|With You In Spirit
Author: LostInLost18 PM
Some bridges are burned; some are rebuilt. Set thirteen years after Deathly Hallows. Petunia gets a knock on the door and is shocked by what she sees - Little Lily Luna Potter on her doorstep, along with a grown up, and very much changed, Harry.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Petunia D. & Lily Evans P. - Words: 3,471 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 4 - Published: 11-22-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6496725
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
With You In Spirit
Summary: Ok, I decided to try a Harry Potter fic. If it goes wrong, I apologize. This little idea wouldn't leave me alone after watching the first of the two part final movie. Petunia is at home when there's a sudden knock on the door…and she gets the surprise of her life. Bit OOC but hope you like!
It was fairly quiet, even by Sunday's standards.
Bustling through the house, mostly as a means of filling the silence which had existed between the four walls since Dudley, her precious child, had moved out. She missed him every day, the only remnants of his presence existing in the numerous photographs she had scattered across the house.
This house, she grudgingly conceded, had been a good find on the part of those…freaks (there was no other word for them); a good find on the part of her nephew, even, if you wanted to extend the praise that far. It was in a low key area, surrounded by silence, and yet still contained reminders of the old house, like the fact that there was still a perfectly sized gap between this house and the next for spying on the neighbours.
Vernon was at work; her son was out living his own life - the day's hours suddenly were the loneliest in her life. There were only so many times she could dust and clean to keep herself occupied, and daytime television certainly hadn't made any good improvements since her childhood. Occasionally, she chose to go against her better instinct and invite her next door neighbour, Alice, who was irritatingly perfect in every way it seemed, round for some tea and a chat. That was about it, though.
As much as she hated - hated being the understatement of the century - to admit it, her life had been less tedious when her nephew had been around, albeit it had been disturbing, often frightening, as well. She used to believe her contentment lay with the predictable, that an organized route was the key to happiness, hers specifically. It was why she'd despised anything abnormal, anything which was even slightly connected to the strange.
And still she kept thinking about that day, the day when she'd parted ways with her nephew, when all words had failed her. She could've said something nice, at least, like telling him to take care of himself, maybe, but perhaps that would've been too much. Maybe after sixteen years of solid dislike on both sides, silence was all you could really leave each other with.
She disappeared into the garden for a brief moment, and consequently failed to hear the door knocking until she drifted back in. At first, she speculated it was Alice, either returning one of her many possessions she'd loaned her, or to complain about something. She couldn't really think of many people in her life who'd actually come and visit, which was a sad fact in and of itself.
She approached the door cautiously, surprised by the volume of the knocking. It sounded like a child was knocking, judging by the fact that there was barely any volume to the knocks themselves. If she were to speculate further - which she tended to do anyway because, well, old habits die hard - it was a logical guess that a new family had moved in and wanted to say hello. They'd all been like that first, until they'd realized she wasn't exactly the brightest ray of sunshine in the sky. The number of visitors had diminished greatly over the years, so that now only Dudley, and an extremely fragile Marge were her only visitors.
She opened the door, her eyes falling downwards as her last guess turned out to be correct. A little girl, of about three years old, if she was to muster a guess, was at the door, continuing to knock against the wood, completely oblivious to Petunia's appearance. The older woman had to smile at that - it reminded her of the days when Dudley used to run headfirst into the glass door, not realizing until it was too late that it was there. Yes, she'd bandaged many a sore head because of that blasted door.
"Hello, who are you?" she asked, her voice rough because, even after all this time, she just couldn't do nice.
The little girl, whose hair was a flaming red in colour, looked up and that's when Petunia staggered back, completely stunned. If she didn't know any better, she would've thought that she'd been sent back in time, because, standing before her, was an exact replica of a three year old Lily. She even had her eyes, her deep, rich, warm, trusting eyes, although the colour wasn't the same. How was this possible?
"Hey, Aunt Petunia."
