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Petunia Evans, Tomb Raider (Harry Potter AU/Tomb Raider Crossover) (Complete)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Starfox5, Sep 1, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 1: The School
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Petunia Evans, Tomb Raider

    Disclaimer:
    I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters in the Harry Potter books or movies. I do not own Tomb Raider or any of the characters in the franchise.

    Summary: AU. Petunia Evans might not have been a witch, but she was smart and stubborn. While Lily went to Hogwarts, Petunia went to a boarding school and later studied archaeology. As a squib, Dr Evans found her niche: Discovering and exploring tombs for Gringotts with the help of their Curse-Breakers and using her findings to advance her career as an archaeologist. And raising her unfortunately impressionable nephew as a single aunt.

    I’d like to thank fredfred and InquisitorCOC for beta-reading.

    [​IMG]

    Chapter 1: The School

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, July 30th, 1991

    “It’s a bloody Sand Drake, Doctor! They can sense a mouse walking over the ground a hundred yards away; we can’t get past that beast. Trust me, my brother wrangles dragons for a living.” The young man was whispering, his wand gripped tightly in his hand even though they were over five hundred yards away, in cover behind a fallen pillar.

    She snorted and adjusted her binoculars as she studied the painted mural behind the beast. “It’s occupying the entrance to the lost tomb of the high priest of Ramses II. No mere reptile will keep me from making the discovery of the year.” And fulfilling her contract with Gringotts.

    “My spells won’t even scratch its hide! Sand Drakes are dragons, Doctor! It takes a dozen wizards to subdue one, and we just have one wand between the two of us!”

    She lowered her binoculars and glanced at the red-haired wizard next to her. He must be really rattled - he usually carefully avoided mentioning the fact that she was a squib and not a witch. “I thought danger was part of the job, Bill,” she said, adding a slightly mocking tone as she quoted his favourite pick-up line.

    “Danger, yes. Suicide, no. We can’t take that beast. It’s resistant to spells, and its hide is far too thick for your guns.”

    She caught him glancing at the Glocks in their holsters strapped to her thighs and snorted. “Please - did you really think I wouldn’t know how tough a Sand Drake’s hide is?” She could practically quote Scamander verbatim these days.

    She could see him blink and grinned when he made the connection. “You knew…?”

    She nodded. “Its dung is quite specific. And they are highly territorial.”

    “You knew this was the territory of a Sand Drake, and you still entered it? You’re crazy, Doctor!” He shook his head, his ponytail swishing back and forth behind him.

    She chuckled. “Then what are you for following me?” She opened the long duffel bag she had brought along. Reaching in, she pulled out the RPG-7 she had picked up a year ago from an enterprising officer of a Soviet division moving out of East Germany. She held the HEAT warhead out to him. “Duplicate this, please. Three times.”

    “What is it?” he asked, as he was casting.

    “Muggle anti-tank weapon,” she explained while loading the launcher and stashing the other two copies in her small backpack before the original warhead went back into the duffel bag.

    “What’s a tank?”

    “Armored car.” Normally, she’d have some fun answering his questions while leading him to the completely wrong impression, but she was too focused on the beast that stood between her and another cover article in British Archaeology. Not to mention another grant, as well as her cut from Gringotts.

    She gripped the RPG-7 and started to crawl towards the Sand Drake, keeping behind the toppled walls and eroded stones whenever possible. She needed to get closer to have a good shot at the monster. It was a sign of just how rattled her partner was that he wasn’t making a crack about how he enjoyed the view of her shorts-covered behind.

    After crawling for a hundred yards under the Egyptian sun, her shirt was soaked through, and she rested in the meagre shadow of a rock as she took a gulp of water from her flask. Bill, unaffected by the heat thanks to his spells, shook his head but didn’t comment. She sneered - she wouldn’t beg him to cast a spell on her just to avoid getting sweaty.

    Another hundred yards. They were inside the Sand Drake’s range now. Just as she had planned. With a feral grin on her face, she stood up behind the remains of a wall and took aim.

    “Doc!” Bill hissed.

    “Don’t stand behind me!” she snapped, not bothering to whisper. The beast had already noticed them, but Drakes preferred to let their prey get as close as possible before pouncing.

    Now, though, the monster was rearing up, its maw opening wide as it roared to send its prey fleeing in terror so it could run them down from behind. Scamander said that they usually roared for ten seconds.

    It took her three to aim, and another for the rocket-propelled warhead to reach her target. Her aim had been slightly off, but all that meant was that the right side of the Drake’s torso exploded in a cloud of blood, meat and bones. The monster went down in a tangle of flailing limbs and tails, its roar replaced by screaming.

    “Merlin’s arse!” Bill cursed behind her.

    She reloaded the launcher and put the beast out of its misery with another grenade, then turned towards her partner. “Let’s go.” There wouldn’t be any other creatures nearby; not so close to a Sand Drake’s lair. And there wouldn’t be any curses in the area either; the beast would have set them off.

    They reached the entrance to the tomb after a few minutes, and she smiled when she saw the unbroken seal, and the fading but still potent runes that would confuse any muggle who had managed to somehow get through the charms covering the entire area. An untouched tomb. Another feather in her cap.

    “Charlie would kill me if he knew what we just did,” Bill said behind her.

    She turned around and raised her eyebrows at him. “What we just did? I do not recall you doing anything to the Sand Drake,” she said in her most upper-class tone.

    He flinched, just as she had flinched when her classmates at the boarding school had first made fun of her Cokeworth accent, and she snorted. No spell had brought down the beast, but muggle weapons and a squib’s skill. She pointed at the entrance behind her. “Start earning your keep, Bill. You’re the Curse-Breaker.”

    He stared at her for a moment, then shook his head and aimed his wand at the stone door. She forced herself to watch as she drank more water. As much as she hated to see others work magic she could only see but never cast, she had long since learned that as a squib in her position, she needed to know as much about curses as possible.

    *****​

    The sun had already vanished behind the hills, only a red glow in the sky remaining, when they reached their camp. She was tired and dearly needed a bath, or at least a shower, and something more than an energy bar.

    “Auntie! Auntie!”

    And yet when she heard her nephew’s voice and saw him running towards her, she forgot all about that. Smiling widely, she crouched down and opened her arms, and Harry jumped at her.

    “Did you find the tomb? Was it where you thought it was?” he asked when she released him.

    “It was.” She nodded. “You know what that means?”

    “Hm…” He wrinkled his nose, and for a moment, she saw her sister there. Lily had had the same expression when she was thinking hard about something. Then he smiled. “We can celebrate my birthday without you having to work for the goblins?”

    She nodded. “Exactly! We can visit the beach!” Gringotts had baulked at providing Portkeys to Sharm El Sheikh, but she had insisted during the contract negotiations. Between her work and Harry’s school, they had to make the most of his vacations.

    “So, how much treasure did you find? And how many traps?”

    “Well…” she stopped when she noticed a dark shape in the sky. In a second, she had Harry behind her and one Glock pointed at it.

    “Auntie?”

    “Shhh.”

    He fell silent. The shape - a large bird - flew closer, and she tensed, ready to shoot. She hadn’t heard of birds guarding tombs, but it was the unknown trap that killed a Curse-Breaker. Or an archaeologist.

    The bird landed a few yards away in the sand. It was an owl, she realised, and it was holding out its leg, to which a green envelope was tied.

    A very familiar envelope. She felt as if her heart skipped a beat. She had known this day was coming ever since that horrible night, almost ten years ago. “It’s your Hogwarts acceptance letter,” she said.

    The way his eyes lit up and he broke into a smile hurt, but she didn’t let that show. She forced herself to smile, forced herself not to think of her own childhood, her jealousy and how she had lost her sister. Harry deserved to enjoy this.

    But as he opened it, babbling excitedly, all she could do was hope that she wouldn’t lose him as she had lost Lily.

    *****​

    Devon, Ottery St Catchpole, August 11th, 1991

    “Harry! And Petunia! You made it!”

    Petunia Evans smiled at Molly. “Of course. We wouldn’t want to miss this.”

    She wanted to tell the witch that, even as a squib, she was perfectly able to use the Floo Network or the Knight Bus, or muggle transport if all else failed, to reach The Burrow, but she was here for Harry. It wouldn’t do to start an argument and ruin his day over Molly’s patronising attitude. And Petunia didn’t want Harry to pick up more of her attitude; he was already far too snarky and sarcastic for a boy his age and didn’t need more examples to emulate.

    Of course, Harry wasn’t really paying attention to either woman - he was staring at the Quidditch pitch, one hand unzipping his travel bag, in which he carried his broom. He turned to look at her, beaming. “I’ll be flying if you’re looking for me!” he announced as he pulled his broom out. He shot up into the air without waiting for an answer.

    Petunia sighed - though with a smile - as she picked up the bag he had dropped on the ground. Her nephew loved flying. Maybe a little too much, but he couldn’t indulge as often as other kids. Like the Weasleys.

    “If Neville - Neville Longbottom - makes it as well we’ll have two full teams,” Molly told her.

    “Ah.” Petunia said. As much as Harry loved the Weasley Quidditch Weekends, she wasn’t a fan of the game. She knew the rules and far more trivia than she wanted - Harry had learned to read with ‘Quidditch Through The Ages’, his most prized birthday gift before she bought him his first broom - but where others saw an exciting game, she only saw another reminder of the fact that she wasn’t born a witch, but a squib, and wouldn’t never be able to really use a broom.

    And she already had too many of those reminders.

    “Augusta - his grandmother - said that he still hadn’t learned how to handle a broom,” Molly went on. “He got his Hogwarts letter, so it’s not as if…” The witch trailed off, one hand covering her mouth as she realised what she had been about to say.

    Petunia ignored the remark, watching as Harry joined the others in the air, quickly integrating himself into his team. “I hope he doesn’t wreck that broom,” she said, a little too casually. A glance told her that Molly was pressing her lips together at the reminder that Petunia might be a squib, but her nephew wasn’t forced to use second-hand school materials and old brooms.

    “Bill’s keeping an eye on them,” Molly said after a moment.

    “He’s not playing with the kids?” Petunia asked, though she spotted the Curse-Breaker hovering above the pitch.

    “Refereeing.” Molly sighed. “It’s so good to have him visiting more often. In his first year working for Gringotts, he only visited once.”

    Petunia was about to comment that that was normal for teenagers moving out of their parents’ home to work abroad, especially for Weasleys, but swallowed the remark. She wouldn’t like it either when Harry moved out. And he would.

    Petunia had done the same, after all, when she had started her studies at Cambridge. Until her parents had died, and then Lily, and all she had had left was the house in Cokeworth.

    “He’s good with children,” Molly said, interrupting Petunia’s reminiscing.

    She glanced at the witch. Molly had that hopeful smile again. Petunia almost rolled her eyes. Why couldn’t the witch treat her as a woman who had raised a child for ten years, instead of a potential daughter-in-law? It wasn’t as if Bill was seriously interested in her just because he liked admiring her body when she was dressed for the heat. And she certainly wasn’t interested in him. He was eleven years younger than her, for heaven’s sake! Why couldn’t… She narrowed her eyes and smiled. “He’s also good at dealing with curses,” she said, “and at distracting Sand Drakes.”

    “Sand Drakes?” Molly was staring at her. As Charlie’s mum, she would likely know more than she wanted to about dragons of all types.

    In the most innocent voice she could muster, Petunia said: “We had to kill a Sand Drake on our last job. Didn’t he tell you about it?”

    Molly’s mouth snapped shut and her lips turned into a thin line. “No, he did not,” she spat, glaring at the Quidditch pitch.

    Petunia smiled - it didn’t look as if there would be any more attempts at matchmaking today.

    *****​

    Two hours later, the matchmaking attempts had stopped and lunch, opulent as always, was being delayed while Molly told her eldest son exactly (and loudly) what she thought about him glossing over life-threatening incidents at work. Of course, Molly’s not entirely unjustified tirade - Petunia tried to remember a few phrases for the next time Harry went off ‘exploring’ on his own - drew the attention of the rest of the Weasley kids and their visitors. Even Percy, who acted as if he was studying, was listening - Petunia could tell; he hadn’t turned a page in over a minute.

    Harry would be learning a number of new words he shouldn’t use, she thought with a rueful sigh as she sat down at the table. But not even ten seconds later, she found herself facing a redhead and a blonde beaming at her. Ginny and Luna, inseparable as always.

    “Petunia?”

    “Doctor Evans?”

    Petunia knew what was coming. “I’m not sure if there’s time enough for a story...” she began.

    “That’s OK. You can talk during the meal,” Ginny interrupted her.

    “Adults are allowed to talk as much at the table as they want, about whatever they want,” Luna added with a sage nod.

    “Which is why you’re asking me now, while Molly’s berating Bill and can’t stop you.”

    The two little witches nodded in unison, both smiling impishly at her.

    Petunia sighed. “Alright. This is about the discovery of the tomb of the high priest of Ramses II.”

    “Did you see a magical animal?” Luna asked wide-eyed.

    “Did you kill it?” Ginny ignored Luna’s pout.

    “She did! With a rocket launcher!” Harry appeared at Petunia’s side, Ron on his heels.

    “What’s a rocket launcher?” “And where can we get one?” Fred and George were staring at her with wide eyes and matching grins.

    Petunia knew Molly would appreciate her giving the twins ‘ideas’ even less than her spending an hour discussing the potential of enchanted muggle items with Arthur. But, damn it, the kids loved listening to her stories.

    And, if Petunia was honest with herself, she loved telling her stories. Seeing the kids listening with rapt attention made her forget that she was just a squib to most wizards and witches.

    With a smile, she continued: “I had narrowed down the area where it must lie to a small side valley of the Valley of Kings - layered with Muggle-repelling Charms - and so we set out, Bill and I, in the morning, before it got too hot…”

    *****​

    London, Diagon Alley, August 18th, 1991

    “My word! It’s Harry Potter!”

    Petunia Evans clenched her teeth when she heard the excited exclamation before the door to the Leaky Cauldron closed behind her and Harry. This was the reason she hated coming to Diagon Alley with Harry: stupid wizards crowding them and reminding Harry of his parents’ murder.

    Fortunately, as a quick look told her, there was only one wizard who had stood up from his table and was walking towards them, even though everyone in the pub was staring at them. He looked weird, though, even for a wizard. He was wearing a turban, old-fashioned British robes and fine, even elegant leather gloves. And, Petunia noticed as the man reached them, he smelled as if he had eaten a field of garlic. She could barely keep a polite smile on her face.

    “I’m Quirinus Quirrell, your future Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher!” He struck out his gloved hand.

    Harry glanced at her - obviously, he had noticed how weird the man looked as well. Petunia nodded, and he shook the man’s hand. Once.

    “It’s an honour to meet the Boy-Who-Lived! And to teach him, of course! Are you here to buy your wand?”

    Harry nodded. “Yes. Aren’t you afraid of the curse?”

    “The curse?”

    Harry nodded again. “The curse on the post of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” he said in a grave tone - Petunia recognised Fred and George’s influence; they had told him about it. “In over thirty years, no teacher has held the post for longer than a year.”

    “Ah, well…” Quirrell fidgetted. “I’m actually cursed already. I had a very nasty encounter with a Grande Zombie in Africa, you know.” He held up his gloved hands. “Secret African medicine keeps it at bay so far, but it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to teach a second year. So, you see,” he added with a smile that was entirely unfit for a dying man, “I’ve got nothing to lose.”

    Harry was staring, his lips moving in apparent shock. Petunia took his hand and glared at the twit who had just done this to her nephew. “My condolences,” she said in the same tone she had used when Barry Finch, who had tried to get her drunk enough to sleep with him at her first party at Cambridge, had failed his second exam. “But we have a long day ahead of us. Come, Harry.” She dragged him with her, nodding at the bartender as she stepped towards the exit into Diagon Alley. “Tom, if you would…”

    “Of course!” Tom reached the door before her and Harry and quickly tapped the bricks in the wall with his wand, opening the passage to Diagon Alley. “Sorry about Quirrell. He was quite civilised before you entered.”

    Petunia nodded. It wasn’t his fault. Or anyone else’s. Just Quirrell’s. And Dumbledore’s, who’d failed to stop the story of the ‘Boy-Who-Lived’.

    “Auntie,” Harry said as they stepped into the commercial heart of Wizarding Britain, as Lily had liked to call the Alley, “does that mean that the teacher is rotting?”

    Petunia drew a deep breath. There were drawbacks to Harry having spent so much time with her in Egypt, surrounded by Curse-Breakers; he knew entirely too much about exotic curses. “Probably,” she said. “But we can’t be sure; it’s the curse you thought you recognised but didn’t that kills you.”

    “I know, Auntie,” Harry said, nodding. “Bill told me the same thing.”

    Bill had been quite a bad influence on Harry, Petunia thought. Normal wizards didn’t state their wish to become Curse-Breakers before they even had a wand, at least she was fairly sure they didn’t.

    Weasleys and Lovegoods didn’t count.

    “Auntie, can I get a snake as a pet?”

    Petunia narrowed her eyes at him. “You’ve read your letter.” Dozens of times, actually. “Cats, owls and toads only.”

    “That’s not true. Percy has a rat, and Ron will get it this year. A snake would work too.”

    He was right, Petunia knew. But if he had a pet snake, then the chance that he’d slip and talk to it in public was simply too great. If anyone learned that her nephew was a Parselmouth… She had a subscription to the Prophet - only to keep informed about Britain in her absence, now that Harry was going to Hogwarts - and she knew the kind of fear-mongering that was the newspaper’s stock in trade.

    “No snakes,” she said. “And no talking to the snakes in the shop either!” she added in a whisper.

    “Aw, Auntie! I promise no one will know…”

    Petunia rolled her eyes. This was another reason she hated coming to Diagon Alley.

    *****​

    London, King’s Cross Station, September 1st, 1991

    “There it is! Come on, Auntie!” Harry was pushing his trolley so fast that, as he swerved around the people in King’s Cross Station, the cage with his new owl, perched on top of his trunk, started rattling. Hedwig, as he had named the snowy owl, barked in alarm.

    “It’s not even ten,” Petunia Evans said as she reached out and steadied the cage. “We don’t need to hurry - the train won’t depart for another hour.” She smiled indulgently, even though she didn’t feel like it. In an hour, her Harry would depart for Hogwarts. Just like Lily, so many years ago. He’d become a wizard. And she’d remain a squib.

    Harry, of course, was only thinking about finally being able to learn magic. She knew that he had picked up a few ‘tricks’ during his visits to Egypt, but it wasn’t the same. Lily had told her about Hogwarts often enough.

    They passed through the enchanted wall separating Platform 9¾ from the rest of the station without anyone noticing, and Petunia saw, to her relief, that they had managed to dodge the crowds, as she had planned - the platform was empty but for a couple dropping off their daughter. Muggles, too - they weren’t wearing robes - so they wouldn’t care or know about the Boy-Who-Lived.

    Or so Petunia thought, but as soon as the little girl saw them, she gasped, then tugged on her dad’s sleeve and pointed excitedly at Harry. “Mum, Dad, look! Look! It’s Doctor Evans!”

    Petunia blinked. No one except Luna and sometimes Ginny called her ‘Doctor Evans’ in Wizarding Britain, and those two only if they wanted to hear another story.

    “You’re famous, Auntie,” Harry said, and she didn’t have to look at him to know that he was smirking.

    The little witch had let go of her parents and was making a beeline for them, her obviously freshly-pressed robes and a bushy mane of brown hair billowing. “Doctor Evans!” She beamed at Petunia, displaying oversized front teeth. “I’ve read all of your articles in British Archaeology!”

    Petunia blinked in surprise. She wouldn’t have thought a girl Harry’s age would have read her articles. Apparently, she had been wrong since the little witch started pestering her with questions about her latest article.

    “Hermione!” The witch’s mum smiled at Petunia. “I’m sorry, our daughter sometimes forgets her manners when she’s excited. I’m Ellen Granger. This is my husband, Gabriel, and this is our daughter, Hermione.”

    The little witch was blushing fiercely. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, shuffling her feet. “I just got too excited.”

    “Petunia Evans,” Petunia said. “And this is my nephew, Harry.”

    “Harry Potter,” he said, smiling widely and offering his hand to Hermione. “You might’ve heard of me,” he added, with a far too familiar grin that suited a certain Curse-Breaker far better than an eleven-year-old boy.

    “The Boy-Who-Lived?” Hermione asked with wide eyes as Petunia realised that Bill needed another lesson in things he shouldn’t teach Harry.

    “Yes,” he said, “though that was my parents’ doing. I just survived.”

    “Oh…” Hermione was holding a hand to her mouth in obvious sympathy.

    Petunia cleared her throat and narrowed her eyes at Harry, who had the grace to look guilty. That also drew Hermione’s attention back to her.

    “I didn’t know that you were also a witch, Doctor!” she chirped.

    Petunia’s smile grew thin. “I’m not. I’m a squib.”

    “But she’s the best tomb raider in Gringotts’ employ!” Harry chimed in with that adorable, but also sometimes embarrassing, protectiveness he had started to display once he had understood what being a squib meant. “She killed a Sand Drake, too!”

    “Tomb raider?” Hermione repeated.

    “They go and discover ancient tombs in Egypt - the magical ones, of the wizards and priests, that are hidden from muggles,” Harry explained eagerly. “Full of traps and treasure, and ancient curses!”

    “Oh. That wasn’t in the articles.” The little witch’s head turned and she looked at Petunia. “Are there magical articles you’ve written?”

    Harry answered for Petunia: “Several, for the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler! I’ve got them in my trunk. If you want to share a compartment, I can show them to you.”

    The girl’s eyes lit up. “I’d love that!”

    “Let’s go, then!” Harry grabbed her hand and started to drag her with her. “Fred and George told me where the best seats are. I’m going to be a Curse-Breaker, you know!”

    “What’s a Curse-Breaker?”

    “The coolest job on earth! You have to be smart and brave to become one!”

    Petunia looked at the Grangers and sighed. “I’m sorry, he sometimes forgets his manners when he’s excited.”

    All three of them laughed at that, but Petunia had to force herself. The girl’s front teeth were too large and her hair was brown and too bushy. But she reminded her of Lily anyway.

    And she was a witch who read British Archaeology as an eleven-year-old. Petunia hadn’t started reading it until she had been fifteen.

    She couldn’t help but feel a little jealous.

    *****​

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, October 11th, 1991

    Petunia Evans smiled when she saw Hedwig land on the folding table in front of her tent. Harry had written again. She patted the exhausted bird on the head as she took the letter off her leg and put a bowl with owl treats on the table before opening the letter.

    While the trip to Egypt was hard on the owl, Petunia liked that she was now receiving Harry’s letters faster than when he had been using the postal service. Even using airmail, the need to transfer the letters to Magical Egypt and then forward them to the camp meant they sometimes took two weeks before they reached her.

    “Did Ron write?”

    Of course, Hedwig was such an exotic sight, everyone in the camp knew when another letter from her nephew had arrived. Like Bill, who was looking at her eagerly.

    She checked the envelope’s contents. Yes, there were two letters - three, actually, she realised. She handed Ron’s letter to Bill and started to read Harry’s.

    It was a long letter, so he would have something noteworthy to tell her. His first letter had been about his Sorting. He was a Gryffindor - as she had expected - as were Ron and his new friend Hermione. Harry becoming Gryffindor’s new Seeker had been the big news of his second letter - although that hadn’t been a surprise for her either; half the team had already played with him at The Burrow and knew how good he was. Now what could have prompted him to write another long letter?

    A minute later, she had to resist the urge to head back to Britain and give Dumbledore and his staff - especially Snape - a piece of her mind. What were they thinking? And what were Harry and his friends thinking?

    “They’re tomb raiding!” she heard Bill say, laughing. “They discovered the Hogwarts dungeons!”

    She glared at him as she picked up the third letter. “That’s dangerous.”

    He shook his head. “Not really, Doc. I’ve been there as well. It’s just the old dungeons - full of dust, rats and broken furniture. An adventure, but a safe one. If they get lost, the ghosts will find them quickly. Happened to me, once,” he added with a chuckle.

    “Really?” She narrowed her eyes at him. “And might you have told that story to your siblings?”

    He coughed. “Everyone knows about the dungeons. The Hufflepuffs and the snakes even live in the upper parts.”

    She sniffed and started to read the third letter. It was three times as thick as Harry’s so she knew Hermione had written her again. Only this time, as Petunia discovered, the girl wasn’t asking about her work, but about the best spells to help with ‘exploring’ and dealing with a number of obstacles she described in great detail. Petunia sighed. She had hoped, after Harry’s first letter, that Hermione would be a restraining influence. But, unfortunately, her clever nephew had managed to turn the girl into an accomplice.

    She frowned when she came to the last page. “Hermione mentions a ‘sealed section’ of the dungeons in her letter. That doesn’t sound safe.” She knew which curses were used to seal off tombs.

    “Probably the vaults,” Bill replied. “Don’t worry - they won’t be able to sneak in there; I tried for seven years and never managed it. The Headmaster has them locked down tight.”

    Petunia nodded, relieved. Her nephew was very talented, she knew that Ron had a knack for underhanded tactics and, by all accounts - Harry’s - Hermione was a budding genius, but if Bill hadn’t managed it in seven years, she could sleep peacefully for at least five.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, December 23rd, 1991

    “Good afternoon, Miss Evans. Please have a seat,” Dumbledore said with a friendly smile, a gracious wave of his hand and that patronising attitude Petunia Evans loathed. She was a squib, not a cripple or a retard.

    She nodded at the Headmaster, then stared at the ugly man standing to one side. Not that she’d meet the eyes of either wizard. She knew better than that. “Snape.”

    “Petunia.” He never called her Evans. She didn’t call him Severus any more.

    She scoffed, then turned to the Headmaster. “You already know why I’m here, then.”

    He inclined his head. “It was an educated guess. Harry’s issues with Severus do stand out among the other, very positive, reports I’ve received.”

    She snorted. “Harry’s issues? Are you going to blame a child for a teacher’s inability to behave maturely?”

    “Blaming me instead of the spoiled bully. How typical of you!” Snape said.

    She narrowed her eyes, tempted to stare into his - but that would open her mind to him. “Harry a bully? Are you blind, stupid or just lying to cover for your bigots?”

    “He acts exactly like his father: strutting around, mouthing off to teachers, breaking curfew and hexing his fellow students without cause.”

    “Without cause?” She knew what Snape was talking about. “Malfoy attacked him; Harry only defended himself.” Hermione had confirmed that.

    “To be fair,” Dumbledore spoke up, “while young Mr Malfoy may have cast the first hex, Harry’s response was quite brutal and far exceeded what would have been appropriate.”

    “Malfoy’s a bigot and the son of a Death Eater.” Arthur and Molly had filled her in. “If he raises his wand against the Boy-Who-lived, he deserves to get cursed.”

    “You should not blame a child for the sins of his parents,” Dumbledore told her. “And there will not be any cursing of students in my school,” he added in a cold tone.

    She was taken aback by the sudden shift from Dumbledore’s congenial, polite manner, but forced herself to snort. “Tell that to him,” she said, nodding towards Snape.

    “I’m blaming him for his sins,” Snape retorted. “Not for his father’s.”

    “I’ve heard all about your lessons,” she spat, trying to control her anger. The git had all but tortured Harry! “You blame him for everything that goes wrong - even for your own shortcomings as a teacher. Like you blamed his father for ruining your friendship with Lily when it was your own damn fault!”

    Snape drew a hissing breath. “And you are still jealous of Lily! You think I’ve forgotten your pathetic plans to go to Hogwarts as a squib? You thought that even though you can’t wield a wand, you could brew potions? Hah! Your ignorance was almost amusing.”

    She clenched her teeth. How dare this wizard say that to her! “You thought that even though you’re a miserable excuse for a human being, you had a chance with Lily, didn’t you? She never loved you!” She smiled grimly when she saw him flinch at that.

    “Enough.” Dumbledore’s cold voice cut through the room and Petunia froze for a moment. “This bickering should shame both of you. We are not here to discuss your own history; we are here to discuss Harry.” He leaned forward. “And while I do not doubt that Severus is stricter with young Harry than with other students, I also do not doubt that Harry is not entirely innocent of what he has been punished for.”

    Petunia pressed her lips together. Harry wasn’t an angel, she knew that well enough - he told her about his ‘adventures’ in his letters. And he had a way with words ( and sometimes hexes) when he resented someone. But that didn’t excuse singling him out like Snape was doing.

    “I expect both of you to sufficiently admonish your respective charges of the necessity of behaving in a more civilised and polite manner,” Dumbledore went on. “There will be no excessive punishments, but I will not tolerate students disrespecting their teachers. Learning magic is dangerous enough without such antics disrupting a lesson.”

    Petunia nodded, too angry to speak. There wasn’t much she could do for Harry any more. Not as a squib.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, March 18th, 1992

    Petunia rushed straight to the infirmary as soon as she passed the Hogwarts gates, the note she had received - which told her that Harry had been injured - clutched in her hand. She had to see him. Reassure herself that he would be fine. Reassure him that he would be fine. Be there for him.

    She didn’t knock, just pushed the door open and entered. The matron stood, but Petunia strode past, ignoring her. There he was. “Harry!”

    “Auntie?” As he turned to look at her, she saw his expression change from surprise to a broad smile. “You came!”

    “Of course I came!” she said, sitting down on his bed and holding his hand.

    “Hi, Petunia.”

    “Hello, Doctor Evans.”

    She blinked as she realised that Ron and Hermione were occupying the beds next to Harry’s. Her eyes widened, then narrowed as she stared at Harry, whose smile was slipping. “What happened?”

    “Ah, well… you know how we’ve been exploring the dungeons? The deep dungeons?” Harry began.

    “Yes.” He had written about their ‘expeditions’ in every letter.

    “Well…” He took a deep breath, then looked at his friends, then back at her. “We discovered a secret passage.”

    “Into the vaults,” Ron added.

    “It had been forgotten - not even the ghosts knew about it,” Hermione said. “We asked.”

    “But it was trapped,” Harry continued.

    Petunia felt her heart skip a beat. “Trapped? You walked into a trap?”

    “Of course not!” Harry looked indignant. “We spotted the trap.”

    “And the guardian, a Stone Chimaera,” Ron added.

    “A Stone Chimaera,” Petunia repeated.

    “That’s a Chimaera which is partially made of stone,” Hermione started to explain. A glare from Petunia silenced the girl.

    “I know what it is.” She had encountered one before.

    “Well, it was blocking the passage. Probably since it had first been built,” Harry said.

    “They can turn to stone and live for a thousand years,” Hermione said, then flinched when Petunia looked at her.

    “Anyway, it took us some time...” Harry said.

    “Three months,” Hermione interjected.

    “...but we figured out a way to put the Chimaera to sleep,” Harry finished.

    “They’re part dragon, so I asked Charlie for a special potion recipe, the one they use in Romania to make dragons fall asleep so they can treat them,” Ron explained.

    “Easy,” Harry told her.

    Petunia rubbed her eyes. Such guardians were usually only the first line of defence in a tomb. “What happened?” she asked, more forcefully.

    “I’m coming to that,” Harry said. “We heard that there was an emergency at the Ministry that needed Dumbledore. Which meant that McGonagall would be too busy replacing him to do her usual check on our house.”

    “She never does it when he’s at the Wizengamot,” Ron said.

    “Yes. Or when she’s correcting tests in the evening,” Hermione added.

    Petunia clenched her teeth. She wasn’t interested in those details - she wanted to know how the children had been hurt!

    “So, we waited until curfew, then snuck into the dungeons,” Harry said. “Only, as we arrived, we discovered that someone had killed the Chimaera. Someone who wanted to steal the Philosopher’s Stone!”

    “The Philosopher’s Stone?”

    “Ah…” Harry winced. “We found out that Dumbledore’s keeping the Philosopher’s Stone safe for his friends the Flamels.”

    “Accidentally,” Ron explained. “We wanted to find out about the passage.”

    “Really,” Petunia said.

    “Yes, really,” Harry said. “Anyway, we wanted to go and call McGonagall - honestly, we did - but then we heard this scream…”

    “A terrible scream. Like someone dying,” Ron said, shivering.

    “We just wanted to help, we didn’t know that it was Shrieking Moss,” Hermione added. “That’s seventh-year Herbology.”

