Reading Reviews From Member: nott theodore
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Review #1, by nott theodoreThe Adventures of Abigail Higgs and Potter Boy: The One With The Change In Friendship

31st August 2015:
Hi again, Tammi! Ah, it's been far too long since I read this story, and it looks like I have so much to catch up with now!

It was so nice to get back into Abigail's perspective - and kind of nice to get back to a happier story after you broke my heart with your one-shot and had me on edge with The Unspeakables :P I really like Abigail's voice - I think she comes through really strongly and she's the sort of person I think that I'd want to have been friends with at school, too. She just seems so nice and likeable, although quite quiet, and it's great to read from her perspective.

I'm excited to read about the change in her friendship with James - or the development of an actual friendship, I suppose, because they didn't really talk very much before. It's interesting to see that he hasn't just abandoned her after what happened and instead seems to be trying to make amends for it, even though it wasn't really his fault. He seems really sweet and likeable here, so I hope that he doesn't have any mean ulterior motives behind singling her out and actually talking to her and approaching something like friendship.

Michelle is really mean. I can understand her being jealous, in a way, but a true friend should be happy for Abigail because she's liked James for such a long time and at least now he's paying her some attention. The comment about how friendship can become a habit at times, and you continue it just because of that instead of because the friendship is actually good for you, is so accurate and true - I've definitely experienced that myself! I hope that Michelle's behaviour gets a bit better soon, or that Abigail manages to find some new friends who treat her better - although it's understandable she doesn't want to be left alone, either.

Hmm, I'm intrigued by the idea that James might have already had feelings for Abigail and that's why the love potion made him act that way! Wouldn't it be cute if it was true? I'm really enjoying the change in their friendship and getting to see the two of them interact more here - I'll look forward to seeing more of it in future chapters, too!

Sian :)

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Review #2, by nott theodoreEvolution: Stranger on the Street

31st August 2015:
Hi Kevin!

Yay, back a bit sooner this time for another chapter - and this time about Sirius! I really enjoyed this - I think that it's important that you take the time to flesh him out a bit more in this story as you have in more recent chapters, since he's such an important person to James and will eventually be to Lily, I suspect. It's really interesting to see what he's getting up to over the summer, especially now that he's away from home, but it's true that James's time is probably taken up with Katie a lot more than usual so Sirius must be feeling pushed out and left alone a lot more.

It was so nice to see the way that the Potters had completely welcomed Sirius into their home and family! It's how I imagine the two of them being, because the opening exchange showed that James and Sirius are kind of more like brothers than just best mates, and it's so sweet that James's parents will take Sirius in and make sure that he feels properly at home when his own family have completely rejected him.

I really liked seeing Sirius's frustration at being lost and being out on his own in Stroud, left to entertain himself again because James is occupied with Katie. It's definitely believable and I kind of think that he's been quite good at not letting any of that out really so far this year - it's always hard for friends when they're pushed aside for a new relationship, and it happens quite often, too.

Grace is really interesting! It's nice to see someone else around who challenges Sirius and takes an interest in him, though not necessarily in a romantic way - I guess we'll see whether or not that will develop into anything, but I really liked her character and the way that she started talking to Sirius without any inhibitions. It's nice to see the way that people would react to him more normally away from a setting where he's got a reputation for both his own behaviour and his family. Here in the Muggle world, he's kind of free to invent a story for himself and be whoever he wants to be, which must be really nice for him, actually.

A little Brit-pick - over here (well, not Spain but the UK hehe, I'll be there soon enough) we don't graduate from school, we just leave after taking exams. I'd never refer to graduating from anything except university if I was talking about myself - I'd say 'I just left' or something like that :)

It was really great getting to learn more about Grace and her background, but also seeing her ask Sirius questions and the way that he had to invent a 'Muggle' version of his life. They seem to come from vaguely similar backgrounds with the private schools that they went to, but it's good that Sirius didn't quite break the Statute and let on that he goes to a school of magic :P

I enjoyed seeing some of his frustrations come out too, with the fact he feels kind of abandoned by James. I wonder if that'll come out any time soon in the story.

