplars lost their luster in the damp air, the leaves hanging limply under heavy-bottomed clouds that were almost purple, and despite the heat Petunia felt the shiver of nerves she always experienced when it looked likely to storm. Apart from the neighbor’s dog barking at a tabby cat, it was quiet outside. Lily appeared from the direction of the park. She waved goodbye to the greasy-haired boy as he headed off in the other direction. The cat had stopped walking and was sitting between two bushes in the lawn across the street.
Petunia heard the click of the screen door closing behind Lily, when… what in the world? The cat was looking around in a way that was far too human and then, so quickly and seamlessly Petunia almost didn’t realize it was happening, the cat changed.
Petunia sat bolt upright on the bed, smudging the varnish in the process. She didn’t care. Standing right where the cat had been, but moving closer at an alarmingly brisk pace, was the strangest woman Petunia had ever seen. She wore a horrid dress in a forest green color, with long sleeves that looked unbearably hot for such a sticky day. Her hair was pinned up under a rather old fashioned hat, and a pair of distinctive glassed rested low on the bridge of her nose. When the woman was so close to the house that it was hard to get a proper view, Petunia scrambled up from her perch and down the stairs to the landing. She peered into the living room. Mum was combing out Lily’s hair while she read one of her zillions of library books.
The doorbell rang. Petunia jumped down from the landing, racing to beat everyone else to answer it. For a moment, she stared open mouthed through the screen window at the woman’s stern but elegant face. Mum made a tsk sound, and Petunia came to her senses and opened the door.
“Hi,” she said, and immediately felt awkward.
“Good afternoon. I’m Professor Minerva McGonagall. I’m here to speak to Mr and Mrs. Evans, and Miss Lily Evans, if she’s here.”
“Me?” Lily squeaked,
Petunia stepped aside at the weight of Mum’s hand on her shoulder. For a moment, she thought Mum was going to send the woman off with a terse thank you, but there was something about her that made you positively afraid to disobey her. “I’m Mrs. Evans. Please come in,”
“Thank you,” the woman said, and followed Mum inside to the sofa. She sat down and looked at the redhead, who stood eagerly nearby. “You must be Lily.”
“I am,” Lily grinned. She hopped a little on her toes. “Are you— you’re from the school, aren’t you? From Hogwarts?”
At this the woman smiled, and Petunia was surprised that someone with so cool a demeanor could show such warmth. “Indeed I am. Is your father here?”
Lily nodded as Mum took a seat beside the woman. “Yes, my husband is upstairs. Petunia, would you go get your father please?”
Petunia went to the steps and hollered up, “Dad! Come down! Mum says!”
“That’s not what I meant,” Mum huffed.
“You think I’m going to miss a moment of this?” Petunia shot back.
Lily said nothing, though the way she fidgeted it was clear she was desperate for the conversation to really begin. Mum murmured an apology to the woman and offered her a glass of lemonade while dad came down the stairs with those heavy steps, wiping his hands on his pant legs.
When he entered the living room, he stopped in surprise. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize we had company.” He crossed the room in brisk strides and sat down beside Mum, holding his hand out to shake. “I’m Robert Evans.”
The woman shook his hand and responded, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Evans. My name is Minerva McGonagall. I’m here because Lily has been selected for admission to a very prestigious boarding school.”
“Has she?” Dad asked. The suspicion in his voice was obvious. Dad was a no fuss person. He liked things straightforward and comfortable - just like Petunia did. She had to restrain a chuckle as she watched his eyebrows rise.
“It’s true daddy, I promise! It’s Hogwarts!” Lily piped up unexpectedly, and both her parents stared at her as if she’d opened her mouth and a foreign language came out.
The McGonagall woman nodded. “Yes, the school is, to be precise, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And the young Miss Evans is”—she paused to give both Mum and Dad a look of great sincerity —“ a witch.”
Absolute silence greeted this proclamation. Petunia moved slowly away from the stair landing toward the rest of her family, and came up behind her father’s armchair, wishing somebody would say something, anything, to break the spell of silence.
Finally, Mum said, very politely, “I’m sorry but, what did you say?”
McGonagall opened her mouth to reply, but before she could get a word out, Lily said, “I’m a witch, Mum! I have magic. Hogwarts is the secret magic school. Isn’t it amazing?”
