This fanfic started out as an idea for a oneshot. I say that a lot, don't I? I am still POSTING it as a oneshot, because I am too lazy to break it into chapters, but while this can stand alone and will be marked as "complete", I will be continuing to work on this, and it will be followed up with a part two that is rated M, while this one will remain at "T" (though if I'm honest, I think I twelve year old could read this one, so low in the adult content that it is) , primarily because it deals with death a bit.
Anyway, I KNOW this is a really odd pairing, but as this is coming from me, I doubt you lot are surprised. Please, I beg you, even though your instinct is probably "EWW!" when you see the pairing marked as Petunia and Rosmerta, please give this a chance. This is more a family fic than a romance, though the second part will deal more with the romance when I get that far. As to when the second part will be posted, I couldn't begin to say, because my wonderful girlfriend (TwistedDKat) has ordered a darkfic with my usual pairing. Teaser: There will be vampires! Anyway, I'll stop rambling. Please enjoy a look at the life Harry Potter could have had.
November 1st, 1981
Petunia Evans knew that a bitter woman was not a particularly attractive one, but she hadn't ever really been what the men considered attractive. She was a handsome woman, the type that was fit and strong features, but certainly not what anyone would call beautiful. She found that she didn't really care. Who needed love, anyway? Five years ago, she'd still had some semblance of hope for a future that included a family, but then mum had died of cancer the year after Lily's graduation from that school. Dad was still around, but he hadn't been the same since burying mum. Like their father, Lily had retreated into herself. Petunia, far more like her mother had been, converted hurt into energy, and pressed on.
It was just after six in the morning, and as Petunia crawled out of bed, she wondered what on earth had her thinking about her stupid sister anyway. Lily hadn't been in touch not even once since mum had died. Not once. She'd mentioned, at the funeral, that there was a war going on in her world, and that she'd probably have to go into hiding or some rot. More likely, Petunia speculated, Lily just didn't want to have any part in looking after their dad.
A Mister Dumbledore - what sort of rubbish name was that? - had called on them last July to let them know that Lily had given birth to a baby boy. Harry, after mum's dad, and James after Lily's husband. Dad had been elated, and for that much Petunia had been grateful. So few things could bring him out of his near constant state of depression now.
Petunia padded her way down the hall of her house, poking her head into her father's room to confirm that he was still sleeping, and then walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. Sitting on the kitchen table was the mail she'd thrown there after coming in late last night, after getting off her shift at the diner. Petunia Evans, Number 4, Privet Drive, each of the envelopes were addressed. The house her parents had lived at was on the other side of town, so after mum had died she'd moved dad over to her place, rather than commuting to check on him each day. That said, bills were piling up and she knew she'd soon need to make a choice as to which of the two houses to sell. She supposed she'd have to talk to dad about it.
Setting down the mail and resolving to deal with it later, Petunia moved to the fridge, hoping to scarf down a bowl of cereal before needing to get ready to go back to the diner. Damn, bloody double shifts, she mentally cringed. Of course, dad couldn't be expected to work when he could hardly be relied on to get out of bed every day, so Petunia had to work twice as much. She really needed to talk to him about selling the other house…
"No milk, of course," Petunia muttered to herself, glowering at nearly empty bottle in the icebox that she had no doubt was her father's doing. He liked milk before bed, and had often returned the bottle to the fridge with nothing but backwash in it. Men, she thought, rolling her eyes.
It occurred to her today was milk drop, and that milkman usually had theirs delivered by six fifteen. She glanced at the clock. It was only ten after, but with no time to prepare eggs or anything else before getting back upstairs to shower, she decided to go out on the porch and hope that if the milkman hadn't already come and gone, that he'd be there shortly. She pulled the ties of her robe around her snuggly, not wanting to get a chill upon stepping out into the cool morning air, and made for the front door.
There was no milk on the doorstep, but much to her surprise, there was something. Petunia crouched to examine a basket. Heat seemed to be radiating from the red blanket that covered it, and she suddenly wondered if Mrs. Figg down the street had been up all night baking bread again. The woman was quite strange, but Petunia was not about to tell her off for periodically leaving fresh baked goods on her doorsteps. Suddenly hopeful for fresh bread or muffins, Petunia pulled away the red cloth greedily, only to drop it in surprise. A screech escaped her lips a moment later, and directly following that, the infant that had just been revealed began to scream.
Petunia watched the child, wide eyed and in shock for a moment, before her better sense kicked in and she reached in to pick up the child. A quick inspection defined the child as a male, and then Petunia looked more closely. He had dark hair, and green eyes, and by the amount of teeth in his mouth, she guessed he was a bit over a year old. Petunia was well acquainted with children this age, as the diner she worked at often served families with young children, even though the owner Carl openly despised kids.
The boy, while no longer crying, continued whimpering, and Petunia reached out and began to fish in the basket, hoping that whoever the irresponsible twit who had left the child here was, had at least enough sense to leave a bottle with him. She found no bottle, but rather her fingers made contact with a bit of rough, thick paper. Her heart froze at the touch. Petunia had felt paper like this a few times before - this was parchment. Wizard paper. The sort of paper Lily used.
Her sister's comment about a war and going into hiding echoed in Petunia's mind as she held the baby with green eyes a bit closer. Lily had green eyes. Lily had a son about this age. Oh god, please no... Petunia thought as she unfolded the parchment.
Dear Ms. Evans,
It is with deepest sympathy that I must inform you that last night, your sister Lily and her husband James Potter were murdered. They died protecting their son. As you know, Lily was a witch, and because of this, her sacrifice to defend young Harry created a magical form of protection around him, whilst he remains in the care of a blood relative of hers. It is because of this that I leave your nephew in your capable hands. Like his parents, Harry is a wizard, and I expect to see him again after he turns eleven, at which point he will be welcome at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Until then, I wish you well.
