I am a recent member of the Harry Potter fandom, but I have always had a passion for the written word, and I hope to fulfill it here. I live in a relatively boring corner of Idaho, and I like Kokanee and a good book!
So, I suppose you're wondering what's up with my username. Even if you're not, this is how that happened. No, I was not aspiring to be a Gryffindor. I can't think of any house to which I would belong less than Gryffindor, in fact. It was a moment of clarity that I got while I was battling with myself about whether I should want to be Sorted into Gryffindor to be like Harry or to be Sorted elsewhere and follow my own path. I thought it to be much like the contemplative scene in Hamlet when he weighed taking his own life. I'm not trying to be melodramatic. That's simply is what popped into my head when I was trying to sign up to leave a review. :D
Any questions or comments about my work? Please shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org — I'd love to hear from you!
Summary: Remus Lupin reflects on his past as he faces an uncertain future after the death of a close mentor.
Awww! This story is the perfect blend of sentiment, pensiveness, and reflection, but not too much of any one of them. I don't think I've ever come across a story where Remus would punch one of his mates, but it makes so much sense, considering their age at the time.
The camaraderie between the Marauders was brilliant, but what was even better was the bouts of tension and, most importantly, how they moved past them. It is obvious from every word that you know these guys just so very well.
Well done, Twin! Boo to bad coding, but the story was excellent.
Summary: Tonks is spending Christmas alone.
I remember this poem when it was brand new, and I've decided to pay you a visit and discuss it a little bit. The mousy-brown, sad Tonks is an interesting subject, one I'm surprised hasn't been broached in fanfic or poetry much before. There was just such a potent sense of melancholy in HBP when Tonks summons her Patronus and it was not 'hers'. It was probably the first emotion I'd felt toward Tonks in the whole series to that point, so basing poetry off of it is like an instant connection for me to that melancholy Tonks.
The format you used is interesting, with the three-lined, shorter verse, followed by the four-lined one. There are a couple things I found a bit puzzling about it, however. In the beginning, there seems to be a rhyme scheme, but after a few stanzas, it sort of trickles away. I think the rhyming *might* have been unintentional, but I would be interested in your input about it. Also, the formula seems to stumble a bit toward the end in places where the stanza format doesn't alternate in its regular fashion. A steady form probably would've helped the poem out a bit in terms of flow and visual aesthetics.
Anyway, on to more fun things! The phrase 'Is there anything lonelier than Christmas when you don't want anyone else there?' is so potent for me, because Christmas seems like a holiday that a boisterous person like Tonks would love, but her feelings for Remus and his refusal to act on them are taking that away from her. In my head, it's very much like someone stealing a child's lollipop. It makes me a bit cross with Remus, but having written him lately, I can't stay mad at him (especially after what I did :/ ).
A diary is such a Remus gift. I have him pegged as a diary-keeper, so it fits in my head as something he might try to do to help Tonks without risking comforting her in person.
Overall, this is a nice poem with a few things that could be tweaked to make it a great poem. I liked this when I modded it, and I still do now. Thanks for listening, and well done. I look forward to further poems from you. :)
Author's Response: Thank you. I wasn't thinking in terms of poetry when I wrote it to tell the truth. I was just putting it down and at the end it was just more poetry than anything else. I'll look into tweaking it when I'm less busy. I'm really glad you enjoyed the subject. Julie
Summary: Katie's feelings for Oliver were written on her heart long ago in one perfect summer, but to him all they ever were was friends.
Now, Katie has to find to strength to face that's all they'll ever be and accept that he is engaged to someone else.
And finally, I am back on your review page. It’s been far too long, both since I’ve read something not queue-related and since you’ve graced MNFF with more of your gorgeous writing. I’m glad we’ve both amended such poor practices. For shame.
I remember telling you this on AIM, but I think the most stunning aspect of this story is its sheer simplicity. It has minor plot and a minor timeline, but both in just the right quantity to fit both the length and the almost sad nostalgia that the story was putting forth. It rather reminds me of the song Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks (and beautifully covered by Westlife :D ). Of course, this connection didn’t really click until I looked up the word halcyon (if I do say so myself, it isn’t often that I need to look up a word). The definition just fit the story so beautifully that I cried little fiction tears of joy at its splendour.
Never will stop marvelling at the plethora of ways you can portray Katie and Oliver yet make them all feel right. Every nuance of the characterisation, from Katie’s omnipresent ability to identify Oliver from the briefest of glances across a crowded room to Oliver’s ability to bark commands on the pitch but not even know what to say in an interpersonal relationship - they all feel so murky and perfect for how I picture them in my head. Of course, I don’t know if you could possibly get your OTP wrong, or that I believe you ever could (hence why you’ve made them my OTP, as well).
