I was thinking about which fics I should review this month for SPEW, and I thought, “Oh, what about Sarah?” So, I scurried on over here, and I’m so glad I did. I adored this fic very much, dear.
It is here that two men meet – walking casually towards each other to converge in a firm handshake before sinking simultaneously onto the bench, one allowing himself a small sigh as he leans back and closes his eyes. Already I love the fic. All of the imagery in this line is just wonderful – converging in a firm handshake, sinking onto the bench, sighing, leaning, guh. It’s fabulous, it really is. This description offers an early insight into the relationship Sirius and Remus have. To me, the firm handshake suggests a sense of formality that always seems to exist between them, like one of them is maybe always just a little bit guarded. But then they sit on the bench simultaneously, together, and we know that these two are more than merely friends; we know that they’re brothers.
I love the mention of Harry. You give us some reference of time, here; we know that this is taking place sometime after Harry’s birth, and probably sometime close to James and Lily’s deaths. It adds a heavier tone to everything. You allow that dramatic irony to be present. And then the shift from Remus’s humor to Remus’s distance is great. It demonstrates the ease, almost, of their friendship. They can make that shift from something happy to something more grim, and it’s okay, acceptable.
They can talk about anything, and it is not uncomfortable; they can talk about nothing, and it is not useless. This pretty much sums up their friendship, and it’s perfect. It’s exactly how I picture Sirius and Remus in my mind.
I find the way you approached this fic particularly interesting. You write it as though we have no knowledge of the characters, even though of course we do. You give us backstory that we already know (like Sirius’s problems with his family), but you add to it so that it isn’t boring and repetitive. Not only does Sirius have problems with his family, but he has Remus to talk to, and he has Remus to teach him how to trust again. You tell us how Remus fits into Sirius’s backstory, which isn’t something we necessarily know (though I’m sure we all have our own personal canons about it).
This line struck me as interesting as well: They fought, too, as they were both too stubborn to bend to the will of the other, and refused to believe in anything but what they thought themselves. See, I almost disagree with this characterization. I think it’s spot-on for Sirius, but I’m not so sure about Remus. I see Remus, for the most part, as not quite as stubborn as Sirius; I can see Remus bending a little to Sirius. Not changing completely, and not going along with whatever Sirius thinks, but just allowing some things to be, you know? Stepping back and evaluating whether it’s worth the fight. While Sirius refuses to let things go, Remus, I think, was always just that tiny bit more mature. I don’t think Remus would hide or suppress his opinions, but I think he also wouldn’t like to push Sirius if it meant a fight.
Yet through it all, they had held on to each other, keeping themselves alive with the knowledge that they were not alone, and somehow, they would close the distance between themselves sooner or later. My favorite part of that sentence is the end, that they would always reunite themselves. It makes me so sad, on the one hand – soon after this, Sirius goes to Azkaban, and they’re separated; but then, of course, they find each other again. Yet, then Sirius dies, and again they are separated. And of course Remus dies and we know they found each other again. I love that. I just love that everything you include in characterizing their friendship is so true, and so right.
They close the space between them with shared memories, and the knowledge of where they have been. I’m totally tempted to just copy and paste the entire rest of the fic, because it’s so beautiful and touching. I did especially like this part, though, because of the reference to where Sirius and Remus have been. So much of their relationship is, to me, their past, and what they have been. By the time they reach adulthood, they really do see so little of each other, and their shared past is what they cling to.
Except, I love the references to the future, too. It makes my heart ache, knowing that Sirius and Remus didn’t get to grow old together, but just looking at this one scene in their lives reminds me of how special their friendship was. Ah, Sarah, I love this fic. It’s gorgeous. And this review, I believe, is quite long enough. -shifty-
Author's Response: Hee, I'm so glad you did come to review this! I love getting your reviews, my dear. :D Those first few lines took me a while to cultivate in my mind, because I knew they were going to be important to get right. You're completely right in the impressions you get of this - I was trying to communicate that although they're so very close, they always begin in a semi-distant way, and only drop their guards after a while. Ah, yes, I had to get the timing just right! I needed it to be after school but before the war, which gave me only a ashort time to work with! I thought Harry would be a good indicator of that, and also allow for some light-hearted conversation to begin with. I decided to write in the backstory again because I needed to highlight the role Remus played in it - as you pointed out. Also, I'd established a setting right from the beginning in which they were both just two men, and so to follow that, I thought an explanation of their friendship sounded most fitting. It also made the subject matter more definite - I mean, we all know that Sirius' life was hardly an easy one, but I wanted to use more than just a vague reference when talking of how Remus had helped him. As for the characterisation - I do agree with what you're saying, in actual fact. But I think the kind of dynamic you've described there may only have developed later on, when they knew each other better. Arguements due to stubbornly held opinions tend to crop up most in the early stages of friendship, in my experience, particularly if two people have grown close over a short amount of time. That's what I was wanting to show most with that sentence: that although they were vitally important to each other, the friendship still had a long way to go yet. And oh, of course! I think the most heartbreaking part of their friendship is the constant separation they face, which is obviously brought by the times they grew up in. I think possibly the worst thing is imagining how it could have been for them. Like, can't you just see them as the type of friends who could be with each other anywhere, in any situation, and it would work? Platonic soulmates, if you like. ;) The ending is maybe one of my favourite parts too. Again, I planned this one over in my head a lot, just to get the wording exactly how I wanted it. You're right that their friendship is based on the past by the time we see them in the books, buit of course, at this stage, they don't know thet yet. And well, I really wanted to highlight the kind of commitment they had to each other which meant that all those years on, Remus could comfortably believe Sirius when he returned, and 'embrace him like a brother'. *grin* Thank you ever so much for this! I can't describe how happy it makes me that you liked it. *squish*
You know, I don’t read very much poetry, simply because in general I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but I do occasionally like to pick a poem and review it. So here I am!
I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on meter or rhyme or what have you, but I will say that I’m impressed with the iambic pentameter here. It isn’t perfect, but poetry rules tend to be rather loose, I think, in some cases. At any rate, I know that I struggle writing poetry with any meter to it at all, so great job here. The meter really does make the poem sound that much more lovely.
And, you even rhymed! That’s something I usually find basically impossible. Also, here, the rhymes don’t sound…I want to say ‘rhyme-y.’ What I mean is that even though there is rhyme, it’s not like, “Oh, hi, I’m a rhyme!” Rather, it’s something that simply adds to the rhythm of the poem. It enhances the words rather than detracts from their meaning.
The ‘I was born to die’ is quite chilling, but I like it. That’s exactly Harry, isn’t it? I think you’ve really captured him. And the idea of the world’s fate resting solely on him – I love that. It’s sad, but so poignant and just a fabulous thing to include. When we found out in DH that Dumbledore knew all along that Harry was probably going to have to die – well, that was big. And you bring that into this poem, and it coincides perfectly with Harry’s decision in canon to meet what he thought was going to be his death.
That Harry is ‘faced with the courage is die’ is also a wonderful line. It is almost like his courage has simply taken hold of him, rather than that he consciously thought he had to die. It’s like fate, really. In itself, the imagery of the sun is a nice addition to the poem, but I particularly liked that bit because, not only does it juxtapose death, but it symbolizes a rebirth of sorts for Harry.
My only real criticism is more like an opinion. I would’ve liked to see some punctuation in the last few lines; to me, they just like empty without a comma or period or something. The rest of the poem is quite structured, with punctuation all intact, and that last part feels just a little out of place. But, perhaps there was some hidden meaning there that I simply missed because, like I said, poetry is definitely not my thing. I did enjoy this poem, though, so good job!
Hello there, oh author of the month! I have to say I had a tough time choosing which of your fics to read and review, because there was such a variety. But then I saw this one, and the summary intrigued me. I’m glad I chose this one, too, because I really did like it and thought you did a nice job with it.
I was curious to see which characters you would have engaging in the student/teacher relationship. As soon as we found out it was Charity Burbage I was trying to think of who the teacher could be, and I thought for a bit that you might not tell us at all and leave it a mystery. This whole fic carries that sort of mysterious feeling, and I really enjoyed that. I was curious about the characters, the creature, the setting, all of it. You did a good job keeping my interest in what was going on. I think part of that has to do with balance. This fic didn’t focus too heavily on any one aspect, though that isn’t to say it lacked focus, either. We got a good sense of the relationship between Charity and Professor Clandestine, enough that we could feel her pain when he died, but we also weren’t too distracted by their relationship to not appreciate the slightly scary part of this fic, too. And I was rather frightened, because I really had no idea what the creature was. I have to say I’m still not entirely sure what it was, but I think that’s part of the point.
I’m afraid I can’t write this review without commenting on the teacher’s name. Clandestine – well, it just seems a bit obvious, you know? It sort of shouts at the reader that this fic is about a secret relationship, and I don’t think that’s something that needed to be so obviously said. It’s pretty clear anyway, and I just felt like the name ‘Clandestine’ could easily have been something else.
