Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this piece. I loved your character Frederick, becuase he seemed very real, he was by no means perfect and yet, you still sympathised with him. Poor Isla with her awful father! I liked the idea of her having a disease that was still undiagnosed and her mum thinking she was "faking it." It was so sad and yet, it still had the happy ending. It was a very unique take on Isla and Bob's story, but it definitely worked.
Thanks, Memish. I'm really glad you liked it. :)
I did write this one in a hurry (about 2 hours) for a challenge deadline. I think I sort of rushed it a bit, since I mostly wrote it for the sake of having something to submit (since my other submission for the Weddings Challenge was the good one), but it actually turned out better than I thought it would. I've read tragic romance, I've read soft, squishy romanc, and I've read just about every kind of romance, but there are few romances built from misunderstanding of a character from the outside, at least in fan fiction. I wanted to break into that ground.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again soon.
Hi Jess :)
The first thing that I noticed about the fic was the genuine and apt tone of the article; I thought it was incredibly realistic, and I could easily imagine seeing that small clipping in a newspaper. The style of the piece was very formal and very accurate, and I absolutely loved the small touches you interjected - the detail of the 'ancestral home' just seemed so fitting and exactly like a triviality in a journalism aspect - like the descriptive part of the interview before the dialogue, where the person and setting is described to set the scene.
At one stage, you used the term 'pure-bloodedness'. Perhaps it's just me, but it sounds a little odd. Would the term 'his pure blood status' sound more authentic?
I found the element of the alcohol loosing the tongue to be very funny. Because it's true, isn't it? And a very sly way of finding information, too, shall I add.
The idea of Isla as problem child is very interesting. It's fascinating to see another Black as a 'rebel', rather than just Sirius leading the revolt. It's also more probable, as with such a long line of intense, delusional fanatics, it's reasonable to imagine that there were some who didn't agree with the chauvinist regime. I also like how you've delved so far into such a minor character, and really explored her personality, characteristics and family relationships. I've never read a fic about Isla, but I really did enjoy your characterisation of her.
I really love Cygnus Black's indisputable, unfounded, blinded trust of a fellow pure-blood, because it's so exceptionally pragmatic. Cygnus has no true reason to trust Fredrick at all, simply the fact that his heritage is similar to his. I was delighted at the end of the fic to see his trust unrewarded ;)
I think you truly nailed the journalistic slant in the piece, Jess, which really aided Fredrick's characterisation. You had some really solid reporter phrases, such as 'sordid affair'. I mean, that phrase is always used in articles, isn't it? And not in an over-used, cliché fashion, but in a life-like way. Reports and articles always have those buzz words to really suck you in, and over-dramatise events to catch your eye. It's so simple, but I thought you handled that aspect of the story remarkably well.
I'll admit that I bore an instant dislike to Fredrick. To me, he seemed almost as fanatical as the Blacks, in the way that he seemed to whole-heartedly agree to everything Cygnus said. It's like their pure-blood radicalness is so infallible - the followers are indoctrinated and brainwashed. It's almost scary, really, that people can accept and abide by something so awful.
I thought your description of the level of repression in Isla's life was incredibly strong, and really tugged at my heart-strings. The fact that she was forbidden to learn Apparition is a really great example of her being controlled and suppressed to such an almost unthinkable level. I really felt an enormous amount of pity for Isla; you really conveyed the despair, the restrictions and the control in her life in a way that it really affected me.
Another particularly strong aspect of your story, Jess, was your description. It really blew me away, because of the sheer simplicity of it. None of it was over-the-top or intricately chronicled, yet at the same time, it was amazingly effective. Particularly this line:
The walls were draped in green silk, which shimmered when touched by the sunlight streaming into the windows.
This is absolutely beautiful; it's deceptively simple, yet rich in description, and it really creates a vivid scene in my head. I can imagine this room so clearly!