Petunia could feel the tears cascading down her cheeks. Her sister was dead. Lily, beautiful, stubborn Lily… was dead. Before she completely lost it, the woman stood and, Harry still in hand and basket left where it lay, and went back inside. By the time she closed the door, her father was already making his way down the stairs.
"What's that?" he grunted at the bundle in her arms.
"Your grandson," she choked.
Daniel Evans looked confused, but approached. "What?"
"Lily's son," Petunia explained, a fresh batch of tears welling up as she sat down on the sofa. "Lily's dead, dad. And her husband."
The older man stood stock still, and for a moment Petunia wondered if he wouldn't collapse from the shock. Good lord, what if he had a heart attack on the bloody spot?
"That Dumbledore fellow brought Harry?" he finally choked out, sitting down beside her.
Petunia nodded. "Left him on the doorstep with a note," she said bitterly.
"I'm sure he had other things he had to attend to," Daniel said reasonably. "Guess it's up to us then, to bring the kid up."
"Looks like," she replied.
"My house is in a better neighborhood, for kids," he said next. "I know you like this place, but we both know that it's been tight paying the bills for both houses as it is. Now, with a growing boy to feed and clothe, we can't seriously consider any option but to sell one or the other."
That her father was actually talking like a normal human being, rather than a man in a depressed stupor, surprised Petunia. He had avoided talking about money for two years, since mum had died. And now, all of the sudden, her very sensible father was back and communicating like an adult.
"I guess I'll call the broker, then," Petunia agreed reasonably. "Oh, bugger, I have to go to work, dad…"
Daniel nodded, holding out his arms for the boy. "I can manage Harry for a few hours, but see what you can do about getting off early. We'll need to go to the mall and get him some things."
"Of course," she nodded. "I'll call Marcy and see if she'll cover the second half of my shift."
Without another word, Petunia handed Harry Potter, the boy who lived, to his grandfather, and with a deep breath, made for the stairs. In the shower, she let herself cry for the loss of her sister, and vowed to do whatever it took to ensure that her sacrifice would not have been in vain. Harry would grow up loved.
July 31st, 1982
"An Tune!" an, effective today, two year old boy called. "No!"
Petunia Evans sighed. It had been nine months since her nephew Harry had been left on her doorstep, with nothing but a note to explain why. Most parents had nine months of pregnancy to prepare for a child, but Petunia had not been given that luxury. She'd never even met little Harry prior to his arrival the morning after his parents were killed.
The dark haired, green eyed toddler had nightmares about it sometimes. Petunia had known, from her times as a teenager babysitting for the neighbor's kids, how to handle that, but she had not been prepared for the emotional damage that affected Harry day to day. He hated mirrors. The first time she'd shown him his reflection, he'd leaned in very close, examined his eyes, and then began screaming at the top of his little lungs. It had taken Petunia a while to work out that it was the color of his eyes that were the trigger. Harry hated green. It was the color of the flash of light, the spell, that had killed Lily and James.
"No, what, Harry?" Petunia asked tiredly.
"No Sev. No cake," he pouted, looking anxiously at the front door.
Ahh. Petunia tried not to begrudge Harry his affection for Severus Snape. She might hate the man's pitiful guts, but he was someone who'd known Lily well, and as Harry grew, he'd have questions that Severus could answer. So, much to both she and Severus' displeasure, he'd been brought into their little family as a surrogate uncle of sorts. That arrangement had been her father's doing, who had apparently been in regular contact with Severus since right after he and Lily had graduated Hogwarts, and the classmate of Lily's had moved back to his childhood home a few doors down.
According to her father, Severus has come to him, begging forgiveness a few weeks after Lily's death, for what he believed to be his part in said event. Daniel Evans had not told his daughter much about that talk, but he had told her that Severus needed to be a part of Harry's life. When she'd asked what on earth for, he'd only said one word - redemption.
A knock on the door saved Petunia the trouble of blowing out the candles on the cake, only to have to relight them after Severus arrived. "I'll get it!" she shouted, knowing her father would have heard the knock as well.
By the time she reached the front door, opened it, and allowed Severus to step inside, her father had already made his way down the stairs with a pile of badly wrapped presents. Petunia crinkled her nose at the sight. She hadn't recalled his wrapping job being quite that dismal at Christmas. Granted, they'd been in the middle of moving to her childhood home around Christmas, so there hadn't really been much in the way of gifts or anything.
"Daniel," Severus greeted curtly. "Petunia."
"Severus, my boy," Daniel replied, shaking the younger man's hand firmly. "Welcome."
"According to my sources," Severus said, pulling a small package out of his pocket, "this is an appropriate gift for a two year old boy, who resides in a muggle neighborhood."
Petunia gasped slightly as Severus pulled out his wand and enlarged the package to the size of an ottoman, and placed it on the floor. "God, I hate it when you do that," she muttered.
"Get used to it, Tuney," her father urged. "Harry will do the same sort of thing one day. We'll not make him feel unwelcome the way your mother did Lily."
"Dad!" Petunia gasped, utterly floored that he'd say such a thing. "Mum never…"
"She never said it outright," Daniel corrected. "But had she the ability to make Lily not magical, she'd have done it. While she'd never have turned your sister out for what and who she was, she didn't exactly encourage Lils to spend her holidays at home, either."
Petunia shuffled her feet uncomfortably, and she noted that Severus was doing much the same. Daniel, it appeared, had suddenly realized he'd spoiled the mood, and quickly joined suit. For a few seconds, the three adults just stood there awkwardly, until a squeal of delight from Harry broke them all out of their thoughts.
"Un Sev!" Harry exclaimed. "You comes!"
"Came," Severus corrected softly. "I came. And I told you I would, did I not?"
Harry nodded, and then noticed the large box sitting by Severus' feet. "Present?"
"All yours," the young man confirmed. "Though how about we go blow the candles on your cake out before the wax gets on the icing?"
Petunia gasped, having totally forgotten she'd left the candles burning. "Oh, bother!"
