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Bending the Rules

Chapter Text

Pink sunlight was bathing a nearly deserted playground. Two girls were swinging back and forth, and a skinny young boy was watching them from behind a clump of bushes. His black hair was long with more than a tinge of grease and his clothes shabby and mismatched.

"Lily, don't do it!" the blonde had yelped as her sister had let go of the swing at the very height of its arc and flown into the air, quite literally flown, launched herself skyward with a great shout of laughter, and instead of crumpling on the playground asphalt, she soared like a trapeze artist through the air, staying up far too long, landing far too lightly.
"Mummy told you not to!"
Petunia stopped her swing by dragging the heels of her sandals on the ground, making a crunching, grinding sound, then leapt up, hands on hips.
"Mummy said you weren't allowed, Lily!"
"But I'm fine," said Lily, still giggling. "Tuney, look at this. Watch what I can do."
Petunia glanced around. The playground was deserted. Lily had picked up a fallen flower from the bush; Petunia carefully edged closer, torn between curiosity and disapproval. Lily waited until Petunia was near enough to have a clear view, then held out her palm. The flower sat there, opening and closing its petals as the redhead giggled. "Stop it!" Petunia snapped. Lily frowned
"It's not hurting you," but she closed her hand on the blossom and threw it back to the ground.
"It's not right," said Petunia, but her eyes had followed the flower's flight to the ground and lingered upon it. "How do you do it?" she added, and there was definite longing in her voice.

"It's obvious, isn't it?" the boy could no longer contain himself, jumping out from behind the bushes. Petunia shrieked and ran backward toward the swings, but Lily, though startled, remained where she was.
"What's obvious?" she asked. He had an air of nervous excitement. With a glance at the distant Petunia, now hovering beside the swings, he lowered his voice and said, "I know what you are."
"What do you mean?"
"You're...you're a witch," whispered the boy.
"That's not a very nice thing to say to somebody!" Lily turned, nose in the air, and marched off toward her sister.
"No!" He hurried forward, they watched him, united in disapproval, both holding on to one of the swing poles, as though it was the safe place in tag.
"You are," he repeated to Lily. "You are 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." Petunia laughed
"Wizard!" she sniffed, her courage had returned now. "I know who you are. You're that Snape boy! They live down Spinner's End by the river. Why have you been spying on us?"
"Haven't been spying," said Snape, hot and uncomfortable and dirty-haired in the fading bright sunlight. "Wouldn't spy on you, anyway," he added spitefully, "you're a Muggle." A scowl turned her lips and she announced "Lily, come on, we're leaving!" The redhead obeyed at once, glaring at Snape as she left. He stood watching them as they marched through the playground gate, bitter disappointment, now his only companion.

"...and the Ministry can punish you if you do magic outside school, you get letters."
"But I have done magic outside school!"
"We're all right. We haven't got wands yet. They let you off when you're a kid and you can't help it. But once you're eleven," he nodded importantly, "and they start training you, then you've got to go careful."
There was a little silence. Lily had picked up a fallen twig and twirled it in the air, imagining sparks trailing from it. Then she dropped the twig, leaned in towards Snape and said, "It is real, isn't it? It's not a joke? Petunia says you're lying to me. Petunia says there isn't a Hogwarts. It is real, isn't it?"
"It's real for us," he said "Not for her. But we'll get the letter, you and me."
"Really?" whispered Lily.
"Definitely,"
"And will it really come by owl?"
"Normally," said Snape. "But you're Muggle-born, so someone from the school will have to come and explain to your parents."
"Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?" Snape hesitated
"No," he said. "It doesn't make any difference."
"Good," said Lily, relaxing,
"You've got loads of magic," said Snape. "I saw that. All the time I was watching you..."

His voice trailed away; she was not listening, but had stretched out on the leafy ground and was looking up at the canopy of leaves overhead. He watched her as greedily as before "How are things at your house?" Lily asked. A little crease appeared between his eyes. "Fine," he said.
"They're not arguing anymore?"
"Oh yes, they're arguing," said Snape. He picked up a fistful of leaves and began tearing them apart, apparently unaware of what he was doing. "But it won't be that long and I'll be gone."
"Doesn't your dad like magic?"
"He doesn't like anything, much," said Snape.
"Severus?"A little smile twisted Snape's mouth when she said his name.
"Yeah?"
"Tell me about the dementors again."
"What d'you want to know about them for?"
"If I use magic outside school..."
"They wouldn't give you to the dementors for that! Dementors are for people who do really bad stuff. They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban. You're not going to end up in Azkaban, you're too.. "

He turned red again and shredded more leaves. Then a small rustling noise made them turn: Petunia, hiding behind the tree had lost her footing. "Tuney!" said Lily, surprise and welcome in her voice, but Snape had jumped to his feet. "Who's spying now?" he shouted. "What d'you want?" Petunia was breathless, alarmed at being caught, she glared at the boy and snapped desperately "What is that you're wearing, anyway? Your mother's blouse?" There was a crack. A branch over Petunia's head had fallen. Lily screamed. The branch caught Petunia on the shoulder, and she staggered backward and burst into tears. "Tuney!" Lily rounded on Snape. "Did you make that happen?"
"No." He looked both defiant and scared.
"You did!" She was backing away from him. "You did! You hurt her!"
"No...no, I didn't!"

It was their 11th birthday, Lily was vibrating with excitement but Petunia was almost numb with resentment, her shoulder was still badly bruised and it hurt to lift her arm;
Marie, their mother, had tried without success to cheer her up. Lily had been dashing around the house, shouting and giggling all day, but she kept checking the window as she helped her mother clear up from the party earlier that day, ignoring Petunia’s burning jealousy. At 5pm sharp a brisk knock sounded throughout the house, a tall woman in navy blue robes waited impatiently on their doorstep, her black hair was scraped back into a tight bun and her horn-rimmed glasses perched on the bridge of her nose glinted in the dying sunlight. Marie and Henry exchanged surprised glances, who could be calling at this time on Sunday?

“Good evening, my name is Professor Minerva McGonagall, is this the residence of Petunia and Lily Evans?” A heavy Scottish accent lilted her firm tone and Henry nodded in mute shock “Excellent, may I come in?” he nodded again, standing aside as she swept past him “May I speak with you and your daughters?” Henry cleared his throat and recovered his voice,
“Marie, girls! Come here please!” scampering feet were heard before Lily bounced into the room, her face flushed in delight as she took in the woman now seated on the sofa, Petunia and his wife followed at a more sedate pace, Marie paused in surprise, her manners quickly kicked in and she offered refreshments. McGonagall refused politely. “I am here on behalf of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to offer your daughters a place.”

Silence had reigned following that statement before questions started flying in earnest, mostly from Lily. Petunia, watched the witch mistrustfully and asked bluntly why she had been offered a place considering she had never done anything freakish. Marie had looked scandalized and scolded her immediately, the rudeness of her usually polite daughter distracting her from the shock of magic, taking comfort in normal things. The teacher, McGonagall, however had merely told Petunia haughtily that she was a witch, whether she had shown signs of it or not and that she needn’t accept her place if that was her attitude. Petunia had blushed and apologized quietly, stretching her hand out to take the letter addressed to her that McGonagall had placed on the coffee table. Henry had silenced the girls, sent them upstairs and began questioning the witch earnestly. Eventually he had relented and admitted that he was proud of his flowers regardless.

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
  UNIFORM
  First-year students will require:
  1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
  2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
  3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
  4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
  Please note that all pupils' clothes should carry name tags
  COURSE BOOKS
  All students should have a copy of each of the following:
  The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
  A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
  Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
  A Beginners' Guide to Transfiguration by Emetic Switch
  One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
  Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
  The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
OTHER EQUIPMENT
1 Wand
1 Cauldron (pewter, standard size 2) set
Glass or crystal phials
Telescope set
Brass scales
  
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS

"Where can we find these in London?" Petunia mused as they walked along the high street, accompanied by McGonagall, who today was wearing a smart skirt suit instead of her robes to Lily’s fascination, her thin lips twitched in repressed smile, Petunia had apologized to her humbly this morning when she had arrived, she had accepted and spent the car journey to London answering as many questions as the girls could think up. “Through here." she answered sharply, pointing the family to a tiny, grubby-looking pub. Marie and Henry had protested, their eyes being unable to focus on the building until the teacher had shooed them inside. Indeed it seemed the people surrounding them didn't glance at it; their eyes slid from the tobacconists to the butchers without a pause. It was very dingy. A small group of middle-aged women were sitting in a corner, drinking tiny glasses of sherry. One of them was smoking a long pipe. A little man was talking to the bartender, who was quite bald but looked cheerful and friendly, he barked out a greeting to McGonagall as the low buzz of chatter slowed when they walked in. McGonagall nodded to him then led them through the bar and out into a small, disappointing, walled courtyard, where there was nothing but a bin and a few weeds.

McGonagall’s pursed lips twitched again at the girls’ dismayed expression and tapped a brick, it quivered -- it wriggled -- then in the middle, a small hole appeared -- it grew wider and wider -- a second later they were facing an archway onto a cobbled street that twisted and turned out of sight. "Welcome," she announced, "to Diagon Alley." The two girls squealed and dashed forward, each pulling a parent, all four heads swivelled, eyes wide in amazement. Petunia glanced over her shoulder and saw the archway shrink instantly back into a solid wall. Bright glinting cauldrons were stacked under a sign proclaiming ’Cauldrons -- All Sizes - Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver, Collapsible’ and a brand new ‘Self-Stirring’. "First stop shall be Gringotts." their escort told them, briskly setting off in the direction of a gleaming white building, the family trailing behind her, each trying to take in as much as they could. Their heads turned in every direction as they walked up the street, muttered complaints about pricing could be heard by the Apothecary and a low, soft hooting came from a dark shop with a sign saying Eeylops Owl Emporium -- Tawny, Screech, Barn, Brown, and Snowy. A small crowd were pressed against a window with broomsticks in it. “The new Silver Arrow, it’s the fastest ever"; There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels' eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon.

Their guide had stopped, they had reached the snowy white building dominating the little shops. Standing beside its burnished bronze doors, wearing a uniform of scarlet and gold, was “That is a goblin," the professor explained quietly as they walked up the white stone steps toward him. The goblin was about a head shorter than Lily, the smallest of their group. He had a clever face, pointed beard and very long fingers and feet. He bowed as they walked inside. Now they were facing a second pair of doors, silver this time, with words engraved upon them:
  Enter, stranger, but take heed
  Of what awaits the sin of greed,
  For those who take, but do not earn,
  Must pay most dearly in their turn.
  So if you seek beneath our floors
  A treasure that was never yours,
  Thief, you have been warned, beware
  Of finding more than treasure there.
A pair of goblins bowed them through the silver doors and they were in a vast marble hall. About a hundred more goblins were sitting on high stools behind a long counter, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, examining precious stones through eyeglasses. There were too many doors to count leading off the hall, and yet more goblins were showing people in and out of these. McGonagall led them to a counter and waited patiently as Henry stumbled through exchanging money and setting up accounts for his daughters. Petunia and Lily were watching a goblin weighing a pile of rubies as big as glowing coals when the glisten of molten gold made them whirl around to see two keys shaping themselves in mid-air, the goblin handed them to their parents.

In turn each shop was visited, often the call was hurried along by their guide as she pointed out the books they would need in a shop called Flourish and Blotts, where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather; books the size of stamps covered in silk; books full of peculiar symbols and a few books with nothing in them at all. Petunia was enthralled. Lily, who had always had a smaller attention span had to drag her sister away when McGonagall’s patience ran out. However it was Lily who was entranced by the Apothecary, Petunia gagged on the smell and eventually ran outside while her parents ordered them both a basic potions kit and Lily wandered around poking her finger into barrels of slimy stuff that stood on the floor; gazing at the jars of herbs, dried roots, and bright powders lining the walls and examining the bundles of feathers, strings of fangs, and gnarled claws that hung from the ceiling. The last shop of the day was narrow and shabby but was what the girls had been looking forward to the most. Peeling gold letters over the door read Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. A single wand lay on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window. A tinkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they stepped inside. It was a tiny place, but McGonagall conjured some chairs for the adults as they waited. A strange silence and the thick dust covering the place seemed to tingle with a kind of some secret magic.

“Good afternoon” They jumped, the girls muffled shrieks as they spun to face a thin, slightly crouched old man, “The Evance’ sisters, we’ll start with the youngest shall we?” he turned his silvery eyes to Lily and she stared at him uncertainly, chin jutting out in a defiant pose "Hold out your arm. That's it." his soft voice didn’t have much of a comforting quality, instead it seemed to put her more on edge, she wished he would blink, those eyes were disconcerting. She could hear Petunia shuffling her feet beside her and feel her parents’ gaze, she chanced a look, her mother appeared almost as wary as she felt. He measured Lily from shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round her head. As he measured, he said, "Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Miss Evance. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. However we do have a selection of more custom wands that are reserved for customers who are difficult to match. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard's wand."

She glanced down at the tape measure, which strangely was measuring between her nostrils, and somehow less strangely was doing this on its own. Mr. Ollivander was flitting around the shelves, taking down boxes. "That will do," he snapped, and the tape measure crumpled into a heap on the floor. "Right then, Miss Evance. Try this one. Beechwood and dragon heart-string. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. Just take it and give it a wave." She stretched out her hand and heard Petunia’s breath catch behind her, her fingers closed around the cold wood and she waved it excitedly. Nothing happened. Ollivander however, seemed pleased and he handed her another, she shared a nervous look with Tuney and repeated her motion. Nothing. She frowned, taking the next wand only for the results to be the same. Ollivander held out a light coloured wand with a decorative flower pattern and she gasped as warmth flooded her, stemming from the wood in her hands, she grinned and waved it, rainbow coloured streamers shot from the end and she gave a small whoop of joy. “Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow and unicorn hair. Nice wand for charm work.” He placed the wand into it’s box then handed the package to Lily she stepped back as he turned expectantly to Petunia.

The measuring tape leapt up to it’s job once more as Ollivander returned to his shelves, “Now exactly the same as your sister Miss Evance.” She took the offered wand, batting the tape away irritably, and waved it, feeling rather foolish; Ollivander snatched it out of her hand almost at once. "Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try" She had hardly raised the wand when it, too, was snatched back by Mr. Ollivander. "No, no -here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on, go on, try it out." Petunia tried. And tried. The pile of tried wands was mounting higher and higher on the desk, but the more wands Mr. Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become. "Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry, we'll find the perfect match here somewhere.. Hmm, wait here Miss Evance” with this he disappeared into the tottering aisles and returned with a small selection of lockable wooden wand boxes, “Perhaps a custom wand will suit you” She stared at him feeling close to tears, what if Professor McGonagall had been wrong and she was just a n...muggle? What if she wasn’t magic after all? The first wand didn’t work, but the second custom wand made her fingers tingle and her hair crackle, she swished it, feeling a wave of optimism. The dust coating the shop vanished and the shelves re-stacked themselves into orderly fashion. Lily cheered, a wave of giddy excitement took over Petunia, she smiled at Mr Ollivander but the expression dropped as he was watching her with a strange look.

“Australian Blackwood, monterillo handle and dragon whisker. Twelve and a half inches, rigid but with some give. You are a curious girl Miss Evance. I hope you can use your gift wisely.” She stared at him, a silence had befallen the shop, he boxed her wand as he had Lily’s then announced the price; they left glad to be free of the suffocating atmosphere however Petunia had the distinct feeling that Mr Ollivander’s silvery eyes hadn’t strayed from her once. Lily chattered happily on the car ride home but Petunia stayed silent, McGonagall had left after telling them how to get on to the platform. She was thinking over Ollivander’s strange words and feeling the first tendrils of worry start to curl in her stomach.

Chapter Text

September the first dawned bright and the Evans’ household was a mix of excitable action and tearful hugs, trunks were loaded into the boot and they all piled in. Marie had to talk Lily out of wearing her new Hogwarts robes. Petunia twisted around as the car pulled away and watched her home disappear from view, she sighed and faced the front once more however the pause in the journey made her gasp. That Snape boy and his sallow-faced mother had somehow conned a ride out of her parents! Henry greeted them cheerfully, helping with the extra trunk and ordering the girls to budge up for the newcomers. She scowled at the boy as he sat by the window, his mother talking quietly to Henry, apparently soothing his concerns about Hogwarts, Snape ignored her, staring at Lily. He was already wearing his robes; then again, she thought sniffily, he probably didn’t have anything nicer to wear.

A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven O'clock. Lily was jumping around, their parents were looking a little queasy, walking through a wall certainly hadn’t agreed with them. Petunia looked behind herself and saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it. A rush of happiness filled her, she was really going! She and Lily were really going to learn magic! The last shadows of doubts disappeared. Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every colour wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks. The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats. Eileen called the Evans’ over, she and Snape had found an empty carriage, Mr Evans helped load their luggage into the racks and then hugged his girls to him, tearily telling them to make him proud, Marie was already in floods, she made them promise to write and hugged them tightly, pressing numerous kisses to their cheeks and foreheads; Lily jumped into the compartment but Petunia remained on the platform for a moment longer, held her parents a little bit more then joined her sister; shattering the Snape boy’s smirk of triumph.

More people joined them before the train had begun to move and still Petunia had not alighted much to Snape’s disgust, she glanced at him then back at her sister, she was watching the scenery rushing by, trying to hide her tears. “What are you doing here? You’re a muggle!” he snapped and she smirked at him
“Not according to Professor McGonagall” glowing on the inside she watched as Snape seethed, jealousy badly hidden as he glanced longingly at Lily once more. The girl in question turned and smiled at him, although it was a little wobbly
"Hi Sev." she said, voice cheerful “Isn’t it great? Tuney’s a witch too! Thanks for telling me all that stuff” He swallowed and nodded, she had been sneaking away from her sister to meet with him ever since their birthday but not once had she mentioned that both of the Evans girls would be at Hogwarts. Petunia was talking to a brunette whose curly haired sister was staring out of the carriage window into the corridor with a bored expression. "We're going!" he said, unable to suppress the exhilaration in his voice. "This is it! We're off to Hogwarts!” She nodded and grinned, his excitement was catching
"You'd better be in Slytherin," said Snape, encouraged by the smile and Petunia’s determined ignorance of their conversation
"Slytherin?"

One of the boys sharing the compartment, who had shown no interest at all in Lily or Snape until that point, looked around at the word, the boy was slight, black-haired like Snape, but with that indefinable air of having been well-cared-for, even adored, that Snape so conspicuously lacked. "Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?" James asked the boy lounging on the seat next to him, the boy didn’t smile.
"My whole family have been in Slytherin," he said, nodding to the two girls across from him, they nodded silently
"Blimey," said James, "and I thought you seemed all right!" Sirius grinned.
"Maybe I'll break the tradition. Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?" The elder girl frowned, whilst the other looked torn between amusement and worry; James lifted an invisible sword.
"'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!' Like my dad." Snape made a small, disparaging noise. James turned on him. "Got a problem with that?"
"No," said Snape, though his slight sneer said otherwise. "If you'd rather be brawny than brainy"
"Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?" interjected Sirius. James roared with laughter and Petunia hid a smile. Lily sat up, rather flushed, and looked from James to Sirius in dislike. "Come on, Severus, Tuney, let's find another compartment."
"Oooooo..." James and Sirius imitated her lofty voice; James tried to trip Snape as he passed. Petunia bit her lip and looked at her new friend, she smiled at her softly and stood, “Coming Bella?” she asked, the dark haired girl sighed
“Don’t disgrace us Sirius!” She ordered and swept from the compartment as a voice called "See ya, Snivellus!"

As the view from the windows changed from urban to countryside and steadily darkened, students began changing, the four girls and Severus had gotten into a lively debate over the sweets on the trolley; Lily adored the chocolate frogs whilst Petunia preferred the Sugared Butterfly Wings (once assured that they were no longer made with actual butterflies). The blonde had drilled Andromeda and Bellatrix relentlessly on the wizarding world once they had explained they were from an all magical family. Andromeda had promised to coach Petunia; Bellatrix had insisted that the girl would be bored stiff, rolling her heavy-lidded eyes with a smirk as her sister scowled. Before any of them knew it the train had slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door and out on to a tiny, dark platform. Shivers went up in the cold night air. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students, and they heard a gruff voice: "Firs' years! Firs' years over here!" The hairy face of the largest man the girls had ever seen beamed over the sea of heads. "C'mon, follow me -- any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!" Slipping and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep, narrow path, leaves blanketed the floor. Forest seemed to surround every side of them. Nobody spoke much. "Ye' all get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagrid called over his shoulder, "Jus' round this bend here." There was a loud
"Oooooh!" The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
  
"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Lily and Severus clambered into a boat and looked expectantly at Petunia, she shrugged apologetically at Andromeda and Bellatrix but followed her sister. They were joined by a pudgy, nervous boy "Everyone in?" shouted Hagrid, who had an, obviously re-enforced, boat to himself. "Right then -- FORWARD!" The fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Petunia ghosted her fingers over the surface until she saw a tentacle drift beneath their boat. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood. "Heads down!" yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They were taken along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbour, where they stumbled out onto rocks and pebbles. "Everyone ok?" said Hagrid, who was checking the boats as people climbed out of them. They murmured an affirmative before clambering up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid's lamp, occasionally running to keep with his wide strides, coming out at last onto smooth, damp grass right in the shadow of the castle. They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, Oak front door. "Everyone here?” he smiled kindly down at them, his beetle-black eyes twinkling under his thick eyebrows and bushy tangles; nerves had knotted themselves uncomfortably into Petunia’s stomach and Lily had grabbed Snape’s hand, her new friends were trying to look unconcerned but were chewing their bottom lips. Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.

The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. Petunia felt herself relax a little at the familiar visage of Professor McGonagall. Bellatrix whispered something to her sister as Hagrid said needlessly "The firs' years, Professor McGonagall,"
"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here." She pulled the door wide and stepped back to let them troop past. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors. They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor and into a small, empty chamber off the hall. The drone of hundreds of voices were coming through the wooden door to their right. They crowded in, standing rather closer together than they would usually have done, peering about nervously. "Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is very important because, while you are here, your house will be your family within Hogwarts.”
  
"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule-breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours. The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting." Her eyes lingered disapprovingly for a moment on the small pudgy boy with dirt streaked across his face and then on to the upturned collar of a blushing strawberry haired girl. Petunia caught a flutter of movement as Andromeda’s hands patted her expensive robes, smoothing them carefully. She tugged on the end of her own blonde plaits and straightened her back, standing tall. "I shall return when we are ready for you," said Professor McGonagall. "Please wait quietly."

She left the chamber then several people screamed. They whirled around, Bellatrix muttering a muggle curse "Ghosts..?" Lily gasped. So did the people around her. Pearly-white and translucent, they glided across the room talking to one another and hardly glancing at the first years. They seemed to be heading for the hall. Through the walls. What looked like a fat little monk was saying: "Should be a wonderful night, shame the Baron is in such a bad mood.."
"My dear Friar, when is the Baron not in a foul temper, he makes all the students uncomfortable you know, if it wasn’t for the fact he can control Peeves... Hello there!"A ghost wearing a ruff and tights had ‘suddenly’ noticed the first years in what seemed like a practised move. Nobody answered.
"New students!" said the Fat Friar, smiling around at them. "About to be Sorted, I suppose?" A few people nodded mutely. "Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!" said the Friar. "My old house, you know."
"Move along now," said a sharp voice. "The Sorting Ceremony's about to start." Professor McGonagall had returned. One by one, the ghosts floated away through the opposite wall. "Now, form a line," Professor McGonagall told the first years, "and follow me." Feeling as though her legs had become jelly Petunia fell into line behind Lily and in front of Andromeda, Snape was in front of her sister. They walked out of the chamber, back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.
  
“Look at the ceiling” Dromeda whispered excitedly from behind her, Petunia glanced up and almost choked in shock, it was velvety black and dotted with golden stars, she felt wonder rise in her and delight at being part of this world. She would never regret this, she was sure of it. The hall was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in mid-air over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver. She glanced back up at the ceiling and breathed
“How?”
Bellatrix answered "Its bewitched to reflect the sky outside. My mother told me."
“It’s like it isn’t there isn’t it?” Andromeda said quietly, Petunia nodded mutely, it was like that the Great Hall simply opened to the heavens. She quickly looked down as Lily nudged her, Professor McGonagall had silently placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On top of the stool she put a pointed wizard's hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Lily glanced at her with a silent giggle, knowing the wrinkle that Petunia would already have in her nose.

She stared at it, again Andromeda and Bella seemed quite bored, so did James and Sirius. For a few seconds, there was complete silence. Then the hat twitched. A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouth.. and the hat began to sing. Once it had finished and the applause had died away, Professor McGonagall stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment."When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," she said, a few of the students around her visibly relaxed. She felt relieved, all they had to do was try on that filthy hat. She paused. Then winced.

“Ackleport, Violet” A pug-faced, dark haired girl walked, shaking to the stool. McGonagall placed the hat on her head, it fell below her eyes before shouting
“SLYTHERIN!” the table to the far right clapped and Violet stood up, quaking gone, smirk in place as she joined her new house. “Bell, Thomas” a sandy-haired boy, scurried forward, all gangly limbs and awkwardness “HUFFLEPUFF!” the table on the closest right cheered this time as Thomas joined them, Petunia heard Andromeda’s breath catch and she grabbed her hand on impulse giving it a squeeze, the girl gave her a weak smile. “Black, Andromeda” despite her nerves Andromeda steeled herself and moved forward with enforced grace, lowering herself onto the stool and waiting patiently as the hat deliberated “SLYTHERIN!” Petunia heard Sirius grumble behind her but Bellatrix clapped along with the Slytherin table, the dark, curly haired girl hissed something at her cousin before approaching the stool herself, a moment later she had joined her sister, relief shining in her dark eyes but a confident smirk on her lips. Sirius swaggered to the front as he was called and had the audacity to wink at her before the hat fell over his eyes. Silence settled on the hall as Sirius’ sorting took longer than expected, nearly a full ten minutes later the hat announced in an almost resigned voice “GRYFFINDOR!” A volley of shocked gasps went up but Gryffindor house recovered and clapped their new member hesitantly as he grinned at James. Petunia glanced behind her and saw him give Sirius a thumbs up, an answering grin stretching his lips.

More names were called before Professor McGonagall reached the ‘Es, Lily looked back at her sister, fright now in her face, Petunia squeezed her hand and whispered that it would be fine as McGonagall called “Evans, Lily!" she watched her sister walk forward on trembling legs and sit down upon the rickety stool. Professor McGonagall dropped the Sorting Hat onto her head, and barely a second after it had touched the dark red hair, the hat cried, "GRYFFINDOR!"Petunia clapped hard and shot a grin at Lily as her emerald eyes were revealed once more. Snape let out a tiny groan, Petunia sniffed, as if Lily would sink that low! However as Lily hurried toward the cheering Gryffindors, she glanced back at Snape with a sad little smile on her face. Sirius moved up the bench to make room for her but she took one look at him, seemed to recognize him from the train, folded her arms, and firmly turned her back on him. “Evans, Petunia” She looked back to the front, tried to compose herself like Andromeda had done and strode forward, she made eye contact with the other girl and she grinned, giving her a tiny wave from her table before the hat slipped over Petunia’s eyes and it was darkness.

Another Evance. Now where to put you? Not Slytherin. No, no. You’d be strangled in the snake pit. Not suited for the Lions either. Hmm, a sharp mind, eagerness to prove yourself, plenty of talent. I know just the place for you, my girl. You’ll impress with...RAVENCLAW!” Light flooded her senses again and she blinked, standing and making her way to the clapping table, she took a seat behind Lily and clasped her sister’s hand as she reached for her with a bright smile. Petunia glanced across the hall at Andromeda and Bellatrix, Andromeda looked delighted and Bellatrix gave her a warmish smile and approving nod. “Welcome to Ravenclaw” an older boy said with a grin as he leaned over to change the colours on her tie.

