I'm 19 and a college student, which means that my writing tends to be produced very sporadically. I discovered fanfiction a few years ago, and have found it to be a wonderful place to grow as a writer. I'm a member of SPEW (Society for the Promotion of proper Evaluations for Writers, by readers), which provides all kinds of writing related (and non-writing related) support.
Well, I have a ridiculous number of reviews to do, but I’m starting with yours because I know I’ll enjoy it.
First of all, I have no words for how much I love your Charlie. Collecting eggs because he has to do something or go crazy! And then the peace he feels on their walk: Charlie remained where he stood, gazing over the field and the forest beyond. He, who had been moving about so restlessly all day, was now a picture of peace. And Lucas, who had lived most of his life in silence, now felt a strange need to hear the deep voice of Charlie. So perfect. I love Charlie, and I love that Lucas can’t help liking him too, though he doesn’t quite understand it yet. You have such a strong gift for characterization: even Healer Wickworth is interesting for the short time he’s ‘on screen,’ and Auntie Muriel is a joy to read. Great job.
I love how Lucas can’t quite comprehend Charlie – though I do have one comment about that. Although his incomprehension is very in-character, it’s rather more emphasized in the narrative than is actually understandable from the action; I felt like you were telling us about it, rather than showing. I wouldn’t want you to take out any of the description of Lucas’ failure to understand, which is written wonderfully – I’d just like to see a bit more of exactly what it is that he doesn’t understand. Charlie’s actions are quite commonplace – collecting eggs, performing household chores – perhaps explain a little more why exactly this is so incomprehensible to Lucas. Because while I can understand that Lucas isn’t used to doing work, especially work that could be left to the house-elves or simply performed by magic, Charlie’s efforts don’t seem to be worthy of quite as much confusion as Lucas appears to be feeling.
And so the hours had passed: Charlie going about what seemed to be a daily routine of manual tasks and physical work, now with Lucas following discreetly in his wake, trying to understand. This in particular seems like a rather abrupt transition, since it’s still not clear why it’s so hard for Lucas to understand.
One little nitpick: He went to open the carriage, at the very back, and when Lucas peered inside he was only mildly surprised to see how the interior was considerably larger than non-magical science and Muggle measurements would ever allow. This is something I’m constantly objecting to in things written from POVs of purebloods. I don’t think a pureblood would be even mildly surprised – it’s something they’re used to, something they take for granted. I’d object a little to him being ‘mildly surprised’, but even more to his reference to non-magical science and Muggle measurements. This is something he’s completely used to, much more than he’s used to things being compliant with science, and it actually knocked me out of his perspective for a minute. It’s somewhat of a predicament, because we like putting magic in our stories and we want to point out the to the reader, ‘hey, here’s something magical,’ but it’s much harder to work in when writing from the POV of a person who probably doesn’t even realize that this isn’t natural.
On the subject of nitpicks, you’re missing a space here: Nice? Nice! Ha, a bit of peace and quiet would have beennice.
The crucial thing about this chapter seems to be the elaboration of the differences between Charlie and Lucas. Charlie’s working and Lucas’ following. Their eating habits. The way they interact with house-elves (and, by extension, with the norms of wizarding society). And I like that we’re already beginning to see the changes their interaction is causing in Lucas: not only making him rethink the list of items he wants from home, but making him question – something we haven’t seen him do a whole lot of before.
As well as the characterization, you set up two key plot points: the return of the coin (which, I’m guessing, signals the conflict Lucas is going to meet – Charlie pulling him in one direction, the coin pulling him in the other), and the introduction of Charlie’s secret past (murder! Charlie? I’m intrigued!).
Also, the last line is stunning. “To choke on an explanation he didn’t even have.” Perfect! I love how every aspect of Charlie seems to pose a challenge to Lucas. I can’t wait to see the development of their friendship, along with the development of the plot. You will write more soon, yes?
So, Anna, here I am at last. I already told you how much I enjoyed this story, and I want you to know that it wasn’t just something I said because I felt obligated while sitting in your house and eating your chocolate – or even because I’m a nice person and like to compliment my friends. Looking over the story to review, I keep thinking how different your phrasing tendencies are, and it makes it difficult for me to comment syntactically – the voice of the narrative is lovely, with a reserved sort of elegance, and I’m afraid that my comments would only be trying to nudge it towards a voice more like my own, which would be a loss. Sentences like this one: These days, a man did not have to be a wizard to know that something was wrong in Britain. Absolutely lovely! I’m amazed by how well the voice of the narrative fits Lucas; it’s quiet and proper and reserved and elegant and tinged with a rather Rowlingesque humor. But if one happened to linger for a moment, perhaps to tie a shoelace or rummage pockets for gloves, blurred shapes would appear in the gloom… made me grin.
One stylistic nitpick, even though I said I wouldn’t: you do have a tendency to start sentences with prepositions, especially ‘but’. Three years of middle-school teachers bred this tendency out of me to the point where I have trouble starting sentences with prepositions in any sort of formal writing, but I do concede that it can be an effective technique. Nevertheless, I think it is something you should keep to a minimum level, not necessarily because of the grammatical rules, but because when you do use it, it will be more effective.
Something I found interesting was a pattern in the way you introduce your characters. Going back to the prologue, the first sentence in the entire story is, A young man was standing half-way up an impressive staircase… Following shortly after that, you have, He was Lucius Malfoy, and the successful ball below was all his doing. Here, in this chapter, we are introduced to Lucas with the statement, It was a young man, and he was quite comfortably seated on a bench…, followed by, He was Lucas Malory, and he had come to the park to honour the memory of his mother. In both cases, you introduce a general figure – a young man was, it was a young man – and then you specify the description – he was Lucius Malfoy, he was Lucas Malory. I’m very interested by this trend. I didn’t catch it the first time through, and don’t know if you use it to introduce any other characters. If you do, it’s probably something you should watch out for – it’s very easy to find a trick that works and reuse it all the time without noticing (for instance, I tend to have my characters kick the legs of their chairs when I need a filler bit of description – it took me ages to notice that, and I had to go back and edit so that all my characters weren’t pathological chair-kickers). However, if you don’t use it for other characters, then I’m fascinated by the implications of the way you parallel the introductions of father and son, a relationship that I suspect will have a large amount of driving force in the future of the story. Sorry for the long-winded comment on the trivial point, but I found that very interesting and wanted to point it out.
Lucas’ reminiscence about his mother was lovely; of course the smells bring back the memories, and I love the smells you picked – but what I found most interesting were the physical memories you chose. …hatching eaglets, duelling his grandfather, or leaning over some book in the library. He could hear her voice, reciting poetry or adjusting his spellwork or calling the wolfhounds. I’m intrigued that all of his memories of her are very active. We know that passivity is one of Lucas’ foremost traits, and as such, it seems highly relevant that he remembers his mother as someone who was always doing. Nice detail there.
What mustn’t it feel like to be so wholly dedicated to a cause that you would willingly sacrifice your life for it? He could not imagine it, and most of the time he wasn’t interested in trying. He was of little importance to anyone, so it wasn’t as if he had any reason to think in the terms of good and evil, of right and wrong. This right here seems to me to be the heart of the chapter, the biggest insight into Lucas’ character you’ve given us so far (and by so far, I mean the first five chapters, not just the first three).