Katie makes me so sad. Not because she never got Oliver, but because she spent so much effort making up for the fact that she never really got over him. Hence trussing herself up in that dress that she never would’ve been caught dead in otherwise, wearing those monstrous shoes, and pasting a plastic smile on to smile fly in the face of this farce. I’m afraid that your Katie and mine have one more black mark on their character in common, though, and that’s a small streak of cowardice, running away from things that hurt instead of facing them down and rectifying them. In a way, she never really grew up in that fashion, pawning off her problems on distance and the passage of time, hoping they wouldn’t still be there when she got back. If only life worked that way.
I’d like to say Oliver was a fool for not choosing Katie, but in the end, the choice was made for him. If she had stuck around, something could’ve come of their relationship. They had the golden things that many couples never achieve between them: they were in ‘like’ with one another before the relationship progressed. Sure, it didn’t in the story, but I don’t entirely buy that Oliver say no flat out. Poor love, he’s quite inarticulate, so perhaps (maybe this is me being hopeful), he simply couldn’t find the words to convey what he wanted to convey to her. Even “I don’t know what to say” says volumes about what one means.
Of course, no review from me to you would be complete without extolling the excellence of your writing style. It’s so simple and clear, but elegantly so. I’m never in doubt as to what the story is about, but peeling back the surface layer, there is a haven of things to be gleaned. For instance, take Morag and Katie’s physical similarity. While it doesn’t seem like a coincidence, it’s not as clear-cut as Oliver liking that type of girl or missing Katie; it tells me that Oliver had just as many unresolved issues about the relationship built during that golden summer. Whether these issues are romantic, or simply hurt that she left without saying goodbye are unclear, but how it’s left up to the reader allows individuals to get from this story what they wish to, rather than what they’re told. Personally, I think Oliver figured out later that he’d had those sorts of feelings for her when she left but simply hadn’t realised it until the pang of absence sent it into stark relief.
There is nothing one cannot love about this story. It is both warm and cold all at once, but it’s got so much packed into it for the word count it has: character, plot, angst, romance, and that desire to know more but not the necessity in order to understand and to gain from it. It is, in short, a perfect snapshot piece. If I could, I’d wrap myself in it. Thank you so, so much for writing it for me. This review falls short of what I really want to say, as it would’ve done had I attempted a review on spewswap, but you know me so well. I sincerely hope that you never get sick of me being like this, because as your writing steadily gets better with age, you will forever find ways to steal my breath with your, dare I say it, halcyon words. And, to think, these were meant all for me.
Summary: The Snitch is open; the Ring is out.A poem written for the Anniversary Challenge at Poetry Anyone? in the beta forums.
Um, flaility flail flail!
This is gorgeous and jealousy-inducing. It's so rich in emotion and gives me the wibblies just like The Forest Again. So very well done, and I'll be damned if you don't win this one, too!
Author's Response: YAY! Glad you liked it :D
Michael Corner muses on his short-lived relationship with Daphne Greengrass.
Originally a drabble written for the amazing Jess/ToBeOrNotToBe…in the SBBC's Musical Drabble Exchange. It was based off the song "Ain't that a B*tch" by Aerosmith and the title is taken from the lyrics of that song.
A big thank you to Natalie, the impeccably wonderful beta for this in its drabble form.
Winner of the 2012 Quicksilver Quill Award - Best Non-Canon Romance.
Gahhhh, so prettyyyyy!
I really should review this properly, but all I can muster are incoherent flails. This just oozes the song so well, and I think you picked a great pairing to represent it. Michael's dystopia was interweaved nicely throughout the story, giving it a rich sense of foreboding and sickly anticipation for the inevitable knowledge that nothing lasts forever, but some things even less time than they should.
Anyway, I shall stop rambling and commend you for not only having an expert hold on the type of story I like, but also chanelling the essence of a song that I'm sure you'd never heard of until the exchange. Ta, and *squish*!
Author's Response: Yay! You have no idea how happy I was to hear that you liked it before the authors were revealed. Thanks so much for leaving a review - and also for introducing me to the song…it's now on one of my 25 most played on my iPod :). xx Ariana
Summary: Ginny looks out of her dormitory window, and thinks of the line on the horizon, and the boy beyond.
Originally written for The Random Song Title Challenge at Poetry Anyone on the forums, where to my utter surprise, it came third place.
