Chapter 1 : Consequences
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Petunia Evans Dursley was dead.
And now, looking around, she didn’t know what to do with herself. In all honesty, her death hadn’t been unexpected. She wasn’t young anymore, and she hadn’t felt well for weeks.
However, she still couldn’t help but find it slightly disturbing that she was dead.
She also couldn’t help but notice that death wasn’t what she expected it to be.
She wasn’t young again, and her parents weren’t waiting to greet her, to give her the hug she had so desperately wanted from them for the last 50 or so years.
It would be a lie to say she wasn’t somewhat grateful they weren’t there though. Because if they had been there, Lily certainly would be as well.
For years Petunia had dreaded the day she died, not because she was particularly attached to life, but because she absolutely could not bear the thought that someday she would have to face Lily, to account for the mistake she had made.
Could it really be a mistake though, if it had been a conscious choice? Could Petunia cry, say it was an accident, say that she didn’t mean it, when every time she had looked into her nephew’s eyes the bile had risen in her throat, and she found herself being particularly cruel?
Is it a mistake if you do it on purpose?
Petunia looked around one more time, her own thoughts disturbing her. It was as if she was checking to make sure that Lily wasn’t there, that she couldn’t see her sister now.
Except now, Lily was there. And in that moment Petunia knew that secretly, she had been desperate to see Lily for years.
Petunia could see Lily’s red hair flashing in the distance, and though she wasn’t close enough to truly tell that it was Lily, when her stomach dropped and the tears slid silently down her cheeks, she knew, just knew that it was. Petunia had always been able to tell.
The time had come, and Petunia had to face her sister.
Petunia looked more closely into the distance and saw the red haired figure shoving another figure quite hard, yelling and stubbornly crossing her arms. Feeling as if she was transported back in time, Petunia knew that whatever battle Lily was fighting, she would win. Even as a child the arm crossing had been the final sign that Lily was not giving in, no matter what.
Suddenly, Lily turned and started heading towards Petunia, and their eyes instantly found each others.
Petunia felt ashamed, and she wanted to look away, but she couldn’t. It had been too long since she had seen that particular shade of green, far too long to be honest, and even longer since she had desired to see it.
And the ironic part is that as long as she’d wanted to see her sister again, wished and prayed that it was all a cruel joke, that Lily wasn’t actually gone, when Petunia finally got to see her sister again, she didn’t see Lily.
All she saw was Harry. After years of only seeing Lily in those eyes, she could only see her nephew.
No longer did the emerald eyes mock her like they did all those years when he was child, when she was so cruel to him because he deigned to be born. Those eyes weren’t a reminder of the horrors her sister had faced, the sadness that Petunia herself struggled daily to overcome.
Instead, they were a reminder that she had been a monster.
The shame shot through Petunia again, like it always did lately when she heard the name Harry, or saw messy dark hair, or heard the word magic. As her final days grew closer, nearly everything reminded Petunia of her nephew and his childhood. She had to swallow hard every time she thought of Harry, and how the last time she had seen him she didn’t say anything, she couldn’t that one last time tell the man who was really just a child what he needed to hear from the only family he had left.
By this time Lily was only a few feet away, and Petunia was frightened. She had perhaps been the only person never frightened of Lily before, never ducking from that ferocious temper but standing tall, chin (and later nose) in the air, taking every shot with dignity.
She braced herself and waited for the yells, but none came. Lily just stood a few feet away from her, looking at her as if confused. And try as she could, as hard as she could, Petunia couldn’t stand tall. For the first time in her life she was physically incapable of holding her head high.
“Lily,” she murmured, and the young woman broke out of her spell. Unlike Petunia, old and grey, Lily was still as young and beautiful as ever. Lily had never gotten to be old.
“Petunia,” Lily responded quietly, and Petunia recoiled. Never, not ever, had her name hurt that much. To Lily, even at her angriest, Petunia had never been Petunia. She was always Pet, or Tuney. Being called Petunia was a shot right to her heart.
The two women stood there silently for what seemed like ages, neither wanting to break first. Petunia, because she honestly didn’t know what she would say. Lily, because she was almost certain she didn’t want the answer to her question.
