Petunia refused to go with her parents to pick Lily up from the train station in favor of attending Effie’s Christmas extravaganza. It was the event of the year for her group of friends, she told her parents – if she didn’t go, not only would they ostracize her, she would feel terrible, too. Her mother did not approve (“You haven’t seen your sister in months!” she said) but Petunia went, regardless. In truth, Petunia had no desire to see Lily fawned over and showered with love and kisses just because she went away to that silly school. Petunia was, of course, not at all jealous – why ever would she want to learn magic, of all things – but she wished that she could go to an expensive boarding school. She would certainly be the envy of all her friends and meet all sorts of fabulous people from around the country!
She tried hard not to think about Lily and that school while she danced and laughed at Effie’s party and succeeded, to some extent. She left ten minutes past her curfew and arrived home fifteen minutes past. When she returned, Lily was still awake, regaling her parents with tales from school.
“Sev and I didn’t get placed into the same house, but he’s my potions buddy, so I get to see him often enough,” she said. “The girls in my dorm are nice and one of them is Muggleborn, too! I was worried I would be so behind, but because no one can do magic outside of school until they’re older, even the wizarding kids don’t know that much.”
“Are people nice to you, Lily?” her mother asked with concern. Lily nodded reassuringly.
“Oh, yes!” she said. “That is, except for a few of the boys in my year. They’re rather dreadful, playing pranks and teasing everyone – but they haven’t bothered me much.” She laughed and told a story about some serious boy who was told off for letting off stinky bombs in a hallway. Petunia had been listening for a little while, but then decided to sneak up to bed. Even with Lily distracting her parents, she was sure they would not be pleased that she came in that late.
She had almost sneaked past the door frame when Lily spotted her. “Tuney!” she called out. “Come and listen – I have so much to tell you! Hogwarts is wonderful! I told you some of it in a letter, but I don’t think you got it; you never replied.” Petunia clearly recalled the owl swooping in over lunch and dropping the thick envelope from Lily right on her lap. She also remembered reading it twice through before throwing it away and not responding.
Then, much to her displeasure, her father said, “Petunia, didn’t we tell you to be home by nine? It’s twenty past!” She scowled. It was all Lily’s fault, too. Now she was going to be grounded and would have to listen to Lily chatter on about that fantastic school and all her delightful friends.
“Daddy,” Lily said. “It’s almost Christmas, and twenty minutes isn’t that late. Besides,” she said, mischievously, “she’s probably been there for half that, listening in.” Perhaps a clearer mind would have interpreted Lily’s teasing as a sisterly jibe, but Petunia only saw red.
“I have not been spying! You always say that, and it’s never true! I don’t care about your stupid school or your stupid friends or even you!” she shouted, spinning away from the entrance to the sitting room and stomping up the stairs to her room. “I’m going to bed!” she yelled down to them. “And don’t bother me!”
The rest of Christmas break was miserable for Petunia. She stayed in her room as much as possible to avoid fights with Lily and the scrutiny of her parents. One of the few times she had ventured out of her room, she nearly tripped across Lily and her greasy friend, sprawled out over the sitting room floor. They had books and strange scrolls spread out around them. She couldn’t help but squint more closely at some of them. The books had titles such as One Thousand Magical Plants and Where to Find Them and A History of Magic and she could have sworn that she saw images in the books moving.
She scoffed at them, saying, “You know, Mummy probably wouldn’t like you to have all your weird stuff down here. What if a neighbor saw?” The two barely acknowledged her, continuing to talk about some type of gobble war. Petunia huffed and turned to leave. She heard the boy say something (probably nasty) as she exited, but for his type that was hardly unexpected.
Finally, the holidays came to a close. Lily went back to her school, and Petunia resumed classes at the local secondary school. Time passed. Petunia was no longer friends with Effie Mortenson because Petunia supposedly stole Effie’s boyfriend, Mark. Petunia, of course, claimed that Mark was fully available, but the damage was done. When Lily returned home for the summer, Petunia’s temper was shorter than usual, and, more than once, one or both ended up in tears after an altercation. The following Christmas, Lily stayed at school. She wrote her parents that it was due to the large amount of homework the second years had been assigned, but Petunia knew it was to avoid her. It was for the best, of course, because Petunia couldn’t stand her, but that Christmas seemed to be much less fun than normal. Petunia blamed her parents for the lackluster holiday due to their moping over Lily’s absence. She was fine, though – she wouldn’t miss the brat.
That summer, the family took a vacation to the Continent, and tensions were still high in the Evans family. Though the Riviera was breathtaking, the view did little to repair the ravine separating Lily and Petunia, not that the latter even wanted to. Surely not. She was better off without any freaks in her life. Again, that Christmas, Lily did not come home. Mrs Evans, deciding enough was enough, attempted to talk to Petunia about the situation. The conversation went horribly, but ultimately Petunia agreed to be kinder to her sister. This she agreed to with much irritation because she felt that Lily was being let off far too easily. It was not fair – not at all! Just because she was the younger, the “special” child, the witch, her parents let her get away with anything!
All the same, when Lily came home for the summer, Petunia (now at the ripe age of seventeen versus Lily’s fourteen) decided to “take the high road,” as her mother had suggested. Therefore, when Lily was full of stories about some infuriating boy or another, Petunia didn’t even make any sounds of disapproval.
