This hatred was not without reason. Abnormalities had turned her life upside down so many times, Petunia hardly had any idea which way was up anymore. Abnormalities had torn her family apart, given her a lifetime of regret, and taken her younger sister.
It all started with Lily. Beautiful, wonderful, sweet Lily, who was as abnormal as anyone could possibly be.
It was unfair to blame her unfortunate sister for all that had happened. Lily Evans had never done a wrong thing in her life. Of course, as a child she had occasionally unintentionally hurt Petunia with strange temper tantrums that seemed to defy the laws of physics, and she had befriended that odd Snape child a few neighborhoods over, and she had gone off to boarding school, to another world, leaving Petunia behind– but none of that was precisely Lily’s fault.
But Lily had, quite unknowingly, introduced Petunia to a world of abnormalities. And these familiar abnormalities haunted her for the rest of her long, ordinary, satisfactory life. Petunia despised them.
This intolerance had spawned one summer, many years ago, when a letter arrived at the quiet Evans household. A very severe looking woman, with a tight bun and square spectacles, had rapped sharply on the door and appeared affronted when it took a few minutes to be answered. The letter was tucked into her peculiar cloak.
Little Petunia had watched the woman from her bedroom window. Though not cowardly, Petunia was not an idiot about strangers. She would not answer the door unless she knew the person knocking.
Curiosity, however, was an irrepressible part of Petunia’s personality. She crept down the stairs and hid, just behind the doorway, to listen to the conversation.
“Mr. and Mrs. Evans,” the woman began grimly, “my name is Minerva McGonagall. I am a professor at Hogwarts School, here to discuss your daughter Lily.”
Petunia had never heard of this Hogwarts, and didn’t like the sound of it. She heard her mother respond, surprised, “A school? We haven’t put Lily’s name down for any school.”
“I understand,” said Professor McGonagall briskly, “I have a letter here for you from the Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore. If you’d like, we can sit down a moment while you read it and then we can discuss Lily’s schooling.”
Petunia’s bewildered parents accepted the letter, and led Professor McGonagall to the sitting room. Petunia followed, and crouched around the corner. When she peeked around the wall, she could see her parents and the Professor sitting stiffly on the floral-patterned couches.
“May I ask, where is your daughter?” Professor McGonagall inquired.
“Oh, at the park I presume,” Mr. Evans replied, opening the letter with a ripping sound, “she’ll be home soon, it’s nearly lunchtime. Would you like to meet her?”
“That would be preferable,” she said stiffly.
The room fell quiet as Petunia’s parents read the letter. Professor McGonagall simply sat there, looking quite professional and business-like.
“Er,” Mr. Evans looked up at her, his eyebrows pinched together, “is this some sort of a joke?”
“No, it’s not,” Professor McGonagall said dryly. Petunia thought she could hear a bit of amusement in the harsh woman’s tone.
Mrs. Evans looked politely puzzled, “Hogwarts School of, er, Witchcraft and Wizardry?”
“Yes,” Professor McGonagall looked at them, and her expression softened, “I know it must be very confusing. Hogwarts is a school for magic, where young wizards and witches come to learn. Lily, though she comes from a non-magical family, is in fact a witch. Her name has been down for the school since she was born.”
“I’m quite sorry,” Mr. Evans held the letter tightly, his tone politely skeptical, “but this seems ridiculous. We’ve never put Lily’s name down for any school, and she’s certainly not a witch! I mean, magic?”
“Ah,” Professor McGonagall appraised them, her eyes warm, “but I am sure though that you have noticed something is different about her? Perhaps when she is very angry, or frightened, or jubilant, odd things occur? Impossible things? Young Lily Evans is indeed a witch, and quite a powerful one if I have any sense at all.”
Petunia gasped, and quickly threw her hand over her mouth. This McGonagall woman made all sorts of sense! Whenever Lily lost her temper strange, unexplainable things would happen – once an entire bookcase had fallen and crashed, though no one had touched it. She had caused Petunia’s birthday cake to simply disappear once. Petunia even had a hazy memory of Lily as a toddler, clapping and causing pink bubbles to appear in midair.