“I couldn’t have put it better,” McGonagall said, and that glimmer of a smile appeared on her face again for a moment.
“But…” Dad was looking around between McGonagall, Lily, and Mum in disbelief, until finally he settled on McGonagall and said, “But, that’s not possible! Magic isn’t real!”
“I know it’s rather a shock,” McGonagall stated calmly, “but magic is in fact quite real, as Lily already knows. If you think back on it, you may recall times when strange, inexplicable things happened to your daughter, or around her. Anything coming to mind?”
Slowly, both her parents began to nod their heads.
“That time with her hair, Bert,” Mum murmured, and dad reached across the coffee table to take her hand.
Lily watched them anxiously, and Petunia wondered what she was thinking. She looked terrified, but also ecstatic.
“But, magic?” Dad said again, running a hand through his hair, and shaking his head.
“Show them that thing you can do Lils. That’ll convince them!” Petunia spoke without thinking, and Lily flushed red.
“What thing does she mean, love?” Mum asked. Lily glanced at McGonagall, who nodded, and then scampered off and returned holding a yellow tulip from the vase on the kitchen table. Petunia watched eagerly as Lily did what Petunia knew she would do. It took her a moment. She could never do it instantly; it was almost like someone running hurdles, building up tension before the leap. Leap really was the right word, too, because that’s exactly what Petunia’s stomach did when Lily finally exhaled softly onto the golden petals. Then, of course, they weren’t golden anymore; at Lily’s command the flower turned the infinite blue of a summer sky, deepening to plum at the base.
Mother let out a frightened shriek that faded to awe after a moment. Father said nothing, and Petunia knew what he was thinking. He’d bought the bouquet of tulips yesterday when he and Petunia drove out to purchase potting soil. Therefore, he knew there was nothing special about the flowers. If there was nothing special about the flowers, there was only one possibility: Lily really was magic.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” he said at last. Mother shot him a scolding look for the curse. Normally Petunia disapproved of curse words, but she thought it was warranted in a situation like this.
McGonagall granted Petunia a wise look. “It seems your older daughter knew about this already.”
“Good point,” Mum said, her voice suddenly testy. She smoothed it over. “Petunia, honey, could you give us some time to chat? This is startling news, to say the least, and I’d like to have a chat with just us and Lily for a bit.”
“Oh. Yeah. Okay.” Petunia mumbled. As she left the room, she glanced several times over her shoulder at Lily, whose smile was growing wider by the millisecond.
Petunia had just finished repainting her toes to fix the smudges when Lily opened the door without warning and threw herself down on the bed alongside her.
“Um, do you mind?” Petunia said, “You could have knocked!”
“Sorry.” Lily rolled onto her back and stared wide eyed at the ceiling. “I can’t believe it’s real.”
“I thought you already knew? Didn’t that Snape boy tell you about it?” Petunia asked. “Even I knew!”
“His name is Severus, Petunia, gosh! And yes, he did tell me, but it never felt completely real until today. You should have seen it. She can turn into a cat!”
“I know! I saw her go from cat to human before she knocked. It was insane.”
“Completely,” Lily agreed. “But, maybe… insane in a good way?”
Petunia didn’t respond. She wasn’t sure if magic was good or not, she only knew that it was the most amazing thing she’d ever seen. “What did that lady tell you after I left?” She asked instead.
“Well, she explained more about Hogwarts and how to enroll and what to bring, and how to get there. I get to take the train!” They had taken the train to Edinburgh for a wedding a few years ago, and they both thought it was far superior to driving. ”Everything is just like Sev told me, really. Hogwarts is a castle, really beautiful, and I’ll get to learn all kinds of different things about magic. There are different houses and your house is like a family for while you’re at school.”
“Why would you need a family? Why can’t you just have us for your family?” Petunia remembered, randomly, that it was supposed to storm that night. She sat up and curled her knees into her chest.
“It’s a boarding school, Tuney. I won’t see you or Mum or Dad for months. I can’t be by myself during all that time.”
“Do you have to go away? Couldn’t you just go there for school and then come home at night?”
“You know I can’t. It doesn’t work that way.” Lily sat up, too, and wrapped an arm around Petunia’s shoulders. “I’m sorry. I’ll miss you bunches.”
Petunia didn’t return the hug. The familiar image of a castle, large and white, with a drawbridge, floated to the front of her mind, and Lily and Severus there together…
Lily interrupted her thoughts. “Wait, how did you know? You said you already knew about Hogwarts. How?”
