I loved how you began this piece. I felt that you really portrayed the nervousness both Ron and Hermione had about Ron’s meeting with Hermione’s parents well. Throughout the first five paragraphs, you gave me a beautiful mental picture of how Ron and Hermione were acting. The thing I really liked was that through the extremely vivid mental picture you provided, Ron’s and Hermione’s thoughts were apparent to the reader. I think how you avoided telling the reader that both Ron and Hermione were apprehensive, and rather allowed the reader to assume that based on the body language and actions you described so vividly positively affected the piece.
In the next paragraph, the line, “Ron first noticed how much he would like to run to the nearest potted plant and spill his guts,” made me stop for a moment. Your use of the word “first” made me expect a list to follow. Because no list followed, I felt that your use of the word “first” made the paragraph sound somewhat awkward. If this were my piece, I’d remove the word first, or possibly include some type of list. (“Ron first noticed how much he would like to run to the nearest potted plant and spill his guts,” then he realized that there wasn’t a single potted plant in sight.”)
I really liked how you described Ron’s first encounter with Mr. and Mrs. Granger (paragraphs 7-9). To me, it felt quite realistic. I thought that the way you described Ron’s voice as “shaking slightly” very nicely conveyed the way Ron was feeling. The only thing that didn’t sound quite right to me was this piece of dialogue, “Mother! I’ve missed you too. You know Ron, Mum.” It somewhat confused me that Hermione greeted her mum as Mother, but then referred to her later as Mum. I would assume that Hermione would either address her mum as Mother or Mum. I personally would have Hermione address her mum as Mum rather than Mother, as mum is the more informal of the two. In the Harry Potter series, I believe the only people who refer to their mothers as Mother are Malfoy and Percy. I would guess that Malfoy does it because he thinks it sounds more ritzy than Mum, and that Percy does it because he thinks it sounds more ritzy, formal, and adult. I don’t see Hermione as being nearly as pretentious as Malfoy or Percy, or being as formal. Though, technically she could call her mum either. However, I think that a. addressing her mum by title/name twice in two sentences doesn’t sound very typical, and b. using both formal and informal titles so close together sounds quite right to me.
I found it somewhat strange, that Hermione was introducing her fiancé to her parents in their office. The fact that the meeting was obviously planned, made the situation sound a bit more odd to me. I personally imagine Hermione as organizing a family dinner for her parents to meet Ron. Also, the probability of meeting while Mr. and Mrs. Granger were working seems even stranger. When Mrs. Granger said, “Sweetheart, come out here and greet your daughter! Let Jessica attend to Peter, come out, quick!” very much jumped out at me. I already said that having the meeting while Mr. and Mrs. Granger were working didn’t sound particularly responsible to me. The fact that Mr. Granger left a patient to come meet Hermione and Ron didn’t seem realistic to me. When he didn’t immediately return to the patient, it didn’t seem ethical at all. I would assume that Hermione’s parents were very responsible, because they raised Hermione. Hermione is unarguably an obsessively responsible person. I would guess that part of her responsibility comes from her parents, which makes Mr. Granger leaving a patient seem unrealistic to me.
I really liked how you portrayed Hermione’s annoyance. I could completely picture her fuming about he parents behaving like that. Though, I think she would have stepped in. Hermione does seem very respectful throughout the books, but I can’t imagine her not saying something to stop something she thought was getting completely out of hand.
I found Hermione’s parents examining Ron’s teeth and even putting a cavity in slightly unrealistic. First of all, I know doctors won’t care for a member of their family, due to ethical issues. I would guess that these basic ethics apply to dentistry. I can see Mr. and Mrs. Granger asking Ron which dentist he sees, but I can’t at all imagine them actually cleaning his teeth and putting a cavity in. First of all, for all Hermione’s parents know, Ron could have a dentist. I don’t think that caring for someone’s teeth without having their dental records is realistic. They don’t know if he’s allergic to novacane (which I’m assuming they used, judging from the way Ron’s speaking afterward).
On the whole, I thought that your writing was lovely. Throughout pretty much the whole story, I felt that you did a fabulous job showing the character’s emotions and personalities through their actions.
Author's Response: Thanks so much for your review Meg, I lurveee you :) You really gave me insights to things that I didn't even notice before! I wish I had more time to respond, but I've got to go, so let me end by saying: You rock! -Danielle
I liked how the first stanza just set the scene. The first three lines flowed quite nicely, but the line “Death is searching for me” didn’t really sound right to me. Starting two lines in a row with the word “Death,” in my opinion, sounded a little awkward.
I don’t really feel like Bellatrix was really in character in the poem. In the books, Bellatrix is portrayed as completely fanatical in her devotion to Voldemort. So, I can’t see her not caring about the outcome of the battle, as she is completely obsessed with Voldemort’s cause. I would guess that people probably do quite a bit of reflection as they lay dying, but I don’t think their personalities would flip. I feel like Bellatrix would be a staunch death eater until she died.
The last line of the second stanza especially felt out of character. The idea that there can be no true victor in battle is a very gray concept. To me, Bellatrix seems like a very black and white person. She enjoys torture and murder, so I can’t see her remarking that there is no true winner in war. I view her as feeling that the people in The Order didn’t deserve to live, and that The Death Eaters died nobly. She didn’t really seem attached to anyone except Narcissa and Voldemort, so I doubt she’d be terribly upset at most deaths. If Narcissa died, I see her as being upset but thinking that Narcissa died for a noble cause. If Voldemort died, well I think she’d throw a major tantrum and trying to kill anyone she could.
The first three lines of the third stanza sounded brilliant together, but I felt that starting the fourth line with “I know” broke the flow. If it were my poem, I would take out I know and add the word “now, so, the line would read, “I now cannot be redeemed.”
The sixth and last stanza also felt out of character to me. I can’t see Bellatrix ever apologizing for anything, except to Voldemort.
I thought quite a bit about your repition of the phrase, “As I lie dying.” I felt that it accented the point that Bellatrix was dying, which is a vital point to the story. Leaving it in, certainly emphasized the fact that Bellatrix was dying, but I felt that your poem didn’t really need the extra emphasis. You did a wonderful job of setting the scene, and I don’t think you needed the extra assistance provided by the line “As I lie dying.” On the whole, I felt that the stanzas flowed very well together, and that having a phrase repeated between them broke the flow of the poem.
Overall, I thought that your poem was excellent. I really liked how you had each line as a sentence. I thought that it gave the verse a slightly atypical flow, which I really enjoyed. My only big critique about the poem is the characterization; to me it isn’t Bellatrix. I felt that the characterization was more like how I imagine Snape, upon finding out about Lily’s death.
Author's Response: Thanks for the very detailed review.
It never ceases to amaze me how long your updates are. In most cases you make good use of the words, but in this case I think the chapter was too long for the amount of content. Obviously the fact that Christmas was a little over a week ago, affected the content of the chapter. (Out of curiosity, did you plan for the Chistmas chapter to be published so close to Christmas, or was it simply coincidental?) But, I don’t think that the content of this chapter really needed almost 10,000 words to be told well.
There were a lot of paragraphs, which were explanations, which really weren’t needed. (for example, it’s nice to know what Shiloh and her family normally do for Christmas, but not really important.) There was also a lot of content, which I would describe as fluff (but since I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I really can’t judge what was important and unimportant. However, I highly doubt that the whole Heretics’s Christmas get together had to be so long).
I’m also quite curious as to whether Shiloh’s mum and dad being worried about the events at Hogwarts and wanting to withdraw Shiloh will be an important in the later plot, or if it was just a way to develop their characters, or if you put it in to add some ‘action’ to the chapter.
On another note, I really liked out you begun the chapter. It was a really nice transition from the last one. I think at the beginning you did a really good job expressing Shiloh’s feelings about finding out that Professor Snape was her father, and about telling her parents. It felt very in-character and realistic. And, was certainly my favorite part of the chapter.
I was very curious as to whether you would include a passage with Professor Snape. I think it was a good idea to keep it short, as it wouldn’t really do anything for your plot and character development to have a long scene focusing on a probably depressed and sentimental Professor Snape, and in fact I think you could have done without the scene at the end.
Author's Response: Thanks for another detailed review. However, I really don't agree with you about this chapter at all. I struggled with this chapter too, since I realized it wasn't as exciting as the last few chapters. However, that's what I believe made this chapter so important. After what I put Shiloh through in the last three chapters, I believe she deserved to have some time of peace and senseless fluff. Plus, this is an important Christmas for them. I don't regret this chapter, not a single, solitary word. There were several reasons why I added what I did with Alan and Elaine. One, because I do believe that they, along with many other parents were extremely concerned about what went on at Hogwarts that year (and other years). Two, it was the reason Shiloh wouldn't have told them about Severus and that's a secret that needs to remain a secret...at least for now. ~Chante'
I’m not exactly sure what to think of this story. I was quite impressed at your depiction of Snape. Snape is a near impossible character to write well, and I give you a great deal of credit for managing to do it in first person.
I very much liked how most of the story was Snape’s thoughts, occasionally punctuated by what was happening in the story. Thoughts are often written as ramblings, so I thought it was wise of you to keep the story under 5,000 words. In fact, I think that there were a handful of paragraphs that could have been cut out. For example, the paragraph about the badges the Azkaban guards wear, it’s nice to know but not strictly necessary. In a story like this, I think you want every sentence to contribute to the characterization or the plot, and many of the sentence which were unnecessary actually (in my opinion) broke the flow of the story.
I also wasn’t a big fan of when you had Snape directly say something about himself. For example:
“While I have on occasion enjoyed putting on a show for mindless idiots, such as during Lockhart's amusing duelling club, I much prefer solitude.”
But, I did really like the amount of self-doubt he seemed to have as to whether he deserved to be put in Azkaban. I thought that having Snape asking himself whether he was evil was an excellent decision. Even though Snape is a textbook ‘shades of gray’ character, I can see him obsessing over the question of whether his behaviors were justified by his motives, and therefore ‘good’, or whether they were evil. Even though I’m sure if asked, (assuming he answered) he would use the ‘shades of gray’ argument, I really doubt that subconsciously Snape has let go of the idea of good and evil.
On a final note, I did greatly like your characterization of Harry. Harry is (in my opinion) a character who believes everything is either good or evil. And, again I thought you did a good job with that.
Author's Response: Thank you for your review. I think you're probably right about cutting -- I've always been a wordy writer. And your example is an example of telling, rather than showing. I'll definitely keep that in mind for future stories. Overall, though, I'm very glad you liked my characterisation of Snape and of Harry! Those were my main focuses. ~Vorona
Natalie, this is my absolute favorite thing that you've written (that I've read). I've been meaning to review it for ages, but it feels rather intimidating to review something so good, so I hope my review does it justice.
I really liked how you showed the change in Rita. As a young girl, she was so likable and easy to relate to. In the books, I saw her as almost insecure, wanting recognition, and fame. Her insecurity about her looks and her family's lack of money made her faintly recognizable as the Rita we see in the books, and as the story progressed, I thought, those similarities became more pronounced. It seemed like you centered Rita's character development on her insecurities about herself and how she compensated for them, which, I thought, worked really well. It connected the piece nicely, and it made her very relatable.
Using Rita's relationships with Margaret and Henry to shape the change in her character was, in my opinion, very effective. Margaret made Rita's insecurities very apparent. By pointing out all the things that, Margaret thought, were wrong with Rita, I think Margaret made Rita very uncertain of herself. Rita's crush on Henry along with her insecurities about herself, in my opinion, made her willing to change in any way to win his approval. I thought this worked really well. I found t it somewhat ironic that she originally she became this unscrupulous journalist to impress Henry, but as she became more and more committed to her new persona, she seemed to become less and less reliant on Henry's approval and admiration. You made Rita's transition from a sweet, young girl to the infamous journalist smoothly, concisely, and realistically, which really impressed me.
