Petunia Dursley walked into the day care on Sunday like she did every Sunday, picking up her darling grandson. At four, he was such a sweet little boy, always picking up his toys and putting them away when anyone asked him to. Not at all like Duddykins, Petunia reflected, smiling.
The head of the day care, Mrs. Lizza, smiled at Petunia as she walked in; Petunia smiled back politely. Once, she knew, she would have just scoffed at the woman; but ever since she was forced to leave her home on Privet Drive for the safety of her nephew, she had vowed to be a better person. In truth, she regretted how awfully she had treated Harry- though she'd never tell anyone that, of course.
"Duncan's right over here, Mrs. Dursley," Mrs. Lizza led Petuina over to a corner where her grandson was playing with a small, red-haired girl. "Duncan?" Duncan looked up at his name being said, and grinned at Mrs. Lizza as she continued, "You grandmum's here to pick you up."
"Hiya, Grandmum!" Duncan smiled broadly, showing off his pearley white baby teeth.
"Hello, darling," Petunia smiled; after all of her misdoings in life, she still didn't know how she possibly deserved such a wonderful grandchild. "Ready to go?"
"Grandmum, I made a friend!" Duncan exclaimed, pointing to the red-haired girl beside him, ignoring his grandmother's question.
Petunia turned to the little girl and smiled kindly. "Hello dear, I'm Mrs. Dursley, Duncan's grandmum. What's your name?"
"I'm Lily," she said. Petunia gave a start, though it was small enough that neither of the four-year-olds noticed anything. Another redheaded Lily, Petunia thought. I should have known I'd meet another one day. Hopefully, she'll have a happier life than my sister… hopefully, she won't die so young, with a sister who hated her… Petunia forced her train of thought to stop, grimacing a tad and barely repressing a shudder; thinking about her younger sister was too painful, because words couldn't describe how much she resented being so cruel to Lily. After all, it wasn't Lily's fault that she was magical. And, Petunia had learned, magic wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
"Mrs. Dursley?" Lily seemed to be confused as to why Petunia wasn't saying anything. Petunia scrutinized the little girl; there was something familiar about her, something that she couldn't quite place. But there was something familiar about her, all the same. For the first time, she looked down at the toy Lily was holding; it was an obviously handmade broomstick. Petunia suppressed a chuckle.
"That's a very nice broomstick, Lily," Petunia complimented. Lily beamed. "Did your parents teach you how to make that?"
Lily nodded. "My mummy taught me how to make it. She taught my daddy, too, because he didn't know how to do arts and crafts." She giggled. "Daddy said that he'd rather play with his real broomstick, but he made one anyways! My parents don't think it's as good as mine, though," Lily nodded proudly.
"Well, your parents sound like very nice people, Lily," Petunia said. There was something about what Lily had said- about how her father would rather play with a real broomstick than a toy one- that unsettled Petunia, and brought back unwelcome memories of a time when Petunia wasn't a nice person. Turning to Duncan, she continued, "Duncan, darling, we have to go now."
Duncan pouted. "But I don't wanna go, Grandmum! I wanna stay here and play with Lily!" Petunia looked over at the little girl; she was sticking out her lower lip, her arms crossed, her eyes aiming a fierce glare (for a four-year-old, that is) at Petunia.
Petunia sighed; she was too much of a softy these days. "Okay, Duncan, we can stay five more minutes, but that's all. How would you like that?"
Her grandson and Lily instantly perked up, grinning happily. Suddenly, Duncan looked thoughtful, and then hopped on his grandmother's lap. "Story time!" he called out; Petunia chortled under her breath. "Grandmum, tell me about the Boy Under The Stairs!"
"The Boy Under The Stairs" was one of Duncan's favorite stories. Little did he know, his favorite Boy was really his cousin Harry, and little did he know, the Boy and his wicked Aunt and Uncle didn't really have a happy ending in real life. But Petunia still told him the story every time he asked, because it was, indeed, quite a good story.