    “So, we ran into the passage and came to a round room where Quirrell was burning the moss on the walls. That’s where the shrieks were coming from.”

    “Quirrell,” Petunia said. She had never liked that man.

    “Yes. But he saw us as well, and threatened us at wand point,” Harry said. “Made us come to him.”

    “He wanted to use us to detect traps,” Ron said, nodding. “As soon as he found the next part of the passage under the moss.”

    “Hermione stumbled, and he was about to curse her, and we jumped at him,” Harry said, “and then he started burning.”

    “Burning?”

    “Yes.” Harry nodded, looking queasy. “He was rolling on the floor, screaming worse than the moss, and I tried to pat out the flames, but wherever I touched him, he started to burn.”

    “That’s when we realised that Harry’s touch burned him. And when the turban came loose and we saw his other face,” Ron said.

    “It was Voldemort, Auntie,” Harry whispered, trembling. “He’s back.”

    Petunia felt a cold shiver run down her spine. Voldemort was back.

    As Dumbledore had warned her, over ten years ago.

    *****​
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
    Leonidas333, caspian1a, Yla and 34 others like this.
  2. Older-Than-Time

    Older-Than-Time Descending into The Lewds

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    You made Petunia awesome...

    I cant help but watch now!
     
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  3. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    Oh very neat. An enjoyable Petunia with no Dudders.

    Wonder if she'll meet Sirius. Wink wink.
     
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  4. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Glad to hear. She is awesome - but she's also overcompensating for her inferiority complex and other issues.

    That's a distinct possibility :p
     
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  5. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    Neat. It ties that up sweetly, Harry gets a godfather.
     
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  6. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    That's also a distinct possibility.
     
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  7. Threadmarks: Chapter 2: The Monster
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 2: The Monster

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, July 7th, 1992

    “That’s a very deep drop, Doc,” Bill commented as he looked down the shaft they had just uncovered.

    Petunia Evans knew what he really meant, of course, when she saw him frown as she pulled out her rope ladder from her backpack. “What do you propose, a broom?” she asked with a snort. The shaft was too narrow for a broom; you’d have to fly straight down, and not even Harry on a dare would be so reckless as to attempt that. At least she hoped so; she certainly had scolded him enough after his latest Wronski Feint.

    “I could levitate you down,” he replied.

    She bit down on her first, scathing reply, and chuckled. “By levitating my clothes? Nice try, Bill.”

    He grinned, though she saw him blush a little. “Not like that. I could levitate a platform, though.”

    She shook her head. “This is the tomb of a Necromancer. The shaft is likely lined with traps. I need to be able to react quickly if we trip one.” And she couldn’t do that while depending on his wand.

    He frowned again but didn’t pursue the argument any further. She was right, anyway.

    She walked over to the top of the shaft and hammered in the spikes to hold the ladder in place. Bill would use a Sticking Charm, too, of course, but it never hurt to have some redundancy.

    “How did you find this shaft, anyway?” Bill asked as she started to limber up for the descent. “Every Curse-Breaker I know has been through here and never noticed anything.”

    Harry had asked the snakes in the area for ‘big caves or stones underground’, but Petunia couldn’t tell Bill that. If that secret got out, people would call Harry a dark wizard. And the fewer who knew about it, the safer it was. She grinned. “Female intuition.”

    He snorted and shook his head at that. “Ladies first,” he said with an exaggerated bow as she walked past him to the opening.

    She didn’t deign to respond and instead checked if her weapons were properly secured in their holsters. Glock-20s on her hips, combat knife strapped to her calf, entrenching tool and shotgun in their sheaths on her backpack.

    “Those won’t do much against traps,” Bill said.

    “I know.” And he also knew why she had started wearing so many weapons - his youngest brother had been at Harry’s side when they had encountered Voldemort a few months ago.

    She adjusted the light on her headband and started climbing down. The ladder hadn’t triggered any traps, but she knew better than to trust that; the ancient Egyptians had known their business. But she had one advantage: The traps would have been installed to keep whoever was buried there from getting out, and they would be magical - and meant to last millennia.

    And no trap, not even a magical one, could last if the stone on which it was placed crumbled. She grinned when she spotted the block below her. Unlike the one next to her, it was dusty but free of any signs of erosion. Magically preserved. Trapped.

    She placed a sticky marker right above the trapped area and climbed up again. “Time to earn your cut,” she told Bill.

    “Finally! I was getting bored here,” he replied, grinning, but she knew him well enough to notice the tiny sliver of fear underneath his bravado.

    Which was a good thing. As a tomb raider, that fear kept you alive.

    It didn’t take him more than a few minutes to deal with that trap, but Petunia found six more traps on the way down. Her arms were tired from all the climbing up and down when she finally stood on the bottom of the shaft and stared down a long, narrow passage.

    She was in better shape than Bill, of course. Her partner chose to float down on a levitated rock instead of taking the ladder. She smirked but didn’t comment.

    “Ready?” she asked.

    “I was born ready,” he replied, still acting the cocky Curse-Breaker.

    She snorted and entered the passage. Hieroglyphs on the walls told the story of the rise and fall of the necromancer buried here, but not his name. The Pharaoh at the time had had the name erased - a final punishment for a man who had tried to live forever. And yet, the man had been buried, rather than burned to ashes and scattered to the four winds. Wizards.

    Halfway to the door at the end of the passage, she stopped. There was a tiny line in the dust. And another two yards ahead. “Pit trap,” she announced.

    Bill nodded and pulled a small rock out of his pocket as she walked past him. He lobbed the rock so it landed on the trap. Nothing happened. He flicked his wand, and the rock grew to ten, then twenty times its size. He looked at her.

    “It probably reacts to living creatures,” Petunia stated the obvious.

    Frowning, he turned the rock into a pig. The animal had barely started to get its bearing when the floor dropped away beneath it. The panicked screams cut off sharply.

    Petunia went to check, then nodded. “Spear pit trap.” The transfigured pig had been pierced by half a dozen spikes set at the bottom of the pit.

    Bill winced but nodded. “Is it safe to create a bridge?”

    Petunia shrugged. “I think so.” Before he could do so, though, she dashed forward and jumped over the gap, landing in a crouch on the other side. She smirked at his expression.

    A few minutes later they reached the door. Or rather, the massive stone block barring their way. Petunia couldn’t spot any signs of a trap nearby, but the stone was almost glowing with magic. She turned to Bill and nodded at the obstacle. And ignored his grin as he started to dismantle the spells protecting the stone.

    By the time Bill had finished unravelling the wards defending the entrance to what she was certain was the actual grave chamber, Petunia had taken pictures of the hieroglyphs in the passage - carefully omitting the trap, of course. That would be too sensational for British Archaeology. And all the muggle experts would believe that the tomb was a fake since such a trap wouldn’t last for over three thousand years. Not to mention that the dead pig would get the animal rights activists after her.

    “I’m ready to do the honours,” Bill announced. He looked tired but obviously proud. And justifiably so - few Curse-Breakers could have done what he had, and even fewer in that time.

    She smiled at him and nodded. “Do it.”

    He swished his wand, and the stone block barring their way shrunk, revealing - as she had expected - the grave chamber of the Nameless Necromancer.

    She smiled as she stepped into the chamber - the first living being to do so in thousands of years. There were more hieroglyphs on the walls, telling of the trial, execution and entombing of the necromancer. In gruesome detail. There was his sarcophagus, surrounded by various containers for his organs. And the treasure.

    “Why did they bury him with treasure?” Bill asked, crouching down and studying a golden cup.

    “They wanted to erase his name from history. That meant disposing of everything he had created in his life,” Petunia explained.

    He scoffed. “Didn’t really work out, did it?”

    She shrugged. “The Pharaoh didn’t anticipate getting toppled a few years later, and his successor spreading the legend of the Nameless Necromancer to enhance his own legitimacy.” Which hadn’t worked out either, but that was irrelevant now.

    “Uh, Doc.”

    “What?” Petunia turned away from the last line of hieroglyphs.

    Bill had opened one container. “This one should be holding his brain, but it’s empty.”

    “Check the others!” Petunia snapped, walking over to the sarcophagus. It was covered with hieroglyphs as well. No, with Egyptian runes. Seals. This wasn’t a normal tomb. This was a prison.

    “The others are empty as well,” Bill reported, his wand aimed at the sarcophagus.

    “They mummified him alive,” Petunia whispered.

    “Do you think he’s still alive?” Bill whispered.

    She shook her head. “Alive? No. Be silent now.” She pressed her ear against the stone, but couldn’t hear anything. Clenching her teeth, she turned to Bill.

    “One Supersensory Charm coming up,” he said. For once, he didn’t grin, as he usually did when she was unexpectedly forced to rely on his spells. He cast the spell, then knelt down next to the sarcophagus. And paled. “I hear something scratching inside.”

    So much for discovering an intact mummy, Petunia thought as she reached into her backpack for a molotov cocktail.

    *****​

    “...and then I opened a small hole in the lid, and the Doc dropped a bomb inside. Poof - no more evil mummy!” Bill spread his hands with a grin as he finished his story for Harry.

    Petunia smiled at the rapt expression on her nephew’s face. Bill had skipped how long it had taken for the mummy to burn to ashes. And the screams. And the fact that the air had quickly turned foul inside the tomb, and she had had to rely on his Bubble-Head Charm. She didn’t mind, though - it made a better story for the children when one skipped such minutiae.

    Especially when not to do so would remind Harry of how Quirrell had burned to death under his hands just a few months ago. He didn’t deserve more nightmares.

    So when Harry turned to her and asked with big eyes if Bill’s story was true, she nodded with a smile and ruffled his hair. “Yes. Another successful expedition.”

    “Does that mean that we can return to Britain?” Harry asked.

    Petunia winced. Voldemort was in Britain. She knew about Lily’s protection, Dumbledore had told her when he had brought Harry to her, after that horrible Halloween, but would that be enough? Granted, it had worked against Quirrell. It had worked so well, Harry had to deal with having killed a man at eleven. And he wasn’t that safe in the camp, even with the guards paid extra to protect him.

    “I’d like to celebrate my birthday with my friends, Auntie.” Harry was looking at her while Bill was pointedly not looking at her. “I promise I won’t go exploring any tombs over the summer, either,” Harry added, nodding earnestly.

    Petunia narrowed her eyes at her nephew. “Do you mean that if we don’t go back, you’ll start exploring tombs here?” If he hadn’t already - talking to desert snakes would let him find tombs nearby.

    He coughed. “I didn’t say that.”

    “But you meant it.”

    He pouted. “I’m just saying that I wouldn’t be so tempted if we were back in England.”

    She sighed. “Alright. I’ll talk to Ripclaw and tell him I’m taking my vacation now.”

    Harry beamed at her and Bill chuckled. She glared at her partner, then grinned and addressed her nephew. “Why don’t you write your friends that Bill and I found another tomb, are now done for the summer and you’ll be back in England earlier than planned?”

    Harry nodded happily and went off to his room in their tent. Bill glared at her. She grinned at him. Ron would tell Molly, and Molly would know that Bill had no excuse not to visit The Burrow.

    “You know,” Bill said, smiling again, “one might think that you want me to return to Britain with you.” He flicked his earring as he stood and took a step towards her.

    She snorted. He was a handsome wizard - well-built, slightly taller than her. Witty, too. But he was a wizard, and he was eleven years younger than her. She had been finishing her studies at Cambridge when he had started at Hogwarts. Not that, after all their years working together, he was serious about seducing her any more.

    And her affair with her first partner had taught her better than to mix love and business. That kind of stupidity got tomb raiders killed. Banter and flirting, though, was alright. You had to do what you could to amuse yourself in the camp.

    So she stepped right up to him, craning her neck slightly, and said in the sauciest tone she could manage: “In your dreams, Bill.”

    He acted as if struck, putting a hand on his heart, and she patted his shoulder as she walked out of the tent. She had a goblin to talk to.

    *****

    “You’re leaving?” Ripclaw sounded as if Petunia had just announced that she had massacred his family. Or stolen his gold. But all goblins sounded like that when talking to wizards, especially those in their employ, and Petunia had long since stopped being impressed, much less intimidated, by their belligerent attitude.

    “I’m taking a vacation in England,” she corrected the goblin. “With my nephew.”

    “Summer’s barely started,” he growled.

    “Yes. And I prefer to spend the hottest days of the year in England, not here.” She leaned forward slightly, towering over the goblin. Attitude was everything when dealing with the greedy creatures. If you showed any weakness, they tried to capitalise on it. But they paid well, and they weren’t allowed to use wands.

    He huffed. “What a waste of gold.”

    She shrugged. “I just found the tomb of the Nameless Necromancer. Even if I stayed here, I’d be busy writing articles about it, so it’s not as if you will be losing gold.”

    He scoffed but didn’t disagree with her. “When will you be back?”

    “After September first,” she told him.

    “Ah.” He huffed again. “I assume Curse-Breaker Weasley will be leaving too?”

    Was Ripclaw joking? Even after a decade of working for Gringotts, she still didn’t understand goblin humour. She shrugged. “That is up to him. And his mum.”

    Ripclaw cackled as he handed her her Portkey and waved her off, so the goblin had probably been joking.

    It didn’t matter. She had her Portkey. And Harry would have his party.

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, July 31st, 1992

    An hour into Harry’s birthday party, Petunia knew that next year, she would accept Molly’s offer to host the party at The Burrow. There the children could play Quidditch, which would occupy and tire them out. Her and Harry’s home, however, was in the middle of Cokeworth. Flying was not possible. And the children were a little too old for the local playground, she added to herself as she stared out of the window in the kitchen. Lily hadn’t gone out there any more, not after she had started Hogwarts. She had visited Snape instead. To talk about magic, Petunia thought, clenching her teeth.

    “And that’s the skull of the Sand Drake Auntie killed last year!”

    Not that she thought that they would go to the playground when Harry was bent on showing off all the relics and souvenirs from their travels. Ron, Ginny, Luna, Fred and George had been here before, but Hermione and the other members of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team - apart from the captain, who didn’t attend, as he was visiting a Quidditch team instead, or so she’d been told - hadn’t been given ‘the tour’ yet.

    “Auntie, Auntie!”

    She turned around. “No, Harry, I’m not going to show you an RPG.”

    He gaped at her for a moment - had he really thought she wouldn’t know what he was about to ask? - then frowned. “Why not?”

    “It’s highly illegal, for one thing,” Hermione pointed out.

    “She has a license!” Harry replied.

    Arranged by Gringotts, and Petunia didn’t know, nor did she want to know, how they had managed that. She was glad, though - a gun wouldn’t do much against Voldemort, but at least she wasn’t completely helpless. She cleared her throat. “I’m not showing you any weapons.”

    “But we already saw the hunting rifle on the wall,” Ron said.

    She rolled her eyes. “Then you should be satisfied.” She suddenly frowned. The trio, as she thought of Harry, Ron and Hermione, was badgering her, the twins were going through the fridge, taking out bottles of cola for the ‘Chasers’, as Harry had introduced them, but… “Where are Ginny and Luna?”

    “Oh, they’ve gone to the playground,” said Harry blithely. “Luna wanted to play on the swings again.”

    Apparently, Petunia had been wrong about the appeal of the playground. “Stay here! I’ll go fetch them!” she told Harry and the others and hurried to the front door. She hoped the house would still be standing when she returned.

    The house was still standing and not on fire ten minutes later when she herded the two sullen girls back inside.

    “But there aren’t any swings here!” Luna protested. “Last time we could play there!”

    “Last time, everyone was at the playground,” Petunia pointed out. “Since I can’t be in two places at once, you’ll have to stay at the house.”

    “But…” Luna sniffled.

    Petunia rolled her eyes at her. She wasn’t falling for that again. Not after last time.

    “We just need to tell the others that we should go to the playground,” Ginny said, brightening. “Come!” She tugged on Luna’s sleeve, and the blonde eagerly followed her into the house.

    Petunia shook her head. At least the discussion about whether or not they should all go to the playground would take a while to resolve, and then it would be time for the cake.

    She was about to enter the house herself when she spotted a dark figure watching her from the corner of the street. She had her hand on the grip of the gun she carried under her shoulder before she recognised him. Snape.

    She pressed her lips together. Dumbledore had told her that their home was protected against Voldemort and his followers and that there was no need for additional security. So what was Snape doing here? Spying on her? She wanted to walk over and give him a piece of her mind, but she didn’t want to give Harry ideas. Not when he finally was managing to get through most of his Potions lessons without clashing with Snape.

    So she glared at the wizard and then went inside to settle the growing argument in the living room.

    *****​

    London, Diagon Alley, August 19th, 1992

    Today, Three PM: Gilderoy Lockhart signing his new book, Magical Me!

    Petunia frowned when she saw the sign outside Flourish and Blotts. It wasn’t enough that the twit was the new Defence teacher at Hogwarts, but of all the days he could choose to promote his newest book, he had to pick the day Petunia visited Diagon Alley?

    She pressed her lips together and turned away. “Let’s go to Florean’s. My treat,” she told the assembled Weasleys, Grangers, Lovegoods and Harry.

    Molly opened her mouth to protest but Petunia nodded at the sign. “Oh dear!” the witch said. “Yes, let’s go to Fortescue's. We need a break. And then we can go to Ollivander's and buy Ginny and Luna their wands.”

    “But shouldn’t we buy our books first?” Hermione spoke up. “That way, we can read while Ginny and Luna pick out their wands. And,” she added with a beaming smile, “there’s a famous author signing his books, too!”

    Petunia sighed. Hermione was a muggleborn; she didn’t know. But how to tell her that…

    “Auntie and the twit, they have a history,” Harry said, glaring at the sign.

    “What?” Hermione stared wide-eyed at Harry, then at Petunia.

    “Yes,” Harry went on before Petunia could stop him. “He seduced her, then dumped her and then wrote a book about it!”

    “Harry!” Petunia hissed.

    “What?” He looked at her, the picture of affronted innocence. “It’s true! I was there!”

    “You were four,” she corrected him.

    “So? I still know the truth,” he insisted. “Lockhart is a jealous twit who tried to steal Auntie’s fame after they explored a tomb together.”

    “Because she’s a squib?” Hermione asked.

    “Yes,” Harry answered while the Grangers tried to teach their daughter a little more tact.

    “That’s despicable!” Hermione exclaimed. “We should tell him off!”

    “No, we should get some ice cream,” Petunia said, frowning at the girl until she caved.

    They started to walk towards the Ice Cream Parlour, but Harry wasn’t finished yet.

    “And you know the worst thing? He’s our new Defence teacher!”

    “What?”

    “Yeah!”

    Petunia shook her head. Not that Lockhart didn’t deserve the scorn for trying to portray her as a ‘plucky squib’ who had to be saved by the famous author, but she would have to tell Harry not to start another feud with a teacher. And, she added after seeing the others’ expressions, his friends as well.

    *****​

    Despite Molly’s earlier words, Petunia had had to repeatedly insist that yes, she was paying for the entire group until the proud witch relented. Petunia smiled at her small triumph as she waited outside Ollivander’s with Arthur and the Grangers while Molly and Xenophilius were buying wands for their daughters. What good was risking your life for gold when you weren’t allowed to spend it as you saw fit?

    But her good mood vanished as soon as she saw who was walking down the Alley: the Malfoys, father and son. And they had seen her.

    “What a curious sight outside this prestigious shop: a squib and a disgrace. Why are you looking at wands which one of you cannot use and the other cannot afford?” Lucius Malfoy sneered at them.

    “The only disgrace here is you,” Arthur retorted.

    “Death Eater!” Harry piped up.

    “Muggle lover!” Draco retorted.

    Both had drawn their wands, Petunia realised. And they weren’t the only ones. She stepped in front of Harry and faced Lucius. “Are you finished with your childish insults?”

    His sneer turned into a mocking smile. “Doesn’t it hurt to know that even children have more power than you?”

    Petunia heard Harry gasp and quickly reached out with her hand to keep him from going for the wizard. “Of course you would think that all power comes from the end of a wand,” she spat, struggling to keep her temper.

    He grinned. “Touched a nerve, did I? But then, you’re doubly cursed. Not only are you a squib, but you’re a muggleborn squib. I didn’t even know that that was possible.”

    “There’s so much you don’t know, it would fill the Great Library of Alexandria several times over,” she retorted.

    He glared at her, then that mocking smile appeared on his face again. “Maybe it isn’t possible. Maybe your parents adopted you out of pity.” He glanced at Harry, then at her. “Certainly, I fail to see any family resemblance between you and your late sister.”

    Petunia wanted to hit him. Or shoot him. But that was what he wanted, she realised - there was a pair of Aurors waiting a short distance away.

    Arthur must have missed them since he took a step forward and bellowed: “That’s enough!”

    Lucius chuckled. “And there we have it - the wizard stepping up to protect the squib. How noble of you, Arthur. Or is she paying you to guard her? You do need the money, after all.”

    Before Arthur could deck or curse him, Petunia grabbed his arm. “Don’t let him provoke you!” she hissed. “There are Aurors waiting.”

    The wizard took a deep breath and managed to control himself. “Up to your underhanded tricks again?” he spat through clenched teeth. “How typical.”

    “Yeah, just like a Death Eater!” Harry said again.

    “Death Eater!” “Death Eater!” “Death Eater!”

    The other Weasley children took up the cry while Hermione whispered to her parents - probably explaining what this was about, Petunia thought.

    And, of course, that was when the Aurors finally broke up the confrontation.

    She hated visiting Diagon Alley.

    *****​

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, November 3rd, 1992

    Petunia stared at the letter Hedwig had just delivered. What was going on at Hogwarts? It hadn’t been like this when Lily had attended the school, and they had been at war back then!

    Dear Auntie,

    A lot has happened since my last letter! We’ve beaten Slytherin at Quidditch again, despite Malfoy having bought new brooms for the entire team. They simply aren’t good enough. Lockhart is still a twit and his lessons are more about him than the spells - but at least we’re learning interesting spells from all his adventures. That’s much better than Quirrell managed. Snape’s still a git. And the twins pulled another prank on Malfoy. Turned him into a chicken during breakfast and had the house-elves chase him! Maybe he’ll learn not to insult you.

    But the most important thing is: The Chamber of Secrets has been opened - the legendary secret chamber of Salazar Slytherin! That’s what someone wrote in blood on a wall while everyone was at the Halloween feast. The last time that happened was fifty years ago, but they never found the chamber.

    But we’re working on it. We’re sure that it’s in the dungeons somewhere, but we don’t know where exactly. When we’re not mapping out the dungeons, we’re splitting up. Hermione’s searching the library for clues, and Ron’s asking the ghosts about it. Luna, Ginny and I are trying to find whoever is behind this - it’s a younger student, we think, the writing on the wall wasn’t high enough for an adult, so we’re observing all of the lower years. Not at once, of course. And once we find them, we can follow them to the chamber.

    Also, Filch’s cat has disappeared, and he is blaming us, but we didn’t do a thing to his stupid cat. Don’t believe a word he says when Dumbledore calls you.

    Love,

    Harry

    Petunia took a deep breath and put the letter down. Then she glared at Bill, who had just finished Ron’s letter: “This is all your fault. You encouraged them with your stories.”

    He at least had the grace to wince.

    She shook her head. “I’ll write to Dumbledore. He has to put a stop to this before someone gets hurt.”

    Like Harry.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, December 4th, 1992

    Petunia stared at the petrified boy in the school’s infirmary. Colin Creevey - Harry had told her his name in his letter - was still clutching his camera. Which had been destroyed by whatever had attacked him.

    “Why hasn’t he been cured yet?” she asked as she straightened. She had left Egypt, and Bill, who was dealing with Ripclaw and an injury, as soon as possible after she had received the news, but it had still taken her two days to reach Hogwarts. The boy should have been revived in the meantime.

    The matron frowned at her. “Normally, a Mandrake potion poured on his lips would revive him, but it didn’t work in his case. The Headmaster theorised that this is because the effect is too strong to be countered by a potion that has only been symbolically ingested. Professor Snape is working on a potion that can be applied externally, but it will take some time.”

    She snorted. Snape being helpful - what a change. “So we cannot ask him what kind of monster attacked him. And his camera has been conveniently destroyed as well. But what kind of creature has such a strong petrification attack?” A Gorgon, maybe? But, as far as she was aware, Mandrake potions worked on their victims.

    “It’s a Basilisk!”

    Petunia turned and saw Harry and his friends standing at the entrance to the infirmary.

    Hermione nodded emphatically. “Colin didn’t see the eyes directly, but through the lens of his camera. That’s why he was petrified rather than killed,” she explained.

    “That seems a little far-fetched,” Petunia said.

    “It is a Basilisk. We heard it hiss inside the pipes,” Ron insisted.

    Petunia’s eyes widened. They heard it hiss? She knew what that meant. Harry had heard the monster talk. “I see. A Basilisk.” That would be a sticky affair. Even with Dumbledore.

    “Will you hunt it down and kill it?” Harry asked.

    She shook her head. “No. I’ll leave that to Dumbledore. I’m just here to find the Chamber of Secrets.”

    “We can help!” Harry exclaimed. “We almost found it, when Colin was petrified.”

    Over her dead body. Harry wasn’t going near that monster.

    “We have to search the pipes,” Ron added. “The ones big enough for a Basilisk to pass through.”

    “But Dumbledore had all of them sealed up when we told him that the monster was using them,” Hermione said. “We didn’t know what kind of monster it was, then.”

    “Basilisks can pass through pipes too small for humans,” Petunia told them. The average size of a Basilisk was between a large python and an anaconda. “So I think we’ll have to use another way.”

    “What do you mean?”

    She grinned. “I’ll need to look at where Colin was attacked - and you’ll go back to your dorm, or I’ll have you sent to The Burrow!” They’d be safe there while Dumbledore organised the evacuation of the school.

    *****​

    “My dear Petunia! I should have known that your love of adventure would draw you here, to Hogwarts, in our most critical hour!”

    Petunia pressed her lips together and resisted the urge to shoot Lockhart. “Gilderoy,” she said in a flat tone.

    “The one and only!” He smiled at her, flashing his perfect teeth, and, as usual, seemed to be unable to understand that not every woman would swoon in his handsome presence. “We two famous adventurers, reunited on a quest to save the school! The book practically writes itself!”

    She glared at Dumbledore. That was his fault. He had hired the bastard. Famous adventurers, indeed! After Lockhart had tried to claim the lion’s share of their fame for discovering the tomb of the First Priest of Anubis!

    As she should have expected, the Headmaster was unfazed by her glare. He smiled. “Gilderoy volunteered to help you find the Chamber of Secrets as soon as he heard of your arrival.”

    That Petunia didn’t doubt a second. The damned glory hound was already thinking of his next book. But she might need a wizard, and, for all his faults, not the least among them the time he spent on his admittedly attractive appearance, Lockhart could hold his own in a sticky situation. If only Bill were here, instead of recovering from a close encounter with a Stone Snake...

    She nodded. “Alright. Let’s get started.” She stepped forward. “Colin was attacked here?”

    “At this very spot,” Lockhart said, pointing at the ground. “I found him. If only I had been a little faster…”

    She crouched down and looked at the floor. A Basilisk‘s hide was very tough - almost as tough as a dragon’s. That should leave some trace on the ground, even on stone. She pulled out her Omnioculars and put them on, then zoomed in on the floor.

    “This could take a while,” she told them as she started to search for tiny abrasions caused by the hard scales on the beast’s stomach.

    “Then I will leave it in your capable hands,” Dumbledore said, “and return to my other duties.” He shook his head. “Many students, especially members of House Slytherin, have already vacated the school of their own volition, so we have to take great care in ascertaining whether anyone is missing. Rest assured, though, that Minerva is keeping a close eye on Harry and his friends.”

    “Good,” replied Petunia. If Harry managed to sneak away...

    “And we’ll do our utmost,” the twit said as if he were doing anything but posturing. “I won’t let the monster touch a single hair on her head!”

    “We’re just going to find the Chamber, not fight the monster!” Petunia exclaimed without looking up.

    “You never know what might happen.”

    This time, she looked up, pulled off her Omnioculars and glared at him. “Gilderoy, if you start a Basilisk hunt instead of waiting for Dumbledore, then I’ll kill you even if it’s the last thing I do.”

    To her satisfaction, he flinched. He hadn’t forgotten, then. “That wasn’t what I meant! I was merely stating that there is always a risk. No plan survives contact with the enemy, after all.”

    She shook her head and resumed her search for snake tracks. Microscopic snake tracks.

    *****​

    “I have to admit that I expected something a little more impressive than a bathroom.”

    Petunia chuckled at the twit’s petulant tone. “It’s not the Chamber. Just - possibly - the entrance.”

    “A girl’s bathroom. A broken girl’s bathroom, in fact!”

    “Yes.” She sneered at him. “I’m certain you’ll manage to turn it into a suitably sinister location in your book. Maybe a hidden dungeon?”

    He frowned at her, running his hand through his hair in that well-practised manner of his. “I wouldn’t expect an academic to understand that a story has to be entertaining or no one will read it.”

    “It should also be true,” she spat, “if you’re claiming it’s a real story.”

    “To a degree,” he said. “Every author bends the truth a little.”

    “Or more than a little.” Like when he was cheating on you.

    “Shouldn’t we focus on finding the entrance instead of bickering?” he said. “We used to work so well together.”

    “That was before you dumped me for that Veela,” she replied. She pressed her lips together - she was over that. Over the hurt and the jealousy. Over him.

    “I told you, I was caught by her allure!”

    “There is no Veela allure!” she snarled. “There are only weak men blaming their infidelity on pretty women.”

    “How would you know?” he shot back.

    “I read. And I talked to a Veela. She confirmed it.”

    He huffed. “Of course they would say that! I know what I experienced!”

    “That’d be a first!” She scoffed. “You…” she trailed off when one of the sinks suddenly fell away, revealing a large opening.

    “Oh, we found it!” Lockhart exclaimed.

    “No,” Petunia snarled, clenching her teeth. “It found us.”

    She heard a rumbling noise - coming closer. And hissing. Loud hissing.

    “It’s coming!” she yelled, pulling out a flash-bang and sprinting for the door. “Don’t look at it! Close the door!”

    “That won’t stop it!” Lockhart yelled back.

    “I know. Just do it!” She ran through the door and went left.

    “Done!” she heard Lockhart yell.

    A moment later she heard the door splinter. The Basilisk had arrived. She threw the grenade blindly behind her and jumped forward, closing her eyes.

    The flash-bang exploded, and bright light filled the hallway. She heard screams and the monster’s roar. It was blinded, then - if not for long. But long enough, or so she hoped as she pulled another grenade from her belt. She glanced back and saw a gigantic snake thrashing in the hallway, banging against the walls. And Lockhart running for his life. He was far enough away, and she was running out of time. She threw the grenade and took cover around the closest corner, quickly followed by Lockhart. Three seconds later, the grenade went off and smoke filled the hallway. Smoke and globs of white phosphorus.

    The monster howled, and the thrashing grew even worse. She risked a glance around the corner when the first tendrils of smoke reached it. She couldn’t see anything inside the hallway. Perfect.

    “Did you have to use your canned Fiendfyre again?” Lockhart complained. “That won’t kill it. It just made it mad.”

    “Do you have a better idea?” she snapped.

    “As a matter of fact, yes, yes I do,” he retorted. “We need to get a rooster.”

    “Seal the hallway up, first. We’ll trap it inside.”

    But before the twit could conjure a wall, a burning, giant serpentine head - far larger than any Basilisk head had a right to be - emerged from the smoke. For a moment, Petunia was certain she was dead. Then she realised that the phosphorus must have burned the monster’s eyes out. But it was still coming for them.

    “Run!” she yelled and started sprinting. But the monster was gaining. And they were on the second floor. But a broken leg was better than getting crushed and burned. “Jump!” Petunia raced towards the closest stairs, which were just moving away from her, and threw herself across the widening gap. Lockhart screamed behind her.

    She managed to grab the top of the stairs with her hands and pull herself up before she was scraped off the wall by the moving stairs. Panting, she looked behind her. The monster had wedged itself between two pillars. It looked stuck. And Lockhart was on the ground, clutching his legs.

    Before she could work out how to reach the twit to help him, a rooster’s cry sounded from above her, and the mutilated Basilisk stopped moving.