The roll call continued. Petunia watched as a scarred boy, Lupin, the pudgy boy named Pettigrew, and James Potter joined Lily and Sirius at the Gryffindor table. When only a dozen students remained to be sorted, Professor McGonagall called Snape. He walked to the stool, false arrogance in his step, the hat was lowered and quickly cried "SLYTHERIN!" And Severus Snape moved off to the other side of the Hall, away from Lily, to where the Slytherins were cheering him, to where a blonde boy with a badge gleaming upon his chest, patted Snape on the back as he sat down beside him. Petunia watched with a sense of relief, he couldn’t spend time with her sister now, surely?

Petunia glanced down at her empty golden plate; now the nerves had disappeared hunger pangs had taken their place. The sweets seemed ages ago. Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. He was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there. "Welcome," he said. "Welcome new students and old! Tribop! Lebzle and Ethosein! In other words, tuck in!" He sat back down. The older students clapped and cheered. The first years looked uncertain, Petunia frowned, this man was supposed to be in charge of her education. The blonde at her elbow however nodded seriously and agreed “Well we must always keep those in mind”
"You understood that?” Petunia asked uncertainly, her new house-mate turned her head fixing her with a blue speckled green gaze
"Oh yes, very wise words to start a feast with" those around the girl exchanged wary glances and shifted away from her "Can you pass me the jelly babies?" She looked back at the table and gasped, the dishes were now piled high with food. Roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and.. Jelly babies. Wisely, Petunia thought, everyone was avoiding those but she did as asked and gave the small bowl of sweets to the girl who smiled delightedly.

A small shriek had the Ravenclaws peering at the table next to them, the Gryffindor ghost had pulled his head to the side, displaying the innards of his silvery neck; someone had obviously tried to behead him, badly. Petunia made a noise of shocked disgust. Sir Nicholas looked rather pleased at the effect he had and flipped his head back onto his neck, coughed, and said, "So -- new Gryffindors! I hope you're going to help us win the house championship this year? Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw have been sharing the cup back and forth for six years in a row!" She turned back to her table and looked around the hall for the other ghosts, the new students in Hufflepuff were listening to a cheerful tale by the monk and their ghost, a young, sad woman was hovering behind one of the male first years, silently making her judgements. The Slytherin ghost had sat himself beside Snape, who rather than looking uncomfortable had engaged the unpleasant looking male in conversation, however his dark eyes kept travelling to the Gryffindor table, to where Lily sat. The Bloody Baron’s blank stare caught her curious one and she looked down at her plate hurriedly, his gaunt face, and bloodstained robes put her on edge.

Only when the desserts had appeared (Blocks of ice cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate éclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding...) did Petunia try to speak with her fellow students, the blonde she had spoken to before was absent-mindedly humming to herself, playing with a cork necklace but she introduced herself without a pause “My name’s Vulpix. Yours is Petunia, they’re quite a pretty flower you know.” Petunia’s mouth had opened in surprise and she nodded dumbly before blushing and stuttering thanks. A dark-haired snobbish looking girl across the table had a barely hidden sneer when she looked at Vulpix but she smiled sweetly at Petunia and said “I’m Lambia and that’s Eadda and Felberta” the other two girls waved. Eadda was a slender brunette with a kind but timid face, she seemed rather cowed by Lambia’s confidence. Felberta was strawberry haired with a wicked glint in her brown eyes and a secretive smile; she grinned at Petunia displaying braced white teeth and Petunia found herself laughing back, Felberta’s mouth widened, she inclined her head towards Lambia, Petunia rolled her eyes discretely and the girl snorted with smothered laughter.

Talk amongst the boys had turned to their families. “We had no idea” Jack Spicer was saying “The letter was a total shock.”
“I’m from an all magic family, been looking forward to my letter for years. Although we thought I might attend Camelot’s College for awhile, got the paperwork and everything”
“There are other magic schools in England?” Petunia asked suddenly, Flynn nodded, angling his body to include the girls in the conversation, Lambia kept talking to Eadda but Felberta was listening interestedly, wiping her finger around her bowl and sucking the chocolate off “Yeh, they’re mostly private schools though, they’re almost entirely made up of purebloods. Are you muggleborn?” Petunia’s skin prickled, wary
“Yes. Does that matter?” she told him stiffly, Flynn’s eyebrows rose but a slight blush stained his face “No. No! Not at all!” he protested quickly “I just wondered. What’s your name?”
“Petunia Evans” her tone was prim but friendly, her posture relaxed once more, Flynn grinned at her boyishly
“Flynn Bern. It’s a pleasure to meet you Miss Evans” he extended a hand, she took it but blushed when he brushed his lips over her knuckles. The curly-haired boy to his left laughed and shook her hand when Flynn released it “I’m Quinten Kirren and this is Archer Boyse and Jack Spicer.” Felberta stuck her hand out suddenly, drawing their attention her way as her lips stretched into a grin again “Felberta King. Friend of Miss Evans” Quinten just laughed and shook her hand as well.

“This is Vulpix” Petunia said when Flynn and Quinten looked at the blonde expectantly, Vulpix hadn’t noticed. A hush fell over the hall. Professor Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. The plates and dishes were sparkling clean and empty once more. “I have a few start-of-term notices to give you. First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils." Felberta’s eyes were glittering and she looked at Petunia questioningly, she shook her head, Felberta pouted. Whispers, sounding like Black and Potter, were discussing plans to sneak into the forest behind her. Her lips thinned in a disapproving purse. Dumbledore's twinkling eyes had flashed in the direction of the Gryffindor table as though he could hear every word. "I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, our new caretaker, to inform you all that no magic should be used in the corridors. Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone, second year and above, interested in playing for their house teams should contact Professor Snidget. Now, sleep well. Toodlepip!" Archer stretched and stood up as the boy who had changed their ties and robes announced “First years follow me!”

“Meet you at the doors Pet!” Andromeda called cheerfully as the four houses mingled in the entrance hall, older students already disappearing up and down staircases, Petunia waved as Bellatrix strode up to her sister scowling; a frown took over the brunette’s face but she waved back before the Slytherins departed through a door to the left of the marble staircase, the Hufflepuffs had taken the door on the right. A small hand grabbed hers and she jumped, Lily was smiling at her. “This is my sister Tuney!” she told her friends as Petunia freed her fingers
“Petunia” she corrected, Lily shook her head fondly
“Tuney, this is Marlene, Alice, Mary and Sheana” she nodded to each in turn and gave Lily a quick hug as the prefects led the students in opposite directions. They had reached a door. There was no handle and no keyhole: nothing but a plain expanse of aged, soft to the touch wood, and a bronze knocker in the shape an eagle. The female prefect turned to the students “This is the Ravenclaw common room, we don’t have a password, we must answer a riddle to enter. If you get it wrong then you have to wait until the next person gets it right. It encourages learning.”

She knocked once, startling a few portraits out of a doze, and the beak of the eagle opened, but instead of a bird's call, a soft, musical voice said, "At night they come without being fetched, and by day they are lost without being stolen. What are they?" the prefect remained silent; Petunia glanced around, the boys looked confused, Vulpix was thoughtful, Felberta was muttering the riddle to herself and Lambia wasn’t even attempting to solve the question. "Hmm ... What do you think, Petunia?" Vulpix asked, the blonde was watching her. She cleared her throat, Vulpix’s gaze was a little unnerving, “Erm, well ‘stolen’ implies that the objects are precious or at least have the appearance of being precious. Coming without being called could mean that it is an automatic process or perhaps one that is natural but the objects cannot be found during the day.” she paused, chewing on her lip, thinking before the ceiling of the Great Hall flashed before her eyes and she said hesitantly “I think the answer is the stars.”

"Correct." said the voice, and the door swung inward. The male prefect gave her a thumbs up and stepped into the common room, the boys clapped her on the shoulder roughly and disappeared, Vulpix nodded “Well done Petunia” she said. Petunia watched as she went inside, unsure of what to make of her, Felberta’s strawberry head popped out of the doorway “Come on Pet!” Their common room was a wide, circular room, airier than any Petunia had ever been in. Graceful arched windows punctuated the walls, which were hung with blue-and-bronze silks. By day, they would have a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. The ceiling was domed and painted with the constellations, which were echoed in the midnight-blue carpet. There were tables, chairs, and bookcases, and in a niche opposite the door stood a tall statue of white marble.

Their prefect waited by a door next to the statue, they gathered around her again, the boy had already wandered up the stairs. The statue seemed to look over them with a quizzical half smile on her face, beautiful yet slightly intimidating. A delicate-looking circlet had been reproduced in marble on top of her head. There were tiny words etched into it.
'Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure.'

Chapter Text

Petunia awoke the next day to a knocking, she gazed up at the bronze canopy above her in sleepy confusion before a cheerful voice outside her door called her name and a rooster crowed; she leapt out of bed, hurrying to the door. Felberta grinned at her as the wood opened “Morning Pet!” Petunia smiled back giddily, excitement was washing over her in waves “Lambia’s taken over the bathroom” Fe told her, throwing herself on Petunia’s bed and covering her eyes. Gentle singing could be heard once Petunia opened her window and pushed Fe off the bed to tidy the sheets, tucking, smoothing and fluffing to her satisfaction. Felberta was wandering around her room, opening drawers and the wardrobe, running a hand over her desk “I know we’ve just started but wow. Pet this is, like, eerily clean” the blonde scowled at her, taking out her new uniform and laying it out on the bed, rubbing her fingers over a small crease in the crisp white shirt. “There’s nothing wrong with tidy bedroom Fe. Tidy space, tidy mind” she told her firmly and Felberta rolled her eyes. “Is that Vulpix?” she asked nodding at the window, the lilting singing was growing and falling on certain parts of the dreamy sounding folk song; Petunia shrugged “I guess so. That is her bedroom”
“She’s an odd one that girl” Felberta muttered quietly and the blonde nodded as Felberta walked back to the door and hollered “Lambia, hurry up! I don’t want to be late to breakfast.”

There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other, and Lily insisted the coats of armour could walk. The older students pretended not to notice any of the first years struggling.

In Petunia’s opinion the ghosts didn't help, either. It was always a nasty shock when one of them glided suddenly through a door you were trying to open. House ghosts were always happy to point new students in the right direction but Peeves the Poltergeist was worth two locked doors and a trick staircase if you met him when you were late for class. He would drop waste-paper baskets on your head, pull rugs from under your feet, pelt you with bits of chalk, or sneak up behind you, invisible, grab your nose, and screech, "GOT YOUR CONK!"

Quickly becoming hated and even worse than Peeves, if that was possible, was the new caretaker, Argus Filch. He was middle-aged, sour, miserable and wished harsh punishments on the students. He always spoke fondly of the punishments he had been allowed to dish out at his previous schools. Punishments that Petunia scoffed at, there was no way that any country would allow those. Filch owned a cat couple called Thomas and Duchess, a male scrawny, flat-faced, tawny creature and a female dust-grey, fluffy hissing ball of fury. They patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of them, put just one toe out of line, and one of them would whisk off for Filch, who'd appear, wheezing, moments later. Filch, somehow, despite being new, had figured out many of the secret passageways of the school and could pop up as suddenly as any of the ghosts. Many suspected his cats were teaching him.

And then, once you had managed to find them, there were the classes themselves. There was a lot more to magic, as Petunia and Lily quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words. They had to study the night skies through their telescopes every Wednesday at midnight and learn the names of different stars and the movements of the planets, Astronomy was the only lesson all of the houses had together. The Blacks tended to excel in this class, Andromeda had told Petunia that magic could be drawn from the stars if you knew how; Lily didn’t believe her and dismissed the claims with a roll of her eyes but Petunia spent her class gazing at the twinkling sky, pondering.

Herbology was shared with Slytherin house; three times a week they went out to the greenhouses behind the castle taught by a dumpy little witch with flyaway hair called Professor Sprout. She taught them how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi, and find out what they were used for. Easily the most boring class was History of Magic. Felberta and Bellatrix used the class for a nap whilst Petunia and Andromeda debated the existence of creatures that Vulpix detailed for them. Lily was shocked by their antics when Petunia had recounted her lessons to her sister. Lily had been taking notes, mainly from the library book she had taken out; the goblin wars didn’t interest her very much. Charms had quickly become Lily’s favourite subject; Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, was a tiny wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk. During the first lesson he had made their desks dance for them, taught them to levitate feathers and regaled his Ravenclaws with tales of his duelling days.

"Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts. Anyone caught fooling around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned." At the end of her speech Professor McGonagall had changed Flynn’s chair into a ostrich, successfully gaining his attention before switching it back again. Excited applause had echoed through the classroom but soon the first years realized they weren't going to be changing the furniture into animals for a long time. After taking a lot of complicated notes, they were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle. By the end of the Ravenclaws’ lesson, surprisingly only Petunia had made any difference to her match; Professor McGonagall showed the class how it had gone silver and pointy and gave her a rare smile. The class that the boys had been looking forward to the most was Defence Against the Dark Arts and Professor Munito hadn’t disappointed. His classroom was lined with thick golden-lettered, leather tomes and diagrams of fascinating, frightening creatures. The dark-skinned professor was a retired curse-broker for Gringotts and had fought in the war against Grindelwald, he was knowledgeable and quick to temper but welcoming, his wide smile put his pupils at ease and he often found himself hosting students in the evenings. He was also rather easily distracted, the first half an hour of their first lesson had begun on track; he explained his lesson plan, subject and his aims for them but spent the rest answering the boys’ eager questions about all that he had seen and faced, often with magical demonstrations. The Evans had been relieved to find out that they weren't miles behind everyone else. Lots of people had come from Muggle families and, like them, hadn't had any idea that they were witches and wizards. There was so much to learn that even purebloods like James Potter or Flynn Bern didn't have much of a head start. Oddly, the Blacks didn’t appear to struggle with the lessons or magic at all; instead they seemed almost bored with the spells as though they had performed them many times before.

Potions took place in the dungeons, the Gryffindors and Slytherins had been paired up and Lily had been eager to tell her sister about her first lesson, glowing from the praise
Professor Slughorn had given her. Petunia had pursed her lips and refused to comment once Snape’s name had slipped into the story; Lily sighed and changed the subject, wishing her sister could just forgive Severus. The Ravenclaws were paired with the Hufflepuffs; they hadn’t mingled much. Whispers filled the classroom, interspersed with the bubbling of cauldrons; Lambia had just hissed a catty remark about one of the Hufflepuff girls before the dungeon door opened and Slughorn's belly preceded him. His bushy greying ginger walrus moustache curved above his beaming mouth, and he greeted all of his students with enthusiasm and a beady eye. "Now then, now then, now then," said Slughorn, whose massive outline was quivering through the many shimmering vapours. "Scales out, everyone, and potion kits, and don't forget your copies of Magical Drafts and Potions.”

After explaining each of the pre-made potions and allowing some of the harmless ones to be tried amidst squeals as they took effect; Slughorn put them all into pairs and set them to mixing up a simple laughter potion. He bustled around in his bursting silk robes, watching them count Knarl’s quills and grind Billywig wings, correcting and praising appropriately. He seemed to take a shine to some of the students, Petunia included, Flynn rolled his eyes at her and grinned, which widened as Petunia giggled, forcing herself to make something up for Slughorn as he gazed at her bemusedly, pausing in his waffle. He was just telling her how Lily had been his star pupil in the Gryffindor-Slytherin class and Potions clearly ran in the family when clouds of acid green smoke and a loud hissing filled the dungeon. Gethin Hitchens, one of the Hufflepuff boys, had somehow managed to melt his cauldron into a twisted blob, and his potion was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes in people's shoes.

Lambia screeched and leapt onto her stool, within seconds, everyone had copied her. Gethin, and his partner Jim Daffey, had been drenched in the potion when the cauldron collapsed, moaned in pain as angry red welts sprang up all over their arms and legs, cheeks stretching into uncontrollable grins. "Not to worry! Not to worry!" Slughorn called, vanishing the spilled potion with one wave of his wand. "I suppose you added the beetles before turning down the heat?" Gethin started giggling, eyes welling in pain, nodding, as blood started to weep. "Up to the hospital wing then, Miss Braith, Miss King can you accompany them?" The professor stemmed the blood flow as the two girls nodded and jumped down. Slughorn smiled kindly at the Hufflepuff girls and Eadda who looked rather close to tears, reprimanding Lambia sharply “Accidents happen Miss Weed, let’s just be thankful that it wasn’t any more serious.”

“Hi Tuney!” She glanced up from her plate, Felberta was still in the hospital wing with Gethin and Jim; Lily’s friend sat across from her, Lambia gave the Gryffindor a scandalized look and pointedly coughed, counting the seats at the table behind them. Marlene just sniggered and stretched out on the bench “It’s Petunia, Marlene. Where’s Lily?” the girl had just ladled soup into a bowl when Sheana dropped into the seat by Marlene “Lils had to go to the hospital wing with Alice. She broke her wrist” Petunia dropped her spoon and jumped to her feet “Hey Tuney” a tired voice said quietly, she whirled around, Lily stood behind her “Lily!” she yelped, seizing her hands and checking her arms, she tugged herself free “Tuney what’s wrong?” she asked, frowning at her sister. Sheana laughed, her Irish accent lilting it “Sorry, Pet, Alice was the one who hurt herself. Not Lils.” she explained and the blonde relaxed, sitting back down as Lily took the seat next to her; “What happened?” Petunia asked, dishing up lasagne for the younger and firmly handing her a fork. “We had our first flying lesson today. Alice’s broom went haywire” Lily said sprinkling salt and squirting ketchup over her dinner, “It was horrible Tuney! We heard it break.” her voice became wobbly, Petunia squeezed her hand “Alice will be fine. Madam Promfrey will fix her up and she’ll be back in your dormitory by tonight, you’ll see.” Lily smiled at her, eyes glassy but comforted.

“Lily!” The redhead spun, arms crossed furiously across her chest, Severus hovered by her side; James Potter and his friends had been taunting him “Lily!” Petunia was hurrying along the corridor, her classmates were lingering by the DADA door watching the sisters. “I need you to take this to the owlery, it’s for mum and dad, here’s a spare sheet of parchment, make sure you write them a letter as well, we should have sent this weeks ago! I’ll meet you at lunch!” A sealed scroll of parchment was shoved into Lily’s arms along with a blank, Petunia spared a moment to scowl at Snape before running back to her class as Professor Munito called them inside.

“Where’s Snape?” Petunia’s voice broke through Lily’s angry brooding, Potter was making the goblets levitate at the Gryffindor table and glancing at her as though expecting her to be impressed. “Sev is with the Slytherins, Travers wanted to ask him about the Potions homework” her sister sighed and swung herself onto the bench next to Lily “Lils, I don’t trust him. I don’t like him and you’re not going to change that. Spinner’s End is full of no-hoper's and coming to Hogwarts won’t make him any different.” Lily’s mouth opened crossly but Petunia steamrollered over her “I won’t, however, stop you from being his friend.”
“Only because you’ve got the Black sisters to spy on him.” Lily snapped, glaring at the group of laughing boys, another sigh left Petunia’s mouth but she didn’t deny the accusation. A few minutes of silence passed between the two before Marlene and Felberta joined them cackling. Lily managed a smile and Petunia shrugged as Felberta inclined her head at Lily, shouts of laughter broke out across the hall matched by the angry yells at the Slytherin table. The two girls twisted around and scowled, Snape’s goblet had overflowed with pink sticky goo, they watched as it rose and dumped its’content on the boy’s head, spraying the first years around him with the muck.

Lily had leapt to her feet and ran to Severus, eyes burning. Petunia looked over at the Gryffindors, Black and Potter were smirking, twirling their wands; Lupin looked faintly embarrassed but was hiding a smile, Pettigrew was in tears of laughter and had snorted his pumpkin juice up his nose. Snape brushed Lily off as his prefect arrived and vanished the stuff, coldly glaring at the Gryffindors as he spoke low words to Severus, she strode back to her sister “That wasn’t funny Potter!” she yelled, fist clenched around her wand, sparks shot out of the end. Petunia placed a hand on her arm and shot her a warning glance as Lily looked towards her, her anger didn’t dissipate but she held her tongue “Come on now Evans, it was” Black said arrogantly, flicking his sleek hair away from his eyes, Petunia sniffed haughtily, her nose in the air
“Lily, don’t bother yourself with them. We don’t associate with bullies. People will stop thinking they’re funny soon enough.” Black’s smirk slipped a notch before he hitched it up again and answered smoothly “Suit yourself.”

“I will.” She snapped and looked back at Snape, he was scowling at his plate but his shoulders were hunched and resigned; with a sigh and a glance at Lily, she walked over. “Want to join me and Lily?” Her voice was clipped and he gaped at her, so far she had made no secret of her dislike; the blonde prefect sneered at her, she glared back, his eyes widened slightly. Severus picked up his bag, muttering an apology to his dorm-mates, Andromeda and Bellatrix had joined the Ravenclaw table already; Petunia nodded approvingly and marched back, assuming he’d follow.
Lily was beaming at her.

Chapter Text

Running feet echoed through the corridors, it was the weekend and Lily had decided, that after nearly two months at Hogwarts, she, her sister and their friends just had to go exploring. Most of the older students were asleep, in the library or still at breakfast; they had started with the dungeons, venturing through the door that the Hufflepuffs disappeared through every night. “My feet hurt.” Felberta complained, leaning against a painting and reaching down to rub at her ankle, Petunia paused, the others had run ahead, an amused smirk was playing on her mouth as she muttered ‘..told you so’. Felberta pulled a face at her, she groaned and put her foot down again. “Look at that horrible picture!” She said pointing behind Petunia, the blonde turned and Felberta leapt on her; she shrieked, calls of her name sounded along with the slap of trainers, Lily rounded the corner as her sister picked herself up and Felberta giggled on the floor.

The others shook their heads, grinning, Fe stood and examined the picture she had just criticized “This is really tacky” she announced running a finger lightly over the paint before yelping and leaping back, crashing into Bellatrix as the pear in the painting laughed and squirmed into a handle. They exchanged glances before Andromeda turned it and pushed the ‘door’ open; hundreds of bobbing bald, bat-eared beings were scurrying around, great bursts of steam were released periodically, the sound of knives slicing and chopping rang clear as bells and the squeal of high-pitched voices invaded their ears. “House-elves!” Fe exclaimed, stepping into the muggy room; almost at once one of the creatures came bustling to her side. “Hello young master and misses!” it squeaked “We is very busy from breakfast but Sweeps can help you!” Lily and Petunia’s eyes had widened, Bellatrix was stood by the door, sighing impatiently; house-elves had never interested her much. A picnic hamper was being pressed into Petunia’s arms and a charmed feather-light basket of drinks was given to Severus as Andromeda announced that they had to leave amongst many smiles and low bows from the elves.

“So what are house-elves?” Mary asked flopping onto the grass by the lake, Petunia was spreading out a picnic blanket “Servants essentially” Andromeda answered, placing down the hamper and starting to sort through the contents “What?!” Lily yelped, sitting up and gazing at the girl, “You mean they don’t have a choice? They’re slaves?!” the other frowned, “No, house-elves need a family’s magic. They die without it. If an elf wants paying then it can be arranged, depending on the family of course” the redhead didn’t appear convinced but let the subject drop to retaliate as Marlene flicked pumpkin juice at her.

Scratching of quills and the occasional rustle of thick pages were the soundtrack of the library; a slightly musty smell perfumed the air but Petunia inhaled deeply, she loved libraries, loved the peace and senerity. Many of the desks were occupied by older students of all houses but peering around the Ravenclaw colours seemed to be the most prevalent; Sakiya Mori, their female prefect had informed them on the first night that Ravenclaws were privileged with separate rooms for quiet study and their grades must reflect this advantage. It appeared the whole house had taken their respective warnings to heart. Sliding into a chair she tugged free her potions book and a roll of parchment; flipping through the pages with a soft brushing noise she smoothed out her scroll and set her nib to the surface.

“You know Transfiguration is due next week right?” The blonde scowled, Black had joined her about halfway through her Potions essay, thankfully, for the most part he had been silent but she had meant what she said to Lily. He and his friends were bullies; the fact she was actually starting to like Severus a tiny bit didn’t help her opinion of the other boy. “There’s nothing wrong with being prepared Black” she told him stiffly and wrote another sentence pointedly, her head was firmly down, eyes on her parchment except for flicking through Switch. “What is that anyway?” he asked, leaning over the desk and plucking her pen from her hand, her head snapped up, outraged but the geniune confusion on his face made her pause. “It’s a fountain pen” she said quietly as Madam Pince swept past them, eyeing them suspiciously “What’s that?” She sighed and unscrewed it, pulling out the ink cartridge and handing it to him “That’s an ink cartridge. It’s like a mini ink pot, you connect it the nib and write with it. Sort of like a quill that you don’t have to dip” he nodded, giving her the cartridge back
“More efficient I guess” he mumbled, turning back to his own essay.

“Where are the ‘Marauders’?” She asked scathingly; Lily had tried to insult them last weekend but they had taken it as a compliment; Sirius laughed but stopped when she frowned and Madam Pince gave him a warning glare “Remus is ill again and James has detention”
“No Pettigrew?”
“He gets on my nerves. He follows James like a damn puppy. There’s only so much sucking up that I can stomach” A smile fought its’ way to Petunia’s lips and she bent her head down again to hide it, ink stained fingers found their way to her chin and tilted it back up “Don’t hide. Your smile’s beautiful.” She blushed, pushing his hand away
“Don’t try to flatter me Black. It doesn’t become you” but for once her voice was warm when she spoke to him and his smile wasn’t obnoxious or arrogant. Bright grey eyes met her icy blues and she didn’t look away, their gazes held until his slid past her and he started gathering his things “I’ll see you at dinner.” he stood, swung his bag onto his back and walked away from the desk “Oh and Tunes?” She glanced over her shoulder “I like your hair like that.”

Time felt like it flew at Hogwarts; Halloween arrived in a blaze of fiery reds and chilly oranges. Quiddith season had started, Lily adored the game and insisted on attending every match; Petunia didn’t hold much affection for the sport, luckily neither did Vulpix or Quinten. Matches were passed in the library or toasting various foods on the common room fire; the castle had grown colder, the teachers were preparing their students. Professor McGonagall had given them all tissues and explained how to change them into basic scarves and gloves; Flitwick meanwhile had spent the last two lessons teaching them various warming charms; Slughorn had shown them a simple pepper up that would be safe for them to brew at home and in their dormitories. Flying lessons were becoming bitter, even the most fanatic students were beginning to complain about getting off their brooms stiff and wind bitten; the greenhouse glass was frosted so thickly in the mornings that it was similar to standing in an warm ice cave.

The day of Halloween the decorations had been spectacular, cackling lanterns replaced the torches in the corridors, bats swooped frequently around the heads of students, cobwebs streamed from the bannisters and the suits of armour and various statues had been bewitched to leap out at students or roar frighteningly. Screams filled the corridors regularly, some provided by students, others by startled portraits, the ghosts burst out of the walls in groups, laughing heartily when their victims squealed. Despite her misgivings about the house-elves Lily couldn’t argue that they had surpassed every other meal with the Halloween feast. Every kind of sweet imaginable filled the tables for dessert, the mains had many surprise dishes hidden amongst them, each bite as delicious as the first. A notice had appeared in the common rooms a week previous stating that a costume ball was to be held on Halloween night, exactly one hour after the feast. It had been the talk of the whole school.

