I'm an American, have been married for "a long time", and have a son and a daughter, so to me the characters are like sons and daughters. I like to study history and science, and I usually don't write (or talk) unless I have something to say, so I tend to be serious. I try to stretch my writing skills by entering challenges and forcing myself to write to prompts that I would otherwise not write, such as romance or vigorous action, and am surprised to discover that it can be done.
Summary: Nicolas Flamel shares his gift with a few talented students and forges an unbreakable friendship.
As time passes I find more enjoyment in your stories about Albus Dumbledore, and Jacqueline and the Flamels. Again, the story is just a slice of life (or rather, several slices), but it shows that a slice of even a seemingly unexciting life can be interesting, revealing the humanity that is in all of us, including the vast majority of us who are neither heroic nor famous.
It would have been difficult for me to understand or properly appreciate this story without having read its predecessor “Fool’s Gold”, but I enjoyed your depiction of Albus Dumbledore in both these stories, spanning well over 41 years total (if my math is correct), showing a consistency in his patient and relaxed nature, but an evolution in his wisdom.
I was a little confused about the time sequence between when Jacqueline gave birth and when she reappeared in the laboratory. Dumbledore says to Nicholas, “She gave birth and hour ago,” but when Jacqueline steps into the laboratory, he says, “You almost died last night.” Perhaps we are to infer an elapsing of several hours between these two remarks, or perhaps Dumbledore was simply exaggerating the shortness of the time since her delivery by saying “…an hour ago.”
Because Jacqueline is close to death in the final paragraph, I imagine we will see no more about this character, but it has been enjoyable to see this glimpse of Nicholas Flamel, alchemy, and magic in France.
Author's Response: This story was really complicated. I'm glad that you stuck through and read it. You know when you write or read something and come back later and you think that this is horrible? It's confusing? It's choppy? You have no idea where your mind was when framing this idea? That's how I feel about this. I'm glad that you enjoyed the idea behind this. I think it was forty years ...? You pay good attention.
Summary: Luna's trip back to Hogwarts is interrupted by Death Eaters on the train.
This is AidaLuthien of Hufflepuff writing for Round One of the 2012 Character Triathlon.
This story is a good evocation of the climate of danger and fear that existed during the final year before the downfall of Voldemort. The conversations among the students on the train are stilted. Assuming the train is bugged, they speak in code which carries double meanings. "She had copies." The first year students are described as terrified and so scared. (It would have been nice to give a bit of description of what the first-years were doing that made them appear scared.)
The author includes brief mentions of Luna's imaginary creatures. She thinks about Blibbering Humdingers and Invisible Meese, and mentions Crumple-Horned Snorkacks and Wrackspurts in passing, during the don't-mention-anything-important conversation in the compartment. These mentions serve to show us that this is still Luna, but changes in her communication style ("Luna was getting a bit better at subterfuge") show that as she matured, she became more aware of how her speech sounded to other people.
Luna understands instantly why she is being taken from the train and why she is not in immediate danger of death. Despite her outwardly dreamy demeanor, she has a grasp of the politics of the situation. "She tried to keep her tone casual" indicates that she instantly recognized how serious this development was.
When she says, "Yes, it's very nice of them" to Bellatrix, she is continuing to maintain her facade of non-threatening naivete, although we see later in the book that she is the person who survives about three months in the Malfoy dungeon and is able to cut bonds with a hidden nail.
This story is well-written, with only the one suggestion mentioned already. It avoids stereotyping Luna as out-of-touch and reveals her innate intelligence and toughness. A good job.
Summary: “Hey... Harry? I found some letters Sirius wrote. Have you ever heard of an Élisabeth LaBelle?”
What if you loved someone, in secret, all your life? What if you had no idea if they were even alive, and you had no way to contact them? Would you still keep them in your heart?
Hi, Bijou. This is Vicki of Slytherin House. Your story sounds familiar to me; I must have read it before, but didn’t leave a review. So now I will make up for that.
You have packed a lot of story into less than 9,000 words, which means that every sentence contributes to the furtherance of the narrative, and there are no wasted digressions into stuff unfocused on the main plot. The dialogue is tight, not repetitive or rambling; it gets to the heart of the matter. All this gives your story a good pace. I also like your usage of different locations (Grimmauld Place, the Aurors’ Office, Hogwarts School, Elizabeth’s house) because the frequent change of scene keeps the story lively.
You capture our interest right away by opening with a mystery, the stash in the hidden attic. We can all relate to the thrill of potential discovery. (Yesterday I went to an exhibit of historic photographs printed from glass negatives found in a cardboard box in an attic.) The discovery of the letters moves directly into a detective story, and finally into a love story. There’s something in this story for every reader’s taste. It ends with still another development, a surprising twist: the previously unknown love child turns out to be someone Harry knows. So there is a lot of structure in this one-shot story, more than many authors manage to create. That is impressive.
