Hey Laura! I'm here with the review you requested - I'm sorry it's so late!!
This was such a beautifully written chapter, very descriptive and emotional, as it should be. I feel sorry for both of them, Albus having to be with Nicholas in his final moments and watch his friend die, and I feel sorry for Nicholas too, even though he seems ready to die. You've triggered so many emotions with your writing, so well done for that!!
My favourite part was the end of the chapter, I hope I'm right, but that's what I interpreted as them talking about Gellert. You managed to show that Albus really loved him and cared without him explicitly saying so. Also Nicholas approached the topic with such care. The friendship between these two aging men seemed so real and genuine, you've captured it wonderfully.
I think the pace was right for the fic. At first I was worried it would be a little slow, but I think with these sort of topics a chapter can't be rushed, and it wasn't too heavy or too boring. You got enough dialogue and description in there to keep us interested.
Now to show you some of my favourite pieces of description...first off:
Albus says nothing, and Nicolas wonders if he is thinking of him now, of Fawkes’ best friend, of a single cell in a tall, dark tower, or perhaps of other, sweeter memories, older memories, treasured all these years, the pain and the loneliness they bring a fair price to pay for the content they have. Perhaps he is remembering moments shared: a smile, a laugh, something more, something less.
This was so beautiful, the pacing is just right - and I love how Nicholas is speculating, trying to work out what he's thinking about without pushing.
Will he simply crumble, like old parchment, into a shiver of dust on the blankets, nothing left to say he was ever alive save for his name in ink? Will he wilt, a flower out of water for too long, turning old and decayed and dead under the sun’s glare? Will he simply die, fading out of the world with no fanfare, no visible sign?
so many beautiful similies and metaphors are in here!! The way you've interpreted death and what it means to Nicholas, it's beautiful. It's not romanticised either though, it's like a harsh reality that he's trying to dress up so it doesn't hurt as much.
The last line is my favourite. There was so much angst in that one sentence, and it was so bittersweet. It's weird to me that it seems Albus almost looks up to Nicholas, and usually Dumbledore is everyone's savior and hero...so I really liked how the tables were turned here.
I honestly don't think you have anything to worry about, I really loved this!!!
Laura! Here for the review-a-thon! I wanted to leave a review for all the mods as a small thank-you for all the wonderful work you people do around here. It makes me so happy to be a part of this community (however absent I may have been in the past few months).
It has been a very, very long time since I've read anything on HPFF, if I'm being honest, and much longer since I've left anyone a review. This was, perhaps, the best way I could have made a comeback (so as to say). Your writing did not fail to disappoint. It never does, and when I was done reading, I was filled it a sense of awe.
Your prose is beautiful. I simply love how poetic and musical the whole thing is, how one can't stop reading, simply because all your sentences are strung together so smoothly. I love how descriptive it is. I can almost picture myself in that room with Dumbledore and Flamel and be a part of that scene. That's how real it felt. One instance that stood out was that when you mentioned the butterfly, I felt as if I could actually reach out and touch it. Maybe it is not as descriptive as some of your other work (if I remember correctly), but even the description you've used here is enough to evoke strong feelings inside me.
As for the plot, I can't say I haven't wondered about Flamel, his last few minutes, anticipating death and his relationship with Dumbledore before. I'm glad you gave words to this. But what I could never have done is come up with the story that you seem to have embarked on. The idea of Dumbledore's past, him deceiving a country, Fawkes being Gellert's bird and everything else just made me want to read on and on and on (and I will be back after the review-a-thon, I promise!). It was all so interesting, and I am extremely curious to know how you tie this all together. There is an edge of secrecy and mystery here, and I'd love to solve or unravel some of it as we go.
Dumbledore is a character I've always admired and loved reading about, but I've never dared to write him. How you manage to hit the right spot time and time again is beyond me. You are a master.
I'd love to stay on and review the living daylights out of this one, but I have to rush. I joined the event quite late, and I want to be able to contribute as much as I possibly can.
As enamoured by your work as I've always been,
Hey Aph! Here for BvB!
I can't explain to you how much I admire your writing. The way that you weave together descriptions, details, moods, and general wisdom throughout this chapter is astoundingly beautiful and poignant, and I love what you've captured. This is not a moment I've ever thought about-- Albus thinking already to the next war, knowing it will be his place to lead it (it almost makes me wonder if he's not a little relieved when he touches the Horcrux and knows his time is up), but the way you've tied everything together here is magical.
