Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters in the Harry Potter books or movies. I do not own Tomb Raider or any of the characters in the franchise.
Author's Note: This story is set in an Alternate Universe. Therefore, a number of canon events didn't happen. The society of Wizarding Britain and the rest of the magical world is a bit different and a number of characters will act differently as well. Squibs are able to see magic and are unaffected by Muggle-Repelling Charms.
I'd like to thank fredfred and InquisitorCOC for beta-reading.
Chapter 1: The School
Valley of the Kings, Egypt, July 30th, 1991
"It's a bloody Sand Drake, Doctor! They can sense a mouse walking over the ground a hundred yards away; we can't get past that beast. Trust me, my brother wrangles dragons for a living." The young man was whispering, his wand gripped tightly in his hand even though they were over five hundred yards away, in cover behind a fallen pillar.
She snorted and adjusted her binoculars as she studied the painted mural behind the beast. "It's occupying the entrance to the lost tomb of the high priest of Ramses II. No mere reptile will keep me from making the discovery of the year." And fulfilling her contract with Gringotts.
"My spells won't even scratch its hide! Sand Drakes are dragons, Doctor! It takes a dozen wizards to subdue one, and we just have one wand between the two of us!"
She lowered her binoculars and glanced at the red-haired wizard next to her. He must be really rattled - he usually carefully avoided mentioning the fact that she was a squib and not a witch. "I thought danger was part of the job, Bill," she said with a slightly mocking tone as she quoted his favourite pick-up line.
"Danger, yes. Suicide, no. We can't take that beast. It's resistant to spells, and its hide is far too thick for your guns."
She caught him glancing at the Glocks in their holsters strapped to her thighs and snorted. "Please - did you really think I wouldn't know how tough a Sand Drake's hide is?" She could practically quote Scamander verbatim these days.
She could see him blink and grinned when he made the connection. "You knew…?"
She nodded. "Its dung is quite specific. And they are highly territorial."
"You knew this was the territory of a Sand Drake, and you still entered it? You're crazy, Doctor!" He shook his head, his ponytail swishing back and forth behind him.
She chuckled. "Then what are you for following me?" She opened the long duffel bag she had brought along. Reaching in, she pulled out the RPG-7 she had picked up a year ago from an enterprising officer of a Soviet division moving out of East Germany. She held the HEAT warhead out to him. "Duplicate this, please. Three times."
"What is it?" he asked as he was casting.
"Muggle anti-tank weapon," she explained while loading the launcher and stashing the other two copies in her small backpack before the original warhead went back into the duffel bag.
"What's a tank?"
"Armored car." Normally, she'd have some fun answering his questions while leading him to the completely wrong impression, but she was too focused on the beast that stood between her and another cover article in British Archaeology. Not to mention another grant, as well as her cut from Gringotts.
She gripped the RPG-7 and started to crawl towards the Sand Drake, keeping behind the toppled walls and eroded stones whenever possible. She needed to get closer to have a good shot at the monster. It was a sign of just how rattled her partner was that he wasn't making a crack about how he enjoyed the view of her shorts-covered behind.
After crawling for a hundred yards under the Egyptian sun, her shirt was soaked through, and she rested in the meagre shadow of a rock as she took a gulp of water from her flask. Bill, unaffected by the heat thanks to his spells, shook his head but didn't comment. She sneered - she wouldn't beg him to cast a spell on her just to avoid getting sweaty.
Another hundred yards. They were inside the Sand Drake's range now. Just as she had planned. With a feral grin on her face, she stood up behind the remains of a wall and took aim.
"Doc!" Bill hissed.
"Don't stand behind me!" she snapped, not bothering to whisper. The beast had already noticed them, but Drakes preferred to let their prey get as close as possible before pouncing.
Now, though, the monster was rearing up, its maw opening wide as it roared to send its prey fleeing in terror so it could run them down from behind. Scamander said that they usually roared for ten seconds.
It took her three to aim, and another for the rocket-propelled warhead to reach her target. Her aim had been slightly off, but all that meant was that the right side of the Drake's torso exploded in a cloud of blood, meat and bones. The monster went down in a tangle of flailing limbs and tails, its roar replaced by screaming.
