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Review #26, by patronus_charm The Truth Hurts

28th June 2013:
Hey Amanda!

I really enjoyed reading from Celestineís perspective. I always imagined her as sort of silly and airy girl, but she proved to be quite cunning in this section. I liked her determination too, because that added more layers to her character and more intriguing to read. It will be interesting to see whether buttering up Siriusí friends will help her keep him.

Lily and Regulus keep on having these moments which make me want to ship them, and there was another one in this chapter when Lily met Regulus for the party. They have such an odd sort of relationship it makes you wonder whether anythingís possible between them. I liked the fact that theyíre both close enough now to venture out in public together and seeing their friendship grow always brings a smile to my face.

Lilyís thoughts regarding James were enjoyable to read. It shows what I imagined her to be like in sixth year, growing closer to James but still unsure whether she wants to date him or not. I could sense how guarded she was when Regulus was questioning her and that entire scene between them was written really well. Then her confusion over the entire situation was reinforced with her walking away when Snape was mentioned.

I was a little surprised that Regulus actually told Lily about Sirius leaving, but then the more I thought about it the more it made sense. Their friendship was growing and then it fractured slightly with Lily running away so with this revelation it would hopefully repair their broken bonds. I really liked how you showed how much Regulus cared for Sirius as that bond between them often goes unforgotten by most Marauders stories so seeing the emphasis on it here it truly wonderful.

Poor Regulus, first Lily breaks off the deal with him and then the altercation with Snape. I know you like Snape so I think the way you let go of your bias towards him and showed him as the slightly demented and evil person he is, was brilliant. I think this is the darker side to Snape and Lily which a lot people forget to include as they like to romanticise the pair of them, but showing it here just brought it to another level. Then the way you ended the story with Regulus falling has left me on tenterhooks!

I noticed one tiny error here ĎďLilyĒ Slughorn exclaimed. ďYou are a vision! Youíre like a coat of fresh snow!Ēí where you missed a comma after Lily. Iím only pointing it out because the chapter was otherwise perfect!

I think this has to be one of my favourite chapters so far due to all the different parts you included which are usually left ignored by this era. Great work, Amanda ♥

-Kiana

Author's Response: Hello again, Kiana! (By the way, I dropped some questions in your TGS MTA, in case you didn't notice them yet. Enjoy!)

Celestine is kind of an airhead, but I didn't want that to be her whole story, you know what I mean? I think she's good for comic relief, but she's also a really sweet girl at heart, the kind of person who Lily could really count on (like Ellery) if she really needed to. Stay tuned on her situation with Sirius.

Well, Lily only begrudgingly accompanied Regulus to the party, but I could see where romantic tension could form between them, if there weren't so many other variables in the model already. It would be interesting if they formed more than a friendly relationship.

Yeah, James is like this whole other complication that Lily wasn't quite prepared for, I think. I feel like she would have wanted to take some time just for herself after the chaos of fifth year and she doesn't really get to do that here, poor thing.

I think it's hard for Regulus to ignore that Lily just gives off this really trustworthy vibe. She can be very gentle when a friend needs that. It's not like he could confide in any of his Slytherin friends about his feelings on the Sirius situation, and so he maybe took a chance with Lily here. Thankfully she didn't laugh it off or pretend like she didn't care.

I see a lot of Snape-Lily interaction on the archive that goes to one extreme or the other. Either she totally hates him or all is forgiven. Why not explore some of that awkward gray area where a serious friendship has just been blown to pieces? I have really worked hard to ugly my usual Snape up in this story, and his character development is still a work in progress, so hopefully you continue to enjoy watching it play out :)

Ugh, thanks. I'll have to go back and fix that!

Thank you for this truly lovely review!

-Amanda


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Review #27, by patronus_charm If Santa Had a Broomstick

22nd June 2013:
Ok when I saw the chapter title I was sorely tempted to skip to the end to find out why he would want a broomstick, but I managed to stick it out for the entire chapter and Iím glad I did :D

You lulled me into a false sense of security! There I was thinking how lovely it was that Lily and Ellery were talking as we havenít seen much interaction between the pair of them recently when Ellery goes and drops that bombshell. I liked the bombshell in a way as it was a great depiction of the war., Lily didnít know about it which shows what a regular occurrence itís becoming as not every case is publicised and the frightening atmosphere they live in.

I really liked the inclusion of Christmas carols especially if Santa had a broomstick as I donít often see wizarding traditions of Christmas so it was a nice touch and made me smile!

Ok so whatís going on with Ellery love life? Iím guessing sheís not too keen on Peter judging from the way she didnít agree to go with him. Though I liked how you phrased it nicely as it doesnít always happen to him. Then there was small glance from Remus when the NEWT revision books were mentioned and it got me wondering. Does Remus like her or was it just an innocent? I have a feeling you wonít tell me, but itís worth a shot!

I liked how you showed their different of what this outing was with where they wanted to go. It was nice and subtle and Siriusí reaction did make me laugh :P Iím wondering what happened to Remusí wallet now. I have a feeling that something big is related to it considering thereís Death Eaters roaming around but I have a feeling you wonít tell me.

The Celestine/Sirius story always makes me laugh. Celestine really doesnít have any qualms about letting anyone know how much she likes Sirius and that light humour adds a lot to the story. I think the best part in this chapter was her looking at his chest. Then this line from Sirius was brilliant ĎďI think she wants to marry me and have my babies. The whole thing makes me a bit nervous.ĒĎ itís like heís actually contemplated it all!

I liked the mysterious air the note had too, and itís making me wonder what got him so agitated about the date. I suppose itís because Regulus wants Lily to be with Snape but I canít help wonder if thereís more to it than that. This chapter really made me wonder and I love chapters like that!

-Kiana

Author's Response: Hah, glad you like the title I chose :)

Yeah, I think Ellery is a good friend and is just concerned about Lily's safety. I would imagine her to have been one of the first to pull Lily aside and check in with her once it began apparent that Severus was potentially dangerous. Anyway, I don't really have a potential match in mind for her. It felt a little cliche to pair up all of Lily's friends, and even Celestine has her part to play in the plot to come, but I didn't feel that it was unrealistic for boys to take a slight liking to Ellery. You may ship her with whomever you choose :)

I don't see a lot of wizarding Christmas traditions either, so I decided to make up some of my own. The carols were challenging but they were the part that was the most fun. I also figured that at least some of the Hogwarts teachers would try to pull Christmas into the classroom and make lessons fun.

Actually, Remus's story about the wallet was sort of a red herring. He just doesn't have a lot and doesn't want his friends paying for him every time they go into town. He's too embarrassed to be honest, especially with the girls present. Sorry if that wasn't quite clear.

Yeah, I like writing Sirius and Celestine together. They're a little cliche but, as you mentioned, they provide some humor and levity to the story when it's really needed. You'll have to stay tuned to see if their relationship blooms into something more or if they don't manage to stay together after all.

I'm happy to hear that you're curious about the next chapter and I'll be looking forward to seeing what you think. Hope you enjoy it, and thanks for your fabulous review! :)

-Amanda


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Review #28, by patronus_charm A Game of Hearts

21st June 2013:
Hi Amanda!

First of all, you guys are missing out on not having baked beans! Iíve seen them in most European countries so I assumed that they would be in the US too. Oh well, that was a nice touch to include :)

Peter scared me a little in this chapter. I think itís mainly due to me rarely seeing it from his perspective so I never get an insight into his mind so that was surprising for starters and then his thoughts was the thing which scared me the most. I think it was the way he openly recognised that he could manipulate people and that he could Ďswayí them. It was a really great case of foreshadowing for when he becomes he a Death Eater.

I thought Sirius was wonderful in this chapter. Not wonderful in the way he was acting but more in his characterisation. You really showed how self-righteous he can be at times. He still wasnít feeling that guilty about what he did with Snape and blamed Snape for possibly revealing Remusí secret when it was his own fault and that was really well done.