There were many lines throughout that I found incredible, but this one in particular: Tragedy hardens and weakens the heart; a true double-edged sword. was really beautiful to me because it says so much so simply and directly, and speaks to a real, hard truth. Gah, the way you add wisdom to Nicolas's voice is so natural and I don't understand how you do it!
I was really interested in the concept of bravery that you brought up here, because I feel like the more we learn of Albus in the books, the more Harry suspects/resents him and the way he set everything up behind the scenes without directly confronting it. Like, it felt like sometimes he wasn't presented as that brave, when he clearly is-- but that's the difference between a teenage boy and Nicolas!
I also liked how you wove in religion here, because obviously Nicolas would've been raised in a very religious context and he hasn't moved away from that, despite everything he's been through. That's really interesting to think about, because he seems so jaded in many ways, and removed from everything, but he still has that tying him down.
I really love this story and I hope you update soon! It's such a different take on things, and I love thinking about Nicolas's past and thoughts. You do him such justice with his voice and feelings, and it's always a joy to read. :)
Laura! Back for the BvB, and oh man, you've done it again!
Seriously, I think I've said in every single review that I've ever written on your stories that your prose is so musical and so heavy with meaning. Like, it occasionally takes some time to tangle through the phrases for me, but it's totally worth it because darn it, there is some serious stuff going on here! The content of your stories never disappoints when it comes to intrigue/secret plots/long-ago love. (Especially of the Gellbus variety. Albert?? What have they named this ship?!)
Nicolas Flamel is only on the periphery during Philosopher's Stone, but he obviously mattered a lot to Dumbledore and the magical community at large. It's cool that you've framed this story with this opening chapter--Flamel's death, in which so many things are said and so many are left unsaid. Wow, being so old has turned him into a true philosopher, and he has earned that title!
I loved the lines "Will he simply crumble, like old parchment, into a shiver of dust on the blankets, nothing left to say he was ever alive save for his name in ink? Will he wilt, a flower out of water for too long, turning old and decayed and dead under the sun’s glare? Will he simply die, fading out of the world with no fanfare, no visible sign?" especially because it does show how he finally has to confront death, and he is somewhat apprehensive about it.
The idea of Fawkes being loyal to Gellert before he became Albus's right-hand bird is very interesting. I really want to know more about this! I think a lot of people just take Fawkes's presence for granted, since he's always with Dumbledore. But where did he come from? I can't wait to find out his origin story. Also, tangentially related: Dumbledore's Patronus is a phoenix, and I bet that if Gellert ever cast one, it would be a phoenix too!
Ooh, I loved Nicolas's thoughts about Albus as a deceiver--because it's really true, he's so deceptive, and the conflict between him and Gellert was probably lots of smoke and mirrors. That little thought makes me want to read your version of the confrontation!
Also, does this story connect in any way to the other Gellbus you're writing? Just wondering!
One critique that I have for you is the usage of commas. You're great at managing the epic length of sentences while maintaining sentence integrity, but sometimes the commas can be superfluous or the sentence could be reworded to take out some of the commas. Since your writing flows so musically, it can get interrupted by some of the commas.
An example: "The first lie that evening, and it hangs there, solid, between them, almost tangible."
This is a shorter sentence, but there are four commas in it. I don't think it's grammatically incorrect at all, but I do think that it could be reworded slightly to get rid of one or two commas.
However, just a suggestion!! That was really the only thing that came up on my CC radar. :)
Really, this is a unique approach to Albus and Gellert's story--and you're already approaching it uniquely in L'Optimisme! The thought of Grindelwald, Dumbledore, and Flamel being friends is at once terrifying and intriguing!
Hey Aph, back for BvB! I'm not going to lie-- I was kinda hoping that somebody else would come and review you before me because I feel like all of my reviews to you are the same, and I can't offer any CC-- or really anything beyond OMG YOU'RE SO TALENTED and incoherent rambling. Then again, maybe that's what you're looking for? :P
I've said this before but I'll reiterate: I love how you weave the French into this story, not just in the French that bleeds into dialogue, but the French that permeates the descriptions and the background. For instance, I love the aside about Beauxbatons, because that's really not something I'd ever considered (then again, I haven't considered anything this story is about, so that's not new). Such a simple line changes the calculations here so much, and it's always great how you weave the backstory and characterization into small lines like that.