I thought that you did a fabulous job showing the different sides of Rita-- half the time I wanted to give Rita a kick for betraying the people she was interviewing, and the other half of the time I was cheering her on. I felt kind-of bad about it, but I was definitely cheering for Rita when she was publicizing all that scandalous stuff about Margaret. However my conscience was somewhat pacified by the fact that I felt very bad for Bertha when Rita was interrogating and blackmailing her. I really liked how you showed the side of her that wanted to be accepted and that wanted to get even with Margaret, but you also showed how she was willing to lie, blackmail, and do lots of other nasty things to accomplish her goals. I think it kept Rita in character, while also providing an understandable motive for what she was doing.
One of the biggest strengths of this piece, in my opinion, was how relatable it was. The focus you put on how Rita comes of age and becomes this unscrupulous journalist was what made this piece so readable and enjoyable. Like the actual Harry Potter series, you focused on themes that are just as relevant in the real world as in Potterverse (not to imply that Potterverse isn't real :D). I think it made the conflict in Rita's character very clear and relatable, and it also made her very sympathetic (since, I think, most people have had someone be really nasty to them and have contemplated (to varying degrees) getting revenge at almost any cost).
Finally, I really appreciated how concise this piece was. It felt like ever scene and even every sentence contributed to Rita's characterization and to the development of the plot, which I think really strengthened her character and the plot.
I really, really enjoyed reading this story. Prior to reading this, Rita was one of those characters, who I loved to hate. You made me see her in a much more sympathetic light. Your portrayal of Rita's life fits so well with canon, and yet it also feels unique.
I liked how you began the piece with the beginning of the letter. It gave the beginning of the piece an aura of suspense and mystery, which dragged me into the piece. Though, I found the first paragraph a little choppy. You began by describing the room, then suddenly jumped to describing Walburga. I felt that the description of the room didn’t add much. It certainly set the scene, but the image you gave of Walburga, gave me a very clear idea of how Alphard regards his family.
I’m not certain if you intended this, but the tone of the letter felt very formal and a little forced to me. Firstly, the mix of contractions and lack there of sounded odd to me. I suppose that Chance could have a very formal manner and using contractions/ less formality in some places could be used to indicate passion, but I would assume that in a letter asking someone to run away with you, you’d use a slightly less formal voice, considering the writer would likely be very close to the recipient. The allusion Chance is trying to cast makes me think that he would chose a very informal tone because he wants to heighten the feeling of emotional intimacy with Alphard. The other think that jumped out at me was how you used damned multiple times (three I think) in the letter. I assume that it was intended to show passion, but, for me, it made the letter sound forced and insincere, (which again, I’m not sure whether it was intentional).
When you said “He looked at her with an expression, briefly, of despair, and then glanced away.” (third paragraph after the letter), I was a bit confused for a moment. Saying briefly right in front of despair didn’t sound quite right to me. I would assume that you meant that he looked at the word briefly with an expression of despair. If so, I would move the word briefly to after looked at her, so the sentence would read “He looked at her briefly with an expression of despair.” This would clarify that the look was brief, as saying that the expression was brief sounds a little awkward to me.
I really liked when Alphard said “Walburga, pleas tell me you are tired of lies.” To me, it nicely showed a brief attempt on Alphard’s part to reach out to his sister, who I’m assuming he’s (or at one point was) close to. In the next paragraph, you said, “He was used to his sister trying to get information out of him. It had been a few years since she succeeded.” To me, these two sentences sounded a bit choppy together. If this were my piece, I’d connect them with a word, for example “He was used to his sister trying to get information out of him; though, it had been a few years since she’d succeeded.”
In this sentence, “Alphard walked straight past him, without a word, to the red leather booth in the corner next to the pool table, the balls kept in a triangle ready for the next game.” I liked the description in the first part of the sentence, but to me, describing the position of the balls on the pool table was a little too much.
Later in the piece you say, “Then he smiled lightly, and said, “I’m sorry? You are not running away with me?”” I liked how you began to hint in this line that Chance wasn’t really sorry that Alphard wasn’t running away with him. I also want to point out that I don’t think you need the comma after “Then he smiled lightly”. As you can see from my writing comma use isn’t exactly my strength, but I think there are a handful of commas in this piece that aren’t needed.
In the next paragraph you describe both Alphard and Chance in the sentences, “Chance did not like being stared at in that way. Alphard normally did not meet the eyes of the person he was talking to, and Chance was not quite sure how to deal with this new, direct approach.” I liked that you said showed the reader that Alphard was normally timid, but was now being brave, but I think it would sound better if you actually showed it through Alphard’s actions and Chance’s actions and motions. I think if you showed Alphard making eye contact and Chance flinching (or something like that) at the unusual action, it would be a little more subtle.
About 6 paragraphs down Alphard says, “STOP PRENDING.” You describe it as not being a shout, so your use of caps surprised me. I generally assume that when something’s written all in uppercase, then it’s being shouted. If I were writing something that were being emphasized but not shouted, I’d use bold or something similar. Though, I really liked how you used caps when Chance said, “She lied to ME!” To me, that really accented how he was loosing his temper, and just putting the word “me” in uppercase really showed how self centered Chance is.
Later in the piece, I didn’t really like when you showed Chance’s thoughts. As the whole piece had been told from Alphard’s point of view, jumping into Chance’s head didn’t sound quite right to me. I didn’t think that you really needed to show Chance’s thoughts, as throughout the piece the reader had a pretty good idea of what Chance was thinking and feeling from the way you described his actions.
The only other critique I had in this piece was the dialogue after Chance’s thoughts, when Alphard said, “Purebloods may have many faults, and that is because we are human. The only common fault is pride, which many Muggleborns and Muggles share. We also have a prejudice towards anyone not Pureblood.” This really sounded awkward to me. It sounded so detached and formal, that I really couldn’t see anyone saying quite that, especially in the situation Alphard’s in. (Though, I like how you show Alphard as being very very formal when he’s under mental strain.)
Obviously, I enjoyed your piece on the whole. (I especially liked the part about Lucinda, which felt very well written (especially all of Alphard’s emotions about her).) I really thought that you did a brilliant job on Alphard’s characterization. To me, he personified the way I see many Purebloods as being. It really struck me as realistic how Alphard didn’t technically believe in blood superiority, but wasn’t brave enough to stand up for it either.
Author's Response: Wow. Thank you for leaving me such a lovely long review, with so much helpful constructive criticism. This was one of the first stories I posted on MNFF which I still think is good enough to leave up, so I'm pleased you enjoyed it and Alphard's characterisation.
Your review made me look at this story again for the first time in ages and reading it I found myself agreeing with nearly everything you said, and am currently making changes accordingly. I agree with you saying that the letter sounds too formal and forced, and that the use of contractions is inconsistent but the use of the "damned"s in trying to sound passionate but coming across forced was intentional.
Re- the caps lock- well, maybe it's because I regularly overdose on Terry Pratchett novels where Death does not shout but speaks in capital letters. I think there's something authoritative and controlled about consistent capital letters, which as you point out so insightfully, Chance does not have.
I do jump around people's heads a lot, and can see why you thought it sounded disconcerting, but I feel that it is necessary to the piece in this case, though obviously not always.
I had originally planned a story about Lucinda, but I doubt I'll ever write that now GIven she is important but not actually there I'm pleased you thought that was well written, and you enjoyed Alphard's characterisation.
br> Anything I haven't mentioned- it's because I just thought "she's completely right" and have already made the changes, so thank you for that. And thanks for leaving such a helpful, lengthy review- I really appreciate it! Alex
I liked how you dedicated a stanza of this poem to each character. Beginning with defining remorse was a very neat idea, which I’ve never seen done in a poem before. However, I thought it worked nicely; especially, since you didn’t directly quote the dictionary, but rather phrased it in poetic form. I think the first stanza was about Harry, which was an interesting choice. If you asked me for characters feeling remorse, I probably wouldn’t list Harry immediately. When I think about it, though, he does feel a huge amount of remorse for everyone dying for him. I liked that you only described one episode of Harry feeling guilt over someone’s death. It kept the stanza focused, and I think if you had detailed multiple deaths that Harry felt sorry for or vaguely described many the stanza would have felt cluttered.
Lupin also was a choice that made a great deal of sense when I thought about it, but who I wouldn’t have thought of immediately. He does appear to blame himself for everything, and I can completely imagine him feeling very guilty when he returned to Tonks, after running away. Again, I thought that the stanza flowed quite nicely. I liked how you alternated the rhyme from line to line, rather than having every set of two lines rhyme. It gave the stanza a very structured flow, and kept it from sounding like a Dr. Seuss book (which I also greatly enjoy, but I don’t think it would work for this subject matter).
In a poem about remorse, Snape was an obvious choice. The flow was lovely, as always, but I’m not certain about the second to last line. I liked the idea you expressed, but it sounded a little long and wordy to me. Previously, all the lines in the middle of a stanza were of similar length, and all the lines so far in this stanza seemed to follow that pattern. I think that even though the syllable number in that line was similar to all the rest in the stanza, it felt that the line was somewhat separated by the word ‘and’. If it were my piece I would reword it along the lines of “So he dithered until he came.” Obviously, since you used ‘until’ earlier in the stanza, I wouldn’t use it again so soon. But I would use a word that indicates the passage of time, since I think it’s important to emphasize that he dithered before he came. I think since the word ‘and’ is often used to separate words in a list it broke the flow of the line a slight bit.
I’m not sure whether it was intentional, but I liked how you progressed from Harry, who I think we all agree is a really good guy. Through Snape, who is debatably a good guy, and Wormtail, who I don’t think many people like at all, to finally Voldemort, who is the ultimate villain. The stanza about Wormtail was, I thought, a nice transision between Snape and Voldemort. I liked how you began the stanza with having him not really regret or feel sorry for his actions, and ended it with him sort of sacrificing himself because he suddenly felt remorse.
I liked how you dedicated two stanzas to Voldemort. The two stanzas, I think gave an accurate portrayal of Voldemort’s inability to feel any remorse for his actions. The first of the two just gave an overview of Voldemort’s actions. I think that made the last stanza, detailing Voldemort’s refusal to feel any type of remorse, far more dramatic and powerful. I loved how you showed a contrast between Voldemort, Harry, Snape, Wormtail and Lupin. Beginning with characters who displayed huge amounts of remorse, I think, made the contrast with Voldemort very clear and climactic.
I thought that defining remorse between almost every stanza tied the poem together. However, I think it sounded a slight bit repetitive after a while, and began to detract from the main focus of the piece. I really liked how you led into the poem, by defining remorse. However, I think that repeating the definition (even though it was phrased differently each time) became somewhat redundant and broke the flow. I feel that the emphasis in this poem was on five characters dealing with remorse, and including more just shifted attention off the main idea of the piece.
I really did enjoy the piece though. I liked how you included people I wouldn’t have originally thought of, and provided contrast between the experiences of the different characters. I hope all this rambling was at least semi-coherent.
Author's Response: Hello, SPEW buddy! Wow, your review is far, far more detailed than mine. I'm sorry for being such a rubbish buddy; that's why I'm not using that for my monthly requirement, LOL. :)
I'm glad you liked the idea of defining remorse. Initially, it was only meant to be one definition... but then my muse sort of took over, and I defined it for each person in the end. And yes, I definitely agree with you re Harry. This poem wasn't meant to be all about Harry; it was meant to be about other people, so it's good to know I didn't go off track or anything!
Remus was a slightly unconventional choice of mine, so I'm glad you thought it was a good one after all. The alternating rhyme scheme was a pain in the you-know-what -- and I have read a Dr. Seuss book too, and agree with you that it wouldn't be fitting given the subject matter in the poem.
Actually, the stanza you speak of is about Ron, not Snape, although I suppose it could apply to both now you come to mention it. When I get a moment spare, I'll definitely use your reviews for reference when I finally get a chance to edit these poems, because the suggestions you gave are very helpful. Thanks for those.
You may or may not have seen, on the boards a while back, there was a discussion about how much thought you put into your work, and if you intentionally make your poems/stories drip with symbolism and are filled to the brim with literary techniques. I never do, so I'm always delighted to see that someone's found a pattern I unintentionally inserted into some of my work -- like the good guy bad guy thing you pointed out. One of the many things that makes you such a wicked SPEW reviewer is that you have such a keen eye for detail, and you notice little things like that (which, often, I don't notice!) so thank you again.
