Swing Set Sisters
Summary: Lily had a rough summer after the OWLs, but with Petunia, she is still willing to take a chance, catch a glimpse, jump off, and fly.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be anything but what I am: an obsessed fan that wants to practice writing with characters and a world she's familiar with through a great author. Surely that is no basis to get mad at me.
Characters: Lily and Petunia
Lily walked towards the deserted playground feeling rather depressed. She did have a good reason for this feeling after all. Not only was she home for the summer from Hogwarts and forced to live without magic for the Muggle neighbors' sakes, but she had firmly turned her back on her former best friend and she was missing him badly.
She, nearly without thinking, went over and sat in her usual swing. Her legs started to pump and her grief and frustration lent power to her muscles. She could feel the wind blowing her short hair back out of her face, and she knew that it would be time for a change in appearances as well as in friendships.
The arc of the swing peaked as she drew level with the treetops, and she let her legs drop and hang as the swing continued purely on its own momentum. A silent tear coursed down her cheek as the memories came rushing into her mind like the ground rushed to meet her each dip in the swing. Every so often her heel would catch the ground and scatter woodchips. Her sight was starting to blur with quiet tears as the swing slowed, and she readjusted her grip on the chains to make sure she stayed in the swing.
She was scarcely able to see, but the swing was hardly moving anymore, so Lily hopped out, and quickly raised a hand to wipe her cheeks. 'How I miss you, Sev,' mouthed Lily to herself, not able to add voice to the words and go against what she had declared at the end of last term.
A voice from behind her suddenly called out through the silence of the playground, "I remember when you weren't afraid to jump out at the top and let your odd gravity protect you as you fell. Did that awful boy change that about you, too?"
Lily gulped and tried in earnest to stop her tears from falling as she turned to see the speaker. "T-T-T-Tuney!" Lily sputtered in shock. "I-I didn't notice you there—"
"Watching you?" finished Petunia. She nodded perfunctorily. "Yes, I'm nearly as bad as him for watching people."
"Sorry, Petunia," offered Lily, taking a deep steadying breath. "If you want me to do something, name it. I'll try my best to do it."
Petunia pursed her lips, then walked over to the swings and sat down in the one next to where Lily was standing. "Swing, and talk, Lils," Petunia ordered.
Lily gave a single laugh of relief, before plopping herself down in the swing and starting to tiptoe her way through the arc of the swing. "What did you want me to talk about, Tuney?"
"You love him, don't you?" Petunia asked bluntly, starting to tiptoe herself up and letting the swing fall forward and catching herself on the return to start over again.
Lily didn't bother to ask who. "Loved. Past tense, Tuney."
Petunia shook her head knowingly. "You wouldn't be reacting like this if you didn't still love him."
Lily sighed and was silent in thought for a moment. "I suppose I still do love him. The old him. The Sev that used to be my friend. Pathetic, isn't it, Tuney. I love a boy that doesn't currently exist."
"Not exactly," Petunia defended. "Girls fall in love with the idea of love all the time, not paying enough attention to the fact that the boy they worship doesn't exist."
Lily smiled wanly. "It's just my luck then."
A silence stretched between the two as they continued to gently swing. Petunia broke it to ask sharply, "You hadn't been planning on marrying the bloke, had you?"
Lily blinked and turned her head to fully face her sister. "Marrying?" she repeated, the shock in her voice evident. Lily couldn't seem to keep her jaw closed again until she managed to say, "Heavens, no. Honestly, that thought is one that never entered my head."
"Why not?" asked Petunia, a bit petulantly, as if she had been expecting a different answer than Lily gave.
Lily furrowed her brow in confusion. "I never loved Severus that way. I always saw him more as a brother, a twin perhaps, but maybe not."
"A brother?" Petunia lifted one eyebrow.
Lily smiled. "I wanted Mum and Dad to adopt him, remember? If only to get him out of that house."
