Another great chapter! I'm sorry to have not stopped by sooner, but it is a treat to come back to this very well-written story and get lost in its world. It's impressive how much you're able to include within each chapter - there's sufficient plot and character development intermingled with fascinating historical and medical tidbits. The descriptions are vivid and you also give your starring characters fantastic depth - I get a strong idea of their thoughts and feelings and motivations. All of these things enhance the quality of this story, and this chapter is a perfect example of why this story is so good.
Okay, fangirling aside, I was really interested in the details of this chapter, the little things such as the objects Cho discovers in the cupboard, the way that Cedric elevates Quidditch over all other types of physical activity (even though sitting on a broomstick can't be much of an exercise, unless you're a beater), and his reference to Finnegan and Thomas. Such detail fills out the world around the two characters and the little hospital, showing how many stories are ripe for the telling in this alternate universe. That's the most important part of world-building, being able to create that feeling of wholeness, of this story being only part of a larger world. You achieve this in a way that feels effortless, and it's amazing.
Cho's taken a risk in this chapter, and I like her ingenuity in using Cedric's own desire for his wand in her favour. Although it's obvious she likes Cedric and finds him attractive, her interest is more in the desire to heal and prove that the cure is a success so that it can be put to wider use as soon as possible. It's actually interesting to think about how Cho is really using Cedric as a guinea pig - this interest was only heightened by the way your narration focuses on Cedric's point of view in that segment of the chapter. Readers don't have access to Cho's mind in that moment, so, like Cedric, we're forced to trust her and hope for the best. You end the chapter on a light note, but there's still that uncertainty hanging in the background. Maybe I'm being morbid in having first misread Cedric's final thought as "he wondered if tomorrow he would wake up" without the last bit of sentence. One can't forget that the medicine is still experimental - what side effects will it have? What will it do to Cedric? What if it only works on magical people? Ah, too many questions (I'll just have to read on, I guess :P).
Excellent work with this chapter and with the story as a whole! I look forward to reading the rest as soon as I can! :DAuthor's Response: Hey, I'm happy to hear from you again on this story! Your comments are really flattering; I had perceived this story and The Middle Man to both be somewhat simplistic compared to other things I've written, so I'm happy that it still has lots of layers of plot and characterization to entertain you :)
You know I love my details! I agree that it seems like you could pick a character or two and carve many different stories out of this world. It was so fun for me to try to add in references and build new opportunities for magic. I think that's part of why I love AU (despite my tendency to write canon stories).
Risk is definitely a big element here. When I wrote this, I thought of all the other patients and volunteers who underwent truly dangerous and deadly procedures in this time, sometimes quite unknowingly, because the potential results were too much to pass up. Both Cho and Cedric seem to be of that mindset here--as you pointed out, Cho is looking into the future and the opportunity to end the suffering she sees all around her, and Cedric seems to be focused more on the immediate reward of getting to leave his bed and perhaps getting his precious wand back. Either way, it's clear that a frightening amount of medical territory was unknown at this time.
Thank you for your fantastic review!
-Amanda Report Review
Here for the review swap! ^_^ I have to admit that I read this a couple of weeks ago, but never had enough time to sit down and properly review it until now. There's a lot in this chapter to discuss, especially with the way that you've reworked many of the Marauder-Era conventions (some could call them cliches if they wished :P) and found a new, exciting way to write about the girls in the Marauders' year. The writing is also fantastic, which only made this a more engaging story to read.
My review will primarily focus on characterization because that's what stood out most to me, and it also seems to be what you spent much of this chapter on. Most interesting is how the girls, while they obviously know each other well, aren't close friends, but instead have a more complicated relationship. It's wonderfully realistic to characterize them in this way, as people thrown together by their ages and magical skills - they are each their own person, independent and unique. I'd like to think that, if something went wrong, they'd stick together, but there's a note of cruelty or something otherwise dark lurking beneath the surface, especially with Florence. It's the kind of thing that makes a reader curious about a character and how you'll choose to develop her throughout the story.
Your version of Lily is very refreshing because she's more human, not idealized or perfect in any way - she's gangly and has her secrets, and even better, she's not universally liked! By her fellow Gryffindors! It's actually sad to admit that I've not seen such a thing in Marauder-era stories, even though it makes perfect sense when one takes canon into account. Being best friends with a Slytherin, particularly one like Severus Snape, would hurt Lily's reputation amongst her fellow Gryffindors, and while some may think her brave, others might see her as a traitor. (I think that this story takes place after Mary was bullied by Snape and Rosier, right? If so, even though Lily's breaking with Snape was very public, people might still be uncertain of her loyalties.) And somehow Lily has to deal with that, deal with Snape, deal with her sister, deal with her social position as a Mudblood... Although she's somewhat outside of this chapter, drifting in and out of the action, she still has a strong presence, and I'm curious about what role she'll play in this story as it develops.
And then there's Mary, who is another interesting character. She's so quiet and unassuming, but it gives her the opportunity to notice and feel more of what goes on around her - that level of perception makes her a perfect central character, especially in a period when so much is going on and when a story contains a larger cast. I like how you paint her in broad strokes - the way that she has to live up to high expectations as a McDonald, the way that she likes staying beneath the radar, that she likes consistency, that Hogwarts just feels like school to her. I love these kind of details because she emerges from the beginning as a fully-formed character. It's amazing to see how much work you've put into the characters of this story, both canon and original, giving them - and the Marauder-Era - new life.
There is nothing I can think of to critique with this chapter. It's a great way to begin your story and I look forward to seeing where you take this. Hopefully it gets more attention soon because it's definitely worth a read! :D Report Review
Here from review tag. :) This is an excellent one-shot!
It's great to see a story like this because it's one moment in Riddle's life that people don't write about, for some reason. There are many more stories about Myrtle's death or his later murders, but this is actually the beginning of Voldemort, when he claims his place as Heir of Slytherin and the power that title offers. Without that title, he still would still have been formidable, but it also gives him a heritage and a basis for his hold over his fellow Slytherins. Riddle always relies on what others can do for him, and in this case, he needs the basilisk to strike fear into others and rid Hogwarts of the "mudbloods and filth". It's something I've always found interesting about JKR's characterization of her villain - characters act surprised when Voldemort kills someone himself and his followers are always leaping to serve him. You capture this sense of superiority very well in this story, how Voldemort looks down his nose at everything, even those devoted to him.
It's style is very precise, almost scientific in its level of detail and lack of emotion - it's perfect for a story about Tom Riddle, giving readers the chance to see how his mind works, how it catalogues the surrounding world without having much of a reaction to it. He feels impatience and distaste, then pleasure at the thought of taking his place as Heir, but otherwise he's distant in a rather disturbing way, as though he's not capable of feeling, certainly not sympathy or empathy. Even his comment about mudbloods feels like a throw-away line - he simply wants them gone and out of his way. It comes back to his belief that he is better than others, all others except for Slytherin - only he, as "mighty", is defined in superior terms to Riddle.
I really liked his distaste at discovering the entrance to the Chamber in a girl's lavatory. It was a fantastic way of beginning the story, revealing so much about Riddle in a single paragraph. (On a side note, it's curious how your point about Riddle's lack of interest in girls mirrors the one in OotP about Sirius - it's a link that would be lots of fun to explore.) It makes me wonder how the Chamber entrance came to be there - the faucet would have been added by a later Heir (unless wizards took the idea of indoor plumbing from the Romans :P). A girl's lavatory would be an unlikely location, to be sure, but this kind of logic doesn't occur to Riddle - he thinks much too highly of himself and the legend of Slytherin.
You've put so much into this one-shot, wow! I could keep going, but there wouldn't really be a point to it other than to indulge in my love of over-analysis. This is a wonderful examination of Riddle's character at this moment in time, filling in a considerable gap in the canon and in fanfction. It's very well-written with a careful attention to style and diction that makes me an incredibly happy reader. Amazing work!Author's Response: Hi!
Since this is for the Tom Riddle challenge and we had to write about a moment that was important in his transformation to Lord Voldemort, I thought this really fit. Like you, I've always thought that this is the moment when his transformation really began; within a year he'll have murdered his family and created his first Horcrux. I think that his status as the Heir of Slytherin really helps him to gain power.
You're so perceptive, and I love getting reviews from readers who pick up on almost every little thing I put into a story! I wanted him to come across as detached and removed from emotion - in my mind, he'd never had the chance to learn those emotions, and by the time he reached Hogwarts it was too late to learn something like that.
I put a lot of thought into the opening paragraph, and I'm so pleased that you thought it was a good way to begin. I've always wondered how the entrance came to be there, but I thought I'd leave that one to other people to ponder for now :P Now that you mention it, the parallels with Sirius would be really fun to explore!