The love story gains some originality by being told in flashbacks, old letters, and reminiscense. I enjoyed this because love stories can all start sounding alike, and by treating your story this way, you make it a little different. I must say, I was irritated at Sirius for being so heedless: on their last night together he romanced his 17-year-old girlfriend without the slightest thought of the consequences, much less any precautions, and he deserved to be blamed for that, even though Elisabeth most forgivingly did not blame him. But it is his fault, not the author’s; you are merely reporting what he did.
I like the way you develop little sections of the story, such as the relationship between the grandparents and Elisabeth’s mother, and later with Elisabeth herself. There are many such little sections, and they really put the meat onto the skeleton of the story.
Hopefully you will continues writing, because I see real potential here. The important features, such as plot, pacing, suspense, development, are all here. Nice job.
Summary: On a trip to Diagon Alley, Severus Snape remembers the first time he visited the wizarding enclave - with Lily Evans.
Thank you to Broken Promise for betaing!
This is AidaLuthien of Hufflepuff writing for Round One of Madam Pomfrey's One Shot Character Clinic.
This is a sunny piece, even seen through the eyes of Snape. The lull between the storms. Although Snape hates crowds and shudders at the sight of so many children, his visit to Diagon Alley cannot help stirring up memories of a happier moment, like a kaleidoscope of colorful images from long ago. For a brief time, Snape leaves his demons behind to revel in remembrance of an afternoon with Lily in the excitement and wonder of a first visit to Diagon Alley and the anticipation of being a real wizard at Hogwarts with a real wand.
The author deftly changes Snape's mood throughout the story from distaste at first, when he entered Diagon Alley, to wistful heartache when he sees the little redheaded Muggleborn girl, to heartwarming reverie as he reminisces about that precious afternoon with Lily, while they were still friends. The mood changes abruptly, with finality, in only three words: "his father's rage".
It is easy to understand why he tries to will himself to forget the unforgettable. The pain of losing Lily and the pain of his father's abuse run so deep that he yearns to be free of them, even at the price of surrendering perhaps the only happiness he ever knew. And he does not foresee any happiness in his future. As the author says, "He knew what was to come." Survival is the best he can hope for, and for that he must keep his emotions strictly under control. Although seeing the little girl who reminds him of Lily was sudden and unexpected, It didn't throw him for a loop. He had steeled himself so well.
This piece is just a brief glimpse into Snape's thoughts and background, but it is enjoyable to read, and it makes the reader wonder what Snape could have become if he had survived the war. How much humanity was left, hidden in his heart?
Summary: Jenny and Cleo Abel are about to begin their first term at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But though they may be looking forward to their brand new school life, they're soon to find that its not entirely what they expected it to be.
Hi, Shaun. I see in your bio that you are a Creative Writing student, and it does show in your work. You have more description in your sentences than one often sees in the work of new writers, and the sentences are more fluid. Your scenes are well fleshed out, and the events are easy to visualize.
I also appreciate that you have several original characters, including your protagonists, and are managing so far to avoid the common stereotypes that develop so easily when the same characters are used over and over. But still you peg your story firmly to canon, at least so far, by including cameo appearances by characters we already know. Your original characters are not completely developed yet, of course, but we are beginning to see their personalities, Jenny’s initial denial, Cleo’s eager enthusiasm, their mother’s lifetime of keeping a low profile.
Frankly, a lot of fanfiction stories begin with children going to Hogwarts for the first time, receiving their letters, shopping in Diagon Alley, riding the train, and so on. To avoid being same-old same-old, these opening chapters need to include something distinctive, and you have done that, in utilizing original characters, in the tension between Draco and Tom, in Clare’s reluctance to tell the twins anything until now (and where is their father?), and in the as-yet-unexplained explosion and serpent attending Jenny’s acquisition of her wand.
When this story is compared with your earlier story, also posted on your author page, one can see that your skill in the craft of writing has progressed. There are still some slightly rough sentences that could stand more editorial polish, such as the final sentence of chapter two, but the story has the major virtue of not being boring, and that is saying something, because we have all read slick stories that were, for all their slickness, boring. I hope you will finish it someday.
Summary: Draco tries to make sense of the new world order.
This is AidaLuthien of Hufflepuff writing for Round One of the Character Triathlon.
This story is just a snapshot, a moment in time. Nothing much occurs in the way of action. It simply illustrates how circumstances have changed.
I am reminded of the Shakespearean-age world view: society is like a giant wheel, with some people on the top and others on the bottom. At seemingly random times for random reasons the wheel turns. Those on top become on the bottom, and vice versa. The rise and fall are not connected to virtue or vice; they just happen.