I find it interesting that Lucas is able to so clearly diagnose his own condition; not only is he able to recognize his own apathy and name it as such, he’s come up with a reason to explain it – or perhaps an excuse. That he is able to identify so clearly what is going on marks him as a Ravenclaw, but more importantly, I think it shows that he has put a significant amount of thought into it. For all his protestation that he isn’t interested in trying to be so dedicated to a cause, the fact that he’s put so much thought into his apathy and its causes suggests, IMO, that it bothers him to some extent. Perhaps he doesn’t realize it, but I’m convinced that he really wants to experience that dedication.
Likewise, when he says that It was not that he really minded the isolation… But on the day when he stepped out of the Entrance Hall for the last time, Lucas knew that he would be instantly forgotten. He had made no lasting impression on any part or person of the school, and no one would miss him. It had been a peculiar feeling — to come face to face with his own unimportance. I can’t believe that he’s quite as accepting of this state of affairs as he believes – it’s obviously a point he’s thought about in some detail. Great paragraph by the way – another one that’s crucial to the development of his character.
I’ve been incredibly long-winded, so I’ll try to speed things up for the rest of the review – though, having fallen to the long-review-bug yourself, I’m sure you’ll understand. Maximilian was well done; from what little we see of him he has the potential to be an interesting character in his own right, not just a perfunctory grandfather figure. The house-elves were good and house-elvy – I liked the way Lucas interacted with them, kind and polite but obviously taking for granted the assumption that their duty is to serve him. Another element of his character – he’s accustomed to being served, to his needs being taken care of; I imagine that between his home and Hogwarts, he’s never really had to do much for himself. Something to look forward to in future chapters, I imagine.
One nitpick: “If you were seeking to talk to my grandfather, Maximilian Malory, I’m sorry to inform you that he left for France earlier this evening. He is not expected to return for at least a month.” It seems strange to me that he refers to his grandfather by his full name here, since his assumption is that these people know who his grandfather is. It would feel more natural, IMO, if he referred to him as either “Maximilian” or “Mr Malory”.
The action at the end of the chapter is great – very tense, and the flow is good. As someone who find writing action very difficult, I’m very jealous of your ability to make the scene with so little actual movement so tense. Congrats on that, and on the entire chapter, of course, and now I’m off to give you another long-winded ramble on the next one.
Author's Response: Nan! *blushes* This is... wow. I will try to respond to your review, but it\'s so amazingly in-depth that I\'m not sure I can do it justice.
It\'s funny that you should mention my use of prepositions - I was taught exactly the same thing as you, and for the longest time I was a real Nazi about prepositions in the beginning of a sentence. But then, someone I greatly respect talked to me and told me to \"relax about it\" - and it seems that I did, without even realising it. =) I promise you I\'ll be more careful with that!
As for the way I\'ve introduced Lucius and Lucas, no, I believe I don\'t do that with anyone else. I think it\'s because I\'m introducing each of them as the main character for that part of the story, and I was attempting to make a straightforward and thus powerful presentation. I think I had to use my narrator’s voice more in those two situations, compared to all other introductions that are more or less from Lucas’ point of view.
Aha, yes. Not really leading a busy life, Lucas has had a lot of time to contemplate his own situation. Thinking about it like he does in this chapter is kind of a defence mechanism for him, or maybe like a mantra. If you constantly think of yourself as insignificant, perhaps you will be? And the next paragraph of your review – hee, I’m actually returning to that in not the chapter I’m writing now, but the next one.
Gah. Thank you so much for this review, Nan! I must confess that I’m rather worried what you’ll think of the rest of the story… But for now I’ll go and respond to your next review. *grins*
I’m skipping over reviewing chapter four for now, because I typed up a bunch of things I wanted to say about the fifth chapter while reviewing the third, so as fascinating as chapter four was, it’ll have to take second place. I may yet go back and review it, though, so we’ll see. :)
First of all, your description of the coin and its effect on Lucas is extremely powerful. This seems to be the first time Lucas has come so strongly into contact with his father’s heritage, and I love the symbolism, the seductive power of the coin mirroring the seductive quality of everything it stands for. As an ambivalent character, not tied to anything in particular, Lucas definitely is in a position to be lured into that seductive life of purity, pride, patrimony, and most importantly, power.
I love the entrance of the Order. It’s rather similar to the way they arrive to collect Harry in the fifth book, but rather from seeming like a copy, it goes to enhance the image of the Order as being ever so slightly ineffectual and bumbling. It’s a common trope, one that Rowling uses effectively, that of the bumbling heroes whose hearts are in the right place – and I love the way the entrance of the Order contrasts so well to the entrance of the Death Eaters in the third chapter. Structurally, I’m fascinated by your story – that will have to be my excuse for going all academic and analytical on you, but something about it makes me want to dissect it like I would for a class. Lucas is clearly positioned as a focal point for a conflict between the Order and the Death Eaters; the two contrasting visits not only work well in a structural, symbolic kind of way, but they serve to demonstrate to Lucas the two poles between which he is hovering. Very well done!
I’m not going to go into it, because I’ve already rambled on enough and am about to ramble on in a different subject, but I have to say, I love the way you show Remus and Tonks, individually and together. The Tonks-Charlie interaction is wonderful as well – as you know, I’m a strong believer in their friendship!
Speaking of Charlie: I expect, given the title and the focus on his ambivalence, that Lucas’ progression from inaction to action will be one of the driving forces of the story. I’m seeing Lucas in some sense as the Ron-figure gone wrong. What I love so much about Ron is that he isn’t a ‘remarkable’ character, in the sense that he doesn’t have any particular ties to the conflict, no especial ability like Hermione, no grand destiny like Harry – and yet he fights anyway. At first, he fights merely because his friends are fighting, and he loves them and will follow them, but by the end, he’s as tied to the cause as any of them. I see Lucas as the Ron who was never drawn into the fight by his friends, never given any reason to care. His position is furthered, of course, by the fact that his familial position is such that he’s likely to be in no danger, no matter which way the battle goes. Whereas Ron, of course, comes from a family of known blood-traitors, Lucas’ family situation really does foster ambivalence. It’s as he said in the previous chapter – he really has no reason to be drawn to one side or the other.
Charlie, on the other hand, is an action oriented character from the start (he’s a dragon keeper, enough said!). Add on to that his family ties – two of his uncles killed, half his family in the Order and the other half fighting Voldemort though underage, his status as a blood traitor – of course he’s going to have strong loyalties. And I’m thinking that Charlie’s not only going to provide Lucas of an example of what it means to be invested in a cause, he’s going to be the instigator of Lucas’ own loyalty. Not caring which side fails or succeeds when you have no ties is one thing, but not caring when the success of one means the possible death of a friend is a completely different thing, and I imagine the friendship that arises between Lucas and Charlie will be the catalyst of Lucas’ end to indifference. (That is, I hope a friendship will arise between them; the wave of affection Lucas has at the end of the chapter seems to indicate that it will!
