Can I Come In?
Can You Make It To The End Challenge - Round 4 - "Write a fic over 750 words for the pairing Petunia Dursley/Alice Longbottom."
Once Upon A Time Characters Category Challenge-tition - Competition: Mulan - "Write a bodyguard!AU."
The Christmas Character Challenge - Presents - "Write about Petunia Dursley."
The first time the witch knocked, it was raining.
No, not just raining- it was pouring, buckets of freezing cold water sloshing out of a darkened sky lit only briefly by flashes of white lightning.
Petunia had been sitting on the couch, enjoying a searing hot cup of bitter tea as she stared out the window, watching the storm.
Then she saw a shadow on her porch.
She startled, the mug jerking in her hands, splashing burning tea onto the tips of her fingers. Scowling, Petunia set the mug down on the table and dried her hands on the hem of her skirt. She stood up and walked over to the window, squinting into the gloom outside.
There was nobody there.
A moment later, there was a knock at the door, sharp and startlingly loud.
Petunia left the parlor of her small apartment flat and crossed over to the front door. She put her eye against the peephole and caught a blurry glimpse of blonde hair.
Slowly, Petunia unbolted the three heavy locks on the door and opened it a crack.
Standing on the stoop was a woman, soaking wet and shivering violently. Her blonde hair was plastered to her fair skin, and her strange, black robe clung to her body. Rivulets of water ran into her large blue eyes, and she blinked them away.
"Petunia Dursley, is it?" the woman asked.
Petunia peered at her through the door crack. "Do I know you?"
The woman shook her head. "My name's Alice. I'm one of your sister's friends."
Petunia paled. One of Lily's friends?
"You… You're one of them, aren't you?" she demanded, anger flashing through her dark eyes. "Have you come to kill me? Turn me into a toad?"
The woman- Alice- rolled her eyes. "Don't be daft. Lily told me to come, even though, in her own words, 'my sister doesn't like me much.'"
"Understatement," Petunia scoffed. "Why does she want you here?"
"To protect you," Alice said, her tone becoming deadly serious. "Lily is being hunted by a very powerful, very evil wizard- the Dark Lord. She's worried that he will try to target you because you two are family."
Now it was Petunia's turn to roll her eyes. "Go away." She tried to shut the door, but Alice jammed her boot in between the door and the frame.
The witch glared at Petunia. "Lily is my friend, and if she asked me to look after you, that's what I will do. Are you going to leave me standing in the rain, or can I come in?"
Petunia stretched one thin hand through the door crack and gave Alice a vicious shove, sending her stumbling back. With that, Petunia slammed the door as hard as she could. Once safely inside, she hastily rebolted all the locks.
"Lily was right about you!" Alice shouted from outside. "You're a very unpleasant person!"
The next morning, Petunia woke up and headed to the kitchen. As she heated up the frying pan to cook a breakfast of scrambled eggs, she saw a face peering through the kitchen window.
"Care to share?" Alice called from the other side of the glass, looking pointedly down at the eggs sizzling on the stove.
Scowling, Petunia reached over and snapped the blinds shut, hiding Alice's face from view.
She proceeded to eat her breakfast alone, in silence.
When Petunia went outside to get the morning paper, she was pleased to see the sun shining brightly in a cloudless blue sky, and that last night's rain had watered the plants in the front yard. That was one less thing she would have to do today.
She crossed the lawn, heading towards the mailbox, when something snapped around her ankle and tossed her into the air like a rag doll.
Petunia let out a shriek, glancing wildly around. She was hanging upside-down in midair, and there was nothing she could see that was holding her up.
She grit her teeth. "Magic," she hissed.
This was all the witch's doing.
Without any warning, Alice appeared in front of her. Petunia let out another scream of surprise and jerked in the invisible ropes holding her up. Her forehead cracked into Alice's.
"Ouch," the witch said, flinching. She eyed Petunia. "That trap wasn't meant for you. It was supposed to catch any Death Eaters that came near here."
Petunia glared at her. She didn't know what a "Death Eater" was, nor did she care; all she wanted was to be free of whatever magical prison-thing was holding her in the air. She could feel the blood rushing to her head from being upside-down for so long, and it was starting to give her a pounding headache.
"Put me down, Witch," she growled. "What if somebody sees you using your freakish powers on me?"
Alice rolled her eyes. "They're not freakish powers. And relax, nobody's going to see."
"Let. Me. Down."
"Only if you ask nicely!" Alice chirped innocently, smiling.
For a moment, Petunia saw red. She had never been so furious in her life.
