mirabella: (HP Seeker)
mirabella ([personal profile] mirabella) wrote in [community profile] mirabellafic2013-01-28 08:31 pm
Entry tags:

Carry Me Home, Harry Potter, R

Okay, so - I said I was going to start moving my HP fics over here, and so I am, because the House of Hobbits is being sunsetted, as the euphemism goes, the first part of February. These are going up in no particular order.

Title: Carry Me Home
Fandom: Harry Potter, gen, AU, R
Summary: Petunia's mother used to say that old sins always come home to roost.
Warnings: Character death.

Petunia's mother used to say that old sins always come home to roost. And this is what Petunia learned years ago: that they don't even have to be your sins. That sins that you had no part in, that you wanted no part in, can come back to you like a bill run up by someone long dead. And that once they've come home to roost, they never really leave, and you never finish paying. Not even for sins that were never yours.

So she isn't surprised when she opens the door and sees him – not at school where he ought to be, covered in blood and grime, stinking of smoke and death, with torn robes and a bruised face. He lifts his eyes to hers, silent as the grave, and she sees (Lily's eyes, their mother's eyes) that the boy is, now, finally, as mad as a rattlesnake.

"Well," she says. "You'd better come in."

For a moment he only watches her, looking as though he's watching a movie with the sound turned down, and she wonders if he understood. Then he comes in, brushing past her to stand dripping red-tinged rainwater on the hardwood floors.

"What's all this?" Vernon blusters, standing in the kitchen doorway, and not for the first time Petunia feels a weary stab of annoyance; if the man saw a runaway lorry speeding toward him in the street, he'd stand fast and shout abuse at the driver instead of getting out of the way.

The boy raises his eyes and looks at Vernon, head tilted to the side like a curious dog's, and the look on his face says I think I'll probably kill you when I remember who you are.

"You're getting the floors dirty," Petunia says sharply, and those empty eyes drift back to her. "Go upstairs and run yourself a bath."

For a moment, no one moves; then the boy turns and climbs the stairs, stumbling a little on the risers.

Petunia sends Vernon and Dudley upstairs to pack. When they're done, she stands in the doorway and sees them off. They take the car, and she doesn't know where they go or when she'll see them again.

The bathroom door is open a little when she goes upstairs, steam drifting out into the hallway. Petunia opens it to see the boy standing next to the tub, still dressed, swaying a little on his feet as he looks down into the water. Petunia helps him into the tub clothes and all – they'll only have to be burned anyway – and takes off his glasses. This she knows, because she was the one who took care of her mother during her last illness, because washing the sick and laying out the dead is something that women do; so she picks up a sponge, rolls up her sleeves, and sets to work. She's not gentle, but he doesn't notice.

His face first, and his hair, dropping snarled clumps into the reddening water; she picks sharp slivers that look like glass out of his hair, and slivers that look like bone, cutting her fingers on them, and the color of the water deepens until she has to refill the tub. She's not sure that it's going to come off him with one bath but she tries, lifting unresisting arms to sponge off blood and dirt, pulling off sodden shoes and socks and pushing his trousers up to his knees to clean his legs. She pours water over his head until the water runs clear; he doesn't close his eyes against it, and she would tell him to but there doesn't seem to be much point.

"Get undressed," she tells him. "I'll bring you some clean clothes."

But when she comes back with an old t-shirt of Dudley's and a pair of track bottoms he outgrew years ago, the boy is still sitting in the bathtub, watching the water run out.

The clothes are too big for him. They always were. He was never like Dudley, never like any of them. Green-eyed, tiny, and whip-slender, as strange as his mother, he looks like a magical changeling, and Petunia used to tell him that she was brewing ale in eggshells when she spoke to him at all. As she rolls his sleeves up above stick-thin wrists – they can say what they like, those freaks he went to live with, but they've not exactly taken care of him either, have they – she feels a strange urge to tell him that again. She doesn't think he'd remember her saying it before. At this point, she isn't sure that he remembers her.

She remembers how happy he was when he got the letter all those years ago; how he couldn't wait to see the back of the Dursleys any more than they could wait to be rid of him. She remembers too that she and Vernon had both tried to warn him, tried to tell him that a letter from Hogwarts is a death warrant, but nothing ever came out right in that child's presence. Sometimes she wonders if that was magic too, if he has some supernatural power to entangle her words like a radio signal being shattered into static. It's safer and easier to give the boy orders; so she gives them now, makes him sit while she combs out his hair, makes him drink a glass of water, puts him to bed.

Petunia brings in a book and sits in the rocking chair in his room, trying to read by the dim light of the desk lamp. She's three pages in before she realizes that she's reading one of Dudley's John Saul novels, and that she can't remember what she's read.

She waits for the boy to wake during the night, but he doesn't.

The man on the doorstep is one of them, she can tell from his robes. He looks exhausted and ill, and older than he probably is. "I'm looking for Harry," he tells her, as if she couldn't guess.

"He doesn't live here anymore," she tells him, and closes the door in his face.

He hasn't got out of bed. Petunia doesn't think he will. She can feel the darkness in that room, and when the drawers fly open by themselves and cracks like spider webs suddenly appear in the window panes, she startles and her heart races a hundred miles an hour. Sometimes when she goes down to get food it's all she can do to open the door and go back in, and she understands now what people in the movies feel when they say There's something in this house. There is, and it watches her with empty eyes or watches nothing at all, and soon it's going to remember that it hates her. She goes in anyway, and tells the boy to eat, and the darkness gets heavier around them both.

She sits and reads by the light of the desk lamp, and when he begins to scratch slow bleeding runnels into his own arms she bandages them and makes him wear gloves.

She doesn't open the door to the red-haired twins at all.

At some point Petunia realizes that she hasn't seen the sun out the boy's window in days. She sees it from other rooms, but not from this one; in here it's always night, or else the sky is a deep, surreal scarlet, obscured by roiling scarlet clouds. It looks like the end of the world. The boy bathes when she tells him, eats when she tells him, sleeps when she tells him, doesn't speak, and spends his waking hours watching something she can't see. Sometimes tears soak his face and his pillow; Petunia makes no move to wipe them away.

She could send him back. She doesn't. The child is a sin come home to her to roost, and she knows full well that she'll never be rid of him. Outside the window, the sky is scarlet more and more often, and even Petunia can feel the storm coming.

When red and black lightning begins to split the sky outside, Petunia goes and opens her own medicine chest, rummaging among the bottles and phials and boxes of sticking plasters until she finds a brown prescription bottle. She opens the bottle and tips twice the recommended dosage into her hand, then goes downstairs for a glass of milk and brings it back upstairs. The door feels cold and slippery under her hand, unpleasantly alive.

"Take these. They'll help you sleep," she says, and he does.

"Take these. They'll help you sleep," she says half an hour later, and says it again half an hour after that. He takes them every time, taking a little longer each time to open his eyes and focus on her.

"Take these, they'll help you sleep," she says, and he can't quite make his hand work to take them so she slips them under his tongue and helps him sit up a little to drink.

"Take these," she says. "They'll help you sleep."

"Take these," she says, and the boy opens his eyes and looks at her.

"Aunt Petunia?" he says, and his voice is different, beautiful and ruined. Petunia sits on the bed beside him and smooths his hair back away from his forehead, possibly the first gentle touch she's ever given him.

"It's all right," she says. "They'll help you sleep. Take them."

When she wakes the sun is shining, and for the first time the child is beautiful in her eyes.

Post a comment in response:

Identity URL: 
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


If you are unable to use this captcha for any reason, please contact us by email at support@dreamwidth.org

Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.