I'm really intrigued and impressed with the history you've created for Nicholas, as well as how supremely complicated he is emerging to be. There's such a tension and underlying, unspoken avoidance of the truth between him and Albus, and it's not something I've thought of before.
The way you write about Albus (in all your stories, but especially here, filtered through Nicholas) continues to be just ridiculously incredible to me-- you flesh out his back story and thousands of emotions and complicated thoughts so believably!
And for Nicholas, I really do get the sense that he's been around for so long, and his perspective is so well maintained. Everything is young and fleeting to him, and that's interwoven throughout his thoughts as well as impacting his plans and emotions. He's just a really well put together character, and it's wonderful to read, especially as I've seriously never considered this part of the story before.
The relationship between these two is really interesting, because there's so much unsaid and so much...almost deception at the top of it, but they also respect and understand each other really well, it seems. And the hints at Albus's own history through Nicholas's eyes is fascinating– the ending of this chapter was really strong to me, and it really conveyed so much with such ambiguity of the language.
Your descriptions, as ever, are beautiful and wonderful and paint a really vivid image before me. The beginning of this chapter was a great start and I can really, really envision the scene. I also love the part about the farmer, and their reactions to him-- God, I don't understand how you're able to inhabit these characters' mental spaces so fluidly and believably. You're so gifted.
I really love this story! Sorry for avoiding you in BvB, but I really think all my reviews to you are the same. (Especially because your own reviews are so incredible and wonderful!) Oh well. Thanks for sharing your lovely, lovely writing with this site! :)
APH WILL I EVER FIND A STORY OF YOURS THAT I DO NOT IMMEDIATELY FALL IN LOVE WITH
OH MY GOD
I am seriously constantly in such awe of your ridiculous talent. The way you use words is incredible, and the way you handle the voices of Albus and Nicholas here are seriously so believable and beautiful. I was tearing up at Nicholas's thoughts, and the end of this man and this friendship, and it's almost entirely because of the depth you convey with your descriptions.
This fic doesn't have the same style of your other fics in that it wasn't interwoven with all of these physical descriptions, but the way you've brought Albus and Nicholas's emotions to life is overwhelming. Your sentences are so intricate and winding and convey so much. I feel like I know these characters incredibly well, but more than that, I understand that they have depths which I can never fathom. I have NO IDEA how you're able to inhabit their mental spaces so easily, but every time I read your fic I just about want to give up writing. Teach me your ways, Aph.
I also love how you've woven the French throughout the chapter, and it feels ridiculously natural. The whole chapter reads so beautifully and easily, and I can't wait to read more of this story. Albus seems so haunted, hanging onto control but just barely, and Nicholas seems so lighthearted and pensive, as odd a combination as that is.
Alright, I think that's about all for now, but I'll definitely be back sometime to read on! Thank you for sharing your enchanting writing with this site. It's such a pleasure to read.
--J (for BvB)
Sorry for the delay in my response to the swap.
Firstly, thank you for your review of my story. I appreciated it immensely.
Now, onto the more thrilling business of the chapter I have just read.
This was a wonderfully unexplored and interesting concept. You captured Dumbledore's character so well that frankly I am little jealous :)
The interactions between him and Flamel were very authentic, and the bit at the end when Flamel has no idea what he is murmuring and the conversation is almost sleight-of-hand for the emotional farewell was awesome.
I think Flamel did the job as philosophical musers on their deathbed go.
Furthermore, the implication of Grindelwald didn't feel bolted on whatsoever, it felt so right.
I think your internal monologuing and descriptions are great - I like stories that do that and don't force us to travel an A to B plot route.
So this was wonderful.
The only bit of CC is that I think at times your descriptions became a little cliched. I could have done with a few more quirky observations or descriptions of his thoughts. Maybe they could have felt more specific to Flamel. Though I appreciate the addition of French.
So yeah, I really liked this an awful lot.
Cheers for the review swap - hope to do it again sometime :)
Hey, Laura! I'm here for BvB!
