Chapter 1: Counting the Beads
What an interesting story--I've always wondered about Remus' family and stories about kindness coming full circle are always so reassuring and give me a lovely warm feeling in the pit of my stomach. How lovely. :)
I enjoyed the characterizations in this story. Little girl Andromeda was probably my favorite; you've got a complete lock on how little children speak and behave, and I could really envision her in my mind through your descriptions of her conversation with Chiara. (Baby Kingsley made me think that Minister Shacklebolt and Andromeda Tonks met as children... I'm still not sure whether it was THAT Kingsley or not, since his parents never entered the story.) I also enjoyed Remus a lot... you portrayed his emotions and thought processes very well and demonstrated through indirect characterization his discomfort in opening up old emotional wounds, which I thought was very appropriate for a man who's been through so much trauma during childhood and continuing into his adult years.
My biggest critique for this story is lack of clarity. Two small details--I couldn't understand why Remus had decided to go back to see Abbey after so many years; you mentioned the last time he saw her was when he was 16--why go back now? Maybe I just wasn't reading very carefully. Second, I didn't understand why he held on to the old pocketknife, of all things--I understand the idea of collecting random trinkets and learning to also leave them behind because of his nomadic lifestyle, that much was clear, but I didn't understand why the pocketknife was special enough to keep.
The biggest unclear point--I actually went back and re-read twice or thrice, trying to figure out what exactly happened to Chiara. I understand that's not the point of the plot, but it was significant enough to cause me to go back and re-read... that's the point when I consider it something to critique (unlike the other two tiny points which I mentioned earlier... those weren't big enough to really stall me as a reader). I don't know if it was intentional or not, but the reveal of Chiara's relationship to Remus also came very late, right at the end of the story. If it was intentional, you definitely succeeding in veiling it, but for me, that late reveal wasn't so much an exciting plot twist as a confusing point, because I knew that Chiara and Remus had to be connected somehow, thanks to the summary where you explain, "An act of kindness is repaid." So for me personally, that was more frustrating than exciting.
Otherwise, you really nailed the people in this story--it comes to life from off the page, and I was captivated from beginning to end. Great work, dear author, and without further ado, write on! :)
Chapter 1: Counting the Beads
Hello Jenn! I really enjoyed this story. Your plots are always completely original, and your characterisation of canon characters well done, which is especially difficult with someone we know as well as we do Remus Lupin. Though I have to say during the first part with Andromeda, and then the second with Remus I was a bit confused as to why these two stories were within one chapter. Even though you connect them at the end, I think this link could be made clearer, and therefore the ending have more emotional impact. In fact I think you could expand on the beginning section with Chiara (which is a beautiful name by the way). It doesn't feel quite as finished as the second part.
Having said that, one thing I really like about this story is your characterisation of Andromeda within both sections. It's obvious that she's not from a happy family, just by the assumptions Chiara and Wade make (like saying her father must be a busy man when his role in their upbringing is obviously quite cold, particularly compared to the kindness Chiara shows her). Then in the second part the way you have her husband's death change her relationship with Remus is very believable. I liked Remus' line about her not apologising for her previous treatment of him, but he did not deserve it anyway. It's a good line for the way he sees his relationship with Tonks. The scene where he cut himself was also quite intimate, without being over the top, or emotionally exploited too much, which was well done. And again the reference to her father was an interesting one, as though she's still on some level his daughter even though he was a cruel man (I mean hitting a stranger whose been looking after your kids?) which is of course natural.