I wrote this last part of the review first, and then went back to the beginning and saw it in a whole new light; if Lucas is going to be building ties with Charlie, I wonder what ties will pull him towards the other side? Will it be the coin, or his lingering feelings of duty towards his father, or perhaps his grandfather (seemingly another neutral character) will be pulled into it. Fascinating!
I think I love everything about this story – the writing, the plot, the conflict between ambivalence and action, the question of which side to support – but the thing I’m most looking forward to is the development of the relationship between Charlie, one of my favorite characters, and Lucas, who I am growing increasingly attached to. I suppose you might say that it’s a mark of a good story if it inspires fanfiction – well, I think you ought to know, I’m totally writing out a scene in my head about how Charlie’s in danger and Lucas finds for the first time that he really cares, and is goaded into action. And I keep trying to stop myself from imagining it, because I want to wait and see where you go with the story, but I thought you should know that if this was a published story, I’d totally be writing that fanfic.
And with that, I’m going to end this monstrous review. Very sorry for going all analytical on you like that; I don’t seem to have really critiqued much at all, but instead had a kind of in-class discussion all by myself – I must be back in school mode! I just hope that I’ve said something useful, or that my ramblings will at least give you an idea of what themes are coming across well. And Anna, dear, I know you’re busy with moving and all, but you simply have to update this story soon, because I can’t wait to see where you go with it.
Author's Response: Nan… I’m sitting here with a silly grin on my face. I LOVE this analytical review – partly because you and your eagle-eyes have made so many correct observations, but also because it makes me so aware of my own writing and because it inspires me to write, write and write even more.
So that is what I will do, right now. Thank you. I love you. =)
I periodically go on a Bill/Fleur spree, in which I try to use my great love for Bill and my feeling that there is unexplored territory in Fleur to reconcile myself to the pairing. And it usually works, for the length of the story – I think my problem is not with the pairing itself, but the fact that I don’t like the pairing in my own fictional version of their universe, given the history I’ve imagined for them. Nevertheless, you managed to sell me on it through the entire story, so props to you for that.
It had been almost a year since they started dating and he had slowly become accustomed to her. I think this should be “since they had started dating.”
Rather, he might have, if he had not found that she didn’t use her looks to get out of arguments or other unpleasant situations. This sentence made me stop and parse. There are too many negatives, I think. I’m still not entirely sure I’ve figured it out, and I’m not sure if it’s the sentence or me, so I thought I’d point it out and leave it to you to decide.
… there were only two swings with rusty chains and a dirty slide. Silly little nitpick, but on first reading it sounds like the dirty slide goes with the rusty chains, as a part of the swing. As if you’d said “two swings with rusty chains and damp wooden seats.” Switching the order of the swings and the slide, or simply adding a comma, would clear this up.
*giggles* Bill’s proposal is sweet. I love it when guys are up-front about being in love, and when they allow themselves to be awkward without making excuses for it. And I like that this seems to be something Fleur enjoys, as well; she likes the effect she has on him – she sees his awkwardness as a compliment to herself. It had been almost a year since they started dating and he had slowly become accustomed to her. But then he had fallen in love with her, which made her charms more difficult to resist, and she knew it. Nice characterization – that she can openly acknowledge and be proud of the effect she has on him.
I love the idea of Fleur being afraid of the Weasleys – this is actually a part of my own personal fanon for Fleur, and you did a great job with it.
One bit of dialogue that rankled for me:“We veela may be enchanting, but we marry rarely and only for true love. Thus it is tradition that the first kiss is the kiss of engagement, a declaration of love." First, Fleur’s blanket statement in which she lumps herself and all other veela together seemed a bit strange; she is only part veela, and associating herself so firmly with a prescribed action felt odd. Or maybe it’s just that one of my classes has been discussing the nature of prejudice rather extensively and it’s running over into my reading. The other thing about this sentence is that it seemed out of place for a native French speaker, given her heavy accent and unfamiliarity with the language – she has, after all, been taking lessons. Both the sentence structure and the vocabulary seemed a bit above her reach.
“Are there restrictions on second or third or forty-fifth kisses?” Ha! I love Bill’s answer.
All in all, nice job; congrats on reconciling me (at least temporarily) to the pairing!
Author's Response: Hee. Thank you, for the criticism as well as the compliments! I\'ll fix all those things. I love getting SPEW reviews -- I know I can always count on them to be really worth getting!
Oh, Noldo, sometimes I’m not sure why I bother to review your stories, because it always ends up just being me blathering on about how wonderful you are – and yet at the same time, I don’t feel right clicking away without a review, because good stories deserve reviews, don’t you think? *sigh* Anyway, be warned, blathering follows:
It’s a trick of poetry, to put together usual words in unusual ways – and your writing is more like poetry than a lot of poems I’ve read. I am in love with the way you manipulate words: faintly raining sky, conversation as punctuation for meaning-ridden silences… And you have the ability to dart into moments and images, spilled wine and ragged letters, and somehow in one scene, one sentence, tell a story. Perhaps my favorite sentence in the entire piece: it talked about a lot of things, some of which were happening and some of which had happened and a fair few of which were thoroughly inconsequential, but what it really said was sorry, over and over, though not in ink. I am amazed by the rhythm of your language, your ability to combine meaning and metaphor. Making words sound good is hard; making them sound good while meaning something is even harder. … see, that’s the trouble with battles. They all tell the same story.
I love the snippets of dialogue, and how it’s written in a different style than the rest of your narration and yet fits in perfectly. You catch Sirius and Remus in those moments of dialogue, and you spend the rest of the story winding around them in a lovely narration of thought and feelings.
I accidentally read the last line first, while copying the story into a word document for later reading, and at the time wasn’t sure I liked it. Coming at the end of the story, it’s perfect; they’ve been through so much, lost so much, and they know things can’t ever be how they were before, but they can’t help hoping for a happy future – a future we know isn’t coming. Oh, Sirius. Oh, Remus. *sniff* Beautiful as always.
I have to admit, when I started reading this I was wondering if a story about Neville and a Herbology contest would be able to hold my interest. It did, and it was the quality of your writing that allowed it to do so. Not only was the writing style fluid and easy to read, this chapter is peppered with great lines, worthy of JKR.
To name a few: Your characterization of Neville’s Gran is spot on, and I love the inevitable, predictable follow-up to her Herbology comment. Rare, flesh-eating, or floral. *giggles wildly* Perfect! I can say nothing more. Neville had never wanted to do anything quite so badly in his life (unless it was to sink through the floor in some of Professor Snape’s lessons). Aw, Neville. This line totally captures him – it’s humorous and pitiful at the same time.
The Faire was a worthy, harmless time, and highly prestigious. [Paragraph break] His father had not cared for Herbology. I love the combination of those two lines, with the paragraph-break pause in the middle. They don’t seem to be related, and yet, of course they are. This is a heart-breaking idea, and these two sentences indefinably capture it; he wants to prove himself worthy and break free of his father’s shadow – and yet, I wonder if there isn’t something else there as well. I’d love to see a bit of conflict – him wanting to break free and yet not wanting to let his father down, or trying to prove himself and yet fearing that he will fail to live up to his father’s standard.