"LET ME GO!" she screeched at the top of her lungs. "LET ME GO! LET ME GO! I DEMAND IT! THIS INSTANT!"
To her horror, the witch had the nerve to laugh.
"That didn't sound like 'nicely,'" she remarked.
Seething, Petunia managed to spit out, "Put me down, wit- Alice. Please."
Alice shot her a grin before pulling a stick out of the pocket of her jeans.
It was only then that Petunia noticed Alice was wearing normal-people clothes- a plain white shirt, blue jeans, and scuffed shoes- not those hideous black robes she had arrived in yesterday.
With a wave of that stick- which was a wand, Petunia presumed- Petunia was suddenly dropped out of the air, landing painfully on the ground in an ungraceful heap.
Petunia ignored Alice when she offered a hand to help her up, instead clambering to her feet with as much dignity as she could muster. With that, she stomped back across the lawn, heading to the front door of her house.
She put her hand on the doorknob and pulled the door open.
Then she realized that the witch had followed her up to the porch.
Petunia whirled around. "What?" she snapped.
"Can I come in?" Alice asked.
Petunia's mouth dropped open. Did she actually dare to ask if she could go inside Petunia's house after she had held her suspended in midair?
Petunia wordlessly turned around and stomped into the house, slamming the door shut behind her as hard as she could and making sure to re-bolt all the locks loudly, so Alice could hear.
It was only then that she realized she had forgotten to get the mail.
When the sun had started to slip below the horizon, painting the sky with pink and blue, Petunia started cooking dinner. She opened a nearby cabinet, groaning when she realized she had run out of flour.
That meant that she would need to go to the grocery store.
Which meant that she would need to leave the house.
She eyed the door suspiciously. What if the witch was still outside, waiting to ambush her?
When Petunia's stomach growled painfully, she knew that she had no choice.
She crept over to the door and unlocked it, easing it open. She glanced across the lawn- no witch in sight.
And then she realized that there was something sitting on her front porch; a small, white paper bag, rolled up neatly in front of the doorway.
Petunia reached out and grabbed it, pulling it into the house. She re-locked the door and headed back into the kitchen, setting the bag on the table.
What was it? Who would leave something on her doorstep?
It was only then she realized that across the front of the bag, the words, "To Petunia, From Alice," were inked in beautiful, looping handwriting.
Petunia scowled. If she had known the witch had left behind the bag, she would have never willingly brought it into her house.
And then she caught a delightful aroma emanating from the bag. It smelled like… like… well, something sweet and warm and utterly scrumptious.
It made her stomach growl even more for food.
Petunia reached over and grabbed a spatula off the kitchen counter. She extended towards the bag, giving it a sharp poke.
When no creature leapt out to attack her, Petunia grudgingly set down the spatula and unrolled the paper bag.
Inside was a box, which Petunia removed. She pulled off the foil lid and couldn't help but beam when she saw a round, delicious pumpkin pie, freshly baked, sitting inside.
The witch had given her a pie?
"It's probably poisoned," Petunia muttered to herself. She reached for the pie tin, fully intending to throw it away, but…
She found herself grabbing a fork and digging in.
"Mmm," she murmured, satisfied, closing her eyes. It was delicious, definitely the best she had ever tasted.
Just then, the there was a knock at the door.
Petunia hopped to her feet, hurrying over to the door. She unbolted it and pulled it open without even checking to see who it was- which was a very foolish move on her part, she realized.
It was Alice, casually leaning on the doorframe, still dressed in her plain shirt and jeans.
"Enjoying your pie?" Alice smirked.
Petunia actually growled at her. "What do you want?" she managed to spit out, physically restraining herself from throttling the witch.
"I'm pretty hungry," Alice responded calmly, "and I gave you an entire pie. You can't eat that all by yourself… can I come in?"
Petunia let out a shriek of frustration. "No!"
She slammed the door shut and stomped back into the kitchen, where the pie was sitting half-eaten on the table.
She was once again tempted to toss it, but it would be a waste of perfectly good pie, she reasoned; and yet, as she sat down to finish eating, she couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to not have to eat alone for once.
The next morning, Petunia awoke when she heard a scream.
Somehow, she knew who it was.
She wasn't sure why the realization terrified her- why should she care if the witch was screaming? It didn't matter.
But she found herself leaping out of bed and rushing to the window, peering into the front yard.
The sun hadn't even risen yet, and the whole world was bathed in that pre-morning blue light. On the right side of the lawn, Alice stood, knees bent slightly, wand in her hand.
Across from her was a man, tall and fair-haired. He was wearing those strange, dark "magic robes," as Petunia had come to know them, and he was also clutching a wand in his grasp.
