Okay, so I thought I should just let you know. When approaching this review, I made notes. ACTUAL notes. This really was a chunky first chapter! :D Saying that though, it was incredible, really truly honestly. This part of GoF is one of my favourites, because it is so intense and magical and heartbreaking. I love reading perspectives aside from Harry, too, just because it heightens the moments all the more and just..GAH! This was just so epic!
Okay, first up on the agenda for this review: I have written in a little notebook page entitled 'Renny - N.E.M. ch1': "'Hi' - lol! - colloq. - foresh. gah! good summ.". I understand if you cannot make heads nor tails of this, because it took me a moment to understand my ridiculous short hand too hahah! But basically, I scribbled these bits almost instantaneously with reading about the first three paragraphs of this, because I was swept away with the effectiveness of your writing and I didn't want to forget all these points I wanted to make! I LOVE that you started with dialogue, because it was so funny, bringing us closer to your character, and combined with your really colloquial and hilarious, casual "Hi." I know that Avrille is going to be an awesome narrator, and that there are going to be relaxing touches of humour later on, too :) It just adds to the whole cosy, mumsy feeling of the first section of this chapter, what with Char being freakin' adorable too.
You mentioned when posting the review request that you were concerned about your prequel fic, and whether or not you'd brought the readers up to speed. Well, you have! I assure you I haven't read your previous fic (though I probably will do now!) but I feel confident with my knowledge from what you've given me here to kinda grasp the characters and their circumstances a little better. Do be pleased with your summary, because it is effective, and somehow not overbearing, either, which is always good. At first, I couldn't quite get over Severus married with a child - it just felt a bit funny to me, but no, by the end of this chapter you'd eased me into the idea, mainly because of the fact that he is really quite canon too :)
Your actual writing style is so strong and so descriptive. This fic kinda reminds me of Mary's 'Unwritten', and honestly, you should see the amount of fangirling I do over that fic. You set up the scene so effectively - less is more! - which really adds to the 'actiony' feel of this fic. Yet, although you have done this there are some really beautiful descriptions scattered in there too, which make this chapter magical. I love this; "The first stars were just twinkling to life in the magenta-splashed violet sky above." It's so simple but SO gorgeous! With all of these elements combined, I was honestly so absorbed in this first chapter. My sister came in to ask me something - I waved her away without even lifting my eyes from the screen!
As I said before, I really like it when fics are set in surroundings and situations we know. I didn't really know what to expect from your request (but that's the fun with having a thread!) and was so excited when I realised when and where it was set. At first I thought it was another Triwizard Tournament, like, post-Hogwarts, because I didn't know if your previous fic was totally AU or anything, and was like, hmm, well this will be interesting, but as soon as I read the name 'Ludo Bagman' I swear my heart danced, and I was just like, NO WAY NO WAY IS THIS GoF!! From that moment on, I was won over by this fic :D It makes it so much more magical and so much more intense to set this somewhere we know. Truth be told, I adored this so much because I kinda felt like a Hogwarts student watching this all unfold from the stands ^.^
As well, you have captured the canon characters SO (note: 'so' is underlined twice in my notes) well! The Beauxbatons students, the Durmstrang students, even the teachers we already know. They all worked in total accordance with one another, in exactly the way I knew that they would have had JK included them in this part of the GoF. I don't really know how to explain it, but I just, I don't know. Honestly. The canon characters were just rad. Somehow you've impressed the way they are upon me so well and I can't even pick out why that is - I am so, so, SO impressed! It made this chapter just that little bit more awesome!
