What will the neighbours think?

Status:
  • Complete
Content Rating:
  • PG
Fandom(s):
Harry Potter

Relationship(s):
Petunia Dursley/Vernon Dursley

Warning(s):
  • Death - Minor Character
  • No Beta
Genre(s):
  • Canon Divergence
  • Fix It
Word Count:
39261

Author's Note:
This was a rough trade that I have finally finished, beta is Grammarly. Thank you Keira Marcos for letting me use the term Dverger.

Summary:
A magically distressed baby wasn’t going to stay hidden in the cupboard no matter what Vernon thought. So Petunia needed a plan to save him.


Chapter 1

Petunia had lived her married life by one motto, what would the neighbours think? Although if she were honest with herself, it had been her motto for even longer than that. Since Lily had turned eleven and a whole new world was shown to them but was utterly unattainable to her.

Lily had loved that world and thrown herself into it wholeheartedly, and their parents had been so happy. They were delighted that their little girl was special, glad that they had an explanation for those unusual events and likely satisfied that they didn’t have to feed another mouth ten months out of a year. The school costs were no different than those of the local grammar, which Petunia went to.

Her parents had been so pleased when she had passed the eleven-plus. Their oldest daughter was going to make something of her life and escape the dreary dying town of her birth. But then Lily had lessened her achievements. Not deliberately but more because they were just so fantastical, and her parents had no frame of reference for what Lily could do.

Then the neighbours didn’t want to hear how well she had done in her classes, not when Lily was off at a school for the gifted. How Petunia had resented the comments of how special Lily was and how plain she was in comparison. So, she pushed herself and found her best was never quite enough to match Lily’s.

Their parents thought it was jealousy, and perhaps it was in part. But more it was, she watched her sister disappear into a new world, which was not going to treat her well from what Petunia had seen during that one visit. Lily, her eyes had been clouded by the magic of it all; she hadn’t seen the sneering looks or the apparent divisions in society. But Petunia had, and she worried. With good reason, it had seemed.

Petunia shifted slightly to settle the baby in her arms; he’d grown unsettled while she had reflected on days gone by. As he drifted once more to sleep, she thought of those days and how she had tried to save her sister and, in turn, damned their relationship.

Petunia had tried to go to the school, willing to accept magic to look after her sister. But to no avail, she was turned away before she even made it to the door. So, she tried to remind Lily of her life before and point out the issues she heard whispers of in Lily’s accounts of her school days. But it didn’t work. It made Lily angry, her parents too, and drove them further apart, forming an unspeakable wedge in their once tight bond. Petunia had started to hate magic and those who guarded the gates of the world so poorly one way and so fiercely the other.

Their mother had always said it was Petunia who broke Lily’s heart, but it was a two-way street. Lily had taken the hand of the horrid boy and not looked back. Though they could all be thankful that she hadn’t married him. Instead, Lily fell for the boy who drove her mad, pigtail pulling her father had laughed when Lily had told them.

Lily had married that boy, and he had truly still been a boy. Born into the magical world and so blind to its faults. Petunia had wondered when she heard the news at what they had in common beyond their ideals and a war. Petunia’s own wedding had been the first time she had met him and the last time they were all together, mother, father and sisters.

Perhaps your wedding was a happy day for some, but to Petunia, it was a way out. Out of the house and all the memories of what had been. Out of town, away from the condescending smiles of their neighbours. And a way to escape the building pressure of a war she couldn’t see and fight in but had watched steadily build over the years.

A war that Lily had denied for so long but had eventually been swept up in. Lily had promised them the night before Petunia’s wedding that she was safe, that they were safe and that the war wouldn’t touch them.

But it had. Those monsters had come and killed her parents. How they found them, Lily had never said. But Petunia suspected that horrid boy who, as the years went by, had grown darker and more withdrawn until not even Lily could reach him. Who else was to blame, they were nobodies to the magical world? But he could still reach them, and Lily could still be so naive.

Lily hadn’t invited Petunia to her wedding, claiming it would be a security risk. Perhaps the war and the loss of their parents had taught her caution in a way that nothing else had. Yet Petunia resented the magical world for that. Her sister was never meant to carry such a burden. She was meant to be carefree and happy and grow old along with her husband. But that was never going to happen, not now.

Petunia, the plain one, was the last of the Evans family, and she didn’t even wear that name anymore. What would the neighbours say back in Coketown? Some would undoubtedly claim the family had reached too high and been burnt for it. Others would shake their head and say the best die young; to them, Petunia had never been the best. Others would ask who? And that reaction, in Petunia’s opinion, would be worst. Her parents and Lily deserved more; Lily’s son deserved more. He shifted in her arms again, not quite content with her holding him.

Young Harry, Lily had written of his birth much like she had done with Dudley’s, had been dropped off on her doorstep sometime in the dead of night. She had awoken later than normal exhausted after a month of Marge visiting, and poor Dudley was also exhausted after her visit had been so fractious the day before. He didn’t enjoy disruptions to his life, and Marge was a horrendous disruption, so he had slept later than usual. Quietly she had gone down to collect the milk and make tea before beginning breakfast.

Upon opening the door to find a baby on the doorstep, she had screamed, but then who wouldn’t. Her scream woke the baby who stared at her with Lily’s eyes, and her heart had sunk. Oblivious to the twitching curtains, the neighbourhood roused by her scream, she had gathered up the baby and brought him inside. Little Harry, on her doorstep with a note.

She hadn’t needed to read it to know her sister was dead. Vernon had read it and immediately started on about how the boy would be dropped off at the closest orphanage. She’d put a stop to that. After all, what would the neighbours think? They had seen her collect the baby.

Dudley, also awoken by his mother’s scream, was now contently fighting his way through the bowl of porridge she had given him. Vernon had left for work in a huff and would likely get some pastries for breakfast. He wouldn’t let himself get hungry. She knew that he ate too much, and possibly Dudley did too, but she had grown up with so little and didn’t what that for her child.

“Well, my darlings, this is a fine pickle we are in but then Albus Dumbledore,” she said his name like a curse, “has never cared about the destruction he leaves in his wake before. It looks like your cousin Harry will be living with us, Dudders. It will be nice for you to have a friend to play with.” The little boy splashed his spoon in the porridge and gave her a toothy grin. She felt her skin tingle, and her breath rushed out something deep within her twisted. She ran a gentle hand over the baby’s head to find him staring at her once more.

Dudley, fascinated by the new person, reached towards Harry demandingly. “Oh darling, you mustn’t get too attached to him. He will leave us one day just like his mama did.” She wasn’t sure if she was addressing Dudley or reassuring herself. “But then Lily was so easy to love.”

“Mama, Dada?” Harry babbled at her. She drew him closer and kissed him beside the thin cut on his head, which looked slightly inflamed. She’d pop some iodine on it later to keep it clean; who knew how many bugs had gotten onto it overnight?

“They’re gone Harry, it’s just you, Dudley and me now.” She knew she should include Vernon, but he was unlikely to interact much with Harry. He barely acknowledged Dudley, and he was Vernon’s son.

She sat there and watched the two boys. They would have to put Harry in with Dudley, the other rooms unsuitable for a child. Harry was younger than Dudley if she recalled correctly, he was undoubtedly a bit smaller they could put Harry in hand me downs. She shuddered at the memory of charity shop dresses; the neighbours wouldn’t comment; they wouldn’t think they were poor, she reassured herself. Before she could dwell on the virtue of reusing baby clothing, hardly worn at all before outgrown, the doorbell rang.

“Well, boys, shall we see which of the neighbours has caved to their curiosity first?” with Harry balanced on her hip, she went to face the rest of the street.

***

It was a lovely day in December. Or it would have been if Petunia could focus on such things, but unfortunately for her, she was stuck dwelling on less pleasant things, such as magic.

Magic was a lovely thing if you didn’t know about it or were raised with it but here stuck in the middle, it was an awful thing. Unfortunately for Petunia, there was no escape from magic; she’d tried. But over a month ago, it had come crashing back into her life more destructive than ever before.

Her sister, her poor dear Lily, who had embraced magic, had been ripped away from Petunia at eleven and again all the more permanently last October because of magic. Killed in some nonsensical civil war. There was nothing civil about wars; they were terrible and tragic. And here she was Petunia, the sole Evans’ survivor and legal guardian to her nephew Harry, well presumably legal. She had no paperwork, only the damned letter and some unseen magic, neither of which would hold up in a court.

Harry, the orphaned offspring of her late sister and the current unintentional cause of her bad mood. Accidental magic. She remembered when Lily first showed her. Oh, it was so magical back then with little girls flying through summer skies and flowers blooming in the dead of winter, even with that nasty boy there tainting those memories with his freakishness.

But Harry’s magic wasn’t like that. It wasn’t gentle, it wasn’t magical, it was threatening. It lashed out and broke things and, in turn, him. Oh, how he cried when he saw magic, crying for his lost mother, father, and even some uncles, and in his distress, he caused more and more magic. And down, he would spiral further and further until he passed out exhausted. But the destruction he left was more than to just him.

If she were honest, Petunia would admit that she hadn’t wanted to take in Harry. The future pain of separation, of losing him to a cruel, violent world, bubbled in her mind whenever she caught herself showing him affection. But he was suffering. Lily’s little boy was suffering, and she couldn’t take it anymore.

They had moved Harry out of Dudley’s room, his outbursts a threat to her son as well as her nephew and put him in the spare room. Vernon, however, was threatening to put him in the cupboard under the stairs complaining that his sleep was interrupted too often by the outbursts. But Vernon was scared too. She could see the fear in his eyes as he saw such destruction from a baby.

She could admit to that fear herself. It was scary; no child should have such power and no control over it. But it wasn’t Harry’s fault. It’s just this wasn’t Harry’s world, and he had been thrust at them as unwilling as they had been to receive him.

But she would not stand a child in her house raised in the cupboard. Even if the idea of hiding magic, of suppressing it, was so tempting. Like keying cars and smashing plates when angry. But what would the neighbours say?

The neighbours knew about Harry. They had come in drips and droves when he first arrived. There had been clucking and tutting and how they whispered, a terrible shame they said and how good of you. Vernon swelled with pride at each compliment as he twisted the truth of poor Lily’s death.

He made her something false, something ugly, something so utterly un-Lily like that Petunia wanted to scream the truth, but what would the neighbours say? Instead, Petunia had accepted the cakes and false platitudes and held Harry tight, praying he would keep their secret. At the same time, part of her hoped he would show the world. But he never did some small part of him knowing that magic must be kept hidden.

So Petunia was trapped by secrets, and her marriage strained to breaking point, pushed by the lies and the grief and a baby wizard who was shattering bit by bit. He was so close to broken, nothing like the little boy, her sister, must have loved so utterly.

The little cut on his head was not healing despite the iodine and creams she used, and his eyes held such fear and torment. How Petunia hated magic for all that it took from her family, especially those who should have been kept innocent.

Vernon wanted to come home to Harry hidden away. Their lives reverted to those October days, which were a lifetime ago now. He’d given her no money to furnish the space. He just expected her to put a baby in with the cleaner, the spiders and whatever else had disappeared in there over the years. Even the Christmas decorations she had unwrapped a week earlier saw more concern from her husband than her nephew.

“But then Vernon has never cared for our family,” She murmured to the two boys on the floor, one playing happily and one looking so terribly lost. “He packs my parents away from the mantle when his sister comes over, and no doubt hopes I won’t put them out again.”

“Mama,” Dudley cheered in response to his mother’s voice while bashing his blocks together before the moulded plastic deflated under his cousin’s stare. “Mama,” Dudley wailed, this time disappointed in the loss of his toy.

“Shh, baby, it was just an accident.” Petunia tried to soothe him before distracting him with a biscuit. She gave one to Harry for good measure.

These accidents couldn’t go on, not when they were every day and showed no signs of stopping. They wouldn’t stay hidden, not forever. One of them would make a mistake, and then what would they do. The only thing for it would be to find a solution from Harry’s world. Surely with the war, there were other children with similar problems. Somebody would have an answer.

***

The problem of getting to the magic world was easily solved. Petunia could still remember that first outing with Lily, the magic, the horror and the fear of what she saw. No, the bigger problem was payment. She had no funds to pay for Harry’s treatment, her parents had little money, and much went into funeral costs. What was left had been tucked away for the boys.

Even for a night’s sleep, Vernon may not agree to fund it; such was his hatred for magic. Still, he would pay for a dress or for those things he called frippery but insisted she buy anyway, for their reputation, of course never just for her.

She’d ask for fund Christmas was coming and no doubt there would be a big work do for her to go to. She’d tell Vernon she wanted to get the dress soon in case it needed altering, he’d believe her. She’d go to the magical world instead; Vernon wouldn’t notice if she tweaked the dress from last year. She had to get things done quickly before her nerve failed her.

Arabella Figg, who had recently moved in on Wisteria Way, had offered to babysit. But really, the woman seemed a bit mad and hardly the safest person for two children to be left in the care of. There was around her that niggle, that slight shiver down Petunia’s spine and lifting of her hair which whispered, magic.

Not as much as Lily had but enough to say Arabella Figg was of that world. No, it was better not to leave the boys with that woman. Stories of mad witches and what they did to children haunting Petunia’s mind. Fanciful notions, but she wouldn’t have the boys eaten by cats or abducted to gingerbread cottages and fed poisoned apples. Petunia Dursleys name would not be linked with such things. The children under her care would not suffer.

Although Figg may not be a strong witch, she must be a mad one. After all, none of the rest of the wizarding world was ready to leave their ivory towers and enter the real world. With these thoughts in mind, Petunia made a quick call to Doris over the street and asked her to watch the boys when she went to London in a few days. Hopefully, the change in routine would stop Harry from acting out.

***

Petunia had dressed for the occasion, she chose to wear one of her more severe dresses, and in her bag, she carried a robe. She had it from when she went to Lily’s graduation party, hosted at the Potters estate. Her family was not given the honour of holding such a celebration for one of their own. The small sentimental attachment to that day had led to her keeping the outfit albite bundled up out of sight.

But her pride wouldn’t let her wear it musty and wrinkled, so she had thrown it in with the bed linens hiding it among the normality. Vernon never bothered himself with such domestic matters. However, she had whisked it out of the machine and dried them safely in the house out of sight of curious eyes. The robes were probably horribly out of fashion, but they were better than nothing.

Donning the robe was unpleasant but necessary. Lily had eventually mentioned the segregation and distrust in the magical world. The distrust that Petunia had seen long before her, but now was not a time to be petty, especially towards the dead. But Petunia had gotten the gist of it, don’t be a muggle. She couldn’t stand out, her boys depended on her.

The entry point in the magical world remained the same dingy little pub that would never pass a building regulation check, let alone a health and safety check, but that was okay; Petunia did not intend to linger.

With her head held high, Petunia walked into the pub and out the back without making eye contact. As she walked into the back courtyard, she realised her mistake. The wall needed a wand to open it, and she, a perfectly normal person, did not have one.

Panic started to spread through her. She could walk back in and ask for help, but that would reveal she was normal, and they may attack her or make her forget. To be violated and to lose part of her mind to them, the thought horrified her. No, she couldn’t go back in but would standing in the courtyard not also attract their curiosity?

Petunia turned to the door, cursing her foolishness and preparing to retreat to the normal world. While doing so, she felt that nauseating shiver crawl up her spine. Spinning around, preparing to defend herself against an attack as best she could, she saw the doorway was opening.

Uncertain why Petunia drew herself up tighter and observed the utterly unnatural rippling of bricks. Only to see a figure on the other side, the figure saw her nodded their head and gestured she pass through first. With an imperious nod and with all her resolve, she set foot back into the magical world.

***

Diagon Alley was how she remembered it and yet more shambolic. Some shops had boards up on their windows, and the stonework looked burnt and, in some places, crumbled. Marks of the war not yet concealed away, still warning the world of the folly of power.

Despite this, bunting was hanging on the street, obscuring what it could and posters everywhere like the left-over debris from a festival nobody overly cared to tidy up. Hiding away their mistakes more like Petunia thought as she ventured further into the hidden world.

She had a destination and there was no point lingering amongst the rubbish of the wizarding world. The alley was busy, not as active as the London shopping district she had just left, but people teemed about. Last-minute Christmas shoppers were evidently a problem in any society.

There was that buzz in the air as she walked down the alley and her skin itched if she went too near the shop fronts. Wards, that’s what Lily had called them, used to protect properties, but still, some of them were damaged. No person should have such power; it chilled Petunia to her very soul.

She didn’t have magic, but she was aware enough to sense it. Built-In protection for those who knew enough to be afraid but had no way to defend themselves. Or that’s what Petunia had gathered from discussions with Lily when they had still talked, although Lily hadn’t quite phrased it like that.

Instead, Lily, ever the optimist, had called it benign magic seen in all sentient souls reacting to the world more freely when the veil of secrecy was lifted. Petunia’s house had that shiver now, thanks to the wards placed on her home without her consent. She didn’t know how she would be able to bring herself to do the gardening come spring.

The bank was her destination. She had to get the money changed, so nobody laughed her out of town before she had gotten the help she needed. The bank was, as she remembered it, a grand marble facade. Untouched by the war, but still, something about it was just slightly off.

The same little creatures were stood out front with their large axes just like that first time. Dvergers Lily had called them great creatures for banking but prickly. Didn’t like wizards much. Petunia could understand that she didn’t like wizards much either.

There wasn’t a guide to show the family the way this time. So Petunia was left inside the bank trying to figure out where to go and wishing that there was some kind of sign over the tellers’ desks.

“I need to get these pounds changed to gallons, and then I’ll catch up with you,” Petunia glanced about, trying to find the source of the voice. She could follow them to the correct desk.

“Shh, not so loud.” Another voice hissed, “You don’t want to advertise that you’re a muggle-born.”

“The wars over Castor, The Boy-Who-Lived saved us.” The first voice muttered back.

“Yeah, but how many of those bastards paid their way out of jail and look what happened to the Longbottoms. Poor souls tortured by the Lestranges like that. Mind you, I reckon they were looking for the Potter’s child.” Petunia stiffened, that old adage about eavesdroppers coming to mind. “Trying to take him out like the boy did their master, no doubt.” The second speaker continued, oblivious to the panic he was causing in Petunia’s breast.

“It’s a shame true, but since Crouch’s boy got caught in the attack, he’s been a lot less into giving them an option of buying themselves out of trouble. I’ll be fine; the light side won, and our hero will protect us.”

“He’s a baby, Mandy. It was probably a fluke. You can’t rely on him to save you again, especially as nobody knows where he is.” Castor Petunia thought he was called replied while glancing about in a paranoid manner.

“He did more for the war effort than the Ministry, though Castor. Just imagine what he’ll be like when he’s an adult.”

Petunia felt sick; her Harry was the saviour of this world. The letter left by that damned Headmaster was missing a lot more than just tact. How dare these people brush aside all their troubles and hope her baby nephew save them. How dare they ignore her sister’s sacrifice. How dare they let the murderous bastards who killed good normal people like her out of prison without any concern.

Fuming, she glared at the two people in front of her. They felt her eyes on them and glanced back towards her. Their eyes grew wide, and they looked away. “Oh great, piss off a pureblood lady, why don’t you, Mandy.” The man called Castor muttered at his companion before the two of them gave her tight smiles and left the queue and hurried out of the bank.

They thought that she was a witch. Petunia was simultaneously thrilled that her disguise worked so well and disgusted they thought her one of them.

The person at the desk finished their business, and she moved forward to take her turn. The Dverger she, really shouldn’t call them creatures even in her head. What if she slipped up and said it out loud? It that would no doubt offend them, and those axes looked shaper than the one in the shed. The teller ushered her closer. She got to the desk and fished the banknotes from her purse.

“I wish to have these converted into gallons.” Petunia hoped she had got the correct name for the currency, but as she wasn’t getting confused looks from the Dverger, she assumed she must have.

“£300 that will be 50 gallons. do you wish for small change?” The Dverger, it seemed, hated its job more than normal bank tellers. Its tone was so flat and unwelcoming that doctors office receptionists would no doubt swoon in envy at such uninviting briskness. While the glare of supercilious judgment would finish off any still standing.

Perhaps she shouldn’t ask for help, but what other choice did she have? The wizards were either going to want Harry dead or put on a pedestal to save them and no doubt get him killed anyway. Lily wasn’t there to save him anymore, and what could she, a normal person, do?

“No, just the gallons, please.” She leant closer, “I’m not a witch.”

“If you say so,” the Dverger replied, its lips curving into a sharp smile.

She swallowed, mouth going dry before mustering her courage. “Could you help me? I need to find a doctor for a magical child. He needs help. They have to be discreet.”

The Dverger stared at her, giving nothing away. It raised a clawed hand, but she didn’t dare move in case she provoked it into striking her. Instead, it pointed at a guard and flicked its wrist at her in a complex series of movements she couldn’t begin to understand.

A guard, why did the teller need a guard? They weren’t going to throw her out, were they? Harry was relying on her. She may not have wanted him, but she would be damned if she gave him back to these ugly people so wrapped up in their selfish lives. Petunia looked to the door. Could she run? It had been a long time since her cross-country days, and the robes would likely trip her. Something nudged her hand, a bag.

“Your money Madame.” The teller said pushing the bag of coins towards her. She reached out and took them slipping them into a pocket, so she didn’t drop them.

Would they exchange her money if they were about to kill her? Lily said they were honourable, so maybe they didn’t want to have to find her next of kin to settle the debt of £300. Before she could think about things anymore, she found the guard at her elbow.

“This way, please.” The guard said.

Never had she heard such a threatening use of, please. She couldn’t argue and instead found herself being pulled along by the hand grasping her elbow. Nobody looked her way. Maybe she could cry out for help. But she doubted any of them would raise their eyes, let alone their wands over the fate of a normal person, not when they couldn’t even be bothered to save themselves. Ugly, ugly people.

 

Chapter 2

She was soon escorted through marble halls into a well-appointed office. There were maps of unknown landmasses on the wall and crystals large, small and some glowing on the shelves, caging in leather-bound tomes. An unused looking chaise lounge filled the space on the back wall; a few tables with scales and weights were in the corners.

There was also a desk on a rich golden rug with purples and blues woven in to form unfamiliar designs, with two chairs, one in front of the desk, the other behind. It was to one of these chairs Petunia found herself led.

She sat down heavily and looked across the tidy desk to the empty chair on the other side. Looking to the side, she found herself at eye level with the guard standing by the chair. She opened her mouth but found she had no words. She closed it, not wanting to look gormless and gave him a helpless look instead.

“Wait here. Your meeting is unscheduled.” She felt the reproach was a bit harsh as she was equally unprepared for this meeting. For God’s sake, she didn’t even know what it was about. He was gone before she could explain this, and she was alone in the room.

A pop sounded beside her, and a new creature materialised. It wasn’t a Dverger. It was smaller and floppier, its eyes large and bulbous while its ears dominated the rest of the facial features.

