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a witch in the family

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 Mr. and Mrs. Evans, of number three, Wisteria Lane, were proud to say that they had the two most beautiful, brilliant daughters in all the world, thank you very much. This is a rather common belief among parents; and the Evanses were exactly the sort of people you’d expect to say this sort of thing and mean it with completely innocent sincerity, because they were the kindly, hardworking, good-hearted folks who rather belonged in a bedtime story or a fairy tale. But perhaps there was a real grain of truth to the pride and joy of Mr. and Mrs. Evans, because there was something definitely indescribable about the Evans girls.

 Odd things tended to happen around the Evans girls. Not necessarily good things or bad things, just... odd things. Inexplicable things.

 The younger daughter was named Lily and she was a small girl with limbs like twigs, a mass of almost blindingly red hair, and large green eyes that looked too big for the rest of her face. Except for her smile, which was also enormous, a bit like a frog’s mouth. Frankly and objectively, she was odd-looking and a little mismatched, but really, she was very pretty.

 Little, odd, lovely Lily was pretty because she was charming and excitable and good-hearted – although she could sometimes be instead considered loud and tireless and stubborn as a mule – and happiness and kindness are always nothing less than beautiful. Recklessness and adventure, of course, also tend to be captivating. 

 The elder daughter was named Petunia and she was a tall girl with gangly limbs – when she ran, she loped, like a giraffe – and a long face. Her hair was a messy mass of blonde and her eyes were more blue than green; and they looked rather cold when she glared, which was often. She was pretty too, in a different odd sort of way.

 And Petunia too was witty and ultimately good-hearted, but she was also shy and cautious, and therefore tended to be seen as sarcastic and suspicious. Which, to be fair, she also was. It was just hard for people to realize what a beautiful smile Petunia had when her lips were far more often pursed in the disapproving, concerned frown of someone who never stopped noticing that they didn’t quite fit in.

 Mr. and Mrs. Evans loved their lovely girls, but they both had rather busy jobs and were not at home as often as they really ought to have been. So it fell to Petunia, the elder sister by two years, to watch out for her younger sister when they were left with only the neighbours’ one-eyed glances on them.

 Petunia and Lily could often be found traipsing around the neighbourhood and the parks and such beyond. Lily was always in search of the next great adventure, it seemed, and it fell to Petunia to drag her courageous little sibling out of trees and ditches and other accidental trouble. Petunia could sometimes be convinced to join in on the fun, but only rarely, especially after Lily had broken her arm on Petunia’s watch when they were seven and nine. Petunia, armed with a no-nonsense attitude and heavy responsibility and common sense in spades, chased with angry concern after Lily everywhere.

 And wherever the Evans girls went, odd happenings and little miracles followed.

 Mrs. Grey, who lived down the street at number five, could have sworn that those tulips were dead before Lily watered them. And it didn’t make any sense that they lasted all the way to the first winter snow. The Evanses had the best garden on all of Wisteria Lane, to the point of almost impossible, with the Evans girls tending to it. Not only was it downright unnatural, it was downright unfair.

 Everyone had been sure that Lily’s lovely locks had been done for when Natalie Anderson stuck bubblegum into Lily’s hair. It had been deeply tangled in there, knotted terribly and stuck fast. Yet Lily, terribly angry and upset, had something managed to yank it out with one pull, without a single red hair stuck to the pink goo. A stunned Mrs. Evans had put the scissors away with wide eyes.

 These things happened again and again around Lily Evans. Those drenching thunderclouds had cleared up amazingly quickly for Lily’s special birthday picnic. Lily once lost her stuffed rabbit on a trip to Scotland and yet instead of being lost forever, Killer had shown up on the Evanses’ doorstep the next morning. Lily’s favourite dress, despite having been bought when she was four, fit her absolutely perfectly until she was six and decided that she hated the colour purple. And so on.

 However, if Lily Evans was undeniably special, then Petunia Evans was somewhat… strange. Lily got the little miracles and Petunia got the odd happenings, so it seemed. Maybe both sisters actually had each evenly, but Petunia simply appeared to be the one… closer… to the accidents and curiosities that sent whispers stirring throughout the neighbourhood.