She quickly moved into the kitchen, followed by her father, Severus, and Harry.
"Up you go, Harry," Daniel said, lifting the toddler up. "Blow out the candles!"
Harry did as instructed, and then grinned. "Presents now?" he asked.
"One track mind," Petunia chuckled. "Alright then, back into the living room."
Fifteen minutes later, Harry was the proud owner of a tricycle, which was doing a fine job making Petunia smile. She had to hand it to Severus, it was a good gift. This would certainly help keep Harry entertained whilst she tried to manage the garden on Saturday afternoons. After moving back to her childhood home, Petunia had gotten a secretary job, which was a typical Monday through Friday, nine to five sort of job, and on Sunday she drove to the other side of town to pick up a shift at the diner. Her dad had said it wasn't necessary to work two jobs now that her house had sold, but she'd wanted to keep her foot in the door, at least for a while. They'd agreed at the beginning that she would remain the money maker. Her age and education made it easier for her to find good paying jobs than it was for a man well past retirement. Of course, that left only Saturday to do the outdoor chores, being that it was after dark when she got home in the evenings.
After deciding the tricycle wouldn't roll away on its own, Harry spent another half an hour opening his other gifts: a few books, a puzzle, a couple of new outfits, a t-ball set, and a tub full of building blocks. After that it was time for cake, and by then it was time to get Harry to bed. He didn't even fight it - the activity of the evening had worn him out good and proper.
After getting Harry bathed, teeth brushed, and tucked into bed snugly, Petunia returned downstairs, unsurprised that Severus was still sitting on the sofa talking to her father.
"He all settled?" Daniel asked.
"Out cold," Petunia nodded.
"Well," the older man said, standing, "I think the kid had the right idea. I'm beat. You'll see Severus out, Tuney?"
Her father bid Severus goodnight, and left the two younger adults standing in the living room. Petunia wasted no time in nodding curtly toward the front door, and Severus took his cue.
"Thank you for having me over this evening," he said softly.
"Not a problem. Harry enjoyed you being here," she replied kindly.
"I was instructed to give you this," Severus said, turning before he stepped outside to hand her a slip of parchment. "My friend, Rosmerta, said that if you have any trouble with Harry as his magic develops, or need a sitter or something, that you could call her."
"She's a witch?" Petunia inquired.
"Yes," he confirmed. "Runs a bed and breakfast in Hogsmeade. She's a bit older than us, but I thought it might be wise for you to have a woman in the wizarding world to get advice from, you know, when the accidental magic starts. It won't be long now - wizarding kids usually start to develop their powers between two and three."
Petunia, while not overly keen on befriending a witch, could see the merit in Severus' suggestion. "I'll hold on to her number. Thanks."
"Alright then," he nodded. "Good evening, Petunia."
"Severus!" she called after the man before he was too far down the walkway. "Don't forget Harry will expect a day with you before you leave in September!"
"I'll ring in a couple of weeks to set something up!" he called back. Petunia noted a small smile on his lips. For the first time since getting reacquainted with her sister's childhood friend, Petunia decided that perhaps it wasn't such a bad thing, having Severus around. After all, Harry needed some sort of father figure, and as much as it pained her to think about it, her own dad wasn't going to be around forever.
Feb 14th, 1983
Petunia had put it off as long as she could. It had been just over six months since Severus had given her that witch's number, and just as he'd said, Harry's magical abilities had started to bloom right about Christmas time. The first major thing she'd noticed was that when handed a new box of crayons she'd picked up on the way back from work one morning, Harry had promptly squinted at the box, and an instant later all of the green crayons had changed into various shades of red. Harry liked red. Her dad had reminded her that Lily had been in Gryffindor House at that school of hers. The colors of that dorm had been red and gold.
If it had remained little things like that, Petunia was certain she could have just dealt with it. It wasn't although things such as that surprised her, per say, at least not as much as she remembered those sorts of things making her parents scratch their heads when Lily was this age. Petunia, being a couple of years older, remembered a few incidents, like the time they'd been getting ready for church, and Lily had decided to go jump in a puddle of mud. Petunia had told her not to do it, and when she had anyway, Petunia had run off to tell their mum. When she'd returned with mum in tow, Lily's dress and shoes had been spotless.
What Petunia hadn't remembered, or perhaps Lily had never been quite so… willful, was things like how when Harry did not want to take a bath, the water in the tub would just vanish into thin air. That had been frustrating enough, because he'd really needed a bath post trying to make an igloo out of a manure pile, but today's incident had thrown her over the edge. It was bedtime. It was supposed to get cold last night. Petunia had wanted to close Harry's bedroom window so he didn't catch cold. Harry had wanted the window open, and so Harry had magically shattered the glass.
Her dad had covered the window with a tarp, but Petunia would have to call a repairman to come replace the glass now, and that was a bill she had no idea how she was going to pay. Money was tight. Petunia simply could not afford to have Harry breaking windows and God knew whatever was next!
So, Petunia picked up the receiver, hoped it wasn't too early to call in whatever time zone the town of Hogsmeade was, and dialed.
"Hello, Three Broomsticks!" a cheerful sounding woman answered after a few rings.
"Hello, I'm calling for Rosmerta?" Petunia asked cautiously.
"You got her, hun, what can I do ya for?"
Petunia sighed. "I got your number from Severus Snape. My name is Petunia Evans."
"Ahh, Petunia," Rosmerta sighed. "What did the little whipper-snapper break?"
The relief the muggle woman felt was immeasurable. This woman, this witch, knew what she was going through and could be the help and support Pentuna needed so desperately. "His bedroom window," she replied with an exasperated sigh. "I don't know what to do. I cannot afford to be replacing windows. I'm not even sure how I'm going to pay for this one!"
"Didn't Albus set you up with Gringotts?" the other woman asked, tone a bit annoyed.
"I'm sorry, I have no idea what that even means," Petunia replied.