I thought about stopping in on one of your other stories instead - I feel like I've left about half of them half-finished - but this caught my eye and I couldn't resist, so I guess I've got another one of your stories to add to my reading list. ♥
I adored this. It's so haunting and beautifully written - you're such an amazing author. There aren't many authors on HPFF whose prose can match yours, and you're at your best here. You captured Dumbledore so wonderfully here - this fits perfectly with his conversation with Harry at the end of PS. There's a veneer of serenity, but I could also see hints of a deeper and darker undertone. That's Dumbledore as we knew him in a nutshell, I think, and you've done a wonderful job in every fic of yours that I've read that attempts to capture a very complicated man.
I also love the way you characterized Flamel; he's got a very strong personality, and it's interesting to see Dumbledore interacting with someone who's genuinely an equal. I don't think we ever saw someone pushing back against him in canon, not really, especially not to his face - maybe Snape and McGonagall, but even they deferred to his judgment in the end. Flamel is calling him out in ways that are a little bit uncomfortable, and I love it. What he says about Fawkes is amazing. I need to know more so badly!
This review feels so insubstantial, but I just don't know what else to say. You're amazing.
Hey, Laura! ♥ Sorry it's taken me so long to get here - Christmas was really busy and I'm trying to sneak in as many reviews as possible before I have to go back to uni and get flooded with work again :P
Ah, I love this story so much! It's really hard to say what exactly it is that really captures my interest about it - apart from your always excellent writing, of course - but I think the tone here is just so interesting. Kind of nostalgic, thoughtful, but at the same time very honest and self-aware, if that makes sense? And the idea for the story is so original, the meetings between Nicolas and Albus, two men who have seen and done so much, and yet when they meet, two great friends, they don't always have much to say. I kind of get the impression that their friendship is more based on a mutual understanding, goodwill for the other, than open talks and confessions.
One thing I loved here was the thought and detail that you've put into Nicolas and his use of the stone. I think I've always really imagined him as an old man - I mean, he was over six hundred years old when he died - but it makes so much more sense that he'd be frozen, as it were, at the age he was when he succeeded in creating the Stone. That would be even stranger, in a way - to stay young and yet be so old and have experienced so much. But it really struck me when you mentioned how even Albus looked older than him now; it must be so strange to see your friends grow old around you and know that one day you will have to say goodbye to them, too. It must be easier, in the end, to have few friends because he's already loved and lost so many people, I imagine.
You write Albus so often that I shouldn't still be surprised by how great your characterisation of him is, but I loved him in this chapter. He seemed so worn and weary, and I can't say that I blame him, really. Like Nicolas, he's lived through a lot, and he's had to say goodbye to a lot of people who've died before him. Not only his family, but all of the people who fought and died in the Order during the war, and knowing that he's going to have to face that all over again, at some point, must be really disheartening - to say the least. I can really understand the way that he feels here, and his reluctance to have to lead the resistance again when war returns; I don't think it's that he doesn't believe in the cause, but he doesn't feel that he's always the best person for it. It's not the sort of thing he could admit to many people, I don't think; so many people view him as a hero who's always going to step up and do the right thing, and there's so much pressure on him to do that. But like we see here, Nicolas understands that - he's lived through even more and stepped back at times, because one person can't always be responsible for everyone else. I'm really glad that Albus has a friend that he can admit that too, though. I don't think there are many people who truly understand him and that he can be honest with - even if the honesty comes in the things they don't say.
The whole discussion of the coming war made me kind of sad, actually; the story starts here, and it's really strange to think that this chapter is the beginning of the end for Nicolas too. He won't live to see the next war, and although he's probably glad for that - and ready for that, even - it's poignant to think of how the war has such far-reaching consequences, even for those who don't want to be involved.
I loved the ambiguity of the chapter summary - I really think that it could apply to either of them, as the guilty party. Perhaps Nicolas feels guilty for inventing the stone, for proving that immortality (at least in some measure) is possible, or for not doing more to help Albus with the war, or even when he was younger. It could easily be Albus, too, who feels guilty for the war being allowed to start, to go on, and for the deaths of all the people who he's known. I'm really curious who you thought of it applying to when you wrote this, though!
I'm not sure this review actually made any sense, but this was a great chapter and I really love this story ♥ Hopefully I'll get time to read some of the others that are open in tabs on my browser soon!
Salut, Laura! Here for our swap - I have so much of your wonderful writing to catch up on, but I'm missing France a lot right now and this story gives me just a little snippet of France and French so I'm already in love with it for that ♥
Also, that chapter title! ♥ It was so fitting and perfect for this chapter in so many ways that I just had to comment on it, even though I know it's not one of the most important things about this chapter. Still, you did a great job of choosing it perfectly - yet another example of your word choice being amazing with everything!
