This is a one-shot attempting to explain Petunia's hatred of her own nephew, and my first fan-fic. Please read and review.
The woman looked out her kitchen window, dreaming through memories, as she sipped her cup of birthday tea. A crisp apron circled her slender waist, and her hair was a polished, carefully coifed reddish brown. Although middle age showed up in the lines on her forehead and eyes, her appearance still would have been considered attractive enough, had it not been for the mean and self-serving glint that sparked from her eyes. Eyes that resembled, in a coarse cartoonish way, her nephew's.
It was this nephew that was the object of her musings at the moment. Harry was left on the Dursley's doorstep as an orphaned toddler, from that land of uncontrollable madness. Harry, whom according to his headmaster was famous, popular, rich, and powerful – "just like his mother", she sneered to herself.
Why her? Why Petunia? Why did the fates give her a daily reminder of her oh-so-perfect sister to rear? She had worked so hard with her husband to create a safe world, free from the wildness of her sister's life. It was the practical, hard-working, and safe nature of Vernon that first caught her fancy. No crazy leaps of imagination coming from her man! He had none of the bizarre fantasy that her parents adored in Lily. He was down-to-earth. Vernon provided the home she always dreamed of, fathered the perfect son she always hoped for, and was the same everyday. Oh, he wasn't romantic like the soaps she liked to watch in the afternoons, and his temper could be a bit worrisome at times, but he was safe, respectable and predictable.
After their first date, she knew Vernon was the man for her. It had taken a lot of bravery on her part to explain to him the nature of her sister, and convince him that the rest of her family was normal. Naturally, he didn't believe her. How could a rock-solid man of such practicality even start to accept the existence of magic and its universe? But Petunia demanded of her sister a visit so she could prove to this noble and good catch of a man that she wasn't crazy. He was speechless, shocked out of his safe world for the first time in his life. Naturally, he felt that Petunia would never make a suitable girlfriend (or wife, for that matter) for him. Expecting this result, she pointed out to Lily that Lily's abnormality made finding a husband near impossible for her, and Lily owed her. For the first and last time she demanded magical help from her sister in the form of a potion. This potion softened the jarring blow to Vernon's senses and returned to him the bloom of his initial attraction to Petunia.
A gentle sign escaped from deep in Petunia's chest. "Goodness" she thought, "What would Vernon think of me mooning like this?" as she sipped more tea. It was the last time she ever saw Lily. The small glass vial was gently placed in her hand, instructions to slip it into his cup of coffee when they met for the 'parting good bye date, and an unwelcome hug with kiss on a cheek. Petunia could swear there was an expression of pity and pleading in her sister's eyes as they parted. Pity? Who could pity her? Petunia Dursley, now of Four Privet Drive! Pity indeed. Pleading? Pleading for what – more of that "please, let's get together and be sisters" rubbish? Get real.
The wedding was the best she could whine and wheedle out of mum and dad. What did she care if they had to do without a couple years holiday – they owed her! They owed her for years of "Lily this and Lily that". Maybe they did praise her own grades in school, and maybe their birthdays were equally nice growing up, but it seemed to her there was always just that bit more of pride in her freakish sister. Yes indeed, the family owed her. She never bothered to invite Lily or her crackpot husband to the wedding – who knows what could have happened. Best not to remind dear, dear Vernon just what was in her family.
Then came the fateful morning that she learned of her sister's death, and ended up with an unwanted Potter to bring up. Wasn't her life perfect, with sweet little Duddums to play with all day? Wasn't her world rich beyond dreams with strong, practical Vernon coming home after work every night? Lily had asked for her fate, hanging around with crazy dangerous types, but why her?
The letter with Harry left her no choice. She understood enough of the Wizard's World to know what a curse refusing to take in her own flesh and blood nephew would bring. If she performed the minimum of what was demanded in the letter, her precious family would be safe and not bothered. If she raised the freak with strict firmness, it should drive any trace of his parent's abnormality out of him. It wasn't difficult to be tough on him – he had those annoying, pleading eyes like her sister's. "Just trying to get his way with me" she nodded to herself.
