Hi, Georgia. I don’t know how I missed reading this cute little story from last year, but now I’ll make up for lost time.
This story is really charming, without angst or problems more than the day-to-day annoyances that we all have to put up with. You tell the story in a spare style with a minimum of characters and not an overload of inner reflections, so the tone remains light. Given that the theme of the story, Dudley’s daughter receives an invitation to Hogwarts, is one single little event, a more heavy-handed treatment of the event would have been out of proportion. This is a story we can read quickly and enjoy while sitting in the waiting room of some office.
Obviously Dudley has had a long time to ponder his earlier life — what happened to his cousin, what happened to himself and his parents. You give a good description of the kind of thoughts he must have been having, both remembrances of what actually occurred and speculations of how things might have been different. For this reason, the arrival of the letter is not a total surprise, and he realizes that he has already made his decision, what he would do if ever…
I like your characterization of Dudley in this story: a kindly and loving father, relaxed, at peace with his life, with only one regret, which was the lack of resolution in his relationship with his cousin Harry. By letting his daughter go to Hogwarts, Dudley not only does what he thinks is best for her, but he builds a bridge across the gulf that has separated him from Harry for so many years, and puts to rest that troubled part of his mind.
There are two measures of Dudley’s maturity. He has obviously already discussed this possibility with his wife, who is not present at the moment, so that he can convey their joint decision to Harry immediately. This means that he has not tried to totally repress his memory of his boyhood contact with the magical world, but has tried to integrate it into his lifetime experiences. And he does not concern himself for a moment about what his parents would think about Trudy’s going to Hogwarts; if they still live at Number Four Privet Drive, their probably-unchanged opinion about magic simply doesn’t affect him anymore.
I also liked your characterization of Harry. After fifteen years he is still a celebrity, harassed by fans and reporters, but he still patiently answers their letters. That is a tiny indicator of his basic kindheartedness. His total lack of contact with Dudley for sixteen years is revealed in his concern that Dudley might resemble his father Vernon in his animosity toward the magical world; even the number thirteen on Dudley’s house triggers a foreboding that their meeting might prove to be unpleasant and difficult. This mirrors the statements made earlier that Dudley felt guilty about how his family had treated Harry during their childhood and his assumption that Harry despised him. So both of these cousins, now grown men, are still held back by memories of unhappy times decades earlier.
It was good to see the final meeting of the cousins described from each of their points of view. Harry suggests that they sit down and talk because he is anticipating a difficult conversation and thinks it would be better conducted sitting down. Dudley probably doesn’t sense that; instead he rushes to assure Harry, even as they take the first steps toward the library to find seats, that his answer is “Yes”, or, in other words, that he is eager to let bygones be bygones and to re-establish their friendship in a new way.
I enjoyed seeing this brief glimpse of Harry and of Dudley at age thirty-three, their two different lives, and the brief intersection at the end of each vignette, bringing their relationship full circle. This is a sweet story and you told it well.
Even if you leave it as is, it brings us up to date on how Dudley was affected by the "Dementoids" and how as an adult he'd react to how he'd been raised as a co-abuser of a child.
Author's Response: I agree. I always wondered how Dudley would be when he was older, since he seems repentant in the last book. -Georgia
Good. But I think it could be more than a one shot.
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked it! It's funny; my sister also keeps bugging me to write more. I suppose that sometime in the future I may write some more stories about Dudley and his daughter, but right now I'm far too busy. -Georgia