“Does the Madame be wanting any refreshments when waiting?” The creature asked in a soft, floaty voice.

Shocked, Petunia blinked at it; the creature blinked back.
“What are you?”

“I is a house-elf. Me being Misty.”

Petunia wasn’t sure if it was a name or mental description of the slightly vague looking creature. It blinked at her again.

“Water?” Petunia suggested hoping that it was what the elf wanted.

“Madame be wanting water? I can gets water. But does Madame not be wanting cake?”

“Cake?” Petunia questioned, feeling more lost than ever before.

“Yes,” it giggled. “Madame be wanting cake,” it did a happy wiggle and disappeared with another pop. Did she want cake? Petunia didn’t know. She did want answers, though.

There weren’t any answers to be had, but the cake turned up. The little misty elf popped back with a silver platter and on it was a glass of water and several small cakes not dissimilar to those seen at a posh high tea. She wished she’d asked for tea.

“Here it be, Madame, cake.” The elf said as it placed the platter on the desk.

“Thank you.”

“Is that being all?” the creature inquired, leaning forward eagerly.

“Would tea be a problem?” She enquired, maybe she would have her high tea.

“Tea be the right sort of problem.” The elf nodded and bounced, and then mid hop popped away again.

She may get tea, Petunia theorised; after all, she got cake, and she hadn’t even directly asked for it. Picking up the cake fork, she hesitated over a light looking sponge before diverging to the lemon drizzle. It was good. Lighter and fluffier than even Granny had ever managed. Certainly not the claggy, poorly mixed packet stuff Debbie from number 17 had given them a few weeks ago.

The pop sounded again, and the little elf had come through for her and was bearing the rest of the high tea service. Porcelain teacup and saucer, and silver teapot were placed onto the desk by the cake.

“Misty is a good elf, Misty is a good elf,” the creature sang as it stood beside her. Petunia didn’t know what to do with the creature.

It was unlike anything Lily had ever mentioned, not that she had talked about magic much in the end. But its eye held the same echo of tragedy as her nephew. Magic, it would appear, couldn’t or wouldn’t care for its own.

“Would you like some cake?” Petunia eventually asked, unable to eat under such intense scrutiny.

The elf looked at her; its big eyes seemed to grow larger, its ears quivered. “I be offered cake?”

“Yes.” Maybe she shouldn’t have offered; perhaps it was unable to eat sugar or human food at all. What did elves eat?

“I be back, thank you.” It gave her a manic look, “I be liking yous and cake.” It popped away.

Petunia poured the tea; it would help her deal with the situation. It was the proper loose leaf stuff that she could never justify buying. The hassle of Dudley trying to help his mummy and the convenience of bags winning out over the elegance of proper loose tea.

She relaxed slightly in the chair, drank her tea and sampled her cakes. They were unlikely to kill her after giving her such service unless it was their equivalent of the last supper. If it was, it didn’t mean she should waste it.

Pop.

“I be back. I brings cakes,” Misty declared from behind her.

That was an understatement, Petunia thought as soon the desk held an array of different cakes, pastries and confectionary, some of which she had never seen before.

The elf climbed onto a chair that it had brought with it. Sitting beside Petunia, the elf picked up a fork and mimicked her. She ate a bite, it ate a bite, just like she sometimes did with a fractious Dudley. What could she do? What should she do? Lily hadn’t mentioned these creatures, but she felt that when the manager got back to his office, they weren’t going to be impressed to find their workspace covered in cakes. She ate faster.

The door opened. Petunia swallowed the sponge that had suddenly gone dry in her mouth. The Dverger stood in the doorway and stared. Petunia flushed; this was probably not a good start to some unknown meeting. However, Violet Evans taught her daughters to never give in and adapt, no matter the situation.

“Hello, sir. I apologise for the interruption to your day,” she looked at the desk and back to the Dverger. “Would you like some cake?”

“Cake,” echoed the elf. The Dverger stared at her; she stared back; the elf audibly blinked beside her.

“Cake,” said the Dverger while she nodded.

“I can be getting more,” the little elf offered.

“No, thank you, Misty,” The Dverger hastily replied, “You have worked hard enough today.”

The elf blinked at the Dverger and then went back to looking at the display, which wouldn’t be out of place in a high-end patisserie. The Dverger decided to enter the room rather than loiter in his doorway and sat down on the other side of the desk. Misty offered a fork. The three of them ate a slice, none of them sure quite what to do with the situation.

“This wasn’t how I intended the meeting to go.” The Dverger said after finishing off a tart, Petunia could understand that. if she wasn’t stuck in the moment, the situation would have been farcical. “However, that is not the point in this meeting. We are here because I am Sharrock, the Potter account manager.”

“Potter account manager? I’m not a Potter, sir.”

“Indeed, Madame. But you are the guardian of one,” The Sharrock replied.

She froze. “How do you know?” she managed to ask; her throat tight with nerves. Would Sharrock throw her to those who were looking for her nephew, had she damned her family by coming here today?

“Gringotts ma’am is invested in its clients, particularly those who are profitable,” he gave her a sharp smile with plenty of teeth and ate another pastry. “The late Mr Potter brought his son and heir to visit the bank and record his magical signature to allow him his inheritance and forge his vault keys.” He gave her a stern look. “You walked in today singing with his magical signature.”

She swallowed trying to fight her rising nausea. Had others also noticed as she walked blithely through the length of the Alley? Was there a mob gathering at the door ready to interrogate her? Was her home already compromised?

The Dverger cleared his throat, regaining her attention. “The bank has been attempting to find Heir Potter for the past few months since his disappearance after his parents’ unfortunate demise. You can understand our concern when somebody unknown came into play.”

“I’m his aunt. Lily, his mother, is… was my sister,” Petunia blurted out as he gave her another long look.

“You have not come here before. Why now?”

“I have been here before nearly fifteen years ago, with my sister Lily when she was first told about magic. I’m here today to get money to pay for services in the magical world.” Petunia tried to explain. It wasn’t her fault she hadn’t been visiting a world which didn’t want her.

“So, you said to Grawklock, a healer for the child. But this is the first time the bank has recorded your magical signature. But you also told him you weren’t a witch.” Sharrock said looking perplexed as if he wasn’t seeing the situation in the same way she was.

“Which he agreed with because I’m not,” Petunia was quick to point out.

“So, he did, but then those on the desks are less magically sensitive. It helps them deal with the clumsy magic most witches and wizards seem determined to constantly fling about in their general vicinity without thought.”

“I don’t have magic.” Petunia asserted. “Mr Dumbledore, the Headmaster, will tell you that,” she gave a bitter smile. “But yes, I did ask about magical doctors. I think little Harry needs more help than I can give him.”

“Dumbledore, you say. You know him?” Sharrock asked. Petunia didn’t understand why he was focusing on that point and not the fact that Harry needed help but decided it best to give him the truth and move things along, so she could get home.

“No. I’ve never met the man. I wrote to him once, asking to go to Hogwarts, to be with my sister. He turned me down said it was no place for muggles. A few months ago, I was giving another missive, just a single page worth of ridiculously loopy writing. A little letter placed with my nephew when he was abandoned on the doorstep in the dead of night, it was November.” Petunia sniffed, trying to hide her memory of the shock, the fear, the grief and anger that came the morning of November the 1st.

The Dverger gave her a slightly incredulous look. “The Headmaster left the child with you?”

“Yes. The letter said that Lily and her husband were dead, and Harry had survived the attack. That Harry could be in danger, so he had put up a ward fuelled by Lily’s sacrifice,” her voice faltered. After a deep breath, she continued recounting the letter. “He said that Harry had to live in our, or rather my home for his protection and safety and in turn, we would benefit from the protection. He said it had to be me as Lily’s closest blood relative. I was needed to tie the wards in place.”

“Do you still have the letter?” Sharrock said leaning forward almost eagerly.

“It’s the only documentation Harry came with. I have nothing, no birth certificate, health records, anything. How am I meant to register him for school or get him doctors’ appointments? If Lily hadn’t sent word of his birth, I wouldn’t even know his age or even his full name.”

“You care for him?” Sharrock asked.

“He’s my sisters’ child; she died for him. He’s a baby. From what I have seen today, nobody else in this damned world will stand for him, so I suppose I must.”

“The bank will be willing to help you,” Sharrock said after mulling over her response for a long moment. She relaxed into the chair, no longer caring for things like proper posture.
“What are the problems which need to be solved and which are the most urgent?” Sharrock asked, bringing a ledger closer to his hand.

“Everything.” Petunia stated bluntly she got the feeling Dvergers weren’t ones for wasting time. “Harry has nothing. I’ve been giving him things from Dudley; my son and I don’t mind doing that, but he will want his parents’ things one day. He is still calling for them, and his magic is lashing out. It’s hurting him. It’s why I came to find a magical doctor to help him. But if I keep him, I need paperwork documents and some kind of oversight of his wellbeing. I know what that school is like for saying nothing about events within those oh so hallowed halls to those they consider unworthy.” Sharrock was smiling as she said this.

“You mean to keep him?”

Petunia hesitated at the question. She hadn’t even considered giving him away for all that she hadn’t wanted him. Even Vernon, in his attempt to hide Harry away, hadn’t considered giving him away, not since that first panicked morning. There had been no question they were keeping him, but for different reasons, Vernon out of fear and pride, no doubt.

But she wanted to keep Harry, the last link she had to her sister, her family. He was hers. That’s why she was here in this world. And maybe she could do things differently raise him to be wary. Not to scare him but to keep him safe like she hadn’t managed to do for his mother.

It was risky, she’d been buffeted about by magic for so long, but maybe the creature before her was offering a hand which she could grasp and use to help pull herself free. She could find a safe harbour in which to watch and learn. Magic wasn’t letting her go, so she needed to make a choice. To stand or break before it.

Maybe Petunia Dursley nee Evans could be more than a stopgap in the plans of madmen who sort the destruction of all she loved to further their own agendas. Maybe Harry wouldn’t leave her completely.

“Yes. I’m keeping Harry.” She put all her conviction into the answer, and even as she said it, she felt something twist inside her. Not badly, not in a sick nauseating way, but in a binding way. Her head spun. She gasped and looked at the Dverger and grasped towards the elf, hoping one of them would catch her, save her from what was happening. She slumped forward; her vision blurred. The glass of water was held to her lips, and bulbous eyes stared at her.

“You be a poorly witchy Madame. That be fine Misty needs a new witchy you be mine now.” Something twisted in her chest for the second time. Her vision blurred before fading out.

***
She woke up on the chaise lounge. There were still bulbous eyes staring at her, but they seemed more focused, less clouded than they had before. The giant cracks in the creature’s soul now only tiny fractures. She took the glass of water with shaking hands and drank.

“Have some cake. I hear sugar is good for magical exhaustion and shock in human magicals.” Sharrock waved his hand at the few cakes still on his desk. The elf hurried over and selected a cream bun for her.

“I’m not a witch. I don’t have magic,” Petunia reminded the occupants of the room, who seemed to be treating her otherwise. “I don’t want magic.”

“No, you weren’t a witch proper when born, but then many aren’t. You were a squib perhaps, maybe a hedgewitch, but today you certainly are a witch. You have magic wherever you want it or not,” Sharrock responded.

“No.”

“Excuse me?” Sharrock’s eyebrows rose at her vehement denial.

“No. Not now. It’s too late. I will not have it not when I’m happy, not when it has taken and taken and taken from me.”

“Ma’am. Please…”

“Where was it when I pleaded with it so I could keep my sister safe.” She interrupted. “Where was it when it took my parents? Where was it when it took my sister? Why does it think it can do this again and again and then find new ways to ruin me? Take it away from me, my nephew, my family. Let us be.”

Her voice sobbed out the last words, voice breaking. She knew she was throwing a tantrum. But she didn’t care, couldn’t care. How dare magic claim her now when she no longer wanted it when she had seen its folly and wanted nought to do it with it or those who wallowed self-righteously in its presence.

“It doesn’t work like that,” Sharrock murmured, keeping his distance, perhaps wary of provoking her further.

“I don’t give a fig.” A fig, she snorted, thinking of the mad witch one street over and started to giggle but her face was getting wet, she touched it tracing the tears running down her cheeks. Chest heaving and body shacking, Petunia looked at her reflection in a crystal. She looked the same if slightly madder. Arabella had competition now.

She broke down sobbing, a little hand patted her shoulder aimlessly. “There, there magic not be all bad, magic be what lots be wanting to have,” Misty said, eventually breaking the silence.

“Then they’re fools.” Petunia whispered. A handkerchief was waved under her nose like the white flag of surrender. If she took it, she would have to stop her outburst and deal with this, like an adult. Admit that she may have magic.

She’d wanted magic once when she thought it would help build bridges with Lily, but her sister wasn’t there to connect with. It was just Harry now. Her boys, the reason why she was here, what could she do but move forward? Hadn’t she wanted to learn and understand magic just a while ago? Well, now she had a chance. Careful what you wish for indeed.

She took the proffered cloth and wiped her face. No need to make more of a fool of herself than she already had. The other two beings gave her cautions looks.

“Well.” She sniffed. “Well, I suppose we have things to see to. I apologise for the interruption.” Her voice didn’t waver; she wouldn’t apologise for her behaviour. It was rather warranted after the month she’d had. But she would deal with this as she had dealt with everything else. They wouldn’t break her now.

“Thank you. I understand it was a shock, seeing as you had previously been led to believe you were a muggle,” Sharrock replied, inclining his head, looking relieved she had her composure back.

“You mentioned terms I hadn’t heard before.” Petunia said, eager to move the conversation away from her breakdown. Her pride was all she had in this situation.

“Such as?” Sharrock said settling back into his seat now that her emotions were settled.

“Squib, hedgewitch?”. Lily hadn’t explained any of these things, and she had liked to discuss the origins of magic. It was possible she hadn’t known of them.

“By the way you humans mark it, there are different grades of people. Muggles, those without magic. Squibs are children of magicals without magic, hedge witches or wizards those with magic but not enough to be bothered with and witches and wizards proper, those they pay attention to.” Sharrock sneered.

“Hmm,” Petunia echoed his disdain for the wizards proper.

“Although they also subdivide themselves by the ranking of power. Then there are creatures such as myself and Misty who aren’t to be bothered with unless to suppress. They are unsurprisingly wrong. Everything has a bit of magic in them, but they don’t care as it’s not enough to be a benefit to them, or so they believe. They are ever so blind in their lack of creativity and understanding.”

“So, I’m a hedgewitch then?” If she had to be magical, maybe it would be bearable to be a lesser one, her magic only just showing because of exposure to the magical world.

“No, as I said, you likely were, but you aren’t now.” He gave her a quizzical look. “You are a witch proper by your people’s terms.”
“That’s not possible. Lily said you can’t change the amount of magic you’re born with.” That had been said more than once with varying degrees of pity and smugness depending on their relationship that day.

“Yes and no. You can lose magic through misuse, trauma, or negligence, but I have never come across a case of somebody gaining magic until today. Enhancing yes but such a leap as you have made no.” he steepled his fingers and gave her a curious look.

“What?” Petunia managed to stutter out in shock. “But how? I haven’t done anything.”

“That’s the question. I have to assume it’s something to do with your nephew. your vow to keep him trigged your first … collapse for want of a better word.”

“No.” She surged to her feet. “No.” Sharrock started at her strident denial, perhaps worried she was about to break down again.

“I…”

“No, don’t ever say that. You know what they’re like. The witches and wizards. I’ve been here only a few hours, and I already heard them putting him on a pedestal, claiming he saved them all. Imagine what they would say if they heard he was able to enhance squibs and hedgewitches or whatever they are classed as, let alone the power-hungry hoping he could increase their own magic. There would be no safety for him. He’s just a little boy.” She was shaking by the end of her speech.

“That is an excellent point. But people will speculate on your new gifts.” Sharrock pointed out.

“Can we not tell them? I don’t want magic. I really don’t want anything to do with the people who caused so much death in my family.” It was hard to keep the whine out of her voice; she was tired and scared for herself and her family. She wanted time to sort things out.

“These things have a way of coming out. Better plans are made now rather than being caught unaware in an ambush later. With your guardianship of Heir Potter, you won’t be able to avoid them forever.”

“But we don’t have to tell them just yet. Let us have time to help Harry and get our feet under us first,” Petunia was firm on this point. She was going to protect her family first. The rest of them could go hang; what had they ever done for her. Sharrock inclined his head, accepting her stance.

“It gives us time to investigate and develop a suitable response to the inevitable questions. A suitable course of action,” He agreed.

They fell silent, trying to think of what a suitable response to such a seismic change in magical knowledge would be. “What about the wards, the one from my sister’s sacrifice? Surely that’s a more likely cause. A sister’s gift or something equally maudlin.” Petunia eventually offered to break the silence.

“It’s possible, I suppose. We shall have to send some curse breakers out to survey the situation anyway. Unlicensed wards are whatever the situation a risk, and they currently house one of our premier clients. I will see what I can manage,” Sharrock said and quickly filled out some forms which vanished from the trays they were placed into like the trick from a T.V show which always made Dudley giggle.

“What about my son?” Petunia gasped with a start. How could she have been so self-absorbed to not consider that whatever happened to her had happened to her baby too?

“Your son?” Sharrock had paused his writing.

“Dudley. He’s been exposed to the wards as long as I have. He’s related to Lily; for God sake, we roomed him with Harry and his magic for over a month.” She was panicking. “Will my baby be a wizard too? What about my husband?”

“I don’t know. But I think that we will have to make a home visit the first port of call. However, you got magic is likely linked to those wards. Without an investigation, we will get no answers. Stay here with your elf. I will ready a team.”

“My elf?” Petunia asked, looking askance at Misty, who grinned at her.

“Yes, your elf,” Sharrock replied patiently while pointing at Misty to reinforce his point by waving at her. Petunia concluded that he really was doing a heroic job at not getting frustrated with her.

“You is my witchy,” Misty chimed in, nodding her head and making her ears flap.

Petunia shook her head and put the elf issue to one side. She had so much going on in her mind. If she wasn’t careful, they would all merge into a single screaming feeling of hopeless terror, and while it may be cathartic to let it out, it would undoubtedly be unhelpful. “Our house is in a muggle area,” she said instead.

“We will not be seen.” With that, Sharrock walked out of the room. There was a heavy silence left in his wake, and Petunia turned to the elf. She looked less floppy than before.

“You look better.” It would seem that the time to address the elf issue had come sooner than she’d hoped. Maybe it would distract her from more significant problems like magic.

“I be much better now I belongs to a witchy,” Misty agreed

“That’s good,” Petunia nodded, not wanting to focus on the fact that she was now the ‘witchy’ in question. “Why didn’t you have a witch or a wizard even before?”

Misty leaned forward as she said this looking furtively to the side as if imparting a terrible secret. “They be put in the bad place where evil wizardy people go. They be bad people.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.” Petunia was unsure what to say, had Misty belonged to the people Lily had been fighting against, and what did that mean? “You don’t mind being with me?” Petunia wasn’t sure if the elf minded. Still, she felt she would rather not have something which hated her family belonging to her, whatever that meant, surely Lily would have mentioned if slavery existed.

“Oh no. I likes having a family to looks after. You be nice to me, you offer cake. Other elves be jealous of Misty.”

“Ah, do other elves not eat cake?” Maybe she should have checked what elves are supposed to eat earlier.

“Elves do work for families, elves like that, but they not be given treats often. Some elves get no treats but lots of telling off… or worse.” The last part came out like a confession making Petunia think that Misty’s evil wizards were the type to do worse.

“The bad wizard hurt you?” Was nothing safe in the magic world? Was she just rescuing another broken part?

“Oh yes, they be means to everybody through not just Misty. But more wizards be mean to elves, peoples don’t think we count because we does their chores, Misty work hard but still be hurt.”

Petunia could remember being looked down on when growing up in Cokeworth and felt a stirring of sympathy for the strange creature. “I won’t look down on you.”

“Oh, I know. That’s why they all be jealous.”

“So only bad wizards have elves?” She wasn’t sure she wanted that sort of connotation. The pair in the bank already seemed to think she was a pure-blooded witch from the conversation she had overheard. From what she could recall, they were the ones Lily had fought against.

“Oh no, it’s just wizards like their big magics and forget the little ones. Lots of families have elves.” Petunia nodded along, unsure what big and little magics were. “Couldn’t you leave then and go to one of the families which wouldn’t hurt you?”

“No, we be bound, and only the wizards can be breaking the bond.”

“But that’s unfair,” Petunia blurted out before she could help it.

“Maybe, but they be the rules,” Misty said with a slight shrug.

“So, they let you go when they went to prison?” It sounded like a far too altruistic act of somebody being sent to prison, especially as they’d hurt Misty before.

“No. The other wizards in the government,” Misty had to sound out the syllables to manage the word, “takes away all assets of bad families. Misty be an asset.”

“You’re a person, not an asset.”

“No. Misty be an asset; Misty have to be taken away, or she may be made to help the bad family in the bad place. Gringotts make the bond go away, but Misty misses the bond, but she gets to help and stay within the bank. Misty help and help and do everything so good, so she can have bits of magic, but creature magic isn’t as good as witchy magic.”

That Petunia thought might explain the overabundance of cake and the tolerance shown to her by Sharrock, he didn’t seem the type to appreciate anything other than economic actions. But if Misty was abandoned and abused and trying hard to be helpful to the point of comical overabundance, it was likely she would settle down.

“Are you sure I’m a witch?” Petunia asked, giving up on trying to ignore the earth-shattering news.

“Oh yes. If you not be a witchy, how could we bond?”

“Oh, well, I suppose that’s that then. I’m a witch.”

“My witch.” Misty nodded.

“I’m sorry.” She tried to smile at the elf but probably grimaced instead. “I’m very new to all this. Why do you need to bond?”

“It gives us more magics. We fade without the bonds. We can’t catch the wild magics like the witchys and wizards,” Petunia was getting more and more lost the longer she spoke to the elf. How much had Lily not told them?

“Do I have enough to keep you from fading?” She may not have wanted an elf and didn’t know what to do with the one she had gained, but she was responsible for it like the stray dog her father had brought back. It would be cruelly to send it away to die, and Petunia did not run from her problems. Apparently, she just collected them and allowed them to breed into new ones.

“Oh yes, you got lots of magics. The baby magics are in the bond too. A whole family this be so good.” Misty bounced in excitement at the magic available to her.

“Baby magic?” Did that mean Harry’s? Did Dudley have magic too?

“Mmhhh,” the elf nodded with a happy smile, not explaining anything else.

Maybe they had a library she could access. It might be more helpful than the elf who had been raised by magical people and couldn’t see how lost Petunia was. Not that Petunia didn’t appreciate Misty’s efforts; it’s just she didn’t know what she should know.

She looked at the books on the shelves. It was unlikely they would be any help to her. Maybe a children’s book, like those she was reading to the boys, with the basics and pictures. She sighed and picked up another cake, finding herself starving.