“Did you hate me that much Petunia?” Lily finally asked, and Petunia frowned. She and Lily had fought, but shouldn’t Lily have been checking in on her all these years, looking down and seeing her cry herself to sleep some nights, when she saw a beautiful redhead at the market or that one dreadful year when Vernon had given her lilies for their anniversary. It was the first year Harry was there, and she would’ve sworn he had done it just out of spite.
Lily started again. “What did I do to you Petunia that you felt the need to torture my baby for it?” She wasn’t yelling, but Petunia knew she was positively furious. Her voice was low, as if she was fighting very hard to control herself, to not yell.
For what seemed like the millionth time in what could only honestly have been two or so minutes, Petunia felt a red hot shame overwhelm her, and she fought back the tears pricking at her eyes. She knew she had been wrong to, quite honestly, abuse Harry. And somewhere, deep, way back in the recesses of her mind Petunia had always acknowledged that someday she would have to answer for her behavior towards her only nephew, the only reminder of her sister she would ever have. But never, in her wildest dreams, could she imagine it feeling this badly.
“Did I call you names Petunia? Did I tell you that you weren’t my sister and that I never wanted any sign of you anywhere near me again? Did I tell you Petunia, that you were responsible for our parents’ deaths, even though you had nothing to do with it?” Lily’s composure was beginning to weaken, and a lone tear slipped out of her eye. She wiped it furiously away, but never, not for a second, did she break eye contact with her sister. To Petunia it was like Lily was staring into her soul, demanding answers.
“No,” was all that Petunia could manage to whisper, horrified at her own past behavior. Standing here, looking at Lily, being forced to account for everything she ever did, Petunia honestly couldn’t believe the cruel person she had been.
“Honestly Petunia, I don’t even know why I want to know the truth. What you did should be inexcusable. What you did was inexcusable. James wanted to come over here and test the theory of whether or not you could kill somebody who was already dead, but I wouldn’t let him. Because you’re my sister. I don’t understand why that’s always had such a different meaning for me than it did for you,” Lily glanced quickly behind her, as if making sure that her husband wasn’t trying to make a stealthy approach from behind. “He was just a baby.”
“He wasn’t just any baby, Lily,” Petunia argued, gaining a little of the fire she always had, for some reason feeling the need to defend herself. “He was your baby. You died and you left me that baby. And if that wasn’t enough Lily, you left behind with him the two things I always envied most about you: your eyes and your magic.”
Petunia wrung her hands. “He was just so beautiful, just like your beautiful husband, the perfect combination of your perfect family. It was just like you Lily, to have a perfect baby. One who never cried unless it was for you, and tried to kiss me every morning when he woke up. My own son couldn’t have possibly cared any less whether I was there or not, but yours Lily, your son needed me. But he wasn’t you. He was just all the parts of you that I loved most.”
Lily looked at her sister hatefully for the first time. “Of course he wasn’t me Petunia. I was dead. Did you think I wanted to send my baby to live with the one person who I knew would resent him for everything he was, for his very being? Was it just a fun little field trip I sent him on to you? Or was it my own way of inconveniencing you, even from the grave?”
At this point, Petunia had given up trying to hide her shame. Her whole face flamed red, and she wished more than ever that she could just break the eye contact, stop looking at Lily, stop seeing the truth about herself.
“Lily, if you paid any attention, you would know I missed you every day. You must have seen how hard it was for me to take care of that child, live under the same roof as him in our parents’ house. He was a million reminders every day that you were dead,” Petunia’s tears fell freely down her cheeks.
Lily’s glare turned murderous, but she still didn’t raise her voice.
“You know what Petunia, you’re absolutely right. I didn’t focus nearly enough on your pain, I was too focused on the abuse of my baby. I spent my time wishing I was there to quiet his tears when he was two and terrified of the spiders that lived in the cupboard, the same one that he lived in. Instead I sat up here and watched and sobbed as my son didn’t get to use his accidental magic to fly, or change the colors of the wall every day like I did. I watched him use his to defend himself against that bully you call a son, or that monster you call a husband. Instead, I watched him cry himself to sleep at night as a small child because all he got for Christmas was a half eaten box of chocolates from the Valentine’s Day before, something not even YOUR son would eat. I was entirely too focused on him to pay any attention at all to you.”
For the first time, Lily looked away from her sister, and instead of the relief that Petunia expected to feel, all she wanted was for Lily to look back at her again, to be furious again because at least that meant she was real.