This image of the wheel of fate comes strongly to mind while I read this piece. The first two paragraphs clearly lay out Draco's former status as the one on the top: rank, power, privilege, wealth, entitlement, superiority, an assured future. Then the whole wheel makes a 180-degree turn and he is on the bottom: disgraced, despised, lacking in opportunities, a very clouded and ill-defined future. How much of this outcome is due to his own sins and those of his compatriots, and how much is simply due to being one of the losers instead of one of the winners? After all, history is written by the winners, and the losers never fare well in that tale.
The Draco we see in this piece is notably more introspective than the Draco we met in the seven books. Not only is his personal world turned topsy-turvy, but his bedrock beliefs have been cast into serious doubt or even refuted. Voldemort was not a savior, despite what Draco's father said. The means can become so dreadful that they are no longer even remotely justified by the ends. One is forced to accept assistance from one's erstwhile enemies, so that the question of who is friend and who is enemy becomes confused, and the line between the good guys and the bad guys is all blurred. The only thing he knows for sure now is that the path before him is unknowable.
Pansy is portrayed more sympathetically than she often is in other stories. Draco considers her pretty, a fit consort for the Slytherin King, not merely a handy lay. She is described as tough and strong, a natural leader, but not coarse or crude. And because her involvement in the war and the events leading up to it was so much more peripheral than his, she does not comprehend the monumental changes in values so keenly as he does. For her the changes are merely inconvenient -- her father lost his job but her mother is still working. So Draco has moved far beyond Pansy, and how could she ever catch up? There is not another war to teach her the things she failed to learn in this one.
A neat detail: Draco picks some meadow flowers and asks if they are pansies. How could he not know whether or not they are pansies.? Perhaps it is because in his former life he never had to pay heed to the beautifully landscaped gardens around Malfoy Manor. Hired gardeners did all the planting and tending; they had to be the ones to know the names of what they had planted. One more symbol of what he has lost.
The author has achieved something I don't very often see in these archives: a non-action piece that avoids being merely an extended rehash of someone's emotions. The carefully chosen details of Draco's and Pansy's recent history, with (and this is a biggie) no unnecessary words, spell out perfectly the points that the author wants to make. A very enjoyable read.
Summary: There's a time when friends bid their fairwells and another when they must re-unite to keep the world in balance.
Hi,Cris. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on your poem about the Houses. Amidst the collection of post-Hogwarts stories about serious bad blood and misbehavior among the Houses, it is refreshing to read your poem that emphasizes that the traditionally-attributed qualities of each House have value and can make a needed contribution to the success of the entire community.
I also like your line which says there is not only one right way to assess a situation, solve a problem, or contribute Good to the society. Each House has its own functional style. You describe the Lion as courageous, the Eagle as soaring, and the Badger as wandering. But what about the Snake? Perhaps we can say the Snake is resourceful, since he manages to conduct his affairs without the assistance of arms or legs! (Being a Slytherin, I am sensitive about these matters.)
I was not sure what you were saying in line seventeen, Courses through that of so many; are you saying that this knowledge courses through the hearts or brains of so many people. You say that three will become one, but I would like to think that four will become one and the Slytherins will not be left out. The Founders, and their differences that ultimately divided them, are dead now, and let us let them stay dead and buried.
Two little editing points. In line fifteen, changes “it’s” to “its”. The apostrophe gives us the contraction form of “it is”, and that’s not what you want here. And in line four, change “whom” to “who”; “whom” is a direct-object form, the direct object of a preposition or verb, as in “the man about whom I spoke”, or “the man whom I assisted has left the building.” When used as the subject of a clause “who fades away from the dream”, we dump the little “m” and just go with the basic “who”. Those little glitches are worth fixing up because they do look or sound jarring.
But in general your poem is very good, and I appreciate the fact that you are speaking of a subject that is not addressed very much in poetry. Thanks for writing, and I shall have to read your chaptered fic some day, especially if you finish it!
Summary: The past: some cling to it, others deny it; some learn from its lessons, while others are locked in the cycle of their mistakes. How far would a man be willing to go to move beyond his past and ensure that it will not define him? Severus Snape is about to learn.
Hi, Martha. I was fascinated to read your story because I saw in it a parallel with my own story "The Baby in the Closet," which deals with the same general topic but in a quite different manner. Your story (and the others you have posted) is very well-written and obviously well-thought-out. The prose is easy to read, fluid, with no awkward phrases or word choices that can have a jarring effect. You give an excellent feel for what it must have been like for both Eileen and Severus to live with a man who is a brute. One wonders, "Why did Eileen marry him?' but we all know of cases of men who were charming before marriage and sorry excuses for husbands afterwards.
