I've watched you over the years.
I remember when you were just a little girl. You were somber, almost as you are now, except that there would be a precious few moments when you would let go of that weight you carried, the worries that tightened your lips and furrowed your brow, and you would just let yourself be.
You'd stand in front of me, dressed in the one frilly dress you owned. Those were the special days. You'd tiptoe into the room, looking both ways in the hall before quietly closing the door. There'd be a pause as you'd listened intently, wanting to make sure there'd be no disturbance. And then you'd hurry over to your closet, reaching earnestly for the treasured princess dress. Yes, you pouted and blustered when you got it for Christmas, saying it wasn't practical and you didn't want to turn out to be some girly-girl who didn't have a care in the world, but I knew just as you did, that you loved that dress.
We'd hold the fanciest of parties and serve the most gourmet of foods to your doll-guests (and sometimes your sister, if you were feeling particularly generous) gathered around big pillows doubling as tables. You were a graceful and gracious host, always tending to their needs and ensuring they were having a good time. You'd even pretend to do magic, the kind Lily could do, waving your hairbrush like a wand, bringing joy to the other players with kind acts. I enjoyed myself immensely.
But one day, an older cousin came to visit and found you playing Princess. He laughed and ridiculed you ("You're thirteen, Petunia! No wonder you're such a loser at school! You still play dress-up!"). He threw your teddy bear and dolls around the room while you stood still in your little pink gown, the one that still fit because you were always thin, mouth pursed in that not-quite-a-frown, small hands fisted and trembling at your sides. You didn't say a word.
When Gareth left, you still didn't say anything, looking at the destruction around you: Mr. Maples hiding underneath the bed, the Dresden dolls your father had bought when on the Continent lying on their sides below the window, a crack creating a cruel expression in one of their sweet faces. I waited for you to cry, to break down, but you didn't.
No, what happened next was far worse than seeing you sob in a corner, hurt but healable. What happened next showed me what my little girl was going to become. And it nearly broke my heart.
Your little sister peeked her head into the room, tentatively, her red hair impossible to make her inconspicuous. "Tuny?" Her eyes widened and tears filled her green eyes as she saw the mess Gareth had left. "Oh, no," she breathed. Several moments passed in silence as she looked around. You watched her, face carefully blank, the trembling running through your small frame the only indication that you were upset.
Lily made her way into the room, steps careful as she navigated the overturned pillows, the scattered tea cups. She glanced at you but you still didn't say anything. When she made it near the windows, she paused. Carefully, she held her hand out to the cracked doll, eyes shutting in concentration, a furrow appearing on her little forehead. For a second, nothing happened but then the crack became smaller and smaller until it disappeared, leaving the face of your favorite doll as good as new.
She turned to you with a smile, proud that she'd been able to help you in her own way. And you erupted at her.
"You freak! Get out! Get out!" You rushed at your sister, pushing her to the door, shock stilling her own actions that she didn't fight you. She gave a small cry as you gave her a final shove that had her stumbling into the other side of the corridor. "Don't ever use that…that magic," the disgust is obvious in your tone, "around me ever again!" Shutting and locking the door, you stood there for a long moment, seeming to stare at nothing.
Then you laughed. A horrible little laugh escaped your lips. I just watched. And that chuckle became a wet sob and you finally collapsed on your bed in tears some part of you having just become something that you weren't willing to face.
Life moved on. You and Lily grew apart, mainly because you would deliberately be cruel, disapproving of being someone that she couldn't help being. And while your parents loved you and her both, you cut at the ties that bound you, accusing them of favoring Lily, of supporting her disease. You were the one to push them away, the one who hardened her heart, love, no one else.
I still saw flashes of the Petunia I knew, but those were rare: when you'd come home from your first date or when you were accepted into the university you wanted. Those were the times when you'd stand in front of me, eyes shining, a genuine smile on your face and a blush tingeing your cheeks. And I would sigh because I missed that little girl who'd not been afraid to believe in something that couldn't be seen or quantified into normalcy, who was willing to admit that magic existed.
