Firstly, I have to applaud you for choosing to write Petunia and really pulling her character off. She's hard to write because there's almost nothing sympathetic about her in the books.
Right from the first few lines, you captured the idea that Petunia feels out of place here.
Imagine, I was the one feeling ridiculous for wearing a normal dress. This line was just fantastic, for a few reasons. You just completely captured Petunia in it, but I also loved your use of the word "imagine", because it's not a word usually in her vocabulary and it really highlights how out of place she is in this magical world.
Just a small nitpick - you've written and when we were in the same room, arguments tended to fill the room. (second paragraph). The repetition of room feels a bit awkard, perhaps you could write "place" for the first one?
I don't joke. Jokes are ridiculous and juvenile. Once he realized it was true, he was outraged that I had never told him. He’s still not quite speaking to me. Dudley is the only thing that’s holding us together, if it weren’t for him, I would be at some lousy hotel with that little boy, Harry. (Sorry for quoting so much back at you). This is just fantastic - the line about joking is so in character, but then you move onto the harsh reality of Dudley being the glue between her and Vernon, which is almost hard for the reader to imagine because throughout the series Vernon and Petunia seem very together, but I think it's also very realistic. As Carole pointed out, there is a bit of a timing error there, but if you do get to fix it up I don't think it will change it that much... I can imagine Vernon not talking to Petunia for a while simply because it's her fault that they have to look after Harry now.
Another little thing - you've written there was hardly any chairs that I could see and it should say "there were...".
The house elf was a wonderful touch and very believable, both from how you wrote Petunia and the elf's reactions. I also loved the scene with Hagrid, and almost smiled when Petunia thought he might be dangerous... some things are the same in the wizarding and Muggle worlds.
And then Remus. Wow. As other reviewers have said, Remus is usually cool, calm and collected, but in a different way to Petunia, who refuses to let others see her emotions, and I think it's entirely realistic that Remus is so upset, because as he says in the story, he has lost everyone.
I turned around and nodded mutely at the young man standing. He sat beside me, placing his head in his hands. I couldn't decipher his age, for though his hair was greying, and the bags under his eyes seemed darker than his black robes, his face conveyed youth. His eyes portrayed the fear of a young child, though they also showed the sorrow of an old man. He looked tired, so tired. His eyes were hidden by his hands, and I wondered if he were sleeping. The sleeves of his robes were pushed up, and I gasped at the long scar that stood out on his arm. He looked up, and saw me staring. I blushed as he winced, and tugged his sleeves back to his hands. This whole paragraph is just a perfect introduction to Remus and you just capture everything he's feeling. I loved how you wrote him as being both old and young, because he has been through so much and yet he also just wants to be comforted.
Your writing is beautiful throughout the story, and you have the ability to write wonderful paragraphs and dialogue, but then bring out a single sentence which just stands out, like
His sorrow was enough for the both of us. (Although I would cut out the "the" before "both of us".)
I wished Vernon was with me. He could defend me properly, he could keep me safe. I liked that you've explained what Petunia sees in Vernon - she sees him as her protector (after all, there's not much positive to say about him...) I particularly liked when she compared him to James and showed why she thinks Vernon is the perfect husband. Also showing her vulnerability and her need for him makes it seem like there is at least a part of their relationship that is tender, or where they need each other.
I loved your characterisation of Dumbledore. He was only in the story briefly, but immediately I knew who he was and all his lines of dialogue and actions were wonderfully in character, particularly his comment to Remus.
I walked towards my car, shaking off the grief that people had left on me. I'm going to keep my family away from all this. I thought to myself. Keep Harry away, keep my family and me away from the many horrors in this wizarding world. Those lines are just so well-written and help me understand (at least a little bit) why she and Vernon behave the way they do in canon. It's natural for humans to be scared of the unknown, or what they don't understand, or where they don't belong, and I think the way Petunia suffered (although it was partly her own fault) during her childhood/teen years with Lily being a witch only adds to this. I loved the idea, too, that what she wants is to protect her family.
I really enjoyed this story, it was so well-written and you really achieved something difficult by making the reader empathise with Petunia.