I really liked the way that this chapter stepped back in time from the first that we saw here - so we get the events leading up to Nicolas eventually making the decision to have the Stone destroyed and his death - it's a great way to explore his friendship with Albus and the two characters more as individuals, too, and I think that it's such an original idea - I just love it! You've got such a fantastic idea for a story and, as always, you execute it beautifully.
I say this in every single review that I leave on your stories, and I'm sure that you must be getting bored of me saying the same things by now, but I can't help but say it. Your use of imagery and description is so amazing! It's just so clear that you choose every word in your stories with care and you paint the scenes so well, and put your own spin on each of the scenes that you're describing, so that I feel like I'm there too and can see it all. It's almost lyrical, poetic, in style - there's so much here that feels like it could be poetry.
Plus the detail that you include, it's just so great! Tiny things like the accent that Nicolas speaks in, and the French that he slips into conversation even though he's almost certainly fluent and doesn't need to - it helps build up his character really well, since he's so proud of his nationality and language that he won't abandon it completely, even when he's speaking a different language that he probably mastered centuries ago.
The allusion to Keats ♥ I was reading this chapter and seriously hoping that it was an intentional allusion, because it fit in so well, and the way that Perenelle appears in my mind has now been completely changed from those few words! I've honestly never thought of her any other way but a sweet, old woman - if I've thought of her at all, of course - and yet you've completely managed to change my perception of her with this chapter. I really liked the way that Nicolas thought of her in a way that I never expected, too, and I'm curious about their relationship, too - it's intriguing to think about it!
I loved the way that you portrayed the friendship between the two of them, as well. By most standards, Albus is the sort of person who's very old and wise, and yet to Nicolas he's still young - but I really enjoyed the way that the two of them mused on age and wisdom and the mistakes that they'd made. I also really loved the way that the two of them had been friends for so long that there were things the other knew without saying anything; when you know someone so well that you don't need words to communicate. It really showed how close they were, even though theirs was somewhat of an unconventional friendship, I think - they became friends at a time when Albus was a very different person to who he is now, if this follows your other stories - because of all the things that went unspoken between them. Still, I definitely understand that - they glean so much about each other from the tiny snippets that they do say, and know a lot more about each other than the other perhaps realises. It's kind of sad to think that Nicolas seemed to know so much more about Gellert than Albus realised, because maybe he'd have been able to talk to him about everything that happened if he'd have known - after all, who is he going to tell? As the title says, Nicolas stays silent about so many things.
I loved the way that Nicolas approached the subject about hiding the Stone with Albus; he seemed a little reluctant too, but he didn't really have any choice. I've never really thought about why it must have been hidden at Hogwarts before, because Nicolas didn't feel that he was able to protect it sufficiently to stop Voldemort getting his hands on it, and it's sweet that he trusts Albus enough to confide in him that his most precious possession is under threat, and ask him to help protect it.
Albus's concerns over the students were perfectly legitimate - I've actually not thought that he considered them before, in that way, when it came to hiding the Stone because it did actually pose a pretty big threat to them all, but it's nice to see that he did. I think it shows how deep his friendship is with Nicolas that he'd agree to something like that - that he feels he owes him this favour - and also that he really desires to keep Voldemort away for as long as possible.
The last lines were so powerful - I loved the part that Nicolas said about he thinks Albus would have achieved immortality if he'd really wanted it. It's sad in a way that he was only prevented in his initial quest by what happened to his sister, but I'd like to think that Albus has realised he doesn't want immortality and that one day he'd like to be able to confront the ghosts of his family and lay things to rest over that.
This was amazing (if you couldn't tell by the rambly length of this review!) and I'll look forward to the next chapter - I'll be back for your other stories soon, hopefully! ♥
I'm here for our review swap!
After the amazing first chapter, I couldn't resist coming back to read chapter 2. I was dying to know if Albus opened up a bit about Gellert and what Nicolas told him.
It seems quite fitting that Nicolas would ask Albus to hide the stone. A. They've been good friends for a long time. B. Albus is brilliant and understands it in a technical sense. C. Albus doesn't want to use it for himself. D. Albus is the most powerful wizard currently alive (that we know of) and the only wizard that Voldemort really fears. It really makes perfect sense.