A sigh could be heard on the other end. "Any chance you could meet me in London in a couple hours? I'm actually heading down there myself after a bit, so perhaps we could have lunch and talk things over."
It was Saturday. She'd planned to work on the yard, as usual, but that could wait. "Where and when?" she asked firmly.
"Know where the Leaky Cauldron is?" Rosmerta inquired.
Oh, Petunia remember that place. She'd been there once, years and years ago. She and her father had waited in that dingy pub while Lily and their mum had gone into Diagon Alley and done Lily's school shopping. Had Petunia not been busy throwing a fit about how unfair it was that Lily got to go to this special school, she'd have gone through that brick wall too. "I know it," she replied after a moment.
"Okay, meet me there then," Rosmerta said. "Noon. We'll have lunch somewhere less hole in the wall, and I'll Owl Albus about meeting us at Gringotts after. If you're raising the kid, you sure as hell should have some of his family money to help with the expenses. Merlin knows raising kids isn't cheap, let alone magical ones!"
Petunia still didn't know what Gringotts was, but she figured she'd be finding out later. She'd remembered about half way through the conversation that the man who'd left Harry, Dumbledore, had indicated his given name to be Albus, she she guessed that, sixteen long months later, she'd finally be able to give that old coot a piece of her mind. "I'll be there," she promised. "Thank you."
"Not a problem, Petunia, I'll see you in a couple hours."
Before Petunia had a chance to inquire how she'd recognize this Rosmerta woman, the line was disconnected. She glanced at the clock and decided she'd have time to get Harry and dad breakfast, then get about an hour worth of weeding done before needing to shower and head off to London. She briefly considered bringing Harry with her on this outing, but the fact that Harry's parents had been murdered in the wizarding world made her less than inclined to bring him back into that environment without more knowledge first. Dad could keep Harry for the afternoon.
As planned, Petunia arrived at the run down establishment known as The Leaky Cauldron just prior to noon. As much as she would have prefered to wait outside, Rosmerta had indicated to meet at this location, rather than outside of it, and so the muggle woman took a deep breath, clutched her purse tightly, and walked inside. She'd hardly managed to get inside when a gruff male voice called her by name.
Her eyes sought out the speaker; a man, perhaps fifty, behind the bar. "Yes," she whispered.
"Don't be frightened, girl," the barkeep said kindly. "Rosie sent word to keep an eye out for you, and that she'd be just a few minutes late. Take a seat, and I'll get you something to drink."
"Just water, please," Petunia requested.
The barman gave her a glass of water in a reasonably clean mug, and then left her be. She only had to wait for about ten minutes before a woman, who looked about her own age came storming into the pub with a fair bit of rage in her step. Her blond, curly hair, flew about in a wild, frizzy mess, and her sharp features demanded respect. That said, she was still all woman; hips to make any woman jealous, and pert, full breast bound to be an object of many a man's attention.
She was the most beautiful creature Petunia had ever laid eyes on, she decided right then and there. So entranced Petunia was that she hardly noticed that the woman's movements were presently coming right toward her position. In fact, her brain didn't even connect that she was staring, open mouthed, until the object of her attention was right in front of her.
"Normally I give folks hell for leering at me," the woman said, hands on her hips. "But in your case, go right ahead."
Petunia finally closed her mouth and looked up, to see the woman grinning at her. "I… um…"
"You Petunia, per chance?"
All the muggle woman could do was nod in agreement.
"I'm Rosmerta," the blond woman introduced herself, offering a hand. "Or Rosie, if you like."
Petunia finally found her tongue, and as it happened, her brain as well, and remembered whom she was here to meet and why. "Good lord, forgive me," she coughed. " Pleased to meet you. And what I like is totally irrelevant. It's your name, what do you like?"
If possible, the witch's smile grew brighter. "I think I'm going to like you, very much."
"Yes, well…" Petunia blushed.
Oh. Oh no. No, no, no, no, no, no! the muggle woman thought, terrified at exactly when sort of feelings were coursing through her at that moment. I am not flirting with a woman. I am not flirting with a witch! Oh for the love of god…
"Come on then," Rosmerta said kindly, somehow sensing how utterly unprepared for that sort of conversation Petunia was. Let's go get you something to eat."
October 31st, 1985
Harry was five now. Petunia grasped his little hand tightly as Severus held her other hand, and side along apparated them to Godric's Hollow. Severus' other hand was resting on her father's shoulder, and a moment later she found herself nauseous and in a graveyard. Halloween was known in both the muggle and Wizarding world as a day of death and ghouls and other things that go bump in the night, but for this family, today meant more. Today was the day they'd lost a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend. Today was the day that Lily, along with her husband James, had died three years previously.
"Are you alright?" Severus asked, turning to Petunia and Daniel each in turn.
While her father upchucked on the ground, giving his answer loud and clear, Petunia just nodded, unwilling to risk opening her mouth at the moment. That was unpleasant. She kneeled down to see how Harry was faring, and while he looked a bit on the pale side, Petunia was unsure if he was feeling sick like his aunt and grandfather, or if he just, however vaguely, remembered this place. The house his parents were killed in, his home for the first year and a half of his life, was right around the corner.
"Next time we take the bloody train," Daniel muttered, wiping his mouth with his coat sleeve.
"We're not doing this every year, dad," Petunia said, gently reminding him that they'd agreed that while Harry was old enough to see this place, to see his parents graves, it was not the sort of thing he should do every year over the course of his childhood. Halloween was supposed to be fun for children - Petunia did not want to taint the day with a dreary reminder to Harry each and every year that he was an orphan.
"Where's my mum and dad?" Harry asked, looking at her with those soulful green eyes that reminded the muggle woman every single day of the sister she'd lost.
"Over here, Harry," Severus replied quietly, lifting the boy up and walking to a nearby grave.
Petunia and Daniel followed quietly, both lost in thought about the memories they each had of Lily. Neither had ever really known James - had met him a couple of times, but certainly not enough familiarity to really mourn the man. To them, he was just Lily's husband, and Harry's father. They'd forever respect his memory, if for nothing else, for giving them this wonderful boy.
