Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all affiliated works do not belong to me.
There used to be laughing and jumping and screaming and general bedlam. There used to be pillow fights and secrets and sneaking into one another's room after mother had ordered them into their separate rooms. There used to be giggles and the borrowing of clothes and the picking of flowers and plotting and scheming and lying in the grass on their backs, simply staring at the clouds as if there was nothing better to worry about in their lives.
Petunia remembers this, but it's difficult. It's difficult to see the look of happy enthusiasm on her sister's face when she annually returns home, fresh from that witch school, at Christmas, with the trunk in her hand and the bright red-and-gold scarf wrapped merrily around her neck. It's that scarf, that school, that world that stole Lily. She got a letter (which everyone squealed in joy about), bought supplies, and basically went off, only to be seen in brief glimpses of Petunia's life—Christmas, summer.
But the scarf was still there, even when she wasn't wearing it. The gold and red stripes were bold and if Petunia had been daring, maybe she would have asked about the moving pictures that adorned Lily's walls. The pictures of the laughing, handsome boys, with lit-up eyes and mischievous smiles, playing around.
And especially the picture of the one boy, with the slightly crooked smile and the mischievous hazel eyes with his arm around her sister, who was smiling and laughing attractively, while a slight pink blush tinted her cheeks. The Boy, Petunia thought of him in her mind—and just like that, capitalized, an official title. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that the picture was framed and by Lily's bedside. And that Lily looked at it, sometimes seeming as if she was in a kind of trance, every night. And that she smiled a slow, secret little smile, a smile of love, one Petunia knew was the purest expression she'd seen her sister wear.
Things were different, now. There was no staying up with a bowl of popcorn in Lily's room, sitting cross-legged in their pajamas, alternately grabbing handfuls of the light yellow fluffy food and divulging the latest on their respective conquests. The doors stayed shut.
Lily looked at her picture with the happily eyes and the smile, like a soft rose petal on a bank of serene, innocently perfect snow, untouched by winter's chilly brittleness. Petunia looked on from her doorway, though Lily never knew.
It wasn't how it used to be. They were strangers who had once been best of friends. They passed like ghosts, like people that were invisible. On the staircase, at the table. There was no more sharing and gossiping and smiling and popcorn.
Petunia thought Lily was out, one day. Lily and her father and mother had gone out for a walk in a flurry of happy chatter about Lily's school, all but forgetting Petunia. They disappeared down the street, Lily's hair bright against the white snowflakes that settled like muted glitter into her hair, and the happy, enthusiastic chatter that Petunia was able to hear through the windows made her want to run, screaming, with her hands over her ears and her heart in her throat.
She didn't do that.
Instead, with the quiet of the snow pressing around her, she slowly found her way into the darkened hallway she and Lily shared. She peeked out of the small window. A thick bank of snow had accumulated on the outside's sill, muting the inside of the house. Small flakes were falling noiselessly. The house was completely silent.
Petunia tentatively looked into Lily's room. It was cast into grey shadow, and the bed was unmade (as was typical Lily fashion). The photos were tacked up; brightly moving and people were grinning and the scarf, soft and looped, gold and red, was placed on her dresser. She took a step, and hearing the creak that emitted from the carpeted floor, cautiously took a few more. She felt ridiculous, but also impulsive. The scarf was so close. The pictures were so close. Nobody was home. She wanted to feel the softness of the scarf, and she wanted to know it had been touched by her sister. She wanted to know where that scarf had been, what kind of memories it had absorbed, what kind of face it had. She wanted to be part of that, in a way.
Feeling foolish, she entered Lily's room, and, with her pale, spidery hands shaking, softly laid a bony finger on Lily's striped scarf. It was as soft as she had expected, and, wonderingly, pressed a hand over it for a second. She wrapped it around her own neck, almost wanting to detect something that was Lily, wanting to detect something magical, wanting to detect an intangible memory, just…something. She stood there for a moment, the house completely silent, watching complacently the snowflakes falling peacefully in the Evans's backyard, covering steadily the yard.