I had to giggle a bit when Albus used the students as a reason why he shouldn't take the stone to Hogwarts. At this point, we obviously don't know what's going to happen, but as the story progresses it becomes very clear that Albus really doesn't take the safety of his students very seriously...however much he says things to the contrary. I mean he basically leaves his students to fight a war and chase down bad guys at their own risk.
I love the line “I should think, mon ami, that if you wanted to be immortal, you would be by now,”. I never gave it much thought, but you're spot on here. If Albus had wanted eternal life, he would've been more than capable of achieving it. I imagine with all of the regrets that he has, he must want to one-day be reunited with the ghosts of his family.
Another excellent chapter. As usual, your writing is stellar and you pack so much meaning into your words. I love the way you perceive Albus and the things that you write about him.
My only CC is that Fawkes is not in this story. I loved his bit in the last chapter so much and I was really looking forward to learning more about that. Hoping to see chapter 3 soon!
Hello my dear!
Here for our review swap!
I am thoroughly excited to see that you've started another Albus/Gellert piece since you always write them so well. You really understand the little subtleties and nuances of Albus' personality and it makes him so brilliant to read. I just can never get over how well you write him.
I also love the way you write Flamel and the interactions between the two. It seems very natural. Very much like two old friends catching up. In this particular story, the death bed banter is quite amusing and the subjects that they talk about are really intriguing.
The pace of this chapter is very mellow and smooth and if a lesser writer had written this it could've verged into tediousness, but with all of the intricacies that you've included it makes for a really good read. In fact, this might honestly be one of my favorite chapters of yours. I think you've just really hit it out of the park with their dynamic.
I thought the inclusion of Fawkes and the back story that you've created for him is fascinating. I'm actually really hoping that you will write more about that in chapters to come. The idea that Phoenix's only bond with one mate for life and that Fawkes for some reason switched to Albus after Gellert's imprisonment has me really curious.
In general, the whole of this chapter has me really curious about a multitude of things. When will Nicolas die and how? What will he and Albus talk about until he dies? How will the conversation about Gellert affect Albus? I definitely want to read more and hopefully will be back for chapter two really soon!
Great job with this. Definitely going into my favorites!
Author's Response: Hey Kaitlin - thank you so much for dropping by! :)
Aww, thanks - I'm so glad you're excited! I do love writing Albus and Gellert, it's true... and Albus is so fun - to quote Rita Skeeter, he's got so much in his life to write about, haha :P And I'm so glad you like how I write him - it's become strangely easy now, which is slightly weird but nice :P
Flamel... okay, I really, really wanted to write this, with their friendship and all, because it seemed so cool and yet so forgotten, though they were two such great men, and both so secretive. I'm so glad you like the interactions - it's a hard story to write, tbh, because of all of the layers behind things and trying to make sure things are clear/hinted at to the reader, without ever being specifically said. Hehe, I did enjoy the death bed banter, though, I gotta admit :P
Omigosh, thank you so much! :) I'm so happy you like it - it's a story I really enjoy writing, so it makes me so glad to hear other people like it too :D
Fawkes! Okay, I do love Fawkes, and I had this whole backstory created for him for a while since L'optimisme, so when the chance came up to hint at it in this I couldn't resist, especially since they're technically in the same universe :) So yeah, I'm so glad you like the idea :)
Thank you so so much - I always thought this was a really left-field story and didn't expect anyone to like it much, so I'm so glad you like it - and thank you for the lovely review, as always! :)
Salut, Laura! ♥
I have so much of your writing to catch up on (not that I'm complaining because I love it, I just need to find the time to actually read and review again) and I've been visiting your page and trying to decide what to read first because I want to read it all :P So more reviews on other stories will be coming soon, particularly on L'optimisme, but I couldn't resist this for now!
I've never read a story before that really features Nicolas Flamel and his friendship with Albus Dumbledore, and now I'm just wondering why. I saw the summary and title all in French (which may or may not have been one of the reasons I had to read it :P) and couldn't actually remember who had died in 1992 (*hides head as a bad fan*). I'm so curious to see where you're going to go with this story, though, particularly as you're linking Albus and Nicolas with Gellert, and I'm kind of assuming they're the same versions of the characters who appear in your novel, so I'm really intrigued by this!