Wow! What a gorgeous, lush poem, Alex! It manages to be romantic and sullen all at once without too much of each. Ginny has the same thoughts as other girls her age should have: does the boy she likes miss her as much as she misses him. It really grounds the poem and gives it a base with which readers can touch and identify. Yet you illustrate the angst over the war and what it means to both of them and their relationship really well. Yes, they both do have bigger things to worry about, yet in the moonlight, she can't help it. It really shows human nature to worry about things that should be far more trivial in times of crisis, which is a great tool to reach an audience, I think. The big things weigh and loom, but in a shadow within a shadow, the small things add up and sometimes affect us more than the Big Thing.
The motif of distance in comparison with the horizon is a fascinating one. The horizon is a tricky thing, so it really adds to the uncertainty of Ginny's situation. Not only does she have no idea where Harry is location-wise, she doesn't have a clue when he'll get back, and the imagery of the jagged horizon works well with that idea and really works well for your poem in general.
Overall, I think the structure works. I don't remember what it was supposed to look like originally, but the indented sections create an engaging visual effect. And all of this compiles into a fabulous poem. Very well done!
Summary: The note arrived on his desk without fanfare, so when he opened it, Harry had no idea its contents would change his life.
If he had known, would he still have read?
For the note was from Malfoy. Harry had something of his, and he wanted it back.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. I am not even a pale imitation.
This story is for the marvellously wonderful and kickass Jess (ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor) who despite her long username deserves muchos amour today on her birthday. ~ Enjoy!
Rating temporarily lowered because of a prissy glitch. This story is 6th-7th.
Seriously, yo. Major flailage to the lushness of this fic, and yay for you writing it for meeeeee!
Author's Response: The fact that I've jolted you from your usual measured reviews means more to me than 10,000 SPEW reviews (well, possibly). Glad you enjoyed it and I'm giggling at the flailing. ~Carole~
I will review properly at some point, but oh my Prongs, this is just amazing. It's dark and uncouth and horrible and ugly and beautiful and just kind of perfect. None of that makes sense, but I don't know what else to say. :3
Thank you so much for this. It was a brilliant drabble, but this is by far richer and darker and so much fuller. You are divine.
Author's Response: I'm so glad you liked it :) I was amazed at how highly you thought of the drabble, and so am delighted you thought the expanded version was a story which brightened (or not, given the content...) your birthday week! Thanks for the review, and your squeeing is lovely- Alex
Summary: This story is a missing moment from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We know Ron and Hermione descend into the Chamber of Secrets in search of basilisk fangs, and we know they succeed. But what exactly happened down there? This story provides a possible answer to that question.This is WeasleyMom of Hufflepuff writing for the Illustration for Inspiration Challenge in the Great Hall. My inspiration was a drawing done by Carole/EquinoxChick, featuring Hermione's hand stabbing the cup with a basilisk fang. Thanks, Carole! You unknowingly pushed me to write something I've had in my head since DH came out. Thrilled to announce this story tied for third place in the challenge! Holy Hufflepuff! This won a 2012 QSQ Award for Best Canon Romance, one-shot! I am thrilled and so, so grateful!
In canon, this is oft a Gryffindor realm,
But several times, the Slyths took the helm.
Here, on the boards, the Badgers win tidily,
But methinks the rest could come roaring back mightily!
Summary: There is magic the likes of which humans can barely remember and seldom experience. There is, however, a handful of men privileged enough to experience a part of it: the Dryad's Consorts.
Written for the last third of Madame Alex's Character Triathalon!
Many thanks to Maple for the beta; I couldn't see myself sending this one to anyone else.
Anything you recognise is JKR's. Anything you don't recognise is possibly mine, but probably JKR's.
Wood-nymphs, more commonly known as Dryads, are first and last mentioned in the Potterverse by Fleur in Goblet of Fire. In Greek mythology, these cunning magical creatures are entirely female, and must capture and seduce human men in order to bear daughters and heirs to their forests. In other works of literature they are described as bold and highly territorial, with voracious, er, "appetite" for particular intimate activities. So, basically a shy Herbologist's every fantasy...
This story is so. Freaking. Cool.
I suppose I vaguely had an idea what a dryad/wood nymph was before I read this, but you really brought her purpose, her existence, the essence of her soul to life. Now I can't imagine a wood nymph being anything else but what you've shown here.
Merlin, the research you would've had to do! But I think it's worth it, as this story is a feat in itself. Had I know that this is what you were writing, I would've answered your CCT question right away instead of wibbling over it. Not only is this indelibly an original character fic, it's unique and incredible.
Naturally, you don't write much fic without Neville, but he is, of course, the only choice for this role. Who else but he is worthy of the gift of a dryad's love? And Melea does love him in whatever way she can, I think.
