"She's here," Venon said.
Petunia shifted her bleary eyes from the wall-mounted television, and looked at her husband. "Who's here?"
"Her," said Venon. "Her and him."
Petunia followed his line of sight. She saw James Potter first, examining a map on the wall, poking it to try and make it move. And then, much nearer- Lily, speaking to an orderly. Her sister seemed perfectly calm, but Petunia could even now read her like a book. She was frantic.
"Go out there and tell her where we are," she said to Vernon. He hesitated. "Go on!" she said.
Venon trudged out into the corridor. He approached Lily, and tapped her on the shoulder- the first time, Petunia noted, that they had ever touched. Very few words seemed to be exchanged, but within seconds, all three of them were at her door.
"Tuney," Lily said. "Are you all right?"
Petunia didn't look at her. "It's a boy," she said. "He's still in intensive care. You can't see him."
"We didn't come here to see him, we came to see you," Lily said. She raised her hand to her heavily pregnant belly- and then hastily removed it again. "Tuney..."
"Petunia," Petunia corrected her, a cold snap to her voice. "You can go, Lily. This isn't your sort of place." She let the bitterness drip out of her voice.
"C'mon, Lil," James said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "You came to see if she was okay and she is."
Lily swallowed and turned her back. James glared- not at Petunia herself, or even Vernon- just around the cold little room, as if in disgust at its primitivism. Lily stepped out into the corridor-
"Wait," Vernon croaked.
In shock, Lily turned. Petunia and James stared, both shaken to the core- Venon was almost crying.
"Can you fix this?" he demanded, flinging his large arm in a gesture to the hospital in general. "Can...you...fix...our boy?"
Before Lily even began to speak, James shook his head- something only Petunia saw.
"I don't know," Lily said, blinking. "There are certain charms they use at St Mungo's, but..."
"Tell me straight, girl!" Vernon roared. "Can you help him?"
"No," James said, stepping in front of his girlfriend. "I'm sorry. We're sorry." He closed the door behind him, drowning out the sounds of the hospital halls. "It's really dangerous, performing spells on sick Muggles-"
"Sick Muggles?" Petunia shouted from her bed, every inch of her hurting. "Sick Muggles? That's my child that you're talking about! My baby!"
"Sorry," James said quickly. "I mean...there's nothing we can do, too much might go wrong. We're not exactly Healers- doctors. And it's against the law-"
"AGAINST THE LAW?" Vernon roared. "It's AGAINST THE LAW to save our child? It's AGAINST THE LAW to-"
"No," Lily interrupted, sounding tearful. "I mean, not quite. But...the doctors here are all working for him, they're going to save him, we can't intervene with Muggle medicine."
Vernon just spluttered, and stared around the room- Petunia knew he was looking for something to lash out at. She also knew that he would never hit a woman, let alone a pregnant one- her sister was safe from her husband. But James had placed Lily firmly behind him, and opened the door.
"We're sorry, honestly," he said, leading Lily out into the corridor. "We won't disturb you anymore." He appeared to want to say something else, but it never came.
He lead Lily away and within an instant they were gone. Venon flung open the door and glared after them- he seemed to be gearing up to shout, but didn't. He slammed the door and turned back to Petunia. She was crying. He went and put an arm around her-
"Fifty percent," Petunia sobbed. "Fifty percent chance he'll live. We don't even have a name for him yet."
Vernon gave a grunt- only Petunia, out of all the people in the world, knew he was close once more to tears.
"It's okay," she told him, after a while. "Go and get yourself a cup of tea."
Her husband nodded- he seemed to have slid into a grief-induced stupor. "I'll get something for you too," he said, reaching into his pocket for some change. "I'll get you...Victoria sponge?"
He kissed her on the cheek and went out. He seemed to have aged several years in the past few years- he walked with the tread of someone much older. Petunia huddled under the bedcovers, praying things would return to normal, praying she would return home with a healthy baby in her hands-
After a few minutes, the door opened, and she turned around expecting to see Vernon with cake. But it wasn't him- it was Lily.
"Go away," Petunia told her sister. "We've said all there is to say."
"James has contacted the Ministry of Magic," Lily said, crossing the room to her. "They said...um..."
"They said there's a possibility they could send someone down from St Mungo's," Lily said quietly. "Because...because magic runs in our family now."
Petunia's stomach clenched. "You mean..."
"Because there's a chance he's got magical blood."
There was a choking noise from behind them. Both women turned to see Vernon there, the Victoria Sponge quivering in his hands. "You..." he spluttered. "You can't mean..." He slammed the door. "You can't tell me MY SON..."
"It's possible," Lily said. "Vernon..."
"No," Vernon said. He bashed the plates of cake and tea down onto a table. "A possibility! A possibility! No interfering with us Muggles...unless he's actually one of your kind! Then you'll look into it! THEN!"
Petunia thought of her husband raising a wizard child. She felt sick at the thought. "Dear..."
"Us Muggles just not good enough, eh?" Vernon spat, ignoring her and focusing on Lily. "Can't wave a magic wand, better off dead? Isn't that right, girl?"
"I'd do anything, if I could!" Lily said, almost crying. "I have a child due myself! But if I do anything, if James does anything, it'll almost certainly make things worse! And there are people helping you, people who know what they're doing-"
"GET OUT!" Vernon roared. "You little freak, get out!"
Lily's face rendered both sympathy and anger as she turned to her sister. "Me and James will always be nearby. We always have been-"
"You've been stalking us?" Vernon spat.
