The last time Petunia Dursley sees her sister it's at their mother's funeral in May of 1980. They're both heavily pregnant, and though Petunia would rather not speak to her sister at all if she could avoid it, there's something about the way Lily looks, with her arm wrapped tightly around the protuberance of her stomach as she carefully approaches her at the dinner following the service.
"It was a beautiful service." Lily says.
Petunia, normally, would take offense at that, is Lily surprised that she is capable of throwing a classy event? But she's too tired. Her son has been kicking up a storm all morning, and she feels as if she might fall over, "It's nothing like what your people put on, I imagine." She says, and, despite her exhaustion, a little barb of insult finds its' way into her voice.
Lily smiles tiredly. There's exhaustion in her eyes, Petunia notes, and a part of her triumphs at this crack in her perfection. "Can we sit? I need to talk to you about something."
Just then the Hilberts, longtime friends of their family, make their way over to give their condolences. The two sisters smile politely and shake hands, bumping cheeks, the usual dance of civility. The banquet hall is almost empty now. Lily's husband sits alone at a table in the far corner, reading a paper with a look of befuddlement on his face. Vernon has gone into the kitchen to supervise the packing of any leftovers. Only one table of fellow mourners remains.
Dudley aims a vicious kick at Petunia's kidneys, and she winces, rubbing over her stomach, whispering soft murmurs of comfort until he quiets a little. "I suppose." She responds finally, taking the first seat she can, absurdly grateful for the relief.
Lily instantly takes the seat next to her, turning it so they face each other head on. "I've told you how the Wiz-" Petunia feels her eyes widen and she looks immediately to the final table. They're well out of earshot, but that doesn't mean – Lily sighs, "my world is at war."
"So you've said." Petunia acknowledges. What barbarians she thinks, privately, this war has been going on since Lily was in school. Are there no laws or armies to take control?
Lily sighs softly, but continues, "There is every chance that James and I will be targeted. Very soon."
This causes Petunia some disbelief. Lily and James are young, hardly out of school, how can they been anywhere near important enough to draw the attention of some crazed warlord? Well, she considers, probably it's just Lily feeling important again. It's just like Lily to try to make herself seem more important by inventing a sinister plot against her life.
Some part of Petunia knows that that isn't true. But that part was buried long ago.
"If the worst should happen," Lily continues on, her voice getting steadily more determined, "some people from my world may try to leave my son with you." Petunia's back goes straight instantly, and Dudley kicks in response, but she pays it no mind. If Lily thinks she's going to take in her unnatural child – Lily continues speaking, "I've done everything I can to see that he won't be put with you. But," she stresses, reaching out to grab Petunia's hand, "but they may use your ignorance about my world against you."
"Lily!" Petunia says, aghast. She has no idea where to even begin.
"No. Tuney. Listen. I don't want my son placed in your house any more than you want to take him in. But you need to listen to me. And remember what I'm saying." Petunia breathes out hard, unconsciously tightening her hand around Lily's. "They'll leave him outside of your home. They'll be relying on our blood connection to protect him, and for that to work you must bring him inside of your own free will. You must not. Once you bring him into your home, even if it's only for a second, even if you know you don't want to keep him, you'll be signing an oath to take care of him." Lily's hands tighten around hers. "Promise me that you won't bring him in."
Petunia stares at her sister, terrified of the light in her eyes. She realizes for the first time, though she's heard Lily speak of the war effort before, that Lily honestly believes she won't see her son grow up. Dudley shifts inside her and the tiniest germ of sympathy lights in her chest. "What would you have me do instead?"
Lily breathes out something that sounds like relief, and releases her hand. She pulls a precisely folded piece of paper out of her pocket and hands it to her, "Read this aloud. Keep it somewhere safe. If the worst should happen, read it over him. Do not bring him inside to do so."
Petunia takes the paper, as her mind, so fresh from handling her mother's funeral, goes over what it would be like to do the same for Lily.
"Promise me Tuney." Lily says, eyes bright with unshed tears and a determination like nothing Petunia has ever seen in her.
Petunia fists her hand over the paper, probably creasing it. Her heart is beating hard.
Lily sighs again, clearly relieved, and stands. Petunia stands with her, reaches out and grabs her arm before she turns to go. Lily turns back, a clear question on her face. Petunia does not know why she stopped her, is unsure what she wants to say. She lets her hand drop, "Be careful."
Lily smiles, and it's small and watery, but still a smile, "I'll do my best."
She turns away then, heads towards her husband, who puts down the paper with something like relief. Petunia watches as Lily nods at whatever he says, and the two of them shift close together, his arm going around her small shoulders automatically. They leave like that, moving together.
The last thing Petunia Evans sees of her sister is her back.