Just a quick moment to say that I loved Dumbledore in this. His role was small, but the way he spoke to Charity, almost certainly knowing of her relationship with Clandestine – it was just so him. Of course he would know, and I just thought that was a good bit of characterization.
I think one of your strengths is definitely description. There’s such a vivid picture in my mind of what was going on here. I do think, though, that the description got a tad overdone in places. This sentence, for example: The light, summery breeze stirred my short, blonde curls, tickling my cheeks. ‘Light’ and ‘summery’ are a little redundant together, and sound almost clunky when in the same sentence as another pair of adjectives (‘short, blonde’). It’s just important to remember that sometimes less is more. You don’t want to be bombarding your reader with description; you just want enough to set the scene well.
Overall, I thought this fic was very interesting. I love the fact that it isn’t about just one thing. We get the relationship aspect as well as the mysterious, frightening aspect (how fitting that I’m reading this on Halloween!). Keep it up!
Author's Response: Yes, I've had several comments on Clandestine's name, and am kinda regretting the choice, LOL. Something to keep in mind when naming characters in future... Thank you for the review :) x
I clicked on this fic because the summary intrigued me, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this by the time I finished.
There’s a general feeling of vagueness here that I really love. I don’t know quite how to describe it, but I think you probably know what I mean because I think you intended it to be that way. We know these two characters so well – better than almost any other characters in the series – and yet this meeting between them feels just a little bit mysterious. I think part of this has to do with the undertones of romantic feelings you create here.
I’m not a Harry/Hermione shipper, but I still appreciated what you did here. It wasn’t an overtly Harry/Hermione fic, though. It gave these hints of romantic feelings between them while still confirming their relationship as friends. That’s difficult to do, I think, but you pulled it off here. The little things were what made this so fascinating – the way Harry thinks about the color brown, or the way he remembers what was supposed to be their seventh year. And simply the way they talk to each other; they’ve each clearly grown and becomes these adults, but we still recognize them as our Harry and our Hermione.
It had rained like this, after Ron left - non-stop rain, drumming outside their tent, broken only by restless thunder. Aside from the wonderful imagery of this line, I love the way you use flashbacks in this fic. I hesitate to actually call them ‘flashbacks,’ since it’s really just Harry remembering little things like this, but flashbacks they shall be. They bring us out of the present time just briefly, just for a moment, and then we’re back to Harry and Hermione in this coffee shop. It’s a really nice way to examine their relationship and bring up some potential romantic feelings, but at the same time you’re still just sort of saying that hey look, they’re friends.
Overall, I really liked this fic and thought you did a great job with these two characters. Keep it up!
Author's Response: I'm not a Harry/Hermione 'shipper either - not a 'shipper of anything, really, because it often leads to putting the characters in neat little binary boxes and proceeding to write a romance that could be between any two people. It's like there's a little switch an author is supposed to toggle on their characters - it reads 'In Love' and 'Just Friends' - in order to define relationships, but there's such a range of how one person can feel about another. Harry and Hermione are a great example - they don't just have being friends to bind them together, they were in classes together for six years, they ran a rebellion against Umbridge, went out into the wild alone to hunt down the Horcruxes, and so on and so forth. There's dozens of different levels that they're able to relate to each other on, and the difference between (and sometimes even presence of) the levels is a subtle thing indeed, so to just... ignore all of that and say, 'Okay, they're in love,' and not have them relate to each other in any other way is a betrayal of character and of all that history they've got. To use the 'shipping terms implies they're together and to not use them inplies they're not, and there's this huge, unexplored gulf between those two extremes - that's the reason I say I don't 'ship anybody to anyone else.
Writing the not-flashbacks was fun, too, and links in nicely with wanting to dig around in grey areas of relationships. I mean, it would be easy to write about the night of misplaced passion Harry and Hermione share at some point while Ron is missing, and then the guilt-stained argument that follows, and finish with them both looking off into the distance and wondering how they'll go on, but... that doesn't actually provide any answers about how they do go on. People are very capable of suppressing the past and moving on with their lives - I'm interested in when the murky past comes up to the surface to look around for a bit but doesn't actually stick its head above the water. Maybe it will never come up completely, or maybe one day it will and then comes the argument and distance-looking, but that part we can all easily imagine because that's what always happens - I'd rather take a longer look at the murky ambiguous times inbetween that are often overlooked but are just as important and just as telling.
Thanks for the review - it's good to know it looks interesting enough on the outside to some people, although maybe it would get more notice if I maked it as Harry/Hermione.
"It’s like a safe place, somewhere to watch the world, somewhere... magical."
When the rain stops and the sun comes out, a magical moment is etched in gold.
I haven’t read very much Cedric/Katie, but the fics that I have read I’ve really liked, and this fic was no exception.
I find the setting of this fic quite interesting. Right before the final task – there’s a lot to think about when considering a fic taking place then. A romance involving Cedric has to carry a little bit of weight, since we know that, unfortunately, he dies soon. A strange part of me loves reading a fic like this, because it makes everything so much more important. The introduction of Katie into the fic is nice – very simple, but I like that. The simplicity is sweet, and I think perfect for this sort of moment between these two characters.
The mention of Cho is interesting. I had actually almost completely forgotten about her, but of course she is a part of Cedric’s life, here. That Cedric realizes Cho may not be the girl for him is bittersweet; I’ve never personally liked Cho, but I do have to feel bad for her. At the same time, I’m totally rooting for Katie.
And, I do love a bit of rain in a fic. :) And, I love the inclusion of the boat prompt! I, like Cedric, have never even thought about where they keep the boats the first years ride in, and I love that Cedric and Katie get to discover the place. The image of the two of them sitting in one of the boats is absolutely adorable. I love it. I love that Cedric gets this time of relative normalcy before the last task, that he gets to relax with someone he cares about, and who cares about him.
Cedric telling Katie that she’s brilliant is also just so cute. Oh, I really do love this fic. And then the kiss! …they leaned towards each other and their lips connected and they kissed and kissed and kissed and they wrapped their arms around each other and eventually sat back in the little wooden boat and gazed back out over the water, hands twined. I love that sentence. It has such a sense of…I don’t even know how to describe it, but it’s wonderful.
Their deciding to be together in a few days just breaks my heart, but I love it all the same. Basically, I quited like this fic. I thought it was very well written. Great job with this pairing!
Author's Response: Thanks, Leanne! Ah, I love a bit of rain in a fic too. As for the boat shed, I think I got that idea from the PoA video game xD Maybe there's a boat shed in the movie too? I can't remember. But it seems kind of obvious when you think about, right? Anyway, thank you so much for the lovely review, dear! I'm glad you liked this!
You know, I tend not to read too many Remus-during-a-transformation fics, because it seems that they usually get a bit old after a while. But the prompt ‘fresh’ intrigued me, and I was definitely not bored by this fic.
In general, I am very critical of the second person. I use it almost ridiculously often myself and as such, I’ve found that I’m quite ridiculously possessive of it. I think it’s very hard to pull off effectively; in my opinion, it needs to completely flow with the fic – it shouldn’t be the main focus, it should just be natural and the perfect way of telling a particular story. That said, I thought your use of the second person worked really well in some places but wasn’t as effective in others. I think it’s a brilliant way to really get inside Remus’s head as he’s transforming and as he remembers becoming a werewolf. That part of the fic, I thought, was great. All of the description and imagery were spot on. However, the parts when he refers to his parents and you bring us back to a more tangible present – I don’t know, it didn’t quite fit for me. There was something missing that made the second person feel a little off. I think perhaps parts of this felt a little choppy and rushed, so the second felt almost jarring rather than smooth. Does any of that even make sense? I really am trying. My only suggestion is simply to write more in second person so you get a better feel for it. It can be quite tricky, and I think all you can do is practice. You’ve got a wonderful foundation here, though, to work from.
There were some minor mistakes throughout this that distracted me a little from the fic itself. Another thorough once-over probably would have caught those small errors and benefited the fic on the whole. I found some of the wording to be just a little awkward. For example: …the last glimpse you get of mum is her glistening eyes, from where the tears have begun to fall relentlessly. The second clause is a little confusing. I think if you just eliminated ‘from,’ the sentence would read more clearly. (Also, ‘mum’ should be capitalized in that instance.) Then there were other bits like ‘rattling breathing’ that didn’t feel quite right when I was reading. I think you would either have ‘rattled breathing’ or ‘rattled breaths,’ but the –ing adverb and the gerund together are somewhat awkward and, I think, not really correct. Finally, this bit was really odd to me: In the distance, you hear a scream; Mum? I don’t understand the use of the semicolon here, honestly. Technically it’s correct, but it’s just…the semicolon doesn’t serve any real purpose. A dash or a simple period would have been much more effective, I think, in conveying Remus’s thought from the scream to his mum. It’s a moment that needs to be connected and disconnected at the same time; it needs to be clear that Remus immediately thinks of his mother when he hears the scream, but the ‘Mum?’ part is also separate from the narration and is, actually, rather chilling when set apart that way.