Your writing, as always (how do you do it? Teach me, please!) was stunning in this. Every word in your stories just seems to be chosen with so much care and attention, and it's so easy to realise how much thought you put into your work because it just leaps from the page. This chapter all flowed so well, and I loved the tone; there was something almost wistful in it, as if they were remembering the things that could have been, as well as the nostalgia and the melancholy that's kind of natural in a moment like this.
The parentheses were so well used, too! They just seemed to fit in with the way the narrative flowed and added something extra to the story, almost like the hidden thoughts that they wanted to voice but couldn't really, not always to themselves.
The French ♥ You use it so well here - there's not too much of it (not that I'd ever complain if there was more, hehe) but it just fit in so well with Nicolas's character. I imagine Albus having learnt French and Nicolas having learnt a ridiculous amount of languages (because if you're alive for that long and you don't, I'd be so annoyed :P) but I love the fact that, in spite of them communicating in English, Nicolas keeps some of the most natural phrases and has a kind of pride in his accent. I feel like if he'd wanted to lose it in the time he's been alive, he definitely could have, so he's just clinging onto his beau pays with pride.
Fawkes was just an awesome addition to the chapter! I feel like he's going to have a lot more of a role in this story and I love that idea, because I've never really seen him used in a story before, so I'm excited to see how you're going to use him! I might have been reading things wrong but I got the impression that Fawkes didn't always belong to Albus here, and that he'd actually belonged to Gellert before, so the fact that he transferred his loyalties - and so strongly - is really intriguing. I'm kind of wondering if Gellert told Fawkes to go with Albus, or asked Albus to take care of him, and the bond has grown from there; like Fawkes is a living symbol of the relationship that seemed to die between the two of them. I'm also imagining that Fawkes goes off to Nurmengard to visit Gellert on those days he disappears without Albus knowing where he is and it's like a continuation of their relationship, in a way - something they have in common. But I could have read entirely too much into that and got it all wrong :P
The friendship between Nicolas and Albus was so intriguing. I feel like I've not been able to get a proper handle on it here, and that's probably your intention because there's more of this story to come, but in spite of Albus being at his friend's bedside when he dies, not everything is entirely easy between them. There were the apologies and half-spoken truths that appeared in their conversation here, and hints at all sorts of things that have happened in the past, but I feel like I don't really know what happened to them and between them properly yet. It's really interesting that there are things which might have overshadowed their friendship, though, and I also really like the idea of Nicolas having been around for all of Albus's mistakes, so he's someone who knows how flawed he is as a person. When we see Albus in the books, he's a really old man and he's been so powerful and well-known for so long, and worked so hard to repay what he did as a young man, that the wizarding world mostly seems to have forgotten that he could be considered anything other than a hero. Then when Rita Skeeter writes about him, it's all in a skewed, biased way - she wants to make him look like a bad person. So it's really intriguing to see a glimpse of the friendship between the two of them here, and to think that Nicolas is someone who knows and accepts Albus for who he really is, all he's done, and is still his friend.
I loved the parallels that could be drawn between some of the characters mentioned here, and their quest for immortality. I'm not sure if that was completely intentional, but I really liked it. Nicolas didn't ever really seem to want immortality, from the way I've read the books - by the time the Stone needed to be destroyed, he was happy to accept Death - to greet it like an old friend. He'd created something that could give the owner eternal life, for a while, but it didn't seem that he'd done it just to be immortal. Or perhaps because he'd lived for so long and been immortal, he was able to accept death for what it was? And then there's the comparison you can bring in with Albus and Gellert, who both sought the Hallows, and Voldemort, who sought any way to become immortal - none of them succeeded but the one person who did accepted death and it kind of shows that nobody really can be immortal. The chapter title tied in so well with that theme, too!
Now I've rambled enough and run out of space, but I loved this! hearts;
Laura! Finally here for our swap... I'm sorry I took so long. I said I would write 500 words and ended up finishing a 2900-word chapter.. -shakes head at self-
Anyway, I will start off by rejoicing because I understood 95% of the French in this. At least contextually, you know? Your stories are, like, mini-French lessons for me. Or, well, refreshers. :) Yeah, we'll call them that.
So, moving on. Your story is something I haven't heard before. What I mean is, the whole Nicholas and Albus friendship exists but now that I think about it, I find it quite hard to believe that they're friendship has been so rarely explored. Mhmmm..
