Rating: PG at most
Characters: Lily and Petunia, with guest appearances by James and Harry.
Word Count: 2066
A/N: Standard disclaimers apply-- not my characters, not my fortune. Random plot bunny put to rest. Totally gen, missing scene, HBP compliant.
"Oh, come off it. She's my sister, and I'm stronger than she is, and I've got a wand and she doesn't."
James gave her a long-suffering look that left no doubt in her mind what he was thinking, but as though to be sure that she was clear about his displeasure, he voiced his opinion for what must have been the seventh time. "I don't trust her, and I sure don't trust that brick of a husband she's got."
"Yes, well, you didn't grow up with her," Lily replied. "Petunia is harmless, and Vernon will be at work. He won't ever even know I've been there."
"You don't think she'll tell him?"
"Petty? Oh, God no, James. She'll want me out of the house as soon as she can manage it and she'll never admit to anyone that I was there."
"And you really think this is a good idea?"
"No, not good. Brilliant, I say. Can you think of a safer place?"
"Hundreds, actually," James said. "Every place I can think of, come to think of it."
"But how long would it be before you thought of Petty's house?" He didn't say anything to that, which was as good as admitting she was right. With a smug smile, she reached up and tweaked his nose. "See? Brilliant. Now, I think I'll be back before Harry wakes up, but if I'm not, there's a bottle in the refrigerator. Just heat it a little, and—"
"I know how to give our son a bottle, Lily."
"I know you do," she said, sliding her arms around his waist. "I don't know how I got so lucky to find such a good man."
"I don't know how you did either," he said, laughing as she cuffed his shoulder. He caught her wrists and pulled her close again, placing a gentle kiss against her lips. "Be careful," he said, the playfulness gone from his voice and face again. "If you're not back in one hour, I'm coming to find you."
"And what'll you do with Harry if you come looking for me? Bring him along?"
"No," James said, a mischievous smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "I'll just get Sirius to mind him."
"Sirius? Good Lord. You wouldn't really?"
"One hour, Lily."
"All right! I'll be back within an hour, and if I'm not, you give me five minutes before you hand our son over to Sirius Black."
"He'd never hurt him, you know."
"Yeah? I'm not convinced he wouldn't let him hurt himself." She kissed James again and patted his face. "I'll be fine. Promise." She grabbed her handbag and swung it onto her shoulder and was out the door before James had the chance to argue any further.
Dressed in a pair of jeans and an old tee-shirt, Lily looked as out of place when she Apparated onto Privet Drive as she would have looked had she come clad in her most outlandish robes, and when Petunia opened the door, there was a sniff of disdain.
"What are you doing here?" Petunia asked, glancing up and down the street.
"Hullo to you too," Lily said.
Bracing one foot against the door in what Lily supposed was an effort to keep her out, Petunia folded her arms and pulled a sour expression. "I thought I made it clear that I don't want anything to do with you or your kind."
"And just what is 'my kind', Petunia?" Lily asked, just loud enough that one of the neighbors looked over the hedge. Lily smiled sweetly at the woman and shifted her weight to one foot. "Come on, Petty. Aren't you even going to invite your own sister inside?"
Petunia's eyes widened and her head whipped towards the neighbor, who had taken an extraordinary interest in a flowering vine. "Oh, fine," Petunia hissed. "Come in, then. Just keep your voice down."
Lily adjusted her handbag and smiled as she walked through the door. "Not to worry," she said as Petunia closed the door behind her. "I'm not anxious for anyone to find out I was here, either."
"Why are you here?"
"Don't you have tea or something? A Coke, maybe? I'm parched."
Petunia pursed her lips, but marched into the kitchen and jerked a cabinet door open. She pulled down a glass and cut on the tap water, filling the glass halfway and setting it on the table. "Why are you here, Lily?" she asked. Lily met her withering look with one of her own, but seated herself without an invitation and drew her wand under the table. Petunia's eyes widened with a frank mixture of fear and offense. "Put that thing away!" she hissed.
After an unspoken Silencing Charm, Lily returned the wand to her pocket. "How've you been, Petty?"
"Don't call me that and don't pretend we're friends. I want to know what you're doing here. If Vernon finds out you're here—"
"He's at work, isn't he?" Petunia didn't answer, which was as good as affirming it. "Don't worry. I'll be gone before he gets back. Believe me, I'm no more interested in staying here than you are in having me here."
"Then tell me what you want and leave."
Lily scowled. "I need you to hide something for me."
"Don't you even want to know what it is?" she asked.
"Well, I'm telling you anyway. Actually, I think you'll like it. Look." She reached into her handbag and withdrew a dainty handkerchief-wrapped, small, golden cup with two delicate handles, artfully engraved with a badger. Lily placed it on the table between them, watching as Petunia's curiosity warred with her determination to not have anything to do with Lily's 'type'.
Lily reached for her glass of lukewarm water and took a drink, giving Petunia plenty of time to convince herself. At length, she did, and she picked up the cup. "What is it?"