“Come on, everyone gather round! We’re to arrive as a house!” Sakiya was stood by the common room door, counting the heads around her. The elder years shook their heads but waited good-naturedly “Have we got everyone? First years?”
“Lambia’s just finishing!” Eadda’s quaking voice called and Sakiya pushed open the door; Lambia came hurrying down the stairs, fixing her fingerless gloves and joining the crowd. They met the Gryffindors on the stairs. Many of their students had chosen costumes in their house colours but some had gone all out and had dressed as creatures. Emerald green eyes peered out from an orange face, the dark red hair swept behind a hairpiece and veil, she caught sight of Petunia and grinned, waving. Lily had dressed as Maid Marion from Disney’s Robin Hood, clearly someone had helped her switch the colours and lengthen the skirt of one of her dresses, the pink made her cheeks glow rosy and her eyes were dancing with anticipation. Her sister had opted for a masquerade look, she was wearing a knee-length, off the shoulder deep blue dress with a ruffled skirt and tight bodice. Her mask was a shiny bronze with topaz swirls and lace with a handsome eagle’s feather to the side, blonde hair had been fastened into an elegant braided up-do studded with tiny sapphires, the matching jewellery adorned her long neck. Unfortunately the look had to be finished with flat blue ballerinas rather than heels but Petunia didn’t quite trust those yet.

The Hufflepuffs and the Slytherins were already waiting in the entrance hall; almost all of Slytherin House had chosen to attend in masquerade rather than costume. Hufflepuff was a mixed batch, a fun-loving group at the front had dressed as badgers whilst several others had opted for gold and black ball gowns and suits. Chatter had fallen when the other houses joined them, everyone trying to find their friends or else admiring the work that had been put into their outfits. Lily scampered away from her house and seized Petunia’s hand “Wow Tuney! You look amazing!” she whispered and her sister grinned, a slightly nervous giggle leaving her painted lips “Thanks Lils, Andromeda lent me her jewellery and her mother sent me the dress, isn’t it gorgeous?” she gave a little twirl and Lily clapped “I like your outfit though. You’ve done a great job! How many people recognized it?”
“Just Remus and Mary but I’ve promised to show Marlene when she comes over at Easter. Marl’s dressed as a Grin-dy-low; whatever that is!” The great hall’s doors opened, the heads of houses stood illuminated in flickering light; one by one the houses were called through and screams rang.

“Care to dance?” The ball was in full swing; the decorations had been increased and improved, mist swirled over the dance-floor, gnarled trees with bare thin branches arched overhead, the ceiling was pure black apart from a bright three quarter moon. Luminescent bats and birds fluttered throughout the artificial forest clearing, they and the moon being the main sources of light; green glowing appeared periodically throughout the trees and soft whispers and faint screams echoed. The Hex Girls were finishing up a fast, rocking number as Petunia took the hand of the stranger and he led them out into the middle of the floor; he placed her hand on his shoulder, his hand found her waist and intertwined their fingers on their other hands, the song finished and a ballad started. Petunia looked around the floor, Lily was being spun by a messy-haired golden lion; Felberta’s tentacles from her giant squid costume were trailing on the floor and tripping those around her as her partner swung them round in dizzying circles, not caring for the slow tempo of the music.

Her partner quietly said “You look stunning by the way.” and waltzed them to a different spot as Felberta got closer to them, she giggled as her friend gave her a thumbs up and continued on her path of destruction. “Thank you” She looked him up and down, he was wearing a black suit, gold cravat and a deep red knee length cape with a gold lining swept over his shoulders; his mask was white and covered his forehead and nose; it was edged with tiny white, sparkling rune stones. Charmed red and gold hair was slicked back but strands fell across his forehead, white gloves matched his mask. They didn’t speak much, just twirled around the floor, in and out of the other couples; her partner was a fantastic dancer more than making up for her lesser abilities. “May I escort you?” She’d blushed but accepted, the prefects were walking amongst the crowds, shooing out all third years and below. Lily was still on the arm of her lion but she waved, yawning.

Chapter Text

“Come on Pet! You haven’t been to a match once!”
“You can’t write Quidditch off without seeing it!”
“We’re not taking no for an answer!” Petunia left the great hall at a run, today was the last quidditch match before the Christmas holidays, Hufflepuff v Gryffindor, and her friends were determined to force her into attendance. “Tuney!” She could hear the pound of racing feet behind her, she put on a determined burst of speed and sprinted up the last two staircases leading to the Ravenclaw common room, rounded the corner and promptly fell backwards as she collided with someone. They swore and she looked up, rubbing her back and shoulder “What are you doing here Black?”
“Tuney!” their voices are closer now, he looks unsure but holds a hand out to help her up then pulls her behind a long tapestry and into the cupboard it conceals. “Looking for someone?” She pants once her friends have gone into the common room, his face is mostly in darkness but the slithers that she can see appear nervous; an uncommon emotion for the boy. He clears his throat “You actually.” her eyes widen in surprise and she blurts out “Why?” she can see a faint redness seeping into his cheeks and his words stumble as he hurries to answer “W..Well I don’t want to go to the match and, I, I know you don’t really like quidditch.. And I thought, well, maybe.. You, We! We could hang out. If you want to?” Sirius watched her as she sorted through his garbled question, her lips curved in a small smile “Know any good hiding places?”

Frantic yelling and cheers filled the stadium, almost the whole school had turned out for the match but two students were exploring the corridors with cheerful laughter and calls. “Hey, Black! Black, come here!” Petunia was tapping her foot impatiently by the Hufflepuff’s dungeon door, she grabbed his hand when he got close enough and ran, racing through the familiar passageways until she reached the tacky kitchen door. Sirius was glancing between her and the painting, confusion in his grey eyes panting, “Tickle the pear” she told him breathlessly; he frowned but did what she asked, eyes widening as it giggled and morphed; “Open it” his mouth opened and he gasped “How did you find it?” He turned to her, eyes shining “We’ve been looking for months!”

“So how did you find it then?” She took a sip of her drink, curling into the sofa cushions in front of the Gryffindor fire, the house-elves had been delighted to provide her with another hamper and Sirius escorted her to his common room, the cosy space had been empty; everyone was at the match. “Got lucky I suppose.” She said, shrugging, eyes twinkling; lips curving against the goblet in her hand, the boy snorted and stretched out on the rug, basking in the glow of the flames. They remained in comfortable silence, Sirius was levitating left-over grapes to his mouth, they had packed away the house-elves’ gift, Petunia was gazing at the white-blue centre of the fire; the door slammed open and the Gryffindors poured into the room singing. “Sirius! Have you been hiding up here the whole match?!” James was hanging off Remus’ shoulder, his cheeks were painted with gold and red stripes and his glasses were sliding down his nose. “Hi Petunia” The scarred boy said warmly, smiling at her and sinking into the armchair as Lily leapt over the back of the small sofa “Tuney!” she squealed and threw her arms around her sister “Why were you hanging out with Black?” she whispered, snatching a bottle of butterbeer out of the air as the Prewett twins started throwing them across the common room, complete with cushioning charms.

“We were talking about Astronomy.” Petunia lied smoothly, fumbling to catch the bottle Sirius had just gently tossed to her. The party had geared up extremely quickly. Andromeda and Bellatrix hadn’t come, Felberta was dancing on one of the low tables, hands linked with Benjy Fenwick, a second year that had made her acquaintance at the Halloween ball. “First years, bed!” Adrasteia Lee, the female prefect, called a wide, intoxicated smile on her lips as she giggled, her boyfriend, the male prefect Christoph Ormiston pressed butterfly light kisses over her shoulders; a chorus of groans met her words but students slowly began to move toward the stairs, Benjy and Felberta disappeared through the portrait hole. Petunia hugged Lily and made her way out, wandering through the dark chilly corridors; hurried footsteps met her ears and a hand grabbed her wrist, she shrieked and whirled around, wand clutched in her free hand. “Woah, woah chill Evans!” Sirius was behind her, hands in the air; she scowled but stowed away her wand “What Black?” her arms crossed protectively and he cleared his throat “Thanks for today Tunes, I really enjoyed it.” a soft smile was lighting his mouth, she nodded, suppressing her own smile, he leaned in, fingers pulling her knuckles up to his mouth gently kissing them “Have a good Christmas.”

*

“Daddy!” Two nearly identical squeals burst out from the barrier of Platform 9 and 3/4, Henry grinned and flung his arms out crying “My flowers!” Passers-by exchanged amused smiles as the family embraced, Lily had started talking the instant they separated and she skipped alongside her father, describing at the top of her lungs all of their lessons and the people she had met and what the castle was like; Petunia glanced around the station, wondering where her mother was and why she hadn’t come and met them; holiday cheer was thick in the air despite the miserable conditions, the energy reserves were getting worse and there had been talks of yet more strikes but for the moment the family was content in being together once more.

Marie, as it transpired, had remained at home. The smell of roasting meat greeted her family as Henry called out a cheery hello as shoes were removed, coats, hats and scarves all hung up neatly; she came out of the kitchen, smiling bravely but warmly, hugging her daughters tightly as they ran to her. The house was dimly lit by only the few necessary light bulbs and a small but energetic fire crackled in the living room grate merrily; Lily happily began to babble the same things she had already told her father but Petunia slipped into the living room gazing at the un-decorated tree in the corner, the corner of her mouth turned in a frown “Careful flower, you’ll get creases” her father pinched her cheek lightly and sat on the sofa, pulling her onto his lap “So, I can tell Lily loves her new school but what about you? You’ve been very quiet Pet, is something wrong?” she shook her head, burying her face into his shoulder “Just missed home I think” she muttered, basking in the warmth the fire was throwing out and the comfort of home. Henry hummed and hugged her close.

*

They had barely stepped onto Platform 9 and 3/4 before their friends had surrounded the small family. Marie had come this time and was standing nervously to the left of the group of children, other parents watched on amusedly. “You must be Mrs Evans.” A rather snooty voice said close to her and she jumped slightly, the woman was dressed in a smart knee-length tan coat and black boots made of some kind of scaly material, Marie nodded, tongue-tied “I’m Druella Black, Bellatrix and Andromeda’s mother” the woman told her. “Petunia told me that they’re delightful girls” Marie said softly, glancing at her daughter as Druella’s brunette hugged her then pulled her over to their mothers; “It’s nice to meet you Mrs Evans” Andromeda said politely with a smile then turned to her mother and introduced her friend
“Thank you for the dress Mrs Black, it
was beautiful, I shall send it back when I reach Hogwarts.” Druella smiled, it was rather indulgent and softer than Marie was expecting.
“No need Miss Evans, you are welcome to keep it. I was delighted to help.” She told her firmly and Petunia blushed lightly “Andromeda told me that they enjoyed the ball, did you?” the girl nodded, eyes lighting up as she gushed
“It was amazing! I’ve never been to a ball, I felt like a princess!” the woman’s smile widened “Well if your mother agrees to it then perhaps you can attend a few of our own” Petunia looked at Marie instantly, a hopeful look in her diamond blues
“We’ll see.” Marie said with a glance at the Black matriarch. Petunia’s eyes dimmed slightly in disappointment but she nodded and hugged her as the porter blew his whistle, “It was lovely meeting you Mrs Black.” she said politely then ran to the train, Andromeda followed.

“Do you really hold balls?” The train had begun to move out of London and the group of friends had settled into easy chatter, Andromeda nodded, she seemed bursting to tell Petunia something but didn’t want to say it in front of the others “We hold at least one every year.” She told her instead “Normally it’s the New Year’s celebration but we were away this year.” Bellatrix had been curled up by the window, glaring at the scenery but she threw a warning glance at her sister as Andromeda spoke. Her sister scowled but held her tongue, Petunia looked between them, deciding not to press the issue, she had learnt early on that the Blacks held their cards close to their chests. “Are you looking forward to going back?” She asked instead, Andromeda shrugged an inelegant move that she loved to indulge in, “What about you Bella?” the dark haired girl nodded silently, returning her gaze to the window as a tap to the compartment door made them all jump. Lily scowled at Sirius as he slid the door open, James just behind him as usual “Happy New Years’ Tunes” he grinned at her but looked to Bellatrix “Bella.” his tone was sharp, something that Petunia was unused to hearing from the mischievous Black heir. Bellatrix stood equally as sharply and left the compartment clearly in a foul temper; Sirius shot her another grin, nodded at the others and vanished.

Chapter Text

There was a new tension in Andromeda and Bellatrix’s shoulders, Bella seemed ready to curse anything that crossed her path and Andromeda seemed exhausted trying to keep the peace between her sister and cousin. They were in the library, Petunia was avoiding the first quidditch match of the new term and Andromeda was avoiding her family; the muggle-born glanced around the bookshelves before leaning in to broach the subject of the Christmas holidays once more. The brunette took a careful look around herself then stood, motioning for Petunia to follow her. “Bella got engaged.” She explained shutting Petunia’s bedroom door, the blonde had been about to throw open the window but paused in shock “What?”
“Bella got engaged. To Rudolphus Lestrange.” Andromeda repeated, sinking into the soft comfort Petunia’s bed offered “Bu..But we’re kids!” the other protested, blue eyes wide as she stared at the pureblood. Andromeda shrugged “That doesn’t change anything, I’ve been engaged since I was four years old. Sirius is trying to make her spend time with him.” Petunia joined her on the bed and gazed at her bronze and blue hangings as she tried to make sense of it all “Lestrange. He’s the Slytherin chaser right? His brother’s a beater.” the brunette nodded “Why did they make her get engaged now? Why is Sirius forcing her to be with him?”
“That’s part of his job as heir. I don’t resent it I have to say. The Lestrange’s made an agreeable offer and there hasn’t been marriage between our families for at least a century. Our parents thought it prudent.”
“So they just sold her off?!” Petunia snapped outraged, Andromeda sighed
“That’s not what it’s like Pet. Pureblood children are engaged from very young ages, it is extremely rare that they get to pick their husband or wife. I’m engaged, Bella’s engaged, they’re looking at families for my younger sister and younger cousin. Even Sirius doesn’t get to say no to a marriage. That’s just how our society is.”
“Well your society is wrong!” she cried, arms folded and glaring; Andromeda didn’t look surprised.

“Who are you engaged to?” A few weeks had passed, they were well into the new term now, the magic and potions they were expected to master were increasing in difficulty every lesson gearing up for the exams after Easter. Andromeda smirked “Curiosity got the better of you?” she teased as Petunia raised an eyebrow, she glanced at the great hall doors, History of Magic had ended slightly early as a result the dining hall was fairly empty. “His name is Alec Tchiotski, he’s 17 now. I saw him over Christmas” The blonde frowned further when she heard his age but swallowed her disapproval “Is that where you went over Christmas?” Andromeda shook her head
“No. We had to attend a wedding. Alec was there too, mutual family friend” she explained “We kissed.” her face coloured scarlet as she told her friend but a grin was stretching her lips and Petunia whispered “What was it like?” the blonde’s eyes were wide and she leaned further into the brunette’s side as she hesitated nervously “Wet.” Andromeda decided “It was really gentle, like soft but then we kept trying. He made sure I wanted to of course. Alec knew what he was doing. He showed me how.” her face was even redder now but Petunia just stared at her then started giggling, breaking into louder peals of laughter as Andromeda shoved her roughly, still scarlet but unable to stop herself joining in.

Valentine’s Day passed with a quiet fanfare, cards and presents were delivered over breakfast with lots of giggling and trying to work out who was who. Andromeda ran over to Petunia once breakfast had finished, eager to show off her present from Alec, a thin, delicate silver, jewelled snake that slithered up her arm and twisted around her wrist. Rudolphus had given Bellatrix a pair of soft leather duelling gloves. Both of the Black sisters had received lots of cards and small presents from many others within the castle that they dismissed with a roll of their dark grey eyes. James Potter had sent Lily a singing card and hamper of sweets, she ignored him; she had also been given a bottle of home made ink that glittered which Petunia strongly suspected had been sent by Severus. Felberta and Vulpix had a small stack of cards that they hid in their bags; Petunia hadn’t been sent anything. She tried not to let it bother her and just talked to the boys but a small sting of jealousy stabbed at her whenever she glanced at the confetti littering the table from one of Fe’s cards or a girl bragged about how she was struggling to fit all of her cards into her bag. Lambia was one of these; the two had fallen out when Lambia had made ‘friends’ with the gossip queen, Poinsettia Auer, Eadda still trailed after her but was rapidly starting to fade into the background. Poinsettia had noticed the attention Sirius always seemed to pay to Petunia and had decided to intervene to stop ‘an upstart muggleborn’ stealing the Black heir, she had recruited Lambia to keep an eye on her fellow first year.

Shutting her bedroom door on Valentine’s evening Petunia had released a sigh, collected her toiletries and left once more. Soft candle light and a warm fire greeted her upon her return, a card and neatly wrapped gift had been placed on her bed; she frowned, approaching and prodding the package suspiciously, the ribbon flew up and twisted around to form a soft cloth rose as soon as her fingers touched it, she jumped and snatched her hand back quickly. The card wasn’t signed by a name but rather a small rune, she set the card and rose aside then tore off the paper. Soft grey fabric fell out, she shook it out, gasping.

“Wow Tuney, that’s really nice! Where did you get it?”
“It was a Valentine’s present.” She answered her sister smugly as Lambia’s eyes widened “But that’s cashmere! No one would spend that much on a Valentine!” she snapped, staring at Petunia’s jumper as she smirked
“Well mine did.” Lambia pouted and stood up, marching away down the table to Poinsettia, a timid face glanced after her before Melladew slid onto the bench next to Petunia, she handed over the library book she had been lent with a small blush and whispered her thanks and a quiet compliment about the blonde’s new jumper. Petunia nodded with a smile and turned back to Felberta, grinning; Poinsettia was glaring suspiciously at her then glancing at Sirius, who was deep in plotting with James. Remus was ignoring both of them, fixed on his Herbology book calmly. It was to be a Hogsmeade weekend; the upper-years were discussing plans excitedly, couples were everywhere, teachers were chatting amongst themselves, occasionally glancing around the hall, keeping an eye on troublemakers like the Prewett twins.

“Afternoon Evans” A snide voice muttered as chairs were dragged over the thick library carpet “That was a pretty jumper. Who did you get it from? A valentine that expensive would want to be claimed surely?” Poinsettia had sat in the seat next to her and leaned in to avoid Madam Pince’s glare; Petunia ignored her, Lambia was sat opposite her, arms linked with Dakota triumphantly, Vittoria looked vaguely uncomfortable, leaning back into her chair rather than closing the circle. “The card wasn’t signed Poinsettia. That’s how valentines presents work.” She answered waspishly, bending over her essay a little more and pushing her robes sleeves up further to avoid the wet ink; Poinsettia smirked “Are you sure sweetie? It wasn’t Heir Black was it now?” she asked with a poisonously caramel tone. The blonde sighed, quick-drying her essay and rolling it up “I don’t know who sent it. If you’re so concerned it was Sirius, why don’t you ask him yourself? I don’t think you shouldn’t be so obsessed with someone younger. It’s creepy.” Poinsettia’s eyes narrowed as the first year pushed away from the table and stood, shouldering her bag and trying to escape.

Poinsettia jumped up, grabbing Petunia’s bag strap and pulling her back “What did you just say to me?!” An involuntary squeak left the blonde’s mouth as she clutched for her wand “What’s going on here?” An authoritative voice broke the circle as Dakota and Lambia had leapt to their feet and ran around the table to stop Petunia from leaving “I would suggest you remember your place Poinsettia.” Andromeda’s arms were crossed and she was glaring at the third year, Poinsettia’s hands vanished from Petunia’s bag but she tossed her hair angrily “And what place would that be Miss Black?”
“As nothing more than a mouthy self-appointed courtesan family. If the Auer’s wish to advance any further you’d do well to avoid making enemies.” Madam Pince had appeared from behind a book shelf and was watching the confrontation beadily. Tension ebbed as Vittoria sighed and walked towards the exit “Come on. Your family’s reputation is not worth this Setty.” With a threatening glance at Petunia the group left. Andromeda seized her arm and pulled her away the instant the door closed behind them.

“What are you doing Tunia!”
“I didn’t do anything! It’s not my fault she’s obsessed with your wretched cousin! And it’s not my fault that he pays attention to me!” Petunia snapped back shakily, adrenaline was still coursing through her veins but the threat had caused tears to well in her eyes; Andromeda sighed, closing the door of the empty classroom “I’ll speak to Sirius but Poinsettia’s vicious and so’s her cousin Skeeter. The last thing you would want is your name in the Hogwarts Papyrus. You and Lily are smart, you’re both talented, you’re in the Slug Club in your first year and you’re the first of your name to come to Hogwarts in centuries! You’re already getting attention, particularly within the pureblood circles! Don’t draw anymore to yourselves!” her friend remained silent, staring at her feet, still trembling slightly “A few badly worded articles is enough to destroy reputations and careers before they’ve even begun. Auer and Skeeter both know that you are our allies and luckily our name is enough to squash any articles but not enough to squash rumours. Please don’t get into any more fights with her.” The blonde nodded, cheeks pale, lips pursed “Come on, we’re late to dinner.”

Chapter Text

“Hey Tunes.”
“I don’t think you should be talking to me” She felt Sirius’ shoulders heave with a sigh at her thick voice and he waved off his friends. The great hall was quieter than usual. The elder years were preparing for their exams, the noise of rustling pages was extremely prevalent on the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables. “Dromeda told me what happened. I could always have a word with Poinsettia if you want?”
“No. That would make things worse. I’m already avoiding everyone in the common room.” Petunia shook her head, eyes remaining on her plate as she pushed scrambled eggs around. The last few weeks had been rough, Lambia and Dakota had been making catty comments as Poinsettia sniggered. Vittoria had been ignoring them and had even sent her an apologetic glance every now and then. Amaryllis Kesey, the only third year girl not in the gang, had tried to make friends with Petunia but fled to the hospital wing, crying, the next day. Rita Skeeter, a fifth year Slytherin and Poinsettia’s cousin, had stolen and printed entries from Amaryllis’ diary; she had been fantasising about Fabian Prewett. Her teasing had reached new levels but Slughorn had insisted that the school continued the paper; he thought it a good introduction to the press. “Look, Tunes, I’m sorry she’s being crazy. People always try to put claim to high families’ heirs when they enter Hogwarts, it’s the only time that other family’s can without their actions being monitored by the parents.” She finally looked up, his face was sincere, grey eyes wide and honest “Andromeda would have scared her off saying anything about you but..”
“But they’ll say it about my friends. They’ll make everything so much harder than it has to be until I stop talking to you! I don’t need protection Sirius! And if you knew this was going to happen why did you even bother in the first place?!” he opened his mouth and suddenly she didn’t want to hear any more “I’m just an upstart mudblood Black. Don’t spout pureblood nonsense to me like that will explain everything! Felberta’s potion got sabotaged in our last lesson. She’s still in the hospital wing! I don’t want to be a target. I don’t want my friends or my sister hurt because other people don’t think that I’m good enough for your family!” She stood, snatching up her bag and abandoning any pretence of eating breakfast, before running from the great hall she snapped “Just stop talking to me!”

"Hello Petunia” A airy voice greeted her as she glared out of the common room window, the curtain had been pulled shut but Vulpix settled on to the seat without a second thought “I thought I was the only one using here” she muttered a negative to Vulpix’s statement, tucking her legs closer to her despite the more than adequate room “I saw your fallout with Sirius. Lambia was laughing about it in Potions”
“I don’t care what Lambia thinks!” Petunia snapped hugging herself tightly and glaring at the dark window
“I know. Felberta came out of the hospital wing earlier.” The blonde slid off the seat quickly, eager to find her friend “I think Lambia is horrible.” Petunia paused, it was rare for Vulpix to even vaguely trash-talk “Poinsettia and Rita will get their comeuppance one day. You shouldn’t lose friends over what they say. It shows them they’re winning, see?” she sat back down on the edge of the window seat slowly, staring at her lap and nodding, Vulpix patted her knee and jumped off the seat “I have some charms homework to finish, shall I tell Felberta to come and find you?” she shook her head, accepting a sheaf of papers without looking at them “Good night Petunia.”

*
“Vulpix collected your homework for yesterday, I told everyone you were sick. As a heads up Flitwick will probably want to check on you.” Petunia glanced at her friend, Andromeda was bent over a letter to her fiancé, Alec, “Sirius told me what happened, perhaps you’re right Tunia. We don’t want you or anyone else to get hurt because of our attention. Bellatrix hexed Rita’s reporter’s quill as payback though, it tells some completely ridiculous lies now. She should be laughed at and forgotten about soon.”
“Why is it like this Drom? What is so special about your family?” The brunette sighed, setting her quill down. Madam Pince was drifting between the aisles, collecting all the mislaid books before the end of the day.

“It’s a long story Pet. Involves a lot of wizarding history.”
“So? I want to know. I want to know why our friendship or your cousin is any concern of Poinsettia’s.” Petunia protested stubbornly. Andromeda pursed her lips then sighed again “Ok. But don’t interrupt.” Petunia nodded eagerly, putting her pen down quickly
“When wizarding society was still made of clans and tribes, there were twelve of significance that ruled over Wizarding Britain. They fought for dominance and eventually one won. This lead to us becoming civilised and this ruling family became the Royal Family. (“Which was you? It was the Blacks?”) The other eleven families became the Royal Court and the decisions made by the Royal Family were ultimately agreed or argued by the court in the attempt of fairness. These eleven were called the Noble Families. Courtesan families, the nouveau riche, when denied noble status and a place in the royal court, orchestrated uprisings against the Royals, and all of the Noble families, Royal included, were forced into hiding. The power of ruling the country was given to the newly formed Ministry of Magic and the courtesan families, such as the Malfoys, promptly took over using their wealth and influence over the lower citizens. When the last generation to properly remember the noble families died they reintegrated themselves into society. Memories were erased and the royal family had become the twelfth Noble family. As far as the public know, one of the twelve is Royal but no one knows which one so each family is treated with respect. But the noble influence is fading fast. The royals have never been revealed. If it is the us, only Sirius, my uncle Orion and my grandfather Arcturus will know.”

“But that doesn’t explain..” Andromeda cut her off with a sharp look and tossed her head, making the loose bun on top wiggle
I don’t know if we are the Royals but it is strongly suspected that we are. The only other family it could logically be is the Gaunts but they’re all insane or dead. Anyway, people are interested in marrying into our family due to our wealth, our genes, our political connections and our potential Royal power. If it is ever deemed by the public or the Noble and other Royal families that the Ministry cannot handle the responsibility of running and caring for the country, the Royal family will be reinstated. (Petunia frowned and Andromeda took on a haughty tone) Besides you will be hard pushed to find another family as maritally strong as ours. Our magic is powerful, we have multiple children, we hold primacy over most families, we have the most seats in the Wizengamot, it’s well known that the Minister often follows our advice and we are on friendly terms with all of the foreign Royal families. Poinsettia, and many others, are jealous. I already told you that purebloods marry young, usually straight out of school. Hogwarts is the place to make your connections, play your games and form a potential marriage contract, either through pregnancy or manipulated feelings, without interference from the parents, Sirius is perhaps the most eligible heir here. They’re jealous of you Pet, they think that Sirius has already made his choice and you will be the next Lady Black. Something that is fought for and many believe a muggleborn doesn’t deserve.”

“I need to talk to you.” A lazy grey eye was cracked, peered up at her then closed again. Petunia sat down huffily as Sirius ignored her, the Easter holidays were due to start the next day and the country was bathed in some rare early sunshine. The grass was damp, she shifted uncomfortably, James was by the lakeside coaxing the giant squid to come closer to the shore, Remus had already gone home the week before and Peter was nowhere to be found. Sirius was silent spread out on the grass next to her, she glared at his still form and pulled her transfiguration notes from her bag determined to wait out his feigned ignorance. “Sirius, Siri! ...Oh. Hey Evans.” James’ sleeves were rolled up and there had been a look of glee on his face before it faltered and he glanced between her and Sirius “What’sup Jamie?” Sirius had sat up, still ignoring Petunia but James shook his head and muttering something about the dorm after giving the girl another weird look, he set off for the castle. Sirius followed.