Snape scared me in this chapter. He becoming a Death Eater is the biggest issue Iíve had with fan fiction because suddenly heís a Death Eater but he still loves Lily and they never provided a connection between the two, whereas you did and it was really great. It showed his evil and slightly deranged side by him thinking that if he joined up it would win Lily back.

The bond between Regulus and Snape worked really well in that scene because it was odd to see Regulus as the wiser and more rational one when people donít often give him that role. But then you developed the complexities of it even more and showed Snapeís warped logic but not allowing Regulus to join. They have a really odd dynamic which is great to read. I liked how you ended that scene with Regulus having this protective streak in him and it will be interesting to see how that develops.

I liked how you showed Lilyís reaction to Remus, it made sense that she would be more caring and compassionate as it fits well with her overall character. The fact that she was more shocked about the revelation that they were animaguses was fitting too. I was quite surprised that James asked her to Hogsmeade, but I suppose he said it in a way where it seemed more like they were going as friends as opposed to a date. It will be interesting to see how that pans out.

Another great chapter, Amanda :D

-Kiana

Author's Response: Haha, well, let me clarify--we do have them for lunch and dinner, just not as a breakfast food. They're commonly served with burgers and barbecue and I actually really like them :)

I've worked really, really hard on Peter for this story and he actually makes a pretty strong showing in the last few chapters, so I'm pleased that he's going okay so far and you like seeing him a bit more developed, albeit somewhat creepier. I get tired of the weak!Peter stereotype and so I wanted to go in a slightly different direction with him here.

Yeah, Sirius kind of gets the short end of the stick from me in this story because most of what you see comes from Lily, Snape or Regulus. Again, please tell me if I'm being too cruel to him. I'd never want to do that.

Yeah, he's meant to be quite chilling in terms of how irrational he's being and yet how strongly he clings to those erroneous beliefs. He must be quite far gone to think that Lily would actually be impressed by dark magic. It's a perversion of their original meeting. As I've continued working on this story, he's become darker and darker and I sort of feel sad because I didn't capture many of his adult, older-and-wiser personality traits. Ah, well, plenty of future writing material there.

I still really love the Regulus-Severus friendship in this story. It was inspired by a tiny scene from another Snape story that I adored and so I've let it figure prominently. It's definitely part of my head canon. I think that they could have bonded quite a bit, especially after both of them joined Voldemort.

Yeah, Lily and James will start to grow a bit closer from this point forward. It's been challenging to write them together because I don't ship them, but hopefully it turns out okay. Juggling all of the moving parts has been so difficult in this story and I'm actually kind of scared that it will fall apart in the end. Hopefully not. Thankfully, I have loyal reviewers like you to give me that feedback :)

Thank you for this fantastic review!

-Amanda


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Review #29, by patronus_charm Snape's Second-Worst Memory

20th June 2013:
Iím so bad at catching up; I am determined to be caught up by the next update!

I really liked the start of the chapter. You lulled me into a false sense of security because I just thought this was going to be a normal chapter, but then when Sirius appeared and started accosting Snape I knew I was wrong. I liked how you showed that Sirius can be just as bad as Snape in the way he was antagonising him. I like Sirius, but this flaw of his has always bothered me because not many people put enough emphasis on it, but luckily you did.

The part when Sirius told Snape about Remusí mother left me all confused. Obviously, I know whatís going to happen and Iíve never seen Snape led there before like that and I liked the originality of it. Then there was the bit about how Snape felt bad for Remusí mother and wanted to help her. Snapeís one of those people who I donít think is honest to even himself so it did make me wonder whether this action was purely selfless or not.

The scene when James and Peter looked at the map was really well done too. I liked how you started it off as light-hearted as it echoed lulling us into a false sense of security like at the beginning. It was also nice to see an update on the Sirius/Celestine front too. Then the realisation of Jamesí when he looked at the map was really good. I mean, I knew what he would see but I still felt this shock when he realised it too. It was as if he was consumed by this pure horror.

The arrival of Lily wasnít something I was expecting but I really liked it. I liked Lilyís disbelief towards Snapeís revelation. Iíve seen different accounts of whether she knows or doesnít know and I really liked it here. This line was really great ĎďRemus?Ē Lily felt something cold overtake her heart. ďHeís a werewolf?ĒĎ the cold thing which overtook her heart showed what an impact it had on her and it was nice to see she was just cool about it.

Snape really chilled me in the last scene. Iím guessing the line Ďfor enemiesí is in reference to sectumsempra. Iím currently very worried about how heís going to use it, Iím guessing Sirius is most likely going to face the brunt of it. The scene also chilled me because though he still wants to be friends with Lily thereís almost this transformation with the mocking voice he used and how he spoke of her friends with disdain. The developments on that front are really intriguing me and I canít wait to see if they do end up friends again.

That was another really great chapter, Amanda. Iím looking forward to reading on!

-Kiana

Author's Response: I'm sure you will be caught up! Please, take your time--you leave me such lovely and thought-provoking reviews that it's actually nice to have a little time to consider each of them :)

I do want to show that some of what Snape received from Sirius wasn't Snape's fault, but I want to make sure I don't go overboard in my continual effort to show multiple facets of Snape, so please tell me if I ever go overboard with Sirius's less attractive traits. I do like Sirius and I think he's wonderful to write because there's just so much there.

I think that Snape was lured in by Sirius's mention of Remus's mother in part because in my head canon Snape and his mother were relatively close, both of them having been ostensibly victimized by his father. Obviously there is a darker motive here in terms of winning Lily's affection and figuring out what is going on with Remus, but I think there could have been something resembling good intentions lurking under the surface, too. Snape is complex and so is this decision.

James, I think, feels a certain sense of responsibility over his friends and probably saw the worst happening when he saw Severus's dot rushing toward were!Remus. That sense of duty is something I really, truly like about him.

In my mind, Lily was blindsided here. She's hurt that no one would have trusted her enough to tell her about Remus's secret, especially with it being so dangerous, and yet she doesn't know Severus well enough anymore to know if he's just messing with her. It would be a tough position to be in and I'm sure she felt very bewildered and had to just handle the situation the best she could.

Yes, you're correct--in this story, the werewolf incident and James's heroism sparked the creation of the deadly Sectumsempra curse. It's just another example of how ill-equipped Severus is in handling conflict--probably partly a result from the modeling he received as a child. He thinks that becoming a powerful wizard and making up his own curses and just blasting James out of his way will win Lily, but of course he's sorely mistaken about that.

Thanks for your sweet review, Kiana :)

-Amanda


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Review #30, by patronus_charm Revelations

6th June 2013:
Woo, Iím more than half way through :D

I always wondered why Lilyís friend never felt a little bit of envy towards her, so it was nice to see that you made Celestine feel that way a little. It was only a minor part but it was a nice touch all the same. You managed the quidditch game really well and it was a nice touch to mention what McGonagall and Sprout were wearing as it added a little humour to the game.

Regulus really is a mystifying character. He bends to the rules by being friends with the older Slytherins like heís meant to, but then he goes and stands in the Gryffindor stands and sends notes to Lily. Itís nice to see how their tentative friendship is developing and I canít wait to see how their plan with Snape and Sirius is going to continue.

I really like how youíve shown that humanity does exist in the Black family. I think it was the comment about how Regulus viewed Kreacher showed it, and itís great foreshadowing of how pivotal Kreacher is in Regulusí life. Then there was the part about how Bellatrix doted on her younger sister which was rather touching. I would like to think that she had a heart at some point so it was nice to see it here.

I really liked Narcissa she had this nice nature about how her, and I always imagined her to be like that. I think it was her innocence which made it like that and it showed when Regulus talked about her girly nature and the way she wanted to speak to Sirius. I hope that itís purely out of interest about him and not trying to sway him to the Death Eater cause but I suppose Iíll never really know.