Petunia couldn't help but smirk at the sight of Harry and Severus wearing identical expressions of conflicting emotions at the moment. She knew how Severus and James had been rivals at school, and it amused her to no end that Severus would end up becoming a father figure to James' son. Lily, she knew, would have seen the irony in that as well. Severus, having been friends with Lily for all their childhood, would have had Lily's approval in how he was looking after Harry now. Petunia just hoped that Lily would have been okay with the fact that her decidedly muggle sister, who had theoretically hated all things magical, was raising her son.
Thinking of the wizarding world made Petunia's thoughts stray to Rosmerta; a witch whom had been an amazing support in her efforts to rear Harry over the last few years, and who had become a dear friend. As much as Petunia loathed to admit it to herself, there was more than a little potential for that friendship to become something more. She'd given up ages ago trying to deny her attraction to Rosmerta, though the more time passed, the "I couldn't possibly" thoughts were becoming less and less insistent, and the traitorous fantasies of "What if…" were starting to keep her awake at night. Petunia was pretty sure that the only thing keeping her from acting on her feelings at this point was that she had never seen a long distance relationship that worked out in the end, and she was not remotely inclined to start something that would only be a fling. Harry deserved more stability than that, and besides she didn't have the bloody time for a relationship at this point.
Next fall, Harry would be in school all day, versus the half days he did now. Maybe, just maybe, that would afford her more free time to think about a relationship. Mind, she was only going to think about it. She was not going to even try to speculate on the doing part of engaging in any sort of relationship with Rosmerta, or anyone else for that matter.
"Tuney," her father whispered, elbowing her.
She'd been lost in thought, and hadn't been watching Harry. Petunia shook her head and strode forward to pull a now crying child into her arms. Severus, while pretty good with Harry on a whole, was at a loss at what to do with an upset five year old. "What's wrong, baby?" she asked softly.
"I don't remember what they look like," Harry sniffled.
As soon as he said that, Severus reached in the pocket of his robe and pulled out a worn, wizarding photograph, and handed it to Harry. It was of Lily and James, dancing together. The picture, like most wizarding photos, was vivid in detail and moved as if it was a video recording. She had no idea where Severus might have gotten this, but decided it was not the time to ask.
"You look so like your father," Petunia observed, ruffling Harry's mop of dark hair.
"Except for the eyes," Severus muttered. "You have your mother's eyes."
From that day forward, Harry stopped hating the color green.
August 14th, 1986
As fate would have out, Daniel Evans would never have to even consider apparition again. At the end of that very next summer, he would be playing out back with Harry and suffer a massive heart attack, hitting the perfectly kept grass dead. Of all the things Petunia had hoped for her nephew, the top of the list was that he wouldn't have to watch another parental figure die. Life had other ideas, however, and today she was fighting back the tears as Harry wept openly at her father's funeral. She envied his innocence; that he didn't care if anyone thought less of him for the strangled cries that echoed throughout the church. She wished she had the courage to let go the way he did.
Severus was here, and to Petunia's surprise, so was Rosmerta. It continued to baffle the mousy haired woman that such a reserved and dour man could be so thoughtful. It had not occurred to Petunia to invite her witch of a friend, as Rosmerta had never even meet Daniel, but Severus had not been thinking in that context. He'd been considering a support for her. Petunia had never been more grateful to the man.
"You alright, 'tunia? Rosmerta asked quietly.
" Fine, " she lied, trying to remember when she'd agreed to that pet name.
"Liar," Rosmerta accused. "Tell me the truth later, alright?"
Petunia nodded, knowing she would. As much as she appreciated Severus, he wasn't the emotional support kind of man, and with her dad gone now, who else did she have? It briefly occurred to her that perhaps she ought to get out more, meet people, but aside from the woman standing beside her now, who would understand? Another witch, or a wizard who had more than the emotional range of a teaspoon might, but Dumbledore had cautioned her against getting friendly with other wizarding people, simply because Harry could be at risk if the wrong person found out with whom he was living. No relationship was worth compromising Harry's safety. Not to Petunia.
Later that evening, after Harry was in bed, she did pour her heart, and so many tears, out to Rosmerta. They talked for hours, late into the night, as Petunia told her friend every single memory she had of her father, and the long list of reasons that she'd miss him. Losing her mum had been hard enough, but Lily had been the mama's girl. For Petunia, losing her dad was losing her world. The only part of him she had left was in a dark haired little boy, sound asleep in the room upstairs. Harry carried all that was left of Lily as well, Petunia had commented.
"I actually feel a bit pathetic," she confessed. "That's so much to put on his shoulders. I feel like I should be…"
Rosmerta smacked the back of her head lightly. "Don't you dare, missy!"
"What?!" Petunia yelped, rubbing her cranium and pulling away a bit.
"Don't say you should be stronger!" the witch said venomously. "You are the strongest damn woman I've ever met, muggle or witch. It's okay to have some failings, you know."
Petunia stared at Rosmerta for a moment, feeling the last bitter walls beginning to crumble. "I could fall in love with you, so easily," she confessed in a soft voice.
The other woman nodded, understanding shining in her eyes. She leaned forward and pressed a firm kiss on Petunia's cheek before slowly pulling back and smiling gently. "Someday," she promised.
In that moment, Petunia didn't have a single doubt that's what it had been - a promise. More than that, it was hope.
December 12th, 1988
Harry Potter was eight, healthy, active, and driving his aunt to the brink of insanity. Of course he'd decide to fall in love at such a tender age. He was so like his mother in that way; heart on his sleeve and bold enough to tell his classmate exactly how he felt, in the form of a decidedly unexpected, for her and everyone else on the playground that Monday, kiss right on the lips.