The sun had vanished behind storm clouds and increasingly heavy drops were falling before Petunia moved, rolling up her notes with a damp sniff and standing, trudging back to the castle slowly, taking the long route and not caring as the heavens burst and the grounds became a mud-bath in minutes. “Eh! What you doing in downpour like this?” she jumped, whirling around, hand springing to her wand. It was just the games-keeper rushing towards her through the swamp of mud like it was nothing, he was holding the leash of a loping great Dane puppy who was snuffling the ground happily and the handle of, what seemed to be, a small tent-sized umbrella. “Ye’ll catch yer death, come on now, come and dry off. Then I’ll take yer back to the castle. Just one thing I gotta do firs’” He welcomed her under the umbrella with a kind smile and set off across the grounds in wide strides leaving Petunia to slip and sucker through the mud to keep up, they reached his cabin and he shooed her towards it gently, she shook her head, feeling it would be rude to go in without him and followed as he walked into the edge of the forest to a sheltered paddock.

"This is where we keep all the injur’d animals. Only the ones that can’t look after ‘emselves. I just gotta check his bandages an’ we can go have some tea.” He approached a stable, pulling a strange smelling ointment and handful of bandages from one of his many pockets. Petunia followed at a careful pace, the great Dane puppy had been released from the leash and was trotting around the paddock cheerfully, sniffing here and there. A flash of gold caught her eye and she approached Hagrid, who was kneeling next to a unicorn foal. Her mouth opened but Hagrid shushed her and she held in her excited awe “Careful now, we don’t want to frighten ‘im. Put yer hand out, nice an’ gentle, that’s it. Let ‘im have a lil’ smell. Now see e’s nice an’ calm so you can try petting ‘is neck, now you keep ‘im distracted an’ I’ll check ‘is leg.” Hagrid moved to the side and she ran her hand over the silky golden hair of the unicorn gently, moving her hand to scratch lightly and find his favourite spots, the foal did his best whinny and snorted at her. “Look at that! Yer a natural with ‘im!” She grinned at Hagrid feeling colour flushing back into her pale face as the foal relaxed under her touch and Hagrid stood up, whistling for Bruiser. He patted the foal gently then stepped outside, Petunia ran her hand over his smooth neck and hesitantly kissed the foal’s nose before following. A pure-white, fully grown adult jumped the paddock fence and went to her baby, brushing past Petunia softly as she did.

“How did he get hurt?” Rain was pounding against the windows of Hagrid’s cabin but the inside was cosy and cheerful, Hagrid was sat in his chair roughly drying Bruiser with a towel, a large ball of pink yarn with two knitting needles stuck in it sat in a basket next to him. The fire was blazing and the kettle was bubbling merrily, a sweet smell of home baking was combating the damp clothes and dog stench. “Got caught in a centaur’s trap. ‘Course they told me, dropped ‘im off at the paddock and fetched herbs to help. Hate injuring the innocent, centaurs do.”
“Do you look after all the animals here?”
“Yeh, easy enough prob’ems to sort mos’ of the time. Injured wing, cat fight, occasional case of bad magical warts fer a toad. Mos’ remedies are easy to make out of stuff in the forest.” Bruiser had fought his way free of the towel and went on a mad dash around the cabin before settling on the bench next to Petunia and demanding an ear scratch. “Where did you get Bruiser from?”
“Friend o’ mine breeds dogs. Used to have a St Bernard but he passed a little while ago.” Hagrid took the whistling kettle off the heat and pulled out two chipped bucket sized mugs “You want tea or cocoa?”
“Cocoa please. I’m sorry about your dog. Bruiser is lovely. Your other dog must have been too. Doesn’t it get lonely being away from the castle?” She accepted the mug and blew on it before taking a small sip of the scalding liquid, Hagrid waved away her sympathy “Ay, he was a good dog. But life mus’ go on.” he pulled a tray of biscuits from his stove and set about sliding them onto a cooling rack “Nah, it’s not lonely being ‘ere. Castle’s not too far away if I need it. Peaceful rather than lonely. Yer a first year then? How you been finding it? Who left you out in a storm?” Hagrid settled back into his armchair and fixed her with a warm beady eye and she looked down at her mug.

“Ye don’ need friends like tha’. Besides, yeh’re too young to be thinkin’ o’ marrying, any of you.” Hagrid told her gently as he iced his half of the biscuits with a steady hand, she had been given the other to decorate. “Th’ Blacks are a bit high an’ mighty. Always have been. You’d be best not to tangle with ‘em.” Petunia nodded, glancing at the still storm dark windows, Bruiser had fallen asleep stretched out on the hand knitted rug before the fire. Hagrid had been fascinating to talk to. His knowledge of the grounds and the animals seemed unrivalled but he had eventually prodded the story out of her with a little coaxing. “Blimey, look at the time! We better be heading fer the castle, yeh’re all dried off now?” She nodded, setting down her icing bag and jumping from the chair
“Thank you for the afternoon Hagrid.” She said politely as he shrugged on his damp coat and looked around for his umbrella “Can I come and help you with the animals again?” Hagrid looked up from his search with surprise but nodded slowly
“O’ course you can. I’ll sen’ you an owl.” she smiled at him with excitement and pointed out his umbrella, he ruffled her hair, replaced Bruiser’s water and food before opening his cabin door.

“Pet, where were you yesterday? Have a look at this nonsense that Skeeter’s printed now!”
“Hang on Fe. Amaryllis! I’m sorry Rita printed your diary. Where have you been? Are you alright?” Students were milling around the entrance hall waiting for the school carriages. The elder girl smiled slightly, turned to Petunia, keeping her back firmly to the Prewett twins and tucking her lank ginger hair behind her ear, said “Don’t let Poinsettia get to you Petunia. She’ll never stop otherwise. I’m transferring to Cackles’ Academy in the summer so I’ll be ok. Take care!” She waved and ran to her carriage, cloak held up in an attempt to deflect the rain, Hagrid seemed to pat the air then the carriage began moving. “What was that? She’s leaving?” Petunia nodded, Felberta at her side as she watched the carriage vanish in the driving rain
“Good riddance. She was a disgrace to Ravenclaw, did you see her point score?” An arm clamped around Petunia’s shoulders “I’m glad you’ve come to your senses Petunia. I wouldn’t want to see a fellow clever Raven get hurt, the Blacks are just out of a muggleborn’s league. Sure, at Hogwarts they’ll be your friends but.. Well you know the rest.” Curled blonde hair brushed her face as Poinsettia glanced back at her giggling cohorts “Want to share a carriage with us? I’m sure Eadda can get the next one.” Hagrid’s booming voice saved her from answering, Lily dashed over and grasped Petunia’s arm “Come on Tuney!” she climbed into the carriage and gave Hagrid a brief smile, not daring to look back at Poinsettia.

Chapter Text

Easter had flown by, Marlene had been fascinated by their home and spent her whole visit pestering Mrs Evans with questions about the muggle world or enthralled in the world of Disney with Lily. The weather hadn’t improved and they returned to the castle in torrents of rain, damp but cheerful. Felberta had visited her cousins in America and returned full of stories to relay to her house. Poinsettia had greeted Petunia with a loose hug and sat close by throughout dinner, making a point of talking to her with poisonous sweet smiles and probing questions. Flitwick visited that night and encouraged his Ravens to study hard and reminded them that they were first in running for the House Cup, he then remained in the common room, answering questions and helping any that approached him.

“Urgh! Thank Merlin that’s over!”
“Until next year.”
“Don’t be a downer Pet. So have you talked to Sirius yet? Do you think Andromeda’s right?” They had snuck into the kitchens after their final exam, Transfiguration, to retrieve bottles of pumpkin juice before going out to the edge of the forest, near to the paddock that had once housed the injured unicorn. Petunia snorted “No. And I’m not going to speak to him. Andromeda must have been wrong, Sirius is being horrible. But at least Poinsettia’s fine now.” Felberta wrinkled her nose
“I wouldn’t trust her Pet. It seems weird to switch from hating to liking someone so quickly. Besides she drove Amaryllis out of Hogwarts, remember? Cackles’ isn’t anywhere near as good.”
“I never said I trusted her Fe. Amaryllis seems really happy now she’s leaving, it might have been loads of things. Not just Poinsettia. Fabian Prewett wasn’t particularly nice to her after Rita’s article. She was miserable here, she made Moaning Myrtle look cheerful at times.”
“Why are you defending Setty?!” Petunia shot her curly haired friend a withering look
“I just don’t think it’s clever to make a enemy of her.” she answered darkly, corking her pumpkin juice once more and standing as Hagrid came clumping towards them.

“Hello Hagrid!” The half giant returned her cheery greeting and made small talk with the girls before inviting them to come and see the latest animal. They followed him at a safe distance, Hagrid had a tendency to swing any bucket he was holding. “Where is Bruiser?”
“Stay’d home today. ‘e don’t like these guys.” The paddock was empty, the two girls stopped at the gate and stared into the space “Come in. They won’t ‘urt yeh!”
“Um Hagrid? Where and what are they?” Felberta asked blankly, squinting her eyes as though she thought it could help. Hagrid chuckled and led something with hooves over to them, Petunia climbed onto the fence and sat on top, trusting the gentle games keeper to keep them safe. “Put yer hand out Petunia. Gentle like th’ unicorn, leave it like tha’, let them come to you.” A few moments of silence and Petunia was beginning to feel silly before a silky skeletal nose pressed against her hand. She resisted the urge to jerk backwards and instead tentatively ran her fingers over what felt like a deathly thin horse with the smoothest hair she’d ever felt. “Thestrals.” Hagrid said, beaming at her and Felberta’s dumbstruck face “This lot’s not hurt. Just foaling, needed a safe place, been a little trouble in the forest lately.” he explained, lifting Petunia off the fence and setting her on her feet as a small thestral brushed against her leg. She felt for it’s head then stroked carefully “Why can’t we see them?” she asked, kneeling down and rubbing her hand down it’s bony neck “What do they do?”
“Load’s of stuff! Dead clever, they are. Our herd’s mainly used for pulling the school carriages bu’ Prof’ssor Dumbled’re uses ‘em for travel sometimes.” Hagrid avoided her earlier question and instead asked about their exams.

Her bedroom door was flung open and an excited body flung themselves onto her. “Pet! Wake up Pet!”
“Wha..? Fe?” The other Ravenclaw was grinning at her, sat atop her stomach, seemingly comfortable, Petunia gave her a shove and sat up, rubbing her head. “What are you doing here?! We’re in Shropshire!” Felberta just shrugged
“My dad had to go to Gringotts for the day but didn’t want to leave me at home, or let me wander Diagon Alley on my own. So he apparated me here. Aren’t you happy to see me?” this had been said at lightening speed and finished with a hurt look. The blonde shook her head blankly then sat up with a laugh and hugged her friend tightly, Felberta grinned and returned it.
“What on earth are you wearing?”
“Muggle fashion... Why is it wrong?” Petunia shook her head as she climbed out of bed, drawing the covers back neatly to air the mattress, Felberta had found a poodle skirt and blouse from somewhere, coupled with a ribbon in her hair and ankle socks
“It’s just a little out of date. And American.”
“Oh.”
“Don’t worry, I think I’ve got something similar, we’ll say it’s fashionable at our school if anyone asks.” Felberta’s crestfallen face brightened instantly and she skipped out of the door, announcing she would tell Mrs Evans that Petunia was up. Lily had gone to Marlene’s for two weeks. The house seemed empty without her noise and loud chatter.

“We received our invite for the Black’s summer ball this morning. Did you get one?” They had gone to the park after helping with some gardening work. The blonde nodded, scuffing the toe of her shoe into the sand under the swings. “I don’t know if I’m going to go. Daddy said maybe and it would be nice to see Dromeda and Bella again but I’m not sure it would be the best idea. Lily has been invited as well, we’re to bring our parents if we go.”
“But Pet! The Black’s ball is the place to go! You can’t let fear of seeing Sirius ruin it, if you don’t go Andromeda and Bellatrix will stuck playing nice with all of the Ministry children and I’ll be left on my own!”
“Vulpix will go.”
“No she won’t! The Lovegood’s never go. Neither do the Lupin’s or the Weasley’s. And I don’t want to talk to the Prewett’s. And James and Frank will be with Sirius all night.”
“Lily will never go if James’ is there. And I won’t go without her.” Felberta made a dramatic noise
“James has to behave at the balls. His mother will kill him if he gets chucked out again. Please Petunia.”
“We have nothing to wear. We’d be completely out of our depth.”
“So you stay with my family! Or with the Potter’s. Besides no one would dare insult any of the other guests in Lady Black’s presence!” She relented and glanced at Felberta’s begging face. “I guess I can talk to my mother.”

Chapter Text

A smart knocking woke the family the day after Lily’s return. Yawning, Marie called for her daughters to wake up before making her way downstairs. Druella Black stood just beyond her doorstep, apparently admiring the flowers in the front garden. The Evans matriarch flushed scarlet and the sound of a car door slamming took her attention to the other woman accompanying Druella. Tall, imposing, air of arrogance and dressed in expensive fabrics, high waisted navy trousers, heels and a wave-frill wraparound full sleeved white blouse with over sized buttons. Dark sunglasses were perched on the bridge of her upturned nose, a smart beige purse hung on her elbow, she glanced around the neighbourhood dismissively before she turned towards the house, Marie let out an involuntary small squeak and pressed herself against the wall by the telephone table. Henry was strolling downstairs, hair wet, slicked back and rolling the sleeves on his shirt “Morning darling. Who was it?”
“Henry. Henry, it’s that woman I told you about!” She whispered frantically “Answer the door. For god’s sake don’t say we’ve only just woken up! I’ve got to get dressed!” with this she dashed past her husband and scampered upstairs. He heard her tell the girls to get up in an urgent voice, telling them to look smart and not to embarrass her. He shook his head fondly and pulled the door open properly “Good morning ladies! How can I help?” the two women looked up from their conversation and Druella smiled
“Would you be Mr Evans? I was just admiring your roses. They look beautiful.” he smiled back “That would be my wife’s doing. She’s a marvel in the garden! Would you like to come in?” the silent woman nodded and gave him a tight smile, he stepped back to let them in and she swept past him, removing her sunglasses and scrutinizing her surroundings.

“This is a lovely home Mr Evans. I don’t know if your wife ever mentioned me but my name is Druella Black.”
“Yes, yes she did. I believe some of my Petunia’s friends are your daughters?” Druella smiled and nodded, eyes softening
“Yes, my two eldest, Bellatrix and Andromeda.”
“Ah! Star names, how wonderful! Flowers are our theme, speaking of which, there’s my flowers!” Petunia had gone pale on entering and smoothed her hair nervously
“Mrs Black” she greeted them softly with a small bob, Druella smiled and patted the sofa next to her
“It’s wonderful to see you again Mrs Evans. I hope we didn’t interrupt anything with our unannounced arrival, now I think of it, it was terribly rude of us.” Druella said, brushing her dress down and standing when Marie came in, smart skirt and blouse having replaced her nightgown. She waved away Druella’s ‘apology’ with an awkward laugh “No, no, I was just finishing some chores, would you like any drinks?”
“No thank you. By the way this is my sister-in-law Walburga.” Walburga gave them another tight smile but joined Druella on the sofa “Now, I don’t know if Petunia or Lily here, has told you about the ball invitations we sent a week or so ago?”
“Y..yes. Petunia did mention it. We don’t have a problem with the girls going but transport and attire would prove to be a problem. Unfortunately balls aren’t usually part of our social calendar” Marie finished with another nervous laugh and Henry held her hand with a soft smile.

“Oh that is no problem! We have no issues with providing attire and my husband connected your fireplace to the floo network, so travel isn’t an issue either.” Druella laughed, waving a careless hand as the two Evans parents exchanged looks “We couldn’t possibly accept such generosity. It’s a particularly difficult time in...our world and we would have no way of paying you back for a number of years.” Henry said with regret in his tone, there were blades of humiliation slicing through his body and he could almost feel his wife’s embarrassment as she clutched his hand. “We apologise if that came across badly.” Walburga had spoken, mortification was in Druella’s every movement as she considered her previous words. “We only meant that our family, as a whole, has rather taken a liking to your Petunia and it would be wonderful if she could take part in what will be an important social event in our world. It would be an excellent chance for your daughters to showcase their personalities and make an impact for the future, which will greatly help when they leave school. It would also be a marvellous chance for our world to learn about yours and visa versa. We would consider your culture, knowledge and company payment enough. But if you really wish to pay us back, we can write up a bill and you may pay it whenever you are ready.”

“Well.. That does sound reasonable, and it sounds like it could be good for the girls but surely Marie and I, we wouldn’t fit in. Being non-magical could be dangerous.”
“You have my word that no harm shall come to your family, physically or otherwise.” The Evans’ shared another look “You don’t have to answer us right now. We shall send our owl on Wednesday morning. If you are agreeable, Thursday we shall have you all fitted and dressed. If you are not, then I assure you that we shall take no offence but it will be a bitter disappointment. Thank you for your hospitality but we must be on our way.” Walburga stood, shook both of the parent’s hands and gave another slight smile to the girls then left. Druella glanced after her and stood also “I’m so sorry. I hope I haven’t offended you. I didn’t think before I spoke! It would be lovely to see you on Thursday but if we don’t. I hope we can be friends.” She too shook their hands, smiled at their children but warmly and left.
“Well. Flower. Seems like you’ve made quite the impression!”

Henry and Marie were sat in the front with Druella as she drove, the Merc slinking through traffic and jumping lights without hesitation. Bellatrix was teasing a small blonde haired girl that Petunia assumed to be their younger sister. Talk from the parents vanished and the the Black sisters relaxed “Finally. I thought she was never going to put it up.” Bella grumbled, slouching into the leather seat as Andromeda rolled her eyes “I’m so glad you decided to come Pet.”
“I don’t think we really had a choice. Your Aunt Walburga doesn’t seem like someone to deny.” Bellatrix laughed
“Auntie’s alright when you know her. She’s just very used to getting her own way. Eldest of her siblings, then the lady of the household, Sirius is really the only person who challenges her.”
“Where is he? Does he not have to be... fitted?”
“Of course he does. We all do. The only ones that won’t be there is father and Uncle Orion. They’re at the ministry. Auntie’s meeting us at the Elder’s Newt in Diagon Alley.”
“Does it take long?”
“Fitting days are the most boring days of the year. Unless you like playing with dresses.” Lily seemed a bit shocked at Bellatrix’s snapped answer and glanced at her sister
“Sorry Lily. Bella don’t be so rude, she’s our guest.” Andromeda had reprimanded her older sister then hushed her younger, who looked upset “We have to go before every ball, they can get rather tedious, still it’ll be fun to have new people with us! Normally it’s just the family, Sirius and Bellatrix complain the whole time. Cissa likes dress shopping..”
“And Regulus doesn’t have enough of a spine to complain.”
“Bella!”
“We’re here girls.” The door opened and Bellatrix jumped out eagerly, Andromeda glared at her then gestured for the Evans to go first. The rain had stopped at some point during the journey and the sun was sparkling, Druella looked around carefully then shrunk the car to the size of a toy and placed it in her handbag, shushing Narcissa as she clung to her hand and started complaining about Bellatrix. “Still think this will be fun Dromeda?”

Chapter Text

“Welcome Sir and Misses!” A house elf greeted them on arrival through the gatehouse’s fireplace, he clicked his long fingers and the soot from their clothes vanished “I is escorting you to the main house, we is collecting your luggage later. Please into the carriage now Sir and Misses!” The grounds of the Black estate were lit by golden evening sunshine, occasionally they saw a house elf scamper across the lawn as they tended to the various plants lining the smooth road “We’ve arrived Sir and Misses. Wismy will take you to your rooms.” The elf hopped down from the coachman’s seat and opened the door, bowing low to the family. Another elf waited by the bottom of the concrete staircase leading to the front doors. She curtsied and trotted up the stairs, opening the large teak doors and ushering them inside “The Master and Mistress apologize for not being here Sir and Misses but they was called into the Ministry.” Wismy gave them another curtsey, discomfort was clear on all of their faces until a welcoming call made them jump “Marie, Henry! I’m so glad you decided to come after all!” Druella had appeared from a side door, a wide smile on her square face, she was dressed in a monochrome knee length dress, hair swept into a low chignon knot “Hello girls” she directed her attention to the couple’s daughters “Would you like a tour of the house before going up to your rooms or would you rather rest a little before Walburga and Orion return?” she nodded at their hesitant answer and showed them through a small door “This is the way to the bedrooms, the main staircase takes you to the offices and casual rooms.” She paused and opened the first door they reached on the spiral “Guest rooms are the second floor, you are the only ones staying with us at the moment. Wismy is our guest house elf she will attend to you for anything you might need, all you have to do is say her name or ring the bell on the dresser. This one is yours Marie, Henry, we put you together as we thought you might be a little more comfortable but you may have separate rooms if you wish. Petunia, you are the door opposite and Lily, your room is here, next to your parents. Dinner will be called at 8, Wismy will let you know beforehand. Do let me know if anything is wrong!”

The manor was in full bustling action when the Evans’ rose the next morning, Wismy had popped in with their breakfasts and laid out freshly warmed towels for their use in the bathrooms then announced that the “..Master and Mistress wish to spend the day with yous, if you is agreeable.” All of the family had been gathered in the entrance hall to greet their guests when they sidled through the heavy door hiding the spiral staircase; “We thought you might enjoy a day by the lake, it is looking to be hot.” Orion explained, turning to stride through the house when quiet agreements reached him. The back door was flanked with another staircase but the grounds rolled out in front of them, green and beautiful, spiked occasionally by bursts of flowers, house elves in gardening clothes bowed or curtsied as the party passed.

“It’s wonderful to get out. The house will be a little manic today, it always is before a ball. I shall send Mopsey in to help with your dress and hair this evening. Our other guests won’t be arriving until 7, dinner shall start at half 8.” Druella was stretched out on a sun lounger in front of the lake house, a building much less grand and much more comforting to her guests. Their husbands had become engaged in a comparison of muggle to wizard politics, Walburga was silent as she kept a sharp eye on the children and another on her parchment, reading over the final arrangements for the evening “Is this regular event for you all then?” Marie asked, doing her best to relax but feeling the urge to hold herself in comfort, Walburga answered her, voice slightly cold
“Usually we hold a New Year’s ball but we were attending a wedding this year. Balls on this scale only happen once a year or on special occasions such as an engagement.”
“I suppose you have a little while to plan engagement parties yet. What are your boys called again?”
“Sirius is my eldest and Regulus is the younger. We marry young in our society so a few years at the least.” the Black matriarch’s tone had softened on her youngest’s name and her thin mouth shifted into a small quirk “We try to wait until they are around 16 to make the announcements. Are your children twins?”
“Yes, fraternal. They run in my family, is it.. Is it bad we don’t have magic? What caused it?” Druella sat up in alarm
“Whatever put that in your head?!” Walburga shushed her with a look then appraised Marie
“Muggleborns are descended from magical ancestors. You and Henry are magical, just not enough to need education to control it. There is nothing wrong with being a muggle, without muggleborn children we would have long died out.” Marie’s face filled with relief and shock, another question was blurted out before she could stop it
“But what happens if they want to be normal?” she flushed scarlet and began to stammer an apology
“If they wished to permanently return to the muggle world, they are more than able to. Binding spells do exist for muggleborns that wish to leave the wizarding world. However I think you have a while before that decision can be made. Muggleborn and raised children have to complete their education once begun.”

Long, thin hands were twisting and stroking blonde locks into high bun, occasionally adding sparkly gems to match the diamonds adorning her floor length dark grey dress. Andromeda had appeared with the elf and was chatting without focus as she brushed her hands over her own slinky purple gown, form fitting had apparently been the new trend they were aiming to set. Mopsey was a delightful, mothering, beaming ball of energy, she had been enthused to work with new people and had begun with tutting at Henry for the cheap haircut he was sporting, insisting on improving it but petted Lily’s red strands lovingly, giving it only a slight curl and potion to enhance the shine leaving it tumbling down her back, ‘..hair like ruby (the elf had said) mustn’t be overwhelmed by needless decoration’. “You is all done Miss Tunes. Miss Andy, stop picking your dress. Is Master Sirius dressed?” Andromeda shrugged, now in the process of tweaking her smooth curls. Mopsey slapped her hand down before disappearing with a crack.

“Come and see the ballroom Tunia, it’s going to be spectacular. Auntie hates summer balls but they are always quite beautiful.” The girl had jumped up, dress rustling and she pulled her friend to her feet “You can come too Lily. It’s better to see it without the guests.”. The house elves were lighting the last few crystals on the chandelier as they walked into the room, it was giving out a gentle white light against cream walls, boarded with delicate silver cornices, large windows let in the last of evening sun to set the polished black floor and gigantic crest sparkling. A bell rang and the girls jumped, turning as the elves vanished, leaving behind hovering trays of drinks to float throughout the expansive room, Andromeda hissed at them to hurry and dashed back to entrance hall where their families had gathered.

“Dromeda, Fe said Potter was kicked out before. What did he do?” Dinner was in process, the Evans were in pride of place beside the host family, Marie and Henry were trying to deflect questions at every turn. The children had been warned to be polite but otherwise left to their own devices. “He dropped the chandelier on Lucius Malfoy for insulting muggleborns. Auntie was furious. It could have killed him, luckily Father and Uncle Orion noticed. They slowed the chandelier, summoned Lucius out of the way and erected shields so the shards wouldn’t hit anyone.”
“It took months to be repaired. The Malfoys’ have hated the Potters’ ever since. Auntie was more bothered by the damage. Those crystals are very valuable. She banned James until this year.” Narcissa added, she had been shadowing her sisters all evening; hoping she could convince her mother she was old enough to stay up past her usual social curfew. “Care to dance Miss Evans?” Sirius was holding out his hand to her, Lily was with Marlene giggling, “I should say no.” She snapped but took it; Lady Black had been watching them; Sirius flushed slightly, leading her to the edge of the floor and beginning a careful waltz.

“I apologize, I thought leaving you alone was what you wanted me to do.” His tone was clipped but he kept his face relaxed, she tried to follow his footsteps, she could feel judging eyes watching her and swallowed uncomfortably. “I did. When I said it. But when I tried to talk to you, you were vile.” They had reached the other side of the dance floor as the song ended, he bowed and pressed a small kiss to her hand “I apologise. What did you want to talk to me about?”
“It’s not important now. Why did your mother insist on us coming here?”
“It seemed important at the time. I’m sorry. But I was hurt Miss Evans. I tried being nice to you and you yelled at me.” They had stepped outside, the gardens were twinkling from Ignis Vlieg, glowing colour changing insects that looked like floating flames, she snorted and sat on one of the smooth stone walls, noting crest embellished cushioned seats had been provided for the evening. “If you hadn’t noticed people were picking on my friends because you kept talking to me.” Petunia pointed out, scowling and Sirius yelped
“I offered to speak to them!”
“And I told you no! Who you speak to shouldn’t be of any consequence to them! And if you knew what was could happen by paying me attention then why did you bother? The whole situation was caused by you!”
“I... It wasn’t... That wasn’t my fault! Andromeda told you...”
“Andromeda told me nothing! All she said was that they seemed to think we’d get married some day. I hardly know you! We’re children, it’s crazy to even imagine that! And you should have known better than to let them think it!” Sirius stared at her for a moment then groaned
“How could.. You said... Ugh! You’re so frustrating!”
“Your whole society is frustrating! If you moved on past the 1800’s maybe all of this marriage rubbish wouldn’t matter! How earth are you supposed to know who you want to marry when you’re still in school!” Silence followed before Petunia asked in a slightly smaller voice “Besides, Andromeda was wrong. Wasn’t she?” the Black heir didn’t answer immediately instead turning away to glare at the lit windows and avoiding her gaze before saying quietly “Yes. Andromeda was wrong.”.