 At seven years old, Lily fell from a tree and broke her arm. She and Petunia both cried for days; Lily from the pain and Petunia because she worried constantly over Lily and was heavily scolded for not telling Lily that something bad would happen trying to climb that high. Lily was miserable for the whole rest of the summer, angry and frustrated and sharp-tongued, with her arm stuck in a cast and her unable to have any fun.

 Three days after Lily broke her arm, Petunia went out and hit the tree with a shovel. She gave it a long scratch across the side, then went back to her chores. Both she and the few neighbours who’d seen her do it forgot about the incident, but then… the tree started to lose its leaves. At first, it was just bit by bit, but after a month, by the end of July, the tree was absolutely, unnaturally, eerily barren. And the evening after that, the tree fell over for no apparent reason, cracked where Petunia had scratched it. It was clearly a freak accident, even Petunia looked frightened, but it took a while to forget even partially. 

 The boy who lived at number five, Louis Grey, once pulled one of Petunia’s pigtails and burned his hand. It was barely worse than a mild sunburn, but it happened spontaneously and was entirely isolated, and his parents were left scratching their head as to how exactly it happened.  

 Petunia went over to the Gallaghers’ for supper with her family, because Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Evans were good friends and work colleagues. Mrs. Gallagher served eggplant and Petunia hated eggplant more than anything else in the whole world, but Mrs. Evans told her to eat it anyway because it was good for her and it would be very rude not to. Petunia did not eat any and Mrs. Gallagher was the one who ended up apologizing profusely, because Petunia’s eggplant had rotted on her plate.

 The adults in their life came up with excuse after excuse to explain away the odd happenings – freak storms and sick trees and such – but Petunia and Lily knew better. It was obviously magic. They had come to the conclusion separately and together. Petunia and Lily Evans had magic and they knew it.

 What else could it be? As they got older and more powerful and more in control of their impossible accidents? What else could it be that Lily could make flowers bloom in her hand and could float down when she jumped from the swings? What else could it be that Petunia could unburn the suppers she made – as she sometimes had to, when their parents were working – and could swim in the river like a fish without getting her hair wet? Anything else just wasn’t logical, really.

 They didn’t talk about it with their parents, because Mr. and Mrs. Evans were rather busy and obviously thought magic wasn’t real. Petunia had tried, once, but she’d learned not to ask silly questions of her parents, who’d pointed out that Petunia was getting a bit old for such fanciful ideas.

 Don’t be silly, Petunia. I wouldn’t know about magic, Petunia, it’s not real. You decide the answers to your little game with Lily, sweetheart, Mommy’s busy right now. Really now, Petunia, you’ve got your little sister to look out for, you can’t honestly still be believing in magic. Sweetheart, you take this game so seriously, it’s adorable but you can’t play all the time. You’ve got be responsible. Didn’t you know that girls mature faster than boys, Petunia?

 They didn’t talk about it with other children because the other children obviously weren’t magical like them. They didn’t want to be called freaks. Louis Grey already spat the word at Petunia whenever she passed, after all, and Petunia didn’t want the same for Lily. The neighbours already looked at them strangely enough as it was.

 Petunia and Lily trusted in each other and each other only. Petunia didn’t have a proper explanation for her younger sister, but she did her best to help Lily control her gift. Since Petunia was the eldest, she was also the more powerful and developed in those powers, and she figured out the tricks and knacks to things as quick as she could, because Lily was counting on her. It was a scary business, but it was Petunia’s job to look after and out for Lily, after all.

~

 So, the Evans girls knew they were magic, but they didn’t know they were witches until the day that they properly met the Snape boy.

 They’d heard of him before, vaguely, but they’d also kept away from him because he was even odder than they were and they’d rather run about together than play with a boy. Their mother had also told them to stay away from him, because the Snapes lived down at Spinner’s End by the river, and the Evanses considered the address and its adult residents a poor recommendation for a child.

 The Snape boy didn’t seem have any interest in them either in the beginning, not in the slightest, because he was a private and strange boy who didn’t care to play with girls, or other children in general. At least, not until Lily was nine-and-a-half and he saw her playing with magic.