Hermione Granger was almost a year older than him, though like her green eyed nephew, she was short for her age. When Petunia had asked Harry, post him informing her that he'd kissed Miss Granger because he loved her, why he loved the girl - what did an eight year old know about love anyway? - his answer had been startling.
"She's smart," Harry had said. "She's funny and she treats me nice. She looks out for me."
The boy had paused there for a moment before looking Petunia right in the eye and adding a final sentiment. "She reminds me of you."
As sweet as that had been, and as honored as she'd felt at the time, she was fairly sure she'd forever feel the horror and shame that came with having John Granger, Hermione's father, come to her door to return her mother's diamond wedding ring, which Harry had stolen from upon his aunt's dressing table. If that boy had thought he'd been in trouble for kissing Hermione, he probably thought Petunia was out to murder him when she came banging on his bedroom door a bit later, demanding an explanation for stealing, not to mention using said stolen property to propose to a nine year old girl who, prior to the week before, Petunia had never even met.
Having yelled herself hoarse, Petunia left Harry to think about things, and went downstairs to make a call. "Severus?" she asked when the other line was picked up. "It's Petunia."
"Hi," he said casually. "What can I do for you?"
"I need you to come over, now," she stated, before promptly hanging up. She was not going to give the man a chance to get out of what she needed him to do.
Less than five minutes later, thanks to the wonders of apparition, Severus had stormed in the front door, face wrought with panic. "What is it? Is Harry okay? Did the Death Eaters find you?"
Petunia put her hands up in the air and shook her head. "No, no, nothing like that!" she assured him, feeling a bit guilty for causing him such worry.
The man's shoulders heaved in relief. "For the love of Merlin, don't ever do that to me again!"
"I'm sorry," she apologized. "I needed you to help me with something regarding Harry. I'm afraid it cannot wait."
"Alright then," he said, taking off his cloak and putting it on a hanger in the hall closet. "What's this about?"
"Three days ago, Harry kissed a classmate of his. A pretty little girl named Hermione," Petunia began.
Petunia paused, rolling her eyes at the smirk on Severus' face. Unlikely a pair as they were, the two of them were for all intents and purposes, the acting mother and father of this boy. It was not surprising that said father figure felt pride in his charge's first display of sexuality. It really wasn't much different, she supposed, that observing your child's first steps.
"Then," she continued, crossing her arms across her chest, "this morning he stole my mum's wedding ring and proposed to her at recess. As Harry explained it, he thought that now that I'd met the girl, it was time to get married to her. Severus, you need to give Harry the talk."
Severus Snape was anything but a stupid man. He knew what she meant, and if the aghast look on his face was any indication, the notion of doing that particular fatherly duty scared him half to death. "You have got to be fucking kidding me," he said in a low voice.
Petunia just pointed to the stairs with her best no-nonsense expression etched on her face. "Now," she said firmly, and with a final sulk, the Potions Professor did as he was told.
It was a good hour before Severus reappeared. He told her that it was done, and that Harry was thinking about what had been discussed, and that he would be down shortly to offer an apology.
"Thank you, Severus," she said with a nod. "I couldn't be doing this without you."
"I do it for him," the man said with a tone of sadness. Petunia remembered that. Redemption, her father had told her. She'd never gotten the full details, and has sworn never to even attempt to breach the topic with Severus, but that her former childhood nemesis had played a role in her sister's death was why they had an unspoken "no touch" policy between them. No hugs, and certainly never any kisses would be shared between she and Severus. Petunia could co-parent with Severus, and even enjoyed aspects of that relationship, but she'd never even consider him as a potential suitor. Besides, as far as she knew he was still pining after her long dead sister.
Also, Petunia recalled with a small smile, there was Rosmerta.
July 31st, 1990
Petunia had expected the arrival of Harry's Hogwarts letter to be a joyous occasion for him. She expected bouncing and whooping and possibly the need to holler at him for jumping on the new couch. Yet, here it was, and there Harry was, just staring at it blankly.
"Aren't you happy, Harry?" she asked, frowning. She glanced at Severus, who had personally delivered the letter, hoping for some guidance. He seemed as surprised as she was, that Harry was not acting excited.
"Yeah, of course," he said. "Hogwarts will be great, especially since 'Mione is going too."
Ah, Hermione Granger, Petunia mused. As luck would have it, while not of wizarding breeding, the girl that Harry had taken such a fancy to had turned out to be a witch. Petunia now had the wonderful support system, and had for almost a year now, of her parents, who were as muggle as she was, and still managing to raise a magical child. Lucky for Petunia, Severus, John, and Jean, the young romance between the two seemed to have come to a dead halt, though Harry and Hermione were the best of friends, and she was glad for him.
"Then what is it?" Severus pressed, placing his hand on Harry's shoulder.
"I just… I don't want to get made fun of there, too," the boy admitted.
"Have the children at school been giving you trouble?" Petunia asked fiercely, wondering whose parents she was going to need to have a serious word with. Nobody bullied her child.
"It's nothing new," Harry moped. "They just give me a hard time for not having a mum and dad."
Severus and Petunia both frowned, saying nothing, neither having a clue how to console their charge, let alone solve the problem. Fortunately for them, Harry had an idea.
"I've been thinking about something for a while now," he said, looking at each of them in turn. "I know that my parents loved me, and I'll always remember that, but they aren't here, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life with no one to call mum and dad. So I was wondering…"
Petunia covered her lips with her hand, knowing what Harry was about to say, and for the second time in as many minutes, having no idea how to answer him.
"Could I call you guys mum and dad?" the green eyed boy asked. "You are, in everything except the words, already. You've been there forever, and I know you will keep doing that. You love me, and I love you."
Severus sank to the ground, kneeling before Harry. Petunia watched them, and realized Harry was right. The picture before her now was one of father and son, and the love she felt for the boy who'd been left on her doorstep nine years before was so much more than an aunt could feel for a nephew. So, Petunia caught Severus' eye and nodded at him. He nodded back, obviously fighting back tears. "Yes Harry," he choked out. "I'd be - we both would - honored if you'd call us mum and dad."
