A/N: It's been a...long time since I've updated. So, sooo sorry. I really suck at updating quickly, but I'm working on it :) Anyways, enjoy the chapter and don't forget to review!
She had never really thought of life as a series of actions and consequences.
When she was younger, her parents had doted upon Lily and couldn't be bothered to so much as blink if Petunia disobeyed rules. She certainly wasn't a problem child, but she made it difficult enough. She had seen life as a series of actions and reactions.
But never consequences.
At least until now.
Now she was living in the consequence of abandoning her sister's son. She may have allowed Harry to live in her house and eat her food, but she never once raised him. She abandoned him – or she might as well have.
She was still shaking from the young Weasley girl's harsh words. Harsh, but true.
Though the kitchen of the house seemed to be the hotbed for activity normally, for the time that Petunia sat sipping her tea, not one person besides Mrs. Weasley passed through. She could hear people arriving (though how, she wasn't sure) in the living room, thumping footsteps above her head, and boisterous activity drifting from outside through the open top of the dutch door.
Her tea was cold.
Every once in a while she would hear footsteps headed through the narrow hallway towards her, and Mrs. Weasley would smile politely at her before rushing to cut the person off at the pass. Hushed voices and a minute later, she would return looking slightly more nervous and with a few more hairs out of place.
After the third time, Petunia shook herself out of her comatose state. Mrs. Weasley may have good intentions, but the woman was making her feel like a leper.
"It's really not necessary, you know," she said, interrupting their previously agreed upon silence. Mrs. Weasley sent her a slightly confused look, and she elaborated, "Keeping them all away from me – it's not necessary."
Mrs. Weasley sent her a small smile and returned to her task of folding napkins.
"Dear, I'm not keeping them away for your sake," and now it was Petunia's turn to be confused. "I'm keeping them away for their own. You don't exactly have any fans here, and I myself have a few choice words about your treatment of Harry, but I do know for a fact that Harry wouldn't want anyone turning you into a toad on his wedding day," she said, ending with a small laugh.
"Can you really do that?" Petunia asked.
"Do what?" Mrs. Weasley responded, "Turn you into a toad? Yes."
"Of course, George is a bit more creative than that," she said, giggling a bit. Petunia really didn't know why the woman insisted upon smiling however. Being turned into an animal was no laughing matter. Really, none of this was a laughing matter.
"How is it that you can be so cavalier with me? You say everyone here feels the desire to turn me into a toad...or what have you, and yet you're standing here talking to me as if I'm your friend," Petunia said, rushing out her words in a deep, relief-filled exhale.
The other woman turned her kind eyes on Petunia, picked up the remaining unfolded napkins, and sat across from her. She cleared the space between them before separating the pile in two and handing one half to Petunia.
"We're folding them into lilies" she said, placing the square napkin in front of her and urging Petunia to do the same. "Pull one corner across into a triangle, take the two bottom corners and fold them up to the third tip – good."
Petunia didn't really understand why Mrs. Weasley was teaching her how to fold napkins rather than answering her question, but felt it best to stay silent. If this experience was teaching her nothing else, it was that sometimes not speaking at all is the more conductive option.
So instead, she folded her napkin.
Letting go of control was not inherently built into her DNA. She was used to being in the drivers seat. Only now being able to open her eyes enough to realize that she was driving herself off a cliff. So instead, she folded her napkin.
"Now fold the bottom up halfway, and flip the napkin over," she continued to instruct, " fold the right corner over, and tuck the left corner in the pocket. There you go."
Petunia finished her napkin, and followed Mrs. Weasley's lead by standing the napkin up. Folded the flaps down.
"See," Mrs. Weasley said, "A lily."
And it was.
They both grabbed the next unfolded napkin in the pile.
"I was angry with you for quite some time," Mrs. Weasley said, causing a slight pause in Petunia's folding. "Particularly when Harry was younger. I doubt you've ever heard the story of when I first met Harry?" she continued, adding the question in her voice purely to give Petunia the benefit of the doubt.
