Hey, here to return a review for the holiday swap! :)
Quick side note: I'm not sure you need the "One Month Later" at the beginning. One month after what? I could figure out when it was just from the first paragraph, you know?
This story has a lot of promise, and I really enjoyed reading it. You have a distinct voice that definitely shines through your narration and gives it a genuine and highly entertaining feel. At first, I wasn't sure what whether I liked it, but the slight streak of sarcasm won me over in short order. Great job.
I really liked your characterization of the Dursleys in particular. There wasn't a lot of depth to Vernon, but at the same time, I didn't really feel like there needed to be. Vernon doesn't like magic and is generally hostile to a lot of things, so some impatience and hostility here just felt like the Vernon we knew and put up with from the books.
Petunia had a little more nuance, I think, but not much. Again, though, she's a doting mother who says embarrassing things - that's a perfectly reasonable way to depict her, especially when the focus isn't really on her at all. The one thing that I really didn't like was in the fourth paragraph, where you said that Petunia had cooed over her son to spite Harry. That seemed both unnecessarily petty and very out of Petunia's character to me.
Dudley, on the other hand, had a lot of depth, and I thought that he was very well done. The interest about the magical world and disliking having to share space with his parents and be cooped up all the time was a perfect mix of privilege and curiosity, and I can easily believe him being in that place following the war.
There are only two things that I really would have liked to see more of in your characterization of the Dursleys as a whole, that I think really would have helped push the chapter to the next level.
First, while I liked that your depiction of the Dursleys was consistent with what we saw in the books, I did feel like you could have pushed a little further with it. It sometimes felt - especially with Vernon and Petunia - like it was too close to what JKR wrote and didn't really have your own spin. I would have liked to see a bit more originality there.
Second, I would have liked to see some mention of Harry. It felt like the only points where he was mentioned was in the beginning of the narrative, but he never seemed to enter into the Dursleys' minds at all (aside from Dudley at the very beginning), and the other characters didn't mention him, either. That seemed out of place to me - surely he would be on somebody's mind or get mentioned by someone in some context, especially considering how immensely popular he had to be at that point.
It could have been funny to see Arthur bragging about Ron and Harry, or to see someone go up to the Dursleys in the Ministry and start fawning over them because they're related to Harry, or even just someone saying that they're very sorry and working as quickly as possible because Harry Potter's relatives are of the highest priority. Just, something, you know?
The only other issue I had with this chapter was really more mechanical than anything. There were some little grammatical typos here and there, and the writing just didn't always flow as naturally as I think it could have. It can be hard to find a beta, but I'd recommend looking into it, because I think that this chapter was great and showed a lot of promise.
On the whole, great chapter. :)
Author's Response: Hello and thank you for the long review. You have a point about the beginning, I think I can edit that out later as I see what you mean.
I appreciate all your observations and critique and while yes I'm sure I could have mentioned Harry or Ron, I really wanted this chapter to focus on just the Dursleys, particularly Dudley. Also this story was a stretch from what I have written before, and it wasn't easy to step out of my comfort zone lol. I tend to go back and edit here and there and I have a beta though she's been off and on for a bit.
Thanks again for your review and for reading this first chapter :)