"Merlin's arse!" Bill cursed behind her.
She reloaded the launcher and put the beast out of its misery with another grenade, then turned towards her partner. "Let's go." There wouldn't be any other creatures nearby; not so close to a Sand Drake's lair. And there wouldn't be any curses in the area either; the beast would have set them off.
They reached the entrance to the tomb after a few minutes, and she smiled when she saw the unbroken seal, and the fading but still potent runes that would confuse any muggle who had managed to somehow get through the charms covering the entire area. An untouched tomb. Another feather in her cap.
"Charlie would kill me if he knew what we just did," Bill said behind her.
She turned around and raised her eyebrows at him. "What we just did? I do not recall you doing anything to the Sand Drake," she said in her most upper-class tone.
He flinched, just as she had flinched when her classmates at the boarding school had first made fun of her Cokeworth accent, and she snorted. No spell had brought down the beast, but muggle weapons and a squib's skill. She pointed at the entrance behind her. "Start earning your keep, Bill. You're the Curse-Breaker."
He stared at her for a moment, then shook his head and aimed his wand at the stone door. She forced herself to watch as she drank more water. As much as she hated to see others work magic she could only see but never cast, she had long since learned that as a squib in her position, she needed to know as much about curses as possible.
The sun had already vanished behind the hills, only a red glow in the sky remaining, when they reached their camp. She was tired and dearly needed a bath, or at least a shower, and something more than an energy bar.
And yet when she heard her nephew's voice and saw him running towards her, she forgot all about that. Smiling widely, she crouched down and opened her arms, and Harry jumped at her.
"Did you find the tomb? Was it where you thought it was?" he asked when she released him.
"It was." She nodded. "You know what that means?"
"Hm…" He wrinkled his nose, and, for a moment, she saw her sister there. Lily had had the same expression when she was thinking hard about something. Then he smiled. "We can celebrate my birthday without you having to work for the goblins?"
She nodded. "Exactly! We can visit the beach!" Gringotts had baulked at providing Portkeys to Sharm El Sheikh, but she had insisted during the contract negotiations. Between her work and Harry's school, they had to make the most of his vacations.
"So, how much treasure did you find? And how many traps?"
"Well…" she stopped when she noticed a dark shape in the sky. In a second, she had Harry behind her and one Glock pointed at it.
He fell silent. The shape - a large bird - flew closer, and she tensed, ready to shoot. She hadn't heard of birds guarding tombs, but it was the unknown trap that killed a Curse-Breaker. Or an archaeologist.
The bird landed a few yards away in the sand. It was an owl, she realised, and it was holding out its leg, to which a green envelope was tied.
A very familiar envelope. She felt as if her heart skipped a beat. She had known this day was coming ever since that horrible night, almost ten years ago. "It's your Hogwarts acceptance letter," she said, turning towards him.
The way his eyes lit up and he broke into a smile hurt, but she didn't let that show. She forced herself to smile, forced herself not to think of her own childhood, her jealousy and how she had lost her sister. Harry deserved to enjoy this.
But as he opened it, babbling excitedly, all she could do was hope that she wouldn't lose him as she had lost Lily.
Devon, Ottery St Catchpole, August 11th, 1991
"Harry! And Petunia! You made it!"
Petunia Evans smiled at Molly. "Of course. We wouldn't want to miss this."
She wanted to tell the witch that, even as a squib, she was perfectly able to use the Floo Network or the Knight Bus, or muggle transport if all else failed, to reach The Burrow, but she was here for Harry. It wouldn't do to start an argument and ruin his day over Molly's patronising attitude. And Petunia didn't want Harry to pick up more of her attitude; he was already far too snarky and sarcastic for a boy his age and didn't need more examples to emulate.
Of course, Harry wasn't really paying attention to either woman - he was staring at the Quidditch pitch, one hand unzipping his travel bag, in which he carried his broom. He turned to look at her, beaming. "I'll be flying if you're looking for me!" he announced as he pulled his broom out. He shot up into the air without waiting for an answer.
