Hello, there, darling! I am back again for another fantastic dose of Charlie and Tonks. This story is coming along so well, I am really honored to be the recipient of such a great gift!
I know you were really worried about writing in the first person, but I think you did a terrific job with it here. It isn't easy, that's for sure. Challenge stories are fun that way, though. You can really experiment and take some risks and broaden your repertoire. I think it paid off for you in a major way in this chapter, because it is so narrowly focused on Charlie. It's all about his experiences and his feelings, so it feels perfectly natural to tell it all from his point of view.
I think I like Charlie's roommate so far. She definitely isn't taking any guff from him, but she doesn't really seem to mind his less than gentlemanly behavior, either. Pretty much the kind of woman you'd have to be to work with dragons and even worse, the kind of super-macho guys who like working with dragons. It sounds like the two of them are hitting it off famously. And she seems OK with Tonks, too, which is a plus.
Interesting that you picked Tonks to be the first one to start to let the discipline slide on keeping up this long distance relationship. I guess it's worth nothing that this is all from Charlie's point of view, I suppose, so Tonks might have a very different impression of who was slacking off. Either way, I think you're setting the stage very well for what we all know is coming. The frayed threads are starting to appear on the tapestry.
Before we can get to my very favorite part of the chapter, I wanted to take a moment and compliment you on the way that Charlie reacts to his coworker, Gus. Where did they find that guy? "Bird"??? I do think he should get a chance to meet Tonks, just so she could hex him.
Anyway, on to my favorite thing about this chapter, the amazing writing you did with regard to the dragons and the way they're handled on the reservation. I would say that going back to the piece that you wrote for the Task 1 Challenge during the House Cup and following through to this chapter, you have redefined my whole thought process about the magnificent beasts and how they interact with witches and wizards.
The two dragons that Charlie is first sent to check on are both such sad stories. They were great subject matter to begin developing both the attachment and the protectiveness that Charlie feels toward his great, scaly charges. We start to see how personally upsetting it is to him to see dragons mistreated by humans. It falls perfectly in line with what you're building up to.
It's funny, by the way, to see a wizard who isn't a big fan of traveling by apparition. I guess it's such a commonplace thing in my own headcanon that I sometimes forget what a difficult time Harry had getting used to it in the books. You sell it pretty well here, though.
Again, building the headcanon. Building, building, building. I love the mythos you created around the Ironbellies. You give them such a distinct personality, both in terms of their fierceness and also how the handlers are able to manage them. Every little detail adds to the picture. I felt like something of an expert by the end of this. ;)
You did a marvelous job of showing how all of Charlie's anxieties relate to the well-being of the dragons, even his concern for his own safety. That was such a great touch. And the way he handles the would-be poacher, the outrage that he feels... perfect. Spot on. All of the little things that he does to get the dragon's trust back seemed so well thought out. You wrote this scene brilliantly. There's just nothing else to say about it.
One last thing before I leave this scene behind: I loved the over-the-top macho culture you created for the dragon handlers. I love the scary-looking guy that Charlie works for. It's a little gross, but I like the way they all seem to smoke. The way that they never, ever smile cracked me up. I had this vision of the heroes from the old spaghetti western movies that Clint Eastwood used to make before he started having conversations with chairs at the Republican National Convention. These guys (and gals, I suppose, based on Charlie's roommate) are the real deal. The John Waynes of the wizarding world.
Here's a question that popped into my head for god knows what reason as I was reading the part right after Charlie apparates home. The part where he thinks his roommate might be home, so he pulls his jeans back on. Charlie totally seems like the kind of guy who doesn't wear any underwear, am I right? He's way too macho for that.
Anyway, with that bit of randomness out of the way, the scene with Charlie and Tonks was sweet and sexually charged but also sad in a way. Sweet in that Charlie can tell how hard she's pushing herself to make their relationship work and in spite of the fact that he's had a long day and he hasn't seen her in a long time, his first thoughts are still of her well-being. Sexually charged in that... OK, really no need to elaborate there. It just is. ;) Sad in that the cracks in their relationship are already so visible. All of the things that are going to break them apart in the end are already plainly visible. Sigh.
I really loved this. You are the Dragon Mistress, you know that? You make amazing things happen with them, and you're pretty darn good with Tonks and Charlie, too! Awesome job, can't wait to see what comes next!
Author's Response: Okay. I'm finally here to try and do this review some justice.
First of all, yay that you like your story ♥ it's been so much fun to write so far.
I found myself switching into third almost every paragraph with this chapter, haha, so I'm extra pleased that the first person turned out well!
Ashton Ashton... I'm not saying she won't cause any problems, but if she does, it will probably be unintentional :P
Hahahah I love Gus. He reminds me of the friend of Noah's in The Notebook. He looks like that in my head an everything. Trust me, he's far from finished with his role in this ;).
I felt so much like I did when I wrote the Task piece, and parts of this chapter. Charlie and I definitely connect in the Animal Lover part of his personality, so that was one of my favorite things to write about. I was so worried that it would be boring!
I have to say, him not liking apparation wasn't exactly my own idea. I just figured because he failed the test the first time he took it, he couldn't have enjoyed it. He's too smart and focused to fail at something that's important to him, so I assume that he barely tried during his test. Then once he realized he'd have to use it on the Reservation (probably half way through seventh year when he got accepted to intern in the program) he had to retake it. he passed, but still doesn't like it.
Oh god. THEY HAD TO SMOKE. Hahaha. It just fit. Like you said.. old Westerns. You show me a cowboy that didn't roll his tobacco during their cattle drive, and I'll show you.. an... errr... Jami that doesn't drink coffee? It just totally fit. Funny too because John Wayne of Dragons is absolutely what I thought about while writing this. And I finally got to listen to my country while working on a chapter :P.
We're not getting into Charlie's underwear situation again... ;)!!
Ahhh Dan I'm so thrilled you're enjoying this ♥ It's always so stressful publishing a chapter without *you* reading it over first. With Before They Fall I'm confident after you look it over, that it's good. With these, I feel like it's a toss up :P!
Thanks again, m'dear ♥