Summary: In Tom Riddle's first Christmas vacation at Hogwarts, he is lonely.
I'm not certain how you come up with characterizations for minor characters that introduce some aspect of the character that I hadn't really thought about. However, unlike with Pius, in your story "Smoke and Mirrors", I've actually thought about Tom's character, which made reading your depiction of him more interesting for me, since I'd had a preconceived notion of what he was like to compare him against.
I think the part of this fic that interested me the most was your portrayal of Tom as almost vulnerable. I've seen him depicted as being bullied at one point or another, but he always seems to completely annihilate the person who hurt him by the end of the story. What stands out to me in your fic is that he comes across as very human, and I don't think that his dictatorial side was terribly discernable in this piece. I think my favorite part of this fic was that by not showing his cruelty and his obsession with dominance and control, you were able to focus on his ambition, which undoubtedly led to his rise as Voldemort, but also could have led him to have a positive, yet still remarkable, career. His ambition was especially apparent in the last lineâ€”"Soon, everyone in the world would know his name."
I liked how you didn't directly refer to his future infamy for most of the story. It didn't feel like Tom is Voldemort Jr., but rather he's feels like an eleven year old boy who is being bullied and wants to be accepted. You made Tom much, much easier to relate to, and (scarily enough) made me feel bad for him. However, it felt, to me, like amid his confusions and, to a certain extent, fear you lost the way Tom was portrayed in canon. In HBP, in Dumbledore's memory of Tom at the orphanage, Tom appeared to be manipulative, cold, and cruel. While the view Dumbledore gave was unlikely a hugely accurate portrait, there are certainly aspects of Tom that were domineering and cruel: his treatment of Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop in the cave, his hanging the rabbit from the rafters, and the way he ordered Dumbledore around are strongly indicative that his more Voldemort-ish aspects (e.g. his obsession with control and power, his arrogance, his cruelty) were apparent, even in his early childhood.
Tom begins the story as a frightened kid, which I thought worked really well. I have no doubt that at some point, Tom felt fearâ€”his flee from the bullies at the beginning of this story parallels Voldemort's fear of death, for me. One of the things that I had trouble with was his lack of response to the bullies. While I definitely can see him fleeing if he didn't think he would win a confrontation between himself and the bullies, I picture him coming up with some plan/plotting some type of revenge during his fight. I can't see him taking abuse without retaliating in some manner. (whether it was physical, magical, or mental).
Wanting to be accepted (by at least somebody) had never actually crossed my mind as a piece in Tom's psychology. And, honestly, I can't see him as deliberating on it at any length in his first year. During his entire childhood at the orphanage, Tom was shunned at the orphanage by his peers, and during that time, I think he began feeling distain for the opinions of others (whether favorable or disfavorable). I think learning about magic made Tom respect the muggles at the orphanage less, I think he would still have a great deal of distain for his magical peers, because none of them can even come close to matching him. Despite the ways in which the way you characterize Tom is discordant with the way I characterize Tom, I really enjoyed your characterization. It forced me to examine aspects of Tom's character, such as his relationship with fear, that I previously hadn't considered at all.
I really liked how you used the length of this fic to highlight your characterization of Tom. You cut the story down to the point where every event in the plot contributed very directly to the way Tom's character unfolded. I'm a very, very distractible reader, and I think one of the reasons I was able to focus in on characterization for the past 4-5 paragraphs is because there wasn't much else to get distracted in your story by. You got straight to the point, and I felt like almost every sentence contributed to Tom's characterization.
Since the entire piece is narrated in third person, I was slightly confused about the last paragraph and the line following it. The narration seemed, to me, to change from third person to limited to third person omniscient, which was somewhat disconcerting.
I think by including the final paragraph you intended to use the omniscient narrator to hint at the transition between Tom and Voldemort, that was already taking place. But, I don't think you needed the paragraph because you had done a wonderful job already of showing that transition: the change from wanting friends to wanting allies and especially the last line. I read the last line as being Tom's thoughts, so it almost felt to me like you changed from a limited narrator, to an omniscient narrator, and then back to a limited narrator, which made me pause for a moment.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this story. Your portrayal of Tom is so close to how I've imagined him in some ways (i.e. his ambition), and yet on the it is completely different in most aspects. You made me examine Tom in a completely different light, which is always interesting to do.
