Jess- I think I said on LJ how much I loved this story, so I thought it deserved a review. Firstly I just want to say how well you integrated the lyrics of the song into it. It’s often difficult to have a broad introduction, but you pulled it off. I particularly liked the line “I did what any sane Slytherin girl would do: I stayed out of the way and did as I was told.” because that does not make her a bad person, though several Gryffindor types might assume it does.
One thing I particularly loved about your story was your characterisation of other houses as being prejudiced against Slytherins, whilst it was unfair for them to be so, such as the small detail about Ernie Macmillan becoming “increasingly vicious” by forcing Slytherins who were not actively fighting to be have to listen to the Carrows enforcing punishment, as well as later with the detail about Neville (which I will expand on more later on). I loved the contrast, however, between Tracey listening to the screams and then having to be confronted with Seamus Finnigan, and the line, “in my wildest imaginings, I couldn’t have brought him this low, which was likely why my Dark Arts score was hovering dangerously close to Troll. Just the sight of it made me forget that Professor Carrow was watching me stare.” I hate portrayals of Slytherins as all enjoying the torture, and this brilliantly reversed that, showing that they are not all onboard with violence, which is never mentioned as a Slytherin trait (although power is). Also the contrast between Tracey’s very physical reaction (turning pale/ wanting to vomit) and the description of Carrow as ‘nonchalantly’ returning to his office.
I loved the entrance of Neville, not the shy Neville from the other books, but a war-torn, hardened Neville who assumes that Tracey is behind Seamus’ injuries, and his surprise when he realises that Tracey has been helping Neville. I loved the little detail about how she “had to hold off the snide smile that threatened to form on my face. Served him right for assuming that I’d done it”. It really fleshes out Tracey’s character.
When Tracey has to go to Carrow’s office, I didn’t quite realise what she meant when she said “I knew what he wanted”, but I think it works better if the reader takes a while to catch up to it, because it makes her standing up to him all the more heroic, although also showing “a streak of defiance” which is both Gryffindor and Slytherin, and her knowledge that it is foolhardy when she says she utters “one damning syllable.” I also liked the detail that “Less than twenty-hour hours before, I might even have given in to him” which just shows how much her encounter with Neville and Seamus has changed her, without you directly saying so.
The description of the Cruciatus Curse was also very well done, and I think given your story its important not to gloss over the details of that. Your description of her contrasting this to what others had suffered, when she is confronted with Neville, is also very physical, when you say “The torture didn’t matter, because he did that to nearly everyone, but the thought of the rest made my stomach heave.” The fact that Snape is the one who saves her also makes your Slytherins far more three dimensional than they usually are in one-shots like this. The difference between Slytherin and Gryffindor, however, is perfectly encapsulated by the lines “That was why I would’ve done it all again. Not because it was moral, but because it made me imagine myself to be better than I ever had been.”
I think since, as readers of the Harry Potter books, we know that everything is going to be all right in the end, and that there will be a battle, just because that’s what DH is leading up to. So when Tracey said that “Until that moment, joining the fray had not even occurred to me” it was rather surprising, but exactly how most people in that room would feel as was the line “To give up Potter seemed like the most natural thing in the world,” particularly since that line didn’t make me hate Tracey, as in DH Pansy stating the same thing made me hate her, because you’d built up her fear of being hurt and the reader’s empathy for her so well.
And onto Neville. I think its interesting that in their reviews Katrina and Gina both really like Neville, when I found him (brilliantly) rather dark and manipulative. I think that last kiss, far from encouraging Tracey, is forcing her and playing on her love for him into doing something that she is, and he knows she is, incapable of doing. I think what’s interesting, and not really developed in the Harry Potter books (aside from Dumbledore), is how doing the Right Thing can turn someone into a bit of a monster, and I think you showed that perfectly, by describing the kiss and her final conversation with Neville in such detail. I would quote all of it. However I’ll just quote the last time, as throughout it has been Tracey’s physical reactions which have mostly defined her personality and increased our empathy for her, particularly when you say: “And I truly was sorry. I was sorry he put any sort of faith in me, sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to live up to it, sorry that what was likely the last time I would see him had to leave a bitter, salty taste in my mouth.” I think that is a brilliant way to end that section, although my only crit would be that parts of it are a tad wordy, and it may read better: “And I truly was sorry, Sorry he put any sort of faith in me, sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to live up to it, sorry what in all likelihood” (just because the ‘that’ and ‘what’ together sounded clumsy) ‘was the last time I would see him left a ...”.
Things have to end a certain way- it was wrong for her to have stayed (though if canonically all the Slytherins did leave then that’s my redemption for Theodore Nott and Daphne Greengrass out of the window- though I do have them arguing with McGonagall about their motives in staying). So your ending was brilliant. I’m sorry this review isn’t that critical, but I’m blaming your story being far too good for that :) I loved the going into the present tense at the end, and her admittance that “I am a coward” as well as the poignant last sentence “I pray to myself that Neville Longbottom might live long enough to hate me forever” make for an excellent ending. In addition- a very minor point- its an Arcade Fire song (though I think in my rambling list of prompts I was suggesting Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire songs, so easy mistake to make). Alex
Yayyyyyy! I love it when I write something and the giftee actually likes it. :D
Anyway, my response, as it is half seven in the morning and I need to sleep, will be short and slightly stupid, but here goes. You *got* the person I wanted Tracy to be in the story. She is the ultimate wallflower, hanging out in the shadows (which, upon reflection, made more sense for a title and slightly less angsty, hehe) and keeping out of the way. And she was happy there. I picture her as one of the unseen victims of the escalating danger at Hogwarts as the years of the series wore on. As a girl with no remarkable talent and a diminutive personality, she is ripe for being sucked into the dark doings of the worst of her housemates.