"It's a cup," Lily said unnecessarily.
"I can see that."
"Hide it for me."
Lily only smiled over the top of her glass.
"What is this thing? It's evil, isn't it?"
"Oh, very," Lily agreed.
"I don't want anything to do with it," Petunia said, starting to return it to the table. Lily had been anticipating resistance, though, and she whipped out her wand. She waved it ostentatiously and chanted a series of nonsensical incantations that she made up on the spot, and let a few sparks fly from the end of her wand for good measure. Petunia had gone white as chalk, and there were tears in her eyes, her hands trembling as she held the cup a few inches above the table.
"I'm afraid you don't have a choice now," Lily said with a mock-apologetic shrug. She stood and braced her hands on either arm of Petunia's chair. "Listen to me very carefully, Petty. This should be easy for you. I want you to take that thing into the attic, or bury it under a hydrangea bush, or hide it under the floorboards. I don't care what you do with it so long as you know where it is and never tell anyone that you have it."
"I told you, I don't want it," Petunia said.
"Fine. Sell it to a junk shop then. But do you know what will happen if you ever don't know where it is?"
Petunia shook her head almost imperceptibly.
"You'll develop a mark." Lily said. "A witch's mark, and everyone who sees it will know it for what it is. If you ever saw such a mark, even you'd know what it was, whether you wanted to admit it or not. Vernon will know... All the neighbors will know... All your friends..." She lowered her voice to a bare whisper. "Everyone. You won't be able to see it, and no surgeon will be able to remove it. The only way you can keep it from developing will be if you always know where this cup is, and the only way you'll ever know is if you keep it and hide it."
Petunia's lips were clamped so tightly together that purple splotches were beginning to form around her mouth. Otherwise, her face held no color at all. "You wouldn't," she whispered. "You couldn't."
Lily smiled. "Only one of us knows whether or not I could," she said in the same sing-song voice that she had used to irritate Petunia when they were children, "but if I can, we both know that I would. Don't we, Petty?"
"But I'm your sister," Petunia whispered.
"I know," Lily said. "And sisters help each other, don't they? So you help me by keeping that hidden and no one will ever be the wiser. Oh, come on, Petty. It'll be easy. You don't even want to admit that I exist, so how hard will it be to keep a cup I gave you hidden? Just stick it somewhere out of sight, and never tell a soul. Never give it back to anyone but me—or James, I suppose. No one else, though. And, as long as you do that, no one will ever know a thing, right?"
The color was slowly returning to Petunia's face, but it wasn't a flattering color at all. Lily decided it was time to leave, whether Petunia agreed or not. She reached for the cup.
"If you take the cup back with you, I won't be marked," Petunia said, though she didn't sound sure at all.
"If I take the cup back with me, will you know where it is?" Lily asked.
"No, but you said to never give it to anyone but you or your husband. So I'm giving it back now. That's the end of it, right?"
Lily laughed. "Only if I lift the spell," she said. "And if you don't take it, I'm not going to."
Petunia's mouth fell open, and Lily began to wrap the cup in the handkerchief again, taking care to wrap it neatly and to give Petunia plenty of time to think over her options. As expected, Petunia snatched it out of her hand, holding it as though she was afraid it would bite. "Oh, very well," she said.
With an inward sigh of relief, Lily smiled again. "Thank you, Petunia."
"Is that all?"
Petunia watched as Lily drew her wand again and ended the Silencing Charm. "It was good to see you again, Petunia. You should come for tea some time. I'd love to show off our home to you. I think even you'd be impressed."
"I doubt it."
Lily sighed, aloud this time, and picked up her handbag. "Goodbye, then, I guess."
"Goodbye." Petunia walked her to the door and shut it firmly behind her. Lily heard the lock clicking as she walked down the drive. The neighbor who'd been watching before was still watching, and Lily gave her a bright smile and a cheerful wave as she reached the sidewalk, a spring in her step. Keeping her manner light and airy, as though she hadn't a care in the world, she walked to the end of the block, Apparating as she rounded the corner.
James was waiting for her at the door, holding Harry against his shoulder. He breathed a sigh as she shut the door behind her.
"Well?" he asked.
With a brave smile, Lily stood on her toes and leaned forward to kiss him over the top of Harry's head. "Fait accompli," she replied.
"Are you all right? She didn't hurt you did she?"
"Don't be ridiculous, James. I told you, she's my sister. She's all the family I've got now that Mum and Dad are dead. She's not going to hurt me." She dropped her handbag on a chair and brushed a finger against Harry's leg. "You all right with him for an hour or so more? I've got a headache and I want to lie down."
"Sure." She started for the stairs, but she'd only made it as far as the first step when she felt a hand on her wrist. She turned around, and he lifted his hand to her face. "You're wrong, though."
"Petunia being the only family you've got." He threaded his fingers into her hair and urged her to bend so he could kiss her. "You've got Harry and me."
"You're right," she said, smiling again. "I do."