Hmm, I feel like I’ve read this story somewhere before... :P
There are many fascinating facets of this story, amongst which are characterisation, structure, and style. I find them all brilliant, as I did when I betaed this fic in the first place, but I thought the first review for this story should be one to let you know just how well done it is and that it’s really a shame that it doesn’t have more reviews and reads.
I found the choice of having Remus purposely separating himself from his mates to be both interesting and apt. To me, there has always been a sort of Cloud Nine effect on him because he had the benefit of very few knowing about his affliction, but when he set out into the real world and couldn’t seek employment anywhere without saying directly that he was a werewolf, it would cause him no end of troubles finding a job as well as anyone who would consider him as anything more than a monster. It has always struck me as something that would weigh heavily on him and his self-esteem and his ultimate need to be liked, causing him to withdraw from his previous social relationships once he deemed himself unworthy to be their friend. The way he pushed away Sirius is very telling of that, and very well characterised.
And Sirius... boy, do I love me some snark! His verbal sparring in both the Remus segments as well as the Rodolphus segments was wonderful and charming, but not over the top, as can happen. I think you portrayed him as a good reflection of who he probably was somewhere between the boy whose boredom could only be alleviated by humiliating Snape and the man who would escape prison to exact vengeance on the man who pretended to be his friend and sold out the Order to Voldemort. Sirius was always a man whose moral compass didn’t point due north, but he was always on the right side in the end. I think you did a good job in making it feel like he was refusing Rodolphus because of this and not because he was trying to ‘stick it’ to his family.
I can’t say enough about Peter in this story. I think he’s the true victory in terms of characterisation. As a reader, I can see how he has always been loyal to his friends, but his feelings started to change with Lily’s introduction into their group, whom he never considered as one of his mates and more of a rival for James’s attention. I think it’s a very apt and well-conceived piece of work, right down to his rather halting defence of his friends.
I have to make a note about your portrayal of Snape. He was truly excellent in this story. He’s not yet the embittered old man who is horrible to children, but he’s still the sharpened manipulator that he’d always been, only to a different end. His voice and actions and methods were simply so well done.
The differences between James and Lily were so understated, yet they were perfect. James is so focused on his duties with the Order and so loyal to the cause that he doesn’t realise that Lily might be having second thoughts about dedicating herself to the same things. It almost seems like, at this point, the fact that he had to think about being a father before a warrior hasn’t occurred to him yet, it hasn’t sunk in thus far, whereas Lily spent every second of every day, feeling this new life growing inside of her, a constant reminder of the danger they all faced. The way you illustrated this by having James not think twice about telling Lucius to go to hell but having Lily actually consider the offer before realising what it entailed was great.
Lily’s fears felt palpable and very realistic. Her borderline resentment of her lot in life and how it robbed her of simple things like going to sleep at night and not worrying about waking to news of someone she cares about being dead or worse at the hand of maniacs, it makes so much sense. Even something as simple as not getting to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the actual day it’s supposed to be niggled at her, which in itself isn’t a big deal, but the constant stress of war took missing a minor holiday, despite James’s obvious effort to make her feel better about it, sort of blew things out of proportion for her and made big deals out of things that really weren’t. Maybe even pregnancy hormones did a good bit to cause this for her, as well. I think you incorporated much of this so subliminally and so very nicely.
I’m glad I talked you into adding the end with the Order meeting. The way the members bantered back and forth was really good, plus it gave you a chance to tie all of these events together in some other way besides them being about the Marauders. It was just so clever to use events that weren’t technically canon but had the feel like they were the sort of events that could very well have been the harsh reality of the Order members during wartime.
In retrospect, I probably should have suggested that you blend together the first two segments, as they were both about Remus and there wasn’t enough of a difference between the events in the first part and the second to warrant a division between them. But besides that, I like the way you structured the story, especially not sticking Peter at the end of the Marauders’ segments, which would have given it an ‘oh, yeah, and then there’s Peter, because he’s the bad guy’ feel. Instead, you found a way to cast doubt on all of them, but still clearly show which ones overcame those doubts in the end and who didn’t.
One thing that really struck me when I first read this story is how your writing is so unreflective of your age. Most younger writers stray toward purple prose and contrived plots, but you haven’t done that here, which speaks well to the writer you will be in the future should you choose to continue developing your skills. Even though your prose is good and your mechanics are strong, I think you can be even better than this down the line, and I look forward to seeing you grow as an author. The sky’s the limit, kiddo. :D
That’s all from me at the moment. It’s been a pleasure to work with you in the past few weeks, and here’s to future collaboration!
Author's Response: Wow! Thank you so, so much for this amazingly wonderful review! I was so happy when I didn't see the little "0" by the reviews anymore, and then I saw this extremely long review, so thanks so much :). I really think that your ideas helped the story out a lot (especially Sirius's part and the Order scene). I'm so happy that you liked the characterizations of everyone, especially Snape and Peter because I feel like I'm hitting my head against a brick wall every time I write them. And I'm glad that you appreciate the little things, like how James's vehemence about joining Voldemort was contrasted with Lily's indecision. And about the Remus segments…I'll go fix them right away. Thanks for pointing that out; I agree, it doesn't signify a great enough change to really need the break. I think I just forgot to edit it out when I copied it onto here. And it makes me so happy to hear that you don't think my writing relates to my age -- coming from you, this is a really wonderful compliment. Thank you very much for being my first review on this story--and for leaving such a wonderfully detailed and complimentary one at that! xx Ariana