Author's Response: Thanks so much for the review! You're very right about the repitition there, I hate awkward redundances like that, I'll go and change it later. It really means a lot what you said about Remus, as he is one of my favorite characters and I'd like to do him justice. Thanks for reading!
im crying like as if i was at the funeral. looks like i wasn't the only one that cared bout them.
One more note: "I walked towards my car, shaking off the grief that people had left on me."
That was my favourite sentence in the entire story. It works so well because it shows that even the grief is somehow "dirty" to her, a burden, something that clings to her, something indecent. She doesn't feel comfortable with it and she would never allow herself to grieve for her sister. It is other people's grief she needs to remove like stains from a white blouse.
Wow. This is, truly, an amazing story. It is written with great empathy for a character we don't usually empathise with. I actually feel a bit sorry for Petunia reading this, and I generally find it difficult to feel sorry for her, given how she mistreats and neglects her own nephew. This story makes her much more of a character rather than a stereotype.
In spite of this, you still managed to capture the essence of Petunia, the little things that make her HER. She is constantly worried what others might think, confused that some don't seem to care about being watched, bewildered by anything abnormal, longing to have security, order and her own little world, slightly jealous still and resentful. From the moment you wrote "I don't joke. Jokes are ridiculous and juvenile.", you had me convinced that this was definitely her. She even corrects Lupin's tenses ("was your best friend") at a time when it is insensitive to do so.
I truly feel sad for Petunia reading this. The new element you added was fear. Reading this, we get a great sense that Petunia was absolutely terrified of anything magical, of the things she couldn't have or fully understand, of the threats that killed her sister. She thinks she isn't grieving, but her fear is strongly reinforced by her sister's death. It confirms what she has known all along. She doesn't want that sort of threat in her life. Even small points of vulnerability such as her childhood nickname disconcert her.
Another thing I found interesting was how you describe her relationship with Vernon. You often wonder why anyone would marry such an aggressive, simple-minded and deeply unpleasant man. It makes perfect sense for your Petunia to seek protection, to go for that sort of "order" and for him "taking charge", providing her with a sense of belonging and being "taken care of". Dudley means the world to her, and she will spoil him.
We can even see a bit of courage in Petunia's act of going to her sister's funeral, putting on that black dress and getting the car. How sad that she wasn't able to listen, to be open, to be a part of the magic through Lily. This is really heartbreaking to read and very persuasively written.
Your Lupin was also in character, young and terrified, alone and shaken up by recent events, embarassed about his appearance but partly beyond the point of caring. Dumbledore is strong, trying to console everyone, finding the right words. Imagining interactions between these three has a bizarre quality, but it works here.
Author's Response: Wow, thank you so much! This means a lot, I was a bit wary in writing Petunia, especially in first person which I don't normally like to do, but I'm very glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!
This was a touching story. I like reading fics from an unsympathetic characters' POV and Petunia is about as unsympathetic as you can get in the Potterverse, so good on you for choosing to write her.
You managed to elicit some sympathy from me for her because it was obvious that Lily and James' world was now coming between her and Vernon and she was struggling to hold it together. Plus, she would have had two very young toddlers to look after which must be hard work.
I think there's a small error in the timing of when she told Vernon that Lily was a witch. At the beginning of PS it seems clear to me that Vernon knows about their magic. He and Petunia try to ignore it, but it's pretty clear that they're suppressing that knowledge. He sees owls in the sky, people in cloaks and his thoughts drift to his SIL, so I'm pretty sure she told him way before Lily died about the other world.
I liked Remus here. We don't often see him at a total loss. Infact he's generally a reserved and private person, but under these circumstances (best friends dead or locked up) then yes, his actions seem in character. I really felt for the poor darling at that point (I am a huge Remus fan, though)
The ending was good. Her family are uppermost in her mind - prtecting Dudley is her only concern. Although I disagree soundly with her methods, there is a small part of me that can't fault her logic in the canon of this story. And although I suspect being normal played an equal role in her treatment of Harry, her families safety probably played a strong part, too.
Interesting take on Petunia. ~Carole~
Author's Response: Thanks, yes I knew Vernon finding out then wasn't right as I reread PS this week yet I had already sent it in for validation and didn't feel like editing it. Perhaps I'll go back and change it later. Thanks for reading!