It was nice of Grace to help him find his way back to the Potters' house, even if he doesn't want to tell her too much information. I'd really like to see the two of them together again in this story - even if there's nothing romantic between them, I think she'd be a good friend for Sirius to have, someone who could take him away from his life for a while. I really enjoyed this chapter!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hello again!

Yes, Sirius has behaved himself quite nicely I think aside from his explosion post-telling-off. But I definitely wanted to take the opportunity to show that it carried over to summer even though they are basically brothers living under the same roof. Though Sirius perhaps exaggerates the frequency JUST a bit, there's no doubt James would be scampering off to Katie QUITE often given that they live in the same town.

You absolutely picked up on the key to Sirius and definitely the key to his dynamic with Grace - "he's kind of free to invent a story for himself and be whoever he wants to be." Tellingly, he doesn't TOTALLY depart from the truth, he just casts it in a Muggle way, but though both challenged him, he feels so much more "free to be" with Grace than he did with Renee because he doesn't have the baggage of his family history and family name. You'll most definitely see them together again - though I won't say more than that :p

As far as the graduating bit, that's a very interesting insight! I suppose we like sensationalizing things over here - well, I don't suppose, we DO - turning every accomplishment into some sort of to do. They have kindergarten and primary school graduations over here, Sian. PRIMARY SCHOOL. It's all rather disgusting to me truthfully, along with the participation trophies they hand out like candy these days, but it is what it is. Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong era in that regard. Well, now I'm rambling and wasting time that could be better spent on reviewing Jigsaw!

Thank you for all your continued spectacular reviews and your amazing and wonderful support!

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Review #3, by nott theodoreLove in Three Acts: Act 1: Friendship

31st August 2015:
Hello, lovely Rose! ♥ Happy (belated) baby shower!

Honestly, I haven't read very much Remus/Sirius until recently - I read one story and it really captured my interest, so I couldn't resist reading this one when I remembered that you'd written it - particularly with all the Marauders era stories you write so well! I mean, I have a slight suspicion that you're probably going to break my heart with this story, but I fully embrace that right now!

I really love this so far! Even knowing full well that you're going to break my heart at some point today, I can't stop myself reading and enjoying this story. I loved the way that you captured the four boys together at the start of the chapter. Their friendship was written so well - I liked the fact that you showed the way that this started in friendship, because I can't think of it beginning any other way for the two of them - and all of the Marauders together. I really liked the way that you didn't leave out Peter (such a pet peeve when he's completely ignored in Marauders era stories) and that he took part in everything just as much as the other boys did. He really felt like one of the group here, which was great to see!

I loved the way that they got so bored (and Mrs Potter was so frustrated) that the four of them went into Muggle London for a day out. I loved seeing them explore a bit and do some silly tourist things that I don't think I've ever seen in fic before - it's so good to incorporate that aspect of their world, and really believable since we know all of them (perhaps maybe bar Peter?) fought for the rights of Muggle-borns and probably had some sort of interest in Muggle culture too.

I really liked the way that you wrote Sirius and Remus here, and the way that they were still friends - still part of a group of four, and wanting to remain that way - and yet there was an attraction between them that we saw gradually growing through the story and becoming stronger and stronger. It was interesting to see them try and deal with that alongside their friendship - the way that they were kind of teasing each other with it through the second half of this story, and the growing attraction they felt, and then the final kiss at the end that you'd been building up to. It really signalled that things are going to change here for them, and that there's a shift into a different type of relationship, which I'm excited to see but I'm still wary that you're going to break my heart :(

Sian :)

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Review #4, by nott theodoreThink of Funerals: Five Stories

31st August 2015:
Hi, Roisin!

I know I still need to catch up on the chapters of A Study in Silver, but I saw this in the recently added pages and couldn't resist stopping by here to see what you'd done with this story - I've seen the challenge over on the forums and I know that you had a similar challenge yourself, so I was sure that it'd be really interesting, particularly as you're a great writer!

I read this slowly, like you asked. I read it through to the end and then I read it again. And then I read each section individually with the notes that you'd provided, and then altogether again. And I'm so impressed with how much you've managed to fit into this story - how packed it is with detail and technique and interest, and the fact that each one of these segments is just 100 words each? Seriously, you should be proud of what you've achieved with this story - I don't think I've ever seen any story that's so experimental (for want of a better word) in so many different ways and manages to incorporate it all into one story.