Summary: "Did I know, in my heart of hearts, what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes." When Albus Dumbledore met Gellert Grindelwald that fateful summer in Godric's Hollow, their lives were forever changed...
I really liked how throughout this piece you portrayed the atmosphere through descriptions. Sections of this story created a vivid picture in my mind. I really liked the beginning section; you depicted the uncontrolled chaos during the fight between Dumbledore, Grindelwald, and Aberforth. The helplessness of each of the participants was heavily suggested by the fact that the pleas of â€śDonâ€™t hurt them, please! Hurt me instead!â€ť go completely unnoticed in â€śthe cloudâ€ť. I liked the relatively detached and visual narration of the first section. You avoided more emotional words, generally in this section, but you still clearly showed the emotions each character was feeling very concisely. You showed determination and anger of Grindelwald just through his â€śeyes with a steely glintâ€ť. Arianaâ€™s fear and desperation was shown through her tentative movements.
The final sentence of the story also jumped out as me because of the vivid picture it painted. Dumbledore walking â€śthrough the chilly morning air with a longer stride, and [disappearing] into the foggy mistâ€ť away from his mother and sisterâ€™s grave, besides giving me a detailed mental image, wrapped up the story while being somewhat open. Leaving the grave, to me symbolized, Dumbledore stopping dwelling on his sisterâ€™s death and coming to terms with his relationship with Grindelwald. I liked how you didnâ€™t directly tell the reader what was going on, but rather you left the reader to interpret it through descriptions.
Occasionally, I thought that Dumbledoreâ€™s thoughts broke the flow of the story. For example, in the middle of a description of the fight breaking out between Aberforth and Grindelwald, Dumbledoreâ€™s thoughts are described: â€śHe decided to fight back, to fight the man he thought was his best friendâ€ť. Other descriptions in this story, such as the first section and paragraphs surrounding this quotation, made it feel like the fight broke out quickly, and all the action was happening rapidly. I imagine Dumbledoreâ€™s decision to side with his family against Grindelwald was either instantaneous and/or took place after quick, but laborious deliberation and conflict. I think you tried to portray Dumbledoreâ€™s mental conflict, but I felt like the description was too brief to really capture that conflict. I think not showing Dumbledoreâ€™s actual thoughts, and showing his actions in a more detached sense, like in the first section, could have shown that too. However, I felt like you sort of compromised between the two, and as a result I donâ€™t think his decision was as powerful as I think it could have been.
I liked in several descriptions of Grindelwald you showed his almost uncontrolled determination to shape the world the way he thought it should be. During his fight with Aberforth, Grindelwald yelling comments about Aberforth and Ariana not being needed in the world, while throwing curses at them, really impressed upon me the degree Grindelwald was willing to go to in order to reach is goals and his willingness to use as much force as necessary to achieve them.
When Grindelwald first converses with Dumbledore, Dumbledore describes him: â€śEvery decision he ever made was calculated, precise, and meticulous in every wayâ€ť. I thought that this provided a slight contrast to the way Dumbledore writes about Grindelwald in â€śThe Deathly Hallowsâ€ť: â€śAnd from this it follows that where we meet resistance, we must use only the force that is necessary and no more. (This was your mistake at Durmstrang.)â€ť (American Hardcover Edition. 357). I donâ€™t get the impression that Grindelwaldâ€™s use of more force than necessary, which got him expelled from Durmstrang was terribly calculated, precise, or meticulous. I feel like if it had been, Grindelwald would have managed to escape detection, or at least he would have managed to twist it in a way such that he wasnâ€™t expelled from Durmstrang. Apart from this minor detail, I liked how you showed the force Grindelwald had of his convictions excellently through his use of absolute and exact phrases about his beliefs when trying to persuade Dumbledore. I also thought your use of the question â€śDonâ€™t you understand?â€ť suggested Grindelwaldâ€™s conviction that he was right, and that if his beliefs were explained they would certainly make sense and convince anyone.