Petunia sighed - though with a smile - as she picked up the bag he had dropped on the ground. Her nephew loved flying. Maybe a little too much, but he couldn't indulge as often as other kids. Like the Weasleys.
"If Neville - Neville Longbottom - makes it as well we'll have two full teams," Molly told her.
"Ah." Petunia said. As much as Harry loved the Weasley Quidditch Weekends, she wasn't a fan of the game. She knew the rules and far more trivia than she wanted - Harry had learned to read with 'Quidditch Through The Ages', his most prized birthday gift before she bought him his first broom - but where others saw an exciting game, she only saw another reminder of the fact that she wasn't born a witch, but a squib, and would never be able to really use a broom.
And she already had too many of those reminders.
"Augusta - his grandmother - said that he still hasn't learned how to handle a broom," Molly went on. "He got his Hogwarts letter, so it's not as if…" The witch trailed off, one hand covering her mouth as she realised what she had been about to say.
Petunia ignored the remark, watching as Harry joined the others in the air, quickly integrating himself into his team. "I hope he doesn't wreck that broom," she said, a little too casually. A glance told her that Molly was pressing her lips together at the reminder that Petunia might be a squib, but her nephew wasn't forced to use second-hand school materials and old brooms.
"Bill's keeping an eye on them," Molly said after a moment.
"He's not playing with the kids?" Petunia asked, though she spotted the Curse-Breaker hovering above the pitch.
"Refereeing." Molly sighed. "It's so good to have him visiting more often. In his first year working for Gringotts, he only visited once."
Petunia was about to comment that that was normal for teenagers moving out of their parents' home to work abroad, especially for Weasleys, but swallowed the remark. She wouldn't like it either when Harry moved out. And he would.
Petunia had done the same, after all, when she had started her studies at Cambridge. Until her parents had died, and then Lily, and all she had had left was the house in Cokeworth.
"He's good with children," Molly said, interrupting Petunia's reminiscing.
She glanced at the witch. Molly had that hopeful smile again. Petunia almost rolled her eyes. Why couldn't the witch treat her as a woman who had raised a child for ten years, instead of a potential daughter-in-law? It wasn't as if Bill was seriously interested in her just because he liked admiring her body when she was dressed for the heat. And she certainly wasn't interested in him. He was eleven years younger than her, for heaven's sake! Why couldn't… She narrowed her eyes and smiled. "He's also good at dealing with curses," she said, "and at distracting Sand Drakes."
"Sand Drakes?" Molly was staring at her. As Charlie's mum, she would likely know more than she wanted to about dragons of all types.
In the most innocent voice she could muster, Petunia said: "We had to kill a Sand Drake on our last job. Didn't he tell you about it?"
Molly's mouth snapped shut and her lips turned into a thin line. "No, he did not," she spat, glaring at the Quidditch pitch.
Petunia smiled - it didn't look as if there would be any more attempts at matchmaking today.
Two hours later, the matchmaking attempts had stopped and lunch, opulent as always, was being delayed while Molly told her eldest son exactly (and loudly) what she thought about him glossing over life-threatening incidents at work. Of course, Molly's not entirely unjustified tirade - Petunia tried to remember a few phrases for the next time Harry went off 'exploring' on his own - drew the attention of the rest of the Weasley kids and their visitors. Even Percy, who acted as if he was studying, was listening - Petunia could tell; he hadn't turned a page in over a minute.
Harry would be learning a number of new words he shouldn't use, she thought with a rueful sigh as she sat down at the table. But not even ten seconds later, she found herself facing a redhead and a blonde beaming at her. Ginny and Luna, inseparable as always.
Petunia knew what was coming. "I'm not sure if there's enough time for a story..." she began.
"That's OK. You can talk during the meal," Ginny interrupted her.
"Adults are allowed to talk as much at the table as they want, about whatever they want," Luna added with a sage nod.
"Which is why you're asking me now, while Molly's berating Bill and can't stop you."
The two little witches nodded in unison, both smiling impishly at her.