He shouted something at her, but it was muffled by the window glass, and Petunia couldn't hear.
He then aimed his wand straight for Alice's heart.
Petunia found herself holding her breath as a burst of green light shot from the tip of the man's wand. Alice ducked and rolled out of the way, the blast missing her by mere inches.
Petunia exhaled in relief, and watched with wide eyes as Alice pointed her own wand at the man.
A red shock of light exploded from her wand, but before it could make contact with her opponent, the man simply vanished, disappearing from the yard.
Alice lowered her wand, clutching her side with her free hand, and sank to her knees on the ground.
Petunia rushed away from the window, hastily unlocking the door and sprinting outside, her bare feet wet from the dew-soaked grass.
"Alice!" she called. "Alice!"
The witch glanced up, meeting Petunia's frantic gaze.
"Petunia," she said, her lips curving into a small smile.
Petunia finally reached her, panting slightly. "Are you… are you… alright?" She was suddenly aware of how she must look- like a madwoman, her hair askew, barefoot in her pajamas.
"I'll be fine," Alice said, attempting to stand, grimacing as she did so. "I'll be okay."
Now they were standing face-to-face, eye-to-eye.
Alice looked awful, her hair a mess, her face streaked with dirt… but her blue eyes were as alive as ever.
Petunia suddenly noticed the hand she was holding to her stomach.
"You're bleeding," she whispered, stating the obvious. Alice's fingers were coated in the sticky red liquid.
"I told you, I'll be fine," Alice sighed, pressing her hand tighter into her wound. "I'll get somebody to perform a healing spell on me."
Petunia suppressed a shudder. Alice was going to trust magic to heal her?
"Who was that man?" she blurted.
"I told you," Alice said, "Lily has enemies. Dangerous enemies. He was trying to go after you, Petunia, and use you as ransom."
Nausea knotted Petunia's stomach. "You- you were trying- you were protecting me from- because of me- you-"
It was hard for her to comprehend that another human being would willingly throw themselves in the path of danger on her behalf.
"You must be a really good friend to Lily," Petunia finished, "to protect me for her like that."
"Oh… yeah," Alice replied, shoulders deflating slightly. "Right. I'm doing this for Lily."
They stood in silence for a few moments, Alice's hand still pressed against her wound.
"You should go. And get healed," Petunia stated awkwardly.
"Er… yeah. I should."
And with another wave of her wand, Alice was gone.
Petunia blinked, staring at the spot where the witch- where Alice- had been standing.
Slowly, she lowered herself onto the wet grass, sitting cross-legged amongst the prickly strands.
She stayed like that, sitting dazed and in her pajamas in the middle of the lawn, and didn't move until long after the sun finally rose.
It had been an entire week, and Petunia hadn't heard anything from Alice.
She hadn't magically appeared in the yard, she hadn't caught Petunia in one of her magical traps, she hadn't brought any more pie…
She hadn't done anything.
It had gotten to the point where Petunia was actually considering sending a letter to Lily asking her for information on where Alice was. And if she was debating talking to Lily?
Well, things had gotten pretty bad.
Petunia wasn't even sure why she cared so much- all she knew was that as every moment not knowing if Alice was even alive passed, she seemed to die a little bit herself.
Day fell to night, and it had started raining again. Petunia slumped onto the couch, a cup of hot tea in her hands, but she didn't even attempt to take a sip. She didn't know if she could stomach it.
She watched as the storm outside worsened, wind howling against the window in a frenzy.
For a brief moment, she thought she saw the faint silhouette of a figure on her porch.
She couldn't believe herself- first, she had driven herself near the brink of insanity over an annoying witch, and now she was actually having hallucinations?
She had always known magic was dangerous.
And then there was a knock at the door. One single, sharp rap against the wood.
Petunia stood up wearily. Who would arrive at her house in this weather, anyway?
She made her way over to the door and peered through the peephole, catching a flash of… blonde hair?
For a moment, hope flared up in her chest, but she tamped it down. There was no way…
Petunia unbolted each bolt on the door painfully slowly, finally opening the door a crack and peeking through it.
There, standing on her porch, thoroughly soaked was a certain blonde witch in dripping black robes. Though she was shivering slightly, her blue eyes were twinkling.
Petunia gasped. "Alice?"
Alice shot her a wink. "It's pretty awful out here… so, can I come in?"
Petunia just stared in absolute bewilderment. Was it actually possible…?
She felt a genuine smile spread over her face as she stepped out of the doorway and threw open the door.
Alice grinned at her and stepped inside.