Author Note: Hi! I'm Emma and I'm taking over this story. This is an original chapter, so not much to see really, if you've already read it. If you haven't, well, I hope you like it.
Petunia Dursley sat in her kitchen, staring out of a window, a cup of tea cooling in front of her. Something was bothering her, and now that her husband had left for work, and her son had gone out, she had a free moment to think without anyone disturbing her. She disliked thinking when she could be interrupted. Now, she had ample time.
Ever since the summer holiday had begun, she had noticed things. Odd things, but who knew with the way the boy was what they meant. Honestly, she had never been exactly kind to the boy before, and she didn't think that he would accept her now if she did, but something had to be done! She pulled out the letter that she had received from that mental headmaster of her nephew's school and glared at it. She had read it so many times that the creases were well-worn, and the ink had started to fade. She opened the page and stared at it.
Dear Mrs. Dursley,
I regret to inform you that Mr. Potter did not have an easy year this year. His grades are acceptable, no worries there. He did, however, come face to face with Voldemort yet again and he lost someone very dear to his heart. His godfather will live on in his memories and affections, I'm sure. Please try to allow him to grieve as he needs to, and make sure that he doesn't leave the house, as Voldemort had indeed grown in power and strength.
What did he mean, that she should allow the boy to grieve? The boy wasn't grieving! He was killing himself slowly through means of apathy! Apathy about simple things like food, sleep, even hygiene. She re-folded the letter, grateful, not for the first time in her life that Albus Dumbledore wasn't in front of her at that moment. She had known that something like this would happen if she allowed her nephew to go to that school! She had known very well how meddling that man could be. Hadn't he meddled with her own life when she was a child? She jumped when she heard screaming from the living room.
She ran into the room to find her nephew on the couch, fighting his way out of sleep. She went over and shook him, trying to help him wake up. His eyes snapped open and he sat up. "I'm sorry if I disturbed you, Aunt Petunia." He said, catching his breath. The two of them had an unspoken understanding. He could sleep during the day while Vernon and Dudley were away, and she would make sure that he woke up when he had nightmares.
"You didn't." She assured him. She pushed him back down onto the couch. "I'll wake you before Vernon gets home." She said. Harry nodded his thanks and she retreated to the kitchen. She pulled out a notepad and pen and started listing the things that she found wrong with her nephew. "Let's see: lack of interest in normal activities, change in sleeping habits, change in eating habits," she snorted. She was happy if she could get a few bites of food into him at a time. Sometimes, even that wouldn't stay in his stomach. "Nightmares, despondency, mood swings," Harry didn't necessarily have mood swings. He went for sadness, to apathy, and back again. Not much change, but it was there. Her thoughts drifted to the day he had come home from school.
Vernon had come in and immediately went to the living room, where he had promptly lost himself in his newspaper. Harry had come in, dragging his trunk. The boy had looked terrible. He was pale, and the circles under his eyes were very dark, as though he had not slept well in weeks. He seemed thinner. He held himself stiffly, as though he hurt somewhere and was trying very hard not to show it. That night at dinner, he ate only six bites, and quietly excused himself. Petunia heard the toilet flush just seconds later. He had not even come back downstairs.
She managed to sneak into his room that night, just to check on him. He had not unpacked his trunk. His clothes were hung up, that was sure, but nothing else. No pictures of his friends, none of his school books, or anything even remotely magical. Just the owl, who was staring at Petunia in a way that seemed to convey the feeling of "help him!" to Petunia's imagination. She had backed out of the room, quietly, and gone to bed with an odd feeling. She woke a few hours later to the sound of screams from her nephew's room. She had told Vernon that she would deal with him. She had gone to his room and managed to wake him. What she had seen in those first few unguarded seconds had shaken her down to her core. Would Lily have allowed such a thing to happen to Petunia's son? She doubted it. Now was the time to make sure that she would re-pay Lily's kindness.
She looked up and saw that it was almost time for her to leave for the tea party her best friend Ophelia Ramsey was putting on that afternoon. She went to the living room and shook Harry awake. Haunted green eyes stared up at her. "I'm going down the street to the Ramseys. Perhaps you should go lie down upstairs?" Harry only nodded and went up the stairs slowly. Petunia frowned and sighed. Something would have to be done and soon.
"This whole thing turned out a disaster because the rest of them just had to carpool and then break down. I'm very sorry, Petunia." Petunia just smiled.
"Don't worry about it, Lia." She helped to gather the tea cups and followed her friend into the kitchen. "We were able to have a private little gossip between the two of us." Ophelia turned to stare at her friend. That tone meant something was wrong.