What a great set-up for a story; I definitely did not expect that from a Herbology contest. Heading off to read more now.
Author's Response: Eeee! Yes. Thank you! The contest is basically a vehicle to get Neville out there. I know he\'s got more in him than good Herbology grades; it\'s just a matter of finding it. Rather, of finding him.
Love the beginning. I think these two chapters in general are the best I’ve ever seen your writing; not only does it flow well, but it’s really funny, in a JKR-esque way which is really quite hard to achieve (I have tried and failed – I completely lack the knack for it). But the first two paragraphs win a star – they hit just the right note after the last chapter.
A few nitpicks, to start out with: I’ve signed up to buy a round-trip Portkey, it’s very safe.” While it’s not completely necessary, especially since this is dialogue, I’d recommend changing the comma to something else – period, semi-colon, or dash would all be fine – just because you have two distinct clauses. At first, she nudged Neville towards the things Frank had enjoyed, only to find that her grandson showed very few of the same tendencies. You’re talking about something that happened in the past, but before the past that the entire story takes place in, so it should be “had nudged”. If that makes sense. It had been a hope that if Neville kept trying, something of the son she had raised might reappear. “It had been her hope” might fit a bit better.
I was surprised by the shift in POV, but not bothered, and you sustained Augusta’s perspective very well. I love what you do with her, capturing her straight-forwardness and abruptness, and yet still allowing her to be real and even gentle. You have a great handle on both characters – close to canon, and yet still refreshingly original.
My favorite part (besides the beginning): They were so different, he and his Gran. Come to that, she wasn’t much like his father either. Fascinating observation! I hadn’t thought of this – hadn’t thought much about the relationship between Frank and his mother at all, to tell the truth. I wonder how much of reverence for him comes of the nostalgia of looking back (the grass was always greener last decade, after all) and how much is regret for failed opportunities with Frank? Now I want to read fic exploring that relationship!
Great start, and you’ve done a great job of hooking me on what didn’t originally seem to be an exciting plot. One of the marks of a good story is that you enjoy reading it even when you’re not hanging on the thread of the action, and you’ve totally succeeded in selling this story, through your characterizations and subtle humor.
Author's Response: Squeee! Thank you so much for yet another wonderful review. You make me want to re-analyse my own work O.o. The bit about Augusta and Frank was a little random -- I wrote that part about Neville and realised suddenly that I\'ve no idea where Frank\'s personality came from! I\'m sure he wasn\'t like his mother (after all, he was popular; I\'m not sure Augusta ever got there). It\'s not really about the plot. I\'m sort of cheating on that one in order to find Neville (and, incidentally, Augusta) out. Again, a thousand thanks!
Ooh, an AU with a very interesting premise. I love stories that show the complexity of relationships between very different characters, and Cho and Hermione are different enough that their interaction is sure to be complex and fascinating. Great job setting up the beginning, with Crouch’s escape; I can’t wait to see how it’s going to be a catalyst for future events and character interactions.
One general, syntactical comment: pay attention to your sentence structure. It’s very easy, especially when writing action, to fall into a sentence pattern, using the same sentence structure over and over. You tend to write short sentences, starting with the subject and following with the verb. “Ron grunted… Hermione drummed… The crowd was… Everybody was… People kept…” When all your sentences sound the same, the reader doesn’t have to pay as close attention. If you vary sentence lengths, and play around with different sentence structures, it forces the reader to pay attention, and keeps the narrative moving. This was only really an issue in the narrative, though – your dialogue is excellent.
A few minor nitpicks:
Hermione felt a brush tickle her cheeks. He was standing up for her. Should this be “a blush”?
“Now Barty Crouch,” he said, “tell us exactly what you are doing at Hogwarts pretending to be Alastor moody. A couple things: first of all, you need a comma between “now” and “Barty.” It struck me as slightly odd, for Dumbledore to address him with his full name, rather than simply “Barty,” “Bartemius,” or even “Mr. Crouch”.
And an unconscious Barty Crouch, who seemed to have got concussion from his fall, with Professor McGonagall guarding him. The middle should read, “who seemed to have gotten”.
One other nitpick, non-grammatical this time: at the very end of the chapter, you change abruptly into Harry’s POV, although it’s been first person limited from Hermione’s since the beginning. There is, of course, no rule against changing perspectives, even mid-chapter, as long as you’re aware of it and are doing it for a reason. But if you’re going to tell the rest of the story from Hermione’s POV (or even Hermione’s and Cho’s), you might want to consider whether you really want Harry to make a cameo appearance.
I’m being dreadfully nitpicky, but I think you’re off to a nice beginning for what looks like a very interesting story; on to the next chapter, and I can’t wait to see what you do with Cho, and with whatever comparison you make/interaction you have between her and Hermione.
Author's Response: Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for that fab (and groovily long) review. You picked out points which I will fix, and it\'s useful to have someone who picks out flaws. It may take me some time to re-write as at the moment I am busy writing Chapter 6! Thanks for reading and reviewing!
*grins* As a huge Bill fan, I jumped on this story when I saw it in the SPEW updates thread. The world needs more Bill stories. There have been more since the sixth book, but the majority seem to be Bill/Fleur. Not that there’s anything wrong with Bill/Fleur, but I love seeing him in action. You did a great job of keeping the story action oriented (and seriously, who doesn’t swoon over action!Bill) while still connecting it to the romance.
To start with the nitpicks, a few grammar/diction things:
A strong breeze ruffled the trees flanking the path as clouds drifted lazily in front of the moon… I originally read this as: “the path as clouds” – as in, ‘the cloudlike path.’ You might add a comma after path, for clarity’s sake. The two dementors that had steadily drawn closer, stopped in their tracks, floating some inches above the street. There shouldn’t be a comma after closer. He reached deep within himself and unleashed his inherent, wild magic. I think ‘innate’ would be a better word than ‘inherent’, both here and the other time you use it. I’m pretty sure ‘inherent’ isn’t grammatically correct in this context – I won’t swear to it, because I can’t tell you why, but it rings funny to me. A beautiful white horse, its mane the colour of Fleur’s hair, burst force from his wand, stronger than he had ever seen it. Simple typo here: ‘force’ should be ‘forth’.
As I already said, I love the way you portray Bill here. He’s so confident in action; he knows what he is doing and how to do it. It’s not a story about doubts, or about fear – it’s a story of someone who puts his life on the line for the Order, does his job, and returns whole. Amid so many depressing post-HBP stories, this is a refreshing read. A lot of authors writing Bill focus on the trauma of his injury, which neither he nor Fleur seem too upset by in canon. Instead, you focus on his abilities, and your one-line reference to his injury is merely that – a reference; it reminds us of what happened to him, but he nevertheless remains the cool, confident Bill of earlier canon.
