meme list: Auror!Harry, Auror!Ron, teaching-professional!Hermione(Arithmancy), established!relationship(Ron/Hermione, marriage), established!relationship(Dudley/OC, marriage, 5 years), wizarding-kid!Dursleys(daughter, rejected)
[Previously reviewed on fanfiction.net, now *cough* rerecorded to obtain a musically superior version.]
AU = alternate universe
OOC = out of character
OP = [I]Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix[/I]
Continuity issue: Since Harry hasn't entered the Muggle world since graduating from Hogwarts, how did Dudley have a valid address to send Harry a letter by Muggle post? It's made clear that he initiated the correspondence without prior contact with Harry, and Dudley wouldn't use owl post except possibly by return, so Dudley must have used Muggle post.
The prologue implies that the second war against Voldemort has ended only recently, so that Harry is taking his first breather and only just beginning to let down his guard against becoming too closely involved with others. Harry is now twenty-five (verified by the next chapter), so at this point we can deduce that the "eight years fighting" began sometime during Harry's seventh year, since he turned eighteen shortly after that year ended.
On a first read of the prologue and first chapter, it may not be clear that this is a pre-OP AU; Harry's thoughts about not being able to live with himself "if he allowed another person he loved to be murdered by Voldemort" seem very much in character. As we learn in the next chapter, Harry's position makes a very sharp contrast with Dudley, as usual; Dudley has the family that Harry has denied himself, and doesn't appreciate it properly. Dudley physically reflects the pre-OP pre-boxing Dudley; he's gone to seed in a big way, but he might have done that after marriage anyway.
Logical extension of continuity, that if Hermione became a professor at Hogwarts, she would teach her favourite subject if possible: Arithmancy.
- "spending more time with the Weasleys" should not contain an apostrophe; "brushed the grass off his robes" is misspelt at the end of the chapter.
- Some missing paragraph breaks / separating blank lines.
- Apart from the above points, very cleanly edited.
Not surprising that Harry feels resentment at the very sight of Privet Drive, and like a stranger in a strange land. It's always a bit difficult to believably set up a Harry-returns-to-Privet-Drive scene post-Hogwarts, for the most excellent reason that all he wanted when he was growing up was to escape, and *they* didn't want *him*. The current situation is well-handled; curiosity over why the heck Dudley would want to see him would smoke Harry out.
*So* typical of the Dursleys, that Harry received an invitation to Dudley's wedding as a fishing expedition for presents; good that the then-twenty-year-old Harry recognized the gesture for what it was. Sending Dudley a box of sweets was quite properly evil of the dear boy; the fact that they weren't cursed so that there wasn't anything to find no matter how they'd been tested would drive Dudley absolutely *bonkers*. After all, one has a chance of finding something that's actually *there*, but not something that isn't.
I make my obligatory Discworld-inspired observation that it seems OOC for Harry to use the word 'horrid'. ("'Horrid' is a childish word selected to impress nearby males with one's fragility." - Susan Sto Helit in Terry Pratchett's [I]Hogfather[/I].)
I've seen two drafts of this chapter, and thus two different guesses from Harry about why Dudley's bride had been photographed with her veil hiding her face. They're both good, but the revised version on PhoenixSong is better, since it seems more in character for Harry to dwell on somebody being embarrassed about being seen marrying Dudley than to make a more obviously malicious observation about a woman whom he doesn't (yet) have anything against, personally.
Nice believable scene setting, that the senior Dursleys have retired to Majorca after all their talk about it when Harry lived with them, and that they gave Number Four to Dudley. Very effective setup to sucker-punch Harry's emotions later in the chapter, finding out that another wizarding child is growing up in *precisely* the environment he did.
"He supposed the Dursley men had a thing for women with horrible flower names." It seems too terribly apt that this would be true, and I'm glad that the author had Harry pick up on it (instead of being oblivious to punning names as JKR's characters often are). Personally, *I* wouldn't take the other end of Harry's bet that Dudley would marry someone who looked just like Petunia, and I'm glad Harry's taking the attitude that this is going to be a laugh.
Hmm. Gardenia *is* bony and blonde, right enough, and her voice is apparently even worse than Petunia's. (Or possibly Harry's just recovered from the memory a little by now.) Gardenia even supports Dudley still being a momma's boy, I notice, from her later remark about "Duddy-kins absolutely needs to see his Mummy". I daresay Petunia would've tried to break up any relationship between Dudley and a woman who didn't have a high mother-in-law tolerance rating.
Threatening to blow up the fireplace is a nice touch, not only in itself but because of the obvious association with the Ton-Tongue Toffee incident. "It was enjoyable to make him squirm after all those years of Harry-hunting." Sometimes revenge is the best revenge. :)
Given how relentlessly anti-wizarding the Dursleys are, it's not surprising that Harry never even considered the possibility that they might have a Muggleborn child. But given how Lily and Harry turned out, it's not that surprising that magic once again surfaced in the Muggle segment of the family. It's also depressingly in character that an emotionally abusive family like the Dursleys would turn even on one of their own children who didn't fit into their narrow little definition of normalcy - particularly a daughter once they had a son. They not only have resurrected the use of the cupboard under the stairs, but something more subtle is going on: as with Harry, they never refer to their daughter by name, just referring to her as a little girl, as the senior Dursleys always referred to Harry as "the boy" even on a good day.
Good choice on the author's part, to make Dudley's wizarding child a daughter rather than a son, and to have her pushed aside at this point rather than earlier in her life because she's no longer an only child, but has been superceded by an (apparently) all-Muggle son. (The Dursleys have so few virtues and so many faults that I'd expect them to favour a son over a daughter in any case.) Being pushed aside out of favouritism to another child is another echo of Harry's childhood, and that the child is a girl rather than a boy helps underscore her vulnerability, I imagine.
I was a bit disappointed at first that Harry demanded time to think about the situation before agreeing to take the little girl in, but on reflection he's planning this out better than I would have. (Naturally, the Dursleys would respond more easily to asking for time to decide than for time to prepare properly to take care of her. Once they knew they'd persuaded him, they'd have rushed him.) As we see later on, he made sure to have a proper bedroom and some decent toys set up for her in his home before he brought her there, which could only help reassure her about being taken care of from now on. It would've been unsettling if he'd been fumbling around about the living arrangements only after she got there, and she was under enough stress already.
Continuity nitpick: Why, oh why didn't Figgy *say* anything to anybody in the wizarding world about the little girl? (Yes, this is a pre-OP AU, but still.)
- Spelling errors: "mantle" for "mantel" (I suppose technically this is a legitimate alternate spelling, if one believes one's dictionary, but since "mantle" is also a word for a piece of clothing, I prefer "mantel" for part-of-a-fireplace).