Severus strongly resisted opening up his thoughts to his wife, his business partner, or the American Healers. I get the feeling that he is resisting the readers also. There must have been more to his childhood story than this one incident that he remembers in the Pensieve. The paternal abuse was surely ongoing, spanning many years, much of which he always remembered. Does he think that by reliving this brutal scene from his infancy his problems will be cured? Does he have the strength to explore this issue as it needs to be explored, or will he pull back, close up, and hunker down again?
It is not unreasonable to posit that Snape could recover enough from the horrors of his childhood and young adulthood to rebuild an outwardly-seeming normal life (Holocaust survivors come to mind), but the damage to the psyche will probably never completely heal.
Interesting take on this topic, focused on the Magical aspects. Read my story and tell me what you think of it.
Hi Vicki. I was so happy to see your review. It's been a while since anyone has responded to this story.
I wanted to reply to you right away, but RL has kept me busy for the last 4 or 5 days. I did read your story The Baby in the Closet, and found that it did hit some of the same chords as mine. Your descriptions of the places in your story are very well done, and as realistic as if you’d actually been there. (That is one area where I struggle with my writing.)
I think that Harry and Snape’s basic personalities affect the way each of them confront issues from their pasts. Harry is younger and more open-minded, whereas Snape has had to stuff his emotions for so long that he’s very resistant to examining or, for that matter, having anyone else look into what makes him tick.
I have my story up on another site, and some of the readers there have also asked me why Snape seems to be cured after looking at only one memory, and if I plan to write more. As you said, there is so much more to his childhood memories than can be covered in just one story, but hopefully I have left him in a place where, along with the love and support of those close to him, he can continue to heal.
Summary: A young Muggle is in hospital and the doctors are looking for a
blood donor from a close relative. Harry has a plan to help. Pre Epilogue.
This story is not yet complete, but it seems that the sick boy serves as a vehicle for the larger issue of establishing connections between the Muggle and Magical worlds in law enforcement and medicine.
In the attention-grabbing beginning to this story, the Constable is looking for the "mystery man" who has left such a meager paper trail in his life. We catch a glimpse of the Dursleys, Petunia who has softened in her attitude toward Harry, and Vernon who is as irascible as ever. And we see Robert's first interaction with the wizard Harry.
It is a little hard to accept that Harry decides to confide everything in Robert so rapidly, or that Robert believes in Harry's magic world so quickly. Even given the incentive of helping a dangerously ill boy, one might expect more caution in Harry or more skepticism in Robert, and later in Eleanor. Still, Chapter 1 is interesting and enjoyable, and the sentences are well constructed.
Chapter 2 had two little issues for me. First, a lot of magical characters (Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Hannah, Madam Pomfrey, Kingsley, and the kids) are introduced all at once. I get a feeling of a Class Reunion. It seems overwhelming. I might have introduced them more slowly, one or two at a time over the rest of the story.
The second issue is that in-jokes and obscure references (such as trout and mushrooms) in the presence of Muggles who don't understand them and therefore get confused and cannot follow the conversation are not polite. I have seen this in other works of other authors, and it seems out of character for Harry and his friends to behave that way in front of their guests. It feels exclusionary. On the other hand, Hermione's impulse to explain Gamp's Law is the opposite; she is trying to be inclusive, though Ron's brief explanation ("rules and restrictions") is more appropriate at the moment.
We see here a Harry who chafes under the restrictions imposed by the Secrecy Statute and is eager to test its boundaries, even if that behavior gets him in trouble with the Ministry of Magic, the Muggle world, or both. One can almost see him charging into Radcliffe Hospital with wands blazing, if needs be, and ending up in a Muggle jail. (That would be an interesting development.) We hope he is more intelligent than impetuous, or, as Hermione would say, has a good plan. It will be fun to see where this story goes.
Summary: Celesta Grey isn't expecting anything good to come out of her fourth year at Hogwarts. Why should she when her parents are ignoring her, her insufferable cousins are bullying her and her friends, and she is reminded of a secret every waking minute? Cell isn't expecting new feelings to arise, or a strange foe to come, or even a simple promise that turns out to be harder to keep as each day passes.
Cell is in for a complicated year. Bloody typical.
Hello, Phoenix Song. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on your work in progress, Dark Fire. I have been reading Next Generation stories recently, and yours is set the farthest into the future that I have read so far, but it seems that some things don’t change.
In your story Draco, who was born around 1980, is the grandfather of Matt, who is fourteen as the story opens, so the date must be near to 2050. Regulus and his twin sister Isrea, the parents of Vale & Sari and of Cell respectively, were born in 1961 and are now in their late 80’s. Canon says that the lifespan of wizards and witches is well over 100, but I’m not sure if it answers the question of whether witches can still give birth in their 70’s. We will assume they can.