Petunia’s blushed. “Oh, I, um… I kind of happened to overhear you and Snape talking…. It doesn’t matter.”
“It matters to me. You were spying!” Lily removed her arm and scooted away. “That’s nasty. You should have told me you knew!”
“When? You’re always out with him.”
“You could have come with me to meet him any time, but oh no, you’re too good to be friends with someone from Spinner’s End. You’re such a snob, Tuney.” Lily strung the nickname out, making it a tease.
“I am not! He’s weird, okay.” Petunia didn’t say what she was thinking, which was that Severus always looked at Lily like a hungry beast that had just successfully lured in its prey. He gave her the creeps.
Of course, Lily took it the wrong way. “If he’s weird, am I weird, too? I’m just like him, after all.”
“What?” Petunia sputtered. “You are not!”
“I am! You think we’re a pair of weirdos because we can do magic!”
“Well, I’m excited about Hogwarts, and I’m going!”
Why was Lily being so crabby? It wasn’t like her at all to yell and argue this way. “Lily, you’re acting weird.” The moment she said the words, Petunia knew they were a mistake.
“See! You do think I’m a weirdo! Well, I think you’re just jealous, so there!” Lily jumped up from the bed and stomped a foot.
“If that’s how you’re going to be, fine!” Petunia’s brain felt disconnected from her mouth. “Go ahead and find your new family - you’re a weirdo anyway. We won’t miss you!”
The air went static, and Lily jumped back as the words sliced between them. Then she turned and dashed out, her sobs still audible for a terrible moment as she rounded the corner.
Petunia stared after her for ages, not thinking, her heart pounding recklessly in her chest. Outside, thunder rumbled through the clouds. The storm was beginning.
I apologize for the wait! I am FINALLY ready to post more of this story, and I have a backlog of chapters now. I plan to post once a week until it's done.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter. I had a tough time with it. Many thanks to the wonderful Julie for her help!
Chapter 7: Pocket Money
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JKR owns the Potterverse.
8 August 1971
London buzzed. That’s how it seemed to Petunia, anyway: a swarming, buzzing, beehive of activity. Without the honey. Mum had promised that if they finished early with Lily’s shopping, they could go to Harrod’s to ride the Egyptian escalator and maybe get a sample of perfume. Petunia wondered if she could sneak an extra sample for Susie.
“It doesn’t make any sense!” Her father was saying as they emerged from the tube station into glaring sunshine. “I’ve been to Charring Cross Road hundred of times. I can tell you, there aren’t any signs for cauldrons or magic wands or pixie dust!”
Petunia half agreed with him and half wished he’d shut up. Dad had motion sickness on trains. After the train in from Cokeworth, and then the underground from St. Pancreas, he was hardly in a pleasant mood.
“Robert, please,” Mum said. She glanced anxiously at Lily, clearly intent that her youngest daughter would have a nice day out, so help the rest of them. No one ever spoiled Petunia this way.
“The whole thing still seems mad, Lizzie,” Dad said, and Mum’s eyes twitched toward Lily once again. Petunia wondered if they’d even notice if she disappeared down some intriguing alleyway. Surely there were loads of interesting things to see in London…
“The professor was perfectly pleasant, and there’s no denying that she turned into a cat. That was something else”—
“Shh!” Father looked around hurriedly, but the street was filled with gawking tourists and families out for an afternoon at the shops. No one was paying the slightest attention to them. “Anyway, the place should be here, right at this corner. If there’s no denying it, where is the place?”
At the front of their pack, Lily stopped abruptly, causing Petunia to nearly walk into her.
“Sorry Lils,” she murmured, but Lily ignored her. She pointed to a dingy pub. It was small and ragged, not to mention incredibly old looking, and Petunia had not even noticed it until Lily pointed it out. A small wooden sigh protruded from the stone entry: The Leaky Cauldron.
“There, that’s it,” Lily exclaimed, and set toward it at a trot.
Mother followed behind without comment, but father paused a moment, scratching absently at the back of his neck. “But… I could’ve sworn that was a locksmith…” he was mumbling, and looking between the pub and an address he’d written on a scrap of paper. He saw Petunia studying him and grinned. “The whole thing is odder than all get out, and you know your pop.”