To quibble a bit, I have to admit that I’m a bit skeptical of Bill’s wild powers, especially as skills picked up as a curse breaker. I think if such skills were so easily come by, there’d be a lot more Egyptian cursebreakers, hoping for extra abilities. While I wouldn’t rule these skills entirely out – I think there could be a very cool story as to their acquisition, with lots of tomb-entering and riddle-deciphering and interesting curses – I think in order to make them plausible there needs to be a bit more explanation (or back-story) than you gave. A different alternative, requiring less explanation, would be to make them an effect of his wolfishness. As far as I can remember, it’s pretty clear canon that no one really knows what the effects of being mauled by an untransformed but wild werewolf are, and it wouldn’t be a far stretch at all to have him endowed with certain wild powers – after all, the ability you describe seems to be the ability of sensing magic in an almost animalistic way.
Now, of course, I’ve set myself on a track thinking of Bill in Egypt, and how much we need more cursebreaking!Bill stories. Which, of course, this is (speaking of which, I like that you included a line about how breaking modern curses is different from breaking ancient curses – interesting food for thought, that is!), so thanks for the great glimpse of Bill, and the fun read!
Author's Response: Thanks for the wonderful review, Nan. I fixed those typos and hope I caught all the times I put the word inherent, but I\'m not sure. The curse-breaker abilities are something that I used in a previous Bill one-shot, one about him breaking into a tomb in Egypt, so I just kept them as part of his character that I had developed back then. If it was still an option, I would link both stories together in a series, as this one takes things for granted that are shown and explained more in the other. Maybe I should add a note about this in my profile. I totally agree, there need to be more Bill stories, especially Bill in Egypt. *hugs*
While Ron/Hermione is probably the closest thing I have to an OTP in Harry Potter, I do enjoy unusual Hermione pairings a lot, and your story reminded me why. This was a fun read – a nice clean narrative, good dialogue, a fun plot – I enjoyed it a lot. Hermione and Oliver’s characterizations worked very well, and there were a lot of fun little one-liners. Perhaps my favorite: Throughout her childhood she’d believed that witches rode broomsticks — it followed, therefore, that Hermione should ride one too. *giggles* The thought of a wedding on broomsticks made me snort; poor Hermione, surrounded by her Quidditch-obsessed friends!
“We didn’t talk about much, and it was still largely Quidditch-related, so...he hasn’t changed much, it seems.” It’s a little unclear what “it” is referring to – the much they didn’t talk about? Perhaps, “We didn’t talk about much, and what we did say was largely Quidditch-related,” or something of the sort?
I’d like a bit of information in the beginning about where the story is set; I started wondering where she was as soon as we learned that Ginny had lent her the broom: the Burrow? Hogwarts? I was surprised to learn, several paragraphs later, that the war was already over, and had to pause reading in order to reconstruct my ideas of the setting. While it’s perfectly acceptable (and often very effective) to release information about the setting slowly over the course of a story, here I found it distracting me; since the setting isn’t particularly important to the story itself, a couple clues at the beginning might have kept the narrative flowing better, without the distracting question of where they are.
The other thing I’d be interested in knowing is exactly what background Oliver and Hermione have; we have no canon knowledge of their interaction or lack thereof, so it would be helpful to know what their reacquaintance is building on. Is it merely a knowledge of the other’s existence, Harry’s friend and Harry’s Quidditch captain, or did they have some contact as two members of Gryffindor?
He’ll find one that’s prettier than I could ever hope to be, and not so much smarter than him that he feels he’s always three steps behind, and not with our complicated history. The first part of the sentence is perfectly in character – of course Hermione always thinks Ron is looking for prettier girls. I had a bit more difficulty with the second part; Hermione may know that she is smarter than Ron, but would she say it straight out like that? Perhaps you could continue in the self-deprecating vein as she refers to her brains – she could say something about a girl who wasn’t always barraging him with books and facts.
What heavier-than-thou tome have you been toting around lately?” *snorts* Great phrase. *giggles*
This could be wrong, because I don’t have my book to check, but I think it’s supposed to be “Omnioculars,” not “Omniculars.”
I’m nitpicking terribly, but only because the story as a whole is so enjoyable. Now I’m craving Hermione/Oliver, which is quite unusual for me, so good job on that, and on the story overall!
Author's Response: Nan, I love receiving reviews from you. The part about you pointing out all the weaknesses that I tried to ignore is even good. Because...why should I ignore weaknesses? Someday I might go back and take a closer look at the things you mentioned; thank you for bringing them to my attention. You had the same favorite line as my mother. Congratulations. :) Thank you for the review! *D*
Aw, poor Severus. I liked this the first time through, Lian, but I like it even more the second (whether or not it has something to do with having read DH, I do not know). The characterizations are perfect, the tone sufficiently biting and sophisticated. That said, a few nitpicks to start out with (because you know I can’t resist the chance to nitpick):
“Oh, the botched potions of first years.” Considering the elegance of much of the narration, this seems strangely clunky to me, especially as a first line. I’m not quite sure what I’d suggest as a change; perhaps replace ‘of’ with ‘produced by’, or something of the sort, or perhaps rework it a little.
It required only diced lovage, ground nettles, and Water of Lethe–which was, of course, already bottled… It’s initially unclear whether the ‘which’ is referring to all of them, or to just the last – perhaps you could specify? “The last of which was, of course…”
the possible consequences of an incorrect number of stirs in potion-making. This was a slightly awkward wording, considering that it’s spoken. “The possible consequences of incorrect stirring,” perhaps?
Snape’s voice is, as always, exactly on. Their ruined potions attested to their collective imprudence on a disturbingly frequent basis. *giggles* Also, I really enjoyed your characterization of Percy as a quivering, insecure first-year. And it’s not just because I have a soft spot for him, either.
It’s a fascinating theme you’ve chosen – when honesty stops being beneficial, and starts being mere derision – and you brought it across very well. My one non-nitpicky suggestion would be to give us a bit more explanation – exactly what triggers Severus’ realization? He cuts off so suddenly in the middle of a very typical sentence; what made him realize at this moment, rather than a different one? Is it mere coincidence, or did something cause it?
I love what you did in the second to last paragraph – the insinuation that his standards were set by Lily, and at least part of his resentment springs from the fact that he can’t find anyone like her. I didn’t catch the implications of that the first time through, and it makes for a great conclusion.
Great job as usual, and now I’m waiting for post-DH stories from you, Lian dear!
Author's Response: *squish* I was feeling rather sad about you being an entire continent away, but this review made that seem slightly less sad. And really, it would be horrid of me to grudge you Sweden, or England. You\'re right about the sentences you noted as being rough; I\'ll have to go back to them at some point.
As for why that moment? I\'m not sure at the moment. And never fear, more post-DH stories will be coming. Eventually. And technically... this one isn\'t post-DH at all. ;-)
I don’t usually read Marauders stories that begin on the train (not because there’s anything fundamentally wrong with them, but just because there are so many, and weeding out ones that start on the train tends to get rid of some of the most cliché). I kept on reading yours even after I realized what the setting was, mainly because I was very much enjoying your James-voice. Great job at taking a cliché setting and turning it into something unusual, by the way – it’s not often that we get a glimpse of James Potter, the scared boy in the bathroom, and I really enjoyed it.
