Child of Grace
Disclaimer: All of this is based upon the lovely J.K. Rowling's work. I own nothing except for a few non-canon characters to be introduced later. All of the paraphrased or direct quotes are from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, text copyright 1997 by J.K. Rowling.
Everything is in the British-English spellings and feel free to Brit-pick.
"blah" : Parseltongue
"blah": Sporker Harley
Prologue: A Holly Night
Either this is a cute pun on jolly night or the first indication that our heroine has a Messiah complex. (Hint: It's the latter.)
It sounds like a Christmas song: OH HOLLY NIIIIGHT, THE FIC IS ONLY STAAAAARTING.
Thunder resounded in the distance as light flashed across the sky.
IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT... Sorry, I stole the capslock. But really, this is less atmospheric and more cliché.
Torrents of rain poured to the muddy ground, and the sounds of it echoed through the neighbourhood. There was another crackle of lightning. A dog barked nearby, but it did so more from terror than anything else.
Because otherwise we'd assume it was barking from joy?
Dog: "I fucking love lightning!"
Dog: "Holy SHIT! Did you see that one?! It LOOKED SO FUCKING COOL! DOG NEXT DOOR DID YOU SEE IT? DID YOU?"
Darkness shrouded everything, the street lamps barely giving any light.
Orrrrr you could just say "The street lamps gave very little light"? Anything that can be effectively implied need not be stated.
Had anyone been looking outside, they wouldn't have been able to see anything save the rain.
A young girl of no more than six knelt in front of a window, outside looking in. Her long, black hair hung about her like a sopping blanket, and the water dripped onto her bony shoulders. Her skin was white, almost translucent, veins clearly visible. It prickled in the damp cold as she shivered and pulled her frayed dress around herself, but it did little to block out the cold from her thin body.
There is so much angst here. We really need to unpack this, as it's our first look at Our Heroine. Her hair is like a sopping blanket around her but it's not actually touching her shoulders, just so the water can drip on them. Her skin is almost translucent and her veins are visible. Which veins? Most people have certain parts of their bodies where the skin in thinner and translucent, like their wrists, so you can see the veins there. Is this girl's face all veiny? Are her arms? This description means nothing.
Plus, from what I can tell your veins are too deep to be able to see through your skin on your neck/chest/shoulders/whatever. You have two major veins and arteries in your neck but they aren't usually visible? If her face is all veiny I worry about her and would ask if she was from a bad Dracula fanfic.
Her dress is probably not helping her keep warm because like her hair, it would be soaked through. This whole description is an overblown effort to make us go, "Oh, poor thing!" And we can see the strings.
Harley? Thoughts on our heroine?
Inside the house, light glowed from numerous lamps, casting friendly shadows on the walls and floor. A large, square table sat in the middle of a neat and tidy dining room. It was stacked with countless plates, all of them steaming and warm. A a family was sitting down to a delicious looking supper.
There, I fixed it. Speaking of unnecessary things, I doubt Petunia would ever allow numerous lamps to clutter her clean dining room.
The father was a portly man with a beet-red face and no noticeable neck. The mother was slender but healthy looking. She had twice the normal amount of neck and was horse-faced with enormous teeth. The son, though quite young, was rotund and seemed to be well on his way to taking up an entire side of the table.
It took me a while to realise that the 'slender but healthy looking' comment was meant to be a comparison to Holly's thinness, not Vernon being portly. "Horse-faced with enormous front teeth" makes me think that Petunia's had a run in with Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Contrastingly, 'rotund' is a very mild descriptor for a kid "well on his way to taking up an entire side of the table".
Also, Petunia got two sentences of description when Dudley and Vernon got one each, despite being of identical importance to the scene. Bad. *bats author on the nose with a newspaper*
Green eyes watched as the mother carried a large plate of roast to the table, which was almost completely filled with the other dishes. Steaming potatoes and carrots were placed on either side and were soon joined by a few other things. Chapped lips were licked at the sight of the meal, and the girl's breath steamed the clear glass of the window as she moved closer. A small, dirty hand cautiously wiped the surface clean so that she could get a better look, even as her mouth moved in a whispered prayer.
Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard! Three banquets a day, our favourite diet. My headcanon now is that Holly is dressed like one of the children from Oliver Twist's Work House. Just sayin'.
She does seem to fit the part quite well. My biggest problem is with the method of description.
FOUND: Disembodied eyes, chapped lips and a dirty hand. If these are yours, please call 11 5352 2398 and take better care of your body parts next time.