Voldemort was always going to have two stanzas, purely because the whole poem sort of builds up to Voldemort. The other men -- Harry, Ron, Remus and Peter -- have souls that are whole, unmaimed, whereas Voldemort's has been ripped apart due to his lack of remorse, so it was always going to be Voldy at the end. He has a kind of dubious honour, LOL.
I know, it was rather repetitive, repeating the definition of remorse, but I genuinely thought that if I did not stay consistent with that pattern in my poem, the stanzas couldn't tie the poem up, like you said, so I don't think I can really do anything about that. But thank you for pointing that out; I will definitely bear this in mind later.
Meg, you didn't ramble at all. This review, as always for you, was absolutely stellar. As you could see from my crappy review of your poem, I can't review poems well, so I so fangirl you for being able to do it so effortlessly :) Thank you thank you thank you!
*squishes SPEW buddy*
The irony does not escape Severus Snape as he seeks to gain the favour of the Dark Lord on, of all nights, Christmas. The spectres of days dead and gone spur him on to complete his mission, but can the fond memories stop him from committing an unspeakable act?
This story has been nominated for a 2011 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best Marauder Era Story.
Jess, I can't believe I've never reviewed anything you've written before. I've been meaning to review this since I read it when I was on the Maurader era QSQ committee. Your warning at the beginning made me snigger slightly. I thought having Snape as the main character was automatically a warning that there was delusion and borderline obsession in the storyâ€¦
My favorite part of this was Snape's characterization. Far too often Snape is portrayed as a nice person, who just had a bad childhood and made a couple bad choices. However, I think he's just a rather nasty individual, and in this story you didn't try to imply that he was just misunderstood; you showed his obsession, delusion, and cruelty. The first section of this piece highlights his obsession with Lily, by emphasizing his observation and over-analysis of minute details, such as the way she smells. His delusion is incredibly apparent in the section in which Snape sees Lily's picture and becomes convinced that she forgives him. And, the enjoyment he gets from seeing Lily's parents terror emphasizes his cruelty.
I thought that including Dolohov worked really well; it accelerated plot and character development by forcing Snape to directly face what he was doing to Lily's parents. Without Dolohov, Snape would have killed Lily's parents without so much internal conflict because he would have just have blocked himself from thinking that they were Lily's parents. Dolohov wakes up Lily's parents, reminding Snape of his relationship with Lily and that her parents' murder will deeply hurt her.
Dolohov also forces Snape to keep up his analysis on what other people will think of his actions, and his desire for acceptance and to be chosen, in my opinion, is a driving force for his character. Throughout the story he overanalyzes almost everything he does, preferring to focus on how that will affect the way Voldemort perceives him.
I thought the first person worked beautifully for this story. It allowed you to get across his obsession and delusion far more clearly than I think you would have been able to do in third person. Being told what Snape is thinking or having it shown through his actions is completely different than actually hearing his thoughts. The section about Lily forgiving him for killing her parents, was especially potent in first person.
The first person narration also allowed you to clearly establish the connection between the adult Snape, whom we see in the books, and the younger Snape in this story. The voice of Snape in this story sounds exactly like how Snape sounds in the books. His voice is very eloquent and formal, which I thought made his delusion very apparent. The only critique that I have about his voice, is that it sounds slightly too sophisticated for a nineteen year old. However, I honestly think that the amount that the formality of voice made me pause for a second is minor in comparison to the amount that it added to his characterization and the overall tone of the piece.
In the sentence in the seventh paragraph, "I do want to be chosen; I had never been chosen for anything in my life", the changing of tenses made me pause for a second. I assumed that the statement, "I had never been chosen for anything in my life" referred to before Voldemort chose him to receive the dark mark. This is supported by the fact that the two clauses are joined by a semi-colon and that the first clause refers to receiving the dark mark. It's relatively minor, and I only caught it on my second reading of the piece.
This is probably my favorite Snape centric fic that I've read. In my opinion, first person present is one of the most difficult tense/voice to effectively write in. You nailed the tense and voice completely, and you used it to effectively show his delusion, cruelty and obsession.
Sorry sorry sorry that it's taken this long for me to respond to this. Honestly, every time I read this review, I sort of wonder how the story was worthy of such a great analysis, let alone any words I might have in response. But, as you are amazing and deserve an answer at some point, here I am.
One of the first things that readers brought up is that JKR said that nothing sinister surrounded the deaths of either James's parents or Lily's, yet they all died within a five-year span. Yeah...whatever. Not buying it. So, I loosely interpreted this and went with the 'that we know of' track. This allowed me a bigger swathe of leeway to make this story work. Honestly, if Snape still pines after Lily for THAT long, he has to be not all there in some fashion. Putting up with Dumbledore's games and pretending to still be a Death Eater for the memory of a dead woman, at least to me, says he's crazy pants, at least to a degree that allows his obsession to prevail. Hence why I chose this moment to capture.
Honestly, I think Voldemort had doubts about Severus's loyalty when he learned about the (albeit ended) relationship with Lily, so this was the Dark Lord's way of assuring that his new toy was going to do what the box says it does, so to speak. And throwing Dolohov in there to make sure that Snape saw the people he was killing as the family of his precious Lily was a way to ensure that he didn't, as you say, kill them without looking and run off. In a sick way, Snape passed the test.
First person while writing this felt all gross and crawley, I won't lie. Not only was it because it was a relatively unfamiliar thing, but it was also just a bad place to put your head, inside the mind of someone who sees things that aren't there and vice versa. I think it was integral of driving home the delusion. By seeing things in his perspective, it became a matter of the reader wondering just *how* Snape could earnestly believe the things he was thinking. Being told he's delusional and coming to that conclusion on one's own is the difference, I think, between this being a pile of rambly words and something that is effective in its intent.
I don't profess to be a Sevgirl (Merlin forfend!), but I do think I understand him as a character, as well as his motivation. The language in the story allowed me to instil it with a heavy sense of relation to his canon portrayal, both for me as a writer and for the reader, and this is important, I think. Thinking about the things he does in the books when in the light of him being delusional puts a bit of a twisted spin on him, as well as Dumbledore for taking advantage of someone in this state of grief and denial. And as for the language, I do think it was probably too sophisticated for someone nineteen years old, but I think, as you mentioned, that the benefits of it outweighed the drawbacks.
When you first left this review, I actually went back to fix the line you indicated with the tense error, but as this was submitted before the archive coding errors started, I decided to leave it. If I edit, a bunch of stuff will go haywire, and it's sort of not worth it at this point, as I doubt anyone still reads the story, lol.
I am deeply honoured that you consider this a high quality Snape fic. I just suppose that, after being mentally bombarded with ridiculous tripe like American Snapewives who teach him to love again and voluntarily procreate with him, a darker, more realistic version of his character was in order. :)
Thank you so, so much for this review, and I think the score you received for it was well-earned. I shall treasure my first Meg!review, and here's to any further review page encounters we might get!
I very much liked the overall structure of this poem. It had a very rhythmic flow, which I greatly enjoyed, and it sounded almost like a chant. The first four lines sounded brilliant together. Generally I’m not a huge fan of repetition, but I felt that repeating, “I’m always going to… you” tied the lines together and actually increased their flow. It also gave the lines structure, which is really what I think gave them rhythm. I also liked how the other two lines didn’t rhyme, but ended with the same sound (t). The syllable repetition and the line repetition together made the lines sing.
When I read the poem out loud, the change in rhythm between the first four lines and the next four, sounded abrupt. When read on their own though, they had a similar rhythm and the perfect rhyme tied them together. I liked the change in rhythm; it was similar enough to the previous lines so it sounded good with them when read with a pause in between. It also liked how you began to change the line structure. You still ended two of the lines with “you”, but began to transition out of the almost exact repetition of the line before. The fact that there were the same number of syllables in the lines ending with you, made the transition even subtler, and the structure of the lines was then held together by the perfect rhyme and the semi-repetition in the lines ending with you. I thought that making the transition slowly from the structure of the first few lines made it seem natural and I think greatly contributed to the poem because it kept it sounding fresh and not too repetitive. I thought that you did a fabulous job with the perfect rhyme for doubt and flout. Keeping the lines with perfect rhyme different syllable length kept it from sounding Dr. Seuss like.
In the next four lines, I liked how you changed the structure even more, but kept the rhythm the same. You eliminated the repetition of the same word at the end of the lines, but the perfect rhyme, but different syllable numbers, kept the poems structure without making it sound overdone.
The next four lines didn’t sound quite right to me. I felt that beginning line 13, with “and” didn’t sound quite right. The ideas in the previous line or few lines weren’t similar enough in my mind to justify connecting them. Apart from that, I thought that lines 13 through 15 sounded lovely together. However, repeating “I’ll … to make you a free man” didn’t sound quite right to me. I liked the repetition of “I’m always going to… you” because it almost summarized the poem and it was similar enough to the rest of the poem to fit in perfectly. I didn’t think that “I’ll… to make you a free man” sounded quite right to when repeated. It worked nicely in the previous stanza, but repeating it four lines later sounded almost forced to me.
I really, really liked the next four lines. The sort of rhyme between “innocence” and “sense” worked beautifully, and nicely complemented the perfect rhyme between “free” and “me.” I think what I like best about these lines though is that together they form a complete sentence/ thought. All the other groups of lines are connected by an idea or theme, but this one was connected completely. (I hope that makes sense.)
The next four lines (I really am repeating that phrase a lot), made me stop for a second. The first three lines sounded fine together, but the last one didn’t sound quite right to me. I think the thing that stopped the flow for me was the syllable structure within the lines. In all the other stanzas, there was a pattern in the number of syllables in each line or a strong rhyme scheme. In this group of lines there’s the rhyme between “care” and “anywhere,” but the second and fourth syllables in the group don’t really connect like all the others in the other groups have. If this were my piece I’d take out “I know” in the 24th line so it would read, “You’re one of the few I know I’ll kill for”. I think that would make the syllable numbers between the second and fourth lines in the group similar enough to connect them.
I thought the next four lines were fabulous. The structure (i.e. the repititon of you and the last line which repeated the “I’m always going to… you”) and ideas were very similar to the first one, and greatly reminded me of the first group of lines. I thought that helped connect the beginning of the poem with the end.
I was on the fence for a while about the next four lines. I liked the repetition of the first two lines. I know you only repeated I’ll (which is repeated many times in the poem), but the fact that the two lines had the same number of syllables made them sound similar when read aloud. The first three lines followed the same sound structure as the rest of the poem, but the last line broke it. However, I liked it. I critiqued another group line for breaking the flow abruptly, but in this case you used less syllables rather than more. This kept you from sounding too wordy, and I thought it worked. It gave the line (which outlines the idea of a whole soul idea from the books) a little more emphasis.
The next group of lines sounded fine. My only critique is that the third line reads, “I’ll die with your secret, right from now”, and then the fourth line says “I’ll even take it to my grave”. I felt like the meanings were too similar and made the fourth line sound redundant.
I liked the way you ended the piece. You repeated “I’ll always… for you” which sounded so similar to the repetition in the first group of lines, that it provided a very strong connection to the beginning of the poem. The second line connected to when you talked about breaking the rules (lines 5-8), when you talked innocence (17-20), and when you talked about sins (29-32). The third line reminded me of all the places in the poem when you talked about secrets (13-16, 32-35). The final line of the poem was beautifully chosen. To me, it summed up the entire essence of the poem, without getting to wordy.
The lack of stanzas or separation of the lines, I think detracted from your writing because it made the poem very difficult for me to read. The similar length of each line, which I think contributed to the flow of the piece, made the poem seem like reading a piece in prose without paragraphs. If this were my poem, I would separate the lines into stanzas; I thought that the piece read best with four line stanzas. For me, it definitely read in chunks, as in there seems to be a pause between groups of lines. In the piece now, this feels to me like a break in the flow, but if they were separated, the change in the flow would, I think make the piece sound fresh. When there are separate stanzas, I often expect to see some change in subject or tempo. When there is a dramatic change in rhythm in a single body/stanza, in my opinion, it breaks the whole flow of the piece.
My first guess is that it was written about Lily and Snape, but to me it seems more of a friendship poem than one written about lovers.
Overall, I thought it was a lovely poem. I thought that you did an excellent job at giving the poem structure though repetition, rhyme, and syllable structure without making it sound overdone.