The conversation between Sirius and Regulus was great. It showed Regulusí naivety with the way he viewed Severus as a great person without faults and thought they were still family. It also showed how Sirius could have quite a cold nature at times with the remark about Regulus not being his family and telling him not to cry. I would like to think that they would have been close enough to view one another as a family but I guess the cracks are deeper than I thought.

I thought Snape was in the Slug Club, but I guess he could be joining later on or something like that. Even though Snapeís trying to reveal Remusí secret thereís still something about him which makes him likeable. I canít really put my finger on it but itís there and itís really great to see :)

Another excellent chapter, Amanda ♥

-Kiana

Author's Response: Yeah, I found it interesting to imagine pretty, happy Celestine being jealous of Lily. I always try to make sure my characters have layers :)

Regulus is quite daring when out of his parents' reach. Sadly, he's branching out in all directions right now trying to figure out where he belongs, and naturally that might land him in some trouble. It is entertaining when his reaching leans toward Lily, though, I think.

I really view Regulus as being the core of humanity in the Black family. Bellatrix worries about her sister, but I perceive it to be somewhat superficial; if Narcissa went the way of Andromeda, I doubt it would persist. As for Narcissa herself, I'm not sure I'd classify her as nice--more like well-behaved. It would only be proper for her to greet her cousin, whether she cares about him or not. I think she was actually sort of dreading it. You're definitely right that she's very innocent still and new to this idea of getting married.

Yeah, I wanted to show the shifting dynamic about whether Sirius or Regulus was really the one with a cold heart and a mistaken perspective. It's sad, because I think there is a lot of potential for them to be a great team, but politics just seems to get in the way.

If I remember, I mention why Snape isn't in the Slug Club later on. It's basically just because he isn't bright and flashy like the other students that Slughorn likes to 'collect.' He looks like the type to go to the dark side, which would disappoint Slughorn quite a bit. You probably perceive Snape as being more relatable than likeable, which I guess could make him likeable, but I'd love to hear more about that as you read on. I'm very interested in what people think of my characterization.

Thanks for another wonderful review :)

-Amanda


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Review #31, by patronus_charm Making Good, Breaking Bad

5th June 2013:
Itís been far too long since I read this story!

I donít think Iíve ever seen you swear before in your work but it was really fitting here as it showed the brutality of the future Death Eaters and how low they viewed muggleborns to be. I really liked how Regulus sort of felt unprotected due to Snape not being there. It was as if he was exposed to a harsher reality of what they got up to and that reality had surprised him. I really liked how you added some backstory to Snapeís life too, as itís always interested me.

I liked how Rosier had become the sort of leader of them all. Itís interesting to see that heís not showing any visible remorse about what he did and itís making me wonder whether he does feel anything underneath it all or whether heís just heartless. Iím inclined to think that he does feel something as he kept on rubbing at his arm and it was almost as if to say he hadnít realised what expectation having that mark would carry.

Lilyís more devious side came into play here and it was nice to see it. It seemed like the sort of think she would do and I didnít just like it because it meant it led to a conversation between her and Snape but it showed that she had an adventurous side to her too. I thought you caught their conflicted emotions really well. It was nice to see the issue of Snape calling her a mudblood wasnít one which was going to disappear quickly and that it would continue to effect both of them greatly.

Iím so glad that you gave Peter a chance to shine here and that Lily viewed him as an equal and could talk to him. Thatís probably one of the things which annoy me most when Marauders stories completely side-line Peter but to see you give him a lot of attention here was really great and well deserved on his behalf.

It was interesting seeing Sirius through Regulusí own eye. Weíve only really seen him through thoughts and memories beforehand so it was nice to see him actually being there and Regulusí thoughts about him directly afterwards. Itís strange to see that he almost appears to be a playboy from Regulusí eyes but I donít get that kind of response from other POVs. I think itís fitting though and it worked really well.

Another excellent chapter, Amanda, and I canít wait to read on ♥

-Kiana

Author's Response: Heyyy Kiana :)

Yeah, my Death Eaters are not nice people. Like the Marauders, they're still fairly young and stupid most of the time, but they're not afraid to yoke themselves to their cause and do whatever feels right in the moment (with little regard for the moral ramifications, at least until afterwards when all is said and done). The cursing was meant to be a bit jarring and to distance them from the normally happy atmosphere of Hogsmeade.

Rosier is certainly the toughest of the group, and he's the oldest, which makes him the closest thing to Voldemort that Regulus has walking around in his everyday life. His continual attention to his arm is meant to show that the Mark is painful and irritating and that's he's not entirely made of stone (i.e., he can't just play it cool all the time).

I think Lily is really taking advantage of this bet and trying to make the best of it by allowing herself to call the shots. She's not about to grovel before Severus and beg him to forget that they ever had a falling out, but she's also not so harsh as to totally throw him aside when he doesn't do the same for her.

Peter has been fascinating to work with. He's got this inner deviousness of his own that his friends don't seem to really notice. Keep an eye on him, because that personality will determine the course his life ultimately takes. For now, though, he's chillingly good at playing the part of Lily's hapless acquaintance.

I actually think Regulus is a little jealous of Sirius. He laughs and acts like he thinks his brother is a fool for getting in hot water with a girl, and yet he probably wishes he could have that sort of attention and popularity as well. Because of their schism, he hasn't been able to classically learn from his older brother, and he's looking elsewhere for role models as a result--unfortunately, it's in the wrong direction.

Thank you for this fabulous review!

-Amanda


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Review #32, by ValWitch21 The Best and Brightest

25th May 2013:
Hi Amanda!

I'm finally here for a long-due review. Speaking of which, apologies for the lateness -- revisions for upcoming exams and RL in general kept getting in the way.

Lily's section at the beginning was lovely and really hit the nail on the head in terms of characterisation (according to my vision of Lily, in any case). Her reaction to McGonagall, and the way she'd see her as a mother-like figure, made complete sense, and I like how you've made her slightly -- I'm trying to think of an acceptable term -- kissing up to the teachers? I don't know how to express this in a way that's 12+. But yes, basically I appreciate the fact that Lily isn't one hundred percent perfect.

I feel horrible for Karen Meriwether and the other Ravenclaw. Even though we all know how Marauder era stories are contextualised, it still made me really sad to be confronted with the war so soon.

I think it's the first time I read about James being so awkward, but it was a refreshing change from the smarmy being he can be. Poor guy. Lily's rejection was also done very well, without the dramatics that are often seen in other stories. I think what I like the most about this is the sense of normalcy you give the characters -- they're only teenagers, after all.

Ah, Slughorn! Your portrayal of the Hogwarts' staff is absolutely perfect. Forcing Lily and Regulus sounds like precisely the type of thing he would do. I think Lily isn't far off the mark when she says Slughorn would think they'd create a Potions genius.

Onto Regulus. The more I see him, the more I like him, but considering cannon, I think I'll continue to hold my judgement.

I'll be back soon for chapter 6 &hearts

Author's Response: Hi Val! Sorry this response is ridiculously delayed. I was traveling and moving apartments and... yeah. I'm going to head back over to Calendar Girls when I get a chance and finish up that last chapter, and then our swap will convert to Reason to Fight.

Yeah, I figured Lily would want to put on a good face for the teachers, even if she has some not-so-nice thoughts in private. The way I see it, a Muggleborn girl in a magical school would want to look competent and well-behaved in order to get to keep her place there and to do well in this new world of hers. She's definitely not perfect, though, as you observed.

This story is a little bit like Yellow in the sense that you are reminded that the people who are dying could be so young, maybe not even considered adults by legal standards. I'm sure Karen never thought twice about pursuing some career experience at the hospital, and yet it would be hard for those who heard of her death to go on as normal in their pursuit of school completion and their future careers.