I think you nailed Neville as well. Seeing the series from Harry's POV, someone who couldn't fathom not fighting for the cause, we sometimes forget that there were some Puffs and Claws who didn't stay to fight who could've done. Not everyone has a proverbial pair when it comes to violence. Maybe, having seen a hint of this violence via the Carrows, Tracey might've realised her lack of tolerance of violence before she thought about staying to battle. Neville might not have understood this, because his friends are all in the DA, all of whom (save for The Git) stayed to fight. He had no idea that he was manipulating her because, for him, right and wrong were determined by a different set of variables.
The scene in Carrow's office was one I would not have written for any other SPEWer save for maybe Ariana. It was intense and scary and one of the few times someone could say 'Thank Merlin for Snape' with a straight face. I believe that there had to be some underlying evil inside of Carrow for all of Ravenclaw Tower to watch him being tortured and barely flinch. Yes, he was a bit sadistic, but we never truly knew how far that went when he was a bit too drunk on the power the Dark Lord gave him.
Ultimately, though, she was never going to stay. She fancied the idea of being heroic and even thought she was capable of more, but in the end, selflessness and sacrifice had never truly been enough a part of her influences to make staying a logical thing to do. But her run-ins with Neville changed her just enough that she hates herself for not being braver.
Anyway, I"m out of ramble and this was probably not enlightening in the slightest. I fixed the Arcade/Arctic thing (>.<). Thank you for the lovely review.
Aww, I liked that! Do I vaguely remember something about this from somewhere? I don't know. But it's neat. Here's why.
First, I like the first person, although I was wondering how it would read in third. I think first gives it a more emotional connection to the character, though, someone we don't know very much about. And you balanced her inner monologue with her actions well - ie, she wasn't overly analyzing herself like may have happened in third person.
Second, SEAMUS! NEVILLE! These two were lovely, particularly Neville at the end. He demonstrated his faith in others so beautifully there - I really think he would have made a great Puff sometimes, and yet it was so BRAVE of him to take that leap, place that belief in a Slytherin at that time. Yet he evolved to that point, to being that brave leader, so kudos to you for extending his character in a very believable way.
Third, the violence and almost-attack were very dark yet you wrote it well. Not too much, not too little. Good balance, with good insight from the narrator. What a horrible year those students must have had. The teacher in my shudders. Nice bit with Snape showing up to stop it, since we do know he tried to protect students. In his own bastardly way, of course.
Finally, you took a chance and wrote an unhappy ending. I'm sort of torn between "Damn! How could you do that!" and "Well, it probably happened that way." I mean, it would have been nice for her to go back and fight and snog Neville happily ever after...and yet, that wouldn't have been entirely realistic, would it? The last line "That ...might live long enough to hate me forever." is really rather heartbreaking. I feel for Tracey: strong but not quite strong enough. I hope things worked out for her. What do you think?
Good, strong story, twin! I enjoyed reading and reviewing it!
The ending to this story was one I always knew had to be like this. When JKR said that all the Slytherins left, I really believe that they did so not out of cowardice, but due to the knowledge that no one would believe that they were fighting for Hogwarts and not Voldemort. It would be almost suicidal to stay, especially after Pansy's outburst. Tracey is a Slytherin for a good reason. She is a good person and doesn't like violence, but her sense of justice and sense of prudent self-preservation are at a different balance than Neville's.
If this looks familiar, it's because it used to be a drabble and then was a part of the last SPEW swap as a gift for Alex. The drabble version was pretty much canon fail, but it went over rather well in the contest it was for, lol. That's why I decided that it would make a good one-shot where I could build Tracey's character a bit more.
Tracey will be okay in the end. She's a survivor, and she will get over Neville. I even think Neville will understand her actions one day, just as Harry understood Dumbledore's and Snape's without hating them for it. I really should find a nice plot for her later in life. She's not quite a Megan Jones, but she will be fun nonetheless.
Thanks for the review, Twin. :D
It was terrible... No actually I don't think that's possible... there's not a single story of yours I've read which I haven't enjoyed.
What I think I liked the most about this story was how you blurred the lines... it's easy to see bravery and cowardice in a really black and white way - those who stayed were brave, those who didn't cowards, and yet Tracey did do some brave acts but didn't stay.
Tracey was a very relatable central character - as far as it's possible, I could really imagine myself in her position. I think you showed her change of attitude really well, particularly having that first section introducing how she always had been.
I pray to myself that Neville Longbottom might live long enough to hate me forever. That was just a beautiful ending; in fact, the whole last section was just so well-written. I think that line really shows some of Tracey's selflessness - she really does care about Neville.
Neville was also really in character - there's a quality about him in which he always sees the best in people, so I wasn't surprised at all that he tried to convince Tracey to stay. I thought it was good, though, that she didn't, because I think that would have been quite cliched. And as I said at the beginning, the way you wrote it does blur the lines a bit, and it makes me think what I'd do, were I in that situation.
Sorry this isn't the best review, I'm a little bit tired, but I just read this and saw it didn't have any reviews yet so I thought I should just tell you how good it is.
Helloooo! I haven't posted anything in a while, so it's been a while between visits.
I'm all about writing the other side of the coin. Most everyone likes to think about the heroes and the protagonists and their neverending pits of bravery or about brooding, angsty pseudo-villains like Draco or Snape, but here and there, it's nice to consider the people who didn't stay and their reasons for it. I don't find Tracey to be a coward, honestly, but to be too pragmatic to stay. And as much as she might've wished she were different, she and Neville are too unalike. He would stay and fight until the world ended, but she knew that she wasn't going to find her way out of this situation.
Anyway, this is a bad, bad author response, as I'm headed out the door, but thank you very much for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and have a good evening!