The present date being so far in the future, it is reasonable to presume, as you do, that some things have changed. In your AU, the Sorting Hat takes the candidates’ preferences into account much more than previously indicated, so that the houses have become grossly imbalanced, and there does not seem to be any attempt made to control this. Surely this imbalance will cause logistical challenges of residential accommodations, classroom assignments, and so on (or maybe the rooms just magically expand), as well as social challenges not easily cured by the waving of a wand. Has the Sorting Hat become senile after all these centuries? On the other hand, some things are exactly the same: the train, the thestral-drawn carriages, the castle layout, the Sorting ceremony, as if tradition has become a straitjacket keeping the wizarding world imprisoned in a past increasingly less suited to their needs. Perhaps that is why the Sorting Hat is allowed to continue. There are lots of possibilities for this story of a society stuck in a time warp where things are slowly getting out of kilter. (Have they updated their curriculum at all in the last fifty years?)
This story is well written, with a smooth style and many interesting details that make the characters come to life. I liked Cell’s remark that Matt wanted to “steal my robes one day and pretend to be a Hufflepuff for twenty-four hours.” An interesting way to express the probably common curiosity about what it would be like to be a member of a different house. But when I look at these “interesting details,” I notice that none of them is humorous; this is a pretty serious story. Even when the Hufflepuffs are overjoyed to get three first-years at the very end of the Sorting, it is an emotional moment but not at all humorous.
Of course we are curious about the secret that Cell cannot forget, even for a minute, and we wonder who the strange foe will turn out to be. We are disappointed that a segment of wizarding society has seemed not to have learned any lessons about prejudice, even after the last disastrous wizarding war.
It’s too bad that you have put this story on the back burner for now, because it certainly has possibilities, and you have written well so far. Perhaps you can find time to come back to it and let us know what it was all about.
Summary: The rise. The fall. The thrill. The rush. This is Tonks's love life. And she never wants to get off.
This story shows Remus feeling sorry for himself. He had managed some sort of a life in his students days; he had accomplished what the other students did: learning the curriculum and making some friends.
But after graduation it was hard to find work. We know that he was in the Order of the Phoenix and that he served as Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts for one year at Hogwarts, but what else? Given his patched and shabby appearance, probably not much else.
When we see him in this story, his spirit is beaten down. And after nineteen years of battling almost insurmountable barriers, who wouldn't be discouraged? Who wouldn't fell sorry for himself? Who wouldn't use noble-sounding excuses to avoid being disappointed again? We remember how quickly he cleared out of Hogwarts in the spring of 1994 after being uncovered by Snape, without even fighting to save his position until the end of the term.
These are good lines: "I can't want things like other men. I can't live like other people."
The second sentence is true; many handicapped or disabled people don't live exactly like a completely able-bodied person.
But the first sentence is not true. We are all entitled to want, whether or not we obtain." Feelings of longing are our own possession; no one is forbidden to hope or dream. Lupin's statement that he has no right to his own feelings (ridiculous statement!) indicates his lack of self-esteem. He has internalized the negative attitudes of much of society.
The author says "He didn't [talk] for several minutes." Which of the things that Dora had said was he mulling over in his mind during those minutes? Was it really just a kiss that made the difference? Or Dora's excellent point that they were living in abnormal times that broke all the previous rules of how society functions? Her best line, in my opinion, comes right after he complains that he can't want the things that other men want or live as they do. At that point in history, no one was living as they used to do.
An excellent little story. I have seen various conceptions of what exactly persuaded Remus to seize the happiness that he had wanted all along. This one is a fine example.
Author's Response: Thank you for your kind remarks. It's been a while since I actually read this story, so I can't answer your questions right off, so feel free to speculate.
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.
I enjoyed reading this story, a well-written glimpse into the life, thoughts, and moral evolution of Andromeda Black.
The timeline was a little confusing. Andromeda starts out at Hogwarts in 1964, takes the OWL exams five years later, in 1969, and should have graduated in June of 1971. But the 1973 entry sounds as if she is still at Hogwarts. Her father says, "I don't think we should let our daughters [plural] stay there anymore." But by 1973 there should be only one daughter, Narcissa, still at school. And Andromeda thinks "And Ted...How could I leave him?" as if they were both still at Hogwarts.
For a girl who was so determined at age 11 to do what her family expected, and who seven years later still doesn't know what to do because her family doesn't love her, she makes a fairly abrupt about-face. Even though she has been observing Muggleborns at Hogwarts for years and has been seeing that they don't seem bad, but rather as human as purebloods, she has been unable to resolve this cognitive dissonance until Ted Tonks spells it out for her. (I would have liked to see a few more lines of dialogue between Andromeda and Ted before she spills her story to him; her confession seemed a little sudden, given that she had not been in the habit of talking with Muggleborns at all.)