“Well . . .” Mrs. Evans hesitated, “Lily has occasionally exhibited some strange behavior. But magic?”
Professor McGonagall seemed to have done this sort of persuasion before. She withdrew a long, thin stick of wood from inside her cloak. “Would you prefer if I proved the existence of magic to you?”
Petunia’s parents simply looked at her, wordlessly. Petunia watched, wide-eyed.
The woman flicked the stick, and at once the coffee table turned into a Labrador retriever. It barked, once, and then Professor McGonagall brandished the stick again and the coffee table turned back to normal.
After that, the conversation became much more realistic. The Evans learned all about the magical world living right under the noses of muggles (non-magic folk) and that it was absolutely secret, so they could not tell anyone. Professor McGonagall would escort them to Diagon Alley to buy Lily’s school things, and she would be expected at Platform nine and three-quarters at Kings Cross Station no later then eleven o’clock on September first.
“And it’s safe, this school, right?” Mr. Evans asked once, warily.
“Perfectly safe, I assure you,” replied Professor McGonagall kindly, “the staff are all qualified wizards and witches. It is located in a remote part of Scotland, away from any muggles or magical dangers. Perhaps most significantly, the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is brilliant. He is the most powerful wizard of our time, and a remarkable man.”
Mr. and Mrs. Evans looked slightly appeased, though Petunia was still skeptical.
Professor McGonagall went on to tell them that Lily would have the choice to return for both the Christmas and Easter holidays, and that the easiest way to communicate would be via owl. Also, Lily could not have a broomstick her first year.
At that moment, Petunia heard the door slam. She hastily stood up, and pretended not to be listening at the door. It didn’t matter though – Lily did not see her when she rushed past, a blur of red hair.
“Mum! Mummy!” Lily screeched, wild with excitement, “You’ll never guess what I just did!”
Mrs. Evans coughed pointedly, and looked at Professor McGonagall.
Lily saw the woman, and then looked properly abashed. “Oh, sorry.”
“Hello, Miss Evans,” Professor McGonagall appraised her, a twinkle in her eye, “my name is Professor McGonagall.”
“Er, hello,” Lily smiled brightly at her, and then glanced quizzically at her parents.
Petunia turned red with jealousy after that. Lily was not surprised at all about Hogwarts, for that awful Snape boy had already told her all about it. Her parents seemed to take the news much better knowing that Lily was so enthusiastic. After twenty more minutes or so, in which Lily asked close to a hundred questions and Professor McGonagall’s smile grew steadily warmer, Lily’s parents seemed ready to go to this Diagon Alley.
Petunia had stayed home that afternoon, bitter with envy, and waited for her parents and Lily. She went and messed up Lily’s room a bit, so she’d have to clean it later, and then sat down huffily and read a book.
When her family returned Professor McGonagall was no longer with them, but Lily was practically bursting with excitement. Mr. and Mrs. Evans carried all sorts of oddly shaped parcels, and Lily herself was holding a cage with a tawny owl.
“Isn’t she beautiful, Tuney?” Lily cried, “I named her Lilac! She has a flower name just like us!”
Petunia snarled, and glared angrily at her book.
Lily’s enthusiasm was unstoppable, however, and she carried all of her things upstairs and packed them that very night. Petunia’s parents seemed overjoyed, and continued talking in quiet whispers about how extraordinary their youngest was, and incredible it was that a different world was existing right under their noses.
Petunia spent the rest of that summer angrily eavesdropping on her parents, who had nothing but praise for Lily, and spying on Lily and that Snape boy. She stole a few of Lily’s spell books to read too, but she couldn’t understand anything in them and quickly gave up.
It was a good thing Petunia had her own school to go to – Veronica’s Institute for Ladies. It was a prestigious place, Petunia had earned her spot, and she would be twice as happy as Lily. And that was that.