Although she’d had no idea what she was getting herself into. She’d had eaten little breakfast due to nerves. Whatever had happened early had just added to the hunger, and the cakes, while pleasant, weren’t filling her as she’d hoped.

While finishing off a bun, Sharrock returned. With him was a small crowd of wizards and Dvergers. Chairs appeared as if by magic before Petunia reminded herself it was magic.

“Help yourself to cakes.” The new occupants gave Sharrock an odd look from where they sat around his desk, but a few bravely took the closets items. “We are going to check the wards put up in a muggle neighbourhood, illegally placed and done by an amateur with no known history of ward forging or casting using sacrificial magic.” The assembled crowd muttered among themselves.

“How unstable are they?” a wizard asked one of the braver ones who had taken an unknown cake from the array. “Has there been any recorded fluctuations in magic in the locality?”

“Potentially very unstable and may be hostile to other magic users. There has been a possible fluctuation in local magic, but that has yet to be confirmed.” Sharrock glanced towards Petunia as he said this making her swallow nervously. “The matter was brought to our attention by a local witch who lives within the warded zone. She has no training in curse-breaking or wards and brought the matter to the bank. The bank is involved due to the danger to a client.”

The rest of the group turned and looked at Petunia, assuming she was the local witch, and that was a term that she had never considered applying to herself. “When did the wards go up?” a Dverger asked her.

“Early November, I think it took a few days for them to be cast.” Petunia admitted remembering the was her skin had crawled at night and the flashes of light she had seen one night when settling the boys, both of whom were not settling down for no apparent reason. Simon, from number nine, had also seen the lights but thought them Aroura Borealis and boasted about it for weeks.

“An amateur then, and only one person by the sound of it.” A different wizard muttered to nods of agreement from the rest of the group.

“Best to put up wards all at once lest the magic gets invested in doing something it shouldn’t when waiting for the rest of the levels to be brought up.” The same man from early explained on seeing the confused look on Petunia’s face.

“Some wards are too big and exhausting for one man through, and they do it in stages, foolishness, if you’re putting up a ward like that it’s an investment and a team should be used, else the wards won’t be what’s expected. Best to use a team that knows each other too, or else there could be conflicting magics at play, which can throw things off. If the caster didn’t know the person who sacrificed their magic well, that could also cause issues. The sacrifice may want to go in a different direction than the caster. and with such a gap between castings, it may have done so.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.” Petunia said rather lamely. She didn’t know a lot about magic full stop.

“Most don’t. You didn’t commission the wards?” an older wizard asked.

“No, they went up without my consent, but when I realised there wasn’t much I could do.”

“Exactly. Some do-gooder trying to help and not realising what they’re doing.” He tisked and shook his head. “Best leave these things to the experts. Been far too many accidents in the past few years. What with the war and people trying to DIY their safety. But if they’re fluctuating you did right to bring it to the bank rather than leave it in the hands of the Ministry with the backlog they’re working through.” The first wizard responded, and Petunia nodded along.

“The house is unfortunately situated in a muggle area; the area will have to be cleared before we can make any assessments,” Sharrock said, regaining the group’s attention. “We’ve got a plan to put in place a feared gas leak that will clear the muggles out, and then we move in. Mrs Dursley will return so as not to have her absence remarked upon and to allow her to gather her family and a few possessions for while the work is being done. What is the address?” They all turned to look at her once again.

“The children,” Petunia said instead.

“All the members of this room apart from you and your elf are bound by Gringotts confidentiality clause. They will not give away the information you fear.”

“Thank you. I’m sorry.” She said to the other occupants of the room. “The house is number four Privet Drive. Little Whinging in Surrey. Do you need the postcode too?”

“We use owls; postcodes have no value to us,” Sharrock responded and then quickly wrote out a note and gave it to another Dverger who hurried out of the room. We should have everything in place before the hour is over. Mrs Dursley, would you like to return ahead of the rest of us?”

Yes, please.”

“Take this,” he passed her a small golden token he had withdrawn from a drawer. It’s a portkey. Activation will occur outside of the bank. Activation phrase is home.”

“What about Misty?”

“She will come to wherever you call her. I recommend outside of your property; the wards may not take a house elf’s arrival well.”

“They’re that unstable then? That they won’t even take a bonded elf,” one of the men asked.

“Potentially. Considering the fluctuation seen, it’s best not to risk it,” Sharrock said.

“Damn, that bad. Best consider our approach then. Wizards first then, doubt the do-gooder thought of your lot when casting and who knows how the ward will take to your magic. Most Wizards are awfully speciest in their wards. Best not risk it.”

“Absolutely,” agreed the man who had explained things earlier. “Best that you don’t do any magic either you, the elf or your children if you can help it.” He said the last part to Petunia.

“Of course.” Petunia agreed. After all what magic did, she know?

 

 

Chapter 3

She shivered as she walked out of the bank, guided by a guard from the corridor and soon was blinking in the light of the alley. A slight shimmer ran across the buildings that she hadn’t seen before. It looked different. The token hummed in her hand once she was clear of the bank.

She walked down the street a bit and felt her spine tingle when she went close to the shop fronts, wards. But unlike the one at home, they didn’t seem as alive. It was bearable, not pleasant or something she wanted to be submitted to on a regular basis but not as wrong as it had felt on the way in.

The wizarding world tailored their magic to fit them and them alone. Ducking out of the way into a quiet courtyard with some tired looking shops, she removed the robe. After all, the neighbours would comment if she turned up wearing it at Privet Drive.

Taking a deep breath, she held the token in a tight fist so that the edges were digging into her palm. “Home,” nothing happened for an awful second, and she considered maybe she didn’t have magic, and this was all an elaborate hoax.

But then a hook grabbed her deep inside and flung her spiralling through the air. She tried to scream but couldn’t find enough air to fill her lungs. The ground hit her, or she hit it. Nonetheless, she found herself on her knees in the park. The park she took Dudley to, just a few minutes from their house.

“Petunia. I say, Petunia are you, all right?” Gladys, little Piers mother, was rushing towards her. “Oh, dear, I just saw you on the ground. Are you alright? Where’s Dudley and the other little boy, your nephew?” She started to look around to see if she could spot the missing children.

“Doris. They’re at Doris’ house. I just got back from London.” Petunia managed to gasp out around nausea from her magical journey.

“Oh, you poor dear. Was it the train? They’re dreadful things. My poor Nigel was in bed after his last trip to Birmingham. Let’s get you home.” She prattled on as she pulled Petunia to her feet.

“Dudley, Harry.” Petunia managed to get out. The ground felt shaky under her feet.

“Oh yes, silly old me. Nigel would say I’d forget my own head If it wasn’t screwed on. Now then off we trot.” And she pulled Petunia down the path by her arm.

“Piers?”

“Oh dear, I am a frightful mess. Just stay here.” Gladys propped Petunia up against a tree as she turned around and hurried back down the path to retrieve her son from the swing.

While Gladys was distracted, Petunia slipped the token into the bag concealing the robe before submitting to her neighbour’s attention as they headed back to Privet Drive. Doris, on seeing how pale Petunia was offered to keep the boys longer, but Petunia didn’t dare risk it, Harry showed magic near daily.

As she drew closer to her house, Petunia could feel the heavy tingle of the wards. This time they rushed at her, burning with intensity as she crossed them. She staggered again and only just managed to get the key to open the door. She collapsed on the floor just within the door but out of sight of her concerned neighbours. The boys crawled over to her.

“A Pet,” Harry cried as he poked at her; she smiled.

“Mama”, Dudley cried as he too poked at her. “Mama up.” Dudley had been a demanding baby, but Harry’s arrival had been good for him. Harry had taught Dudley to share and given him somebody to play with, freeing up some time so she could do the chores, but she had an elf now to do those.

The elf she’d forgotten to call Misty, but there had been no way to do so with Gladys and Doris watching her every move. She had also promised not to bring the elf through the wards due to how unstable they could be. She hoped the little creature didn’t think she’d abandoned it.

Petunia sat there cuddling the boys, Harry was more clingy than expected, but Petunia could forgive him that. She didn’t know how long she spent sitting there, but she soon heard sirens. She glanced at the kitchen clock; it was ten to the hour. The bank was more effective than she thought.

There was a knock at the door. “Ma’am, there’s a reported gas leak.” A man said once Petunia had opened the door. Petunia blinked at him in shock. It was one of the wizards from the bank dressed as a police officer, and she could see the other wizards similarly dressed talking to her neighbours. A group of police cars, lights on, sat in the middle of the street.

“You were at the bank.” She whispered to the man hoping she wasn’t mistaken but thought the phrase was innocuous enough to pass by unchallenged.

“Sure was,” the man who had answered her questions less than an hour ago grinned at her. “Let’s get you out of here. These wards are something else and not particularly happy to have me here either.”

Petunia grabbed the boys and followed him off the property.

“Oh, Petunia, how frightening this is,” Gladys called out, clutching Piers dramatically to her chest while looking rather thrilled. “Oh, but you’re so dizzy looking. It must be the gas,” Gladys gasped out while her other neighbours gave her concerned looks.

“Thank you for that information, ma’am.” The wizard escorting her said to Gladys while leading Petunia to the bench at the start of the street. She gratefully sat down with her children. “Please wait here until medical help can arrive,” he ordered her.

“Oh, I can stay too if you need me.” Gladys offered, not wanting the excitement to end too soon or the chance for gossip Petunia guessed.

“Thank you for the offer, ma’am, but please follow the officers beyond the cordon for you and your son’s safety.” Looking slightly distressed, Petunia watched the street empty of her neighbours until it was clear and just Petunia, the boys and the wizards from the bank were left.

“Excuse me, sir, what’s your name?” Petunia asked so she had something to focus on.

“I’m Gervais Jones, ma’am. Curse breaker for Gringotts Bank.” He gave a small bow.

“Do you think it’s okay for me to call my elf? I don’t want Misty thinking I’ve abandoned her.”

“I don’t see the problem with her coming in down here. Should be far enough away from the wards.” He glanced over his shoulder, looking at where even Petunia could see the air distorted as if in a heat haze despite the winter weather. “You know how to call an elf, just they said you were new to this?”

She wasn’t sure if he meant magic or elf ownership, so she nodded. “I am new to this; some help would be appreciated.” Leaving what she was new at deliberately vague.

“It’s easy enough just call out her name with intent and a bit of magic. If it’s your first time summoning her try pulling on the bond, but she knows you’re going to call her, so she’ll turn up. Elves are great like that.” He gave her an encouraging smile.

Nodding her thanks, she let the man walk away so he could go back to prodding the air with his wand. “Boys, we’ve got a new friend visiting us. She’s not like us, but don’t be scared.” The boys looked at her curiously. “Misty,” she called, trying to put as much intent as she could into the word, unsure on how to pull a bond and not wanting to hurt Misty. She had promised to be a good witch.

The tell-tale pop sounded, and the little creature appeared before them. Dudley looked startled and grabbed her hand while Harry carefully observed the elf.

“Mummy.” Harry reached towards Misty.

“Oh no, darling, that’s an elf.” Petunia corrected while pulling the still startled Dudley onto her lap.

“Mummy elf.” Harry corrected himself.

“Your mummy had elves? I don’t know, darling.”

“Oh, they be the Potter elves. Very sad. Very sad.” Misty chimed in with the answer.

Rather than worry about the fate of the Potter elves, Petunia decided to deal with the fact that Misty seemed to recognise her nephew. “You can’t tell anybody who Harry is for his safety.”

“Family secrets,” the elf nodded, “I be keeping them.”

“Thank you, Misty. There’s are lots of people who would hurt him.”

“Like bad family,” Misty agreed. “Bad people kill all the Potter elves. Very sad.” She echoed her previous comment before Petunia could figure out how to respond to the statement Misty was talking about again. “I take care of babies before, and they not turn into bad peoples, maybe that’s why Misty not allowed to raise more babies, but they still all be gone now. I’ll help with your babies.”

“Thank you.” Sirens filled the air once more as an ambulance turned up. Petunia didn’t know where it had come from, had one of the neighbours called it. She didn’t have gas poisoning, but the paramedics were likely to notice something wrong with how wobbly she was.

The ambulance was let through the police cordon the wizards had put up. It pulled around the corner where it would be out of sight of everybody else but not yet within the wards. The doors at the back opened, but instead of a paramedic, several Dvergers hopped out, including the Potter account manager.

***

“Those are some interesting wards,” Sharrock said by way of greeting. “Hello again, Heir Potter,” he frowned at the boy. “When did you say he was given to you?”

“November the first. We found him on the doorstep, so he must have been left the night of the 31st.”

“The Potters died early on the 31st. He was given to you less than 24 hours later then. Not enough time to be checked out properly by a healer.” Petunia reached for Harry taking him from Misty and bringing him onto her knee beside Dudley.

“Is he all right? What’s wrong with him?” she was fussing over Harry but not seeing any sign of ill health apart from the poorly healed cut on his forehead.

“He has an echo of dark magic on him,” Sharrock answered while looking at Harry’s head.

“It is on his nasty little cut.” Misty agreed with the unspoken diagnosis.

“Can you heal it?” Petunia asked, “I’ve tried but it just won’t get better. I think it irritates him. I’ll find it all bloody in the morning; I think he must be scratching at it.”

Sharrock gave her a sharp look at this. “Misty can you do anything?” he asked.

“Misty, not be a nanny elf even if she raises babies. Misty just watch babies when nanny is too hurt. She can try, though.”

“No. Let it be for now. We will check it out more thoroughly back at the bank.” Sharrock answered for Petunia, but she nodded in agreement, so Misty knew her thoughts on the matter.

“Will it hurt him leaving it on him?” She asked instead.

“Not for a little bit, at least. You said he’s been lashing out magically?” Sharrock asked

“Yes.”

“Then he’s fighting it. Means we stand a decent chance at getting the taint from him,” Sharrock said giving harry a proud look.

“Will it be possible to go back to the house tomorrow? He grows more unsettled the longer he’s away from his routine and lashes out more.”

“Madame, with the state of those wards, you won’t be back in your house for a while,” Sharrock replied. “I can tell you that, and wards aren’t my speciality.”

“It’s that bad?” Petunia whispered.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You’re lucky to not be on ley lines or else the consequence… I shudder to think, and Madame I do not shudder often or easily.”

“Where will we stay? What of my husband?”

“You will be put up. The magical signature of Dumbledore is all over these wards, and as the caster, he will, of course, pay all the expense of having them fixed,” Sharrock said with a vicious smile. “After all it is his fault you are being evacuated. I think I’ll get him to pay for the cost of all the muggles expenses too, he does claim to be so very fond of them.”

“Won’t that tell him about what we’re doing? He’s likely to interfere,” Petunia cautioned.

“Bank statements go out every quarter. The next ones aren’t due till the end of January. Plenty of time to tie up loose ends.”

“What loose ends?”

“The Potter accounts for one.”

“I don’t understand?” Petunia was feeling lost again.

“I originally thought that is why you were at the bank today. The Potter wills have been sealed by the Wizengamot. Unless the heir or a guardian of the heir, if they’re underage, acts on them within three months, they also become sealed in the bank. In the case of large vaults, that’s a significant loss of profit to the holder and the bank. It can also mean the loss of the family magics if left too long.”

“Family magics?”

“Old families like the Potters have wells of ancient magic that go from one generation to the next. They need to be maintained and leaving them untouched for a decade is considered the upper limit of neglect.”

“Harry would have lost his magic then,” Petunia said flatly. How many more horrors would they discover being committed against Harry.

“Maybe. We can’t predict the future. Not reliably, at least. On the other hand, I do think that the Potters magic is here already and unwilling to be forgotten or, as they say, go quietly.”

“Here?” Petunia glanced around as if she could see the magic before looking at her nephew, “Harrys got it already then?”

“Possibly. That old fool of a Headmaster is from a new magic family and shouldn’t have dabbled in things he didn’t understand. But then it’s not the first time he’s done things he shouldn’t have.”

“The wards. Do you think it’s the Potter family magic? Not just Lily’s sacrifice.”

“Your sister was a Potter when she died. But there’s much more than her sacrifice here, although it resonates. It may be why Heir Potter lashes out more when away from his mother’s protection. We must approach it with caution. It would be a crime to lose these magics.”

“A crime you mean more than just, figuratively, don’t you?” Petunia having caught the inflection as Sharrock explained. Maybe there were some laws Magical people had to obey.

“Yes. A crime against magic punishable by the ICW, the international magical court,” he expanded at her confused look. “As I said earlier, until today, magic couldn’t be gained, but it could be lost, and to deliberately destroy the magic of another is a terrible crime. We aim to get this magic back under control and settled. That said, its presence and the strength of it might explain your new talents. Especially if you were on the threshold beforehand.”

“I’m not a Potter, though. I’m a Dursley and was an Evans.”

“That’s the second time you’ve said that today. It’s also not, I believe, entirely correct. I imagine we’ll puzzle it out, but I think that the Potter magic saw your connection to its heir, and with only him left to bear the legacy of the Potter magic, it reacted.”

“It made me a Potter.”

“It made you a Potter witch,” he agreed. “Not the direct line, I imagine, but close enough to shoulder the burden until the heirs is of age. Mind you it probably wouldn’t have been possible without the influence of the heir.” They looked at Harry, who was happily sitting beside his cousin and babbling about nothing to Misty’s eager attention.

“He’s a baby. How could he give consent?”

“Magic is innate. It follows the will of the caster, words and wands help direct it, but the potential is always there.”

“Accidental magic.”

“Exactly. He sees you as family enough to try and bind you to him, perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of love. Your acceptance of him sealed the deal. Standing here looking at you both, you have become the boys’ guardian physically and magically.”

“He’s mine,” Petunia agreed.

“Indeed.”

“What about Dudley? The boys get on. Did he get magic too?”

“Oh, the babies both have magics,” Misty said, “two strong babies and a witchy for Misty to look after.”

“As the elf said. They are both young wizards, although I would hazard a guess that the potential was already there within your son.”

“My mother said he would make all the plants grow when we visited them when he was a baby. I thought she was joking. We have a green thumb in the family; that’s why we girls have flower names. Dudley’s a wizard, but I’ve never seen any sign. What will Vernon say?”

“Earth magic how interesting, a quiet magic and sadly easily lost perhaps why it’s not seen much these days, most prefer the more flamboyant types. Foolish, but then so are most wizards. The earth is rich and vast after all.” Sharrock grinned as he said this. “Your husband won’t be welcoming, you think?”

“He hates magic, fears it, has since the wedding when he was humiliated by them. Potter and his friends, that is.”

“That is unfortunate.”

“He isn’t as close to Harry as the rest of us, he’s suggested we keep Harry in the cupboard.” At the furious glare from Sharrock, she flinched back, tightening her hold on the boys. “I refused. It’s not Harry’s fault. But he talks about suppressing magic.”

“A terrible thing to suggest harming a child. But it may be for the best that’s he’s not close to the boy. Better yet, that you interceded. We don’t want an obscurial on the loose within those wards.”

“Obscurial?” yet another new term, Lily had obviously only told them the bare minimum in her stories.

“A witch or wizard who has suppressed their magic for too long and turned it into an uncontrollable malevolent force, depending on the strength of the host the obscurial can be devastating.”

“Dear God. Not Harry, that’s not what the darkness on him is, is it? I haven’t suppressed his magic, I swear.” She was babbling, but she didn’t want anything to happen to her nephew. She didn’t even care that she could be blamed. She just needed them to tell her that Harry would be alright.

“No, the darkness is from something else. The boy is content with his magic. Look at him talking to the elf.” She slumped back, exhausted but relieved. She knew the day would be exhausting, but this was more than she could ever have imagined.

“Vernon can’t be around them. He will hurt them, turn them into obscurials if he could.” Petunia admitted.

“There is time yet to sort these things out; rushing now could result in a bad deal. The boys will be safe enough for now.”

Nodding her head at Sharrock’s wisdom, she cuddled them close and watched the curse breakers at work. “Misty, it’s getting cold. Do you have some way to get us blankets and something warming?”

“I can be shopping, but I need monies to do that,” Misty admitted.

“Do you still have the money bag from earlier?” prompted Sharrock. Petunia checked her pocket and found the money she had exchanged earlier in the day. “Good give her a galleon it should cover all you need.” Passing the coin over to the elf, she watched her pop away.

“Will we need things for the night, or will we be able to go back into the house and pack a few things? I didn’t have time before you arrived. The portkey, was it? Well, it took a bit to recover from.”

“Portkey is correct. They are an acquired taste but useful. Nothing has been done to the wards yet. If you’re quick you may retrieve a few essentials. I recommend you leave the children with the elf when she returns rather than risk them within the wards it may sense you plan to remove them and intercede.”

***

Misty was more than willing to watch the boys while Petunia packed, so she left them bundled up in blankets drinking hot chocolate and eating fruit. She was quick with her packing and focused on the essential things, documents, photos, heirlooms. Everything else could be replaced, although hopefully, the house would survive.

She wouldn’t be able to face the neighbours if the house collapsed. It was bad enough this afternoon with the fake ambulance. She froze; she was a witch. Would she still be living here in a few weeks?

“I’m not on the list, am I?” she asked when she got back to the bench. The Dverger and elf gave her a confused look. “The Hogwarts lists. The witch who got Lily said there was a register that recorded all-new witches and wizards.”

“Ah, that list. No, you’re not; it’s tailored to record immature magic. Yours despite the newness is tempered by your age. Your son will be on it, but they won’t notice that for many years until it’s time to send his letter.”

“Oh, thank goodness for that. Here I got the letter the Headmaster sent. I thought you might need to see it. It gives me guardianship of Harry so it could be used to unseal the wills.” She handed over the letter.

“Madame you may have made my whole year.” Taking the letter from her, he inspected it. “Did you read it?”

“Yes, but my husband read it first. I was too focused on Harry. Why?”

“There’s magic on this; it pushes you to claim the Heir but to treat him poorly,” Sharrock snarled giving the letter a dirty look.

“What? Why would somebody do that? Was it intercepted by the bad wizards to make Harry an obscurial…? No, they wouldn’t have left him alive. The Headmaster did it then?”

“Good question. It would seem so, but the traces are faint, and I believe your awakening magic and the magic in the wards has removed the effects from you and the letter itself.”

“But not Vernon.”

“Not unless he’s also become more overtly magical. I believe that by reading it first, your husband suffered the full brunt of the magic. As a muggle, it will have severely affected him, perhaps explaining his desire to put the child in the cupboard.”

“Why make it so powerful then?”

“Because it addressed to you, and I’m sure that Dumbledore was aware you were more than muggle.”

“That monster he lied to me and probably Lily too, and now he tries to hurt our Harry why can’t he leave well enough alone. Can you remove the magic from Vernon even if he hasn’t gained magic?”

