Intermission: Hatred

Petunia Dursley was a mother. She was an aunt. She was a sister. She was a daughter. She was a wife.

Everything she had was threatened, time and again, by one thing: magic.

Petunia didn't hate Harry so much as she hated what he represented. Magic had taken her sister from her when she was a child. It had taken her parents from her when she was an adult. And now, it was trying to take her nephew from her.

Petunia didn't think that she would have hated magic nearly as much as she did if it hadn't caused so many problems for her. As an adult, she had come to terms with the fact that the rift between herself and her sister was partially her own fault, though she tried to deny it as much as possible, to avoid the crushing guilt that she knew would follow her if she accepted it. However, the rift between Petunia and Lily had come about as a result of magic. If Lily hadn't developed a talent for magic, she would have stayed normal. She would have stayed home. She would have stayed close to Petunia. She would have stayed out of the war.

She would have stayed alive.

So yes, Petunia realized that her problems with her sister had possibly been childish in their origins, and she accepted that, but she reserved the right to utterly hate magic.

Petunia had not been happy to find her nephew on her front porch for many reasons, and chief among them was the thought that the child had been abandoned. She was a mother, after all. The idea of any child being abandoned had rung some nasty bell of anger deep inside her, one that had only been silenced upon reading the letter and realizing just why the child had been left at her doorstep.

Vernon's obsession with normalcy was even stronger than her own, and he'd wanted to take the boy, take Harry, to an orphanage, to try and nip the renewed connection to the magical world in the bud before it could come back and get someone killed again. Petunia, for one horrendous second, had felt some disgusting voice in the back of her mind agreeing with him, before she had squashed it down and showed Vernon the letter that explained the protection they would get from taking Harry in, hoping it would be enough.

It was.

After they took him in, Petunia did her best to quash any affection that tried to grow in her chest, or at least hide it as well as possible. She remembered Lily mentioning 'squibs' once, normal people that were born to freaks, and some theories that involved the magic expending itself if it felt that the host was threatened by its existence. Lily had made it sound like the body rejected the magic like an infection, and the magic left due to recognizing that the body was attacking itself. It wasn't like it recognized that there was a more psychological reason in a case like what Petunia was trying to instigate, but if magic was somewhat self-aware like that, then… well, treating the boy worse than Dudley would get rid of the magic, right?

And the boy would survive. By God, he would survive if she had anything to say about it. Magic wouldn't be killing what little of her family there was left.

But the boy was already different. He was quieter than most children, and there was an element to his gaze that Petunia could never shake. She wasn't sure if Vernon ever saw it, and she knew that Dudley didn't, but Harry was too mature. There was a jaded look in his eyes that she could always see, a knowing weariness that permeated his every expression.

The Krahsson boy wasn't really someone she approved of, and she could tell that Vernon didn't either, but the neighbors would talk if she turned away the boy and his caretaker at the door. For pity's sake, the boy was blue! It was a sign of magic, and every tie that she made to that world was another chance to die young. She tried not to think of the boy's status as an orphan, knowing that it wouldn't do to dwell on it, not when her nephew was the same.

The boys had begun fighting, had learned to defend themselves, seemingly on a whim, and Petunia had continued to see that gleam in Harry's eyes, the knowledge that he had planned this somehow, and that the blue boy was in on it as well.

She shoved the thought to the back of her mind and just smiled at the fact that her Dudley was being such a good little boy, a little thought squirming in the back of her mind that her Dudley wouldn't be quite so good if it wasn't for his cousin.

The intelligence… the perfect memory. She hoped, so much, that the magic had found a different outlet, that it was taken up in its entirety this way, for the impossible recall, and didn't have energy to spare for magic like she'd known.

She had hoped for years…

And had been let down. Had seen that last of her hopes torn away and ripped to shreds by Severus Snape's appearance at her door.

And now?

Now, she could only hope that magic would not take another of her loved ones away.

o.o.o.o.o

Narcissa Malfoy was a mother. She was an aunt. She was a sister. She was a cousin. She was a wife.

Everything she had was threatened, time and again, by one thing: muggles.

It was often indirect, but the muggle world tore hers apart time and again. Andy wouldn't have left, wouldn't have diluted her perfect blood if it hadn't been for that muggleborn Hufflepuff boy, after all. Sirius wouldn't have gotten himself put in jail if the poor idiot hadn't tried to ally himself with Dumbledore and been betrayed by a friend that knew the danger that muggles and their filth posed… or at least, knew the danger that the Dark Lord posed to those who associated with them.

Narcissa was no fool. She knew that the Dark Lord was no paragon of perfection. She knew that there was something, deep down, inherently wrong in some of the things that she believed. She knew that muggles, while dangerous, weren't all that interested in the magical world (not with Obliviation charms being as handy as they were).

But what they produced. Mudbloods. Half-bloods. And Narcissa knew, as every pure mother did, that muggleborns were the product of magic fleeing the child it was originally born into; no, of a muggle child stealing the magic of a pure one (unwittingly, of course; they were muggle children, but they were still children). There was no other explanation. Or rather, there was no other explanation that could satisfy her. Magic being treated like a disease, attacked by the body itself? Nonsense. Magic was a force that was essential to life. It coddled children, was like a warm blanket that loved the child it was born to nearly as much as the parents themselves.

She knew, from the beginning, that Draco was… acting, she supposed. He was a good boy, really, but there were elements to his actions, especially when he was with Aphrodisia's boy, Blaise, that just struck her as… incongruous. He was normally the perfect little pureblood heir, but a mother knows her child, and Narcissa grew increasingly suspicious that there was something wrong with Draco. Sometimes he was more mature than his age warranted, and sometimes… sometimes, he displayed a hint of the sort of aged immaturity that one found in recent Hogwarts graduates, old enough to understand a dirty joke, but still young enough to enjoy it.

But it was always hidden beneath that veneer of being the perfect child. It was always a knowing look and too-quick learning, always a cough to hide a snigger and a raised eyebrow (in Blaise's direction, of course) when her back was turned.

And the way he clung to that bracelet…! Merlin forbid she get him to take it off for even the duration of a bath, or he'd actually act his age, act petulant, act like a common child, throwing a tantrum like no other.

The letter that Lucius had gotten had been enough to placate them both for now, but she worried nonetheless. Associating with Weasleys and Potter was the path to becoming a blood traitor, and if Draco did that…

Narcissa was no fool, as was already mentioned. She knew that it was only a matter of time before the Dark Lord came back and finished what he started so long ago. All blood traitors would be dealt with harshly, and if Draco was included in that number… he might get an easier punishment than the rest due to being a Malfoy, but there was also a chance that he would be made an example of instead.

But she couldn't say that. Couldn't tell her child that. So she did the only thing she could.

She worried from afar…

…and made contingency plans for everything under the sun.

o.o.o.o.o

A/N: Due to some issues that I've been having with writing this chapter (I'll explain in the next one), I'm going to post this intermission now, and give you a full chapter at some point in the next week.

Also, the fic that inspired most of my view on Petunia is But It Breaks Your Heart by Potterworm. I just like to see rationalizations for "evil" characters doing what they do. Does that make their actions right? No, Petunia doesn't really have an excuse for abusing Harry the way she did. She does, however, have something of an excuse for the thinking that lead to it, and for easing her guilt, rather than facing up to it. This segment was originally supposed to include Mrs. Weasley (a witch that likes muggles), and a caretaker at Kisame's orphanage (a muggle that likes magic) for contrast, but I felt that Narcissa and Petunia were enough.

Ja ne,

Phoenix