Unfortunately, Petunia’s school – which was much better than any place called Hogwarts – did not begin until September third. Petunia sulked all the way to Kings Cross station with her parents, and fought the anger rising quickly in her stomach. Lily darted about, exuberant and lively, and recovered quickly from Petunia’s bad attitude.
It was not until the Hogwarts Express began moving, and Lily waved madly out the window until the train rounded the corner, that Petunia realized how much she would miss her little sister.
Petunia’s year was unmemorable. She came home for Christmas, only to see Lily wearing robes and carrying a cauldron under her arm, and wished she could leave as soon as possible. Easter, thankfully, Lily stayed at school. Mr. and Mrs. Evans seemed perfectly content to speak only of Petunia’s good marks, fashionable reputation at school, and her crush on a boy named Gregory.
That summer, once again, Lily lit up the house with her infectious laughter and wild tales. She would occasionally disappear for hours, with creepy Snape, but usually she charmed their parents and wrote hundreds of her letters to her many freakish friends. Petunia tried to be just as endearing, but she was too bitter to properly pull it off. It was good she had decent parents, who paid her equal attention as Lily no matter how much more brilliant her little sister was.
The next three years passed in much the same way. Lily would disappear to Hogwarts, and return home months later suddenly taller, more beautiful, and less hyper. Petunia, who was the eldest after all, grew into her womanly figure much more quickly. She was not a stunner, but she was certainly attractive in her own way. If her blonde hair framed her face just right, she could even pass as quite pretty.
But it was an effort, and Petunia found herself in front of the mirror for hours each morning, determined to look absolutely perfect. It paid off, for she brought home plenty of boyfriends, and her gentle parents told her often how lovely she was and how popular she must be at Veronica’s Institute for Ladies.
“Yes, I am,” she would say proudly, “quite popular.”
During the summers Lily would spend less and less time with Snape, who often prowled around the driveway and peered hopefully up at the windows. Personally, Petunia hated the boy. He was the nastiest, greasiest thing she had ever laid eyes on. Lily’s parents had him over for dinner a few times, but he always seemed thoroughly uncomfortable and haughty in the house. It was as if Petunia and her parents were beneath him. Petunia would glare at him, and say cruel things whenever he was out of earshot.
During the early years Lily would protest loudly whenever Petunia did this, but as time passed her protestations grew feebler. One day, the summer before Lily’s fifth year, she confided in Petunia.
“Tuney, he just . . . in my world, there are some people who think muggles are scum. They think non-magic people are beneath them. Like wizards are superior. And muggleborns – like me – are scum too,” Lily clenched her fist and seemed very angry, “they call me a mudblood, some of them. It means foul blood. Inferior.”
Petunia grew quite indignant at this, “Scum? Us? Have you seen that Snape boy?”
“I know,” Lily said absently, “but see, it’s not about looks, is it? It’s about blood. Sev is a half blood, his mother was a witch. He’s better than me, in terms of status.”
“Are they all like that?” Petunia demanded, feeling intense dislike for wizards.
“Oh no! Not at all,” Lily seemed surprised, “no, in fact, most aren’t. Slytherins tend to be right prats, but most of the wizards I know – even the pure bloods – are quite nice.”
“But Snape is a . . . a Slytherin?” Petunia asked, hating the foreign word.
Lily nodded regretfully.
Unfortunately, Lily seemed to be quite popular too, even without the efforts Petunia put forth. She had many friends, though Petunia never saw them, and wrote to them often. Lily always prattled about Alice and Marlene and Dorcas, and all sorts of other girls who, it seemed, were witches too. Lilac would swoop in and out of the house, carrying thick letters for the young redhead.
There were boys too, but no boyfriends. Petunia was proud that she was the only Evans daughter who was popular with boys.
“What about that Potter boy? The one who introduced himself at the station?” Mrs. Evans asked fondly one day. Petunia, who had point-blank refused to pick up little miss fourth year from the train station, listened intently at this.
“Absolutely not!” Lily exclaimed, “he’s an arrogant git, he is! Always showing off. Him and all his friends. They’re so brilliant and popular but all they do is bully and I just can’t stand it!”