A deep, rich voice, one that was unfamiliar and yet familiar at the same time, met her ears, and she looked up. A man, looking quite awkward judging by his tense posture, was staring at her, his lips turned up in his best attempt at a smile. He had rich brown hair, with a mark on his head which she couldn't help but stare at. She could feel how cold her face had gone. The word 'aunt' had escaped her, apparently. Because there was no possible explanation she could think of which would merit this out of the blue visit. None whatsoever.
"Harry," she managed to choke out. "What - What are you doing here?"
"It's been thirteen years. I thought I owed you a visit," Harry replied wryly, his eyes appraising her.
She wanted to ask him why he'd bothered coming back, when they both knew they'd not exactly departed on the best of terms. Although, come to think of it, they'd never been on the best of terms, something she took full responsibility. But how could she tell him the truth? She couldn't exactly say she'd despised him for something he could no more control than he could the weather. She couldn't exactly say that looking into his eyes, and feeling Lily's loss all over again, was the reason for all the neglect, all the torment she'd put him through. She wasn't one to regret, and she wasn't one for long, overdue explanations.
"Is this your - ?" she dared to ask.
"My daughter? Yes," Harry replied swiftly.
He seemed to hesitate for a moment, almost like he was struggling with something.
"Her name is Lily," he eventually added.
Petunia wasn't exactly bowled over by the news, although she couldn't stop staring at the girl and imagining a younger version of herself right next to her, bossing her around and complaining at her. The resemblance was uncanny, almost spooky, and she had to look away, because it was just too much.
"So…" She had to break the silence somehow. "You're married now?"
"Yes." He looked just as uncomfortable with the conversation as she did. "Lily's our third. I have two other boys, Albus and James."
She nodded curtly, although there was a part of her which was fascinated by the conversation. It was new gossip to pass on, should she fancy it. She hadn't particularly told anyone she had a nephew and, during these past thirteen years, she wondered if she even had one. All that wizard nonsense had seemed like a crazy dream and so she'd allowed herself to believe it. Vernon had done the same and, in time, it had gotten easier to forget.
Now, just like all those years ago, Harry was on her doorstep.
Out of old habits, she craned her neck trying to see if their conversation - if you could even call it that - was being heard, before reluctantly inviting them inside.
Little Lily was just the same as her younger sister. She was curious and adventurous and quite bold for a girl of three. Petunia still couldn't get over the resemblance to her Lily. It was like she'd seen a ghost. She almost wished it was Lily - she had so much that she wanted to say.
"She's big for her age," was all she could really comment about the girl.
She wished she could make a better comment than that, but what could she say? She didn't know the mother and, if she was being honest, she couldn't really see a lot of Harry in her. There was something in the face….Why was she bothering to scrutinise this? It's not like it mattered to her.
"Yeah," he chuckled. "Guess she gets it from her uncles."
"How did you find us anyway?" was her next question.
"A simple tracing spell," he replied casually.
She couldn't help flinching at the word spell. Like she'd said before, old habits die hard. The fact he'd been the one to bring up that nonsense just reminded her of the fact she could never have that normal relationship with him. It reiterated the point that normality was what she needed, what she fed on, and anything about the supernatural scared her.
"I spent ages wondering whether I should come or not," he continued, unaware of her silent struggle. "The years I spent in Privet Drive weren't exactly the happiest years of my life. Ginny was adamant I didn't come but…Lily was curious about her heritage, what can I say?" He chuckled nervously.
She noticed he seemed to be plucking excuses out of thin air, and wondered what his real agenda in coming was here. Maybe he was here to confront her about her past behaviour, and she eyed the wand sticking out of his jeans pocket with suspicion. Maybe he was here to build bridges, try to wipe the slate clean, which she was sure she didn't deserve and, if she was being honest, she wasn't sure she wanted that. Truthfully, distance seemed to work for them.
"I need the toilet," Lily suddenly announced, her voice surprisingly sharp and authoritative for a three year old.
"It's upstairs, first door on the right," Petunia whispered, finding that her voice was suddenly gone.