"What is it, Petunia? Something's bothering you. I can tell." Ophelia dumped the plates in the sink and stared Petunia down.
"It's my nephew." Petunia cracked. She laid her cups down into the soapy water and sighed.
"The delinquent?" Ophelia did not believe that the boy was a delinquent. Still, she had listened to Petunia's husband. Path of least resistance.
"Harry's not a delinquent. He goes to a school for the gifted. Vernon is just jealous that Dudley did not get in. I see that plain as day. That and I wouldn't want Dudley to go there anyway." Petunia fell silent.
"So, what's bothering you about Harry?" Ophelia poured out two glasses of wine and handed one to Petunia.
"He's changed so much!" Ophelia wanted to roll her eyes.
"Kids do that, Pet. It's called growing up." Petunia shook her head and took a swallow of wine.
"It's not that. Something happened to him at that school, one I didn't want him to attend. Same school my sister went to. I just knew something bad would happen! Now, he comes home, depressed, nightmares every night, not eating, and all I received from that barmy headmaster was a letter, telling me that Harry's godfather had died and to allow Harry to grieve. Want to know the best part? Harry watched it happen! Watched a man he loved die in front of his eyes!" Ophelia sat back, astonished at the vehemence of the speech. Let it not be said that Petunia Dursley did not have feelings for her nephew.
"Did that headmaster tell me? No! I found out from Harry after he woke up from one of his nightmares. He doesn't even know I know. He was so far into that dream that he wasn't aware of his surroundings. He blames himself for that man's death!" Petunia hid her face in her hands.
"Have some wine, Pet." Ophelia said. "It's obvious you want to help Harry. Can you tell me some more of his behavior?" Petunia picked up the glass and drained it. She pulled out a slip of paper and handed it to Ophelia. The woman drained her own wine and poured out some more. She read the list and sighed. "He's obviously depressed. In need of some serious and intensive help." Ophelia chewed on her lip. "Would you like me to ask my boss about some doctors?" She asked.
"Anything you can do will be wonderful." Petunia answered. "I never really showed any affection for him before, but something is making him hurt terribly. I need to get him the help he needs." She had known that Ophelia would be willing to help in this. Ophelia worked as a receptionist in a psychologist's office. She would know people in spades that could potentially help Harry. Ophelia hugged her friend and smiled.
"Don't worry, Pet. We'll get him the help he needs. Even if I have to bully my husband to take the case!" Petunia smiled. Ophelia had been Ryan Ramsey's receptionist for three years before the man had confessed his love for her, a love that took Ophelia by surprise.
"Why don't you and Ryan come over tomorrow afternoon? I know he's off, and he can see Harry for himself. The boy looks awful. Maybe with that image, he'll work all the harder." Petunia suggested.
"You know my husband too well, Petunia. That sounds great, but only if you make that cheesecake I adore so much." Petunia nodded and left, happy that Ophelia was willing to help her scheme. Petunia returned home to find Harry asleep in his room. She tossed a blanket over him and went downstairs to the kitchen. She found a note on the table from Vernon, saying that he had taken Dudley out to dinner. She rolled her eyes and pulled out some ingredients. Her nephew was going to eat at least a full bowl and spend an hour in her presence before the night was up!
Petunia had just managed to get Harry to swallow a sleeping pill for the night. Thankfully, he was too far out of it from his nightmares to realize what his aunt had given him. Petunia watched him until the drug kicked in before returning downstairs to her husband and son. They had come in, both a little more than drunk, just an hour before. The first thing they both had wanted to do was torment Harry.
Petunia had taken wedding vows, vows she considered sacred, and she knew that obeying her husband was one of them. Deceiving her husband was not one of them. She had refused to let them up the stairs, saying that the boy was sick and most likely contagious, and would not for the world let her husband and son catch what he had. Needless to say, that was enough to confine them to the living room in front of the television for the rest of the night. The two had ended up asleep, most likely from too much alcohol.
She managed to try to make them a little more comfortable before leaving them to their slumber. If either of them complained of a stiff neck, she would tell them exactly why she had no sympathy for their pain. Honestly, Vernon taking Dudley drinking! She had no idea what had come over the man, but she intended to let him know her feelings over the next few days. In the most loving way possible, of course. That was the only language to which Vernon responded well. She schemed a little more before going to her bed. Tomorrow, she hoped to find that Ryan and Ophelia would be able to help her find a way to help Harry.
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