I also liked how you portrayed Aberforthâ€™s anger toward Dumbledore for his care of Ariana: â€śYou canâ€™t stand bearing the responsibility of taking care of your worthless brother and damaged sister when you could be out earning another trophy for the mantle!â€ť The opinion of Dumbledore Aberforth expresses meshes perfectly with the way Aberforth talks about Dumbledore to Harry, Ron, and Hermione during â€śThe Deathly Hallowsâ€ť.
In the brief conversation Aberforth, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have, Aberforth spoke very directly and concisely. Right before their fight, Aberforth yells at Grindelwald, â€śFrom your twisted, unspeakable experiments at Durmstrang to this new world order you want to enact, everything you do is unforgivable and wrong.â€ť I felt like this was a bit wordier than Aberforthâ€™s speech in the books was. I wonder if there would be a way to express the sentiment, which I think is definitely in character for Aberforth to be saying, more succinctly.
On the whole, though, I really enjoyed the way you used vivid descriptions to depict the events and characters in this story.
Summary: Percy has every procedure, every regulation, perfectly memorized. He knows the precise difference in rank between a Persian Justicar and an American Senator. The annual international conference he organizes goes off each year without a hitch. He has everything under control. This is, perhaps, the reason why Percy is so out of sorts when he wakes up next to a beautiful woman and hasn't the slightest idea what to do next.
This is AcaciaCarter of Hufflepuff, writing for the Great Hall Cotillion of 2012.
Another Percy/Audrey fic? Yay! I stumbled on this a while ago and really enjoyed it. I really like Percy/Audrey, and you created a take on their relationship (and Audrey's characterization) that I haven't seen before.
One of my favorite things about this fic is Audrey's characterization. I especially like how she doesn't feel like you designed her around complementing Percy; she feels like an independent character. The way you blend more businesslike traits with much more light traits really makes Audrey feel realistic and unique to me. The way she's been angling for the job at the embassy for several years makes her feel just as ambitious as Percy. However, I really like how she's not a carbon copy of him; she seems bolder, more lively, and less of a control-freak than Percy is. I really like how you've created a character who complements Percy, but also is an interesting character in her own right.
I really like how in character you make Percy's affair with Audrey feel. His obvious reluctance to do something improper and his constant worry about what other people think about his really makes him recognizable from canon. I really sniggered at his embarrassment when his assistant tells him that everyone knows about his um.. rendez-vous with Audrey. His reluctance and his awkwardness when leaving the party with Audrey really made it feel in character to me, while allowing him to (at least sort-of) let go of his notion of propriety.
I think the ending works really well. Originally, I was wondering how they were going to end up eventually getting married, since they live on different continents. However, having Audrey move to Britain for her job definitely solves that. I especially like how Audrey specifies that she'd been aiming to get the job for several years, and that Percy is just a benefit. It keeps her feeling independent-- it keeps her from feeling like her life revolves a guy she's really known for about a week, which would have weakened her as a character for me.
The flashback format works really well, in my opinion. It really engaged me in the beginning, since obviously I had to keep reading to know why Percy is in bed with Audrey, a move he clearly wasn't expecting. I like how you use italics for the flashbacks; it makes it very easy to follow the piece from flashbacks to real time. The other thing I like about the flashback format is the "so many hours previously" heading at the beginning of each flashback. It feels like Percy is remembering the evening (in a sort-of 'what exactly happened again' manner), and I can completely see him mentally adding that heading as he thought about the evening. :)
To sum up, this is a stunning piece, and it is an amazing addition to the small (but slowly growing) body of Percy/Audrey fics.
My mother always called me the good daughter (and I was good, perhaps too much so).
I was perfect (except I wasnâ€™t, really).
I was flawless in every way but one.
Based off of the drabble I wrote for the SBBC Battle of the Genres challenge (it won first place). Thank you to the elves for such a lovely challenge!
Nominated for a 2012 Quicksilver Quill Award - Best Same Sex Pairing.
Ariana, I really enjoyed reading this, despite the fact that it's kind of depressing. This story story is stunning. You capture so many emotions in such a concise and poetic piece, and I really hope this does well in the QSQs-- it definitely deserves to.
