Twice as Bright
Author: Kali (thirty2flavors)
Rating: PG. I don't like FF's ratings.
Summary: She introduced him as James Potter, he shook your hand, and you knew, instantly, that she'd outdone you again. Petunia reflects on the differences between the Dursleys and the Potters.
Author's Notes: Not much to say about this one. It's something I've tried to write many times before, but it never worked out. I wanted to do it in first person, but I couldn't get Petunia's tone down appropriately. I tried third person, but that just didn't work, so second person it is. There was a type of companion thing I originally wanted to have for this, but I don't think it's going to work anymore. We shall see, I guess.
Anyway, I hope it isn't dreadful. I've always felt kinda bad for Petunia, and I think most people just write her off as a bitter elder sister without considering why she might be that way.
Read + review?
You can remember precisely the first time she brought him home.
Vernon was there, of course. He'd seen the youngest Evans daughter only through pictures and heard of her only through your clipped explanations. You have no doubt, pictures or not, that he was surprised when she stepped in the door. Your family looked normal, typical and ordinary; the girl at the doorway with the bright red hair and the vibrant green eyes did not.
Initially, it was to be the nice dinner that your parents always threw when Lily arrived home from school. It was a time for catching up, they said, a time for Lily to share her exciting life of magic and wonder and adventure and for you, Petunia, to recount your dull drum events - minor scandals, half-interesting teachers and less-than-remarkable friends.
It was also the dinner at which you planned to announce your engagement. Even amidst Lily's tales of graduation and wonder and magic, they had to care about your engagement. Surely nothing she said could top that. You were the oldest, you were getting married, and they would damn well care.
And then, when Lily walked in, he was behind her.
It was the first time Lily had ever brought a boy home, and you remembered distinctly your instant dislike for the way he poked his head around the doorway and donned that forsaken subtle smile.
She introduced him as James Potter, he smiled and shook your hand, and you knew, instantly, that Lily had outdone you yet again.
Your parents liked Vernon plenty. He was nice, he had a job, he was reliable, and he was normal. You figured they'd be happy enough to have him a part of the family. They liked him.
But instantaneously, they loved James.
Of course they did – he had his charming smiles, his charismatic presence, his perfectly-timed jokes and a sense of life about him. He sat at the table next to your sister and as you looked around, you saw the difference. You were family, by blood, but now, seven years after she'd first left, you were scarcely recognizable. She and that boy were so reckless, so young, so naïve and so passionate – you and Vernon were so cautious, so simple, so normal and so safe.
They were the freaks, you knew that. When you looked at your parents, you saw your future. Your parents had been like you. They had been nothing out of the ordinary, and neither would you. Lily was the oddball, the misfit, the fluke accident – and they loved her for it.
You never announced your engagement that night. The dinner was spent listening to Lily and James recount tales of school and chaos and their many misadventures, while you and Vernon were expected to sit quietly and listen.
You could tell by his disinterested grunts and the dark looks he occasionally sent across the table at Lily's counterpart that Vernon was jealous. He had been involved with you for over three years, now, and not once had your parents ever warmed up to him in the way they were warming up to the boy who'd been here not three hours. Who were these people? He was engaged to Petunia Evans and he'd never met them before. How were they – wild, rambunctious, untamed, unhindered – possibly related to you, perfectly plain Petunia? Vernon loved normalcy almost as much as you did and these people were not normal.
He hated them, but then again, you hated them more.
You saw the change this boy brought about in your sister. She was the way she had been before, when she was a young girl, animated and rambunctious and full of laughter, love and life. She wasn't the quiet, studious girl she had suddenly become in her teen years – all of the sudden, Daddy's little inferno was back, with all the liveliness that you'd almost forgotten she had.
Maybe that was why your parents loved him so much.
Maybe that was why they cried at her wedding but not at yours. Maybe that was why, after your ceremony, they'd walked over to Vernon and given him a clap on the back and a smile, when after Lily's ceremony they swooped down on James, crying, Mum kissing him on the cheek and Dad welcoming him to the family.
Maybe you didn't cry at their funeral because of that, because Lily Evans meant more to them than Petunia Evans, and because Lily Potter was still their daughter while Petunia Dursley never had been. Maybe that's why at their funeral you'd been so blank, emotionless and apathetic while Lily, perfectly invincible girl that she was, had collapsed into her husband's arms, sobbing.
Maybe that's why you never went to Lily's funeral at all. You're sure she had one, and, knowing Lily, quite a spectacular one. After all, she and that boy were twisted celebrities of war, icons and names to fuel the propaganda bonfire, and it only makes sense that their death be marked with a bang.
You think you knew, somehow, it would be like this, from that instant she brought him home.
And maybe, you think, that's what makes you hate her son so much. You see so much of them in him – the boyish charm of his father that won your parents in an instant the way Vernon never did, the strong-hearted determination his mother had that inevitably lead to her death. In him, you can see a spark, a drive, a fire that, as much as you search for it and as much as you wish it were there, you know resides in neither you or Dudley.
You know who would be the favorite grandchild if your parents were still alive.
And you know that like his parents he's running out of time. You know that, just like them, he'll be lucky to make it to twenty. But that's what they get – all of them – for being so damn wonderful.
The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and the Potters had always been blazing.
You just wish, sometimes, that the Dursleys glowed a little brighter.