“Chocolate and vanilla are plenty good,” Petunia grinned back. It was what he always said when they got ice cream at the beach and she and Lily bemoaned the lack of flavor offerings.
“Right you are. But, someone’s got to keep Lily and your mum from floating into the ether.” He winked. “On we go then, love.”
Feeling unusually fond of her father - both her parents had been the most irritating busybodies lately - Petunia slid her hand into his and together they entered the pub.
The space inside was considerably larger than Petunia expected. The man at the counter was pouring a suspicious looking drink for a blonde witch in a blue dress that Petunia felt sure her parents would never allow her to wear, not even when she was 40. All around, scattered through the poorly lit room, were men and women in odd clothing reminiscent of the dress the professor had worn, many sporting tall pointed hats. Two men sitting by the fire - a haggard-looking man with numerous scars and one enlarged eye that swiveled maddly, and a man in bright purple with the longest silver beard Petunia had ever scene, glanced at her family and exchanged a few words with knowing, though not unpleasant expressions. Father was speaking to the barman, and before Petunia had satisfied her curiosity he was towing her behind him along with Lily and Mum toward a small patio in the back.
“You sure you got to bring the other ‘un?” The man asked, tilting his chin at Petunia, and it took all her self-restraint not to poke out her tongue at him.
“Yes, we’ve got to bring her!” Mum snapped, and Petunia felt her sense of justice restored.
“Ah, well, I understand. Not encouraged, you know, for Muggles to enter unless it’s strictly necessary. I’m required to ask.” He gave an apologetic shrug.
Mum and Dad exchanged uncertain glances at his words, but then the man did something and they all forgot their irritation at once. Petunia hadn’t seen what he did - though she was certain Lily had and resolved to ask her later - but suddenly, quite out of nowhere, the brick wall at the back of the patio revealed an arched entryway onto the most jaw dropping street she had ever seen. Lily, who had been uncommonly quiet all day in a sort of uncanny ecstasy about the whole outing, gave an audible gasp and immediately crossed through the entryway into the vivid chaos beyond.
Mum and Dad walked behind her, and Petunia followed, her stomach now just as beehive-like as the London streets.
There were adverts everywhere, and while normally Petunia paid little attention to adverts, these were difficult to ignore. “SALE: Romanov’s Rune Stones! Made from real Baltic Amber!” “Buy Two Quills, Get One Free.” And, unbelievably, “TODAY ONLY: Cornish Pixie Dust Half Off.” (Ahead of her, Dad elbowed Mum in the ribs.) Shop windows displayed broomsticks, gleaming silver cauldrons, live owls, and a hundred other jaw dropping things. Besides the shops themselves, the people were hardly ordinary. Of course, the fashion was quite distinct from anything Petunia had seen before. Moreover, right before her eyes, a teenaged boy changed his own nose to that of a pig and snorted at a passing girl, who stuck her own perfect nose in the air and stormed off while his friend laughed loudly. A good-looking lad around Lily’s age hung back, awestruck, and grinned at the pig-nosed boy, until the girl came back and dragged him off.
Petunia had barely begun to take it all in, really, when Lily threw herself on her with a shriek. “Oh, Tuney! It’s amazing! Isn’t it amazing? I’m so glad Mum and Dad let you come.”
Petunia smiled. She couldn’t help it. “Yeah, it’s amazing,” she agreed. She wiggled out of Lily’s tackle and gave her a one-armed hug.
“Girls!” Dad’s voice bellowed from the far side of the street. “Come here.” He signaled over to where Mum had laid claim to a cast iron bench. They joined their parents, Mum having pulled out Lily’s school supply list to plan out the day’s shopping. She was bouncing thoughts off of Dad, who repeated them mindlessly. For all his earlier grumbling, he was now looking around the street with undisguised eagerness.
While Mum figured out the game plan using the shopping list and a neatly drawn map Professor McGonagall had given them, Lily and Petunia exchanged excited giggles and smirks over the bizarrely fascinating sights of the street. What had the barman called it? Diagon Alley, that was it.
“There’s lots of kids here,” Lily said. She was looking with interest at a boy a year or two her senior, walking alongside a woman in a hat topped with a vulture.
“Yeah,” Petunia agreed. “I wonder if any of them go to your same school?”
“There’s only one school of magic in Britain.”