As a character, Elladora feels very realistic and very unique to me. Most stories seem to focus on characters who are willing to disregard the expectations and opinions of others in order to be happy, which, I think, makes Elladora's inability to escape her family's expectations more interesting. I really like how you focus on a character who doesn't inwardly fit the mold of the good daughter, but outwardly she does. Elladora's rebellion against her family's expectations, in the form of her relationship with Isabel, keeps her from feeling weak, while her unwillingness to openly cast off the mask of the perfect daughter keeps her from feeling entirely autonomous. I think that Elladora's compromise between these makes her incredibly relatable, and makes me feel like her choices were understandable, even though I wanted her to leave her family to be with Isabel.
I really like how you develop Darius's character solely through his interactions with Elladora. He comes across so vividly that I either want to shudder with disgust or to punch him (or both). The callous way he has sex with Elladora contrasts with her tender and sensual relationship with Isabel, emphasizing how little Darius cares about Elladora. When he tells Elladora that he's sorry after he kills Isabel, I just shuddered. You show him as so cruel and remorseless so well and in so few words-- least to say, I'm thrilled that Elladora didn't marry him.
One of the things that really impresses me about this fic was how you use sex to develop the plot and to develop Elladora's relationships, rather than using it just as something to add drama to the story. When Isabel tells Elladora that she's beautiful, as she undresses her, I feel like their relationship was as supportive as it was sexual-- she's telling Elladora that she's beautiful even when she's not being a good daughter. The scene where Darius discovers Isabel and Elladora, and then Darius's cruel presence replacing Isabel's tender one are both heart-wrenching.
My favorite line of the fic is: [i]"She would whisper scream my name but I would never let myself say hers because I was afraid and Isabel was not"[/i]. The phrase [i]"whisper scream"[/i] is incredibly vivid and, I think, sums up their relationship quite well. The scream part shows the passion of the relationship, while the whisper shows how carefully the relationship must be hidden. This line also shows Elladora's fear of being discovered-- and not being a good daughter-- incredibly well through her fear of whisper screaming Isabel's name.
The narration of this fic emphasizes, for me, the contrast between the perfect daughter and whom Elladora actually is really well. For most of the piece, Elladora's narration feels incredibly detached, with her emotions being hinted at but not outright given. I think that this makes the moments where she explains what she's feeling much more powerful (e.g. when Darius rapes her, [i]"I felt like I was part of him and the thought disgusted me"[/i]; when she's with Isabel for the last time, [i]"I thought for a moment that I could be hers."[/i]). It feels like as Elladora becomes more emotionally engaged in the narration, the mask of the perfect daughter slips (e.g. when Elladora is with Isabel). This really strengthens the story, in my opinion, by accentuating the conflict between what's expected of Elladora and what she wants.
I think that the comments in parentheses work really well. They add another layer to the narration, for me. In my opinion, they add a little more subjectivity to Elladora's otherwise detached narration; the comments in parentheses show that the story isn't exactly the way it appears on the surface, which emphasizes that Elladora isn't exactly the way she appears. They also suggest, for me, that even though she has thoughts and feelings that don't conform to her image, she isn't ready to have them openly. By underlining the compromise Elladora's tries to make between her family and herself, I think, that it made Elladora easier for me to relate to.
This piece is really beautiful. It's so vivid and focused that it almost feels like a memory. I really enjoyed reading it, and good luck with the QSQs!
Author's Response: Oh wow, this is such a beautiful review! Thank you so much for reading the story and taking the time to leave a review -- I was blown away by the amount of thought put into this and I'm so, so happy to hear that you liked it. The stories I write tend to be shorter (maybe because I run out of plot ideas, maybe because I have nothing else to sayâ€¦ :P ) but I'm glad that you found the fic more focused because of it. It was difficult for me to write Elladora and not make her appear cowardly because it's more that she understands how happy her success will make her parents and she doesn't want them to suffer simply because she can't comply. I loved writing her and I'm happy you found her relatableâ€¦especially because she's as close to an OC as I will probably ever write :).
It's interesting that you mentioned it felt like a memory, because that's *exactly* how it felt to write it. Thank you again for leaving me such a lovely review! xx Ariana
Summary: It was a cold October when hope was lost ...
Written for The Random Song Title Challenge in Poetry, Anyone over on the beta boards.
Hi Ellie. I don't think I've ever reviewed anything of yours for some reason, so I'll now fix that.
