Hello there, SPEW Buddy!
You’ve captured a really great moment in Marauder era here – it’s filled with tension and rage, but also humour and a good sense of friendship. For such a short piece, you’ve managed to bring in a huge amount of emotion very effectively. Your writing is very rich with dialogue, and while I usually prefer more descriptions than dialogue, I think the way you wrote this suited the quick pace of the scene. It conveyed James’ rage very well, and how quickly his emotions are flying.
A great line of James’ is this: 'Who else knows how to get behind the Whomping Willow? Who else knows about Moony? Who else has a grudge against Snape? Who else is block-headed enough to potentially kill a student and get another good friend expelled?' I think it conveys how well James really knows Sirius, and that he’s able to use this knowledge against Sirius in order to prove his point. We all know that fights between friends can involve holding one’s knowledge of a person against them in a moment of rage, and I think you’ve captured this aspect of friendship extremely well here.
The only thing that troubled me about this fic was Sirius’ attitude towards the whole situation. You seem to be saying he didn’t care if Snape died. To some extent I believe he didn’t care all that much, but I do think that James’ reaction would have startled him into realising it was wrong. 'You saved Snivellus, didn't you?' muttered Sirius. 'This would've been the best fucking prank in the history of Hogwarts, we would have had our revenge on Snivellus...' This was the point at which I started to find Sirius slightly OOC. The Marauder’s were obviously heavily influenced by each other, and I do think that seeing James so upset about what he did would have shocked Sirius into the realisation of the damage he’d caused, and make him understand that Snape could have died, and that ultimately he did not want this.
The moment where James hits Sirius is great. He’s so angry that he’s capable of it, but also values Sirius’ friendship enough to feel extremely guilty after he’s hit him. I think this was a great example of who the Marauder’s are as people: they act on impulse, and then only afterwards consider the damage they’ve caused. This is how I think Sirius would have reacted, after he sent Snape to the Whomping Willow; he’d have thought it to be funny at first, but would later consider the detrimental impact of his actions. But this is simply my take on his character, and I can understand why you chose to write it the way you have; we’ve only ever seen hatred between Snape and Sirius, and there’s no evidence to suggest Sirius would have cared if Snape died.
Overall, you’ve built a really great scene between three people here and conveyed a very real sense of friendship, but also tension and rage. This piece challenged my understanding of James and Sirius as characters, and made me consider what they were really like. While I have my doubts about Sirius in this fic, you’ve written James pretty perfectly.
I hope to read more Marauder Era from you soon.
- Your SPEW Buddy Cassie.
Summary: Eleven-year-old Teddy always finds himself stuck in the middle of his Grandma and Godfather. While he knows they both love him and only want what's best for him, he can never seem to please them both. Can a trip to Diagon Alley for school supplies finally get them to see that he loves them both equally?
This was originally written as part of SPEW 007 (though not posted in time) with the prompt 'feather'
You’ve really captured the voice of a child here; your writing is refreshingly simplistic and carries a sense of naivety perfect for a story that is from the perspective of a young boy. Lines such as So Teddy was stuck, all alone, needing something, anything, to do really encompass the fact that you are writing of a restless and energetic child. So well done on creating a tone that really suits the style of the story.
The first thing I want to mention is your characterisation of Andromeda. Early on in the piece, you have her come across quite harsh and cold in the line She had refused to let him floo over to The Burrow, saying that the Weasleys would get tired of his constant presence over there and he needed to give them a break. To me, that’s quite a way to dishearten a young boy. I’m not sure if you meant to characterise her this way, and considering she was a Black it’s actually quite justifiable for her to be a bit careless when it comes to a child’s feelings.
There are minor details of this fic that could be different in order for it to be a brilliant one shot. Sometimes I find your dialogue to be slightly forced; you’re getting your ideas across, but doing so in a way that isn’t particularly natural for the characters you’re writing. For example: Andromeda looked surprised. “That’s very kind of you, Harry, but why?” / “Well, I’m his godfather after all. I thought you might like a bit of a break and, well, I suppose I want to share the experience with him.” The first sentence of Harry’s dialogue is kind of a clichéd thing to say. They know he’s his godfather, so it’s not like he’d feel the need to say it. I think jumping into the next part straight away would have worked better for his characterisation. It’s just little details like that in dialogue that improve the reading experience, when you know you’ve got a writer who is really connecting with the character and the things they are more likely to say. More often than not, the lines of dialogue that first come into our minds are the most obvious, and least likely to be something our character would actually say. Dialogue is a very important thing for a story; it determines whether or not a reader can feel as if they’re witnessing something that is fresh and different.
Teddy suddenly realised that, with neither willing to give in, they were both looking at him. He didn’t want to let either one down, but they obviously wanted him to make a choice. My heart broke for Teddy at this moment, as having to choose between parents, or parental figures, would be the hardest thing for a child to do. And I think both Andromeda and Harry would realise that, and perhaps deal with the situation in a way that isn’t detrimental to Teddy.
I think the fact that Harry and Andromeda don’t get along is quite an interesting take on the situation. I’ve only ever read fics where they get along perfectly well. It’s really refreshing to witness a new version of events, and quite a plausible one too. They’d both want to have their share of Teddy, and Andromeda especially would want to ensure he’d never be taken away from her. I was given the sense throughout this story that Harry was becoming as protective as Sirius was over him. When Sirius was arguing with Molly in The Order of the Phoenix, he showed similar traits as Harry shows when he wants to take Teddy to get his school things. I really like that you’ve done this, whether you meant to or not. It’s an interesting touch, to channel the traits of Harry’s greatest influencer into his own personality.
The ending to this was done extremely well, with the confusion about her sad expression working very well in the situation. I’m glad you chose to have Andromeda tell Teddy that they don’t want to compete over him, as I never believed she was the type to continue that way without being concerned for Teddy’s feelings.
I love how the wand has parts that belong to Harry and belong to his mother. A very sweet touch to a very sweet story. You captured the emotion of a child torn between “parents” extremely well, emotions similar to a child experiencing a situation of divorce. Well done on that, dear.
Keep taking into account the plausibility of your dialogue, and you’ll be writing perfect stories.