Lily went on, "It's sort of the way I think I could feel about Lupin, if he'd let me get that close. A brother that is on equal standing with you. Not older, to protect you or give advice to you, not younger, to be protected and to be taught, but the same as you."
As Lily drifted into further thought about how Black would sort of match the older brother description and Pettigrew the younger, Petunia pulled her back by asking patiently, "Lupin?"
"Oh, er, he's the house prefect," Lily clarified. "Remus Lupin. He's in my year, but he's quite distant with most people."
"I see," said Petunia. "Any other boys you fancy that you want to talk about?"
"Hang on," said Lily abruptly stopping her swing and turning to her sister. "You think I fancy these two?"
"Who do you fancy then, if not them?"
Lily opened her mouth to speak, but sighed and closed it again. "Someone that doesn't currently exist, but who could quite easily."
"What do you mean by that?" pounced Petunia.
Lily started tiptoeing her swing back and forth again. "I keep catching glimpses. Of who he could be, when he grows up and matures. It's not who he is, not yet. But if he matures into that person, I will fancy him. As surely as the moon draws the tides, I can't help but choose to love who he will be. In fact, I already do."
"Who is this person?" asked Petunia.
Lily blushed and grinned sort of guiltily. "Erm, you've probably heard me complaining about him, much more than my praising of him."
Petunia lit up with realization, "Oh! Is that the, er, Potter boy you ranted to Mum about during the Christmas hols?"
Lily stared off into the treetops, a true smile tugging at her lips. "Yes… Potter. James Potter."
Lily brought her swing back until her toes were barely touching the ground, and pushed off, swinging and pumping her legs with a growing smile as her swing gradually rose in the air.
Petunia watched with a thin smile as her sister once again launched herself from the swing, much too high to be safe for normal people, and floated down, too slow to call a fall, but fast enough that the slight burst of wandless magic would be more or less undetected.
"So, what's so different about Potter?" asked Petunia when her sister, still smiling exuberantly, returned to her swing and caught it.
"Well," she started, then stopped. "Actually, I've been using his surname to refer to the immature bullying toe rag, and his Christian name to refer to the possibility of him being the man I fancy."
"And this matters…?" Petunia asked, leaving the statement hanging for Lily to fill in.
"Because I'm going to have to stop myself from spouting off on his vices if you talk about him using his surname," she smiled cheekily.
"Well, why not?" decided Petunia impulsively. "Tell me what this Potter has to improve upon to win your heart."
Lily gave in with a helpless smile. "He could use more humility. And more compassion, and forethought. More tolerance, and more patience. And certainly less stubbornness," she giggled. "Though I suppose I could live with him still being stubborn. Everyone knows I'm stubborn enough."
"I surely do," muttered Petunia under her breath, and Lily giggled again.
"But he's not all bad," Lily suddenly felt that she should defend him now. "I've caught glimpses, you see."
Petunia started to complain, "What are these glimpses? You really shouldn't keep talking in riddles about people I've never met and will probably never meet."
"You're right," said Lily quickly. "I shan't talk in riddles if I can help myself. But I do hope you get the chance to meet James. He's quite funny, and loyal, and brave. He's got the nicest hair—it looks messy, I know, but it also looks so touchable. I mean, he's constantly touching it, so it's got to be somewhat soft, you know? He's persistent, and courteous, and smart, and his eyes are hypnotizing, I swear. And—"
"I do believe I get the point, Lily," cut off Petunia, her eyebrows raised.
Lily smiled sheepishly around her fingertips. "Sorry, Tuney. I discovered that all term I must hold my tongue and not let a word of it get passed on to him, or else he digresses. You might be the only one that I can talk to about him this way. My tongue ran away from me."
"I see," said Petunia.
After a short silence, Lily asked, "What about you, Tuney? Is there any boy you fancy?"
Petunia pursed her lips. "No," she said decisively. "I shan't fancy anyone yet. I'm much too young to get married."