Petunia sighed. "Alright. This is about the discovery of the tomb of the high priest of Ramses II."
"Did you see a magical animal?" Luna asked wide-eyed.
"Did you kill it?" Ginny ignored Luna's pout.
"She did! With a rocket launcher!" Harry appeared at Petunia's side, Ron on his heels.
"What's a rocket launcher?" "And where can we get one?" Fred and George were staring at her with wide eyes and matching grins.
Petunia knew Molly would appreciate her giving the twins 'ideas' even less than her spending an hour discussing the potential of enchanted muggle items with Arthur. But, damn it, the kids loved listening to her stories.
And, if she were honest with herself, Petunia loved telling her stories. Seeing the kids listening with rapt attention made her forget that she was just a squib to most wizards and witches.
With a smile, she continued: "I had narrowed down the area where it must lie to a small side valley of the Valley of Kings - layered with Muggle-repelling Charms - and so we set out, Bill and I, in the morning, before it got too hot…"
London, Diagon Alley, August 18th, 1991
"My word! It's Harry Potter!"
Petunia Evans clenched her teeth when she heard the excited exclamation before the door to the Leaky Cauldron closed behind her and Harry. This was the reason she hated coming to Diagon Alley with Harry: stupid wizards crowding them and reminding Harry of his parents' murder.
Fortunately, as a quick look told her, there was only one wizard who had stood up from his table and was walking towards them, even though everyone in the pub was staring at them. He looked weird, though, even for a wizard. He was wearing a turban, old-fashioned British robes and fine, even elegant, leather gloves. And, Petunia noticed as the man reached them, he smelled as if he had eaten a field of garlic. She could barely keep a polite smile on her face.
"I'm Quirinus Quirrell, your future Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher!" He stuck out a gloved hand.
Harry glanced at her - obviously, he had noticed how weird the man looked as well. Petunia nodded, and he shook the man's hand. Once.
"It's an honour to meet the Boy-Who-Lived! And to teach him, of course! Are you here to buy your wand?"
Harry nodded. "Yes. Aren't you afraid of the curse?"
Harry nodded again. "The curse on the post of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher," he said in a grave tone - Petunia recognised Fred and George's influence; they had told him about it. "In over thirty years, no teacher has held the post for longer than a year."
"Ah, well…" Quirrell fidgetted. "I'm actually cursed already. I had a very nasty encounter with a Grande Zombie in Africa, you know." He held up his gloved hands. "Secret African medicine keeps it at bay so far, but it's unlikely that I'll be able to teach a second year. So, you see," he added with a smile that was entirely unfit for a dying man, "I've got nothing to lose."
Harry was staring, his lips moving in apparent shock. Petunia took his hand and glared at the twit who had just done this to her nephew. "My condolences," she said in the same tone she had used when Barry Finch, who had tried to get her drunk enough to sleep with him at her first party at Cambridge, had failed his second exam. "But we have a long day ahead of us. Come, Harry." She dragged him with her, nodding at the bartender as she stepped towards the exit into Diagon Alley. "Tom, if you would…"
"Of course!" Tom reached the door before her and Harry and quickly tapped the bricks in the wall with his wand, opening the passage to Diagon Alley. "Sorry about Quirrell. He was quite civilised before you entered."
Petunia nodded. It wasn't his fault. Or anyone else's. Just Quirrell's. And Dumbledore's, for failing to stop the story of the 'Boy-Who-Lived'.
"Auntie," Harry said as they stepped into the commercial heart of Wizarding Britain, as Lily had liked to call the Alley, "does that mean that the teacher is rotting?"
Petunia drew a deep breath. There were drawbacks to Harry having spent so much time with her in Egypt, surrounded by Curse-Breakers; he knew entirely too much about exotic curses. "Probably," she said. "But we can't be sure; it's the curse you thought you recognised but didn't that kills you."
"I know, Auntie," Harry said, nodding. "Bill told me the same thing."
Bill had been quite a bad influence on Harry, Petunia thought. Normal wizards didn't state their wish to become Curse-Breakers before they even had a wand, at least she was fairly sure they didn't.
