Petunia Snaps

Petunia Dursley loses her temper. Events during the first couple of chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban occur differently in an alternate universe. Rated T for language and situations.

Harry Potter was created by JK Rowling and is the property of JK Rowling and Warner Brothers. I do not own it or its characters. I have no desire to profit from this story. It is written strictly for pleasure.

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Petunia Dursley had been having strange dreams this year. In fact, she'd been having a lot of them of late.

There had a been a few the previous year, though fortunately far and few between. They'd mostly concerned her and Lily. A few times they'd been children again in Cokeworth, once or twice as middle-aged wives and mothers living near each other in Surrey, and then a horrid dream involving black magic, screaming, and murder as someone shot her sister dead with a spell of green light erupting from his wand. Remembering that dream the following morning, she silently cursed the murderer, the magical world, and the magic that had torn her and her sister apart.

The tempo and intensity of her dreams about magic had picked up even before Dudley returned to Smeltings after the Christmas holidays. Whereas before they might occur once every three weeks, they began to happen more often, starting at once every two weeks during the first three months of the new year, then once every nine days during April and the first couple of weeks in May, and then at least once a week until the boy came back from his school in Scotland. Now they'd been occurring twice and even three times a week.

The dream she'd had last night had not only been all too typical, but she remembered having it several times before. It had been the same; Petunia found herself walking alone in a strange wood, a wood that was older and wilder than the park near the river that she remembered from her childhood in Cokeworth. She was walking down a path, trying to get back to town, any town, one with people and houses and streetlights and automobiles, when a strange woman would tap her on the shoulder. She would turn to face the strange woman and would see that the strange woman was clad in a strange clothing, the sort of dress women wore back in the Middle Ages. The woman would then say something unintelligible.

Just as before, Petunia looked her in the eye and said "What did you say?"

The woman repeated herself.

Like the last couple of times, Petunia said "I don't understand."

Then, just as before, the woman said something else. The woman looked exasperated. A part of Petunia wondered if the woman had the Evans temper. This morning Petunia had come to another unsettling discovery; she realized that the woman had been speaking Welsh.

Petunia spent very little time thinking about Wales. The Evanses were originally a Welsh family, but they'd moved to the Midlands nearly a century ago to work in the coal mines and textile factories. Her grandfather, her father's father, had been Welsh, as had been his wife, as had been the wife of her other grandfather. The only real connection she felt she had had to Wales had been her surname. By the time that Lily and Petunia had come along the textile factories had mostly closed and the Coal Board was about to shut the last working coal mine in the area. When she married Vernon, she let that connection slip away, too. As far as she was concerned, she was English.

The dreams were bothersome, but lately something even more sinister had come to pass. The "funny stuff," as Vernon called it, had started happening again at Number Four Privet Drive.

She and Vernon knew all about the "freaky stuff" that had gone on before. Not only had her sister Lily been a witch, but so had the git she'd married, and so of course that boy she bore him had also been one of their sort. It was to be expected that there'd be "freaky stuff" happening if one of them had been around, although Petunia remembered grudgingly admitting to herself that the amount of freaky stuff had diminished, at least until the boy had dropped the pie on Mrs. Mason's head. But what was frightening was that the freaky stuff had started happening again even before the freak had returned from Hogwarts.

She remembered the first time that it happened. It had frightened her so much that she didn't tell Vernon. The neighbors across the way at Number Seven Privet Drive had had guests, a thuggish-looking man-boy on a loud, rumbling motorcycle and his slatternly girl friend. The man-boy liked to race up and down Privet Drive on his motorcycle and she and Vernon had to endure the torment of its loud rumbling sounds long after decent people would have gone to be. Worse, the man-boy and neighbors loutish insisted on playing loud metal music well after midnight.

Matters had finally come to a head one evening when Vernon had been called away to a sales meeting in Norfolk. The metal music had been particularly loud that evening and Petunia had been so offended that she marched over in person to tell the neighbors to turn down the music. She pounded on the door for what seemed like an eternity, only to be greeted by the loutish son, who responded to her demand that he turn down the music by smirking and then calling her a meddling old crone who should mind her own business.

At that point she lost her temper and the lights in the neighbors' house started flickering. The man-boy and his slattern girl friend came out of the parlor to smirk at her and she became truly enraged, at which point the stereo suddenly went silent and the light-bulbs in the neighbors' house began to rapidly explode. Petunia didn't remember much of the rest of the evening, save that she was able to walk back across the street and the neighbors no longer played their dreadful music nearly so loudly after half past ten. The man-boy and his horrible girl friend left the following day.

What happened next seemed almost anticlimactic. A deliveryman had dropped off a new set of china that Vernon had given her as a gift, Petunia had opened the packages and the plates, cups, and saucers were all the wrong color. Disappointed, Petunia and Vernon had stacked the plates, cups, and saucers to the side and Petunia resolved to deal with the merchant the following day.

Petunia called the vendor the following morning. After interminable waiting, Petunia finally got through to an assistant, who told her that the vendors would only accept returns if they were properly packed, and they wouldn't be able to come by to pick up the plates until the day after. It was late morning by then, and she discovered that she needed to work off her temper. She made the bed in the master bedroom, picked up the towels in the master bath, and set about wiping it down. When she returned after several hours of hard work, she discovered that the plates, cups, and saucers had turned into the pattern and colors that she wanted.

