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22 May 2009 @ 10:39 pm
"Small" gen, PG  
Title: Small
Characters: Vernon, Petunia, mentions of Dudley, Harry, and a female OC.
Rating: PG
Warnings: Sensitive themes?
Word Count: 786
Summary: Vernon comes home to find Petunia crying over a tiny, knitted jumper.

Vernon comes home to find Petunia crying over a tiny, knitted jumper. For a fleeting second the lifeless item of children's clothing and his wife's tears remind him of the swaddled infant at the hospital, Daisy's quiet body the morning she passed, her little fingers loosening their grip on his thumb. But this is only one of Dudley's sweaters, through Vernon cannot remember it ever being so small.

"Evening, dear," he grunts to make his presence known, but even this does not stop her tears, if anything, she sobs more heavily at the sight of him. "What's happened, then?"

"It's that--boy," she spits, fully aware the child is meters away, listening or at least able to hear. "That blasted boy."

"Alright, then, Petunia," Vernon says in a tone he hopes is comforting, sitting beside her and taking the jumper. Vernon has no patience for these kinds of scenes, and Petunia makes them once a month about something, and if this is about having to get Dudley a new jumper then that isn't a problem, but why must she cry about it?

Petunia snatches the jumper back and holds it with the very tips of her fingers.

"Don't touch it. No sense in us both dealing with it."

Vernon still can't imagine why she is so troubled about the little jumper. Dudley is growing at a healthy pace, though maybe it is a little strange he's gone up three sizes in a year. Another new jumper for Dudley means another jumper they don't have to waste money on for the boy. But maybe it is just the smallness of the sweater that troubles her, Vernon understands. It takes most of his strength to not shout out at the sight of the little pink onesies they put away in the cellar after Daisy.

"It's the boy. That blasted boy," she chants in such a whisper that he has to put his ear near her lips to even hear. "I was dressing him and every time I pulled the damn thing over his head it--"

Petunia had blamed it on the wash. A shrunken jumper was an everyday thing, she had put the dryer on the wrong setting and that was that. She sent Harry off without a reprimand and the boy had looked vaguely surprised, like he had grown accustomed to being yelled at, and went out the door to school without a sweater. Petunia scrubbed the house clean and shoved her arms deep into the kitchen sink, full of water and five cups of bleach and scrubbed her arms as clean as her home.

"It's the magic, Vernon," she whispers.

Vernon fumes, "Don't say that word in my home!"

His arm is pulled back to strike and Petunia lowers her head to accept the blow.

"Well, that's what it is," she says when he still hasn't hit her. "We can't lie to ourselves. He's one of them. He's a freak."

"Let's just throw that away now, Petunia. Let's just pretend this never happened and sit down to dinner. What have you made--"

"Pretend it never happened? Pretend? Pretend it's gone just like that? Just like magic? What are we going to do when he's turning us into frogs? Sit there and--and croak?"

"Petunia, I didn't mean--no--"

"It doesn't make sense that he's here and she isn't." She is unreasonably calm.

"Everything happens for a reason, I suppose," Vernon says, and is surprised by Petunia's violent disagreement.

"I don't want reason! I want my child!"

And they are silent.

"I'm pregnant, Vernon," she says, still staring at the jumper.

"My god!" Vernon jumps. "Why didn't you tell me before?" He kisses her hair and she goes to make dinner; they eat. She does the dishes, coats her face in cold cream and pulls her hair down. Before bed, she puts the jumper with the onesies in the cellar.

It is months later when she will excuse herself in the middle of tea with Mrs. Number-Five-Next-Door, and blood will come forth unexpectedly. She will cup her hands beneath herself to catch she doesn't know what, but there is only blood that will stain her hands and stay under her fingernails for days. When the worst of it ends she will scrub her arms and scrub the floor and scrub her face.

"Petunia, dear?" comes a voice at the door.

"Just a moment," Petunia answers.

She will wish for just the smallest magic, just this once in her life.

"Are you all right, love?"

The smallest magic. Just once.

"I think you may need to call a doctor, actually."

Just this one bit of magic.

"I'll--yes. I'll do that."

But none will come.
Antosha Chekhonte: Damnmickawber on May 24th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)

This is very powerful and incredibly tight; it stands on its own, obviously, but it also gives a backstory to so much of the Dursleys' insanity that almost makes me feel sorry for them. Almost.

Beautiful—and painful. Thank you for sharing it.
i feel real weird for youmondayagain on May 26th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
It was difficult to write but just decided to appear one day and I couldn't deny it, you know?

I'm glad you liked it.
Antosha Chekhontemickawber on June 21st, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
i feel real weird for youmondayagain on June 22nd, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
You're amazing. <3
Antosha Chekhontemickawber on June 22nd, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)

Debatable. But thank you.
jtavjtav on May 25th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC)
Here via the Know It Alls rec. This is unbelievably raw and painful. You've made me feel sorry for the Dursleys.
i feel real weird for youmondayagain on May 27th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)
Glad to know I've been effective :)
Bambu: HP Lumosbambu345 on June 21st, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
What an exquisitely painful spin on their hate. I particularly liked the moment when Vernon raises his arm and she expects it and does nothing. A very powerful statement.
werewolfsfanwerewolfsfan on June 21st, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
Here via the rec at crack broom.
So powerful. I'm amazed at it's brevity.
You're very brave to show a backstory to the most cardboard of characters in the Potterverse. This will forever be their canon backstory in my mind. It gives shape and context to so much of what we see in the series.
Jacquesubversivecynic on June 22nd, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Via crackbroom
That was incredibly good. Good enough that I kind of wish I hadn't read it (being about to pop myself), and am now kind of uncomfortable. Which is a compliment, in there somewhere.
i feel real weird for youmondayagain on June 22nd, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
Re: Via crackbroom
Congratulations :)

Thank you so much. This piece is very close to me, as I wrote it very shortly after I miscarried. It was somehow nice to write through the pain, though Petunia finds to solace or closure to her sadness.
i feel real weird for youmondayagain on June 22nd, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
Re: Via crackbroom
finds no*
Aspiring Matriarchholyfant on June 23rd, 2009 07:41 am (UTC)
Via crack_broom too.

This is just really painful to read, because you can feel how painful it must all be to them, but they're just unable to do anything about it. Great, tight, and sad. *loves it*
Lsixbitsforfact on June 30th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
So powerful, and so sad. Brilliant.
i dance in the rainistalksnape on July 3rd, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
You always manage to make me hurt a little when I read your fics, which is good, I swear. You're put such a spin on how I see them and now I just want to read more about them.
sibyllevance on October 4th, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)
Very powerful. Petunia really is interesting, I like people who are neither here nor there.
Thank you for writing this, it was very believable.