"You wanna ask next time, Lily?" Harry complained, as his daughter stomped out the room and up the stairs. "I'm sorry…"
"No, don't be." Petunia felt something strange stir inside her. "It's…It's nice to hear a child's voice in this house again." Something really strange. "She…She reminds me of your mother. Always demanding, always older than her years. I guess I was mean to her to try and make her act her age."
She fell quiet when she noticed him staring at her with a quiet kind of awe on his face.
"You never told me that before," he noted.
Petunia gave him a stern look, reminiscent of the ones she used to give him when he lived with them.
"It wasn't worth talking about," she said, sipping her now cold tea, the one she'd made earlier back when the grass had been green, and the sky blue.
Now, it was back to not knowing what the hell was up with the world.
"Where's Uncle Vernon?" Harry, thankfully, changed the subject.
"He doesn't live here anymore," she sniffed. "He has his own life, his own family."
"Yeah, I know," Harry confessed. "I came to his wedding."
She reeled in shock at this. "You - You did? Why?"
"Because he was the only one who showed me the slightest bit of respect towards the end," Harry said sharply. He suddenly inhaled deeply. "Sorry. I really didn't come here to do this. I don't want to fight."
"Why did you come?" she demanded.
"Curiosity, mostly," he confessed. "I also wanted to know…"
"Why I treated you so badly?" she guessed. "I don't know. You just reminded me so much of her. It wasn't just your eyes. You would do things that would be so Lily it would bug me."
"Yeah?" He half smiled. "Like what?"
Petunia sighed - were they really doing this? She hated thinking about the past. What was the past, but a series of events you couldn't change?
"When Lily was upset, or just sulking, she had this habit of staring at the floor. She just stared at it, and refused to talk or move all day. I thought she was doing it for attention. But she was overemotional, our Lily was. She used to get upset easily, and she'd find it too hard to talk." Petunia shrugged. "When you did it, somehow it was worse. Because this time I was the one causing it."
"Voldemort terrorised me all my life," Harry told her calmly. "My friends - my family, were killed trying to fight him. He tried to kill me, over and over, for something stupid. But you - you were family. Those eleven years before Hogwarts were hell because I had no friends, no mum to tell me it was going to be ok, no ray of hope in my life whatsoever. I understand now that you were still hurting over mum, that you were angry that I survived and she didn't. All that I can understand." He hesitated. "Maybe not forgive, but certainly understand. What I can't understand is why you walked away without a word. You couldn't say a damn thing to me, even after I got you all the protection you needed. You wanted to say something, I could tell, but you couldn't. What was it?"
"Don't take that tone with me, boy," she suddenly hissed, turning venomous, which was mostly a form of self-defence. "You've no right to judge me! Everyone always hailed Lily as the brains of the family. She was so perfect because she was a witch! It didn't matter that I got good grades, that I helped with the chores and never complained. I was boring old Petunia and she was Lily, a witch who could do magic. How could I ever compete with that?"
She was furious with herself for allowing herself to get to this point. She shouldn't have let him in; she knew why she'd done it, and she was infuriated that Lily still had a hold of her, after all this time, but it didn't excuse her lack of self control.
"Did you know I wrote a letter to your school?" she told him dully. "I wanted to be what she was, I wanted to be a freak." She shook her head, disgusted with that idea. "I couldn't look her in the eyes after that. She wasn't Lily anymore. She was someone else, someone who would always look down on me because she was magic and I wasn't."
"I'm sure that isn't true," he protested.
"Yes it is." She was nothing, if not honest. "And when she died, something inside me died too. But a part of me knew I was right to stay clear from her. It got her blown up. I stand by what I said to you all those years to her."
"Daddy." Lily was suddenly back. "When we going home?"
"Now, sweetie." He rose to his feet. "I appreciate your honesty, Petunia."
She noticed he'd dropped the aunt. She didn't correct him.
"Tuney's a flower," Lily announced, beaming up at her with rows of little white teeth.