The opening was really interesting - there was so much ambiguity with that section, and the others, too. I think part of that has to be because of the limited word count, but it also leaves the reader trying to fill in the blanks and work out who the characters are. In a way, each reader is going to get a different version of the stories here, and that's so clever and interesting!

Anyway, the first section - I loved how you titled it, and then completely subverted readers' expectations. The fact that it's a wedding makes you think that the woman getting ready must be the bride, but in fact it's someone who's caught the groom's attention and wants to go and cause trouble, wearing black so that they evoke a completely different impression. I wasn't sure who it was, exactly - part of me thinks this would fit with a Next-Gen love triangle (with Teddy, Victoire and another of the girls, I guess) - and I loved the contrasting images of the bride in white and the guest in black, and the fact that the guest was so confident she'd draw stares - from the groom, especially.

The style of the second section - The Diary - was something I don't remember seeing before, but I loved the scene you chose for it, because I don't think it would have fit with any characters quite as well as it does with Tom Riddle and his diary. The thoughts and the way that they spill out onto the page were so well written. I'm also amazed that you wrote a 100 word piece where each word starts with a different letter of the alphabet. I've read quite a few of the stories where each sentence does that for the challenge that's on the forums right now, but this takes it to the next level and I'm so impressed that you still managed to create a story that made sense, let alone one that fit so well!

The third section, Narcissa, was so interesting and ambiguous too. I loved the way that you incorporated the poetic form and yet still managed to include a lot of information with the repetition that section contained. I really liked the way that, even though it's titled Narcissa, we're not really sure who it might be about. It could be Narcissa narrating, talking about having spoken to someone - Andromeda, maybe? - who didn't care that their father had written. Or it could be Draco speaking to her, and 'dad' means Lucius; it could even be Scorpius speaking to her and 'dad' is Draco. There are so many possibilities there and I love the ambiguity of it and the way that it made me think and question the story, and try and decide who I think the characters are. I think I might just change my mind each time I come back and read this because then I get the best of all worlds :P

I'm not familiar with the poem (or the poet) that inspired the Black Milk story, but now I really want to go and look them up and find out more about them, because if this is based on a translation of that poem, the poem must also be hauntingly beautiful. This scene was so powerful - you captured so many feelings and emotions in so few words. The repetition of the phrase Death is a master from England was so effective, and fits so well with the idea of Voldemort, in this context - or perhaps another that we don't know of yet. It was beautiful.

The final story was so sad. I've only recently read any WolfStar fics, but I'm assuming that Remus is the one that Sirius is looking at - or stopping himself from looking at - here. And the idea that he wanted to cure himself of homosexuality just breaks my heart, and it's worse because I know that there are so many people who've believed that in the past, and so many people who still do, when it's something completely natural and normal and nobody should ever have to think that they need to be cured for being who they are. Ugh. I don't want to rant about it, so I'll go back to the story - I loved the way that you tied this in with both WolfStar and then the trope of Sirius being a player character in fanfiction - this would be such a good explanation for why he tries so hard with women in stories, and why he concentrates his efforts on them, because he's trying to distract other people - and himself - from the fact that he doesn't actually like women in that way at all. The vicious circle of self-hatred that causes is just so sad to read about, and in 100 words you've made tears spring to my eyes over the thought of this being true. I don't want to accept this as canon just because it's so heart-breaking, but it fits so well!

I'm about to max out the character count now (oops!) but, if you couldn't tell, I really loved this story (stories) and I'm so impressed with how much you packed into 500 words! This is fantastic, Roisin!

Sian :)

Author's Response: SiaAaAaAan! Oh my gosh thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to leave such a thorough review! This is one of those stories that I felt kinda weird and unsure about (why is it always the short ones that are the hardest?!?!?! I actually wrote it all out before even signing up to the challenge because I wasn't sure if I could manage it). So yeah, it's so encouraging to get this review!

Gah! Thank you so much for giving it so many read-throughs! It's one of those things where I spent so much time on the things and wanna be all like "loOoOok what I diIiIiIid!" Pretty much all of these styles came from my CW classes and our in-class writing prompts (descending sentence order, alphabetized words, and "How To"--then I'm just a big Celan fan and mighty fond of the Pantoum style).