“Possibly, it’s an insidious magic. Designed to twist and enhance negative emotions. It may not be possible to remove it, especially if the man cannot let go of his fear. However, the letter works as an announcement of guardianship for you, although your close bond speaks for itself. I will begin proceedings tonight.”

Petunia watched the Dverger stride away. She sat back down on the bench. Misty, the elf, who no longer was acting like her namesake, soon had her bundled up under another blanket and a glass of mulled wine in her hand.

“I didn’t expect this today,” she said to herself.

“It be cold and Yule time. Mulled wine is good.”

“Thank you, Misty,” Petunia smiled at the elf’s response, “but I didn’t mean the wine. I meant everything, the magic, the wards, the babies, Vernon. I just intended to hire a doctor.”

“Some things happen like this,” the elf nodded sagely.

“Have you got everything you need, Misty?”

“I be a good elf and not needs a lot.”

“Still, you look cold. Sit with us and take a blanket. It will set a bad example to the boys otherwise.” looking conflicted, the elf sat down and hesitantly drank some hot chocolate.

***

Petunia didn’t see Vernon that night, and instead, she and the boys were bundled off to a hotel in the wizarding district after a Gervais turned up telling them everything had been taken care of.

Thankfully the room was clean, unlike the room she’d walked through in the Leaky Cauldron so long ago that morning, so Petunia consented to spend the night. They took only one room, and Petunia sent Misty to do the talking rather than risk exposing Harry to the wizarding world. Petunia fell fast asleep despite the questions, worry, and the two little boys in bed with her.

 

 

Chapter 4

“Eany meany miney mo catch a niffler by the toe; if it squeals, let it go eany meany miney mo.”

Petunia woke up to squeaky off-key singing. She glanced over and saw Misty was up and had gotten the boys dressed and ready to face the day and was now keeping them entertained while she slept.

“Ah, we all be wakey now.” Misty sang as she saw Petunia watching her.

“Are they okay?”

“Mmhmm. They woke up, and Misty got them toast, Misty having eaten too, set a good example for the babies. And now we play so you could sleep. Very busy yesterday, more busy today, Misty thinks.” Petunia had the feeling the elf was correct.

“Thank you, Misty, you’re very good with them. I’m glad you’re looking after yourself too. That’s important.”

“Misty be a good elf,” nodded an earnest Misty.

Getting out of bed, she looked at the clothes she had collected from the house. They would do for the boys, but her dresses were distinctly muggle, and now she wasn’t. She might not ever like robes, but she would have to wear them when out and about for the boys’ sake.

“Could you get me some appropriate clothes to wear today for the boys too, I suppose. They should be dressed well for the will reading, we missed the funerals if they even held any, but we can do this for Lily and her husband. Take the money from the pouch. You may get yourself something too,” she said, looking at the thin sheets the elf was draped in.

“You be giving me clothes. Was Misty bad? Did you not want Misty playing with the babies?” the elf asked, eyes swimming in tears, “I can punish myself if I gets to stay.”

“No,” Petunia said quickly. “No, you’re my elf still and please don’t punish yourself. What’s the issue with clothes?”

“That be how wizards be breaking the bond. They be giving elves clothes.”

“Oh. Well, this isn’t me giving you clothes but telling you to get some new ones. Those are from the bad family, not our family, and you are part of our family now, aren’t you?” Petunia tried to reason with the elf.

“Misty understands.” She squeaked, nodding vigorously. “What clothes you be wanting Misty to wear?”

“Something comfortable that you can do your jobs in and get some spares to in case the babies get you messy,” Petunia quickly added.

“I be understanding. The other elves be jealous of Misty getting a witchy, two babies and a new uniform.” Rambling happily about being helpful, the elf popped away.

“Well, boys, we will have to treat this as an adventure.” Petunia watched them play on the floor happily, “hopefully, we will get the hang of things soon.”

“Mama goes pop too,” Dudley asked excitedly, looking at his mother in a curious manner, not understanding her comment but wanting her attention.

“No darling, only elves go pop.” She left the two boys playing and sat down to the remains of breakfast. It was, despite the hour, still warm. Magic, she supposed, had its uses.

***

They went to the bank, Misty carrying Harry, ready to escape with him in case anybody showed too much interest in the boy. But it would seem the clothes Misty had bought made them blend in, and nobody gave them a second glance, or if they did, it was to get out of their way.

A gaurd met them at the entrance and led them away from the queues and back through the same doors Petunia had gone through the day before. Soon they were settled back into the office from yesterday. The boys sat on the chaise, which she had occupied yesterday, with Misty while Petunia sat at the desk, which looked slightly busier than the day before.

“I have unsealed the will and scheduled the reading for One O’clock this afternoon,” Sharrock said once the door was closed.

“So soon?”

“I do not wish for anybody else to interfere, and the law allows for twelve-hour notice. Owls were sent out last night. The burden of attendance is down to the recipients. If they do not wish to attend, they cannot be forced. And the reading can go ahead without them.”

“And if they don’t receive the owls in time, it’s not your problem. Why was it sealed in the first case? You didn’t say yesterday,” Petunia asked, still smiling at the manoeuvring Sharrock had done.

“The Headmaster in his self-appointed a non-legally binding role as Potter spokesperson. He feared that information could be given out in the wills, which would endanger the boy. Or at least that’s what he claimed before the Wizengamot, what British magicals call their government. Creatures aren’t allowed to participate,” he added with a slight frown. “He managed to convince them that sealing the wills was in Heir Potters best interest and that his guardians had asked this of the government.”

“I did no such thing, and the man behind the attacks was dead,” Petunia pointed out.

“Indeed, but logic has never been a wizards friend and with the boy shipped off to the muggle world, who has control over him in the magical world?” Sharrock responded.

“Dumbledore. I imagine felt he should have that role, what with him being the only one to know where Harry was.”

“Exactly, but things didn’t go as planned. Not that Dumbledore knows that yet. You’re not a muggle or even a hedgewitch and as such have a say over Heir Potter, especially as magic has given you guardianship.”

“Magics role is taken so seriously in the courts?”

“Even humans don’t dismiss magic out of hand, but you have human approval too. The head of British magical education and a leading government representative from Britain and abroad have confirmed your guardianship. Having you turn up in person rather than use a proxy reinforces your position.”

“I can understand the first person but the other two?”

“All Dumbledore, he wears many hats, often to his advantage but not in this case. What he used to gain magical guardianship is also what gives it to you.”

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” Petunia quoted from a phrase the priest had used at her parents funeral.

“Exactly. But in your case, magic backs your claim and invalidates Dumbledore’s. For the best, his interest in the child is unseemly. The last to have that much focus from Dumbledore after all became the man who killed your sister.”

“That … he what? Dumbledore played a part in making that monster. And they still let him near children,” Petunia gasped out furious.

“Indeed, the past of Dumbledore is littered with unseemly acts, at least that is what our information implies, and our intelligence is thoroughly verified,” Sharrock said with a vicious grin.

“Will Dumbledore come after Harry?”

“Likely, but not overtly, the law is on your side, and he has spent the past month building up the image of being a protector to the saviour of the light. He won’t change that now. Rather, I imagine he will try to take the boy from you.”

“Can we stop him? Will you help me stop him?” Petunia asked. If he said no Petunia didn’t know quite what she would do but she needed to know.

“Yes. Luckily everything is in stasis until the three months are up and the will is declared sealed or enacted. As such, we can get everything in a row until this is sorted, which we have done. Also, in our favour is that wizarding Britain is giddy on survival right now. Many won’t act against their saviour even if there has been rumbling of confiscating the Potter cottage and turning it into a memorial.”

“No. That’s vulgar. Lily wouldn’t want that, and to steal from their hero that’s hardly gratitude. The corruption of it all.” Petunia sighed, sinking into her seat, head in her hands. “How can they still be so corrupt and unthinking after such a war.”

“Simple really the corrupt ones hid behind the brave, and so those who would stand up for change are dead, and the corrupt are justified in their beliefs through their survival. Sadly, that’s only skimming the surface of the British governments’ failings.”

“We can’t stay here then. Not if they are going to act so poorly and leave us in such danger.”

“I’m glad you said that. It would, I believe, be best for you to emigrate,” Sharrock agreed. “The bank can only do so much, and mostly that is protect your assets, but you need to be in control of them for this to happen. Sadly, magical Britain is unlikely to accept a recently low magical, muggle raised woman in charge of their saviour no matter how they fought in the war.”

“Why did Lily fight for them at all? She should have taken her baby and left them to their idiocy,” Petunia muttered. “What about Harry’s family magic? Will that accept a move to another country? Is that why she stayed?”

“Ah, that is less of a concern. Ley lines flow over the world. Magic doesn’t see or use our boundaries; it’s not bound to this country. And the Potter magic is as we have seen quite happy to go where it wants.”

“What about his property, the cottage you mentioned? Are there others to think of as well?”

“With the exception of the cottage, the rest of the Pottery properties are warded. Nobody else can access them apart from those with Potter magic.”

“So, we could pack up and leave, and he wouldn’t lose them?”

“Precisely, there would be other benefits too. Magical education in Britain is restricted to just Hogwarts. At the same time, overseas, you would be able to learn how to control your new gift in a safe environment. Something I strongly recommend, for your and the children’s sake.”

“I can’t learn magic.” She continued at the raised eyebrow her first comment elicited. “Can I? I’m not too old?”

“You are never too old to learn. You’ll need a wand, and again I recommend you wait till you’re abroad. The British wizards restrict themselves to what they consider light, magical foci, and that does not always fit well with the users. Magic is, as I have said before, intent-based.”

“Vernon won’t go for it. He fears magic and is horribly racist to foreigners.” Petunia admitted after considering the idea for a few minutes.

“I must question why you married him? He does not seem a good fit from what I have seen and heard.”

“He was nice once and a way to get free from the dirty, dying industrial town I grew up in. I don’t regret it even if we are a poor fit. I have Dudley from my marriage, and that more than makes up for any unhappiness.”

“Your son is a boon to you and your nephew.” Sharrock agreed, looking at the two boys. “Would you object to leaving behind your husband?”

“I can’t. What would people say?” Petunia said, twisting her hands in her robes, remembering the snide looks for Mrs Murphy when her husband left her. The comments about single mothers from the other women on the street had been vicious.

“Your husband turned up at the barricade in Little Whining last night,” Sharrock interrupted her thoughts. “He was collected by staff at the bank and brought in for testing, the taint on the letter giving us due to cause to bring in a non-magical. It was discovered the taint has run deep into his mind, twisting him. It’s doubtful he will consent to be freed from it.”

“But he could be?” Petunia pressed.

“Possibly. However, I caution you that Mr Dursley may die from the stress of the procedure.”

Petunia sat there numbly. What could she do? Her husband was in danger from magic, and now she and the children had it. Their house was surrounded by magic, and Vernon wasn’t going to take it well. “If he survives, will he still hate magic?”

“I cannot say. The curse will not be in play, but the experience and along with all the others, will remain. It is possible that the trauma of the situation will turn him further from magic.” Sharrock responded, giving away nothing of what he was thinking.

“He could die during the process?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t love him,” Petunia admitted for the first time out loud. It didn’t make her feel better, but it didn’t make her feel worse. “I don’t love him, but can I tell you to do something that will set him free but possibly kill him?”

“It’s your choice to make. From an economic point of view, he’s better dead than alive. He’s a threat to not just the heir but to you and your son. The family magic that runs through the three of you will not take an attack from him kindly. It may kill him regardless of the success of the procedure.”

“So, Vernon’s going to die no matter what.”

“As it stands, yes, his health is appalling.”

“What will people say?”

“Whatever we want them to. I recommend going for the stress of the gas leak, and the risk to his wife and child was too much for him, and his heart gave out. It puts you in a good light and explains his disappearance in the ambulance.”

“You’ve got it all planned out already. Haven’t you?”

“Yes,” Sharrock admitted. “It’s my job I have come up with plans to cover all eventualities. After all, he may not die. All that’s needed is your consent to whichever story we go with depending on the outcome.”

“May I think about it?”

“Quickly,” Sharrock agreed.

She stood up, walked to the other side of the room, and sat on the chaise. The boys were playing on the floor with Misty after deciding they needed more space. The three of them happily oblivious to the life-changing decisions being made just away steps from them.

Could she endanger them over Vernon? He didn’t love her anymore. If he ever had, she knew that and saw that in the way he treated her. He saw her as a necessity for his job and image. Still, Petunia was undoubtedly interchangeable with a hundred other women in his mind these days. He probably regretted marrying her; the hundred other women in his mind didn’t come with secret wars and magic.

Harry and Dudley were giggling now where they played a magical game of some kind with Misty. Misty, who Vernon would never accept no matter how helpful she was. But Petunia had accepted that help, and that was the line in the sand. Petunia had crossed from that in-between space of magic and muggle, and she had chosen magic.

No longer was she straddling two different worlds but flinging herself into the one she knew nothing about. She didn’t need to ask to know that Vernon would choose muggle.

“Do it. The procedure, but please try to keep him alive.”

“Of course.” Sharrock said before he slipped out of the room while she watched the children play on the rug. Her world was falling apart, but her babies were happy, her elf was happy, and her husband was dying.

***

Lunch came about with no word on Vernon’s fate. Sharrock had not returned, and Petunia felt it was unwise to walk through the bank alone. Hence, she and the boys ate lunch on the rug like a picnic. The boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves, but Petunia could hardly eat.

The will reading would be soon. She had no idea where it would happen or even if she was expected to attend. She had assumed that she would be needed for any bequests as Harry’s guardian. But then, what did she actually know about the magical world. She only knew about will readings from her parents’ deaths, and they had everything organised and no government interference.

Maybe todays will reading would just be the first of the will reading she would have to sit through. Her husband could well be dead by the end of the day. The thought of facing Marge made her shudder. Maybe she should just let Marge handle it all.

Petunia froze; she had already killed Vernon off in her head. He could be alive and thriving, and she had written him out of her life without shedding a tear. Was she really such a terrible person as Lily had once claimed? Lily, who had cut her and the horrible boy out of her life without a backwards glance.

Sharrock returned at quarter to one, and with Misty’s help, she cleaned up the boys and gathered them up. They set off through the corridor and through a labyrinth of others until they were in a rather bland conference room with a set of uncomfortable-looking chairs set facing a dais.

“Misty make these comfy, yes,” the elf asked after looking at the seats in disgust.

“Only for the family and for today,” Sharrock agreed.

“Of course, Misty, not be ruining your fun. Misty been here long enough to knows these things. You like to see Wizardys squirm.”

“Indeed,” Sharrock responded with a sharp grin.

***

The clock on the wall struck the hour, and the doors she had walked through earlier swung shut untouched. Nobody else had turned up. The last will and testament of Lily and her husband would be seen by Petunia, the boys, their elf and the family account manager.

“What if they turn up?” Petunia asked after a moment of silence.

“They will have to schedule an alternative reading, at their own expense, of course,” Sharrock gave a pleased smile. “I anticipate being very busy in the coming weeks. They will just have to wait.”

“So, there’s no stopping this now.”

“Magical Britain could fall, and the magic invoked here would remain undisturbed. The will shall be read and enacted,” he reassured her. “Shall we begin?”

“I suppose we gain nothing by putting it off,” Petunia sighed.

“In fact, quite the opposite,” Sharrock said before bringing out a small case and removing a vial with a swirling silver liquid in. Under their scrutiny, he poured the liquid into a large stone basin vaguely resembling the font from Dudley’s christening.

“The Potters had a joint will, so the order of their deaths does not matter bar the fact they cannot inherit each other’s bequests,” began Sharrock. “However, given the length of time between their passing and the reading of the will, the magics involved may have already corrected this.”

“Magic can change the contents?” Petunia asked, feeling alarmed.

“Yes, it is after all the last will, and testament and magic is, in essence, will given form as we discussed yesterday. The nature of their death would have resonated in the family magic, and that shall have shaped the final form of their will.”

“It can do that with all magical people?”

“If they pay for the service, yes. Family magic plays a part, but the magic of a true will such as this will see the final desires of the caster done. It’s why they are considered incorruptible.”

“And why Dumbledore had it sealed.”

“There are likely to be some uncomfortable truths in this. Ones that would be indisputable due to the nature of the magic.” Not giving them any more time to speculate on the contents, Sharrock began to chant over the bowl in a language Petunia didn’t recognise but was distinctly non-human.

The silver liquid began to spin around following the invocation of the spell Sharrock was chanting. However, after he stopped speaking, the liquid still spun around, going faster and turning gold before some began shifting upwards out of the bowl into two different shapes. The blobs started to elongate, and before her eyes, two figures formed and stood in the swirling maelstrom of the leftover liquid.

“This is the last will and testament of James Fleamont Potter and Lily Potter,” a male voice intoned.

“Mama. Papa.” Harry’s excited babbling brought her attention back to her family. Little Harry was in the process of getting off the chair and reaching towards the figures. She quickly scooped him up into her arms and held him tightly as he squirmed in an attempt to get to his parents.

“They’re not real baby, you have to stay here,” Petunia tried to console him. She hadn’t even considered that they would see a representation of Lily and James, let alone hear them.

If she’d known she might not have brought the boys, poor Harry was going to be so distressed and unsettled. But she’d thought it would just be a dry voiced stranger reciting legalese at them like with her parents. Harry still squirmed but seemed to be accepting his confinement to her knee.

“Shall we continue?” Sharrock asked. Petunia hadn’t realised he’d paused proceedings, but the really the length of silence would be ridiculous for anything else. She nodded, and after a series of quick gestures, the figures started moving again.

What followed was the distribution of the Potter assets. Most of it went to Harry, although some bequests were given to what Petunia assumed were friends. Although, Lily had never mentioned them in Petunia’s presence. Not all of the gifts were financial, and many were of more sentimental value. However, Petunia was deeply touched that they gave Dudley a trust fund on the condition of him being magical.

If Lily had lived, would they have repaired their relationship? Would the boys still have grown up together with both sets of parents? Or just one? Would Vernon have accepted magic if shown in a controlled adult manner? They would never know.

Focusing back on the reading, she noticed a slightly manic look in the eyes of Sharrock. Apparently, whatever the memory of James said was being well received by the Potter account manager.

“Concerning the guardianship of our son, should we both die.” Petunia focused back on the projection at Lily’s change of subject. “We ask that Frank and Alice Longbottom get guardianship of Harry.”

“This isn’t a rejection of you, Sirius. It’s more that they have a son near Harry’s age and a childproof property. We still expect you to be part of his life as his godfather.” The James figure interjected in a far less formal tone than before.

“If the Longbottom’s are unable to take Harry, we ask that Sirius Black take guardianship. Although we stipulate that you use a Potter property for his and your safety,” Lily continued.

“We do ask that you don’t take on the burden alone. We have friends, and Minerva will be there for you. Trust her; she’s looked after generations of children without fail. Live your life too my friend.” James interjected again.

“If it is that Sirius Black and the Longbottom’s are unable to raise Harry, he is to be given to my sister Petunia Dursley. But only if her son is magical, and she agrees to raise them with an understanding of magic. I know you didn’t have the best experience of magic, Petunia, but it’s not all bad, and while there are those who would wish you harm, others will support you.”

“I will,” Petunia nodded fervently. “I will raise them with magic, I promise.”

The golden figures rippled at her proclamation, and James took over speaking again in a far more serious tone. “It is the will of the Potter family that Peter Pettigrew be named an enemy of House Potter. He shall find no friendship or succour with all who bear our magic.”

As the decree was uttered, Petunia felt a burning tingle a bit like pins and needles but all over before it suddenly burst, and she shuddered under the weight of the feeling. A quick look at the children showed they seemed similarly affected.

“What was that?” she managed to ask with her tongue feeling heavy.

“That was family magic being enacted,” Sharrock replied with an unsettling grin.

“It felt different than anything else before. Not that I have a lot of experience with magic,” she admitted a bit sheepishly.

“You have experienced more than many ever will. It was the will of the head of the family. You have no head, only a regent till the heir is of age. As such, you won’t feel that magic again for some time. The reason it was so aggressive was it was a pronouncement of enmity; never a friendly thing to do,” Sharrock answered, almost absent-minded as he scrawled notes in a collection of parchments.

“What does a declaration of enmity mean though?”

“It be meaning that you can’t be helping bad Petey ever. You be unable to gives him money, shelter or magical help,” Misty answered her. “Misty as a Potter elf is not being able to help him ever either or else, we lose our magics.”

“Oh,” Petunia swallowed. “What does he look like, just to be safe.”

“Potter magic knows what he looks like and what he feels like. It lets you know if he’s near. Potter magic likes us and keeps us safe.” Misty patted her arm reassuringly as she said this.

“Oh, that’s good, I suppose,” Petunia said half-heartedly. “What about the boys and accidental magic?”

“They will only do naughty magic if bad Petey comes near the babies. Potter magic like the babies and keeps them safe too.” Misty patted her arm as she said this.

“Why doesn’t everybody declare enmity then if it’s good for protection?” Maybe if Lily had declared it against the terrorist, she would still be alive.

“It’s a difficult magic to enact, and there needs to be a sense of betrayal. A large betrayal at that. Or else everybody would be enemies, and the whole wizarding population would die out due to not being able to get near enough to each other to procreate,” Sharrock answered, looking up from his parchment.

“Betrayal?”

“Yes. Interesting, isn’t it. It could well be that events didn’t play out as our dear head educator claimed. Very interesting indeed.”

“I don’t understand,” Petunia admitted for what felt like the thousandth time. So much in the magical world was unknown to her. It was like reading a poorly translated book or watching a film in a foreign language. You got bits of it, but whole plot threads were missed out on.

“No, I suppose you don’t. Well, back to my office, the next meeting will be wanting this room, and we don’t want to be charged for staying too long.” Petunia looked at the doors and saw they had opened again; magic was done with them for the moment. “I will explain it to you back there. We have a bit of time before the young Potters’ healer appointment, Sharrock conceded.

 

 

Chapter 5

“So, Sirius Black was accused of betraying them, but that’s not what the will says.” Petunia summed up the information Sharrock had given her back in his office.

“Exactly. From what I’ve heard, there has been no trial. This has, of course, thrown the Black accounts into chaos.”

“No trial. They didn’t even check. They didn’t care because their Dark Lord was dead, and the war was over. It didn’t matter to them who was hurt by his fall because they are just that selfish,” Petunia murmur, watching the boys.

“They have always been short-sighted. The excitement of victory over took them. They have very little experience at winning,” Sharrock sneered.

“So, Harry’s godfather fought for the light, and they don’t care about him when the fighting’s over. No wonder the madman got such a hold on the country if the only opposition to him couldn’t even rely on each other.”

“No honour in any of them,” Sharrock agreed.

“Well, we will just have to fight for him. Harry’s lost enough family. We all have. Any news on Vernon?” She asked, thinking of her small family.

“I’m afraid not. This is not a good sign if things had gone well; we would have heard by now.”