She did, however, shriek when Lily “accidentally” (“It was, Mum, I swear!” she claimed. Liar.) let several ounces of frogspawn slip into Petunia’s tea. As a result, Petunia barely looked at Lily for the rest of the month.
The next two years flew past for Petunia. She reached her majority, passed her exams, found a job at the jewelry shop around the corner, and bought a car. For once, her parents were proud of her rather than Lily, and she enjoyed every second of the attention. Her hair was now a beautiful shade of gold, and she had achieved the right balance between thinness and curves, in her opinion. Lily returned from her fifth year at school having completed some of her exams, and Petunia thought that even Lily was impressed with her accomplishments.
It was a beautiful morning in mid-July when Petunia came downstairs for breakfast to see her parents dancing around the room like fools with a surprised and happy Lily seated at the table.
“Petunia! Congratulate your sister! She just got her exam results back, and she got top marks in everything!” her mother said proudly, patting Lily on the shoulder and feeding the owl another treat.
“I don’t see why you feed that thing – it will only teach it to stay longer, and we don’t want that,” Petunia said. Lily’s face fell. Seeing her mother’s glare, Petunia hurriedly added, “Er, good job, Lily.”
An hour later, once the breakfast dishes were put away, Lily and Petunia sat watching television together in a silence that was almost companionable. The doorbell rang. Lily stood to get it, leaving the door to the sitting room open. At the door was the neighbor boy. Though not particularly trying to hear, Petunia did anyway. He sounded dreadfully apologetic about something, but Lily was uncharacteristically short with him. After a moment of pleading with her, she finally slammed the door. In a huff she stalked back into the sitting room.
“I bet you heard that, didn’t you?” Lily glumly said. Seeing Petunia swell with indignation, she said quickly, “I don’t mean you were eavesdropping – it just wasn’t a quiet affair.”
“I couldn’t hear what you said, but he sounded sorry for whatever it was,” Petunia said. Stiff and hesitant, she continued. “Would you like to talk about it?” Lily looked at her with incredulous eyes.
“Yeah, I would,” she said. She sighed. “We had a big row right at the end of school. I found him in a fight with some other boys – they’ve never liked each other. I told the other boys off, even though it probably was Severus’s fault…but then he snapped at me. He called me a – a – something not very nice about my background.”
“Your background? I mean, we’re mostly English, what’s wrong with that?” Petunia said, puzzled.
“No, it’s that I’ve got Muggle parents. Some people in the magical world look down on people with Muggle blood, saying it’s not pure,” Lily explained. Petunia scoffed. They were the freaks – it was just like the worst of them to dislike normal people. “Anyway,” Lily said, “Severus has always said he doesn’t care about that. But lately he’s been hanging around a group of those sort of wizards. He’s been moodier and nasty to me, and I don’t like it. So I told him off for it after his fight with those boys, and ever since he hasn’t said two words to me.”
“So when he came over just now, what did he say?” Petunia asked. She was almost connecting with Lily, on some level. She was always up for gossip, and if it made Lily feel better, she would look better to her mother, too.
“He tried to apologize, saying he didn’t mean it. I asked him if he would stop talking to Avery and his group, the blood purists, but he said they didn’t mean any harm. I reminded him that they had just beat up poor Peter Pettigrew, and then – and then,” she giggled, “he got jealous!”
“Of Peter?” Petunia asked. Now this was getting interesting, almost. She could almost forget there was any magic involved at all.
“No, of Peter’s friend, James. Severus hates James, and James hates him back. The thing is, James rather fancies me –”
“And why couldn’t he?” she said. “Don’t act like it could never happen.”
“Sorry,” Petunia muttered. “Anyway, go on.”
“So, back to where I was, James asks me out all the time to Hogsm – the village near school, and that makes Severus so mad. He always tells me that James is bad news, that he will only hurt me. But at the door here, I told him that James treats me far nicer than he has been lately, and…” Lily’s smile dropped. “I think I’ve finally broken through to him, but I don’t know that he’ll ever forgive me.” She sounded very sad over the greasy boy – Petunia couldn’t understand why Lily even put up with him as his personality was as unsavory as his appearance.
“Well, I’ve always thought he was not worth your time, always dressing in those women’s blouses. You can tell a lot about a person by his clothing,” Petunia said. Lily frowned, and made to say something but stopped. A moment later she spoke.
“I suppose…he was the one to tell me about Hogwarts, though. He was my first wizard friend,” she said.
“He also made a branch fall right on top of me,” Petunia added.
Lily laughed. “That’s right! And I yelled at him then, too.” Lily stared into space for a moment, a wistful look on her face. Petunia inspected her cuticles. “Well,” said Lily, “I have a letter to write to Candace, at any rate. Thanks for the talk, Tuney.” She smiled at Petunia, who felt a strange lightness in her chest.
“No problem. Just don’t make friends with any more freaks, and you’ll be fine,” she said with a bit more fire than she had intended, now almost embarrassed to have actually tried helping her sister.
Lily threw her a dirty look as she stood to leave. “You’ll never change, will you, Petunia?” she said with regret. Petunia watched her walk out of the room, a second strange feeling settling in the pit of her stomach as she watched her sister leave. She tried to brush the sensation off and resumed watching television, sweeping away the dramas of wizard freaks dancing though her mind.