Growing Strong (Burning Bright), Chapter Four (2015-12-28)

When Branton knocks on the door of Number Four Privet Drive, a small whale of a human opens it. He’s seen some pretty strange things over the course of his career, so he has a pretty decent poker face, but he can still feel his cheek twitch.

“What do you want?” the whale says through a mouth full of something brown. Hopefully it’s chocolate.

“Does Petunia Dursley live here?” He asks, civil at least in the face of such rudeness.

“Muuum!” the whale shrieks, not unlike a death throe, before retreating back into the house. It leaves the door wide open, and Branton can’t help the flash of thought–no self preservation, weak, soft, pathetic, I could kill you so easily–but he shoves it down. That’s his sister’s son, why would he?

Tuney appears in the hallway, mouth in a smile that immediately becomes strained upon spotting him. He’s not insulted at all–he’d probably do the same if he bothered with polite smiles–mostly, he’s surprised she recognized him at all.

He hardly recognizes her in turn, though that’s probably unfair. Last time he saw Tuney, she was only fifteen, hardly past childhood. Now she’s a mother, a woman with wrinkles and brittle hair, pale and skeletal and sullen.

Then again, the sullen part hasn’t changed very much.

“Tuney,” he greets simply.

“It’s Petunia,” she corrects through gritted teeth, then, “Briar Rose,” she bites out in acknowledgement.

“Petunia,” he accedes, then, “I go by Branton now,” he doesn’t smile.

She doesn’t even bother maintaining her own smile, her expression transforming completely into a scowl.

He’s wearing one of his sharper suits, the one that emphasizes his broad shoulders and lethality, so he doesn’t know why she’s surprised.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other,” he tries.

“Through no fault of mine,” she shuts him down.

They stand in silence for a moment: Branton is so keenly aware of the doorway between them, him outside on the front step, her in the immaculate shell of her house.

“May I come in?”

~

A/N: Finally titled the HPxKHR fusion of criminal Evans uncle with Flames. Also finally decided on a first name for said uncle 😀

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