All of that out of the way, I did quite like this fic. The relationship between Remus and his parents is a really interesting one to explore. How was it for them, having a son who was a werewolf? Here, you show that it was exceedingly difficult and painful and really, very sad. It breaks my heart, but in a wonderful way because the writing is so emotional. I also think you captured young Remus very well. Writing a child is something I try not to even do, because it’s so hard to portray them convincingly in a way that still works. But you did a great job of conveying his innocence and his struggle to understand why his parents have to lock him in the cellar. Of course, being bitten by a werewolf as a child would be terribly traumatizing and confusing for a child, and I thought you showed that really well here.
One of my favorite parts was this: And then you see red. It’s a very simple sentence, but it’s also quite powerful; it’s even a little abstract, because even though the red can be taken as something physical – blood, I think – it could also be a reference to the sheer terror of the situation or something similar. Really nice sentence.
I thought this was a very interesting take on Remus as a werewolf, and definitely not the same thing I’ve seen before. Good job, dear Spire! -squishes-
Author's Response: Wow, what a great review! Yes, your second person paragraph makes sense. Lol. Thanks for the feedback on it - second person is one of those things I love to read, so I'd like to be able to write it well, too, so it's nice to know what worked and what didn't, etc. :) I'll look into those mistakes, also, when I get a moment. I thought I'd caught all the lowercase mums and dads, though. >.< And I'm pleased child Remus works; I was slightly concerned he would seem too old. Anyway, thank you for a fantastic review! xx
Hello, Hannah! I decided to come and read this little one-shot of yours, as I’ve been meaning to read more Teddy-centered fics and, of course, it’s review time. :)
I love that History of Magic is Teddy’s favorite subject. It’s one of those character traits that just adds so much to the development of a character, and it’s also a great contrast to what we’re used to in canon with that class being so boring. I love that the class has changed since Harry was at Hogwarts, because I think that’s a change that probably would have happened, and it’s lovely to see it shown here.
One of my favorite things about this fic are the frequent references to family. Of course, this fic really is about family, but the mentions of how the Weasleys always sit together and all of that – it’s just really nice. I love picturing that, and I love that Teddy fits in perfectly with the rest of them. The parallel to Harry is quite an obvious one (that I think Jo probably intended), but there’s also something that makes Teddy his own person, his own character. He and Victoire, for example, are absolutely adorable together. I completely adore the way you’ve written them. Their relationship seems so natural and close.
There was one bit that kind of confused me, though. When McGonagall is explaining why Teddy’s grandmother died (oh dear, it’s so strange to think that it’s Andromeda!), she says something about how she knows Teddy hates being told he’s just like his parents. I was just wondering why he hates that. I think it’d be normal to get annoyed when people were always just comparing you to your family, but I would think Teddy would appreciate being told he’s like his parents, especially considering who his parents were (and oh my goodness, I’m getting teary-eyed thinking about Remus and Tonks). I suppose the Harry parallel comes into play again, but all the same, I found that piece of information about Teddy to be quite odd. It seemed a little random to mention in passing, because there really wasn’t room in this fic to explain why Teddy feels that way. Instead I was left just a little bit confused, and I think maybe leaving that part out wouldn’t have detracted from the fic at all.
My biggest critique is regarding the flashback type scenes you’ve included with Teddy and his grandmother on the platform. See, I don’t think the italics were entirely necessary, because you used the past participle tense, which already indicates something that happened in the past (even though the fic is told in the classic past tense narration). That might’ve sounded confusing, but the point is that the flashbacks would have made sense without being italicized. The fact that they are italicized makes the tense feel rather awkward, and I found myself quite distracted from the fic itself.
Overall, though, I really liked this fic. I’ve mostly seen Teddy written as one half of a romantic pairing, but seeing him here as a normal person going through a normal (if very sad) life experience was great. I thought you did a very good job, dear Hannah!
Author's Response: aw, what a lovely review to receive just before I go to bed!
It's interesting that you've pointed out the flashback scenes because I did spend some time pondering the formatting of them and was never wholly convinced that they worked as they are. I will have to go back and re-read and possibly un-italicise them.
Hmm...I suppose the Teddy hating to be compared to his parents thing was thrown in without much explanation - but I suppose that to me, Teddy would probably have become a little frustrated to be told that he was so alike people he had never met and who hadn't been around to influence his life. And the stories he was probably told of them would have made them out to seem like idealised perfect people, as is so often the case when recounting stories of peoeple who have died, that he felt he couldn't live up to the people they were and hated hearing that he was somehow as good as them.(but maybe I am straying too much in to Harry's character here...)
Sorry for my waffly reply! I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your comments!
I don’t read a lot of fics about Charlie, or about Bill, or about Fleur. I’ve certainly seen the idea of Charlie/Fleur done before, and of course there are plenty of Bill/Fleur fics out there, but I think what’s always put me a big off them is that I’ve never particularly liked Fleur. But for some reason I wanted to read this fic, and I’m so glad I did, because it was wonderful.
One of the things that I really like about this is that it could fit into canon. We don’t know what Fleur was doing before she was off at Gringotts “improving her English,” and we don’t really know what Charlie was doing aside from working with dragons. You put an AU warning on this, which is probably wise lest someone comes running at you proclaiming inaccuracy, but really, why couldn’t this have happened? Who’s to say Bill didn’t take Fleur away from Charlie?
It’s always saddened me a bit by how little screen time Charlie gets in the books compared to the other Weasleys. Even Bill, who is older and therefore not around as much, seems to have that closer connection to everyone else (especially since in DH the trio stayed at his house). I think that makes this fic work even better. Charlie seems so out of the picture, so removed, almost. He seems alone, really, because we don’t know of any girlfriends that he’s had. Pairing him with Fleur and then taking Fleur away from him – it’s so sad, but it almost seems like of course that would happen. I liked this line: Bill always had to have everything – the looks, the popularity, the perfect OWL scores, and apparently, the pretty girlfriend. Sure, Charlie’s probably exaggerating a bit in his anger, but on the surface, it does seem like Bill sort of gets everything.
I absolutely love the candle metaphor in this (the title is so great, too). Just the idea of light and Fleur being Charlie’s light and all of that – it’s really great. And, you brought more to that by mentioning how Fleur literally brought light to Charlie with the candles. Charlie thinking about Fleur lighting candles at Bill’s place – it was so sad, but it was still so good. I like also that Fleur leaves in the middle of night. She leaves at a time of darkness, and it’s her leaving that plunges Charlie into darkness. You know, light and dark imagery or theme or whatever can seem so overdone sometimes, even clichéd, but here I just thought it worked perfectly.
Overall, dearest Kelly, I thought you did an excellent job with this missing moment of sorts. Everything was spot-on. Please continue to be awesome.
Author's Response: Thank you, Leanne, for being awesome at leaving reviews.
This is a very sweet piece. You did a really good job capturing what I think the relationship between Frank and Alice was like, and the lyrics worked well to separate the different moments.
In a way, this is a song fic. It isn’t really the ‘traditional’ type of song fic, because you only use a few lines of the song and they function as formatting, but it’s a great example of how songs can really enhance a fic. Here, the lyrics work with the words; they don’t distract the reader from the story, they remind the reader what the story is about. Another reason I love this song for Frank and Alice is that it’s a very simple love song. It’s not a sweeping ballad, it’s just this little song about love. For some reason, I’ve always associated Frank and Alice with a calm, kind sort of love, and that’s what I get from this song as well. So, good choice there, and good job integrating the lyrics into the story.
The best and worst thing about reading Frank/Alice fics is that we know how the story ends. It’s similar to reading fics about the Marauders; we know what their fates are, and so reading these sorts of happy moments about them is especially moving. The moments that you chose to show between Frank and Alice are lovely; they illustrate perfectly the type of love that I envision for this couple. You showed the progression of their relationship very well, from the beginning of their love right to their time in St. Mungo’s. It’s heartbreaking to see the change, especially the scene with the Lestranges and Crouch Jr., but it’s also some really great writing.
The idea of writing five silent moments between them is just lovely. What a great prompt to be given! I particularly like it because all that we really see of Frank and Alice in canon is unspoken. We only meet them very briefly, and they don’t say anything then; everything else we know about them is learned through others’ accounts and what Jo has told us after the fact. So it seems fitting to show them here not talking; it adds even more to that serene kind of love I associate with them. It’s almost like they don’t need a lot of words; they’re just together, and it’s enough.