I really, really enjoyed this line: They have been friends a long time, after all, and conversations, for them, are almost things of the past. It speaks, so wonderfully, of forever friends. The kind that is so comfortable that even in silence it feels as though you are speaking to one another but on a different level. I could relate in some way as my best friend and I are like this, we find conversing unnecessary sometimes although we cannot boast of a friendship the length and scope of Nicholas' and Albus'.
I think you handle their interaction as Nicholas is about to die so brilliantly. What is so striking to me is that Albus is the one who is sombre and sad while Nicholas seems almost calm, accepting of what is about to happen. It is true, then, that the ones who are left behind really do end up sadder, more in pain that the ones doing the leaving.
Then... we have Fawkes. And oh, I love it! I've never really asked where Fawkes came from. I assumed, as Harry had always assumed, that Fawkes was Dumbledore's and that was that. You made it so much more interesting...
Then there is this line! (To be honest, I can pick 10 million and one lines from your stories. They just all clobber me over the head and leave me breathless.) “Immortality has slain me, my friend, and handed me over to death. It is not the way it is in the stories – not the way anyone would believe.” Because it is so brilliant. There such a poetry to it; the message so subtle and so full of feels that I actually sighed when I read it. It really touched a chord in me.
Then. THE END. The end was so beautiful. I can almost see Albus' face as he thought about a man from a time so very long ago. And.. beautiful and brilliant and so very terrible in the end. I can feel the love, the longing and the pain as well!
I really enjoyed this and I can't wait to see what else happens in the next chapter! As always, your writing is brilliant! :) Thanks, again, for the swap. :)
Hey there Laura! ♥
I really liked the concept behind this story as the friendship between Albus and Nicholas is usually forgotten, but it must have been a very interesting one so I’m glad that you’re exploring it now. Those two seemed to go so well together as Nicholas is wise in the sense that he has experienced so much of the world, and Albus in that he’s just Albus so naturally wise, so I can imagine them having these very deep, philosophical conversations.
I really liked Nicholas as he made me laugh in a way in that he had lived for hundreds of years and must have seen the whole world, but he still retained his French accent which I guess just shows how some people never changed. I really did like the French though as I thought it fitted in with the overall story really well and just gave it that little special touch.
Another thing I really loved was your writing in here as it really was excellent. What made it great was the use of parentheses as that created a different dynamic to the story and gave it another layer almost. Your description was really pretty in this too as it really caught the sense of history between them, the wisdom they both had and the way death had this foreboding air.
I thought Fawkes was a great addition to the story as he symbolised a different form of immortality, a more natural, more pure form in a way than what Nicholas had been doing or Albus with the Deathly Hallows or even Voldemort and the horcruxes and it made you realise that you can’t fight against death as your immortality will end up being this strange, unnatural form of living.
Hmm, I’m guessing they were talking about Gellert at the end, I hope he does feature in this story as he’s an interesting and wonderfully complex character too and would make a wonderful addition to the story.
A great start and I can’t wait to read more! ♥
Author's Response: Hey Kiana! :) Thank you so much for dropping by! :)
Thank you! :) I've always been fascinated by it too - it's one of those bits of the first book which I forgot about for a long time and them remembered and was almost instantly hooked by. They are both very wise and intelligent, definitely - I think there's almost a sense of solemnity in writing them which comes pretty naturally, if that makes sense?
Thanks so much - I really, really wanted to keep his accent. Mostly because I don't think he ever really moved out of France, haha, and also because I like the idea of him being pretty proud of his nationality and not inclined to change it at all. Plus it's just kinda fun to write :P
Gah, thank you so much! :D I wrote this really quickly and late at night, haha, so it's probably riddled with mistakes so I'm so glad you like it. I've recently discovered I quite like using parentheses - I do it a bit with Gellert in L'optimisme - so it's sort of started coming naturally, which is a bit of a surprise :P
Fawkes! Okay, Fawkes has been slowly becoming a bit of a secret star of my fic, haha. He's just appearing in things now and I don't entirely now why... but he is so fun to write - he has his own character and everything... :P And yeah, I didn't really think about the immortality connection tbh, but yeah, I think it is very different to the others and how they wanted immortality - almost a kind of reminder that they never really got it or could get it.
Gellert will show up! :D And another special guest, too... but yes, he will be there! I'm so glad you think he'd fit in - and that you like him at all, haha. Though whether or not they were talking about him... I couldn't say ;)
Thank you so so much for the wonderful review - it was so lovely to get! :)