Yeah, normalcy is what I strive for. The consistently hot-tempered Lily and prankster James really get on my nerves, and beyond that, they bore me. I don't see any reason to get emotionally involved with characters like that. Instead, I tried to make my characters relatable for myself and the readers.

I kind of love Slughorn. He's this one little humorous moment in an otherwise truly dark period in Slytherin history, and I like to think that Regulus can't help but think of his probable disappointment when he considers doing something for Voldemort.

Thanks for your lovely review, Val!

-Amanda


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Review #33, by patronus_charm Sparks

22nd May 2013:
Hey Amanda!

I wasnít expecting a James-centric section so I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was one. Iím not sure why but I really liked your James and he was very Jamesy. Re-reading that I didnít really get my point across, so Iíll try again. You managed to catch his little quirks and what made him, well him really and it was really enjoyable to read.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the James snippet was when he got the map and was looking for Lily. One would assume that it would seem a bit weird that he was searching so desperately for her, yet you managed to make it not that way. Iím really intrigued to find out why Lily is going to the pitch though I have my suspicions that itís something to do with Regulus or Snape. I suppose Iíll find out in the later parts of the chapter.

I have to admit before reading this story I never ever imagined that Lily and Regulus could be friends. Itís not that I viewed it as impossible I just never thought about it, yet since reading this Iím thinking yeah you know what they could have been great friends for all we know. Youíve created this tension (tension doesnít really describe what I mean, but itís for lack of a better word available) between them, and it sort of makes you wonder whether that was always there.

Regulus was a really curious person to read throughout that encounter with Lily. I think it was due to his observations of her. He noted the school uniform and then correctly assumed what Lily did in regards to Snape which is what aroused my interest. I donít think Lilyís that much of an open book to be able to recognise that straight away so he must have put some thought into it.

Then the plot which is the summary appeared. I really canít wait to see how that develops as Iím sure itís going to be interesting. I really loved that scene with Snape and Regulus and how Regulus promised to help Snape win Lily back. I think the end of their friendship was one of the saddest things, as it was so pivotal in their life as it took them into such differing directions. This plan will not only, hopefully make Lily and Severus friends again, but I really like the blossoming friendship between Regulus and Snape too.

I have to admit Iím so used to seeing Snape in this story when I read Exploding Snap, I thought I read Exploding Snape.

I know I keep on saying I love this and that scene, but I think my favourite was definitely the one between James and Sirius. It was just lovely really. I liked the idea of the letter being the thing which triggered off Siriusí decision to move out of his home and seek refuge. Then the way he planned on running way too. It was so matter of fact and unlike them in many ways but fitting in others. I have a feeling that this plan is going to go well at all. It seems to perfect.

Another great chapter, Amanda ♥

-Kiana

Author's Response: I don't like James very much in canon, so a big task for me in this story was to create a version of him that felt canon and yet seemed likeable to me. I thought it was interesting to have him looking for Lily on the map; I'm sure it wouldn't have seemed quite as endearing to many readers if it had been Snape looking for her. With James, though, it's easier to view the action as reflecting care and concern.

I don't know that it would be realistic for me to portray Lily and Regulus as great friends; it's more like Lily feels a kind of kindred spirit with Regulus in their dual losses, and Regulus views Lily as someone he can enjoy toying with. Like any good Slytherin, he can read her pretty well and figure out how to manipulate her. I'm sure those observational skills of his came in handy when he tried to plot against Voldemort.

Without revealing too much, I will say that Snape's desire to reunite with Lily plays a big part in his developing friendship with Regulus.

Yeah, I really like the interaction between Sirius and James. I thought it showed their brotherly love and James's true nature, which is that of a compassionate, righteous person. Trying to look at the good in James has been surprisingly easy for me as I've written this.

Thank you for your fabulous review, Kiana :)

-Amanda


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Review #34, by Violet Gryfindor The Truth Hurts

20th May 2013:
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! :D

Author'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


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Review #35, by patronus_charm Catalyst

15th May 2013:
I somehow donít think Iím going to be able to catch up with all the chapters by the 17th, but I can do my best and I should be caught up by the next posted chapter at least.

I suppose the person they were referring to about never being particularly social was Snape, due to the loss of Lilyís appetite after they had spoken about him. Itís really interesting reading a Marauders story from a Snape lover perspective, as they tend to be from Snape haters, so Lilyís friend take a negative view of him too, whereas youíre making her friends unbiased. Itís a refreshing change to say the least.

The boyís tired faces and the use of Moony let lose what they were up to last night then. I thought they were just up to their usual pranking ways, but Iím guessing they were helping Remus out with his furry little problem.

Iím really liking Celestina, she seems like such a character and Iím currently sitting on the fence as to whether and her Sirius will ever date. She has such an exuberant personality it may phase Sirius and make him run away instead of date her. I liked it when Lily brought up Regulus, as Sirius was really bitter about him. I wonder whether itís purely due to him being a Slytherin and going along with the familyís ideas, or something else.

I really liked that scene with Regulus and Wilkes, because I can view Wilkes in a new light now you said that he is going to be a Death Eater. They both seemed so innocent and care-free it will be interesting to see how theyíre drawn into the darkness. I know the family influence on them is a big factor due to the brief mention from Regulus about agreeing with some of his parentsí views, but I would imagine there would be some of others influences to it as well.

Snapeís and Regulusí relationship is a complicated one. Iím still not entirely sure whether they view one another as theyíre friend or merely someone who they talk to due to having multiple similarities. I think it was the request from Regulus and Snapeís response which is what threw me off. I canít imagine the relationship will grow to be any better if Snape finds out about Regulus talking to Lily, as I would imagine that he would get jealous of it.

The scene with Sirius attacking Snape was really well done, and Lilyís reaction to it was great. Remusí reaction to it fitted with canon too, even though he probably would have stopped it if it wasnít Sirius, he has the reluctance to do wrong by his friends. Then the note at the end was great, I can only imagine that itís Regulus, as it seems like something he would do.

Another fantastic chapter, Amanda :D

-Kiana

Author's Response: Please, feel no rush! The sixteenth chapter won't be up for a while (following my posting the fifteenth chapter on Friday) and I feel bad posting a new chapter when I have reviews waiting for responses on the same story anyway, so take your time catching up :)

I definitely tried to keep people's perceptions of each other balanced here. I think that's one of the advantages of changing up points of view; you get to explore each character's biases in turn and build a more interesting, multifaceted story at the same time. You'll find that the Marauders don't do a lot of pranking in my story. I think it's a bit of a tired plot line, but beyond that, they're in sixth year and they have other things to worry about (as you'll see when you read further).

Oh, it's great that you like Celestine! (Never mind that I keep accidentally switching between Celestine and Celestina, urgh.) People immediately worried she'd turn out to be a Sue because of the hint of a relationship with Sirius, and I really hope she's not. You'll have to see what, if anything, develops between them.

Well, I didn't exactly say Wilkes would be a Death Eater :) Without spoiling you, I can just say that his role in the plot is important for Regulus and he's worth keeping an eye on.

I'm sure I've said this a hundred times, but I love exploring the idea of Snape and Regulus being friends. Their sub-plot is connected to Wilkes's, in a way, and the whole idea of the Slytherins and the budding Death Eaters. You're right that things could quickly get awkward if Regulus gets too close to Lily!

I have so little confidence in my ability to write action scenes, but I'm happy that you liked the little attack there at the end. You'll find out more about the note in the next chapter.

Thanks for another lovely review, dear!

-Amanda


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Review #36, by patronus_charm The Best and Brightest

14th May 2013:
I really liked how you made Lily have a feeling of inferiority to James and Sirius due to her muggle upbringing. It's great that you put emphasis on that, as I always imagined that it would affect her a lot. I really loved her descriptions of Vernon though, they were really humorous and it already gave me an idea of how youíre going to be portraying him throughout the story.