I love the image of Neville playing in the dirt in the garden. Not only is it a wonderfully sweet thing to picture – how adorable Alice and Neville must have been – but it’s a nice allusion to Neville’s later love for Herbology. It’s nice to think that he always felt particularly connected to plant life because on some level he associated it with his mother. And speaking of Neville: It had been enough though. They didn't find Neville. That’s great. Sad, but great. Frank and Alice really did everything for their son. I hate to think what might have happened if Neville had been found, and this scene of Frank and Alice sacrificing themselves so that Neville could remain unharmed is beautiful. It’s also an interesting parallel to James and Lily’s attempts to save Harry. You easily could have made this scene seem unoriginal, but it didn’t at all. You did a good job showing the similarities between what the two families went through while still making it clear that this is not a copy of the Potters’ story.
Overall, I thought this was a wonderful little fic. It’s a very nice glimpse into what Frank and Alice Longbottom might have been like. The ending is heartbreaking but beautiful; it’s nice to see that somehow Frank still remembers his son and his wife, that he recognizes that they are familiar and right. This was just a lovely fic. Great job, and keep it up!
The first thing I want to comment on is the title of this fic, because I love it. It’s what initially drew me in, so great job there. I’m someone who almost always finds it difficult to name a fic, so any great title really impresses me.
I’m so glad I decided to click on this, because I think it’s a really wonderful piece. I am, in general, very picky about Sirius and Regulus fics, because so few authors write them well (in my opinion). But I was extremely pleased with this; I thought you handled the relationship between the brothers very well, using enough of what we know from canon to make it believable but also adding in some of your own personal thoughts on these two intriguing characters.
The way you start the fic is very effective. I love that Sirius’s leaving is quiet and that ‘the world doesn’t end or crumble down around your feet.’ That’s a great bit, because it shows Sirius’s decision to leave his family wasn’t necessarily earth shattering, but it was life-changing for him and, as written here, for Regulus. I do think losing his brother like that would affect Regulus quite strongly, and I’m glad you focused so much on that.
I also love that Regulus feels a sense of guilt over Sirius’s leaving, that he blames himself, at least in part, for the way things turned out. That he wishes he had been strong enough to fight with Sirius, rather than against him (a lovely tie in with the title, I should add) is really quite fantastic. What if Regulus had gone with Sirius? It’s so interesting to think about, but it’s also not what happened. Regulus didn’t leave, and that was a factor in how his life turned out. Oh, I really do heart this fic.
Macnair, Yaxley, Rosier. Each name is a mark against you, another coin to add to your thirty pieces of silver. I just love that, the coin metaphor. You know, as much as I love Regulus, it is important to remember that he did become a Death Eater. Of course he helped eliminate Voldemort in the long run, but at one point, he was fighting on the same side as the bad guys. Here, it’s interesting to see that Regulus wants to point out to Sirius that he isn’t a Death Eater yet. The distinction between being a Death Eater ‘yet’ versus ‘at all’ or ‘never’ is really nice, because it seems that Regulus already knows he will become a Death Eater. The characterization of Regulus in this fic is wonderful.
It makes you wonder if you have always been so alike, despite all the attempts to deny any connection. I think this is something a lot of authors touch on, but I like it all the same. It’s perfectly believable that Sirius and Regulus were more alike than either of them cared to admit, and it just adds to the sadness of this fic, this scene between the two of them. If Regulus had asked where Sirius was going, or if he had been determined to leave also – well, it’s certainly intriguing to think about. I’m glad you brought it up here, because it is something that Regulus probably would have been thinking about.
And just like that, with a click of a door, you’ve become just another person who has let him down. So sad, but I love it. Again, there’s the idea that nothing big and sweeping is happening here. There’s just a door closing, but it’s so significant in what it represents for, not only Regulus, but Sirius as well, and the relationship between both of them. That really is the end of whatever closeness they had, because now they won’t see each other as often anymore, they won’t be forced to live in the same house. Yeah, I sort of heart this fic. I also want to comment on your use of second person, because it really is my favorite tense, and I often find myself annoyed when people use it. I thought you handled it very skillfully; it didn’t feel out of place or a ploy for creativity. That was just the tense this needed to be written in, and it was fabulous. Great job!
Author's Response: Ah, thank you so, so much! This review seriously made my day. :) About the title -- I definitely hate coming up with them and owe this one to the help of Fresca/Colores (mine usually end up being random one word titles). And I'm really glad you liked the characterization! Okay, so basically, thank you so much for this review. :D
So like, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to come and review this chapter. I’d already read most of it, of course, but still.
This chapter reminds me why your writing is so wonderful, particularly your fan fiction writing. Obviously your original fiction is equally awesome, but what I especially love about your fan fiction is the way you make it so original. It’s still Harry Potter, it’s still the characters we know and love, and the story that’s so familiar to us, but you add things that just – I don’t even know. Take Alphard, for instance. We know an Alphard exists somewhere along the Black family line, and that he must have been fond of Sirius, but beyond that we know practically nothing. And you take this name of a character and create the brilliance that is Alphard here. He isn’t unbelievable or implausible; he fits perfectly well into the established canon. I don’t think I will ever think of Alphard the same way again; he will always be this Alphard.
The switch to Sirius was very interesting. Again, you went in a direction that I haven’t seen before, with Sirius getting ready for Healer training. I would never place him there, but why not, really? And it makes sense, because of course Sirius would want to help Remus. Plus, the idea that Sirius wasn’t accepted to the Auror program because of his family is something I’m very attracted to. I love the reverse prejudice of it. Normally it’s the families like the Blacks refusing to associate with “lesser” people, but here we have the “good” guys refusing to accept a “bad” name. Clearly they didn’t pay much attention to Sirius himself, only his name, which is both sad and wonderful (for the storytelling, you know). It’s a nice insight into the way the world worked, especially in that time of impending war.
That said, as much as I love the inclusion of Sirius’s life, I’m not really sure how it relates to the rest of the story. I like the brief juxtaposition of James’s seemingly perfect relationship with Lily with Regulus’s heartache over Rachel, and I’m glad for the glimpse of Sirius in general, but how does this all fit? Is it important that Sirius is going into Healer training? It’s just that the main focus of the story is Regulus, and his difficulty in accepting the life he’s supposed to live (without Rachel, and amongst people he doesn’t even particularly like). Obviously Sirius is a part of Regulus’s life, and an important one, but I don’t know. It just felt a little random to suddenly be reading about old women giving Sirius food, you know? I like the way you showed how the Black name has affected both brothers, but overall the jump to Sirius felt a bit disjointed.
I love the last part of this, with Regulus packing for school. The ritual of it is great. It’s one of those things that not many authors would think about, but of course you do. Most authors would probably just be like, “Oh, yes, he’s packing for school and he finds an old note,” which would be all right but kind of boring. But of course Regulus has this routine that he goes through each year, and then it’s interrupted by his finding this old note between him and Rachel. It’s a nice little metaphor for the way Rachel sort of interrupted the set path that Regulus was (and is now) on.
All in all, a good chapter. I’m still eager for more of Regulus and Rachel’s story. I’m also curious to see how Sirius plays into it, if at all. Keep it up, dearest twin.
Okay, so, you know how excited I was for this fic to start going up, and now that it’s here I’m sort of dying over it.
The way you begin the fic is very interesting, I think. In essence it’s a brief description of Orion, Walburga, and Sirius, but it’s also almost a short family history. Jumping in from the prologue, it’s nice to start this way, because we just left off with Regulus breaking up with Rachel because of his pureblood family.
The invention of Silver Lake is genius, basically. Wizarding Hamptons ftw. Of course it’s something that would exist, especially knowing how elitist the pureblood families can be. Of course they would have their own special gathering place. The transition from the talk about the Blacks to the introduction of the setting is great, by the way. Just wanted to stick that in here.
As is tradition among old families like theirs, the dance floor is enchanted to keep people effortlessly in step with the current dance. I adore that. It’s so wonderfully magical, but it’s also so normal for Regulus, and that’s what makes it a great addition to the narration. Sometimes it’s easy to forget we’re reading about wizards here, because we get so caught up in the characters and whatnot, but quick sentences like this make the fic even better. I also love the implication of the dance floor being enchanted; these pureblood families are so concerned with appearances that they don’t even want people to dance poorly. It’s pretty funny, but at the same time, it’s a great insight into the lives of the people we’re dealing with.
Oh, it’s Reeve Greengrass! Well, look at that. That is a brilliant character to have in this. I’m kind of disappointed in myself for not realizing she’s the one you wouldn’t tell me about, but anyway. Again, we get a reminder of The Watch Unwinds Until it Stops, and that’s great, because Regulus is clearly still dwelling on the events of the past year (Alphard even noticed it). And of course I enjoy any mention of Sirius, even if it is sad because Reeve is going to marry somebody else. I think it’s also nice that you have both Reeve and Regulus wanting to forget Sirius; it’s been a while now since Sirius has left his parents’ house, but I imagine Regulus would still have that weighing on his mind sometimes. Here, Alphard sort of acts as a brother stand-in, but of course he can never be the same.
