The summary doesn't say who's brewing the potion. I don't why it was a surprise to read the opening line and discover the story was about Slughorn, but it was. Maybe it's because I don't come across Slughorn fics much in my favorite categories. :D
At first, I was taken aback by the image of Slughorn as never happier, satisfied with his position and filled with joy and pride. I didn't fit my image of him. There had to be a catch, and there was. A clever way to draw the reader in!
I think you conveyed Slughorn's smarmy, self-congratulatory personality very well using only thoughts. When he achieves a goal, he's walking on air. Literally, at the end of the story. After he obtains it, though, he's soon bored and needs a new ego boost.
He's the wretch concentered all in self, as Sir Walter Scott (and Andie MacDowell's character in Groundhog Day) put it. He isn't worried about his students; he's worried about "stagnating".
I noticed some repetition in the story. Twice you mention the base nature of greed, and the first time (first sentence of the third paragraph) it comes across as a lofty narrator pronouncement. The second mention is within a wonderfully crafted sentence. And then the base nature of greed combined with his need for adventure. I used bold because if you deleted the first mention, that's what this sentence would do to readers in the story: jump off the page with its promise that something momentous is about to happen.
In back to back sentences, a long journey and a long visit to the potions stores. You used the phrase "After all," in paragraphs eleven and thirteen. Some words are almost invisible and aren't noticed when repeated, but if a word or phrase stands out (either because it's striking or just used in the previous sentence) readers will notice and it could jolt them for a moment out of the scene. It's like Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz is just a man. Writers want readers to pay no attention to the mechanics of the story. Avoiding repetition helps keep that metaphorical curtain shut.
I have a deep and abiding love for commas, myself, so it feels like there's three fingers pointing back at me while I point out that you use them when they're not needed. Here's an example early in the story: At the age of twenty-four, that was a major achievement, for any wizard. It shoud read "that was a major achievement for any wizard". No comma is needed after "for". Near the end: It needed to take over the effects caused by the strong ingredients within the cauldron, and mingle to such an extent, that it would be stable. It's a long sentence, but there's no need for a comma after "extent".
The potions-making was interesting. I enjoyed the vicarious experience and the way you used it to reveal his character. I did wish you'd described exactly what you meant by "violent" since you mentioned it twice. ;)
The ending had an ironic quality that made me smile and shake my head, wondering how long it will be until he's brought back to earth.
This was quite the lovely, descriptive little read, dear. The ingredients to the potion were ingenious and interesting – such odd, strong ingredients for a luck potion! I particularly loved the dragon’s blood.
Your descriptions in this story really paint a vivid picture for the reader. Like in this paragraph:
Dust flew all over the place, blurring his vision. The huge storage area was rarely visited at all, he knew, though he was one of its frequent visitors when he was studying here. The potion ingredients were usually shifted to a storage cupboard in the main dungeon, for the purposes of potion-making in the classes, and it was done by magic. No one seemed to have stepped into the dungeons since he’d last set foot into it, and casting a simple bubble-head charm, he began his search for the ingredients he required.
You show us a very typical, everyday scene but the magical that you incorporate here is wonderful because it’s simple, yet natural – as magic should be in the realm of Hogwarts.
It’s not just that you paint a picture, though – it’s that your descriptions seem so in Slughorn’s characterization that it’s almost eerie. Even though we never see much into his mind, and no dialogue, you still get that feel for the quirky spirit that Slughorn has. The descriptions and word choice are really what provided his characterization in this, and it was wonderful to see.
Slowly adding the dragon blood into the cauldron, he stirred, slowly.
This line threw me out of the story because of the repetition of slowly at the end. It caused the sentence to read awkwardly, for me, and I felt that having just the first ‘slowly’ at the beginning would have given you the best effect for this particular line. Other than that, the only other thing I noticed was that there were fair few misplaced commas and uncapitalized spells throughout the story – nothing absolutely jarring, but enough to notice. You might want to look over it, or have a beta do so, again just to reach that further level.
I really did enjoy this. I’ve always found potions to be an exciting aspect of the Potterverse, and with this story you brought not only potions to the forefront, but your creativity as well. Good job!
Hey, Shar. :] Well, this was quite a different story to the usual ones I read, but it was a good different. I love how you’ve crafted out how this potion has to be made, and by doing that, you’ve shown how much work goes in to every potion, and how great it is to get a perfect result.
I know the story isn’t about Slughorn, as such, but that’s the one thing I would’ve liked to see more of from this fic. He’s the one making the potion, and it might’ve been nice if you’d included a few more of his thoughts or feelings. That way I would’ve felt the emotions behind such a complex potion more, something I didn’t get much of a feel for in the fic. For example, when he’s adding the dragon blood. You make it clear that this is the moment where it could all go wrong. I know if it were me, I would be terrified of messing up, etc., but how’s Slughorn feeling? This potion is important to him, and that’s the most important moment of the brewing. At that point, maybe a line like ‘he took a deep breath, and then carefully tipped in the first drop’ would be good... or something to that affect. :]
Slughorn was pretty sure he was the youngest professor at Hogwarts, until he came to know of Albus Dumbledore, just twenty-two.
I’m fairly sure in HBP that there’s a few comments exchanged between Dumbledore and Slughorn on age, and we find out that Dumbledore is older...
Now, as mentioned in your other review, there is no dialogue in this – I really didn’t notice, and I think that’s a great achievement. This story really engaged me, and I could see quite clearly what there was to love about potion making, while judging by the books it’s one of those arts that many don’t like. But you show that a true potioneer loves brewing potions, and the affects can be amazing when it’s done right. You’ve made a subject that seems pretty bad in the books due mainly to the Trio’s view on Snape, come across as something that is interesting, rewarding, and not all that bad.
He’d managed to get rid of the lowly job of Potions Apprentice in the Apothecary at Hogsmeade, and catapulted himself into the big league.
That line is great. Immediately Slughorn’s character shines through, just by saying that he’s climbed to the job he really wants. It reminds me of the Slug Club, and how he makes himself useful contacts out of it. Slughorn is ambitious, and cares for himself quite a bit, and in that first paragraph I feel as if you managed to capture that aspect of him well. In fact, despite the focus of this story being the potion, you wrote every Slughorn bit very well, like the mention of ‘greed’.
I think you did a great job with this, dear. Well done! xx
"Dragon blood and the Quicksilver, the root of the potion" -Quicksilver? The potion has mercury in it? No wonder it gives you that high once you drink it.
Sorry, anyway. Really nice. This was so interesting! Looking back now, I realize there was no dialogue, which surprises me even more, because I found it so engaging.
My main issues with this story are some of the commas. In any case, great job!
Author's Response: Hi Luna! Yes, you're right about the mercury in the potion. That was its intended purpose. The Mercury also serves another purpose: it helps to form those goldfish like drops which leap about without spilling over.:D Thank you so much for the review! And I'll get those commas sorted out. They're a little too many, I know. The fact is, I didn't have this one-shot beta'd due to time constraints, and commas are my weak point. I'll try correcting it. Thanks, once again. ~H.J.