    “It seems I arrived just in time,” she heard Dumbledore say as the Headmaster slowly descended on his broom, a rooster perched on one shoulder and a phoenix on the other.

    *****​

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, December 10th, 1992

    “You killed a Basilisk?” Bill asked.

    “Technically, Dumbledore killed it,” Petunia said. “But I blinded it and burned it. The largest one ever found.” And Snape had been livid that her attack had rendered most of the Basilisk’s carcass unusable for potions.

    “Impressive.” He sighed. “I wish I hadn’t been laid up here.”

    “Trust me, I wish the same. I had to work with Lockhart.” Unfortunately, the bastard only broke his legs and not his nose when he fell down from the second floor. He had even hit on her when she had visited him in the infirmary - he probably thought a rekindled affair would sell more books. Maybe the curse on the Defence Against the Dark Arts post would get him, even if he had only signed up for one year.

    After several years of working with her, as well as the gossip from the other Curse-Breakers in the camp, Bill knew better than to comment on that. “Did they find the culprit?”

    Petunia sighed. “It was another possession by Voldemort. Dumbledore managed to save the victim, though - a second-year student, Theodore Nott. Slytherin.”

    “That’s twice he’s managed to infiltrate Hogwarts,” Bill said.

    “Dumbledore said there wouldn’t be a third time. ‘I have his measure now’.” Petunia snorted as she quoted the Headmaster.

    “You don’t believe him?”

    She shrugged. “We’ll see, I guess. At least the school’s safe for now. But I think we should look into how Voldemort is doing this.”

    And into ways to stop him.

    *****​
     
    caspian1a, Yla, smeee and 24 others like this.
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter 3: The Godfather
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 3: The Godfather

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, June 20th, 1993

    “We’ve got company, Doc.”

    Petunia Evans turned away from the fascinating hieroglyphs lining the walls of the tomb where Ramses III’s favourite scribe was buried and grabbed the grenade launcher she had put down next to the urn containing the scribe’s heart. She knew Bill well; when he used that tone - tense and curt - it meant trouble.

    She quickly walked through the passage leading to the outside, past the first fake grave chamber and the few traps they had disabled on the way in, and joined her partner behind the stone cube that had blocked the entrance to the tomb until Bill had moved it - partially shrunk, it served as a ready-made barricade. “What kind of trouble?” It had been two years; there might be another Sand Drake moving into the area.

    “Grave robbers, I think,” he answered, without looking away from the rocky area surrounding them. “About half a dozen climbing up. I spotted them before they disillusioned themselves.”

    Climbing, not flying. Did they want to pass as muggles? But the whole side valley in which they had found this tomb was warded against muggles. “No goblins?” she asked, just to make sure, as she grabbed her Omnioculars and started scanning the area.

    “Too tall for goblins.”

    “And there aren’t any other teams in this valley,” she said. Grave robbers, then. Brave or desperate ones, if they dared to violate Gringotts’ exclusive claim. They wouldn’t leave any witnesses alive in either case.

    “They probably think we’ve found another high priest’s tomb,” Bill said. “Too bad we can’t let them enter to see how disappointed they are when they realise it’s a scholar’s tomb.”

    Even a scholar’s tomb contained significant treasure, of course - though not enough to risk Gringotts’ ire. But Petunia couldn’t help suspecting that these grave robbers were here for the same reasons she and Bill had come: To find out more about the research that the dead scribe had done for his ruler - the various ways to achieve immortality.

    She spotted a grave robber herself, or rather, the small avalanche of rocks and sand that he caused when climbing up the slope towards them. They weren’t close enough for Bill’s spells to detect them, but they were close enough for her grenade launcher. More than close enough.

    She waited until she spotted another small avalanche, noting the position, then lowered the Omnioculars and took aim with her M79. She only knew the location of the grave robber - but for grenades, that was enough. She pulled the trigger, the characteristic sound startling Bill, as usual.

    The grenade took over three seconds to travel the two hundred yards to her target, which meant she had reloaded her launcher and was raising her Omnioculars when the grenade exploded. A few seconds later, the dust and sand thrown up by the grenade had been blown away in the light breeze, and she saw a body on the ground in a spreading pool of blood.

    In response, two yellow coloured curses flew towards the entrance of the tomb. Petunia didn’t even bother ducking - at that distance, hitting anything with a wand was nearly impossible. While the curses harmlessly hit the slope beneath and to the side of the entrance she sent returned fire with another high-explosive grenade. That one didn’t explode close enough, but it must have startled the grave robber since he cast another spell at her. She took the opportunity to correct her aim, and her next grenade left the rocky outcropping behind the grave robber splattered with his remains.

    No more spells came flying at the entrance, which meant they were dealing with reasonably smart enemies. Not smart enough to stay away from Gringotts’ territory, but smart enough to realise a tactical mistake. Grave robbers would be fleeing now - there would be other opportunities. Undefended tombs. Undiscovered ones.

    But they didn’t retreat. She spotted sand and rocks thrown up by someone running towards her. “They’re charging!” she told Bill. She wouldn’t be able to stop all of them before they got into range. Just spotting one had been fortunate. She let loose with another grenade, reloaded and fired the next, guessing now. It took a third before she heard screaming, and a fourth to shut it up.

    “We need to get away! They’ll be in range any moment!” Bill said, grabbing her shoulder.

    “Into the tomb!” she told him, then dashed down the passage, slinging the M79 over her shoulder.

    “What?”

    “They’re here for this tomb! They won’t risk damaging the information inside,” she yelled. They were mercenaries, not local grave robbers, or they would have fled. And inside the tomb, their Disillusionment Charms wouldn’t help them much while Petunia wouldn’t be able to effectively fight them outside once they were close.

    Bill obviously didn’t share her opinion, but he followed her anyway. They reached the fake grave chamber, and Petunia stepped to the side. “Hold them at the entrance for a minute!”

    “Aye aye, Doc,” he replied, “one stalling tactic coming up.”

    She snorted at his mistaken muggle quote and pulled the Russian copy of a Claymore mine out of her backpack, quickly setting it up.

    “Alright, fall back to the secret passage!” She was already dashing behind the pillar hiding the door.

    “What did you do?” Bill asked as he joined her there, pressing himself against the wall, breathing heavily as he aimed his wand at the door behind them.

    “Set up a trap,” she answered in a whisper, moving to hug him. “Shield!”

    He cast a Shield Charm as he wrapped his free arm around her. “They’ll be expecting traps.”

    The Claymore mine went off before she could answer. The blast’s force was aimed away from them, but in the closed confines of the grave, enough of the shockwave was channelled into their direction to pick them up and blow them back several yards. If not for the Shield Charm, they’d have been killed.

    Even so, they rolled another few yards, ending up with her on top of him, both bruised and panting. Petunia didn’t care. She grinned at him, then rolled off him, drawing her Glocks. “They were expecting magical traps, not a simple tripwire.”

    “You’re crazy, Doc,” he retorted as both of them dashed back towards the entrance.

    Petunia slid around the pillar into the fake grave chamber, pistols ready. There was a body in the passageway. A mangled body in front of the decoy sarcophagus. And a stain smeared over the wall opposite the mine.

    Bill muttered a curse that would cause Molly to blow her top.

    And Petunia put two rounds into the body in the passage, just in case the man was faking.

    Stupid wizard.

    An hour later, they had recovered the bodies - there were bounties to collect, after all - and Bill was repairing the hieroglyphs damaged by the explosion while Petunia was back to deciphering the information in the real grave chamber. She doubted that Voldemort would have opted to become a living mummy - it didn’t fit with his ability to possess people either - but knowledge was knowledge. She might be able to trade that knowledge for more useful information.

    And at the very least, she would be able to publish another article in British Archaeology.

    *****​

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, June 28th, 1993

    Standing in the shade of the mess tent of the camp, looking at the cordoned-off area for the Portkey arrivals, Petunia checked her watch - IWC, automatic, of course - again. Five minutes left.

    “They won’t arrive any faster no matter how often you check the time.”

    She snorted. “Molly won’t arrive any later no matter how cool you act.”

    He chuckled, but it was slightly forced. Not because he actually was nervous about his mother’s arrival, of course. He loved his family, and the ribbing from the other Curse-Breakers in the camp wouldn’t change that.

    But the grave robbers they had killed had turned out to have been foreign mercenaries - probably from the Balkans. Close to where Dumbledore had said Quirrell must have found Voldemort. That didn’t have to mean there was a connection, of course. In any case, the camp was quite safe - Gringotts, bless their greed, had doubled the patrols as well as raised the bounties on grave robbers and other intruders, which meant the locals would be eager to catch more mercenaries. And Dumbledore had claimed that it was unlikely that Voldemort would try anything other than orchestrating another attempt to regain a body.

    But Petunia couldn’t help but worry about Harry, even though he was protected by whatever her sister had done and was travelling with the entire Weasley family except Charlie. Nothing and no one was completely safe. Not even Hogwarts.

    But then the air in front of them shimmered, and eight people appeared, half of them ending up in a pile on the ground while the rest - Arthur, Molly, Percy and Ginny - managed to keep standing.

    “I hate portkey travel,” Petunia heard Harry complain from the bottom of the pile, and promptly forgot her worries as she went to pull him out and hug him.

    *****​

    “...and this is Ripclaw’s tent. He runs the camp. Don’t disturb him; he’s very grumpy!” Harry explained in a most serious tone to Ron, Ginny and the twins before leading them to the next part of the camp as if he were a tourist guide.

    “You’ve been replaced,” Petunia remarked, smiling at the sight.

    Bill snorted. “I would say that I’ve taught my pupil well.”

    “Keep an eye on them anyway,” Molly cut in. “You know how Fred and George are.”

    “There’s not much they can do here,” Bill said. “We’re in the middle of the desert, and the tombs nearby are sealed.”

    Petunia coughed. “He’s showing them the storage tent. And the spot in the back where you can wriggle under the flap.”

    “Why wasn’t that fixed?” Bill exclaimed.

    “Because Harry was the only one small enough to pass through the gap,” Petunia said as Bill went to collect his wayward brothers and Harry.

    “Storage tent?” Molly asked. “For the treasure?”

    Petunia shook her head. “No, they’ve got a vault for those.” She pointed at a small tent in the back with a goblin guard in front of it. “The storage tent is for supplies.”

    “Ah.” Molly smiled, obviously relieved. “No cursed cups then.”

    Of course, Bill would have told his family that story. “No. Just food, clothes, tents, ropes, explosives, overpriced potions and weapons.” Petunia shook her head. “He ‘borrowed’ a spear the last time he did this, and then ‘went hunting’.” Ripclaw had charged her double, of course. And hadn’t fixed the flap.

    “Oh dear.” Molly went to join Bill.

    Petunia didn’t think it would help much. She didn’t mind too much, anyway - she much preferred it when Harry explored the storage tent instead of trying to raid an actual tomb.

    *****​

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, July 5th, 1993

    “I wasn’t aware of how similar the muggle cultures were,” Arthur said as he took a seat next to Petunia at the extended folding table. “I expected more differences, like between Britain and Egypt.”

    He meant Wizarding Britain and Magical Egypt, of course. Petunia shrugged. “There are a lot of differences as well as similarities. The religion is different, but both muggle Britain and Egypt love football.”

    “Ah yes! I never understood its appeal myself, but they love it as much as we love Quidditch,” Arthur said, beaming. “But I was wondering about the English signs.”

    “Muggle Britain controlled muggle Egypt for some time,” Petunia said. “And English is the lingua franca of the world.”

    “Really? What about the Ottomans?”

    “They lost control over muggle Egypt in the 19th century.”

    “How peculiar. Imagine if Britain had done the same! Would we have a direct Floo connection to Alexandria?”

    “If that’s possible,” Petunia said.

    “So, Britain brought football to Egypt.”

    “You could say that, yes. Britain invented football,” Petunia said, “and it spread.”

    “But why are some playing it with helmet and armour?”

    “That’s American Football, a different game.”

    “Really? How peculiar. Why is it called football then?”

    She refrained from groaning. She loved talking shop with Arthur - he was the leading expert in Britain when it came to adapting and enchanting muggle items, and his ideas often had a lot of potential for her work - but she loathed discussing muggle culture with him. Or rather, she hated it when she didn’t know the answer to a question of his, and he looked at her as if she was a failure as a squib for not know everything about muggles.

    “Arthur? Petunia?” Molly’s yell saved her from another such moment. “They’re ready to take the picture now, for the article.”

    Petunia stood up and stepped outside the tent. Molly was already lining up her children. Ron was clutching his rat - how you could want a rat as a pet Petunia couldn’t understand, but it was apparently a family tradition. Ron often complained about the rat being useless himself, but when Harry had offered to ‘accidentally’ feed it to a snake it had led to a row that lasted an entire day until Harry had bought his friend a snake-proof cage to make up.

    She took her place next to Molly - she didn’t want to stand next to Bill, or Skeeter would once again claim they had an affair; the first ‘Boy-Who-Lived’s aunt in rebound relationship with young Curse-Breaker’ article had been followed by two more over the years, and Petunia was heartily sick of the lies.

    While the twins jockeyed for the better spot and the photographer was repeatedly telling them to hold still, Petunia placed her hand on Harry’s shoulder and squeezed gently. He put his hand on hers in response and smile at her over his shoulder.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, August 22nd, 1993

    Without any students around, the school felt like a tomb as Petunia walked through the empty hallways towards the Headmaster’s office. It was well-lit and clean, but too silent. Too lifeless. If that was how it felt at night, then it was clear why Harry and his friends loved ‘exploring’ the school so much.

    She reached the gargoyle guarding the stairs to Dumbledore’s office. One of his insecure passwords - “Mars Bars” - and a short climb later, she entered the office.

    “Good afternoon, Miss Evans. I’m glad you found the time for this meeting. Please have a seat.”

    She almost snorted. As if she could have refused Dumbledore’s ‘invitation’. “Headmaster.” She nodded at him. “Mr Black.” She nodded at the gaunt man in ill-fitting new robes sitting in one of the visitor’s chairs before sitting down herself.

    “Hello,” Black answered with a weak, forced smile - after, she noted, looking around. His hair hadn’t seen a stylist in years, she guessed. And his beard looked in dire need of professional help.

    “I gather that you are aware of Sirius’s circumstances,” Dumbledore said with his usual polite and patronising expression.

    “I could hardly miss the greatest scandal in years.” She snorted. “The Prophet covered the affair extensively. The Ministry, on the other hand, hasn’t bothered to contact me.” They finally found new evidence concerning her sister’s murder - if you could call finally giving Black a trial after twelve years in Azkaban ‘finding new evidence’ - and even arrested Pettigrew, but didn’t deign to tell the squib.

    “Figures,” mumbled Black.

    “The Ministry’s laws and procedures are in obvious need of reform,” Dumbledore said, “although the middle of a crisis is hardly the best time to introduce changes. I apologise for not contacting you myself, but I deemed it more important to ensure a fair trial for everyone involved.”

    “And you didn’t want a squib to make a scene,” Petunia said. Would it have been too much to ask to send her a note? It had hurt her and Harry to hear about this affair from the Prophet’s Saturday issue.

    “That wasn’t a consideration, I assure you. Out of concern for Harry’s safety, I had your address removed from the Ministry’s records.” Dumbledore smiled as if that explained everything.

    “They could have contacted me through my publisher. The Lovegoods forward any mail to me,” Petunia said.

    “The current Ministry’s laws and regulations only cover informing magical relatives in such cases.” Dumbledore had the grace to look embarrassed. “It would have been Harry’s responsibility to inform you.”

    She clenched her teeth and swallowed her first retort. “I’m not surprised,” she spat.

    “Me neither,” Black said. “I had to break out of my cell and take a hostage before they would inform Dumbledore that I needed to talk to him about the traitor.”

    “And it took you twelve years to do that?” Petunia snapped, then pressed her lips together. She hadn’t meant to blurt that out.

    He clenched his teeth and glared at her, then looked away and took a deep breath. “Yes.”

    Dumbledore cleared his throat. “I do not think that focusing on past mistakes will do anyone any good. We’re here to talk about the future. You are aware that Sirius is Harry’s godfather.”

    “Yes.” She remembered Lily telling her. She hadn’t been impressed then, and she wasn’t impressed now. She crossed her arms.

    “James wanted me to take care of Harry,” Black blurted out.

    She glared at him. He didn’t look as if he could take care of himself. “And Lily entrusted Harry to me.” By creating the blood protection that tied them together. Which meant that there was no way Dumbledore would let anyone take Harry from her.

    “I’m not trying to take him away,” Black said. “I just want to… I want to see him. Be there for him. Make up for…” he trailed off and swallowed.

    Petunia felt pity for the man. To suffer for over a decade in Azkaban… She had met a Dementor, once. It had been sealed in a tomb in Egypt. If not for Bill’s Patronus Charm, and quick resealing of the tomb, Petunia would have been kissed. Even so, she shuddered at the memory of the cold and despair she had felt then. She forced the memories and the pity away. This was about Harry, not her or Sirius.

    But before she knew what to say, Dumbledore spoke up: “I am certain that visits can be arranged.”

    “Once he’s up to it,” Petunia said. Which should be Christmas at the earliest, given how sorry the man looked. Next Summer would be better.

    Black looked up at once. “What’s wrong with Harry? What did you tell him?”

    She rolled her eyes. “I was talking about you,” she explained.

    “Oh.” He blinked, then grinned. “I’m ready. We can go see him now!”

    Over her dead body!

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, August 23rd, 1993

    “...and then James sat up, rubbed his cheek, and told me: ‘I’m going to marry this witch!’ And I told him: ‘James, she’ll kill you.’ And he said: ‘It’ll be worth it!’”

    Harry laughed. “I never knew that.”

    “It was their first meeting - on the Hogwarts Express.” Black grinned. “I thought he was insane - talking about marriage at our age!”

    Harry nodded sagely. “Yes. You shouldn’t limit your options like that until you’re at least thirty.”

    Black blinked, then chuckled. “You’re a little heartbreaker, are you?”

    Harry grinned in his best - or worst - imitation of Bill. “I try my best.”

    Petunia wanted to hit Bill for teaching Harry his views on girls. And Black for making Harry laugh like that. And Lily, for not telling her those stories about James. And herself, for not listening to her sister when she talked about her boyfriend.

    Instead, she busied herself with brewing up a fresh pot of tea as Black started telling his rapt audience another story about Harry’s father. This was good for Harry - Dumbledore, damn him, had been right. Again. And she should be happy for her nephew.

    But she couldn’t help feeling jealous of Black.

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, August 25th, 1993

    Petunia frowned when she saw through the spyhole that Black was standing in front of her door and had brought another man with him. A vaguely familiar man, actually. She narrowed her eyes when she finally placed the stranger. Lupin, another of James’s friends. Both were wearing dated muggle clothes. Very dated ones.

    She schooled her features before opening the door. “Mr Black. Mr Lupin.”

    “Call me Sirius. This is Remus,” Black said with a far too wide smile. “I’ve brought him with me so you can meet him.”

    She didn’t bother to hide her sarcasm. “How thoughtful of you.”

    But before she could give them a piece of her mind for arriving without notice or invitation, Harry appeared at her side. “Sirius!” he exclaimed. “You came!”

    “Of course I did!” Black said, beaming at Harry. “And this is Remus, another friend of your father. And your new Defence teacher!”

    Petunia forced herself to smile as she took a step back and gestured towards the living room. “Please, come in.”

    The two visitors had barely taken their seats on the couch when Harry suddenly gasped. “You’re our new Defence teacher? But there’s a curse on the post!”

    That was a good question. Petunia should have thought of it herself. She blamed Black springing this surprise on her.

    “Well,” Lupin began, “Dumbledore is of the opinion - and I agree with him - that the curse has been broken. My predecessor certainly wasn’t prevented from extending his contract: he decided himself that he would prefer to write a book and continue his adventures.”

    “Too bad.” Harry scowled, then added, after noticing the surprised expressions on the two wizards’ face: “He would have deserved to get cursed.”

    Petunia coughed and put her hand on Harry’s arm before he told Black and Lupin about her history with Lockhart. “Let Mr Lupin continue, dear.”

    “Ah, yes.” Lupin coughed. “As I was saying, my predecessor wasn’t affected by the curse. We think that the Dark Lord either broke the curse to protect the man he was possessing from suffering ill effects or that the curse’s condition was fulfilled when the Dark Lord effectively, if indirectly, started teaching at Hogwarts.” He smiled, though rather weakly. “That’s why I took the post.”

    “Ah.” Harry nodded. “That makes sense. Curses which are as strong as that one would require conditions.”

    “He’s going to be a Curse-Breaker,” Black cut in with a grin.

    Petunia refrained from glaring at the man. He hadn’t raised Harry; it was her who had taken him to Egypt, where he had met Bill and the other Curse-Breaker!

    “Are you planning to stay on as teacher then?” Harry asked.

    Lupin nodded.

    “Moony finally found a job that suits him. He was always lecturing us when he was a prefect,” Black said, chuckling, “even though he broke almost as many rules as I did.”

    Of course, Harry perked up at hearing that. “And my dad broke even more rules, and was Head Boy!”

    “Exactly!” Black nodded. “We were a veritable terror - taught the snakes to fear us.”

    “The snakes?” Harry frowned, then smiled. “Ah, the Slytherins.”

    “Yes, of course,” Black said. “Slimy snakes.”

    Lupin, though, seemed to be more perceptive. “Do you like snakes, Harry?”

    “Yes, I do,” Harry smiled widely. “Snakes are cool!” He pouted. “But Aunt Petunia doesn’t want a snake in our house.”

    Petunia’s glare left no doubt that the two wizards would better agree with her stance, or else.

    *****​

    “Please put the cups on the counter,” Petunia told Lupin as he followed her into the kitchen while Black was still regaling Harry with another of his stories about Hogwarts. So much for the tale that Dementors fed on memories.

    When Lupin did so and turned to rejoin his friend in the living room, she held up her hand. “A moment of your time, please.”

    “Yes?” He turned back to her.

    Petunia lowered her voice. “You were a prefect. That implies that you had good grades. More importantly, Dumbledore obviously thinks you’re good enough to teach at Hogwarts. What were you doing until now?” She leaned forward. The way he was fidgeting, he was hiding something.

    He winced. “After James and Lily had been murdered, and it looked as if Peter - Pettigrew - had been murdered as well, and that Sirius had betrayed us all, I was in a bad place. I wanted to forget everything. I didn’t care about anything any more.” He sighed. “It was cowardly, but… I felt as if I had lost everything that mattered. All my friends.”

    “Harry was alive.”

    He nodded. “I know. But I felt as if it was my fault. I should have noticed the traitor.“

    “You were too busy feeling sorry for yourself to visit?”

    He flinched, then nodded. “You could say that.”

    “Ah.” She nodded. “Let’s rejoin the others.” She let him go first so she could frown behind his back. That man didn’t sound nor looked like he was fit to teach anyone. Had Dumbledore dragged him out of a bottle a month ago? He didn’t look like an alcoholic, though, but those scars…

    Maybe he had been in prison as well? She’d have to ask Dumbledore.

    *****​

    London, No 12 Grimmauld Place, October 11th, 1993

    “Welcome to the ancestral manor of the Blacks!” Black greeted her and Bill with one of his too wide, forced smiles. He was wearing expensive dress robes, though they didn’t look new. And his hair was still long, but much better styled now. His beard was groomed as well.

    “Good morning, Mr Black.” Petunia nodded at him as she looked around. She was wearing jeans and a turtleneck under a jacket. Bill wore a similar outfit.

    The entrance hall they had just set foot in was dark, dusty, with worn carpets and drapes. There even was a hole in the wall right across the door, big enough to walk through.

    “Call me Sirius!” Black said. “Mr Black was my father, and we didn’t get along.”

    Petunia was about to refuse when Bill spoke up with his usual friendly smile. “Call me Bill then.”

    She forced herself to smile. “Petunia.”

    “Do your friends call you Pet?” Black asked.

    “No,” Petunia said emphatically, ignoring Bill’s coughing fit. She hoped that her partner knew better than to bring that up ever again. “You didn’t pay Gringotts just so you could talk about our names, though.” At least she hoped he didn’t. It took a substantial sum to make the goblins agree to send them back to England for a meeting, instead of having them keep raiding tombs.

    “You’re right; I didn’t.” Black gestured at the stairs behind him. “As you can see, the house is in bad shape.”

    “We’re not interior decorators,” Petunia commented.

    He laughed at that. “I know! But you’ve got experience in breaking into cursed tombs and clearing them out. And I need such people.” He scowled. “My parents were never what you would call stable, but after my father and brother and died, and I was sent to Azkaban, my mother apparently went insane. She had the entire house covered with traps and curses. Took me weeks to clean up the entrance hall and my own room. And three trips to St Mungo’s.” He pointed at the hole in the wall. “I had to blow up her portrait, too - couldn’t get it to shut up.” He sighed, then smiled. “So, I thought I should hire professionals. And you two come highly-recommended!”

    Petunia didn’t think that her nephew was an authority on the quality of Curse-Breakers. He was obviously biased too. “You are aware of our daily rates, Sirius?”

    He grinned, showing his teeth. “You are aware of the legendary Black fortune, Petunia? Money is no concern!”

    The goblins wouldn’t let her refuse such a contract. She glanced at Bill, who nodded with a grin. Sighing, she nodded herself. “We have a deal then.”

    “Splendid!” Black shook her hand, then clapped. “Do you want to live here for the duration? I’ve already picked out the best rooms for you and Harry!”

    So that was his plan. She should have known.

    *****​

    London, No 12 Grimmauld Place, October 15th, 1993

    “Watch out!” Petunia yelled, dropping to the floor as the drapes to their left suddenly flew up and tried to engulf her. She drew her pistols as she rolled over her shoulder, came up in a crouch and fired six shots into the moving fabric - to no effect.

    Bill had jumped to the other side and sent a Cutting Curse at the drapes. The spell sliced clean through the drapes but didn’t seem to affect or hinder them otherwise.

    “Set them on fire,” Petunia yelled.

    Unlike the first days, Bill didn’t hesitate any more. A spell later, the drapes were burning merrily, and they stopped moving before the flames reached the ceiling. After few Vanishing Charms, the hallway was safe again - just in time for Sirius’s arrival.

    “I heard shots! Did you find another monster?” He sniffed the air, then frowned at the slightly scorched walls. “Did you try to burn down my home again?” he asked, Judging by the tears in his robes, he still hadn’t ‘pacified’ the winter garden, which apparently had been taken over by a fire-resistant variant of Razor Grass.

    Petunia shook her head. “No. Just some clingy drapes. Trust us - when we finally decide that the house is beyond saving, we’ll tell you so you can do the honours.”

    He chuckled at that. “Don’t tempt me!” He looked down the hallway. “Think the drapes there are trapped as well?”

    Petunia shrugged. “Perhaps. Your mother didn’t seem to have had any scheme for her traps.” In her opinion, the witch really must have been insane. She had seen tombs of pharaohs with fewer traps and curses. And the house-elf wasn’t any better.

    “Well, feel free to destroy them as well - I’d get rid of them anyway.” He nodded at them, then went back to battling blood-thirsty plants.

    Petunia stretched, holstered her Glocks and studied the hallway. “There are two patches on the floor where there’s less dust,” she pointed out.

    “Pitfalls?”

    “Perhaps.” Trapdoors opening into Extension Charms were rare in Egyptian tombs but they weren’t that different from regular pitfalls - other than that they could be hidden on any flat surface. Or in a bed.

    Bill sighed, conjured his fourth pig for today - he had used dogs at first, but Sirius had vetoed that - and sent it down the hallway. The animal had barely touched the first suspicious area when the carpet section there suddenly turned into a gaping maw. A second later, the squealing pig had vanished, and the carpet looked perfectly normal again - but for the blood stains around it.

    Petunia looked at Bill. “And you made fun of The Quibbler’s article covering Carpet Crocodiles.”

    He frowned at her. “That could be a simple spell, not an animal.”

    She shrugged. “Either way, it looks exactly like the animal described in the article.” She pulled out a grenade and tied a piece of string to the ring. “Stick that to the next pig.”

    It turned out that whatever the Carpet Crocodiles were, spells or conjured animals, they couldn’t handle a grenade exploding inside them.

    *****​

    “Carpet Crocodiles?” Sirius stared at her, his meal momentarily forgotten.

    “Yes. The Quibbler had an article about them, three years ago,” Petunia said before taking another bite of her sandwich.

    “They looked like the animals described in the article,” Bill cut in, “but they could have been simple spells. They turned into normal carpet sections after we blew them up.”

    “You blew them up?” Sirius’s eyebrows rose.

    “Yes,” Petunia said. “And turning into carpet parts is normal for Carpet Crocodiles. According to Lovegood.”

    Sirius shook his head. “I need to check if my mother read The Quibbler.”

    “If she did, then we have a new question to answer,” Petunia said. “What was there first? The crocodile or the article?” She grinned as he frowned.

    He huffed, then smiled. “I have to say that I’m impressed with your work so far.”

    “Oh?” That was an abrupt change of subject.

    “Yes. You’ve exceeded my expectations - but for one thing.”

    “And which would that be?” Petunia asked, frowning.

    “I thought you’d be wearing your Curse-Breaker clothes. Harry showed me pictures in his last letter.” Sirius grinned at her.

    “My…” she trailed off, glaring at him. “Those are my desert clothes, not my ‘Curse-Breaker clothes’.” She was a tomb raider and archaeologist, not a Curse-Breaker anyway - squibs couldn’t become Curse-Breakers.

    He was unfazed by her glare. His grin grew even wider. “Maybe I should hire you to deal with the Black’s properties in Algiers then.”

    And Petunia needed to talk to Harry about sending pictures of her in short shorts and tank tops to his godfather. And, she added with a glance at the grinning Bill, talk to her partner about supporting her.

    *****​

    London, No 12 Grimmauld Place, November 16th, 1993

    “It’s finally done,” Petunia announced when she entered Sirius’s study. “We’ve cleared the last room in the basement.” The house still needed a full refurbishing, but Sirius had already started on that.

    He beamed at her. “Great! Did you find any skeletons? My mother always said we used to bury our enemies alive there.”

    “The only skeletons we found were those of rats and mice,” she replied. “So, unless the Blacks had blood feuds with the local rodents, I think your mother lied to you.”

    He laughed. “I wouldn’t put it past us - my ancestors could be very petty. Did I tell you that my great-great-uncle once bought up all owls in Diagon Alley for a year because a school rival had mentioned that he was planning to buy one?”

    That was a new one. “What did he do with all those owls?”

    Sirius shrugged. “Apparently, he tried to find a way to make them carry cursed letters to his enemies. The post owl population took five years to recover from those dark times.”

    She couldn’t tell if he was serious or making things up. She laughed anyway. “You know, I’ve said it before, but you spent more gold on Bill and me than it would have cost to raze the building and rebuild it.” That would have ruined the wards on it, of course, which were near-irreplaceable due to age and many now illegal spells used in their creation.

    He didn’t mention that, though. Instead, he grinned at her. “Money well spent, I say. Even if you never wore your desert clothes. Not even when I adjusted the heating charms.”

    She shook her head at him. “In any case, our work is done. Gringotts thanks you for your business.”

    He shook her hand. “Will you be returning to Egypt then?”

    “Yes.” It was the most lucrative job for any Curse-Breaker or tomb raider.

    “But you’ll come back for Christmas, won’t you?”

    “Yes.” She had to - Harry had to spend a certain time per year in their home in Cokeworth.

    “Splendid! We can celebrate Christmas together!”

    She forced herself to keep smiling. She wasn’t happy with the way Sirius assumed that he was part of Harry’s life, but Harry had already written her that he was looking forward to a Christmas with Sirius - and with Remus, whom the Headmaster ‘trusted implicitly’ without telling her why.

    For all his talk about Gryffindor values, Sirius could be very cunning.

    But she wasn’t beaten yet.

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, December 25th, 1993

    “Open it! Open it!”

    Sirius looked more excited about his gift for Harry than Harry himself, Petunia thought as she watched the two on the couch. For a man his age, he could act rather childish. But then, for a man who spent over ten years in Azkaban, he was remarkably sane.

    Harry ripped the wrapping off, revealing a long case. A broom, of course - that had been obvious from the start to both of them. He flipped it open, gasped and screamed. “A Firebolt!”