Author's Response: First off, Meg, what a lovely review! I don't think I can do it justice, to be honest. But I'll try. I really am very happy you liked the flow and repetition. And all your comments about its structure and rhythm are making me smile (and giggle) because this poem has got to be the most impulsive thing I've ever written, purely because I wrote it in a fit of anger at a relative. So I didn't really change it much, only a few bits here and there, and I literally didn't proofread it. I didn't think about it at all -- therefore, the fact that you could praise me so highly means a lot.
And thank you for the suggestions... I will definitely bear this in mind at some point. I'm sorry this response isn't nearly as thorough as your review, but I'll definitely refer to this review when I have some free time -- after exams -- to fix this up. Paige, Ariana and now you have left fab reviews on my poems, so after my exams I'll have to redraft all of them. And the stanza thing... sorry. Like I said, it was written on an impulse. I will definitely change that.
And finally... your guess! Yep, others thought it was Severus and Lily too, but I had in mind Remus and Sirius. At the same time, I understand why you thought it was Severus and Lily. I think it's applicable to more than one. Huggles for such a wonderful, poetic and very thorough review. I really do appreciate it. *squishes*
When I started reading, I was a little worried that Iâ€™d loose track of who was speaking (since there arenâ€™t any dialogue tags or anything like that). I feel like the difficult parts of reading and writing dialogue heavy stories is being able to follow whoâ€™s talking to whom and developing an entire storyline almost solely through speech. However, I was able to follow this story without much problem, probably because Lily and Sirius had very different voices. Neither sounded clichĂ© or superficial, and their conversations sounded everyday ones.
One of the things I liked best about this piece was how Lily and Siriusâ€™s conversations felt typical. They weren't talking about something life changing and important, they were gossiping like normal teenagers! As you suggested in your author's note, I heard this story as a back and forth between Sirius and Lily, which I think contributed to the casual feeling of the piece. In normal prose, there's description and dialogue tags, which I think can get in the way of quick back and forth dialogue.
The story felt like the conversations were happening in real time. In a friendly, flirty banter a pause between a comeback just ruins the whole effect. Inserting dialogue tags does make the reader pause to read the tag before returning to the conversation. In a conversation in which both parties are thinking much before they speak, adding description can add to the feeling of the conversation. Using only dialogue gave this a very quick, witty, and flirty feel which I don't think would have come out as well if the reader had been forced to pause between remarks to read tags or descriptions.
I think one of the reasons that most people avoid dialogue only is because it's so easy to get lost in lines and lines of dialogue. I got occasionally lost, but Lily and Sirius sounded so different, that it was relatively easy to figure out where I was again. I also appreciated that the speaker alternated every line. It's quite disconcerting when the same person speaks short phrases on multiple lines in a row, and if I'd had to do any lengthy puzzling over who was talking, I don't think I'd have made it through the entire piece.
I could completely see Sirius joking about snogging Lily, but I had a lot of trouble seeing him following through on it. He is a teenager, and I don't see him as terribly sensitive, but because of how loyal he seemed to be to James in canon (granted, he was a decade and a half older, and James was dead) I just had trouble wrapping my head around Sirius and Lily having any type of romantic relationship until Sirius was absolutely certain that James wasn't interested in Lily anymore.
However, I thought the way you integrated Sirius and Lily's relationship in the story did work well, and very importantly it was very humorous. Sirius's shock that Lily was actually interested in snogging was exactly the reaction I would have imagined him having, and did wonder whether Lily was partially in the relationship for the purpose amusing herself with Sirius's discomfort. There were several lines, where Lily treated their relationship very seriously and then very casually (especially when they broke up).
Lily's characterization, in my opinion, is what made the story. A lot of the time, Lily seems to be portrayed as a slightly more socially adept Hermione. However in the books, Slughorn describes her as cheeky and witty, but I also got the impression from him that she worked quite hard in her classes. In this she was very witty and quick, but she still seemed relatively studious. I already said that my favorite part of this was the back and forth banter, but if Lily's voice hadn't sounded right, I don't think the story would have worked.
It's now far past my bedtime. So, to sum up it was really fun to read.
Author's Response: I apologize for my late response, but sometimes getting a SPEW review like this takes a while to process! So first of all, THANK YOU!! I am so glad you enjoyed the story, and more importantly, that the format didn't completely turn you off. Your analysis of why it works is lovely, but I must confess that I didn't really think of most of those things while I was writing it. I just wrote it as I heard it. But I have written things where I did notice that dialogue tags and narrative just got in the way, and I think that it definitely would have got in the way here. It would have been too...thoughtful, if that's the right word. I would have had to write inner monologue for one or both of them about *why* they were doing what they were doing, and to be honest, I just didn't want to get into that. I wanted it to be very quick, very aural, clever and fun. So if it worked, yay! Thank you for the comments on the characters. I'm glad Lily worked, I always try to balance her. As for Sirius - I can see your point, because I wouldn't really want to see him do that to James either. But I have to admit a secret soft spot for this pairing (and James/Sirius as well, really) and in this story James was with another girl, and Sirius was reluctant, after all. Hee hee. I had so much fun with this. Thank you so much for the amazing review! It makes me smile every time I read it! ~Gina :)
They cannot keep doing this; it is only a matter of whose resolve will break first. They may have grown distant, their friendship may never mend, but something else has begun. Similarly to the sultry dance so reminiscent of their stolen kisses, drifting apart is only the beginning.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and I definitely don't own her world.
Winner for 2011 QSQ - Best Same Sex Pairing, along with Equinox Chick's Monochrome, one of the most beautiful stories on this site. Thank you immensely for nominating/voting!
Huge, huge thank you to Natalie/hestiajones for beta-ing this.
I’ve been meaning to review this ever since it was discussed in SBBC and have finally gotten around to it. I thought that you did a fabulous job with this piece. I really liked how you composed this story out of a number of brief episodes. Because each part was concise, the entire story felt well focused.
I loved how you jumped right into the story. You didn’t spend paragraphs introducing everything in a very formal manner. Instead the story began with Parvati trying to figure out her feelings for Lavender. The flashback fit into her thoughts in a manner that didn’t feel very planned or forced. The first scene made me think that Parvati was actually reliving the moment, in an attempt to make sense of it. The progression of Parvati’s feelings and thoughts provided a wonderful introduction to the story. At the beginning of the section, she didn’t seem particularly sure about her feelings toward Lavender, and how she felt about them. Her confusion about whether her feelings for Lavender were destroying their friendship and then finally her acceptance of those feelings. It almost mirrored Lavender’s transition from being confused about her relationship with Parvati, at the beginning of the piece, to being somewhat more certain of her feelings toward Parvati.
In my opinion, beginning the story in the middle worked really well. It gave Parvati’s narration a very informal feel, which contributed to the feeling that the events were happening as I read them. I liked how it felt like I was experiencing the events through the thoughts of the characters, rather than being told what had happened. Obviously, the present tense helped a great deal, but I think that the fact that neither Parvati nor Lavender directly addressed the reader also contributed to the feel.
I liked how you switched from Parvati’s to Lavender’s point of view multiple times in the fic. Having Lavender’s mum disappear, I thought, actually contributed to the focus on Parvati and Lavender’s relationship rather than detracted from it. I think if every single sentence and minor event directly contributed to the relationship between Parvati and Lavender, it would have made the story feel somewhat forced. Including Lavender’s mum and the DA, in my opinion, added to the idea of risks, confusion, and nervousness, all of which I’m sure both Lavender and Parvati would have experienced without their romantic relationship.
I liked how the second part of the story didn’t include any conversations between Parvati and Lavender, but instead gave an overview of Lavender’s thoughts and feelings about Parvati. It provided a contrast between Parvati’s semi-confidence and certainty and Lavender’s inability to decide what she thinks. I felt that centering Lavender’s uncertainty about how she doesn’t want to act and look how she thinks a gay or bisexual woman would act and look. I thought that it led nicely to the next segment, when another person possibly judges/glimpses Parvati and Lavender’s relationship.
I really liked how the first time Parvati and Lavender are really seen interacting with each other began. Their conversation seemed very awkward, and like they were trying to avoid the issue (which they obviously were). I really liked how their kiss was interrupted by Professor Trelawney, who may or may not have seen them. The uncertainty as to whether she saw them and the idea that Trelawney was judging them, I think accelerated the conflict Lavender appeared to be having over how people would view her and Parvati.
I really liked how the piece ended with Lavender and Parvati finally confronting each other about what happened. I thought that Lavender’s reluctance, and Parvati being almost pushy felt very consistent with how they had been portrayed previously in the piece. I liked how the ending was left open, but the impression was sort of given that they weren’t going to break off their friendship or romantic relationship. Ending the piece with Lavender’s point of view, I think, tied up the piece nicely. Lavender’s transition in her feelings about a lesbian relationship appeared very similar to Parvati’s in the beginning of the story. That in addition to the tango metaphor connected the beginning and end of the fic. I felt that the way you used a tango metaphor contributed to the piece. It was relatively subtle, so it didn’t take over, and helped shift focus onto the main themes of the story.
The only thing I can really think to critique about this story is the way you shifted tenses occasionally. In the middle of several paragraphs, for example in the beginning when Parvati remembers several experiences from when she was younger, the tense shifts from present to past. It’s done for a reason, and I think the memories contribute to the characterizations. However, occasionally the sudden change in tense would throw me off. Overall, it wasn’t major, though.
To sum up, I greatly enjoyed the characterization and writing in this story. When I have more free time, I really ought to read another story you’ve written. Any recommendations?
Author's Response: Oh my goodness! First of all, thank you so much for this really lovely review. I wasn't expecting to get any more reviews on this story, to be honest, and I'm really happily surprised that I did. I'm glad you liked the beginning of the story, jumping into the middle. It was only after I'd written the piece that I realized I had done that. I'm also very happy you enjoyed the characterizations of both Lavender and Parvati. I was worried because this was my first attempt at femmeslash -- or any slash for that matter -- and I wanted to make sure I could write the story while still being true to the characters.
I definitely understand what you're saying about the tense shifts. I had a really difficult time writing it in present tense and then jumping back to the past during the flashbacks. I'll read it over again, and see if I can fix anything :). Again, thank you so very much for your review. You are amazing. xx Ariana
Oh, PS, I'm awful at giving recommendations from my own writing. I'd recommend 'Doubt' 'Defiance' 'Facades' or 'Picking Up the Pieces' -- they all got QSQ nominations so people seem to like them :). Thanks!
I think this is my favorite of the stories that you've written (that I've read). It was romantic, but not nauseatingly so, dramatic, but it didn't sound like a soap opera, and your characterization of Penelope was fabulous. A lot of the time, it seems like Penelope is characterized as a female version of Percy. I typically find people in real life who act like Percy rather irritating, In this story Penelope shares a handful of traits with Percy (e.g. she gets annoyed when people don't follow rules). But, you also developed her as an individual, and as the story progressed her differences from Percy became more apparent.
When Charlie first meets her, she's very uptight and proper, She's described as holding a clipboard and she begins the meeting in a very Percy-ish manner (i.e. by commenting on Charlie's tardiness and by continually trying to redirect the conversation to a more professional topic). Yet, unlike Percy, who often seems self confident to the point of being pompous, Penelope feels almost insecure to me, and that feeling becomes more pronounced and developed through the story.
Through the first chapter, whenever the topic turns toward romantic relationship, Penelope seems to become very uncomfortable. When Charlie jokes about her relationship with Percy at the beginning of the fic, Penelope is described as 'stiffening'. When Charlie jokes about charming her, again, she's described as replying to him 'stiffly'. Much later, after she agrees to have a drink/go out with Charlie, she stares in the mirror, overanalyzing her clothing choice. I really liked how her fear of looking desperate and that Charlie is just using her to avoid getting the reserve's budget cut is mixed with her staring in the mirror looking over her dress in a manner that suggests to me that she wants to be noticed by Charlie. However, she is continually trying to talk herself out of thinking that Charlie might be romantically interested in her.