Now, on to Melea. You have imbued her with a splendid role, as both a mother and protector of the forest, but as a being with a measure of free will, one that allows Neville to live his life in the human world and trusts him to come back to her. I think she realises that he is a man in a million who would actually keep his promise to do so.
As I read your descriptions of the wind's nocturne, the song of the forest, I think I felt a little of what Neville did. There is just a deep level of understanding forged into those words, the words neither Melea nor Neville could ever find, that allowed me, a mere human, a glimpse into that world and understand its unfaltering power. It's a powerful bit of writing and completely unfair that I will never be able to do that. Kudos for that little shudder of delight.
Perhaps, though, the most heady of triumphs in this story is how you managed to encapsulate the important parts of the relationship between Melea and Neville. Watching him grow older in bounds was not sudden, but an intuitive glimpse into Melea's perception of his much more fragile life cycle, but while her own dwindles, as well. Staying alive while feeling the call of death to introduce her daughter to her inheritance and her paternity was an amazing gift from Melea to Althaea. I feel honoured almost that I got to witness it, like one marvels at once-in-a-lifetime natural events or a monumental turn in history. That was a incredible piece of writing.
All in all, I am ridiculously happy that you wrote this story and that you shared it with us. Whatever reads/reviews this has currently, it isn't enough, and I'm very put out that I have to wait a year to nominate it for a QSQ. So very excellent. Thank you. Just...thank you.
Summary: It was a summer like any other for Danny. He worked at his parents' Bed and Breakfast during the day and partied hard on the beach at night. He played the game, and played it well. But then he met Oliver Wood, and his life was irrevocably changed.
This is Equinox Chick and this is my entry for the OC challenge in the Character Clinic. This is the Shipping Prompt. (and has nothing to do with ships - hee hee.)
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. Sadly Oliver Wood belongs to her, but Danny is mine.
My protagonist, Danny, was briefly mentioned in my story Drowning, not Waving. This is his story and has been written nearly a year after Jess (ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor) asked me to write it.
This story won the 2013 QSQ for Best SSP and Danny won the 2013 QSQ for Best Original Character. I thank the judges, very much.
Even knowing what happens in this story, I was entranced. Danny is just so lush. I love his cool confidence and put-on nonchalance about his dalliances. I think the fleeting nature of them affects him more than he wanted to or allowed anyone else to believe.
Oliver was very reminiscent of the withdrawn bloke we saw in DNW, but his excellence in sports and laser-like focus when it comes to it were very much canon. However, the way he most stood out is how you made him your own. The young man who stood in front of a prone Danny and took a lashing from Robert was the man who went back to Hogwarts and fought in the battle. You brought that full circle subtly, and it was greatly appreciated.
I loved the minor characters in this, like Mike the Twat Cricket Player, Kay the Slutty Sister Who Enjoyed Her Conquests, Robert the Bastard Git Dad Who Needs to Rot in Fiendfyre, and Mum the One Who Knows What Needs to Be Done To Protect Her Boy and Her Family. And that was obnoxious to type. Anyway, I just thought the cast was well-played in roles that make sense and intermixed well to help set up the story.
Gah. My lovely boys. I was grinning like an idiot while they were messing around, and I actually thought Oliver's lovemaking was in character, if that makes sense. The boy is good with his hands, but he was firm and focused on what he wanted to do. And Danny, the dear, he definitely cared about Oliver enough to help him into it. I know most girls shrink off at the thought of oral, so that Danny wanted Oliver to be comfortable spoke volumes about the difference between his thing with this 'grockle' and the others who had come before.
And yayyyy, the book signing! I'm glad Oliver had that chance to be confident in who he was (both as a wizard amongst Muggles and as a gay man) to shout it to the whole bookstore that he was the one Danny wrote about. And then the note. Unf. Say YES to the hut, my loves. If only to be a leering fly on the wall...
This was a gorgeous fic, Carole, and I have brought you nothing but flailage. However, it is all I have to offer in turn for this stunning character portrait. Thank you for writing this, and thank you for giving Oliver the chance to meet Danny and learn to be what he is and not what is expected.
Author's Response: Thank yooooooooooo *flaiiiiiiils* at the review. I did, in the end, ebjopy writing this. there were parts when i wanted it to die in fiendfyre - ha ha - especially when I knew I had to write the violence because I really didn't want Danny to get hurt, but it had to be done :( because I'd already written it in DNW. Why do I do such foolish things without thinking of the consequences?!! Silly Croll!
Ah, Mike-the Twat - ha ha. I dk why he became such a twat. Originally he was going to be Dan's best friend, but that didn't work very well, so he became a prat. Kay I rather liked. i now imagine her getting knocked up by one of her conquests and living forever in the fading seasdie town ... unless she marries Mike the Twat.