I really liked your characterisation of Minerva. I think it was the remark about her eyes were sharp yet kind, and that really showed what she was going to be like. I think it was right that she would comment on what was happening outside, partly due to her work with the Order, and partly due to her being rather liberal in terms of knowledge the students know. It reminded me a lot when she was challenging Umbridge in OoP.

So the Marauders are up to something then? You really caught the dynamic of the overall group really well, and if felt that there was an equal balance between them all. I felt the same with Jamesí interaction with Lily, which was really well done. I think both of their responses to Jamesí question were perfect and it showed the evolution of their relationship you would imagine there to be by sixth year. Iím eager to see the developments in that respect.

Even though it was tiny mention, and wasnít even romantically inclined I liked that Lily preferred Regulus to Sirius. I never got the Sirius/Lily ship as it just didnít make sense, but Regulus and Lily always seemed to have more similarities and it was nice to see that you drew upon it here.

I adored the tentative conversation they had on the way up to the kitchens. With most characters you wouldnít be able to pull it off, but I think with Lilyís kindness and Regulusí softer side it really worked well, and it had me awing throughout. You kept the balance of them not really knowing one another, humour and cautiousness perfectly. I really loved that part about a possibly potions genius love child, as it seems like something Slughorn would actually do.

That was a really excellent chapter. Itís so wonderful to be able to read your work as it flows beautifully and the scene changes are seamless, and I canít often say that about peopleís work. If it does take me a while to get back itís due to exams, because if it was my way I would have been caught up a long time ago!

-Kiana

Author's Response: Hello again :)

I'm pleased that you think the characterization is shaping up nicely and particularly that you liked seeing multiple dimensions to Lily here. I've really tried to make her seem as normal as possible, not too introverted but also not a caricature.

Definitely keep an eye on Lily and James. The two of them will continue to grow together and show how much each has changed as the story moves forward. It's great that you can already see changes in each of them from fifth year until now.

Well, Lily knows Regulus a little better than Sirius at this point; she really only knows Sirius through his affiliation with James. As you might imagine, that could change as the years go by. For now, though, yeah, they're just kind of awkwardly getting to know each other and realizing that first impressions (and hearsay) aren't always the most reliable source of information on a potential new friend. I'm glad you think them bonding, so to speak, over Slughorn made some sense.

Thanks for this lovely review, Kiana!

-Amanda


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Review #37, by Lilian The Right Sort of Wrong

14th May 2013:
Another gem! Thanks for posting and keep the chapters coming! I haven't really been able to post any reviews these last few months because I'm travelling, but I love reading this during my travels.

Author's Response: Thank you! I'm happy to hear you're still enjoying the story, and I'm always pleased to get your feedback when you get a chance to leave some :) Your timing is great, because chapter fifteen will be posted on Friday. Hope you enjoy it as well!

Thanks again for this very kind review :)

-Amanda


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Review #38, by patronus_charm His Other Home

4th May 2013:
Hey Amanda!

Wow, you managed to make the food at the feast sound interesting! I never thought that feat would be achievable so well done for that. I found Regulusí reaction to Dumbledoreís speech really interesting. He seemed to be impasse about it all, and not having an opinion about it, which is exactly how I imagined him to be. It also showed how easily he could have been manipulated into becoming a Death Eater and doing what other people wanted.

I found the story about Cassian interesting too. Iím so used to seeing the effects of war from the other side and never from the side of the purebloods and the ones aligned with Voldemort. I liked that he was cut up about it, as it showed that they were still human at heart, even if their views were a little warped. Ooh is he the Wilkes which is Death Eater in the books?

I really liked his encounter with Slughorn too, it seemed so natural. Regulus seems to be one who would be drawn to those in authority so it didnít feel odd at all that he would have an almost natural affinity with Slughorn. I liked how you didnít make Regulus a genius, and it took him a while to realise what Slughorn was hinting at.

As Iíve been talking about Regulusí characterisation so much already, I may as well devote a paragraph to it. I really like what youíve done with it, as youíve showed how he could have easily ended up in the situation that he did and that he was young, a little naÔve but on the whole a person who just wanted to be please. It made his situation even more tragic yet even more enjoyable to read due to the complexities of it.

Then the way you wove the future Death Eaters into the story was really chilling, and that comment from Rosier was really scary as he appeared to be revelling in the way he caused the pain. I liked how you emphasised on the events outside of the castle in this chapter, as it gave the story a more real and authentic effect.

I loved Regulusí reaction to Snape having a crush on Lily. It was so naÔve and had so many good intentions. He really is an adorable boy the way he was saying how he could understand and didnít join in with the teasing. But the remark about her being a mudblood also showed his upbringing and how some things are instilled at birth.

Another excellent chapter Amanda!

-Kiana

Author's Response: Hah, writing that feast made me very hungry :)

So Wilkes is the Death Eater from the books, but I've messed with his character a bit, so it's not entirely canon-compliant. Mostly I wanted to take a canon name and make him Regulus's friend.

It's so lovely that you're enjoying my Regulus! I feel like he's very relateable, in that he's imperfect and easily swayed at times and yet bright enough to question things that he sees and things that happen to him. I think he's very human and I'm quite proud of him. (Thus, it will be painful for me to drag him down into the dirt with his fellows. Ugh.) I'm glad you liked his interaction with Slughorn; I hope you can see how his death might have really torn Slughorn up upon hearing of it.

Yeah, the Death Eaters have been interesting to write. I'm trying to give them each their own personality like the other "good" characters we know a bit better from canon. Rosier is quite sadistic and frightening and he'll, unfortunately, have some degree of influence over the curious, younger Regulus. Thankfully, he's not the only one...

I think that scene with Snape really illustrates what I've tried to do with Regulus in these early chapters. He doesn't always do or say the right thing because he's been conditioned to be a certain way, and yet there is still a part of him that is innocent and uncorrupted. He doesn't belong body and soul to Voldemort yet. Sadly, he--like other kids his age--is looking for a way to make sense of his adolescence, and he may choose the wrong one.

Thank you for this amazing review! I've really been enjoying getting your commentary on the story so far and can't wait to hear what you think of the next one.

Thanks again, Kiana :)

-Amanda


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Review #39, by patronus_charm Autumn Reds

29th April 2013:
I know I should be revising but Iíve missed reading and reviewing your stuff, so I couldnít help but sneak back :P

Ooh I really loved the first few paragraphs, they created such wonderful imagery! I always thought that Lilyís favourite season would be autumn, so I was glad to find that was the case. In those first few paragraphs it seemed as if we learnt so much about her character in such a short of space of time it really amazed me.

I really liked the entrance of the Black family Ė it was so them! Then Lily and Remusí reactions to it fitted both of them perfectly too. Of course Lily would be the indignant one, wanting justice among the world, whereas Remus would be the more thoughtful and reflective ones. I often find people struggle with their characterisation, even some of the best authors I know often donít seem to get it right, but this is definitely one of the best ones Iíve seen so far :D I also like how you provided a logical backstory to their friendship, which is, again, often missing.

Oh yes, I meant to say a while ago but forget, I read your author response to the last review and Iím sure Iíll still love the family even if the entire Black family donít feature a lot in it.

I also really liked Lilyís reaction to Peter, and how she didnít like/dislike/pity him, and just had no strong feeling about him. I often people go to extremes with Lily, but you didnít. Wub all I can say is I love your Lily, as I feel she isnít made out to be perfect, and that she isnít going to end up being a Mary-Sue version which is done a lot. I really should stop reading so many Marauders as I know way too much about the different types of Lilyís :P

Even though this isnít a Jilly centred story, I still like the glimmers of them in the background with James offering her the beans, it was a nice touch and I canít wait for the development of them. And we got a brief glimpse of Lilyís friends, and I canít wait to get to know them better as Celestine does seem like a character.

