Ok, I understand the need for Harry, as Head Auror and a famous person, to have security measures. But I have to tell you, I would be royally pissed off at being "shunted" to an Apparition room where I could be inspected like an animal in a cage. It wouldn't make me inclined to enjoy his company again. Just saying. I did think the charms and white board and all that were very clever and interesting. I do like it when authors invent supplemental magic. However, I thought you spent a little more time on the details of the protections than was necessary. Maybe it's a guy thing: gotta talk about your toys and act like you know how they work. (No offense.)
Why on earth did you have Dudley and Rolf dressed so oddly? Ok, Rolf dressed up as a Viking, I can accept. It was funny and added to the aura Luna has. But Dudley in Western attire? That is so hilarious. Basically all the men on my father's side of the family dress like that on a daily basis (I'm originally from Montana), so I can picture the attire very well, but I have a hard time picturing Dudley in it!
I do have one major problem with this story, although it really is only coming out majorly in this chapter. You keep referring to things that the characters know about, but the reader doesn't (unless the background info is in another story I haven't read?). I assume you're doing this because of the way you're being forced to tell the story given the opening chapter. I have seen this technique of essentially starting at the middle or end of a story and then working backwards, revealing bits as you go along, work well. However, I have also seen it fail in a fiery, flaming, screeching, disastrous trainwreck. This story, in its current trajectory, is probably like a car or motorcycle wreck, with the potential to either hit a train or miss it by a hair's breadth.
I know you've essentially abandoned this story, at least for the present time, and I am beginning to see why. Looking at what you've written so far, I'm sitting here stumped, wondering how on earth I'd manage to continue it if I was the writer. It's like having to navigate past a couple of washed-out bridges between point A and point B or something. I did enjoy your opening chapter and think it's worth keeping, but I'm not sure anymore that the beginning is the best place to have it. The reader already knows a major event, and you have to fill in all the details, and it's not meshing as well as it ideally should. Then you go and throw us the loop with Luna and Dudley having a romantic history, which will only make it more complicated.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a bit confused as to how you're going to manage to continue telling this story from Harry's POV and resolve all the details you've introduced - especially in this chapter. I realize I'm talking here as if you're going to finish this story, which you might not. I do like the idea behind it a lot, and I think Dudley/Lavender is a fascinating ship. You obviously have a well-developed backstory, from what I can tell. However, as I said, I can see why you stopped writing this, because you have limited yourself and made it very hard. If you ever do rework it and/or continue it, I'm definitely interested, though. :-)
Author's Response: Thank you so much for your honest opinion here. You see what I mean when I say that I painted myself in a corner with this story; not because of the plot, but because of the way it would have to be told in flashback. I think my reach exceeded my grasp and I tried something I wasn't technically able to do yet as a writer. Writing flashbacks are tricky and the chapter that I deleted was 1st person from Dudley's perspective and that really was jarring going from the dinner scene to a 1st person narrative. *Sigh* I'm learning how to write, slowly; but, it's something you never stop learning.
I've been seriously thinking about starting this over with 1st person chapters from Dudley's and Lav's POV's starting immediately after DH, which would put the first chapter of this story somewhere in the middle of the novel (definitely novel).
The things that keep getting referred to are the things I intended on telling in flashback, like Rolf and Dudley's outfits (which both do have reasons behind them...and good ones, I think).
The white board thing is my reimagination of Hermione taking on Pro Bono work of making sure that every wizarding house has at least basic protection. Because of the kidnapping attempt on Rose, Harry and Hermione's houses are very well protected. It hasn't been touch on yet, but Harry's house is on the Hebrides, a very bleak and desolate place and is only reachable by Apparition or Portkey or Floo, as well as being hidden by a modified Fidelius. You might be right and it's overdescribed.
Luna/Dudley is extremely important to the story and it has a lot to do with Dudley's changing. I will tell you that it was not reciprocal. Dudley was interested in being more than friends after a while, but Luna just wanted to be friends...in the course of the story, she would discover that Dudley's not the one for her as she believes in 'true love.' When I first started thinking about a Dudley/witch story, I first thought of Luna because I was comfortable writing her, but I quickly realized that wouldn't work with Dudley in a romantic relationship, only friends and only after Dudley had already changed some.
Your characterization of a motorcycle wreck about to occur is great and it's how I've thought about this story for a while.
If you are interested in seeing the chapter I deleted, let me know and I can PM it to you along with the in progress re-working of it.