That ended that discussion. Petunia was rather smug. She had a boyfriend named Christopher Peters at that point, who was a perfectly lovely boy.
The summer after Lily’s fifth year – the summer before Petunia’s last year of school – was different. The Snape boy desperately knocked on the door every day, but Lily refused to see him no matter how long he stayed there or how pathetically he pleaded. Petunia’s parents grew concerned, and finally told the boy that if Lily wanted to see him, she would come to him. He needed to leave her alone.
Petunia scowled. She wished boys – even ugly ones – were that desperate to see her.
Also, a new owl began arriving at the Evans house at least twice a week. It was sleek and black, and Lily seemed rather fond of it. She called him Socrates.
“If you like the owl so much, then why do you rip up every letter it brings you?” Petunia blurted out one evening.
Lily looked at her, surprised, “Well this is Potter’s owl. I can’t stand the boy, but Socrates is so sweet!”
Petunia hated this Potter boy. She hated him for being in love with her little sister, for being a bullying git, for having a beautiful owl, and for being a freak. She told Lily as much, but her little sister only sighed. “He’s just got an ego, Tuney. Just because he’s a wizard doesn’t mean he’s evil. Besides, you’ve never met him.”
Petunia flounced off to her last year of school, determined that, if nothing else, she would make herself the most popular girl at Veronica’s. She succeeded too – by being the gossip queen, the girls there idolized her. Her curiosity helped her to acquire all sorts of information, and before she knew it, people were positively clamoring to be on her good side.
She liked the power. She liked it even better when her new, popular status got her an invitation to a dance at the boys’ school, and she met a large, intimidating boy named Vernon Dursley.
Vernon was different than her other boyfriends. He was charming, in his own way, and clearly adored her. Petunia was flattered by his unceasing attention. He gave her everything she wanted, complimented everything she did, and seemed utterly in love with her.
And she was happy, even when she heard that Lily had broken all records for some kind of Charms exam, and that Socrates had delivered a letter to Petunia’s parents with the Potter boy begging to know if Lily hated him as much as she did, and that her Mum had written back a quick No she doesn’t – she talks about you often, give it time!
Petunia was happy even when Socrates began arriving at the house all the time, bringing letters only for Mrs. Evans. It was odd enough that this Potter boy stalked Lily at school – he was apparently after her mother at well.
“Oh no, it’s nothing,” Mrs. Evans explained happily at Easter, when Lily was out of the room, “he’s a sweet boy, and he’s learning Muggle Studies at school. He’s asked me for some help with some projects, and advice on how to get Lily. Don’t tell your sister.”
That night, Petunia prodded Vernon to write a letter or two to her parents. Vernon point blank refused, but agreed to accompany Petunia to her parents for dinner two nights a week during the upcoming summer vacation.
Soon enough Petunia’s last year of school was over, she was a true adult, and she was in the happiest relationship of her life. Lily came home for Petunia’s graduation. Petunia was thrilled, standing on a stage in front of everyone – even Lily – the center of attention.
That night, Vernon asked her to marry him. Naturally, she said yes.
That summer was full of wedding plans. Petunia found she had never been so busy, or so happy. There was a location to book, a cake to design, a dress to buy, a guess list to write, invitations to send, caterers to be reserved. Mrs. Evans worked tirelessly for her eldest daughter, and even volunteered her old, antique dress for the occasion. Petunia was awed – but of course, as the eldest, it was her birthright.
Lily, as much as Petunia hated to admit it, was a dear all summer. She tried to help as much as she could, though she clearly did not approve of Vernon, and handled the loss of the wedding dress gracefully.
“Tuney, you really love him, right?” Lily asked doubtfully one evening as they compared napkin samples.
Petunia glared at her, “Of course I do. Why would I be marrying him otherwise?”
Truthfully, she could find absolutely no fault in Vernon. He was handsome, and strong, and already had an internship at a very successful drill company. He treated her kindly. He was responsible, and opinionated. And he very obviously loved her.
“But is he the man you pictured marrying when we were younger?” Lily persisted.