“I thought that McGonagall lady said there were others?”
“There are others, but I think they’re in America and China and places like that.”
“Oh.” Petunia tried to imagine attending a school of magic in China and gave up. The very idea made her head spin.
“I guess these will be your mates then.” Petunia said.
“Yeah,” Lily agreed, suddenly a hair breathless.
Nearby, a plume of bright orange smoke erupted from a small explosion, and pair of sandy-haired twin boys burst into laughter.
Petunia laughed. “Good luck with that, Lils.”
Mum’s itinerary brought them first to a massive stone building, every bit as imposing as the Bank of England. Overhead, an ornate script christened the place Gringott’s Wizarding Bank. All of them, even their father, shrunk back a little at the sight of it, but eventually Mum sighed and said, “In we go then.”
The hall inside looked very much like the fancy banks Petunia had visited once or twice, with lots of marble and columns and little divided counters behind which grim employees counted out money. Except - and this was the most exceptional except of all time, Petunia thought - instead of men in suits and neckties, the employees were, honest to God, goblins. Lily’s eyes widened to perfect circles as they trailed behind Dad to a vacant counter, and Petunia thought she must look similarly cowed.
Petunia tried her best to appear curious rather than afraid, which was considerably closer to the truth, and the moment Dad finished exchanging a wad of pounds for a small pile of gold, silver, and bronze coins that looked like something out of a pirate’s treasure haul, she dashed out of the bank without looking round once.
The first place they went was a store called Madame Malkin’s, where tape measures hovered around children draped in black cloth, taking measurements entirely of their own accord. Petunia couldn’t take her eyes off of them the entire time Lily was being fitted. Then they went to a dusty little shop owned by a mustached man who frankly gave Petunia the creeps - she and Dad opted to wait outside. Despite the oddity of the place, Lily emerged from it with a grin the size of an elephant, carrying the new purchase - an actual magic wand - as if it were the most valuable thing on Earth. Petunia didn’t blame her, to be honest.
They were slurping at enormous ice cream cones from a street vendor when Mum leaned over and handed Petunia a single silver coin. Petunia looked up in surprise.
“I think you deserve some pocket money,” Mum smiled.
“Really?” Petunia knew her parents could barely afford Hogwarts, and pocket money of any kind was a definite luxury. “Thank you so much, Mum!”
“Just, nothing too magical, okay? I don’t want the neighbors to call the cops on us!”
Petunia giggled. “Yeah, alright.” She polished the coin with a thumb. On one side, it bore a coat of arms and the words “One Sickle.” On the other side was an engraving of a witch in clothes that looked old even by the standards of the magical world, framed by the name Morgan Le Fay. “Cool,” she breathed, and considered keeping the coin instead of buying anything.
That idea vanished almost at once. Across the table, Lily had delicately removed her magic wand from it’s protective box, and was gently swishing it so that it emitted a small shower of golden sparks. “I want a wand,” she stated. “That’s what I want.”
“Petunia,” Dad said, overhearing, “you know you can’t have a wand. It’s too dangerous having one at home. Besides, they cost an arm and a leg! It was more than the rest of this haul put together to get your sister’s!”
“Sorry, Dad,” Lily mumbled, flushing. Petunia rolled her eyes.
“I don’t care!” She barged on, ignoring her mother’s unusually stern look. She jumped up from the table and snaked through the crowded street to the wand shop, which was thankfully nearby. She hadn’t gone in before, and once inside she was surprised by the quiet, as if there weren’t hundreds of people just on the other side of the door.
“Hello miss,” said the odd man she’d seen before. “Can I help you?”
“There’s nothing to be nervous about,” he interrupted. “We’ll find you a wand in no time.”
“Yes!” She agreed, finding her voice. “I’d like a wand please.” She held out her hand politely, and the man laughed.
“I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way. The wand chooses the wizard—er, witch— you see.”
“Huh?” The man seemed crazier with every passing second, and his eyes took on a misty expression as be began to pull thin boxes off the wall. “Here.” He jabbed a stick of wood into her hand, but it had hardly been there a moment when he snatched it back and replaced it with another nearly identical stick. This went on for some minutes, Petunia letting him administer the objects in overwhelmed silence. Finally, when she was nearly dizzy from the strange man’s attentions, Dad entered the shop, and the rush of noise that came through the door with him shook Petunia out of some kind of trance.