"Well," Petunia began, "Once, there was a Boy, who lived in a cupboard under the stairs. His evil Aunt and Uncle raised him, because the Boy's parents had died when he was very young. Aunt and Uncle didn't treat the Boy very well at all, because they were afraid of him."
"Why were they afraid of him, Grandmum?" Duncan asked, right on cue. Lily's ears were perked up now as well, listening intently.
"Aunt and Uncle were afraid of the Boy because he could do magic, and they couldn't," Petunia replied. "They thought magic was a bad thing, and didn't tell the Boy about it, so he couldn't try and use it against them. They thought that if they kept the Boy in the cupboard under the stairs, and didn't tell him about magic, then he wouldn't grow up to be magical." Here goes what I wish could have happened, Petunia thought sullenly. "But then, one day, when Aunt was playing with her son, the Boy's Cousin, Cousin hurt his knee, and the Boy came out to see why Cousin was crying."
"The Boy saw his Cousin crying, and was very sad, because he didn't like to see people crying. Suddenly, Cousin's knee didn't hurt anymore, and it looked as if nothing had happened to it!" Petunia told her story, completely lying now, but excited by the looks on Duncan's face. Lily's face, however, confused her; the girl was frowning, looking slightly befuddled.
"How, Grandmum?" Duncan asked, on cue once again.
"The Boy fixed it by magic," Petunia said. "And that day, Aunt and Uncle told the Boy about his magic, and, when he was old enough, sent him off to a magic school. Aunt and Uncle treated the Boy as their own son from then on, and the Boy became good friends with Cousin, too. And they all lived happily ever after," she finished. Duncan clapped accordingly; Lily, however, was still frowning.
"Is something wrong, Lily?" Petunia asked, concerned. Did I tell the story badly? She thought worriedly.
"You got the story all wrong, Mrs. Dursley," Lily replied, looking thoughtful.
"Oh, really?" Petunia asked, bemused. She must be thinking of something else- four year olds these days, she laughed internally. "And how does he story really go, Lily?"
"The Boy never does anything for the Cousin," Lily proclaimed, squinting in concentration. "Aunt and Uncle never treat him like their own son, either. They only tell him he's magical when Hagrid the Half-Giant finds them, and tells the Boy about it. And the Boy goes off to school but Aunt and Uncle are never very nice to him, and then the Boy leaves one day, and he never sees his Aunt and Uncle ever again. Then he makes his own happily-ever-after!" Lily ended her version of the story, smiling, pleased with herself.
Petunia was shocked, to say the least. How had this little girl known the actual story, word-for-word? "How do you know that story, Lily?" she asked, in a little more than a whisper. Duncan was silent, still on his grandmother's lap, and listening to her conversation with his new friend, fascinated like only four-year-olds can be.
"My daddy tells me and my brothers, Albus and James, that story. Only, he calls it the Boy in the Cupboard!" Lily replied.
Petunia was speechless. This little girl- Lily- had two older brothers named James and Albus?! It was too much of a coincidence- but could it be? She had to check, just to make sure. "Lily, what's your last name?"
"Potter. Lily Potter," Lily said proudly. Petunia put a hand to her heart and took a few deep breaths, determined not to have a heart attack. Her grandson's new friend was her great-niece- no wonder she had seemed so familiar! And, not only that, but that meant that her nephew had defeated Voldy-whatever-his-name-is, gotten married, and started a family! It was too much for Petunia to comprehend at once.
"Mrs. Dursley?" Lily's voice drew Petunia out of her thoughts. "Why did you say the wrong ending?"
"Because I wish that's what would have happened," Petunia replied with the truth, before she could stop herself. "I wish that Aunt and Uncle and Cousin had been nicer to the Boy, and treated him as one of their own family."
Lily nodded understandingly. "My daddy wishes that, too. But he said Aunt and Uncle would never do that, because they hated him."