You know, this review just made my day. I'm so glad that you like the style and enjoyed the one-shot - thank you so much!
Sian :) Report Review
Ugh, wow. There's so much I could say, yet it's hard to decide where to start because this story is just so good, beautifully written and artful in its characterizations. The style is engrossing, with just enough of a poetic feel to enhance the story and its tragedy - it's interestingly most poetic near the beginning, then as their relationship grows and begins to feel less satisfying for both of them, the language becomes harsher, less "romantic". Their relationship feels wrong, though not for any of the usual reasons I've seen in fanfiction, and this draws me further into this story - I kept going back to read and re-read the sections because there was so much there, multiple meanings and details to take in and digest.
Hermione and Draco "are weak and so terribly human", as you say at one point, and that's the perfect way to describe them here. Before that line came up in the story, I was admiring how realistically you'd portrayed them, making them very human and flawed. Their relationship makes sense in this context, and I liked how accidental it all was, how it just happened without either of them meaning it to. I really liked how you chose to make them broken, and how much this has changed their identity. They are not only broken in heart and body, but in mind and spirit - they're only fragments of their past selves. Another line that stood out was when Hermione thinks about others see her as the strong one, but inside, she's not strong at all. She's afraid, and this fear only grows as the story continues. Being with Draco is only a temporary fix, and it's not even that good a fix. She still feels lost, alienated, and the affair with Draco, though it will continue, will give her nothing.
One thing that stood out most - though it seems like most things about this story stood out to me - was how Hermione keeps thinking about the past, particularly Draco's treatment of her. She's still struck by the fact that his blood is the same colour as hers and that he wears Muggle clothing. She never changes her mind, not completely. What's most painful is when she forces her mind to imagine him as Ron. It's a very complicated relationship, in which Hermione wants someone who is as broken as she is, but she ends up with Draco, and she never quite comes to terms with that. She falls into a relationship with him, but she never falls in love with him.
I don't know how to deal with this kind of story and the series of emotions it evokes. The more I think about it, the more affecting it is, hence all of the rambling. It's brilliant how you put this story together - the writing, characters, and emotional power are astounding. You write Dramione like no other, but more importantly, you write people and relationships in a complex and incredibly moving way. Amazing work! Report Review
This chapter is excellent, though that's no surprise at all. It was great to come back to this story because I know it's going to pique my curiosity and also be really well-put together. Your style flows wonderfully and is easy to read, giving me the chance to focus on the characters and the twists and turns of the plot. :D
Wow, that ending! Thank you for writing a creepy, rather disturbing Snape - and I mean that sincerely because fanfiction portrayals of him can be polarizing, but in canon, he has these two sides to his personality that are equally important to his characterization. I've always wondered if that darker side was always there, instilled by his father's abuse and his mother's heritage, and under the influence of his Slytherin peers, it came to fruition. How much could Lily actually help him overcome that darkness? Perhaps she's always seen it, or felt it, and that's why she's so unwilling to make things up with him. It's a darkness that she doesn't see in James, and for some reason, I don't even think she sees it in Regulus - why else would she be able to speak with him so freely?
I like how you've painted Regulus as a different kind of Slytherin from the other future Death Eaters - he's more of the upper class, cunning type who will happily manipulate people to get what he wants, but he's not violent or malicious. He has a heart, and his desperation to connect with his brother and to help Snape reconnect with Lily reveals... something. Is it sincerity? Is it that he hates loneliness? There's still an enigmatic aspect to him, and I want to see more of him to try and figure it out. He's so fascinating and complicated, yet sympathetic in his own strange way.
I don't know if I've told you this already, but it's really refreshing to have a Marauder story that focuses on Regulus and shows more a complete picture of what's going on during those years at Hogwarts. You don't let Lily or the Marauders, or even Snape, take centre stage - instead you show a bit from each of your characters in turn and each of these pieces contributes to the story as a whole. I'm not sure if I'm describing it correctly. The multiple perspectives make this story more interesting to follow, and you're careful not to overlap things so that the story moves steadily forward. It must be a challenge to keep track of these characters, their development, their relationships, and the plot all at the same time, and I commend you for doing so in a seemingly effortless way.
There's nothing here I can think of to critique. It's a very well-written chapter with excellent characterization and plot development - there's nothing more I could ask for in a novel-length story. Amazing work! :DAuthor's Response: Hi Susan, thanks for stopping by again!
Yeah, I think Severus has this double whammy of a likely abusive household and serious poverty, which puts him at a disadvantage compared to a lot of his fellow students in Slytherin, particularly the pure-bloods. He's got a lot of the ingredients necessary to foster a sense of darkness inside, and I think that combined with his intellect and desire for acceptance it's really a perfect storm. Now that you bring it up, it kind of makes me wonder if he could ever have overcome it, even if Lily had chosen him or other things in his life had gone better. It seems that the changes would need to be drastic. I also agree that James and Regulus don't seem to share that inner turmoil.
Hah, I think Regulus and I are still trying to figure Regulus out, too. He's reaching for acceptance and trying to cling to the people he loves while also searching for a niche in which to fall. His struggle to figure out what he wants to do with his life is a big part of the chapter I'm currently writing for this story.
I really love the idea of playing with multiple points of view while still keeping that sort of third person flavor. It mixes up the chapters and allows people to get updates on different characters in whom they become interested. I think it's become part of my "style" as a writer and I'll probably continue to use it in the future. It's great to hear that you feel like it works :)
Thank you so much for this lovely review!
-Amanda Report Review
Oh, very nice! Though that word hardly covers the emotional impact of this story, with Remus's inner torment set in contrast to the formal ceremony taking place around him. Remus follows along with the ceremony, but he doesn't really take part in it - he's already on the margins, more like a ghost than a living being. Or to take up your own metaphor - a statue at their grave. It's a fascinating approach to both Remus and to Lily and James's death. I've never seen anything like this before, and it's wonderful to see how you were able to explore Remus's emotions and loneliness.
At this point, he feels like the last Marauder and he's so powerless. He may vow to help Harry, but that's something in a distant future, and I loved how you made him envious of Petunia. You even remember to make him comment on this envy and how extraordinary he finds this emotion - it's a perfect touch to make him so introspective, constantly thinking and re-thinking, second guessing himself because he hasn't been certain of anything for a long time. He had his friends to help him, but now he's alone, and his alienation from society returns, leaving him desolate. And you convey all of this in a subtle way, leading the reader through Remus's mind while quietly reminding us of what's going on around him. It's a very well-balanced story with a lovely flow, and while its tone is sombre, you're careful not to overdo the angst. There's a feeling of self-restraint in the language that reflects Remus's character perfectly.
Again you've written a fantastic story that gives new insight into Remus at a rarely-written of period in his history. I wish I could find more to say about it, but there's nothing to critique and you already provide an in-depth exploration of his character - to add more in a review wouldn't feel right. Amazing work! I'll be on the lookout for your next new story. ^_^Author's Response: Aw, I feel so spoilt getting another wonderful review from you :D
I cannot express how glad I am that you thought that Remus' emotions came through. I think that was thing I was most worried about, as grief is such a complex thing to go through and I wasn't sure if I fully expressed it here. Remus always appeared to be a lonely character when we see him in the books, and I always thought it was caused by Lily and James' deaths so I'm glad that you liked it.
I find envy quite an extraodrinary emotion too. I think one someone is in a position like Remus' it's their natural inclination to feel it about people like Petunia. As she has family, she has friends and Remus doesn't have any of that, and I think that's thing which saddens me most about him.
I'm glad that the balanced worked, as it was tricky to figure out how much emphasis I should place on his thoughts and what was going on in the ceremony. I'm glad the angst wasn't ovedone, because, like you said, Remus does place a lot of self-restraint on himself and it wouldn't reflect his character to have him bursting out into floods of tears.
I find it strange that this period isn't written a lot, but I suppose the main characters are either dead or children. Wow there wasn't anything to critique? Eek that's exciting :D Thank you for another wonderful review! Report Review
Hello! You requested this review some time ago from TGS, and I'm very sorry about the wait. Hopefully it's still of use to you, though I have to warn you now that these kind of fluffy stories are not my strong point, so I'm not sure how much I can actually offer you in terms of feedback. It's been a while since I've read something about the Malfoys, too.
In this story, you explore Narcissa and Lucius's relationship in an interesting way. It's a tough thing to do because the books provide so little about them as a couple - we see far more of what they're like as parents with their influence on Draco's life. There are still many questions about how the Malfoys came to be married, why they only have one child (perhaps they were just lucky to have a son right away, or perhaps there are other things we never hear about), and how the War impacted on their relationship. What you've done in this story provides some solid insight into these big questions, and by using Narcissa's point of view, you're able to capture her side of the story extremely well.