I honestly didn't have a specific character in mind when I wrote "The Wedding." I kind of decided afterwards that Pansy would fit, and that the wedding in question could be Draco and Astoria. Like, it's all a bit delusional--with the "you will" tense becoming "he is" tense, and I figured Pansy is all about delusions of being fancied. But yeah, it's totally up to the reader, and I'm so interested that you thought of Teddy!

The alphabetized one was weird, because I couldn't really plan it very much. I hadn't even chosen for it to be about the diary! It was sort of like "After... um... buying... um... countless... um... diaries--oh, I guess that's what this'll be about." I kind of intended it to be a back and forth between Ginny and Tom, with him like possessing her and mind control and stuff? I DUNNO IT WAS VERY WEIRD TO WRITE.

"Narcissa" actually did have a concept behind it, but I love the idea that everyone kind of fills it in differently. Like a content-less play almost. Writing it, I'd imagined Draco as the narrator and that it would be set after the war, but now I'm excited by all the other things it could be!

Ooh! Ooh! Ok so I sort of recommend reading a translation of "Todesfuge" while listening to the recording of Celan reading it (in the original German). It had a really amazing sound and cadence and is written to sound like a Jewish prayer almost. In the original poem, the whole "providing the soundtrack for other prisoners to dig your mass grave" thing was more subtle so I really wanted to draw out that image here (and, you know, Voldemort=Hitler).

I definitely imagined Remus as the unnamed "he" in the last story, and even named him in the original draft, but decided to leave it vague for all those Sirius/James shippers. And yeah, UGH. It super bummed me out to write this. All the badness Sirius feels (self hatred, musing about self harm) is super common among people stifled by closets. Meh. Sad. I put that one at the end because I felt like it had such a High Impact ending, which is also a sorta cruel choice because that's what readers are left with. SORRY.

But really, thank you SO MUCH for this amazing fantastic review!


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Review #5, by nott theodoreTime Ticks Away: Time Ticks Away

31st August 2015:
(I just typed out a whole review for this story and lost it because the window decided to refresh, so sorry if this review is a little shorter than my normal ones!)

Um... wow.

That was my first thought when I read this story, and I've gone back and read it through again to check that I've grasped as much of it as I can. There was so much packed into this and I'm really, really impressed with it - the writing and the story that you've chosen to tell. It's definitely not what I was expecting when I clicked on this story from the recently added pages, but I'm so glad because it was even better!

The way that you started this story was so much lighter than the rest of it - it was kind of humorous, and I was expecting to read something fluffy and fun, where maybe a prank goes wrong or something. You really succeeded in lulling the reader into a false sense of security with that opening, because I had absolutely no idea what was coming next, and the twist here and the change in tone was so well done!

Just before I go any further, I did notice one typo - a couple of times you write passed when you should have written past. Obviously it's a tiny detail but I thought you might want to know so you can edit :)

The game of truth and dare that they started playing helped reinforce my idea that it was going to be a story about teenagers messing around or something. But it got so much darker than that so quickly. At the same time, the game was completely innocent - Rose and Al were just teasing each other and messing around, and then everything went wrong in a way that none of them could have predicted. I only started to have an inkling as to what might happen when Rose mentioned the necklace looking like something her mum would wear, and then the hourglass - but still, I didn't expect it to be so dark and scary!

Rose was such an interesting character to choose for this - you captured her voice really well, I think, and it came through very strongly from the start of the story and because of that I was rooting for her from the beginning and felt like I was with her when she was struggling through all of the different scenes with time travel. I liked Albus and Scorpius, too, and I think they were a great choice for the story - I liked the way that you also repeated their presence in the story later on, so there were three central characters whose reactions and attitudes changed over time and you were able to emphasise how much difference that makes to the story.

The time travel sections were so well written. I've read a couple of stories that deal with time travel and its dangers, but I don't think I've seen a fic that does it like this, and emphasises those dangers so well in just one story. This was really great - the fact that it kept happening again and again, every time Rose tried to escape from herself, and it just got more and more complicated and scary. I felt like I was Rose, her voice was that strong, and I was just as desperate as her that she'd find a way out of it and go back to normality at the Malfoy Manor with Albus and Scorpius in the time she's actually from. Instead, it just kept getting worse and worse and it was so worrying!