I didn't see you for some time after you left school. You'd moved out, wanting to find your independence, live life away from the family you felt didn't love you when it was you who wasn't willing to grant that love. Your mother would come into your room sometimes and stand in the doorway, gazing sadly at your old belongings, not that there was much there to remember you by. There'd been some point in your teenage years when you'd stripped the room of almost any personality, leaving it spartan and mainly a place to just lay your head. It made for lonely days for me.
When your mother passed away and your father was too old to take care of himself, you moved back in. And you brought along a little family of your own. I was happy to see that you'd found someone who you could live the rest of your life with and a baby of your own to take care of. Except you came back so changed, more stifled and close-minded, even more unwilling to go beyond the familiar. Your lips were perpetually pursed, your eyes squinted; you looked like you didn't trust anyone and as I became reacquainted with you, I saw that you really didn't.
I wondered about this until the night I saw your husband use harsh words and menacing actions to bully you and do what he wanted. You'd wanted to go see Lily and her new family; an unusual urge due to your estrangement but one that you'd actually given voice to. I was surprised but hopeful. Maybe I would see my two girls together once more.
But he would have none of it. "No! I won't have you associating with those type of people! What would people think? Would you really want to Dudley to be exposed to their kind?" His voice had risen to overwhelming proportions, the room becoming thick with his revulsion to anything different, so much so that you seemed to gag on it, tears escaping your downcast eyes.
"Of course not, Vernon, of course not," your voice was barely above a whisper. You leaned on the dressing table before me, your hand blindly finding the tabletop for support, heedlessly knocking over lipstick and perfume bottles. "It's just that…I feel like I need to, to see her, as if it's important that I somehow do this—"
"I don't care what your feelings are!" he interrupted you, arms spread wide in anger, making him appear larger than he already was. "What if it's some sort of—" he wasn't able to say the word, his fear and disgust riding too deep. His eyes bulged and his face turned red. He finally just made a gesture with his arms, as if he was casting a spell. "What if they're influencing you?"
Your hands went up in front of you, as if to ward him off. "I understand but I don't—it doesn't feel like that." Your tone took on a pleading note, "Please, Vernon, it's been so long since I've spoken to her. She's my sister—"
Quicker than I would have thought, he moved in front of you, his face purple with rage. "I don't care who she is!" His fist crashed into me, punctuating his sentence, fracturing my view of the world, the sound of glass cracking filling the sudden silence as you flinched in fright and shrunk away from him.
"You. Are. Not. Going!" he stated very clearly. After a moment, you nodded, head downcast, shoulders turned inward as your arms wrapped around yourself, a flimsy protection. He seemed satisfied and left you defeated and alone in the room.
My end was coming. A shattered mirror of no use to anyone. But the problems of furniture paled in comparison to the news you received the next night.
You came running into your room, your face wet, your mouth closing over sobs. I expected that man you'd married to follow you but you shut your bedroom door and collapsed in front of me, not even bothering to sit on the chair, just laying your head on the tabletop and crying. Your body shook with the force of your grief.
My gaze found the letter you held in your hand, the writing spidery but still able to be discerned.
–sister, Lily, and her husband, James, are dead.
Your hand crumpled the paper, fingers claw-like in their need to find something to hold onto, regret since you'd let go of her hand so long ago. On a choked cry, your face lifted and you stared at me, at your cracked reflection. Your eyes blazed with grief, anger and, most of all, hate. A strangled noise came from your throat and you lashed out, not at me, but at yourself; your hand pounded and pounded against my already fractured surface, pain your only outlet. Glass found its way into your skin, red welling up to fill the holes, blood spilling to mend the cracks and failing. I was dying and you, who had been my beginning, were now bringing about my end.
And suddenly you stopped, your crimson hand an inch away from your reflection, your make-up ruined with tears, your eyes bloodshot and staring at what was left of me as realization swept in.
Your pain wouldn't save her.
And you collapsed, eyes closing as new tears ran down your face, wails finding their way out of your throat, blood-stained hands turned up in a supplication that would never be answered.
Now you are shattered, just like me.
Author's Note: I felt like writing Petunia so I wrote Petunia. I just did it in my on way. Also, I know that she probably moved houses at some point but for the purpose of my story, I did away with that. Because that's what writer's do: magic.
I'd appreciate if you'd give me feedback on this, it's a story outside of my box so I want to know if what I wrote actually communicated! Thanks!