So, Nancy. When you first showed her to me, I was definitely not a fan because I thought maybe she was going to keep Regulus away from Rachel, you know? But by the end of this chapter, I did feel genuinely bad for her. The scene between them reminds me a bit of the scene when Regulus breaks up with Rachel (another reason I’m glad you decided to give us that as the prologue). Regulus is so harsh in both instances; there’s no pretense, it’s just a firm ‘no’ from him and then he states his feelings (or lack thereof) flat out. I mean, he walks out without even looking at her. It’s really not very nice, and if I didn’t heart Regulus so much, I would probably say he’s kind of a jerk. I do still feel bad for him, because he’s been through some not so great stuff, but the way he dismisses Nancy is really quite sad. Especially after she admits that she thinks she loves him. Poor girl.
He was playing for distraction; she was playing for keeps. I love the idea that Regulus is just playing a game, and that he and Nancy are playing different ones. It goes right along with the idea that Regulus is putting on this different persona when he’s at Silver Lake, that he’s trying out something else for a while. It makes me wonder even more about pureblood society – how many of them are just testing the waters with their fake personas? How many of them are putting on a little show, for others and for themselves? If Regulus weren’t the person that he actually is, this person he is at Silver Lake could be him all the time. I think that’s where your characterization of Regulus is so awesome. You show exactly who he is, even though for most of this chapter he’s not entirely being himself.
I have to discuss Alphard, obviously. You already know that I love this character. He’s such a genius invention, seriously. There’s sort of a sense of scandal surrounding his existence, you know? He’s so much younger than Walburga, and he’s rich and important and probably has more power than is healthy or necessarily appropriate. And, even though he is only a bit older than Regulus, he still kind of acts like an uncle instead of a brother. He’s still a little removed. I just love it, really. (As an aside, I must insist you write more fics with him. Like especially some with him and Sirius. Plzkthnx.)
Oh, the prompt ‘bones.’ I love how you incorporated it into this. It’s subtle, but it’s still important. The reference to The Killers song does not go unnoticed, obviously. -wink- It’s perfect, though, and I think the idea of bones is super intriguing for this chapter. I might be getting into some totally out-there analysis, but I see bones as the very core of a person, yeah? And this whole chapter is Regulus almost not being who he is at his core, and the juxtaposition of those two ideas is just wonderful. You have the other mention of bones earlier, too: Numbness has sunk into his bones, and he doesn’t feel much anymore. Again, it’s the idea that Regulus simply isn’t Regulus anymore. I love it.
I think this review is rather long enough now, so I’ll just conclude by saying that I loved this first official chapter, and I cannot wait for more.
While this fic could probably have done just fine without a prologue, I’m really glad you decided to give us this little missing moment from The Watch Unwinds Until It Stops. For one thing, it’s just nice to be reminded where we left off, and to know, not only where we are, but where Regulus is as we move into the first chapter of this story.
I like that Regulus holds onto the letters for a few days; it’s a tangible reminder that he has to (or he believes he has to) break up with Rachel. I think that’s very Regulus, to dwell on it. He isn’t the type to make decisions rashly (as opposed to Sirius, who tends to do exactly that), and he gives it a lot of thought before he comes to the conclusion to end things. He chose to end things quickly. It would be better than having her life on his conscience. I think it’s interesting that the consequence of staying with Rachel is so grave, that Bellatrix would actually kill, or at least terribly hurt, Rachel. Bellatrix’s potential actions, and Regulus’s knowledge of them, really show how important blood status is to people like the Blacks. It’s a nice, if horrible, insight into that pureblood mania.
…Regulus put his hands in his pockets instead of taking Rachel’s hand in his. I love this little detail. This is something you’re always so good at, giving us these small things that make the story so real. Most authors probably wouldn’t mention it, but by letting us know Regulus makes a conscious decision not to hold Rachel’s hand we understand what’s coming in a way that Rachel can’t.
Another thing you’ve always done wonderfully is letting simple sentences say so much. Like here: It was perfect. Regulus could not enjoy it. I adore that bit, because even though it’s two very short sentences, the idea is so poignant. It has a very ominous feel to it, of course, and again it’s quite sad because we know what’s eventually going to happen. And then that feeling carries on as Regulus and Rachel continue their walk, with Regulus not paying attention to their conversation because he has so much on his mind.
The mention of the letter again is great because we’re given that tangible reminder again, and the fact that Regulus clutches it as he tells Rachel the news is likewise a great image. I particularly like it because it goes back to the fact that he has his hands in his pockets rather than holding Rachel’s, and the lack of physical contact is perfect. I can totally picture Regulus being that way; it’s almost like that’s how he would be if he were more like his Black cousins – distant and standoffish. Somehow I can’t see Bellatrix getting all PDA-tastic with her husband, and I’m sort of getting the same coldness from Regulus here, even though he doesn’t want to be that way. It really is excellent.
That distance is further evident in just the way Regulus breaks up with Rachel. It’s very quick and almost harsh. The way he just shrugs in response to her – oh, I love it. He’s being so terrible, but it’s exactly how he would do it in this situation. And then finally – If he had been thinking properly, none of this would’ve ever happened in the first place. Your characterization of Regulus is, as always, perfect. He blames himself, something that I think is totally easy to believe considering what he ends up doing with his life; it’s easy to see him blaming himself for Voldemort gaining power, as irrational as that is, and thus deciding to destroy the Horcrux. It’s even easy to see him blaming himself for Sirius’s leaving. So it makes sense that he would blame himself for his family’s stupidity about non-purebloods.
Of course, I’m dying to read more of this. I’m especially interested to see how Rachel plays into the latter chapters, and how Regulus deals with having to break up with her.
I think it’s really interesting that this fic begins with Lily running, because the rest of the fic seems to have a very different tone. At first we have this rush to get to the painting class, but then we mostly have a sense of serenity and thoughtfulness. I like this juxtaposition, though. For one thing, it’s neat to compare the opening idea of movement to the movement Lily and Scorpius discuss in the fic, and it’s all related to your prompt (‘instant’ – what a great word to be inspired by!).
Feeling her top drape loosely, she wonders to what extent the old pervert in the corner will exaggerate her cleavage. I love this sentence. It adds a little bit of humor to an otherwise rather serious fic, and it’s a nice glimpse of Lily’s character. She almost reminds me of her grandmother with her cheekiness, though that’s also something she could totally have gotten from Ginny. Next-gen characters like Lily can be so hard to get right because we really don’t know what they’re like, and I think you did a great job showing us a three-dimensional character.
Continuing with Lily’s character, I love how forward she is with Scorpius, how she wants something to happen with him. Ginny was always a person who shouldn’t be underestimated, and I feel like Lily’s insistence that she isn’t that young is reminiscent of that. At the same time, she’s nervous at first, wondering if Scorpius recognizes her, etc., and that seemed sort of Harry (particularly with Cho) to me. I loved these aspects of her character, though, because I think children definitely do reflect certain traits of their parents. And, she’s still her own character. Her love of painting, in particular, is such a nice idea. There aren’t very many fics that explore that part of the wizarding world, especially not ones that look at young, modern artists. It’s just a really cool premise for the fic, and also a great incorporation of the ‘instant’ prompt.
Scorpius is sort of intriguing to me, because, until his rebuff of Lily at the end, he doesn’t seem very … Malfoy to me. I don’t want him to be a carbon copy of his father, obviously, but to me it felt like he really could have been anybody’s son for most of the fic; he could have come from any family. Even the way you describe him – a tangled mess of hair, for example. Now, we don’t really know anything about Scorpius’s mother, but we do know that Draco’s hair was always sleek. ‘Tangled’ isn’t really a word I would ever associate with him. There’s no rule that Scorpius has to have that same look, but maybe just a brief mention of his hair color – something to give us a better picture – might have been helpful. I just wanted more of a connection to Scorpius’s family sooner rather than later, because I think this pairing’s familial backgrounds are important to their potential for a relationship.
That said, I still really enjoyed this fic. I think the setting was really interesting, and Lily in particular was a delight to read. As to the question of a follow up, it’s hard to say. I would love to see this couple reunited in their love of art, but I also love this fic as a stand-alone. The idea of ‘instant’ was captured really well here, and it might be a shame to prolong it, you know? But I think more Lily/Scorpius is definitely in order, whether it’s in relation to this fic or not. -wink-
I was very attracted to the idea of this fic; Sirius and Remus are two of my favorite characters, and this scene after Harry asks them about James is a nice missing moment of sorts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as pleased with this as I wanted to be; there were definitely some good moments, but overall I wanted more from it.
All-dialogue fics are difficult for establishing setting, and I thought you handled the restriction pretty well. Remus telling Sirius to sit down, telling Sirius to get off him, that sort of thing. It works well to let us know what’s going on without having the option of just narrating normally. This conversation was a good choice for this challenge, because the focus is what they’re saying to each other, and having only dialogue helps maintain that important focus. So, good choices there, and good job painting a picture, as it were.