The fact that Fredrick dislikes Cygnus honestly came as a surprise to me. It's entirely possible that I misinterpreted it, but the way you'd described their previous interactions, I thought there was at least a deep-rooted civility/respect. However, that revelation made me like Fredrick more as a character :)
A quick nit-pick: some of your sentences were a little wordy, and I had trouble reading them smoothly. Nothing overly-traumatising, but it did mar the fluency of the piece for me. Even when I tried re-reading them aloud, I found myself tripping over them. I imagine that for some of them, there is a simpler way of saying them. The beginning of this sentence felt a little off to me, for example: Several ‘accidents’ had stemmed from conflicts involving him became legend, not the least of which was trying (and failing miserably) to curse some half-blood Gryffindor boy, who ended up casting an Itching Jinx in a very sensitive area.
'Typically, this is the point where Fredrick would start asking questions, but at the moment, he really preferred to be as far away from Dorian as he could get.' Is it just me, or should it be 'Typically, this was the point...'?
A slight qualm I had about the word minister for the matrimonial ceremony. Would there not be a more magical sounding position? The Binding Ceremony sounds distinctly magical, but minister is almost too... vague. I'm not entirely sure. The names JK uses for positions are very simple - Healers as the magical equivalent of doctors. Perhaps you could think of something to match minister, just to really enhance the magical aspect of the ceremony and differentiate it from the Muggle tradition?
My interest was definitely aroused towards the end of the piece - I thought the excitement of the fic really peaked to a great climax. Your plot was truly fantastic and original, and you maintained my interest throughout the entire piece, while making me second guess quite a lot, so well done :)
I'm not sure how valid this is, but when I researched Bob Hitchen's blood status, it said he was a Muggle, not a Muggleborn. I'm not sure how canon this piece of information is, and I'm sure you can argue the possibility of him being Muggleborn, but it did slightly bemuse me.
Isla refers to the kindness of the teachers - is the term professors more accurate, perhaps? I know that's really nit-picking, but I thought I'd mention it anyway >.>
Overall Jess, really well done! I immensely enjoyed reading this piece, and I loved how different it was to your other fics, and yet you really carried it off well. You should be proud of yourself :)
P.S. I told you I'd be nice ;)
Oh, Emma Emma Emma. Somehow, I thought I'd see you in this piece. Though I think you probably would have enjoyed Brazen more, I like that you picked this one. I needed your beta-cular eyes for this story, as I was a naugh-tay girl and submitted it unbetaed. Tsk tsk.
For the news article formatting, I actually read a couple tabloids while on my break at work, just so I could get the feel of a good line of gossip. I'm glad that it paid dividends. My periodical type writing has, IMO, improved quite a bit, so yay for that.
As for Isla being a problem child, she really wasn't so much of a problem as an embarrassment to the family. Instead of a quiet, obedient girl that they could marry off to some random member of wizard aristocracy, they get stuck with a twitchy girl who doesn't take kindly to the ribbing and ridicule that comes along with that affliction. She's really no more or less behaved than anyone else, but, to Cygnus, she's barely better than gum on the bottom of one's shoe because of it.
And then to Cygnus. I know that it seems odd that Fredrick doesn't like him, but seriously, kissing arse doesn't extend to actually having to like the man. He's a job, pure and simple. For the most part, he's harmless. Schmoozing with douchebags is a fact of life in journalism, corporations, and politics.
Fredrick is different from most characters that I've made. He has his lamentable qualities, such as mild prejudice, but mostly, that isn't his fault. He was born into a family who was proud of their line, since they didn't have much else by the way of money. I do hold, however, that he is a decent human being, which is why he was moved by Isla's plight and compelled to dislike Cygnus.
Dorian, however, is just a bastard. He doesn't have much by the way of redeeming qualities, and I didn't want him to, either. Some men are just born wicked, and while he's no Voldemort (mainly because he's not smart enough), he's juuuuuuuust scary enough to keep people from poking around in his business. Marrying Isla is merely a means to an end, and the first wife kicked off because he had what he wanted from her and wanted more from someone else.
And now on to Bob. While it's true that Robert Hitchens was listed as a 'Muggle' on the Black family tree, at the time, the pure-blooded stock did not consider Muggle-borns any better than their non-magical counterparts. It's up in the air as to whether he was a real Muggle, or a Muggle-born, since the Black family saw them both the same anyway.
I'm glad you liked the plot and all. At first, I was iffy about it. I wrote this in about 2 hours for the Weddings Challenge, mostly for the sake of having something to submit, but it actually turned out better than I thought it would.