"Well, Happy Birthday, Petunia" she mused to herself, "Lily's brat has one more summer visit and then he's out of here for good". Then she can be return to being Mrs. Vernon Dursley without any danger of uncontrollable happenings in her home. She can be the mother of her darling Dudley without fear of freakish shenanigans. Life can return to safe, predictable happiness. Perhaps she can convince Harry that he owes some of that wealth ("and I wonder how much wealth it is?") to his charitable aunt and uncle for sacrificing so much for him. Even if she can't, at least he will be out of their lives forever.
At that moment an unwelcome sight landed on the kitchen windowsill – Harry's owl Hedwig. "Oh not now – the neighbor's might see!" she spat, grabbing for her rolling pin. The owl ruffled her blinding-white feathers at her, and returned a look of distain as he gently dropped a small parcel, and took off. "Shoo!" Petunia waved unnecessarily at the escaping bird.
Returning the rolling pin to it's proper place, and patting her hair smooth once again, she turned to look at what ever the owl left on her counter. A small box, addressed to her from Harry, wrapped in a surprisingly attractive pink paper. It was a shade of pink best described as antique rose, her favorite color. A birthday gift? From Harry? Petunia placed it on the kitchen table and gazed at it while thoughtfully sipping her now ice cold tea. Should she trust it? What could be in it – maybe some of his fortune! A momentary flash of guilt for never giving him a gift shot through her mind, but she promptly pushed it away.
Nervous and excited, she untied the strings and unfolded the paper. Inside was a letter from Harry, and a small stack of papers tied together. No money, she swiftly realized with disappointment. Steeling herself, she unfolded the letter. Startled, she saw childish cartoons around the edges with dancing birthday cakes and balloons, moving like a cartoon on TV. Smiling, in spite of her self, she started to read.
Dear Aunt Petunia,
Happy Birthday. My last summer is coming soon, and I wanted to tell you how grateful I am to you and Uncle Vernon for taking me in, and the protection your home has provided. I know it hasn't been easy for you, but I have been learning how to better control my magic so accidents don't happen like they have in the past.
Since coming to Hogwarts I have met many people who knew my parents. They have given me many photos and clippings of them. One of their things found in their home after the accident was my mother's diary. I'm sorry my mum and you weren't close – but from her diary I learned she really loved you. I can see a family resemblance in your eyes.
I thought you might like to have some of these pages for yourself. I'm sorry I'm not giving you the full diary, but reading it makes me feel closer to her.
The expressions flitting across Petunia's face were many and varied. Distrust, fear, sorrow, hope… heart pounding, she opened the bundle. The diary must have been a typical "muggle" sort, written in by ball-point pen instead of quill. The rest of the afternoon now flew by as she read the chosen passages from her sister's past. The pages spoke of Lily's honest grief over her sister's rejection of her life. The pages cried the heartfelt longing of a sibling over one lost. The pages spoke of love, tempered with hope and optimism. On the last page Harry had pasted the most peculiar photograph of her sister – black and white, but actually moving! There was her sister Lily, in the bloom of youth, smiling and waving.
After gazing at the photo for what seemed an eternity, Petunia stiffly got up, struggling for the control of emotions not explored in decades. She walked over to the kitchen window for some fresh air, and fell back with a start. There, in the middle of the backyard, where Harry always tended the gardens during the hot summers, it lay. A fresh garden, shaped like a heart, new as a spring morning, and shining in the sun. A magical garden, appearing on her birthday. A garden of white petunias and lilies, intertwining with healthy, glowing joy.
Now the tears came. The sobbing, wailing, keening of loss and what-should-of beens and what-could-of-beens. The mourning for her sister, and mourning for her youth wasted on bitterness and jealousy. And when the sorrowing lament finally stilled, and the peace of confession entered her heart, Petunia, sister of Lily, gently picked up her rolling pin, aimed it at the garden, spoke a gentle word and turned the blossoms a lovely shade of pink, the shade of antique rose.