    Petunia winced at the volume, then also gasped. A Firebolt? That was the most expensive broom on the market! She was earning very good money as a tomb raider, but she wouldn’t be able to afford such a broom for Harry.

    Sirius, though, could. And Harry was hugging him, obviously happy beyond belief.

    “We’ll win the cup for sure now!” her nephew exclaimed.

    “Exactly!”

    Petunia started to collect the torn wrapping. Harry was happy, that was that counted. She shouldn’t be jealous of Sirius for spoiling him - she would do the same if she had the gold.

    But she didn’t have the gold.

    And, she added as she saw Sirius draw his wand to teach Harry ‘a broom cleaning charm’, helped by Lupin, she couldn’t teach him any spells either.

    She was just a squib.

    *****​
     
    Leonidas333, Yla, smeee and 21 others like this.
  9. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    Ah, but she's not just a squib. She's the first squib to marry a Head of House Black.
     
    bearblue, dylanredefined and Starfox5 like this.
  10. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    If you tell her that right now, she'll probably leave you at the bottom of a grave chamber in the middle of the desert :p
     
  11. michaell8000

    michaell8000 Getting sticky.

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    after she's done kneecapping and disarming you gotta make sure you can't escape.
     
  12. Threadmarks: Chapter 4: The Tournament
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 4: The Tournament

    Dartmoor, Devon, Britain, August 25th, 1994

    Petunia Evans wasn’t much of a Quidditch fan, but as the aunt and single guardian - not counting a godfather who had just recently been released from prison - of a Quidditch fanatic, she knew that there were certain things she simply couldn’t avoid. Like visiting the World Cup when it was held in England.

    Which was why she had found herself attending the biggest congregation of wizards and witches in the world. Everyone she could see was carrying a wand. Apart from herself. At least her muggle clothes - tank top, jeans and sensible boots - didn’t stand out, for a change. Not among hundreds of different fashions from all over the magical world.

    And a hundred vendors of all kinds of overpriced Quidditch merchandise, she added to herself as she herded Harry and his friends through a maze of stalls fiendishly placed in the optimal way to relieve all fans attending the World Cup of their Galleons. Or in this case, Black’s Galleons. Though she wasn’t annoyed that Black had also bought their tickets - the prices that the scalpers demanded would have dented even her budget.

    “Look! A Viktor Krum T-shirt!” Ron pointed excitedly at the next stall.

    Harry scoffed. “Krum’s overrated.”

    “He had the best Seeker stats last season - not just in Bulgaria, but in all of Europe’s leagues. Least average time spent seeking per game, and in total. And quickest average catching time, both from the start of a game and from spotting the Snitch,” Hermione pointed out.

    “Bah.” Harry sniffed. “I bet I could do better if I spent the same time training.”

    Black, who had already bought the shirt, and another sporting the Holyhead Harpies’ Seeker, smiled at Harry. “Do you want me to hire a Quidditch trainer?”

    Petunia bit her tongue so she didn’t lash out at the painfully obvious attempt to buy Harry’s favour. Black couldn’t boast more of his wealth if he tried.

    Harry shook his head. “No. I’m going to be a Curse-Breaker and tomb raider. Like Bill and Auntie. That’s much cooler than a Quidditch pro - Curse-Breakers have to be smart!”

    Hermione nodded in apparent agreement.

    “And brave,” Ron added.

    “Are all of planning to become Curse-Breakers?” Black asked.

    “Of course! We’re going to be the best team, ever!” Harry smiled. “Even better than Bill and Auntie.”

    Petunia smiled at him, but if she was honest with herself, then she didn’t know how to feel about this. Harry deciding to become a Curse-Breaker had been cute when he had been six years old. It had been flattering when he still hadn’t changed his plans for his future in his first year at Hogwarts. But now, three years into his magical education, he was not only still set on following in her and Bill’s footsteps, but was dragging his friends along? Curse-Breaking was a dangerous occupation. There was a reason there were very few experienced Curse-Breakers of Bill’s level. To think that Harry would be risking his life each day…

    She would be a hypocrite if she told him to pick another, safer profession, and yet she would do so in a heartbeat if she thought that he would heed her. But he wouldn’t. And his godfather would enable him.

    Harry’s excited voice interrupted her thoughts. “Look! A Holyhead Harpies calendar!”

    Black bought four of those, of course.

    *****​

    “This feels like a family dinner,” Harry suddenly announced in the evening after the final - Ireland had beaten Bulgaria despite Krum catching the Snitch, which Harry had decried as a poor decision by the Seeker - when they were sitting at the table in their Wizarding Tent. Black’s, of course, and brand-new.

    Petunia quickly swallowed and narrowed her eyes at her nephew. He was acting innocent, of course, but she knew him better. He had been the one who had wanted ‘a quiet dinner with Auntie and Sirius’ when the Weasleys had invited them over. Subtle, he wasn’t.

    Neither was Black, of course. “It does, doesn’t it?” He beamed at Harry, then winked at her.

    She tried to joke about it. “It’s missing the family dinner rows.” The rows the Evans had had at dinner had often been spectacularly loud.

    “I don’t miss those!” Black declared. “Mother used Stinging Hexes and worse to make her points.”

    “Really?” Harry stared at him with wide eyes.

    “Yes, really.” Black sighed. “She wasn’t very stable even when I was little, but she grew worse with age.”

    She was tempted to comment that Black’s teenage rebellion had likely not helped matters, but Petunia was loath to support blood purists. Lily had been murdered by their leader. “Well, not all rows lead to hexing,” she said, “but…” Were those screams?

    “What the…” Black stood and rushed to the tent’s entrance.

    She was right behind him, even after grabbing the shoulder-holster she had hung on the peg next to her room on the way.

    The evening air outside was filled with screaming and yelling - and explosions. A thick column of smoke rose into the sky south of them, illuminated by the various fires nearby. Fires that were not just campfires, but burning tents as well, she realised.

    “It’s an attack!” she snarled. “Harry, go to the Weasleys!” She pointed at the tent next to them, where Arthur and Bill appeared in the entrance.

    “But Auntie!”

    “Do what she says!” Black snapped.

    After checking that Harry actually obeyed, she pulled her Omnioculars from her belt and started scanning the southern part of the camping area. People were running in panic in all directions - as long as they led away from the fire. And near the fire… She froze as she spotted a figure in dark robes with a white mask.

    “Death Eaters!” she hissed.

    “What?” Black gasped. Where?”

    “At the fire.” And they were headed their way. “Molly! Arthur!” she yelled. “Get the children to safety! Death Eaters south of us!”

    “What?” Arthur gaped at her. Molly was quicker to react. She was already inside their tent, bellowing for the kids to drop everything and follow her.

    “Death Eaters?” Bill asked, joining her and Black.

    “At the fire,” she repeated. “Dark robes, white masks.” Dressed like Death Eaters and acting like Death Eaters. That was good enough for her.

    And good enough for Black and Bill, judging by their expressions. “We’ll stall them,” Bill yelled to his parents as they herded the children outside.

    Petunia nodded, then dashed into Black’s tent to grab her assault rifle from her bag. She would need a bigger gun for this.

    Black and Bill had already taken up positions behind conjured stone walls by the time she rejoined them, with one wall left for her. She grinned despite the situation as she knelt down behind it - Bill knew her well.

    She brought the rifle to her shoulder and switched the safety to semi-automatic, then started looking for a target. It was almost as easy as spotting the target at the range - the burning tents illuminated the Death Eaters moving towards them perfectly. The closest were around a hundred yards away.

    She lined up her shot, first aiming at the chest, then a little higher when she saw that the Death Eater in front was just standing there, flicking his wand and directing the others. Like an officer. Snarling, she squeezed the trigger, and his head snapped back as his shattered mask went flying.

    She was lining up the next target before his body hit the ground. This time, she aimed for the chest and squeezed off two shots quickly. Both hit and the wizard went down as well.

    Now he could see the Death Eaters reacting. They were crouching, looking around with wands raised, no longer leisurely strolling towards tents to set them on fire. If only she could use her grenade launcher… but that would endanger others. She spotted another exposed Death Eater, silhouetted by the burning tent behind him, and shot twice at him, but the wizard’s shield stopped both of her bullets. Snarling, she switched to three-round bursts and fired again, but he had dropped to the ground.

    And now they knew where she was. She dropped behind cover and scrambled away. A few seconds later, the wall shattered under the impact of several curses. She speed-crawled into cover next to Bill and rolled on her back. “Got two, but they’re aware of us now.”

    “Aurors should be already arriving,” he said, peering over the wall. A scream cut through the night, and he grinned. “One wasn’t looking where he was going.”

    “Carpet Crocodile?” she asked. Bill had become quite fond of the spell.

    “Lawn Crocodile, in this case.”

    More screaming came from Black’s position, and a few seconds later, she saw him sprinting towards them as his own wall blew up behind him in a fountain of flames. He jumped over a dropped trunk and rolled the last few yards over his shoulder, coming to rest next to her.

    “They didn’t like my family spells,” he said, almost conversationally. “Philistines.”

    “No one likes your family spells,” Bill retorted.

    Petunia was busy covering their other flank. Death Eaters would be circling around them, to catch them in a pincer attack. There! She took aim at the robed wizard navigating the mess of burning and collapsed tents to the east of them. He wasn’t even looking in their direction, must have gotten lost… She cursed. She almost shot an Auror. “Aurors have arrived!” she yelled. “Watch your fire!”

    With the eastern flank covered, she ducked and changed position, crawling to the trunk Black had jumped over. It would offer a decent enough field of fire, and a stable rest for her rifle.

    But once in position, she couldn’t see any enemies. Only red-robed Aurors swarming the area.

    “Looks like the fun’s over,” Black said, slowly standing up.

    “Let’s go The Burrow,” Petunia said. She needed to know if - that - Harry was safe.

    And she didn’t want to deal with Aurors right now.

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, August 27th, 1994

    Lucius Malfoy murdered while under the Imperius Curse

    “Does anyone believe this?” Harry asked, pointing at the headline of today’s Daily Prophet. “That someone put him under the Imperius to attack the World Cup?”

    Petunia snorted. “Only the dumb ones.” If it were anyone else, Petunia would mention ‘innocent until proven guilty’. But this was Malfoy. She hoped that she had been the one to kill him. If it wouldn’t give away her involvement, she’d ask the DMLE if he had died from a headshot. But she couldn’t do that - they had to suspect her already, and she didn’t trust that ‘self-defence’ would be an acceptable excuse for a squib shooting the illustrious bastard. And if Dumbledore and Gringotts had to intervene, she would owe them.

    “Narcissa knows who to bribe,” Black remarked, leaning back in his chair until he was balancing it on two legs. “And the DMLE won’t care since he’s dead anyway.”

    Petunia looked at him as she cleaned up the remains of their breakfast. “Have you spoken with Dumbledore?” If he had the gall to invite himself to breakfast - not even lunch or dinner! - then she expected him to at least not come with empty hands.

    “Yes,” he nodded. “That’s why I came, actually.” He grinned at her. “Even though your cooking is worth the trip.”

    She scoffed in response; she knew that she was no Molly.

    “Anyway, they identified the other dead Death Eaters. As much as you can call ‘mercenaries, probably from the Balkans’ an identification,” Black went on.

    Petunia stiffened. The ‘grave robbers’ had been mercenaries from the Balkans as well. That could be a coincidence, but she doubted it.

    “I’m just wondering why dear Lucius led them - that wasn’t his style.” Black shook his head. “The whole attack doesn’t make much sense. Why fake a Death Eater attack? Narcissa claims that this was an attempt not just to murder her late husband, but to destroy his reputation as well by having him be killed leading ‘Death Eaters’. The Ministry is running with it, of course - Fudge wouldn’t want to be associated with a Death Eater.”

    Petunia shook her head, but she hadn’t expected anything else. At least Harry would be back at Hogwarts in a few days. He’d be safe there.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, November 2nd, 1994

    Petunia clenched her teeth as she climbed the stairs leading to the Headmaster’s office. Even after a day’s worth of travelling, she was still furious. She just didn’t know at whom, yet. Her Harry, taking part in this stupid, murderous tournament? Whoever was responsible for this would pay dearly! Even if it was Harry himself. She thought he would be smarter than that, but she knew how stupid teenagers could be at that age - and Harry’s letters had been full of complaints about ‘the oh so famous Krum’ coming to Hogwarts to take part in the Triwizard Tournament, ever after he had lost a Seeker duel against Krum.

    “Ah, Petunia. Please have a seat. We were just talking about you.” Dumbledore smiled politely at her, then gestured at a tall, slim wizard. “This is Barty Crouch; he has organised the tournament on the Ministry’s side. Barty, this is Petunia Evans, Harry’s aunt.”

    She nodded at him. He barely glanced at her.

    “I told him that you’d kill him if it were his fault that Harry’s in danger,” Black, sitting already, added with a grin that lacked any humour.

    “It wasn’t my fault, nor the Ministry’s,” Crouch replied in a calm, almost bored tone. “It’s probably Potter’s own fault; I’ve heard enough about his antics.”

    Petunia snarled at the arrogant wizard. “Been talking to Snape? Or to the parents of the Slytherins Harry and his friends routinely outperform?”

    He only sniffed in response.

    “I have sent for Harry, Mr Weasley and Miss Granger, actually,” Dumbledore cut in before things could grow more heated. “Why don’t you take a seat while we wait? Lemon sherbet?” He offered her the bowl on his desk.

    She sat down but declined the sweets. She needed to see Harry and get to the bottom of this whole mess!

    The door opened, and her nephew entered, followed by his cohorts. “Auntie! You’re here!” His face lit up when he saw her, and Petunia knew that he hadn’t entered his name into this damned goblet even before she closed her arms around him in a hug. “I didn’t put my name in!”

    “I know, Harry,” she assured him - she knew how he acted when he was guilty.

    Of course, Crouch didn’t accept her word or Harry’s on the matter. “How sweet. And we’re supposed to accept this performance as proof of his innocence?”

    She glared at the wizard, holding on to Harry, who apparently wanted to hug Black as well. “Are you honestly trying to tell me that a teenager in his fourth year at Hogwarts managed to defeat the security you placed on the goblet?”

    “Yeah!” Ron nodded emphatically. “We couldn’t think of a way to do it!” Hermione stepped on his foot and he swallowed the rest of what he had wanted to say.

    Petunia let Harry go so she could look at his eyes. “You tried to circumvent the goblet’s defences?”

    “Purely as a theoretical exercise,” he said. “We didn’t even gather any material we might have needed. We just speculated about how we could get past the age line.”

    “Wild speculation;” Hermione added. “Without any practical value.” The young witch was a better liar than Harry was, Petunia noted, but it didn’t help their cause. Dumbledore smiled and Black was chuckling, but Crouch remained expressionless.

    “A likely story,” he said. “But even if the children are telling the truth, the fact remains that Harry is bound by the goblet’s contract to take part in the tournament.”

    “Contracts can be broken,” Petunia reminded him.

    He sneered. “I’d like to see you try.”

    She clenched her teeth at the insult, held back Harry from defending her, and managed to smile in return. “I’ll leave that to my partner - Bill Weasley. You might have heard of him; best Curse-Breaker in Gringotts’ employ.”

    Judging by his lack of a reaction, he hadn’t heard of Bill. Petunia would rectify that at the first opportunity.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, November 5th, 1994

    “So, that’s the goblet,” Bill commented as he took his first look at the relic. “Looks impressive.” He flicked his wand and cast a detection spell, then whistled. “Really impressive.”

    Petunia pressed her lips together. She had known that the goblet was an artefact dating back to the time before Hogwarts had been founded, and that magic items could grow more powerful with age. But she had hoped that a thousand years of advancement in all areas of magic would have rendered the goblet’s defences obsolete, like so many wards on Egyptian tombs. Apparently, that wasn’t the case. She knew better than to complain, of course. Bill had dropped everything in Egypt to come to her and Harry’s aid, risking Ripclaw’s ire.

    So she nodded. “I see. Can I help you in any way?”

    He swished his wand around. “Yes.”

    “Yes?” She hadn’t expected that. “What do you need?”

    “I’ll have to see the three champions, check how the contract is tied to them - and if there are differences between the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons champions and Harry,” Bill explained.

    That made sense, and it was something a squib could do. “I’ll get them,” she told him.

    “You don’t need to hurry - I’ll have to study this for a few hours first, to get a feel for the pattern. It’s really unique; I haven’t seen half of those spells before…”

    She pressed her lips together again as he delved into arithmantic details. She hated being useless - helpless - while he worked with his wand. “I’ll go and tell them to see you in the afternoon,” she said. In a softer voice, she added: “Thank you for coming.”

    “Hey!” He looked up and smiled at her. “That’s what partners do. You’d do the same for me.” He grinned. “And what Curse-Breaker would I be if I didn’t jump to help a pretty woman?”

    She shook her head, chuckling as she turned and left him to do his magic.

    *****​

    Viktor Krum looked less impressive in the flesh than on Quidditch merchandise, Petunia noticed. He wasn’t ugly, and he had an intense gaze and a strong chin, but he didn’t look like the Star Seeker he was, not on the ground. He looked more human.

    The same couldn’t be said about Beauxbatons’ champion. Fleur Delacour was inhumanly beautiful. Literally so - she was a Veela. A Veela and a witch, with a body to die for and a smile that turned teenage boys into drooling idiots without any spell being cast. Or, she added, looking at Harry, who was whipping on his feet as if he were trying to appear taller next to Fleur, turned them into reckless idiots trying to impress her. As if Fleur would give a ‘leetle boy’ the time of the day, Boy-Who-Lived or not.

    “Thank you for coming,” she said. “I’m very grateful for your help.”

    “As am I,” Bill added, beaming at the champions. No, beaming at Fleur, Petunia noticed. She should have expected that, of course. For all his joking flirting with her, Bill was a young wizard, and Fleur was the most attractive girl she and likely Bill had ever seen. The most attractive witch, too, she added, trying not to glare at her. No wonder there were tales about a ‘Veela allure’ which captivated men at a mere glance.

    Petunia knew that she shouldn’t feel that way. She wasn’t interested in Bill. And Fleur was helping her and Harry. But she still loathed how ugly and helpless she felt in the Veela’s presence.

    “It is my pleasure to help ‘Arry,” Fleur replied - to Bill. Who was, Petunia knew that as well, a very handsome and very dashing Curse-Breaker, one of the best in his profession. And a wizard who knew his way around women and witches.

    So when Petunia saw Harry scowl at the two flirting young people, she didn’t know if she should scowl with him, or grin at him.

    “I’ll be in the library, continuing my research,” she said instead of doing either and left the group.

    *****​

    “Here! This is Macmillan’s Standard Book on Magical Contracts, first edition!” Hermione announced with a proud smile as she dropped a thick tome on the desk Petunia had taken over in the Hogwarts Library. “It’s from the fifteenth century,” the witch added with a frown, “which is quite a bit younger than the goblet, but it could still provide you with useful information.”

    Judging by Hermione’s almost apologetic smile, Petunia wasn’t the only one who hated feeling useless when Harry was in danger. She smiled at the witch. “Thank you. In my experience, crucial information can be found in the oddest places.”

    That had Hermione beam at her again and the witch sat down across from her, pulling out her notes and opening another old book on curses while Petunia focused back on the treatise about binding contracts she had been studying.

    For a while, only the scratching noise from Hermione’s enchanted quill was audible as they worked in silence. Then Hermione cleared her throat. “Petunia?”

    Petunia looked up. “Yes?”

    “Can I ask you a question? It’s a little personal, though.”

    Petunia grew tense. Hermione hadn’t asked about ‘her life as a squib’ since their second meeting, but this did sound like she was about to pry again. She still nodded, though.

    “Do you know why Harry’s trying so hard to impress older girls?”

    Petunia almost chuckled in relief, but that would have hurt Hermione’s feelings - the witch was biting her lower lip as she waited for an answer to her question; it was obviously not idle curiosity that had prompted this. She took a deep breath, wondering how best to tackle this without violating Harry’s privacy. “Well, I blame his upbringing,” she began.

    “His upbringing?” Hermione stared at her. “But didn’t you raise him by yourself?”

    “I did. But due to my work, he spent a lot of time in Egypt among Curse-Breakers.” And goblins, but they, fortunately, hadn’t had any influence on Harry.

    “Oh.” Hermione blinked. “You mean Curse-Breakers like Bill.”

    She was a sharp one, Petunia nodded. “Yes. As you know, he wants to become a Curse-Breaker, and he has picked up some of Bill’s views and attitude.” And sometimes, Harry took Bill’s jokes seriously. Like Bill’s comment about older witches being the best choice for a young wizard thanks to their experience. But she couldn’t tell Hermione that - Harry would never forgive her.

    Hermione pursed her lips. “But he’s no Bill.”

    “He isn’t,” Petunia agreed. “But don’t try telling him that.”

    “Even when he’s trying to impress Fleur? She called him a ‘little boy’ to his face, you know!” Hermione shook her head. “If that’s not a clear sign that she’s not interested, then I don’t know what is,” she added with a scowl.

    Petunia couldn’t help thinking that Hermione sounded not quite as protective of Harry as she might have wanted to appear. The girl had a crush. But Harry had his pride, as Petunia knew only too well. “He’ll learn in time,” she said.

    Hermione huffed, and she muttered something under her breath that sounded like ‘he’d better’.

    Petunia hid her smile behind the next book.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, November 13th, 1994

    It felt weird, spending so much time at Hogwarts, Petunia thought as she made her way to the Defence classroom. She still remembered Dumbledore’s kind but firm response to her letter in which she had begged to be able to go to Hogwarts. And now she, a squib, was practically living here! And people didn’t mock her - although that was to be expected after her battle with the Basilisk. She still owed Dumbledore a favour for leaning on Lockhart to describe that battle more fairly; it certainly had helped her reputation. Apart from the unpleasant fact that it had also rekindled the rumours that she and Lockhart were in a relationship.

    If only the reason for her presence - officially she was a ‘security consultant’ - weren’t that her Harry was forced into that stupid, deadly tournament. If only Bill had managed to break the goblet’s contract already. And, she added as she glanced over her shoulder, she would also like it if that creepy caretaker would stop staring at her whenever they met.

    She reached the Defence classroom and knocked on the door.

    “Enter!” sounded a jovial voice. Black.

    She sighed, then opened the door and nodded at Black and Lupin. “Sirius. Remus.”

    “Petunia! Look at this - we’ve prepared a comprehensive lesson plan for Harry’s special training!” Black pushed a roll of parchment in her face. “We’ll cram the most important lessons into ten days, leaving us with a few more days in reserve until the first task!”

    Judging by Lupin’s expression - he was smiling slightly and shaking his head - it was less a ‘we’ and more a ‘he’ behind the lesson plan. Petunia didn’t mind that at all. Black was enthusiastic and knew more dark curses than he should, but by all accounts, Lupin was a great teacher. She still had her reservations about the past he was hiding, and his frequent but regular absences hinted at a rather dark secret, but as long as he did all he could to help Harry, that would have to be enough.

    “It’s too bad that Bill needs more time to break the contract, but at least it’ll give us time to spend with Harry!” Black said, beaming at her again. With a leer, he added: “And it gives Bill time to spend with Fleur.” She frowned at him - that was a transparent dig at her partner - and he hastily backpedalled. “Not that I think that he’d procrastinate just to spend more time with the ravissante mademoiselle. I’m certain that he’s doing all he can to help Harry!”

    She shook her head. Black was trying far too hard, even if he never actually asked. “As we’ll be doing our best to help him,” she said.

    “Of course!” Black said. “He’ll be ready for everything that tournament can throw at him!”

    “Good.” She nodded at him. “Because there’s been a new development that is a concern for us.”

    He narrowed his eyes at her and Lupin frowned. “What happened?”

    “The Headmaster informed me that the DMLE is investigating attacks on three Ministry employees who were involved in the planning of the arena for the tournament,” Petunia told them. “They were attacked in their homes, stunned and obliviated of the event.”

    “Someone wanted information about the tournament’s defences. They want to sabotage it,” Black said, “to hurt Harry.”

    “That’s the most likely explanation,” Petunia agreed. “Dumbledore’s called a few of his ‘old friends’ to help with the tournament’s security.”

    “Might as well reactivate the Order,” Black muttered. “We all know Voldemort will be back anyway.”

    Ah. Petunia filed that information away. Before she could ask if he knew anything more about that, the door was opened and Harry, Hermione and Ron entered, all of them looking eager.

    “We’ve decided that all three of us should get the special training since we’ll be working together anyway!” Harry declared before she could ask about his friend’s presence.

    “Yes. One for all and all for one!” Ron chimed in.

    “We’ll be able to learn more efficiently too if we can observe each other and help each other out,” Hermione said.

    All three faced the adults with serious expressions. Petunia saw that the two wizards were glancing at her. She smiled. “That’s true. Good thinking.”

    It certainly wouldn’t hurt Harry’s training. And it would hopefully keep Harry’s matchmaking attempts in check. Petunia could do without them. “Let’s get started then. We’ve got a lot to cover. Here’s the lesson plan.” She unrolled the parchment.

    Harry looked taken aback, as did Ron, but Hermione was positively beaming.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, November 26th, 1994

    Her nephew was forced into this bloody tournament, and all those wizards and witches thought it would be great entertainment! Petunia stared at the crowd filling the stadium that had been erected between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and wanted to fire a few tear gas grenades into their midsts. At least two-thirds of them wouldn’t be able to cast a Bubble-Head Charm, she’d bet. Bloody vultures!

    “Harry will be fine,” Bill said next to her. “Dumbledore took every precaution to make the tasks as safe as possible.”

    She almost snapped at him that she knew that - she had worked with Dumbledore on this, after all, while Bill had kept trying to break the contract. And flirting with Fleur, of course. But she kept her temper in check. It wasn’t his fault.

    “Harry will be more than fine,” Sirius, sitting on her other side, said. “You know how we’ve trained him; he’ll blow through this little task!”

    She glared at him; she really didn’t need his hyperbole today. Not when they still hadn’t caught that unknown saboteur.

    “This looks very dangerous,” Ron, sitting in the row below her, commented as he pointed at the arena, where dozens of human-sized stone blocks of various shapes were flying in seemingly random patterns below a floating platform.

    “It looks dangerous,” Hermione said, “but it’s actually not much more dangerous than a professional Quidditch match. There are Cushioning Charms cast on the ground.”

    That wasn’t a reassuring thought - people had died in Quidditch matches. And this was more dangerous - the tournament hadn’t been held for centuries because it had been too deadly! No wonder the wizards loved it. Petunia pressed her lips together so she wouldn’t curse at everyone nearby.

    “Welcome to the first task of the first Triwizard Tournament in over two hundred years!” The voice of the announcer, some washed-out ex-Quidditch star, filled the entire stadium thanks to more charms. “Our three champions are facing a daunting first task! They need to reach the top of the platform floating above us - but they have to brave floating rocks, flying animals and deadly winds to do so! They will need all their skills at magic to survive this task!”

    Petunia clenched her teeth and wished the announcer would keel over and die. She closed her eyes and tried to tune the idiot out as he continued to talk people’s ears off until, finally, the three champions entered the arena and the thunderous applause and cheering of the audience drowned out the idiot’s prattle.

    Petunia stared at Harry through her Omnioculars. He looked so young and vulnerable next to the other champions. He was putting on a brave face, but she knew - and could see - that he was nervous. They had trained for this - Black had found out what the task was in advance, probably through bribery - but it was one thing to train, another to brave the task in the middle of this… spectacle.

    “And they’re off!”

    She had missed the champion’s introductions, Petunia realised. It didn’t matter. She watched as Fleur changed into some monstrous bird-like form and leapt into the air while Krum pointed his wand at the closest floating stone and started to summon it to him. And she watched as Harry sprinted through the arena, jumping on a stone block that was flying low above the ground.

    Black voiced what she was thinking: “What is he doing? That’s not what we taught him. He should be summoning a block to him and take control of it. Like Krum is doing!”

    Krum was now standing on a block, and slowly rising through the air on it.

    Petunia glanced at Ron and Hermione. They didn’t seem to be surprised. She leaned forward and tapped Ron on the shoulder. “What’s Harry doing?”

    Ron flinched and Hermione winced. “Well… we, that is, Harry, thought the only chance to beat Krum and Fleur was to do something different,” the redhead confessed.

    “He’s trying to use the blocks as stepping stones - they’re moving much faster if you don’t try to force them under your command,” Hermione explained. Petunia had no doubt that her analysis was behind this plan.

    But the execution was all Harry’s. The crowd roared as he jumped from block to block, dodging conjured birds on the way, sometimes blowing them up, as he made his way up to the platform. Krum was falling behind - he was just too slow, and having to deflect the attacks rather than to dodge them slowed him down even more. Fleur, though, was another story. Unlike the stone blocks Harry and Krum were using, she wasn’t protected against the howling winds surrounding the platform. She was thrown around like a leaf in a breeze, a hundred and fifty feet in the air, and the majority of the animals were attacking her, but each beat of her wings brought her a little closer to the goal.

    Harry was now a yard below it, but too far away to make the jump. And the rock to which he was clinging was moving further away from the platform - and starting to descend. Petunia held her breath when her reckless nephew suddenly stood up, almost losing his balance on the rock, and then jumped towards an erratically moving stone block two yards below him. He made it by the skin of his teeth, or so it seemed, grabbing on the edge of the block with both hands while his legs swung back and forth until his feet found enough purchase to pull himself up.

    But the block was rising - and speeding up - directly towards the platform. Harry stood once more, crouching, ready to make the jump…

    … and Fleur landed on the platform, bleeding from several scratches, but victorious. She changed back to her human form as Harry made the jump, earning him the second place.

    And Petunia started the breath again. She closed her eyes. Harry was safe. Unharmed even, apart from the muscles he had to have pulled with that last jump before the final leap - she had done similar jumps in some tombs; she knew how he would feel in a few hours.

    Provided she didn’t kill him for worrying her so!

    *****​

    Hogwarts, December 7th, 1994

    “Auntie?”

    “Yes, Harry?” Petunia smiled when she saw her nephew standing at the door to her room. He was fidgeting - he needed her help but didn’t like asking her. “How can I help you?”

    He scowled, just as she had known he would. Then he sighed and entered, closing the door behind him. “Are you alone?”

    “No, Dumbledore is hiding in the corner, disillusioned, to keep guard,” Petunia replied.

    For a moment, it looked as if Harry would go and check, then he scowled again. “That’s not funny, Auntie!”

    She disagreed, but she had teased her reckless nephew enough - for now. “So, what’s the problem?”

    “The Yule Ball,” he said, sitting down on her bed.

    Thanks to Hermione’s need to talk during their research sessions, which unfortunately had been as fruitless as Bill’s efforts, Petunia had an idea what the problem was, but she decided to play dumb. “Do you need more dancing lessons? I’m sure Sirius would love to help you.”

    “No.” He shook his head. “I can dance just fine!” He sighed again and looked down. “I need a date.”

    “Oh?” She raised her eyebrows at him. “Didn’t you plan to ask out Fleur?”

    He rolled his eyes at her in response. “I didn’t even ask her. You know as well as I do that she’s going with Bill.”

    “Yes.”

    He lowered his head again, losing all of his often cocky attitude. “I asked Cho. Cho Chang. Ravenclaw’s Seeker.”

    “And?”

    “She turned me down. She’s going with Cedric Diggory.” He snarled the boy’s name.

    Petunia shrugged. “There are more girls at Hogwarts than her.”

    “Yes. I also asked out Alicia, Angelina and Katie. From our Quidditch team,” he added.

    She couldn’t resist. “You asked out three girls? That’ll be some complicated dance moves!”

    He huffed. “I asked them out one after the other. They all turned me down!”

    “So, ask another girl to the dance?”

    He pushed his chin up. “And what if they turn me down as well? I have a reputation to defend. I can’t look desperate!”

    Even though he did sound rather desperate. “So, what about asking one of your friends?”

    Harry shook his head. “That’s a bad idea! Bill said that if you date a friend, the friendship usually ends with the relationship.”

    Bill had a lot to answer for, Petunia thought. “That sounds a little… far-fetched. Not entirely wrong, though.” Teenagers were very emotional, after all. “But you can go as friends, then. To keep up appearances,” she added with a slight grin. “Like Hermione and Ron, right?”