And we get to see Snape and Lily talk. Though many disagree with me, I really hope that they had that sort of relationship you briefly depicted there. I would like to think that Lily wasnít prepared to throw away an old friendship just like that, and you could really sense how she was conflicted towards him.

I was meant to try and review this constructively as I want to be more helpful when reviewing, but I got too lost in your awesome Lily. Oh well, I can try next time! Another great chapter Amanda, and Iíll be back as soon as schoolwork lets me :D

-Kiana

Author's Response: Hi Kiana :)

Lily will always be dear to my heart. I love exploring the woman she could have been and seeing how she interacts with different kinds of people and learns things about life. It was important to me that she have this sort of warm center, where she still has some measure of innocence and kindness, which is why the popular characterization of her as a spitfire personality really gets under my skin. I could see her being friends with Remus apart from James and Sirius, and not hating Peter just for being a little odd, and getting a bit incensed when she encounters injustice, even something as small as the mistreatment of an employee at the train station.

I wouldn't say the story isn't Jily-centric. I've actually written a lot of interaction between Lily and James, but I won't spoil things any further for you about that. A lot of Lily's character development in this story comes from having to reconcile her feelings about James and Severus. She doesn't want to trust James but also doesn't want to reject him merely on principle when he's clearly grown. Similarly, she doesn't want to take Severus back as a friend too easily, but it's hard for her to resist him when he's clearly trying to win back her loyalty. In fact, 'conflict' is probably the major theme of Lily's character, at least in my rendition of her adolescence.

Thanks for your awesome review!

-Amanda


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Review #40, by Violet Gryfindor If Santa Had a Broomstick

23rd April 2013:
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. :D

Author'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


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Review #41, by ValWitch21 His Other Home

13th April 2013:
Before anything else, I must tell you: one of the many things I love about this story is how you surprise us in terms of point of view at the beginning of each chapter (and sometimes you even switch ninja-style somewhere in the middle, which I forgot to mention in my previous review).

I'm happy to see Regulus back, for some inexplicable reason. He's a very likeable character so far, though his upbringing is predominant in everything he does. I hope we see him more sneaky afterwards!

Hmm, what an interesting little inclusion about Dark Magic and the Ministry, as most stories tend to push the Ministry to the side as if it didn't exist! I like the way you've reminded us that (for now) the Ministry isn't corrupted, and still fighting against Voldemort.

So, how was your summer, then? Still getting on with your brother?

Haha, way to be blunt about it! I do like that Regulus has friends who dare ask this type of question though, because when we know how the poor guy died, it's nice to hear that he led a (more or less) normal life before that.

Slughorn, though we've seen him in the books and I sort of liked him, suddenly appears more dangerous. I'm assuming you've based this off the idea that he chose students to add them to his 'collection', but this is much creepier than what's suggested in the books. And bingo! I'm not sure how I feel about Slughorn, there's a distinctly slimy side to him that is emphasised by his hunger for promising students and he makes me wary.

Aw, Regulus lying to avoid Sirius discomfort. I know I said this already, but I really like the relationship you've developed between the brothers, despite the family background they carry around.

Your description of the Slytherin common room was gorgeous.

Here we are then. The first meeting with the Death Eaters. 'Training', my big toe! They all seem realistic, from the short glimpse we've had, and Rosier's arrogance makes me want to throw something at him. My favourite aspect of this part, though, was Regulus' questioning attitude of the Dark Lord's actions and motives. Can that already be a hint as to what we find out in DH?

Regulus watching Snape watching Lily was amazingly well-done, and you did the point of view switch again for a moment absolutely flawlessly! Though it's still unsteady and snappy, I like the interaction between the boys. I feel like for now they're seen a little as the outcasts of Slytherin, no?

After a moment of watching her, he recognized her as Lily Evans, the Muggle-born girl that he'd so often seen shouting at Sirius out on the grounds between classes. She was memorable because her yells contained no hint of teasing or flirtation. She seemed to genuinely hate his brother.

I don't know why, but this quote made me smile. Regulus is a bit clueless, isn't he?

Oh, Severus, how I like your reaction! That's the type of thinking that wouldn't have hurt a few months prior though. Regulus, however, well: It was only a word, the right word. As always, you don't make your characters perfect, and this shows that Regulus is still formatted to a certain extent.

And what a lovely ending to the chapter! Your description was beautiful, as was Regulus' need for freedom and empty spaces.

This was another great chapter, I can't wait to read the next one!

Author's Response: Hey, hey, don't get too far ahead of me! I wish I had as much time to read as you do -sigh- :)

POV switching has become my new pet writing tool. I'm sort of obsessed with it. You probably noticed some of it in Yellow and The Middle Man and certainly in Diamonds into Coal. Anyway, it's great that you like it, because it's going to continue to happen.

Regulus's transformation is a central theme in this story, so yes, you'll see his nastier side emerge more as we get in a little deeper. You're right to point out that he's just a normal kid, though, even with the heavy weight of the pressure to join Voldemort continually hanging over his poor little head.

To be honest, I view Slughorn as sort of benign. It bothers me that he seems to choose to ignore the dark leanings occurring in his common room, like joining the Slug Club is really what everyone should be paying attention to. I can't really fault him, though, because I can't imagine anyone trying to deal with that sort of cancer in their house. (Snape, obviously, couldn't do much either, and he knew firsthand it was a terrible choice.)

Rosier will, unfortunately, continue to be an influence in Regulus's life. Let's just say that he becomes like the big brother Regulus might as well not have, for all the worst reasons. In fact, several people will have sway over Regulus, and he'll need to make his own decision about the course of his life. Fortunately, as you mentioned, he's not totally sold on the Death Eater thing right now.

Regulus isn't really an outcast, but Snape definitely is. I think of Regulus as being sort of fascinated with Severus at this point, unable to understand the latter's love for a Muggleborn girl. Their relationship is one of the dearest things for me about this story and you will see it continue to grow and change.

Thanks for yet another thoughtful review :) You're making me ponder this story and relive my choices and that is just what I needed.

-Amanda


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Review #42, by ValWitch21 Autumn Reds

13th April 2013:
Here with review number two!

I love your take on Lily. She still sounds very innocent, and you sprinkle a lot about her in a few lines: her favourite colour, childhood memories, the way she cares for others and can I say I loved the inclusion of Remus here?

Psh, those haughty Black family members (this sounds like a horrifyingly racist comment, I cringe just typing it).

Oh, Peter. He's seems quite sweet so far, kissing his mother goodbye and being worried around Lily (for some reason this completely sticks to my perception of him). I like Lily's reaction to him too!

Okay. The inclusion of James sort of breaks my heart, because I've become a big fan of James/Lily with Jami's Before They Fall and I don't want to see them apart. However, because this is you and I know I love your writing, I won't say anything until I meet your Severus.

Phew, awkwardness avoided. I'm actually really curious as to how Snape and Lily will work out if James is standing there being adorable. ANYWAY. If I start rambling on this subject again, you have the right to kick me. The friends you've given Lily sound really interesting, I'm curious to find out more about them!

There is one tiny thing that has been nagging at my brain here. Wouldn't Lily have to go to Prefect's Compartment? Nothing big, but I was just wondering if she was a Prefect in this story or not.

AND HELLO AWKWARDNESS AGAIN! Gut instinct tells me I like your Severus, despite him not having had a bath for several days. Poor boy, I do feel sorry for him, although Lily's attitude is entirely justified and I am glad that she's reacting this way.

This was another lovely chapter, I think I'll transit right now onto chapter three &hearts

Author's Response: Hi Val!

