Disclaimer: The standard fan fic rules are all in place and working quite nicely, thank you very much. J.K. Rowling created this glorious little universe in which my imagination is running wild. No money is being made off of this tale, and no copyright infringement is intended.
"Petunia!" Vernon cried as he sprinted over and knelt by her still form. "Petunia! Wake up, precious," he shouted as he began gently slapping her ivory cheeks.
For a moment, there was no response. Then Petunia moaned and shook her head slightly. Her eyes fluttered open, and she slowly took in the empty white space that surrounded them.
"Vernon?" she gasped as her gaze fixed on her husband.
Vernon breathed a sigh of relief. "It's all right, sweetheart," he said, taking her hand. "I'm here."
"Where is here?" Petunia replied.
Suddenly her memories came flooding back. "Oh God, Vernon! I saw you hit by some spell. Bright light... the fiends coming into our house.... Tr-tried to stop them. Where's Diddykins!"
Petunia screamed as she sat up and caught sight of Dudley's rock-still body. "Vernon! Save my baby!"
Vernon immediately turned to the boy, leaning over him and gently shaking his shoulders. "Come on, Dudders," he said, a pleading tone creeping into his voice. "Come on, boy, I know you've got it in you. Come back to me. It's Dad! Come on, son, don't leave us."
A slight groan escaped Dudley's lips, and he slowly opened his eyes. Vernon sat back and sighed with relief. "I knew you could do it, boy," he said, helping his son to sit up.
Dudley blinked a few times to clear his vision and stared at the emptiness surrounding them. His gaze lingered for a moment on one of the mirrors before a look of terror washed over his face.
Petunia flung her arms around Dudley and clutched him fiercely. "Duddy, Mummy's so, so sorry. It's going to be all right! We won't let anyone hurt you."
Vernon patted his wife and son consolingly on their backs. His mind was racing, trying to figure out a way to get them all back to Privet Drive. Glancing around, he noticed that Potter and that Black fellow seemed to have vanished. Good riddance.
"Vernon, where are we?" Petunia asked, drawing his attention back to his family.
Vernon hesitated. What to say? He wasn't really sure about the truth of the situation. Black and Potter had implied they were all dead. Of course, he reasoned, this all could be some sort of illusion conjured up by the... wizards in retaliation for the fight with the boy.
"I don't know," Vernon confessed after a moment. "I remember a green light rushing toward me, and then I woke up here. I've seen a couple of – them. But I don't know where they've gone now."
Petunia got to her feet and cautiously approached one of the mirrors. She ran her hands over it, eventually pressing firmly on the glass. "Do you suppose these are some sort of gateways we can use to get back home?" she asked Vernon. "Do you think we need one of them to do some sort of spell to open it for us?"
"There's no spell that can send you back to your little plastic world," a voice said suddenly.
The Dursleys turned to see James Potter standing a few feet away, arms folded and eyes blazing.
"You!" Petunia screeched. "Where did you come from? You're supposed to be...."
"Dead?" James said icily. "Yes, well, I am, and thanks so much for your concern."
He walked a few steps closer. Dudley's eyes widened in fear. Vernon moved to shield his family. "Stay away from them, or I'll...."
"You'll what?" James scoffed. "You don't have any power here. You haven't even had the courage to tell them the truth."
"Truth? What truth?" Petunia said loudly. "I don't know how you're here or what kind of trick you think you're playing, but stop now! You do whatever it takes to send us home immediately!"
James shook his head, his features stony. "It's beyond my power to send you anywhere. You're going to be here for a very long time. I suggest you get comfy."
Petunia shook with rage and fear. "What do you mean a long time?"
"Haven't you figured it out?" a second voice chimed in. "You've all.... What's the Muggle phrase? Snuffed the candle."
Sirius Black stepped from behind one of the mirrors, a grim smile playing on his lips. "Welcome to the afterlife."
A strangled noise escaped Petunia's throat, but it was nothing compared to the wail that came from Dudley, who was shaking and clinging to his parents.
"Mum! Dad! Make them go away! I want to go home!"
"This is going to be your home for a very long time," Sirius replied mercilessly, gesturing to the emptiness all about them.