Chapter Text

“Open your eyes Bell! Don’t be afraid to duck Rosier! That shield was glass Bern, bulk it up!” Professor Odbrana was barking orders as they ran an obstacle course designed to test reaction times and the strength of their recently learnt shield charms; Felberta ducked behind a wooden board gasping as Petunia ran the basic diagnostic scan over her “Remind..me..why we’re doing this..again?” Fe panted to her friend, leaning her head back against the board and accepting a small vial of water “We’re in a war Fe. We can’t be firsties anymore” she replied, throwing up a shield and standing, pulling Felberta with her and making another break for the finish line.

They were in the rich hues of autumn and half way through their first term of second year. The attacks against muggleborns and their allies were becoming more overt, first years were given leeway to gain control of their magic, afterwards defensive and offensive spells were given much more priority and they were pushed harder than ever; nowadays it was a common site to see Professor Odbrana, the new defence teacher, shouting on the lawn or by the lake. Flying lessons had been continued into the upper years and were slowly becoming combined with others, such as charms. Professor Snidget had become quieter with his second years, instead of a jovial and gentle approach to correcting mistakes he was harsher and much more critical, particularly of the pure-bloods. One upside of the increased pressure during lessons meant homework had slackened somewhat, their teachers recognising, as they staggered sweaty and trembling with exhaustion from their classrooms, that maybe they needed the evening to recuperate.

“If Odbrana makes us run that course again I think I might hex him” Evan moaned as he collapsed at the Slytherin table, his friends laughed settling around him. The upper years were beginning to trickle in and Snape was buried in a book “Sev, you know if you weren’t reading all the time, you could probably notice when the Marauders are going to do something.” George Gibbon remarked as his fellow second year’s hair began to fill with soap bubbles and laughter broke out throughout the hall. Rasbastan sighed and vanished the bubbles quickly as Snape began to mutter furiously about ‘..stupid Gryffindors. Everyone thinks they’re so perfect..’ “Gibbon’s right Snape. This is what you’re being taught. A lapse of concentration outside of school could lead to death, not just humiliation. You need to pay attention.” the prefect scolded quietly, closing the younger’s book for him and banishing it to the dorms. The look of growing hatred unnerved the elder slightly but he clapped a hand onto his shoulder and tried to offer some small comfort with a forced smile and promises to speak with Gideon Prewett, one of the new Gryffindor prefects.

Owls were returning from hunting as the front doors creaked open quietly, a young blonde slipped out and began stretching once reaching the bottom of the stairs. The door opened behind her once more, she jumped and hid behind the pillar, peering out as Madam Pomfrey bustled down the stairs, took a careful look around then strode across the lawn. Petunia followed at a safe distance, running forward as the matron vanished into the base of the Whomping Willow. She frowned, levitating a small rock close to the tree and flinching as it flicked it away sharply; she stared at the plant, wondering how the nurse had gotten past the violent branches when there was a scuffling and a pale sleeved arm appeared, fumbled at the trunk then pressed something, a moment later Madam Pomfrey appeared once more. She was escorting someone, arm wrapped around a blanketed shaking slim boy, Petunia scrambled to a hiding place and held her breath as the two passed, the boy paused and leant, exhausted, on Madam Pomfrey; she chanced a look and bit her lip, mumbling a gasp as Remus looked back, suspicion and pain in his eyes. The matron whispered something and two moved on.

“Where were you this morning?”
“I went for a jog. If we’re going to keep running obstacle courses for defence then I need to get faster.”
“Why do you keep looking at the Gryffindors? Are you looking for Remus?” Vulpix’s quiet questions made her jump, Felberta had turned back to her chess game with Sheana and hadn’t noticed. “Remus won’t be back until tomorrow. He always needs a few days to recover”
“From what?” However Vulpix had started humming, staring vaguely at the stormy grey ceiling, Petunia glanced once again at the table behind her and caught James looking back, he raised an eyebrow and she blushed, looking down, face growing brighter as he nudged Sirius with a smirk.

A steady stream of chatter filled the dungeon, today’s potion had been relatively simple. Petunia had paired with Melladew, the quiet Hufflepuff was starting to grow on the other girl. She was also a muggleborn, had a quirky sense of humour and was knowledgeable about a wide array of topics; the two had been meeting in library for study sessions, Melladew had been struggling in Transfiguration, Petunia offered to tutor her in return for help on her research into the Whomping Willow, Professor Sprout had been frustratingly silent on the subject; Remus’ appearance from the tree had been weighing on the girl’s mind since she had witnessed it over 2 months ago. Christmas was only 2 weeks away and the end of the term was in a few days, all of the Marauders, except for Peter, were staying. Remus had vanished from class again at the end of November, just as they had begun advanced study on the lunar cycle and the effect this held on botany.

“Mum, can we visit Diagon Alley before we catch the train? I need some more potions ingredients.” Marie hummed an agreement, more preoccupied with re-hemming Lily’s robes. Petunia rolled her eyes with a sigh, resolving to ask her father when he arrived home from work knowing her mother wasn’t paying attention. “Hurry flower, we’ve only got a few minutes, traffic is going to be manic by the station.” She nodded, absorbed in peering into a dark barrel of what seemed to be jelly like intestines.

Chapter Text

“Petunia,” She looked up with a jump, Sakiya was frowning at her “You missed the second year meeting tonight, where were you?” she blushed as her prefect sat opposite her
“Sorry Sakiya. I’ve been researching and lost track of time.” the elder nodded, relaxing
“That’s ok; how have things been with Lambia? And Poinsettia? Anything been said?” she shook her head, brushing loose strands of hair out of her eyes “Good; I was worried that they had something to do with your absence. What are you researching? School work?” Petunia shook her head again, biting her lip as she weighed up the Asian’s trustworthiness,
“It’s about the Whomping Willow. There’s.. Rumours that you can freeze it. I was trying to see whether there was any truth to them, after what happened to that Gryffindor firstie.” the dark haired elder scoffed
“Stupid boy. Prewett should have had better control over him. But yes. There’s a knot on the base of the trunk that you can press to freeze the branches. I don’t recommend that you try it though. I would hate to see one of my charges lose an eye.” the younger nodded, feeling satisfied elation as Sakiya stood, brushing her robes down as she did
“Wait. How do you know that? Anything relating to the willow has been removed.” Sakiya smirked, glancing at her watch
“My grandmother used to grow them for medical reasons. I’m not sure why they put one on school grounds. Whomping willows were quite useful for my country’s royal family.”
“There really are royal families?”
“Of course. If you want to grab some books from the familial section I’ll wait for you. It’s nearly curfew.”

“Pet, why are we doing this? It’s 6am. And I’m freezing.” Felberta hissed, pulling her thick robes closer to her and glancing around the mist covered grounds “And it’s creepy out here. Gudgeon nearly lost his eye. I’m not going near that tree now.”
“Merlin! Will you just go back to bed or shut up?” the blonde snapped, inching closer before laying a stick down and stepping back a few paces; turning to Felberta once more as the strawberry girl hadn’t moved “Take this, press that button and speak into it as soon as you see anyone. I’m going to clear some of this fog.” Ignoring her friend’s muttering about how she couldn’t see ‘...me, never mind anyone else’, she whispered an incantation and watched with a quiet glow as the dense fog vanished in a wide circle around them. She looked back at the tree, swaying with a non-existent breeze, squinting she could just about locate the knot Sakiya had mentioned. She glanced at Felberta. The other girl was staring at her apprehensively, Petunia gave her a nervous grin and muttered the levitation charm.

She was in a earthy tunnel, low and littered with roots and rocks from all angles; as it began to slope up she glanced back then steeled her nerve and crept forward, wand held protectively in front of her. The room Petunia squeezed into was boarded, covered in a light layer of dust and... Pawprints. She shivered, holding herself deathly still and listening hard, the furniture was destroyed, chunks had been clawed from it and the walls. A low groan came from behind the upturned sofa and she held in a scream. Raising her wand she muttered ‘Lumos’ and carefully stepped forward.

Remus was sprawled out on the floor, unconscious, naked, and bleeding from several deep gashes and scratches. She gasped, unable to silence the sound and hurried forward silently, still wary of the dark corners of the room, whatever animal had attacked the Gryffindor might still be lurking. As she knelt by the other second year, something caught her eye, it was a tuft of brown fur ripped out by a fractured chair leg, Petunia untangled it and stashed it into her shorts’ pocket. He was breathing, she reached out a hand, determinedly not looking any lower than his stomach “R...”
“Pet! Pet! Is this thing working? Madam Pomfrey’s just come out of the castle, she’s heading this way!” Petunia leapt up like she had been scalded and fled for the opening into the tunnel again, stooping she ran, fleeing as though the creature was behind her. She felt guilty for leaving Remus. The matron had to be close, she was one of the swiftest people Petunia had ever met. She moaned, terrified of what might happen if she was caught down here.

The walkie-talkie crackled into life once more “Pet, I’m in the hospital wing, I convinced her that we’d been jogging and I’d hurt my leg, she brought me up here and put me on one of the beds. Please tell me you’re out of there! She’s just left again!” A relieved sob left her mouth as she saw the light from the tunnel’s entrance, flinging a hand out and desperately feeling for the knot, pressing and an odd frozen sensation swept through the ground. The blonde scrambled out, crawling on shaky legs before stumbling to her feet and racing into the forest. “Pet? Pet, where are you!?”
“I...I’m in the forest” she gasped, coughing on the damp air and falling to her knees once more, clapping a hand over her mouth and trying to muffle her stricken pants as the matron appeared from the fog and vanished into the tree. She gave a small chuckle, quickly developing into hysterical giggles as Petunia collapsed against the tree and sank to the floor, laughing and gasping for air, trying not to choke around the tears rising in her throat.

“So? What did you find?” Felberta whispered excitedly as Petunia joined her in the hospital wing, curtains were drawn around the furthest bed and the blonde had to fight the urge to glance at it as she limped in. “Nothing. It was just a caved in tunnel. My guess by the distance is it used to lead to Hogsmeade. Probably a safety precaution, you know like an escape route if the castle was ever attacked.” Fe wrinkled her nose in disappointment
“Seems a bit difficult to get to, for a escape route. You’re more likely to be killed by the tree!”
“Well, the tree hasn’t always been there. Sakiya told me it was planted the summer before we arrived. Maybe they realised the tunnel had caved in and blocked it off so no one could get stuck down there.” Felberta hummed and glanced down the ward at the curtains. She looked at Petunia and muttered
“I have no idea who’s in there. Madam Pomfrey made me take a small goblet of sleeping draught, she said I looked run down. I was out of it after I heard you were safe. When I woke up the curtains were closed, she keeps checking on whoever it is though.”
“Maybe it’s Elliot Midgen, I heard he’s getting desperate for an acne cure.” Her friend giggled and switched topics.

Chapter Text

Remus was exhausted, Sirius and James had toned down their mayhem whilst he recovered but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something had happened. There had been a faint flowery, fresh scent when Madam Pomfrey woke him in the shack and he swore he had heard someone say his name. Felberta King and Petunia Evans had been in the hospital wing when he woke again, giggling but quiet. Felberta hadn’t glanced at him twice but Petunia kept looking, there was a small furrow to her brow whenever she did and a question in the blue of her eyes; but she never said anything, only watched and catalogued. It was making him feel uncomfortable and nervous, the teasing from the Prewett twins, when they noticed her once, hadn’t helped. Sirius had been strangely short with him for the rest of the day. James had done his best to avoid the topic of both Evans, he glanced across from his table, the blonde girl wasn’t there. It seemed when she wasn’t watching him, she was locked in the library or Ravenclaw tower. He sighed, running a hand through his thick hair, he really needed a cut he noted absently. He hoped she hadn’t found out, Lily seemed more like the one for adventures but one never knew with the sarcastic Raven. He looked back to his mother’s letter, he could only hope.

An amber light silenced her humming, her blue eyes widened and she hurried back to her desk where her books lay. A tremor of fear sliced through her as she looked back to the glowing potion, to what was left of creature’s fur from the broken room. There wasn’t a creature that had attacked Remus, he was the creature. He was a werewolf. The exhaustion after every ‘break’, the mysterious injuries, the avoidance of astronomy as a discussion, the strange amber in his eyes, the way he had no problem lifting or moving things others struggled with, the preference for rare or blue meat. It all fit. It was all here. She couldn’t be wrong... And yet. Remus. Kind, friendly, shy Remus, the same boy who smiled and apologized for Black and Potter’s behaviour, the same boy who seemed to honestly be friends with Pettigrew. Who asked after Severus if he’d been injured, looked after Lily and Alice whenever they were feeling homesick, helped any first year that he saw struggling. She glanced back down at the book in her lap, a snarling beast paced it’s page, leaping at her occasionally. A small scowl crossed her lips and she leapt up, letting the book tumble to the floor and began pacing. Remus couldn’t be like all those monsters the literature talked about. How did it happened? Was he born a wolf or was he bitten? If so, who bit him?

Petunia thought back to the deep gashes she had seen in the room and her face contorted into a tight wince. Madam Pomfrey couldn’t heal them, not if he caused them, dark magic couldn’t be fixed. She glanced back to her desk, to the book on the floor. Books couldn’t help her. And Remus would be terrified to know she knew, and no doubt embarrassed that she had seen him, especially as he was naked. A deep blush still coloured her face whenever she thought about it. She nibbled on her lip before nodding, there was one person that would almost absolutely know the answer. And be trusted to keep Remus’ secret, if she didn’t already know. Petunia came a halt, turning back to her desk with a decisive nod, she would ask Bella. Bella would know.

“Fenrir Greyback. That’s who you will have to research if you want. Although I can just tell you what happened.” Bella told her, dark eyes flicking around the great hall, Petunia had sent an owl last night and asked the eldest Black to join her as soon as the doors opened in the morning. “He’s particularly vicious werewolf. The Greybacks’, as a family, were very fond of torturing creatures and muggles, especially the ones they called ‘half-breeds’, werewolves fell into this category. They miscalculated on a wolf called Lycaon Merric, one of their favourite activities was to lock a wolf and a muggle family or an enemy, in the same room just before full moon. The wolf would turn and slaughter. It was effective scare tactic for the rest of the population. Anyway Merric was the leader of a werewolf pack who, obviously, didn’t approve of the Greybacks’ doings. He allowed himself to be captured by them but he deflected all the enchantments, that usually kept the family safe, onto the people he supposed to kill. When he turned he broke free of the room, bit and stole their teenage son Fenrir, snapped the boy’s wand and forced him to remain in his pack. Fenrir broke free of the pack and went home after nearly two decades, his parents rejected him, telling him he was a beast and no longer their son. They’d already had another baby and that child was grown up and getting married. Next full moon Greyback destroyed what was left of his birth family, his new in-laws and set about creating a pack of his own. The Ministry captured what they thought was a group of muggle tramps after an attack on two children. Lyall Lupin, Remus’ father, noticed signs that these ‘tramps’ were actually wolves and ended up shouting insults, reminiscent of Greyback’s parents, when the Ministry wouldn’t listen to him. Fenrir then bit Remus in retaliation for Lyall’s remarks. It’s believed that Fenrir thought the Lupins’ would reject their son and was enraged when they didn’t. He has something of an obsession with Remus now.”

“So all of this could have been avoided if his parents hadn’t been evil?”
“Remus’ or Greyback’s?”
“Greyback’s!” Petunia snapped as Bellatrix buttered a piece of toast then spread a thin layer of honey over it, her own bowl of cereal was untouched
“Possibly,” she shrugged “Merric wasn’t particularly nice either. He took pleasure in turning people, he believed that werewolves were the superior race and tried to create an army in order to overthrow the ‘meat’, as he called humans. It was possible that he would have found Greyback either way.” her muggleborn friend remained silent then remarked
“Werewolves aren’t anything like the books say then. Books claim that wolves are slaves to the bloodlust and rage but Greyback and Merric were calculating and sneaky.”
“Most wizards and witches will never understand what it’s like to be a werewolf because they’re not one. From what I understand, the pain of transforming is what keeps them enraged. But yes, I agree that the books most likely have it wrong.”
“How do you know all of that? I doubt Remus told you, I doubt Remus even knows half of that.” the blonde’s eyes were narrowed and she pushed her food away, Bellatrix sighed and pushed a plate of bacon towards her
“I know because the Lupins are a noble family, my parents believe that it is important that we all know the status of the other families, rather than just the heir being taught. Plus Auntie thinks it helps Sirius to concentrate when there are more people. You need to eat Pet, despite the gruesome story. And stop staring at Remus, it’s making him nervous and people think you have a crush on him. Morning Dromeda.”
“Morning Bella, morning Pet. You might want to stop talking about it now. The marauders were not far behind me. Bella’s right by the way Pet, you need to eat, you’ve barely eaten anything recently!”.

Chapter Text

“You and Severus? What are you thinking Lily?!”
“I like him Petunia! You’re not in charge of me!” Their parents exchanged surprised glances, the two sisters had been bickering ever since returning from school but they hadn’t been able to catch the subject until now. Henry frowned, he didn’t want his little girls dating anyone, certainly not hiding the relationship either. Marie was scowling, her pale blue eyes wide. Her daughter, her daughter dating that greasy Spinner’s End urchin. She looked out into the garden, Lily was glowering fiercely at her sister who was just as viciously glaring back. “Lily, inside please!” She shouted shrilly, wrenching the plug from the sink and peeling off her washing up gloves. Her youngest child blanched beneath her freckles and hissed something at her sister before turning toward the house. Her mother didn’t miss the way the blonde had sucked in a hurt breath and blinked away tears.
They avoided each other after that.

“Hello there.” The blonde glanced up, one of the fifth year boys was smiling at her, she looked around the library, many of the tables were empty, it was the first weekend back at Hogwarts; the sun was blazing in beautiful display of late summer colours but Petunia had chosen to return to her musty, book-filled sanctum, the fight with Lily was still fresh and it seemed the sisters were quite happy to be apart. The Blacks all had to meet with their parents, trouble was brewing, both outside and within Britain, Andromeda wouldn’t say much but Sirius had returned with a pensive, drawn air to him that he tried to cloak with the usual jokes and tomfoolery. Petunia had found herself pondering what could be happening, worrying without knowing what she should be worrying about, she looked back at the boy as he drew out the chair opposite her and sat down. She turned back to her notes.

“It’s Miss Evance, right?” The boy hadn’t left, she laid her quill down irritably with a snapped sigh “Yes.” she answered shortly, watching him through narrowed eyes, he continued smoothly “I’m Jareth. Your point score is quite impressive, although I’d expect nothing else from the Evance family” she frowned,
“My name’s Evans, not Evance.” he smirked, her scowl grew and he leaned in, offering his hand, she eyed him then took it, he brushed a kiss over her knuckles
“Of course it is. But have you never been tempted to find out more about your history? Where the magic in your blood comes from?” the blonde glanced at him then at the thick book he had just pulled from his bag “I have more on the subject if you would like them.” he handed her the volume, stood and vanished into the towering shelves around them.

“Morning Tunes.” A velvety voice whispered in her ear and she jumped, turning to face Sirius’ grin which widened when she scowled at him.
“What are you doing here Black?” he slid onto the bench next to her waving off James’ curious look
“Just thought I would greet you my lady.” he said pompously “Did you have a good summer?” she faked a sigh, hiding her smile and told him to leave which he did after some amateur dramatics, claiming a broken heart and winking at his cousin as Andromeda laughed at him from the other side of the great hall.
“I think Sirius is sweet on you Pet” Felberta giggled over her porridge, yelping as Petunia kicked her roughly
“Hi Vulpix, did you have a good summer?” she said, determinedly changing the subject as the blonde drifted up to them and sat down
“Fairly good, yes. Mother and I worked on our book whilst Father went hunting, he thinks he nearly caught a Wurttempt. I’m going to start a magazine. The Papyrus just isn’t reporting on the important things.”
“Important things? Like what?”
“Oh, magical beasts, conspiracies, social problems that are rankling our school, that kind of thing.” Vulpix explained with a vague smile, she gazed out on the table with dreamy eyes before remarking “We got the least first years.” Her friends nodded, their firsties had consisted of mixed group of 4, 2 boys and 2 girls. Slytherin had gained the most with 9, including the two youngest Blacks. Petunia cast a critical eye over them. She wondered briefly if she had looked that nervous in her first year before shaking her head and turning back to the conversation, mind still half on her project.

“Careful Miss Evance, here let me get those for you.” The blonde glared at Jareth, the new prefect had been popping up all over the castle, seemingly wherever she was. This time she’d just exited the owlery, parcels clutched to her chest, when she walked into him, the spiky haired blonde male just grinned at her and gathered the supplies she’d dropped. “Devil’s claw? What could you possibly need that for?” He asked with a raised eyebrow, Petunia blushed, snatching the root back and turning to walk back to the tower. “At least let me escort you!” Jareth called, turning his back on the first years he’d been showing around, the girl walked faster, shouting back
“No need! I’m sure I can find the tower on my own!” She heard laughter then a farewell.

“Here, it was an interesting read. Thank you.” Petunia told him primly, Jareth looked up with a smirk, she was holding out his book, free arm wrapped around her waist and he tried to soften his expression as he took the book from her, ensuring his fingers lingered on hers. She blushed, pulling her hand free and turning away to return to her friends. She didn’t notice the superior, satisfied smile the fifth years began to sport.

“Do you ever leave here Tunes?”
“Do you?” Sirius laughed, balancing his chair on its’ back legs as he watched her work, scribbling out numbers and consulting the piled open books surrounding her.
“Why would I when I’ve got you to annoy?” he countered, a small thrill crawling up his spine when she tried and failed to bite back a smile
“How’s Regulus settling in?”
“Quite well from what I understand. We haven’t talked in a while.”
“Argument?”
“No. He just wants to establish his own identity. You and your sister seem rather distant at the moment” Petunia frowned and he regretted his words until she sighed and looked back at her notepad
“Yes. We had a disagreement about her choice of partner.” she glanced up as he raised an eyebrow, setting the chair down hurriedly as Madam Pince was prowling a few aisles away “She’s dating Snape.” Petunia elaborated with heavier huff and Sirius wrinkled his nose
“Snape? Why?” the blonde shrugged, flicking to another page as she said
“I can’t see the appeal. I liked him somewhat in first year but he just seemed to be being influenced a lot by his dorm mates. Looking down on us for being muggleborn you know? Not so much to Lily but to me, and he never hesitates to be cruel to Vulpix.” She looked back to her companion, his mouth was set in a concerned frown and he sighed, running a hand through his hair
“I can’t help you there Tunes. Lily will come round on her own. Snivellus is surrounded by bigots, particularly those in the year above, it’s no wonder he’s starting to parrot their beliefs.” she nibbled her lip, carefully penning a few more lines and confessing quietly
“I’m worried about her. Severus has always seemed rather possessive over Lily. She just doesn’t see it. The way he looks at her. It puts me on edge.” she heard him sigh once more before a warm hand covered her ink splattered one. She looked up, he smiled softly and gave her hand a gentle squeeze, she found herself smiling back a sense of calm appearing to radiate from the boy’s touch.

Chapter Text

A sharp elbow to her ribs made Petunia yelp and she glared at her friend, Felberta just inclined her head to right, she peered past her shoulder. Jareth was apparently browsing the shelves near them however he kept looking over at the girls and he smirked with a wave when he saw Petunia looking. She scowled and pointedly turned back to her essay. “He hasn’t left, in fact he’s getting closer.” Fe whispered, she was frowning “This is weird. Purebloods aren’t supposed to stalk their intended, even if they’re trying to initiate a courtship.”
“Miss King, Madam Pince would like to speak with you.” Felberta looked up through spiky lashes, she’d begun experimenting with make up. The prefect was waiting for her to leave impatiently, she glanced past him, the librarian was indeed frowning at her, she crooked a finger and the Ravenclaw stood. Jareth took her vacated seat.

“What do you want now?” Petunia snapped lowly, aggressively inking her quill as Jareth winced at the harsh tone
“Come now Miss Evance, I’m just trying to give you some attention. Besides, it’s not proper for a witch to address a wizard in a such a way”
“Well I didn’t ask you to.” she hissed “Go and give your attention to someone else.” his grimace grew and she leaned in “Besides, it isn’t proper to approach a witch when your affection isn’t returned.” He leaned away, looking shocked. She sat back smugly, pulling her parchment towards her again, feeling certain the wizard would leave and stop pestering her now. However when 5 minutes had passed and Jareth hadn’t moved, she looked up, his lips were white and thin, his eyes were dark. She felt a prickle of uneasiness. He cleared his throat and looked down at her
“I apologise for my behaviour Miss Evance. I understand now that I should have declared my intentions from the beginning.” he said stiffly, pushing his chair away from the table, she bit her lip guiltily
“I accept your apology Mr Joblin-King. However I must offer one of my own, my words just now were rather harsh.” he nodded, relaxing a little
“Thank you Miss Evance, I would prefer Jareth. Would you permit me a drink in the Three Broomsticks this Saturday to make up for my previous actions? I would very much like to start afresh with you.” She eyed him, his face seemed open and sincere, she met his gaze, it was now a steady blue instead of the menacing black it had been.
“Yes. Ok. Is half 2 alright?” He nodded, smiling crookedly, he asked for her hand once more. He kissed it carefully when offered and murmured
“Until Saturday then my dear.”.

“I can’t believe you agreed to a date with him Pet. You know if he gives you a gift then he fully intends to start a courtship.” The strawberry girl was huffing her disbelief as she lay on Petunia’s bed. The blonde herself was looking through her wardrobe
“It’s not a date Fe. It’s an apology and a fresh start.” she told her waspishly and Felberta raised her eyebrow
“Did you declare that?” her friend paused guiltily “You didn’t did you? Pet you must always declare these things! You’ll get called a strumpet!” the blonde snorted suddenly
“A strumpet?” Felberta blushed lightly
“You know exactly what I mean! Trust me in pureblood society you don’t want to labelled a succubus, you’ll never receive any offers.” Petunia threw a disparaging look to her then declared dramatically
“Oh no! No marriage offers! What ever shall I do!” She flopped onto the bed in faked grief, arm over her eyes as Felberta started to giggle
“I’m serious Pet!” she tried to protest before her sentence ended in a squeal of laughter as Petunia wiggled her fingers into her sides.

Early snow had fallen and blanketed the first Hogsmeade visit, the village was frosted, glazed with patches of ice that sparkled like lethal gems. Felberta had ran straight for Volance Victories! The local quidditch shop. She dragged Petunia with her. “What do you think Pet? Chaser or Seeker? What should I go for?” Three of their members had left the previous year, Bonnie Bennett, Marie Kessler and Rebekah Mikaelson, Marie had been the team captain, Fred Jacob, one of the beaters had taken over. Felberta had spent all summer practising, she was determined to get on the team. Petunia sighed, despite her love for the magical world, quidditch had still failed to grow on her
“Which position do you prefer?”
“Well, I think I would be a better chaser but Ember McLain is also trying out and she’s brilliant.”
“There’s three positions open. Two of them are chasers. Just go for it Fe, you’ve been working so hard!”
“But Vittoria..”
“Is trying as a seeker, so is Rubia Everley and you don’t need to worry about Hugo Burton, he flew into a tree in his first flying lesson and hasn’t got any better.” Her friend snorted with laughter and picked up a pair of chaser’s gloves.