I really liked the imagery of the wildflowers in this poem. It added to the fairytale theme, and I think it came to represent Helga's hope for their relationship; the fresh, live wildflowers represent her hope that the relationship will turn out well and her love for him-- the dying wildflowers represent her hope that he will return to her diminishing along with her love. I thought that the symbol tied the poem together beautifully, and gave it more meaning.
I especially like the choice of wildflowers. In fairytales, the more typical choice, I think, is roses. To me, roses evoke a very formal, yet romantic image, and often can feel somewhat clichĂ©d. The wildflowers still evokes a romantic, but slightly more casual, intimate feel. They suggested that Helga and Salazar's relationship is more informal, intimate, and spontaneous. Wildflowers are, in my experience, a fairly resilient flower, which made me think that Helga and Salazar's relationship is emotionally intimate.
The death of the wildflowers because October has come represents, to me, that Salazar and Helga's relationship will inevitably fall apart. The coming of winter is inevitable, and flowers die because of the cold-- paralleling the breaking of the relationship between Salazar and Helga. I thought that this connected to the fairytale theme, because the miracle, like one in a fairytale, (or at least a greenhouse) is needed to keep the relationship from symbolically dying.
I think that the fairytale motif represents Salazar and Helga's relationship well. To me, fairytales have always represented innocence and the idea that reality can be overcome. Their relationship had the innocence of the story of a handsome peasant sweeping a beautiful princess off her feet and them living happily ever after. Their relationship is not quite that improbable, but they are both divided by their beliefs, and they are eventually what causes Salazar to leave her. The idea that a relationship can be maintained solely through the love of two people for each other seems very innocent to me, and for Helga and Salazar's relationship to work, I think in some ways the innocence of a fairytale is necessary.
It took me a while to figure out the first stanza, but the image of the princess lying in the field of wildflowers dreaming, suggested, to me that her waiting was in vain, and that her love for him was a dream. The combination of the living flowers and Helga dreaming suggested that she can only maintain hope for their relationship while she is in a fantasy world-- that their relationship will never, in reality, work out. She is surrounded by the dangerous wood, in which Salazar is trapped, unable to reach her. That there are insurmountable barriers (the woods) that make it inevitable that their relationship will fail. The barrier of the dark and dangerous wood, to me, paralleled the barrier of their beliefs about muggleborns.
The roles within the fairytale connected well with the roles of the characters. The connection between Helga and the princess was very easy for me to make since I've always seen Helga as the kindest and most innocent of the founders. I found the choice to portray Salazar as the peasant to be much more ironic. In theory, I would have imagined Salazar to be the dragon or the evil sorcerer, rather than the peasant. However, I think the improbably of the peasant and the princess' romance parallels Salazar and Helga's relationship wonderfully.
I think that my favorite image that you used in the poem was that of Salazar lying "shivering", seemingly helpless in the fen. The image of death on the land Salazar inhabits made me think of the death that his idea that muggleborns should not have magic would later bring. However, it also suggested to me that he was in some ways made helpless by his prejudices, which tore his love of Helga away from him.
You made Salazar a far more sympathetic character than the books portrayed him as. In the books I thought that he was portrayed essentially as a bigoted idiot. Whereas, I felt like you made him into a tragic figure, made helpless by his prejudices. I really liked this idea, it made Salazar feel more human to me, and it made him much, much easier to relate to.
Usually, I don't really like long poetry; I've always thought that the beauty of poetry is in its conciseness. Despite this poem's long-ish length, you used every word, which I think is what made me really appreciate the themes, motifs, and characterization.