Weasleys and Lovegoods didn't count.
"Auntie, can I get a snake as a pet?"
Petunia narrowed her eyes at him. "You've read your letter." Dozens of times, actually. "Cats, owls and toads only."
"That's not true. Percy has a rat, and Ron will get it this year. A snake would work too."
He was right, Petunia knew. But if he had a pet snake, then the chance that he'd slip and talk to it in public was simply too great. If anyone learned that her nephew was a Parselmouth… She had a subscription to the Prophet - only to keep informed about Wizarding Britain in her absence, now that Harry was going to Hogwarts - and she knew the kind of fear-mongering that was the newspaper's stock in trade.
"No snakes," she said. "And no talking to the snakes in the shop either!" she added in a whisper.
"Aw, Auntie! I promise no one will know…"
Petunia rolled her eyes. This was another reason she hated coming to Diagon Alley.
London, King's Cross Station, September 1st, 1991
"There it is! Come on, Auntie!" Harry was pushing his trolley so fast that, as he swerved around the people in King's Cross Station, the cage with his new owl, perched on top of his trunk, started rattling. Hedwig, as he had named the snowy owl, barked in alarm.
"It's not even ten," Petunia Evans said as she reached out and steadied the cage. "We don't need to hurry - the train won't depart for another hour." She smiled indulgently, even though she didn't feel like it. In an hour, her Harry would depart for Hogwarts. Just like Lily, so many years ago. He'd become a wizard. And she'd remain a squib.
Harry, of course, was only thinking about finally being able to learn magic. She knew that he had picked up a few 'tricks' during his visits to Egypt, but it wasn't the same. Lily had told her about Hogwarts often enough.
They passed through the enchanted wall separating Platform 9¾ from the rest of the station without anyone noticing, and Petunia saw, to her relief, that they had managed to dodge the crowds, as she had planned - the platform was empty but for a couple dropping off their daughter. Muggles, too - they weren't wearing robes - so they wouldn't know or care about the Boy-Who-Lived.
Or so Petunia thought, but as soon as the little girl saw them, she gasped, then tugged on her dad's sleeve and pointed excitedly at Harry. "Mum, Dad, look! Look! It's Doctor Evans!"
Petunia blinked. No one except Luna and sometimes Ginny called her 'Doctor Evans' in Wizarding Britain, and those two only if they wanted to hear another story.
"You're famous, Auntie," Harry said, and she didn't have to look at him to know that he was smirking.
The little witch had let go of her parents and was making a beeline for them, her obviously freshly-pressed robes and a bushy mane of brown hair billowing. "Doctor Evans!" She beamed at Petunia, displaying oversized front teeth. "I've read all of your articles in British Archaeology!"
Petunia blinked in surprise. She wouldn't have thought a girl Harry's age would have read her articles. Apparently, she had been wrong since the little witch started pestering her with questions about her latest article.
"Hermione!" The witch's mum smiled at Petunia. "I'm sorry, our daughter sometimes forgets her manners when she's excited. I'm Ellen Granger. This is my husband, Gabriel, and this is our daughter, Hermione."
The little witch was blushing fiercely. "I'm sorry," she mumbled, shuffling her feet. "I just got too excited."
"Petunia Evans," Petunia said. "And this is my nephew, Harry."
"Harry Potter," he said, smiling widely and offering his hand to Hermione. "You might've heard of me," he added, with a far too familiar grin that suited a certain Curse-Breaker far better than an eleven-year-old boy.
"The Boy-Who-Lived?" Hermione asked with wide eyes as Petunia realised that Bill needed another lesson in things he shouldn't teach Harry.
"Yes," he said, "though that was my parents' doing. I just survived."
"Oh…" Hermione was holding a hand to her mouth in obvious sympathy.
Petunia cleared her throat and narrowed her eyes at Harry, who had the grace to look guilty. That also drew Hermione's attention back to her.
"I didn't know that you were also a witch, Doctor!" she chirped.
Petunia's smile grew thin. "I'm not. I'm a squib."