 It was a late afternoon in late June, warm enough to make the air thick, and Petunia and Lily had the rickety old playground all to themselves. They were the only kids in the neighbourhood not to be invited to Natalie Anderson’s birthday party. Petunia determinedly didn’t care and neither did Lily. But while Petunia became sharp-tongued and irritable when she was bottling up her feelings, Lily became forcefully cheerful and more than a little reckless.

 Petunia, swinging absentmindedly next to her younger sister, was busy imagining how exactly she wasn’t going to invite Natalie Anderson to her birthday party the month after next. She was so lost in her thoughts that it took her far longer than it should have to notice that Lily was swinging higher and higher, faster and faster, right next to her.

 “Lily, don’t you dare do it!” Petunia shrieked.

 But Petunia’s warning was too late. Lily had already let go of the swing at the very height of its arc and instead of falling in a painful thump, Petunia’s little sister flew. Lily flew into the air, quite literally flew, launching herself skyward with a great shout of laughter, and instead of crumpling on the playground asphalt and breaking her legs, she soared like a bird through the air. Lily Evans stayed up far too long and landed far too lightly, her red hair streaming and her green eyes gleaming with power.

 “I told you not to!”

 As soon as Lily’s beat-up trainers touched ground, so did Petunia’s sandals. Petunia stopped her swing immediately by slamming her heels into the ground, making a crunching, grinding sound and surely horrible scuffs that she knew her mother would scold her for later if she didn’t fix them. She leaped up, hands on her hips and fuming.

 “You’re not allowed to do that anymore, Lily!” Petunia snapped. “Do you know who could have seen-?

 “But I’m fiiiine,” Lily said, before breaking into impertinent giggles. “Come on, Tuney, you try it! It’s sooo fun.”

 Petunia crossed her arms and scowled.

 Lily rolled her eyes, sighing, before her eyes fell on something and she suddenly brightened. “Here, come on, Tuney, watch what I can do now. Come see.”

 Petunia glanced around the playground, to make certain that no one had seen. The playground was absolutely deserted apart from themselves, so it seemed that Lily really was fine, and Petunia reluctantly uncrossed her arms and stopped scowling. She didn’t like being unfun, she just worried sensibly, even if it was awful.

 “Come on, Tuney,” Lily said, tugging on Petunia’s hand.

 Petunia let her younger sister tug her over to the flower bush nearby. “What?” she said, the word coming out meanly despite Petunia meaning none. She was just so tired of being called unfun and uninteresting and unexciting, even more so because it was just plain unfair.

 Lily let go of Petunia, picked up a fallen flower from the bush, and held it in her hands. Petunia advanced, curiosity overwhelming her foul temper, and Lily waited until Petunia was near enough to have a clear view before holding out her palm. The flower sat there, opening and closing its petals, like some bizarre oyster.

 But it was more than that, Petunia noticed, because she was a noticer like that. The flower was not just moving its petals, but blooming and unblooming, like the time around it was in a constantly repeating bubble. The petals opened, gaining colour and size as they stretched, and then closed again, losing their age and reverting to a newborn bud. It was an amazing sight and an incredible display of magic.

 “How long have you been practicing that?” Petunia demanded.

 She knew that Lily had done similar things by accident, but she would have thought it would take Lily longer to work out the trick to undoing things. Petunia was impressed and more than a little jealous. At this rate, it wouldn’t be long before Lily could unburn dinners and fix shoe scuffs and all the things that she usually came to her older sister for.

 “A while,” Lily admitted. “I just finally managed yesterday.” She beamed up at Petunia, clearly proud and hoping to impress her older sister, and Petunia felt her heart soften a little. “Do you like it?”

 But it’s different, because Lily has my help to learn these things, Petunia consoled herself with.

 “It’s alright,” Petunia said loftily, fighting down a smile at how Lily’s beam widened. She couldn’t keep her eyes off the flower, which had settled into a full and beautiful bloom now that Lily was no longer focusing on it. “How do you do it?”

 “It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said an unfamiliar voice.

 Petunia, much to her shame, shrieked and immediately threw an arm in front of her younger sister. Lily didn’t scream, but her smile vanished and she went stiff with surprise as Petunia tried to push her back.