As I said, James’s voice is fantastic. The line about pretending to be trainsick was very cute – how many people haven’t taken refuge in a bathroom at one point in their lives? And Emperor James and his soundtrack were great as well – you’ve really sold your version of James to me, within the first chapter alone. Also, some great lines in there. *giggles*
A few nitpicks:
You know what you need to do, don’t you? Asked the bold voice that often encouraged him to pull pranks such as putting toads in his mother’s bedroom slippers. Asked shouldn’t be capitalized – the italicized thoughts follow the same rules as dialogue, although the computer will probably try to automatically capitalize it for you.
You need to march out there, find a compartment of other scared, first years, continued the voice, and declare yourself emperor of them all. I think that the “continued the voice” is sort of repetitive here – we know it’s the voice talking, and it interrupts the flow of the thoughts somewhat.
James blinked, bemused. A young, male face was bobbing in front of his. Its eyes, partially concealed by sleek black hair, were twinkling with mischief. This is a very minor nitpick, but this sentence stuck out to me a little. Given the casual, sarcastic tone that is James’s voice, the description of the face as “male” seemed surprisingly formal. ‘Boyish,’ maybe? Or “the face of a young boy,” which would allow you to say “his eyes,” rather than “its,” which also sounded slightly awkward to my ear.
You seem to have very defined characterizations for Sirius and James, and I’m interested to see where you take them, and also what sort of personalities you develop for Remus and Peter. (As a side note, this chapter was primarily about James and Sirius, and you did a great job of showing their personalities; we were merely told a bit about Remus and Peter, but I’m sure more is coming in future chapters.) Looking forward to reading more!
Author's Response: Yay, I love long reviews! I mainly wrote this chapter because I thought the Marauders needed some sort of beginning. Now, though, I\'m not sure how necessary it was, and I\'m thinking of completely rewriting this one...Thanks for a great, helpful, review!
You’re right – this chapter is stronger than the first one. Although I enjoyed the first one, particularly the narrative voice, it was strongest in the beginning and didn’t sustain itself all the way through. This chapter has a much more elegant style; I love the shift in perspective, starting with the old man telling stories about the Shrieking Shack, and then shifting, with the help of an omniscient narrative voice ( Although the old man had no way of knowing, there was indeed something “not right at all” in the Shack, but it wasn’t what he thought), to Remus. I am curious, though, as to what POV you are writing the story as a whole from, as that omniscient voice wasn’t present at all in the first chapter.
I am impressed by the versatility of your narrative voice. Last chapter, James made me laugh and sympathize – this chapter, I’m laughing again, but at a completely different type of humor. …swapping stories and trying to account for its sudden, formidable (and rather loud) presence.” Great line! I also like the reference to the insatiable curiosity of Hogwarts students – very true! Remus Lupin was rarely ever bitter, but the moon warranted all his animosity and then some. So many great lines in here! I am really enjoying this chapter.
I was very impressed by the smoothness of your POV transition at the beginning of the chapter – it had a very professional sound to it. The flashback was less smooth – while it is easy to denote a flashback by merely including it in italics, I think you’re a strong enough writer to be able to work it in more naturally. You can most easily do this by changing the tense: “James had called,” instead of “James called,” though sometimes when integrating flashbacks it doesn’t work to recreate all the dialogue exactly. Of course, there’s no rule against doing the flashback as you did it, in italics, but I think integrated flashbacks give a more professional feel, except for in cases where recurring flashbacks are used in a stylistic manner.
Only one nitpick this time: “Amistad” he muttered quickly, knowing that if he lingered, she would ask him what was wrong. There should be a comma after ‘Amistad’.
I wasn’t quite sure if I liked the reintroduction of James and Sirius – we’ve already met them in the first chapter, so it’s not strictly necessary to reintroduce them now that you’ve changed POV. Unless you’re treating these as a series of related one-shots, which would also explain my questions about the change in the narration. There are other possible reasons as well, of course; I just thought I’d bring up the question.
I’m continuing to enjoy James and his sarcasm a lot, and you’re selling me on Remus as well – I’m interested to see what you do with Peter. Great job, again.
Author's Response: Thanks again! This whole story did start out as a series of one-shots (this was the original one), so the POV will change from chapter to chapter. Again, great advice!!
Another fun chapter, though, of course, I wasn’t expecting anything else.
A few nitpicks, because I can never resist nitpicking. The fire seemed to backlight her, making her appear more intimidating than even Professor McGonagall. I’m not quite sure of the use of ‘backlight’ as a verb here.
Each Marauder had a different, trademark, way of showing anger. I struggled with the rhythm of this sentence a little, and had to stop and reread it; while I figured out what it was saying, and I don’t think it’s grammatically incorrect, sentences that make the reader stop and go back are generally something to be avoided, so I thought I’d point it out.
The reference to Sirius being angry a few times a week struck me as odd – nothing particularly wrong with it, but it seems a strange way to measure anger, by the time rather than the situation. It would seem more natural to me to hear that Sirius required moderate provocation, or something, rather than a quantity of time. Just personal preference, of course. I did enjoy the descriptions of anger, though – especially poor, inadvertently comical Peter. (Do be careful of including too many paragraphs like this, though – in moderation it’s fine, but too many leads to stories that are all telling rather than showing.)
This was a fun, well written chapter, and I’m sorry if things are coming out mostly in criticism – I’m not very good at writing humor, and so don’t have a lot to say about it, even when it’s well done, which it is. I think my only real problem with this chapter, the thing that made me enjoy it less than the last chapter, is the lack of a grounding sense of perspective. We’re in a sort of omniscient perspective, making brief forays into particular minds, but there isn’t really any defining focus. I know you’re going for a snapshot view of a particular moment, but even so, I want something grounding, a focus amid the humor. Remus provided that in the last chapter, and sometimes here as well. “And now he’s speaking in tongues. Oh dear, sweet Merlin, am I the only normal one in here?” Remus moaned, sinking back into his mattress and directing his words towards the only other entity which would listen to him: the ceiling. This was a great sentence, and it’s one possible way of grounding the story; when writing about characters with the particular wackiness of James and Sirius, it’s helpful to have a more ‘normal’ character carrying on some sort of rapport with the reader.
Despite all my criticism, I very much enjoyed the chapter, and there were some wonderful gems of moments: the fantastic arrival of a girl in the dormitory, James’s response to Lily’s disapproval, Remus in general… all in all, great job, and I look forward to more!
Author's Response: I love nitpicking! Otherwise, how would all the little details that bug people ever change? A few chapters are written in this kind of limited narration, mostly the more humorous ones, but I\'m always able to change that if this seems like a problem. But thank you again for your wonderful imput. :)
The more I read, the more I’m beginning to enjoy historical fics, and this chapter is a prime example of why. It’s easy to make the mistake of treating a historical fiction as if it was modern, but from the very beginning the world you show is not like the world JKR introduced –it’s clearly a different time, a different place. I love that you pay attention to details, from the actual historical points to trivial things like the orange as a valued gift; you sustain the atmosphere from the beginning to the end.