Pureblood Politics, that’s the book for you my dear. We have the latest edition, self updating, it will teach you everything you need to know about society.” Wilbur Moogle insisted, pulling out a shiny leather bound book, his round face was eager for a sale and he smiled warmly
“What are you doing Pet?” Bellatrix had appeared at her elbow, she glanced at the book on the counter “What do you need that for?”
“I can’t keep asking you and Andromeda everything. Besides it would be nice to read up on your culture. I’m surrounded by purebloods, I need to know I’m not doing anything wrong. It’s a little pricey though, I think I’ll have to get it after Christmas. I need these.” She nodded to another pile
“Polocum, Willow, Sugarshore... what are you planning Pet?” the blonde blushed and hissed
“I’ll tell you later!”
“Well, you get those and I’ll get Rosenthal for you. Call it a belated birthday gift.”
“Bella!” the other girl just smirked, handing over the money and snatching the book away from the shopkeeper before Petunia could stop her.

She heard a cough, then another more deliberate one by her elbow and she looked around, Jareth bowed slightly when their eyes met
“Hello Miss Evance.” Petunia mustered a smile, moving along the bench. Hyun-Shik Chang and Erik Phantom were with him. Talk from the other girls had fallen as they eyed the newcomers “Misses Black, Miss King, Miss Lovegood, I trust you are all well?”
“Yes, thank you Mr Joblin. Shall we get some drinks in?” Bella said after a moment.
“I shall assist you Miss King, butterbeers all round I suppose?” Hyun answered standing as Felberta did,
“A gillywater for me and Vulpix Mr Chang... One with a small sweet onion.” Andromeda told him with a smile. He nodded politely, hiding his confusion and accepting the handfuls of sickles and knuts before following Felberta to the bar.

“How do you like Hogsmeade?” His blue gaze was directed at her but the question had an open edge, Vulpix answered dreamily
“It’s wonderful, I love the pet store.” Jareth laughed softly,
“So I can see Miss Lovegood.” she had two Vervet Sparrows nestled into the collar of her shirt, one was a lovely golden pink whilst the other was a shiny midnight silver, they kept chirruping to each other in a high pitched chatter. Petunia laughed, petting the closest one to her, Skittle as Vulpix had chosen to name the male. The prefect at her side made a funny noise, almost shocked, she looked back frowning
“What?”
“It’s strange, vervets are very territorial. They’re gentle but fierce in protecting what they perceive as home. By the way they are cuddling Miss Lovegood, I would say that she is home. Yet he let you pet him without a care.”
“It’s not strange, Petunia is good with animals. She has a trustworthy aura.” Vulpix told him softly, taking a sip of her drink as Andromeda handed it to her. The blonde boy nodded slowly, Petunia was watching him as he chose not to question her friend and instead thank his.

Chapter Text

“RAVENCLAW WIN!” Aelwen Harper screamed into the megaphone as most of the stands erupted in cheers. The Hufflepuff’s were singing, Gryffindor’s loss meant they were above them in points, Gryffindor were glum. This put the blue house in front. The season had only just started once more but an early start on the cup could make or break their run. Petunia left the stands at a run, Felberta landed, wet, bruised and muddy but elated. The two girls seized each other in a tight hug and bounced on the spot, laughing. The teams landed around them and Fred gave them a lopsided grin
“Well done newbie. That was an impressive goal!” he clapped Felberta on the shoulder before swinging his arm around Vittoria, she flashed the two a broad smile and grabbed Felberta’s hand, tugging her towards the changing rooms, singing cheerfully.

The joy from the match lasted two days, the common room friendly and the corridors welcoming before the newspapers arrived on Tuesday morning. The headlines screamed of an attack on Diagon Alley; there had been a concealed caster firing hexes and curses into the crowd. It had been a ministry announcement of the current threat level, there had been whispers, attacks, rumours of a new dark lord rising, someone who shared the ideals of Grindelwald. They had been confirming the rumours when the casting began. Hogwarts had been teaching its’ students survival skills as soon as the attacks had begun, the teachers had already decided war was upon them, not wanting their charges to be unprepared. The students changed, houses began bunching together sending nervous glances at their fellows. Dumbledore had risen to his feet that morning and insisted that they were safe and this dark lord wouldn’t dare approach the school. It had sounded like he knew more than he was saying to Petunia. She’d looked across to the Black sisters, they were whispering together, Narcissa had a pout, face full of curiosity but her older sisters were pushing her away with scowls.

The fearful behaviour continued. Halloween came and passed without incident. November 11th. Muggle remembrance day. It was around 10:50am, late breakfast as was customary on the weekends. The muggleborns and half-bloods were clock watching for their two minutes when an owl flew into the hall and landed at the teacher’s table. Their headmaster stood and strode from the hall without a word, whispers filled the hall at once. The teachers didn’t try to stop them, just exchanged surprised and worried glances. Dumbledore didn’t return until the next day, halfway through lunch where he explained the minister had wanted his opinion on something urgently and they needn’t worry. He had tried reassuring them with one of his twinkly smiles but Petunia wasn’t buying, he wouldn’t have left like that for advice. She glanced around the hall once more, students had begun to relax with the elderly man’s presence and she chose to keep her misgivings to herself.

“What the..?” They were two weeks to Christmas and the bad news from outside had kept coming, there had been incidents within the school such as Casper Flint and Corban Yaxley had hexed the Hufflepuff quidditch captain, Misty Day. Everyone had assumed it was for the loss Slytherin had faced from her team until Yaxley had sneered that ‘...People like [her] would get what was coming to them soon’. Misty was a muggleborn. Rita Skeeter had published that. It had made her unpopular in her common room, as many believed she’d gone against her house principals of supporting her fellow snakes before anyone else, but people feared her acid quill too much to attempt retaliation. The third year Hufflepuff and Ravenclaws had just finished potions and exited the dungeons when they realised everything seemed a little bubbly. White opaque balloons filled the corridors, Flynn glanced at his year mates before poking one with his wand carefully, the surface of the ball wobbled then exploded in a shower of colour. Blue, red, gold and green glitter flew in every direction and all of the third years squealed.

They fled from the dungeons, more bubbles popping as they brushed past them. Glitter was floating from the ceilings and beginning to pile up like snow as exclamations from the upper floors confirmed it wasn’t just the dungeons that had been affected. “It’s edible!” Felberta exclaimed suddenly, her friends looked back at her, she stood with her tongue stuck out, gathering glitter on its’ surface, Quinten gave her a frown before hesitantly licking his hand. His nose wrinkled briefly then he laughed
“She’s right!” Chuckles followed his words as their year mates copied the Ravenclaw girl and the other years started appearing from upstairs
“Do any of you know who did this?” Alexis Shukoff asked as he came level with the third years, they shook their heads and the head boy repeated the motion with a smile “It’s impressive magic whoever’s responsible.”
“My guess would be the Marauders” Aelwen laughed, linking her arm with his and tugging the Gryffindor towards the great hall.

The prank had worked to lessen the stranglehold of fear and people began merging back into their inter-house groups, laughter and chatter started to refill the corridors. The holidays were fast approaching, the full moon was rising in the sky and a girl was being helped along the corridor to the hospital wing. “Why were you having a water fight in the middle of winter Tunes?” The girl at his side laughed weakly
“Guess we weren’t thinking” she muttered, tugging his cloak tighter around herself, they paused in the middle of the corridor and Sirius let her lean carefully against a statue, casting a heating charm on her cloak with a frown as she shivered
“I’ll say. You should have gone straight to the hospital wing after you got out.”
“I thought I hadn’t been in the water long enough for it to cause a problem.” His frown deepened and he reached out a hand to press it against her cold, damp forehead
“Do you think you can walk any further?” She shook her head slowly, barely squeaking as the boy scooped her up in his arms and began walking once more.

“Miss Evans, Petunia.” The matron’s soft voice roused her in the early hours “Here, drink this. You can go back to school tomorrow, I want to keep you in for today. Now go back to sleep dear, I’ll wake you in a little while.” she handed the girl a goblet of steaming potion before she cast a heating charm, then drew the curtains closed around her bed and bustled out of the ward. Petunia moaned slightly, burying her aching head back into the pillows and ignoring the goblet.

The quiet creak of the hospital wing doors broke her doze and she opened her eye blearily, she could just make out Madam Pomfrey escorting someone past the bed through the curtains; Remus’ voice was ragged and weak when he spoke to the matron, a small grunt of pain escaped then the curtains were drawn and Madam Pomfrey went to retrieve an armful of clinking potion bottles. She glanced back at the still faintly smoking goblet on her bedside table guiltily and reached out a shaking arm to drain the goblet, it slipped from her fingers and clattered to the floor; a few moments later the nurse’s head popped through a gap in the curtains, she muttered an apology and Madam Pomfrey waved it away, summoning the goblet and tucking the blankets in a little tighter.

“Remus… Remus… Lupin wake up!” The boy awoke with a start, Petunia had snuck into his curtains, she was stood by the bed with a blanket from her bed wrapped around her shoulders, in her hands she held a wooden box. She blushed and held it out, he took it after sitting up carefully, suppressing a wince of pain “I’ll go in a moment. I made those for you, let me know if they work.” the blonde gave him a nervous smile and stole away, back into her own bed as the door to Madam Pomfrey’s office opened and the matron stepped out to do her final checks of the day. He laid down hurriedly, hiding the box under his pillow. After a few minutes the nurse’s door closed once more and he sat up, tugging out the box; the sour scent of cherries wafted from the copper-lined inside as he opened the lid, a neat square of parchment had been stuck into the lid penned carefully in Petunia’s tidy handwriting: Devil’s Claw Cremes. Soft chocolate truffle-like cremes infused with root extracts of Devil’s Claw and coated in a thick, sticky cherry shell. Used to treat bone aches and increase flexibility. Also reduces arthritis and relieves pain. This supply should last 2 months. Can be consumed whenever needed. He bit his lip, hovering a hand over the neatly stacked balls, they smelt wonderful, a rich combination of creamy chocolate and juicy cherry but with a slightly medicated edge.

He glanced through the gap Madam Pomfrey had left in his curtains, the girl had fallen asleep, he could hear her steady heartbeat, a little faster than was normal but he put that down to whatever illness she had. The matron had settled in for the night as well. His teeth bit down harder, perhaps she had been in the shack after all. Panic was starting to grip his heart but he tried to calm himself, she wouldn’t have bothered with giving him anything if she knew. He looked back at the box, the sweets looked incredibly tempting, a dark sticky red but shiny enough to reflect the little light given by the still lit candles. He couldn’t smell anything but the ingredients he guessed were in them, no evil magic or hint of poison. Plucking one from the box he steeled himself and placed the sweet into his mouth, it was a little big but the cherry flavour from its’ shell coated his tongue before it cracked under his teeth and a mellow, soft chocolate paste of sorts filled his senses. He leant back into his pillows, if it was poisoned it was certainly a pleasant treat before his death. He couldn’t feel the effects the girl had obviously hoped they would have but he didn’t mind, he glanced over to her bed once more then replaced the box under his pillow, settling into bed again. He would talk to her tomorrow.

“Come on Remmy, we’re going to be late!” James and Sirius had come to fetch him from the hospital wing before heading down to breakfast, they held a bundle of his robes and his school bag, feet tapping with false impatience. He smiled at them, Madam Pomfrey had guessed that they knew and no longer kicked them out of the hospital wing after a full moon. She had given them a stern talking to about the importance of keeping confidentiality first however. Sirius threw his robes at him and dragged the curtains shut as he swung his legs out of bed, the matron bustled in as he was pulling on his jumper
“How are you feeling Mr Lupin?” she asked him and his smile grew
“Great actually, thank you. I think the new potion must be working.” She gave him a fond smile and stripped the bed down efficiently
“Well off to breakfast with you then. Of course you can come back at any time.” He nodded, tying his shoes and accepting his bag from James “Oh, Mr Lupin! Is this yours?” Remus looked back, she was holding out a box, his face flashed in realization and he took the box, murmuring a quick thanks, he glanced around the wing, Petunia wasn’t there but her bed was still stripped down, she can’t have been gone long.

Professor Roseberg was warbling about a newly discovered branch of arithmancy when Remus leaned across the desk and poked Petunia in the back with his quill. She made a cross noise and looked back “I need to talk to you.” He whispered softly and she nodded
“Later.” the blonde girl answered and looked back to the front sharply as the professor paused in her lecture.

“I’ll catch up, I just have to return a book… No it’s alright, Petunia is going to come with me.” Sirius cast a suspicious glance between the two but shrugged
“Ok, I’ll see you at dinner. How are you Tunes?” she nodded with a smile
“Much better Black, thank you. Also thank you for helping me, I don’t think I could have made it without you.” He gave her a sweet smile, one that he’d seemed to have reserved for her, a gentle curve that crinkled his eyes and lent his aristocratic features a softer edge “Anyway we’d best get going, come on Remus. See you in the hall Black.” she waited until they’d turned the corner and were fairly separated from the general student body before asking “Did they work?”
“Yes. But..” he paused “Petunia wha..”
“I’ve known since last year Remus. I won’t tell anyone. I’m glad they worked, all the accounts I could find say that’s very painful.” She interrupted him with a wave of her hand, they’d paused in an empty corridor, she was leaning against the wall looking pale and exhausted.

“Why would you help a monster?” he whispered, tears in his throat, his friends knowing were one thing but if she had found out then who knows who else could find him. She snorted suddenly, startling him
“You’re not a monster Remus. Flint, Yaxley, Macnair, they’re monsters. This new ‘dark lord’, he’s a monster. Greyback, his whole family, they’re, were, monsters. You’re not.”
“But…”
“Remus, I will admit I was scared when I first found out. But when I thought about it, you’re nothing like what the books or anti-wolf propaganda say. You’re one of the nicest people in our year and.. if, every month you, lose control that’s not your fault. You would never deliberately hurt anyone. I refuse to believe that you’re evil or a monster or anything but a person. Your secret is safe.”He dared to raise his eyes from the floor, she was glaring at him with determined truth to her diamond blues, he tried to swallow the lump that had grown larger and blink away the gathered tears. A small smile curved her mouth and she reached out carefully, hesitating when he flinched but wrapping her arms around him anyway “You’re not a monster Remus. You were just unlucky. Besides most girls turn into figurative monsters every month, no one thinks badly of them for it.” He choked out a laugh, tears dripping down his cheeks as he tentatively hugged her back, whispering thanks.

Chapter Text

“Tuney? Can I sit with you?” Lily was stood, unusually meek, by the carriage door, her red hair was oddly lank and she was playing with it nervously, eyes fixed on the floor. Her sister stood up on the seat and manoeuvred around Felberta and Sheana’s gobstones game before jumping down, she grabbed Lily’s hand and pulled her away, travelling along the corridor before she pushed the other girl into train’s bathroom
“What’s happened?” Lily sniffed, bottom lip trembling before she sobbed
“You were right Tuney. I’m sorry!” she sighed, locking the door behind them and hugging her sister awkwardly. Lily flung her arms around Petunia in response and cried harder, the blonde squeezed her softly
“What happened Lils?”
“Sev…Severus has been so horrid. You were right, I shouldn’t have dated him.” her sister sniffled, wiping her eyes with the sleeve of her jumper “He kept sneering at me for wanting to come home, then he said I was stupid for missing you and I shouldn’t care that you didn’t want to talk to me, that you weren’t worth anything as a witch and should have never been invited to Hogwarts cause you were just a muggle. That mum and dad would never be able to understand the magical world, that muggles hadn’t changed since the witch burnings and I’m an idiot to think otherwise. And he kept trying to stop me from being friends with anyone! It was like he just wanted me to be with him and no one else.” the blonde’s lips had pursed, eyes narrowed in anger but she hugged Lily again
“It’s alright Lils, you’ve broken up with him right?” the redhead nodded, she was flushed and staring at her sister earnestly “Good, listen Severus is surrounded with horrible people so he’s got even worse, he believes them, and his mother, who look down on us for being muggleborn. You’re worth thousands of Snape. Stay friends if you want but don’t ever give him another chance, ok?” Lily nodded again, leaning against Petunia with a sigh
“I just really liked him, I wouldn’t have known anything before Hogwarts without him. It was nice knowing that I wasn’t a freak, that there was a reason I could do those things.” Petunia hummed, resting her head on top of her sister’s and wrapping an arm around her shoulders
“Well you know now. You’re a witch.”
“Why couldn’t you do those things Tuney?”
“I could when I was tiny, then mum kept telling us off so I stopped. I was never brave enough to keep trying like you. Then when I tried to do it again it didn’t work.” Lily sighed again
“I love you Tuney, I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you.”
“I love you too Lils.”.

 

“You’re in a very good mood Tunes. Did you have a nice Christmas?” Petunia beamed at Sirius and took his hand happily as he offered it to her, they made their way to the dance floor as Grasp of the Ghoul struck up a cheerful but sweet crooner
“It was lovely Black. Lily’s broken up with Snape. We’re friends again.” she answered, leaning into him as he placed his hands around her waist carefully and she wrapped her arms around his neck. He smiled at her, relaxing as they swayed gently
“I told you she’d come round on her own. I’m glad you’re happy again though, you look as though you’ve recovered from your dip in the lake now.” Petunia blushed lightly but laughed
“Yes, I won’t be trusting the ice on it again. No matter how thick it appears.” he laughed, pulling her out of the way of an elder couple as they waltzed slowly “Your mother’s watching us.” Sirius grimaced, glancing at his mother who was indeed watching them over the shoulder of the woman she was talking to
“Try to ignore her. I hope she didn’t intimidate your parents into coming this year.” an amused chuckle left the girl in his arms and she shook her head
“No, mum just accepted when the invitations arrived. I think she’s given up resisting Lady Black. Do you mind if we go outside?”
“Not at all. I’m not surprised that she’s given in, it’s the normal effect my mother has on people.” Petunia sniggered but bit her lip as they settled on the cushioned garden wall.

“Black, I’ve been wondering. Why is your family so accepting of us?”
“Of us?”
“Of my family I mean.” She clarified, ducking her head with a blush and missing the slight disappointment on the Black heir’s face and he turned away, looking up to the starred sky as he answered
“Well. Your family, your believed magical roots, the Evance’s were a very powerful family, magically speaking and politically. They weren’t a noble family but they were close. My parents believe someone’s worth comes from their magical power, not from their blood. It’s the traditional pureblood view, those that actually know what it means to be pureblood anyway. You and Lily are powerful witches, your believed family was very powerful, you’re an attractive family to court a relationship with”
“What about squibs? Why does everyone think we’re the Evance’s? How would I find out whether we are or not?”
“Squibs do have some power left, most just struggle with directing their magic with a wand. Others are excellent potioneers, some remain at accidental magical level their whole lives, you can never predict where a squib is going to find their power. My mother’s uncle was a squib, he was sent away from the family, my great grandparents did, somewhat, share the beliefs of the lower purebloods, Malfoy or the Crabbes for example.”
“So it changed your parents beliefs, losing a family member.” Petunia nodded, staring at her lap, her dress was burgundy and black this year with a ruffled petticoat that made up the skirt. Sirius muttered a quiet affirmative then answered her previous question
“You can go to Gringotts for a claimant test. All they do is take a drop of blood, that will tell you if you’re the Evance heiress or not.”
“Wouldn’t Lily be an heiress too?”
“Yes but you’re the eldest, the estate would pass onto you before it went to Lily.” She sighed, glancing at the open patio door before swinging her legs onto the other side of the wall and she gazed out over the gardens. Sirius glanced her confused then admiring, she had her head tilted, long bare neck on display as her hair was pinned and loose on the other side, the moonlight was highlighting it’s natural pale golden gleam, a lovely contrast to the black lacy hair pinning piece.

“You have a very beautiful home.” He jumped, he hadn’t expected her quiet remark, he moved to face the gardens and shrugged slightly
“The manor’s wonderful, but our town house isn’t. I really enjoy coming home when it’s here.”
“Why?” she was watching him now, pale blues fixed on his face as he smiled sadly
“Nothing can touch us here. We’re a family here. In London. Everything’s different, everyone’s on edge. There’s a war and no one can stop it. People are afraid and they’re agreeing with this lunatic just so their families won’t be killed. Sometimes I think my parents will follow their example, to try and keep Regulus and I safe. But thanks to their grandparents there’s always a chance they could actually believe him. I could never stomach or parrot his beliefs.”
“Even if it would keep someone safe?” he bit his lip then shook his head
“I couldn’t betray my own beliefs like that. Here, it doesn’t matter if I have a different opinion to everyone else that we associate with because I’m their son and this is home. But in London, believing in equality, not acting like a typical ‘pureblood’ could get us killed, my father could be assassinated at work,, the ministry’s been filled with these idiots. It’s affecting school, I’m not making the right connections, I’m not being the heir my mother thinks I should be. She thinks Gryffindor is ruining me. She was very disapproving of my sorting.” he glanced down in surprise, she had grabbed his hand and squeezed it. He looked towards her, she smiled ruefully
“This war is tearing everything apart isn’t it?” he huffed silently in agreement, glancing at the floor as she shuffled closer and rested her head on his shoulder tentatively “For what it’s worth Black, I don’t think you’d belong anywhere other than Gryffindor. You’re a true lion.” the fragrance from the roses on the shoulders of her dress drifted up to him and he put his chin on her hair. He sighed softly, music was still spilling out of the ballroom behind them and he knew his mother’s approving eye was fixed on them as he placed an arm around Petunia’s waist and stared, unseeingly, at the shadowy grounds.

Chapter Text

“Miss Evans?” She looked up, leaning back on her hands, the early spring sunshine had drawn the students out of castle; Jareth was stood behind her. She gave him a polite smile and stood, brushing grass from her skirt as she did “May I speak with you, privately?” He offered her his hand and led her away from her group “I hope we have moved past our previous misunderstanding. (Petunia nodded) I wish to make my intentions completely clear. I would very much like to begin a courtship with you, if you are willing. I understand if you desire a few days to consider your answer.” He bowed, kissed her hand and strode away toward the castle once more. She stared after him, confusion playing across her face. Felberta appeared at her side
“I told you so.” Petunia elbowed her roughly, rubbing her hand over her eyes “What are you going to do? I thought you and Sirius were planning a courtship?”
“I don’t know. Sirius hasn’t said anything. I can’t propose a courtship, it isn’t my place. I’m not bound to a courtship with him. And Jareth isn’t awful, it might be fun to try, after all a courtship doesn’t guarantee a marriage.” the other girl scowled, flopping back onto the grass
“It does most of the time Pet. I think you should talk to somebody, you know, get a magical guardian outside of Professor McGonagall, I’m not sure she would be much good for dating advice.”.

Her lips were moving silently, brow furrowed as she mouthed the words to a new spell, moving her hand slowly in a small spiral. The chair opposite her was pulled out and creaked as Sirius sat down, face dark with a deep frown. Petunia smiled and he managed a forced return “What’s wrong?”
“Is it true? Are you and Joblin courting?” He asked brusquely, she shuffled in her seat and looked back at the parchment in front of her “Tunes?”
“We’re not courting. I agreed to date him, not court. I refuse to tie myself to anyone.” He nodded, jaw set, looking past her and glaring at a bookcase “Wh..?”
“So we were nothing?” She could feel the heat of guilty, embarrassed anger creeping up her neck and snapped coldly
“Yes. I guess we were.” She refused to look up as Sirius flinched back, hurt written in his grey eyes
“Fine. I hope you’re happy. Enjoy the name-grubber.” He stood sharply, leaving the library in a march. The blonde looked after him, icy blues wet and she blinked furiously, turning, unseeingly, to her notes and sniffled.

“Morning my darling.” Jareth pressed a kiss to her knuckles and slid onto the bench next to his girlfriend. “Are you ready for our date?” Petunia smiled at him, nodding, distracted as Felberta kept talking
“..Anyway, the point is Sirius and Lilriane were caught. Apparently Stone is furious but if he wants a crack at the Zabini fortune then he’s got to suck it up. They lost 50 points each, which by the way have you noticed that our hourglass seems empty?”
“Yes. We are struggling a little this year. Hufflepuff might win again. Where is Flynn? I thought you were going to Hogsmeade together?” Their year-mate had sent a singing card for Valentines before asking for a date. Fe had accepted, blushing madly. Their friends hadn’t stopped teasing them since.

Grey-scaled flashes of light were being flung back and forth, illuminating the front page of the Daily Prophet. There had been another attack, in Diagon Alley, shopkeepers had gone missing, houses were being abandoned or boarded up. A glittering green skull and snake was beginning to be recognized and feared rapidly. Chatter was subdued. Exams were upon them, the students were trying to ignore the outside world and just focus on their studies. Certain pureblood families had done the same and were determined to continue as normal, more and more of the Evans’ schoolmates were starting on their courtship journeys or becoming engaged. Débutante season was coming. Both of the Evans’ girls had been invited to view the ceremony. Lily scoffed at it all, she held no fascination with the pureblood culture and made no secret of it. She had withdrawn from Severus’ friendship slightly and had started dating another boy, a Hufflepuff called Theodore Logan, much to the distaste of James Potter.

The marauders themselves had been rather quiet, James and Sirius had claimed to be trying out new ways of communicating and refused to speak for a month. Remus had been more and more bandaged each full moon. Petunia kept sneaking into the hospital wing the next morning and talking with the quiet boy. He seemed to appreciate her company and found her research fascinating. She kept up the supply of medicinal sweets; Remus believed they offered some comfort, he certainly felt more alive after eating one. He was trying to convince her to try and sell them to the public in a spirited debate. The blonde shook her head, opening her mouth with a smile when the curtain opened, they both looked around, James and Sirius stood awkwardly in the gap “We can come back.” James offered, Petunia protested, standing up
“It’s alright. I’ll go, we were just about finished anyway. Bye Remus.” she smiled at the wolf as James stepped aside. Sirius avoided her eyes and stared determinedly at the opposite curtain “James. Sirius.”
“Miss Evans.” the Black heir returned tonelessly and she winced, he stepped past her. James cleared his throat
“Miss..”
“Pet is fine.”
“Pet. Remus, Remus told us what you’re doing for him. Thank you.” she looked at him, hazel eyes were wide and honest “We, we have no real way of helping right now. But you’ve found a way to. So thanks.”

“Tuney! Tuney! Me and Marl are… What are you doing?”
“Brewing.”
“But we’re not at school.”
“I know. What do you want?” Lily stared at her sister flabbergasted then back at her friend, who shrugged with a grin
“Me and Marl are going to town. Do you want to come?”
“Sure, just let me finish. I won’t take more than a few minutes.” the two Gryffindors watched Petunia extinguish the flames, then tip the mixture from her cauldron to a large plastic tub. It was oily and glowed a soft blue. The blonde checked over the mixture, then threw her equipment into her now empty cauldron and tipped in a jug of soapy water with a squirt of Isador Grimsmend’s Cauldron Sparkle.

“You know performing magic outside of Hogwarts can get us expelled right?” The high street was quiet, the market was over and the vendors had begun to pack away. Petunia snorted
“Brewing isn’t detected by the Ministry. And even if it was; I have a permit. Madam Promfrey got it for me.”
“Why?”
“Because it requires very little spellwork.”
“No! Why do you have a permit?”
“Oh, that. I made a medicinal sweet, she liked my idea. Said that it worked and applied for a permit so I could continue to make them. I can only brew, I’m not allowed to practise wand work.” Petunia shrugged, keeping a wary eye out for any eavesdropping muggles. “Anyway, are you going to come to the débutante?”
“I don’t see the need for those things.” Lily sighed, settling on the grass as they stopped by the canal
“Débutante balls are a way of announcing your children as adults to fashionable society. You cease to be just heiresses and step out from under your parents. It’s also a chance to network with Ministry heads of department. Or it was. I don’t know if they will be able to spare them now. Even muggleborns can have a débutante, the Ministry set up a fund back in the 1800’s, they obviously aren’t as lavish as some of the pureblooded ceremonies but they’re still marked as an important event in a young witch’s life. Mine’s in 2 years, my mother has already started planning!” Lily harrumphed, Marlene laughed slightly and continued “Débutante balls were a muggle tradition you know… Hey isn’t that Bellatrix’s owl?”