“Petunia Anne Evans! What do you think you’re doing? You mother just about had a heart attack when you dashed off like that.” He took her hand and headed back toward the door, adding to the man as he went, “I’m so sorry about my daughter, sir. I don’t know what she was thinking. Apologize for wasting the man’s, time,” he prodded her.”
“Sorry,” Petunia muttered.
“Wasting my time? But, doesn’t she need a wand?”
“No,” Father said curtly.
The man paused for a moment to take them both in, and his face softened with understanding. “I see. Muggles. You’ve got a child at Hogwarts then?”
“Yeah,” Dad answered. “Our younger daughter.”
“I must say, I’m a bit relieved. You had me worried, miss. None of the wands took to you at all! It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?”
Petunia felt her cheeks redden as Dad nodded and, wishing the man a pleasant afternoon, ushered her back into the street.
After a thorough chastisement from her parents, Petunia followed behind her family in dour silence for the next several hours while they bought scores and scores of things for Lily. It could have been worse. Mum coaxed Dad into letting her keep her unspent pocket money, which made it hard to be entirely gloomy. The bookstore they went in first was a bit dull - although Lily didn’t think so at all, and was nearly down on her knees begging for every book she could get her hands on. However, after that they visited stores absolutely bursting to the seams with magic. Petunia would have happily taken home anything in site, apart from some of the nastier items in the Apothecary, where Pixie dust was by far on the more pleasant end of the spectrum. She ended up with a mood ring that really worked, a package of a candy called Fizzing Whizbees, an imitation wand, and a magazine called “Magical Miss” that she had to absolutely swear not to show her friends because the photographs moved.
They ended the shopping spree back in the Leaky Cauldron, where Dad bought fish and chips for lunch. The food was delicious, but Lily scarfed hers down in a rush and spent the rest of the meal looking eagerly through a book called Hogwarts: A History. Petunia thought it look horribly dull, until Lily opened a page for her bearing a black and white photograph of an enormous stone castle, complete with towers and bridges and an enormous lake on one side.
“Look, Tuney,” Lily whispered, “Hogwarts.”
“That’s a school?” It was even more incredible than she’d imagined. Despite her lingering bitterness, the truth slipped out: “It’s beautiful.”
The green of Lily’s eyes seemed to brighten at Petunia’s words. “We’ll go there together someday, Tuney. Think how cool that would be!”
Petunia wanted to answer, but she couldn’t find the words, and then Mum said, “Girls, do you still want to stop by Harrod’s? I think we’ve got enough time.”
Lily shrugged, turning to a new page. Petunia knew she ought to say yes. Lily had been in the spotlight all day, Petunia trailing behind like the afterthought she was, and Mum was trying to make her feel included She should’ve been grateful. Truthfully, though, she felt a bit worn out from the crazed bewitchment of Diagon Alley. She could’ve used a nap. Besides, there was simply no denying it: The Egyptian staircase at Harrod’s seemed hardly worth bothering about next to the incredible sights of the day. “Nah, that’s alright. I’m a bit tired.”
“You’re sure?” Mum asked, surprised.
“Excellent,” Dad responded, and his relief was obvious. “I’ve had more than enough of shops for the day.”
“Me too,” Lily agreed, her nose still stuck in her fat book.
Petunia nodded absently. Dad paid the bill, and Mum gathered up their many parcels for the trip back home, handing a few of the bags to Petunia. They exited the pub and walked back toward the underground station, quiet with weariness from a very busy day, and the complete normalcy of the world - even the busy London world - made Petunia’s throat catch. She had a palpable feeling of having lost something desperately important. Diagon Alley lingered in her memory like an intangible but delicious flavor that glimmered and awed without effort. Already she craved to return to the magic, and somewhere under her eagerness she felt a little tickle of knowledge, an indistinguishable whisper that something was off. For the rest of time, would the regular world appear dusty and dull? Petunia didn’t think she could stand it.
She looked at Lily again. “You promise?” She whispered.
Lily smiled. “I promise.”
Thank you so much for reading! As always, a review would make my day.
Chapter 8: Crossed Fingers
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everything recognizable belongs to J. K. Rowling.
10 August 1971
Unfair. The word had bounced around her head for the past two days, ever since the trip to Diagon Alley. Dad said people should be equal, and that when she saw inequality she should speak up about it. Lily going to Hogwarts when Petunia couldn’t wasn’t equal. It wasn’t fair.