It’s very difficult, when establishing a setting as atmospheric as yours, to find a level of description that works, without being too heavy on the adjectives. I’ve already said that I loved your setting – I do think, however, that the plethora of adjectives does make things a bit clunky at times. Adjectives can be used stylistically to great effect, but in general when you’re describing action they just bog down the narrative; when you find yourself adding an adjective for every noun, it’s a good indication that you’re using too many. I’ve been reading Ursula Le Guin on the subject of writing, and one thing she commented on is that the point of (most) sentences in a narrative is to add to the story, to lead to the next sentence – when a sentence (at least, one in the middle of something – this doesn’t apply in all situations, obviously) makes the reader stop, it’s not performing its function.
So, while in general I really enjoyed your descriptions, which were really helpful in setting the scene, sentences like this: She only paused in this familiar task to wipe a smudge of flour from one alabaster cheek with the semi-clean back of a sticky hand or to push one strand of deep chestnut hair behind her ear until she could tuck it back into the braided mass coiled at the nape of her neck… made me stop, simply because the sheer number of adjectives was overwhelming.
I’m interested in the silver chain – it’s obviously important, as it provides the title of the story, but its significance has yet to be revealed. Likewise, the characters you have established are interesting, and I can’t wait to find out where you go with them. You did a great job setting up the story, with a convincing setting and mood, establishing the feeling of fear that is hanging over them – I can’t wait to find out where you go with it!
Author's Response: Thank you very much for such an in depth review. I agree with you that I never particularly liked those sentances, but I hate flat out describing a character so I tried to cram too much in at once. As for the significance of the neclace, I hope to get that chapter out soon.
Andromeda/Ted has always been a pairing that fascinated me – two such different characters, from two such different backgrounds, flouting tradition by loving each other. To start with, I’m really glad to see that you’re not shying away from Andromeda’s background. Far too many stories turn it into just another love story by making Andromeda into something completely different than her family; you capture the individuality of the storyline by making her the same. Andromeda as a Slytherin, as someone who hasn’t violently shied away from the beliefs of her family, but still with a lot of untapped desires – I find her much more interesting than Andromeda the rebel, breaking away from her family in every way. Instead of having her born inherently different from the rest of her family, you’re writing her as one of them, and your story is free to deal with how she comes to break free. Much more interesting.
One thing: “Black women weren’t supposed to be smart.” I can see where you get this – the Blacks are obviously an old-fashioned wizarding type family, and we saw plenty of female quashing with the Gaunts. At the same time, Sirius’ mother is given a much stronger presence than her father, and his great aunt was given a political scheme (attempting to legalize muggle hunting) – whether or not Black women are supposed to be smart or not, there’s a clear precedent for power among their women. Also, I think it would be un-Slytherin to reject power of any sort, even if it’s given to a woman – I would think that her family would be glad to gain the use of a prefect’s badge, with its accompanying position of power and influence. Looking at Bellatrix, I can hardly see her as rejecting the priveleges of a Prefect’s badge, though I liked that you tied in her disgust with the necessary adherence to Dumbledore’s rules.
But one year ago, as she sat, just as she was now, in the year’s first Prefect meeting, all that had been turned on its head when she first saw him. I found this a bit confusing, as you hadn’t located the beginning of the story in a specific time; there is no reference point from which we can look back a year. The first paragraph is very general – if you put something in it that locates a specific ‘now’ time, it would help the reader understand your timeline, rather than jumping a year back from an unspecified event.
I really like how you set up the opposition between Andromeda and Ted – all the ways he is different than her, and that that’s exactly why she’s drawn to him. He stands for everything she is not and cannot be, and it’s an enchanting prospect. I can’t wait to see you explore her attraction further; she obviously doesn’t understand why she loves him, what she sees in this boy who is so different from everything her family has taught her to admire – it will be fun to watch her realization. Great start, looking forward to more.
Interesting chapter! A lot of interesting instances of Ted and Andromeda’s interaction – or rather, of Andromeda’s failure to interact. Lots of good description – I usually end up encouraging people to include more action in their stories, but in yours I’d actually like to see more of what’s going on in Andromeda’s head. How does she feel about Ted, and how does she feel rejecting him? Is it like the girls said, and the only reason she’s interested in him because it’s a nice change to get attention from a boy, or is she interested in him for who he is? Does she have any idea why it is that Ted appears so fascinated by her? Is this something she speculates on at all?
She scowled as she imagined Ted cuddling with a faceless girl at Madame Puddifoot’s, but, she thought, at least it would distract him from her. Ha! And then: Well, she thought wryly, at least he wasn’t snogging girls in Hogsmeade. I like that she reverses herself so completely – it’s obvious that she really doesn’t want him to be ‘distracted from her’ at all. Nice bit of characterization there.
Andromeda’s rejection of Ted at the end is harsh and brutal, as I think you meant it to be – nice job with that, and with Ted’s reaction. I can only wonder what it was that made him not expect that – Andromeda being a Slytherin who has apparently put him down many times in the past; I wonder what it was that made him suspect she was different. Interesting food for thought.
All in all, another good chapter – looking forward to seeing what you do with the rest of the story!
Author's Response: Wow, thanks for your feedback! I really appreciate it. I hope to get out a couple of longer chapters over my upcoming winter break, so I hope I can answer some of your question then. In the meantime, though: I really glad you like Andromeda as a Slytherin. Here I was working off of how much I dislike characterizations of Sirius as a rebel from the start. I think breaking away from a family like the Blacks, and the twisted ideology that goes along with it, is much more complicated. Andromeda\'s relationship with Ted isn\'t just a romance, it\'s an epiphany. But more on that later. And besides, Slytherins aren\'t all bad :) As for your comment in your first review about the Black women and power, I certainly agree, but perhaps I should have done a bit more layering here. I just didn\'t want to be heavy-handed. The Black family as a whole seems very Victorian to me (but slightly more sinister) so I tried to keep that model of a \"good\" woman in mind. Historically - and in the case of Bellatrix, Narcissa, Walburga, and presumably the girls\' mother - women with power conformed to this model to some extent, but manipulated it to meet their own ends. Andromeda, as I noted, is out-shined by her sisters, and she can\'t shine on her own and still fit that \"good\" woman mold. She has break out of it. I hope you keep reading because I will definitely address this later. Thank again! ~Aldawen
I totally have a thing for Sirius/Lily, and Remus/Lily, for that matter – basically anything which involves three best friends, two of which fall for the same girl. I have such a terrible weakness for unrequited love and love triangles! You do a great job with this, keeping all three characters realistic, not just replacing James with Sirius, but keeping the tension between the three of them going.