    He huffed. “They’re not just friends.”

    According to Hermione, they were, but it didn’t matter right now.

    Harry sighed yet again. “I don’t want to raise anyone’s hopes. But I guess you’re right.” He slowly nodded, then perked up. “I have an idea. But I’ll have to coordinate with Neville! Laters, Auntie!”

    Petunia shook her head as Harry dashed out of her room. Teenage boys and their fragile egos.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, December 25th, 1994

    Petunia still didn’t know why Harry had had to ‘coordinate’ with Neville, who was going with Ginny, but her nephew looked happy enough as he led Luna to the dance floor for their fifth dance of the evening. They were a cute couple, too, but Petunia didn’t think too many noticed them. Not next to Fleur and Bill, who both had gone all out for the occasion - the couple easily outshone everyone else, even Krum and his date, a witch from Durmstrang.

    In their presence, Petunia felt as if she were wearing an Invisibility Cloak instead of new robes. She clenched her teeth again as she struggled with her jealousy. Fleur had everything: beauty, youth, grace, money - the Delacours were among the oldest and richest families in Magical France - and, most importantly, magic. And she had Bill; even a blind squib would see that.

    At least Bill wouldn’t dissolve their partnership. Probably. Fleur wanted to work for Gringotts as well, after all.

    “May I have this dance?”

    She turned and saw that Black was smiling at her, holding out his hand. He looked very handsome in his expensive dress robes - she couldn’t see any trace, at least no visible one, from his ordeal in Azkaban. She opened her mouth to turn him down but reconsidered. This was probably the only time in her life she’d attend a Yule Ball. And a woman was supposed to dance at a ball. And he was handsome and knew how to dance. So she smiled and accepted his hand. “It would be my pleasure.”

    His face lit up as his smile grew even bigger.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, February 25th, 1995

    “They’ve got a thing for the classic elements,” Petunia said, staring at the ice castle floating above the sea of fire inside the arena.

    “Yes,” Hermione said, turning her head to look at her. “First Air and Stone - which stands for Earth - and now Fire and Ice, which stands for Water. I wonder what the last task will be,” she added, with a too innocent tone.

    Petunia frowned at her. They were aware of all of the tasks thanks to Black, but that didn’t mean hinting at their knowledge was a good idea. Sometimes, Hermione just couldn’t help boasting with her knowledge.

    At least the girl realised her mistake - she flinched and turned her attention back to the arena. Petunia glanced at Ron, who was sitting next to Hermione. He was chatting with Luna and Ginny. There was no sign of Neville. It looked like neither girl had been interested in their Yule Ball dates as anything more than friends - and the opportunity to attend the ball as third years.

    “How do you think Harry will do at this task?” Sirius asked.

    Petunia shrugged. “To be honest, all I care about is that he doesn’t get hurt.” And between the Flame-Freezing and the Cushioning Charms cast on the fire on the ground, Harry shouldn’t get hurt. Unless he tried another stupid stunt. If only that goblet’s contract hadn’t been so powerful!

    “Well… if he’s half as graceful on ice as you are the dance floor, he’ll easily win this task.” Sirius smiled at her. “All he has to do is to reach the castle’s heart before it melts. A task after my own heart,” he added.

    “He’ll also have to avoid the steam shooting up through the castle as it melts,” Petunia remarked.

    “He’ll have no trouble with that, nor with the frozen creatures trapped in the ice.” He leaned towards her. “Although I think you wouldn’t have any trouble either with this task. You’re a formidable woman.”

    Petunia pressed her lips together. He hadn’t stopped complimenting her since the Yule Ball. It was time to set him straight so she could focus on Harry. “Look, Sirius, I know what you are trying to do.”

    “You do?” He smiled at her.

    “Yes.” She sighed. “But it’s unnecessary. You are part of Harry’s life - he adores you. And I won’t try to take this from either of you. So, you don’t need to try and seduce me any more.”

    He recoiled as if she had butted him into the head like Lockhart. “You think I’m complimenting you because of Harry?” She opened her mouth to answer, but he went on: “I would never do that to a witch! How can you think so low of me?”

    Petunia was taken aback, and so she said the first thing that came to mind - the thing that explained and dominated all of her life. “I’m just a squib.”

    He glared at her. “And that is worse! As if I’d… I’m not my parents.” He shook his head again. “How… Really…”

    He wasn’t talking to her any more, she noticed. Not that she knew what to say to him. Fortunately, the second task began before he had recovered his composure. Neither of them said anything while they watched Harry flit on conjured skates through the transparent, maze-like hallways of the ice castle, beating Fleur, who was trying to melt a straight passage to the heart with her fireballs, and Krum, who transfigured a path through the entire castle, but lost too much time when the floor melted away under him and he almost fell into the fire below.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, February 26th, 1995

    Petunia found him, as expected, in Lupin’s quarters. His friend looked at her, then at Sirius, and suddenly remembered an urgent question he had to pose to the Deputy Headmistress. He was gone in less than a minute, and Petunia found herself alone with Sirius.

    “Hello.” She nodded at him.

    “Hello.” No smile, just a guarded expression.

    “I would like to apologise,” she said. “For mistaking your intentions.”

    “Thank you,” he replied, stiffly though.

    She waited a moment, then went on. “I’m just not used to this… attention.”

    “I find that hard to believe,” he said, rather guardedly. “You’re an attractive woman. A famous one, too. One of the best in your profession.”

    “I’m a squib.”

    “You said that before. I fail to see the relevance. You haven’t been born into a magical family, so you never ran the risk of having an accident either, to cover up their ‘shame’.”

    She frowned at him. “I can’t use magic. I need to ask a wizard whenever I need a spell cast. And how many wizards do you think would risk having squibs as children?”

    He hesitated just a moment too long before answering. “Only bigots would care about that.”

    “Really?” She scoffed. “Would you want a child who will never be able to use magic? Who will forever have to rely on you and your help? Who will be unable to play Quidditch with you, or have a play duel with you? Whose laughter at your stories will always be tinted with envy at what they can never have?” She didn’t bother to hide her own bitterness. “Would you want Harry to live like this?” She shook her head. “I don’t think so.” She took a deep breath and nodded at him. “I apologise again for mistaking your intentions.”

    He managed to utter a “thank you” before she left the room.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, June 24th, 1995

    “Glass this time,” Petunia remarked when she noticed Sirius sitting down next to her.

    “Yes. Inspired by a muggle toy, I think,” he said.

    It did look like a giant transparent Rubik’s cube. And worked similarly - the champions would have to use their wands to turn the sides, opening a path to the centre by repositioning the open faces of the smaller cubes so they could pass through and, at the same time, hindering the progress of the other champions.

    Of course, such a task wouldn’t be bloody enough for the audience, so each cell also contained a creature that would have to be defeated. She shook her head.

    “I’ve checked with Dumbledore; they still haven’t found the saboteur. But Crouch is missing.”

    She turned to him. “He’s missing? Do you think he’s responsible?”

    He shrugged. “He had the means, but the motive? He hated the Death Eaters so much, he sent his own son to Azkaban and let him die there without visiting once. But if anyone got him…”

    “...then they would be aware of all the Ministry’s security measures,” she finished for him. “Let’s go to Harry.” They wouldn’t be able to do anything sitting in the audience.

    As they made their way to the tent housing the champions, he remarked: “You know, I’ve been researching the matter.”

    “The matter?” she glanced at him.

    “Squibs and children.” He was looking straight ahead. “Almost all of the recorded marriages between squibs and wizards or witches had wizard kids.”

    She tensed. “And how many were those?”

    He winced. “Not too many. I found a dozen. And only one couple who had a squib son. And that might have been the result of an affair with a pureblood lover, not the squib father.”

    “It’s not exactly compelling proof,” she said after a moment. They were almost at the tent.

    “I’ve risked more on worse odds.” He turned his head and grinned at, then pushed the flap open for her.

    She was about to answer him, but a scream from inside the tent sent a cold shiver down her spine. Harry!

    She rushed inside and found him convulsing on the floor, bleeding from the head. No, bleeding from his scar.

    “Harry! Harry! I’m here!” she yelled, kneeling down next to him, pushing the other champions away. “Get a Healer! Get Dumbledore!”

    She heard Sirius yell at Krum and Fleur. “Move!”

    Then Harry stopped thrashing on the ground and looked straight at her. “Auntie! He’s back! I saw him! He’s got a new body. Voldemort’s back!”

    *****​
     
  13. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    Well, I hope Hermione comes around to the excellence that is Ron Weasley. Best OTP ever.

    It seems to be a chapter of women going for the wrong guy, at least Petunia's now looking at Sirius beyond her insecurities. Maybe Hermione will look beyond her own insecurities to the better boy too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
  14. Threadmarks: Chapter 5: The Search
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 5: The Search

    Hogwarts, July 1st, 1995

    Petunia Evans wanted to hit someone - or shoot them - when she entered the Headmaster’s office. It had been seven days since Harry had collapsed in the champion’s tent, blood gushing out of his scar. Seven days since he had told Dumbledore what he had seen in his ‘vision’. The Headmaster even had had Harry give him a copy of his memories before Harry had even been released from the infirmary. And he hadn’t talked to her or Harry at all since then. She was sick and tired of being kept in the dark just because she was a squib!

    So she didn’t take a seat when Dumbledore offered but stood in front of his desk with her arms crossed under her chest, staring at him. “You said that you knew more about what happened to Harry.”

    He nodded, his polite smile not changing in the slightest in response to her rudeness. “Indeed, I did - and I do know more. You might want to sit down, though. This will take a while to discuss.”

    “Discuss?” She scoffed. She didn’t want to be polite. She didn’t want to be reasonable. She didn’t want to discuss anything. She wanted to lash out at whoever hurt Harry. She wanted to take Harry and get him far away from anyone who wanted to hurt him.

    But Petunia had learned early on, even before Lily had gone to Hogwarts and she hadn’t, that the world didn’t often care about what she wanted. So she glared at the old wizard and took her seat.

    He had the grace not to gloat. He took a lemon sherbet from his bowl, fed another to his phoenix, then sighed. “As you have no doubt deduced, Harry has had a vision of Voldemort.”

    “That was obvious,” she spat. Harry had told her so, after all.

    “Yes.” He leaned back. “It is his scar. It forms a connection between them.”

    She felt her stomach clench. She had suspected that, but to have it confirmed. “How?”

    “I do not know the exact details. I think that when Lily’s protection defended Harry on that fateful day, it interacted with Voldemort’s Killing Curse, and the scar was an unintended result.”

    “Accidental dark magic?” That sounded very far-fetched.

    “That description might be more accurate than you think,” he said. “In that instant, when Voldemort’s body died, his soul was torn out of him - struck by his own Killing Curse.”

    “No one saw what happened,” she said. “No one but Harry, who doesn’t remember.”

    “This is true, but I and others have spent considerable time trying to reconstruct and understand what happened to Harry and Voldemort. Even though the Killing Curse is not as powerful as many think - its tactical use is actually rather limited - a defence against it would still be seen as one of the most impressive magical achievements.”

    She snorted. She knew all about academics and their ambitions. She was one herself, after all. Some things were the same for muggles and wizards. And squibs.

    “So, while I do not know exactly what happened, I think I have a very good estimate of the events that led to Harry’s scar.” He nodded slowly.

    “That’s nice,” she said, clenching her teeth for a moment, “but does that include knowing how to get rid of it?”

    His sigh and slipping smile told her the answered before he spoke. “I am afraid it does not - or not yet. This is where you come in.”

    She blinked at him. She was a squib; she couldn’t do magic. Why would… “Egypt. The answer’s in Egypt.” The ancient Egyptians had been obsessed with life after death - or immortality. And she was an expert on ancient Magical Egypt.

    “Yes. Thanks to Harry’s memory, I have been able to determine that Voldemort has gained a new body through an ancient Egyptian ritual.” He pressed his lips together in obvious distaste; it was the first time she saw him display such an emotion. “A rather gruesome and very dark ritual.”

    “That’s par for the course for most ancient Egyptian magic rituals,” she said. “‘A life for a life’.”

    “Quite.” He took a deep breath. “The ritual took place in Egypt. It seems that Voldemort used the sabotage of the Triwizard Tournament merely to ensure that my attention was fixed on Britain and on protecting Harry while he prepared his resurrection in Egypt.” He shook his head. “Although I doubt that I would have paid any attention to Egypt even without this ruse - Voldemort might have been a little too clever for his own good. However, after looking into matters, I am certain that the key to defeating Voldemort for good is to be found in Egypt as well.” He looked at her for a moment, then nodded. “Do you know what a Horcrux is?”

    “It’s a soul anchor. It’s meant to keep the soul from entering the afterlife after death, allowing the wizard to possess another body instead.” She shrugged in response to his stare. “I don’t know how one creates one, or how they work - the Egyptians didn’t write that information on the walls of their tombs - but it was mentioned in several texts. Esoteric texts Gringotts had acquired in their search for clues about graves.”

    “I see.” He shook his head. “To think that their greed might be both our doom and our salvation… But I digress. A Horcrux is created through a foul ritual involving human sacrifice. It splits off part of your soul and plants it into a vessel - the soul anchor. As long as that anchor exists, you cannot kill the wizard who created it. You can destroy whatever body he inhabits, as often as you want, but his soul will not fade from this plane of existence, allowing him various ways to gain another body.”

    She shuddered. And such a madman was tied to Harry!

    “The ancient Egyptians had ways to deal with Horcruxes. Unfortunately, they decided to erase that knowledge along with the knowledge to create Horcruxes - and were a little more successful at erasing the former than the latter.”

    Erase… She blinked. “The Nameless Necromancer! He was executed for trying to live forever, according to the hieroglyphs in his grave. His name was erased from history.”

    His eyes widened. “That would fit with the creation of a Horcrux. He might even be the one who invented soul anchors.”

    “I discovered his grave. I have all the information that we found there.” She winced. “Except for what we burned along with the mummy into which they had bound his soul.” If she had destroyed the key to defeating Voldemort...

    “If you could deliver a copy to me, that would be most useful.” Dumbledore smiled at her.

    She nodded, even though she didn’t share his opinion - she had translated all of the texts she had found in the tomb for her article in British Archaeology, after all.

    His expression grew serious again. “You see, Voldemort has not just recreated or rediscovered the secret of soul anchors - he improved them. He has created more than one.”

    “Are you certain?” She was no expert, but that sounded really bad. Splitting your soul several times?

    He nodded. “I destroyed one soul anchor already.” He shook his head. “I wish I had not been so hasty, but I assumed this would end his existence. As you know, I was proven wrong by Harry’s vision.” His phoenix trilled and leapt from its perch, landing on his shoulder. “Thank you, Fawkes.” He patted the bird’s head, then looked at her. “Miss Evans, I know I am asking a lot of you, but I need you to return to the Valley of Kings and find out whatever you can about Horcruxes and the ritual that Voldemort used to regain a body. We need to find their secrets, their weaknesses, in order to have a chance to defeat him.”

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, July 11th, 1995

    “... and this is why I need to return to Egypt as soon as Harry’s safe,” Petunia finished, leaning back in her favourite armchair in her living room.

    “The whole plot to force him into the tournament and sabotage it was a diversion?” Sirius scowled and gripped his cup. “And Harry’s connected to Voldemort?”

    “That is what Dumbledore told me,” she confirmed. Sirius had seen Harry’s vision as well, after all - and how his scar had bled.

    He muttered several curses under his breath. “What a bloody mess. It’s bad enough that the country’s going mad with fear over his return, but this…” He shook his head and put his cup down. She reached over and refilled it. He snorted. “Did you know that Fudge tried to deny Voldemort’s return when Dumbledore warned the Ministry? Claimed that it was just an attempt to undermine him.”

    “He’s a fool.” Which was probably why he had been elected as Minister for Magic - a fool was easily manipulated, after all.

    “He might have succeeded, too, if not for dear Narcissa.” Sirius chuckled. “She jumped on this ‘proof’ that Lucius was put under the Imperius Curse. And with the Malfoy gold at work, Fudge soon changed his views. They’re increasing Auror and Hit-Wizard recruitment and there’s talk of investigating the Ministry to ferret out spies. That won’t happen, of course - or will do more harm than good if they’re following Crouch’s playbook.”

    She nodded in agreement. “Have they found him yet?”

    “No. They found his house-elf - dead. And signs that he kept someone imprisoned for a long time in his own house.” Sirius shook his head. “He must have gone crazy even before Voldemort got to him. He was the one who sent me to Azkaban without a trial, you know.”

    She knew that - he had told her numerous times.

    “So, you’ll wait until Harry’s safe at Hogwarts, and then head to Egypt?” he asked.

    “Yes.” Lily’s blood protection would be renewed by then. That should help keep out any more visions, too - even though Dumbledore seemed to consider that a drawback. And Voldemort would be out of Egypt by then, and back in England.

    He nodded. “I’ll come with you, then.”

    “What?” She stared at him.

    “I can’t do anything useful here.” He scowled. “I can’t stand the Wizengamot. It’s made up of traitors, idiots and vultures. Andromeda can be my proxy in the Wizengamot. That should ruffle their bigoted feathers!” He laughed. “Harry will be safe at Hogwarts - Dumbledore is restructuring its wards against Voldemort. And Voldemort never dared to face the Headmaster in the last war.”

    She knew that. Had told herself that numerous times to convince herself that she could leave Harry at Hogwarts and go to Egypt.

    “But you! You need a bodyguard!” Sirius exclaimed.

    She glared at him. “Because I’m a squib?”

    He flinched but recovered quickly. “No, no! Because you’ll be doing your researching and Bill will be doing his Curse-Breaking. And I’ll be your bodyguard!”

    She pressed her lips together. How arrogant of him to assume that he could tell her what to do! On the other hand, she knew how it hurt to feel useless when Harry was in danger. And the Death Eaters had been active in Egypt before.

    “I’ve seen you kill Death Eaters, Petunia,” he added.

    She slowly nodded. “Alright. But you’ll listen to me in the field. This won’t be the same as Grimmauld Place.”

    “Of course. ” He smiled at her. “I’ve always wanted to see Egypt.”

    “Pretty much all you’ll see will be sand, rocks and dusty tombs.”

    His grin didn’t waver. “I spent a dozen years staring at the walls of my cell. It’ll be a nice change.”

    She didn’t want to comment on that. She could have said something about the talk they had, which had been interrupted by Harry’s visions. But she didn’t. “So, there are a few things you should take with you to Egypt. Things that will make your life easier there.” And hers. She hated dealing with green Curse-Breakers who forgot to use sun blocker.

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, July 19th, 1995

    “Hi, Petunia!”

    “Hello, Petunia!”

    “Hello, Ron, Hermione.” Petunia smiled at the two teenagers who had just stepped out of the fireplace, then nodded towards the stairs. “Harry’s in his room.”

    “Thanks!”

    “Thank you, Petunia!”

    Petunia watched the two dash up the stairs and loudly greet Harry. It was nice that her nephew had such good friends who would visit almost every day while he was basically confined to the house so he wouldn’t leave the blood protection’s range.

    If only his friends weren’t also the greatest troublemakers she had ever known. She didn’t think Harry would be foolish enough to sneak out of the house for some adventure with them, but she knew they were planning something - the way Hermione tried to talk to her about her latest article in British Archaeology each time Petunia set foot in Harry’s room while the two boys acted as if they were doing their homework proved that beyond a doubt.

    She could just hope that whatever it was, it wouldn’t destroy parts of Hogwarts. Well, she wouldn’t mind if Snape’s quarters were destroyed. But for the next hour or so, their plotting would be put on hold. “Harry! Ron! Hermione! Lunch’s ready!”

    Ten minutes later, everyone was eating. “So, what are you doing upstairs? I don’t usually need to repeat myself twice until you join me at the table.” Petunia looked at Harry, who was trying to act innocent.

    “Just homework, Auntie.”

    “Really?” She raised her eyebrows. “You’ve been doing homework for a week. Maybe I should talk to your teachers; this isn’t much of a vacation if you have to work so hard.”

    “We’re actually studying ahead,” Hermione said, smiling brightly.

    Petunia might have believed her if Harry and Ron hadn’t been a little slow in nodding in agreement. And if she didn’t know them so well. “Oh? What are you studying?”

    “A bit from everything,” the girl went on. “We want to be well-prepared when we return to Hogwarts.”

    “It will give us more time for Quidditch training,” Ron said. “I’m planning to try for a spot on the team this year.”

    “Yes, we need to replace Oliver Wood. He was our captain and Keeper,” Harry said.

    And, from what Harry had told and written her, a veritable fanatic about the sport. “I see,” Petunia said. She waited a bit and watched them. Ron grew visibly nervous and if Harry tried even harder to act innocently he’d start whistling. And Hermione was glaring at them.

    Petunia shook her head. “I don’t believe you.”

    “Why not?” Ron blurted out, then suddenly winced - Hermione probably had kicked his shin under the table, judging by her glare.

    “We’re not planning anything bad,” Harry told her. “Not really bad.”

    “Do tell.”

    “Just another little expedition. At Hogwarts. We won’t leave the castle, don’t worry,” he went on.

    “Yes.” Ron nodded. “Another legend to verify.”

    “It’s not a legend,” Hermione spoke up. “The Room of Requirement has been documented in ‘Hogwarts: A History’. It’s just that its location has been lost - not even the elves have been able to find it for several decades. Rediscovering it will be a great achievement!”

    Well, that didn’t sound too bad, Petunia thought.

    *****​

    Devon, Ottery St Catchpole, July 31st, 1995

    Petunia watched the kids race around the Quidditch pitch at The Burrow and shook her head. She would have never thought that Harry and his friends would ever forego a chance to play Quidditch in favour of another sport. Well, Harry wasn’t actually racing, but trying to teach Hermione how to fly his Firebolt. That he let anyone else touch, much less fly, his prized broom was unexpected, but Hermione not telling him off and going to read a book, given her issues with flying higher than ten or twenty feet? That was startling. Although, Petunia thought as she watched Harry use a rather hands-on teaching style - his hands on Hermione’s - perhaps not so startling. She shook her head again. So much for ‘not messing up a friendship’.

    “It’s all Fleur’s fault!” “Yes!”

    She turned around and saw Ginny and Luna standing behind her, both wearing deep scowls on their faces as they glared at the pitch.

    “What’s her fault?” Petunia asked.

    “She told them about broom racing!” Ginny exclaimed. “And now all the stupid boys want to race each other instead of playing Quidditch!”

    “Yes!” Luna said, nodding several times. “It’s the first documented lingering effect of the Veela allure. Fleur’s not even here, but they are still at it.”

    Petunia knew better than to try and tell Luna there wasn’t such a thing as a ‘Veela allure’. “You don’t like racing?” Usually, the two girls would be in the air as well - Ginny loved flying, and Luna loved following Ginny.

    “It’s stupid,” Ginny said.

    “It’s not Quidditch,” Luna added.

    “It’s French.” Ginny sniffed.

    “You don’t like Fleur?” Petunia could understand that. Beautiful, talented, rich and now famous thanks to having won the Triwizard Tournament - the Veela was simply too perfect. Especially when young, insecure teenage witches compared themselves to her. Or older squibs.

    Ginny’s huff answered that.

    “She’s ensnared Bill,” Luna explained. “Caught him in her allure until he lost his mind and proposed to her. And it won’t last; she’s a bird and birds are flighty.”

    “The worst part is that he’ll be visiting us even less often!” Ginny added. “He’s already spent weeks in France this summer, meeting her family, instead of being with us.” She looked at Petunia and frowned. “Aren’t you concerned that he’ll dump you for her?”

    “No,” Petunia lied.

    “Harry said you’ll be splitting up,” Luna piped up.

    “What?” Petunia frowned. What had Harry said?

    “Yes. He said you’d soon pair up with Sirius, and Bill with Fleur. Or was it after Bill and Fleur?” Luna scrunched her nose as she tried to remember.

    Her nephew obviously had a very fertile imagination, Petunia realised. And far too loose lips.

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, August 15th, 1995

    “Snape.” Petunia didn’t bother to hide her distaste as she stared at the man on her doorstep

    “Petunia.” The wizard made a point of looking her over, then sneered at her in that arrogant manner of his she loathed so.

    She clenched her teeth and didn’t slam the door into his face. “What do you want?”

    “I’m here to deliver the potions you asked Dumbledore for,” he replied with the air of a man forced to dig through a dung heap with his bare hands by circumstances out of his control. He handed her small package.

    Petunia took the potions, cursing herself for not realising that Dumbledore would have had his Potions Master brew them instead of buying them, and the Headmaster for sending Snape to her. “Thank you.” She nodded at him.

    He scoffed, not even bothering to reply, and she was about to close the door when she heard the fireplace in the living room flare up, followed by Sirius’s voice. “Petunia? Harry? Ah, there you a… Snape!” He snarled at the other wizard.

    “Black!” Snape glared at Sirius.

    “What are you doing here? Apart from stinking up the place?” Sirius sniffed the air, then grimaced. “Have you washed your hair since we stopped pelting you with Paint-Splashing Hexes every few weeks in fifth year?”

    Was that a vein throbbing in Snape’s temple? Petunia knew she should interfere, but she couldn’t help watching the growing row.

    “I was delivering potions to the squib so she doesn’t die from her lack of magic on whatever errand she’s going for Dumbledore,” Snape spat. “What are you doing here?

    “I’m visiting a friend,” Sirius replied. “Not something you’d be familiar with. Unless you count your wand.”

    Snape was clenching his teeth. “I see,” he said after a moment with his usual sneer. “You couldn’t have the witch so you’re settling for the squib? Hoping she’ll overlook your many, many faults because you’re a wizard?”

    Petunia froze for a moment, overcome with anger and shock, as Sirius whipped his wand out, matching Snape. But then, while the two wizards were staring at each other over their wands, she lashed out, slamming her fist into Snape’s face.

    He staggered back, blood running down his face from his hopefully broken nose, and she slammed the door shut.

    Sirius gaped at her.

    “What?” she spat.

    “That was wonderful! I love you!”

    *****​

    Eastern Sahara, Egypt, September 4th, 1995

    “I must say, just seeing you in your working clothes was worth coming along on this expedition.”

    Petunia couldn’t help feeling rather pleased with Sirius’s flattery. It almost made up for the humbling effect that travelling with Fleur, who was wearing tightly-cut duellist robes, had on any normal woman. On the other hand, she might have just grown used to someone sneaking glances at her shorts-covered rear while she was working. And Bill only had eyes for his fiancée any more.

    She snorted and shook her head at Sirius, who grinned at her, then focused back on the half-broken pillar they had discovered in the ruins of an old caravan town dating back to a time when even wizards had had to walk like normal people. Or squibs. She was familiar with the hieroglyphs, but the way they were arranged on the pillar didn’t make any sense. The directions were all wrong. Perhaps… She consulted her map and her notes. “Sirius!”

    “Yes?”

    “Levitate the pillar and turn it clockwise, forty-five degrees.”

    He did as he was told without any backtalk. Other than flirting, of course. “Done.”

    “Good.” She checked the directions again. The direction to Theben was correct now, but the Temple of Anubis wasn’t found in that direction, and much farther away. Although… Hadn’t there been rumours of an older temple of Anubis? The Dean at Cambridge had dismissed it as a myth, but if wizards were involved… And Anubis was the Egyptian god of mummification and the afterlife. It fit her notes. That would mean that the possible ritual site they were looking for was fifty mile to the west.

    Fifty miles through the desert, without any decent landmarks, and with her GPS not working due to magic interference. Joy. At least they would be able to easily apparate back to this spot if they got lost. She stood up, ducking so she didn’t hit her head on the pole holding up the sunscreen above her, and yelled: “Bill! Stop flirting with Fleur and get back here. We’ll be moving out in five minutes!”

    Bill was frowning at her when he reached her a minute later. “You never tell Sirius to stop flirting.”

    “I don’t have to,” she replied. Besides, Sirius was helping her and not trying to find a spot for snogging Fleur. “I think I found our ritual location.” She pointed westwards. “We’ll have to fly fifty miles straight on this heading, though.”

    Bill grimaced as he studied the horizon. “We better hurry, then. If it gets windy we’ll be blown off course. Literally.”

    “That’s why I said to hurry,” Petunia replied, gathering the last of her gear up in her enchanted backpack.

    “See,” Sirius cut in as he stowed the sunscreen in his pocket, “that’s why brooms are superior: Much less likely to be blown away than carpets.”

    “Depending on the wind’s direction, that’s actually not true,” Fleur pointed out. “But brooms are faster.”

    “And less comfortable,” Petunia said. She’d rather sit on a carpet than ride behind Sirius or bill on a broom as if she were a biker groupie. And, which was most important, carpets wouldn’t go out of control as easily as brooms, should she be left alone on one. “Flying carpets were only banned in Britain because certain families with interests in broom makers bribed the Ministry. Let’s go!”

    She climbed on the first carpet, followed by Sirius, while Bill and Fleur took the second.

    *****​

    “Next time, I’m bringing my flying bike,” Sirius declared after they had finally found a spot that matched Harry’s vision. “Much more comfortable, much faster, and much cooler!”

    Petunia didn’t answer him - her attention was focused on the stone circle below them, parts of it already covered by the encroaching sand. She could see the spots where the seven sacrifices had been held, their blood trails on the stones, and the altar in the centre, but not the sarcophagus from which Voldemort had risen at the end.

    “Get us lower,” she said. “I need to check the altar.” It was the only thing with hieroglyphs, and she hadn’t been able to see them clearly enough in the Headmaster’s Pensieve.

    As soon as the carpet hovered a yard above the ground, she jumped down and walked to the altar. They had moved the sarcophagus, but hadn’t bothered to wipe the traces of the sacrificial gifts from the altar? Nor the blood from the floor? From what she had been able to tell, the sarcophagus hadn’t been anything special - fine for a well-off scribe, or lower-ranking priest, certainly not for a wizard or high priest, much less a pharaoh. So, why had it disappeared? Or rather, who had taken it?

    Grave robbers would have taken the altar - it was much more valuable thanks to its rarity. And if the Death Eaters had wanted to vanish their traces, they would have done a better job. That left… “Damn! Watch out for Sandwalkers!” she yelled as she sprinted back to the carpet.

    Bill cursed and drew his wand, but Fleur and Sirius were slower to react - they weren’t familiar with the creatures.

    “Sandwalkers?” the Veela asked.

    “Man-eating dog-sized bugs that love to lay eggs in stone caves - or coffins, which they bury in the sand,” Petunia yelled. She was halfway to the carpet when a dozen of the monsters emerged from the sand surrounding the stone circle, heading her way. And more were swarming towards Fleur and Bill.

    She drew her Glocks and started to shoot at the closer of the two monsters between her and Sirius. Half her shots bounced off the insect’s tough carapace, but half didn’t, hitting the vulnerable eyes and the softer parts of its head. It collapsed as green ichor spurted from its wounds.

    Petunia switched targets, but the second one was too close. And the others were right behind her. She had no choice. She kept firing as she dashed forward, then holstered one Glock and jumped over the snapping mandibles, pushing off the Sandwalker’s back with one hand into a forward flip and touched down running.

    Sirius was staring at her.

    “Get the carpet moving!” she yelled. “They can’t fly! Now!” she added, as he hesitated.

    He obeyed, and the carpet started to rise as closed in on it - as did three more monsters. This would be close. She jumped again, her hand grabbing the tassels lining the carpet’s front edge, and tucked her legs up just in time to evade the closest monster’s charge. She slammed both feet into it on the backswing, toppling it over, then fired three more shots into it as she swung around and pulled herself onto the still rising carpet.

    Bill’s carpet was already higher than they were, and Fleur… had transformed into her bird form and was now hovering above the gathered monsters as if taunting them - and gathering fire in her claws.

    It took several fireballs to kill the Sandwalkers, and the stench was terrible - so terrible, Petunia asked Sirius for a Bubble-Head Charm, and ignored Bill’s smirk - but an hour later, they were on the way back to the lost oasis with the altar.

    *****​

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, November 9th, 1995

    Dear Auntie

    First, I’m fine. I’ll be out of the infirmary in another day. Don’t listen to whatever you might hear from the teachers - it was really not as dangerous as they think it was…

    Petunia lowered the letter she had just started to read, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Harry might be meaning well, but his ‘reassuring letters’ would be the death of her one of these days.