The only critique that I have of this poem is that there were a number of places where I paused because of the tense of a verb, because the meaning was unclear, or because of word order. In the seventh line, you say a "peasant lie shivering". I had difficulty understanding what you meant in the eighth line-- I think that you meant that his dreams of her were wrenched from his heart. In the eleventh line, you say, "He bestowed her a wildflower", which made me pause because it doesn't make grammatical sense. I think it would make slightly more sense to say 'He bestowed upon her a wildflower'. In the twentieth line you say "hoping the memory her spirit lift.". Again, this made me pause because it doesn't make grammatical sense. It might make more sense to say, 'hoping that the memory would lift her spirit'. In the twenty-eighth line, you say "he conjured another flower behold". The use of the word behold in this sentence doesn't make much sense. If you really didn't want to break the rhyme scheme, I think a comma after the word 'flower' might clarify the sentence slightly. In the twenty-ninth line, you say "for scores and scores the two just lay". The way it sounds in the stanza sounds wonderful, but what you mean isn't terribly clear. I'd assume you mean scores of years, but you don't specify and years isn't implied in the word. In the thirty-eighth line, you say "the same October her love leave". The line made me pause because the verb isn't conjugated correctly. If you are using the past you would say, 'her love left'; if you want to say it in the present, it's 'her love leaves'; in the future, it's 'her love will leave'. The next line is "They lay down the Princess Helga". I wasn't sure to whom the word 'they' referred. My guess is that you reworded a lot of these lines to keep the rhyming pattern (which worked well), but honestly I think it would break the flow of less to add a false rhyme or even to just break the rhyming pattern altogether than to make the reader pause because of grammar or to try to figure out what a sentence means. If this were my poem, I'd break the rhyme pattern and use the meter of the lines and the imagery to hold the poem together. The only other thing I noted was that occasionally the tense was inconsistent. The last stanza was specifically where it stood out to me. This critique feels obscenely nitpicky, and in prose, I wouldn't mention it, but because flow is so important to poetry, I think that it really detracted from the beauty of this poem.
Despite the last paragraph, I really, really enjoyed this poem. (I would not have spent the at least an hour writing the last paragraph if I hadn't really enjoyed it.) The symbolism and the motif of the fairytale and the flowers tied the poem together, and I thought that most of the lines read very lyrically.
Author's Response: Wow. Thanks for the amazing SPEW review, Meg!
I like that my story came out clear. It's one of the things I worry about most during poetry, because of my odd phrasing. :) I chose the wildflowers because they're well, wild, and Helga and Salazar's relationship isn't exactly ... conventional. A peasant and a princess, and it's sort of a rebellion on Helga's part. So I'm glad those worked out.
As for the fairytale, I always pictured the time when the Founders were living as a time of knights, princesses, and just fairytales. It always seems to be like a fairytale from what we know from the sorting hat, and I had a lot of fun writing a different fairytale. And Salazar: I *do* tend to write him a little softer, because of my house, and because I really don't think his views, no matter how crazy and bigoted, just came out of nowhere. Something must have happened.
The weird lines: Yes, my very bad explanation for those would be that I needed to make them rhyme, and was attempting to stay in the same tense. I'll go and read over it again, and I'll try to fix them. Thank you, though, for pointing them out. As for the mysterious they, I'm not exactly sure who they were, but someone had to bury her .... and Salazar was already dead so it couldn't be him ... but, anyways, I'm really glad for the critique.
I'm really glad you liked it, though, and I'm glad it made somewhat of sense. Thanks for the just amazing review!
Summary: When Andromeda Black joined Hogwarts, all she wanted to do was please her family. But as the years passed, she wasn't sure whether what they had been teaching her was right.
This is majestic_ginny of Hufflepuff writing for Round 2 of the Character Clinic Triathlon - Minor Characters. I chose the Parent prompt.
Hello SPEW Buddy,
I'm sorry I'm running so late on my review of this fic. I enjoyed reading it, and I can't believe that it has only one review. However, I shall remedy that. :)
The format of this fic, as a series of moments, works really well for me. I like how it shows a clear progression in Andromeda's feelings toward her family, while still staying very concise. It feels like you've condensed the essence of Andromeda's relationship with her family and with Ted into this fic, which, I think, makes Andormeda's emotions feel more intense.
I really like the way you chose moments that show, not only defining events in Andromeda's life, but also what her day to day relationship with her family is like. In almost every moment, it feels like her family is dissatisfied with her, making Andromeda constantly feel like an outsider. The contrast you draw between Bella, "the apple of [their] father's eye", Narcissa, their father's "darling", and Andromeda heightens this feeling. The repetition of her family's dissatisfaction with her in every moment makes it feel, for me, like this is how their family always is. One of the strongest things about his fic, in my opinion, is how every moment is similar enough to create a picture of Andromeda's every day life, while also being different enough to show the change in her character and in her relationships.
