Goblin Market, for naatz Title: Goblin Market Author: *unknown* Recipient:naatz Pairing: Lily/Petunia Rating: R Warnings: None, other than incest, and if you don't want to read that, why are you here? ;) Word Count: 2200 A/N: Hope you like this, naatz. Thanks to C for looking this over and to Eey for her patience. ♥ DH Spoilers: Yes.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Petunia opened one eye, then the other.
Another tap. Petunia's mind shook free of sleep and it occurred to her that the sound was coming from the window. Looking, the first thing she noticed was the lurid red glow that bathed the sill in a hellish light. Fire.
Then, in the next heartbeat, realization. Not fire. That was the way the sky always looked at night in Spinner's End. The things you forget at uni. Where the air is clean and the lawns are like perfectly groomed carpets.
This time, Petunia noticed the owl perched on the outside sill, rapping insistently on the glass. Something to do with Lily, then. She pushed the window open to let in the bird. The owl displayed one leg, to which a letter was tied; Petunia undid the knot. The owl kept staring, as if expecting something.
"I haven't got any of those treats Lily carries about." The owl seemed to huff, which was ridiculous, since owls didn’t huff, then flew away.
Petunia unrolled the letter. Her blood ran cold as she read:
If you ever want to see your dear little Mudblood of a sister again, come to 119 Knockturn Alley at dawn today, assuming a filthy Muggle like you can even find the place. Come alone.
She cried for you in her sleep earlier tonight. So touching.
Regards, Bellatrix Black
"What in the seven hells do you want at this hour?"
Clearly, reaching the age of majority hadn't done much for Severus Snape's disposition.
"Please, Severus. It's about Lily. I have to help her and-"
Severus finally looked at her. "Oh, Petunia. It's you." He didn't sound any more pleased than he had when he opened the door, but at least he motioned her inside, which was better than having the door slammed in her face. She followed him, biting her lip to hold back the words that threatened to burst from her: Don't you ever clean this place?, and How can a human being live like this?
"Would you like something to drink?" he asked in a tone that seemed to imply that fetching her a drink was just below housekeeping and shampooing on his list of priorities.
She was only too happy to decline. She didn't want to think about what things might grow on his glassware.
"About Lily," he said.
"I need to get to a place called Knockturn Alley, in a hurry. I think it's one of your places, not mine, and I don't know how to go there."
"What could you possibly want in Knockturn Alley? And what on earth does this have to do with your sister? And why isn't that heroic boyfriend of hers going to help her?"
Petunia considered telling him everything, including that James Potter was abroad with his parents and likely couldn't get back in time. She decided against it on the grounds that he'd probably try to talk her out of doing what she had to do, and she couldn't afford to waste precious time arguing with him. Worse, he might use magic somehow to stop her. "That's none of your business, Severus."
His lips thinned to nothingness. "Very well, Petunia. Enjoy your visit to Knockturn Alley. I expect you'll find it…memorable."
"I won't if I can't find it."
Severus sighed. "There's a pub called the Leaky Cauldron." He explained how to reach the pub, and told Petunia about a special brick that had to be tapped. "You'll find yourself in Diagon Alley. You may have been there, actually. When your sister went to get her school things."
Petunia didn't tell him she'd spent those days sulking in her room.
"Knockturn is right off Diagon," he continued. "Watch your back."
"I will," she said, and reluctantly, "Thank you. And by the way, who or what is a Bellatrix?"
As Petunia turned to go, she saw Severus's eyes go wide as saucers.
Diagon Alley was nearly silent in the grey light just before dawn. Petunia passed shuttered shops that promised wonders: flying brooms, wands, owls, and exotic ingredients for every manner of potion. Petunia thought it rather ironic that she'd once longed to see this place, and now she was finally here and wanted more than anything else to get Lily and go straight home.
She forced herself to focus solely on her goal, and not to think about whether her car was being stolen or vandalized in front of the pub, which was in a seedy sort of neighborhood. A disheveled man staggered past her on the sidewalk, and Petunia clutched her purse tighter. This Bellatrix hadn't said anything about money--in fact, it was a very peculiar ransom letter inasmuch as it didn't say one word about what Bellatrix wanted--but Petunia figured it couldn't hurt.
Then she saw it, a chipped, listing sign that read NO KTUR ALL Y.
Petunia shuddered as she rounded the corner. If the street in Muggle London had been in a bad part of the city, it was nothing compared to this. She looked down as she walked, dodging offal and pools of things she didn't want to know about. Weary prostitutes leaned against the walls, and stores advertised horrific wares. Skulls grinned from the windows.
Lily. She pressed on.
There was number 117 (a tottering tenement advertising rooms to let), and next to it number 121 (a shop selling what appeared to be pickled body parts). There was no 119, only a narrow space between the two buildings.
There was no platform, either, when Lily boarded the train. This may be similar. Petunia slipped into the gap between the buildings, praying the crumbling brick walls around her wouldn't collapse entirely before she found Lily, hoping against hope that there was some secret passage here that she was missing.
Then Petunia heard laughter, and whirled around to see a man blocking the way she'd come. She turned around. Another man leered from that end of the passage. There was a blinding flash of red, and then darkness.
"The shishter shall shelter the blood that shall shlay him…the shishter shall shelter the blood that shall shlay him, yesh, yesh…"
Petunia awoke to a horrible sight. It was a face, hanging and creased, with one eye gone opaque white, and it slavered as it lisped gibberish at her.