Throughout I really like your characterisation of Remus. He has a humourous side (like the joke about the shit)which you brought across well. And his relationship with Abbey was really interesting as well. One thing I would say though, considering he's known her so long I think the reference to Ernie Macmillan is odd, particularly since he only knew Ernie a year. Although it makes teh reader understand her character, it does not strike me as something Remus would think about someone he knows well. There were a couple of moments, however, when I thought your characterisation was off. When Remus says "“Well, there’s James and Sirius who were off doing their things,” said Remus, a little defensive, “and Peter doing God knows what. All right, so we know what, but I’m not going there because I’m not in the mood. If we ever meet again, Peter will not escape me.” (that's a long quote, I'm sorry) it sounds a bit glib for Remus. I think he would not mention it at all. Also the reference to Peter- I think it's still pretty close to the bone for Remus, and he would not summarise it as "we know what". I think if he did mention it he'd be more forthright about it. Also, given he had the opportunity to kill Peter in POA, but did not, I don't think he'd be still thinking about killing him. I think he would have realised that was not the path to go down, if that makes sense.
I like the way you use religion in this chapter. Whilst not going into too much detail you make it clear that it was an important part of the Lupin family, which is interesting. Also I like the idea that werewolves are potentially haemophiliac. That's a really good idea.
A couple of minor nitpicks. The Wolfsbane potion was not invented until after Remus left Hogwarts- I think you say somewhere that he started taking it when he was eight, when canonically this isn't true. I think he still would have had to have regular meetings with his Healer regardless of whether he was trialling a potion or not, so he would still have known Abbey a long time. Have I mentioned I really like Abbey? She's blunt and to the point- and it's interesting that whilst she says she'd let Fenrir die, she still has to cooperate with the current regime in healing Scabior).
Somewhere you say Remus says "It takes awful", when I think you mean "tastes". Also you misspell Edinburgh and Abbey says "smart ass", when, as a Brit, she'd say "smart arse".
But those are minor nitpicks. Overall this was a really interesting story and, whilst I think you could build up to the ending more, the note the story ended on was really beautiful. Alex x
Author's Response: Alex-
Thank you for taking the time to review this; I only hope that I may give you a response to match that. Iím so glad that you enjoyed this one, seeing as it was written in a day. I agree that the two parts have a loose connection and that, if I took time to rewrite this, I would have done the conclusion completely different. Can I tell you how much it means to me that you enjoy original plots blended in with the canon characters? Iím shocked that I managed to pull that of here. I expected it all to fall apart. The two parts were supposed to show a mirror, but you are right. Perhaps they do sound too much like two different stories jammed together for space. I tried to weave a deeper connection here and there, and each time I did it, it came out weak. That needs work.
You like Chiaraís name? Yeah, ever since I started building that character, that was the aspect I liked about her, too. Iím pleased that the subtleties of touching on things like the relationship with Andromedaís father and the knife worked. I have a problem, I think, where sometimes, I donít know when to stop and tie-in without it sounding far too melodramatic. I agree that the part with Peter should have been addressed more, but I was afraid to shift that focus and veer off on a subject that added too much focus away from the Remus-Andronmeda conflict. Peter should not have been there at all, yeah, but I was thinking Ďtie to canon, tie to canoní, and if he and were indeed that close, he would have shared this through a letter or something.
Personally, I was so nervous about crossing that religion line. The Lupin family, in a sense, isnít religious. Chiara, without a doubt, was a devoted Catholic, and, so too, I guess, was Remusís grandfather and godfather, but Remus, himself, strayed from that long ago. The only reason that the Catholic references are there is because itís a mark of Chiaraís memory that Remus knows and respects the devotion of the Church. As a werewolf, of course, he would have be ex-communicated. Is this too religious? The Rosary, as I told Akay, is literally the only token she had to give because she had nothing else.
The thing about the Wolfsbane Potion is rather interesting, and I hope that my explanation made sense. For one thing, I had trouble placing Remusís age, nut I also knew that I wanted Chiaraís death to be one of his first memories. Whenever he lost someone else, heíd relate to back to the staircase. But, I also thought that Damocles would have worked on trials or ages before he managed to get the brew for the Wolfbaneís potion correct. That would have been a difficult task indeed, and I would imagine he needed test subjects for his trial and error. I was aware that Remus was older when the potioneer struck gold. I also am aware that even though it was available, Remus took the brew at very few times in his life. That was my thought process with research; I hope that makes sense.
I also fixed the grammar errors. Thanks for your help. This made my weekend. So glad that you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.