 A boy had jumped out from behind the bushes. His black hair was overlong and his clothes seemed deliberately mismatched: too short jeans, a shabby and overlarge coat, and an odd smocklike shirt. He had to be somewhere between the two girls’ ages, though he looked sallow, small, and stringy for his age. It took Petunia a few moments to recognize him, because she did not exactly bother to think about the Snape boy besides when he appeared before her.

 Petunia’s eyes narrowed and she checked on Lily. Her younger sister was fine, but the beautiful flower had been crushed in Lily’s terrified fist, and Petunia turned her worst glare on the boy, heart light and unbalanced with fear and anger. But the boy only had eyes for Lily and a dull flush of colour rose in his sallow cheeks.

 “What’s obvious?” Petunia snapped defensively.

 The boy’s eyes reluctantly returned to her and he looked rightfully nervous of the older girl. He glanced between Petunia and Lily, uncertain but with an air of anxious excitement, as though the words were caught in his throat. Served him right. Had he been spying on them?

 “Nothing,” he muttered, turning his eyes to the ground.

 “I thought so,” Petunia said sharply. “Lily, come on, we’re leaving!”

 Petunia turned, nose in the air, and marched off towards home, expecting her younger sister to follow. Unfortunately, she didn’t get very far before she had to look over her shoulder. Lily wasn’t following her and a low, desperate murmur had come from the Snape boy.

 “I know what you are.”

 Lily wore the stubbornly brave expression she only wore when she was terrified. Petunia’s younger sister lifted her chin and said flatly, “What do you mean?”

 “You’re… you’re a witch,” whispered the Snape boy, giving Petunia a nervous glance.

 He should have been giving Lily that look too, because Lily looked affronted. Petunia, on the other hand, was less affronted and more furious. All she could hear was the Grey boy’s hateful hiss of freak. How dare this odd little creep spy on them and then call her sister a witch! This was why Petunia worked very hard not to do magic in public, even by accident! Who knew who could see them if they did reckless things and lost their tempers and were seen!

 “That’s not a very nice thing to say to somebody!” Lily snapped, then turned with her nose in the air and marched over to her sister.

 Petunia, on her part, was very proud.

 “No!” called the Snape boy, as they tried to leave.

 He hurried after them, his overlarge coat flapping like a ludicrous bat. Petunia and Lily, for their part, hurried away from him. The Snape boy caught up with them, though, so they stopped and considered him, united in disapproval and discomfort, both holding onto the same swing pole.

 “You are,” said the Snape boy to Lily, a little out of breath. “You’re a witch. I’ve been watching you for a while. But there’s nothing wrong with that. My mum’s one, and I’m a wizard.”

 “Wizard!” Petunia repeated, sure that they were being made fun of. “Right! Of course!” she said sarcastically, before telling Lily, “He’s that Snape boy from Spinner’s End.” She turned both to the boy who was claiming to be magic too, after being caught spying on them. “Why have you been spying on us?”

 “Haven’t been spying,” said the Snape boy, looking hot and uncomfortable.

 “You just said you were watching-

 “Wouldn’t spy on you, anyway,” the Snape boy interrupted spitefully. “You’re a Muggle.”

 Petunia didn’t understand the word, but she did understand the tone of it. She couldn’t have mistaken it if she tried and she definitely did not want to try. It wasn’t the hateful, fearful hiss of freak, but the disdainful dismissal of oh right, the elder Evans girl. Only worse.

 “Lily, come on, we’re leaving!” Petunia repeated again, more shrilly than she would have liked.

 Lily followed immediately this time, glaring at Snape as they left. Petunia noticed as they reached the edge of the playground that Lily’s fingers were trembling, and took her younger sister’s hand to reassure her and leave all the faster. It would be alright.

 Petunia cast a final glance over her shoulder, right before they turned a corner. The Snape boy wasn’t following them anymore; he was standing alone by the swings, in his oversized and hideous clothes, watching them go with an unhappy expression. Petunia determinedly didn’t care how lonely he looked, because he’d just called her younger sister a witch and her a Muggle and he’d been spying on them!

 Thankfully, she knew that no one would believe anything that the Snape boy from Spinner’s End had to say about the Evans girls.