It's over a year later that the worst finally does happen. Petunia opens her door on the morning of November 1st to find a wrapped bundle with a child in it. She bites back hard on a scream, reaching down automatically to gather the boy up, when Lily's remembered words stop her. Not even for a second Lily said. Not for a moment. Petunia lays the child back down, though it goes against her instincts to leave a child on the cold stoop. She goes back inside for the paper Lily had given her. She leaves the door open though, so she can keep half an eye on the toddler. Her nephew.
She finds the paper stuck between the pages of last year's diary, right where she'd left it, and she unfolds it as she makes her way back to the front door, crouching down carefully next to the boy. She smooths it out with trembling fingers, wondering what odd spell she will have to try to say in order to deal with this. To her relief, the words are all in English, penned elegantly with Lily's handwriting. It's still gibberish, but better than the pretend Latin she remembers from Lily's school books.
"I wish the Goblins would come and take you away. Right now." Petunia says. A sudden wind springs up, and a far off roll of thunder causes her to look towards the sky, unsure what she should do with the child if it begins to rain. When she looks back down in front of her, the boy is gone, making her gasp.
She folds the paper back up, fingers trembling so hard now she nearly rips it in two. She wonders where the boy has gone, what she's just done. Nothing, she comforts herself as she stands, she's done absolutely nothing except follow her sister's wishes. And she's glad she did. The last thing she needs is some unnatural boy in her very normal home. She nods once at herself, decisively, and heads to the kitchen to make her boys breakfast.
Far away in another land, a troop of goblins are shouting and calling out as they make their way to the throne room, where the Goblin King lounges sideways in his throne. "Another child?" He muses outloud, "What a busy year."
"A Wizard child sir King sir!" One goblin announces, causing Jareth to straighten abrubtly.
"Really?" He breathes, amazed. It has been a very long time since the Wizards last found the words. A very long time. The goblins pass the boy up, hand over hand, and he accepts the bundle gratefully. Piercing green eyes peer up at him, obviously evaluating. He laughs in delight, leaning in to kiss the boy gently. "It has been an age since I have seen one with this amount of power." He begins to unwrap the blanket that someone had wrapped him in, and he finds a letter.
It's not addressed to him, instead the name Petunia is carefully scrawled across the front. The envelope is still sealed. He pops it opens easily. The note inside is written in the same ornate hand, and Jareth reads it with a raised eyebrow.
My name is Albus Dumbledore, and I am afraid I must inform you of some terrible news. Your sister and her husband have been killed. I am unsure if your sister saw fit to inform you of the war our world is currently under. Please know that they died fighting for what they believed in, and in doing so, were able to secure a victory for our side that will insure no similar loss of life for quite some time.
As you can see, though James and Lily died, their son survives. Harry Potter is only a month older than your own son, and it was your sister's wish that the two boys would grow up together, away from the strife of our world. By taking him into your home you have agreed to care for him, and doing so will insure that not only the boy, but your family as well, will be protected by the strongest magical protections we can offer.
Do not fear, any attempt to remove the boy from you home will result in the breakdown of those protections, which will notify me and the rest of my friends, and we will come at once to your aid.
When the boy is 11 he will receive the same offer as your sister once did, and attend Hogwarts School. You have my word that no wizards will try to contact you until that time.
The signature was followed with a list of titles and awards that Jareth could not possibly have cared less about, and he let the letter drop. It was a masterful piece of intimidation, blackmail and manipulation. The information about the woman's son, a clear threat if you wanted to see it that way, the information about the agreement only included after the boy had been brought into the house. The even less subtle threat of an arrival of a team of wizards if anyone attempted to remove the boy. Even the appeal to her sister's final wish.
A trio of goblins peer at the baby over his shoulder, "Will anyone come for him?"
Jareth doubts it. Only one wizard ever even tried the Labyrinth, and he had given up before the helping hands. This letter seems to make it clear that no one will be coming for the child. Just to be sure he waves a hand over the boy, Harry, and a crystal appears in his hand. Through it he sees a woman, tall and thin, at a stove preparing breakfast. Her movements are fast and light, not one note of regret or hesitation. She will not come for the child, and she doesn't even need a crystal as a bribe. He rolls the crystal, and the view changes to an old man, clearly a wizard this time, power cloaked around him so close it's nearly visible. There are many objects of power around him, including a small glass ball that Jareth can see is meant to track the whereabouts of the child. Jareth sends a small surge of his power into the ball, and it transfers to the tracker, assuring the wizard will not be able to tell that the boy is not with his aunt.
That finished he rolls the ball again, and it vanishes. "No one will come." He stands, shifting Harry to his elbow. "Prepare the room next to mine."
The goblins who have been gamboling around in celebration of a new goblin brother freeze immediately. "The room for the heir?" One asks, sounding amazed.
Jareth smirks at them, "Yes. The wizard child shall be my heir. The Goblin Prince." The cheer that goes up is loud and excited. They break into song almost instantly. Harry shifts in Jareth's hold, and he moves to show the child his celebrating subjects. Harry stares for a moment, before he starts to laugh and clap along with their singing.
Jareth smiles wide, and the two join the dance together.