Of course he wasn’t. Vernon was no Prince Charming, no golden hair or strapping, fit body. He was not a romantic, nor did he have any tolerance for the novels and movies that made her weep. But he was a good, respectable man, and that was all that mattered.
“I am perfectly happy, Lily,” Petunia snapped, and she gathered up the samples and stormed out of the room.
Petunia’s wedding plans were disrupted at the end of July, when an owl swooped in and dropped a letter carrying a Head Girl badge for Lily. Her parents were positively thrilled for their youngest, who was the top, smartest, most responsible girl in her entire class. Of course she was. Lily led a charmed life, a life where she was brilliant and beautiful and infectious and irrepressible. And Head Girl.
Petunia was happy for her, however grudgingly, and even allowed Lily to have significant input on the bridesmaid dresses. (Pink and purple, of course, for Petunia’s namesake). But she allowed Lily to make them short and saucy, a deep purple color, with a single pink sash. Truth be told they were rather cute, and Petunia, though she would never admit it, liked them quite a bit.
The wedding was to be held during the Easter holidays, in the spring, when Lily would be home from school. Petunia wanted it in the summer following, but Vernon refused to wait that long. He wanted to be properly married, employed and in a suitable home before his twentieth birthday.
Lily went off to her final year of school, a beautiful, talented, bright-eyed witch. She was happy, and Petunia envied her. Though she saw Vernon all the time, Petunia, as was proper, lived at home that year. She planned the wedding, and house-hunted with Vernon, but she missed the steady routine of school. Lily’s letters arrived often, though Petunia noticed that Socrates no longer showed up.
“He knows what he’s doing now,” was all Mrs. Evans would say on the matter, her eyes sparkling, “and he’s Head Boy.”
It was true. Before the end of November, a letter arrived from Lily saying how the Potter boy, who had been steadily growing on her since sixth year, cheekily kissed her mid-tantrum in the middle of the crowded common room. And Lily, though her pride suffered a hit, kissed him back.
Petunia simmered with anger. Vernon had been perfectly proper, held her hand, courted her, and kissed her only after a month or so of perfectly respectable behavior.
Dear Daddy, Mum, and Pet, Lily wrote, I’m not quite sure how it happened. I mean, he’s insufferable as ever, but he’s less . . . arrogant. He’s so kind to his friends – you would never imagine what he’s done for his friend Remus! – and he’s brilliant. He’s cocky and funny and loyal, and so charismatic. I do fancy him, Mummy, and I’ve no idea how it happened! Is it all right if I spend Christmas Eve at the Potters? His Mum has been dying to meet me since James first mentioned me in second year! She won’t take no for an answer!
The abnormalities, it seemed, were only getting worse.
Christmas break was a bright and pleasant affair, and Petunia quite enjoyed having her parents to herself on Christmas Eve. Vernon delighted them with tales of his new job, as he was hired after the internship, and Petunia herself announced they had found the neighborhood in which they planned to live, in Surrey.
Lily came home late that evening, slightly drunk, her cheeks flushed and her smile bright. “They’re absolutely lovely!” she said, dancing with herself happily, “they adore me, and James was simply wonderful. He gave me a tour – they’re unimaginably wealthy you know, not that it matters – and his mother was simply a dear. Sirius, Remus, and Peter were there too of course. I’m just so happy Mum!”
Petunia, who was overwhelmed by all these strange names, could not even bring herself to be jealous. After all, she was perfectly happy too.
But it was not to last. Lily went back to school, after briefly mentioning a rising darkness and a man named Voldemort, and then Petunia’s dad fell ill.
Cancer, apparently, was not something that could be cured by magic. Petunia wrote to Lily furiously, demanding that she fix it, but Lily’s reply was apologetic. Nothing could be done, hopefully the treatments would work, and Daddy would make it to the wedding.
Mr. Evans declined rapidly, though he tried to remain cheerful for his family. Petunia hated seeing him sick, and took to spending either all of her time with Vernon, or all her time in her room.