Later, you actually explain Penelope's reticence regarding relationships when she recalls her break-up with Percy. The man she dated for three years, didn't argue or seem to have any reaction when she broke off their relationship. This provided what I thought was a really good contrast between Penelope and Percy. When Percy and she break up, he's seemingly unaffected. When Charlie and Penelope argue, she is shouting a string of words, that while not that bad, are certainly more dramatic than anything I can see Percy using.
I think one of the things I like about this piece is that Penelope's insecurity is relatable. Despite her best efforts, she wants people to like her, and she seems upset when she explains her reputation at the ministry to Charlie. I also liked the part about sitting alone in her house with her cat. I can completely relate to sitting at home with a cat while everyone you know is out doing something exciting, and while I can't relate to the wine part, if you substitute chocolate for wine she does the same thing in the evenings as I do!
Charlie felt very honest to me, and some times it felt like he was slightly too blunt. At the beginning, when he firsts meets Penelope, he felt somewhat rude to her. I'd assume that this was intentional, but it did make me pause for a second. In the books, while he wasn't terribly smooth, he did seem polite. Of course, we generally see him in canon around his mother, who would murder him if he was rude. I can certainly see him being blunt and completely ignoring manners with his friends, but I would think that when meeting the witch assigned to cut/look over the reserve's budget he would at least attempt to make a good impression.
The rate at which the story progressed was, in my opinion, really well done. I liked how at the beginning of the story, Charlie saw Penelope as being almost exactly like Percy. Then as the story progressed, and as Charlie got to know her, Penelope became much more of an individual. Even though the story was told for the most part through Penelope's narration, it feels like the reader experiences the development of the relationship and understanding of Penelope's character through Charlie's eyes. At the beginning, even when the story was entirely in Penelope's point of view, she seemed to be very proper (e.g. spending the time to question the appropriateness of the cut of her dress). Later in their relationship, Penelope loosens up and begins to feel very little like Percy. I liked how you showed many of these things through Penelope's recollections of her memories and thoughts, which could have been presented at any point in the story, but were saved until later.
Finally, I really liked the way that the ending was somewhat open. I got the impression that Penelope and Charlie were going to try a relationship, but how that relationship ended was left to the reader's imagination. (unless you feel like writing a prologue or a sequelâ€¦) I thought this kept the relationship realistic, while not ruining the romance and happy ending (because while I can pretend, I'm not entirely sure how well Penelope and Charlie's relationship would have worked out long term).
As I'm sure you can figure out from the amount of the review about characterization, the characterization of Penelope was my favorite part of this story, and I really liked how you used the pacing of the story to unfold it. I now will go curl up with my cat and eat chocolateâ€¦
Author's Response: Thank you very much for the wonderful review. I will try to respond in kind, but it will, unfortunately, be very much shorter (and probably littered with typos)
Firstly with Penelope, there was a conscious decision to present her as a female Percy on the surface - rules, being proper etc etc because it's the way she feels she can get on with her work. And being this way has made her very successful in her work life - just not that way in her love life. There's an element of risk taking that she's never thought about - caution being her watchword. let's face it, caution with the mirror in CoS saved her life. But in this environment, up against dragons and handlers, she can't hopld on to her clipboard and stiff manner forever.
Regarding Charlie, yes he was blunt/rude at first because he's pretty sure the budget being cut is a foregone conclusion so he's on the defensive. I don't think Arthur would be at all impressed with his manners, although I think Molly might sympathise because she's fiercely protective of her family and woe betide anyone that tries to disrupt them. Charlie also lives outside the bounds of normal society so isn;t used to delicate chit-chat.
There was a time of my life, before I was married, when I lived alone with two cats. I wasn;t as unbending as Penelope (not organised enough) but I did spend a large proportion of my evenings/weekends not seeing people. I was actually pretty happy with that. I enjoyed work and liked my solitude. I didn't realise until I read your review how much that part of my life influenced this story. Very strange the tricks the subconscious plays.
Thank you again for the comprehensive review. I quite fell in love with this pairing which was inspired by Julia suggesting it on LJ, so I'm pleased it worked for you. ~Carole~
The flow of this was beautiful. I really liked how it didn’t rhyme or have a specific syllable structure (or at least one that I noticed), but it still was tied together. However, the first stanza was definitely my favorite. The first sentence began the piece with a very vivid scene. I thought your choice of using the sunrise very much introduced the theme of loss. I could easily picture a lone woman sitting on the ground watching the sunrise. The contrast of the sky and the woman visually made her seem very alone. The next section of the stanza has slightly more structured feel than the first part. I liked how you separated the two line clauses (i.e. “As those hours/ Blur into days,) from each other with a comma. To me, it gave them enough definition to emphasize the passing of time, but it didn’t break the flow. I felt that slowly building from hours to months highlighted the magnitude of the loss. The last line finished the stanza, in an almost abrupt manner. I really liked how you didn’t draw out; it felt concise. I really liked how you communicated the woman’s loneliness and loss without outright saying it.
In addition to the imagery in the first four lines, I also thought that using time in a somewhat visual way (i.e. “blur into days”) helped make me feel that the woman was alone. The size of the sunrise and the way you showed the amount of time passing in a slow manner, I thought lead up to the last line nicely by creating a visual of the woman being alone.
I thought that changing the narrator after the first stanza worked well in this piece. It felt like each stanza was almost a different poem. But, they were all still connected by the similarity in the structure and the theme/topic. I don’t think the second stanza flowed quite as well as the first one. I really liked the way the first two lines of the stanza sounded very lyrical. They had a definite rhythm when read aloud, which I think may have stemmed from the fact that they both had six syllables. The next three lines seemed to continue with a very different type of flow, which was more like the first stanza.
I didn’t feel the next half of the stanza didn’t flow as well as the previous half and the first stanza. I really liked how you combined a couple lines with different syllable structure with a couple lines with a flow more like the rest of the poem. I’m uncertain about the next two lines. They sound fabulous when read alone, (I really liked the consonance in “him” and “home”), but I’m not sure whether they work with the previous half of the stanza. I think the thing that doesn’t sound right to me is that you rhymed home in the seventh line of the stanza and alone in the second. I didn’t feel like rhyme worked well with this style. The flow of the entire poem up to this point has felt very natural and unstructured feel to it, so it felt to me that the rhyme stuck out and broke the flow. I liked the eighth line; it gave me an image of a young boy laughing, and I think it began to sum up the stanza. But, I’m not sure that the last two lines sounded quite right with the rest of the stanza. If this were my piece, I’d combine the last two lines into one. I think what made me pause was that the comma separates the two phrases and so does the line break. I think because the line, “The brother,” (20), is so short and comes after several relatively long lines. Because a comma and a line break separate the phrase in the final two lines, I think the twentieth line sounded sort of abrupt.
The flow of the third stanza felt very similar to that of the first. I thought that the first two lines of the stanza managed to somehow combine the feeling expressed in the previous two stanzas. The word “exists,” sums up the feeling of the woman in the first stanza. I really liked how each stanza was almost of the point of view of a different person. I think it kept the piece fresh from stanza to stanza. The last segment sort of joined together the essence of each of the previous stanzas, and it did it in a way that didn’t feel repetitive. The last five lines of the poem, I thought that using the image of night tied the beginning of the piece and the end together nicely. It also brought back the image of loneliness, which I think was prominent throughout the entire poem. Night is so huge and seems so endless, referencing only two people holding each other, makes me visualize them completely alone and still lonely.
I really liked your use of punctuation in this piece. You didn’t use commas and periods in a conventional manner, but I think that the way this poem was punctuated contributed to the flow. It seemed like you used commas to indicate a pause, and periods to indicate a slightly longer pause and a change. I didn’t feel your use of capitalization aided the flow of the poem as much as the capitalization did. Capitalizing every line made each line feel a little more separate from each other. When the first word of a sentence is capitalized, it makes the difference from the last one. I think in poetry, capitalization emphasizes a single line. Some of the lines obviously are accented, but I don’t think others need to be. When you split a complete thought, (i.e. “Hoping when/ Each child arrives,/ He’ll reconcile his sorrow.” (14-16)) it doesn’t feel like each part should be accented as different. If this were my piece, I’d capitalize only lines that begin a new thought or that need to be differentiated as from the previous one.
Carole, this is one of my favorite poems I’ve read on the site. I love how it flows in such a natural and unformatted manner. I know that it was written about Fred, but it feels like it could apply to anyone who died in the battle. It’s obviously sad. (If you wrote a happy poem about Fred’s death I’d be very disturbed and very annoyed.) I hope I was eloquent and not offensive in any way.
Author's Response: WOW! A monster of a review for such a short piece of writing. Thank you! I have to admit that I'm not the greatest crafter of words in either poetry or prose and when I work too much on something it tends to wither and die on me, hence there are parts of this poem (and a lot of my other writing) that don't fit as well as others. As you said (and as I put in the end note) this poem is about Fred, or rather Molly and Arthur. I'm not sure they could ever recover from his death despite having six other children and twelve grandchildren, but I do think they'd find solace in each other, which was why I ended the poem on a more positive note that although they're not sleeping they're aware that the other isn't sleeping either.
You were very eloquent,Meg, and not at all offensive. Thank you, again. ~Carole~
Alex, that was nowhere near as disturbing as the reviews lead me to expect. It made me think, but I didn’t feel like I was going to vomit at any point in the story (which was a very good thing for my laptop). I think what made me fine with all the abuse and non-con was that it was all in there for a reason. You didn’t randomly throw in rape just to make the story “interesting.” All of the warnings contributed to the characterization of Florence. I felt that Edgar Parkinson’s abuse of her made Florence’s decision to marry and remain married to him define her character even more. It’s one thing for her to marry someone older than herself for money, but having Florence knowingly marry someone who is going to abuse and rape her says an enormous amount about her personality.
I liked how you didn’t justify Florence’s decisions, but you gave the reader her reasoning and motivations behind them. I think one of the issues with non-con and abuse is that many fanfiction writers seem to put them in their story on a whim or they make them sound justifiable and sometimes even glamorous. I don’t think you did either of these things. Florence was obviously not happy about her choice, but I got the impression that if she had to go back and choose whether to be poor or marry Edgar Parkinson again, she’d still marry him. That in addition to her passive aggressive attitude towards her husband defined her character beautifully. Florence felt like a person that could easily exist in real life, and I’ve never read a character quite like her (and I read quite a lot).
On the whole I liked the narration of this piece. I personally feel that first person is the hardest point of view to write or read, but keeping that in mind I thought that it worked well in this piece. I find that a first person narrator often rambles, is repetitive, is whiney, or just sounds flat. Florence managed not to fall into any of those categories. The piece stayed concise and to the point, and using first person helped communicate Florence’s motivations and reasoning to the reader. The narration sounded natural, like she was actually talking or thinking. There were a handful of fragments, but I think they complemented the narration. I liked the reflective nature of her telling and how it almost felt that Florence was reminiscing about her past. Her tone felt calm and resigned, as if she didn’t exactly regret her actions but wasn’t happy with them either. She sounded removed, as if she was trying to distance herself from the story, which I feel made the abuse aspect work in my mind. I think if the piece had been passionate, it would have been very easy for her to sound forced. The lack of many emotional phrases added to the feeling that she was trying to forget what had happened, something that I think contributes to and fits in with her characterization.
There were a couple phrases that sounded a bit off to me. I liked how you led into her story with a common phrase, but I thought the final sentence of the first paragraph (“Or, at least, it was for me.”) broke the flow a little. The first two sentences hinted that Florence’s life had gone downhill after Hogwarts, and the next sentence didn’t quite feel necessary and sounded a little bit scripted. By scripted, I mean that it sounded to me like it was intended to give Florence more voice. I felt that Florence had a very strong voice, and gained it through the way she told the story. It also felt a little like that line hit the reader over the head with the information that her life went downhill after Hogwarts, and I thought that you managed to show the reader that in the rest of the piece. Apart from that, I liked how the paragraph led into the piece and the rest of the story followed in chronological order. I thought that it made it easy to follow and in combination with the first person narration highlighted Florence’s motivations and reasoning.