"But she's the best tomb raider in Gringotts' employ!" Harry chimed in with that adorable, but also sometimes embarrassing, protectiveness he had started to display once he had understood what being a squib meant. "She killed a Sand Drake, too!"
"Tomb raider?" Hermione repeated.
"They go and discover ancient tombs in Egypt - the magical ones, of the wizards and priests, that are hidden from muggles," Harry explained eagerly. "Full of traps and treasure, and ancient curses!"
"Oh. That wasn't in the articles." The little witch's head turned and she looked at Petunia. "Are there magical articles you've written?"
Harry answered for Petunia: "Several, for the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler! I've got them in my trunk. If you want to share a compartment, I can show them to you."
The girl's eyes lit up. "I'd love that!"
"Let's go, then!" Harry grabbed her hand and started to drag her with him. "Fred and George told me where the best seats are. I'm going to be a Curse-Breaker, you know!"
"What's a Curse-Breaker?"
"The coolest job on earth! You have to be smart and brave to become one!"
Petunia looked at the Grangers and sighed. "I'm sorry, he sometimes forgets his manners when he's excited."
All three of them laughed at that, but Petunia had to force herself. The girl's front teeth were too large and her hair was brown and too bushy. But she reminded her of Lily anyway.
And she was a witch who read British Archaeology as an eleven-year-old. Petunia hadn't started reading it until she had been fifteen.
She couldn't help but feel a little jealous.
Valley of the Kings, Egypt, October 11th, 1991
Petunia Evans smiled when she saw Hedwig land on the folding table in front of her tent. Harry had written again. She patted the exhausted bird on the head as she took the letter off her leg and put a bowl with owl treats on the table before opening the letter.
While the trip to Egypt was hard on the owl, Petunia liked that she was now receiving Harry's letters faster than when he had been using the postal service. Even using airmail, the need to transfer the letters to Magical Egypt and then forward them to the camp meant they sometimes took two weeks before they reached her.
"Did Ron write?"
Of course, Hedwig was such an exotic sight, everyone in the camp knew when another letter from her nephew had arrived. Like Bill, who was looking at her eagerly.
She checked the envelope's contents. Yes, there were two letters - three, actually, she realised. She handed Ron's letter to Bill and started to read Harry's.
It was a long letter, so he would have something noteworthy to tell her. His first letter had been about his Sorting. He was a Gryffindor - as she had expected - as were Ron and his new friend Hermione. Harry becoming Gryffindor's new Seeker had been the big news of his second letter - although that hadn't been a surprise to her either; half the team had already played with him at The Burrow and knew how good he was. Now what could have prompted him to write another long letter?
A minute later, she had to resist the urge to head back to Britain and give Dumbledore and his staff - especially Snape - a piece of her mind. What were they thinking? And what were Harry and his friends thinking?
"They're tomb raiding!" she heard Bill say, laughing. "They discovered the Hogwarts dungeons!"
She glared at him as she picked up the third letter. "That's dangerous."
He shook his head. "Not really, Doc. I've been there as well. It's just the old dungeons - full of dust, rats and broken furniture. An adventure, but a safe one. If they get lost, the ghosts will find them quickly. Happened to me, once," he added with a chuckle.
"Really?" She narrowed her eyes at him. "And might you have told that story to your siblings?"
He coughed. "Everyone knows about the dungeons. The Hufflepuffs and the snakes even live in the upper parts."
She sniffed and started to read the third letter. It was three times as thick as Harry's so she knew Hermione had written her again. Only this time, as Petunia discovered, the girl wasn't asking about her work, but about the best spells to help with 'exploring' and dealing with a number of obstacles she described in great detail. Petunia sighed. She had hoped, after Harry's first letter, that Hermione would be a restraining influence. But, unfortunately, her clever nephew had managed to turn the girl into an accomplice.
She frowned when she came to the last page. "Hermione mentions a 'sealed section' of the dungeons in her letter. That doesn't sound safe." She knew which curses were used to seal off tombs.
"Probably the vaults," Bill replied. "Don't worry - they won't be able to sneak in there; I tried for seven years and never managed it. The Headmaster has them locked down tight."