“Petunia nodded and sipped the tea Misty had collected. She had expected this. She was going to be a widow. What on earth was she to do? She had no idea where to go, and her only family consisted of a pair of toddlers and an elf. “So, we prepare for the worst,” her voice barely quivered.

“Yes. We will likely learn more when we head down to the healing halls for young Harry’s appointment.”

“Well then.” She took a deep breath. “Well then, that gives us all the more reason to see about Black. The boys will need an uncle. They will need a male influence in their life, and from what you said, Black knows about magic and estates. He fills lots of boots.”

“He does, and the fewer people with access to the boys, the better, at least at this stage.”

“Exactly. Will the other guardians contest my claim of Harry’s guardianship? I thought magic had accepted this, but the will gave other options.”

“No, the family magic has accepted you as the guardian and regent, the will named you as a candidate which you accepted which is in your favour. It wasn’t updated further because of the recent nature of your claim. It could still sense possibilities with the others. This is interesting as it was reported that the Longbottom’s are not in a fit state to care for themselves, let alone children. With permission, I will pass the news on to the Longbottom account manager; they may be able to help the couple before too late. While Black is as we said in prison.”

“Please reach out to the manager. I wouldn’t begrudge them help or their little boy his parents. I doubt they will be in a position to take Harry much like Black. I won’t be petty about this.”

“As you said, little can be done to take him from you, and I doubt Dumbledore would appreciate either family having Harry. So, I doubt that he will push them to challenge the placement, and they are the only ones who could.”

“And I’m willing to give them limited access, Black, once he’s out. And the Longbottom’s once healed. It could be nice to give the boys a friend in the Longbottom’s son.”

“Indeed.”

“So, how do we go about it? And how quickly should we act? Should I wait till the boys and I are out of the country before making waves here?”

“It may be for the best to get you out of reach before we make such monumental moves. The bank can gather what is needed and present the issue at once in its entirety.”

“Give them less time to rally and twist things to suit themselves.”

“Exactly.” Sharrock agreed.

“You are being very obliging. I know you said Harry was profitable, but these seem above and beyond.”

“Not at all. The Potter’s are profitable, as are the Black’s and Longbottom’s. We protect our investors, and the past few days, after all, proved you to be a sound investment. Two other major accounts may be saved from stagnation through the aiding of you and Heir Potter.”

“I see. Will we have to come back a testify to get Black free?” Petunia worriedly picked at the edges of the robe, still not used to the outfit.

“No, the will does that for us. The wills are recognised internationally as incorruptible to challenge that will open the entire system up for scrutiny. They can’t let that happen, or else all their inheritances are suspect.”

“So, once we’re gone, they can’t bring us back with the fate of Black.”

“Not at all. They may try, but their threats will hold no ground. They may attempt to delay, but we have ways of forcing it through quickly. You can return, but it will be only on your own terms.”

“Really? That’s good, and will forcing it through cause issues for you and the bank?”

“Oh yes, but we shall enjoy it. We will threaten them with a rebellion. They have sealed a will for no valid reason limiting the manager of the account, and they have locked away the heir of another major account with no justification. It is reason enough to start a rebellion. After all the last war just ended, they won’t risk a fight with us. We may manage to squeeze some power from them.” Sharrock looked almost giddy at the thought of the fight, and she remembered Lily mentioning previous rebellions and how they were a warrior race.

“You hold all their wealth; why would they not treat you with respect?” Petunia wondered the humans in the magical world seemed to invite trouble.

“Wizards are, as we have previously seen, not the brightest. I hold the Headmaster of their school responsible. But they won’t act against us or the will, so we should be able to free Black before the new year, if not sooner.”

“Will it be public?”

“Yes, if we can get the current head of the Black family involved without overplaying our hand, we can get the case into the international court and broadcast far and wide. They will have nowhere to hide, and their shame will be seen by all.” The grin Sharrock gave her spoke of delight at the intended humiliation of those who subjugated the Dvergers just one too many times.

“They won’t try to put this on you for not noticing, sooner will they?” Petunia asked, leaning over the desk slightly. “I don’t want to make things worse for you.”

“The reading of the will has unsealed the one in the Ministry through I doubt they have noticed; their negligence will be on them. Furthermore, we are still within the three months that their own laws lay down.”

“Good. That gives me time to get the boys settled but not too long that they resent a stranger coming into their lives.”

“Black may not be well when retrieved from prison. Do not count on him too quickly,” Sharrock cautioned.

“You think they will have mistreated him. Oh, what are you saying, Petunia? Of course, they have. They didn’t even give him a trial,” Petunia muttered the last part to herself?

“Azkaban, the British wizard prison is staffed, if you can call it that, by dementors.”

“Lily mentioned them once, said they ate happiness and souls,” Petunia interrupted.

“She was correct, and that is what they are paid in.”

“They eat the prisoners. Surely that’s not allowed; it’s beyond inhumane.”

“It is a grey area, and the argument used is what else are they to do with the dementors, let them roam around the world unchecked. The particularly twisted ones argue staving them would be inhumane.”

“That’s… That’s…” Petunia spluttered. “Why not destroy them or trap them somewhere? Surely with magic, it’s possible. It’s just cruel and lazy what they are doing.”

“You have just described the majority of this country’s leaders,” Sharrock said with an ugly smile.

“Is it better elsewhere? Is there anywhere I can take the boys and give them a chance?”

“Some places are better. If you give me a list of places, I will inform you of their suitability.”

“Thank you. I was beginning to think we would have to try and join the bank.”

“That’s still an option if you do well with magic or your children do.” Petunia blinked, unsure if he was being serious.

“Where should I go? Abroad I mean. I’ve never considered emigrating. I have no idea where to start looking.” Petunia looked at the wall, and the maps, the ones she recognised were little help. The world seemed so small, and Britain was barely visible.

“Magic is everywhere, and communities exist in every country. The world, as muggles say, is your oyster. However, I recommend you select a country where you can speak the language.”

“I suppose. Do you have a list of communities?” Petunia asked. Lists made things easier to scrutinise, and if nothing else, crossing things off made it feel like progress was being made.

“I have many. I recommend you provide me one of the countries in preference order, and I shall advise you from there.” Sharrock gave her a sheath of parchment and a quill before leaving the room with his own stack of paperwork.

It made sense to do it that way round. How else was the Sharrock to know which languages she could and couldn’t speak? Her French from school was rudimentary and had not been used in years. She would be better of going to an English-speaking country.

America was what sprang to mind but only because Vernon spoke of holidaying there. How could she go when haunted by the memories of her husband? Perhaps it would be better to look elsewhere.

Australia and New Zealand, on the other side of the world, that would take them as far as possible from the corruption and bigotry that had got her sister killed but could she live among all the bugs and other nasty, dangerous creatures. Were there spells to keep them out?

A possibility then with New Zealand favoured over Australia. Where else spoke English? Canada, they, if she recalled, spoke both English and French maybe she could go there.

Ireland was too close to be comfortable. So, she would be best ruling it out before she took it as the comfortable option. But by such logic, France and Australia were her top choices. Seen as the ones, she would consider uncomfortable and thus the places nobody would expect to find her.

But then English was spoken by a great many people so she could go anywhere and lose herself in a city and be lost to the anonymity of the crowds. She didn’t like the city. The greasy boy knew that she dreamed of escaping to suburbia or the country; would he tell them that if he was even still alive.

Or would she do well in a rural community protected by the familiarity of friends? She hadn’t done anything wrong, but still, Petunia couldn’t help but feel like she was running away.

She picked up the quill. She had used one once in art at school after Lily had taught her how to, and she had wanted to show off. As she drew up a list of countries she could consider living in, Sharrock returned sans the paperwork from before.

“I have made some enquires about the fate of your husband.” His face was blank, but Petunia could tell it would be bad news. “He has survived the procedure but is not expected to survive the night. He suffered health complications, his heart became damaged, and his mind will not return.”

“There’s nothing that can be done. Even with the aid of magic?” Petunia asked, twisting her hands in her robes. It was becoming her go-to action when nervous. She would have to stop before it became a bad habit.

“He is at the core of it all still muggle. He doesn’t have enough magic for any procedure. We have no way to save him. Do you wish to see him?” The last part was said more gently than anything she had heard from him before.

Did she? It was her fault that he was in this position; could she go and sit by his bed and tell him how sorry she was. Because she wasn’t. Well, she was a bit, mostly that he had suffered such injuries. But she wasn’t going to regret that she had put her children first. It was what mothers did.

“Is he awake?”

“No, and he is not expected to awaken.”

“Oh,” was she a terrible person to feel relief at this. “Yes, I think the boys and I will say goodbye to him before Harry’s appointment.”

“Very well, I will arrange it. Your appointment is in half an hour. I will retrieve you shortly beforehand.” Sharrock gathered some parchments that had appeared in the tray on his desk before departing again.

***
“Do you think I should explain to the boys first?” Petunia asked Misty. “Do you think they’ll understand?”

Misty looked at the boys. “I be thinking you explain. They knows that Granny and Grandpappy be gone. They know Lily and James be gone. They knows people go. Best let them know he be going, but they be staying with us.”

“So much death, and they’re so young. But I suppose you’re right. We don’t want Dudley lashing out magically when he realises his daddy is gone. Though I doubt Vernon is involved as James was.”

“Mmhh.” Was all the response she got from the elf.

“Will the bank sort out the death certificate and things.”

“Oh yes, and they send the body to undertakers and pretend to be a hospital. There be no questions.”

“Okay, that’s good. All I have to do is phone Marge and sort out the lawyers. Another will. These things take time. I suppose that will delay our departure.”

“We will sort it.” Petunia jumped. She hadn’t expected a response, certainly not one from Sharrock, who she hadn’t realised was in the room. “These things can be done quickly. There will be a minimal fee. It’s not directly to do with Heir Potter but benefits him so discountable.”

“Thank you. Is it time to go?”

“It is. This way.” They followed Sharrock deeper into the bank than they had been before and were led to a small cart and instructed to get in.

“Is it safe for the babies and Misty?”

“It’s spelled to keep the occupants in,” Sharrock responded, thankfully not insulted, but still Petunia apologised. Magic was, after all, a bit of a culture shock.

They ended up in a set of halls hewn of rock. While earlier the corridors had the appearance of being built, these ones looked carved. It suited them better, in Petunia’s opinion. They ended up in a series of caverns that seemed to be interconnected but not echoing, magic no doubt providing privacy.

A not visibly armed Dverger approached them. “Dursley and Potter?” they were asked in a brisk, no-nonsense voice, immediately designating them as a doctor’s receptionist or at least their equivalent.

“This way to see Mr Dursley, quickly please we have to prepare young master Potter for his healing.” They were led into a small antechamber where Vernon was lying on a bed of rock rising from the ground. He was surrounded by a nimbus of light and looked to all the world as if he was sleeping.

“Dada”, Dudley declared on seeing his father. “Dada glow, will Dada go pop?”

For a moment, she was tempted to tell him that Vernon would go pop, and they would never see him again but just as quickly realised it would be a terrible idea. Dudley could well start worrying about Misty every time she popped off if she did that.

“No, baby. Daddy is very, very ill and is going to be with Granny and Grandpappy and Aunty Lily and Uncle James.” She added, looking at Harry.

“Mama and Papa.” Harry looked around as if expecting his parents to turn up and collect Vernon.

“Yes, Harry, he’s going to them.”

“Me too,” Harry said.

“Yes, me,” Dudley cheered.

“No,” She said sharply, and both boys went quiet, eyes wide. “No, you stay with Misty and me.”

“Mama come too?”

“It’s not possible. Say bye-bye. Can they touch him?” She asked the waiting assistant

“Yes. Although the longer they touch him, the more the magic sustaining him is disrupted.” Petunia nodded her understanding.

“Say bye-bye, daddy.” She encouraged Dudley as she held him up to kiss his father. Misty offered Harry up to Vernon, and she watched as he patted his Uncles arm.

Quickly she lent down and kissed Vernon’s cheek. “I’m sorry, Vernon. Thank you for Dudley and everything. You will be missed, and you have….” She swallowed, kissed his cheek again and then gave him a brisk nod and walked away. Misty followed behind.

The Dverger leading them thankfully gave her time to compose herself before instructing her to bathe Harry in the pool they had been led to. The water was clear and almost sparkled like a tropical ocean despite the stillness of the surface. Harry was all too happy to strip off and splash in the water. Dudley squirmed in her arms, eager to join his cousin.

“You can let the other boy bathe; it will do him no harm and likely some good.” The Dverger eventually said after watching Petunias struggle. In short order, both boys were splashing about under the joint supervision of the three adults.

“It’s time for your appointment; please retrieve them.” The Dverger suddenly interrupted despite there being no clock in sight. Rather than question the order, she scooped the two boys out of the surprisingly warm water and carried them naked and squirming after their guide.

They were led into a different antechamber where another stone bed, unoccupied this time, sat. Three Dvergers stood in conference as they came in but broke off quickly. One of the Dvergers looked like one of the ones she had briefly met in the office the day before, but she couldn’t be sure.

“Ah, you’re here and on time. Hurlock as efficient as ever.” One Dverger addressed their guide, who bowed and then departed. “Best put them down, nowhere for them to go.” He said to Petunia.

“Well then, I’m Ferlin. This is Derkrin, and lastly, Gearleck, who you met yesterday.” Petunia nodded to the three in turn while watching the boys explore the cave. They had found the entrance, and despite her fear of them streaking off into the distance, the entrance repelled them. The boys delighted with this were running at the door only to be bounced back to a tremendous amount of laughter from them both.

“Ah, to be young again,” Ferlin sighed. Well, then shall we get on with this. “Young Potter has a dark magic trace on his scar and exposure to unstable wards; Gearleck was describing them, interesting situation. Young Dursley has the exposure to the wards and the curse breakers think its best that we give him a once over just to be safe. This will be charged to the ward casters account.”

“The wards hurt them?”

“Not that we know, but with so much raw magic in close proximity, it’s better safe than sorry with little ones. Their magic is so much more vulnerable.”

“They’ve had a cleanse in the ritual pool, so should be good to go.” Derkrin said.

“Ritual pool?” Petunia asked, feeling like she should have questioned more before letting the boys go in. She had been distracted by Vernon, and the Dvergers had so far been protective of the children, maybe because they both held accounts. Still, she felt it was a cultural thing to them to protect the young.

“Yes, magic is infused into the water to strip away the foreign magic you can pick up from going through wards and just generally interacting with other magical beings. Getting rid of it allows for easier examinations.” Petunia nodded, thankful neither boy had relieved themselves in the pool.

“Shall we do young Dursley first as he’s the oldest,” Ferlin asked while moving towards the stone table. “Pop him up here. No need to be afraid.” With little choice, Petunia caught her son and placed him on the table.

Derkrin joined Ferlin at the opposite side of the table. The pair began to chant, and quickly, a nimbus of light surrounded Dudley. Intrigued by this, Dudley settled down and started poking at himself, watching the magic move.

“Don’t worry, he’s fine and not disrupting things.” Said Gearleck speaking to her the first time before he moved to the table and began to join in with the casting.

Before she had time to become worried, the trio ceased what they were doing. Dudley was lifted off the table; still slightly glowing, he wandered over to a fascinated Harry.

“Ah Mrs Dursley, good news. You’ve got a healthy, energetic lad there, a bit on the heavy side, but his magic will soon see to that young wizards need plenty of food after all. He has got earth magic, which is a pleasure to see, the gift looked like it had started to fade, an all too common problem in humans but his cousin’s presence seems to have revived it,” Ferlin explained.

“Really.” Petunia asked, getting the feeling she should say something.

“Yes. In fact, he sings with magic, his own and the Potter family magic. According to Gearleck there’s a touch of your sister’s sacrifice on him, too which may explain the Evans family gift coming back so well. The wards haven’t negatively affected him which is a relief to us all. If anything, they have given him the push he needed. We would appreciate a check-up in a year or so just to see how the Potter family magic is settling. It may be that by that point he could legally be called a Potter.”

“Oh, do you think that’s a good idea?” Petunia asked, unsure if she could contemplate changing her son’s surname as his father lay dying down the hallway.

“There are pros and cons with all actions, but I’m sure Sharrock will advise you on this. Shall we proceed with Heir Potter?” She put Harry on the table. He was less fidgety, obviously worn out from playing and maybe hoping he too would get to glow.

Like before, the two who seemed to be doctors started the spell with Gearleck joining them. However, unlike before, the three began to frown, and the intensity of their casting picked up before abruptly ending. She swept Harry off the table into her arms with a quick look at the trio.

“What’s wrong?” she demanded.

“Well, he’s healthy, and his magic seems to be settling despite the recent upheaval. The family bonds no doubt helping, but the scar isn’t what we thought.” Ferlin explained.

“What is it?”

“A leech.”

“Like the animal, is that why it bleeds?”

“No,” It was Gearleck who answered this time. “A leech in this sense is a magical syphon which is attacking Heir Potters magic while drawing another’s to it. We believe the one on the other side is the caster of the curse, which gave him the scar. As the curse rebounded and his body was destroyed, his magic latched onto the last thing he had touched, in this case, the child. It then used Heir Potters magic to keep itself alive.”

“If he’d been treated within the first day, it would not be a problem. But because it has sat untouched, through no fault of your own, it has developed, magic and souls are closely interlinked,” Ferlin added.

“The monster is still alive and draining Harry.” Petunia asked wide-eyed. “Can you get rid of it? The leech.”

“Yes, it’s possible the human Dark Lord Voldemort still resides on this plane. Cutting off the leech should, however, see him fade. Removing the leech is easy, seeing as it hasn’t fully bonded. Your sister’s sacrifice is protecting her son. However, doing so without harming Heir Potters magic is more difficult.”

“But possible?” she pressed.

“Yes, but we will need a few days to prepare. The magic from your home will need to be gathered and used to shore up the child’s magic during proceedings,” Gearleck explained.

“It will not harm him in the short time we must leave it,” Ferlin assured her before she got the chance to ask.

“But it would if left?”

“Yes, the casters magic would attack and attack till it had a hold of Heir Potter and pit them in constant conflict in the child’s body. Then bit by bit, the disembodied soul of the Dark Lord would seek refuge where his magic had gone. It could well be that it would not have been your nephew inhabiting the body before you by adulthood. The child’s soul smothered and cast out by the twisted one of Voldemort.”

Petunia lurched to the side and threw up in a shell dish on the stone counter. She looked down at the shell and remembered a picture of a hermit crab inhabiting a dolls head. She threw up again. She didn’t care why the bowl was there or if it was a great magical artefact. All that mattered was her nephew was waging a magical war to retain his own body and soul.

“That has not happened yet. We will not let it happen.” Ferlin said as a glass was given to her, and she drank the contents without looking, leaving her feeling less nauseous and much calmer.

“Do we have to leave it there even for just a little bit?”

“As we said, it currently does no harm. The Dark Lords soul and magic are weak. The shoring of the family magics by yourself and your son has given the boy strength. We have added healing and cleansing magic which will keep him from magical lashing out without comprising the protection magic in place. He will be fine for a few days, longer would be an issue, but we shall not let that come to pass.”

“And the madman will be destroyed.”

“Even if he’s left other pieces of soul without his magic, they will be of no use and fade,” Gearleck reassured.

“Left pieces of his soul laying around. It sounds so terrible.”

“That’s because it is. To wrench the soul apart is a dark and desperate act that requires the murder of an innocent.” Gearleck replied.

“Then why do it?”

“Because some wizards use as a bid for immortality. It was popular for a while, and we find such artefacts from time to time while exploring tombs.”

“The madman tried to become immortal.” Petunia gasped, the calm from whatever she drank struggling to bank her fear.

“Tried being the operative word,” Gearleck reassured. “You may have noticed the absences of ancient megalomaniacs wandering around. None who have made such a cursed item have ever returned. Despite their best efforts.”

“Then why do it?”

“Fear. Wizards often fear what they have no power over, and death takes from them all they have strived for in life.”

“Oh. So, he can’t come back?” Petunia asked, seeking reassurance.

“Not after the healing of the boy. The Dark Lord will be gone by the end of the week at the latest.”

“Thank you. For everything.” Petunia stood up straighter and smiled at the Dvergers. “Should I book the appointment now?”

“No need; we will contact you once we have harvested the magic from the wards.” Hurlock responded from behind Petunia. “This way.”

Apparently, dismissed Petunia followed the taciturn assistant from the chambers. She and Misty got the children redressed before they were taken back to the carts, where they were met by a guard and escorted back to Sharrock’s office. Once there, they were informed nothing more could be done that day.

 

 

Chapter 6

It was by an owl that Petunia was informed to return to the bank early the following day. She had no doubt it was to tell her of Vernon’s death. She could, however, appreciate the fact they had written to schedule a meeting. Hearing about the passing of family by post was not an experience she wanted to relive, even if the death was expected.

Unwilling to leave the boys and Misty, she brought them too, and she soon found herself treading the familiar path to Sharrock’s office. His face confirmed her conclusion.

“As you may have guessed, your husband passed in the night, painlessly and without awakening. He has been transferred to trusted undertakers who are aware of the magical world.”

“Oh,” her eyes were suddenly burning with tears. Unlike all the others, Vernon’s death was expected, but it was still utterly horribly permanent. She swallowed hard, “I suppose I should contact them. Do telephones work?”

“I’m afraid not. Owling them will work, or else you should return to the muggle world where you may use a telephone. This, I am told, is their number.” He passed a business card across the desk.

“Thank you.” He inclined his head. “Any news on the house and wards. Where can we go, the boys and I… I don’t think I can stay at Privet Drive.” She was babbling, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes. Petunia attempted to regain her composure. The boys were laughing behind her, unaware of what she had done to save them, the burden she would always have to live with.

“You may remain in the hotel until after the healing. I recommend it. Things have yet to be sorted at the house, although initial reports suggest that they may be able to regain the magic within two days. This means that young Potter should attend his health appointment the day after tomorrow. I recommend you give over the whole day to the appointment. After that returning to Privet Drive may be necessary to allay suspicions from Dumbledore’s camp.”

“I suppose that’s a good idea.” She got up and gathered Misty and the boys. There was no need to break down in Sharrock’s office again. For all their sakes. Back in the hotel, Petunia returned to bed. She would face the world again in a few hours, when the horror of the past few days may not seem so bad.

***

Petunia woke feeling more human. Her mind was less muggy with grief, relief and a maelstrom of other emotions. A potion was pushed under her nose.

“Drink it up to make you a happy witchy, or at least not a so sad witchy.” It was probably the same one she’d been given yesterday by the healers. She hesitated before pushing it away.

“Not right now, Misty. I need to phone the undertakers and sort things out. I’ll need a clear head to do that.”

“Oh. Misty’s never seen a phone and not be knowing how these things be done. Misty’s never been to the Muggles before.”