“Honestly Petunia, the worst part is that if it had been reversed, if I had your son instead of you having mine, I would have given that child everything in the world, he would have known all about you, and I would have loved him like he was my own,” Lily sighed and deflated, still unable to look at her sister. Petunia wanted to grab her, spin her around and force her to hug her, force her to give the forgiveness she so desperately needed, but she knew she couldn’t. She knew that if there was something that Lily would never forgive, it was the mistreatment of her child.
“I know,” Petunia whispered, her voice so small that Lily looked up to ensure her sister hadn’t reverted back to a small child. “I know you would’ve, and that it makes what I did even worse. But I’m not you Lily, and I’m not as strong as you are. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t forgive the person who stole my sister.”
“Harry never stole me,” Lily snapped. “And even if you think he did, it’s not exactly like you were dying to be in my life before him. You were the one who pushed me away Petunia. I wanted nothing more than for us to stay close, but you wouldn’t have it. So you decided to punish my child because I sacrificed myself for him? That’s really fair Petunia. Blame the child because Voldemort murdered me. The same child who 16 years later saved you and your family from Voldemort instead of leaving you behind to be killed by the Death Eaters, which I wouldn’t have blamed him for after all you did to him.”
“Neither would I,” Petunia said, raising her head a little more. “I’m not going to lie to you Lily and say that I gave that boy my best. Obviously I didn’t. If we’re being completely honest, I didn’t even give him a shot at a halfway decent life. But if what Dudley tells me is halfway true, he didn’t do too badly for himself. And that’s because he was never mine Lily. He was always, completely and totally, 100 % yours.”
“He’s my son,” Lily said. “He’s always going to be mine. That baby was my everything Petunia, and you treated him like he was nothing but the scum off the bottom of your shoe. You and that fat lazy husband of yours. In my entire life, I only asked you for one thing: to take care of my son, to love him and to protect him. And you couldn’t even do that.”
“I’m sorry Lily, okay!” Petunia shouted. “Is that what you wanted to hear, that I was sorry, that you made me feel badly for the way I treated him? Because I felt bad even without your little guilt trip. I know what I did was wrong, but there is nothing that I can do to change it, and that’s that. So, are you going to take it or leave it Lily?”
“I’m sorry too, Petunia,” Lily said, her voice small. Petunia sighed. Her sister was finally coming back to her, and she would no longer have to live without Lily, her best friend.
But Lily wasn’t finished. “I’m sorry that you behaved the way that you did. And I’m sorry that nothing you do will ever be enough. I wish it hadn’t come to this Petunia, but I’m sorry that I can’t forgive you. If you had done these things to me, maybe that would be one thing. But you didn’t mistreat an adult like that. You did that to a child, to a baby. You did that to my baby. And that’s something I could never forgive.”
Petunia felt like the air had all flown out of her lungs at once. Of all the things she could imagine, this was not one of the options she had come up with. She had expected Lily to yell, to attack her, to say hateful things. But never, never did she think that she would have to lose her sister again. It was too much to bear, and Petunia fell to the ground sobbing, apologizing uncontrollably, pleading with her sister.
Tears fell silently down Lily’s face as she looked at her sister, so fragile, breaking down on the ground. But she couldn’t help the fact that every time she looked at this woman, all she saw was her baby crying, begging for food. Or wincing in pain whenever Dudley grabbed his arms, squeezing the burns he knew Harry had from a kitchen accident the day before, and Petunia merely telling Harry to go to his cupboard until he could learn to be quiet during tea time. As much as she may want to embrace the little girl Petunia used to be, the little girl Lily loved, there were things she would never forget.
“Bye Pet,” Lily whispered as she walked away from her sister for the last time, walking towards where she knew her husband waited for her, so they could together watch their son, eagerly anticipating and dreading at the same time the day he would join them.
At the last moment Petunia looked up, and saw the blaze of Lily’s hair disappear into the distance, but only just barely through the tears clouding her eyes. She tried to compose herself and hiccoughed loudly. She managed to stop hyperventilating, but the tears kept flowing freely.
“I’ll be all right,” She whispered to herself, not believing it to be true, but knowing that it would have to be enough. Petunia pulled herself up off the ground, steeled herself hard, vowed to put this incident with her in the past, and stuck her nose right back into the air.
And then she told the biggest lie she ever had.
“I don’t need her. I never wanted a freak for a sister anyways.”
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