Petunia nodded, relieved. Her nephew was very talented, she knew that Ron had a knack for underhanded tactics and, by all accounts - Harry's - Hermione was a budding genius, but if Bill hadn't managed it in seven years, she could sleep peacefully for at least five.
Hogwarts, December 23rd, 1991
"Good afternoon, Miss Evans. Please have a seat," Dumbledore said with a friendly smile, a gracious wave of his hand and that patronising attitude Petunia Evans loathed. She was a squib, not a cripple or a retard.
She nodded at the Headmaster, then stared at the ugly man standing to one side. Not that she'd meet the eyes of either wizard. She knew better than that. "Snape."
"Petunia." He never called her Evans. She didn't call him Severus any more.
She scoffed, then turned to the Headmaster. "You already know why I'm here, then."
He inclined his head. "It was an educated guess. Harry's issues with Severus do stand out among the other, very positive, reports I've received."
She snorted. "Harry's issues? Are you going to blame a child for a teacher's inability to behave maturely?"
"Blaming me instead of the spoiled bully. How typical of you!" Snape said.
She narrowed her eyes, tempted to stare into his - but that would open her mind to him. "Harry a bully? Are you blind, stupid or just lying to cover for your bigots?"
"He acts exactly like his father: strutting around, mouthing off to teachers, breaking curfew and hexing his fellow students without cause."
"Without cause?" She knew what Snape was talking about. "Malfoy attacked him; Harry only defended himself." Hermione had confirmed that.
"To be fair," Dumbledore spoke up, "while young Mr Malfoy may have cast the first hex, Harry's response was quite brutal and far exceeded what would have been appropriate."
"Malfoy's a bigot and the son of a Death Eater." Arthur and Molly had filled her in. "If he raises his wand against the Boy-Who-lived, he deserves to get cursed."
"You should not blame a child for the sins of his parents," Dumbledore told her. "And there will not be any cursing of students in my school," he added in a cold tone.
She was taken aback by the sudden shift from Dumbledore's congenial, polite manner, but forced herself to snort. "Tell that to him," she said, nodding towards Snape.
"I'm blaming him for his sins," Snape retorted. "Not for his father's."
"I've heard all about your lessons," she spat, trying to control her anger. The git had all but tortured Harry! "You blame him for everything that goes wrong - even for your own shortcomings as a teacher. Like you blamed his father for ruining your friendship with Lily when it was your own damn fault!"
Snape drew a hissing breath. "And you are still jealous of Lily! You think I've forgotten your pathetic plans to come to Hogwarts as a squib? You thought that even though you can't wield a wand, you could brew potions? Hah! Your ignorance was almost amusing."
She clenched her teeth. How dare this wizard say that to her! "You thought that even though you're a miserable excuse for a human being, you had a chance with Lily, didn't you? She never loved you!" She smiled grimly when she saw him flinch at that.
"Enough." Dumbledore's cold voice cut through the room and Petunia froze for a moment. "This bickering should shame both of you. We are not here to discuss your own history; we are here to discuss Harry." He leaned forward. "And while I do not doubt that Severus is stricter with young Harry than with other students, I also do not doubt that Harry is not entirely innocent of what he has been punished for."
Petunia pressed her lips together. Harry wasn't an angel, she knew that well enough - he told her about his 'adventures' in his letters. And he had a way with words ( and sometimes hexes) when he resented someone. But that didn't excuse singling him out like Snape was doing.
"I expect both of you to sufficiently admonish your respective charges of the necessity of behaving in a more civilised and polite manner," Dumbledore went on. "There will be no excessive punishments, but I will not tolerate students disrespecting their teachers. Learning magic is dangerous enough without such antics disrupting a lesson."
Petunia nodded, too angry to speak. There wasn't much she could do for Harry any more. Not as a squib.
Hogwarts, March 18th, 1992
Petunia rushed straight to the infirmary as soon as she passed the Hogwarts gates, the note she had received - which told her that Harry had been injured - clutched in her hand. She had to see him. Reassure herself that he would be fine. Reassure him that he would be fine. Be there for him.