The two girls looked around, a Eurasian Eagle was soaring with speed towards them. It landed close by and hopped impatiently, snapping at Lily when she leant forwards to remove the letter. She looked back at her sister; Petunia was frowning, she reached out a hand. Perseus shuffled closer and stuck out his leg. Bellatrix’s message was scrawled and rushed; Petunia gasped then snapped “Does anyone have a quill? Or a pen or something?” Her sister and Marlene exchanged alarmed glances and the former held out a biro silently. They leant forward, trying to catch a glimpse of what was wrong as Petunia scribbled an answer, Perseus snatched the parchment almost as soon as the blonde held it out; spread large black speckled wings and took off. “Tuney, what’s wrong?!”
“I’ve got to go home. I think I’ll be staying at the Blacks’ for a little while.” With this, she leapt and ran in the direction of the high street. Marlene and Lily just looked at each other, bewildered.

Chapter Text

“Thanks for coming Tunes.”
“She’s my best friend Black, of course I came.” Sirius sighed, twirling his wand distractedly. Petunia was staring at a book, not taking in any of the words “Do we know what happened yet?”
“We think it was some of Riddle’s followers. Alec has never shied away from speaking against them or Grindelwald’s.” the girl nodded, glancing over at the door. Druella had promised to try and bring her daughter downstairs over an hour ago
“Do you think she’ll be ok?”
“Dromeda? Yeh. Eventually.” They fell back into silence “How’s Joblin?”
“No idea. All of his owls are directed to my house. Not here.”
“I think I should apologize..”
“Don’t. I should have talked to you.”
“But…”
“Leave it Sirius. When’s his funeral?” Sirius chewed his tongue for a moment, looking a mix of guilty and relieved before answering
“Probably next week. We’ll receive details as they’ve been finalised.”
“What happens now? He was the heir to the throne right?” The book had been abandoned, the room was quiet, house silent except for the crackling of various fires
“Davies will take over. Vincent and Roison, his grandparents, the Emperor and Empress will teach him what he needs. If they’re not killed off as well.”
“What if they are? Why would they be?”
“The Tchiotski’s have a history of being killed by their enemies. If they are, Davies takes over unprepared.”
“What about Alec’s sisters?”
“It’s a patriarchal throne. If there was no male heirs then it would become matriarchal but right now, Sofia and Helena don’t want the throne. Sofia would take over as the eldest if Davies died.”. The door creaked, they both looked up, Petunia leant forward hopefully; Narcissa stepped into the room, she seemed a little lost and nervous “Where’s Dromeda Cissa?”
“In her room. Mother can’t get her to leave.” Sirius made an impatient noise and stood, holding a hand out to Petunia
“Come on, I’ll take you to her.”.

*Knock-Knock*
The solid tapping continued, bleary dark grey eyes glared hatefully at her door then resumed staring at her window blankly. “Dromeda? …Dromeda could you open the door?” The girl looked around once more, surprised, she waved her wand and the door handle turned, her blonde Ravenclaw friend stepping through. Pale blue eyes met hers and she looked back at the window, watching as Petunia’s reflection made its’ way across the carpet to sit beside her “Bella wrote to me, she told me what happened.” Andromeda’s lip trembled and she closed her eyes, taking a deep breath before opening them once and watching the window. “Dromeda, your family may believe that emotions are weak but you can’t ignore this. At least not without this.” She glanced over, the blonde had wicked smile and she was holding out a bottle of clear liquid
“What’s that?” Her voice had a horrible crackle to it and she felt irritated by hearing it, Petunia smiled once more
“Muggle liquor, I stole it from my parents. It’s called vodka, do you want to try it with me?”
“How do you know it will help?”
“It’s all my father would drink for a week after our grandma died. He said it helped.” Andromeda looked between the bottle and her friend, then to the unlocked bedroom door. She flicked her wand. The lock clicked shut.

“You know, your father was right. This stuff is great.” They were collapsed on the plush carpet, staring at the swirling constellations that decorated Andromeda’s ceiling “It tastes better with butterbeer though.” Petunia made a hum of agreement, blinking fuzzy eyes at the stars “I wish I could see him. We were supposed to go at Easter, and I didn’t want to. And now I can’t.” she whispered the last word, eyes blurring with tears, Petunia sat up and grabbed her hand
“Dromeda, no one could have predicted what would happen. This is all Riddle’s fault.” Andromeda sniffled, turning her head away to glare at her bedpost
“My parents were mad that I didn’t want to go. I was jealous when you started dating Joblin you know?” she looked back at Petunia, the blonde was frowning
“What?”
“I was jealous. I wanted the freedom to date too. I’ve never known anything romantically but being engaged to A… I’m sorry I was angry with you.” Petunia shook her head wordlessly “I loved Al, at least I think I did. But I’ve never had the opportunity to love anyone else. And everyone expects me to the heartbroken fiancé but… there’s a part of me that’s kinda glad he’s gone. I’m a horrible person Pet. I don’t know why you’re friends with me.” she sobbed as she finished and sniffed loudly, dragging herself into a sitting position against the base of the window seat, the gas lamps flared a little brighter at the movement and Petunia manoeuvred herself over to Andromeda’s side, wrapping an arm around the crying girl and pressing a kiss to her hair silently.
“You’re not horrible Dromeda. Your parents gave you away at 4 years old. You’re not a bad person for wanting freedom.” She murmured softly, the brunette just cried a little louder and turned her face into Petunia’s shoulder. She petted her hair “You’re not horrible. You’re not. You’re my best friend.”

“Wakey Misses!” Mopsey had popped into Andromeda’s room the next morning, the loud crack waking the teens and they groaned. A silver breakfast table was set on a small table that was floating over to the window seat “Miss Andy, Miss Tunes; Mrs Black wants to know if yous is ok?” Petunia nodded, dragging herself up as Andromeda stared at the carpet blankly, breathing through a yawn
“We’re ok Mopsey. Could you draw us a bath?”
“Yes Miss Andy. I will tell Mrs Black yous is both ok. Yous need to eat.” she looked up as the elf vanished. Petunia had sat on the window seat, leaning against the wall with her eyes closed and yawning. Andromeda rubbed her hand over her face and stood slowly, joining her friend and reaching for the cocoa pot.

“Thank you. Pet.” The blonde gave her a thumbs up and sighed, drifting her fingers through the perfumed bath water “We had a whole plan you know? I would finish school, go to America, to New Amsterdam University. Then we would travel a little before settling properly; we would have had to live in Russia but that would have been ok. There would have been a permanent way of coming home. We were thinking about 5 kids, all girls. He wanted to pass the crown onto a daughter, said it was time that a woman ruled…”
“Did you have names for them?”
“Adrika, after his older brother. Galexia. Kira. Titania. Pheodora and Ophelia. I have no doubt you would have known them well Pet. You would have been godmother after all.” She smiled sadly at the blonde, dark grey eyes swirling with tears and memories
“He has an older brother?”
“He was killed by Grindelwald fanatics in 1957. Alec didn’t really remember him but he always protected Davies as he promised too. That’s why Davies has always had a right to the throne. Alec was going to step down once Davies had had his share of travelling and romancing.” Petunia stayed silent for a while, pushing bubbles around the water’s surface
“They won’t make you get married to Davies will they?” Andromeda snorted and shook her head
“No, it’s not that kind of heritage. They’re thinking of matching Davies with Sirius anyway.”
“You could still go to university. And name your children.” the brunette shook her head again
“I don’t think I want to anymore. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve had my life set out for me for so long that I don’t know what’s going to happen now.” Her face crumpled slightly and she pulled her knees to her chest; Petunia watched her, face distressed as she chewed her lip then said, placing a hand on Andromeda’s damp arm
“I tell you what you do. Focus on school, focus on fun and worry about your future later. We’ve got another 4 years before we have to start deciding on our careers. Properly anyway.” dark grey eyes peeked at Petunia and crinkled in a small smile then closed as Andromeda squealed, preparing to flick water back at her friend.

Chapter Text

Another year had begun, the Hogwarts Express pulling away from the station as parents and siblings waved, shouting to their loved ones. Marlene had whipped out her wand almost instantly, crowing about mastering a spell over the summer that she just had to show them. Petunia couldn’t hear any of it, she and Jareth were bickering quietly in the corridor. “I had to go. Her fiancé had just been murdered. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you but this was more important.” He blinked in shock before his face twisted in a scowl
“Do you have any idea how that made me look? We had plans! My family hosted balls and parties and you were supposed to be there!” she rolled her eyes and hissed
“My friend comes before any social obligation Jareth. Besides, surely your family can understand.”
“No, they can’t. They saw exactly what I do. You snubbed me. Whilst you claim it was for Miss Black, the fact remains that you went and stayed with their family for weeks, didn’t inform me and instead spent your time with the Black heir, whom we all know you were playing courtship with!”
“Do you trust me?” her question made him pause but snap
“Of course I trust you.” she fixed him with an unwavering blue gaze
“Then Sirius isn’t a problem, is he? I’m sorry Jareth, I didn’t intend to be away for so long but I wasn’t going to leave Dromeda. She needed me. More than you did. I’ll write you a letter next time.”
“There won’t be a next time. Pet the problem isn’t your proximity to Black. Physically anyway. It’s the implications, it’s the way you made me look. I had promised to present you as my intended and then you didn’t show. Instead a letter from your sister arrived, explaining you had dashed off to the Blacks and I wasn’t even worth a letter from you.” She’d stiffened at his words and sighed, refusing to look at him
“We don’t know if we are intended yet. Look, can we just go back to the others?” he scowled further but nodded, taking her hand firmly in his.

“Morning, morning! Welcome back to another year!” Slughorn’s voice boomed out “This year we begin some truly fascinating brewing! A little tutoring on the proper ways to harvest and store ingredients, as well as some brushing up! If by the end of the year I am satisfied with your progress we shall all choose a potion to try as a class!” They were a day into the new term with a breezy Tuesday morning, yawning was rife as their professor burbled his way happily through explaining the year’s goals. Petunia had stopped listening, she was thinking about the previous day, about the empty seats on the train and at the house tables. The Blacks had failed to arrive for the year. A sharp elbow jabbed at her ribs and she hissed, suppressing a squawk
“Wake up Pet, go and get us the ingredients for a Bloodroot antidote. Quickly, Sluggy’s on his way!”

Lessons passed in a worried haze as the days continued and the seats remained empty. Weeks. Creeping into a month when finally… finally… They arrived! Silent and exhausted, Andromeda caught Petunia in a tight hug when the blonde leapt up to greet her, she felt the other girl press her face into her robed shoulder and two small damp patches appear. The funeral had been delayed, the kingdom had to mourn. Alec Tchiotski had been laid to rest in the familial mausoleum. The Daily Prophet had reported the news the weekend prior. Bellatrix spoke shortly with Rudolphus then returned to her sister’s side, quiet and brooding. The two girls broke apart as Sirius strode up to them, Professors McGonagall and Slughorn at his heels. “You’re ok Drom. It’ll be ok.” Petunia whispered with a soft voice, her sisters nodded repeating the blonde’s words with shoulder pats.
“Should you need a little more time Miss Black, please let me know.” Professor McGonagall said quietly as Slughorn jiggled from one foot to the other and patted his student’s shoulder with a sympathetic face.

“Come on Barty. It’s easy, just copy my movements.” The second year was scowling fiercely, glaring at the dead beetle on the desk as he half heartedly wiggled his wand in a vague recreation of Petunia’s motion. The elder sighed as the boy threw his wand onto the desk and leant back on his chair frowning “Alright, I think we’d better stop with transfiguration for now. Is there anything that you’re struggling with?” The boy shook his head, lips relaxing into a smile as he caught sight of a familiar sleek black head
“Reg!” Madam Pince’s head snapped in the direction of the yell and Petunia winced, grabbing both Regulus and Barty by the forearms and hissing for them to leave the library. They both laughed and ran out as Sirius rounded a bookcase, glancing around for his brother
“Sorry. I might have just sent your charge out” Petunia whispered, blushing lightly as Sirius sighed then gave a rueful smile and a shrug
“Nevermind. It was probably time to stop anyway. Tutoring?” he looked over her table, at the various second year books strewn across the surface, she nodded
“Bartemius Jr. He’s very bright but he’s refusing to apply himself at the moment, particularly Transfiguration. Jareth asked me to help him. He and Dakota came up with a tutoring program last year.”
“Yes. Jesse and Kingsley have floated the same idea. Need a hand putting these back?”
“Would love one.”

“So. You and Joblin are still going strong. Any plans to turn it into an official courtship?” The Black heir was focusing firmly on finding the various shelves and determinedly not looking at girl at his side, he heard her snort derisively then sigh and chanced a look. She was frowning at the textbooks in her arms and her lips had pursed slightly
“I wouldn’t say we were strong. And no, I have no intention of making it anything more than it is. What about you? Your mother must be looking at courtships.” She was avoiding looking at him as well he realised, as a light blush spread over his face and he cleared his throat.
“Yes. She is.”
“Anyone in particular?” Her voice was of a forced indifferance as the other cleared his throat again awkwardly
“Erm. Francine Blythe. Christine Dier. Obax Everley. Fabian Prewett. Or to go out of school. Davies. Constance Hardbroom. Hilda Spellman. I have options, but I find myself holding onto a hope.” He turned to lift the last book out of her hands to see a small smile playing on her mouth, she looked up to meet his eyes and murmured
“Yes, I seem to find myself hoping as well.” His lips curved and he clamped his teeth onto his bottom lip in an attempt to contain it.

The library’s background noise felt like it is was fading as they both held onto Morganie Moonfall’s Switching Witching!. Shy blue on hesistant grey, mingling breath until a dropped book crashing to a workbench broke the reverie and the two jerked apart as though electrocuted. Faces were flushed pink as Petunia slid Moonfall back onto the shelf and mumbled a goodbye to the Gryffindor; hurrying back to her belongings and fleeing from the library. “What was that?” Sirius jumped at his friend’s voice and swivelled to face him, James picked up his dropped book “What were you doing?” the Black heir shook his head as though to clear it and opened his mouth silently, lost for words “Don’t forget that her and Joblin are dating. Granted it’s not a courtship but the last thing your family needs is another honour dispute.” The other nodded, still speechless as James clamped a hand onto his elbow and pulled him from the aisle with a huffed “Come on.”.

The sky was swirling with an early snow. It was mid October, the first Hogsmeade visit of the year. Andromeda had been nowhere to be seen that morning. Bellatrix had promised Rudolphus a ‘date’. Flynn and Felberta, who had begun dating the previous year, had vanished into Volance Victories!. Vulpix and her new boyfriend, and journalist, Xenophilius Wanett had declared their intention of hunting around the hills, on the outskirts of the village, for a creature they called a ‘Crested Ancient’. Petunia, privately, believed that Xeno just encouraged the nonsense Vulpix created occasionally. Lily and her boyfriend, Theodore or ‘Ted’ had remained at the castle. This left Petunia and Jareth to wander the village listlessly, discussion had been strained between the two. Jareth had still been smarting over Petunia’s holiday ‘snub’. “Want to grab a butterbeer before we head back?” the blonde suggested, shivering in her cloak and thanking the heavens as Jareth agreed, holding the door open to The Three Broomsticks. “Just a butterbeer Darling, I’m be back in a moment.” he told her upon entering as he walked away without another word. She scowled at his back momentarily before struggling through the crowded pub to the bar. Madam Rosemerta processed her order cheerily as Petunia leant against the smooth countertop and glanced over the crowd. She paused. Andromeda was nestled in a dark corner booth with a seventh year Hufflepuff, she watched with narrowed eyes as the boy kissed her cheek and Andromeda giggled, a little tipsy if the redness of her cheeks were anything to go by, took another sip of her drink before turning her head and kissing the boy back. Jareth’s arm slid around her waist and she jerked her head to face him, forcing a smile onto her lips.

“Who was it?”
“Hmm?” Andromeda hummed in response, tipped upside down across her bed and reading her potions textbook. She had hauled the Black into Ravenclaw tower after dinner under the guise of doing homework together. “Who was who?”
“The boy I saw you with.” Dark grey eyes snapped up to her face but saw only curiousity, she sighed, bit her lip lightly then shrugged
“Name’s Ted Tonks. He asked how I was in library, the day after we got back. I was struggling to focus on the missed homework, he offered to help, we got talking and I decided to go with him to Hogsmeade when he asked.” Petunia made a soft noise in the back of her throat and looked back at her notes.
“You’re not using him as crutch are you?” she heard Andromeda flip herself over on the bed and sit up, could feel the heavy weight of her gaze as she huffed
“In a way I suppose I am. My fiance just died. I think I’m entitled to make some stupid decisions.” her voice had become harder, more cold as Petunia sighed, shoulders hunching forward
“Just don’t do anything too stupid Andromeda.”.

Chapter Text

Halloween arrived in a thunderclap and a storm that washed away the snow of the previous week. The owls battled their way into the great hall, bedraggled and looking shocked, every letter, parcel and paper were dropped without landing as though fearing they may be sent out into the atmospheric fray once more. The newspapers bore the headline 20 DEAD IN GIANT ATTACK. Fears rise that dark creatures are uniting against us. Chatter, however, was lively for most, in an attempt to distract the students once more from the evils beyond the castle walls the staff had arranged for another Halloween dance to take place after the feast. History had been their theme. There had been talk of the head boy and girl dressing as Merlin and Morgana. For the fourth years, it was their first school social event without a curfew and many were thrilled at the extended hours. For most, it was their first unchaperoned social outing since their débutantes, this was the year that courtships truly begun.

“This is going to be an amazing night!” Felberta was chattering to her friends as they converged in the shared fourth year girl’s bathroom. Vulpix nodded in a dreamy way and commented
“Yes, Xeno and I are quite looking forward to walking the maze. Did you know that the Thistle-Scaled Saola are at their most visible on Halloween?” The other girls exchanged a glance before Felberta continued curling her eyelashes and Petunia answered their friend amusedly
“I had no idea. How could we spot them?”
“Oh they’re quite difficult to spot. They’re nocturnal and quite blind, they’ve got spines like a hedgehog but are leaf coloured. Most people mistake them for a odd shaped part of their nesting gorse bush.” Vulpix explained happily, brushing up her peasant’s dress and making various spikes leap out “This is a play on the traditional hunting gear for Saolas. I wanted to stay within the theme of the night.”
“It’s lovely Vulpix, I’m sure the Saolas won’t be able to resist you.” Petunia told her smiling as she pinned her hair into place
“Well of course not. The spines release a phermone for them.” with that final statement the other blonde drifted away and down the staircase, leaving Petunia to help Felberta with her corset as the other girl muttered
“She’s an odd one that girl. Oohff!”.

Music was thumping through the great hall and spilling though the corridors, the dance was still in full swing as Morning Canine howled their way through a song. The third years and below had been shepherded to bed 2 hours ago and some of the teachers had taken to patrolling the corridors as couples began to conceal themselves in hidden nooks. Peeves, in perhaps his only helpful behaviour, took great delight in screeching a hiding pair’s location to the nearest authority. His echoing cackle had just begun to fade from the corridor as, hidden in a broom closet, lips were pressed back together, hands fastened firmly on a slim hip and the other travelling to the back of a trim thigh as the girl’s settled tipsily on his shoulders, pushing lightly. With a small sucking sound they separated and she mumbled “Jareth, I’m not sure about this. I don’t think we’re ready.” he pulled back, his normally artfully styled hair was slicked back and the delicate leaf gold headband he was wearing was glinting in the bar of candlelight sneaking under the door. He kissed her once more then pulled back again; pushing soft fingers into her carefully braided and pinned hair
“We’re just fooling. Nothing harmful. You’ll be fine. I love you” he whispered back
“What if someone finds us?”
“No one is going to find us. Or find out. I placed a Distraction charm on the door. Stop worrying, silly pet.”
“We’re not engaged, or even courting. There’s reputations…other…I…I’m just not…”
“Darling, this doesn’t ruin reputations, it’s just hormones. But we’re not going to get caught, nor are we going to get pregnant, there’s nothing to worry about. I’m not going to tell anyone.” he’d scoffed a little as he answered, hands still firmly clasping Petunia’s hips as she turned her face from him.
“I don’t know. I’m not happy.” She hissed, pulling unsteadily away from his grip as he sighed, leaning back slightly but still invading her personal space
“Look, darling, how about this. You lead. You stop us.” he waited for a few beats of silence as she considered his words, then let his fingers trail over her bare shoulder, nibbling kisses to her jaw and collarbone as she shivered, feeling his hands stroke and touch, Petunia bit her lip unhappily but nodded
“Ok.” Their mouths met once more as she allowed him to lean forward once more, resting her hands on his shoulders as his greedily took firmer hold of her.

“Goodnight Hogwarts! Altogether now! AAOWOOO!” As the howl ended the band bowed low as confetti exploded and they vanished from stage. Teachers began ordering students to bed with smiling or scowling yawns, watching as their charges left with excited chatter and laughter. The lamps along the corridors flared into life as they passed them, groups splintering as the houses started trekking in their different directions. Four Gryffindor boys hung back from the mob, dismantling various aspects of their costumes as they took their short-cuts to the tower
“Well, that was something. I wonder how many people were caught.” James yawned, jumping a trick step and snorting as Peter failed to. “Melladew seemed quite keen on dancing with you Remus.” The wolf shook his head, blushing lightly, ignoring the tease as he and Sirius hauled Peter out of the step
“I’m sure it was only because she and I weren’t otherwise occupied. After all Peter was with Taurus and you two were busy flirting. Her friends all have partners.” he said seriously as they continued the climb.

Jareth had sunk onto an upturned bucket and it took a moment for her to realise he wanted her to straddle his lap; with a blush, a deep breath and a little help she hitched up the floaty skirt of her toga and perched on his knees uncomfortably. Jareth reached out, cradling her face in his hand as they continued kissing, his spare hand working on the spidery decorative but useful brooch holding the top of her dress together. “Has the dance ended?” she whispered against his lips as the elder shook his head murmuring
“Yes, everyone has gone to bed. It’s just us now dear. All alone.” he brushed his fingertips over the bare skin of her shoulders and she shivered against him. He grinned, white canines sharp in the tiny beam as he kissed her chest. He gestured his wand carefully and watched as a silent patch of floor cleared, he slid an arm firmly around her waist and encouraged her legs to clamp around his hips then moved.

“...Still I didn’t think a band that essentially mocks werewolves would be the one they would choose right now…” A pained whimper caught his ear and Remus’ pricked up, the idle banter of James and Sirius was lost and glanced behind himself as the stairwell fell silent “Remus?” he jumped and faced his friends once more “What’s wrong?”
“I thought I heard…” Remus began to answer when he was interrupted once more by a sharp gasp and small keen almost overridden by a louder groan. He glared down the stairwell, even descending a few steps into the dim gloom, his friends exchanged looks as James pushed his way to stand beside Remus. The wolf remained silent, head tilting to the side instinctively, he found himself sniffing and blushed scarlet, mortified that he’d given in to his more animalistic side. “It’s nothing.” He muttered, turning away and speedily, but nosily walking up the staircase, noting the sudden absence of noises as if a silencing charm had been cast.

“Rue.”
“Correct.” The door swung open silently, the common room was warm and dim, many of the students had already vanished into their dormitories. Lambia’s boyfriend, Caradoc, was supporting her upstairs, she was a drunk dead weight in his arms. Jareth tutted, stepping away from Petunia to go and help Dearborn. The blonde perched, wincing, on the edge of a sofa by the fire, staring into the orange glow. After a small period of time the two boys returned, Caradoc sighing and Jareth talking lowly, tone disapproving. Caradoc nodded at her shortly with a harassed smile and a quiet word to Jareth before leaving the common room. Jareth came over to her, bending down to press a dry kiss to her cheek “Well, Miss Weed has a detention coming in the morning. I’m going to bed. Goodnight Darling.”
“Wait!” The prefect paused on the staircase, looking back to her with a raised eyebrow “I thought… I mean… we could stay together?” she asked uncertainly, arms wrapped around herself. The other tilted his head and smiled remotely, then shook his head, walking back to the sofa she was edged on, crouched and pressed a tiny kiss to her mouth, murmuring softly
“Darling, that would be completely improper. Sleep well.”.

Chapter Text

Zircon blue eyes were staring unseeingly at a book propped up against the water jug. The increasing noise from the great hall was pressing in on all sides. She sighed, placing her hands over her ears, a headache knocking loudly on her left temple. Jareth’s uncomfortably warm hand was resting high on her thigh, under her skirt, feeling damp from the heat against her tights, he just laughed and kissed her when she had tried to tell him all week to stop. She shut her eyes and rested her head in her hands, the heels of her palms pressing into her eyes. The hall was getting louder, she snorted a breath of air sharply, trying to focus on the feeling of her lungs filling and slowly deflating and not on the feeling of Jareth’s hand so close to her skin, tried ignoring the nagging shame prickling at her eyelids. A hand on her shoulder made her jump and look around, Remus was stood behind her. She glanced at the hall, it was empty, the bell must have rung. The werewolf sat on the bench beside her “Petunia, what’s wrong?” She blinked rapidly, breathing out in a huff, she looked back at the empty table, slowly reached for the book still leaning against the jug “Petunia?”. She looked back at him, at the concern written across his face, his warm amber eyes were searching her face as she shook her head, trying to clear the foggy mess it had become and stowed her book away.
“It’s Arithmancy now right?” She murmured, swinging her legs off the bench and attempting to stand, being halted by Remus’ gentle touch to her arm “We’re going to be late.”
“Sirius is informing Professor Roseberg that you’re not well and I am escorting you to the hospital wing. We’ve got time. What’s wrong? You seem… I mean to say, you haven’t been yourself since the ball?”
“Erm…I…I” She started, then pausing feeling hot tears bubble into her throat and bite at her eyelids as she put her elbows on her knees and put her face into her hands once more, sniffing as Remus hesitantly slid along the bench and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, patting her awkwardly on the back as she turned into him and sobbed.

The story had tumbled out in gulping breaths and floods of tears, the werewolf had found himself floundering for the appropriate response when shock and fury had been the only things swimming in his mind and soul. “You should leave him.” He told her quietly, they were walking through the corridors now, the halls silent and empty from students Petunia huffed a humourless laugh and said flatly
“I thought about it. I fear that he’ll tell people if I do. Being known as the mudblood hussy is all that I desire. I want to be accepted Remus.” He stopped on the narrow stairs and turned to look at her seriously
“I understand that Petunia, perhaps more than anyone else in this castle. But being accepted is not worth your health or safety.”. Her eyes had refused to meet his and she shrugged lightly, hugging herself, looking small and vulnerable as she pushed past him to continue walking. They had reached the Ravenclaw common room in what felt like record time. She knocked on the door and glanced at him “Do you want to come in? I’ve got some new things I want you to try.” The other teen bit his lip then nodded
“I will. There’s no point in either of us going to Arithmancy now.”
“You don’t have to.”
“No, I’d rather see you to your room safely anyway.” He smiled gently at her and she felt herself smiling awkwardly back, very aware of the soreness of her tear raw cheeks. The common room was mostly empty, just a few sixth and seventh years tucked away in corners, she glanced at them but didn’t stop, striding across the room to the girl’s staircase, holding an arm out to stop the boy from following her as she froze the stairs then hurried up.