“Well, today’s your lucky day. Let’s get the boys dressed nice and warm and get it out the way and take the rest of the day just for us. We need to go to get in touch with my sister in law to tell her Vernon’s dead too.”

“That not be fun sounding.”

“Marge is never fun. As tempting as it is to take the happy potion to make it bearable, I can’t sound giddy while informing her, she’s never liked me. She’ll try and get me arrested thinking I murdered him.”

“That not be good. You be a good witchy and not needing to be going to the bad wizardy place.”

“Exactly. Have you got the business card?”

“Misty put in a pocket,” she retrieved the card. “Misty be very taken with pockets.”

“Lucky you, they’re a premium in woman’s clothing. Best put it in my bag. I’ll need my purse for real money… or muggle money. I suppose I’ll have to get used to calling it.” She checked her bag and saw some change lurking at the bottom. It would be more than enough.

“Magic and muggle thing not be mixing well. It be hard to have both.”

“You know, I’d noticed that the two cultures are like oil and water. Will you be okay in the Muggle world?”

“Misty have her witchy to be knowing what to do, and Misty can be looking like a muggle to them, but not the babies or they be confused.”

“Wonderful, if your happy doing it, then please do. We’ll use a payphone to keep Marge from going on too long, and she won’t be able to call us back either.” It was nice to know how to do something after spending the past few days so lost.

“Misty happy to help.”

They traipsed out of the hotel and headed to a local department store that didn’t look too busy. Petunia wasn’t going to use a phone out on the street, not when there were other options.

Settling down on the uncomfortable bench, Petunia took out her purse and little phone book and looked up Marge’s number. Hopefully, she was in. It would be horrible to have to repeat this. Pushing the coins in and punching in the number with more vigour than necessary, she listened to the dial tone.

“I’m not buying anything. I’ve told you to remove this number from your lists.” Marge blustered down the telephone line.

“Marge, it’s Petunia.”

“Petunia? What are you doing on some dodgy number? I’ve been trying to get hold of you. I heard on the news a gas leak down your way. Hmm, I was telling Barry just the other day that they were cutting corners these days, the ruddy cheaters. making us pay out of pocket and asking the government for handouts with the other …”

“Marge.” Petunia interrupted.

“Oh, Barry, he’s a friend. Got an interest in my latest litter as long as there’s a good dog in the mix. Which there will be. I’m not going to waste my time with poor pedigrees a bad bitch will drag the pups down with her….”

“Marge. I’m not calling about puppies or your social life. It’s about Vernon…”

“What? Why are you calling then spit it out? Oh, never mind, put Vernon on instead; he at least talks sense.” Petunia closed her eyes and resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose. Talking to Marge on the phone was never easy.

“Vernon’s dead, Marge,” Petunia said flatly.

“What. He’s healthy as a horse, my brother. Some kind of mistake, I’m sure. Utter ridiculousness to think that he could be dead. A young man in his prime, making something of himself, despite the generosity of his heart that’s my brother.”

“I’ve seen him. He was given medical assistance, but nothing could be done.” Petunia interrupted before Marge could get carried away.

“Nothing to be done, utter foolishness, of course, they could have done something. I’ll demand an inquest. My brother dead! How?”

“It was his heart, the gas leak. He was worried for Dudley.” Petunia interrupted, unwilling to give any more details to the story.

“His heart… my brother had a great heart, great man. Dudley will be just like his father, a chip of the old block. You wait and see. You sure nothing was going on?” Marge muttered, sounding less sure than Petunia had ever heard.

“I was in the hospital, the leak was near the house, and I was feeling unwell. We were worried that Dudley was unwell too.” No need to mention Harry; Marge had made her opinion clear on them taking the boy in.

“Is he?”

“No, he’s fine now,” Petunia said looking at her son.

“Good. Well, I will be talking to the gas board about this, my nephew, my poor brother. An inquest is the least they can do. Get them to pay the funeral costs too.” Marge was back to her usual blustering self.

“Yes. You do that.” Petunia muttered. She’d have to warn Gringotts as they were the ones to come up with the story.

“Now, now don’t sound so weak. I’ll deal with it. Who knows what a mess you’d make of it? Might as well do the funeral too. I know who’s best to invite.” Petunia bit her lip to stop herself from speaking her mind. Marge would be gone from their lives soon enough.

“Have you got a pen handy this is the contact details for the undertaker?” She rattled off the information on the card.

“Well, at least you chose a decent one. I heard they did Milly’s husband when he bit the bullet.

“Thank you.”

“Makes me feel a bit better leaving the boy with you. Do try and give him a good grounding less work for me to straighten out later that way.” Petunia stiffened in outrage. “I’ll take Dudley, but not at his age too much work and get in the way of my travels. Best you hang on to him for a bit till he’s a proper person and able to pull his weight.”

“My son is already a fantastic person, far better than you, and he will be staying with me. I am not ever going to hand him over to a vulgar fool like you.” Petunia hissed furiously at the woman’s presumption that she’d give up her child.

Marge spluttered down the line. “Well, I never, here I am offering to help you out, and this is how you repay me. I told Vernon he should never have married you, and now my brother’s only child will undoubtedly be some underdeveloped runt like the one your sister foisted off on you. No doubt that stress pushed my dear brother over the edge. Mark my words…”

“I will not sit here and let you insult the boys, you horrid woman.” Petunia interrupted, struggling to keep her voice down.

“How dare you, I from a notable family, with breeding and connections you can’t imagine.”

“Yet your dear brother couldn’t wait to move far away from you, could he, so think on that.” Petunia snapped, a blind on the other side of the room snapped to the slats falling to the floor.

She glanced at Harry, who seemed happy waiting with Dudley and a glamoured Misty who apparently resembled a petite blond woman to the non-magical. There was no way it was a coincidence. The magic must have been hers.

She took a deep breath and drank the potion that Misty was once more waving under her nose. Marge was still ranting, and Petunia found she couldn’t care less what Marge said.

“That is enough, Marge. The house is still unsafe. The wake will have to be held elsewhere. If you still wish to organise things.”

“As if I would let Vernon be waked at home, no it will be somewhere fitting of his status, maybe the Ritz. Keep out the riff-raff that way.” Petunia was tempted to point out it was December, so most venues had been booked well in advance for Christmas parties but decided Marge could find that out herself.

The automated warning voice interrupted them; the call was nearly over.

“You know what, Marge, you do that, and then we’ll read the will and never have anything to do with each other again. The calls nearly over, and I won’t be spending any more to hear your ill-founded and ignorant rants. Send the details to the house. I’ll collect them from there.” Petunia hung up.

She looked around. Nobody had batted an eyelid at her behaviour. She stood up and brushed her skirt into place. “Let me quickly phone the undertakers. Then let’s get lunch, something nice.”

They’d spent the afternoon and the next day walking around London. Showing the sites to Misty and not thinking about the mess in the magical world that still needed dealing with or the one which was unfolding in the Muggle one.

It was strange exploring the city, knowing that she’d be leaving it soon, that it wasn’t really part of her world anymore. But at the same time, it had been her way of life, all she’d known for over two decades. Had Lily also suffered pangs of parting from the world of her birth, or did they take them young so they would be quickly acclimatised?

While they hadn’t been to the bank, a series of letters had been exchanged. Petunia had informed them of a possible inquest into the gas leak and sent Sharrock a list of potential countries she could tolerate living in. They, in turn, had kept her up to date with the harvesting of the magic at Privet Drive.

As promised, two days after the healing appointment, they were sent word that Harry was scheduled to attend a ritual cleansing at the bank the next morning. The wards were gathered, and Harry could have the leech removed. She sat down with a shudder; Harry would be safe. One of the monsters who killed her family would be dead, Lily would be avenged.

***

They woke early the next day and walked the familiar route to the bank. This would be the last time they needed to make such a visit. Harry would be healed today, and the will was progressing without their input. All that was needed was a destination for them to relocate to.

“Ah, you’re here. Excellent. I’ll lead you down to the healing halls and give you these to read over. Hopefully, by this evening, we’ll have a new home for you underway.” Sharrock said, looking over a stack of documents. His empty desk was a thing of the past.

“Did Privet Drive survive the removal of the wards?” Petunia wondered, hopefully it did or else she’d have to phone Marge for details.

“Remarkably yes, although the wires need to be redone. It was lucky the electricity was turned off, or else I’m told it would have burnt to the ground.” Petunia winced at the thought. “The cost is being charged to Dumbledore’s account, and I believe you’ll get a good price for the property. Do you want Gringotts to handle the sale?”

“Yes, if that’s possible, it may yet depend on Vernon’s will what we can afford. Are you allowed to keep taking from Dumbledore’s account?”

“Yes. Not everyone reads all their contracts fully or understands the consequences of their actions.”

“So, you could do this to anyone?” Petunia asked trying to recall what she had signed recently.

“Anybody who is a contracted representative of the British Ministry and International Confederation of Wizards who puts up illegal wards and threatens the welfare of a client with account manager status, yes. It’s a violation of the Wizard’s contract with us, the Hoard, and we can take action to cover all associated costs.”

“The Hoard?”

“The correct collective term for the Dverger nation.”

“Ah, and there will be no penalty for you from the Ministry for taking Dumbledore’s money?”

“No. They can take on the cost instead of Dumbledore if they wish, but that is the limit of it.”

“Somehow, I doubt they will be so motivated.”

“Oh, indeed, and it’s enshrined within their laws that we had to act. We could have faced difficulties if we hadn’t.”

“Then I’m glad you did.”

“It has been my pleasure. Talking of the Dumbledore benevolent fund for un-fuckery of his making.”

Petunia snorted in an un-ladylike manner and checked the boys were out of hearing range before focusing back on Sharrock. “The funeral costs for your husband will be met, a lump sum allegedly from the gas board. Your sister in law has accepted.”

“Of course, she did. At least she’ll be satisfied and not making any more waves.”

“I doubt she will be much trouble even if she had tried. Shall we get young Harry to the healers? They should be ready for him now.”

They were led once more down to the healing cave and handed over to the chaperoning of Hurlock. Once granted admission, they were brought straight to the cleansing pool.

“Put the boy in the water. It has been requested that you join him. A suitable robe will be provided for you upon leaving the water.” Hurlock announced and then turned her back on them, providing a semblance of privacy.

“Misty, could you watch Dudley? And you’d better take the paperwork too.” Petunia said as she somewhat self-consciously stripped off, trying to pretend it was just like the swimming baths changing room. However, she always put on a costume before entering the water there.

The water was like slipping into a perfect bath after a long day. Harry swam in a determined doggy paddle towards her while Dudley threw a strop on the shore.

“The other boy can bathe as well,” Hurlock announced after Dudley had worked himself up into hiccupping sobs. Released from Misty’s hold, he charged into the water clothes shed at an alarming rate till he too was splashing around.

Petunia was almost tempted to stay in long enough to let her fingers get wrinkled. But they were here for a reason, and once Harry was better, they could go swimming again as a family.

Misty passed her a new robe as she got out. They didn’t bother trying to re-robe the children but instead scooped them up and followed Hurlock out of the cavern. Rather than go back to the same chamber as before, they were led deeper into the caverns until Petunia had to stoop to avoid long hanging stalactites.

“Here”, Hurlock gestured towards a small opening in the rock. “I will collect you when it’s time. The elf and the other child will return with me.”

“Err, Thank you. Misty, do you have everything you need to look after Dudley for a while?”

“Yes, we be fine. You be making Harry better now.”

“Read those,” she indicated the file of documents on magical communities and potential properties at the elf. “Go through them and put them in order of where you’d most like to live.”

“You’d trust Misty with that?” Her eyes had gone impossibly wide.

“Of course, you’ll be living there too.” The request hadn’t seemed too out of the blue to Petunia, but maybe it was another case of wizards just not caring for those in their care.

“Misty can do that. You go now.”

Petunia slipped through the gap with Harry and found herself in a larger chamber than any she’d been in before. It was a natural cavern, and seams of minerals ran in bands around the walls, catching the light and making the place glow.

The floor held more minerals formed into crystals above the polished floor, some jagged, others rounded. At first look, the placement of the rocks seemed random. Still, as she walked further into the space, Petunia realised there was a pattern to their distribution.

“Ah, you’re here,” Ferlin said, breaking away from the group distracting her from figuring out what the pattern exactly was. “How is the boy?”

“He’s been fine; his scar hasn’t bled since we last were here.”

“Good, our preventive measures worked. Well, no point putting this off. Please put him in the middle of the room, by the greenish rock. Your families natural inclination towards earth magic is a boon in this situation.”

“Do I need to be careful walking to the stone?”

“No, the magic is still inert. That said, don’t go kicking the rocks either.”

Petunia picked her way across the room. The green stone wasn’t, by her definition, the middle, but she wasn’t going to argue with a being who knew so much more magic than she did. As she got closer, she saw the strange formation beside the green rock was a woven bower. She carefully put Harry down. He reached up towards her wanting off the cool floor.

“Ah, pop him in the bower. It’ll be better for him. Your families earth Magic is as I said a serious boon to us in this case.” Petunia inspected the offered cradle of flowering branches lined with white flowers.

“Those are Lilly of the Valley. They’re poisonous,” she said worriedly.

“True, but in this case, they will do him no harm.” Petunia gently placed Harry into the woven shelter, and he carefully inspected the branches before grabbing one of them.

“What do the plants do?” Petunia asked, curious about their presence in an otherwise geological space.

“Firstly, they keep him in one place, which is important with the amount of magic that we’ll be throwing around. Plants also have a use in healing although these two less so mostly they symbolic.” Ferlin said with a slight shrug.

“The lilies for his mother I can understand but the Myrtle?”

“Ah yes. The lilies are for young Harry’s mother, the last innocent to be killed by Riddle, while the Myrtle is for the first, he killed. A young girl he was at school with.”

“Do you know the language of flowers?” Petunia asked, looking at the bower.

“Yes. It’s a good fit, don’t you think? Myrtle for love, home and duty and Lilly of the Valley for the return of happiness.”

“Strange how these things come to be.” Petunia agreed.

“Isn’t it. Hello, young man, we haven’t forgotten you. Drink this, please.” Ferlin greeted Harry, who was pulling on Petunia’s robe to get her attention. He passed Petunia a vial full of a hazy purple liquid.

“Drink up, Harry.” She bent down to give the boy the vial without letting go, just in case he spilt it. He narrowed his eyes but drank the contents at her urging. She passed the empty vial back and just managed to catch Harry as he slumped sideways.

“He’s fine,” Ferlin reassured before she had time to demand answers. “Hit him a bit harder than expected but probably for the best that he’s so far under. These sorts of things shouldn’t be remembered by children. Lay him down now and follow me.”

“Should I put him in the recovery position?”

The healer blinked in shock at her question. “No, the magic of the potion will keep him from harm. Most witches don’t know or even consider such first aid.” After carefully placing Harry on his back, she kissed his head and was led to the edge of the room.

“Now, you need to stay here; moving around will throw off the balance of the magic. You’ll maybe see things and hear things, ignore them. Your magic will react. Don’t fight it and even join in if you wish. I know it’s new to you, and you have negative associations with magic, but you need to trust it in this situation. For your nephew’s sake.”

“I can leave if you’d rather. I don’t know enough magic to take part.”

“No, your presence here is necessary. Nearly all the magics involved with today’s ritual know you, and you will be able to mitigate the onslaught your nephew will face; it will be better for him to have you here. All souls know some magic you’ll do fine although you may be more comfortable sitting.”

“Oh.” Ferlin smiled at her and then walked back to the cluster of Dvergers. With little else to do, she sat.

She’d had little experience with her magic. All she had done with it was gain a house-elf and vandalise a blind. But it was part of her, so that should mean it was trustworthy, shouldn’t it? But what if… no, she couldn’t think like that? She had to trust magic as she never had before.

She looked at her nephew; she’d been willing to trust magic to heal him after it had damaged him when she first walked into the magical world. She was trusting beings that weren’t human, Dvergers and elves, with her boys. She could trust magic. She could. She had to.

She was out of time. The group had broken apart and were distributing themselves around the chamber. A few held tiny crystals that they placed on the ground with great care.

Derkrin started to chant, and one by one, the others picked up the spell. Petunia was greatly relieved that nobody, but Harry was getting naked. She wasn’t going to be one of those witches cavorting about in her altogether.

One of the crystals began to glow, then a flash of light ran along the floor, leaving a glowing streak, and the first rock was connected to another. One by one, rocks lit up, and a complicated web was forming on the floor wrapping around Harry, the Dvergers and even her.

Then the tiny crystals placed on the floor at the start of the spell began to glow a richer tone than the light of the floor stones. A humming filled the air playing a counter-melody to the chanting. The sound built, the air went heavy, and Petunia tried to swallow. The air tasted like when icing sugar puffed up into a cloud, all sweet and slightly sticky. It didn’t make swallowing any easier.

Other voices joined in the chanting, but no new people were present. She tried to catch what they were saying only to realise it was in another language, one she didn’t know. She saw a golden flicker of a shape to her left. It was gone when she tried to see what it was. Another form twisted just out of sight. She closed her eyes.

She had to trust magic. She had to trust. She repeated to herself and forced her eyes open. More forms were flickering, and the voices were all beginning to overlap. Her head was spinning and her chest aching, her throat itching.

She opened her mouth to try and draw in a breath and found instead she was speaking, joining in with all the voices but unsure what she was saying. She tried to lock her jaw, stop herself in case she ruined things and instead nearly bit her tongue.

Was this the magic she was meant to trust? How could she when it had taken control, and she was being treated like a puppet by it? She closed her eyes and listened to the voices working in sync, creating a spell, saving Harry. She could do it she could trust. She was a witch; she could and would do magic, especially for her family.

The burning in her chest receded, and the words flowed easier; she wasn’t fighting magic anymore. She opened her eyes; she could do this. The room was different. It was glowing not just on the floor but around the walls and weaving through the air, thousands of different coloured threads creating a tapestry of magic. It was beautiful, and it was immense.

Another shape flickered, appearing and settled by Harry. For a second, it solidified into a form so very much like Lily before blurring back into light. Still, it stayed by Harry. Was it her sister? Her magic? Magic and souls were linked; could it be Lily. Was it the same as the magic that she’d seen during the will reading? Did it matter?

One of the Dvergers changed chant, and two others joined him in his new spell; Harry started to glow. Then a sickly coloured and frayed strand began to rise from over the cut on Harry’s head. It writhed in the air like a snake caught in the claws of a greater beast, unable to get free.

The flickering figures converged in the room by Harry striking out at the strand whenever it twisted towards the child on the floor. Bit by bit, it was drawn out till the small length was brought free, and the glowing figures pushed it up and away from Harry.

The strand snagged in one of the longer threads from the spell tapestry. It was pulled along like a streamer before another part became snagged, and the sickly strand was pulled in different directions. The stand snapped.

Petunia watched the small piece of magic get ripped to pieces along the glowing threads till it seemed all the parts were broken down into other streams of magic.

The chanting slowed, and the threads dimmed; the number of flicker figures decreased. The spell was ending, and the room was growing darker. Petunia’s tongue began to feel heavy, and the drive to utter the spell faded. She noticed the tiny crystals lay cracked on the floor. When had that happened?

She took a deep breath, the first in hours. The air felt cold, like breathing in winter air after eating a mint. The threads were gone, and only the stones glowed now. She struggled to keep her eyes open. The only voices were the Dvergers, and one by one, they fell silent. Harry was still lying unharmed in the bower. Silence fell, and nobody moved for a long moment till the closest Dverger moved over to Harry.

“The child is fine.” They announced after a series of quick gestures. “He’ll wake up in an hour or two.” The other Dvergers began to move, but Petunia stayed sat down, unable to find the energy to move.

“I’ll get the child.” Hurlock had returned at some point. She watched the Dverger carefully gather up Harry and bring him back to her. “Drink this and follow me.” Petunia did as she was told and, feeling slightly less lethargic, pulled herself to her feet.

“Should I say thank you?”

“No, They’re too tired. Have Sharrock pass on your thanks.”

She was led back out the passage and to a quiet little cavern where Misty sat watching a sleeping Dudley. Harry was placed beside his cousin. “You may rest here.”

“You sleep, Misty, be watching,” the elf promised. With little encouragement, she climbed onto the remarkably comfortable rock, gathered the boys close and fell asleep.

***
Once more, she woke to find Misty entertaining the boys. The elf had been a godsend the past few days, and Petunia couldn’t imagine life without her. Harry was sitting up and playing with his cousin as if nothing was wrong, the scar on his head barely visible.

“He be free of nasty magics now,” Misty said on spotting Petunia watching them.

“It’s all gone?”

“Mmhmm, and the family magics is here all strong and happy, so be his mama’s magic. You be having it too.”

“That’s good. That’s very good,” Petunia said faintly.

“It is indeed,” Ferlin said from where he lent in the doorway. “The leech was removed, and the magic was returned to the ley lines. The Dark Lord is defeated, and the Potter family magics sing with victory.”

“Thank you.”

“You are most welcome. Your acceptance of magic was noted and appreciated; it helped ease things for us.” He inclined his head and left the room.

“Misty has been reading the list. She’s been making her favourites know.” The elf broke the silence.

Petunia sat up. It didn’t appear they were being evicted yet. “Well, then you’d best show me.”

 

 

Chapter 7

“I hear you did well.” They were sitting once more in Sharrock’s office. Petunia had been given some more potions, and while not as exhausted as she had been, she still wasn’t feeling up to doing much. Magic was much more tiring than she’d ever thought.

“I don’t know how much I did; the real magic was done by the others. Please pass on my thanks to them for all they have done for Harry.”

“I will. But the leech was an abomination. They’ll have the satisfaction of destroying it and preserving the Potter magics.”

“And compensation from the Dumbledore fund for their time,” Petunia pointed out.

“Perhaps that as well, but Dvergers do like a good fight and the preservation of magic.” He gave her a considering look. “Did you know that you have seen more of magic in a week than many who live their whole lives immersed in the world?”

“They’d probably understand what it was they were seeing. And be able to appreciate it all the more.” Petunia pointed out.

“Maybe, but not likely. Very few ever see family magic due to the scarcity of families with any left and the strength of will to maintain it. Fewer yet get to witness the reacceptance of tainted magic into the ley lines of the earth.”

“Is that what happened?” Petunia asked. She wasn’t entirely sure what she had witnessed, and Ferlin hadn’t explained much beforehand. Probably for the best, she wasn’t sure her nerve wouldn’t have failed her and made things much more difficult if she’d known what was going to happen.

“From the report, I have seen the tainted magic was drawn out of the child, and the Potter family magic defended the child from it returning while he was vulnerable.”

“The flickering figures?” Petunia guessed. “Like the ones from the will reading, but there were so many more.”

“The Potters are an old family, and Harry is the last of them. The magic would have done much to defend him as we have seen.” He gave her a knowing look. “The small amount of twisted magic from the dark Lord was then broken down by the lay lines and returned to the earth to be cleansed.”