And on to the nitpicks. Yes, its unbetaed form is rather rocky in spots, but it was the best I could do in a crunch. I agree with the 'pure-bloodedness' vs. 'pure-blooded status' part, because it does sound more...official (if that makes sense at all). Also, you're completely right about the sentence you pointed out being odd. I thought that I'd fixed that, but apparently, I didn't. lol Oops. I will also change the teachers/professors gaffe, since I have not entirely stamped out the Americanisms in my writing.
The issue of Minister is a little different. The reason why I used this title is because it's a common title for those in power. Here is how I see a 'minister' in the Potterverse: He's not a holy man; he's an official of the Ministry of Magic, whose sole job is performing, documenting, and severing marriages. Since the magical population is relatively small, he can do all three. He also keeps track of births and deaths. I should probably clarify that a bit, but it's just something else which I can chalk up to knowing in my head but failing to get it down on the page.
And, overall, I grade your SPEW review to be lovely. I'm thrilled that you chose to review me, though I am the featured author (gasp). Very well done, and your crit is well-put and constructive. I shall see you around soon, and go SPEW and go Ravenclaw!
That was great! I am amazed by how different this is from your other stories - so sweet and touching and heartfelt. None of Draco's angry bitterness here! I kept expecting something bad to happen, and it never did, and that was perfect for this story, because Isla and Bob deserved a happy ending.
You really did a great job creating these two characters - and Frederick - in such short time. The couple sounds fascinating - strong and in love and so defiant. And to include Isla's disability is this way - as a source of her family's ire - was so original and well done, and really lent her character depth and sympathy.
I wonder if an Unbreakable Vow was a bit strong for the situation, but I agree that Bob in particular would not trust Frederick without some show of honor.
Very well written, such a steady, consistent tone - wonderful job! Good luck! ~Gina :)
Aw, thanks, love. :D
To be honest, I wasn't - and still am not - sure about how well I did on this story. I probably should have had it betaed for at least a second opinion. I probably didn't even carry out the prompt correctly, but whatever, lol.
I didn't want to use the Unbreakable Vow, honestly, but in my mind, I really could not concoct any other manner to assure that Fredrick would be silent. Despite being a bit of a bigot himself, Fredrick was always a decent sort, hence his dislike of Dorian (whose story may or may not come to existence) and his desire to spend as little time with Cygnus Black as possible. But what I really wanted to get out of him was a modicum of understanding for Isla and her condition.
To me, it was most important to break away from the typical Bob/Isla mold. It's always been the beautiful, oppressed Black princess and the handsome, sweet Mudblood boy. It still has those elements, but Isla's family doesn't mistreat her indiscriminitely; she has her condition that no one yet understands (seriously, how many people with palsy, MS, and epilepsy were ridiculed and tortured for being 'possessed' before their true conditions were understood), not to mention, she doesn't do herself any favours by defying her father. Also, Bob, though protective of her, is a bit of a jerk, but if I was him and had to endure the discrimination fo being Muggle-born in that particular time when it was not the greatest time to be of that blood status.
I'm glad you like the characters, and I hope to expand on this story in the future. Thanks for reading. I heart you, as usual, and I look forward to finishing the move so I can lurk/stalk your author page like I've been wanting to since the fifth of, oh, I dunno...forever. :D
P.S. - Congrats to the Blackhawks for a stellar Cup effort. I'm truly happy for them.
I thought this was an imaginative entry for the challenge. You took a challenging pair and created an original story around it. It had the right mix of everything - mystery, drama, action, tragedy and romance. Although, I must say I still prefer the drabble version. Hehe. I mean the one which had all of us flummoxed. >.<
And, oh, Dorian Nott gives me the creeps. But wasn't that your intention? ;)
'Ello, there, e-bestie!
I just figured that every other version of Bob/Isla had already been written in some way/shape/form. She's the beautiful black princess, doomed to love the handsome Mudblood. Why do they have to be so perfect? Can't she have an odd twitch, and can't he be a cranky a-hole?
Oh, and Dorian is definitely a creeper. I am contemplating expanding his universe.
P.S. - I went through and re-read the whole thing and changed some stuff around. When I originally edited, I was really tired and in a hurry. Shame on me. >.<