So, as the Hogwarts student waiting in the stands that I am, the intensity of the maze was so incredible. I went cold when I read that Fleurs scream was heard, and the first star had been shot up, and when Fleur was brought out - AH. It suddenly all turned snappy and instinctive, and I wanted Avrille to just be able to see and know what was happening because I really needed to know too!! The atmosphere was amazing and I was completely and utterly captured by it. And, God, when Harry and Cedric come out :( It was like the final release of pressure, and my heart broke all over again like it did in the books. My only constructive criticism to you in this first chapter would be to make his death more striking and, I don't know, in a weird way more sad. I just think, you've fantastically built up this incredible tense mood and he's there, they're both there, something awful has happened, and it would just be so traumatic to witness. It's so macabre with the band playing, too. I only really thought of this because of the Slytherin Prefect's response and attitude wasn't as I expected, I don't know why, and in a way she is telling of the rest of the students. Maybe I'm just sinister and weird, haha - MAKE ME CRY. Bahaha :P But in a way I needed to feel as though time had stood still and through the confusion there was realisation of the horror, too.
Eep, oh man I'm so sorry, only 218 characters left! The last part, in brief: Sev and Avrille are perfect and like magnets, and I love that I can feel their relationship and love. Gah, 28!! So much more awesome left to come!
Author's Response: Ok, I think the lost reply went something like this: WOW! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR REALLY LONG, WONDERFUL REVIEW! I appreciate you taking a look at this chapter even though it's so long.:D I wrote the preceding story like this one alternating Avrille's and Severus's first person POVs, so I couldn't end this one before I was done with all the stuff Avrille had to say. I felt like all of this needed to be from her POV since we know Severus's side from GOF, and I try to steer clear of retelling events from the books since JKR already did that so masterfully :)
I'm so glad you liked the beginning of this story because I always feel very guilty requesting reviews instead of just receiving them spontaneously. However, since this was my first attempt at posting a WIP instead of a completed novel, I really appreciate feedback, *especially* from lovely readers like you who are knew to my writing so coming at it with a fresh set of eyes. So really, thank you!
I'm really glad you like Avrille! I think anyone who has an OC main character, especially one paired with a canon character, is nervous about how readers will take to her.
Good to hear the summary was adequate, and also that you were able to get over Severus being married. That would be pretty jarring without having the lead up of the first story. I think it would help if I explained my version of Severus had more of a big brother/little sister relationship with Lily before they fell out over her relationship with James since I wrote most of the first story before DH came out. I could never imagine canon Severus EVER being with anyone except Lily (hence why "Unwritten" is so AWESOME! Right?! Right?!?! I'm really honored to call Mary one of my closest HP buddies online, so to have my story compared to hers is really amazing!) The only other difference with "my" Severus (besides mine has amazing hygiene since I say so) is that his father was a wizard. Having him be able to do magic was really important to the plot of the first book, and having made most of THAT plot before HBP came out, Severus just had a different childhood in general, coming from a more wealthy, pureblood background, though his father lost all the money to alcoholism.
Alright, pressing on. I like surprising people with the time period, because I really don't think there are a ton of actual Hogwarts-era fics out there. I guess I am the same as you where I love reading a different take on events we already know. I can see the appeal of Next-Gen to people since you can do whatever you want, but personally if I'm doing that, I'd rather write original fiction. I fell in love with HP because of the Hogwarts years, and I like to stick to them. It also makes it a bit harder, I think, to fit an OC in. It's like a big puzzle and really cool! It's funny you mentioned AU since I used to have an AU tag on the first story because of Severus's past, but removed it since it's really alternate Severus, not alternate UNIVERSE, you know? And I worked way too hard to make the first story flawless with (pre-HBP) CoS canon to feel right calling it AU. This one might get an AU for events at the very end, but we'll see when I get there.
I want to throw out an extra HUGE thank you for the CC you mentioned about Cedric! You have no clue how helpful that is. That's something no one has picked up on before, and what you said makes so much sense. I think I was so focused on Avrille's worry about Severus that I totally neglected how emotionally devastated she would be by Cedric's death. I think she probably would have known Cedric a little bit from her own brief time teaching and then later helping the kids out unofficially with homework and studying when she was pregnant and stuck in the castle with Sirius "on the loose." So once I'm home, I'll definitely take a fresh look at that part and see what I can come up with.
Thanks a million times over for this review. It helped me so much! ~Renny