Then the ending... wow. I was really, really hoping that she'd finally find a way back to Malfoy Manor and rejoin the boys and be safe again, even if she had to try and explain what nightmare had happened and try and fix it. But instead things went completely the opposite way and she was forced to go backwards, back and back until there was nothing. Your writing at the end was so powerful and evocative, and you did a great job of capturing the sheer terror of that idea.

This was a really great story - I loved reading this!

Sian :)

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Review #6, by nott theodoreThe Interpreter: The Interpreter

31st August 2015:
Hi Jayde!

Ah, how could I pass this story up when I saw it in the Recently Added pages? It's about languages and you've used that to explore a minor character which means it's practically written to be something I'm going to love - I was so excited to read this!

I'm also feeling very stupid for never questioning how come Barty Crouch learnt so many languages before. I mean, you don't learn two hundred languages without loving them and having a thirst to pursue the knowledge of them, and I loved the fact that you took that here and turned it into an entire story that explored the life of a minor character who people don't really write about.

I really loved the parallel syntax that you employed here, starting each new section with the same sentence and then going on to spin away from that into a different part of Barty's life, so that we learnt about him and his path through life, and how much of an impact languages had had on that. It was really clever, and I think it also kind of represents the obsession that Barty seems to have with learning languages; it's like that's the one fact that he wants everyone to know about him, how many languages he speaks and how much he loves them, and he doesn't care about being known for anything else.

The way that Barty was introduced to languages was so clever, too - the fact that he was suddenly exposed to them at the World Cup and wanted to know what people were saying, and when his parents couldn't tell him, he decided to find out for himself. It makes so much sense to me - at that age you expect your parents to know everything, so when they don't it's like a whole big gap in knowledge revealed, and I can imagine him only really being exposed to languages at that age too, because of the sort of environment he'd grown up in.

So. Jealous. I wish I'd been fluent in languages when I was that young! (In fact, I still wish I could call myself fluent in my other languages) I can definitely believe in Barty being so determined to study languages that he'd insist on it as a child and bury his nose in a book instead of really living.

The moment when he realised there were magical languages that he could learn too was so cool - and I love the idea that each of the headmasters and headmistresses of Hogwarts might be able to speak Mermish so that they could communicate with the Merpeople living in the lake!

It was really cool to see Barty being able to find a use for all of his languages through his life, as well, especially when he got moved to the Department of International Magical Cooperation. It's so fun to be able to use your languages in a real life situation and for someone who's as determined and passionate about languages as Barty is, I can see that being a really great opportunity.

The ending was so sad :( I thought you built up to it really well, with all of the details that you packed into this story throughout it, and that you wrote the ending really well too - but it was such a stark difference to the rest of the story and that really emphasised how horrible Barty's death had been. The whole focus of this story has been on languages and his passion for learning them, and then we're reminding that no matter how much he learnt, it wasn't enough to save him. Part of me can't help wondering whether he'd have had more chance of surviving, and of things turning out differently, if he'd spent more time at home with his family in the first place rather than dedicating any spare time he had to learning languages.

This was such a great story, Jayde, and I really loved reading it - my little language loving heart is very happy!

Sian :)

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Review #7, by nott theodoreDaddy: Memories

31st August 2015:
Hi there! I saw this story in the recently added pages and it looked interesting, so I thought I'd stop by and leave a review!

Ah, Remus and Tonks are so sweet together and I love the characters in this story in general, even not as a couple, so I couldn't resist stopping by - especially since the title of this story just made it sound really cute and fluffy, and I wanted to read something like that. You didn't disappoint me! This was a really sweet story and I enjoyed reading it so much!

I loved the way that you captured Tonks's voice really well; it was almost like she'd taken a moment of calm (one of very few available to her, I would imagine) and was watching her husband and son together with pride, and all of this love and happiness for the life she has with Remus and Teddy. I found it really believable - even if Tonks never seemed like the sort of 'mother material' compared to someone like Molly Weasley, here you showed just how much she loved her family and you conveyed that sense really well.