“The threads were lay lines?”

“Minor ones. The bank is built on a convergence of major ones, and the ritual chamber has lines running above, below and all around it. It is one of the most intensely magical places in the country.”

“It felt it. He’s defeated then, the Dark Lord?”

“Yes, his magic is gone, his soul will soon follow, and even the best necromancer will not be able to draw him back to this realm, especially if he split his soul. We can focus now on the living threats to the family.”

“Dumbledore.”

“He is the main one. There will be others who seek to control and use the boy as he grows. He has enough wealth and the magical power to cause excitement in even the staidest of politicians.”

“Even abroad?” petunia asked with a small amount of dread.

“Not to the same degree.”

“Good. Misty and I have been talking, and we think France will be best for us. Will that suit you?”

“Excellent choice. The French are remarkably liberal, even allowing non-human magicals to attend their main school. They also have rights for elves which the British elves could only dream off.”

“It was a consideration in our choice.” Misty squirmed on the chaise where she was listening to the conversation. “All my family will be as safe as I can make them.”

Sharrock smiled at her. “It is for the best that you’re leaving. The British magicals are in no way prepared for you.”

“Maybe losing their so-called saviour will shock some sense into them, but after all I’ve heard, I doubt it. Will we need emigration papers? Citizenship?”

“The bank can sort this. Citizenship is preferable, and it may be possible to gain it, especially as the French Ministry are fed up with their British counterpart. In this case, we may be able to use the fame and politics of the situation to push things through quickly and quietly.”

“I assume the priority is getting us out of the country before anybody realises and interferes?”

“Yes. I’ll get a property list ready for you to review, and if you get back to me quickly, we can get the place warded for you before you leave. I recommend staying for the funeral of your husband. His death has been reported in the muggle news, and Dumbledore may be aware of his passing. It would be best not to draw his attention unduly.”

“Won’t he notice the lack of wards if he’s watching us so closely?”

“That was a concern. A decoy set of wards have been put up but will not last more than a month. Their presence won’t interfere with the sale of the house. Although I recommend you wait until, you’re out of the country to you list the property.”

“That makes sense. You’ll still be the Potter account manager even with the move?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” Petunia nodded. “Well, it’s been a long day, and we both have things still to do, so we’ll go back to the hotel now.”

“Certainly, I’ll owl the property list. Once more, well done for today.”

***

“Misty, we’ll have to go to Privet Drive tomorrow. Will that be okay for you?” Petunia asked once they’d settled back into the hotel room. The anonymous space felt safer than Privet Drive while they recovered from the ritual. But the safety of their temporary shelter would have to come to an end so they could make it to a better sanctuary.

“Misty can use magics so she not be seen.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that. Can you disguise yourself as a muggle like when we went around London?”

“You want Misty to be seen?”

“Yes, is that a problem? I didn’t think you minded the other day?”

“Most people be hiding their elves from friends and family; they be boasting they have one but not let them be seen or heard.”

“Come here, Misty.” The elf walked over, and Petunia took her hands. “I know you have been with the bad family and their ilk. But I know nothing about how magical things are done, but what I do know is common decency and how people should be treated. So, Misty, would you mind if I treat you as the wonderful being you are.”

Misty stared at her eyes swimming and ears twitching. “Misty doesn’t know what Misty did to get such a good witchy, but Misty be happy to not hide and be family.”

“Good, because I’m relying on you. Now let’s do some house shopping.”

“Misty’s never bought a house before.”

“Nor have I, a new start for the both of us.”

***

They took the train back to Privet Drive. They’d debated all the different magical options. Still, there wasn’t much they could do without a wand, and Petunia didn’t want to subject the babies to a portkey when there were other options. It would also look less suspicious having them arrive in a muggle manner if they were being watched.

The journey gave her time to gather herself for what was to come. Privet Drive would be agog with excitement at her return. Rather than walk from the commuter station Petunia went to the expense of hiring a taxi. It would also mean they’d make it to the front door unhindered by curious residents.

The house was still standing was the first thing Petunia thought when they pulled up outside. The second was that the hydrangea was looking a bit trampled. But apart from that, it looked just the same. Yet nothing was.

Vernon was dead, while Petunia and the boys were magical soon to be citizens of France. As she walked closer, she felt a tingle of the temporary wards. She glanced behind her to make sure Misty, and the boys made it through safely and saw the curtains twitching in the houses opposite. She ushered her family inside quickly.

Somebody had turned the electricity back on after the swift repair job. Magic meant you couldn’t see a single trace of the work. Such possibilities for her new house. “Misty, I think you’d best go and empty the fridge. Things have probably started to grow in there.” Petunia said, focusing back on the moment.

“Misty be doing that and maybe getting more foods?”

“Just a little, we won’t be here long.” Petunia warned before walking into the Livingroom; pictures of Vernon beamed back at her. Maybe they wouldn’t have them quite so concentrated in the new house and find a few of Lily and James for Harry to enjoy and the boys’ grandparents. The new house was much more extensive. After all, no need to cover all the walls in portraits.

The boys began to fuss, so she wandered upstairs and put them to bed before entering the spare bedroom. The one Vernon had called his office but was where they kept assorted things that hadn’t made it into the loft. The fax machine wasn’t on. Hopefully, she could remember how to work it and retrieve the details Marge had hopefully sent over.

The doorbell rang. Petunia ignored it, still trying to get the machine to spit out the information which it had. She pressed another few buttons, and after some whirring, it spat out a page. Marge hadn’t gotten the Ritz but still seemed to be holding things in London.

Good, that would mean they could leave Privet Drive under less suspicious circumstances. Nobody would expect her to drive back and forwards to London for the funeral and will reading, which was being held the day after. They could slip away. She shuddered; this cloak and dagger living wasn’t for her. She just had to tolerate it for another few days.

The doorbell rang again. Petunia sighed. Better get it over with, and maybe whoever it was could pass on the funeral arrangements to the rest of the street. Give people time to figure out if they wanted to go all the way to London. Hopefully, Marge hadn’t over catered. The neighbours were unlikely to attend with such a journey, and the state of the roads in winter was not worth the frustration.

“Oh, Petunia.” Gladys gushed as soon as the door opened. “I came over straight over as soon as I saw you were back. You poor thing the gas, Vernon, everything! such a tragedy.”

“It’s been difficult,” Petunia agreed.

“Of course, it has, Nigel, told me to tell you he’s here for you. I am, too, of course. Do you need me to take the boys? I’ll have them, whatever you need.”

“No, thank you, I need them with me right now.” Gladys was by sheer force of will making it across the threshold. Rather than fight it, Petunia led her into the Livingroom.

“Family is so important at such a time, and so soon after your parents and sister; these things come in threes. It’s a magic number, you know.” Petunia winced slightly. “Oh, but where are the boys?”

“Sleeping.” Gladys didn’t need others to contribute much to a conversation. She could and did talk for England. It gave Petunia time to think about how best to get her out of the house again.

“Ah, the upheaval it’ll have thrown them off. Why poor Piers has been a menace in the hotel. You were in one too, after the hospital, that is. So nice of them to put us up. We had Mandy and Greg in the room just down from us. It was quite an adventure. Oh no, I’m being insensitive.” Gladys gave her a concerned look.

“I’m fine.” Gladys gave her a pitying look, and Petunia looked down. Gladys wanted her to be the devastated grieving widow, but Petunia hadn’t ever been overemotional in public. “Do you want a biscuit? I’m afraid the milk’s out of date, so tea will have to be black.” She tried to distract her guest.

Gladys gave her another pitying look. “Look at you, being so strong for your boys.” Petunia gave her a tight smile. Gladys had no idea what she’d been through and done for her boys. “Don’t you worry about anything. I’ll pop back with some milk and maybe some other little things for you.” Gladys had taken the bait and was moving on to new topics.

“Thank you. But you don’t have to.” Hopefully, they weren’t going to be inundated with meals again like after Harry’s arrival.

“Oh. But I just have to. You shouldn’t be eating take out at a time like this. It’s terrible for you, and you need comfortable, filling food. What are neighbours for but helping each other out at a time of need?”

Gossip, Petunia thought a little bit meanly, hoping Gladys would leave soon she didn’t enjoy being a charity case. “If you insist, but not too much, the funeral is soon up in London. Marge insisted.” Petunia threw in, hoping that the gossip would help move Gladys out of the house.

“Poor Marge. But I’ll tell the neighbours the details don’t you worry about doing that. Talking about the neighbours, do you recall Arabella from the street over who just moved in? Well, she came to visit tried to find out what was going on. Nigel thinks she’s planning on moving again. She was very focused on what happened to your family. Nigel thinks it’s spooked her.”

“Oh,” Petunia swallowed. The witch was probably watching her but for who?

“She’ll probably be round in person. I don’t think she’s very sensitive.” Said the woman who had all but forced her company on Petunia minutes ago.

“Mama.” Dudley had woken up from his nap and was now giving his mother, the perfect excuse to get rid of Gladys.

“Is that Dudley?”

“Yes.” Before Petunia could do anything, Misty was heard going up the stairs.

“Who was that surely the boys aren’t using the stairs?”

“It was Misty. A girl from an agency, the gas board, are paying her to help me out while things are sorted out.” Petunia used the lie they’d come up with to explain why a petite blond woman had replaced Vernon in their house.

“Oh, well, it was the least they could do after everything.” Gladys pursed her lips and gave her a quick look. “But I better get you the milk. I shan’t be long.” She hurried out of the house, barely saying goodbye and forgetting to take the copy of the funeral arrangements, very happy with all the gossip she’d gathered on her short visit. Petunia sank back onto the sofa and closed her eyes.

“Did Misty do wrong?” the elf asked from the doorway where she stood with the boys.

“No. But I’m glad we’re not staying and even more glad that our new house doesn’t have neighbours so close. To think that I could have become so absorbed in other people’s lives like that. Nosy parkers, my mum called them.”

***
“No, Arabella, your visit isn’t an imposition. Not at all.” Petunia lied as she stood in her doorway, not letting the other witch inside.

“So, kind of you to say. I’ve brought gingerbread for you and the little ones. Can I see them?” Did the woman realise what stereotypes she played into Petunia, wondered?

“They’re sleeping.”

“Oh, they must be so pleased to be home. And what about you must be so different but comforting at the same time. Moving is so stressful and not what you need at such a time.” Dumbledore’s agent, then Petunia, mused here to keep her under surveillance and report her plans back to the man.

“Vernon sorted it out last time.” Petunia agreed.

“Well, all the more reason to stay. It’s all safe now.” Figg smiled at her. “If you need anything, I’ll be there. Willing to watch one of the boys for you too.” I bet you will, Petunia thought but didn’t let her distrust show on her face.

“Thank you,” Petunia said instead in a flat tone. “But I’m keeping them close for now” Figg dithered on the doorstep but with nothing else to say, walked off slowly as Petunia closed the door.

She carried the tray into the kitchen, where Misty was making dinner for them. She put the cake down on the counter and gave in to the urge to wash her hands. If only the water from the cleansing poll ran through the taps.

“Why do people keep giving us foods? Misty be good and can make it all.” The elf said, giving the dry gingerbread a dirty look. “Misty can make it better.”

“To be kind and get close for gossip mainly. I’d give that to the birds. It came from Figg.”

“Figg not be a witchy but a squib. She didn’t have many magics, not enough for an elf. But you best not be trusting her food. Squibs still be getting hold of potions.”

“Exactly, and she works for Dumbledore.”

“Hmm, Misty, not be feeding the birdies with it then, or the poor beasties may be all ill and die.” She snapped her fingers, and the contents of the tray turned to ash.

“Not much of a loss. We don’t need to stay here much longer now. The funeral is tomorrow, you can come. The boys will need watching, and I don’t trust Dumbledore not to send another watcher.”

“Old man, be a creepy stalker.” Misty agreed.

***

Petunia booked them into a muggle hotel so as not to give away her involvement in the magical world, and she brought only a small suitcase. They didn’t need to know that Misty had charmed it to hold more and then shrunk down all the belongings Petunia wanted to keep. She quite literally had everything she owned in her bag.

The funeral wasn’t particularly inspiring. The priest was a stranger to them and spoke of Vernon in only the generalist of terms. Marge eulogised him at length, to the point most of the audience began to doze off, and then the coffin was wheeled away.

It was a sad affair not in emotion but for the lack of it, but it was probably what Vernon would have wanted if he’d ever thought about dying so young. It was a surprise to see so many of the neighbours had made it, but then it was the most exciting thing that happened in Privet Drive since the building of a new roundabout three years ago. They’d see it through to the end and then spend months rehashing the details. Petunia’s flight to content was going to be the cherry on the top.

It wasn’t until halfway through the wake that Petunia had to acknowledge Marge. The other woman had spent the time talking about her family and arranging visits to those who couldn’t get away from her quickly enough.

“Well, what is it? This is my brother’s wake. I’ll complain, you know.” Marge snapped at the hotel manager, who’d brought them both aside. Marge was probably looking for any reason to complain and claim money back on a refund; she was that sort of woman. She hadn’t even paid for it in the first place.

“There’s a rather shabby gentleman who says he’s here for the wake but not on the guest list.”

“Well, don’t let him in. Some scrounger trying to benefit from Vernon’s death.” Marge ordered before flouncing off as well as a woman of her stature could. As if she wasn’t using Vernon’s death for her own benefit. But what could Petunia say she’d all but killed the man.

“Ma’am?” The hotel manager interrupted her thoughts. He passed her a glass of wine. She must have been looking distressed.

“Best keep him away; it would be too much.” He inclined his head and walked off. Petunia walked back towards the main hall and saw a shabby man being removed from the foyer. He looked a little bit like a boy she’d seen hanging around Lily’s husband at the graduation party. Another watcher?

“There be a magic wolfman near,” Misty said when she made it back to the event. Petunia paled. “He be near but gone now.”

“I think I saw him, a bit scarred up and raggedy?”

“That be a wolfman. They all be like that in Britain.”

“Can we hide?”

“Misty already has done that. They all be for bad man or Dumbledore. The clever ones be gone to better places.”

“I think you best pop the boys back to the hotel then nip back for me. I don’t want to be ambushed. We’re too close now to lose it all.”

***

“Misty be hiding her and babies with magic. They not be knowing we there.”

“But…”

“No buts.” The elf put her hands on her hips. “Misty, not be losing family to an eppy creepy old man. Misty, keep you safe, and we be going then to the new house.”

“If you’re sure it won’t be too much,” Petunia asked.

“Misty has lots of magic, lots and lots now.”

“I’ll be able to see you, though?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then no point arguing anymore. Grab the bag if we’re late Marge will be intolerable.”

The will reading was set for half ten, but Petunia wanted to be there early. Marge had already thrown a tantrum about having the boys present, arguing Harry wasn’t family and Dudley would probably delay things. So, Petunia had agreed that they would be left with Misty.

For a moment, Petunia felt terrible about only buying one ticket for the bus, but how could she explain her invisible children and friend were travelling with her. Even though the bus was quiet, she sat by the aisle, so nobody sat on the Misty or the boys.

The solicitor’s office was a soulless as the one she’d been to when her parents passed despite the more upmarket address. She was led into a bland little room with a wilted pot plant. With nothing else to do, Petunia poked the plant. It perked up.

“They be killing it again,” Misty chimed up after watching what she’d done.

“Probably.”

“Misty be taking it with us now.”

“You can’t do that.”

“It be your first proper magics. Misty be keeping it as a memento.” The little elf picked up the plant and put it into the suitcase. Hopefully, nobody would notice the theft.

“Ah, you’re here already.” Petunia jumped and moved away from the scene of the crime. “Your sister in law has just arrived; we’ll be starting shortly. Do you want anything?” Petunia mutely shook her head as the man shuffled his papers.

“Petunia. I see you made it then.” Marge sniffed on entering the room.

“Now, Ladies, emotions may be high, but let’s get this done.” He introduced himself and then began then to read out Vernon’s will in the dry and dusty tone she had dreaded. At least magic gave you a personal reading.

“Absolute rubbish. Are you certain this codswallop is my brother’s will?” bellowed Marge interrupting the recital.

“Yes, Ma’am. It is.”

“I’ll fight it. This won’t stand how dare that tart get everything.” Petunia blinked. She hadn’t been paying that much attention. But it appeared Marge wasn’t getting what she believed to be her dues.

“Ma’am, you have a very generous bequest. One that would be exhausted fighting the will.” He added in a more serious tone.

“Nonsense, Petunia doesn’t have a spine; she’ll do what I want.”

“I think you’ll find that in this case, I do have one, and I will do what I can to honour Vernon’s wishes.” Petunia stood up. “If you cared for him as much as you claim, you’d do that too.”

“You don’t deserve it.” Marge spat at her.

“Ladies! Please.” The solicitor tried to calm down the situation.

“Fight it then, Marge. Let everybody know you only care for money despite all you’ve said.” Marge reeled back in shock. “Let’s see how many friends you have at the end of it, let alone how much money.”

“You….” Marge fumed, having gone an alarming colour of red. For a moment, Petunia wondered about the state of Marge’s heart. Hopefully, she wouldn’t die too; Petunia would get a reputation.

“Please sit down; let’s be reasonable,” The solicitor cajoled. They both ignored the man.

“It’s like that, then you mercenary whore.” Petunia raised a mocking eyebrow at Marge’s comment. “You… Fine, have it your way, but this parting of the ways. You won’t suffer the benevolence of my connection anymore.”

“Suffer is the word I’d use too,” Petunia agreed.

“That is the limit. Send the paperwork to my address. It’ll be on record. I won’t stay here a moment longer.” Marge strode out of the room and hopefully their lives for the last time.

“Well then. I suppose you wish to finalise things as well?” the solicitor asked, breaking the silence.

“Yes, please. Although I’d like a copy of everything.”

“We can manage that.”

***

Petunia got off the bus and walked into the park. “This is very covert of you, Misty.”

“You can’t be disappearing near the magic places or in buildings.”

“I suppose. Can you not just pop us? We’re going to be walked into often like this.”

“Misty, do a little muggle repelling charm, so we don’t get squished.”

“Well then. Do we have everything?”

“Yes. Then let us get to the bank.” Misty snapped her finger, and Petunia felt a cold sensation run down her body. “That wasn’t pleasant.”

“Better than staying here.”

“True.” Taking Dudley from the elf, they walked out the park and through the back streets to a quaint little tea shop. “This isn’t the pub?”

“There be lots of ways in and out of the magic streets.”

“Then why make a run-down pub the first place the muggle raised see?” Petunia asked. The teashop was a much better first impression.

“They be getting free drinks for going there.”

“You mean the adults, the teachers?… Oh, what am I asking? Of course, you do. I’m done with this place lets go.” Petunia followed Misty into the tea room and out the back into a garden. They walked through the fence as if it wasn’t there and found themselves standing in a small square.

“The bank be this way.”

***

“You made good time.” Sharrock sat at his desk behind a pile of parchments.

“The will reading ended rather abruptly.” Petunia replied.

“It went well?”

“It did, nothing unexpected, and we can afford the new house without a loan to tide us over till the sale of Privet Drive.”

“Excellent. I have the deed here if you wish to sign it.” He pushed the paper towards her, and she sat at the desk and read through it thoroughly. Sharrock raised an eyebrow. “Not what you expected?”

“Not at all. I was warned about contracts and didn’t wish to set up my own benevolent fund.” Petunia replied, making Sharrock laugh while she signed.

“Wiser than many.”

“Experience is a wonderful educator,” Petunia agreed.

“It is. Here is your Portkey. It’s set for you, the boys and Misty. None other can enter without resetting the ward book. Misty can show you how.”

“So, this is it?” Petunia asked, feeling slightly despondent.

“Not at all we still have Black to free and Dumbledore to neuter. You’ll be hearing from me regularly.”

“I look forward to it.”

“So do I. Activation phrase is home.”

“How terribly nostalgic.” Petunia said, remembering the first time she had used a token to take her home.

“I’m not sure you can be nostalgic for things less than a fortnight ago?”

“After the few weeks I’ve had, you certainly can.” Petunia said, picking up the token.

 

 

Chapter 8

Petunia was sitting quietly by the fire in her new home, a chateau. The exchange rate was such that they’d managed to buy the old building for the same price as number four Privet Drive. It was ridiculous that the girl from Cokeworth was sitting in a home with turrets. They’d never believe it back there, but then what would they think of the twists and turn in the tale of her life.

The house on Privet Drive had sold quickly after Petunia had made her escape. The bank was receiving near daily letters for them due to the mail redirect ward. Which she was immensely grateful for.

Little Harry apparently had a great deal of correspondence for a child who couldn’t yet read or write. Petunia hadn’t read any of them, not wanting to hear adults thanking a child for doing what they should have done. Maybe in a few years, she and Harry could face them together, but there was a form return letter for now. There was no need to be rude after all.

But not all the letters were just for Harry. No Petunia was getting a fair number of letters herself. Dumbledore was her most eager want to be correspondent; she had yet to indulge him. The first letter from the man arrived the afternoon the for-sale sign had gone up on the lawn of Privet Drive. Figg was nothing if not efficient.

The neighbours she’d left behind had written to the P.O. box address that was monitored by Gringotts. She’d sent the note to Gladys along with a Christmas card certain that the woman would circulate the information far and wide.

From these letters with her old neighbours, she learnt Figg had been next to move away, leaving her property after number four sold. The opinion was that she was spooked by the gas leak, but Petunia didn’t particularly care about the fate of a spy.

The bank had also received letters from a Remus Lupin, who was apparently the raggedy werewolf from the wake. They weren’t sure how he got the P.O. box until Gladys reported in a letter that there had been a break-in at number seven, but nothing was taken.

Lupin was not somebody Petunia was willing to let into her life. Not with his tendency to try to force entry wherever he went. That and the letters she’d seen from him held a bit too much of Dumbledore and not enough common sense or decency to think of him being anything but a bad example to the children. That said, she’d consider revisiting the matter when Black could be consulted, and Dumbledore dealt with.

Why on earth the man thought it a good idea to lecture her on what Lily and James would have wanted when he hadn’t heard the will was beyond her. Lupin was, according to Sharrock, a benefactor in the will. He had been trying to get an appointment as quickly as possible, going so far as to try and bribe Sharrock into holding a private reading.

The opinion was the offered money was likely a loan from Dumbledore as Lupin had little to his name. Regardless of the source of the money, the offer had been rejected with prejudice and Lupin was banned from the bank for a year.

The ban was not only because he’d seriously offended the Hoard by suggesting an account manager could be bought off. But also, because he could have been a security risk to their plans.

His sense of smell enhanced by the lycanthropy could possibly, around the time of the full moon, lead him to find out things they didn’t want. From there, they would swiftly leak back to Dumbledore. The fact Petunia was attending the bank frequently or that the elder Black had come out of seclusion and was also often at the bank was need to know only.