She didn't knock, just pushed the door open and entered. The matron stood, but Petunia strode past, ignoring her. There he was. "Harry!"
"Auntie?" As he turned to look at her, she saw his expression change from surprise to a broad smile. "You came!"
"Of course I came!" she said, sitting down on his bed and holding his hand.
"Hello, Doctor Evans."
She blinked as she realised that Ron and Hermione were occupying the beds next to Harry's. Her eyes widened, then narrowed as she stared at Harry, whose smile was slipping. "What happened?"
"Ah, well… you know how we've been exploring the dungeons? The deep dungeons?" Harry began.
"Yes." He had written about their 'expeditions' in every letter.
"Well…" He took a deep breath, then looked at his friends, then back at her. "We discovered a secret passage."
"Into the vaults," Ron added.
"It had been forgotten - not even the ghosts knew about it," Hermione said. "We asked."
"But it was trapped," Harry continued.
Petunia felt her heart skip a beat. "Trapped? You walked into a trap?"
"Of course not!" Harry looked indignant. "We spotted the trap."
"And the guardian, a Stone Chimaera," Ron added.
"A Stone Chimaera," Petunia repeated.
"That's a Chimaera which is partially made of stone," Hermione started to explain. A glare from Petunia silenced the girl.
"I know what it is." She had encountered one before.
"Well, it was blocking the passage. Probably since it had first been built," Harry said.
"They can turn to stone and live for a thousand years," Hermione said, then flinched when Petunia looked at her.
"Anyway, it took us some time..." Harry said.
"Three months," Hermione interjected.
"...but we figured out a way to put the Chimaera to sleep," Harry finished.
"They're part dragon, so I asked Charlie for a special potion recipe, the one they use in Romania to make dragons fall asleep so they can treat them," Ron explained.
"Easy," Harry told her.
Petunia rubbed her eyes. Such guardians were usually only the first line of defence in a tomb. "What happened?" she asked, more forcefully.
"I'm coming to that," Harry said. "We heard that there was an emergency at the Ministry that needed Dumbledore. Which meant that McGonagall would be too busy replacing him to do her usual check on our house."
"She never does it when he's at the Wizengamot," Ron said.
"Yes. Or when she's correcting tests in the evening," Hermione added.
Petunia clenched her teeth. She wasn't interested in those details - she wanted to know how the children had been hurt!
"So, we waited until curfew, then snuck into the dungeons," Harry said. "Only, as we arrived, we discovered that someone had killed the Chimaera. Someone who wanted to steal the Philosopher's Stone!"
"The Philosopher's Stone?"
"Ah…" Harry winced. "We found out that Dumbledore's keeping the Philosopher's Stone safe for his friends the Flamels."
"Accidentally," Ron explained. "We wanted to find out about the passage."
"Really," Petunia said.
"Yes, really," Harry said. "Anyway, we wanted to go and call McGonagall - honestly, we did - but then we heard this scream…"
"A terrible scream. Like someone dying," Ron said, shivering.
"We just wanted to help, we didn't know that it was Shrieking Moss," Hermione added. "That's seventh-year Herbology."
"So, we ran into the passage and came to a round room where Quirrell was burning the moss on the walls. That's where the shrieks were coming from."
"Quirrell," Petunia said. She had never liked that man.
"Yes. But he saw us as well, and threatened us at wand point," Harry said. "Made us come to him."
"He wanted to use us to detect traps," Ron said, nodding. "As soon as he found the next part of the passage under the moss."
"Hermione stumbled, and he was about to curse her, and we jumped at him," Harry said, "and then he started burning."
"Yes." Harry nodded, looking queasy. "He was rolling on the floor, screaming worse than the moss, and I tried to pat out the flames, but wherever I touched him, he started to burn."
"That's when we realised that Harry's touch burned him. And when the turban came loose and we saw his other face," Ron said.
"It was Voldemort, Auntie," Harry whispered, trembling. "He's back."
Petunia felt a cold shiver run down her spine. Voldemort was back.
As Dumbledore had warned her, over ten years ago.