The following three incidents seemed almost minor, were it not for the fact that they involved magic. She and Vernon had received a letter from Smeltings; she opened it and learned from the head that Dudley's teachers had been disappointed with his progress during the past year and that he really should be putting more time and attention into his school work. She laid it out by Vernon's chair for him to read and found it wadded up into a ball when she emerged from her bath. Another time, she found several of the throw pillows on the parlor sofa were floating six inches above the large cushions minutes before Yvonne would come by so they would drive to take tea; Petunia hastily threw the pillows into a closet before Yvonne could ring the doorbell and gave a sigh of relief that her friend hadn't seen them. On a third occasion, a telephone salesman called her while she was cooking a stew; she turned away to answer the telephone and when she turned her attention back to the stove she discovered that the cooking spoon was stirring the stew all by itself.

At first she told herself that she couldn't possibly be the cause; it either had to be the boy or some of his magical friends pranking her. But the incidents continued and her surety weakened, at least until the boy came home from Hogwarts.

Her last walk around the neighborhood had proven equally unsettling. Despite the fact that she was certain that she was no more a freak than Vernon or Dudley, certain of the neighbors clearly believed otherwise. They looked at her strangely, a few crossed the street to avoid her or looked the other way.

One afternoon Petunia was doing gardening in her back yard and heard voices carrying over the fence. The neighbors living diagonally behind Number Four Privet Drive were a retired couple who occasionally had their grandchildren for company. Petunia thought that their grandchildren were generally charming and well behaved. At least she did until this morning.

"So who lives there?" asked a little girl.

"That's the Owl Lady's house," said Mrs. Wright.

"Why do you call it the Owl Lady's house?" said the little girl.

"A couple of summers ago they started getting an entire flock of owls roosting around their house," said Mrs. Wright. "There were dozens and dozens of owls, owls roosting in the trees, owls perched on the houses and owls perched on the cars. It was quite a sight, I can tell you."

"I'd love to see them," said the little girl's voice.

"It might be dangerous," said Mr. Wright, who was also in their back yard. "If she catches you out alone, she'll snatch you off the street and bake you into a pie."

"Really?" said the little girl.

"No," said Mr. Wright.

Petunia sighed with relief. At least they didn't think that she was a witch.

The boy came home at the end of June, Dudley had already turned thirteen at Smeltings, but she and Vernon made up for it with a belated birthday party that not only included Dudley, but also his old neighborhood friends. Harry, of course, had been left out of it; she'd sent him over to Mrs. Figgs. Vernon joked that perhaps the boy's owl and Mrs. Figgs' cats might have things to say to each other and speculated who might eat who. Vernon jokingly wagered that the cats would devour the owl.

Harry went upstairs to his room. He sighed. Another horrid summer at Privet Drive awaited him. He'd be away from his friends and Uncle Vernon had already locked away his schoolbooks and Quidditch broom. At least he didn't have to worry about Uncle Vernon putting bars on his window this time. He looked out his window into the Dursley's back yard. Nothing had changed; it was still the same. He looked over the back fence at the neighbors' back yard and found himself breaking into a smile.

One thing had remained the same from the previous summer on the other side of the fence. The old neighbor directly behind Petunia's house had moved away when Harry and Dudley were nine. The new neighbor was named Vincent Paxton, a man with a cheeky attitude and a dislike for Petunia's spying. After the blizzard of owls before the Dursleys finally relented and let him go to Hogwarts, Paxton had set up a very tall perch that not only loomed over the back fence but was festooned with three plastic owls. Uncle Vernon had been infuriated and appealed to the town council that Paxton's owl perch should be taken down for being out of code. Paxton had been forced to take down his owl perch, but then discovered that an owl perch two feet shorter would be in compliance. Up went the new perch, fully in code, and there was nothing Vernon and Petunia could do about it. Harry enjoyed looking at it.

Harry had a disappointment a week or so later when his friend Ron tried to telephone him. Ron had managed to connect, although he thought he had to yell into the receiver from wherever he'd been calling him from. Unfortunately, Ron had the bad luck to have Uncle Vernon pick up the phone at the Dursleys. Uncle Vernon bellowed in outrage, denied that Harry lived there, and forbade Ron to ever call him again,

Petunia spent the latter part of July in pleasant anticipation. Marge would be coming over, and despite the problems posed by her bulldog Ripper, she enjoyed Marge's visits. She and Marge and Vernon enjoyed many of the same things, agreed on many of the same things, and generally enjoyed each other's company. Marge would be staying for a week. Her one dislike about Marge was Ripper, but she thought she could tolerate the animal for a week, then it would be gone.

Marge had had a rough half-year. She'd first twisted her ankle back in October, then she'd had a heart attack in late November. Luckily for her, she'd had her attack at a dog show and was able to get prompt medical attention. Marge's friend Colonel Fubster had moved away. He'd met a tall, red-headed Frenchwoman named Fran├žoise. Five weeks later he married Fran├žoise, then suddenly moved to the continent and, after a final letter from the Vosges, had severed all contact.

Harry Potter thought that his birthday would be as horrible as his previous ones. And it was, although things turned better at one o'clock in the morning. Hedwig returned from a two-day absence with Errol, the Weasley's owl, and a Hogwarts owl. Hedwig and the Hogwarts owl bore up Errol and gifts from Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid. He appreciated the gifts from Ron and Hermione, was unsure as to what to make of Hagrid's biting book, and after seeing a form enclosed with a Hogwarts letter, worried about how he could persuade Uncle Vernon to give him permission to visit Hogsmeade.

It wasn't until after daybreak that Harry learned about Aunt Marge.

"I'd best be off to the station," said Uncle Vernon. "Marge's train gets in at ten."

"Aunt Marge?" said Harry. She's not coming here, is she?" asked Harry.

"She is," said Vernon, with an unpleasant smile. "She'll be staying for an entire week."

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Author's note: I am deleting the original part one. It lacked what I consider absolutely essential components. This is its replacement.