"Let us out of here!" Petunia screamed, her face screwing up and tears leaking from her eyes. "You've no right to keep us here."
"We're not keeping you here," James said. "You're here because you died at the hands of Voldemort's Death Eaters. And as I pointed out earlier to your stupid slob of a husband, you'd all be happy and healthy if you hadn't kicked Harry out of your house. When you did that, the blood charm that protected him, and you, collapsed, leaving your home open to attack."
Vernon blanched at these words, shuddering as Dudley continued to cry and Petunia turned an accusing gaze at him. "That little punk had to go," Vernon huffed. "You saw what he was doing to Dudders, how his weirdo friends were ruining our lives. This is some sort of trick they're playing. We'll find a way out of it."
James drifted closer to the Dursleys, causing them all to step back. "Don't believe me? Then take a look," he said, gesturing to the nearest mirror.
The family turned and gazed at the glass, watching as murky images appeared and then slowly sharpened.
A full moon shone down on Number Four Privet Drive. Dozens of police cars and rescue vehicles were parked on the street and on the lawn, which looked like a war zone. Petunia's neatly manicured flower beds had been blasted apart by a flurry of hexes. Smoke rose from a portion of the house as fire crews finished hosing it down. Bobbies and detectives milled about, taking photographs and scribbling in notepads.
"It's the strangest case I've ever seen, captain," a plainclothes officer told his superior.
"How many stiffs?" the captain asked.
"Three," the plainclothesman replied. "And it's the damndest thing. There's no recognizable cause of death. We're going to have to autopsy them to get to the bottom of this."
"Let's get them out of here, then, before a bigger crowd forms," the captain said, gesturing to a group of spectators gathering on the sidewalk.
"Yes, sir," the plainclothesman replied, before speaking into his walkie-talkie.
A few moments later, medical technicians stepped from the house, bearing three stretchers draped with white cloths.
Vernon's legs turned to jelly at the sight, and he collapsed to the ground, burying his head in his hands. A scream escaped Petunia's lips as she sank down beside him. Dudley continued to stare into the mirror, his mouth agape in horror.
"M-mum. What's.... Are we...? I mean, is this...?" Tears flooded his eyes as the realization settled in – the kind of tears he hadn't shed since he was a young child.
Petunia looked up at her son. Her gaze hardened as she turned to James.
"If we're... dead," she said, swallowing hard. "Where are we?"
"I believe you Muggles refer to it as purgatory," James replied shortly. "A place where you stay to atone for your sins in life."
"And believe me, you're going to be spending a long time here," Sirius cut in with a bark-like laugh.
Petunia stared at Sirius with utter loathing as she got to her feet. "Who makes these decisions? Surely not you," she said.
Sirius grinned. "The powers that be, of course," he said. "We haven't seen much of them, but they make their presence known. They decide how long you have to stay in this lovely spot before you can move on. Oh, by the way, it's no use trying to find your way out. You'll stay here until They decide you've sufficiently repented for constantly abusing a helpless child!"
Sirius' eyes suddenly blazed with anger. He stepped closer, causing all three Dursleys to cower. "What kind of scum," he spat, "would lock a child in a cupboard, beat him, deny him food and belittle him at every turn?"
None of the Dursleys replied.
"They'll have plenty of time to think it over," James cut in. "Besides, there's something coming their way that's far worse than anything you or I could do to them, Sirius."
A petite, red-headed figure suddenly stepped from behind another of the mirrors.
"Petunia, you've come at last," the woman said, arching a finely curved eyebrow.
Petunia closed her eyes and sucked in a deep breath, then slowly turned to face the woman.
"Hello, Lily," she said.
A/N: Well, another one down! Thanks again to Melindaleo for the inspiration and, encouragement. Extra special thanks to Arnel for being so kind to a first-time writer trying to figure out the rules of fan-fic writing.
My apologies for the shortness of the first two chapters. They will get a bit longer as the story unfolds. But I never envisioned this little project as a novel-length fic, so there aren't going to be any monster installments. Looking back now, I wish I'd combined this chapter and the next one. Oh well, c'est la guerre!