"But no one said anything about marriage, Tuney," protested Lily. "I certainly didn't, anyhow."
"Fancying leads to marriage, Lily. You know that as well as I do," said Petunia primly. "And as I don't wish to be married before I'm nineteen, I certainly shan't fancy anyone before I'm eighteen."
"Tuney," said Lily patiently, "you are eighteen. You've just had your birthday."
"So I have," said Petunia shortly.
"And?" asked Lily expectantly.
Petunia looked at her sharply. "Just because a girl's had a birthday doesn't mean that the perfect bloke just shows up on her doorstep."
"Sorry Tuney," Lily bit her lip and pushed off in the swing. She started pumping high once again, and would have continued if she hadn't heard her sister whisper her name.
She quickly dug her heels in the woodchips to slow herself down again, and it took two passes to come to a halt and give her full attention to her sister.
"What is the future going to bring?" asked Petunia in a very vulnerable voice.
Surely she was not expecting Lily to perform Divination right there on the spot. Everyone at Hogwarts knew that Divination was all rot anyway. Especially with the old coot that was teaching it. "What do you mean Tuney?"
"I mean—there's—there's dangers out there that I know nothing about. I know you've been putting on a bright face for Mum and Dad, but there's no reason to keep all of us in the dark about it."
Lily let out an explosive breath. "Petunia, I don't want you to live in fear. What's going on in the other world has not spilled over too terribly. It's mainly a political argument with demonstrations on both ends."
"What kind of demonstrations?"
Lily winced. "The kind that have parents pulling their kids out of school to keep them closer to home. I don't know why, though. The school's certainly safer than many homes I could name, plus it's not going to get attacked any time soon."
"Attacked?" Petunia asked sharply.
Lily shrugged. "Most of the stuff can be defended against, or repelled. And, like I said, the school's safe."
After a pause, Petunia commented, "So, you're not going to stay home."
"Of course not. I'm not a coward, and even if I was, I'm not stupid," Lily laughed a little at the idea.
"I suppose you're not," agreed Petunia.
A smile was exchanged by the two sisters—bright and reassuring on Lily's part, and nervous and uncertain on Petunia's.
Lily once more started to swing with her full force, feeling quite happier than when she first started out, and this time Petunia actually joined her. The two sisters pumped their legs, and Lily started to laugh at the weightless portion of the arc of the swing. Petunia found herself laughing also, in spite of herself, and cursing Lily's contagious good humor.
After they had come down from chasing the clouds with every arc of the swings, Lily threw her arms around her sister in an impulsive hug.
"Thanks so much for cheering me up, Tuney. It feels like old times again," Lily said into Petunia's surprised ear, before stepping back and beaming at her.
"You really shouldn't cry in public, Lily," was the only response that came off of Petunia's tongue.
Lily laughed, understanding. "Then let's go home and I can fix my face."
And so the two sisters went merrily home, walking closer to each other than they had in years, and chattering away like there wasn't any danger of change coming. Indeed, Petunia was hoping that she could persuade Lily to be more of the sister she remembered, rather than the abnormal witch she was learning to be. There was a greater chance of that happening this summer than any previous because of the absence of the Snape boy. Petunia smiled, feeling secure that the hope was worth it, even if it proved false.
But Lily was still slightly somber, knowing that the winds of change were already blowing, and no matter how much she kicked her feet to stay close to her sister, she wouldn't be able to prevent it. She had probably kicked too hard, for Petunia and Lily were going opposite ways and just missing each other at the bottom. Maybe if she gave it enough time, they would be able to get back in sync. But another year at Hogwarts was coming, and Lily wouldn't miss it for the world.
Lily would have to jump off the swing, and trust that she'd land gently. Even if that meant throwing herself back into the fray when Petunia was farthest from her. But Lily believes Tuney understands that. She understands that her sister has to do what she can not. She understands, even if she resents it. Lily nodded, determined.
For now, she'll keep swinging.
But when the time came, Lily would fly.