Susan, this is gorgeous. Everything you write is gorgeous, of course, but I still felt the need to point it out. I love everything about it - the way you can take such a minor, and fairly one dimensional, character and breathe such life into him; the relationship you create between the three of them; and your writing itself, which is such an absolute joy to read. It all combines to make something truly magical.
Moody is, as I said, rather one dimensional in the books themselves - the creepy paranoid eccentric. I love reading stories that give us insight into little explored characters such as him. The way you've pieced him together is kind of humbling to read - the thought and attention you've put into every characteristic, the way you take every small detail and use it to pull everything together in such a natural and believable way. I'm in awe, as I always am when I read something of yours.
Perhaps she should have felt pain that, because her husband loved her more, her son loved her less.
This line. OMG, woman. It's such a powerful yet simple statement; it really stood out to me the first time I read this, and it still does now. It captures the dynamics of this family so perfectly. The challenge Alastor can't refuse, to win his father's affections. Alexander's unspoken preference for his wife over his son; Helen's quiet acceptance of the imbalance of love in her family. It's all very disfunctional and heartbreaking and true. You don't just create a story with your words, Susan. You bring it to life. Every word, every sentence, is honed to flow perfectly, to literally paint the story in my mind. When I read your writing, I forget I am reading fanfiction. The way you have with words is so incredibly rare; most of the published authors I know of aren't nearly as good. Seriously, share some of those talent pills, yeah? The rest of the world could use a little bit of them.
I really have to take the time to read more of your stories (there are so many to choose from!), and to review more of what I have read (I'm so terribly slack in the regard D:)! Have to run for now, though!
Author's Response: This review is wonderful, Mary, and I'm sorry to have not responded to it sooner - I just hope that I can live up to its quality in my humble response. Everything?! It's comments like that which make my ego explode (very unhealthy), but I love hearing it all the same - thank you for such a compliment. It means a lot to hear it from you. ^_^
Minor characters are definitely great to write about - although characters like Snape and Sirius interest me a lot, they've been so carefully constructed by JKR that there's not much room to do more with them. But with characters like Moody, there's so much space, so much history that can be ascribed to him. He is rather one-dimensional, though I think it's mostly that he doesn't appear very often, then gets killed off before Harry has a chance to hear more of his story. I surprised myself with the story that I've ended up giving Moody - I originally gave him these parents as a way of connecting them more closely with the Potterverse, but then I ended up with this story. It was frightening to re-read it and realize just how much detail there was - I don't even know where it came from.
I'd wanted the characters and situation to be realistic, but I think I got rather more than I bargained for. O_O It's one really messed up family, but they're all so annoyingly /good/ about it, especially Helen. No bitterness at all, just the understanding that this is how things are. It's insane (which is why it scares me so much).
Your compliments are really affecting my ego now. :P I don't know what to say other than thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's just fantastic that you liked this story so much and that you found it so affecting. That alone means a lot. Thank you! ^_^