Twice in the piece Florence directly addressed the reader. Her voice through the rest of the piece felt, to me, like she was trying to emotionally distance herself from what happened. So, having her speak to the reader broke the passive feel, that I thought hugely contributed to her characterization. The other thing that made addressing the reader sound odd was that you used dialogue. I can completely see someone addressing their reader in a letter, but use of dialogue made this sound like a collection of memories, rather than a letter or spoken story. In the eighth paragraph Florence said, “Don’t judge me. Please, please don’t judge me. It takes someone stronger than me to get a job and I hated the idea of working.” This line jumped out at me a little. I thought that Florence’s appeal for the reader not to judge her broke the flow of the piece. It felt like it worked with her characterization but really didn’t fit with the rest of the narration in the piece. The other time she addresses the reader is in the eleventh paragraph when she says, “Oh, you could call it prostitution if you want.” I liked the idea of Florence comparing herself to a prostitute. It fit well with the honesty of the story. The only thing that made me pause for a moment was her speaking to the reader. If this were my fic, I would rephrase the line in a more passive, less direct voice.
The only other phrase that made me stop was at the end of the final paragraph. Florence says “Well, nearly anything.” I thought that the line before it (“If there’s one think I’ve learned since I was eighteen, it’s that money can by anything.) concluded the piece brilliantly. It summed up the story, and tied in neatly with the title. I feel like it needs a line after it, but beginning the final line with “well” didn’t sound quite right to me. Obviously, that’s enormously subjective, but if this were my piece I’d just tweak it just slightly.
Finally, I really liked how concise this piece was. The story was told, and you focused on enough details and examples to communicate the point, but you didn’t dwell on anything or get overly wordy. It felt like each sentence contributed something, and I think that made the characterization and plot even stronger.
To finish, I really, really liked this story. I thought that the plot and writing told about Florence wonderfully. I loved how you portrayed her entire character through her voice and her actions. I now really need to read your chaptered fic, “Thin Red Lines,” since everything I’ve read by you has had lovely characterization.
Hope I was at least sort of coherent,
Author's Response: Hello Meg! Sorry for taking ages to reply- Non-con and abuse is never glamourous and very, very rarely justifiable to I'm pleased you don't think I've used them gratuitously. I do agree that there is sometimes a tendency to do this in fanfiction, a tendency I'm pretty sure I avoided.
I am aware that I use a lot of fragments, not just in this but in other first-person stories, but since most people use fragments in speech and they can be used effectively (not that I always do, but I try) it seems wrong not to have them within what is intended to be someone speaking. I do try and avoid them when I use the third person though.
I think you've got Florence's character perfectly- whilst she does to some extent regret her actions, she knows that she would do exactly the same thing again.
I agree that the last line of the first paragraph sounds somewhat forced. I do think it's important that Florence makes a distinction for herself, as she is quite vain, so I've removed the "or,at least" but left her distinction. I hope that sounds better.
I understand that the addresses to the reader might break the flow somewhat, but I think they are important. This isn't a letter or story––I'm not sure what it is, but it's important that Florence wants to be heard, although it's doubtful that anyone does hear her, and understood, rather than pitied.
The last line was one of the few lines that I hesitated about in this story. I do think it's important that she accepts that money can't buy her anything, but she has sacrificed things like happiness for other things. However my characters do have a tendency to say things like "well," "besides," "whilst" and "after all"- those are my speech patterns slipping into their voices. But I don't think it affects the story too much and I think I'll leave it there.
Thank you so much for your lovely review- it made me really happy :) I'm afraid Florence is by far one of my most concise characters, but I hope you enjoy Thin Red Lines and find the first person voices I use their realistic and interesting. Thank you! Alex.
As the war progresses, Percy begins to have doubts - doubts that will, eventually, lead him back towards his family.
I can't believe that this only has two reviews. I read this a while ago and really enjoyed your characterization of Percy and the way you showed his transition back to his family.
I honestly hadn't really thought much about what things would be like for Percy during "The Deathly Hallows". I assumed that as soon as the death eaters took over the Ministry Percy had an epiphany, but I think the way you presented transition was more realistic and more in character. Percy seemed to cope with his job by saying that it wasn't his job to think about the morality of the issues, but rather just to follow orders. That made a lot of sense to me--I think Percy was definitely power hungry to a certain extent, but I don't think he was to the point that he could just do something that he thought was wrong because it would advance him. His blind trust in the ministry also felt very in character. In the third passage, I thought that it was interesting that he trusted authority to the point that he was trying to rationalize the idea of the muggleborn registration committee.
I also hadn't considered that the work Percy would be doing while he was working for the Ministry. The way in which you paralleled Percy's attitudes toward his work on the list of muggleborns and his attitudes toward the entire ministry worked really well. I think it worked because of how little rational sense their policy toward muggleborns made. I think my favorite part of the fic was, in the middle of the third passage, when Percy first sees the Ministry's justification for the committee: "Maybe there were a few Muggleborns â€“ not the ones he knew, but some out there â€“ who actually had stolen magic, and that was what this was about."
I think Penny was the finale of Percy's mental debate over the list of muggleborns. I liked how prior to that point, he'd been willing to assume that the muggleborns he knew, such as Penny, weren't the people that the Ministry policy was intended to control, and then suddenly, he's confronted with proof that muggleborns, like Penny, are being rounded up. I was surprised that Percy's first reaction to Penny asking to use his floo is to tell her that he can't because, "it's against the law". However, the contrast between his initial reaction and what he finally did showed the change in his view of the Ministry really well.
I thought that the format, as a series of brief moments worked perfectly for this fic. I have a pathetically short attention span, and so I liked how your choice of moments kept the plot and character development moving quickly. It felt like every moment advanced the story significantly. In addition to that, the fic flowed from each moment to the next very naturally. It was interesting to me that the majority of the fic took place in August and September, then it ended right before the final battle. I liked how Percy continued to be frustrated at how little he could do, except to a greater degree in May than in September. Percy's attitudes seemed very similar to how they were in September, which, I think, kept the gap in time from being notable and from being choppy.
I liked your choice to include the final scene--it felt very logical to finish right before the point where Percy reappears in canon. While we all know that Percy rejoined his family for the final battle, including him going to finally openly oppose the Ministry and Voldemort made the transition feel more meaningful.
To sum up, I thought that you did a wonderful job with this story. I really liked your characterization, and how your plot was almost entirely driven by Percy's characterization. I very much enjoyed reading it.
The first thing I noticed about this is that the formatting/punctuation on this site needs to be taken care of. There are boxes with question marks everywhere, which did irritate me slightly, because it detracted from your story. However, without the question mark things, I think your story would have been even more depressingâ€¦
Despite the formatting stuff (which you have no control over), you still managed to control the tone of the story. Right before he tortures and kills Scrimgeour, Pius recalls Scrimgeour always being better more talented than he was. The whole idea that now Pius is the minister, and he can kill Scrimgeour seems so ironic, and I think the way you organized the scene emphasized that. First Pius recalled the history, and then the next paragraph began with: "But now" which really emphasized the contrast between who historically had power and who currently has power.
What really struck me about the scene was that Voldemort didn't order Pius to torture Scrimgeour. He simply ordered Pius to ask where Harry was (using the imperious curs) and to kill Scrimgeour. So, the torturing was all Pius. Yet, in the moment of guilt and anti-Voldemort sentiment Pius has after Scrimgeour says the word "imperious" does seem to indicate that he's torturing Scrimgeour on because of the imperious curse.
For me, the paragraph that really blurred the line between what Pius was doing because of the curse and what he was doing on his own was: "But now I will rule whether or not he gets to live or die. The Dark Lord has helped me succeed. The cloudy blanket that I live under is his doing, and I will follow his instructions to the end of the world." I generally don't quote paragraphs in a review, but I thought this paragraph was the strongest in the entire story. I think in these three sentences, you got across the confusion that characterizes the entire story over what Pius is doing under his own free will. There is such an optimistic tone in the first two sentences; Pius seems to have finally succeeded over his rival, and it seemed to me like he was thrilled about destroying Scrimgeour out of jealousy. Then in the last sentence you changed the tone of the paragraph from controlling and dictatorial to much more helpless. Pius seemed completely devoted to Voldemort and quite unaware of what was happening.
However, I felt like the amount of context that you gave about Pius and Scrimgeour's past broke the flow a bit. Some of the information you gave in context didn't seem entirely necessary to me. For example, the information that they've known each other for twenty years felt unnecessary, and I felt like you could have gotten the impression of jealousy in the history across in fewer words. The point you make is that Scrimgeour succeeded and as a result Pius was ignored. The way you seem to be describing the imperious curse suggests, to me, that Pius isn't really thinking; rather he's sort of floating from thought to thought, not entirely conscious of what he's doing. Having him spend sentences summarizing the history, I think detracts from the hazy feeling he seems to have under the curse.
I thought expressed the tug of war that seemed to be taking place inside Pius's head during the scene with Scrimgeour quite well. Every couple paragraphs, there seems to be a single moment in which Pius questions the voice/smoke/Voldemort, but each moment is quickly repressed and he returns to the mindless devotion to Voldemort. The moments in which Pius remembers whom he used to be, most notably when Scrimgeour says the word "imperious", were, in my opinion, what got across the magnitude of power and control Voldemort had over Pius, and even made me feel sorry for him. The fact that after brief moments in which he glimpsed the horror of what he was doing he could go back to a state that was almost blissful (in that he seemed very content and even relaxed in his satisfaction over torturing Scrimgeour and the ease of it, which he notes toward the end of the scene).
In addition to the quick moments of realization, the short paragraphs captured the brevity of Pius's thoughts. Things just seemed to be happening, and he remarks on the things he's doing with frankness and almost with emotional detachment. The brevity of the paragraphs, I thought, emphasized how little Pius is actually thinking. When I was younger, my teachers told me that a paragraph should express a complete thought, which was why they didn't allow students to write one to two sentence paragraphs. However, Pius's thoughts are so abbreviated and lacking in depth or feeling, because of the imperious curse, that they only need one or two sentences to express. Between the moments of realization and the paragraph length, you evoked a tone of powerlessness, which too was ironic in that Pius has complete power over Scrimgeour and others, yet he is completely powerless because of the imperious curse.
Throughout the story, Pius used a mixture of contractions and phrases that weren't contracted (e.g. don't, do not- in case I'm not being terribly precise), which sounded slightly awkward to me. The impression you gave me was that Pius's thoughts were almost slurred together in a fog by the imperious curse, and this piece was characterized by fogs of thought broken by a brief moment of almost realization. The contractions that were spelled out to a certain extent broke the fog of his thoughts under the imperious curse, which, I think, detracted from the feeling of fog and powerlessness.
I liked how you concluded, with Pius finally out from under the imperious curse. His guilt over doing those things connected to the moments under the imperious curse when he realized what he was doing. I previously hadn't really thought about the way people who had done horrible things under the imperious curse would have felt when they came out from it.
The note that you ended on tied back to Pius feeling inferior to Scrimgeour earlier on when Scrimgeour was being tortured. However, I feel like it could have been stronger. It read: "maybe that proves that I will never be as strong as Rufus, or as righteous as Harry Potter. I am simply Pius Thicknesse." Earlier on, when Pius is recalling his history with Scrimgeour, it felt like you showed that Pius didn't see himself as strong or righteous. I took the word strong to mean unrelenting and unbreakable. So, Scrimgeour chose to stand up for his beliefs rather than give in under enormous pressure. I didn't get the impression that Pius felt inferior because didn't feel strong or righteous. I got the impression that Pius saw himself as neither "powerful enough", "smart enough", nor talented enough. I think when Pius says that he "will never be as strong as Rufus", you merely grazed the surface of the insecurities he had about himself in comparison to Scrimgeour. Obviously this is just my opinion, but I think exploring the idea that he was "not powerful enough, [and] not smart enough" to resist Voldemort's imperious curse while Scrimgeour died still resisting Voldemort, even under torture.
Pius blended in to the background so much in "The Deathly Hallows" that I hadn't really thought about how he must feel, assuming he survived the battle, when the imperious curse was lifted and he realized what he'd done or at least facilitated. This was a lovely introduction into your writing.
Hi Meg, thank you very much for your review :) This was one of the first fics I wrote (and, not surprisingly, the one that inspired me to join the boards after I got a SPEWly review from Soraya) and I haven't reread it in a while, and I adore getting more crit. I am slightly in awe of this review, to be honest, and this could be a longgg response.
