"Petunia raised a young man who had eyes of his very own"
April 12, 2015 9:32 PM   Subscribe

 
Magical. Thank you.
posted by Etrigan at 9:52 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I may have a bit of dust in my eye. I'll have to see to that.
posted by evilDoug at 9:54 PM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ugh this is one of my all time favorite things to come out of Tumblr. So much love.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:59 PM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Got quite a lot of dust in my eye too. I can see some of myself in this Petunia, ordinary and dull and plain, in the shadow of loved ones who are bright and beautiful and fantastic, and figuring out how to live with that. It is a beautiful could-have-been story.
posted by Alnedra at 9:59 PM on April 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


In fact we should tweet this to JK and see if she's seen it. I feel like she'd love it.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:00 PM on April 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


Tearus Removus. ALL THE FEELS.
posted by LoRichTimes at 10:06 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Tearus Removus.

I think you want tergeo.
It'll help with that dust, too.
Criminy, do I have to do all the work around here?
posted by phunniemee at 10:12 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is astounding, and I'm weeping pretty hard at my desk right now. I had no idea it was going this direction when it started, but it is entirely beautiful.

It's a deep meditation on so many things. Thank you so much.
posted by hippybear at 10:27 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


You're right, phunniemee, but I was just way too shattered by the article to think straight.
posted by LoRichTimes at 10:28 PM on April 12, 2015


That is truly beautiful.
posted by bardophile at 10:29 PM on April 12, 2015


Wow, that was a longer, harder cry than I knew was coming, but it was much needed in some very interesting ways.

TMI
posted by hippybear at 10:42 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


NOT CRYING BECAUSE IT'S SAD!!! Don't let my emotional lability dissuade you from reading! If you know the HP saga, this is entirely worthwhile on so many deep levels.
posted by hippybear at 10:43 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jesus. That was a bludger, right in the feels.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:02 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Harry grew up loved.

Wow.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:35 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


When Harry met Ron on the Hogwarts Express, Ron told him he had five older brothers and Harry said, “I have one.”

Imma fucking cry, what the hell
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:44 PM on April 12, 2015 [27 favorites]


I think Rowling has done a lot of good in this world. She's given so many kids (and grown-ups) this wonderful little universe to play in. There is a kindness in her storytelling, along with an obvious desire not to sugarcoat things. Her stories can be cozy yet brutal. Even the bad people are made pitiful at times, and even the heroes can be selfish jerks. You always feel she's telling the best story she can, and she's thinking about what it all really means. She was aware that she was writing the later books for an audience of billions, but she just carried on and stuck the landing, writing books that feel like a natural end and don't betray the panic she must have sometimes felt under such massive expectations. When a kid asks her a question about her stories, she always knows the answer, and she just says it. She won't pretend magic is real in our world. She won't pretend Dumbledore wasn't gay. Years later, when something she wrote feels like a lie to her, she'll own up to it.

You can sense that every character, no matter how seemingly minor, has their own story for Rowling. When a character leaves a scene, you get the feeling that Rowling knows where he's going and she has at least some idea of the rest of his life. Her wizarding world is a natural for fan fiction, because her books seem to be teeming with stories we can only glimpse as we follow Harry.

This story brings much more depth to Petunia than we see in the books, but it feels like something Rowling could have imagined herself. This is Petunia if she had taken some better paths, if she was just a little less afraid and grasping, and a little more forgiving. She starts the books like a comic harridan in a Roald Dahl story, making her despised nephew live in a cupboard under the stairs. But by the end even she is shown to have some unexpected depths. Dudley gets to transcend his comic awfulness, to grow up. Petunia gets right up to the edge of redeeming herself, and doesn't quite make it. This story gives her that extra push. It's a very good story, and by going places Rowling never went it manages to serve as a lovely tribute to what Rowling's done.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:48 PM on April 12, 2015 [36 favorites]


That's really fantastic, thank you.
posted by flatluigi at 12:02 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


So lovely. Hippybear, I'm right there with you -- I had a good, hard sob afterwards for what could have been.
posted by Ragini at 12:19 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Excellent fanfic. Probably all of us wondered how Harry managed in such a hateful world, stayed true to himself, and never betrayed his innate principles, especially before he had Hermione and the Weasleys for friends. This is a touching alternate reality.
posted by Cranberry at 12:45 AM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is excellent, and much more satisfying than the books. Because, as I said before, the single thing I hate most about the Harry Potter books is their contempt for the mundane. (And the lack of that contempt is my favorite thing about Steven Universe!)
posted by JHarris at 12:45 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Excellent.
posted by misozaki at 1:18 AM on April 13, 2015


When Harry met Ron on the Hogwarts Express, Ron told him he had five older brothers and Harry said, “I have one.”