At that, Harry grinned, and flung himself into Severus' arms. The Hogwarts Professor, known for being decidedly non demonstrative, returned the embrace with everything he had, and Petunia kneeled to join them. From this day on, they were a family. It didn't matter that there was nothing romantic between she and Severus. They'd co-parented from the beginning, and while not a blood relation, and not legally bound to Harry, he'd been a father to the boy, and Petunia knew he would continue to be so for as long as he drew breath.
Petunia whispered a soft prayer into Harry's shoulder, tightening her embrace. "Thank you, dad," she muttered, knowing that it was only through her father's encouragement that the wonderful life she had now was even possible.
August 1st, 1991
It had taken Petunia a good long hour to get used to the madness that was Diagon Alley. She'd been here once, with Rosmerta the day she'd met the witch, but the wizarding shopping center had been decidedly more quiet that day. It seemed like today, every family with a child bound for Hogwarts in a month was here, and so very few of them were like her. Muggle. Petunia shook her head, thankful that the Grangers were here with them today.
Harry was up ahead, along with Hermione and Severus, all looking with interest at what appeared to be a wizarding pet shop. "I told Hermione she could not get a pet until next year," Jean Granger whispered to her. "Harry looks to be getting excited - is Severus going to buy him a pet?"
"I dearly hope not!" Petunia exclaimed, and upon realizing that her dour co-parent was smiling just as much as the children were, she huffed and made her way toward them.
"Petunia, we were just looking at Owls," Severus said casually, noting her approach. "Harry likes this white one. Hogwarts doesn't do muggle post, you know, and while the school does have Owls there that students can use, they are hardly reliable. If you want to get regular letters while Harry's at school, he needs an Owl."
The arguments in Petunia's head about why Harry should not get a pet, least of all a bloody Owl, seemed to vanish into thin air. In an instant, the reality that her little boy was going away to school, and he would not be home in the evenings or on the weekends, set in. "Alright then," she heard herself whisper.
Severus seemed to sense her distress. "It's alright, you'll see him at Christmas. It's not too long."
"Yes it is," she said fiercely, blinking away some tears. Four months was a long time for a child. Four months ago, Harry had been only ten! Now he was eleven! Who knew what all could happen in four months!"
The dark eyed wizard frowned, obviously thinking. "You know, Rosmerta has been trying to talk you into visiting her in Hogsmeade…" he started.
"Which I've repeatedly declined and you know why Severus Snape!" Petunia snapped, recalling the last conversation she and the man with her had had about her budding romance with the innkeeper. As far as Severus was concerned, they should have shagged ages ago. As far as Petunia was concerned, Harry came first, and she didn't want a romance to get in the way of that. Or at least, that's what she was forcing herself to believe was her reason for holding Rosmerta at arms length.
"Well," Severus said, "if you took her up on her offer and visited, I could probably get Albus to let me bring Harry down for lunch to visit…"
It had always been told to her that each of the four houses at Hogwarts held in high regard certain qualities. For Ravenclaw, it was intelligence. Hufflepuff was loyalty. Gryffindor, which both Lily and James were sorted to, was for the brave. Slytherin, Severus' house, was for the cunning. Until this very moment, she'd not understood exactly how well suited Severus was to his alma mater. "You," she stuttered out, "you… Slytherin!"
To the shock and amazement of various passerbyers, older Hogwarts bound children who'd had the unfortunate luck to have been in one of Severus' Potions classes and knew him to be a decidedly hard and short tempered teacher, Severus Snape laughed. And he laughed. And then, he laughed some more.
"Dad?" Harry groaned. "Do you mind?"
Severus' mouth snapped shut. "Sorry, son."
"Mum," the eleven year old said, turning to his surrogate mother," I'd really like an Owl, but if you're not okay with it, that's fine too."
"No, Harry," Petunia said, ruffling his hair with her hand. "Your dad had a fair point about why an Owl would come in handy. I want you to be free to send letters whenever, and not have to rely on the school's loaners."
"It doesn't cost too much?"
Petunia smiled. "It's not every day your young man turns eleven, now is it? We'll call this a belated birthday present, fair enough?"
"Alright!" Harry whooped. "HEY 'MIONE! GUESS WHAT?" he shouted, taking off like a bolt toward the next shop down, which appeared to be, and to the surprise of neither Petunia, Severus, nor the Grangers, a bookshop. Hermione liked two things in the world: Harry, and books.
September 1st, 1991
Leave it to Harry to get into his first, real fight over a girl. He'd been a in few scuffles at the local park, usually in the defense of a smaller child who was being bullied. Petunia had made it clear to her adoptive son that she had no tolerance for bullies early on, and it seemed that Harry had taken that lesson to an extreme. Today, however, in the middle of a crowded train station, Harry had outright slugged a boy quite a bit older than him, after hearing said boy make a comment about how ugly he believed Hermione was. Upside, the boy with a now broken nose had a younger brother who was Harry and Hermione's age, and he'd thought that the squeal coming out of his older brother's mouth upon being punched by a boy half his size was delightfully funny, and so it seemed that the duo that Petunia had grown so fond of was developing into a trio.
"I am not going to apologize for Harry, Mrs. Weasley," Petunia said to the plump, red haired woman who called herself mother to the two boys. "Your older boy was out of line in his comments regarding Hermione, and Harry was only defending her."
Mrs. Weasley sighed. "It's fine, Percy knows that sort of talk is not acceptable. Besides, Lily would have been pleased to see her son defending a young lady."
Petunia's jaw dropped. "You...you knew my sister?"
"Oh yes," the woman said softly, glancing over at where Harry, Hermione, and Ron were chattering happily. "Before… that night… Lily and I often corresponded regarding the children. She didn't really have a mother figure, in the wizarding world that is, to help her understand the ins and outs of raising a magical child. Had the war not been going on, Ron and Harry might have been playmates, but it wasn't possible with she and James in hiding."
