Don't You Hear The Singing?
Petunia & Lily & Hermione
"Don't you hear the singing, Petunia?"
Petunia Evans judged herself in the ornate vanity mirror, angling her chin just so to get the lamplight to fall just right, silver brush stalling in the long, lingering strokes through tresses of blond. As most girls of fourteen do, she thought herself a woman grown, and as a grown woman -was there any difference between a woman grown and a grown woman?- she was much too old to be sharing a bedroom with her little sister, despite what their parents said.
"Oh, do be quiet Lily. There's nothing out there but grasshoppers and stars. Now get away from that window and get into bed. I've had it up to here with your utter nonsense today, and I bet mother and father have too. If they find you sneaking out again, you'll be grounded until you're grey."
Petunia Evans may not be the prettiest girl, but her hair, sun-beaten wheat, was rather quite lovely, and a lot more pleasant than Lily's almost eye-watering copper curls. She did not even brush her hair every night! Content to let it twist and tangle into some style of amber bird's nest, Lily left twigs and leaves ensnared in lock from her roll about the garden.
And Lily was always out in the garden. Always nattering about the singing in the woods out back. Always whispering about the people who lived in trees. Always murmuring about starlight and songs, and skin that shone.
Petunia thought her little sister was slightly barmy, in need of a good telling off and a long time out. Mother, however, thought she was delightful. There was no accounting for taste with some people.
"But the singing, 'Tuney! They're singing again! It's so pretty and-"
The brush clattered to the desk.
"Enough, Lily! For the last time, there is no singing! There's nothing out there but your imagination, and I am much too tired to be playing games."
And much too old. No respectable woman -Petunia was still not entirely sure if she were a woman grown or a grown woman, and which would be better, which one the boy who lived down the street, Vernon, would like more- played pretend.
Least of all with daft sisters who kept running off into the woods, getting their older -and much prettier sister-, grounded for not watching the two-legged tyrant closer.
How was she to see Vernon now?
Mother said jealousy was an ugly thing, a bad seed that made the flower wilt, but Petunia, golden haired, blue eyed Petunia, was far too lovely to be anything ugly… Right?
Yes, quite right.
Petunia could not see Lily in the reflection of the mirror, she sat so close to it all that could be seen was her face and beautiful hair, all that there ever was in Petunia's world, but she heard the thumping of her steps and the sudden thud of a small nine year old throwing themselves down onto their bed.
"There is singing, and there are people living in the trees, and one day, you, mum, and dad are going to believe me."
"That would be the day. Now go to sleep."
That would be the day.
There was nothing more that Lily Evans adored as a child than fruit. She would nibbled apples down to the core, and suck on lemons rinds, and slurp at segments of oranges. She would chew cherries down to the pits, and then spend hours gnawing on those too.
Melons and raspberries dribbled juices, thick and honeyed, down her chin. She would chomp on peaches, and nip at cranberries, and munch on little squires of pineapple. Her fingers would marble with blackberries and strawberries, pomegranates and currents, until her fingers bled pink and purple and mauve, and everything she touched thereafter was stained something sweet. She would put whole dates in her mouth, and suckle at figs, slice and peel and sip at pears and grapes and gooseberries.
There was not a fruit, sweet to the tongue, pretty to the eye, that Lily Evans would not taste and try.
Father said she had a touch of the Fae about her, his wild child with berry-liquor on her lips, sap on her fingers, and grass stained toes. He would ruffle her ginger spiced curls, and twirl her about, and told her never to lose her taste for the sweet for the world could be so very sour sometimes.
Petunia, the frog wart, grumbled that Fae blood, if Lily was anything to go by, must be bad blood.
Then again, to Lily's sister, everything not proper, everything not appropriate, everything not seemly, was bad.
To her -apart from herself, of course-, all the world was rotten, but to Lily, little ten year old Lily, everything was so very, very sweet.
The problem Lily discovered, when she was much older but not necessarily any the wiser -for age and wisdom going hand in hand was a fat fib- was sweet things spoiled.
The sweeter something was, the swifter it perished. Perhaps that is why Petunia lived for so very long, and Lily died when she was but twenty-one. Yet, between then, ten and twenty, Lily lived.
Oh, how she lived, and loved, and lost, and sipped at all the sweetness of life.
"Do you hear that, Petunia?"
The sisters, who were not so sisterly, were out on a picnic in the woods behind their childhood home, Petunia freshly twenty-three, newly married to her dear, dearest Vernon. Lily was eighteen, and grown into her fiery colours and sharp, keen angles, and entirely too lovely.
Entirely too strange too.
A witch with a stick, and still a taste for the sweeter things.
Perhaps father, god rest his soul, had been right all along. Perhaps Lily did have a touch of the Fae about her, that cursed blood that saw her laugh too loudly, and smile to widely, and be too much of everything, truly.
Petunia had not seen much of her sister, not since she had been accepted into that blasted school filled with strange children just like her, and she would not have seen Lily again for a longer while yet if it had been much of her choice.