~

 “Tuney.”

 “What?” Petunia answered, keeping her eyes on their supper.

 “What’s a… what’s a…” Lily lowered her voice. “…Muggle?”

 “A mean word that means nothing,” Petunia said determinedly, making sure that their food didn’t spontaneously burst into flames due to the temper that had been simmering under her skin.

 “Oh,” said Lily.

 There was silence in the kitchen for a while.

 “…Tuney?”

 “What?”

 “Sorry for doing magic… and getting caught.”

 Petunia sighed, with the sort of age that a nearly eleven-year-old girl really shouldn’t have. “It’s alright,” she said, even though it really sort of wasn’t. “Just don’t do it where other people can see, Lily. We need to be careful, or bad things could happen.”

 “Sorry,” Lily said again.

 “I know. Just… be careful.”

 “Or Mum and Dad’re gonna yell at you again,” Lily muttered. “I know.”

 At least she’s noticed they don’t yell at her as much, Petunia told herself. Or at all, really. And at least she didn’t ask what sort of ‘bad things’ again. I don’t know what things, just that they’ll be bad. Obviously they’ll be bad, whatever they are.

 “Stay away from the Snape boy,” Petunia said. “Ignore him and tell me if he tries to talk to you again. He’s weird.”

 “We’re weird,” Lily pointed out.

 “Not weird like his sort,” Petunia retorted.

 They were the Evanses on Wisteria Drive, not the Snapes of Spinner’s End. There were weird happenings around a person, and then there were weird people.

 Lily hummed, in her disagreeing way. “Maybe he’s just lonely.”

 “He shouldn’t go around calling people witches then,” Petunia snapped.

 “Witches do magic, though. Maybe girls who do magic are called witches, in his mind.”

 “Witches get burnt at the stake,” Petunia retorted. “Girls who do magic are burnt at the stake.”

 Lily made a noise of protest. “Not nowadays!”

 “Not too long ago,” Petunia said.

 “Like, that was hundreds and hundreds of years ago!”

 “That you know about.”

 “Tuney!”

 “Still the same sort of people around, really.”

 “Nuh uh!”

 “Might become popular again,” Petunia said.

 Louis Grey and Natalie Anderson would probably burn her at a stake if they could get away with it, after all. Burning at the stake wasn’t very quiet, but there were plenty of ways to get back at weird and ill-fitting girls with strange powers that were. The neighbourhood had been awful enough over Petunia accidentally felling a tree that it didn’t really seem so far off to her.

 “Tuuuuney! Stop it!” Lily whined.

 “Stop doing careless magic and stay away from the Snape boy.”

 Lily’s chin lifted and her lip curled in a pout. “Tuney.

 “You’re the one who got caught,” Petunia said without any mercy, finally giving her younger sister a glare that she hoped said: And I’m the one who has to fix everything.

 “Uuugh, fine.

 “Good. Now set the table.”

 “Uuugh.”

~

 Petunia thought the matter was over after Lily promised, but she ought to have remembered just how curious and reckless and stubborn her younger sister was. It didn’t take long before Lily started sneaking off when Petunia was busy with chores, leaving her own chores for Petunia to take care of. Petunia didn’t care much, because Lily was notoriously terrible at doing chores and it didn’t take Petunia much more than concentration and a wave of her hand to do twice the work.

 Petunia liked chores, really. It was an odd thing for a little girl to enjoy, but Petunia liked them because she got to practice her magic in the privacy of her own home. Home was her place. Home was safe. And she didn’t have to think as much about how she was alone and stuck doing chores because she had nothing better to do if she were busy working. It was bitter and unfair and Petunia silently stewed in that feeling like other people basked in the sun.

 But soon enough, one day in the middle of July, Petunia had nothing more to do at home and went out looking for Lily. In the past few weeks, when Lily had disappeared, she’d always been back within the hour or so. This time, Lily had been gone for nearly three hours and Petunia had gotten suspicious, because who knew what sort of trouble Lily could have found in three hours by herself?

