Title:   “Blood Is Thicker”

Author:  Emmyjean (emmyjeanb@yahoo.com)

Classification:  Vignette, Petunia POV

Rating:  PG

Summary:  Petunia goes to pick up Harry at King’s Cross at the end of his fourth year…and is forced into a realization.

Spoilers:  Chamber of Secrets, Goblet of Fire

Authors Notes:  This story is sprung from the idea that while Vernon and Dudley are caricatures to me…I’ve always thought that there has to be something more between Petunia and Harry, for obvious reasons.

 

 

King’s Cross Station – End of Fourth Year

 

Petunia Dursley sighed and looked impatiently at her watch, tapping her foot as she glanced about the station.  It was particularly crowded that day, and she mentally cursed Vernon for the tenth time because he’d had to make the trip with Dudley to the dentist this time and had left her to pick up their nephew.  Usually, she took Dudley to Dr. Pickering herself...but Vernon wanted to discuss the bill at this particular appointment.  Petunia only hoped it did some good and they got a reduced fee for the cavity their son needed filled.

At last, she began to see students walking past pushing carts laden with trunks and various types of small animals.  Grimacing, she watched as a particularly large cage containing a bat rolled by...how filthy.  What these people’s houses must look like, Petunia couldn’t imagine.  Glancing at her watch again and then up at the large clock above her head to make sure her watch was correct, she wondered where the devil that boy was.  If she found out he was dawdling with his little friends while she stood here waiting, she’d make him sleep in the garage that night.

Her eyes swept the crowd of teenagers...and then went back again.  Frowning, she narrowed her eyes at a figure walking slowly towards her...it took her a minute to realize that it was Harry.  She almost didn’t recognize him, and she couldn’t quite put her finger on why.  Something about the way he was carrying himself had made her look right past him.  She pressed her lips together and was about to call out to him to hurry up when he was stopped by a red-headed woman in a patchwork shawl...she seemed to be giving him something, but Petunia didn’t have the chance to make out what it was before her view was blocked. 

Blinking, she found herself face-to-face with the man whose sons had nearly killed Dudley the summer before.  Glaring at him, she asked, “What do you want?”

He didn’t bat an eye at her tone, nor did he look chagrined in the least.  Petunia’s first instinct was to be insulted, but something in the way the man was looking at her made her pause...his eyes were very grave, and his jaw set.  He took a breath before beginning.

“Believe me, Madam, the displeasure you feel in seeing me again is very mutual on my part.  However…there is something I need to speak with you about before you take Harry back to your home for the summer.”

Petunia looked past him momentarily at Harry, who was now surrounded by redheads.  Raising her eyebrows at the man – who she believed was called Wembley or some such thing – she asked, “Well?  What is it, then?  I’m in a hurry.”

His eyes darkened for a second before he blew out a breath and clasped his hands behind his back.  “As you know, we – my wife and I – feel a great concern for Harry’s well being.  Not only is he our son Ron’s best friend – really the best friend he’s ever had – but we also owe him the life of our only daughter, Ginny.  We have never been able to think of a way we can possibly repay him for that, and so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do the only thing we can...to make sure he has as little as possible to worry about. Although…that becomes more difficult every year.”

He paused here and glanced behind him once more.  Petunia, however, was still thinking about something he’d just said, and she couldn’t seem to understand it...the life of their daughter?  What did he mean by this?  Strangely uncomfortable with the fact that she had no idea what he was talking about, she shifted her bag so that it rested more firmly in the crook of her arm.  Mr. Wembley, reassured that his family would keep Harry busy for a few more moments, turned back to her.  His eyes were burning with some kind of odd resolve, and it took Petunia aback.

“That boy,” he began, pointing a finger back at Harry, “Has been in his share of scrapes since he started at Hogwarts nearly five years ago.  I know, because my son has been somehow involved in most of them.  However...none of that compares to what he’s been through in the past couple of weeks.”

Here he stopped, but he didn’t look back over his shoulder.  As she watched in something akin to shock, the man appeared to be having trouble continuing.  After a moment, he pulled himself together and went on, “I can’t explain further right now, but…just know that he’s seen things in the past month that no boy his age – that no grown man – should ever have to see.”

Petunia stared.  “What things?”

He shook his head and replied in a hushed voice, “I can’t say for sure, especially not here.  I don’t even know the full story.”

There was a gaggle of voices as the red-headed group started to bid each other farewell, and Mr. Wembley – no, Mr. Weasley - glanced back quickly.  Turning back to her once more, he finished hurredly, “Look...I just want you to remember...”