The narration is definitely a strength of this story - you give her voice a formality that suits her heritage, and what I liked best was the way that the narration enhanced the dialogue. As a child she sounds meek and obedient in dialogue while her narration revealing insecurity and uncertainty as she finds herself suddenly in a relationship with Lucius. What I don't see, and what I think would have enhanced your portrayal of Narcissa, is more of the strength she possesses as an adult. She did incredible things to protect her son, both times behind her husband's back, but here she doesn't seem to show that kind of development from the obedient youngest daughter to the witch who defied Voldemort. While I agree with you that she would worry a lot, she also is an active player in events, not just the person on the sidelines that you have in the final two sections. If you could convey this strength within those sections, it would do much to strengthen your portrayal of Narcissa and, perhaps more importantly, provide more emotional impact.
Please let me know if you want to discuss this in greater detail. Your story has potential and it would be wonderful to see more stories about Narcissa, particularly in the first person. Nice work with this story! :)Author's Response: Hey! Thanks so much for reading and reviewing, no worries about the delay.
I am pleased you found the way I explored the Lucius/Narcissa relationship interesting. Yeah I sort of put most of my head canon in this story, and I wasn't too sure how well I did it, so it's great to hear that you think I have captured Narcissa's side of the story nicely.
I am glad you liked the narration and the dialogue, and the way her personality shows through it. Hmm, thanks for your helpful advice. If/when I do an edit, I'll see what I can do about showing Narcissa's 'strength'.
I am glad you liked the story overall, I love writing Narcissa so it's always good to hear feedback. Thank you =)
Every time I try to write a review for this story, I end up with unintelligible squees and ughs because the story has left me with lots of feelings. In short, this story is beautiful and original, taking an entirely different perspective on the Black brothers and their relationship, all filtered through Molly's point of view.
Using Molly in a story like this is something I don't recall seeing before, yet when looking closely at OotP, there are so many ways that she and Sirius interact, sharing the same house - one as owner and the other as housewife (for lack of a better term) - perhaps the only two characters who are always in the house. She would have seen parts of Grimmauld Place only known to Sirius, like Regulus's room, or places that Sirius has forgotten, like that cupboard behind the tapestry. On a side note, it was fantastic that you also included that scene with Kreacher - he's such an integral part of Grimmauld Place that story about it wouldn't be the same without him, but at the same time, there's that implied connection between Kreacher and Regulus that one can't escape.
And then the letters and the scene with Sirius. *sobbing* It's better that you don't explain Sirius's side of things, but instead maintain a distance from Sirius. He's almost menacing in this story, a looming shadow - and it suits his post-Azkaban characterization in a way that I think many authors neglect to mention. In the books there's this tension between Sirius-the-adult who has experienced pain and betrayal, and the Sirius-who-never-grew-up, and its this latter Sirius who comes through in the letters. He still sounds like a teenager in that letter, especially with that last line, where he visualizes his childhood with painful clarity - it's not a memory, but something that will happen if Regulus reads the letters. No wonder Molly is overcome with feeling. It's a simple letter, but so loaded with years of everything that imagining a pile of such letters is overwhelming.
The letters raise an interesting point that I have also not seen in fanfiction. I'm sure you've seen how many Regulus-centric stories include references to his perceptions of Sirius, usually how devoted he is to his brother's memory, wanting that connection between the brothers to be resorted. Here, though, you've shown how Sirius may not have been so dismissive of his brother after all. He needs to connect, and being in Grimmauld Place again constantly reminds him of Regulus, so he reaches out to that untapped potential, that brotherhood of blood. At school, he had the Marauders to fill that gap in his life, but now, with the Marauders broken and James dead, that's gone too. His letter reveals the old jealousy, but he needs to "talk to" someone who understands Grimmauld Place and being a Black.
You show how privately Sirius suffers, how he really is a Black, wearing a mask for the world, but no one can know what's going on beneath it. He can't even get angry with Molly - I think, from her side of things, it would have been easier to deal with the situation if he had yelled or lashed out - but instead, he's perfectly silent, and that's more terrifying. It's a fantastic portrayal of Sirius.
There's more I could say about this story, especially your perfect characterization of Molly and all the little details about the house and her family. The references to Ginny's dungbomb and the twins' antics cemented this story's relationship to canon, making this a perfect "lost moment" from OotP. It's an amazing one-shot and I'm very glad that I was finally able to read it. :DAuthor's Response: Funny -- the exact same things are happening to me now in trying to respond to this review! I'll start out by saying just how glad I am that you enjoyed this story. :) Your opinion on my writing really does mean a lot to me!
I've necessarily had to write a lot of Sirius in my Marauder stories, and it was kind of neat to examine him from Molly's perspective in this -- and that's one of my favorite things about writing fan fiction in general, the fact that all these characters are so complex that they can be examined differently through the eyes of other characters. The song "20 Years" by the Civil Wars addresses the listener, and because that's the song that sparked inspiration for this story, it made sense to me to tell it from the point of view of someone other than Sirius.
And Sirius IS more complex than a lot of people realize, too. He's got a lot of dark sides that he purposefully masks under pranks and jokes and there is so much sadness in him that I think he couldn't help but let it out when he thought no one was looking. No matter how much he professed to hate his brother, they were brothers nonetheless, and that sort of blood bond can't be broken just because you don't agree with your brother's choices. He's always been one of the darker, brooding figures in my mind, though admittedly not on a level with Snape, and I'm really pleased you thought I did him justice in that respect!
I love writing last moments. ♥ They are arguably my favorite sort of one-shot, and I need to re-read the books here soon so I can add more to my stockpile of things I'd like to eventually write about.
I'm so happy that you took the time to read this for me! And I apologize that it took a bit longer than necessary to respond to your review properly. Honestly, Susan, thank you so much. :D Report Review
Wow! It's hard to come up with what to say after reading this story. Your writing is excellent and this story has all of these layers to sort through, evoking conflicting emotions that have made me need to stop and think and re-read portions of the story to see how the pieces fit together. It's fantastic to see a story like this, especially one about a minor character in a historical context - there are never enough of these kind of stories. :D
It's not what I was expecting - it actually took my expectations and turned them on their head. There was something horribly comical about this story, which shouldn't have surprised me because Sir Nick's "nearly headless" state is a constant joke in canon, but the repetition of hacking at this body was like something out of Blackadder. This is somewhat emphasized by the executioner's desperate desire to succeed at his job - it's comical and pathetic at the same time. He's not at all the "conventional" executioner (like Macnair from PoA) - one never really thinks about executioners just starting the job - but it fits perfectly because no experienced executioner would have used a dull blade, not unless he intended to inflict the maximum amount of pain. And the fact that the kid keeps hacking at the body even when the prisoner is dead and the audience has left... wow. It goes beyond spectacle and "doing the job" - there's something more that I can't quite put my finger on. It could be as simple as the executioner believing that he can only succeed at his first execution by completely severing the head, that he thinks the King will punish him for failure. It's perhaps the most striking aspect of this story, that raw desperation and the executioner's intense suffering.
You do stray away from the gory details, and that's another element of the story that stands out, especially because you really draw out the execution. It works because you break up the descriptions with the count of axe blows, but the impact of that violence... I won't say "wow" again, I promise. :P You write it in a way that's realistic and plausible, including interesting glimpses into Sir Nick's experience with death, how he's divided between his fear of death and his desire to escape the pain of his botched execution. There's the implication here that, if the execution had been "regular", he wouldn't have become a ghost - it's because he has the time to think about it that he chooses that middle ground between life and death. I love that idea because it adds depth to Sir Nick - it's not just about fearing death, but having time to balk, to have one's courage fail. And he also only fears it because it's not noble, because this kind of death signifies his own failure.
I could keep going, but it's probably best to stop and tell you again how amazing this one-shot is. It gets the reader thinking, and that's something that every good story should do. I'll be on the look out for more of your work in the future! :DAuthor's Response: I've read through this review a few times, trying to think of a coherent response, and I can't stop blushing!
Minor characters are always the most interesting to write about, because there's so much to explore with them and a lot of freedom to write what you want. I haven't seen any stories about Nick before so I had to write this when I got the idea!
You know, before I started writing this story the executioner was going to be a conventional, faceless figure - like Macnair. But once I started typing the character just wrote himself, and I found myself feeling really sorry for him. He evolved into one of the most important characters in the story and I was so happy with him. I don't think that an experienced executioner would ever have made such a mistake that after 45 chops, Nick's head still wouldn't be completely severed. You couldn't possibly be responsible for something like that and not suffer because of it.