At least maybe Dad would agree with her. She made her way to the living room, where he sat with a beer and the evening paper.
He hummed a reply, not looking up from the headlines.
“Daddy, are you listening?” She demanded.
He laid the paper down on his lap impatiently. “What is it, love?”
“People should be equal, right?”
“What do you do when things aren’t equal? How to you make it right?” She pushed the paper aside and rested on his knee, hoping he wouldn’t guess why she asked.
He sighed heavily. “That’s a big question. Lots of adults don’t have the answer for it yet, either. That’s why I’m in the union. The union lets us little guys work together, to protect ourselves from the big bad guys.”
“Oh.” She considered. “But, what do you do? How do you protect yourselves?”
“Well, you remember when I stopped working for a while last fall?”
Petunia nodded, and shifted into a more comfortable position on his lap.
“That was called a strike. We stopped working until the big bad guys agreed to treat us better. They needed us to work, so eventually they caved in. But we had to fight for it. We wrote letters to the big boss to explain our opinions, and we protested with signs. It’s a very complicated, grown-up thing.” He squinted worriedly at her. “Why do you ask? You’re not being bullied, are you?”
In truth she was sometimes bullied at school, but the summer was safe from that. “No, nothing like that. I just wondered. Thanks, Daddy.” She hopped up and kissed him hastily on the cheek before rushing out, wanting to avoid further questioning.
Safe in her bedroom, she lay on her back and thought over what he’d said. It didn’t seem very helpful. She didn’t have a union. Refusing to go to school wouldn’t change anything at all except that she’d be in big trouble with Mum and Dad. As for letters, who would she even write to?
She sat up. The day before, she’d stolen Lily’s Hogwarts book while her sister was out with Snape and read as much of it as she could before dinner. It had said something about the Headmaster. Walking on tiptoe, she snuck into the room across the hall. The book lay on the floor, open in the middle to a page titled “Lore and Legends.” Back in her own room, she flipped through the pages again until she found the section on modern times at Hogwarts. “Headmaster, headmaster,” she mumbled under her breath, searching for the word. “Aha!”
What a name! The headmaster was a man called Albus Dumbledore. Giggling a little at the sound of it, she pulled out a sheet of paper and a pencil, and sat down at her desk.
10 August, 1971
Dear Mr. Dumbledore,
Hi. My name is Petunia Evans. My sister Lily is going to start Hogwarts this year. I think it’s unfair that I can’t go too. We’re sisters, so we should be equal. I don’t see how you can know I’m not magic when I haven’t even had a chance to try and learn it. I know I’m a little old to be a first year, but I wouldn’t mind. I will even stay two extra years to make up for it! Please, please let me come! I will work harder than any other student and practice all the time if you just let me learn magic with Lily.
I’m sure Lily would be happy if I came with, too. I know usually normal people aren’t allowed, but that is wrong. You should let me go to the school if I want to. Please, at least let me try.
I want to go to Hogwarts more than anything in the whole wide world. I know if you make them, they will let me in.
Please help me, Mr. Dumbledore.
The next day, Petunia walked to the high street and mailed the letter, folded up in an envelope labeled simply “Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts” and bearing three extra stamps just in case. She watched it fall into the mailbox with crossed fingers and sent up a prayer. Please.
A/N: Thank you for reading. Another chapter should be up in just a few days.
Thank you to Aph for the read through :)
Chapter 9: Station Wagon
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JKR owns the Potterverse.
1 September 1971
Sev said magic would change her. He said they would get to Hogwarts and life would never be the same. Lily breathed hot air onto the window pane and traced the outline of a house, a heart, a flower. She wondered if Petunia was doing the same thing on the other side of the backseat, but she didn’t turn around to look. That would be like giving in, and she couldn’t do that.
Mum said Sev was wrong. She said Lily would change, and life would change, but that Lily would still be Lily and lots of things would still be the same. But Lily knew, somehow, the Sev was right. She would climb aboard the train - the Hogwarts Express, she still loved the name - and it would carry her away from this life and into a different one, and she would never, ever be able to go back. Not really. Not in the ways that mattered.
She flattened her palm against the cool glass and demolished her picture. The home, the heart, the flower, gone in a flash. Easy. As soon as she did it, she wished she hadn’t, but the rain had tapered off and she couldn’t get the glass to fog up again. It was just a window now, clear and clean and empty.