Within the house, the mother smacked a naughty hand away from the feast. Her son scowled at her and rubbed his now tender fingers. The father roared with laughter at the antics of the pair and took a sip of the wine in his glass. He beamed proudly at his son, while the mother eyed her child, but the tips of her mouth turned up with a hint of approval.
Why are they encouraging bad table manners? I thought the Dursley's would have been thoroughly against that?
I can sort of see Vernon laughing, but Petunia would not approve.
Her hand touched his podgy cheek as the other rubbed his hurt fingers. She leaned down and kissed him lovingly, just as he tried to move away with a scowl etched on his heavy features.
Outside, hungry eyes watched the entire scene,
We know. It's from Holly's point of view. Also, the "hungry eyes" just sound silly and I'm pretty sure that's a song from the eighties.
and the girl lifted a slender hand to gently touch her own cheek.
Oi! Slender has connotations of slim but in good health/attractive. It should not be used to describe the hand of a malnourished six-year-old.
Her fingers rubbed the swollen skin, carefully avoiding the purpling flesh near her puffy eye. A small sigh escaped her, and she licked her lips as her teeth began to chatter.
I'm not sure if she just has a black eye or two separate facial wounds, but either seems unlikely if Vernon or Petunia doled them out. They're obsessed with being normal, so even if they did physically abuse their niece, they probably wouldn't do so in such an obvious way. It would also be easier for them to internally justify caning or spanking than punching her in the face.
Of course, they could have been Dudley's work, but I don't think that's what the author was going for.
I WAS wondering why her eye was puffy.
The rain picked up its tempo,
Denotation implies the rain gets faster. Connotation implies the rain is some kind of musical number.
You never know, the rain could be doing a jig.
This is true. I'm imagining waltzing thunderclouds now.
Lightning flashing to the beat of a tango.
and the sound of it hitting the sodden ground grew louder. The shadows increased as it became even hazier, the street lamps not even visible anymore. A distinctive chill saturated the air, even as a slight warmth radiated from the house. The tiny girl cuddled closer to the windowsill in an attempt to steal some of the heat, but it didn't seem to be working.
Glass = heat sink, kid. Try the bricks — they'll have picked up warmth during the day and retained it somewhat.
The family began to pass around dishes, piling their plates with food. There was a clatter of silverware as they started to dine, and their voices resounded in the air.
They are already dining, they started to eat. We should've made a Pretentious Synonym Syndrome count. Also, she really shouldn't be able to hear them over the torrents of rain.
Or even through a window. I've tried to eavesdrop close to my birthday through a window - you have more luck listening through walls, and I'd assume the Dursleys would have double glazing for warmth.
The father mentioned selling a large order of drills, while the mother nodded, seemingly entranced by the conversation. The son growled angrily when he finally realised his mother wasn't listening to him drone on about his stupid teacher and his awful cousin, so he kicked her from underneath the table.
This must be a very low window if Holly can see that from her vantage point. And while Petunia and Vernon are very lenient with Dudley, why doesn't Petunia at least react?
She reacted to the attempted food pinching, I'd expect a bigger reaction about getting kicked. Or a reaction at all. BAD MANNERS.
The Dursleys do fail discipline forever when it comes to Dudders, but she would probably make a token effort to tell him off. It tends to be when he resorts to violence that they do tell him off, which is implied to be one of the reasons he resorts to it so often.
A faint smell of the delicious meal wafted through the cracks of the window,
What person has cracks in a window in England? It's COLD there. My cousin's lips actually turned blue once. There logically shouldn't be any cracks!
Heck, this kid should probably have hypothermia or frostbite by now if this is a regular occurrence.
Holly should be missing a few limbs from frostbite AT LEAST - It wasn't even raining when my cousin's lips went blue. Granted, it was the middle of winter and she was wearing a shirt, jeggings and a jumper but still! It wasn't nearly as horrible weather conditions as torrential rain.
and the girl's mouth began to water. She watched as each of the plates were quickly cleaned and then refilled, noticeably flinching as the father took third helpings of everything. She was forced to look away, eyes gleaming with pain when the son started on his fifth serving.
Soon, there wasn't any food left on the table, not even miniscule crumbs.
Unless she's inside with a magnifying glass, she can't know that. This hyperbole is silly. Not to mention that she still isn't looking (she turns back in a couple of lines), so she can't even see that they've finished.
Cool mental image though, so there's that.
Who you gonna call? CRUMB DETECTIVES!
There was a temporary lull in the conversation as the mother stood and went through a door toward the kitchen.
The girl finally glanced back with a loud rumble from her stomach.
But she was just watching?
Continue to part 2...