Glad you spotted Danny's insecurity. I think he's so used to holiday flings not working out that he had more or less given up, but then Oliver wasn;t his usual pretty boy. Hmm, I wonder if it would have worked out. I think the fact that he was a Muggle was a barrier, but also Oliver is so focused on Quidditch and winning, would he really find time for Danny. When he's older, however ... But *sigh* Cedric will always be in the way.
,br> So pleased I made you flail. I got so much satisfaction finally getting this written, so anything else is a bonus, but flailage is wonderful! Thanks again ~Carole~
Summary: She wasn't ready, he had always known that. She pushed herself too hard, too fast, and when it all began to get too much, Katie didn't know how to handle it.
And Oliver knew that he didn't have the power to help.
This is a stunning story, and so much different than your regular style. If I didn't know beforehand that you'd written it, I never would've figured it out by guessing. The pure tactile, physical nature of it, along with the sensuality, make it gritty, passionate, and so very much up my alley!
Oliver, to me, was a refreshing departure from the man-child we left off with in Prisoner of Azkaban. Yes, he's got the drive, the competitive nature, and the drive to not only succeed but to propel those around him, as well; however, he is also the kind of man who would come back, risking life and limb, to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts. There is a tempered sense of humanity about him that might've been lacking in the third book, where he was willing to let Harry ride the Firebolt without a full inspection.
I think this is a good change from his younger self because it shows that he recognises that Katie matters more than her ability to contribute to the team, that her state of mind isn't defined by her will or her refusal to acknowledge weakness in herself. But also, it allows him to see her for her, not as a cog in the team machine, but as someone he cares about and eventually falls in love with.
As for Katie, I think you built a really important set of variables in her attitude to set up the self-harm scenario. First off, she was defensive and refused help; second, she was abnormally driven and unwilling to consider her own health; finally, she cut out Oliver from her life -- not, I suspect, because she was angry with him so much as his potential role in ending her cutting, which she used like a security blanket when she announced that it was her body to do with as she pleased.
Their romance was built gradually, which really emphasised Oliver's desire not to push her too far. But more than that, I think it allowed Oliver, as the narrator, to open up the door to the critical issues in the story by showing the signs to me as the reader that she was in trouble but make them subtle enough that it takes him some time to figure it out. Coupling that with the romantic tension that evolved into a more sexual relationship makes it feel like a train wreck waiting to happen between them.
One theme in this story that I felt was important was agency -- free will. It was woven so tightly into the story that one cannot help but think about it. Did Oliver violate Katie's right to her own body by thwarting her spot on the team (which is what I assumed happened after he found out she was cutting, though it wasn't directly stated), since he probably never would've found out about it had they not been in an intimate relationship? It's a great question to pose in a story, and the answer could mean several things to several people.
With what I see, I think Oliver did the right thing, because when Katie invited him into her heart and her life, she did grant him a place of prominence in her life and her decision-making. Not noticing a stranger or casual acquaintance's self-harm issue is one thing; no moral onus is put on passers-by for not intervening. But when someone is entwined into a person's daily life and has a vested interest in the other's emotional/physical/spiritual health, one does whatever is necessary to preserve their loved one, as well as their own peace of mind. A man like Oliver, especially as portrayed in the story, doesn't seem the type to be able to sleep at night knowing he could help and didn't.
Your writing style is so clean and bare here, which allows the story to speak for itself. There are a lot of powerful aspects of the fic, ones that are raw and aching; allowing them to shine rather than utilising copious metaphor, simile, parallelism, or what have you really gives it a chance to connect to readers on all levels. Where I think it's particularly sharp is when Oliver first confronts Katie about her cutting. The narrative voice isn't romantic or condemning or tragic, but rather it steps aside to let me feel Oliver's aching for her along with him without couching it in hidden meaning. That honesty is one of the story's biggest strengths for that reason.
Overall, this is a great fic. The characterisation was rich, well-considered, and raw. Coupled with crisp storytelling and careful themes, it is by far my favourite story of yours I've ever read. I am not just saying this because it was a gift for me, but rather because I genuinely feel like you hit so many homeruns with this that it can't help but float to the top. Very, very well done, and thank you very much for this beautiful gift.
Summary: She feels the familiar pang of disappointment that they've never been better friends. But that doesn't mean she can't try one last time to put him at ease.
This story is so intense and thick that I can't even believe how short it is. There is just so much meat to it and pure sensation on the page that it feels almost voyeuristic reading it.