Imma fucking cry, what the hell


Yeah that is the exact point where I went up to my bedroom to read the rest of it between sobs. Good grief.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:38 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hmm. This felt kind of schmaltzy and off the mark to me. I can't explain exactly why, and I feel like I should be able to, especially considering how overwhelmingly positive the rest of the comments have been. Possibly I'm a Muggle.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:02 AM on April 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Reading the authors other work, I also like these little powerless bones, about if a squib had made it into Hogwarts, but that hardly sums it up, as it has the same kind of emotional complexity as the above story.
posted by Elysum at 5:15 AM on April 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm browsing through some of the author's other works and they are a little treasure trove- thank you for the lovely afternoon of reading I have ahead of me!
posted by Bibliogeek at 5:18 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


"(Petunia would curl up with a big mug of hot tea and a little bit of vodka, when her boys were safely asleep, and toast her sister’s vanished ghost. Her nephew called her 'Tune’ not 'Tuney,’ and it only broke her heart some days."
:_:
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:20 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This story taps into the myth of the mother, a deep and rich vein in the HP novels that while often touched upon, was never completely mined. I cried so hard reading this because it showed me that everyone deserves to have a selfless mommy that loves them and supports them always.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:53 AM on April 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I really liked this. I agree that there's something about the Harry Potter universe that is well-defined enough that you can sense what is and isn't right for fanfic, but open enough that it feels like a complete world to play in or to finish explaining.

I'd seen the squib goes to Hogwarts before, and I also liked it a lot.
posted by jeather at 5:57 AM on April 13, 2015


I'm a huge fan one one-shot fanfic character studies and 'what ifs?' so really enjoyed this, thank you.
posted by Windigo at 6:04 AM on April 13, 2015


That was lovely, thank you. I had a look through some of the author's other stuff, and particularly enjoyed this one.
posted by Ned G at 6:14 AM on April 13, 2015


I don't remember who said this, and I should, because it's an insight that blew me away when I heard it, but somebody once pointed out that typically it's not the sad stuff in a story that makes people cry. What makes people cry, when they're really engaged with a narrative, is depictions of good. For example, in the Peter Jackson version of "Fellowship of the Ring", it's sad when Boromir dies. But what really brings on the waterworks in that scene is not his death, but his redemption, after the worst moral failure of his life (which happened only minutes prior). The exchange between him and Aragorn as he's dying gives him the opportunity to own that failure, and to secure Aragorn's acceptance of the responsibility for fixing it. It's someone making an effort to do good in the most compromised possible cirucmstances, and against every expectation we have.

This story is like dragging that kind of scene out until it encompasses the entire scope of Rowling's seven volume story.

It would have been very boring to simply change the original narrative by having Petunia raise Harry well because she was just naturally a kind person. And it wouldn't have been true to the character, or really any character occupying Petunia's place the history. It would have amounted to replacing Petunia with somebody else entirely. Having her retain the resentment, the suspicion, the wounded self consciousness and the hostile disposition, and then doing the right thing anyway, raises the premise to another level altogether, turns it from a gimmick to a meditation. There are at least a half dozen moments in this thing that might bring on tears, but the one that struck me was her instructing Harry and Dudley that they were not allowed to hate each other. Because that's the precise lesson for her two children that she is equipped by virtue of her biography to deliver.