The Easter holidays arrived. Lily came home, kissed Petunia, hugged her mother, and then spent all her time by her father’s chair, deep in conversation. Mr. Evans seemed to revel in the attention, and looked easily healthy enough to make it to the wedding. Petunia, meanwhile, felt abruptly bitter. Of course Lily was the perfect one, the kind one, the daughter that sat beside him and enjoyed her last time spent with him.
Petunia huffed, called her hair stylist, and fussed with the menu one last time.
“Er, Petunia,” Lily approached her the day before the wedding, her green eyes wary, “can I ask you something?”
“What?” Petunia snapped.
“Is it alright – I mean, you can say no, I know it’s your wedding – but is it okay if James comes tomorrow? I just really want him to meet you, Mum, and Dad before . . . before anything happens.”
Lily’s eyes were so big, so desperate, that Petunia felt herself caving. She fixed a scowl on her face, “Fine. But he’ll have to stand in back, because there are no chairs left, and he better leave his . . . thing at home.”
“No wands, I promise,” Lily beamed.
Petunia snarled, and went upstairs. But the weight of Lily’s words dragged on her. Her little sister wanted the Potter boy to meet Dad before it was too late.
The morning of her wedding day, Petunia was awoken early by eighteen-year-old Lily running into her room ecstatically, “Tuney! Tuney! You’re getting married! Mummy’s made pancakes, we know they’re your favorite!”
Against her will, Petunia smiled. Not because of Lily – her younger sister was a nuisance as usual – but she would miss her parents terribly when she moved out.
She walked downstairs, after pulling on a skirt and jumper, and nearly walked headfirst into a wall.
The mysterious Potter boy was standing in her kitchen, leaning against her counter, hands in his pockets and an easy grin on his face.
Perhaps it was because the only other wizard she had met was the Snape boy, but Petunia had an idea that all wizards and witches were ugly people. Lily, of course, was an exception, but she was muggleborn after all. Snape was certainly repulsive. Witches, in fairy tales, were always ugly. Wizards were old and bearded.
But this wizard – this James Potter – defied all of Petunia’s preconceived notions. He was charming and handsome, with messy dark hair and bright hazel eyes, and he shook her hand with a cheerful, “How do you do?”
Petunia sat faintly at the table, and watched as Lily chattered with her Mum and the Potter boy remained in deep discussion with her Dad.
Lily, beautiful, brilliant, lovely Lily, had of course picked up a boy like his one. A boy that was equally beautiful and intelligent and charming, a boy that was passionate and good-natured and defiant, a boy that – quite literally – seemed prepared to go down fighting for Lily. A boy that had mischievously kissed her in front of plenty of people, simply to prove how much he truly fancied her.
Petunia sniffed. But at least this Potter was still a boy. Vernon was an employed, respectable man.
James Potter charmed Petunia’s parents easily, and Mrs. Evans seemed absolutely thrilled to have him there. He caught Lily’s hand and kissed it whenever she walked by.
Petunia forgot about him as quickly as she could, and hurried to begin to prepare for the wedding. This was her day. Her wedding day. Who cared about Potter?
The wedding went off without a hitch. Her bridesmaids were beautiful, though the pink did clash terribly with Lily’s long red hair, and the ceremony was exquisite. Petunia felt absolutely lovely as she walked with her father up the aisle, a bouquet of petunias in her arms. Vernon was dashing in a dark suit.
The reception, similarly, was everything Petunia could have wanted. She was so blissfully happy that she hardly noticed her little sister and James Potter dancing in the corner for nearly an hour, his hands gently resting at her waist, her arms thrown around his neck, both of them perfectly content.
Before Lily and the Potter boy returned to school they had a quick, intense conversation with Petunia’s parents. From her eavesdropping, Petunia gathered that dark forces were rising, targeting people with inferior blood, and that Lily and her family would be in danger. A war was coming, a magical war, and both Lily and the Potter boy intended to fight for it. Petunia sniffed.
Lily gave her Dad a tearful goodbye, and then was whisked back to her magical school.