However, I felt like the conversation was a bit forced, rather than something that might have actually happened after Harry had gone from the fire. It seems like Sirius and Remus discuss almost everything that ever happened to them, and everything they say relates back to James and Lily, or simply James, or Peter. And, that’s not really how a conversation works, is it? Even when you’re talking to one of your best friends whom you’ve know for years and years, every sentence you say isn’t a recollection of the past. It might work better that way if this were sooner after Sirius and Remus have found each other again, but at the time this fic is set, they’ve had at least a good year to discuss some of these things. Did they really wait this long to talk about why they thought the other was the traitor? Maybe they did, but I find it more likely that they talked about it before, and not as part of a generally light conversation. It just felt like they were covering a lot of Marauder history in a relatively short period of time, which is convenient for a fic that seeks to reveal a lot about the characters but probably isn’t how one of their conversations might actually go. It seems like they resolve all their issues here – the prank on Snape, why they thought the other was the traitor, why Sirius got punished more than Remus, how hard it was for Sirius to be a Black, etc. They were rather productive here, weren’t they? I’m just not sure they actually would have been, if a conversation like this really took place in our unknown canon.
My other biggest concern with this fic was the characterization of Sirius. He didn’t feel like Sirius to me, and if I hadn’t been told who he was, and also just known because of the things he’s talking about, I would never have realized who it was. Overall I think there’s a significant lack of bitterness from Sirius, and while some authors do tend to write Sirius as this overly angsty fellow, it’s just as inaccurate to portray him as overly cheery, especially at this point in his life. I think, here, he would be appropriately happy when it came to recounting various Marauder activities, because those were good moments in his life, but anything that took place after that carries a lot of weight for him. His discussion of why he thought Remus was the traitor, for example. That’s something that, in effect, ruined his life. His mistake caused the murder of his best friends, and I can’t see that as something he would approach so casually. He probably never forgave himself for what happened, and would hardly laugh about it now. It’s something that both he and Remus should be somber about, but here they sort of share a laugh and that’s that.
I think it’s important to remember that post-Azkaban Sirius is a troubled person. He never grew up properly; he lost twelve years of his life in a terrible prison. He definitely never let go of his grudge with Snape (that much is clear from their interactions in the books). In OotP, he’s even more depressed because he’s stuck in his parents’ house, unable to do anything substantial to help the Order. I mean, he does still have a sense of humor and all that, but in general he’s not a very happy person in that book. Any mention of James and Lily should sting; he might remember them fondly, but there’s also a pain there. I don’t get that pain from Sirius in this fic, and I feel like it needs to be there. It feels like Sirius and Remus kind of gloss over everything in this conversation. I think all of these subjects would work better as separate conversations, because they all deserve some serious attention, and unfortunately they just don’t get it here.
It’s also important to consider the words characters use to say things. For instance, Sirius says he always thought of lilies as being calm flowers. Did he really, though? I mean, he probably never thought of lilies as anything. The comparison is a nice idea, but it’s probably not something Sirius would bring up (Remus maybe would, but even then I doubt he ever thought much about flower characteristics). That’s just one example; there were many times when I couldn’t hear Sirius saying some of the things he was saying, and it’s just something that needs to be really thought about. You have to know where he’s coming from, what his purpose in speaking is. How does he feel when he’s saying something? If he’s bitter, he might use shorter sentences. It’s that sort of thing, you know? At one point, Sirius stutters. He says, “B-but…” and then Remus cuts him off. But I don’t think Sirius has ever stuttered in the books, and he’s just not the type of person to protest so, well, lamely. He would be more strong-willed about it; the idea of going to help Harry is something he wouldn’t back down from very easily – in fact, it was his recklessness in that exact area that ultimately killed him. I have trouble picturing a few words from Remus as discouraging him.
Apparently your choice of using their nicknames for the majority of this fic is a hot topic in your other reviews, and I do actually want to comment on it. I definitely think Sirius and Remus still used their nicknames when they were adults, but I don’t think they used them to the extent that they use them here. It makes sense for when they’re reflecting on those good ol’ Marauder times, but in normal conversation I think they would have been more inclined to use their given names (Sirius might actually call Remus ‘Lupin’ occasionally, as for some reason his surname tends to get used more often). I mean, even when they were at school, I doubt they called each other exclusively by their nicknames; they did have real names, and I’m sure they used them with each other. It’s not a huge issue, it’s just another thing to think about. Again, it’s back to considering how a character speaks, and that includes how he refers to other people. Just from a personal standpoint, if I have a friend who also goes by a nickname, I probably use their real name and their nickname in any one conversation. It’s just a variation thing, you know?
I realize this review is getting quite long, so I’m going to wrap it up. On the whole, I thought this fic was a good idea that could have been better executed. Next time I would suggest paying closer attention to making sure your characterizations are spot on; the ideas are all there, it’s just the final product that needs some work.
Author's Response: Ah well, I guess the jury's out on this one with a love it or hate it type review. Obviously I'm going to disagree (LOL). Actually I do take your point about some of the points you raised - bringing up the past being the main one. However, the reasoning behind it is that Harry has just landed them straight back to their past by talking about SWM so they are reminiscing. Probably they would have talked about the WW incident before, however I've also had people telling me that Remus wouldn't have discussed it because he just forgave Sirius anyway (not my opinion and probably not the place to get into it.). The thing is, they don't have a great deal of time to discuss all these issues - this I felt was a perfect time. Sirius leaves at end of POA and goes abroad. He returns in August/September ish and stays not with Remus but in a cave eating rats. He does lie low with Remus at the end of GOF but they wouldn't have got into it then because other things were happening. Then they move into GP - Remus is out and about on missions, Sirius is stuck in the house. This could very well be one of the only times they're actually alone without Molly et al bearing down on them.
I'm on a bit of an anti-gloomy Sirius at Grimmauld Place kick at the moment. That's not to say I don't think he was depressed the majority of the time, but I reckon he had some lighter moments there (Christmas being an example)- I didn't want this to be all angsty - HA - I guess that's obvious. Nicknames - hmm, well I've banged on about that enough. Characterisation of Sirius, well it's how I see him and others have praised him and Remus. Why wouldn't he think about lilies especially as their flowers taken to funerals? I guess the beauty of fanfiction and HP fanfiction in particular is that we do have our own ideas about the characters.
Anyway despite coming across as ridiculously defensive, I do appreciate your wonderfully detailed review - partly because it gives me a chance to justify the fic, but also because it does make me think about the possible errors so I will take the points on board. Thank you lots . Carole xxx
I’m glad you gave a little explanation of the title of this; I read Dulce et Decorum Est in high school, but I didn’t connect the title to that until you said it. And, I love the connection, because that poem is really so great, and I was intrigued to see how you were inspired by it.
As an idea, I love this story. I’ve never considered before what some young wizards did when it came to joining up for the war; many of them probably did not think twice about it, but those who came from Muggle families, such as our Toby here, must have at least given it some thought. That Toby actually decides to join the effort says a lot about his character. That was a nice bit of characterization; he feels so strong a sense of loyalty and responsibility to his Muggle roots that he chooses to leave the protection of the magical world. Toby is a completely new character to the reader, but he is still extremely present in the story. I have a real sense of him, which means that your job as the author was accomplished.
Technically, this story falls a little short of great. There are some small grammatical errors that could have been caught with a more thorough looking-over; I won’t list all of them, but you should just note that everything wasn’t quite perfect with this. A technically clean fic is always more enjoyable to read. One thing is particular that I noticed was your use of ellipses. You have the three periods separated fully from each other (i.e., . . .) when a true ellipse condenses these periods together (i.e., …). It isn’t anything huge, but it does help make the fic look more professional.
The scene between Toby and his mother is something that I wish had been longer. There’s so much emotion to be conveyed there, and I don’t feel like you really got everything out of that that you could have. You told us that Toby’s mother is a witch and his father was a Muggle; more exploration of how Toby’s mother felt about her magical son joining the Muggle army might have been nice. For example, this sentence: Fiercely, she hugged him, as though he were being dragged away. It’s a nice sentence as it is, but I think you could have packed so much more into that moment. The idea of Toby’s mother hugging him as that he is being dragged away is great, but I feel like you could have conveyed that without saying it so obviously. Just the fact that she’s hugging him so tightly or for such a long time, or something in the way she says his name, etc. There’s so much to be conveyed here, and I don’t think you quite conveyed all of it. The scene itself feels a little rushed.
