This is a great story! I'd never thought about Vernon as a kid, and I felt like this explained a lot!
Author's Response: Thank you! It was certainly interesting to write.
Vernon Dursley has never been a character for whom I have felt any particular sympathy. He’s just been that character that I hate so much, because he’s so cruel to Harry. This fic, while it didn’t make me like Vernon any more, did do a wonderful job showing how Vernon got to be the person he is in the books. It’s a great piece of characterization, and I really enjoyed reading it.
The opening of this, with the description of the tree in the playground, is great for two reasons. First, it’s just some really nice description. I love that it gets in the way of the boys playing football, because you continued with that little sport theme in reference to Vernon playing rugby and not being able to really play football with the other boys. But mostly I just love the way you describe the tree as a soldier; you gave us just the right amount of description without going overboard, and it was lovely to read. Second, the tree means so much for Vernon and for this story. It ends up representing everything that Vernon hates in the world, and I love that you took something so seemingly insignificant and turned it into something so important. I also love that the tree is situated right in the middle of the Muggle world; it’s almost worth wondering if there’s any part of the Muggle world that the wizards haven’t managed to touch in some way.
The young Vernon that you portray here is perfect. He’s exactly who I imagine he was at that age. It’s easy to see how he grew into the Uncle Vernon we know from the books, but he still seems like a kid here. He’s not just a physically smaller version of adult Vernon, but a truly younger version who grows up to be adult Vernon. The idea that Vernon himself was bullied is interesting. To be honest, I’ve never really given much thought to Vernon as a child, but I can easily picture a bullied Vernon. It works even better because it shows why he was so determined that Dudley be important; he didn’t want his son facing the same taunts as his father. He was making up for his own insecurities, in a way. It also goes along with why hates abnormality so much; he sees normality as the only way to avoid being called names, and so he pushes away everything that threatens his nice, normal world.
With the appearance of the old woman, I found myself trying to figure out who she was. I wasn’t sure if she was supposed to be someone we’ve met in canon, and so as I was reading I was going through a bunch of really minor characters in my head. But it turns out she isn’t someone we’ve met before, and I like that. I like that there’s someone who goes and collects the Elder tree branches for Ollivander, I like that the tree is right smack dab in the middle of a Muggle playground, I like that she meets Vernon once. I just really like everything about this fic. You did such a good job in giving us this little missing moments of sorts; it could totally fit into canon.
”Excuse me, but are you allowed to do that?” This line from Vernon is great. It’s perfect that he decides to ask if she’s allowed to take the branches, because we know that adult Vernon is quite the stickler for proper rules. It’s slightly humorous that he thinks bringing up the ambiguous allowance of her actions will deter her, because it seems that in canon, wizards and witches tend to pay Muggle rules little mind. All of the dialogue from Vernon is wonderful, and I won’t quote all of it, but that line in particular was one that I liked.
But she continued to come, as normal. Love the ending. To end with the word ‘normal’ – it’s just fantastic. Really, when it comes to the tree and the witch who comes for the branches, Vernon and the other Muggles are the abnormal parts of the equation, but of course Vernon doesn’t see it that way. For Vernon, the witch is abnormal, and with this encounter, he ends up hating things that are different for the rest of his life. You showed, too, that he already had a growing dislike for such abnormal things, but this interaction to really push him over the edge was great. Overall, I thought this fic was brilliant. It’s extremely well-written and gave a wonderful insight into Vernon Dursley’s character. Excellent work, and keep it up!
Author's Response: Wow, what a great review! Thank you very much. It's so nice to open my inbox and see a shiny new review waiting for me! I'm really glad to see that you felt Vernon's characterisation as a child was up to par. I didn't want to make him seem like a mini version of his adult self. He had to be distinct from that character yet remain the same person. I put a lot of work into making this fic just right and it was fun to explore a hated character. I'm also glad you found it humorous at times. Writing Vernon is very humourous so it's good that came through. The ending was definitely planned to end that way. I really wanted Vernon's desire for normality to come through and it ended up being the underlying theme for the whole fic. Again, thank you very much for the fantastic (and perceptive) review. It was a pleasure to read and made me smile :)
well... it definitely explains vernons hatred of magic better. I like it. How did you come up with the idea?
Author's Response: Thank you. As soon as I saw the prompt I wanted to do Vernon. Fanfiction often ignores the Muggle characters so I thought it might be a bit of a challenge. And I had already written Vernon in 'Petunia, Vernon and possibly a little Polyjuice Potion' and I had enjoyed playing with his character so much. I also knew I wanted to incorporate a batty witch and it just went from there! Thanks for the review!
Oooh, wow, that was really something. Very cleverly written and highly original. I loved it. & all of it was in canon and plausible! Hahah, great job.
Author's Response: Thank you very much, Avery! I'm glad you liked it :)
OOOOH WOW! Sorry, I can only gush over this story. I'll never make it into SPEW!
First off:- what a brilliant idea - a great take on the prompt - and you really have done the unthinkable which is to give Vernon a reason for his hatred.
Second :- you really drew me in to the tale. I'm not a huge description fan, I'm a lazy reader that way (and writer), but this was riveting. The tree branches like old grey chocolate - quite superb. I really felt as if I were there with Vernon. (Ewww, what a thought!)
Third:- his encounter with the witch and the fact that she was actually rather horrible to him and so scathing. It's no wonder he hates that world.
There was only one thing I'd have liked to see and that was a mention of his sister Marge when he's thinking back to Christmas and his parents - but that was very minor.
This was fantastic though. ~Carole~
Author's Response: Oh My! Carole read my story! And she liked it! Wow, thanks so much for reviewing! I'm such a fan of your fics! Okay, enough of the exclamation marks. I'm pleased you like my description. Sometimes I can get carried away with myself and write pages and pages of description so I'm glad it didn't bore you. And yes, being there with Vernon (especially after he's covered in boils) is a yucky thought indeed. Marge! I totally forgot about her. Embarrassing much? Next time I write a Dursley fic (I'm strangely addicted to writing about those horrible people) I'll be sure to include her. Oh, she will be such a delicious character to work with... But thank you so much for reading and reviewing! Your own challenge entry is absolutely superb by the way and thanks for such a fun duel. I loved coming up with those questions hehe :)
Amazing. Helps one understand why Vernon grew up to be the way he was.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review! Yes, I always wondered how someone could be so awful and the idea just came to me as soon as I read the challenge! Glad you enjoyed it.
Well, that explains a few things... except why the ministry wizards couldn't catch up with an 11 year old boy...
Now THAT is another untold story!
Author's Response: Haha, yes, that is another untold story! I guess they just could not be bothered. I mean a young boy going on about how he was terrorised by a witch is hardly a security threat in my opinion. I think they would probably be more interested in catching the witch quite frankly. Thanks for the review!!!