Arcturus had become a remarkably willing conspirator in freeing Sirius. She had more than a few letters from him, not yet ready to trust him with her address. The house ward book still only held the four names of her family and that of Sharrock, who had not yet been to visit.

Petunia had, however, spent the past week visiting Sharrock in his office, leaving the boys under the watchful eye of Misty. At the same time, she signed paperwork at the French branch of Gringotts. Beyond the atrium was remarkably familiar to the one in London that she would hazard it was the same place. Sharrock had merely smirked at her when she suggested the Hoard was holding out on sharing comfortable magical transportation methods. She took that as confirmation.

They had done all they could, and now it was out of their hands. But soon, she would be able to go out without fearing Dumbledore or his stooges would abduct her and force the location of her home from her.

So far from the reports, Sharrock passed on to her Dumbledore was looking in the wrong country. The thought of her fleeing to the continent never having crossed his mind. The P.O. box in the north of England near her old hometown had been a stroke of genius in concealing their actual actions. But after today, he’d have to pull back his search for them and focus on dealing with the trial of Sirius Black.

“They be putting in a good picture of Black,” Misty said from behind the Wizarding Times, where she was reading the explosive headline. Black would finally be getting his trial in two days, in Rome.

“His grandfather chose it, I believe.” Petunia replied. The photo was from Black’s graduation and was being used in all the press releases. “They wanted to use his mug shot only to find they didn’t have one on record.”

“They be mentioning that in the summary. But they be saying none could be found not that they didn’t be taking it.”

“The truth will be out soon enough.”

“They should be saying that then. Is he being ready for the trial?” Misty asked, giving Petunia an intent look, her misty behaviour a thing of the past.

“From what his grandfather says he is,” Petunia said, scanning the latest letter from Arcturus. “Sirius has written a postscript wishing us well, which speaks well of him, don’t you think?”

“He be having manners, and you be having his god baby. He being nice to you always or he only be getting letters and not visits.”

“True. But he has sent some lovely books for both boys. Although I imagine his Grandfather bought them what with his release to the Hoard being kept quiet till this morning.”

“There be Black family elves. They can be doing the shopping. We need some more eggs when we next be shopping. We should be getting some chickens and maybe geese and duckys too.” Misty suggested. “But not peacocks they be noisy and pointless and too much like some silly people Misty not be liking.”

“The garden will need work first.” Petunia pointed out accepting the change of topic. They could dissect Sirius’ situation to death, and it would achieve nothing. It was out of their hands.

“Mmmhh. Misty has been drawing up plans.”

“Well, that’s interesting because so have I. Shall we compare them?” Petunia asked. They may as well put their energy into being constructive. The gardens were in a worse state than the house, and spring was just around the corner.

***

The trial of Sirius Black was to be held at eleven in the morning. They’d made sure the timing was such that the audience would be settled in place in Britain and able to listen even with the clocks an hour behind. They weren’t going to let the truth be hidden or give the authorities time to twist things.

That’s also why the trial would be reported live over the radio. Petunia had initially been uncomfortable at the suggestion, not wanting Black to be so publicly exposed after everything he’d been through. She also wanted to keep the details around the boys protected even if they weren’t present.

However, after the assurance that the dialogue of those in the courtroom couldn’t be transmitted due to privacy wards in place and Arcturus Black agreeing. Petunia had accepted it was the best course of action for dispersing the truth and protecting all of them.

So here she was, sitting in their new playroom in a comfortable armchair with the radio beside her while the boys played with their magical train set. A gift from Arcturus Black for revealing the illegal incarceration of his heir. The toy had been thoroughly checked over by the bank before being given to the boys and was currently a shared favourite.

“Welcome to those just joining us. The time is quarter to eleven, and we are reporting live from the International Confederation of Wizards courthouse in Rome. For what is likely to be a history-making case.” The radio presenter’s voice announced after Petunia managed to correctly tune the translation charm.

Growing up, Petunia hadn’t ever thought that she’d be part of anything remarkable or memorable. But she was. Yes, other people had set her on this path, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t risen to the challenge.

Petunia Dursley, nee Evan and possibly Potter, depending on who was asking, had made something of herself. She was a mother, an aunt, a witch, and she would soon be a student once more. But before that, the fate of Sirius Black lay in the hands of a few allegedly wise men and women in ostentatious robes.

“Well, this is the trial of the century. It may well even become more famous than that of Gellert Grindelwald. Stay tuned for live updates on the World Wizard Wireless with me Marc Amidee to see how this plays out.” The voice from the radio crackled out, sounding far too excited and gleeful about the situation considering the life of a man was being debated.

But then he hadn’t spent weeks crossing t’s and dotting i’s so that the whole circus could go ahead. There had been masses of paperwork necessary to get Black released into the custody of the Hoard before the trial. Let alone to get the trial held at all. And all of it needed Petunia’s signature as the only adult human witness of the Potters will. Curse the Wizarding world and its bigotry and need for pointless paperwork in triplicate but no checks and balances for the important things.

Further paperwork had to be done as they intended to use the evidence from the Potter’s will in the trial itself. Written transcripts had been provided of relevant parts, and memories of these were also being held in reserve if needed.

However, by doing all the preparatory work, she negated the need for her and the boys to attend the trial in person. A fact which would no doubt frustrate those looking for her, hoping the trial would draw them out. She and Harry that is, Dudley, didn’t factor into their plans apart from a way to control her.

While it was being held in Rome at the ICW courthouse, which was allegedly a secure building, Petunia wasn’t ready to risk having the boys so close to the British government. The ICW was holding the trial at the insistence of the Dverger Horde. The British government had been complaining about the insult of international interference. Not to mention the inclusion of the Hoard in the press since the news broke. The nitty-gritty details of the political fallout was still a mystery to Petunia, but she didn’t particularly mind.

The British Ministry had gone so far as to say the evidence to hold the trial was insubstantial, at least according to the tabloid rag which passed as a newspaper in Britain. The British representative of the Wizengamot was Dumbledore and was attending the trial. Even if he couldn’t participate in the jury’s decision, he was keeping quiet in the press.

He was probably hoping it didn’t reveal his complicit behaviour in illegal actions but also hoping it would reveal Harry’s location. As her dad would have said, he was in between a rock and a hard place. But he was going to be terribly disappointed; Harry was going to be barely a footnote in the trial. Petunia was looking forward to it.

“Well, the accused has been brought in looking in remarkably good shape for a few months of dementor exposure. I couldn’t think of a better advertisement for Dverger healing if I ever saw one.” Petunia snorted. That was nothing compared to what they had done for her boys.

Misty was baking. Her boys were still playing with their magical train set, oblivious to the event unfolding over the radio. It was possible that they would need another elf to help deal with the gardens in spring.

There would be a lot of work to create and maintain her and Misty’s vision. There were going to be formal beds and wild meadows. A kitchen garden and space for Misty’s birds and maybe some other animals, pets would be good for the boys teaching them responsibility. She may even put in some myrtle trees for remembrance’s sake. Violets and lilies were a given.

“For those of you just joining us here at the World Wizarding Wireless, we are attending the trial of Sirius Black against Magical Britain. While the spoken words of the trial are protected by security charms, I will be giving you a blow by blow account of events as they unfold.” The reporter repeated for what felt like the hundredth time, Petunia wanted things to get a move on.

She put down her empty cup and settled in to listen. “Black is now sitting on the chair, and the honesty wards are glowing. The ICW use three-tier honesty charms, and all of them seem active. But the ICW and Hoard curse breakers are verifying they’re working. First-time Dvergers have been allowed to use magic in this room since they initially warded it back in 1764. The Hoard doesn’t normally get involved, but it was one of their terms for releasing Black to participate in this trial. How they got him in the first place is being kept quiet for now. But his Grandfather, who sitting in the audience is a likely source.”

The Hoard had threatened to rebel, claiming the British Ministry had broken faith with them over Sirius Black’s imprisonment. After two major wars in the century, the ICW was willing to negotiate. The Dvergers were able to not only get Black removed from Azkaban to their care but get him a public trial in the highest wizarding court. The Hoard had to pay the cost of Black’s care. Still, Petunia imagined that the Dumbledore account would see some further deductions yet. It was, after all, only just early January.

If things went well during the trial, it could well increase the Hoards position in society, just not in Britain. Some people didn’t seem capable of learning. However, it would appear the reporter was less bigoted than many wizards she’d met before and putting a good spin on the Dvergers. Things could well be changing for the better.

“Well, the checks have gone well, and the first few questions have been asked, and I can confirm that they got the right man out of prison,” Amidee said after a moments silence. “Well, who knew that Black was the Potter boys magically sworn Godfather? That bit of news has got things shaken up in the room.”

The problem with going into hiding was that people didn’t know the vital information if things went wrong. Lily and James should have run and lived their lives far away. Petunia had learnt from the mistakes of the others; she wasn’t hiding.

She was planning on sending her new address to her old neighbourhood. But only once she had gotten things sorted out and put the house to rights and felt it done up enough for guests. She wasn’t above a bit of boasting; it was, after all, a lovely house. With Figg gone and Lupin soon having more significant problems, the P.O. box address would be safe enough means of communication.

Dumbledore’s problems had just started. He’d be finding out that he had only the faded grandeur of his fame to his name. He really shouldn’t have pushed Harry to be his protegee. It’d taken the shine off him, and without a healthy bank account, he was going to struggle to keep his head above water in the political fallout.

And there would be fallout. Arcturus Black was from what Petunia had seen wanted blood and had weeks of planning before today, while Dumbledore was being caught flat-footed. She would bet on Arcturus coming out on top. He seemed to thrive on plotting. From what she had gathered, the Black’s had never stood by Dumbledore due to Dumbledore slandering their ancestor and a previous Headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black. Family could be a strange thing.

“Black wasn’t the secret keeper! He didn’t betray the Potters. The charge that got him imprisoned has now been refuted in the highest court in the world!” The excited shout from over the airwaves broke through Petunias musing on the plans for vengeance she’d heard whispers about.

“There are angry looks all around, and this is the first time I’ve seen a man in blue and magenta robes try and hide,” Amidee almost cackled. Petunia had to fight the impulse to join in. She wasn’t going to be one of those stereotypical witches.

Dumbledore was known for his gaudy robes, and he was the one to implicate Sirius. There was no way he would be able to afford new outfits. He’d have to get good at tailoring charms to maintain his wardrobe. Or maybe he would have to forgo them entirely to try and hide his presence, depending on how the public reacted.

“No change that; he’s not hiding now but trying to intervene. What does Dumbledore want? The truths out, unless they’re hiding more?”

Petunia mused if anybody ever picked up the British Ministry and shook it, they would be buried alive in all the skeletons that the Ministry was trying to hide.

“Oh, Dumbledore’s trying to bring up the other charges against Black, not just the aiding of terrorism, but breaking the statute of secrecy and killing muggles. Although the murder of muggles is not actually a crime in magical Britain shameful as that is. So Black still maybe legal imprisoned.”

France protected the rights of all its citizens, part of the reason she’d wanted to settle here. She may no longer be Muggle if she’d ever had been, but it was nice to know she’d have not been unduly penalised for a quirk of birth. Or worse, considered game for the hunting by rich and bored wizards.

“He didn’t kill the muggles either, folks that was also done by the Potter’s betrayer along with the magical explosion which broke the statute. By the sounds of it, the British Ministry have left this man running around for months without even considering he was a threat. Oh no, I’ve just been informed they declared him dead and gave him a medal for bravery, but he’s not going to have that for much longer, I imagine. Well, that’s one way to deal with criminals, pretend they’re dead, not sure it’s going to catch on. Somebody should probably check the Dark Lord is dead too. Things seem to be very haphazard in the British Ministry.”

They had confirmed the passing of the Dark Lord already. One of the Black family elves had been trying to destroy one of the soul fragments for the past few years. After the taint had faded, he had informed the head of the family that his master Regulus’s last order had been done, although he was unsure how. The bank had confirmed that the soul piece had faded without any magic to sustain it. Petunia still couldn’t articulate the relief she felt when Sharrock had told her.

The Hoard were also already on the lookout for Peter Pettigrew. With a bounty on his head, Petunia was sure the greed of Magical Britain would soon see him brought to justice. Dumbledore could well be the one to do so. She wouldn’t put it past the man to know where the traitor was hiding. He would need the money and good press too.

“You would not believe this; I don’t believe this, but there was no trial! Yes, you heard me. They put Black in prison, the most depraved wing, without even checking he was guilty. What kind of madness is this? No wonder there was no mug shot. I’ll eat my hat if Britain doesn’t end up sanctioned.”

“Mummy?” Dudley patted her knee and showed her the toy train the boys had finally managed to capture after chasing it around the track for hours.

“Clever boy,” she praised him. “Mummy’s listening to the radio darling, why don’t you and Harry go tidy up. I think we’ll be done soon.” He trotted back train still clutched in a death grip.

“You’d have thought they’d question him for information but apparently not. I imagine this is news for Britain. How many others have been imprisoned falsely? Black is now being led back to the dock. Is this the end of the trial? I mean, it must be? what more can be said?”

It was probably time for the will to come into play. It wasn’t necessary, but it would put some more nails in Dumbledore’s coffin, and that was worth the hassle of reviewing the will to allow segments to be shown. Not the part detailing the bequests though, they still had to pay Gringotts for the privilege of that discovery.

“Well, looks like the Potters will is getting an outing. It was, if you recall, sealed in early November by Dumbledore claiming it was the desire of the Potter boy’s guardian. But so far, Dumbledore’s word has been proven false on many counts, so let’s see what else comes to light. It’s worth noting at this point that it’s a magical will, so what is said is irrefutable… Right the first segment has just finished, and what a doozy it’s named the secret keeper as Pettigrew. Magic has validated Black’s innocence on that point.”

The jury had been given transcripts to read before this, but it would be a revelation for everybody else. Although given Amidee’s description of the room, it was beginning to sound as if the jury hadn’t bothered to read the documents.

“Well, now Pettigrew has been declared an enemy of the Potter’s by family magic, that’ll limit where he can hide.”

It turned out the Potters were not only an old family but one that had fingers in many pies, their magic dashed here and there. Pettigrew was in for a miserable winter before he was caught. January was always such a cold, wet month in Britain.

“How interesting this is. You’d have thought they’d check the will, but it seems not. Dumbledore is fuming; that has got to be more than just egg on his face. Questions will be asked why he felt it so important to seal the will? And who unsealed it? Was all this a power play to get the Potter child? But by who?”

“Yes, it was,” Petunia answered the radio. Her guardianship would come out eventually, but she’d sorted out her paperwork. Harry was hers, so was Dudley. They had no grounds to take either child from her. She was a witch, and she would raise her children with magic. She could say that with pride now. She had a wand and was enrolled to learn magic at the International Institute of Magic.

“Well, I think that’s it, folks; the jury is adjourning not a lot they can do but rule innocent. But this case is going to cause ripples, tsunamis even. By the look of it, the whole room knows it. What an uncomfortable few days some of them will be having. If not longer.”

Dumbledore was done for abroad, at least in Britain. He may be able to scrape together some power, but he wasn’t going to threaten her children. Their citizenship had come through, and they were untouchable by Britain now. Luckily Grandad marrying a French girl during the war was enough for the French Ministry.

“Well, that was quick. What did they do, walk out the room, turn around and come back in again?” the reporter joked. “The verdict has passed unanimously, and Sirius Black is innocent of all charges. No surprise after what we heard … and now that’s got to sting, that’s a hefty pay-out but not undeserved. The Brits better hope Black is the only miscarriage of justice, or they’ll be bankrupt by Easter if not sooner.”

She heard the excitement in the voice of the report, but what did a strangers joy matter. No, what mattered was that an innocent man’s very soul and mind had been saved. That Petunia had done right by her sister and her brother in law by helping to clear their friends’ name. And that the boys could have a wizard in their lives who they could look up to if all went well.

“Well, my hat is safe; the British Wizengamot is being sanctioned. They can appeal but let’s be honest here, the evidence has not only been proved but is overwhelmingly against them. I doubt many in power will survive this. Tomorrow, there will be an emergency hearing to figure out how to stop Britain from self-destructing further while this mess is sorted out. I can guarantee that I will be here reporting on the latest twists and turns.”

Well, who would have thought it? Petunia Dursley had helped bring a government to its knees and brought justice into a corrupted little pocket of society.

“Black is being led from the room a free man. Hopefully, he will be giving a statement to the gathered crowds. But ladies and gentlemen, what a day and what questions does this give us? Where is the Potter baby? How many innocents are in Azkaban? Where is the true traitor? And what will the repercussion in magical Britain be? Stay tuned to the World Wizarding Wireless for live updates and debates on these questions and many more.”

Petunia turned off the wireless. She no longer needed to listen to the padding and speculation that would fill the airwaves while people tried to get new information. She had the answers to many asked and a direct line to more than one person who was willing to keep her informed.
Sirius Black was going to make a statement that was already arranged, but it would be from the steps of Gringotts in Rome. After all, it was the Hoard who stepped up for him when no wizard did. After that, he would stay with them a bit longer, getting his mind healed and allowing his paperwork to clear before coming to visit.

They had space for Black in the house, and from the reports, she had heard he was healing well, so the visit would be within a few days. She had yet to tell the boys that Sirius was visiting, but she should probably warn them of a guest coming soon. Harry would be very excited, and Dudley may well pick up on his cousins’ behaviour. Hopefully, he wouldn’t be jealous. She’d have to keep an eye on things. Still, an extra person, even one trained in magic, would be more work for Misty. If Black stayed long, they might have to bring forward their plan of rescuing another elf.

She gathered up the boys and led them down the grand staircase, warded against falling so the boys could have the run of the house. They wouldn’t be confined, and the only cupboards they were going in were for hide and seek. Smiling at the gleam on the bannister, she continued down, there was still work to be done and rooms to be renovated, but it was a challenge she relished.

She made it down to the kitchen, where copper pans gleamed, and fancy crockery sat beside their humbler counterparts. On the windowsill was the plant that Misty had stolen from the solicitors. Like the rest of them, it was thriving.

The kitchen was Misty’s domain, although Petunia could beg use of it from time to time. She wouldn’t become too proud to forget where she came from and the fun, she’d had baking with her mother and sister a lifetime ago. It would do the boys well to learn to cook; potions involved many similar skills, so the experience wouldn’t be wasted.

“Misty was listening when she was working.” The elf said when she saw them. “Misty, very happy, make the family bigger. Yes, this be a good thing.”

“It is indeed. We can plan for the future move on.”

“Lots of new things to be doing but happy things,” Misty agreed.
“They are. Shall we celebrate then, to a new beginning for us all?” Petunia asked as she put the boys on their chairs at the table. They ate some meals in the kitchen, the dining room too grand for the four of them alone for it to be used often.

‘Mmhhm, Misty thought a party be a good idea too. Misty made cake,” she nodded her head earnestly. “Cakes mean family.”

The End

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About Izzy Hound

In an attempt to escape from my academic writing I took up a hobby ... writing. Like all crafters, no matter the medium, I soon found myself getting buried under the products of my creativity. So in the time honoured practice of all crafters, I started sharing my work. Whether you want it or not, you're getting it and just be thankful you don't know me in person or else you'd be getting another handmade scarf for Christmas.

31 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this story. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Such an interesting twist! I totally enjoyed it!

    Thanks!

  3. Thank you for this delightful AU, I enjoyed it very much. It was wonderful to see so many of the things gone wrong early in Harry’s life fixed before they hurt him.

  4. Thank you for an amazing story. Your Petunia moved me with her love and concern for her nephew and her regret for the break with her sister. Loved the goblins esp the Potter account manager. And Misty, was a delightful being. So loving and kind.

  5. I loved this. There are very few Petunia-centric stories and most of them seem ro go in extremes one way or the other when it comes to both Harry and Magic. I loved how you portrayed her inner conflict and I also loved the nod to Keira Marcus’s works – I’ve yet to come across anything written by her that I didn’t love.

  6. I really really enjoyed this story. Thanks for writing a different take on Petunia.

  7. I enjoyed reading this this on rough trade and I’m really glad to be able to read it again. It’s a great story, thank you for sharing. Hxx

  8. I really enjoyed this when it was on RT, very glad to be able to read it again. Love the picture you painted of the family thriving in their chateau in France. Just lovely. I think Sirius could find a lot of Joy there.
    Thank you for finishing and sharing

  9. This whole tale was a lovely present 🙂
    Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it this evening. I really appreciated a capable, sane, practical and kind Petunia, and that the babies and Misty, et al, are cared for. Keira’s Dverger seem more and more right too. A different take to make Petunia the central character, but it worked so well.
    I hope it was fun to write; it’s been fun reading 🙂
    M

  10. I love this story

  11. An excellent Yule gift may thanks for sharing it. It is great to see such an original view of the HP story. Happy New year to you and yours.

  12. It’s delightful to see a reasonable and conscientious Petunia. Her respect for and acceptance of Misty was touching. What a simple ending to Voldie! I also love that Dumbledore’s account was emptied and his reputation left in tatters.

  13. This AU was wonderful. You made Petunia realistically confused about magic and its abilities, and I loved her attitude to Harry. Thank you.

  14. Such a lovely story. Thank you for sharing the finished work. I love this unusual take on Petunia, you have taken the cannon and tweaked it but it all just works. I especially loved the consistency of the character and her actions and reactions. A really interesting and enjoyable read.

  15. Oh wow I loved this. What a great spin on Petunia’s character, and I loved to see the dverger in action!

  16. Well, this was just adorable! I love this AU-Dursley family! I would love to see how the universe would go from here, but it’s a wonderfully encapsulated story as it is. Well done. 🙂

  17. I loved this story when I first read it in RT. I looked for it to re-read it and could not find it. Thank you for reposting it.

  18. What a lovely story. I enjoy when Petunia is force to be reckoned with.

  19. I enjoyed this story. I love stories of Petunia treating and raising Harry as a brother to Dudley. Brava!

  20. This was and absolutely delightful story. It quite distracted me from my chores. Thank you.

  21. It was fascinating to see how Vernon touching the letter first made such a difference to Petunia’s attitude and consequently her whole relationship with Harry and her actions to protect him.

  22. Fantastic story!

  23. Very good story. I enjoyed reading it again

  24. This was absolutely lovely! Thank you for writing and sharing it.

  25. Just re-reading, and enjoying it every bit as much.

    I do love a good redemption arc, and you actually made me like Petunia!

    FYI I adore your bio!

  26. What a lovely story! I love a good “redeemed Petunia” story. And you combined that with another favorite – an involved, helpful Dverger Horde. (I actually find myself annoyed now when reading stories in which no one involves the Dverger in healing Harry or saving Sirius, etc. lol).
    This was really well done and I enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing it!

  27. lorraine christella Gibson

    Awesome!!!!! This is superb, great story, loved it all, thank you.

  28. What a lovely story! Thank you!

  29. I had fun reading your story!

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