"No, we've been protecting you," Lily shot back. "But you don't notice, do you? There's terrible things out there in the world and I don't want them to get to you." She took a deep breath. "We'll continue to protect you. You're my sister, Petunia. Alright?"
She turned on her heel and left. The Dursleys remained alone, not speaking, for a long while. Finally, Petunia managed to say it.
"Would you reject our son, if he was a wizard? Give him up? Tell me you wouldn't. I wouldn't. Please."
Vernon grunted once more. And made her wait a few seconds for the answer. "He wouldn't be able to help it, if...if he was like that," he finally said. "Wouldn't be our fault. Be hers...we'd just, we'd just not tell anyone. Send him to normal school. Get...some of those people to teach him how to control it. Maybe. We'd get by."
Petunia nodded, and gave him a one-armed hug from where she sat. "And...darling...you'd love him?"
"Yes," Vernon said. He sounded amazed that she'd had to ask...and she was more relieved than she had ever been. "'Course. He's my son! My blood! Our blood."
Petunia felt dizzy. But the sickness had gone. "Thanks," she whispered to him.
"Have some cake," Vernon told her.
It seemed to take so long, so long, so many days of waiting-
"He's out of the woods," the doctor told them. "You can see him."
They sat with their baby for a very long time, observing his tiny size. Vernon made a point of shaking the hand of every doctor.
"Someone made an effort," he murmured, in a haze of relief. "Someone..."
Petunia knew that Lily would be around- knew she wouldn't leave- and she was right. Two days after the all-clear, when Vernon had gone home to collect the mail, Lily appeared.
"He's beautiful," she said to Petunia. "Tuney...I want our children to be friends."
"You didn't lift a finger to help him, when he was dying."
"I lifted a finger. Others didn't." Lily's face became hard. "I've done a lot for you! Don't you realise, you're a target?"
Petunia said nothing. Lily just sighed.
"What's his name?"
"We haven't chosen one yet."
Lily nodded. "Tuney...Petunia...this is important. Just one more question and then I can leave you alone forever if you want. What was your baby's original due date?"
"The thirty-first of July," Petunia said, puzzled by the intense look in her sister's eyes. "Why?"
"I hope I don't have to tell you," Lily said. "Just trust me. Please, trust me."
Petunia looked down at her baby, and then back to her sister. Her sister with her huge pregnant belly, about to bring another wizard into the world..."Don't leave me alone forever," she told Lily. "I don't want you here, any more than you want to be here. Every choice you've ever made, I've hated. But..." She swallowed. "Maybe our children can be friends."
"I hope so," Lily said. She looked down at the baby and left the room, quietly, running a hand over her sister's shoulders.
Petunia remained where she was- but when a nurse entered the room and advised her to take a break, she did. She followed the way Lily had gone, down the corridors, until she saw a flash of red hair-
Both Lily and James stood near the hospital entrance, in deep conversation. She went closer, made herself unobtrusive (a talent she had practised all her childhood) and listened.
They were speaking of a prophecy.
"It could never have been him," James said to Lily gently. "To those who have thrice defied him...remember?"
"Of course I remember," Lily snapped. "Of course I remember, every damn day! But they have thrice defied him, just by staying alive. We prevented three attacks on them, exactly three!"
"But the kid's not a wizard. Or born on the right day. Maybe he would have been...but he wasn't."
"I know! But, the power the Dark Lord knows not. That's...James, Muggles have power! More than you've ever realised. What if...James, it could still be him. Not our baby. Her baby."
"It can't be."
"I know. But I thought...I hoped...think of how much easier it would have been!" Lily was crying. "If it was her child and not mine. I know how bad that sounds, I know how bad that is! Dooming your sister's child, to save your own. But..."
She started sobbing, and James held her tight. Petunia continued to watch unnoticed, feeling more betrayed than she had ever felt in her entire life.
"It's not that bad, Lily, you're not a bad person," James told her, still hugging her. "It would have worked out better, if it had been her kid. I mean, he's not on the radar of You-Know-Who, not like we are. We could've protected him. We would have. He wouldn't be doomed...our baby won't be doomed, either."
Lily nodded sadly.
"It's alright," James said. "S'better for them, not having any more magic around. S'much better for them, that their kid's a dud..."
They started to walk away. Lily said something, but Petunia didn't hear it. She turned away and returned to her hospital room, and waited there until her husband returned. Eventually, later than she would have liked, he did.
"How's the boy?" was the first thing Vernon asked.
"He's doing fine," Petunia answered. "Better than they even expected...he's a fighter, they say."
Vernon puffed his chest out. "And no more visits from you-know-who?"
Internally, Petunia flinched. But she kept up her smile nonetheless. "No. I think they've gone home."
"Good," Vernon said. He sat down on the nearest chair. "Thought up any names yet?"
"I think I quite like 'Dudley,'" said Petunia carefully.
Vernon thought it over. "Good...good strong name! I like it." He shifted his chair right over to her, and kissed her. Petunia kissed back, almost happy, almost.
"I'm so glad he's not...one of them," she said.
"As am I," Vernon said proudly. "Nice, normal, healthy lad!"
Petunia thought of her child and Lily's growing up together, being friends. And then she thought of what the alternative could have been- her child dying, and her sister's child living. "Mmmm."
"What's wrong?" Vernon asked.
"Nothing," Petunia said. "Just thinking about my sister and her stupid freak society." She pushed away the anger and guilt, and thought instead of her new baby -the boy who lived. "So cruel and arrogant, thinking everyone ought to be like them. Well, I'm proud to say we're perfectly normal, thank you very much."
"We'll stick together, love," Vernon told her. "We'll make it through."