Nick was a character I was eager to explore. He's always so proud of being brave in the books - he's the Gryffindor ghost, after all - but he admits to being a coward at the time of his death. I wanted to offer a plausible explanation as to what it was that caused Nick to remain on earth as a ghost - I don't think he would have feared a noble death, but this was far from that.
Thanks for such a thoughtful and wonderful review! It really made my day and it means a lot to me!
Sian :) Report Review
Excellent! This chapter nicely moves the plot along, laying out the conditions under which James moves from a witness (as discoverer of the body) to a detective. The style in this chapter works much better, making this chapter very easy - and fun! - to read. :D
What particularly stands out is that he chooses to become a detective because he feels so much over the death - it has nothing to do with proving himself or inflating his ego, but rather with the connection he formed with the scene in the previous chapter. This is fantastic to see, not only because it places James-as-detective in a more interesting relationship with the case, but also because of its affect on James's characterization. As you mentioned in the McGonagall scene, James has matured into an adult, and with that maturation, he has become someone quite serious and driven to set things right. It shows in the scene with Sirius because, from what I gather, Sirius hasn't yet matured - he still does his homework late and burps in that annoyingly adolescent way. You've placed James in an interesting position - it's not like other portrayals of him that I've seen, and now that he is acting as an amateur detective, I'm interesting in seeing how he handles the case. You've done amazing things with James's character so far, making him refreshing and new, more like the "legend" we catch glimpses of in the books.
The classroom scene was great to see because they're often left out of stories. You don't let us forget that James is still a student and that his time will be taken up by his regular activities (on a side note, being a detective on top of playing Quidditch, taking classes, and being a Marauder will be a challenge!). I liked how poor Slughorn was out of his depth - it suits his character well, and also suits the way that Rowling portrays her teachers as human and flawed. What I'm less certain about is that Lily was laughing at him in a slightly obvious way. Slughorn's memories of Lily don't fit with that kind of behaviour, and while he may have chosen to forget, it still seems cruel for Lily to do that. It's the kind of thing that she dislikes from the Slytherins.
Overall, you've done great work with this story so far! It'll be great to see how the mystery plot develops now that James is ready to start detecting. :DAuthor's Response: Hello again!
Whilst he is still growing up, he has matured from his fifth year. He has this great sense of justice instilled within him, and helping out in the case allows him peace of mind. He'd be antsy otherwise- he's not one to let others take the reigns, especially in cases of right and wrong where he feels the need to input. Sirius is a big kid at heart, and even when he's middle aged, we still see him portrayed by Rowling as an impulsive teenager. It would be wrong to write him as 'serious'- no pun intended.
Just because he's a fledgling detective doesn't mean that he can stop with his education ;) Slughorn is this bumbling, rotund and severely annoying man who has his heart in the right place. Him and transfiguration don't seem to go together well... Lily doesn't mean harm; the kindest of people will laugh at things they know are wrong to laugh at. Perhaps I can add in a sentence or two to make it clear that she didn't have any malicious intent.
Once again, thanks for the review, it's really helping me pick out what is needed to be refined :D Report Review
Finally here for your requested review! I apologize for taking so long to get back to you, and hopefully my review is still useful to you. I'd really like to continue reading this story because your introductory chapter puts forward an fascinating plot. The idea of James Potter as a detective is exciting - I've not seen it before, and I'm interested in seeing how you integrate the mystery storyline with the canon history of the Marauders and the First War. There's so much that you can, and it's exciting to consider the possibilities!
One thing I like about this first chapter is how you've described Professor Plum, revealing tidbits of information about his appearance and personality throughout the chapter. It's a wonderful example of showing versus telling, and by the end of the chapter, I feel as though I have a solid grasp of who he was and why someone might want to kill him. The fact that the murder weapon was a pipe, while perfect for the board game, is more curious within the wizarding world, and I look forward to seeing how it figures into the solution. Like James pointed out, all witches and wizards have the ultimate murder weapon in their hands - their wands - so to use something else both makes the case easier and more complicated. It either suggests that the murderer planned this ahead of time, or that it was a spur-of-the-moment thing, a crime of passion.
Another excellent thing about this story are the details you add about James's experience as the one who discovers the crime and has to do something about it. You remember to make James human, having him throw up when he sees the body - and the part that I thought was just brilliant was when James compares Plum to his father, and imagines what it would be like if his father had been the victim instead. It gives the story more emotional impact and reveals a lot about how you're choosing to portray James, how you've given him this imaginative ability to see more than just what's in front of him. It's an ability of the best detectives, and it's only another reason to enjoy your story.
By way of criticism, I can only offer something that's more taste-based than anything, so take this however you'd like. Many of your descriptions are wordy, your syntax taking on this formal style that needs smoothing out. So for instance, look at this sentence: "In fact, it was finding hard to produce even a semi likely motive for the brutal killing of the well known Professor." Who is the subject of this sentence? What does "semi-likely motive" imply as opposed to just "likely motive"? Consider going through, weeding out the unnecessary words, and checking over the sentence structure. There are some great sentences in here, like the one about Chinese whispers, but on the whole, watch that the style doesn't confuse the meaning of your words.
Overall, you've done very well with this first chapter, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next with this story! :DAuthor's Response: Hey Susan! I'm sorry for not responding for so long- I've been caught up in the whirlwind that is summer exams :P
That is exactly what I've been told by all of my English teachers since birth- show, don't tell. It's been integrated into my brain so much that I don't think I could ever forget it! If the murder was committed using magic, the case would be normal and there wouldn't be much of a story behind it. Whereas with a muggle method of killing, it does become much more of an enigma which is something that I believe appeals to James' character.
Definitely- James is still in school, he isn't a fully fledged adult yet. He's been sheltered by his parents and he's been sheltered by Hogwarts and with this murder, a cold harsh reality hits him. If he acted normally, he wouldn't be the character I perceive him to be- a character who acts with his heart more so than with his head.
That is a flaw of mine. I know what I want to say, but sometimes I don't know how to say it. It'd be much easier if the reader is in front of me, because then I could use my hands and my body language to get across my message- something that I do a lot. But, they are called readers for a reason, they're not an audience, so I'll definitely look over that.
Thanks so much for the review, and thank you for giving me the plunny too! You should know that it was the Halloween 'A Game of Clue' over at TDA that you and the staff put on that inspired me to write this. For that I am eternally indebted to you. ;) Report Review
Wow, this one-shot is an excellent study of Regulus's mind and heart as he comes to the end of his life. You capture the tragedy of Regulus's story, his sadness and despair as he tries - like really tries - to make those around him proud, to live up to their expectations. But those expectations are much too high. A lot of it is that he wasn't old enough to take on such a role - while I get the feeling in canon that Sirius developed early and was above average in ability, perhaps Regulus was the opposite, a late bloomer, someone who just needed more time to sort out who he was and, perhaps more importantly, who he wanted to become.
It's very much the story of being a teenager. That's one thing I think stands out about your portrayal of Regulus - his thoughts feel accurate, reflecting an adolescent's point of view. You take into account naivety and disillusionment with bits of rebellion. He's confused, trapped between pleasing his parents and striving to become like his brother, and it tears him apart. It's a story about change - Bella and Sirius becoming different people as they reached maturity - but Regulus can't make that same change. He can't choose sides, or rather he doesn't have the power to choose - he never sends those letters, he doesn't know how to act on his rebellious feelings. It fits with Regulus's story in canon, explaining why he turns to Kreacher as confidante and loyal friend. When he does act, it will be for Kreacher's sake, not his own.
Ugh, it's so sad! But beautifully written - it shows that you've taken great care with the words and syntax. There's nothing to critique here! It's great to see how far your writing has come in the last few months, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future. :DAuthor's Response: Wow, I'm glad that you found it was great study I didn't intentionally go about trying to analyse him, I just wanted to show his last few days. I think that's the thing I find most tragic about Regulus, the way he tried to make everyone happy, but by doing that he made himself unhappy. I get that feeling too about Regulus, and I think that's probably due to him never taking his own intitiative until he decided to go against Voldemort which resulted in his death.
I'm glad that you felt his thoughts reflected those of a teenager. He really is a complex person, but a fascinating one at the same time so I had a lot of fun trying to figure out what must have been going through his mind at that time. I almost wish we could have seen what would have happened if Regulus reached maturity, but then that would take this alluring factor away from him which draws so many people to him.
I'm glad that you can see that my writing's improved. When I go back and read some of my older unedited work it really makes me cringe. But I have to give a big shout out to my amazing beta pixileanin who has helped me so much! Thank you for this fantastic review :D
-Kiana Report Review
This chapter turned out very well! Once again, you've captured the Marauders Era perfectly, bringing its characters to life in a realistic, satisfying way. It's refreshing to have a story like this where it's not all about the romance, but I think I've told you that with the last chapter - this one carries on very nicely from that one, and I liked how you built upon James's confession by having Lily imagine what it must be like for them during the full moons. It was a nice little moment, very subtle, yet effective.