Then it is two more passive years (at school or at home?) before she finally makes a break, which seems to be impelled more by love for Ted than by a final, overt rejection of her family's values. I wonder, as she headed down the stairs with her trunk, whether she sneaked out of the house unseen or had a final blow-up with her parents.
This relatively timid girl, who doesn't get her backbone until she is 20 years old, contrasts sharply with the older Andromeda whom we meet in the books at age 42, tough and strong, a survivor.
The writing style is fluid and graceful, the words well-chosen, and the characterizations of the members of the Black family are well-drawn. This piece is a good addition to the backstory of Andromeda Black.
Author's Response: Hello! Thank you for the review :D. I see that you've found quite a bit of mistakes; I'm sorry ,but I guess I didn't do my research as well as I thought I had, hah. I'll go over it and edit any corrections. Thank you! And as for the contrasting characters: I had never written Andromeda before, and this was just a trial. I guess I couldn't nail her properly enough. But this is what it seemed would be like; it didn't seem to me that she'd be an outright rebel like Sirius, considering that she was a Slytherin. I think as a child she would have wanted to follow her family traditions, but as she got older she realised that it was all wrong. That's what I was aiming for :).
As I remember, Andromeda was blasted off her family tree "for marrying Muggle-born Ted Tonks". Since it didn't say that she was disowned for not following family values or anything, I just had her leave due to her love for Ted, hah. And I think she would have said something to her parents, but I didn't feel that scene was needed too much, so I left it up to the readers' interpretation :).
I'm glad you like the characterisation of the rest of the family, though! And once again, thank you so much for the review; it's greatly appreciated :). --Nadia
Summary: Susan Bones will do anything, even travel halfway across the world, to destroy the curse which holds her mother in its evil grip. Each moment during her stay in Kumasi, Ghana brings new challenges, from the lack of running water to an extremely flirtatious Ghanaian boy who may or may not have secrets of his own...
I just had to write a comment on your story because my daughter has lived all her adult life in various African countries, and the colorful details of your story remind me of what I have heard from her. The question of "self-injection" has been debated in this forum, pro and con, but there is no doubt in my mind that some of our richest and most realistic tales result from our mining our own experiences.
Given that the pronouncing and receiving of curses is an active aspect of many cultures in Africa and elsewhere (my daughter had an interesting experience in Cote d'Ivoire), it doesn't take much tweaking of the story to make it fit into the Potter universe. The magical bureaucracy in Ghana can be a reflection of the secular bureaucracy in Ghana.
In your story the curse was genuine and the curse-breaking ritual had a genuine effect, but in real life the lines between real and fake magic are blurry. Do the curses and cures actually work, in real life, simply because the victim believes so strongly in them? You answer this question within the realm of your story by having them work at a distance; Sarah Bones suffers the effects of the curse without knowing about the curse and gains the benefit of the cure without knowing about the curse-lifting ritual.
And I loved your little detail about the pathogenic organisms in the water becoming spell-resistant. That's such a clever take-off of the problem of pathogens becoming resistant to the drugs we use against them.
What worked least well for me in your story was the boyfriend-girlfriend complication between Susan and Kofi in the time leading up to the curse-lifting ritual. I can understand injecting some tension right before the climax by introducing some element that threatened to derail the ceremony (and Sarah's cure) at the last minute, but I would have chosen something other than a romantic entanglement. I see their relationship as strictly business, a friend helping a friend; if it was supposed to be something more, that could have been developed more, though for the purpose of the story it did not need to be anything more.
All in all, an interesting and enjoyable story, full of rich cultural detail. It brought back memories of my visit with my daughter when she was in Madagascar.
Summary: Words can say many things. They can declare love, start wars, console, and hurt. There is no denying that they carry great power. But there are some things words cannot say. There are things they cannot describe.
L’histoire de la fleur et du loup. Mon histoire.
Hi Ellie. I always enjoy reading what you write, but this piece is really different from your other stories, which are straightforward narrations of events.
Like most readers, probably, I couldn’t figure out who you were talking about until the end, where it seems to be Bill and Fleur. But then, looking back, I could pick up on the little clues: her native language is more smooth and lyrical than “rough” English, people consider her beautiful, she is called a flower. The line in the summary refers to the story of the wolf and the flower.
The reference to the wolf also confused me. Did it refer to Bill, who was attacked by a werewolf but wasn’t a werewolf himself, or did it suggest that the cuts and scars on her stomach were caused by a wolf, perhaps during the final battle? I finally decided not, because it seemed that the cuts on her stomach, old scarred cuts and new bandaged cuts, were self-inflicted, and that this was a case of self-injury, as some people do. But why does she do it, and why does she feel that she is ugly and twisted inside?
Perhaps there is a clue in the line “…people used to tell me I was nothing more than a pretty face.” This line suggests that it can be damaging to praise a child’s good looks rather than his/her deeper and more valuable qualities. The end of the story suggests that Bill’s insistence that he loves her in spite of everything has had a healing effect on her feelings of worthlessness.