Petunia stared at her, stunned as she remembered the nickname Lily had given her - Tuney. When she was little, 'Tuney' had been all she could say of her sister's name and the nickname stuck. It was just another blast from the past - she was getting a lot of those today.
"Say goodbye, Lily," Harry commanded, heading towards the door.
Lily gazed up at Petunia, still smiling. She then stumbled towards her and put something inside her hand, before singing her goodbye - rather loudly - and then trotting back to her dad's side.
"Bye," Harry said shortly, nodding curtly at her.
It surprised her that his cold gesture shook her a little. Maybe she was just getting old, unable to hold her own ground anymore.
"You're mum would be proud," she blurted out.
He froze, turning around to face her, suspicion in his eyes.
"That's what I wanted to say to you all those years ago," she clarified. "You really are Lily's son."
He managed a half smile, and his eyes seemed to be send her a silent thank you, before he walked out, Lily trailing behind him. She waited until she heard the door close before she collapsed onto a chair, feeling quite sick.
What had just happened there?
She'd bore a grudge against Lily for so long, hating her because of what she was and what she'd had, that that grudge had rubbed onto her son. The whole Potter family had been just a blot in the family album, as far as she was concerned.
But somewhere along the line things had changed. And she was only just beginning to realize she'd lost so much more than her sister. Part of what she'd lost had just walked out the door.
She felt something in her hand, the thing which Lily had pressed into her hand, and released her fingers, which had been squeezing whatever it was, and let out a soft cry when she realized what it was.
A white lily.
"I've got something for you," a nine year old Lily called, wandering into the house, her feet muddy and her red hair a mess.
"Don't care. Don't want it," Petunia sniffed, her nose in a book.
"But it's special," Lily protested. "It's something I want you to have. But it's gotta be our secret."
Petunia glared at her but then, seeing her puppy dog eyes, the eyes which no one could resist, sighed heavily and put her book down.
"Go on then," she said, outstretching her hand. "What is it? Give it to me."
Lily beamed and stumbled forwards, pushing a white lily in her hand.
"A lily?" Petunia snorted. "Are you kidding me? Why don't I go root up a few petunias while I'm at it, give it you as a birthday present?"
"It's not a joke," Lily whined. "Just take it, Tuney, 'kay? But you have to promise you'll keep it for always."
"Why? It'll just wilt and die. Like all of us," Petunia said flatly, staring down at her sister, wondering, not for the first time, how they were related, when they were two completely different people.
"This one's different," Lily said, nodding wisely as if to confirm it. "I want you to keep it so that you'll always know."
"Know what? That these things wilt and die like the rest of us?" Petunia mocked. "Is this a magic lily? Ooh, if we rub it does it grant wishes?"
She chuckled, enjoying her own dark little joke, having no idea how ironic that would later become.
"Be serious, Tuney!" Lily demanded, stomping her feet and pouting at her. "Keep it and, as long as you have it, you'll know I'll always be with you."
"You are always with me," Petunia grumbled. "That's the problem. I can't get rid of you for more than five minutes."
Lily scowled. "You are such a grumpy bum!" she declared.
Petunia cracked a rare smile at that, grudgingly admitting to herself that her sister's sense of humour was probably what kept them close.
"Fine," she conceded. "I'll keep it."
"Forever?" Lily demanded.
"Forever and a day if that's what it takes for you to quit bugging me," Petunia promised.
She took the lily off her sister and put it into her hair, smiling softly at her little sister's face.
"Thanks, Tuney," Lily said, smiling shyly at her.
"No, problem, Lil," Petunia responded, returning to her book as if the conversation had never happened.
For a brief moment, Petunia wondered if Lily was into doing these beyond-the-grave pranks. Because she'd thrown that lily away the moment her sister had gone off to that school for freaks, convinced she was better off alone.
She held the lily in her hand, examining it for a second, contemplating it carefully, like a challenging puzzle.
Then, after a brief pause, she put the lily into her hair and, as if nothing had happened, started to clean the house again.