Yet, their mother was ill. Gravely ill. Her cough was worse these days, a wet, wracking noise, just like father, and… Petunia knew what came next.
She knew and she denied it all the same.
Their mother wanted her children close, so Petunia came home.
She wanted her children happy, so Petunia painted on her prettiest smile.
She wanted them to stop bickering for five whole minutes, so... Well, Petunia was still working on that one.
Petunia smiled -closed lipped and slight as was the polite way a woman should smile, or so Vernon told her- and she bared it, and she took a walk with her sister through the woods as their mother slumbered beside their picnic after spending the afternoon nibbling on ham and cheese sandwiches and sipping peach tea.
"Hear what? The birds?"
They had come to an ambling halt beside a small brookside full of rushes, a great, tall wych elm casting mottled shadows to the moss and loam below. All Petunia could hear was the tinkling of running water.
"Birds? No, not them! Listen…. Hear that? There's… There's music and singing. Barely there… Barely anything, but it… Yes, singing. I hear it now, clear as day. How can you not hear that? It's so… Lovely."
Petunia scoffed, bowing her golden head beneath the shade of the tree, the muted hues of sunset painting her skin in yellowed gilt.
"Oh, not this again! I thought you left all that behind when you grew up! Music and tree houses and all that elf drivel. You're eighteen now, not eight. Get your head out of the treetops and down where it belongs, Lily, or get lost up there forever."
Lily's cheeks burst with a blush, red and mottled and angry.
She had that terrible stick in her hand, and Petunia winced.
"Fine! If you're not going to help me find the singing, I'll find it myself! You were always such a prig, Petunia, but I never thought you were this bloody dim."
The breeze was washing cool now, sunlight fading, woods darkening, time to go home rolling in, and Lily, too brash and too brave Lily, swivelled on her heel and began to march deeper between the dense trees. Petunia spluttered much like the brook before them.
"Lily… Lily! Where are you going! Get back here! You can't just wander off into a woods at dark! Who knows what's out here! Lily!"
Lily did not answer, she simply trudged on.
"Fine then, get yourself killed! See if I care!"
Petunia, in fact, did care.
She cared quite a lot.
She may snipe and gripe, and disparage and nag, but Lily was, to the end of days, her sister. Petunia moaned because she cared, perhaps not in the best way, perhaps not in a kind way, perhaps not in a way understood at all, but she did.
She cared an awful lot.
Perhaps that was why it hurt so much that this, seeing her sister stroll around the wych elm, was the last she saw of Lily Evans for two years. One footstep around the bend, across the curve of heavy trunk, shuffling down the glen, and she was…
She was gone.
Their mother died two days later, swearing she could hear singing coming from the trees out back.
Lily Evans returned a jumble of bruises, cuts and weeping, exactly two years after she vanished. Old Mrs Linton found her slumped at the base of the wych elm one evening, at the peak of dusk, while she was taking her dog for a walk.
The blood must have given her a fright.
Not as much as the heavily pregnant stomach.
Lily was rushed to the hospital within the hour, and soon the police were called, and Petunia, as next of kin -the only next of kin left at all-, was swept in to identify whether it was truly her missing sister or not. It was her sister, Petunia told them, but it was not, she thought to herself.
Not this crooked creature, so pale, so tearful, so… So less.
Petunia had never seen Lily cry, not properly, not even when she fell off the tire swing in their back garden as children and skimmed both her knees.
She was delirious in the beginning, laid upon the hospital bed, feverishly moaning about Elladans and Elrohirs and caravans and Orcs and many things Petunia could not understand.
She passed out on the third morning, and she did not awaken again. Petunia thought, perhaps coldly, that it was a blessing if only that she didn't have to hear her sobs any longer.
The doctors did not know what was wrong, not one clue. There was no huge amount of blood loss. There were no open wounds to blame, no blows to the head or infections of the lungs.
Lily just drifted off to sleep and did not wake up, skin as cold as stone.
They came next, Lily's lot, those strange, strange people who said even stranger things.
The tall one -an old man in pink robes of all things-, whispered to a bespectacled man -ebony hair a muddle on his head made worse by how he kept running his fingers through it-, about fading, and binds to the realm, and broken hearts and more about fading and-
It all happened so quickly, so confusingly, so much in such a short amount of time that Petunia, ever the muggle, had no hope of keeping up.
Potter, that was his name.
Lily had told mother about him one day on her summer holidays. A friend from school.
A friend who wed Lily on her death bed.
It was insane. Mad. Absolutely bonkers and-
And it worked.
Three hours later, after saying his vows, Lily woke up, not alive, not living, but something there, at least.
She was never the same, not the sister Petunia grew up with. Wrought to something small, something sad, something that sobbed at night and dreamt of Elladans and Elrohirs and journeys through wych elms, with skin as cold as stone and no more star shine or song.
The babe swelling her stomach was born a few months later. Wholly unproper, wholly abnormal, wholly wrong.
Petunia hated the thing as soon as she saw it, all pink skinned and inky curled and pointy eared.