I do not recall seeing any reference to self-loathing or self-injury in the Harry Potter books, so I suppose that this story is an original extension of her personality as imagined by you, the author. In trying to fit it into the Harry Potter canon, I conclude that it must occur during Harry’s fifth or sixth year, when supposedly Fleur was working at Gringott’s Bank “in order to improve her English” (as the reason was given in canon), and getting to know Bill a lot better.
When I read this, I wondered if you wrote it simply to try out something new, a new style or approach, since I don’t see it connected to other stories you have written. Well, it’s fun to try something very different. I have found that to be true for me too.
Summary: O.W.L. results have arrived, and Scorpius is certain his parents will be less than pleased.
This is Acacia Carter of Hufflepuff, writing for the Minor Character Challenge of July 2012.
Many thanks to Julie/Peppermint Toads for the beta, Jess for the nudge to write Scorpius, Gina for the nudge to write Please note that this is a companion piece to another of my works, An Intervention. It can be read alone, but if you are interested in Scorpius's past, the beginnings of it are available on my author page.
It's not my fault I seem to be incapable of writing a story without Neville in it. Really, it's not my fault this time - blame Gina.
Many thanks to Julie/Peppermint Toads for the beta, Jess for the nudge to write Scorpius, Gina for the nudge to writethis Scorpius, and Soraya for listening to my angst.
Please note that this is a companion piece to another of my works, An Intervention. It can be read alone, but if you are interested in Scorpius's past, the beginnings of it are available on my author page.
It's not my fault I seem to be incapable of writing a story without Neville in it. Really, it's not my fault this time - blame Gina.
I particularly liked this story because of your spare (in the sense of not overdone) writing style. The story is told tightly, with the dialogue and no-more-than-necessary action, so that the reader does not have to slog through endless verbiage to glean the essence of the story. This makes your story very refreshing to read. I also appreciate a story in which the characters act intelligently and sensibly, since I tend to get impatient with characters who act like fools, as if they are their own worst enemies. Will enjoy reading more of this story.
Summary: Rosmerta Church has never really enjoyed Christmas since she was seventeen. In fact, it has always depressed her - there was just so much for her to miss. But one Christmas day, a recovering alcoholic visits Rosmerta's pub and gives her a bit of hope.
This is Eleanor Lupin of Hufflepuff writing for Round Two of the 2012 Character Triathlon.
This is a neat little story, nicely written. The first section (the prologue, you might say) is succinct but gives all the necessary background in a few short paragraphs with adept sentences and good word choices. In the second section, Rosmerta does not explain to her friend Caitlin why she is going to work at the pub, saying "You wouldn't understand." I'm not sure what was non-understandable. Caitlin seems to have known that Rosmerta didn't want to go back to an alcoholic father who ruined her life, and probably Rosmerta's sorry exam results were not a secret. (Or were they?) Maybe I'm missing something here. Was she hoping that she might see her father again someday if she worked in a pub?
The final section is sweet. Rosmerta's kind treatment of the impoverished woman shows that she still has a loving heart, even though she tries to be hard-boiled, and that fact that the reader can guess, partway through this section, who the old man probably is does not detract from that sweetness.
It was good to include the lines where Rosmerta asks herself if she wants to risk a reunion with her father. After all, she is nobody's fool, and she realizes that the reunion might not be what she hoped for. It would be out of character for her not to have these misgivings. But hopefully she and her father have both learned something over the years.
At a couple of spots in the second and third paragraphs of the last section, there was some alternating use of present and past tense, whether on purpose I don't know. But that's a tiny matter in an otherwise well-done story.
Summary: She sits at her window and watches the vanishing green. Nominated for Best General Story in the 2013 Quicksilver Quill Awards.
This is an interesting story about a character who has always seemed ambiguous. Her sisters Bellatrix and Andromeda are presented as bad and good, respectively, but Narcissa is harder to characterize. Is she an actor or a victim? Passive or resolute? Responsible or not responsible? The author captures this ambiguity well as Narcissa waits, alone, pondering her past actions and re-examining her past beliefs and assumptions.
I am impressed by the author's ability to organize Narcissa's jumbled thoughts so coherently and by the way the different topics flow, one after another, so fluidly: her trepidation about her upcoming trial and its probably result, her conclusion that everyone has already written her off as a criminal, her realization that her former values were ignoble and her former friends were merely sycophants.
The author cleverly uses the word "green", the color of Slytherin House, to symbolize everything that Narcissa used to have and has now lost. Even her party gowns are literally green. But now, all that symbolically green world is gone, and by setting the scene in the snowy months of the year, the author lets the disappearance of the green plants in the garden under a blanket of snow represent Narcissa's final loss of everything that constituted her life: her family, her social group, her standing in the wizarding world.