“You know, your tower is completely different from Gryffindor.” She nodded, more relaxed in her orderly room, the soft blue curtains drawn, cauldron simmering and giving out a peaceful amethyst glow, room only dimly lit by a few flickering candles. The door had been left open for Briar Quenell, the seventh year prefect to check on them, Remus had settled on the very edge of her neat bed as she drifted around the room, stowing away her belongings routinely
“Yes, I believe we’re the only house with separate rooms for everyone not just the prefects. Here they are!” She sat next to him and handed him a familiar box
“Thank you, but I still have some left from last month.” She smiled, looking wan and exhausted
“These are something different. These are made with Devil’s Backbone instead of Devil’s Claw, I’ve noticed more flesh wounds this year and don’t think I didn’t notice the broken fingers! These should, hopefully, increase the rate of healing, reduce inflammation and oxidise your blood a little better. I know nothing but time can fix your wounds but hopefully the sweets I make reduce the pain a little b...”
“They do.” He said instantly, blushing lightly as he cut her off, then reached for her hand, squeezing it lightly “They really do Petunia. I can’t thank you enough. How did you come up with them?” Her face lit up in a genuine smile and she shrugged in an attempt at nonchalance
“We have medicinal sweets in the muggle world. It surprised me that we have potions but not small somethings that relieve every day aches and pains. Plus when I realised how painful it must be for you, I wanted to help. The recipes are just trial and error.” She smiled at him once more and said quietly “I’m glad they seem to help Remus. You truly didn’t deserve to attacked the way you were.”. He smiled back ruefully
“I don’t think anyone deserves it to be honest.”.

Petunia had questioned him about his family, about his upbringing and what it had been like growing up in a half and half world, he in turn had questioned her about her favourite childhood comforts and they had settled into a comfortable conversation about their favourite muggle authors. They were giggling, tucked up at the end of the bed, with their shoes kicked off, and pouring over Petunia’s small collection of Roald Dahl books, quoting their favourite, Fantastic Mr Fox, when Remus looked up and noticed Petunia hiding a yawn and rubbing sleepiness away from her eye. He bit his lip then said softly “You should probably get an early night. Something tells me you haven’t been sleeping very well.” She shook her head, smile drooping into a frown
“No, I haven’t but I haven’t really wanted to. When I’m trying to sleep is when I think the most.” He glanced down at his watch and stood up, Petunia’s eyes, luminously blue in the ever burning candles, followed him
“Tell you what, we have a little while before anyone comes back and makes it too noisy to have the door open…”
“We have until after dinner. Fe’s got quidditch practice, Vulpix is hunting her creatures and Lambia and Eadda have extra classes. So do I but I don’t really want to go to Magical Theory this week. I don’t really want you go right now Remus.” She interrupted, nails worrying at the skin of her arms and staring at her lap, eyes downcast and expression a doleful desperation. He nodded, placing a soft but comfortingly solid hand on her shoulder
“Tell you what, we have time before anyone comes back and makes it too noisy for us to have the door open. Why you don’t you get ready for bed, I’ll stoke the fire and light another candle. Then you get into bed and choose a book and I’ll read to you.” Piteous diamond blues peeked at him, at his kind smile before she nodded and slid off the bed, gathering a bundle of clothes into her arms
“I’ll be back in about 15 minutes.” She said softly, turning once he had nodded again and padding down the hall to the bathroom.

He’d had to call a house elf for the fire in the end, he’d had no idea where she had put the small coal scuttle and didn’t wish to pry. The candle he had managed on his own. He had also moved the desk chair to beside the bed and rearranged the bed covers, pulling back the sheets and casting a quick warming charm. A light knock made him look up, Petunia stood in the doorway wrapped in an thick quilted dressing gown, he turned his lips in a smile once more “I’ll just nip to the bathroom. You choose a book and get into bed.” She nodded at him, muttering that the bathroom was the last door on the right. He returned to find her sat up under the sheets, arms wrapped around her knees with the uppermost blanket tucked into her armpits, the only visible part of her pyjamas were thin pink straps of the romper she was wearing. A book lay on the chair he had left, she smiled nervously at him and he returned it tremulously, entering her room on careful steps. The Magician’s Nephew awaited him
“I hope you don’t mind, it was one of my dad’s favourites. He was reading it to me and Lily before we left for Hogwarts.” Remus laughed quietly, sitting in the chair and adjusting the candle beside him
“Of course I don’t mind! I love this book, my mother read it to me when I was little. I always think Lady Black reminds me of Jadis.” A giggle was startled from Petunia and she scowled at him light-heartedly
“I’ll never get the resemblance out of my head now!” He laughed again and shrugged
“If I have to think of it, so shall you!” He averted his eyes as she settled into lying on the bed properly and hitched the blankets to her neck, turning her aquamarine eyes on him when he looked back at her command. “Comfortable? …We shall begin.” He cleared his throat and opened the book to the first chapter, voice low and soothing “Chapter One. The Wrong Door. This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began…”.

The last figure of all was the most interesting - a woman even more richly dressed than the others, very tall (but every figure in that room was taller than the people of our world), with a look of such fierceness and pride that it took your breath away. Yet she was beautiful too. Years afterwards when he was an old man, Digory said he had never in all his life known a woman so beautiful.” The boy glanced up, his throat aching, a refilling glass of water had helpfully appeared by the bedside shortly into his reading, Petunia had taken quite awhile to drift into sleep. Now, looking at her, he noted she was long dead to world, fingers wrapped into the soft blankets and face pink with the flush of deep rest. She didn’t stir as he stood up stretching, gathered up his belongings and moved the chair back to the desk, he marked the page, closed the book and put it down carefully on her bedside table. Remus checked on her potion, a timer was ticking beside the cauldron, it was down to the last few seconds. He turned it off hurriedly, counted down the remaining time and extinguished the cauldron’s flame after a silent but panicked search for her notes; thankfully it only had to be extinguished and left to cool in the cauldron itself. Petunia slept on as he blew out all but one candle and crept from the room quietly, he checked on her from the doorway before pulling the heavy wooden door into place as gently as he could manage. The lamps in the corridor flared into life as he made his way to the stairs, placed one foot on the top step and promptly hit the floor, sliding to the bottom with a pained groan. He lay stunned on the rug before a hand appeared in his view, he looked up Xenophilius Wanett stood beside Vulpix, she tilted her head, pale eyes boring into his. He took Xeno’s hand as the sixth year pulled him to his feet
“Thank you for helping Petunia Remus.” she said dreamily in a faint tone cutting off Xeno, his mouth had been opening to quiz the Gryffindor boy on his reasons for being in the Ravenclaw girls’ dorms “We were just about to head to dinner, would you like to join us?”.

Chapter Text

“Look. Jareth, I think…” They were seated in a corner of The Three Broomsticks when a bang shook the ground and flashes of light along with shouts filled the high street, running feet were flying in every direction. Screaming began to echo in everyone’s ears. Madam Rosemerta started to shout, tried to get students’ attention as she tapped her mirror, to reveal a large passageway. The blonde boy leapt up, grabbing her hand and starting to pull her towards the bar
“Wait! What about Lily? I can’t leave her!” Petunia shrieked, struggling free and turning, heading for the door as it was flung open, students had been herded towards the pub, towards their escape route to the castle
“Petunia, forget her! She can make her own way back! You have no idea where she is!” Jareth snapped, following her and trying to grab her arm again. Fellow students ran down the cleared pathway to the bar, clambering over it hurriedly. Poinsettia ran into Petunia, panic sullying her pretty face, cat eyes wide in fear and mouth framing Jareth’s name, Petunia watched her run to her boyfriend. Then the redhead was in his arms, he was whispering to her, petting her hair and kissing her softly, he looked up as Poinsettia wiped her eyes and Petunia shook her head, eyes brimming with tears before she made a rude hand gesture at him and ran from the pub.

“Lily! Lily! Have you seen Lily?!” The blonde was screaming her sister’s name as she ran through the streets, questioning every student she passed then sending them to The Three Broomsticks. Her sister was nowhere to found, no one had seen her. Mounting hysteria was beginning to take hold of Petunia as she continued her sprint “Lily!” The flashes of light were more frequent, the bangs were getting louder, much of the fighting seemed to be occurring in the busiest area of the village beside Zonkos and blocking the way to the safer outskirts. She could see more of the robed figures now; she saw one turn towards her and shimmering shield appeared, she looked to her left as a red beam bounced off the shield, Eadda was running towards her
“I saw your sister go into Honeydukes, there’s a tunnel to the castle there! We’ve got to go!” she told the blonde as she reached her
“Thank you!” Petunia answered, tears of relief thick in her throat and she turned to follow the mousy brunette before a yelp made her look back. A large grey-haired man was reaching for Remus, a fiendish, delighted snarl on his lips, behind him Frank Longbottom, the fifth year prefect, was on the ground, clutching his arm as blood seeped through his cloak; the same blood was shining on the man’s yellowed sharp nails. Frank’s wand had fallen from his hand and he was reaching for it as he tried to yell for Remus to run. The younger boy turned at the yelling of his name, he caught sight of the predator stalking towards him and froze, face whitening rapidly, terror evident in every line of his body. Petunia ran forward without thinking, heard as the man all but purred ‘the boy is mine’ she whispered a spell as Remus whimpered, finally stumbling away a few steps. The man took another step, sharp yellow teeth bright in their cruel smile, bloodied fingers a hair away from hooking onto the boy’s cloak before he slipped. Fell on the patch of ice Petunia had created as the girl reached her friend, grabbed his hand and ran, pulling the petrified boy with her.

“Come on, Remus, breathe!” They were crouched in an alleyway, the boy was gasping, hugging his knees desperately as Petunia rubbed his back
“Thank you.” he whispered, trying to pull himself together enough to stand shakily
“Don’t mention it. We’ve got to get back to the castle, where are Sirius and James?” Remus swallowed and motioned with a trembling hand back at the street, Petunia scowled but strode to the mouth of the alleyway anyway “I’m going to look for them.”
“Wait. I’ll come with you!” Remus called, still shaking but resolute. The blonde paused, waiting for the boy to reach her before the two of them left their small safety; the fighting was moving, the bangs were ahead of them instead of behind. The robed figures were heading towards their only escape routes, chasing the fleeing crowds.
“Remus!” James peeked out from an alleyway opposite, clothing torn and singed, face blackened but relatively unscathed, Sirius appeared beside him, holding his side, face pale but otherwise unmarked. The two took a careful look up and down the street then ran to join them
“What’s happened?” Petunia demanded once they were hidden in the shadows once more “Sirius are you ok?” the boy nodded, flashing her a grin “Where’s Pettigrew?”
“He ran the moment they appeared.” James answered, squeezing Remus’ hand tightly and striding to the other end of the alleyway
“Let me look at that.” Petunia whispered as Remus joined James and began a hushed conversation.

“I’m ok Tunes. I got kicked when I was down. It’s nothing serious.”
“It might be!” She snapped before continuing in a gentler tone “Please, I’ve been working with Madam Pomfrey. I won’t hurt you.” He stared at her briefly before sighing and removing his hand, a spreading stain was colouring his jumper and she glared at him “What did they kick you with? Speared boots?” she hissed, searching her cloak for her recently purchased dittany bottle “Sit, and take off your cloak.”
“I think we’ve got a plan. We’ll head for the Shrieking Shack, Honeydukes and the Three Broomsticks will have shut their doors by now, everyone remember their stunners and shields? Shoot at anyone that appro… Sirius!” James fell to his knees, reaching out with a horrified look and Petunia slapped his hand down
“Excellent plan. Keep a lookout.” She told him firmly, pushing him and Remus in opposite directions. Sirius snorted lightly as they obeyed silently, faces pale, cold fingers stripped off his jumper then his shirt quickly and he bit his lip as the fabric pulled at the tacky blood surrounding the wound. “What happened?” she asked again softly
“Cutting curse. I think. I’d roped one of them up. Unfortunately he had a friend.” he muttered, wincing and holding in a gasp as she cleaned the wound and ran a dittany soaked cloth over the split skin “Why do you have dittany?”
“I’d just bought some. Good thing really.” She watched the skin smoke then close slowly, shrinking in width until only a red scratch remained “Did you really get kicked?” the boy nodded standing as she asked, squeezing his eyes shut as she pressed her chilly but soft fingers over his ribs firmly “Doesn’t feel like anything’s broken. Just bruised I think. Ok, you can get dressed.” She handed him his clothes, waving her wand as she did. The blood vanished from the fabric and the boy pulled them on as she turned away to give him some privacy. The other two glanced back at the movement then converged in the middle of the alley once more “Which way would be quicker to the shack?” Petunia whispered, ears straining to hear any approaching footsteps
“That way.” James answered “Pads…?” Sirius nodded
“All fixed up. Let’s go!”.

The quiet street was speckled in blood and smoking black spots, shopkeepers and the few remaining students were peering, terrified, out of windows, the short purple cloaks of aurors could be seen in the distance where the battle still raged. Where they would need to travel to reach the shack. “Right. C’mon. Remus with me. Sirius, Miss Evans take up the rear. If you start to struggle Sirius you must tell us.” James said, licking his lips nervously and gripping his wand tightly. Remus nodded and moved to stand beside him as the four teens began walking carefully and quietly along the cobbled high street. They paused as they approached the thick of the fighting once more
“Stay together. Keep low. Move quickly. Stun, hex, jinx, curse, use anything you have against anyone that approaches! Let’s cast a shield before we go in. Now.” Sirius ordered, moving up to James once more and pulling Petunia behind him. Remus moved to her side. They took a breath and plunged.

Smoke from several burning buildings clouded the air, in the hazy fog it produced flashes of light could be seen as they tried to keep together and out of view, people stumbled into them. Beams bounced off their shimmering shields and rebounded on their caster, they could hear the grateful whoop that this sometimes produced. Several of the elder students could be seen occasionally still fighting ferociously; the sixth year head boy Kingsley Shackelbolt could be heard bellowing curses and hexes to their left. They couldn’t see any of the younger students thankfully, purple cloaks cut through the smoke and their path as they fought against a robed figure or hairy, unkempt man. “To the right.” James called quietly, they obeyed, breaking free of the smog and running for the rough, muddy pathway leading to the shack. A jutting cobblestone turned Petunia’s ankle and she fell roughly, feeling her wand clatter out of her hand and she looked back quickly, scrabbling for her wand as a pair of pitiless piss yellow eyes focused on her and away from the faintly moving body beneath him. The matted, dirty man from before grinned in gleeful savagery
“Well hello again girly. Had a little slip have we?” The figure beneath his bulk groaned, their head fell limply to the side and Petunia gasped
“Eadda!” her house mate stirred slightly. The man chuckled, picking up the mousy brunette by the front of her cardigan, blood was trickling from the girl’s scalp “Leave her!” The man laughed, pulling Eadda into his lap, wrenching her head to the side and licking a stripe in the blood
“Where’s my cub girl?” he asked in a raspy voice, hand firmly yanking on her housemate’s hair
“What?” she whispered, fear strangling her vocal cords, his menacing stare narrowed and he leaned towards her slowly with a growl
Where’s my cub?” She stared at him, at the yellow madness of his eyes and the points of his teeth, Bellatrix’s voice echoed in her mind and the dots connected
“Greyback.” She breathed, finally brushing her searching fingers against the handle of her wand, his eyes darted to it then back to her face, she twitched her fingers, he tossed Eadda aside and leapt faster than her eyes could follow. She hit the ground, his heavy hands pinning down her arms, hairy face in hers as he roared
Where is he?” She flinched, coughing, felt his nails pierce through her grey jumper into her skin and she yelped
“I don’t know!”
“That’s a lie!” he barked, and grinned leaning his face into her neck and taking a sniff “But I know what to do with liars. Especially pretty blonde ones.” One hand came off her arm, the arm furthest from her wand and squeezed her hip “I can smell another’s scent all over you. Been naughty in broom closets hmm?” She felt her face grow hot and jerked her knee up instinctively. Hard. He howled in pain and rolled off of her. She tried to leap to her feet but crashed once more, her ankle not willing to support her. She snatched up her wand and instead crawled to Eadda’s side.

“Eadda? Eadda?!” The brunette’s eyes opened slightly, they were glassy and bloodshot, her bloody face was streaked with tears “Hang on Eadda, we’re going to get help!” She promised wildly as the man rose onto his haunches and snarled at her, where before he was mocking, now he was furious. He hissed
“We weren’t finished yet.”. He sprang, she screamed and felt herself being pushed to the side as Greyback crashed into Eadda instead of Petunia. He just laughed “Want some more sweetheart?” she turned to her face to Petunia once more and screeched with the last of her strength
“Run Petunia!” Dirty hairy fingers wrenched her face back to his and he pressed a biting mockery of a kiss to her mouth, blood poured down their chins and she stared in horror as Eadda tried to pull away weakly. Tears had sprang to her eyes as she watched the life seep from her housemate in the trickling liquid the wolf was now licking at, smiling ear to ear as he watched her reaction, she looked up from the bleeding and ripped flesh of Eadda’s mouth to his mocking gaze
“Have I hurt your friend girly?” He laughed lowly and whispered “Bad wolfy!” he pulled the now still girl to his mouth again and bit her shoulder through the clothing “She’s delicious.”. He began laughing in a raspy, barking voice and she stared at him, fear turned to heated fury, her fingers felt like they were throbbing, her heart was drumming in her ears, the noise of battle had faded except his jeering laugh, her lungs filled and emptied in a rapid pattern, the cobblestones beneath her pounding fingers seemed hot, she felt thin vines wrap over her hands, her eyes were fixed on the chuckling werewolf, her irises felt like lasers and she could feel something responding to her. She could see green vines creeping out of the ground behind the wolf, she focused on his meaty neck, narrowing her eyes as her teeth bit into her tongue. The vines leapt to her command, wrapping around every inch of his hairy throat, his chortles were cut off and his eyes widened in panic as he windpipe was steadily crushed, her teeth clenched down harder and she felt the coppery tang of blood fill her mouth. He choked. Suddenly she could see through the smoke on the high street. She watched thin, but strong, green lines standing out harshly against the black of their robes as multiple wands fell to the ground, aurors were panicking as the vines made no differentiation between good and bad. Suddenly warm hands covered her own and she looked back in surprise, teeth releasing her tongue; worried hematite grey eyes met her cold crystal blues, his lips moved and she stared at him, tried to focus on hearing anything other than her roaring blood
“...Tunes, Tunes listen to me. Please. You’ve got to get yourself under control. Listen to me.” his low tone was worried and warm, she stared at him, nodding slowly “Relax your hands. Tunes, relax your hands. Slowly.” His fingers wrapped around hers and she felt him uncurl them, the vines tethering them to the ground snapped. The vines creeping around the aurors vanished and holding the robed figures vanished, the plants choking Greyback vanished. The wolf fell forward coughing a sharp nailed hand massaging his throat. Her body felt as though it ached, Remus and James were stood on the edge of the muddy track for the shack, she stared at Sirius, breath coming in gasping pants, she saw a few spindly vines snapped beside his legs, he rubbed a hand on her back “It’s alright, it’ll be ok.” He whispered to her, pressing their foreheads together as the girl trembled
“Eadda” she murmured, voice rough and throat painful
“There’s nothing we can do for her.” He said softly, a small crack in his voice as tears spilled from her eyes again. Cracks filled the air, many of the robed figures were disappearing into thin air as aurors were trying to stop them. One of the figures yelled, wand pointed to the sky, a glittering sign burst out of it and hung gruesomely on the grey clouds. Two of the filthy men that had accompanied Greyback grabbed his arms and vanished with a snap. Sirius raised his voice and without breaking her gaze, yelled “HERE! WEREWOLF ATTACK! HERE! WE NEED HELP!” Voices went silent, then hurrying footsteps moved in their direction, James appeared on her other side and pulled her to her feet as Remus threw a cloak over the top of them. The purple cloaks of the aurors and lime green robes of healers started to appear through the smoke, heading towards them, shocked gasps leaving their mouths as they observed the mousy Ravenclaw left lying in the dirt. They loaded her onto a stretcher and with another loud crack, vanished.

The four teens crashed through the boarded up door to the shack and three of them hurried into the destroyed living room as Remus repaired the door. James left to help him, to reapply the safety charms he and Sirius had learnt in preparation, their animagus plan waiting, only, on Peter mastering his form. Sirius helped Petunia onto the sofa after a quick Reparo, then knelt in front of her and ordered James to check the small medical kit hidden under a loose floorboard. He glanced up at the girl’s white face and gently rolled up her trouser leg to press light fingers against the swollen flesh of her ankle. She barely flinched and Sirius indicated for Remus to join her. He perched on the edge of the sofa “Petunia?” She turned her face to him slowly “I’m sorry, we didn’t realise you were missing until we were nearly here. Is it just your ankle injured?” She nodded and Sirius frowned, rubbing a paste into her ankle with soft circular movements
“Your arms are bleeding.” He pointed out bluntly, summoning and repairing a stool before conjuring a cushion and resting her ankle on top. James had sat on a repaired armchair and was watching her closely, the girl looked at her arms faintly and released a soft
“Oh.”
“Greyback didn’t hurt you did he?” She looked back at Remus, at his scared pale face and shook her head
“No. Just grabbed my arms. He was more concerned with where you were. And Eadda.” her voice was toneless and flat, Sirius was still sat on the floor now unrolling a bandage, he exchanged a glance with James
“I thought you were with Joblin today. Where is he?” James said quietly, scanning her face as she snorted derisively, a little life returning to her numb form
“Probably at the castle. We were at the Three Broomsticks when it started. I wanted to go and look for Lily, he told me to forget her and then kissed Poinsettia. She ran straight to him. Something tells me that we were a fucking joke to them.” The boys exchanged another look, eyebrows raised at the vicious way she had cursed “Then I ran out. I went looking for Lily and I didn’t see him again, I have no doubt that he went back to the castle with Miss Auer.” An uncomfortable silence filled the room and Sirius swallowed lightly, beginning to wrap the bandage around her foot “You were right Black. I shouldn’t have bothered with him.” He glanced up to her and shook his head, opening his mouth before she continued with a scoff “I can’t believe I was so stupid. There I am telling Lily off for Snape and I’m dating a pushy, pompous arsehole. Snape was a jerk but at least he respected her enough to listen when she said no.” James’ head jerked up, he stared at her and began to speak when Remus cleared his throat loudly, cutting him off. James looked at the other boy and he shook his head, a warning and a plea in his amber eyes. Sirius didn’t raise his head, focusing firmly on Petunia’s ankle despite the shaking that had set into his nimble fingers.

“I think that will be strong enough to get us back to the castle.” He remarked quietly, pinning the end of the bandage into place neatly “How are you feeling Tunes?”
“Ok I think. Shaky. Sick. I think I have a… I have a…” she collapsed against the back of the sofa suddenly and the boys yelped, leaping up, Sirius shoved them both out of the way. He pushed James towards the passageway opening
“Make that bigger. We need to get her back to castle. As soon as we can.”
“What’s wrong?” Remus asked as Sirius hoisted the girl into his arms
“Remus, conjure me a blanket, we need to keep her warm. She’s exhausted her core.” the wolf followed his command silently and tucked the conjured material around the girl gently. James stepped back from the opening and gestured for them to go first, with a jerk of Sirius’ head Remus slid into the tunnel and began the trek, enlarging the earthy corridor as he went, Sirius followed and James brought up the rear, undoing the enchantments as he went. The journey through the damp earthy passageway was silent, Remus paused once at the base of the tree and slid his arm out, fumbling for the knot. Once the ground had frozen they clambered out, Remus conjuring a few steps to make things easier for Sirius. James muttered that he would run ahead and warn Madam Pomfrey, the others nodded and he took off, sprinting across the wet grounds, torn cloak flapping in the wind behind him. Madam Pomfrey met them on the front steps, they could hear the buzz of students in the entrance hall, she tried to tell Sirius to put the girl on a stretcher, he shook his head firmly as Remus readjusted her blankets and James pulled the door open.
“Tuney!” Lily ran forward the moment Sirius appeared, her face distraught, the entrance hall slowly fell silent and McGonagall hurried forward, her face a mask of worry
Where have you been? What happened Black?”
“She’s exhausted. ‘Xcuse me Professor.” he muttered quietly, pushing his way through the crowd to the marble staircase. Madam Pomfrey followed, ordering James and Remus to come with her
“Professor, remember to tell the aurors they don’t need to keep searching. And to get in touch with their parents to say they’ve been found.” She called over her shoulder.

“What happened? What’s wrong with my sister?” Lily demanded, they had all been shooed out the private room Sirius had been instructed to take Petunia to. They had gathered around the bed the matron had ordered the Black heir into upon finding out he had also obtained an injury.
“She’s exhausted, Lily. She should be fine.” Sirius told her shortly as the doors flew open and their parents rushed through it. Relieved shouts of their names filled the air, Lady Potter threw her arms around her son and hugged him tightly, Remus and Lily had similarly disappeared into parental embraces. Lord and Lady Black reached at Sirius’ bedside and looked him over silently “Mother. Father.”
“What happened?” Orion asked, eyes still scanning his son, Regulus appeared behind him, peering around his father at his elder brother worriedly
“The village was attacked. I was caught with a curse. Miss Evans exhausted herself as we tried to escape.” Walburga leant forward to murmur something in his ear, the teen nodded and she stood up once more, walking over to the room the girl was in. She rapped on the door once before disappearing inside. Orion’s eyes had narrowed as Regulus crept further forward
“Cursed? How? Where?” His voice was sharp, eyes being the only part of him to convey any hint of concern
“I think it was a cutting curse. It just caught my side. Miss Evans fixed it.” Slate grey eyes snapped onto his torso and with a wave of a hand the curtains shut and sealed themselves. The surrounding families could no longer see or hear anything beyond blue fabric. When they opened again Sirius was clothed in pajamas and was under the sheets, Regulus was sat on the bed, gazing at his sibling. His father looked up as Walburga reappeared from the private room, she nodded at the expectant faces and approached her family. Sirius looked up at her,
“I have spoken with Madam Pomfrey, Miss Evans will be fine but to be certain, our family healer will be attending her.” She explained crisply, looking not only to her son but at the Evans family. Henry nodded, relaxing slightly but Marie frowned
“Why would that be necessary? What’s happened to my daughter? I thought this school was supposed to be safe!” She had snapped, not just at Lady Black but at Professor McGonagall. Her arms had folded and she was glaring at the deputy
“Mrs Evans, this is a very rare occurance. Hogsmeade visits have always been perfectly safe in the past, they will not be continuing unless adequate security can be provided by the Ministry.” the Professor had said, her tone aimed to soothe and reassure
“They should have been chaperoned in the first place!” the woman snapped “I want to see my daughter!”
“Mrs Evans, what happened to your daughter is she exhausted herself trying to help another student, a girl in her dorm I believe. Large or constant use of our magic is draining and can lead to extended magically restorative sleep. If you would rather not have our healer attend your daughter by all means, say so. I suggested Meradith as she is far more experienced in this area of healing than Madam Pomfrey. This is the first time such an attack has occurred in the history of the school, it is my understanding that teachers are present within the village when the students are in attendance; indeed even this instance they evacuated the majority of the students extremely quickly. The school itself is safeguarded against any attacks of this nature. Tunnels exist in the most popular student haunts that lead back to the castle. I am positive that such a disaster would be very unlikely to happen again.” Walburga told the other parent calmly, cutting off Professor McGonagall as she attempted to answer Marie. The honey-blonde woman stared at Walburga, anger slowly draining out of her before she said firmly
“I want to meet this Meradith. And I want to see my daughter. Will she not attend your son as well?” Her steeple grey eyes flashed over to her son then to her husband, Orion nodded slowly and said quietly
“She will check him over yes. But having seen injury myself, Sirius does not need much attention. I’m sure Professor McGonagall would be happy to take you to your daughter. I believe Meradith is already seeing to her.” the deputy nodded quickly, gesturing for the Evans family to follow her. James watched them go then remarked
“How can she be here? There’s anti-apparition wards.”
“We have other means of travel. Sirius, if you are sure you are fine, I need to take my leave. The Ministry will be in uproar.” His son nodded, face set in a small frown “Walburga are you staying?” She shook her head, waving her wand briefly to straighten and tuck in the bedsheets. Orion reached out and squeezed the teen’s shoulder lightly “Call for Kreacher if you need anything.” Sirius nodded once more, patting Regulus’ hand as his parents left.