I just get Teddy's characterisation here. It's hard to see him as a lonely little boy when he's doing the naughty with his godfather's wife, but it really feels like he is. From the moment he said he would be anything she wanted him to be, it seemed like he was trying to please someone at last, since he couldn't please his ex-girlfriend enough to keep her around. I think being with Ginny, who his godfather loves and reveres, gives him a sense of power because it makes him feel desired and desirable - heady stuff after a rejection.
Ginny's characterisation is a bit more complex than that and harder to read. I've myself written a story that featured Ginny having a moment of infidelity because Harry was a twat (albeit unintentionally) and never really took the time for her that she needed. I'm kind of getting that vibe here. I'd like to know more about what made her "already accept what was about to happen", and how she came to that conclusion. Maybe she was feeling too old or too undesirable, or maybe she was just tired of Harry. I'd love to know your headcanon for this scenario and some insight into her psyche other than what's on the page.
I guess I never thought about it, but sex with a Metamorphmagus would be inventive by nature. However, seeing it through Ginny's eyes, the embodiment of her sexual frustrations and her disappointment that her husband won't learn her secret places and hidden desires makes it kind of sad to read, because I feel like they will both deeply regret what happened sometime in the future.
I think, at least to me, the greatest triumph of this story is the pacing. Nothing felt rushed in terms of storytelling, yet it still managed to relay the frenetic relationship between Ginny and Teddy, while at the same time wending its way into the times they are more comfortable with one another and their trysts are far more frequent and languid. All this was conveyed expertly and subtly, which is an artform I've seen from you in past works.
Overall, this is a fantastic (if not a little weird in the pairing department) fic, and I'm glad I stumbled upon it in my yearly fic crawl for QSQ time. Its shocking nature and pat execution make it one of my favourite fics I've turned up. Thanks for sharing!
Summary: A chance meeting in a graveyard brings the two ends of the tragedy full circle, and ties them together in a knot of completion. Loss never fades, but the remaining pieces can make a new whole again. Rated AU for the assumption that Lily Potter's father was still living at the end of the second wizarding war.
This story won First Place in the Terrible Two-Shot Challenge.
This story was nominated for the 2014 Quicksilver Quill Awards: Best Non-Canon Romance and Best Alternate Universe.
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
Summary: Shaking free of one's chains is never easy. Least of all, for Draco Malfoy.Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling. (Duh.) Dedication: I wrote this for Carole/Equinox Chick, because I've wanted to write her a birthday fic for three years and failed, because her encouragement has meant more to me than she could possibly know, and because she told me to write more Draco. (What?) She's also Mistress of The Brawl, from whence this fic came.
I remember skimming this when it came out (I don't escape the queue for reading much these days), but I don't think I appreciated how beautiful this story is. There is so much here for a short fic, but without being difficult.
There is so much truth in the mentions of the cage. We're all in cages, aren't we - bound by an invisible set of parameters cast by the people around us and above us; imagine how heavy those bonds would be if we'd done what Draco had done? But, really, I think the thickest bars were the ones Draco put up himself. He didn't say he knew what he'd done better than they, but his crimes. The fall of Voldemort probably wasn't the first realisation that he had that he was a criminal, and it wouldn't be the last.
I like the sheer characterisation of what each of the Malfoys did once they returned to the Manor. All of them knew what was going to happen, so they chose to face it with aristocratic dignity. It feels so much like them.
The description in this story is also brilliant. Every word has a purpose and an impact on me as a reader - most especially, the description of the hourglass gems on the floor, mixing together like everyone at the tables after the battle. There are just so many things to point out, I can't even bring them all up here without copy/pasting the whole fic.
This is, I think, some of your best work. I know Draco isn't a character you choose to write about often and probably wouldn't have done if not for a gift, but if you can have this level of clarity and understanding for a character who is by far not your favourite, I'm pretty sure you could write a Dramione medieval princess AU and make it fantastic. :)
Summary: Christmas is a time for couples to be together. But for Zacharias Smith and Cormac McLaggen, their time together ran out long before festive season had begun. It would take a miracle to get them back together. Or maybe a Fairy Godmother in the unlikely form of Romilda Vane.
Under My Skin is a sequel to Truth or Dare, but it won't be necessary to read that to understand this. But it did win a QSQ, and is one of my favourites. I dedicate this story to hestiajones because I know she loves a bit of ZacMac. Merry Christmas, Natalieeeeee.
I am Equinox Chick and this is my entry for Prompt 3 - Unexpected Guests - in the Let The Yule Tide Roll Challenge.
I am not JK Rowling, or Cole Porter.
This is so lush. So many stories featuring unlikely pairings end just when the relationship starts, usually because both author and reader know it won't last and don't want to think about it. The first ZacMac fic was like that, I think - two irrepressible gits in a nebulous relationship. This fic, however, picks up after what one might consider the inevitable crash 'n' burn, and builds it back up.