He paused again, scanning her face with his eyes as though trying to gauge her worth.  Finally, he finished, “He is your dead sister’s only child.  Just...remember that. We’ll be there to pick him up on his birthday this year.”

With that, he turned and walked in the opposite direction.  Petunia hesitated, then called out, “Mr. Weasley!”

The man turned with a fearful look in his eye, worried that Harry had heard this...but he was still preoccupied with his friend Ron.  Petunia shook her head and asked, “Who?”

“Who what?”

She paused, then asked, “Who is trying to kill him, for God’s sake?”

Mr. Weasley looked at her as though she had gone batty or something.  After a moment, he answered simply, “Who?  Mrs. Dursley…don’t you know?”

She frowned, puzzled, and he added solemnly, “The same wizard who cost you your only sister.”

Then he was gone into the crowd as her blood froze, and before she had time to process this information, Harry was walking toward her, pushing his cart.  Now, as Petunia looked at him, she could see why she hadn’t recognized him before...he looked five years older than he’d been when she’d last seen him.  There were circles under his eyes from lack of sleep, and there was a determined set to his jaw now that wasn’t there before.  Most of all...he was walking as though he was exhausted down to his very bones.  Without warning, without preamble, Petunia felt her heart go out to him for what was perhaps the first time in their association with each other.

He looked up at her in mild surprise...but his eyes shocked her.  They seemed almost...dead.  Devoid of emotion...at least, devoid of emotion that he wanted to allow her to see.  Looking around, he asked,  “Where’s Vernon?”

He didn’t prelude it with ‘uncle’...and his voice seemed at once soft and very, very hard at the same time.  Petunia swallowed and replied, “At the dentist with Dudley.”

Neither one of them said anything else, and she watched as Harry glanced down the platform and watched the Weasley family walk away with longing in his tired eyes.  It suddenly occurred to her that he must dread going back to Privet Drive.

“Well,” she said, trying and failing to inject her usual curtness into her tone, “Coming?”

He sighed slightly and followed her to the car.  He unloaded everything into the back seat, then took his place beside her in front.  The ride home was outwardly uneventful, as not a word was spoken between the two of them.  However, Petunia’s mind persisted in replaying the things that man had told her...and she felt herself becoming sick.  Something bad had happened.  Harry…suddenly, she desperately wanted to know what had happened.  She wanted to ask him…wanted him to be able to tell her.

She glanced over at him, and found him staring out the side window with a frighteningly blank expression on his face.  He seemed at once much taller than he’d been the last time she’d seen him and also much skinnier, although she wouldn’t have thought it possible.

They pulled into the driveway and he hopped immediately out of the car and gathered his things.  She walked to the front door and unlocked it, leading the way through.  Vernon and Dudley had by this time returned, and Vernon was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for them.  The moment Harry walked through the door, Vernon looked at him and growled,

“Go put all that rubbish in your room, boy, and then come down and get to mowing that lawn.  If you aren’t finished by dinnertime, you won’t eat tonight.”

Harry inhaled deeply, his face remaining blank...but a spark of anger and frustration lit his eyes...and as Petunia looked at him, she felt suddenly as though she wanted to tell Vernon to do the bloody lawn himself.  Instead, she merely said quietly but firmly,  “Let him be, Vernon.”

They both looked around at her, completely flabbergasted.  Vernon looked at her as though she was an impostor, but she wasn’t really looking at Vernon...she was focused on Harry.  He stared at her for a moment...and in that instant, looking into his deep green eyes as she’d perhaps never done before, she thought she could see Lily staring out at her. She’d always thought that he looked exactly like Potter and nothing like her sister…but in that moment, the resemblance was staggering. Her breath caught in her throat...and then the moment was gone as he bent to pick up his trunk.

As Vernon grumbled about ‘women’ and went back to the kitchen, Petunia watched Harry walk slowly up the stairs.  She was suddenly reminded of a moment long ago...when she’d opened the front door to get the newspaper and had found instead a little boy, his green eyes staring innocently and intelligently up at her.

Her sister’s only child.  Lily’s son.

For the first time in her life, she felt the overwhelming need to reward the trust she’d seen in the eyes of that small baby...the trust that was completely missing from the eyes of the young man he had become.  It was a trust that she had betrayed. 

Her throat oddly constricted, she turned and went to put dinner on...making sure, for once, that there was more than enough for all four people who would be eating that night.

 

 

FINIS

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