There's a lot of wisdom, too, in the story's recognition that having his parent treat Harry better would ultimately have been better for Dudley, as well. It makes clear that the original version of the Potter story has a viciously destructive feeback loop in place: Petunia probably wasn't a parent who was going to spoil her child as badly as she did, absent the circumstances in which being nice to Dudley became just one more method of being unpleasant to Harry. I love the notion of Dudley befriending the twins, and acting as courier armed with with a kit of enchanted practical joke items. I love, love, love the image of Petunia sending howlers off to Dumbledore every time Harry's being kept in the dark. This story doesn't show us, but I can readily imagine the sort of invective this version of Petunia would be directing at Snape. He'd be very, very lucky if all she did was to spend two years researching Ministry of Magic regulations in her spare time in an effort to force Dumbledore to fire his ass.

And now that I come to it...I can't think of anyone less likely to put up with Dolores Umbridge's shit, either.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:11 AM on April 13, 2015 [43 favorites]


I love that she and Lupin get chummy. That makes perfect sense.
posted by padraigin at 7:40 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


When I retire, I'm going to write an epic fanfic about what would happen if Dumbledore sent Snape to collect Harry instead of Hagrid. Harry would bond with Snape, Snape would see Harry as not being an entitled hero. Snape would make a smooth introduction with Draco. Harry would end up in Slytherin. I always felt like there was a missed opportunity to note that ambition isn't always a bad thing, and to bring Slytherins into the fold fighting against Voldemort. Harry could also see Hagrid for what he really is: a dangerous bufoon (a friendly one, but still).
posted by rikschell at 1:12 PM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is Petunia if she had taken some better paths, if she was just a little less afraid and grasping, and a little more forgiving.

The removal of Vernon is key to this. So much of Petunia's pettiness and ugliness is shored up and reinforced by her horrible (but not to her! mind you. there's nothing I can remember from the books where Vernon is horrible to her, but then, that's because she always agrees with him. but he is still forever horrible with none of Petunia's moments of salvation) husband.

It's no wonder this story never happened. Petunia would have had to choose between Harry and Vernon.
posted by maryr at 2:53 PM on April 13, 2015 [5 favorites]




This is what fanfic should be.

I was grabbed by the thought that Petunia learned of her sister's death from a baby and a note on her doorstep.

I love the image of *this* Petunia sending howlers.

Looking forward to exploring the other stories suggested here.
posted by jaruwaan at 8:01 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I retire, I'm going to write an epic fanfic about what would happen if Dumbledore sent Snape to collect Harry instead of Hagrid

You should totally go for it, but just fyi, you could find multiple stories with that general arc on fanfiction.net at this very moment. Snape adopts Harry and Slytherin!Harry stories are definitely a pretty popular sub genre.

There's also a lot of overlap between that trope and the Severitus genre of stories a.k.a. Snape is Harry's (biological) father.

Oh god, why do I know that? And why am I admitting to knowing that?
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:00 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Back to this FPP:

The feels are real strong on this one. One of the things I really liked about this story is that the events in Harry's life weren't changed all that much, but you can just feel how this would have made all the difference in the world to him.

I think part of my (very emotional) response to this story came from the fact that it made me think of how much of a difference it would make in my life story if I could go back and re-write my parents. Not to make them perfect or completely different from who they are, but just a little bit better. Less yelling, less neglect of my mental and physical health, more of them acting like parents instead of children. Hell, even if I could have just had the part where my mother left my father, that would have been more than enough.

But anyway, thanks for sharing this. It was a great read.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:15 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


A Story about Neville, from the same author.
posted by flatluigi at 7:18 PM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


And what if Voldemort decided to be extra safe and killed both Harry and Neville. Also same author.
posted by jeather at 5:19 AM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


jeather: And what if Voldemort decided to be extra safe and killed both Harry and Neville. Also same author.

Jesus christ. Put a warning on that thing. Something on the order of 'PSA: Prepare a comfort pack containing the minimum following provisions: a warm blanket, a beloved childhood toy, a cup of hot tea and a second person nearby to dispense hugs as necessary'.

I made it to the bit about the clock hand changing in Molly's bag before I was actually stifling sobs.
posted by pseudonymph at 9:49 PM on April 17, 2015


All of her stories are fantastic, though the Petunia one really got me in the feelings.

Thanks for posting.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:02 PM on April 18, 2015


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