I have to say more about your portrayal of Peter because it's rare that he's given so much of the spotlight. At first, when Ellery was doing all she could to avoid him, I felt sorry for Peter and I have to admit that the first thing that came to mind was "oh here we go again". However, what you did at the end with Peter was amazing because you placed him in an ultimate grey zone - Lily can't tell what he's doing or why, and it could easily go either way. He could be following the Slytherins for information to pass along to his friends or to tattle on them. OR he could be following them out of curiosity, something not too different from Snape's own actions. That promise of power would be tempting for those who lacked a certain kind of confidence, and Peter, through no fault of his own, will always be outshined by his friends. But I like how you leave it open-ended, and how Lily automatically sees the more positive option. It's also great to see how you make Peter sympathetic in that earlier scene with Ellery - she's delicate about it, but the reality of it is clear to everyone there. Poor Peter, so awkward and shy - you remind readers that he's no different from the rest of us. You give him more depth in this chapter than most people bother to in their entire stories, and as sad as Peter's story is, it makes me happy to see it portrayed so well.
Whoa, okay that was a long paragraph. What else can I say about this chapter? There are a lot of little things going on between the characters that were wonderful to observe - you make your characters very real and human, which is what makes this story a pleasure to read. It's fantastic how you sketch them out - it seems effortless, as though they sprouted from the story on their own. You also pay close attention to the wizarding world, particularly in Honeydukes - the addition of the charity work was something entirely original, and I kind of wish I'd thought of it myself. :P
The only problem in the chapter was that you wrote "story" for "store" at some point. Otherwise, this was excellently put together, leaving me wanting more of this story. :DAuthor's Response: Hey Susan!
I think Lily's capacity for caring is a central part of her characterization, and so I couldn't imagine her not being bothered by the knowledge of James and company cooped up with a werewolf several nights a month once she had obtained said knowledge. I imagine worrying being the thing that Lily does when she can't otherwise help, though I'm sure it would drive her batty.
Peter has been so fun to toy with--and I say that in the most respectful way possible! I want people to not quite know what to make of him; one minute he's shunted to the side because he's not as attractive as Sirius or as confident as James, and the next he's devising a scheme that no one would expect of him. I think right now he's just testing the limits of his friendships and starting to really explore that side of him that eventually turns to Voldemort--though whether it will be in the seeking of a kindred spirit or pure desperation is yet unknown.
I'm happy you liked the charity mention! I was trying to think of something fun to do in Honeydukes that would be more than just my characters wandering around looking at candy. It's also great to hear that the characterization is still going strong. I think I've worked the hardest on that in this story, as with most of my pieces.
Oof, I think someone else pointed that out a while back and I forgot to make a note about it. I'll definitely go back and fix it sometime.
Thanks for another fantastic review, Susan :)
-Amanda Report Review
This was another excellent chapter! It's easy to become addicted to your writing, not only because of it's high quality, but because your style is incredibly pleasing to read. You combine fantastic descriptions and character depth with conciseness of language - a combination that's just so satisfying to read. Too often (especially in published novels) writers try to include too much detail, not realizing that it drags the narrative or they do the opposite, including too little, and then the story feels bare. You, however, capture the right amount of each, and it makes me a very happy reader.
That ending scene! *romantic sigh* How did you do that? It happened all of the sudden, yet it felt so natural. This attraction has been there from the beginning of this story, but Lily was doing so much to resist - or repress - it that I hadn't expected anything to happen so soon. It's perfect how it did happen, though. I love that butterfly spell! The way that you described it was beautiful, and it reveals much about your portrayal of Scorpius, giving him a delicacy and artistic nature that I haven't seen in other portrayals. Although I liked your Scorpius from the beginning, after reading this chapter, I can also see him as a romantic character - it wouldn't be hard to love him, and it makes me understand Lily's attraction to him all the more.
I'm really not used to feeling this way about Scorpius Malfoy. :P
As far as critique goes, I could only find one potential issue. In the line "the woman was gone and out of site", not only is "site" incorrect, but it's redundant to include both. I'd recommend using "out of sight" based on the context of that sentence.
I'm sorry if this review has been someone incoherent. This chapter left me with a fluttering heart! This story just keeps getting better and better, with the mysteries piling up and I'm very excited to keep reading. ^_^Author's Response: Oh, goodness. Thank you so much for saying such lovely things. Developing a style has been such a work in progress. For a long time I struggled to imitate writers that were more descriptive or poetic in their prose, but it was never a good fit for me. I've come to realize I like my writing best when it just gets out of its own way. I'd much rather someone remember the characters or the plot than the unusual way I described something.
I'm not sure if it's safe to admit this after the April Fool's joke, but I really like writing romance. Maybe not stories that are ONLY romance, but I love moving characters through the ups and downs of it all. I'm so, so happy that Scorpius is growing on you as a character. He isn't the traditional strapping hero type, but I do see him as an old soul worthy of love. I still want him to sort of bear the burden of being a Malfoy and have that hint of entitlement and moodiness, but I see his upbringing being so different from Draco's that he's far more introspective and sensitive... perhaps the first of his family to ever be looked down on.
Gah! I'm so embarrassed at that typo! I must fix that right away. Thank you so much for pointing it out. And thank you so much for this wonderful review. I'm beyond thrilled that you're enjoying the story. Report Review
Oh, this is excellent! I enjoyed how the chapter began with very everyday type things and slowly developed into something quite suspenseful and mysterious. I don't know if I agree with Albus that their parents would purposely put them into a dangerous situation like that - though really, Ginny should have known that a locked door would excite the curiosity of at least one of her children (especially Albus - he's so nosy!). The Black house is a weird place in general, and you've depicted it very well in this chapter, capturing its strange combination of danger and dumpiness. It's like a haunted house, and I'm surprised that the Potters were successful in renting it out to wizarding families. But I liked to see how wizarding families can be as disturbingly messy as some Muggles - even magic can't help some people. This chapter felt very natural - the characters and setting were realistically portrayed with just enough detail to draw the reader in. Some stories feel like movies, but this one feels like reality, and I love that aspect of it.
Your characterization of Albus is something I have to note because, while he's not likeable, he's still an interesting character - someone to keep an eye on for sure. He verges on annoying (in an "he's such an older brother!" sort of way), but that contributes to his realism, as well as to the refreshing nature of this story. His relationship with Lily is interesting because they're close and comfortable with each other in some ways, yet there's also a sense of weirdness between them. Scorpius is certainly one cause of this, but it makes me wonder just what happened in the past with those three - there's something more there, and it's just another reason why I keep reading on. You have many mysteries going on at once in this story, and it's fantastic how you've intertwined them.
One part that potentially needs work is the clause "a man who had died many years before Lily was born but who her father still spoke of fondly". It's too wordy - if there's a way you can break up the sentence or include less explication, it would improve the flow of that paragraph. My question is whether it is really necessary to explain who Sirius Black was - if he's going to somehow play a role in the story, then leave it. Otherwise, the additional information doesn't add anything to the story - you can assume that readers will already know it. The sense of mystery that you add in that paragraph, however, is perfect - like Lily, I want to know why the Potters moved out of the house after James's birth. Was it that they wanted to live closer to the Weasleys, to get away from London, or to escape the memories of the Order?
There was another part where you had "unlivable", which could instead be "uninhabitable" - it's a matter of taste, but I think that the latter word is the better one to use.
Otherwise, this was a great addition to your story! I look forward to seeing how you continue to develop both the plot and the characters. There's so much that could happen! :DAuthor's Response: Oh, yay! I'm so glad you liked the chapter. I love Grimmauld Place. It was such an interesting location in the books, it's almost like another character at times. The house and its mysteries will continue to play a role throughout the story, and though I've obviously added some touches of my own, I've tried really hard to keep it all as canon as possible. Hopefully it feels like the same place from the books while allowing for some changes over the intervening 25 years.
I've been told on more than a few occasions that my characters aren't always very likable, and I'm not always sure what, if anything, to do about it. I like writing characters that are as multidimensional and real as I can make them, but I don't want to alienate readers. If you have any advice or suggestions on that, I'd be totally open to hearing it. Al (I hope) redeems himself a bit in chapter 8, and he is meant to be kind of annoying in that sibling sort of way (at least from Lily's PoV), but I do worry that the general likability of a lot of my character lessens my stories at times.
Yikes, reading that sentence back, it's not pretty, is it? I've been working recently on handling past-perfect tenses and referencing past events in an already past-tense story in a way that isn't super clunky...and it's super hard sometimes! This one definitely needs a re-write. I guess I included it because if it were a non-fanfic story, readers wouldn't know from this story any history of the house, but you're right. I could just cut it. None of the Blacks play any real role in the story. I'll look at the "unlivable" reference too. Thanks for pointing both of those out.