Whatever it was -Petunia refused to think of it as her or by name, names were only reserved for proper people-, she knew it was the cause of her sisters grief, the grief that hollowed her out and filled her with tears and cold, and when, a year later, Lily died protecting the damned thing, when really she should have left it out in the cold like good, proper people did with changelings, she hated it even more.
None more so than when she found it crying and sniffling on her doorstep, wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in a wicker basket -the same wicker basket she and Lily took picnicking- with that ugly, raw scar on its forehead.
She thought of leaving it there, letting the weather take what little breath it had left, of shutting the door and not looking back. Yet, the babe looked to her, and it had her sisters eyes, a hue as green as grass on a summers day, and…
She took it in, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not love it, as she could not love anything but herself.
Some said Harriel Potter had more than a touch of the Fae about her. Hermione thought this was a far assessment. She was lucky, Harriel, in the way the Fae were thought of as lucky, as entirely not at all, and contrarily entirely too much.
She enjoyed the sweeter things, treacle tarts and butterbeer and freshly plucked gooseberries. She like to sing, and she liked to dance, and she was often seen, despite the sordid tale of her sorrowful life, with a dimpled smile upon her face.
It could also be said that her very sharp -very pointed ears-, had a hand in birthing that particular rumour.
Nevertheless, pointed ears and nimble feet that did not sink in snow aside, strange even to their kind, could be overlooked for the saviour of the Wizarding world, and while Harriel did get funny looks when she did not wear her favoured bobbled hat out and about in the big wide world, it was not anything so bizarre in a world of Veelas, Harpies and Giants.
The muggles thought her ears fake, cosplay gone fascinatingly real, and the wizards and witches thought them begotten from an ancestral dalliance with a Fair Folk.
Likely Aes Sídhe, with the amount of unrest and havoc Harriel cooked up on a daily basis.
The eyesight Harriel had, a fine and fierce thing that could spot a man from a hundred foot away, was a little odd. How swift she could be, there and gone again in a blink, was a tiny bit disconcerting. The way she could hear a conversation from the other end of the burrow was unsettling. Yet, these oddities were small, and together made Harriel… Well, Harriel, and Hermione had loved her best friend since the very beginning, hawk-eyed, light stepped, snarky thing that she was, despite all this, and her nasty habit of always stealing the breakfast fruit.
It made perfect sense then that it was Hermione, steadfast comrade, confidant, counselor and sometimes reign-her-in-er -if her fruit stealing habit was nasty, than Harriel's aptitude to get into trouble faster than she could move, and making it ten times worse by merely opening her mouth was worst-, was there that day, beside her best friend, before the house with the recently Sold sign hung on its iron fence.
It was a beautiful house, all red bricked and square, with plenty of garden space that trailed into the woods that encircled the property. It had once belonged to a Mr Owen Evans and a Dr Lydia Evans, Lily's mother and father, and had passed between only a few hands before Harriel had snatched it up after the war when it was placed for sale once again.
There they stood, on the edge, nineteen and finally free from prophecy, war, and horcruxes, with boxes at their feet and a home to make, and a terrible past to start healing.
And Harriel was simply standing there, staring off into the woods, transfixed.
"You alright there, Harriel?"
The girl in question blinked, snapping back to wherever she had drifted. This couldn't be easy for her, Hermione knew. Harriel did not have a good history with family. Whatever she had with Petunia, Hermione equally knew though Harriel never spoke of those days, was more hellish than home, and Sirius, well, that loss still ached terribly.
"Fine, fine. I just thought…"
Harriel laughed, a noise as bright and light as sunshine, and shook her head of onyx curls, the thick braid down her back whipping about her shoulders and waist as she pulled herself away from peering into the treeline.
"Well, I thought I heard singing coming from the woods. Must be the neighbours playing music."
Hermione, politely, did not mention that neighbours were not around for a few miles, and even Harriel's hearing surely couldn't reach that far. Instead, Hermione stooped low, plucked up a box and haggled it onto her hip, and grinned.
A sharp nod and a toothy smile.
A.N/ It seems I am back on my Thranduil bullshit, so choo choo, hop aboard amigo, and take a ride on the Thranduil thirst train lol. In all honesty, this is the last story I had saved up on my hard-drive, and as I am publishing them all, here it is!
This story takes heavy inspiration from Irish mythology, and the poem The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti.
The main pairing will be Harriel/Thranduil, but this fic will also contain heavy doses of Elladan/Lily/Elrohir, and Hermione/Bard. We will also be deep diving into, as I call them, the Noldor crew, so expect plenty of Elrond, Galadriel, and the Imladris/Lothlorien parties. If any of this puts you off, the triad with Lily and delving into elvish culture in which I play heavily with, but will hopefully keep Tolkien's heart alive, then take this as fair warning and adios friend! If this sounds rather alright to you, welcome to the last homely house east of the sea!
I hope you all liked it, and will like what is to come. As always, if you have a spare moment, don't forget to drop a review, and I will hopefully see you all soon. Until then, stay beautiful! ~AlwaysEatTheRude21