Lily is one of my favorites, partly because I feel like she's one of only a few characters who is really, honestly pure and innocent at heart. Most everyone has a dark side, but I can't find hers. So part of this story was me trying to deepen my characterization of her a bit. You'll see some not-so-nice things come out, even with an overall aura of innocence.

I won't dare compare my James/Lily to Jami's, but let me say that I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. You'll see dashes of Snape/Lily and James/Lily here. I tried my best to play fair, in terms of humanizing James more and demonizing Severus more than usual. Then, just when you think you have them figured out, I'll change it up :) Anyway, stay tuned--the dynamic between James and Severus has been the most interesting and easily the toughest part of this for me, and I hope you find it satisfying.

I suppose Lily would have to at least visit the Prefect's Compartment to be briefed on things. Then again, this would be her second year being a Prefect, so maybe her briefing would be very short. Either way, I didn't include it, so I'll have to glance back to see if it needs to be mentioned or clarified at all. Thanks for that--had not thought about it.

Severus has gotten about the most work of anybody here, as I mentioned. I've tried to make him equal parts despicable and pitiable, depending on the moment you catch him in. Keep me updated on how you feel about him.

Anyway, enough babbling about characterization. Thanks for the review :)

-Amanda


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Review #43, by patronus_charm Eggs and Bacon

13th April 2013:
Throw a party I am finally here!

I am already loving this story purely by the name of the cat! It is a great name though, as it ties in with the whole mythological/astronomy name theme. If I knew there was going to be so much emphasis on the Black family, I would have come sooner as I love them as theyíre all so unique and complex!

I didnít think there was going to be other house elves, but itís fitting. It was rather cute to see Kreacher as the Ďhead elfí, and he seemed to enjoy that position. Iíve always had a soft spot for him too, so I was glad that he was popping up too. And all that focus on Regulus and Sirius! Amanda why didnít you put more pressure on me, Iíve barely read half this story and Iím in love with it.

I liked how you built a really nice bond between Kreacher and Regulus, as it was so lovely to read. It ties in beautifully with canon where Kreacher always seemed to treasure his memory of Regulus so much. It was rather adorable really.

Walburgaís characterisation was perfect. She reminded me so much of her portrait self, and I loved reading her. Well, I love reading anything about the Black family, and I am currently kicking myself for not getting here sooner. I loved how she viewed her sons so differently, the perfect Regulus, and Sirius the fool.

My poor Regulus, under that pressure to join the death eaters already. I feel so bad for him, and heís story so tragic. I find it so odd when thereís a Marauders story which doesnít include him, so Iíll be glad to see a lot of him here, and his relationship with Sirius and Lily.

The one word I can describe this chapter as being is perfect. Iíll try and be back soonish, itís just life is insanely hectic at the moment!

-Kiana :D

Author's Response: Oh, yay! I'm so pleased to see you :) I have to be up front and say that the story isn't about the Black Family, strictly speaking. Walburga and Orion make multiple appearances, but really the focus is on the relationship between Regulus and Sirius. Hopefully you're still excited to read on :)

Kreacher is really challenging but also really fun to write. I wanted to focus a bit on his special bond with Regulus and spent time bolstering their relationship during the story. Regulus isn't particularly nice to him, but he's a lot more decent and interactive than other family members. I'm happy you enjoyed it!

Hah, that's great. She's another one who is tough to pin down. I think of her as this perversion of Molly Weasley--she doesn't have all the children that Molly does, but she still likes to put on airs and play the part of the perfect wife and mother in her own dingy way. She's not as elegant as, say, Narcissa Malfoy.

I also think it's weird to read Marauder stories without any focus on Regulus, even in his minor role as Sirius's cold-shouldered brother. I've really had a blast exploring him for this story and trying to really make him human. I suppose I've actually become rather attached.

Thank you for this fabulous review, Kiana! And no worries--I can definitely sympathize :)

-Amanda


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Review #44, by Roots in Water Sparks

10th April 2013:
Hey Amanda! I'm here to return your review - I'm sorry it's taken me so long to actually write it.

I think that you did a great job with this chapter! I particularly liked the opening scene in which James watches the Marauder's Map for Lily's dot. Although it's not something I've read him doing before, it's definitely something that I can picture him doing. After all, it's a way to watch over her without getting too close to her and thus annoying her.

I really liked the small details you included in this chapter. As always, your descriptions really made the story come alive for me and your characterization was great. Severus' line about Lily having to love him back was great because not only did it show the ferocity of his emotions for her, it also showed the creepier or more desperate side to them. He cannot accept that she might not return his affections.

Another one of my favourite moments in this chapter was when Lily told Regulus that if he wanted her to make an effort with Severus, then he would have to make the same effort with Sirius. It was such a great turnabout and her reasoning made sense. Of course her condition would act as just that: a condition, one that would allow her to stop her efforts with Severus if Regulus didn't make any changes to his relationship with Sirius. It was clever of her to have a safety like that.

I did have a few questions and comments, though, as I was reading. To begin, who's Celestina, the witch that you mentioned in the beginning? Is she a character that you've mentioned previously that I've just forgotten (sorry if this is the case). If not, it sounded a little weird to have a new name be included out of the blue like that. I would've just described her without using a name.

As well, I noticed a few point-of-view changes from Regulus to Lily during their negotiation scene. I'm not sure if you were intending to change the POV, but I thought I'd point it out, just in case. The changes didn't negatively affect the flow of the story, in any case.

I really did love your characterization in this chapter. I think that you did a great job with Lily and Regulus- their thoughts, their reasoning, their actions... It all fit so well with what we already know of them. However, I was a little surprised by the mention of both Severus and Sirius crying. I would have thought that they'd both try and hide this "weakness" from the others. Crying just seems so vulnerable, an action that I imagine would be especially unwelcome in the Slytherin common room.

All in all, I really enjoyed this chapter and I'm eager to see how this deal between Lily and Regulus will affect the canon we all know and love. Will Sirius and Regulus actually become close as brothers again? Will Severus and Lily repair their friendship? Ah well... There always has to be some questions, in order to keep the readers coming back for more. Great work! :)

Author's Response: No, that's fine! It may take me a while to return the next one, due to the fact that my real life has booked up my calendar for the month.

I tried to draw some parallels between James and Severus in this chapter. One thing that I think often plays out in James's favor is that he's this handsome, popular guy. I would bet that if it had been Severus reading the Marauder's Map and staring at Lily's dot, people wouldn't have found it nearly as endearing as they have in the reviews so far. I have to wonder what the reaction would have been if it had been James railing about needing Lily's love and crying in the common room. It's been really interesting for me to toy with both Severus's bad side and James's good side and to switch them up in this story.

I also wanted to step away from the characterization of Lily as this frail flower. She's too smart to just go with this bet idea without having some kind of failsafe in place, and everyone has some kind of selfish side. The conflict between her heart and her mind will come into play more as the bet gets ever more tangled and more gets put on the line.

Celestine was actually introduced back in chapter two along with Lily's other best friend, Ellery. You'll probably remember her if you step back and re-read that :) No worries!

I have tried to play with point-of-view in many of my recent stories, just because I think it's interesting and I like shaking things up, so the changes there were probably deliberate. I will go back and check just to make sure, though. Thanks for pointing them out to me.

The comment you made about crying is helpful. I think it makes slightly more sense with Severus, since he obviously doesn't have good emotion regulation and can sometimes be socially inappropriate when he's upset. I can see why it would be odd for him to break down in front of Regulus, though, since he didn't know him all that well that this point. Sirius, though, even in front of James--I agree that the crying is a little weird for him, too. I'll go back and take a look to see what I can do.

Thanks for this lovely review, Claire :)

-Amanda


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Review #45, by ValWitch21 Eggs and Bacon

3rd April 2013:
I'm finally here, and I'm so sorry it's taken me so long!