I think I like Cormac's characterisation the most, because you see how concerned he still is about what people think of him and allows himself to be controlled by his father, even if it's not for entirely selfish reasons. Towards the end, you see that he is taking a bullet for Zach by not making him a target for Cormac's dad.
Zach, of course, never realised this because he had always been so oblivious about the nuances of publicity. He saw and acknowledged that he was overlooked and it bothered Zach to an extent, but it didn't define who he was.
The part about Zach's dad was so very horrible to think about, so I was relieved when Jethro wasn't suffering. Sure, Zach took it so hard and probably thought about the circumstances of his father's dementia every day, but it gave him a humanity that he had lacked (certainly) in canon, and even in Truth or Dare. I nearly cried when he did because I understood what it meant for him to get to that point and the level of heartbreak and despair it entailed.
I like Romilda so much. Her laissez-faire attitude and droll sense of amusement (usually at Cormac's expense) make her an inviting change against Cormac's borderline alcoholism and lack of drive to make his own destiny. She makes him a better person, even if they couldn't work things out between them. Moreover, though, I think her true feelings of friendship make her Cormac's best and greatest ally. She could've easily ruined both Zach and Cormac by slipping a few sordid lines into her column, but she didn't. It makes her respectable in a characteristically non-respectable line of work, and thus an enjoyable contradiction.
Your storytelling is smooth and lovely, as usual. I found myself swept away by the fic and never wanted it to end. You really know how to write unsympathetic characters and make them light up a page, both good and bad. There are so many little things, like word choice and dialogue tags and so many others, that highlight the best portions of your writing and make the story just that much better.
Cheers, and thank you for the delicious slashiness.
Author's Response: Romilda is entirely down to you and the lushness of Steel Hearts :D.
Um, thank you very much for such a lovely review. I agree ZacMac was a pairing that was doomed to fail, a crash and burn as you say, not least because in ToD, they were both pissed and pissed off. But even though in my canon they didn't last much after that initial shag, I did think of them getting back together, maybe several times before finally coming out as a couple. This is a getting back together and Cormac is facing a few truths - not least that he drinks too much and really isn;t happy being this perceived womaniser.
I don't know why I've become more sympathetic to Zach. I do still think he's a tosser, but I don't believe he deserves such hate because of his 'cowardice'. There are worse things, imo. Yeah, he shouldn't have run ahead of the younger kids, but then again, he was the one who could have been made to fight.
Uhm ... I've lost my train of thought - ha ha. Just remembered, though, that Hamish McLaggen was supposed to have had a bigger part in this, so I might have to write something else for him. I hope you picked up on his wish to dress up as Harry Potter - ha ha. Made me giggle writing that.
Thank you for the stupendous review. I had a laugh and a cry writing this, so I appreciate you R & R'ing. ~Carole
Summary: An aisling on the state of wizards' relations with the so-called "magical brethren" depicted in the Ministry Atrium.
I would keysmash, but autocorrect doesn't do well with that. Your poetry takes my breath away, as usual. I think the best part is how you captured the various cast of the fountain, but colored by their respective views on not only their place on the fountain, but in the world.
Short but sweet, this poem has no less of your brand of magic than usual, but with an unexpectedly captivating subject. Well done!
Summary: She understands what it's like to rail against something you have no control over, how helpless you feel. She's no fourteen-year-old child any longer, and just because you shared one dance a thousand years ago doesn't mean you're in love.
Over the course of seven years Hannah Abbott loses her mother, finds courage, grows up, and watches as two best friends fall in love, all the while the war continues to close in around her and every day promises to be the last.
Slash warning is for Michael/Terry pairing
This story is beautiful in so many ways. The structure, the concept of personal growth, and seeing truth in oneself through others are all wonderful engines to paint a character like Hannah, who we barely knew in canon but couldn't imagine her not being there. It's nice when she can get the nod and have a story for herself.
The vignette format worked so well for the shifting timelines, and the enumeration of them helped it read like a list of life-changing events for her, somehow amplifying their relative importance. Also, it allowed the story to span a greater amount of time so we could see how Hannah went from that shy girl with a crush on boys she thought would never look at her to the one who still had a bit of a crush but knew it wasn't the be-all-end-all. That's marvellous character development, but also a life lesson that most of us have to learn the hard way, via broken hearts and shattered dreams of true love and grandeur. In short, it anchored the life and times of a magical fictional character heavily and completely in the annals of reality.