Left corner up, right corner up, bottom half-way, flip, shake head in the negative. Of course she hadn't. It stung a little more than expected.
"It was at King's Cross, Harry and Ron's first year at Hogwarts. Lots of hustle and bustle on the platform at that time of day, and I was trying to keep track of all the children – as you well know, having boys means keeping a watchful eye." Petunia nodded in agreement, though she couldn't really relate. Sure, Dudley had been a bit of a brat (yes, she loved him; and yes, she said he was an angel. She was a liar, not stupid), but he'd always been fairly easy to catch – he wasn't the fastest runner.
"And this tiny, messy haired boy walks up and stumbles over his words to ask for help to get on the platform. I was so surprised at how small he was – food has always been a main event in our household, and that makes for fast growing children. But this boy, he was tiny. Small to begin with, but appeared even more-so in overly large clothes. My first thought being his size, my second being how unusually quiet he was. I think you can tell just from being here this short amount of time that quiet is pretty much a foreign concept. Raising a house full of six boys was certainly hard on the eardrums, and unfortunately my thought that it would be a bit quieter with a girl in the mix couldn't have been more wrong.
"I'm getting off track, but my point is – all I could think was that someone had allowed him to be this small and timid. And over the years as I got to know Harry better, all I could think was 'Why?'" she concluded. In the midst of her speech, Petunia had kept her eyes firmly on the task in front of her, but felt compelled to meet Mrs. Weasley's question face on.
She saw consequences.
"Why would someone allow him to waste away? Why would anyone not care for him?"
"I-" Petunia tried to speak, but any words were stuck in her throat. Not just in her throat, but her mind. She had not answer except for the one she didn't want to admit to. She was improving, but still couldn't get the words out.
Mrs. Weasley's face was pulled into an exasperated shape, but softened with a small frown-like smile. "And then I realized that it didn't matter."
Somewhere along the way they had finished folding the remaining napkins.
"Because Harry turned into a wonderful man. He is brave, and strong, and kind – and though his remaining biological link may have...disappointed, he is not without family. He's been a part of my family ever since my sons broke him out of his barred bedroom and brought him home. Today is only making it official."
Her eye's had filled with tears by now, and she was trying desperately to not let them fall.
"So how can I sit here and treat you civilly?"
Tears still contained.
"Because I can't change the past, but I can make a better future, and a better future can't happen if I hold onto anger and hatred. It just – it doesn't matter anymore."
She tried to not cry. Clearly, it wasn't working.
She wiped her eyes as discreetly as possible.
"I- I don't know what to say," she replied, and in that moment it was the most truthful thing she could have said.
Mrs. Weasley smiled and gathered up the finished napkins. "No need, dear. Now, I've talked it over with Ginny, and we've agreed that we should wait until after the ceremony for you to see Harry...or rather, Ginny decided – but, no matter.
"So, come now. You can help me set the tables, and then we'll find you a nice seat for the ceremony, yes?" she ordered kindly, ushering a still inert Petunia out of her seat and out into the warm afternoon sun.
Now she was living in the consequence of her actions.
Ginny had said it forcefully, enough so to shock trembles out of Petunia's body. But it hadn't really sunk in until now.
Mrs. Weasley was a kind woman, but Petunia could tell she was fierce as well. No woman couldn't be with that many children – Petunia hadn't acquired that quality because Dudley had never had any real problems, but with...however many children Mrs. Weasley had, it was statistically impossible to not have some defending to do.
Petunia could also tell that she considered Harry to be one of her own, and therefore would most certainly would be a little more than unkind to anyone who dare hurt him.
Yet here she was, saying Petunia was safe from that. Not because she was innocent, not because Mrs. Weasley felt she deserved a free pass – no, because she wasn't worth the effort. She wasn't important.
To Harry, she was a distant specter from his past that held no power in the present.
Mrs. Weasley really had explained it in the least jarring way possible, but Petunia still felt as if she'd just been run over by a lorry.
She wasn't worth the effort of getting angry.
She didn't matter anymore.
She was still unclear as to why this caused her stomach to clench; why this caused her throat to clench.