And thank you, of course, for another lovely and thoughtful review! I'm so, so glad you seem to be enjoying the story.
What's fantastic about this story, and this chapter more specifically, is how you've represented the Marauder era and its characters. They sound and act natural, each dealing with his or her own conflicts, be they internal or external. You take care to make each character human, rather than caricatures, and you also take the time to give each character the spotlight, even for a moment. I've never seen someone fit so many characters' perspectives into one chapter so smoothly and effectively. You've provided a fantastic snapshot of the Marauder-era characters at Hogwarts, and if anyone asked me what the era was about, I'd be tempted to point to this chapter as the perfect example.
By including so many characters, you show what's most important to this story - the relationships between them. The whole story is based on failed relationships and the desire to repair them, but you also show how new relationships build from the ashes of the old. I liked the interaction between Lily and James in this chapter, how it came unexpectedly and showed both characters in a positive light. James is mature here, and it makes sense because of what happened with Remus - this hasn't struck me before, but perhaps that event, rescuing his enemy/rival, either forced him to make the right (rather than easy) choice or it brought out the best in him... maybe it's a combination of both.
The one aspect of that segment of the chapter I'm less sure about is the way that James reveals his secret to Lily. Does he think he can trust Lily to that extent? Although she makes a very good point that no one would believe her (though Dumbledore would - he knows to believe most things, no matter how crazy they sound), I still think it's a rash decision on James's part. It's bad enough that Remus's secret is out - you'd think that James would be too worried about that to add yet another reveal, one that places all four of the Marauders into trouble. Have we seen enough of James by this point for him to realistically place so much trust in Lily? I'd like to see more narration in that part of the dialogue so that I can better understand James's side of things. Why does he want to assure Lily that Remus doesn't go alone? Why doesn't he try harder to cover up the Marauders' secret?
That's the only thing I could see potentially needing work in this chapter. Otherwise, it was a joy to read, right from the beginning with Peter - and I can't squee enough over his presence in this story. You've done a fantastic job with his character, giving him an interesting manipulative quality, a cleverness that is not ever attributed to him in other stories. It's also interesting that he uses his powers on James - the foreshadowing there is excellent, and details like that work together make this a quality story. Amazing work! :DAuthor's Response: I think I just try to replicate the sorts of conversation styles I hear in everyday life in my writing. I often see stories where people seem to really overreact and that natural feeling isn't there, so I work extra hard on mine. It's also great to hear that you like the different perspectives; my favorite stories are the ones that wrap up different points of view into one narrative, and I felt like it would be boring to just stick with Lily and Regulus when I have so many interesting characters to explore. Who knows who I'll start with next?
The more time I spend with James, the more I like him--and yes, you did just hear me say that! I have tried to make his maturing process seem realistic and gradual, such that he doesn't transform overnight into the man Lily needs him to be before she'll say 'yes.' Obviously he still has moments of immaturity, given that he's a seventeen-year-old kid, but I do think he's making a change. Unfortunately, Severus is doing the opposite--he keeps turning further and further from Lily the more he tries to impress her and draw her back in.
You make a very good point about James. I think I got so caught up in making him earn her respect that I didn't attend enough to his need to feel like he can fully trust her in return, especially since she's a Prefect and all. I think I need to do some work to figure him out, and it would only be realistic for him to potentially regret letting her know later on. Maybe it'll come in the form of an edit for that chapter, or maybe it's something I can work into future chapters. Either way, it's very good feedback, and I appreciate you pointing it out.
I'm fairly proud of my Peter :) I wanted him to be included and to be just as competent as his friends--well, mostly. I'm glad you can start to see him disintegrating a little bit from the tough moral fiber that makes up the other Marauders. His presence will become more important as the story goes on, so please keep your eyes peeled!
Thanks again, Susan, for this fab review :) I'll be back to visit Black Sands again very soon!
-Amanda Report Review
What an exciting chapter! There are many twists and turns to this story, and you continue to keep me guessing. I really like how you develop the plot in this chapter, showing how both Riddle and Anastasia go through with their plans, though I'm still wondering whether Anastasia is being over-confident. She's going into enemy territory, and I can't remember if she has a back-up plan in case things go wrong. And if something does go wrong, will her people be willing to extract her? It can't be long until something happens.
The scene with Riddle reminds me of that from DH when Voldemort seeks out Grindewald, and you've drawn the comparison in a wonderful way. Riddle is perfect in that scene, and I also really liked the connection to Rasputin. It makes so much sense that Rasputin would have been a precursor to Riddle, and now that I think of it, I'm shocked that no one else has written about that yet. And the detail of the Faberge egg was brilliant!
In regard to this scene, I have a question about the fact that Riddle is only learning about horcruxes at this point. From the books, I gathered that he made his first horcrux at Myrtle's death then a second with the death of his father. So are you working within an AU situation or is he merely seeking additional information about horcruxes - perhaps the ideal number to prolong one's life the longest?
I'm sorry for taking so long to get to reading this chapter. It's a great story to read and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next! :DAuthor's Response: Thanks for yet another awesome review, and sorry for taking so long to respond.
Anastasia pretty much made this plan up on the fly since she was in a pretty bad position when the machine got stolen on her watch, so she is pretty much making things up as she goes along right now. It appears to be working out better than she could gave imagined, but we shall see what happens next.
I'm so glad you like the Riddle scene, I was trying pretty hard to capture that creepy Riddle feel. And I think Rasputin kind of fits perfectly into HP lore, especially with all the stories of how they couldn't kill him.
I have to admit that you brought up some good points about canon that I had overlooked, namely the timing of Riddle's first few horcruxes. I'm going to either play around with that scene a little more, or perhaps just bend a little in the AU direction when it comes to that.
Thanks again, updates are coming soon once I'm done with finals! Report Review
Ah, a change of scene! And a very good one too! :D This chapter was an excellent addition to your story, introducing not only the potion alluded to in the summary (perhaps it is - there could be more potions on the way :P) as well as another canon character. It was a delightful surprise to find Oliver Wood in that basement laboratory, just as it was to see a Miss Bell in charge of reception at St. Mungo's. I'm glad to see those two there, and I'll keep my eyes peeled for whoever else you might venture to include. ;)
Cho could have explained to Miriam about apparation, but now that I think about it, it probably would have caused Miriam considerable worry. If Cho can zap herself to London and back in seconds, what kind of people could magically appear in the hospital? Would Miriam try to take advantage of Cho's magic to ensure that the patients have enough supplies? I see some interesting problems on the horizon for Cho if she continues to go back and forth to London like this - she may have gotten away with it once, but with that ending, I have a feeling that Miriam won't let it pass by so easily next time. Though I would guess that Miriam knew from the beginning that Cho's family didn't live nearby, but if so, then why send Cho away? Is Miriam orchestrating this whole thing in a subtle, Dumbledore-esque way? It adds another interesting note of suspense to this story, and develops the Muggle-Magical aspect of the plot quite nicely. I have to admit that it's my favourite aspect of this story. It's hard to come across a story that explores it in such an exciting way.
Sorry if this review is a little rambling and unstructured - if there's anything specific that you'd like me to comment on in regard to this story, please let me know! I'm really enjoying reading this story! It's a original, wonderfully written, and keeps me wanting more - what else can a reader ask for? :DAuthor's Response: Hi Susan! I'm pleased to see another review from you :)
I'm so happy you like seeing familiar faces pop up. To me, that's half the fun of these true alternative universe stories--looking at where I could insert a canon character and how the situation would interact with his or her personality. I like including them in small ways, like with Katie, and also making them front and center (in a way), like Oliver here. So yes, please do keep those eyes peeled!
I think Miriam, for all her tolerance, could get easily overwhelmed with magic, just as you would expect from the average Muggle. Cho has to try to navigate the delicate balance between using magic to help and not revealing too much of a world that is supposed to be hidden. I think it's a quite literal way of looking at the "do no harm" part of medical work. I think that's part of why Cho is so nervous about getting Cedric's wand; she wants to make him happy, and yet she doesn't know what foolish thing he might do with magic when he's on his medication or just has a moment or two of impulsivity. She's really in a tough position in this story, but I figured that was part of giving her a chance to shine and giving her some credit for her intellect. After all, she is a Ravenclaw student!
I will definitely let you know, and I'm glad you're enjoying it. At this point, any and all comments you have to provide are welcome. Speaking of wonderfully written AU fics, I really need to pop back over to Pride and Pestilence now that I see a new chapter posted. Hopefully you'll hear from me soon :)
Thanks for this lovely review, Susan!