It was lovely to watch Hannah grow throughout the story. She didn't seem to think much of herself for most of the story - thinking herself weak, too shy to be attractive, and not a brave go-getter who got what she wanted because she wouldn't let it be otherwise. It's not hard to see that she envied her mother's fire and desperately wishes she'd inherited more of it, and I think that did a number on her when her mother passed because feeling like that towards a dead person would stir up a lot of mixed feelings for someone like Hannah. In a way, I think the war helped her come to terms with how her personality differed from her mother's and from how she wished she was.
In a way, the Michael/Terry sub-plot was just as much an element of Hannah's character development as it was a device for it. There is a heavy parallel between Michael's skittishness of being outed in fourth year and Hannah's shame over her dreams of being swept away. Both of them are hiding from themselves via illusions, with Hannah fancying herself in love with the first boy who pays attention to her and Michael aligning himself with a series of beards.
It took a defining moment in rescuing Timmy from the dungeons for them to both understand what mattered: Hannah that she was strong and could be strong for someone else, and Michael that he needed Terry as much as he loved him, that depriving himself of that was hurting both of them. There's a certain symmetry to it that I can't help but appreciate.
All and all, despite the gaps in months and years between segments, this story feels very complete because it hits all the right notes for me as a reader. It tells a story about a person, about important events, and even touches on other characters' lives and makes them more vivid than even JKR's work. Moreover, it adds a different hue to the spectrum of Year 7, which is one of my favourite genres.
Well done, and thanks for sharing.
Summary: Hermione knew she had to try harder, either to heal faster or hide her failing more effectively. She did not understand why the PsychoSocial Healing sessions hadn't worked for her as they had for Harry and Ron. She did not understand why she was still lost, still low, still struggling to breathe, and talk, and see, and live.
This story was a great read. It had far more action and character-building than one might expect in a fic of its size, yet it wasn't so dense that it was difficult to get through.
I liked the anthropromorphization of Hermione's scars as a manifestation of Bellatrix when she was in a triggering place, because it contains that dark, aching realism for Hermione that she is someone who condemns part of herself for a pain she cannot bear to face, let alone conquer. And also how she associated Draco with that crippling fear, as well.
I think the real victory in the story, however, was the characterization of Draco. There are many, many reasons why Draco being someone's trauma counselor should fail dramatically, but you made it work by association with recovery rather than the actual trauma itself. I started reading the story with the expectation that this premise would fail, so imagine my surprise when you not only gave Hermione and Draco common ground, you gave them the time and space they needed to stand on that ground at the same time long enough to find one another.
One thing that did crop up for me as a bit of a stumbling block was the appearance of the Mudblood scar and the fact that it isn't how it happened in book canon, but rather in the films. One reason I could think of to validate the deviation is that we never directly saw Hermione's torture, rather than heard it, and that Harry often lacks empathetic perception of others and could have missed the scars while they were fleeing the Manor, but I digress. Most of the stories I read are ones I moderate, so I'm constantly on the prowl for things like this.
Moving on, the mental health aspect of this story was stunning. Anyone who has had PTSD, I think, could point out things that they understand and identify with. That pressing feeling of being broken and pathetic, and it was not the fault of the person/places/things that broke them but their own weakness. It also tickles depression in that way, as well, which makes both Hermione's illness and her recovery feel real to me.
Overall, this is a story I probably never would've read, as most of the stories I read are from the queue or of a pairing I ship and enjoy, but this has been a welcome aberration. Your writing is rich yet clear in its intent, and despite the pairing being one of the most abused in fanfic, your characterization lends credibility and believability to both the plot and the premise.
Well done, and thank you for sharing!
Author's Response: Hello Jess!
I appreciate you giving this story a chance. I agree that the Dramione pairing can be "abused", though I try not to be a perpetrator of too many fanfic felonies, hehe. I completely understand the stumbling block you found, which I should probably clarify. I wrote this fic for a fest I participated in on a Dramione-centric website called Hawthorn and Vine. The prompt was a gorgeous piece of fanart ("Branded" by Glutton - please do look it up!) that prominently featured Hermione's "Mudblood" scar. I couldn't very well leave that detail out! And actually, I think the inclusion of Hermione's scar in the movie was genius. It provides a beautiful parallel between Draco and Hermione and is a physical manifestation of the trauma Hermione must've suffered after her torture. I'm flattered that the mental health issues I dealt with felt real to you. I agree that Draco acting as a counselor is very likely to fail, but I never really considered taking the story in that direction. I think there is enough between them that they can support and heal each other. And I'm always pleased to hear that my character-building is on point. That can make or break a story.
Thanks again for taking the time to read this story and leave such a wonderful, detailed review! I'm glad I could show you that there is some merit to the good ship Dramione, and hope that perhaps you'll check out some more of it! ;D