Aaaauw!! I just love the idea of Dudley actually working things out with Harry afterwards - I love the idea of him having a wizard son in the end, that was just brilliant.
Since the mutter "I don't think you're a waste of space" in book 7, I started to think perhaps, just maybe there was more to Big D than met the eye -- and I loved reading your story, it was a brilliant take on that, and beautiful without being too soppy.
That said, still - tears. But that's a good thing. :)
I thought this was truly interesting, especially in terms of style. I’d never really thought about what happened to Dudley, or more specifically Harry and Dudley, after the seventh book, and I think this was simply a lovely take on that. Between the dark overtone of the entire piece and Dudley’s awkward displays of affection, this was a perfect summation of their relationship.
One of the most intriguing bits of this piece was the narrative style. It’s all just Dudley talking, but it made it so much more potent. We were able to see the places where he stumbled, trying to find the right words, and where they just poured out as Dudley remembered someone we learn he truly admired. I especially love how it sounds just like a monologue, from him cutting himself off as he starts to go off on tangents to where he can’t bring himself to talk about his deceased wife. I also think that it kept the story from being too emotional for a character like Dudley. It sounded real and genuine, with all the mess-ups that come with normal public speaking, especially at a funeral. It made Dudley’s grief rawer, but still managed to make it sound like him. It was a risky style, but it definitely paid off, especially in its short form. It’s a short summation of how much they’ve both grown, but I liked that.
I honestly just wanted to give Dudley a huge hug in this, which is something I don’t normally say. I loved how we could sense his awkwardness and anxiety in the beginning, but slowly the pauses and stumbling stopped as he told the story. The brief mentions of his wife, too, because in times of grief he would be reminded of the other one he lost, even though he tries to cover that up. There were so many little touches I just loved; Dudley not knowing when magic was in place, and how he named his son after Harry, and how he would put in the awkward laugh everyone knows happens. It made him seem so real, even as he talked about all the horrible things he wouldn’t. It was how we can truly see Dudley’s regret as he talks about his childhood, but also how grateful he is, that we can believe they truly made friends with him. I also loved how he admitted he wasn’t there, and said he was jealous of Harry’s friends from school. There was also the slight hint of idolization, which we saw the beginnings of in Deathly Hallows, and I love the idea that Harry, who Dudley once despised, became the person he looked up to the most.
Even though Harry wasn’t technically a character in this, I could still feel his presence. The slight touches, like ‘Thanks for helping my boy with all that wizard stuff, when I had no clue”, and how he died still fighting darkness just seemed to fit. Even after everything he went through as a child, once Dudley took the first few steps he was willing to let him back into his life, completely forgiven. He was the only one there for Dudley when his wife died, and he just refused to not see the good in Dudley, still believed in second chances. It was in the little things that we got from their story that just fit so perfectly into the Harry we see in the books, especially at his own funeral. I am interested in how he died, exactly. I think it was just being an Auror, but that would be an interesting idea to explore, because Harry would be almost clueless.
Another thing I truly liked was the inclusion of Danny and Albus’s friendship. While it was subtle, rereading it I realized just how much these two becoming friends did for Harry and Dudley. It was the final push for them to truly reconcile, and as we saw, that made a world of difference for Dudley. It was only mentioned briefly, but now I’m drawn to the idea of this being the tipping point in their relationship. It leaves Danny almost as a Scorpius Malfoy in other fics, and I like how the idea carried over. If you ever decide to delve more into their story, (or already have) I would love to know about it.
The entire setting for the piece intrigued me. I know I would never have thought of writing a piece from Dudley’s perspective at Harry’s funeral. It left a darker undertone throughout the entire fic, and it made Dudley’s admissions feel so much more real. It made it so it was a ‘now or never’ moment, and it really made Dudley, a normally quite non-emotional character, open up. It made the little draw-aways from the main point, especially when he mentioned the Weasleys, ring true, and not just as a necessary connection. It fit so well with what Dudley was saying, and it made me wonder just how much he realized for himself before Harry died, or if these was mostly new feelings for him, too. It also made me wonder what other people had to say about him, especially long after Voldemort died.
Honestly, my favorite part was the ending. You spent so much time working up this beautiful prose, such a lovely narrative, and then the last line hit me like a ton of bricks. “You’re not - oh, damn it, you sodding prick, you’re not a waste of space. You’re the best person who’s ever lived. Good-bye, mate. And thank you.” For the risk of fangirling, this is just such a perfect line. I can picture Harry, wherever he went, laughing and crying at the same time, because he would understand what Dudley was trying to say. The first goodbye mirrors the second, though they’re years apart and under such different circumstances. It was the perfect way to tie up the piece, and a brilliant way to find resolution for Dudley.
This was a brilliant piece. A great character study, and an even greater story of how much Dudley, and Harry, grew over the course of their lives. Brilliant job, unique style, and just lovely overall. Keep it up!
Author's Response: Words cannot express how grateful I am to see this! I'm so glad you liked the story and took the time to write such a beautiful review!! Responses like this are what make me want to keep writing and now I've got a couple ideas to maybe expand the post-prologue Dudley/Harry story a bit more, which I didn't actually plan to do. I hope you'll keep reading and I will now always look forward to your reviews, should you choose to write them! Thanks so, so much!! :D
I loved the rich sentiment in this. I've always enjoyed the idea that Dudley would have a child that connected him to the wizarding world, and that's possibly the one part of JKR's canon I tend to not agree with.
I just loved it! I really liked how you let us know Dudley was making a speech for Harry's death without actually telling us, and the way Dudley spoke... It was just perfect, I could actually hear his voice inside my head! This is going inside my favorite story list.
Author's Response: Thank you so much! Great to hear :)