Wow, I think this is the best werewolf story I've read so far! I really like how you focused on the painful, negative impacts that such a change would have on a family, and how lasting and personal those consequences would be. It really left me feeling indignant, and protective over Lydia, and with a sort of lump in my throat, which is very hard to do in a story, but you wrote it beautifully. Some stories seem to really glamourize being a werewolf, but right from the beginning this shows how her disease has changed Lydia and wrought immense pain upon both her body and her personality. I really like how you didn't shy away from how sick she felt and how lonely it was for her as those things were really emphasized with Lupin in HP and are important parts of JKR's werewolves.
First of all, I really liked how you built up suspense in the story and filled in the blanks very slowly. For example, the beginning set up the uncomfortable, uneasy situation without explaining exactly what had happened to Lydia, and the sort of tip-toeing around the issue was a good way of showing how the words were taboo in the family and for Lydia. Another thing was how the exact way she got bitten by a werewolf wasn't explained until the end, and even so the story let the reader fill in the blanks. The scattering of hints - how Lydia's friends felt guilty, how her parents paid for the trip - was so effective.
The behaviour of Lydia's parents was just despicable. In a way, I can see how they would have trouble adjusting, but Alexandrina did a good job in showing how a good parent loves their child no matter what. When they announced they were having another baby I was just cringing because it was such a slap in the face for Lydia and made me so angry how they couldn't see her perspective. And how they didn't want her around the baby, even though she's fine 29 days out of the month... it was so predictable, in a way, but no less horrible. I hated too how they were trying to skirt around the blame for their behaviour and not appear guilty - it was very selfish, and even though Alexandrina is heartbroken and worried for her grand-daughter, she is still able to step up. The moments between grandmother and granddaughter were even more lovely because of that - like when they kept telling each other they loved one another. I feel like those little moments, where Alexandrina is trying so hard and Lydia knows that, were so powerful.
The treatment Lydia receives reminds me of the treatment of people who have a Muggle disease or even rape victims. I know JKR used Lupin's lycanthropy as a metaphor for AIDS and you really brought that stigmatization to life here, and I could really see how this sort of treatment is similar to what patients of AIDS or other similar conditions might receive. The mix of fear and blame, the ostracizing and lack of acceptance from their peers and from their families.. it feels all too real. I also thought the victim-blaming was very interesting, in how Lydia's parents said that because she was drinking and being irresponsible it was her fault somehow. That part especially reminded me of victim-blaming in rape cases, and how they were focused on the crime, the condition, and how the long-term affects of the victim. It's so sad, but I think stories like this, which show these victims in a different light, are important to read to help people in general be more understanding.
I was so glad when Alexandrina gave the parents the lecture they deserved - I'm really happy that happened because I was about to start shaking my fist at the screen with how stubborn and self-righteous they were being.
Another thing I appreciated was the description of social acceptance of werewolves and legislation which existed in different countries. The explanation of how werewolves in England are given access to healthcare and Wolfsbane was very interesting, as well as the warning that in other countries people didn't have those options. It's a great look into British wizarding culture and even international affairs.
This was a really great story, I'm so pleased I read it! You did an amazing job highlighting an important issue and created some wonderful, painfully real characters in a short chapter. I loved it! :)
Author's Response: Yikes, thank you so, so much for the wonderful, detailed review. I definitely didn't expect anything like this, so thank you so much.
Lydia is actually an OC from one of my longer stories that I wanted to fill in some background for, so some of what happens is necessary in order to explain who she is a few years down the line.
Her parents' reactions is one of those things. It's obviously going to deeply affect her attitude towards being a werewolf if she knows even her parents can't fully accept it.
I also wanted to make it understandable to people who haven't read the later story, while at the same time not boring those who have. Plus Lydia and Alexandrina both KNOW a lot of what has happened, so they are not going to be explaining it in detail, you know.
Glad you liked the part about how she can't even hear the words without getting upset. I'm not sure exactly why I came up with that; probably to show the sense of shame she feels over being a "dark creature".
I hadn't really thought of that particular comparison. I was thinking mental health problems and gay people, to be honest. You hear about people who might not even seem particularly homophobic or particularly unenlightened when it comes to mental health until it's their child and then they're like "no, don't say that. My child couldn't possibly be gay/have a mental health problem. It's just a phase/you're only imagining it." But yeah, the whole thing when Fabian essentially implies she put herself in that situation by drinking does have real world resonances all right; I just hadn't thought of then until you brought them up.
The part about various countries came from two things. The first was that in our world, the UK is a comparatively liberal society, so despite the problems in the wizarding world, I sort of doubted it would be among the least progressive. The other is the war and the implication that changes will be made to society afterwards. Other countries, where things didn't go as far as they did in Britain with Voldemort, probably wouldn't have the same incentives to change at that time. Harry Potter is, in many ways, so clearly BRITISH, that other wizarding societies are bound to have differences. I'm actually planning a scene in my next gen series when the Irish Ministry is mentioned and Hermione is ranting about them refusing to believe things like pureblood prejudice exist over here, because as a country, we have an awful tendency to just pretend things like that don't exist and I've also mentioned the fact witch trials wasn't really a "thing" over here like in Britain or on the continent (there were like 9-15 "witches" killed, mostly in Kilkenny, for some reason, but compared with many European countries, that's a pretty small number) and how that has effected magical-Muggle relations in Ireland. Yeah, culture is sort of an interest of mine.
And yeah, they did deserve that lecture, didn't they?