    She quickly read on, growing angrier with each sentence - at Harry, at his friends, at the teachers, who hadn’t seen fit to send a letter, and at herself. Yes, the famous Room of Requirement had been lost for several decades. Or, to be precise, it had been lost since Voldemort’s last visit to the castle, when he had cursed the post of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. If not for Lily’s blood protection and the fact that Harry was a Parselmouth, he and his friends would have died when they triggered the curses guarding the room!

    But between Harry telling the conjured snakes to attack the other guard animals, his protection repelling the Withering Curses and Ron conjuring stone tents and walls to shield them against the fire lashes striking at them from all angles, Hermione had managed to solve whatever condition Voldemort had placed on his defences to make them last inside Hogwarts’ wards, and unraveled the whole scheme, revealing the Room of Requirement. In other words, they had been very, very lucky.

    Of course, Harry had a different opinion.

    It went as planned, Auntie. As we had speculated, Mum’s protection works against any curses, as long as they are or were cast by Voldemort. That means we only had to worry about guards like animals or golems, and Sirius and Remus taught us how to deal with those when we were training for the tasks last year. So, it was really not that dangerous. Not any more than what you do each day, at least.

    And wasn’t that reassuring!

    And it was worth it, Auntie! The room’s like a treasure chamber - full of stuff! Furniture, books, toys, trunks, jewellery - anything you can imagine, in a room as large as the Great Hall. Or almost as large. And there are cursed items too - but weak curses. Student stuff. Nothing Pomfrey couldn’t handle. I got a deboned hand, Ron got a deboned foot when he came to my aid, and Hermione was hit by a boiling hex when she covered our retreat from the cursed training dummy. It’s all fixed now.

    “‘It’s all fixed now’? And that is supposed to make it better?”

    Apparently, Sirius had reached the same part in his letter. She quickly finished reading the rest of the letter - mostly, Harry gushing about Hermione’s research and complaining that they hadn’t been allowed to claim the entire room as theirs - and walked up to Sirius.

    “They’re all alive, despite their best efforts,” she told him.

    “And I told him about the Marauders! We never did things like this!” Sirius shook his head. “What were they thinking?”

    “They weren’t.” Not even Hermione - the girl could act as if she was a good, obedient girl, but she was cut from the same cloth as Harry and Ron. Reckless Gryffindors, all of them. “Let’s go find Bill - he’ll have received a letter from Ron - and a bottle of Ogden’s Finest.”

    “Good idea!” Sirius said. “I’ll have words with Moony once we’re back. To let the kids endanger themselves like that!”

    “Do you really think he could have stopped them?” Petunia snorted. “Check the date; they didn’t pick the seventh by accident for their adventure.”

    Sirius blinked, then stared at her. “The night of the full… They know? You know?

    Petunia shook her head at him. “Of course they know.” Hermione had figured it out three months into Lupin’s first year as a teacher.

    “Oh.”

    “Yeah, ‘oh’. Let’s get that bottle.”

    They found Bill staring at his letter and shaking his head while Fleur was giggling. This was odd - he should have been used to such letters by now. Ron usually, and probably wisely, didn’t bother with too many hair-raising details in his letters.

    “What’s wrong?” Petunia asked. “Ron is fine, isn’t he?”

    “Ah, it’s not about Ron. Not that what he did is OK, of course. This is a letter from Ginny.”

    “Yes?”

    “She wants my help in telling Mum that she and Luna are a couple. And I don’t know if she’s serious, or if this is just another attempt to make me visit The Burrow.”

    Petunia knew she couldn’t help him with that - she didn’t know the answer either. “Come on,” she said, “let’s get a drink.”

    *****​

    “I don’t know if I should finish this or not,” Sirius said two hours later, eyeing the half-full bottle on Petunia’s table after Bill and Fleur had retired to their tent. “I’ll suffer tomorrow, but it should let me sleep without having nightmares of Harry dying.”

    She shook her head. “It won’t help with nightmares.” Not in her experience. “You’d be suffering for nothing tomorrow.”

    He sighed and leaned back in his seat. “How do you stand it?”

    She shrugged. “Having a breakdown is not acceptable.” Especially not in the middle of the camp. Too many Curse-Breakers were jealous of ‘the squib’ and would use the opportunity to ruin her. Like that Prussian pureblood princess, Lena Kraft.

    “That’s it? Failure is not allowed so it won’t happen?” He laughed.

    “It has worked for me so far.” Even when she had been at her lowest, shortly after Lockhart had dumped her. “I don’t give up.”

    “Yes.” He nodded, watching her.

    After a moment, she looked at him. “What?”

    “You’re a very strong woman. Stronger than anyone I’ve ever met.”

    She snorted. He had known Lily, hadn’t he?

    “I’m serious.”

    She had heard the pun before and laughed.

    “No, I mean, I’m honest.” He stood and walked towards her, reaching for her hand as he stood in front of her.

    “You’re drunk,” she said.

    “No. Not like you think,” he said.

    She let him pull her up.

    “And you’re not that drunk either. You wouldn’t let yourself get that far.”

    She nodded. He hadn’t let her hand go.

    “So…” he tilted his head. “Don’t blame the whisky.”

    “I won’t,” she said before his lips met hers.

    *****​

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, April 3rd, 1996

    “Why is it that this tomb hasn’t been disturbed for millennia, but a few hours after we uncover it, half the scum of Egypt finds it as well?” Sirius yelled before sending another curse at the broken wall behind which the closest grave robbers were hiding.

    “Someone sold us out,” Petunia answered as she reloaded her rifle, ducking her head as another yellowish curse splashed against the pillar in front of her, leaving sizzling, steaming spots on the floor. Acid, she realised.

    “Damned goblins!” he yelled back.

    It wouldn’t have been Ripclaw, Petunia knew. He had too much to lose, and she and Bill were his best team. But Ripclaw was a goblin in a camp of Curse-Breakers - all of whom would have been able to go past his wards to sneak a glance at his records. “It was probably a wizard!”

    “Yeah,” Bill said.

    “Don’t talk, crack those wards!” she yelled back. “We can’t hold them off forever.”

    Not even with Fleur in the air, raining down fireballs on anyone she could see. Which, unfortunately, weren’t that many in the middle of the night.

    Petunia took a deep breath and rolled to the side, catching a robed, masked wizard in the open between two rocks. She fired two long bursts at him, then a third after his shield had shattered under the impact of over a dozen FMJs. He fell down a foot from the rock and rolled a yard before coming to a rest in a growing pool of blood. She barely escaped the retaliation from the man’s friends, though - a few drops of acid from another of those curses splattered against her arm.

    She hissed in pain as her skin felt like it were burning and grabbed a vial from her pouch, emptying it over her arm. The burning sensation and all pain disappeared at once. Snape was a horrible excuse for a human being, but he was a great potioneer.

    A scream to her left told her that Fleur had nailed another one - those whom Sirius hit usually didn’t suffer as long. Not that she cared about the scum attacking her - whether they were working for the Dark Lord, or for themselves. Dumbledore needed the information in this tomb to defeat Voldemort, and Petunia would happily kill anyone who tried to stop her from doing what she could to save Harry.

    She saw movement to her side - more people trying to flank them. Amateurs. Coming from that direction, they were easily visible against the night sky. She emptied a magazine into the first one, then threw a grenade to get the second one.

    She didn’t see if her grenade had been close enough, but it didn’t matter - Fleur, apparently lacking more targets, covered the area with fireballs. And Sirius stabbed his wand in the air that she knew meant he was reapplying the Jinxes that countered disillusionment charms and Invisibility Cloaks. They had a short range, but it was enough in this battle.

    She changed position, popping up behind a fallen statue, seeking for enemies. Nothing. She ducked. No spells flying at her. Had they given up? “Fleur? Can you see them?”

    “Non! Oui! Ils chargent!”

    Petunia cursed, rolled to the side, and came up to the sight of a dozen robed figures running towards them. She started firing, but they were protected by Shield Charms, and she went through most of one magazine for her rifle just to kill one of them. Sirius had more success, nailing two with quick curses, and Fleur roasted another two with a fireball from above before she had to veer off to evade the curses sent at her.

    But the enemies came on, closing in. Petunia fired her last shots, then dropped down, shouting: “Take cover!” as she reached for the small switch near her.

    A second later the Claymore mines went off, and thick smoke covered the entire area. Petunia waited until it cleared up a little, then jumped up, rifle raised. No one was charging at her any more. Bodies were strewn across the ruins. She saw one wizard staring at the stumps of his arms as he died and shot another who could still wield a wand.

    “I don’t see any markers any more,” Sirius said, standing as well. “I think they’ve had enough.”

    Petunia nodded. Bill would take a little longer to break the wards, but the tomb was theirs. And with it, so she hoped, the information they needed to defeat Voldemort.

    *****​
     
    Leonidas333, Yla, smeee and 23 others like this.
  15. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    Noo! Someone killed Barts winky! I bet they choked his winky until it started vomiting and died.

    Hmm. I wonder how long Petunia will be able to hold out when she visits Grimauld next, before pulling out Sirius's kreacher throwing her hands around its neck and yanking it until she's either exhausted, or it dies and goes flaccid...
     
    Starfox5 likes this.
  16. Threadmarks: Chapter 6: The Hunt
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 6: The Hunt

    Valley of the Kings, Egypt, June 26th, 1996

    Petunia Evans woke up, as usual, sometime before her alarm clock would go off. Sirius’s left arm was wrapped loosely around her waist, his hand resting on her belly. She could feel his breath at the nape of her neck, and his body pressing into her back.

    That, too, wasn’t unusual any more. Hadn’t been for months. She smiled and closed her eyes, savouring the moment, half-dozing in Sirius’s arms.

    She must have dozed off for good, she realised a few minutes later when her - wind-up, of course - alarm clock went off. She tried to reach over to the nightstand, but Sirius, half-awake, tightened his grip on her waist, holding her in place.

    “Blasted thing!” she heard him mutter, followed by a muttered syllable, and the noise from the clock disappeared. It was still rattling away, she noticed, but no sound reached her. “There!” Sirius announced, and she didn’t have to turn and look at him to know that he was wearing that satisfied smirk of his as if he had just stopped a thief in Magical Alexandria’s bazar. Which he had done in his animagus form, she remembered, and had caused such a panic, he hadn’t dared to show up as Padfoot in public since then - there was still a bounty out on that ‘stray Grim’.

    “We still have to get up,” she told him.

    He huffed. “Not right now, we don’t,” he said, then nuzzled her neck.

    Once more she closed her eyes, sighing as she shivered. He was right, she knew - they had time to spare. And no reason not to.

    *****​

    “Harry will be so smug,” she told him half an hour later, as they were finally getting ready for breakfast. “He’s been trying to play matchmaker for a long time.”

    She heard him chuckle as he slipped on his duelling robes. Despite her prodding, despite his experiences, he preferred his duelling robes - ‘dragon leather with acromantula silk lining’ - to proper desert robes, much less muggle desert clothes, for ‘work’. He was as stubborn as herself. Which was a good thing, she added to herself - other men wouldn’t have kept pursuing her. And very few wizards would have courted a squib in the first place.

    “Don’t frown!”

    “What?” She looked at him.

    “You were frowning.” He shook his head. “This is a good day! You’ve finished your translations, we have what we came for, and after almost a year, we’ll be finally going back to Britain to see Harry again. No frowning!”

    She rolled her eyes at him, but couldn’t help smiling. A little. Which had been his goal, of course. But things weren’t as rosy as he claimed. They had the information from the ritual place Voldemort had used for his resurrection, or whatever you called it when a dark wizard’s shade regained a body. And all the information from the tombs of the court wizard and high priest who had executed the Nameless Necromancer for their pharaoh. And they were returning to Britain, although that would take a day even if everything went perfectly - which it never did; the Ottomans controlling Magical Egypt were notoriously bad at handling the paperwork in an efficient manner, even when bribed; the consequence of using the country as a dumping ground for unwanted and inept servants of the Sublime Porte.

    But she didn’t know if what they had would be enough for Dumbledore to find a way to defeat Voldemort. To kill him and make it stick. She didn’t say that, though. She didn’t have to say it - Sirius was well aware of it already. Which is why he was acting so cheerfully.

    She put a hand on his shoulder when he sat on the bed to put on his boots, shaking them out beforehand, as she had taught him, even though their tent was warded against insects. He reached up to squeeze her hand for a moment, before pulling on his second boot - dragon leather, too, of course.

    “It’ll work out,” he said.

    She hoped he was right.

    But she feared he was wrong.

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, July 10th, 1996

    “Hello, Petunia!”

    “Hello, Hermione.” Petunia stepped aside and let Hermione enter the house - through the back door. Unlike last Summer, the witch didn’t use the Floo Network any more to travel to Cokeworth but apparated into the shed in the garden. Apparently, Dumbledore had pulled a few strings to let her get her Apparition license as soon as she turned sixteen last year.

    That the Headmaster had also arranged to have Harry and Ron trained in Apparition, ‘just in case’, Petunia considered a mixed blessing. It might save Harry if he found himself in danger - but it also allowed him much more freedom to get into trouble. Neither Harry nor Ron apparated in front of her, but she didn’t think for a second that they weren’t abusing it behind her back. She knew her nephew and his friends too well. Just like she had noticed that Hermione was wearing more fashionable clothes than last year, and was wearing makeup now. Her hair was still a mess, but it looked decent enough if pulled into a ponytail. And her front teeth were noticeably less prominent.

    “Harry! Hermione’s here!”

    Ten seconds later, Harry was rushing down the stairs. Hermione met him in the hallway with a hug that quickly changed to a kiss. Petunia shook her head - teenagers!

    “Don’t give us that look!” Harry complained as soon as Hermione let him breathe again. “I know what you and Sirius are doing!”

    She raised her eyebrows at him. “Are you spying on us?”

    “What?” He blushed. “Of course not!” He shook his head for emphasis - he needed a new haircut, Petunia noted. “But you’re a pretty woman, he’s an attractive man, you aren’t old… it’s obvious! Simple deduction!”

    Hermione, instead of laughing at Harry’s attempts to defend himself, supported her boyfriend loyally. “You’re also working in a high-risk profession. Studies have shown that such occupations often correlate with higher sexual activities during down times.”

    Was the little witch smirking? Petunia narrowed her eyes. “Oh? Is that why both of you want to become Curse-Breaker?”

    That had both of them still blushing when Petunia brought tea and a few scones up to Harry’s room. Her nephew managed to glare at her, though Petunia simply smirked at him. He had had a lot of fun teasing her about ‘finally’ dating Sirius, and turnabout was simply fair, after all.

    “When do you expect Ron?” she asked as she stepped out of his room.

    “In about an hour,” Harry said. “He has to do a few chores first.”

    And he likely didn’t want to interrupt their ‘couple time’, Petunia thought. At least there didn’t seem to be any strain on the trio’s friendship due to two of them dating. None that she could see, anyway. “Is he still dating, what’s her name, Lavender?” Another poor girl struck with a flower name, she thought to herself.

    “Well… they haven’t broken up, but they haven’t gone on a date since school ended,” Harry said. “That’s a bad sign.”

    Hermione huffed. “It’s not even been two weeks. And her parents might not want her to go on dates, with Voldemort having returned.”

    And especially not with one of Harry’s best friends, Petunia thought. Voldemort had been focusing on subverting the Wizengamot and the Ministry, but there had been several terror attacks on muggleborn families since his return.

    “That’s still a bad sign,” Harry said.

    “Well, do you expect her to sneak out of her home to go on a date with Ron?” Hermione asked him.

    “Yes, actually. Have you forgotten her barnacle impression when she first started dating ‘Won-Won’?” Harry shook his head. “It’s a wonder that his arm is still working.”

    “She wasn’t that bad,” Hermione said.

    “But she came close.”

    “So you want me to keep my distance?” Hermione asked, smirking at him.

    “That’s different!” Harry said.

    Petunia closed the door, smiling to herself. Harry was happy. And would hopefully learn that Bill’s advice about girls shouldn’t be followed.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, August 15th, 1996

    Dumbledore looked tired, Petunia thought as soon as she looked at him after entering his office. Not exhausted, certainly not haggard, but tired. Like some professors she had known after finishing a book project with too many all-nighters.

    “I suppose you suspect the reason for which why I have called you to my office,” he began as soon as she and Sirius had taken their seats.

    “You’ve analysed the texts we gathered,” she said.

    He smiled as if she were a student answering a question in class. “Indeed. And you have, again, my thanks for translating them. My Old Egyptian is a little rusty.” He laughed softly, but Petunia wouldn’t put it past him to actually know at least some Old Egyptian.

    “It’s my job,” she said. She had published a few articles about the nuances of translating Old Egyptian. Not that she thought any wizard or witch other than Hermione - and Harry, of course - had read them.

    “And you’re an obvious expert in the field.”

    “In many fields,” Sirius interjected.

    “Indeed.” Dumbledore smiled at both of them

    Petunia simply wanted him to get to the point instead of flattering her.

    “Well, let me start with the good news. I have finished my analysis of the texts, and I believe that I found a way to defeat Voldemort despite his Horcruxes.”

    “You mean kill him despite his Horcruxes,” Sirius said. “That he can be defeated Harry has proven twice already.”

    “And Lily,” Petunia added.

    “Technically, both are true. The ancient Egyptian wizards and priests, who were, essentially, wizards as well, but I digress, found a way to join the soul - all of it, no matter if part of it had been hidden in an object - with a prepared vessel, effectively trapping the soul in the vessel. Destroying the vessel would then kill the one trapped in this manner.”

    Petunia pressed her lips together. That sounded like this would destroy a soul. And that was pretty much the darkest of the Dark Arts, as far as she knew. Although if one person deserved such a fate, then it was Voldemort.

    “We’re going to destroy a soul?” Sirius had understood it as well, of course - his family had a long history of using the Dark Arts.

    Dumbledore took a deep breath. “I cannot confirm or deny this with any security. No muggle or wizard has ever been able to determine where souls go after death; all the research done by wizards since time immemorial has only revealed that there is an afterlife, nothing more. If such a vessel is destroyed, then the trapped soul could pass on - or fade from existence. Without a means to call souls back from the afterlife, it would be impossible to prove one way or the other. And such a means does not exist.”

    “What about the Resurrection Stone?” Sirius asked. “One of the three Deathly Hallows.”

    “That’s just a legend,” Petunia said.

    The Headmaster chuckled. “I can assure you that the Three Deathly Hallows exist. I have seen two of them, during my lifetime - although both under circumstances I would rather not repeat. But,” he went on, cutting off Sirius, “I do not think that even the Resurrection Stone has the power to call back souls from the afterlife. I do not doubt that it is a very powerful artefact, but to conquer Death?” He shook his head. “Neither of the two other Deathly Hallows can do that, despite the claims in their legends. While it is essentially speculation, I do think it is likely that the Resurrection Stone does access the minds of the living to simulate the return of a soul - all of the living.”

    “So, we’d be talking to the popular view of the recalled soul, not the actual soul?” Petunia said. That would result in some hilariously wrong information in many cases, she thought.

    “Indeed. But as I said already, it is mere speculation. And irrelevant to our current situation, I might add.” Dumbledore sighed. “Which brings me to the bad news I have to impart: The ritual the high priest and court wizard used to trap the Nameless Necromancer requires a piece of the split soul. Not a connection to it, but the actual soul.”

    Which meant Harry’s scar wouldn’t be enough, Petunia thought with relief. “So, you need us to find one of his Horcruxes.”

    “Exactly, Miss Evans. A task, I believe, for which you are uniquely suited thanks to your talents and experience.”

    Petunia snorted at the flattery the Headmaster heaped upon her, the squib. But she nodded. “The Room of Requirement, I suppose. Why else would he have gone to the trouble of cursing and hiding it?”

    She was delighted to see Dumbledore’s eyebrows rise in apparent surprise before he nodded with his usual slightly patronising smile. “Indeed. His ego would have found the idea of hiding his most valuable secret and his greatest weakness under my very nose irresistible.”

    “Shouldn’t be a problem then,” Sirius said, grinning widely.

    Dumbledore sighed and his smile turned rather wry. “I fear that that would be a too optimistic view of the task ahead. Let me show you.” He stood and gestured to them to follow him.

    Ten minutes later, they were in the lower levels of the dungeons - and Petunia would have another talk with Harry about his description of the location as ‘easily accessible’ - staring at a massive door that had appeared out of nowhere.

    “The Room of Requirement,” Dumbledore announced before opening the door with a flick of his wand.

    Petunia drew a hissing breath, almost a gasp. Harry hadn’t been lying - it was ‘as large as the Great Hall, and full of stuff’.

    Dumbledore chuckled wryly. “When I first laid eyes on it, I was tempted to write a letter to Thaumaturgy Monthly, claiming that I finally had discovered where vanished items go to disappear.”

    Sirius laughed, but it sounded forced. Petunia didn’t even bother. This would take months to sort through.

    That Bill would have to do the lion’s share of the work was a small consolation.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, September 5th, 1996

    “What’s that?” Bill asked, pointing ahead.

    “Either a very fancy chamber pot,” Petunia replied, “or a cauldron after Neville tried an experiment.” She hadn’t believed Harry’s tales until she had seen the aftermath of a Potions lessons herself.

    “Whatever it is, it got a curse on it,” Bill said.

    “Like half the things in here.” Petunia snorted. It looked as if someone - possibly the elves - had been using the room as a dump for all cursed and broken magic items and relics of spell mishaps that had been produced in the school. Fortunately, the curses were usually harmless - relatively harmless - and easy to deal with, and the broken items could be a little tricky but were generally easy to handle.

    It was just that there were so many of them.

    “I’ll go fetch some water and the sandwiches,” she told Bill, straightening from where she had looked - looked, not touched - at a stack of books which had turned out to be muggle novels. The Biggles series, first printing.

    She grabbed a bundle of school robes and walked towards the entrance, where their ‘base camp’, as Sirius liked to call the three tents they had put up, was located. Since the room changed according to the wishes of whoever entered it first, they had to maintain a constant presence in it, or all their work might end up undone by a careless wish for a library or a bathroom. It wasn’t likely, but better safe than sorry.

    “What do you have there?” Sirius asked.

    “School robes,” she told him. “Bill removed the spells on them, so they won’t try to strangle you if you get too close.”

    He shook his head. “I’ll clean them later. Just have to finish sorting through those magazines here. Some could be valuable.”

    Petunia doubted that, but if he needed an excuse to look through them, she wouldn’t argue. Her curiosity often got the better of her as well. If this room had been filled from the back to the front as the centuries passed, then this was an archaeologist’s dream - provided they were interested in Hogwarts history. Perhaps ‘Hogwarts: The Untold History’?

    She snorted and was about to mention this to Sirius when the door to the dungeons opened and a head appeared, peering inside.

    “Harry?”

    He flinched at her voice but quickly recovered. “Auntie! There you are! We were looking for you.”

    “Of course you were.” Petunia frowned as Harry led Ron and Hermione inside.

    “We were,” he insisted as his friends nodded. “We’re here to help you!”

    She rubbed the bridge of her nose. “The last time you were here, all of you ended up cursed and in the infirmary.”

    “That’s not… I mean, yes, but things have changed,” Harry said, and Petunia made a mental note to tell Dumbledore that her nephew probably had managed to break into the ‘sealed room’ with his friends at least once.

    “You have taken your N.E.W.T.s and become full-fledged Curse-Breakers while I wasn’t looking?” Petunia asked in her best sarcastic tone.

    Harry frowned at her. “No, but we’ve taken our O.W.L.s!”

    “And we studied hard during the summer,” Hermione said. “We can be useful - most of the curses in the room are really basic and weak ones. Or so I would guess,” she quickly added.

    Petunia sighed. They had been in here before. And no one had noticed.

    Harry took over again: “We’ll stay safe, Auntie, I promise. And we’ll obey your orders. But you might need me when you find the Horcrux. I’m immune to Voldemort’s curses, remember?”

    “And you’ll need us to keep Harry from becoming bored and getting into trouble.” Ron nodded earnestly. “I’ve been assisting Bill with the wards at The Burrow. I know how to help him.”

    “Please, Auntie.”

    If she sent them away, they probably would sneak in at night. And it was true that the spells and curses they had discovered so far weren’t really dangerous. And it was better to keep them here, where she could keep an eye on them.

    So Petunia reluctantly nodded. And smiled when Harry hugged her.

    ******​

    London, No 12 Grimmauld Place, September 28th, 1996

    “I feel slightly guilty,” Petunia said as she stepped out of the fireplace in the entrance hall of Sirius’s home.

    “Why?” Sirius asked, cleaning the soot off her clothes before doing the same to his own robes.

    “I’ve been running Bill ragged sorting through that monstrous magical landfill, but I’m having a fancy dinner with you.” She was doing what she could to help, but she wasn’t a Curse-Breaker. She wasn’t even a witch. All she could do was the sort through the mess ahead of him, spot traps and other things out of the ordinary - or whatever passed for ordinary in a school of magic - and look for the sort of grandiose-looking artefact Dumbledore was certain would appeal to Voldemort’s ego. So far, they hadn’t had any success - even though all the junk they had found this week dated back to the nineteenth century, in her estimate, and the further they got into the room, the older the things they saw looked.

    He chuckled at her description of the Room of Requirement, shaking his head. “You’ve got no reason to feel guilty. He’s being paid very generously for this, after all.” Out of Sirius’s pocket, Petunia knew. “And someone has to keep watch inside the room. We did it often enough. Fleur’s going to keep him company anyway. More importantly, this is a family dinner,” Sirius continued. “All the Blacks are attending - you, me and Andromeda’s family.”

    “I’m not a Black,” she said in a flat voice.

    “That’s a technicality which I’m happily ignoring. Otherwise, I would have been forced to invite Narcissa as well, and her horrible spawn.” Sirius shuddered.

    “Harry said Malfoy’s changed for the better,” Petunia pointed out. The exact words, ‘not quite as bigoted as before, but still as pathetic and arrogant’, were not quite as positive.

    Sirius scoffed. “Besides, Narcissa’s been hinting at the need of me finding a ‘proper wife’, by which she means a ‘proper pureblood wife’.”

    Petunia buried whatever empathy she might have had for the witch.

    “I’m just glad that she’s apparently not interested. I wouldn’t have put it past her, no matter how embarrassingly ludicrous the entire notion is.” He shook his head. “No, this is just a nice, private family gathering.”

    “Which is why you bought me new robes.” Robes that made the ones she had worn to the Yule Ball look casual and cheap.

    “Yes.” He grinned.

    She sighed, but smiled, and then went to ‘her guest room’ to get changed.

    *****​

    “...and then Sirius came running, arms flailing, pursued by an animated ottoman - the stool,” Andromeda said, chuckling. “His parents were torn between anger at their party being interrupted, and pride at such an obviously strong display of accidental magic.”

    “I remember that. They had to praise me at the party, and I got to eat three desserts!” Sirius grinned. “They never found out that I had asked Uncle Alphard to animate the thing.”

    Petunia forced herself to laugh together with the others even though she didn’t really feel like laughing. Sirius’s cousin Andromeda Tonks was a beautiful, elegant witch with all the grace of a pureblood princess, a sharp wit and none of the arrogance Lena Kraft often portrayed. Her husband Ted was an affable and intelligent muggleborn with a great sense of - often self-deprecating - humour. And their daughter Nymphadora - who had been quick to point out that she hated her name - was an energetic, funny and delightfully direct witch who worked as an Auror for the Ministry. And she was a metamorphmagus, one of the rarest talents known in the magical world.

    They were all so friendly and nice, Petunia couldn’t even hate them for constantly reminding that she was but a squib with all their stories from growing up as a witch or wizard. She took another sip of the excellent wine. Well, the evening couldn’t last forever.

    “I’ve heard you’re working as a Curse-Breaker in Hogwarts this year,” Andromeda said.

    Petunia suppressed a wince. “I’m an archaeologist, not a Curse-Breaker,” she corrected the witch.

    “And a tomb raider,” Sirius cut in, beaming at her. “The best in Egypt.”

    Petunia shot him a smile before she went on: “But yes, I’m examining the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts. My nephew and his friends managed to rediscover it recently.” Or stumbled on it - Harry had been a little vague about those details. “It’s a fascinating collection of relics from Hogwarts history.”

    “And it has more traps and curses than this place ever had,” Sirius added.

    “Most are not actual traps,” she corrected him, “just miscast spells or broken items interacting in an unplanned and dangerous manner. Bill, our Curse-Breaker, hasn’t had any trouble so far.”

    “There’s just so much of it,” Sirius said. “Imagine the Great Hall, and then fill it with junk!”

    “That’s a little hyperbole, but there are more relics, items and artefacts that I’ve seen in any one tomb in my career,” Petunia said. “Much less gold, of course,” she added, “Which is a good thing, or Gringotts would probably try to dig a tunnel to the other end of the room, and start plundering it.”

    That set off another round of laughter.

    “I’ll be at Hogwarts too,” Tonks mentioned, “at least officially. Dumbledore has pulled a few strings and has me assigned as security to the school. I can pass as any student, any age, any gender, after all.”

    “Or as any teacher. Like Snape!” Sirius said.

    “Ugh.” Tonks shuddered, and for a moment, her face seemed to deform as if she were a cartoon character.

    “Officially, you said?” Petunia looked at her.

    “Well, yes. Keeping the Boy-Who-Lived safe and all.” Tonks shrugged. “But Dumbledore told me that I’d be mainly doing other missions for him. Secret ones.”

    That made sense, given her talent. Petunia was still annoyed that Dumbledore arranged a bodyguard for Harry without consulting her, even if it was just a cover for one of his agents. The Headmaster was playing his cards a little too close to his chest, in her opinion.

    “But that’s secret, as I said,” Tonks grinned.

    Petunia smiled, showing her teeth a little. She knew about keeping secrets - probably better than that witch. “I fully understand. You wouldn’t believe what underhanded means some Curse-Breakers would try to beat a rival to a tomb.”

    “Oh?” Ted leaned forward “Do tell!”

    Andromeda and Sirius joined in, and Petunia told them a few choice stories from her past encounters with unscrupulous rivals. Not Lockhart, of course - that was too personal. But Lena Kraft’s attempt to anticipate her and Bill’s route, thinking they would take the straight route? That was a good story. Especially since the stupid pureblood princess had stumbled upon a lesser grave by accident, and spent a week dodging traps and curses, only to discover that the buried wizard had spent all of his wealth on his grave, leaving no treasure inside it.

    Which reminded her of the time when she and Bill had encountered a decoy grave, and she had discovered the real one by accidentally falling through a hole in the roof. Embarrassing and dangerous at the time, but funny in hindsight.

    Which prompted Tonks to tell a few embarrassing stories herself - she was apparently rather clumsy.

    By the time the Tonkses were leaving, Petunia was surprised how late it was.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, January 10th, 1997

    “That’s the last one,” Sirius said as he pointed at the dented suit of armour in the farthest corner of the room.

    Petunia nodded. She turned to Bill.

    Her partner slowly shook his head. “It’s not cursed. No spells on it at all.”

    Petunia sighed. “It’s official then. There was no Horcrux in the room.” At least Harry and his friends hadn’t gotten hurt during the search. They had, instead, learned a lot, or so she hoped. Possibly even some caution. “I’ll go tell Dumbledore.”

    “I’ll come as well,” Sirius said.

    The Headmaster was, as expected on a Friday morning without a Wizengamot session, in his office.

    “I take it that there was no Horcrux in the Room of Requirement.”

    Of course, he had been aware of their progress, or continuing lack thereof. Petunia nodded. “You’d be right. We’ve combed through the room, we’ve handled every item, and we looked for disillusioned or otherwise hidden items twice - there was no Horcrux to find in there.”

    Dumbledore folded his hands. “It seems that the room’s brilliant design aided our enemy. I fear that Voldemort wished for a safe place to hide his soul anchor, and the room provided, creating a chamber which his enemies will not be able to enter as long as they mean him harm. Quite the setback.”

    “Or,” Petunia said, “he took the Horcrux out of the room when he was possessing Quirrell.”

    Dumbledore inclined his head. “That is also a possibility. A likely one, even. But, unfortunately, neither possibility leaves us with a lead to its location.”

    “But we need one for the ritual!” Sirius clenched his teeth.