"Well," Petunia mused, carefully eying the woman her sister had been friends with, "Perhaps they will become friends now; and if you'd be willing, I would greatly appreciate any guidance regarding Harry. Ill prepared doesn't even begin to describe me. Hermione's parents have been a wonderful support, and I've got Severus and Rosmerta, but neither of them have children."
Molly looked at Petunia curiously. "Just how do you know Severus and Rosmerta?"
"Severus was a neighbor when Lily and I were growing up," the muggle woman said, "and has been a good support in my efforts to raise Harry. He, Harry that is, calls Severus and I "mum" and "dad", per his own request."
The red-haired woman nodded. "And Rosmerta?"
"Severus introduced us, and…" Petunia trailed off, blushing. She really had no idea how the wizarding world looked at romantic relationships between two people of the same gender. She didn't want to make this conversation awkward, but she didn't want to lie to her new friend either. "It's...complicated."
"Ahh," Molly replied, grinning. "I understand. Rosmerta is a wonderful woman. I've known her for years. My oldest son, Bill, often got in trouble with her while he was at Hogwarts - he kept trying to smuggle liquor into the school."
"How many children do you have?" Petunia inquired politely.
"Seven, Merlin save me," Molly laughed. "Bill and Charlie have already left Hogwarts. Percy is starting his fifth year. The twins, Fred and George, are third years now, and get in more trouble than the first three combined. Ron, of course, is starting his first year just like Harry, and my youngest and only girl, Ginny, will be starting next year."
"Good lord," the other woman gasped. "You certainly have your hands full. And what of your husband?"
"Arthur, wonderful man," Molly sighed happily. "Works at the Ministry. He's in charge of the department which keeps muggle items that have been charmed or cursed out of the hands of unsuspecting muggles."
"No, my dear," the older woman said, patting her shoulder. "You are raising a wizard. You are always suspecting things to be amiss. If not, you ought to rethink that standpoint. Even though Harry is starting Hogwarts, that doesn't mean the accidental magic will stop. He will not have full control over his magic for years. Even adult wizards and witches sometimes lose control. I heard a story from Arthur once, about a young wizard, raised by abusive muggle relatives, who got so angry with them one evening at dinner that he blew up his aunt like a balloon. He was twelve or thirteen by then, I believe. Can't recall the poor lad's name…"
Petunia shuddered, the story resonating on many levels. Had her father not been around, or had she been with someone who disliked magic as much as she had before Harry came into her life, or had Severus never opened her eyes to the wonders of the wizarding world, then it was not out of the realm of possibilities that she could have been a neglectful, abusive guardian to the boy who'd been dropped on her doorstep ten years ago. Harry could have been the boy in that tale. Petunia reckoned that the woman who drove that boy to such anger rightly deserved far more than being blown up like a balloon.
"Mum!" she heard Harry shout. "Ron says we gotta get on the train!"
"Let's go say our goodbyes then," Molly suggested, ushering the muggle woman towards where Ron, Harry, and Hermione were standing near the door to the train.
"Harry, you must promise to write, often!" Petunia said, pulling Harry into a tight hug, not unlike Molly was doing to Ron, and John and Jean were doing with Hermione.
"I will, mum," he assured her. "I'll miss you."
"And I'll miss you," she replied. "You dad will be there at the school, so if you need anything…"
"It's going to be really weird calling him Professor Snape," Harry said, crinkling his nose. "But yeah, if I need something, I'll ask dad. Hey, maybe I'll get sorted to Slytherin like him!"
"If you do, your mother and father would probably both roll over in their graves," Petunia chuckled. "Harry, don't forget that even though Severus and I have been here for you, that you were born to James and Lily Potter, who gave up their lives so you could live. That kind of courage is something you should hold on to - I don't know if I could have been that brave."
"Sure you could have," Harry replied with a smile. "Because you love me just like they did."
He seemed so sure of that, and Petunia hoped he was right. She hadn't known James at all, and couldn't attest for his bravery, or if that character trait ran in his family, but she knew Lily had always been the brave sort, and Petunia hoped that if she and her sister had nothing else in common, they would both have been selfless and brave enough to give up everything for this wonderful child.
"I'll see you at Christmas," she told him, pressing a kiss to his messy head of hair.
"Sooner, if you come visit Aunt Rosmerta," Harry said with a cheeky grin.
Petunia glared. "Go. Get your skinny rear on that train before I get the urge to smack it!"
The threat was said in jest, and they both knew it. Regardless, Harry took his cue, and after tightly embracing his surrogate mum one more time, he hopped on the train just as the wheels began to turn. "Bye mum!" he shouted out the window as soon as he found one.
"Be safe, son," Petunia whispered.
"It's always hardest the first time," Molly Weasley said.
Petunia had forgotten the other woman, along with the Grangers, were also there on the platform. "I just worry about him," she confessed.
"That's being a mother," Jean commented. Beside her, John nodded in agreement.
"Would you three like to come back to my place for tea?" Molly offered the three muggles she'd suddenly found herself attached to.
John and Jean declined, have already made plans for after dropping Hermione off, and Petunia and Harry had ridden up to London with them, so she also regretfully turned down the invitation.
"Another time," she promised, offering Molly a hug as they parted ways.
"Well, I'll be in touch then!" the red-haired woman said. "I've got to get back to Ginny at the house. Goodbye!"
With a loud pop, Molly vanished into thin air. "What the bloody hell was that?" John Granger asked.
Petunia turned to see that both John and Jean were staring at the place Molly had just been with wide eyes. She'd forgotten neither of them had ever witnessed Severus apparating. "I'll explain in the car…" she muttered, nodding for them to lead the way out of King's Cross.
PLEASE REVIEW! Seriously folks, I'm trying to get outside my box a little bit, and try out characters besides my usual Hermione, Minerva, Severus, Harry circle. I could really use the encouragement. :)