I'm sorry about the formatting stuff, like I said, I haven't reread this in a while, and I'll fix that as soon as I finish responding to your review. I wrote this right before the archives switched around and became all newfangled with all these glitches and question marks, and I added a lot of hyphens in this story because Piusâ€™s thoughts were so fragmented, so I didnâ€™t find it necessary then, but I feel the same wayâ€¦Iâ€™ll fix them straight away.
I feel like the characterisation of Pius was all that really mattered to me while writing this fic, which I did very rushedly and without a beta, as I didnâ€™t know that the forums existed and/or that a beta existed. Iâ€™m actually quite proud of my â€śabilityâ€ť (hehe, itâ€™s actually something I quite regret) to take a character we basically know nothing about/are a bad guy/are completely insane, and give them some sort of life that nobody really knows about (i.e. in my fic Droobles Blowing Gum, Alice has a â€śbig secretâ€ť and a real reason that she chews gum all the time, and in this fic, we learn a lot more about why Pius does what he does). So thereâ€™s that.
I always felt like Pius would be jealous of Rufus, as I specified in this story. However, I donâ€™t think he would have done anything about it (being too scared of Rufus, or maybe just wasnâ€™t brave enough to do anything) until he got put under the Imperius Curse and Voldemort issued him to kill Rufus. I feel a little like Pius might have taken that a little too far, as something close to revenge, and that he would have done the torturing on his own account but, per sey, Voldemort (or Yaxley I believe who was actually controlling him) wouldnâ€™t have stopped him and would have perhaps found it amusing.
On that note, I feel like you would have to know Rufusâ€™s background with Pius in detail to understand his motives on purposely torturing him, which is why I find it a little odd that you feel like that dragged a little. The fact that they have known each other for a long time and that Pius has always been jealous of Rufus really shows these motives imho, and I think you really had to show that Pius had been shunted sideways and the only direction Rufus went in was up. I do understand, however, what you say about detracting from the tone I went to portray in this story, but I donâ€™t see any other way to do it.
From the few minutes in GOF where Harry is under the Imperius curse is where I did most of my â€śresearchâ€ť on how it would be like to be under the Imperius curse if you couldnâ€™t fight it. Pius, obviously, was in charge of some verrryyy important Ministry thing that I cannot remember the name of atm but was very important when Yaxley controlled him, so I would think that he would have at least gotten some basic training on how to combat the Imperius curse, but not from someone like Yaxley who actually meant what he was doing. Therefore, I remembered that part in GOF where the voice was trying to convince Harry to jump on to the desk (or something of that nature) and Harry kept combating the voice. I used that to some extent with Pius, but I went the converse route with it, where the voice won out even though Pius fought a small amount.
The short paragraphs and the detachment from the action are another part of Piusâ€™s sinking into his own mind (for no better way to put it). I feel like most of the time, Pius would be caught up in his own head, placing only a small amount of importance on what was actually happening in the world. I also believe that the rock and hard place (power and powerlessness) is why Pius felt so combated in his own mind in the first place. On at least some level, he knew he wasnâ€™t really thinking for himself, even if he didnâ€™t want to believe it, but he also just wanted to â€śtake the money and run,â€ť take the urge to be in control over Rufus and listen to the voice without fighting it.
Iâ€™m also very sorry about my switching between contractions and full words. I think I wanted to go for the dramatic effect and do full words, but I forgot, or perhaps I wanted the speech to sound realistic and therefore added contractions. I donâ€™t know, but Iâ€™ll go through and check that out.
The reason I added the ending, honestly, is because the fic ended up being something like 759 words and I couldnâ€™t submit without adding a few more words. Personally, I also hate being left on a cliffhanger and not know what happened to the character at the end of the story, so perhaps my subconcious just wanted to save the readers. I always feel like the characters under the Imperius curse would be able to remember every last thing that they did with more clarity than they ever could when they were under the curse. For this very reason, I wanted to write a fic about Stan Shunpike and his actions (chasing Harry, being locked up in Azkaban) but Iâ€™m still working on that.
Iâ€™m a little surprised you donâ€™t like the ending (or perhaps just think it could be improved on). I quite like it myself. Throughout the whole fic, Pius *knows* that he is lesser to Rufus, and not as brave or as physically/socially powerful as he is. But he doesnâ€™t want to admit it to himself and therefore, just listens to Yaxley telling him what to do. I think at the end, heâ€™s finally admitting to himself that he isnâ€™t that great and powerful person that Harry and Rufus were, and heâ€™s just telling himself â€śfine, Iâ€™m Pius, isnâ€™t that enough?â€ť Perhaps I could have gone into more detail on that, but since the rest of the fic was so fragmented and short, I donâ€™t think it was necessary.
Thank you once again for the lovely review, and for forcing me to type a response that is nearly as long as the review itself (okay, so maybe that wasnâ€™t necessary, but I like giving full responses). Pius is a very very minor character, and I think itâ€™s a lot of fun to get into a minor characterâ€™s head (which is part of why I wrote about him at the SBBC drabble a thon thingy). Iâ€™m so glad you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it a very very longg time ago, and Iâ€™m glad it was a lovely introduction into my writing (but hopefully not the conclusion, hm?)
Harry comes across Hermione crying in an abandoned classroom after the Yule Ball. A few moments of comfort and suddenly nothing is like it's supposed to be.
'It's not love, what's happening between them, and that's okay.'
Harry/Hermione, only not really
Congratulations on having this story nominated for a QSQ. I agree with the nomination completely in that you portray the shifting dynamics between Harry, Ron and Hermione very well, so I'll be interested to see how this story does.
I really like the way that you portray Hermione. In the books, she comes across as so bossy and know-it-all-ish that I think it overwhelms her more emotional and uncertain moments. In this piece, she seems far more sensitive, tentative, and emotional than I had expected. I like how you show her uncertainty over Ron and her insecurity about herself, which I think is definitely present in the books but is downplayed by her bossiness. However, I think that you keep Hermione in character wonderfully by mixing the moments where she's emotional with moments where she's handling the situation more pragmatically (e.g. the scene in which she tells Harry that she just likes him as a friend). You blend these sides of her together seamlessly, which makes her feel very three-dimensional to me.
On occasion, Harry feels a little too mature to me. He seems to view his relationship with Ron very objectively, and he seems very empathetic and understanding about how Ron feels (e.g. "even though Cedric is a perfectly nice guy, he kind of hates him too. So Harry understands." or when he admits to himself that he hasn't really been fair to Ron). In the books, Harry generally seems, to me, to be somewhat oblivious to other people's emotions and motives (e.g. in his relationship with Cho, or his relationship with Ron after being selected as champion). I like how you counterbalance his empathy for Ron with his attempts to justify his secrecy about the relationship. However, I still feel that at times his ability to empathize with Ron is slightly out of character.
My favorite part of this story is the way in which you depict Harry's relationships with Ron and Hermione. You capture Harry's care for his friends beautifully. The way Harry struggles with guilt over his relationship with Hermione, in my opinion, makes his loyalty to Ron obvious; yet his participation in that relationship, I see as proof that he really cares about Hermione also. All the subtleties you include in their relationships, for me, make them much more believable.
I've always had some trouble completely buying Harry/Hermione while Ron still likes Hermione romantically. That said, I really like how you develop their relationship as caring rather than romantic, and it makes it much more believable for me. However, I still have some trouble seeing Harry having a physical relationship with her. I can see him comforting her and hugging her, but I feel like Harry would be too loyal to Ron to start a relationship with Hermione while Ron's still interested in her.
The style you wrote this in sounds almost poetic. The present tense and third person make Harry's confusion about his relationship with Hermione and his care for his friends feel more ongoing than, I think, writing in past tense would. One of the things I like best about the style is the almost blunt narration. The certainty with which you state that "it's not love" emphasizes that the relationship between Harry and Hermione is more caring than romantic really well. I think the bluntness also helps keep this from feeling in overly emotional at all. The other thing that I really like about the style is the way that you make a statement, then expand on it-- "They aren't dating, don't take long walks around the lake or make out in the Astronomy Tower later at night."-- I think it makes the narration sound more casual and more like Harry's thoughts. The only nitpick I have about this is that on occasion, it feels like a dash might have been slightly clearer than a comma.
I think my favorite section of the piece is: "They don't have sex, don't fuck in some abandoned classroom like a bunch of stupid hormonal teenagers. He does kiss her for a long time though". The way that the bluntness of the first sentence contrasts with the more gentle second sentence works really well to emphasize that their relationship is more caring and tender rather than just physical.
I finished this story feeling happy. Regardless of how their friendship sometimes hurts them, I like how you showed how blissful their friendship can be. The story feels happy and optimistic, but without sacrificing realism. I really enjoyed reading this, and good luck on the QSQs-- I hope you do well!
Author's Response: Wow, I had no idea I had been nominated for a QSQ. That's such a huge compliment, and I was so pleased to find out from reading your review. This is probably the most honest, thorough review I've ever gotten, so I'd really like to thank you for that. The balance of Hermione's character was interesting for me to write, so I'm really glad that you enjoyed that part. Going to be honest here: I'd never really written a story that involved the whole "trio". At least, not a good story. So to really get down to the nitty-gritty and explore their characters was my favorite part of this story, and I'm really glad that you appreciated it. While I like to think that Harry's "relationship" with Hermione would make him a bit mature and thus empathetic, you're probably right that it's a bit out of character. He was always a bit more (for lack of a better word) emotional than thoughtful in the books. So you're right on that one. =) I really love that you pointed out how his relationship with Hermione makes it clear he cares for her, but that his guilt shows his friendship with Ron - because that is EXACTLY what I was trying to portray. In terms of Harry having a physical relationship with Hermione, I do agree with you that it's unlikely. In the wakes of what I consider Ron's betrayal in GOF, I think it'd be a bit easier for Harry to forget his loyalty to Ron though. I totally agree about the dash, instead of comma thing. I tend to overuse commas and underuse dashes. Your compliment about my writing was SO nice . You haven no idea how much I appreciate something like that. Sometimes I'm afraid my "blunt" style doesn't work, so a review like yours just reaffirms my faith in my own abilities. And what a coincidence, but your favorite section is my favorite too. That was my absolute favorite line to write, and probably one of my favorite lines I've never written. So it means the world that you liked it too. Thank you SO much, again, for your kind and detailed review. It will help with my future writing.
Thought that you did a wonderful job with the tone of the story, and I really like how the feel of the story changed as the piece progressed. It transitioned from relaxed and peaceful to somewhat sad. All the transitions felt effortless, which I thought suggested the closeness of their friendship. By that, I mean that it felt that they interacted together naturally, rather than the somewhat awkward interactions seen in â€śThe Princeâ€™s Taleâ€ť when their friendship is beginning to break off.
I liked the peaceful and relaxed feeling with which you began the story. I could easily picture the gentle wind, the trees, and the grass; through that I was able to get an idea of what Snape was feeling at the beginning without much explanation on your part. Lily then broke that quiet peace with her laughter, but it still felt like Snape was completely relaxed with her. A number of the stories Iâ€™ve read which depict Lily and Snapeâ€™s relationship show a more angsty side to the relationship, so itâ€™s a nice change to see a more relaxed, happy view of their relationship.
I think Lilyâ€™s enquiries about Snapeâ€™s potion book and Snapeâ€™s replies showed a lot about their relationship in a very concise and subtle manner.. Lilyâ€™s reaction to Snapeâ€™s rather casual put down of James and Sirius did make me pause for a second. I initially thought that Lily biting her lip and averting her eyes was in reaction to the comment about James and Sirius. And, until Lily and Snapeâ€™s friendship breaks off, I got the impression that Lily was also very scornful of James and Sirius, and Iâ€™d have thought that she would rather agree with Snape about them showing off rather than paying attention. As that really didnâ€™t make much sense, I guessed that Lilyâ€™s reaction was more in response to Snapeâ€™s blasĂ© attitude toward a rather dangerous potion. I get the impression that Snapeâ€™s thought Lily had reacted to James and Siriusâ€™s names, and I suppose that type of thing is probably what fueled his jealously of James. I suspect what Lily was reacting to was his attitude toward possibly dark magic. In other words, I liked how the multiple interpretations of Lilyâ€™s reaction and the interpretation Snape seemed to choose hinted at the tensions in their relationship, which would later lead to the breaking off of that relationship.