The last section of this is great. I love the description; it fits right in with what I’ve read in WWI literature and seen in movies on the subject. The shift from the battlefield to the Toby’s Hogwarts days is wonderful, too. It’s extremely sad, but it’s also very poignant and well done. Above the screaming of the young soldier and the sound of murderous machinery, Collier thought he could hear Professor Beech droning on about the calming properties of Mandical ferns. I absolutely love that sentence. You handled the shift so nicely; it isn’t jarring at all. I can actually picture this really well as a scene in a movie. And finally, Toby’s death. It saddens me, of course, that he does die at the end of this, but I also kind of figured that he would. The only thing I don’t love about the last sentence is the use of verb ‘impacted.’ For one thing, you used it earlier in this section as well, and it sounded a little repetitive in my mind when I read it. But mostly I just don’t think it’s used correctly. Something doesn’t usually ‘impact with’ something else, or at least I haven’t seen it used that way very often. It just sounds kind of strange in my head. But other than that, the ending of this is great.
Overall, I thought you did a pretty good job with this. There were aspects that I thought could be improved, but I did enjoy this little fic. Keep it up!
Lei! I was so excited to see that you had posted the beginning of this fic, because I knew it would be brilliant. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get round to reviewing, but I’m here now and of course already in love with this.
First I absolutely must comment on the title of this and your starting it with part of Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” I mean, all love for T.S. Eliot aside, After the Agony is just such a great title for this. I don’t even have more to say about it. I just wanted to briefly express my immediate attraction to this.
This prologue serves as the perfect opening to this story. Immediately there’s a feeling that something isn’t quite right, shown so wonderfully through the description of the room. I love that the Minister doesn’t really move except to watch the men enter the room. It’s just got this slightly creepy feeling to it, and we know he’s watching what’s happening. And the slogan is something that just sort of makes me shiver, you know? It reminds me of the way the Ministry was in DH, this terrible institution that was totally shady and not at all what it should be. And of course, I get Big Brother and 1984 vibes, which is awesome.
I love the quick reference to Harry, because it gives us some sense of time. I suppose we could get this from the summary, but from a purely storytelling standpoint, it’s clear that this is set sometime after Harry’s life. And, it’s slightly eerie to think of him as just this guy on the cover of some book; we’re so used to Harry being kind of the center of everything, and suddenly he’s simply a “teenage boy with unruly black hair and bright green eyes framed by round glasses.” At first he seems so unimportant, and yet the lieutenant’s mouth twitches when he looks at him, and asks if everything is accounted for. And, as the reader, I’m just so intrigued and dying to know what’s going on. Quite simply, it’s great storytelling.
The introduction to Catherine is great as well. Knowing that she’s an employee at the Department of Mysteries makes her automatically interesting, because that’s such a, well, mysterious place. And then there’s the mention of The Conservatory, which obviously I want to know more about. Just – everything in this prologue works so well together. It’s short, but it tells us so much. We know that things have changed from the wizarding world that we’re used to, we know that something fishy is going on, and that some young scholar is going to be involved. Again, the story is just so compelling.
It is time for history to change course. Well, that doesn’t sound good, does it? It feel so ominous, and that, coupled with the last sentence of this prologue, is just a fantastic beginning to what is sure to be an exciting fic. In case you couldn’t tell, dearest Lei, I’m totally into this. -wink-
Ron knows Hermione said they'd take the lift to allow Scorpius and Rose to walk downstairs without him dogging their heels, but he still kinda hopes to get stuck.
Oh, I do love a good Ron/Hermione fic. I think maybe I forgot how much I really do adore this couple, and I haven’t read hardly anything that sets them post-Hogwarts. I love what you did here. It’s very brief, but also very wonderful.
The opening of this works great. You give us a bit of background without it feeling like an information dump. You connect the backstory to the present – Ron is thinking about how much he likes his life and doesn’t feel jealous of Malfoy, but at the same time, he wishes he had this elevator. This fic takes place in a rather closed setting; it’s really just the lift and the penthouse itself, but I think that suits the fic perfectly. It’s sort of about closed spaces, isn’t it? The lift, wherever Scorpius and Rose duck off to, even the bedroom that we can imagine but never actually see – it’s all about closeness.
The characterization of Ron in this is spot-on. The narrative captures his character perfectly. Ron darted a look to make sure Rose was still searching for zits or whatever… The little ‘or whatever’ is what makes this line so Ron. He would dismiss searching for zits as this sort of foreign female activity that he doesn’t really understand, not to mention he’s mostly preoccupied with this subtle conversation he’s having with Hermione. The whole idea of Ron and Hermione and the stairs is so great, because it doesn’t feel out of place for them at all. I don’t really know why, but I just think the stairs works for them. Possibly that sounds odd, but yeah. I just love how you gave them the stairs.
I really like the way you depict the brunch between the two families. We don’t really get any real picture of the actual meal, but somehow it’s nonetheless clear. We know what Ron and Draco talk about – Quidditch is the perfect choice, by the way, because what else would they really have in common? – and that Ron spends a lot of the time disapproving of his daughter’s, er, fondness for Scorpius. …gave Ron something to do besides watching his daughter pick at her food while eating Scorpius Malfoy up with her eyes. I love that Rose is picking at her food and eating Scorpius. It’s a funny line, and I can totally see Ron saying something like that out loud if he were complaining to Hermione or Harry about his daughter’s new relationship.
That was one of the advantages of playing chess. He always thought ahead, anticipating responses and planning his moves. Another great bit of characterization. I often forget that Ron is quite the chess player, but I love how you brought it up here. And the conversation between Ron and Hermione in the lift is just so…well, I was going to say ‘cute,’ but I’m not sure that’s quite the right word. I’ll just go with ‘great’ again. The conversation they have is really great. -wink-
Really good job with this, Paige! I don’t think I’ve read anything of yours before, which is a shame because clearly you’ve got a good deal of talent. Keep it up!
What a wonderful review! Constructive praise is as helpful as concrit, it tells a writer what struck the reader in the story, validates that what he or she tried to get across came through, and, sometimes, reveals aspects not consciously "seen" while writing. The theme of closeness illustrated by closed spaces is such a perceptive observation. I tip my hat to you, madam (a Musketeer one with a fluffy white feather)!
Thank you, too, for agreeing the stairs works for them. Ron and Hermione had the most chemistry/sexual tension of any couple in the books imho, :), and I think they'd only get sexier over time, rather like some film stars, heh.
I hope you're having a Happy New Year!
I really loved the idea for this fic, but unfortunately I wasn’t as in love with the fic itself. There are some definite high points, but overall I was left a little disappointed in the final product.
The opening of this is great. I love the brief mention of Sonia Slattery, just as a moment of quick humor before we get into the fic. It also serves to establish the setting a bit; we’ve already been told that McGonagall is meeting with fifth years, but knowing who’s come immediately before our Marauders is just a nice way to bring us into the fic.
The meeting with Sirius is probably my favorite bit of this fic, and not just because Sirius is my favorite character. This is the part where I think the two players are most in-character. Sirius’s indignance and then passive acceptance of his career fate is a nice bit of characterization. I’m not sure I buy that he wouldn’t be let into the Auror program because of his pranks, though. I understand the gravity of the prank on Snape, obviously, but would that really weigh so heavily in the decision to accept or reject Sirius? McGonagall says that’s why Dumbledore wouldn’t recommend Sirius, but I can’t see something like that as being Dumbledore’s reason. I feel like Dumbledore might not recommend Sirius because Sirius is reckless, amongst other things, and probably just not right for such a high-profile job. I suppose it’s up for debate why Dumbledore might or might not recommend Sirius, but in my eyes it’s more plausible that he would have more character-related reasons than just “Well, you almost killed Severus Snape so now your career hopes have been dashed” (as terrible as that prank was).
I feel like the scene with Peter and McGonagall is a little lacking. They don’t really discuss what Peter’s going to do with his life after Hogwarts. McGonagall sort of suggests Peter finding a place at the Ministry, but that’s not really very helpful, is it? She spends more time just telling him not to be a follower. I like this from McGonagall, and the reference to Peter’s Quidditch try-out was nice, but it seems like there should be more after that. As it is now, Peter’s left with no real idea about what he wants to do after Hogwarts, and he probably at least had something in mind before he joined up with Voldemort (unless he was never deterred from the prospect of being an Auror).
James’s meeting is cute. The shift from joking to seriousness is a nice look at James’s character, as he does seem to be constantly moving between the two temperaments. I would have liked to see more of he scene after James declares his desire to help fight in the war, because I think that could have been a real gem of a conversation. It would have helped balance the joking and seriousness, too, because right now it’s just a bunch of pulling McGonagall’s leg and then, “But just kidding, I’m going to fight.” I’m also not sure it would have taken McGonagall that long to realize James was joking, but I’m going to address McGonagall in a bit.
Moving on to Remus, I have to say this was my least favorite part of the fic. I think Remus would have been fully aware of the complications his lycanthropy would cause in pursuing a career, and I can’t see him going into this meeting making any real suggestions. I don’t think McGonagall would beat around the bush the way she does here, either. She tends to be a rather straightforward person, and I imagine her sitting down with Remus and stating flat out that finding a career for him would be difficult, if not almost impossible. But I’m going to get to McGonagall in a minute, so back to Remus, I just want to note that Remus in canon tends to be more hopeless than hopeful. I realize how depressing that sounds, but based on his character in canon, I would think he would be more likely to not present any hope of getting a real career after Hogwarts, rather than trying different options as he does here.