I don't think the contrast between Andromeda's interactions with Ted and her interactions with her family could be more dramatic. Ted feels like the polar opposite of Andromeda's family; unlike her family, who constantly impose their opinions about blood status on her, Ted listens to her, then asks her what she thinks. The stark contrast between Ted and her family really makes Andromeda's decision between conforming to her family's expectations and being her self clear.
One of the few critiques I have about this is that I found it a slight bit disconcerting to be thrown directly into Andromeda's sorting and then to be given the context about her family in the middle of the scene. Introducing the way her father viewed Slytherin, in my opinion, might have made the transition into the story a little bit more gradual by giving context to the sorting and by introducing the conflict between her family and herself. I just feel like the paragraph of context broke the flow of the scene slightly, taking away some of its potency.
I really like the way you portray Narcissa. In the books, I see her as a fairly self-centered character, for whom people outside herself and her immediate family (i.e. Draco and Lucius) are secondary concerns. Your vivid descriptions of Narcissa show that really well , I think, through her lack of interest in the actual ideals (e.g. "[taking] out her mirror and was picking at her blonde hair" while her father is talking about blood status), and her willingness to superficially accept them (e.g. "she would scrunch up her nose at the sight of Muggles and Muggleborns ... but Cissy wouldnâ€™t waste her time on wounding half the Hogwarts population").
I think my favorite lines in the fic are definitely: "Oh sure, she would scrunch up her nose at the sight of Muggles and Muggleborns alike, no doubt. I swear her beautiful face would get wrinkled earlier than us because she did that so much." It's really easy for me to picture Narcissa in these lines, and I like how it also subtly connects to the way she is in canon. The way you mix vivid imagery, like in the first line, with Andromeda's commentary makes it feel like I'm experiencing the memory with Andromeda.
The other critique I have is that there are a small handful of places, for example the sorting scene, where I think it would have strengthened the narration slightly to add more detail. In those sections, it feels, to me, like Andromeda is explaining a lot of her thoughts without describing the scene in much detail, so her narration doesn't feel quite as natural to me as in some of the other scenes.
Overall, I this is a lovely piece. I really like how it provides an interesting insight into how Andromeda grows up and leaves her family, and I look forward to reading more of your writing!
Author's Response: Firstly, I'm so sorry for not reviewing earlier; I don't really know how to respond to SPEW reviews, and your one was so awesome I couldn't really form a coherent reply that didn't make me look like an idiot :P Anyway, I'm glad you chose this story to review; it's the only one that I was not totally sure about, considering I've never written the characters before :).
I'm really glad the format worked out well for you. For this piece, I decided to choose some of the defining milestone moments of her life, and her family's response to them. I've always thought that as a child, Andromeda would follow her family's ideals. She wouldn't have been a rebel like Sirius from time zero, considering her sorting into Slytherin. I believe that she wanted to be like the others; the middle child tends to be neglected in comparison to the youngest and eldest, so I think Andromeda would want to prove that she is as good as the others, and hence she was eager to be sorted into Slytherin. However, as she grew older and these moments happened, her ideology must have changed. I'm really glad you approve of the scenes I chose, because I'd been worried about them. Finding that you got the message I was trying to relay makes me really happy :).
It was great to know that you liked my portrayal of Narcissa. Like you, the books also made me feel that she was more concerned about the welfare of her family more than the ideals, and that what I was trying to get through. I'm also really happy that you could make the connection between that nose-scrunching line and the books! That really was what I was trying to achieve; I sort of made a link to the GoF book (during the QWC) where she looks like her nose is permanently that way. It's great that you noticed it :D.
As for Ted, I really wanted to show how different he was from the others, and so I tried to make him as different as possible. I needed to give a reason why Andromeda fell in love with him, and since she was starting to dislike her family, I thought giving someone totally different from them was a good idea, and I'm glad you approve.
Considering the critique, I agree with you. Even while writing it I felt that this scene was a bit weak. I don't really know how to start the introductory paragraphs :(. Thanks a lot for pointing out the mistakes I made, I'll keep them in mind for the future :)
Your review is really, really beautiful. Thank you so much for this lovely review, Meg, and I'm really sorry for not responding earlier!