Snape makes Lily promise to meet him again the next day, which I thought really alluded to his insecurity about their friendship. In â€śThe Princeâ€™s Taleâ€ť, Snape is shown to have very, very little self esteem, and I think you really suggested that when Snape presses Lily to promise to meet him again even after sheâ€™s already agreed to come. He doesnâ€™t seem confidant enough about Lilyâ€™s friendship to trust sheâ€™ll return to him. In addition to his jealousy, I think Snapeâ€™s insecurity about Lilyâ€™s affection for him and the lack of trust he has in her, which stems from that, was one of the major factors in the breaking off of their friendship.
When Petunia called Lily, and Snape begged her to stay a little longer, I think greatly showed Snapeâ€™s dependency on Lily. Heâ€™s described as anxious about her leaving, which also suggested to me his emotional reliance on Lilyâ€™s friendship. When Lily leaves him to go home, Snape is shown dwell on their relationship, by picking up the feather and running his hand over where Lily was sitting. Even after Lily has left, Snape still is completely focused on her, and taking the feather home, suggested to me that heâ€™s always thinking about their friendship and further alluded to Snapeâ€™s emotional dependence on Lily.
I genuinely enjoyed this story. You did a wonderful job providing a snapshot of Snape and Lilyâ€™s relationship and showing the relaxedness as well as the underlying tensions between them. I very much hope that you continue to write fanfiction here, and I look forward to reading anything you write in the future.
I liked how you integrated the quote from â€śThe Deathly Hallowsâ€ť. A lot of the time, when people integrate quotations into a story or poem, the quotation sticks out, breaks the flow, and/or feels very forced. Beginning with the quotation, â€śAfter all this time?â€ť instantly told me who the poem was about, and It also set a sad and romantic tone that continued through the entire piece. I was also impressed at how well the quotation fit with the rest of the poem. The syllable number fit with the number of syllables in other lines, and the tone of the quotation was very similar to the tone of the rest of the poem. When I read through the poem, I probably wouldnâ€™t have picked out the quotation if it wasnâ€™t marked.
You began the poem with Dumbledore asking a question, and through the rest of the poem, Snape answered it and defended his love for Lily. I thought this led into the poem very well. It gave a context for Snapeâ€™s reflection, and I liked it better than I think I would have if Snape had simply reflected on his love for Lily because I generally am not much of a fan of somewhat random reflection, or somewhat out-of-the-blue reflection.
You also closed with the line â€śAfter all this time.â€ť I originally did not really notice because, as I said before, the tone and syllable structure of the line fit in with the rest of the poem so well. But, upon a later reading and highlighting of the poem (something I generally do when reviewing, especially with a poem that repeats lines), I noticed that you closed with the quotation too. I thought this worked wonderfully. As Iâ€™ve already said, I thought this poem read like Snapeâ€™s defense of his love for Lily to Dumbledore, and ending with the question summed up the argument succinctly. I initially was confused as to why you didnâ€™t put the line in quotation marks. I read the poem after the first line as Snape speaking, and I think putting Dumbledoreâ€™s words in quotation marks (besides citing that the words come from the book) also clearly distinguishes Dumbledoreâ€™s speech from Snapeâ€™s.
I donâ€™t generally like rhetorical questions in writing, especially prose; often I feel that theyâ€™re a rather conspicuous and somewhat passive way to make a statement, which I think often would be stronger if it was just stated. The distinction that Dumbledore was asking, â€śAfter all this time?â€ť made the question more subtle, in my opinion. You did use another question, in the second line, but I thought it expressed Snapeâ€™s confusion as to why Dumbledore didnâ€™t understand his love of Lily. You again used a question in the fifth and sixth lines of the poem, but I thought the use of repetition strengthened the confusion Snape felt about Dumbledore not understanding his feelings, which in a way strengthened the way Snapeâ€™s love for Lily was portrayed. I think he thinks his feelings are so natural that he canâ€™t understand why Dumbledore wouldnâ€™t understand them. Ending with a question probably would probably have irked me a bit (I think questions exist to be answered, and you answer the question â€śAfter all this time?â€ť so well, it really isnâ€™t needed as a question later.), so I liked how you made a change to the punctuation at the end of the final line.
When I first read the poem, I noted that the poem was heavily structured. All the lines in the poem had five, six, or seven syllables, which gave the piece a clear rhythm when read. I noticed some repetition, but not until I began highlighting repeated lines did I really notice the extent to which you used repetition of lines. Very obvious repetition is something that often breaks the flow of a poem, but I barely noticed yours. Rather than being blatant, I liked how the repetition was subtle, something I thought tied all of the stanzas together.
What I thought kept the repetition latent was the way a number of the lines repeated were changed very slightly, and each line was only repeated twice. Twice you repeat a line later in the poem, but you begin the repeated line with the word â€śforâ€ť. Besides varying the wording slightly, this also used the statement as a reason, which slightly changed its location in a later sentence. For example, the line â€śMy love has no end.â€ť is used as a complete sentence in the third line, but later in the thirteenth and fourteenth line, you use it in the phrase â€śIâ€™ll fight for her always, / For my love has no end.â€ť When you repeat the phrase â€śFor my love has no endâ€ť, you use it as a part of a more complete thought. This keeps the repetition from sounding redundant. You also repeat the question â€śDoes he not understand-- / What would I do for her?â€ť (5-6) later, but you rephrase it as â€śWhat wouldnâ€™t I do for her?â€ť (9). Like in the previous example of repletion, you use the location of the phrase within a sentence to altar the emphasis of the line and you also use it in this case to slightly alter the wording without changing the meaning. I liked how you repeated the question â€śWhat would I do for her?â€ť (6) except you negated it to â€śWhat wouldnâ€™t I do for her?â€ť (9). This made the repetition of that line sound fresh to me.
I thought you did a brilliant job portraying Snapeâ€™s love for -Lily and striking a balance between the romance, the creepiness, and the obsession of Snapeâ€™s feelings. To sum up, I thought you used the structure of this poem wonderfully to portray Snapeâ€™s feelings for Lily.
Author's Response: Hello Meg, Thank you so much for reviewing this! This is actually one of my favourite poems that I've written, so I'm really happy someone reviewed it. I'm actually quite happy that you didn't find the repetition overly obvious and annoying, as I think that was one of the hardest things. I didn't even notice the syllable thing :O Maple
Soraya, you really need to stop fishing for complements about your writing. :) Seriously, this is really good, despite what you said on AIM.
Marvolo comes across quite loudly, in my opinion, and he is in character to the point that I'd quite like to punch him. His dialogue, especially, really stands out to me, and I'm quite impressed by how much you show about him through just his tone. The way he screams more loudly at Merope as she becomes more afraid and more powerless, I think, really captures how cruel he is. The way you use caps really emphasizes this, for me, because it vividly distinguishes the climax of his anger from the build up. Your sparse use of caps, however, keeps me from getting a headache (thank you). From this story, I can definitely tell where Voldemort gets the nastiness from.
I found the first scene the most heartbreaking. What makes it so sad, I think, is that Merope comes across as a young and innocent girl, who's trying to do everything she can to avoid her father's censure. Yet, because she can't live up to his impossible expectations-- e.g. she can't levitate a laundry basket without being taught how, especially since she's not allowed to use magic outside of school-- he screams at her. I found it horrible to see that, regardless of what Merope does, her father will still abuse her. And, despite this, she still names her son after him-- so I think you definitely showed that he "inflict[s] psychological hurt on" her.
My favorite thing about this fic is the way you incorporate the different definitions of "to bruise". I like how it keeps the story focused while also providing a more general picture of Merope's life. The basic plotline fits so well with what Dumbledore tells Harry about Merope's life in HBP, but you add context and emotion to the story, which really adds another dimension, I think. It makes her decisions both to seduce Tom and to give up magic and die right after her son is born feel so much more understandable for me. It's easy for me to sympathize with her desire to be loved, in the context of her abusive childhood, and from that to understand why she gives Tom the love potion. After enduring her father and brother's abuse and having Tom abandon her, I can understand why she chooses (or at least Dumbledore presents it as a choice) to give up and die, even though it leaves her son alone.
I like how you use present tense and repetition to show that the feelings and abuse encapsulated in each moment are ongoing. The way you define "to bruise" at the beginning of each section (with exception to the last one), I think, ties the different moments together fluidly. Even though each definition of "to bruise" is different, they all define the same word, which makes it feel like each type of bruise/abuse happens in every part of her life. The present tense, in my opinion, amplifies this by making it feel almost like the different scenes are happing continuously.
The repeated definition of "to bruise" makes defining 'to heal' at the end of the fic much more powerful for me. The fact that the definition of 'to heal' only shows up once makes the feeling of healing, along with the definition, feel very isolated in the piece. It suggests, to me, that the semi-optimism that she shows in that moment is short lived and that she experiences far more bruising than healing in her life. This makes me feel worse for her, and it makes much it harder for me to judge her. In addition to that, I do appreciate that you end this fic on a somewhat less depressing note.
I really enjoyed reading this fic. I like how you use the unique format of this fic to give insight into Merope's life and into her decisions. Now, since this was a fic that you didn't think was good, I'm quite curious to read a story that you've written that you actually like! :)
Author's Response: Megggggggggggg! Thank you so much for the lovely review, and apologies for taking a while to reply -- Iâ€™ve been busy with cooking and stuff.
Iâ€™m glad you liked Marvolo. Yes, he was very loud and horrible, and itâ€™s great to know you liked the dialogue! Itâ€™s one of the few things I pride myself on, though it wasnâ€™t all that in this story. Oh, ha, I didnâ€™t think about where Voldemort gets his nastiness from, but youâ€™re certainly right :) And yay to you not getting a headache XD I definitely think caps need to be used sparingly so that theyâ€™re more effective. I hope that was the case here. Also, I think I just remembered why I wrote this story: I was chatting to my brother a while before the challenge cropped up, and he was telling me a really terrible story about a girl he knew whose father did exactly what Marvolo did with the knife, to her. And I just couldnâ€™t get it out of my head, how horrible someone must have been, how twisted, to do something as disgusting as that. So yeah. Thatâ€™s where this all began.
The thing with Merope is that, at the end of the day, Marvolo -- despite how much of a son of a biatch he is, she still views him as superior to her because thatâ€™s the way sheâ€™s been brought up. And I think the fact that she has had the whole blood purity thing drilled into her skull since a very young age means that she would still want to honour her father in spite of everything he did to her. Itâ€™s horrible and doesnâ€™t make much sense, lol, but thatâ€™s how I see Meropeâ€™s mind working, anyway.
Everyone seems to like my definitions thing, lol. I really should use that kind of structuring more. To begin with, though, this story was a rather big mess in that it had no structure whatsoever. I tried everything, even tried a song, but it didnâ€™t work, so I ended up going to the dictionary, hehehehehe. Itâ€™s lovely to know that you thought it worked. And Iâ€™m glad you understand Merope -- you probably understand her better than I do, haha.
I usually fail epically at present tense, but itâ€™s annoyingly addictive, too, and Iâ€™m glad you thought it was the right choice. I think so too. If it was written in hindsight, in past tense, I donâ€™t think it would have worked at all because of how tense it was. And I liked giving Merope a slightly more optimistic ending, even though we both know how *that* turns out.
You are fabulous and far, far too kind, Meg. I was pretty gobsmacked when this was nominated for a QSQ, given how unhappy I was with it, and I also fainted in shock, almost, when no one sporked this in SBBC. I think my Next Gen and femmeslash is generally better, and in particular (if youâ€™re asking for recs, haha), I think my favourite fics are Broken Glass, which is Louis/Lily, and I Will Lay Down My Heart, which is Albus/Rose. But I think the only one that is reasonably well-written is my Rowena/Helga, The Caustic Ticking of the Clock.
Thank you for the wonderful, SPEW-tastic review, Meg. Much appreciated :D