So, McGonagall. Her character felt a bit inconsistent. I didn’t feel like I was reading the same McGonagall here as from canon. For example, she refers to the Marauders by their last names only (well, mostly, here), which felt wrong to me. I think she’d be more likely to call them Mr [insert last name here] in this situation, and probably use only their last names if she were angry. It also kind of feels like McGonagall is all over the place in her reactions. At one point she yells at Peter to speak up, but then later she calls Remus ‘dear boy.’ I’m not saying people can’t say both those things, but McGonagall usually isn’t quite so, well, mean or so, well, sweet. She’s direct and can be rather severe, but she’s got a soft side. I think you were trying to show both of those and just got a little lost in doing so. You went a bit too far in both directions.
Overall, I thought this was a very interesting idea for a fic and simply could have been better executed. There were some nice parts, and some nice insights into the characters, but the final product was a little lacking, for me.
Author's Response: I have to ask, why do you keep reviewing my stories when you so clearly disagree and dislike my portrayal of the Marauders? Obviously it's end of the month and so it's time to get your SPEW review in, but why is it my turn again?
Right, let's go through this. - Sirius as an Auror. No, it's not just the pranks - obviously not - but his 'prank' against Snape could have led to Snape's death or James' death or at the very least them being turned into werewolves. Do you really think Dumbledore would, at this moment in time, recommend him to the Auror department? Not in a million years. The 'prank' happens in their fifth year so just before the careers interview, so it's on their mind.
James - I have to disagree and refer you to P ussycat 123's review in which she said James was perfectly IC. He's a joker is my James Potter, supremely confident in that he can do no wrong, but he gets VERY serious, VERY quickly just at the moment it matters.
Remus -Actually this is my favourite part of the fic. The fact was, Remus did really know he had very little chance of a good interview and his career prospects are grim, which I think is obvious from the fact that Sirius is waiting for him. However he allows himself to dream, once in a while, that everything could work out because he is taken care of at Hogwarts and doers well there.
McGonagall - Okay, in the books, in the space of a few paragraphs, she calls Harry, Potter - and Ron, Mr. Weasley. I think she calls them by surname alone when she's angry, and 'Mr so and so' when she's impressed or trying to impose authority. Her use of 'Remus' and the 'dear boy' is because she is genuinely fond of him and he needs a bit of compassion in his life - don't you think? In the books, we see McGonagall stepping out of her teacher role to show that she cares (when Hermione is Petrified she's particularly kind, Ginny taken into the Chamber she's genuinely upset - Harry appearing in DH and his 'death' causes real, intense grief) She's also passionate about Quidditch and we often see her slip out of her stern Professor role when Gryffindor win or lose. As for her reaction to Peter. His interview has come just after the difficult one with Sirius - she's on edge because of that - and then Peter is irritating. In POA she admits to being 'sharp' with Peter on several occasions - this is one of them.
I appreciate that you put a lot of effort into writing this review, and I'm sure SPEW will think highly of it ... but I still wonder why it's been my last two stories you've reviewed. If you dislike my portrayal of the Marauders and my writing style so much, then why do you read my stories? If I dislike something, then I don't review - it's as simple as that, or I write something encouraging. ~Carole~
When you mentioned that your challenge entry was also about werewolves, I was immediately interested to see what angle your fic took, since it’s a subject I definitely find very intriguing. I thought this was a great idea, especially for this challenge. We don’t know how Damocles Belby came up with the idea for the Wolfsbane Potion, and it’s also just nice to have another insight into the slightly mysterious St. Mungo’s.
I love the way you start this fic, with just one line set off, because it immediately grabs the reader. This is also something you do throughout the fic, and you do it very well. Sometimes authors try this technique but use it too often, thus minimizing the effect it has, but I thought you handled it nicely. Sentences like “He worked in the Howling Hall,” “Another failure,” “Wolfsbane was its other name” – they’re all important to the story as a whole. They all advance the plot. Separating them from the rest of the narration obviously makes them stand out, and it also contributes to the overall tone of mystery this fic has. You’ve got these sort of vague sentences, and you kind of just throw them out there, and the reader is left thinking about them and wondering what’s going on, you know? Additionally, there’s a great dramatic irony with this, because we know what will eventually happen, but Damocles is still figuring it out.
Speaking of Damocles, I think he’s a very interesting character. I think in general you did a good job characterizing him. It’s difficult to write a fic focused on a character we don’t know from canon, especially when we don’t really have a canon character to sort of anchor ourselves with, if that makes sense (you do have mentions of Remus, which helps but isn’t quite the same as having a major character). Here you have two completely foreign characters, Damocles Belby and Anne Brewer. They’re both compelling characters. I almost find Damocles a little too classically creepy, though, to be honest. Some of the things he says just seem a bit contrived, like they’re put in there for fright’s sake rather than because someone would actually say them. Our guests should be arriving any minute. That’s something I sort of expect from a cheesy horror movie, you know? If you had just said ‘patients’ instead of ‘guests,’ for example, I think that might have been better. There’s another part where Damocles refers to the werewolves at the full moon as a ‘show,’ and – would he really speak of it with such casualness? I thought you conveyed Damocles’ bitterness and sadness well, but for me he felt almost like a villain, and he’s not. I liked his attitude towards Anne, and the dedication he has to the werewolves, though. It was clear that he had spent much of his life trying to help them, and naturally he feels like a failure for not succeeding. I just thought he felt a little too scary, you know? If I had met him for the first time the way Anne does, I might have thought he was taking me somewhere to murder me rather than teach me (and obviously he doesn’t want to hurt Anne, but that’s almost what I expected of him).
The St. Mungo’s part of this was great. Using Anne to reveal the history of the hospital’s relationship with werewolves was very effective. I identified with Anne because I wanted to know the answers as well. And at the same time, you integrated some of Damocles’ own backstory, but it didn’t make the fic feel heavy or weighed down at all. It was just good storytelling, really. As a side note, you spelled the ward’s name differently throughout the fic; sometimes it was ‘Stokley’ and others it was ‘Stokely.’ I’m inclined to think the latter is the right one, because the former is kind of difficult to pronounce reasonably. That said, there were some other little mistakes I noticed in this, so I would just suggest another thorough read-through next time before you submit.
The only other thing I really wanted to comment on was the dialogue in this fic. I thought the pace was great and overall the dialogue was placed well; it helped the fic move along and, as a storytelling device, it worked well. But I had trouble picking a time period for this fic, because the characters’, particularly Anne’s, speech felt slightly antiquated. I can see this for Damocles, because we don’t really know how old he is, and presumably he’s getting on in years, so his speech would reflect that. But Anne is young, just out of Hogwarts, and yet she felt like she belonged perhaps in the nineteenth century. The only real time reference we have is Damocles’ recollection of Remus Lupin as a child, which would be in the seventies, but we’re a good deal past that by this, aren’t we? At the very least we’re only in the eighties, and Anne just doesn’t feel like a youth from that era. For instance, when she questions Damocles about old wives’ tales, she says, “Do you really believe in all that nonsense?” Simply the word ‘nonsense’ feels out of place. Would a young person from this time period really say ‘nonsense’? It’s a word that, at least for me, connotes someone much older. It might seem nit-picky, but it’s just small things like that that confused me a little about the setting.
Overall, though, I really liked this fic. I thought you took an intriguing idea and executed it well. We learned about how the Wolfsbane Potion was invented as well as some of the secrets that St. Mungo’s holds. Good job!
Author's Response: Thanks so much for the review. I appreciate you taking the time to write this very in-depth review. It's been very helpful to me, since I haven't really thought about the story since I submitted it. I love picking characters and situations that could theoretically fit in the HP world (technically Damocles has one or two mentions), but obviously even an 800-page HP book can't fit everything, right? You're right about Damocles being a bit too creepy. Having read the story over several times, I think it's easy to tell that I wrote a majority of this in two block sessions: the first half in which he says all this wild and crazy "Frankenstein" stuff, and the second half in which he's a little more normal. Well, "normal" for a defeated Healer in a mysterious division of a magical hospital, right? I think I really couldn't decide on exactly who he was as a character until I was a good 2,000 words into the story. Once the judging and whatnot is over, I'll definitely pour back through this one and straighten a few things out. Most things I've written are not terribly serious things (Gilderoy Lockhart stars in two of my fics after all!), so tone and characterization was a real challenge for me. Narration wise, I thought it turned out well enough with my fair sprinkling of short, fragment-y paragraphs, but I should definitely tweak some of the character. Thanks for all the comments! How awesome! I'm glad you enjoyed reading the story!