Petunia moved out slowly, fearful for her Dad, but eager to be alone with Vernon. Finally, when the last box was all that was left, she hugged and kissed her Mum goodbye, clung to her Dad for a long moment, and then left hurriedly.
Her Dad lasted a few more months, but passed quietly before Lily’s school year ended. Though her final exams were almost upon her, Lily, followed loyally by the Potter boy, came home for the little funeral. Petunia cried, missing her Dad already, and felt furious with Lily for not fixing his illness. If she was so magical and so abnormal, why couldn’t she fix Dad?
“There was nothing she could do, Petunia,” James Potter told her sadly, that night, after the food had been cleared away, most everyone had left, and Lily herself was upstairs with her Mum crying.
Petunia glared at him. Then she busied herself with cleaning.
Perhaps Mrs. Evans truly was getting on her years, or perhaps the death of her husband had a significant impact on her. Either way, Petunia found her Mum suddenly looked decades older. She attended Lily’s abnormal graduation alone, for Petunia refused to go, but came home looking terribly weak. Lily stayed home, though she was planning on finding a flat with the Potter boy, and helped her mother through the trying times.
“What do the doctors say?” Lily whispered to Petunia one night as they stood in the kitchen together.
Petunia, who was exhausted from setting up her new house and helping her Mum, shrugged, “Grief.”
Lily’s eyes were bright with tears.
“Tuney,” Lily said a few days later, as their Mum napped upstairs, “there’s something you should know.”
“What?” Petunia snipped, folding the laundry haughtily.
“Well . . .” Lily sighed, and ran a pale hand through her long, messy hair, “my world – the magical world – isn’t doing so well right now. I’m not sure if Mum or Dad told you but there’s a war going on. Surely you’ve noticed it – the foggy weather, the deaths and disappearances, the gloom?”
Petunia nodded reluctantly. The world had certainly seemed darker this past year. She hated watching the news now, though Vernon did every night, because it seemed everyone was dying.
“There’s a man,” Lily continued, “named Lord Voldemort, who’s trying to take over. He hates muggles, Tuney. He wants wizards to use muggles as slaves. He wants muggleborns to die. Even half bloods, or blood traitors, or anyone else really – no one is safe.”
“Including you?” Petunia guessed.
Lily nodded, “Especially me. James and I have already escaped him twice. We’re working with a special organization to take him down but . . . but Tuney I’m scared.”
Petunia watched as her little sister shook, overcome by the weight of the world, “And now Mum, and James’ parents aren’t doing so well, and Remus is acting funny. Petunia, I’m terrified. And I can’t lose you too!”
Lily grew steadily thinner and paler as that summer stretched out. By September Mrs. Evans was in the hospital, and before Halloween she was dead.
Once again, the funeral was quiet. Petunia stood and glared at the casket, glared at Lily and the Potter boy, and held Vernon’s hand tensely. These abnormalities had yet to bring anything good.
Months passed. The world did indeed grow darker. Petunia hated all of it. Lily sent her a wedding invitation, but they were planning on visiting Vernon’s sister that same week and couldn’t make it. Included with the invitation was a little moving picture. Vernon scowled at it, and though she claimed to hate it, Petunia kept it. Lily stood, beaming, her red hair flying about her, as if it were very windy. James stood behind her, his arms wrapped around his waist, his hazel eyes shining. They were wonderful together.
When Petunia became pregnant, she nearly forgot to send notice to her sister. Vernon was jubilant, and Petunia herself was quite overwhelmed by the situation. But she was thrilled, she knew she was meant to be a mother. Already, she spoiled the little child in her belly rotten.
Lily sent notice that she was pregnant too, that the war was becoming steadily worse, and that her and James had bought a place in Godric’s Hollow, wherever that was.
Dudley was born. Petunia found what she had been missing, the light of her life, and spent every waking minute with her son. She loved him more than she had ever loved anything. He was beautiful and loud and simply wonderful.
Lily sent a picture of her son, Harry, and James playing in the summer flowers.