-Amanda Report Review
This is a very nice chapter! I was surprised by how upbeat it was, which makes it refreshing for a war-story and for many of the dramas that I've been following lately. That's why I couldn't resist using the word "nice" to describe this chapter. :D
Not that everything was happy - you still include enough reminders of the serious nature of the characters' circumstances that even though positive things are happening, it's impossible to forget that there's a war going on outside. That food won't last forever, and you also find a way of reminding readers that any of the patients could die at any time - most of them probably won't make it through the war, unless they're very lucky. Indeed, the Muggle patients in this story are lucky because of the magical help they're receiving. Is this the case in all the war hospitals in the world of your story? Or is it limited to a certain few hospitals?
I love the inclusion of the two European soldiers because so often in WWI stories, it seems like the English are the only ones there for some reason (which is always frustrating to see). It's good that Cedric is trying to communicate with the other patients - it's healthy for him and it means readers get the benefit of seeing more the hospital and learning more about the world you've shaped. :) That awkward silence between the three of them, though - it was perfectly done. It felt natural and right - all three understand that it could have been them, and it could be them next. Their lives are constantly at stake, and that must really be a difficult weight to bear.
There is one aspect of this chapter that I wasn't sure about, and that was the fact that Cedric doesn't seem to have problems swallowing the food even though his throat his sore. When one has strep throat, it hurts to eat to solid food, especially something as solid as roast beef and cheese, so you might want to adjust the descriptions in that scene. The beans would be easier for him to swallow, but that sandwich might pose a problem.
Anyway, I'll see how far I can get with this story tonight. It's an immensely enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next. ^_^Author's Response: Thanks, Susan! Happy to see you back!
In my view, the statute of secrecy is still being enforced, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I can imagine a select few witches and wizards sitting down with Miriam and some other Muggles and saying, okay, look, we need to do something to make sure our people are being well cared for here. We have tools that can help you. I don't think anyone would ever formally say that it was fine to use potions on Muggle patients, though. More like a collaborative effort.
Anyway, I'm happy that you can still see the remnants of war behind the somewhat pleasant day-to-day narrative. People are dying, inside and out of the hospital, and the supply could run dry any day now. It's like when people write Marauder stories and leave out the war entirely--I just couldn't do that.
It's great that you liked Andre and Fjodor! They were just meant to add a bit of levity and variety, as you observed, and to allow Cedric to make some friends besides Cho. I'm sure he misses his friends from Hogwarts...
You make an excellent point. I've had strep throat and I know just how unpleasant that would be. I'll make a note to go back and edit that a little once the whole story is posted--at least make it so that Cho has to cut up the food into teeny, tiny shreds, or look up some alternative historically appropriate foods.
Thanks again! Hope you enjoy the rest!
-Amanda Report Review
Here for the review swap! Although I've been eyeing this story, not just because of the banner, but also because of its subject matter. Tom Riddle's childhood is a fascinating thing to cover in a story, and you did it wonderfully here, capturing his voice in a way that's still partially innocent, yet also hinting at his "wrongness". It's more than just oddness, though it's easy to forget that we're looking at it from hindsight - to the others in the orphanage, he would be rather like what Harry was to Dudley's friends: the odd boy, the one who clearly didn't belong, even if they weren't sure why. I really like how you've explored that idea in this story! It's a refreshing way of looking at Tom Riddle, even of re-evaluating him because it begs the question, did he become evil because of how people ostracized him, or was he always that way, and that's why they treated him like this? If his mother had lived, if his father hadn't abandoned them, would he have become the Dark Lord? It's a haunting question, but it's one that JKR has left up in the air.
Looking at Tom Riddle in this way makes him a more tragic character, a victim of circumstance who sadly made the worst of his position in the world. Revenge became his sole driving force, the only way he could place himself above others and gain the self-worth that he'd been denied all his life. It makes him a far more complicated character, not just the supreme villain that most people see him as.
And you've done all of this in 500 words! It's amazing! :D It was great to be able to read this - it's left me with a lot to think about in regard to Riddle and how readers can understand not just who he is and what he did, but how he got that way. I love it when stories do this. Thank you!Author's Response: Hi Violet thanks for stopping by! Yes I always thought Tom Riddle's childhood was fascinating as well, as it really shows his transformation from an ordinary boy, into the villan we all know, and I also wanted to show that he may have not ended up like he did, if he had a different childhood, where love was present.
Im glad that you thought I captured his voice, as he's such a complex character, you never really know what he's thinking, so I sort of had to imagine I was him, when writing this, and that was fairly strange experience!
I guess the reason why they didn't know why he was the odd one, was because of him being magical and I guess he gave that off.
I would like to think that he became evil because he was ostracized, as it would be nice to think that he did have a chance of having a different life. I think that he was always the odd one as well, I think any wizard would be, if they were placed into a muggle orphanage.
Yes it is rather annoying that JK left in the air, and didn't explore that much, she only really mentioned it in the 6th book. Hopefully if he did have his parents, or just one of them, he would have been a different person.
Revenge is a strong feature of Tom Riddle's life, but then if he was treated like that throughout his childhood, it would probably be his most natural inclination, to be evil, and to seek revenge. I think people make the mistake of looking at characters in just the way they're portrayed, I think if they looked at the circumstances they were in as well, they would see them in a different light as well:)
I didn't intentionally mean for it to be written in 500 words, it just sort of happened, and it seemed fitting, as I couldn't think of any other way to extend this.
Thank you for such an awesome review, and I'm really glad that it made you look at Riddle in a different light, as that's what I was aiming to do :D Report Review
This is fantastic! It's a great addition to your story, especially in terms of character development because it makes both characters feel incredibly real. They think about everyday things even as larger issues - the war, Muggle and magic cooperation, rationing, the seriousness of the soldiers' injuries - come through. Outside of the war, both Cho and Cedric would have been fairly ordinary; rather it's extraordinary circumstances that make them something more, which is something key to JKR's world, that everyone has that potential.
As I've mentioned for the previous chapters, I also really like the gritty realism of the setting and the fact that you don't shirk on the details, no matter how unpleasant. That scene when the one patient dumps his food on Cho is painfully real, and it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate Cho's strength of character - she reacts so quietly and patiently to this and other things, yet she's also determined and strong-willed. It's a fabulous depiction of Cho and I look forward to seeing where you go with it.
I could go on for hours squeeing over this story. It's wonderfully put together with an original plot, multi-faceted characters, and a writing style that reads so easily, yet contains so much. *sigh* It's perfect. ^_^Author's Response: Oh, I love how often you come by these days!
You're very right; I wanted their ordinariness to come through quite clearly, as emphasized by the backdrop of a violent war and the poverty induced by it. It's just like Harry, as you alluded to--it's only the strange circumstances surrounding his childhood that really bring out his extraordinarily talents.
I'm happy to hear that you liked the grittiness, too. Part of working in a setting like this means having to deal with the unpleasantness that comes from people who are in pain, confused, or angry. I'm glad that you liked how Cho reacted and are enjoying seeing the depth I've tried to give her unfold. Her journey has only just begun.
You're so lovely. Thank you, Susan!
-Amanda Report Review
This was a fascinating snapshot of Remus's transformation, his first once the other Marauders had mastered the Animagus spell. You describe the physical effects of the transformation in a very effective way, with a great focus on verbs, on bodily function and physicality. There's a great sense of action in this one-shot, even in the details of how each of Remus's muscles seem be constantly in motion. Do watch that you don't repeat words too often, especially adjectives, but there was also a repetition of "ripped" that, in a story of this length, stands out.
When I first read this, I wasn't sure about his moment of recognition and, I suppose one could call it acceptance, of his friends' presence. Maybe it's just me, but there seems to be a twist of humour in that last line, like the monstrosity has become something he has to act out. What I wondered about was the suddenness of the turn, how quickly he moves from thirsting for their blood to playing with them. That's something you might want to take a closer look at, even still. I like the fact that he does play with them at the end, but it happens a little too quickly for it to suit the heavier darkness of the rest of the story.
I've never read a story like this, depicting this moment from Remus's point of view. It's a fantastic idea that works very well with the Every Word Counts challenge, allowing you to offer just enough of a snapshot to bring out the combination of horror and fun that's very important to this aspect of the Marauders' history. I'm becoming wordy, so I'll end by letting you know that this was a great read! It'll be great to see what kind of things you write next! :)Author's Response: :O Thank you!
I just noticed that as well, thanks for pointing it out, I've just gone to fix it. :)
See, I was a bit like that when I wrote it, but I remember Remus saying that he was able to communicate well with them, and assuming this is their seventh year they would have had about about 35 (holidays, and other commitments etc.) full moons together, so by then I think it would have been easier for Wolf!Remus to recognise them. :)
Hopefully that clears it up for you!