    “Indeed we do. I think I know where he might have hidden one,” the Headmaster said, “although it is, again, based on his character - his urge to prove himself not just more powerful, but also more cunning than anyone else, thus reaffirming his coveted ancestry.”

    “Well, it’s not as if we have a better lead, do we?” Sirius said with an exaggerated shrug. “It’s better than doing nothing.”

    Petunia shared his reasoning but elbowed him for his attitude anyway.

    Dumbledore didn’t seem to be too offended, though - he chuckled and continued: “I expect him to seek out important, famous locations - places with historical significance, and with magic, of course. Like Hogwarts. And given his now obvious ties to Egypt, I think there is one location that would fit without being under constant observation.”

    Petunia closed her eyes and groaned. “Are you talking about the Necropolis of Osiris?”

    He beamed at her. “Yes, I am.”

    She took a deep breath. Grave Robber Central, as one of her colleagues called it. Where green Curse-Breakers came to gawk. And where cocky wizards ended up killed by traps and curses more experienced Curse-Breakers had bypassed or temporarily disabled on their way to the grave chambers. The city of the dead wizards in more than one sense of the word. “All the famous graves have been ransacked long ago,” she said.

    “Exactly. Which would have allowed him to hide his Horcrux in one of them without having to actually break into an unexplored one.”

    “Or find it,” Petunia said. There was more to a tomb raider than being good with your wand. You couldn’t break curses in a grave you never found in the first place.

    “Yes. Once more, the appeal of hiding a Horcrux in plain sight, so to speak, would have been irresistible.”

    Petunia hoped that the Headmaster was correct this time. The blood wards wouldn’t last forever. And Voldemort’s power in Britain was growing.

    *****​

    Necropolis of Osiris, Egypt, January 15th, 1997

    “Merlin’s arse!” Sirius exclaimed.

    “C’est impressionnant.” Fleur nodded, her expression belying her calmer words.

    Petunia smiled as she exchanged a glance with Bill. The first time one saw the Necropolis where most of the ancient Egyptian wizards were buried, one couldn’t help feeling impressed. It was a gigantic cavern - the first documented use of an Extension Charm on that scale - filled with buildings serving as tombs and illuminated by lighting charms placed on the ceiling as if they were stars in the night sky; a literal city of the dead. Where in a real Egyptian city the temples and palaces would have dominated the other buildings, grandiose mausoleums rose above the smaller graves and crypts here. It was a sight to behold, indeed.

    But after the third or fourth visit, it started to look like any other city, just devoid of people. And that nonchalance could be deadly. The city wasn’t empty - it was populated by ghosts, mummies, and other creatures attracted by death and decay, many of them not bound to a grave.

    Many of them the remains of a careless or unlucky grave robber or a too cocky or inept Curse-Breaker.

    She shook her head. They had a mission here. She pointed at the largest mausoleum, in the exact centre of the cavern. “That’s the grave of Menes the Mage.” Not to be confused with Menes the King. “According to the legend - and supported by the archaeological evidence, as far as the grave robbers left anything to be found - he planned and created the Necropolis. He might even have been an early pharaoh, the records were jumbled when the history of the world was purged of Magic in the eighteenth century.” A crime against humanity, in her opinion. “This was his city, his legacy. It is said that he was respected so much, no one dared to build a grander mausoleum than his.”

    “Which means his grave would be the first pick for Voldemort,” Sirius said.

    She frowned at the interruption but nodded. “Yes.”

    “So, let’s fly over and check it out,” Bill said, pulling their carpets out of his enchanted pocket. “No need to walk through streets strewn with vermin and worse.” It would have been faster if they could apparate, Petunia knew, but magical travel was blocked inside the cavern - the Ottomans had put the wards up in a futile attempt to stop grave robbers.

    A few minutes later, they stepped off the carpets in front of the looming building. “Looks like a temple,” Sirius said.

    “That is by design,” Petunia explained. “Temples were the most impressive buildings of his time, so his grave was built in the same style.” She nodded at Bill. “Open the doors, please.”

    “Alright, let’s see… ah, basic locking charm. Probably a visitor.” Bill flicked his wand, and the gate swung open, revealing a dark interior. Petunia stepped inside without hesitation and flicked her headlight on as the others cast lighting charms. “He’ll have hidden his Horcrux in a location where it can’t be easily detected by a new Curse-Breaker checking the grave out.”

    She looked around. Usually, well-preserved parts of a grave indicated spells. But this grave had been serving as a sort of tourist attraction, so who knew how often someone had cast a mending charm or cleaning charm to inspect a particular painting on the wall? Or, she added as she saw a part where the wall looked as if it had been treated with a sandblaster, had deliberately destroyed them.

    “Entrance walls look solid,” Bill announced.

    But Petunia’s attention was caught by the abraded sections of the walls. They formed a pattern. They were usually found next to near-pristine parts - under a layer of dust. And those parts were arranged according to a pattern too. She used her Omnioculars, mentally tracking the different areas. Here, and here. But not here. Nor there. Proximity wasn’t a factor - they didn’t spread. They alternated.

    She stepped into the middle of the grave, where the Sarcophagus had once been set down. This was the centre. The most important place of the entire mausoleum - and arguably, of the entire city. If Voldemort wanted to hide a Horcrux, he’d do it here. And in a way that was both undetectable by the usual spells, as well as a clever insult.

    She turned slowly around herself. The pattern was the answer. She knew it. Alternating areas, raising from the floor to the ceiling… The ceiling!

    She cursed when she had the answer. “Hieroglyphs! The bastard created a giant hieroglyph of a snake by vandalising the wall paintings and the floor! It’s only visible from the ceiling!”

    “What?” Bill joined her, then looked around and up. “You’re right.”

    Fleur looked lost for a moment, then she changed and flew to the ceiling. “You’re right!” she yelled down.

    “A snake!” Sirius muttered. “Figures.”

    Petunia ignored him. She walked a few steps to the right, then forward. “Am I standing on its head?” she yelled up. At Fleur.

    “Yes.”

    Petunia nodded. “We’ll have to dig here. But careful - there’ll be curses.”

    *****​

    Two hours and half a dozen curses late, they were staring at an ornate box which had been buried in the middle of a stone block. Petunia bent down, careful to avoid touching it, and studied it through her Omnioculars. “That’s an imitation,” she announced. “Nineteenth century, one of many fakes sold to gullible travellers.”

    “Figures,” repeated Sirius.

    “And it has a very powerful curse on it. Haven’t seen that before,” Bill said. “Will take a while to deal with it.”

    “Get going then,” Petunia said. She wanted to leave the Necropolis before someone else stumbled onto them.

    Two hours later, Bill was still working. Petunia stepped to the entrance and looked down at the City of the Dead. It looked both peaceful and tragic from here. All those graves and all of them plundered. The dreams of the dead defiled and destroyed.

    She snorted. She was plundering graves for Gringotts herself. But her targets were at least challenging. The hundreds of small graves below her, though… they were just pathetic. A slum of graves.

    She turned her head when she heard steps behind her. Sirius.

    “How’s Bill doing?” she asked.

    “He says he is close. He still doesn’t know what the spell does if he’s triggered, but he’s close.”

    “He said that an hour ago,” Petunia said.

    Sirius chuckled. “He’ll have to be right sooner or later.”

    Petunia laughed, then let her gaze sweep over the city again. Wait… She pulled out her Omnioculars. Yes. There was someone moving down there. A grave robber? No, the figure was moving in a shambling gait. She adjusted the lenses. A mummy! And it was moving towards the mausoleum.

    And it wasn’t the only one, she realised with a gasp.

    She rushed inside. “Bill! Fleur!”

    Bill beamed at her. “I’ve removed the spell!” His smile vanished when he saw her expression.

    “Half the city’s dead are marching towards our position! We need to leave now!”

    “I knew this was too easy!” Sirius exclaimed.

    “You didn’t say anything!” she shot back.

    “I didn’t want to be Remus. He was the one who always said it would never work when we were planning something.”

    “Get the carpet out!” she yelled as she dashed to the hole in the floor. “They can’t fly!”

    She dropped on her belly and reached down into the hole, holding her breath as she grabbed the box in her hand. Nothing happened. No curse struck her down. She jumped up and sprinted back. The others were already on the carpets with their wands out.

    She climbed on Sirius’s. “Go!”

    The first mummies - and other undead monsters - were reaching the top of the stairs leading to the entrance when they flew through the mausoleum’s gate. Petunia, in the process of stuffing the box into her backpack, almost slid off the carpet when Sirius suddenly pulled up.

    “What are you doing?” she yelled.

    “We’ve got company!” he answered, pointing ahead. “We need altitude to manoeuvre!”

    She followed his arm with her eyes and cursed.

    Mummified harpies! Dozens of them.

    She drew her shotgun out of the sheath on her backpack and leaned against Sirius’s shoulder to steady herself. This would be nasty.

    Then the harpies were upon them, their screeches filling the air. Petunia shot the first, buckshot tearing through chest and wing, sending it spiralling down to crash. She racked the slide and shot the next, then barely managed to duck in time to avoid the claws of a third taking her face off.

    Sirius blew one of the monsters up with a Reductor Curse - or so she thought - then pushed two more away with another spell she didn’t recognise as she turned around and shot another trying to get a grip on the carpet. One more dived at her, and while she managed to block its attack, it cost her her shotgun, which was torn out of her hands and sent falling to the street below.

    She drew one Glock in a smooth motion, firing at another harpy trying to gain altitude next to them. Four shots and three hits later, it started to fly erratically, half its head gone. She looked for the next target, just in time to see Bill and Fleur’s carpet getting torn apart by harpies attacking it from below. Bill managed to destroy them but it was too late to save the carpet - it started to unravel and lose altitude.

    Fleur changed and grabbed Bill with her bird feet, just before the carpet collapsed completely and fell to the ground like a brick, its magic gone. But the transformed Veela was struggling to keep both of them in the air - she couldn’t fight any more.

    Bill could, though. Blowing another undead harpy apart.

    “We need to help them!” Petunia yelled to Sirius. “They can’t last long!”

    Sirius cursed but turned the carpet around. Petunia shot another harpy down, then reloaded. Where were the rest of the monsters?

    A claw ripping through their carpet from below answered that. Petunia cursed and leaned over the edge of the carpet, leading with her gun. Two harpies were trying to slash the carpet apart.

    She emptied her magazine into them, shooting both down, and was about to pull herself up again when something heavy hit her shoulder and she was pushed over the edge of the carpet, twenty yards above the ground.

    Screaming, she flailed around, managing to grab ahold of the harpy who had rammed her before it could get clear. Unlike Fleur, the harpy wasn’t strong enough to keep aloft with her hanging from its leg, but they weren’t falling - just rapidly descending.

    Onto a street filled with mummies and other monsters.

    Petunia cursed, pushed her gun into her holster, grabbed the legs of the harpy with both hands and swung her legs back and forth as if she were hanging from a horizontal bar. The claws scratched her arms, but she didn’t care. If she ended on the street she was dead. When her legs swung forth again, she let go of the monster and arched her body.

    She had timed it right and landed on the roof of the closest grave, feet first. She slid two yards, ripping up the skin of her right calf, and almost fell off the roof on the other side before she could stop. And the mummies were already reaching for her.

    She rolled over her shoulder and stood, drawing her guns and reloading as she looked around. The next roof was too far away to jump. She was trapped. And the first bandaged hands were starting to appear at the edge of the roof. Where were the others?

    Fleur was near the exit, still carrying Bill. And Sirius… Sirius was flying towards her on a broom!

    She shot the first mummy to climb up in the head, kicked the next in the face, sending it tumbling down, and shot a third. More were climbing - more than she had bullets left - but Sirius was almost there.

    Then the entire building shook under her feet. And again. Sirius was still coming. Petunia clenched her teeth, almost losing her balance when the building shook a third time. Two mummies which had reached the roof fell down again - and the building started to collapse.

    Yelling, Petunia dropped her guns and sprinted towards Sirius over the tilting roof, jumping and reaching for his outstretched hand a second before the building disappeared in a cloud of dust around a huge four-legged creature.

    For a moment, she thought she wouldn’t make it. Then his hand closed around hers, and she swung around, hooking a leg over the broom’s shaft before pulling herself up behind him.

    Trembling, she latched onto him as he steered the broom into a wide turn towards the exit, where Bill and Fleur were waiting, wands drawn.

    “Bloody hell, love!” she heard Sirius curse. “Don’t ever scare me like that again!”

    “Not planning to,” she managed to answer before she started to shake so much, she couldn’t talk anymore.

    *****​

    Five minutes later, they were outside the warded area. A moment later, they were back at their camp.

    Tending to their wounds took longer but allowed Petunia and the others to calm down and recover from their close brush with death.

    “This is it,” Petunia announced as she put the box on the table. “Bill?”

    He flicked his wand, then frowned and did it again, casting several spells. “That’s a locking charm. A powerful one, but that’s it,” he finally announced. ”I don’t see anything else.”

    Petunia felt as if a ball of ice were forming in her stomach. “Are you certain?”

    He nodded.

    “Open it!” she spat through clenched teeth.

    It was empty. There was no Horcrux.

    *****​
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
    Leonidas333, Yla, smeee and 25 others like this.
  17. Threadmarks: Chapter 7: The Ritual & Epilogue
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 7: The Ritual

    Hogwarts, June 29th, 1997

    “Little Hangleton was a bust,” Sirius said as they sat down in the Headmaster’s office. “Nothing in the manor. Nothing in the graveyard. Nothing in that rotten, snake-infested hut in the woods. No trace of a Horcrux.”

    “And we didn’t find any sign that a Horcrux might have been hidden at any of those locations,” Petunia Evans added. “Just more traps and decoys.” At least they hadn’t come close to dying this time. Voldemort might be the most powerful Dark Lord in Britain’s history, but when it came to traps, the ancient Egyptians had him beat, and Bill regularly dispelled their best curses. But after that cave at the coast and Godric’s Hollow, this had been the last location Dumbledore had thought might hide one of Voldemort’s soul anchors. They were out of options.

    Dumbledore sighed. “I have feared - and anticipated - this. We will have to adjust our plans accordingly. I am reasonably certain that I have found an alternative, although a more dangerous one, but it will require a little more time to prepare.” He smiled at them. “Once again, I have to thank you for your courageous help. I and Britain are in your debt.”

    Not all of Britain, Petunia thought. Certainly not a significant part of the richer purebloods who did Voldemort’s bidding in subtle and not so subtle ways. But she knew what Dumbledore meant and nodded, as did Sirius, though he snorted.

    “Just one thing, Headmaster,” she said as she stood.

    “Yes?” He pushed his glasses up his nose.

    “Whatever you are planning,” she said, knowing that he wouldn’t tell her until he needed her, “Please stop assuming that you know how a man thinks just because you knew him as a child or a young man. People change over time.”

    He chuckled, once, and with a rather sad expression. “Wise words. My assumptions about our enemy were not just based on my knowledge of his childhood, but I might have underestimated the changes he went through in the time he spent as a shade. Please rest assured that I will not repeat this mistake.”

    At least he accepted her rebuke gracefully, even though it came from a squib not even a third his age. She nodded once more at him and left his office.

    *****​

    Chateau D’Aigle, Côte d’Azur, France, August 1st, 1997

    The ancestral home of the D’Aigles wasn’t as large as Hogwarts or Beauxbatons, but it was almost as old as the British school and had been remodeled in the style of the French school, probably a few decades after stone castles had lost all military significance, Petunia thought as she walked through the grandiose entrance hall. For once, she added with a smirk and a glance to the man at her side, even Sirius wasn’t making comments about how the Blacks had the older or better version.

    At least he hadn’t complained about the decision to hold the Bill and Fleur’s wedding in France, unlike Molly. According to Bill, his mother had opposed this fiercely, but in the end, hadn’t managed to hold out against the weight of a, as Fleur had put it, millennia-old Veela tradition. Petunia thought that Molly had mostly acted out of pride and was actually happy for the ceremony to be held in France, and not in Britain - there were no Death Eaters active here.

    They reached the front gates, the massive construction swinging as the pins Petunia and Sirius had been given were recognised by the spells cast on the entrance. The wedding would be held outside, another tradition according to Fleur’s mother. “Any such union has to be blessed by the open sky in which we fly.”

    A magnificent buffet had been laid out already, between the gates and the ritual circle, and several guests were sampling the appetisers already. Among them, Petunia noted, Harry, Ron and Hermione - and Gabrielle, Fleur’s little, or not so little any more, sister.

    Petunia heard the girl’s melodic voice as she and Sirius walked nearer to them. “And what did you do when you had found the counter to the curse in the dungeons?”

    “Ah, after Hermione dealt with the ghost, and Ron used the conjured rooster to trigger the trap… Hello, Auntie! You look great!” Harry’s wide smile, mirrored by his friends’, told Petunia that she wouldn’t like to hear the details of that particular story. But to make a scene about their adventures would have been terribly rude - even more so since Harry and Hermione owed their invitations to becoming friends with Fleur during the months spent scouring the Room of Requirement, and were all legal adults now. At least in Wizarding Britain.

    So she smiled. “Are you telling stories to Gabrielle?”

    The little Veela nodded: “Yes! All the stories my soeur doesn’t want me to hear!”

    The grimaces that remark, said in the honest, innocent tone of a child, put on the faces of the trio made her grin. She let them worry a moment longer, then smiled and let them off the hook. “Don’t eat too much,” she told the three budding Curse-Breakers. “The main dishes are even better, or so I heard.”

    “They are!” Gabrielle piped up. “Grand-maman hired the best cook in France!”

    Probably to impress or upstage Molly, Petunia thought - neither Bill nor Fleur had gone into details, but Petunia had overheard enough when they talked a little too loudly during work or a break. But this was neither here nor there. She exchanged a few more comments about the buffet with her nephew and his friends and wandered off with Sirius. It was time to gather for the ceremony.

    Petunia grabbed a snack or two herself, Sirius doing likewise, before continuing to the stone circle set atop a hill overlooking the Mediterranean coast. For a moment, she was reminded of another such circle, in the desert, and she looked around for giant insects charging at her. But this wasn’t Egypt. She took a deep breath and relaxed, then took her seat with Sirius.

    The other guests were filtering in as well, not a few of them still eating even as they sat down. Such as her wayward nephew. It seemed Hermione had given up on teaching her friends better manners. On the other hand, when in Rome…

    She looked around. The majority of the guests were eating and talking, laughing often. There was none of the stiff formality she had expected from a pureblood wedding - Lily’s certainly had been far more formal, despite the best efforts of the groom’s friends.

    Thinking of that wedding, in the middle of a war whose second part was currently starting, Petunia couldn’t help feeling guilty for being here in France, safe from any danger, enjoying the food and festivities, while at home others braved the danger, preparing or even fighting - doing something, instead of hiding. But what could she do? Dumbledore hadn’t had any new task or mission for her, and she was but a squib. Apart from finding ruins and shooting a gun, she couldn’t do much else that would help in the coming war.

    Soft music suddenly filled the circle - probably magical, Petunia couldn’t pinpoint the source - and conversation died down as the last guests took their seats. Fleur’s grandmother appeared in the centre of the circle, spreading her arms like wings, and started to call upon the various goddesses the Veela revered in ancient times.

    The archaeologist in Petunia listened with rapt attention as the ceremony continued. So much information was presented here, or hinted at, that might have been lost when Magic had been hidden from the world.

    And yet, despite this, she felt a stab of jealousy - and awe - when Fleur landed in the circle and transformed back from her avian form into her human form. The Veela seemed even more beautiful at this moment, radiant even, as she stood there in her ceremonial clothes - Greek, maybe Roman style, Petunia noted - waiting for her Bill. Her expression shone with so much love and happiness…

    In comparison, Petunia felt like one of those housewives who were crying as they watched a royal wedding on the telly. If she ever married, she wouldn’t look half that beautiful.

    She wasn’t the only one affected, she realised. Most witches were either crying, or gaping. Even Hermione, who was among the most pragmatic witches Petunia knew, had a slightly dreamy expression on her face.

    As Petunia pressed her lips together - she wouldn’t cry - she felt Sirius grab and squeeze her hand, rubbing his thumb against her palm. She squeezed him back and felt herself relax.

    *****​

    Devon, Ottery St Catchpole, August 16th, 1997

    “...and I thought about animating those ‘Claymore mines’ of you,” Arthur said, his eyes shining as he pointed at the table in his shed, where he had spread his notes. “They could walk towards the enemy.”

    Petunia snorted at the remark, despite their rather grizzly topic. Arthur usually appeared to be a rather quiet and calm man, but once he got going about his passion - adapting muggle technology - she could see how similar he was to his children. She almost felt bad for shooting down the idea, but she had to. “That would certainly be possible, but I don’t really see the use for such an innovation,” she said. “The mines would be rather slow to move, and vulnerable to spells as they did so - and could be turned around against us. If we need to deploy bombs against the enemy, I think it’s better to banish or shoot the bombs.”

    He frowned, almost pouting, but slowly nodded. “Yes, yes. I see. I didn’t consider that.” He sighed. “So, no walking Claymore mines.” He perked up almost a once, though. “We’ll still have the enchanted ‘Bouncing Betties’, though! What a marvellous idea!”

    Petunia didn’t think anyone should call those murderous devices ‘marvellous’, but nodded. At least Arthur’s enchanted versions wouldn’t get lost and cripple children years after the conflict. And they would bounce all over the battlefield, trailing enchanted smoke laced with various magical concoctions, before exploding. “Did you make any progress with enchanting rifles?” she asked.

    “Ah… some.” Arthur nodded and flicked his wand. A moment later, a magazine landed in his hand. “I managed to add extension charms to this and solved the problem with the feeding spring. It holds a thousand bullets now. My experiments with a self-reloading magazine weren’t as successful, though.”

    “Oh, this will be enough. Thank you very much, Arthur!” It was more than what she had expected - as the only one to use firearms among the members of Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix, having Arthur spend his time making things that only benefitted her would have been irresponsible, after all. His Ford Anglia was the best example of how capable Arthur was - and how useful for the Order.

    He smiled, obviously pleased and slightly embarrassed by her gratitude. “Have there been any news from your home?” he asked.

    He would have been told already if there had been any since he was involved in the whole plan, but she obliged him anyway. “No. The protections have fallen, but there’s been no attack on the house yet.”

    “And the bomb is still good?”

    “Yes.” It should be - it was a proven design, after all, and there was nothing to interfere with it.

    “Good. I mean, I hope you don’t have to use it, but if there is an attack too strong to deal with, it would be better to do it yourself, wouldn’t it?”

    Sort of like shooting your own dog, Petunia thought. “Yes.” She still didn’t relish the idea of blowing up her parents’ house - hers and Harry’s childhood home, too. But it couldn’t be defended against a Death Eater attack, and she’d rather see it turned into an ambush and a trap than see it destroyed for nothing. And, privately, she hoped that Voldemort would ignore her home altogether. Dumbledore had said there was a possibility that Voldemort would attack the house just because it was Harry’s home, but she disagreed. Their enemy had acted far more cautious - and cunning - than that in the past. Harry might have beaten him twice - which had actually been Lily’s doing both times - but that didn’t mean Voldemort would be obsessed with defeating Harry.

    At least she hoped so. That connection was bad enough.

    *****​

    Cokeworth, Midlands, Britain, September 2nd, 1997

    Gone. Everything was gone, Petunia thought as she stared at the ashes and ruins that were all that was left of her home. It had been literally burned to the ground. Not even the garden had survived. Even though she had taken all her belongings to Grimmauld place, replacing them with copies, in anticipation of such an outcome, to see the devastation was still a shock.

    Voldemort hadn’t ignored her home. But neither had he led a force to attack it. He or one of his followers had simply cast Fiendfyre at it, probably from a broom at night, high up in the air. That was all that it had taken to destroy her childhood home. A single wave of a wand.

    She didn’t think she had ever hated wizards as much as at this moment, as she stared at the results of a casual use of magic.

    “Petunia…” she heard Sirius say behind her.

    She shook her head before he could touch her. “He’ll pay for this,” she whispered. He’d pay for destroying her home. He, and all of his followers. She’d make them pay, even if it were the last thing she did.

    And all their damned magic wouldn’t save them.

    *****​

    London, No 12, Grimmauld Place, September 5th, 1997

    “We’re having entrecôte Café de Paris for dinner,” Sirius announced as Petunia arrived in the kitchen for breakfast. He was smiling brightly, too.

    That was three days now that they had her favourites dishes. She shook her head, sighing. “Sirius, you don’t need to do this. I’m fine.” She didn’t need to be pampered or humoured. She could handle this. She was over her loss.

    “But I want to do this!” he insisted. “Besides, I love the dish myself.”

    That was news to her. She narrowed her eyes at him. “You never mentioned that before.”

    “Well, I didn’t want you to think that I was simply trying to curry favour by claiming I liked your favourite dishes,” he said. “Even though it’s true!” He looked at her with an expression of innocence that made a four-year-old Harry look like a professional poker player.

    She laughed despite herself, and he grinned.

    “I knew that would do the trick,” he said as he stood.

    Petunia snorted. “That’s easy to claim after the fact.”

    “That doesn’t mean it’s wrong.” He wrapped her arms around her and kissed her cheek.

    She huffed but hugged him back. Although she did squeeze him with a little more force than usual. And when she kissed him, it wasn’t on the cheek.

    But Hedwig’s arrival interrupted what could have become a rather steamy breakfast. Or not breakfast. The snowy owl landed on the table, stretched out her leg with the letter tied to it, and was already looking around for bacon or any other unhealthy owl food. When she didn’t find any, Hedwig looked at Petunia with what was clearly the owl version of an offended glare.

    “Tough luck,” Petunia told the bird after removing the letter. “You can have owl treats instead.” She dropped a handful in the bowl mounted on the perch and waited until the temperamental post owl had vacated the table before she opened Harry’s letter.

    “What does he say?” Sirius asked, even as he was putting his chin on her shoulder to read it himself with her.

    Dear Auntie

    Please don't be sad about our home. We saved all the important things, after all. And we can rebuild it after Voldemort’s defeat. Better. Larger. More luxurious.

    “I would have thought he would use the opportunity to push for you to permanently move in with me,” Sirius said.

    “He knows better than that,” she replied. Harry wasn’t the most subtle wizard, but he could be discreet if he wanted. And cunning, of course. Rebuild it, better, larger, more luxurious? It wouldn’t be the home they had lost. Might as well move. And he knew that.

    There are Aurors patrolling at Hogwarts now - to protect us from Death Eaters. Half a dozen at any time of the day. Not counting Tonks. She told us that more Aurors are ready to travel through the Floo Network to the school at a moment’s notice. But tell Sirius that he doesn’t have to worry - we know Hogwarts much better than them, so we still can sneak wherever we want, whenever we need.

    She turned her head, dislodging Sirius’s from her shoulder, to glare at him. “What’s he talking about?”

    “Oh, nothing important!”

    She narrowed her eyes.

    “I just told him a few stories about my seventh year.”

    She closed her eyes. Lily had told her stories about that year.

    “Well, if he tries to emulate me, he’ll not try to play hero?” Sirius chuckled weakly.

    She shook her head and resumed reading.

    Tonks is great! She can impersonate anyone! Including the Aurors, since she knows all of them. When Snape tried to give us detention, she made him back off by copying the leader of the Aurors! And she doesn’t let the Slytherins get away with anything! We have plans with her!

    “Yes! I knew why Tonks was my favourite cousin!” Sirius cheered.

    Petunia sighed. She would have expected better from an Auror. Even if she was a Black.

    Ron and Lavender have split, as I said they would. He’s single again. One of the fourth years, Romilda, likes him - Ginny told us - but she’s too young for him. Or so he said. I think he should go out with her - with the war brewing, many students are scared to be seen with us. Hermione said that that just showed who had a spine and who didn’t. I told her that I said the same about Lavender, and she got mad at me, but we made up again.

    She doubted that this had been as simple as Harry told it. But it hadn’t been the first row between the two teenagers and wouldn’t be the last, she knew.

    Also, don’t worry about us sneaking out of Hogwarts to go to Hogsmeade despite the threat from Death Eaters.

    Petunia hadn’t been worried, but Harry’s comment had changed that.

    We found a much better way to relax: The Room of Requirement! Since it’s still sealed off - even though not very competently - we’re the only students who can use it, and so we can spend our weekends there, in whatever room we wish! Hermione said it would be stupid not to use such a resource, by the way.

    Petunia had a hunch that Harry wasn’t just talking about the Hogsmeade weekends. Or weekends. “Hogwarts: The Love Hotel,” she mumbled.

    “Hm?” Sirius tilted his head.

    “Nothing.” They were both adults in Wizarding Britain. And both of them were targets for the Death Eaters.

    And Hermione was too sensible not to use protection, if it came to that.

    Which, Petunia knew from both hers and Lily’s experiences at boarding schools, had probably happened already.

    As long as she didn’t become a grandaunt at her age, she was fine with it. She had better and more important things to do than babysitting.

    *****​

    Devon, Ottery St Catchpole, October 30th, 1997

    “To think that we’re trusting Snape…”

    Petunia nodded in agreement with Sirius’s whispered comment. He didn’t actually have to whisper - the Range Rover in which both of them were sitting was spelt to be soundproof. And even if it weren’t, Petunia doubted that there were many eavesdroppers six hundred feet above the ground.

    Arthur had outdone himself with that car, in her opinion. Invisible, flying, sound- and water-proof, unlimited fuel, extension charms turning the interior into a small apartment - it was the perfect expedition vehicle.

    Tonight would show if it was also a good combat vehicle. If they could trust Snape.

    Dumbledore did. He had even vouched for the git. That had been enough for the Weasleys to trust their home, and possibly their lives to this plan.

    Petunia didn’t know if she would have agreed if she were in their place. She didn’t trust Snape. Especially not now that she knew that he was Dumbledore’s spy among the Death Eaters. Because she doubted that he had joined the Death Eaters as a spy. Not Snape. She remembered how he had acted as a teenager well enough.

    She wasn’t here because she trusted Snape. She was here because she loved the Weasleys. And because she wanted to take revenge upon the Death Eaters for the destruction of her home.

    If those cowards actually showed up, as Snape had claimed they would, she would show them what a squib with a weapon and a grudge could do.

    “I still don’t see them,” Sirius said. “I bet Snape is a double agent.”

    “He most certainly is a double agent,” Petunia said. “He’s too close to Dumbledore to be anything else. The question is: Whose side is he on?”

    “His,” Sirius replied.

    He was probably right. “We’ll find out soon,” She said. “Whatever happens today, Snape’s cover will be blown.”

    “Serves him right,” Sirius muttered. “Still no… Merlin’s beard!”

    Below them, green flames erupted around The Burrow.

    For a moment, Petunia feared that the building was lost. Then she saw that the wards were holding - the Fiendfyre couldn’t reach the house. If only her home had had such wards… but she wouldn’t have been able to control them. And calling a wizard each time a neighbour wanted to visit would have been impossible.

    She pushed her petty jealousy away and stood. “Fly lower and watch out for broom flyers!” she told Sirius as she opened the hatch in the car’s roof and grabbed the handles of Arthurs latest project: An M2 with practically unlimited ammunition and a permanent cooling charm. She pulled the charging handle back and chambered the first round, then flipped her night vision goggles down and started to look for targets.

    Below them she could see spells flashing back and forth, and explosions erupt from the earth. Blasting Curses, and Arthur’s mines. But where were the Death Eaters? Were all of them disillusioned?

    No, there, near the pond, were three robed and masked wizards, sending spells at the building. “Tilt to the left!” she told Sirius, who obliged her. She fired as soon as she could aim the machine gun at the Death Eaters. You were supposed to fire in short bursts, but with the spells on the gun, she didn’t have to limit herself and sent a stream of bullets at them, every third of them a tracer round.

    She couldn’t tell if they had cast Shield Charms or not - the bullets tore them to shreds in seconds. “Move!” she yelled - tracers worked both ways.

    The Range Rover banked and went into a dive as several curses flew towards them but missed them. She returned fire with a few bursts but couldn’t see if she hit anything before she ceased firing when Sirius jerked left and right to avoid more curses from below - and from above!

    There was a Death Eater flying above them! She snarled as she crouched a little so she could aim higher. Where was the bastard? She couldn’t see anyone, not even with her night vision goggles. Disillusioned then. And she couldn’t cast a spell to detect them.