No monster. Just an old woman, just a mad old woman. She breathed a sigh of relief, then noticed she was behind bars. The crone was on the other side, peering in at Petunia like she was something at the zoological park, muttering that nonsense again and again. Her spittle flecked Petunia's face. Petunia tried not to think about germs and diseases.
"Are you Bellatrix?"
"Bellatriksh, Bellatriksh! No, not she, not she. But you are the shishter, the shishter shall shelter, oh yesh…"
The crone pointed one gnarled finger at the shadows in the opposite corner of the cell. There was someone curled up there, unmoving.
"Lily!" Petunia cradled her in her arms, stroking her face, whispering "wake up, wake up," over and over. Lily didn't wake, but her breathing was deep and unlabored. Petunia willed her own breathing to slow, her nerves to be still; Lily would be all right, as long as they could get out of here. That was the important thing, getting out of here.
More voices. "We caught her, Bella."
"Walked right into our little trap, she did." "Just goes to show Muggles are as stupid as they are ugly, eh, Bella?"
"Enough chatter," said a female voice, low and imperious. "We have work to do. Where is she?"
"In with the other one."
The woman's footfalls echoed from the floor and walls of the building; Petunia knew she was coming before she could see her. Then the woman entered. So this was Bellatrix. She was tall, dark-haired, and beautiful in a severe sort of way.
"Petunia Evans," purred Bellatrix. "Or should I call you Tuney?"
Bellatrix laughed. "I think I shall call you whatever I like, Tuney. I suppose you've come to play the hero, and rescue that Mudblood sister of yours? I must confess, I didn't think you'd be able to find me."
"Can we just get on with it? What do you want for her? I brought money…"
Again the laugh, ringing from the walls. "You think I want that worthless paper you animals call money?"
"Lily changes it for your sort of money all the time. She told me."
"Ah, but Tuney, I have more money, I suspect, than you can even imagine. What I want is something more valuable. Something precious."
"But I didn't bring--"
"You brought with you the very thing that I require." Bellatrix fished in the pocket of her robes and brought out a strange little instrument, something like a pair of tweezers, but with more legs than any tweezers ought to be allowed to have. It scuttled across Bellatrix's palm like a living thing.
"You see," Bellatrix went on, "there's a prophecy. My dear Caelynn here was kind enough to share it with me. Weren't you, Caelynn?"
The old woman grinned widely, showing gaps where teeth should be. "The shishter shall shelter the blood that shall shlay him!"
"Yes," said Bellatrix. "It took me some time to work out the meaning, but I believe I've finally hit on it. Your blood, somehow, is destined to bring down the Dark Lord."
Petunia blinked. "Dark Lord. What Dark Lord?"
"I'd kill you on the spot for your blasphemy, filthy Muggle, but one can't expect intelligence from an animal, can one?" The tweezer-thing rubbed two silver pincers together. It looked far too much like anticipation for Petunia's comfort.
"So there's something to do with me, and something to do with this Dark Lord."
Bellatrix nodded. "Very good." It was the tone one might use to praise a dog who'd learned a new trick. "I believe I can change the course of destiny if I take some of your blood."
No, screamed every cell of Petunia's body, but then she thought of Lily curled unconscious in the corner, and what was this Dark Lord to Petunia, anyway? She'd never even heard of him until this moment. Lily was more important than these madwomen and their mad schemes.
"Do it," said Petunia, and closed her eyes. She heard a clicking on the floor that she surmised was the instrument coming closer, closer.
"Stupefy," said a male voice. A very familiar male voice. The clicking stopped. Petunia opened her eyes.
Severus Snape stood in the room, his wand pressed to Bellatrix Black's throat. "Leave. Lily. Alone."
"But I need--"
"I do not care what you need. Leave Lily alone."
"I thought you--"
"My loyalty is to him. Not to you. Let Lily go."
"I don't want your help," spat Lily.
"Lily! You're awake," said Petunia, relieved beyond measure.
"Nonetheless," said Severus to Lily, "you have it. And I think this is yours." He handed Lily her wand, which Bellatrix must have stolen, then flicked his own wand in the direction of the cell door. The lock crumbled to dust. "Now go."
Petunia seized Lily by the hand and ran. Behind them Caelynn began to chant again, louder and faster. They didn’t look back.
Lily was too tired to Apparate, and Petunia too tired to drive, and so they took a room above the Leaky Cauldron. The two sisters lay curled together in the narrow bed, just as they had as children.
Petunia couldn't sleep, and it had nothing to do with the sorry state of the sheets. She felt weary to her very bones, and frayed at every nerve, but her mind was restless and her stomach tied in knots. She'd been jealous for so long that Lily belonged to this strange world while she, Petunia, was left out; she'd once wished with all of her being that she could join Lily here. And if she ever, in the dark twisted recesses of her heart, wished that Lily were ordinary like her, the better part of Petunia knew the wish was born of envy.
Petunia wrapped her arms around Lily and held her fast. Cling to me, Lily, let me take you home, let me take you where no one wants to kill you, yes, come with me. Then Lily turned and their lips met, and this was strange and there was a sense of this shouldn't be happening but what harm was a kiss, anyway, and Petunia let her lips speak for her. Return, return to what is real, leave this mad place behind, yes, come with me.
It never should have gone where it went, Petunia knew, but there was something so peaceful about flowing with it, learning Lily's body with her hands, with her tongue. Let every kiss be a talisman to hold you to what is real, to what is safe, to me. And if she could send Lily moaning over the edge yes yes like that then maybe when she fell back to earth she'd let Petunia catch her, let Petunia take her home.
They lay tangled and silent, afterward, and as Petunia sank finally into sleep, she thought she'd won.