Ahhh! Thank you so much for all your kind compliments, you're just wonderful! ♥ Report Review
Wow! This is a powerful story, so much contained within a few hundred words. I loved reading some of your other one-shots, and when I saw that you had not one, but two Marauder-era ones, I had to read them. :D
Although there have been a number of Regulus stories posted these last few months, what sets yours apart is its depiction of the potion's effect on Regulus's mind. The contrast between the growing darkness of his memories and the fragmentation of his mind to that last apology perfectly reflects the repression the Sorting Hat spoke of. How much of his coldness and fearlessness was real, and how much was an act of self-protection? His behaviour in that last memory is entirely contradicted by his very presence in the cave, so when he thought about doing whatever he wanted and not caring about his brother, it sounds like he was merely trying to convince himself of those things. He's always been wearing a mask that others have given him - his parents, the Slytherins, Voldemort - and the act of ripping that mask away kills him.
Your interpretation of Regulus's character, and that of Sirius, is interesting, even refreshing. I really like the idea of Regulus transforming on the outside, while never quite doing so within. It's not that he was suddenly overcome with guilt or hatred - he always had that goodness inside of himself, and although he attempts to smother it, eventually it emerges. It's like a reversal of Jekyll and Hyde, though perhaps I'm reading too much into things. :P
The writing style is excellent, though I'm not sure about that second paragraph where you describe how Sirius's face is seared onto Regulus's consciousness: However, when his eyes are closed he could still see his brotherís face with the familiar arrogant smirk and cool, grey eyes. He wrenches his own grey eyes open but he can still see his brother. Something about it sounds awkward, especially in the second sentence, so it might be worth looking that over to see if you can improve the flow. Otherwise, it was a fantastic one-shot! I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to read more of your work. :DAuthor's Response: Wow, thank you so much! :D
duhfbhdxjfhxjfhjxjh yoU LOVE MY ONE-SHOTS?!?!?! *faints*
Aww thank you for all your lovely comments, you're too lovely! :D
I didn't really understand the whole Jekyll and Hyde thing (from when I Googled it) but I'm hoping it's like a compliment or something. :p
ACK! I thought I fixed that! Gah, thank you so much for pointing that out! I'll fix that as soon as possible! :D
Thank you for reviewing my work, your compliments are just always lovely! :D Report Review
Wow! If I hadn't already been hooked in by the first chapter, this one would do the trick. It's so good! Although there is a lot of dialogue, there is also a lot of movement and action that pushes the story forward, whisking the reader along with it. I had finished this chapter before I knew it, which is a great experience - everything flowed naturally, and I was able to visualize the scenes very clearly from your descriptions. You include just enough detail about the setting and characters to create that world around your readers. It's just another way how you make this an engrossing story.
Your characterization of both Lily and Albus is refreshing, and I especially enjoyed the complicated relationship that they share. It's a realistic portrayal of siblings, with its ups and downs, often in quick succession - they clearly care for one another, but they're just as much annoyed with everything the other does. I like this back-and-forth - it was also present between Lily and Scorpius, but in a slightly different way. There was a bitter edge to it, something deeper, darker. I'm fascinated by the intricate character interactions and relationships that you've set up within this story. It poses a challenge to the reader, and I love it when authors make me work to pick apart the clues and subtleties within a narrative.
It was also interesting to at last read Scorpius's letter, and after doing so, I'm amazed at how little of that actually emerged in the previous chapter. It says a lot about being a Malfoy and how much he's learned to hide his emotions, wearing a mask, even for Lily. Could it be why they drifted apart, how he wounded her so deeply? But in writing, his "real" voice appears - it's no wonder that Lily went to see him once she read it.
I love where this story is going, and I'm sorry to say that my reviews will probably be of no critical help to you. There was only one little thing I could find in this chapter - a "particular" instead of "particularly" after the page break. Otherwise, your writing is polished, the narrative flows very well, and the plot is progressing in a wonderfully complicated and suspenseful way. This is quickly becoming one of my favourite novels on the archive!Author's Response: I may have just fallen out of my chair a little. Thank you so much for such an unexpectedly lovely review!
I worry a lot that I include too much dialogue -- maybe not as much in this story, but definitely in others. I'm glad that while there was a lot of back and forth, it didn't feel like the scene brought the story to a grinding halt. It's always such a balancing act to try and find that happy medium between taking the time to develop a scene and keeping the story moving forward.
I'm so glad you liked the dynamic between Lily and Albus. They both really do care for each other, but that doesn't mean they always get along. To me, sibling and family relationships can be just as much fun to write as romantic ones. And I'm so glad you saw the same thing with Lily and Scorpius, only darker. That's exactly what I wanted. Lily can be kind of argumentative, no matter who she's talking to, but there is definitely more than just annoyance when it comes to her and Scorpius.
Oh my, the letter! I love that you felt that was Scorpius's real voice. Throughout the story, the whole question of who the Malfoys are and what they are capable of doing comes up over and over again. I'm so glad that at least a hint of that came through here.
Thank you again for this wonderful review. I really am beyond flattered that you think it's coming along okay. I've been having some trouble getting back into the flow of it, but reading this definitely helps motivate me to keep plugging away at it. I hope you won't mind if I visit you review thread again sometime. Thank you again for both of your reviews! Report Review
It's going to be very difficult to help you with this story and your writing because both easily come under the scope of "quality". This is a very well-written, original story that leaves me with many questions as to what will happen next and perhaps more importantly, how have the characters come to this point in their lives? It is something that most writers don't think to include, probably because they begin at the beginning rather than in medias res. But I'm captivated by the mysteries you've built into the story, even just within this chapter (I did read the prologue too, since I'm going to read the whole story). Your way of constructing the tension between the Malfoy men and also between Scorpius and Lily was highly effective - how the characters negotiated these relationships revealed much about their personalities in a single chapter so that they leapt from the page. It was wonderful just to get lost in this story and appreciate the amazing writing.
Your descriptions particularly stood out in the first part of this chapter, not only because they created beautifully vivid images of Malfoy Manor and the cliff tops where the Malfoys walked, but also because, through them, I gained a greater understanding of Scorpius's characterization. Although you noted that you weren't interested in hearing about the characters, I do want to mention that your version of Scorpius is the best I've read. Your exploration of his mind, from his thoughts on his mother's death to his contemplation of edges and endings (and thus death as a whole) was wonderfully done. That part of this chapter is nothing short of perfect in its balance and imagery, making it a brilliant introduction to your novel.
The second part is also very good, of course, but I felt in places that it was too long. It dragged in places because you were trying to cover a lot of ground - the relationship between Scorpius and Lily, Scorpius and the Potters, and the Malfoys and wizarding society -and it prevented this half from flowing as well as the previous half of the chapter. Perhaps there are details that could be deferred to later chapters or somehow made implicit, revealed through small hints rather than in exposition. The action in this portion of the chapter is excellent, but I suggest cutting back on the narration.
I'm going to be reviewing more chapters of this story, and if there's anything specific you would like me to look for, please let me know. It's a fantastic story so far and I'm kicking myself for not having read it sooner - it's one I've been eyeing for a while because the summary is so intriguing. It's excellently written with an exciting plot and very interesting characters that I'm dying to learn more about. Thank you for asking me to read this!Author's Response: Wow, thank you for such a lovely review! Hopefully it's no secret that I think you're an AMAZING writer, so it just makes your feedback all that much more special.
I really do try to come into stories at some sort of midpoint. The big action is still to come, of course, but I think it can be just as fun as a reader to learn what has already happened as to guess at what's going to happen next. I hope it helps to keep the characters from feeling too one-dimensional.
I'm so, so happy you liked Scorpius here (and I certainly don't mind if you comment on the characters; I just am always hungry for the kind of critiques that can translate across stories, so I don't list them as a major area of concern). I really wanted him to be someone who was different from his father and grandfather, but also someone you could still believe had been raised by them, perhaps with the benefit of them having learned from some of their past mistakes. I'm really glad to hear that the imagery worked to enhance his character. Creating atmosphere isn't necessarily my strong suit, but I'm really pleased that the descriptions worked to highlight Scorpius's somewhat disturbed state of mind.
I can totally see where you are coming from with the excessive narration in the latter half. Since this is the only chapter from Scorpius's POV, I think I may have over-compensated in areas. This was also my very earliest attempt at Next-Gen, and I probably got a bit carried away in wanting to address questions like were Scorpius and Albus friends at school, etc., which, like you said, could have either been addressed later or cut altogether.
I'm so glad you're liking the story so far. Thank you so much for leaving me this wonderful review! If you review more, please feel free to comment on anything. I'm open to any and all feedback -- good or bad. Report Review
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