I have said it before, I say it now and I will say it again: your description is absolutely gorgeous. You manage to create such a lively scene in a few sentences, which I love, and your flow is perfect.

Kreacher is immediately antipathic, which completely sticks to the portrayal JK gave us of him (even though afterwards he's more likeable, but anyway). I can see him in my head, being grouchy but with a morbid fascination for the heads on the wall, and, already, a deep veneration for the Blacks even though we've barely seen him.

THIS IS SUCH AN INTERESTING WAY OF COMPARING SIRIUS AND REGULUS. I'm literally sitting here gaping at my screen because of how simple yet original your way of presenting them two is -- the suggestion that their rooms are a transcription of their character is great!

Walburga (that is her name, right?) sounds like such a controlling mother! Just the fact that she wants Regulus to act like a man (because she's given up on Sirius, I suppose?) when he's only a teenager makes me reticent about her already. Knowing you, though, you're going to make me like her eventually, so I won't pronounce myself yet.

AWW. I've become a big fan of well written sibling scenes, so this one made my day. Despite the fact Sirius is (more or less) purposely distancing himself from his family, Regulus still loves him, and you got that across so well without falling into soppy declarations!

Okay, well, actually, I do not like Walburga at all. Maybe things will change, but right now she sounds horrible. Segregating her children is the worst thing she could do, and because of that I'm glaring her way now.

Wait. You did it again: you took a new take on a character! I cannot believe Sirius didn't retort to his father. This portrayal of him as being big-mouthed, but reasonably so, is refreshing compared to other fanfics where Sirius is a big-headed idiot. I don't know if that was done on purpose, but it was great!

Death Eaters already, hmm. Can't wait to see what happens there.

Ok, I don't feel like this review served any purpose, but anyway... This was a great first chapter, and I will be seeing you again soon for chapter 2!

&hearts

Author's Response: Hi Val!

I had this really sick idea of Kreacher, in his slavish devotion to his family, having admiration for the elves that have truly served the Blacks until death. Maybe he thinks it is an honor to end up on that placard.

I'm afraid I cannot take credit for the room distinction; as I recall, that's straight from canon, or at least the mind of JKR. I'm glad you like watching the two brothers interact and felt like their personalities were interesting and not too over-the-top.

I don't know that I'll make you like Walburga. I don't really like her much myself, or Orion. Maybe you'll start to see them through Regulus's eyes, though, given that we only really get Sirius's perspective in canon. I wanted to show that there is clear favoritism for Regulus, but not in such a way that Sirius is being outright abused--more like ignored. I think "given up on him" is a good way of putting it.

Thank you for yet another fantastic review! I'll be back to The Calendar Girls quick as I can!

-Amanda


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Review #46, by HallowsAndHorcruxes The Best and Brightest

3rd April 2013:
Again another beautifully written chapter that was just a pleasure for me to read. I must say that I really am enjoying your story.

First of all I love how you described Vernon with his pea lining up and taking off of shoes as I can defiantly see him being a person like that. Really suits his character. Well Done!

I thought you might wont to know that you write lamp chop which I am presuming meant lamb chop since you where describing what Lily was eating. Though that's the only grammar error I picked up!

I loved that fact that Slughorn chose to have the gathering in the trophy room as it certainly does fit with his pride as I wouldn't put something like that past him. So setting it there was a very clever idea indeed. Though having Peeve's trash it was a wonderful idea as everybody loves a good old bit of Peeve's in a story! Overall I think the atmosphere of the party was set out just right for the occasion.

As for the Lily/Regulus interaction I though how you did it was prefect. I can defiantly see them being rather polite to each other as they where because of who they are. Even though they didn't really know each other I though you played them out together well despite the two different status's.

All in all another good chapter, feel free to re-request anytime!

~Hallows!

Author's Response: Hey, thanks for stopping by!

Haha, glad you like Vernon. He and Petunia don't come up a lot, but I do like imagining what Lily would have thought of her sister's choice of a husband. I can imagine her finding his continual search for normalcy and perfection quite annoying.

Well, I didn't go back and check, but I'm pretty sure I did not mean to say 'lamp chop,' LOL. Thanks for pointing that out; I'll have to go back and edit the chapter at some point.

I'm happy to hear that you found the party interesting and enjoyed the contrast between Slughorn's efforts at propriety and Peeve's attitude of destruction. It's also good that you felt the interaction between Lily and Regulus was realistic and reflected each of their personalities. That's very reassuring for me.

Thanks for another lovely review :)

-Amanda


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Review #47, by slytherinchica08 Catalyst

2nd April 2013:
Oh this was a great and exciting chapter. I wish i could have seen a bit more of what led sirius to go torment snape and how it all began but it was enjoyable as it was. There was one mistake that i noticed but since im reading and reviewing on my nook i cant copy and paste it for you but i believe its when regulus is talking to wilkes during potions. I thought lily was great here and i agree with your decision to have her as a prefect. She was absolutely perfect when it came to the fight, stepping in and giving detention to both boys even though james didnt really do anything. I was also glad to see that she didnt give snape detention it was kinda sweet and gave me hope for their friendship. Im excited to see whatelse you have in store for your story and im really looking forward to the next chapter. Ill be back to review more soon.

~slytherinchica08~

Author's Response: Thanks! The ending of the chapter was really mostly from Lily's perspective, but it would be interesting to see it through Sirius and James's eyes and see the lead-up to the big showdown. I think another reviewer has brought up a mistake in that section, so I'll go back and check it again.

I'm happy that you liked my Lily! She's one of my favorite characters and I always want to do her justice. Thanks again for your lovely review, and I hope to see you again soon!

-Amanda


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Review #48, by AisforAmy Snape's Second-Worst Memory

31st March 2013:
You're doing a great job of showing just how creepy Snape's fixation with Lily was. Like in canon when we know he stole the picture of the Potters from Grimauld Place and tore Jamer and Harry out of it. I remember reading that and thinking he's one step away from stealing some of her old underwear and sniffing it in a closet. Snape might have thought he loved Lily but really he just wanted to control her.

Author's Response: Thanks! I'm actually a big fan of the Snape/Lily ship, and I wanted to really challenge myself to make him as despicable as possible without losing that little element of pity we get from The Prince's Tale, just because I usually write him more sympathetically by default. It's good to hear that the creepiness is coming through, and I hope you'll experience some mixed feelings about my Severus if you read on.

Thanks for your great review :)

-Amanda


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Review #49, by Violet Gryfindor A Game of Hearts

30th March 2013:
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! :D

Author'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


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Review #50, by HallowsAndHorcruxes His Other Home

30th March 2013:
Once again a very nice chapter that I really enjoyed reading. I must admit I've always been slightly found of Regulus's character and so it's nice to see him played out so beautifully in your story. Once again the characterization of him is wonderful as I can really believe that is what Regulus could have been like since there isn't overly much stated about him in the books.

Also how you portrayed the relationship between Severus and Regulus was rather clever as. It suits the kind of people that they are and so fits in well with the story. The way you have played out Severus is brilliant too as I could imagine him studying of sorts while absent minded watching Lily Evans from afar. It makes me feel a little sorry for the poor guy.

Anyway feel free to re-request any time!

~Hallows!

Author's Response: Hello, and thanks for another great review!

I'm glad you are enjoying getting to know Regulus. We don't know much about him, and that's half the fun for me in using him as a main character here. Don't be afraid to point out anything you feel doesn't fit in future chapters :)

The friendship between Severus and Regulus is an important part of my head canon, so I'm happy to hear that you think it's clever. Their brotherhood, of sorts, will continue to grow. It's great that you like the way I've portrayed Severus, too, and that you feel some pity for him. I've tried to jump back and forth between that sense of sympathy and a real creepiness in the story so far, and I hope you'll get some of the other flavor in coming chapters.

Thanks again for your lovely review :)

-Amanda


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