Wow! This is a beautiful story.
Your characterization is great. I love Lily's dad.
I can't help but think that Harry would seek out his grandfather if he found out he was still alive.
Or maybe he would (somehow) be convinced to do an interview for the Prophet. In it, he talks about wishing he knew more about his family. Eileen sees the interview, shows it to Lily's dad, then he contacts Harry.
Just a thought. I would love to see Harry meet his grandfather. That would make him so happy.
Author's Response: That's an interesting idea! I hadn't really thought about it, but it makes sense that if Petunia never told Harry anything about his parents and he learned not to ask questions about them, it may well have been that (in this Alternate Universe) she never told him that his grandparents were still alive. So it seems reasonable that Eileen would be instrumental in finally getting the two of them back together. While Harry and Dudley were both children, Petunia had custody of both of them, and since she was estranged from her father, I guess she had the legal right to decide whether or not their grandfather got to see them. But now that Harry is of legal age, even by Muggle legal standards, he can associate with whomever he wants. It would make an interesting little story. And thank you for the review. I'm so glad you liked it.
This is such a riveting story and a fantastic AU scenario. It's interesting to see Edward and Eileen bond over their losses and how alone they were, but more to see how, in the end and after all that happened, the ones left standing after the war were the ones that paid the price for it. Also, the use of the canon changes is what AU should be about.
Even though the story is in Edward's perspective, the richness of Eileen's character is stunning. You can see the initial mistrust born of a lifetime of abuse, and you can see that she's had so little to care about in her life that she can barely cope with the loss of Severus. But beyond that, it was really nice to see her make something of her life and pick herself up after Tobias died, instead of letting him ruin the rest of her life.
The revelation that Edward had been magical was shocking, mostly because that would've made Lily a half-blood, but in a way, it makes sense. Her parents were proud of her and weren't put off by her magic like Petunia was, so the idea that Edward's wife already knew about magic adds an interesting dynamic to the Evans' family homelife.
I think, though, that the greatest tool used in this story was empathy. After everything that both of them had lost, it would've been easy for both Edward and Eileen to be self-absorbed, yet they found it within each other to care about the other and be that port in a storm, so to speak. Both of them had veritably nothing left yet gave because it felt right somehow. JKR seemed to be a believer in destiny and soul-mates, so this really fits into the concept of her universe well.
I've always thought that AU should be used to enrich what we know about a character by presenting how they would deal in a different situation, or expanding what we know about an event by changing its outcome. That principle pretty much guides our acceptance/rejection of AU stories, and this is a perfect example of both of these.
Saying that Lily's parents were conveniently dead always felt like a cop-out by Jo so there was better reason to leave Harry with the relative least likely to give a crap about him and to seal his poor-pity-orphan background. This feels like the more likely outcome, with parents outliving children and mourning them for decades while waiting for their turn to pass on.
I've done some poking around, and sources vary on Eileen's fate. The HP lexicon doesn't list a death date, but it also hasn't been updated in several years, but the HP wiki lists her death as 1971, the same year Severus went off to Hogwarts. However, the wiki (rather unreliably) uses both film and video game canon, along with newer Pottermore canon, so its veracity is unconfirmed. But nonetheless, it's still interesting to see the parallels in Edward's and Eileen's respective lives and how the war affected them both in different ways but to a similar end. Something to chew on, I guess.
I never got to read this story, as Julia judged the challenge, but I'm glad I bumped into it while trawling for QSQ nominations. This is probably my favourite thing by you, and it shows how much thought you put into your work to make it feel human and well-considered.
Thank you for sharing. :)
Author's Response: Thank you so much, Jess, for such a lovely and thoughtful review. This story was my first venture into romance, and I chose this challenge prompt by default, since I didn’t think I could do a good job with the other two prompts. So I decided, “If I’m going to write romance, then I will write it about people my own age, and who cares whether anyone likes it.” People of this age have had a different upbringing and have learned different customs than the current young generation, and their long years of life and experience have developed their ways of thinking differently; I tried to reflect all that in the two characters of the story, but wondered whether younger readers would be able to identify with Edward and Eileen, or whether my protagonists would just seem like fuddy-duddies. In 2012 I traveled back to my California hometown for a high school reunion, and during that visit I walked with my husband through the familiar old cemetery, noting the names of people I used to know, and meeting some of my old returning classmates who were also strolling through the cemetery. So the scene and the tombstones were fresh in my memory when I wrote. Edward has been given a magical background because I have always wondered what ultimately happened to Muggleborn children whose families did not accept the offer of a magical education for their child. Did the Muggleborns blunder through life constantly turning people’s hair blue by accident, or did they learn to suppress inadvertent magic, or did the talent just wither away from disuse? I chose to have Edward prevent it by assuming the role of Peaceful Percy (that was Roger Daltrey’s nickname for himself after he decided to stop beating up his bandmates in The Who during the early days of the band). The early death of Lily’s parents seemed like a convenient cop-out to me also, and Julia and I discussed this a little while talking about the AU rating. There are other ways it could have been handled, but that’s a long discussion in itself. It is so gratifying to know that these characters seemed real and honest to you; it is more fulfilling to write about people who are not behaving stupidly (but, admittedly, that is sometimes hard to do when the characters are adolescents!) Thank you so much for this wonderful review. Vicki
This is such a gentle tale. Slightly sad but with a happy feel shining through. Good writing.
Author's Response: Thank you for your review. Life is like that, the bitter and the sweet, and as we grow older, hopefully we get wiser.
Once I got past the alternate universe premise that Lily's father and Severus' mother were alive, I enjoyed the back and forth of interest but not too pushy. I had especially liked, in the first chapter, that Eileen seemed to realize who he is (with the Oct 31 death date of his daughter and son-in-law), but then I was confused where Eileen is surprized here in Ch 2 to realize who he is. Still, I liked the older romance and the thought-piece of some poetic justice for Severus that someone truly mourned for him and for Eileen that someone might really care for her.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for writing a review. I really appreciate it. I didn't know if anyone would care for a romance that is, as you say, not too pushy, and involving older characters, but I wanted to do something different. The prompt for this challenge involved two people who were not what they seemed to be and were not completely open with one another, so that is how I wrote them, hesitant to reveal everything about themselves or to say what they suspected about each other, reluctant to ask the questions that would have laid everything bare. While researching Cokeworth some time ago, I found a website that explained in great detail about the architecture, floor plans and all, of working class housing in the old British mill towns, and it gave me a rich background out of which this story arose. I like to think the best of people, absent evidence to the contrary, so I like to think of Eileen as a nice person who loved her only son very much. I am glad that you enjoyed this story.
This was fantastic! I loved it very much!
Author's Response: Thank you so much for your remarks, Leanne. I was trying to write something sort of different in the way of romance, and I'm really glad that you think it worked.
Not real, but a nice story.
Author's Response: Thank you for your review. We can always depend on you to acknowledge our stories by a little comment. I'm glad you thought it was nice. I almost never read Romance and have never written it, so it was time for me to venture into a new territory. I wanted to make it different from the other romance stories that we see in the archives. My husband had to smile when I read him your comment "Not real"; he remarked that none of the stories on this archive are real, but we knew what you meant, not canon. I hope you will enjoy Chapter 2 also.