Sian, that was beautiful! I'd never really thought of what must have gone through Petunia's mind when Lily died, when she was lumped with her nephew to look after without so much as a knock on the door. But you've captured it perfectly. You've captured the guilt, the shame, the self-justification, and yes, the love for Lily that she experienced at that time.
I loved her little asides - exactly how old Lily had been when she'd died; that Dumbledore couldn't raise the dead and that somehow made magic all the more pointless; that Harry was the unnatural one becaues he wasn't as much trouble to look after as her own son was. They are such normal things to have been thinking under those circumstances, but also seem kind of petty in the scheme of things. But that's exactly what people DO think, isn't it? The little things, the petty things that make it all the more real for that particular person. I don't think I'm explaining myself very well so hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say.
So now, I think this IS Petunia, who has promised to look after the boy with Lily's eyes. And every time he looks at her she's going to see Lily and have those forever conflicting emotions - you know, the ones that Lily would have been able to explain to her. Hahaha. I so love this, I really do. I don't have much head canon for Petunia, but I tihnk this is now part of it. Beautiful work!
This was a really interesting story to write. I'm not usually particularly sympathetic towards Petunia as a character, but it was fascinating to explore what she might have gone through in that moment when she first heard the news that her sister had died. No matter how fraught and difficult their relationship was, there had to be some love still there, and I can't imagine that Petunia wouldn't care at all about Lily dying. Then to be landed with Harry and being reminded every day of what had happened between the sisters, and what she'd done wrong and what she'd lost - it doesn't justify her behaviour but it can't have been easy. I'm so pleased that you enjoyed this story and the little details that I included here to try and help build up the picture of the moment.
Thank you for the review!
I stopped by this story because I was trying to find someting on your AP that I haven't already read and reviewed and this caught my eye. *cough writemore cough*
I love reading about minor characters and Petunia in particular is a fascinating one. Her relationship with Lily starts out so normal, but rapidly devolves into jealousy. Personally, I find it odd that she isn't fascinated by Lily's magical abilities, but I suppose it's easy for a child to get jealous when they feel like the attention is focused mostly on their sibling.
I liked that you wrote Petunia as so conflicted towards her sister's death. In canon, she seems pretty spiteful towards Harry, but I have to imagine that somewhere deep inside of her there's some shred of humanity. I have to imagine that she'd have felt some sort of guilt for all the years she wasted hating her sister for something she couldn't help.
I guess in some ways I understand why she didn't do better with Harry. It's very hard for people to admit they're wrong sometimes. I think in this case it'd be particularly difficult because there's no chance at fixing anything. She can't apologize to Lily since she's dead.
The only thing I found myself wondering is why Petunia didn't hold with her resolution to do better. She's cruel to Harry for most of his life. She wouldn't even ever have to tell him about what she'd done wrong in order to raise him with kindness. I guess some shame just runs so deep it makes the person bitter and angry.
As is always the case with your writing, the technical aspects of this piece were all very polished. You used just the right amount of description when explaining how Petunia feels and it really helped me get inside of her head. You really have a gift for words. Great work!
Petunia is a character I've written about a couple of times now, and I'm never quite sure that I got her right, but it's so fascinating to explore her character and her relationship with Lily, too (Renee has actually written a great story about those two, if you want to read more about them!).
I've witnessed difficult sibling relationships before, and I really, really struggle to believe that Petunia's feelings when she found out that Lily had died wouldn't be conflicting. I think there's a lot of guilt there, but equally she struggles to see Harry every day as a reminder of everything bitter that happened between her and her sister, and that she can't gain redemption from her sister for any of that. I don't think that she's a nice person, and this wasn't intended to absolve her from the way she treated Harry, just to explore some of the feelings that she experienced in that moment, even if she didn't hold to the promises she made to herself.
Thank you for this lovely review!