That was the last time Petunia heard from her sister, in that brief letter. The war was worse, Lily and James were fighting as much as they could, and Lily desperately wanted to see Petunia. But Petunia was busy, and Vernon hated magic, Lily, James, and anything to do with them, and Petunia could not find it in herself to invite her unwelcome sister into her husband’s home.
She laid awake nearly every night that October, feeling guilty for not seeing her sister, and bitter that her own pride and Vernon’s opinions would not allow it.
November first, Petunia awoke to find her nephew on her doorstep, and a note quickly explaining how her sister and brother-in-law had been murdered the night before. Harry was Petunia’s responsibility now.
Her nephew, young, unknowing, innocent, had saved the world. Voldemort was gone. The war was over.
And Lily, bright, irrepressible, beautiful, her little sister, was dead.
Petunia almost could not understand the words before her.
But she, if nothing else, was a resilient woman. And as the last of the Evans family, she knew what she had to do. She took Harry in, despite Vernon’s protests, and firmly built up a positive hatred towards anything abnormal.
Abnormalities had changed Lily. They had taken Petunia’s charming sister, taught her all sorts of strange things, and forced her into a dangerous war. Abnormalities had led to sweet, wonderful Lily dying before her son could talk.
And Petunia, for the rest of her life, could never forget her sister, who lived for twenty-one brilliant years, and bothered Petunia for every second of them.
Sometimes, as she stood at the laundry machine, or made her bed in the morning, she imagined she could hear Lily’s voice down the hall. “Tuney! Tuney!”
Petunia grew older, heard the news when Harry saved the world again (of course he did – he was Lily’s after all) and watched her own son become a man in his right. Vernon grew old with her. Dudley did well for himself, and married a nice girl.
Lily, a whirl of bright hair and brilliant energy, visited her dreams every night. An echo of her voice called to Petunia at least three times a week, often startling her so badly that she dropped whatever she was holding. “Tuney!”
She gardened, but refused to plant any lilies. After all, Vernon assumed Petunia wasn’t bothered in the slightest about her sister’s death. No one but Petunia knew that thirty years after Lily’s sacrifice, she would still tear up at the vaguest reminder of her younger sister.
But she was happy. Dudley was a successful businessman, Vernon adapted to retirement with extraordinary grace, and even Harry found it in himself to send her a letter now and again.
Petunia, even when she was old, bent, and nearly deaf, could still hear Lily calling from all corners of the house. “Tuney!”
And when cancer attacked her, so like her father fifty years before, she found she did not rue the idea of leaving the world she had so carefully constructed for herself and Vernon.
After missing her beautiful, brilliant sister for nearly her entire life, and regretting the way she had treated her, and all but idolizing her after her sacrifice, Petunia was quite thrilled at the prospect of seeing her once more. Of course, she told no one of her secret wish.
Her last days were happy. Vernon and Dudley stayed close to her, and Harry visited often. She smiled, and remembered her childhood. She remembered the summer of wedding plans and Vernon and Lily’s helpfulness. She fell asleep every night, Lily’s voice in her ear, regret pounding away in her chest.
One cold, snowy morning, Petunia never woke up. Though Vernon desperately tried to wake her, she could not open her eyes. No air passed her lips.
Petunia, long gone from the mortal world, found herself alone in a garden, similar to the one at her childhood home. Her mother’s painted birdhouse was nestled among the bushes. The brilliant sun shined down upon her and warmed her cold skin.
She felt younger, and beautiful. It was as if it was the summer of her wedding plans, and Petunia was nineteen again. Her curls were blonde, her back straight, and her waist narrow. She marveled at the return of her youth, and the familiar, fragrant garden around her.
Lily’s voice echoed from far away. Petunia, so used to these ghostly calls that she was no longer startled, gazed happily at the flowers.
And then, with a great leap in her chest, Petunia realized what must have happened to her.
She turned quickly, and saw James Potter, no older than twenty-one, standing with his hands in his pockets and watching her with his twinkling hazel eyes.
“She missed you, you know,” he told her, smiling.
Petunia stared at him, bewildered. And then Lily’s voice called for her again, this time so close Petunia could swear she was right behind her.
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