 Trusting her feet to find the right way, Petunia closed her eyes and let herself be led. When she stopped, she opened her eyes and found herself at the rickety neighbourhood playground. There was a pair of smaller children running about, but no sign of red hair, so Petunia took a deep breath and let her feet lead her past the playground, away from the neat houses and concrete roads, down towards tall grass and thick trees and a winding river.

 Petunia was very surprised when she practically tripped over her younger sister and a black-haired boy in an oversized jacket sitting together. Lily was cross-legged on the ground, talking animatedly with the Snape boy from Spinner’s End.

 “Tuney!” Lily said, scrambling to her feet. 

 “Lily,” Petunia returned flatly, giving the rightfully nervous looking boy her best glare as he slowly righted himself onto ratty sneakers. “What do you think you’re doing?

 Lily crossed her arms and lifted her chin. “Talking. I can talk to people if I want to.”

 “I told you to stay away from him!”

 “You’re not Mum! You can’t tell me what to do.”

 “Yes, I can!”

 “No, you can’t!”

 “Mummy wouldn’t want to talking to him,” Petunia spat, her fists curled with fury.

 “Mummy doesn’t believe in magic!” Lily retorted. “He does! He can do magic too, Tuney!”

 Petunia opened her mouth to tell Lily to shut up and stop being stupid, but then she closed her mouth and turned her best stare on the boy. He still looked terribly nervous, but he did his best to lift his chin and straighten his shoulders. He didn’t wear stubbornness half as solidly as Lily and was obviously very uncomfortable, but he looked determined not to cower or run. 

 “Come on, Severus,” Lily said, after several heartbeats of staring. “Show her something!”

 “I doubt he’s got anything to show me,” Petunia said haughtily.

 Petunia Evans did not believe in the slightest, in that moment, that Severus Snape was magic. Lily said so, but younger sisters were younger sisters and could be easily fooled. Petunia didn’t have an ounce of trust in the ragged little boy from Spinner’s Lane, who spied and lied, who spat mean sounding names and was probably tricking Lily somehow into being nice to him.

 The Snape boy went red under Petunia’s glare, silently struggling to get words out.

Probably choking on his dumb lies, Petunia thought nastily, now that he’s been caught.

 “I thought so,” Petunia said smugly. “The only thing wizardy about you is the dress you’re wearing. What is that you’re wearing anyway? Your mum’s blouse?”

 There was a hideous crack. Lily screamed. Petunia didn’t even have time to look up before something hard and heavy slammed into her shoulder. She staggered backward, her eyes welling up with tears, and she swallowed the shriek of pain and anger bubbling in her throat.

 “Tuney!” Lily wailed.

 Petunia looked up, catching sight of a broken tree branch in front of her, and blinked away tears to look into her younger sister’s distressed face. What happened next, Petunia really couldn’t say, because she was crying and Lily was crying and the world seemed disconnected as it suddenly whirled.

 The next thing Petunia knew, she was running. She didn’t know where, she just wanted away. Away from the lying boy. Away from her sneaking sister. Away, away, away. Petunia was terrified like she had never been before, too terrified to even think. She sprinted, almost blinded by tears, her heart in her throat and her fear beneath her feet. Away, away, away; that had been magic.

 Behind her, she heard Lily demand shrilly, “Did you make that happen?”

 “No!” the Snape boy’s distant voice insisted.

 “You did! You did! You-”

 ~

 Things changed after that day, in ways that they were all too young to understand.

 “You were so mean!” Lily had snapped, after they had returned home and Petunia had been bandaged up. “Why did you have to be so mean? What did he ever do to you, Tuney?”

 “He dropped a tree branch on me!” Petunia had snapped back.

 “You were mean to him before he did that!”

 Lily Evans was a pretty and charming and vivacious girl, but she had never had many friends. She was just a touch too odd, a wince too loud, and it was hard to make friends when her overprotective and sharp-tongued older sister watched everyone with a suspicious eye and pushed them away. It had been fine with children like Louis Grey and Natalie Anderson, but Severus Snape was Lily’s friend and Lily could not understand why Petunia would be so mean to a poor and lonely boy from a bad home, who only wanted someone to share magic with too.

 After a few days, Severus Snape apologized very genuinely and sincerely to Lily. He clearly regretted what he’d done and how his temper had reacted to Petunia’s insults. He was very sorry and desperately wanted to remain friends with Lily.