A sudden voice in her head, maybe the sanity that sometimes disappeared because of this chilly season, reappeared, and, almost ashamed of her ridiculous and insensible actions, Petunia removed the scarf from her neck. It was warm, and she suddenly felt odd without it. Maybe that was why Lily wore it so much? Trying to quiet these thoughts, she placed the scarf, still admiring its softness but secretly not wanting to, back on the dresser, attempting to arrange it in the same position had been in beforehand.
She shrugged and moved over to the pictures. The ones that moved and laughed and smiled happily at her. There were so many people, and it all looked so unfamiliar. It scared her, sort of, that she knew virtually nothing of her sister's life at the school. It was all some secret to her, one that was too important to divulge to her ears.
The pictures were bright and glossy, bright and happy, and they were Lily's world, of bold scarves and snowflakes and important things and The Boy.
She shifted her gaze to the very photo—the one framed by her bedside, the cherished one, the boy. He smiled happily—he was tall, too, and could not be considered bad looking, much as Petunia secretly wished he was—and Lily grinned, grinned with a blush in her cheeks and a sparkle in her eye.
She inched her face closer to the picture, studying it. What made her Petunia and what made Lily Lily, anyway? What DNA had formed two sisters so differently? Why was one magic, like a beautiful, special rose, everyone wanted to preserve, that was loved and tended to with minute precision and care, and why was the other some weed that grew stealthily and ugly in the corner, in the dirt, unnoticed and in a shadow? Why was—
"Petunia?" A very surprised voice met Petunia's ears, shocking her out of her thoughts and making her jumped, startled, off Lily's bed. Her cheeks colored slightly.
"I needed to find the vacuum cleaner." Petunia lied, straightening up purposefully.
Lily nodded—"I don't think it's in here."
Petunia was nearly certain that Lily didn't believe her excuse. She stood, looking at her sister. Her hair was messy from the snow, and strands of the alive-looking, vibrantly red hair had blown out of her messy ponytail. Her eyes sparkled like two chips of emerald.
Silence followed, and it was so still that one could almost hear the single snowflakes falling on the ground.
Suddenly a deep and powerful ache tore at Lily's stomach. Once upon a time, Lily would have pointed out, to Petunia, who was who in her photographs, and Petunia would eagerly look on and nod, and they would discuss who was good-looking and who was like what, and maybe they would discuss The Boy.
"Do you—I mean, you don't have to, but—do you want to look at my photos?" Lily asked, on sudden impulse.
Petunia looked as shocked to hear this as Lily was to hear that the words had actually fallen from her lips. She nodded, almost imperceptibly. Lily, feeling like a stranger in her own room, walked over her sister and sat awkwardly on her bed, indicating for Petunia to do the same.
Feeling desperately uncomfortable, Lily began pointing at the various moving pictures and explaining who was who.
"This is Michelle," Lily began, pointing at a group of girls that were sitting on somebody's unmade, red-sheeted bed, grinning, all sucking on wildly large, carnival-like lollipops, waving. "And this is Hazel, and this is Amanda. They're all my best friends. We're in the same dorm." She explained.
Petunia nodded rather sharply, still not speaking.
"And this is Peter and Remus, they're studying for some test, or at least Remus is trying to help Peter study," and Petunia noticed a flicker of a smile flitter over Lily's face. Obviously there was some story, some joke associated with the photo and the people that Petunia would probably never meet.
"Sirius, on a dare, in a pink tutu—" Petunia noticed an attractive, tall boy with floppy black hair and deep gray eyes, grinning cheekily and looking most out of place in a frilly pink tutu, "—we still can't believe he actually went through it, in the common room and all."
Another story, another joke, another person and another shading to the drawing of her sister's life.
Lily moved all across the many, many photos, explaining the scene that had the photo had been taken in and the person. Finally, she stopped.
She hesitantly pointed at the framed picture with Lily and the boy, and Petunia could detect the faint tint of love, embarrassment and pride mixed together as she pointed at the picture of the hazel-eyed boy and her.
Taking a pause, Lily continued, in a rather different voice than she had used before. "This is James—"
Petunia cut her sister off before she could say any more. "I know," Petunia said, a small smile crossing her face, "that's the boy."
Lily looked at her in relative astonishment.
For it was indeed.