Petunia shook her head. "No, Lily, they didn't hate him. They thought they did, and they acted like they did, but they didn't. They were just scared of him, because he was different. But Aunt and Uncle and Cousin regret being so mean to the Boy, because being different isn't always a bad thing- it's a good thing sometimes. They didn't realize that until the Boy was gone, though." Lily's full attention was on Petunia, looking about as thoughtful as a toddler can look. Seeing that her grand-niece (her grand-niece!) wasn't planning on saying anything more, Petunia looked down at Duncan, who had been silent and listening throughout the whole conversation, and said firmly, "It's been five minutes, Duncan; let's say goodbye to Lily."
Duncan frowned, but nodded; he knew to behave when his grandmother got that tone of voice. "Bye-bye, Lily," he waved sadly, turning to his friend.
"Bye-bye, Duncan," Lily responded, her big chocolate doe eyes shining with sadness. "Bye-bye, Mrs. Dursley," she added as an afterthought, looking up at the older woman.
"Goodbye, Lily," Petunia smiled kindly, scooping up her grandson and standing up. "You two can play together again tomorrow," she assured the children, who instantly brightened. With that, she left the day care with her grandson in her arms.
"Daddy!" Lily exclaimed upon seeing her father, jumping up and begging, "Up! Up! Up!" Harry sighed, resignedly; his Auror work had tired him out today, but how could he refuse his little girl?
"Hello, Lily," Harry said, picking up his daughter, who was squealing in delight. "How was day care today?"
"It was fun, Daddy!" she exclaimed excitedly. "I made a new friend!"
"Really? What's your new friend's name?" Harry asked, still just standing there, holding his daughter.
"Duncan!" Lily said. "And Daddy, I met his grandmum, too!"
"And was she nice?" Harry asked. He hope the answer would be yes; otherwise, he'd have to track the woman down…
Lily nodded. "She even told us a story! And guess what, Daddy?"
"It was the Boy in the Cupboard story!" Lily exclaimed, bouncing in Harry's arms. He gave a start; how had someone besides him known his life story? Unless… no. No, it couldn't have been.
"And did she tell it as good as me?" He asked, tickling Lily, who laughed loudly, a joyous, innocent tinkling sound.
"No," Lily said through laughs. Seeing that his daughter wanted to talk more, Harry stopped tickling her, and she continued, panting a bit, when he did this. "But she had a different ending, Daddy! A happy one! She said she changed the ending because she wishes Aunt and Uncle and Cousin had been nicer to the Boy."
"What else did she say?" Harry asked, curious and confused.
Lily thought for a moment, then spoke, "She said that Aunt and Uncle didn't really hate the Boy, that they were just scared of him, 'cause he was different. But then she said that different isn't always a bad thing, that it's a good thing sometimes, too!" She finished, looking very proud of herself for remembering so much.
Harry thought about this for a moment, and then inquired, "What was your friend's grandmother's name, Lily?"
"Mrs. Dursley," Lily replied.
Harry was in shock, to say the least. If Petunia was a grandmother, then that meant Dudley had a kid! And Dudley's kid- Dudley's kid!- was friend with his daughter! And Petunia regretted- actually regretted- being so mean to Harry? After a few minutes of a startled silence, Lily pulled on her father's shirt sleeve and prodded worriedly, "Daddy? Daddy? You okay, Daddy?"
Lily's voice broke Harry out of his trance. "I'm fine, Lily. Now, let's get out of here; your mum's making pot roast tonight!"
"Yay! Pot roast!" Lily clapped, delighted at the prospect of her favorite meal, all thoughts of Mrs. Dursley and the story out of her mind.
As Harry walked out of the day care with his daughter, he smiled. So she's not evil after all, he chortled in his head. Then, he added under his breath, "I guess the story of the Boy in the Cupboard has a happy ending after all."
Just a little OneShot I thought of, and just had to write down. I personally think that Petunia isn't as evil as she acts, and that she actually does have a heart. I hope you liked it! Please review!