 However, while Lily could grant a second chance, Petunia didn’t want to.

 Petunia Evans could not understand why Lily even wanted to be friends with the at best pitiful Snape boy from Spinner’s End. She was hurt that her younger sister had lied to her and sneaked around her to be friends with someone else. She was hurt that Lily refused to stop being friends with Severus Snape, even when Petunia tattled to their mother and Mrs. Evans suggested Lily play with other children. Lily dug in her heels and lifted her chin and said no, and it hurt.

 More than just feeling hurt, Petunia was jealous, because before the Snape boy appeared, Lily had always come to her with magical questions and magical things. The Snape boy had all the answers that Petunia had never had and Petunia hated it. Especially because it all sounded like ridiculous nonsense to her. She’d never seen or heard about any of these things! Yet the Snape boy knew all about the magical world that Petunia wanted to believe in but refused to out of stubbornness – about Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic and magical creatures like dementors.

 It stung more than anything when the Snape boy actually managed to get Lily to stop doing reckless pieces of magic with stories of the dementors of Azkaban. Lily stopped doing magic nearly entirely actually, she was so afraid, and Petunia hated the Snape boy for that too. Petunia hated him even more when the stories scared her enough for her to stop doing so much magic, until she realized and stubbornly did even more underage magic just to spite his stories and a fearful Lily.

 Lily made her new friend and her sister apologize to each other before July ended, but it didn’t go very well. Neither Petunia nor Severus were particularly sorry about what they had said or done. They regretted their actions, but they were too defensive and the hurts were too fresh to apologize sincerely. And neither of them really liked the other enough to properly be sorry. 

 “I didn’t know you were a witch too,” Severus had muttered.

 “I didn’t know that mattered,” Petunia had said sharply, her eyes narrowed and her arms crossed. “Does it make that much of a difference?”

 Yes. The unspoken answer had hung between them, swallowed back down under Lily’s watchful eyes. Yes, it makes a difference, being magical and not. Petunia heard that unspoken answer loud and clear, and knew that Severus Snape would not have given her the time of day had she been Lily’s Muggle sister. It had been clear enough when they’d first met.

 From then on, Lily could be with her sister or her new friend, but never the two at the same time.

 Perhaps, deep down, some part of Petunia Evans wished to start over, to take back her harsh and judgemental words, and listen to what the younger boy had to say and learn about witches and wizards and magic. Perhaps, deep down, some part of Severus Snape wished to start over too, to take back his rash and accidental action, and be friends with the elder Evans girl too. But they were stubborn and they avoided each other out of shame and distrust and dislike, and so Lily had to pick which one to spend her time with.

 Petunia had never really had to share her younger sister before. She didn’t like it.

 Perhaps Lily could forgive and forget, because she was kind and vivacious and good-hearted like that, but Petunia could not bring herself to do the same. She felt hurt and jealous and bitter, and she couldn’t do the same. Forgive and forget? No, Petunia Evans could only resent and remember.

 She could not forget that her first encounter with a representative of the magical world, with magic that was not hers and her sister’s, had been used to attack her. She had been offensive and mean and childish, yes, but she had also been trying to protect her sister and tell off a liar, and for that, someone else’s magic had scraped her face and bloodied her shoulder and bruised her badly. Now, whenever Petunia considered speaking up or against the Snape boy, her shoulder throbbed with the memory of a very physical and very painful attack.

 No matter how she tried to forget the painful and embarrassing moment, Petunia couldn’t. It was more than holding a dumb grudge, really, more than just refusing to forgive and forget. She couldn’t forget the flash of malice in the Snape boy’s eyes, or the violent rush of magic that had cracked the branch like a bone, or the hate and lashing urge to hurt clinging to the bark and her bruises.

 Petunia couldn’t forget or even tell herself she was imagining things, because the incident was a lasting one. It opened her eyes as to what exactly could be done with magic, giving her thoughts she had never thought of before. It was her introduction to another magical person, the whole magical world; and that was the sort of moment that stayed and gave a moral. 

 The first life lesson Petunia really learned from the magical world was this: Magic hurts.