A story with only one character, no dialogue, and almost no action is a challenge to write without becoming bogged down in general emotion and angst or overly flowery description. But this stream-of-consciousness piece works, sentence fragments and all (which don't bother me in the slightest, though some people do object). It represents a seven-month-long turning point for Narcissa, even though she cannot see into her future, which, whatever it turns out to be, will be utterly different from what she has ever known.
Author's Response: Thank you for the lovely review. I'm glad you liked it.
Samuel Radley is a wizard born without magic. Coming from a family with generations of witches and wizards, his brother Adrian has never really understood why Samuel has been left without, especially when there are others, with no magical blood at all, who somehow find themselves able to do magic. As he enters his fourth year at Hogwarts, it seems that the Ministry are finally starting to do something about this imbalance and Adrian couldn't be happier. All around him however, there is resistance to the new laws, and suddenly Adrian finds himself an outsider in his class and abandoned by his friends, when all he's ever done is love his family.
This is coolh5000 of Slytherin writing in the Great Hall chaptered challenge, for the Phoenix Rising prompt. I am pleased to say this story won in its section!
I am also really thrilled to say that Adrian Radley won the Chaptered QSQ for Best Original Character 2013! The story was also nominated in the Best General category.
I am hugely enjoying this story. A refreshingly un-hackneyed topic, excellent writing, good plot development, good pacing, and so on, and so on... I am looking forward to reading the next chapter.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for the review! I have finally updated after a rather hideous wait, so I hope you will enjoy what comes next :) ~Hannah
Summary: Lysander Scamander isn't normal. Not one little bit. Although, what IS normal? Follow Lysander on his journey to find who he is, and what his purpose is in this world.
Hi, Taylor. I see that you have set yourself a hefty task here, to write a chaptered fic about a unique character whom we don’t know much about, so your imagination is really in the driver’s seat.
Students going to Hogwarts have many experiences in common, such as receiving invitations by owl, shopping in Diagon Alley (where they all buy pretty much the same stuff at the same shops), going to Platform 9 3/4, and riding the train. The challenge is to make all these stories not sound alike.
By choosing Lysander and Lorcan as your protagonists, you are steering away from the heavily-used characters, and that is good; there is a better likelihood that you will come up with something original.
Already you sprinkle hints that interesting developments are coming: Luna says “…your father has a lot of …things…going on at work.” (What things, we wonder.) Mr. Ollivander says that the heartstring in Lysander’s wand came from a dragon that his father Rolf had slain. And Lysander’s father warns him that he has made a dangerous enemy. These hints are necessary to keep the opening chapters from being ho-hum.
You also have good characterization of the twins (I like the Veritaserum explosion and the cat’s long tail), and we get a clear idea of Rolf Scamander’s personality from just the brief scenes we see of him.
Your narrative includes some description, and that is good, but since the chapters are pretty short, you have space to play around with more description, how things look and the little things people do while they’re talking, to flesh your scenes out a little bit more and help us readers envision how the scenes look and feel.
I hope that you will continue this story and finish it up. We would like to see how this “different” person manages to find his place and his role at Hogwarts. You have an intriguing beginning, but how will it end?
Summary: During her Sixth Year at Hogwarts, Luna Lovegood is captured by Death Eaters as she rides the Hogwarts Express home for Christmas. What on earth was going through her head during this harrowing experience?
This is an interesting description of a little moment in time, when Luna is captured by the Death Eaters. It is written in the first person, from Luna's point of view. The short sentence structure evokes her unique thought processes. She jumps, in her mind, from topic to topic, and thoughts of the imaginary creatures invented by her father intrude on her attempts to understand what is going on around her.
The first conversational section, between Neville and Luna, seems unsubstantial to me. I'm not sure what it contributes to the main theme of the story. The collection of short paragraphs that follow are a good description of the changes and deterioration of the environment in the school and in society in general as Voldemort rises in power. Then the last of these short paragraphs, where Lune speaks of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, reminds us again that her grasp of the situation (and therefore her reaction to it) is still distorted by her belief in her father's "crazy theories".
In the end, she is too distracted to protect herself, to Ginny's great frustration, when the Death Eaters seize her and take her away. She asks, "How do you Disapparate?" but I do seem to remember that somewhere in the books Luna says that her father taught her to Apparate when she was younger than the usual age for Hogwarts students to learn the skill. (Maybe I disremember.)
Writing Luna must be a challenge. (I have never tried it.) It would be a mistake to stereotype her as a ridiculous figure. She was not a stupid or crazy person, despite her adherence to her father's beliefs. She was a successful Hogwarts student, but with a unique outlook on life and a remarkably even temperament. The author has captured her personality well.