My one main qualm: I have a bit of trouble with Sirius’ side of the plan. I can totally buy Lily using Sirius to try and make James get over her, but I have more trouble with Sirius. It’s not the going out with Lily part that bothers me (I can totally see him falling for her, especially if she instigated such a plan), but rather his lack of concern for James, at least in the beginning. The plan is based on the fact that James wouldn’t ‘steal his friend’s girl,’ but Sirius has no fear that James will perceive Sirius as stealing his girl. Furthermore, this paragraph got at me a bit: Sirius was looking forward to the next Hogsmeade weekend. It would be the first time that he and Lily would actually be seen together, and he couldn't wait to see the look on James's face. Hopefully he wouldn't be too crushed, but then, Lily had dated other blokes before, and that hadn't seemed to bother him. Much. I was thrown by the fact that not only is Sirius not worried that his plan is going to hurt James, but that he’s looking forward to seeing his reaction. I do like that he begins to have second thoughts later on, not wanting to tell James – interesting that as their relationship becomes less of a sham, he begins to want to hide it from James, defeating the original purpose, turning it into something real instead of something with an ulterior motive.
What bothered her was the way Potter seemed so pleased whenever Slughorn said something nice about her work, as though he was proud of her, as if he had a right to be proud of her. Lily didn't like that look of pride. It made her feel uncomfortable. And it was more than pride, somehow — it was warm and soft, and … No, not thinking nice things about Potter, she reminded herself. This is absolutely lovely. I love that in a story about Lily and Sirius you include a bit of James/Lily. I love that James is proud of Lily and not afraid to show it; I like that Lily is already starting to fall for James; I like that Sirius has no clue that there’ s more going on between the two of them than simple infatuation.
"It could be worse. He's surprised that I'm interested in you, since I've always proclaimed undying hatred, but not too surprised, since he worships the ground you walk on." I like this – I love the characterization of James, that of course he thinks everyone’s in love with Lily, because he loves her so much himself.
I love that Sirius asks Lily out the same way as James does – why ever do these boys think that will work? – and that, after agreeing to accept, she refuses. You’re really playing around with this seemingly simple plot, making it unique and surprising and a lot of fun to read.
Sirius shifted, a hand reaching up to rub at the nape of his neck. Lily tried not to smile. It was kind of cute watching Sirius Black try to be polite for a change. *giggles* Aw! Trying to be polite – lovely characterization here.
Lovely story, really. My biggest problem with it? I don’t want it to end here. You’ve set up such an interesting situation: James really cares for Lily, and Lily clearly has more feelings for him than she’ll admit; Sirius’ conflict between not hurting James and wanting to start a real relationship with Lily. I love the way you dealt with James in the beginning, but he kind of disappeared in the end – we never get to see how he responds to Sirius asking Lily out. I want more – I want to find out James’ response, I want to find out how Sirius navigates between James and Lily, I want to find out why Lily makes the choice to be with James in the end. How much would I have to beg to get you to write more?
Ooh! I’m always interested by Petunia stories, and Petunia and James together is a great combination. It’s made even more interesting because they’re interacting without the mediation of Lily; usually when we see them together, Lily’s there, which definitely creates an interesting dynamic. I really like your reading, which seems to imply that Petunia’s animosity towards James is more related to Lily than it is to James – when Lily’s not around, she’s almost friendly.
I really like what you did, defining Petunia by her jealousy of Lily – it really does seem to be one of the driving forces of her life, which is terribly, terribly sad. Interesting how she snatches the chance to try out her sister’s life, talking with and even kissing her boyfriend. James’ perspective on how she tasted different than Lily was fascinating – I’d have liked to hear what she thought about kissing James, though. What was it like to test out what Lily has, what she’s always wanted? I’d also be curious to know what drove James to the bar – what happened in his horrible day? Was it merely a lover’s spat, or does it have more to do with the conflict in the wizarding world, and how much he’s worried about his family?
One small quibble: when Petunia leaves for the lavatory, James seems fine, and when she comes back, he’s suddenly very drunk. A minor detail, but it distracted me from the flow of the story a bit.
I love the way the story ends, with Petunia walking away sure that James won’t even remember what happened. It says a lot about Petunia’s character, I think, that she sees this as sort of a stolen moment, something not real for anyone except for her. She’s clearly so lonely, and she wants what Lily has so badly; at the same time, she’s absolutely convinced that she’s never going to get it. She can’t believe that James would remember this encounter, because she can’t believe that it happened, that she had even so much as a taste of Lily’s happiness. Or perhaps she can’t quite believe that Lily and James would have problems enough that it would result in James winding up in a bar – in her eyes, Lily’s life is perfect and hers is lacking. Petunia had fallen silent and was gazing almost wistfully at James. “You had the perfect story,” she murmured. *sniff* Great job.
“It’s our rule not to dredge up past things, remember?”This rule is about to be broken.
~Inspired by a worldwide beloved film.
Interesting beginning. I was looking for some light reading and this works perfectly – you’ve made me want to watch the movie again, something I haven’t done in years. Good characterizations, and it looks like it’s going to be a fun story. You’ve set up the plot well – obviously the two families haven’t run into each other at all, since the Malfoys live in France (though I’m inclined to wonder if Hermione wouldn’t have been one more likely to move out of the country).
A few quibbles: “And I thought your return from that book-signing unscathed was enough to cover any damages you might have done by sneaking.” Sneaking where? Away? Out? To London with Aunt Pansy? I found it a little strange that she’s reading Lord of the Flies – why a Muggle book, when her family is clearly so traditional?
I really enjoy the companionship between Callie and her father – they clearly care so much about each other, a great start for a story that’s going to center on family. You make their affection clear, both by telling us through her father’s thoughts, but also through their interactions. Their shared promise to leave past things in the past. The fact that Callie parrots him, bringing up all his old stories to convince him to do what she wants. The very fact that Callie wants to go to Hogwarts, because it’s where he went. This is what families do, and you show it very well.
Interesting that you wait till the very end to reveal his identity as Draco – also, rather clever. I’m not a huge Draco fan and tend to avoid stories about him, but you’ve subtly lured me in and given a nice characterization of Draco (though, I admit, not the one I get from the books), as someone I can see as a legitmate father figure. Very nice! And the reference to Hermione was subtle as well – again, it’s not a ship I usually read but I’m interested to see where you go with it.
Author's Response: Oh Nan, first of all, thank you so much for this lovely SPEW review. It made me cough out some coffee; I was delighted that much. Thank you! I\'m honoured you pick my story for your light reading. I\'ll eagerly await your comments again when I update. *sheepish grin emoticon inserted here*
You\'ve raised points that will help me shape my story more. I\'ve watched the movie an additional ten times since I\'ve started this fic. Hermione--I don\'t think she\'ll move away from friends and family with her child. She\'ll want their support and her child becoming close to them from infancy, don\'t you agree?Sneaking, yes, Aunt Pansy was too much in a hurry to let Draco know that she was taking Callie. Although, of course, Callie had worked her charms on her Aunt Pansy beforehand to take her to that book-signing. I\'m glad you raised a question about TLTF; it shows Draco\'s not too much of a snob as before and has opened his arms and mind to things Muggle.
Aww, you know, I wrote this chapter in one sitting, it just came out naturally and I enjoyed portraying Draco\'s apparent besotted-ness to Callie!I\'m so glad I lured you in instead of turning you off. I just... I believe Draco has room for redemption. My other Dramione fic has him sarcastic and biting but a long way off from the rude arrogant prat we\'re used to. ^-^
Thanks to your encouragement, Nan, I\'ll do my best to deliver.