    “Watch out! We’re going to ram them!” Sirius yelled.

    “What?” She ducked down, just in time for the Rover to accelerate upwards, and then there was a crash, and something scraped along the left side. She jumped up but still couldn’t see the Death Eater.

    “Oh, he fell right down into the Fiendfyre!” Sirius commented. “One less pesky broom flyer!”

    Petunia nodded, swallowing the envy she felt at being able to spot disillusioned enemies, and looked for another target on the ground. She found one - curses kept flying towards The Burrow from a cluster of trees. “Hold the car steady for five seconds!” she shouted, then saturated the entire area with a few hundred rounds.

    No more spells were cast there.

    Bill’s voice sounded through her necklace. “They’re retreating!”

    “They’re routed!” Sirius cheered, and the Range Rover took another dive. “Let’s get a few more!”

    She couldn’t disagree with that and cut down two more Death Eaters right before they managed to leave the area of their own Anti-Apparition Jinxes, or so Sirius told her. Hoisted by their own petard then.

    Sirius flew a few searching patterns in the air but couldn’t spot anyone else loitering around, and so they descended to meet up with the other Order members involved in this ambush.

    They had dealt Voldemort’s forces a heavy blow, but Petunia was certain that it hadn’t come without a cost.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, October 31st, 1997

    Dumbledore looked both tired and happy this time, Petunia noticed. And wary, or so she thought.

    “Petunia. Sirius. I am happy to see that you both came through the battle without harm.”

    “Not everyone was as lucky,” Sirius said.

    Not everyone had had a flying Range Rover with a heavy machine gun, Petunia thought as she nodded. She was keeping the car, and whoever disagreed with her decision could talk it out with the M2.

    Dumbledore sighed. “No, not everyone. Young Mister Weasley will recover, but he won’t be creating any more items for his shop for several months. And I dare say that Molly will now have an easier time to tell her twins apart.”

    Not even Sirius laughed at that.

    “Unfortunately, Kingsley was killed in the fighting. As far as I was told, it was the Killing Curse, so at least he didn’t suffer.”

    That had to be one of the Aurors who had come to help them. Petunia hadn’t known any of them except for ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody, who had helped them out in the Room of Requirement. And that Auror probably wouldn’t notice a few more curse scars among the dozens he had acquired already. Petunia pressed her lips together, both amused at and ashamed of that thought.

    Sirius glanced at her, but addressed Dumbledore: “We struck the Death Eaters harder, though.”

    “Oh, yes.” Dumbledore nodded. “Thirteen of Voldemort’s followers were left dead or dying on the field, a number of those who escaped had been wounded, no doubt about that - it was a victory for the Order, and for Britain. The Prophet’s calling it a turning point in the war.” He chuckled. “Which is an achievement since before yesterday, the Prophet never called it a war but faithfully copied Cornelius’s opinion that this was a criminal matter.”

    Sirius and Petunia both snorted at that. The Daily Prophet made The Quibbler look like The Times when it came to politics. Which said a lot about Wizarding Britain.

    Dumbledore sighed. “As impressive as this battle was, it was not decisive. As long as Voldemort retains his soul anchors, he will always return - and I fear that he will always find willing followers in Britain. Further, with Severus being revealed as a spy for us, we have lost our best source of information about the enemies’ plans. I fear that Voldemort will become more cautious, and therefore even harder to predict.”

    “Well, we couldn’t let the Weasleys die just to keep the git’s cover,” Sirius said.

    “Of course not,” Dumbledore agreed. “Even though Voldemort is likely to launch more such attacks to ferret out more spies.”

    Sirius muttered a curse under his breath. “Do you have any good news? You make it sound as if the battle was a victory for our enemies.”

    Dumbledore hesitated, then nodded. “I have devised a plan to lure Voldemort into a trap. However, while I am quite certain that the plan has a very good chance to succeed, it is also rather dangerous for those involved.”

    Sirius shrugged. “Last night’s battle wasn’t exactly safe.”

    “That is correct. But everyone who participated was a grown man or woman who joined the Order in the full knowledge of the risks.” Dumbledore looked at Petunia with a rather peculiar expression. As if he were wary of her.

    She frowned as she wondered if this was a dig at her being a squib. But no, he wouldn’t be wary of her. So what… Her eyes widened. “You want to use Harry!”

    “What?” Sirius yelled jumping up as Dumbledore inclined his head. “Are you crazy?”

    The old wizard shook his head. “Crazy? No. Desperate, though, might not be wrong.”

    “He’s just a boy!” Petunia spat. At least in muggle Britain. And he was her boy. Her Harry.

    “I know.” Dumbledore sighed. “But I fear that despite the risk for Harry, this is his best chance of survival.”

    “What?” Sirius blinked.

    “It’s his scar, isn’t it?” Petunia said, barely refraining from shouting. “It ties them together - but it does more, doesn’t it?”

    Dumbledore took a deep breath. “The scar is a result of their connection. But their fates were entwined even before Harry was born. There was a prophecy.”

    Petunia felt as if her blood froze in her veins. “A prophecy?” Those were bad. Very, very bad.

    “A true prophecy?”

    Dumbledore nodded. “It was made by a Seer and recorded in the Department of Mysteries. I was present when the prophecy was made.” He cleared his throat and began to speak, and Petunia felt a shiver run down her spine: “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…”

    *****​

    “...for neither can live while the other survives…”

    “That’s it?” Petunia stood, trembling. This was… this was… she clenched her teeth to avoid screaming with rage. “That’s the Prophecy? Harry has to kill Voldemort, or die at his hand?” Her Harry? Facing Voldemort?

    Sirius’s mouth was moving, but he wasn’t saying anything.

    “It doesn’t have to be literally his hand,” Dumbledore said. “I am convinced that the protection Lily granted Harry is the power Voldemort does not know.”

    “That’s why they went into hiding, wasn’t it?” Petunia shook her head. “That’s why you were convinced that he’d attack our home. Why didn’t you tell me?”

    “People have died for this secret,” Dumbledore replied. “And there was no need to tell you. I told you about the blood protection, and that Voldemort was still alive. I also told you that he would be coming for Harry sooner or later. I merely gave you an alternate explanation for his reasons.”

    “You lied!”

    He nodded, not contesting her accusation. “Even if you had known the Prophecy, you couldn’t have done anything - but you might have endangered him. Trust me, I’ve been working to circumvent the prophecy for years, but I failed.”

    She glared at the reminder that she was just a squib and couldn’t help or save her nephew from this.

    “But he hasn’t come after Harry - he just destroyed their home,” Sirius said. “And it happened after school had started, so he knew that Harry wasn’t at home any more.”

    “I know. But Voldemort is aware of the Prophecy, if not of its entire content. But he knows that Harry holds the power to destroy him. Should we make him believe that we are preparing to use this power, he will be forced to intervene, lest he might risk his final defeat.”

    “Harry won’t serve as bait!” she protested. Sirius nodded and grabbed her hand in support.

    “As much as I loathe to say it, Harry cannot escape his destiny.” Dumbledore looked as if he was honestly sad, but his voice was firm as he went on. “He will be facing Voldemort - the Dark Lord will ensure this. The only question is whether this confrontation happens at a time and location of our choosing, when we are prepared and he is not, or if it happens after Voldemort has laid waste to Britain again and hounded Harry as he hunted his parents.”

    He made it sound so rational, so inevitable, she wanted to hit him in the face. Break his nose - or his neck. He was talking about using Harry as bait to trap the worst Dark Lord in Britain’s history. And he was talking as if there was no choice in the matter. “No.” She shook her head. “Not Harry. Find someone else. Something else.”

    He shook his head. “There is nothing else. You told me that I shouldn’t forget that people change. And Voldemort has changed. I cannot predict his actions any longer - with one exception: He is tied to Harry, and he knows it. Harry is the one person he will face. There is no one else.”

    She looked at Sirius, but he was staring at the ground, shaking his head. Tears appeared in her eyes as she, too, shook her head, searching for something to throw into the old wizard’s face. “No.”

    “Shouldn’t we let him decide that?” He asked, in that mild tone of his, so full of understanding, that made her loathe him even more.

    *****​

    “I’ll do it!”

    Harry was pale, and if he weren’t seated he’d probably tremble on his legs, in Petunia’s opinion, and his voice was a little shaky, but she knew his expression. He was serious.

    She still tried to change his decision. “No Harry! We’ll find another way!”

    He looked at her. “And how long will that take? How many people will die while we search for an alternative? If there’s even another way - no plan so far has worked, has it?”

    “That means that this one might not work either!”

    “I know.” He smiled thinly. “But we’ll have tried.” He shook his head. “I can’t hide while he kills people. Mum didn’t give me her protection for that.”

    Petunia wanted to yell that Lily didn’t sacrifice herself for this plan… but she couldn’t. Harry was too noble for his own good. And if he were so determined, she wouldn’t be able to stop him if he tried.

    She nodded, not willing to admit her defeat out loud. She turned to Dumbledore. “I hope that, for once, you’ll not be wrong about the Dark Lord.”

    “So do I, Petunia. So do I.”

    *****​

    Eastern Sahara, Lost Temple of the Sun, Egypt, November 27th, 1997

    Standing in the shadow of the easternmost pillar at the entrance of the temple, Petunia watched the single road leading to the temple. There were no other routes that led to it. When it had been sealed away millennia ago, the last high priest had ordered the entire valley struck from any maps, and sealed its borders. And even after it had been rediscovered, the wards remained - only those protecting the entrance of the valley had been removed. You couldn’t enter if you came from any other direction - you were redirected instead. You couldn’t enter by air at all.

    That made it a great location for an ambush - or a trap. There was only one way in or out. If Voldemort decided to not take the bait, he could simply blockade them in here. To crack the valley’s defences and create another exit would take weeks if not months. Ian Selwyn had taken half a year to open the valley’s entrance in 1882, although he hadn’t been a Dumbledore. On the other hand, Dumbledore wasn’t a Curse-Breaker.

    She sighed. Not even one day here, and she was already getting lost in hypothetical scenarios.

    “Isn’t it weird to call this the ‘Lost Temple of the Sun’ if has been found a hundred years ago?”

    That was Ron.

    “A hundred and fifteen years ago, to be precise.”

    And that was Hermione. Petunia turned around the pillar and spotted Harry and his friends just as Hermione started into her lecture.

    “It was called ‘The Lost Temple of the Sun’ for millennia. You do not change such a term lightly. It is one of the oldest temples in Egypt, dating back to the time before the first dynasty. No one knows why it was abandoned and sealed - the records were purged. But it was a famous place to ‘purify your soul’. Ancient Egyptians believed that such a ritual would lessen the weight of your sins, once they were weighed in the afterlife. Further… Oh! Hello, Petunia!”

    “Don’t stop on my behalf,” she told the flustered looking girl. “You were doing great.” For a lecture in history, at least.

    “Yes,” Harry chimed in.

    The two teenagers exchanged a sappy look. Petunia shook her head.

    “Don’t look like that, Auntie, just because Sirius is busy!”

    She frowned at her nephew. “What are you doing up here? Aren’t you supposed to be safely in the temple’s sanctum?”

    “Only once Voldemort actually shows up,” he retorted. “Which might not happen since he might not even know where we are.”

    “He knows,” Petunia assured him.

    “Are you sure?” Hermione looked unconvinced. “Apart from leaking the full Prophecy through the Department of Mysteries, we’ve done what we could to hide our movements.”

    “If we hadn’t, he would suspect a trap,” Petunia said. Voldemort might suspect one anyway. “And trust me, he’ll know.” His followers had found her before, after all - despite her best efforts to hide a new tomb. Voldemort had to know his way around Egypt, especially if he managed to complete a dark ritual here without anyone in the Magical Ottoman Empire’s garrison noticing it. Or raising the alarm about it.

    Hermione nodded with obvious reluctance.

    Harry put his hand on her shoulder. “You heard her!”

    She huffed. “You were doubting her a minute ago.”

    “Well… not really?” He grinned, then winced and rubbed his forehead.

    “Is your scar hurting?” Petunia asked.

    He nodded.

    “He’s coming. Get inside!”

    She turned and raised her Omnioculars to her eyes again. Zooming in, she spotted small dust clouds on the street.

    Something was moving towards the temple.

    She pulled out her enchanted mirror and alerted Sirius, who handed his mirror to Dumbledore. “Someone’s on the road - several people, at least. And Harry’s scar is hurting,” she said.

    “He’s coming then.” The old Wizard nodded. “We’ll be outside in a moment. Join your nephew and the others inside.”

    She bit her lower lip to keep herself from arguing again that she would be more useful outside, where she could use the longer range of her weapons. Dumbledore had insisted that she would be needed in the temple’s sanctum, protecting Harry and the others.

    It was just an excuse to get her out of the way, but she couldn’t argue that she should leave Harry alone.

    On the way down the stairs leading to the sanctum, she met the rest of the Order. Bill and Fleur were among them. And Sirius. He stopped for an embrace and kiss, a whispered promise not to die, then he was on his way again.

    She reached the sanctum a minute later. Harry and his friends were there, looking both mulish and nervous. Doge, an old friend of Dumbledore, and Vance, a witch Petunia’s age, were preparing the ritual circle in the centre with the help of ‘Ali’, an Ottoman wizard Dumbledore apparently had known for decades.

    They would start the ritual once Dumbledore had lured Voldemort onto the temple grounds. With the temple’s magic acting as a focus, the dark Lord would find his soul bound to the urn in the middle of the centre - which would be destroyed as soon as the ritual was completed.

    Petunia wasn’t needed for that; she could just wait. Technically, she was supposed to help guard them, but the sanctum had one entrance. The other door led to the crypts - and they were a dead end. Petunia had explored them during a past visit.

    “We’ve spotted them,” she heard Sirius on her mirror. “Two dozen wands. And their leader looks exactly like Voldemort in Harry’s vision. They’re almost at the buried bombs… Merlin’s arse!”

    “What?” Petunia yelled. Next to her, Harry jerked.

    “The area where we buried the bombs just collapsed. Undermined.”

    Petunia clenched her teeth. Voldemort apparently had seen through that plan. Still, to collapse an entire area required a mind-boggling amount of power.

    “He’s not getting closer,” Sirius said. “Just standing there. Taunting us.”

    “He wants to draw you out of your prepared positions,” Petunia said. That was obvious.

    “Yes. We’re not going to charge him, though. And we have a few surprises left, as soon as Dumbledore gives the signal.” Sirius chuckled, but she could tell that it was forced.

    Banishing bombs at them. Arthur’s Bouncing Betties. Napalm. The Order was prepared. But Petunia couldn’t help feeling that it wouldn’t be enough.

    “A-Auntie!”

    She whirled around. Harry was holding his head. Hermione was steading him. Ron was at his side with his wand out.

    “He… he’s here. Close. Very close,” Harry said.

    That wasn’t possible. He was at the edge of the temple grounds. Petunia gasped. Polyjuice Potion?

    Before she could inform Sirius, the floor erupted beneath the entrance to the sanctum, and two figures floated up through the dust cloud that had formed. Two almost identical figures.

    Petunia had seen their faces before. Both looked like a younger Voldemort.

    She fired a long burst into the closest, but the bullets bounced off his Shield Charm. His Killing Curse, though, struck Doge in the chest before the old wizard could move. The other Voldemort killed Ali, then started exchanging curses with Vance.

    They were ignoring her, Petunia realised, as her target turned towards Harry, his shield still holding despite her constant fire.

    Harry and his friends had taken cover behind the closest pillars and were setting up an effective crossfire, sending curse after curse at the first Voldemort.

    That one was moving behind cover himself now - so he wasn’t invulnerable. Petunia grabbed the mirror and yelled “Two Voldemorts are here!” while she dove behind a bench near the side.

    She rolled to the side, then came up firing - and almost froze when Vance suddenly screamed and thrashed on the ground. Petunia switched targets, firing at the Voldemort torturing the witch, but once again she couldn’t stop him in time. The monster stopped his spell, then pointed his wand at the shivering witch on the ground and hit her with a Killing Curse before she could recover.

    That left Petunia and three kids against two dark wizards - or Dark Lords. There was only one course of action - they had to run. But the Voldemorts blocked the only exit.

    “Harry! Retreat into the catacombs! I’ll cover you!” They were vast and full of hiding spots. The kids only had to stay hidden until help arrived. Petunia took a deep breath and jumped up, dashing towards the next pillar, firing as she ran. A curse struck the bench she had just left, blowing part of it up, and another missed her by what felt like inches. She threw herself into a roll and landed behind the pillar. “Harry! Run!”

    “No, Auntie!”

    To her horror, Harry emerged from the pillar behind which he had been hiding and started walking towards the Voldemorts, casting as if he were in a duelling ring.

    “No!” she yelled when the first curse struck him - then gaped when it had no effect. Another curse struck him with the same result.

    And Harry laughed. “You can’t hurt me!” His own curses struck the Shield Charm of the younger Voldemort, shattering it. Petunia swung her rifle around, but the older stepped into her line of fire, blocking her shots with his shield. Ron and Hermione started to flank the Voldemorts, despite Petunia’s yells. She kept firing, trying to at least distract their enemies, to give Harry and his friends a chance.

    Until the whole floor collapsed.

    Petunia felt the stone under her feet shift and fall, and jumped, trying to reach the edge of the intact floor. She succeeded, but before she could pull herself up, the stone she was gripping started to give way as well. She pulled herself to the side with her arms, hands scrambling for purchase on the crumbling ledge that was all that was left of the floor of the sanctum, but she wasn’t quick enough. All she could do was to get on top the falling block of stone so she wouldn’t be squashed by it landing on top of her.

    Then she hit the ground, the stone block shattering, and desperately rolled to absorb the shock. Sharp stone dug into her back as she landed on a floor covered with debris, rocks and splinters scratching and tearing at her skin as she rolled over them until she came to a rest at the foot of a wall - an intact wall.

    She was in the catacombs. In the now destroyed grand chamber under the sanctum, where the mummies had been prepared. She looked around. Some sun rays from the skylights in the roof above provided scant illumination, together with the glitterstones set in the walls, or what as left of them - much of it blocked by the dust thrown up by the collapse. But she knew where she was, at least relative to the stairs.

    She stood, clenching her teeth as her battered body ached everywhere, and started to make her way towards the stairs hidden behind the mounds of cracked stone. Her rifle was gone, as was her mirror - ripped away sometime during her fall. But she had her Glocks and her knife.

    She had to climb over a broken wall and was about to reach its top when she saw movement above her - someone was floating there. And turning towards her.

    She pushed off the wall, dropping into the darkness below, and rolled to the side, Something red hit the ground next to her, and she jumped in that direction, behind another mound of debris. More spells struck the ground and rocks, seemingly at random.

    He didn’t know where she was. She grinned - he wasn’t perfect. But she had to move, or he could find her with a spell. And the only way away from him led deeper into the catacombs, to the star chamber.

    So she ran, dashing from corner to corner, then leaned against the wall as soon as she was out of the debris-filled grand chamber and in the intact parts of the catacomb. She had to hide. Tend to her wounds. Prepare a trap. Maybe if she bundled her remaining grenades, span a tripwire…

    Before she could complete the thought, the corner next to her blew up. She started running again, deeper into the catacombs. Mocking laughter followed her. “Give up, squib! You cannot escape a wizard!”

    They knew who she was. That wasn’t a surprise, of course - Voldemort would have research Harry and his family. She sped up. She needed more distance, more time to prepare a trap. Pushing her aching body, she reached the middle catacombs. That should do it. She quickly bundled the grenades she carried and spun a tripwire across the corridor. It was primitive, but the best she could do.

    Now to lure him in. She took a deep breath and yelled: “You can’t catch me, a mere squib? Harry will defeat you!”

    Then she waited. She wouldn’t hear him - he was flying. And she couldn’t wait too long. But she couldn’t run too soon. She snorted - she had to trust her instincts. Or her luck. After counting to forty, she started running.

    Half a minute later, the grenades went off. Yes! She stopped behind the next corner, peering behind her. Had this killed him? Or knocked him out? The blast would have been channelled in the narrow hallway, hitting with more force… it might have been enough...

    Once more, the corner exploded, this time throwing her to the ground. Pain shot through her side - something had struck her. Her hand on her side came away covered in liquid. Blood. Cursing her stupidity, she ran on. She needed to stop the bleeding, or she’d die. But she needed time for that. Time she didn’t have. She couldn’t hide, and she couldn’t run forever.

    The Star Chamber! She blinked as she remembered her visit to that chamber. ‘The counterpoint to the sanctum’, it had been called, since it mirrored that arrangement. But it had no skylight - unlike the sanctum. The sun wouldn’t reach it for the temple rituals.

    But there were two doors leading to the chamber. She might be able to double up behind the murderer hounding her. And maybe there were some protections left that repelled a split soul.

    It was a very faint hope, but it was all she had, and she pushed on, stumbling as much as running, her hand pressed on her bleeding side. She wouldn’t be able to keep this up for much longer.

    A minute later, she reached the chamber. Glitterstones in the ceiling, arranged like the night sky over Egypt millennia ago, provided light. Enough to read the hieroglyphs, if she wanted to. Which she didn’t. She needed to get away. But first, she had to bind her wound, or she would bleed out. She pulled her hand away, wincing at the renewed pain, and pulled her shirt off, clenching her teeth at the paint that caused, then started to wrap it around her midriff, under her sports bra. She fumbled it the first time, and blood fell to the ground - and the ritual circle blinked for a moment.

    Blood magic? She stumbled over to the altar. She recognised those hieroglyphs! She had seen them in the grave of the court wizard who had executed the Nameless Necromancer. It was a blood ritual. The Star Chamber was a blood magic chamber. But someone would have surely tested that, even if it was illegal…

    She blinked. It wasn’t blood magic. It was sacrificial magic. And no wizard she knew would be pouring their own blood on altars or onto circles. That was a quick way to get cursed. Kneeling down - falling to her knees - she smeared the blood on her hands over the closest hieroglyphs forming the ritual circle. The circle lit up - and stayed lit for a while until it started to dim. A little more blood and it lit up again, longer this time.

    A temple to purify the soul.

    Maybe… Suddenly, she felt as if a thousand hot needles pierced her skin. Barbed needles, ripping out her skin. She screamed and screamed and screamed, there was nothing but pain, pain, pain…

    Then she was on the ground, panting and hurting, and someone was laughing at her.

    “You’ve led me on a merry chase, squib, but the outcome was never in doubt. How does it feel, your feeble, stupid hopes being dashed by the cold reality of a wizard’s superiority? Do you know that you are an abomination? A mudblood squib. Doubly damned.”

    She raised her head and saw him float towards her, a Shield Charm covering him - not that she could have drawn her pistols anyway. But she was bleeding, and he was inside the circle. Closing her eyes, she rolled on her side - her hurt side - and yelled as her wound bled again before she ended up outside the circle, on her stomach, panting and hurting.

    But the circle was lit, and her tormentor trapped inside it. But for how long?

    “What? A circle?” He wasn’t laughing any more. “How did you… a trap. Clever, clever.” He chuckled. “But it won’t last. It can hold me for a short time, nothing more. You’re a squib. Your blood won’t work.”

    She coughed, blinking as he seemed to split into two wizards. She hadn’t much longer. “We’ll see,” she spat, then took a deep breath and rolled back, onto her bleeding side, feeding the circle.

    The last thing she heard before everything went dark was Voldemort’s scream.

    *****​

    The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was a tent above her head. She blinked. She would have expected the afterlife to be more impressive.

    “Auntie!”

    “Petunia!”

    Harry? Sirius? She tried to call their names, but could only croak - her throat was dry.

    “Wait! Here’s water!”

    That helped. “Harry? Sirius?”

    “Yes!” Harry grabbed her hand. “You’re back.”

    “Back?”

    “Back among the living,” Sirius said. “You had us worried.”

    “What happened?” she asked.

    “That’s a good question.”

    She turned her head. There was Dumbledore, too. Was everyone here? She couldn’t see anyone else. But maybe they were hiding.

    “What happened?” she asked again.

    “Voldemort outsmarted us,” Dumbledore said. “It was my mistake. I should have anticipated this possibility after the Basilisk incident.”

    “We killed it.”

    “Yes. But it was released by a Horcrux, which regained human form by feeding on the life force of a student - Theo Nott - almost killing him in the process. I foolishly assumed that this was an aberration; that Voldemort would never tolerate anyone, not even his own past selves, who could rival his power. I was wrong; he activated two more such Horcruxes - as far as we know. And he sent them into the temple, through a tunnel they dug with spells, while he drew our attention to himself. And then all three struck at the same time.” Dumbledore sighed. “Poor Elphias… I shouldn’t have let him alone there. He, Emmeline and Ali paid for my mistake.”

    “Hermione? Ron?” she asked.

    “They’re alive. They were hurt, but nothing too serious,” Sirius said.

    “Ron’s going to have some interesting scars to impress his next girlfriend,” Harry said.

    She glared at him, but he kept beaming at her.

    Dumbledore cleared his throat. “In any case, I managed to overcome Voldemort - he underestimated me, or overestimated the resilience of his new body - and Harry managed to defeat one of his Horcruxes.”

    “Burned him to death!” Harry bared his teeth. “Jumped him when he was trying to kill Ron, and held on to him until he stopped moving.”

    “Good.” She nodded at him.

    “But it would have been all for nought,” Dumbledore went on, “if you hadn’t trapped the second Horcrux. We found you, just in time to save you, I have to add, and him, still trapped in the circle. I managed to complete the ritual as planned, if slightly adapted.”

    “He’s dead? For good?”

    Dumbledore nodded.

    She smiled. Defeated by a mudblood squib. A fitting end for Voldemort.

    *****​

    Epilogue

    Eastern Sahara, Egypt, July 30th, 2001

    Petunia Evans knelt next to the withered stele and brushed away the last remains of the sand that had covered it for centuries. Tracing but not touching the hieroglyphs at the base, she translated them from memory - twice to be sure she hadn’t made a mistake.

    “And? Is that the marker we’re looking for?”

    She smiled as she stood - Sirius might have become a decent Curse-Breaker, but patience wasn’t something he’d ever learn. Which made the patience he had shown in courting her even more remarkable.

    “Come on! Is it the right marker? Or do we have to comb the desert again?”

    She chuckled, then nodded. “Yes, it’s the right marker.” The one mentioned in the text she had found in the Library of Alexandria a month earlier, misfiled in some agricultural records from Roman times. The one who would lead them to a new wizard graveyard - or rather, an old one. Possibly the oldest such graveyard ever, if her theory was correct.

    She turned to the south. “A hundred leagues. As the crow flies.”

    Sirius squinted as he stared south. “Should make it before nightfall.”

    “We’ll make camp before that. Far away from any guardians,” Petunia said. One encounter with Animated Warrior Statues while looking for a river bend to take a bath was enough.

    “And high up in the air,” Sirius added when they went back to their Range Rover. At her glance, he quickly added: “But not too high!” and muttered something about amateur flyers she pretended not to hear.

    She geotagged the stele’s location - it was outside any magical interference - and climbed into their expedition car, her hand brushing over the dent left by a wild hippogriff with poor eyesight. Sirius had offered to cast a Mending Charm numerous times, but Petunia liked the dent; it gave the car character and a history. No one would mistake it for an overpriced family car, even without the ring mount for the machine gun.

    Two hours later, they reached the area indicated by the stele, and Sirius ‘parked’ the car about thirty feet high in the air above a wadi. “What’s for dinner? Please no MREs!” he said as he joined her at the table in the back.

    “It’s traditional expedition food,” she said, snorting.

    “For muggles!” he retorted.

    “Well… do you feel like cooking?” She certainly didn’t.

    He didn’t feel like cooking either, but he wanted to eat any rations even less, so they finally settled on pasta. The spaghetti were still cooking when they heard a familiar knock on the car’s windshield. Sirius grinned widely and flicked his wand, and a moment later, a large snowy owl landed on the table.

    Petunia made a point of staring at the perch she had had mounted in the car’s living room. Hedwig made a point at staring at the food on the table. Sirius grabbed the letter. “It’s from Harry!” he exclaimed - as if that wasn’t obvious from the owl who had brought it.

    He quickly read it as Petunia filled the bowl on the perch with treats and kept Hedwig from tasting the meat sauce on the table.

    “They’re still in the Amazonas,” Sirius said, chuckling. “Hermione thinks that they have found the ruins of an Atlantean outpost. Harry disagrees and thinks it was a fortified camp of the Conquistadores.”

    “Probably a camp erected on the ruins of the outpost,” Petunia said. The Conquistadores hadn’t been interested in ancient ruins - unless they hid treasure. Which Atlantean ruins seldom did.

    Sirius nodded and read on. “According to Harry, Ron’s having an affair with a member of a local tribe of Jaguar-Shapeshifters.”

    Petunia shook her head. While Harry tended to exaggerate Ron’s amorous escapades, their friend’s love affairs tended to be rife with all kinds of troubles.

    “Luna and Ginny probably asked him to make contact,” Sirius said. “They’re planning an expedition up the Amazonas, hunting a rumoured Hide-Behind variant.”

    “Oh?” She hadn’t heard about that.

    “Bill told me,” he explained, “when we met in base camp.”

    She sniffed. ‘When we went drinking’ would be more precise.

    “Anyway, he wishes us well, and tells us not to take any risks.”

    “Us?” Petunia raised her eyebrows.

    “Alright, he means me.” Sirius pouted. “I’ve been working with you for three years now, and he still thinks I’ll get myself killed every time I step into a tomb.”

    She laughed, which earned her a frown and she leaned over and patted his shoulder. “He simply worries about you.” Not entirely unjustified, in her opinion. Sirius had had a few close calls when he started working with her as a Curse-Breaker. Too brave for his wand, as the saying went. He had grown more experienced since then, of course.

    But Petunia still didn’t think that he was up to challenging the most dangerous tombs, those created by the ancient Egyptian Wizards at the height of their power. Which is why they were looking for new tombs to explore - tombs older than those, erected in a time when wizards didn’t know as many curses. It was less lucrative, but safer. Sirius was filthy rich anyway.

    She noticed that Hedwig had finished her treats and was staring at her.

    Petunia shook her head. “We’ve got no letter for you yet,” she told her. “I’ll write one tomorrow. You’ll need the rest anyway.”

    That literally ruffled the feathers of the proud owl, but Petunia was correct Hedwig needed the rest if she was to cross the Atlantic again, even aided by the magic of post owls.

    Later, when Sirius had already fallen asleep next to her, Petunia suddenly realised that it had been exactly ten years since a different owl had brought Harry’s Hogwarts letter to Egypt. To think she had been afraid she’d lose Harry like she had lost her sister…

    Things had changed. She had changed. But most importantly, she had learned a lot. About others, and about herself.

    She wasn’t just a squib. She was a woman. An archaeologist. A tomb raider. Holder of an Order of Merlin, First Class. An aunt. A wife. Some called her a hero. Some still called her an abomination - behind her back. None of them was correct.

    She was Petunia Evans. Nothing less.

    *****​
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  18. Pyeknu

    Pyeknu Cross-Dimensional Magical Sith GIrl

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    Beautifully done. A much different view of Petunia freed of Vernon's venom and free of being made to raise Dudley. Well written, one of your better works.
     
    Ack and Starfox5 like this.
  19. bearblue

    bearblue So far, so good.

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    This was awesome! Loved it all the way through. You had plenty of adventure, kept enough of the familiar things to make it a real HP AU and then mixed it up enough to keep it all fun and interesting. I liked the development of the characters and that the good guys won in the end. Great story and thumbs up! Thank you for sharing this with us! :)
     
  20. SailorOfMyVessel

    SailorOfMyVessel Writer of plot, with some Plot for pleasure.

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    Interesting worldbuilding, good writing, likable Petunia...

    There is nothing to hate about this tale, and so much to love. Thank you for writing and sharing it, looking forward to your future exploits!

    On the feedback front: I do feel some things could have been glossed over less. This mainly being things that Petunia would care about, such as Harry and Hermione's relationship actually forming. A small scene when she got that letter or they told her could have been interesting.

    However, part of the charm here is that exact vagueness... so I'm not sure if the story would have been better for it.
     
    Ame, Luftritter and Starfox5 like this.
  21. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    caspian1a, Ame, preier and 4 others like this.
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