Why could’t Tuney go to Hogwarts? Why had Lily gotten magic, but Petunia hadn’t? It wasn’t fair. Not one little bit. For a moment Lily wished, truly, ludicrously, that she could be just an ordinary person. No dandelions blushing pink at her command, no vengeful pimples showing up on mean girls’ faces at school, no owls leaving streaks of white on the front walk. She remembered a particular part of Dumbledore’s letter, read with Severus behind the tennis courts at the park.
I understand the injustice of life better than you might think. You are right to say it is unfair that Lily and yourself were born with this rather significant difference. However, I have learned that, while things often seem unfair to one’s own disadvantage, you may find in the end that it is you who got the better lot after all. Or perhaps not. Only time will tell.
Severus had scoffed at this, clearly finding the idea that anyone would prefer not to have magic utterly insane. “He’s famous, you know, but he’s a bit mad,” he’d said, rolling his eyes.
Lily, however, had spent several nights lying awake, and the thought that it was all too much, too complicated, was frequent among the worries that circled back to her with the steadfastness of the sun. She’d gotten this incredible thing, and she couldn’t help but worry that she didn’t deserve it. What if she started Hogwarts and they discovered she was no good at magic and had to send her home? What if she made a mistake and hurt somebody? What if she failed all her classes? Professor Dumbledore was right; Lily might not be the lucky one at all. Suddenly a rush of warmth toward Petunia rose up in her chest. She had, after all, tried so hard to go and been so keenly disappointed.
Lily turned away from the window and toward Petunia for the first time since leaving the driveway in Cokeworth. Petunia wasn’t looking out the window. She held her mood ring between careful fingers, studying it absently as the car bumped along. Lily wondered what color it was. Orange for unsettled? Red for angry? Yellow for happy? She’d said as much the other day.
“Tuney,” Lily whispered. Petunia glanced at her and frowned. “I don’t think it’s better to have magic, you know. I mean, I don’t think it makes me better than you.”
Petunia scowled, gave a small sniff, and turned her attention back to her mood ring.
“Please say something,” Lily hated the pleading note in her voice, but she couldn’t help herself. “Please, Tuney. I’m not going to see you for months. Won’t you miss me at all?” Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes and she did nothing to prevent them. “I’m going to miss you.”
Petunia’s expression darkened. “You don’t have the right to be sad!” She hissed, keeping her vice low so Mum and Dad wouldn’t hear. “You chose this! You’re the one who’s different. You’re the one who’s leaving. So don’t t you dare say you’re going to miss us when you could’ve stayed home in the first place!”
Fighting through a sob to get the words out, Lily answered. “What would you do? Would you just pass it up?”
“Of course!” Petunia lied.
“That’s not true. You’d go in a heartbeat. You probably wouldn’t even feel sorry!”
Petunia looked stung at being caught in her lie. “How do you know? You don’t know what I would do!”
“Oh, yes I do.” Lily snapped.
“Why can’t you just stay home?” Petunias eyes started to glisten. She was always getting mad at people for doing things she would have done herself, no questions asked. Wasn’t she supposed to be the responsible one? The mature one? It wasn’t fair the way she acted. Something in Lily, some long worn elastic temper, snapped.
“God, Petunia. I don’t want to stay home, okay? I want to go! Anyone would want to go! I really will miss you, though.”
“You are so selfish!” Petunia seethed.
“No, Tuney! I’m sorry!” She rushed the words, forgetting to keep her voice low.
Mum craned around from the passenger seat and eyed them suspiciously. “Quiet down back there, girls. Your father and I are trying to read the map. We’ll be there soon.
“Sorry, Mum,” Lily murmured. She turned back to Petunia and mouthed the words, I’m sorry.
Petunia clenched her jaw, unimpressed. She turned the ring over in her palm, seeming to consider the magic it held. Then, with surprising violence, she threw the ring, hard. It hit Lily in the chest with a sting. She squeaked. Petunia gave a satisfied scowl and turned firmly toward her window.
Lily retrieved the ring from where it had fallen and slid it onto her thumb. The glassy sides turned a pale lavender. She tried to picture the little decoder card that had come with it, but couldn’t. It was a shame, because she had never in her life been less certain of how she felt.
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