I have a couple of pieces of CC for you from this, so I hope you don't mind! A lot of the sentences here are quite short and follow a similar structure; if you changed that and used some longer, more complex sentences then it would vary your writing more and help it flow a little better. There were a couple of times when you used commas instead of a semi-colon or full stop, too - again, it's only a minor detail and nothing that affects the story, but it would really help polish up your writing even more! :)

Back to the story - I loved all the little human touches that you put in this. In spite of it reading as almost nostalgic and dreamy, and Tonks viewing everything through a happy lens, you didn't hesitate to include the details of what life with a baby is really like, when you mention about how Teddy needs his nappy changing and the little jokes that Remus makes about that. Those tiny details really help flesh out this story and make it believable.

Even with how happy and sweet this story is, you also did a great job of not forgetting that the war is lurking in the background, and both Remus and Tonks are going to fight in it. There were a couple of lines that reminded us of that very subtly - the fact that they were safe and happy now, but the suggestion that wouldn't always be the case. It was really effective to show the sort of times that they're living in, and that even while she's trying to enjoy the moments she has with her family, Tonks can't completely forget the world that they're living in.

The relationship you wrote between Remus and Teddy was so sweet and adorable! I loved reading about the way that he picked him up and cuddled him, and they had conversations of sorts - it was just really cute and I loved seeing Remus as a dad, because I don't think I've read many stories that focus on him being a father - even though he was only a dad for a short time before the battle.

This was a really lovely, sweet story, and I enjoyed reading it a lot - thank you for sharing!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hy

WOW, thank you very much for the review.

I am grateful for any advice that will improve my writing & I appreciate your positive review.

I have to admit that i was fairly uncertain when I wrote this & a little wary of posting it here.
Thank you for reading & taking the time to review.

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Review #8, by nott theodoreThe Unspeakable: Goodnight, Potter Boy.

31st August 2015:
Hi again, Tammi! I can't believe that I missed this update, because I really enjoyed the first chapter *hides*

THANK GOODNESS. I've only read the first few chapters (so far) of your novel, but I still didn't want Abigail to be dead (or James to be dying in the first chapter, for that matter) so it was a big relief to read this chapter and find out that it hadn't actually happened, and that it was all a dream - albeit a dream that does seem to have some sort of foundation because of the work that James seems to be doing, which is kind of worrying for what might happen in the rest of this story.

I'm so intrigued about this Richard character and all that surrounds him - James clearly has a really dangerous job, and is an investigator of sorts, and then this Richard might know that he's investigating him, which makes the possibility of him targeting James very real, I think. You managed to include just enough detail in this chapter that I was really interested and felt like I was learning a lot more about James and his lifestyle and job, and at the same time there were still so many questions left unanswered, so I want to read on and find out what happens (which means you clearly need to update this story again :P).

When James woke up with Candice, my first thought was that she was just a random girl that he hadn't meant to stay with - and then we see that he has blond hair, and he's in disguise, and I was instantly so intrigued about why he's trying to spend time with her and essentially lie to her about who he is.

Then the phone call to Abigail is so sweet! ♥ I'm really excited to get the chance to read more of your novel now and see the two of them together because here they were just the cutest, even if they're separated because of the distance. They're so close after all of this and that's great - I feel like Abigail will be a real support for James through this, when he can't talk to people about his job. I can't help worrying - especially after the dream - that Richard will realise that he's so close to her and use that, though.

Seeing James in a work environment was really interesting, too! He's clearly skilled and talented at his job, since he's being used to train the new recruits, and that fits in with why he might have been given this mission. Finding out more about Richard, and the fact that his own brother is informing on him in return for safety for his wife and child, was kind of worrying - he seems like such a horrible person, and I want to know more about him but at the same time I don't want James to have to go anywhere near him!

I'm looking forward to the next chapter (hint, hint :P) and to seeing what James is going to do in Germany!

Sian :)

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Review #9, by nott theodoreDon't Leave Me: 1.

30th August 2015:
Hey Tammi! You've been so sweet, giving out free reviews to people on the forums, so I thought that you deserved some love as well! There are other stories I want to get to, but this one caught my eye because the challenge is so interesting and just from the summary I wanted to know who it was that Lavender loved.

I've never seen a story with Lavender and Theo as a couple before, and now I don't know why because in shipping them so hard just from this story. You built up their relationship so well - there was so much detail packed into this piece about how they grew together and how much they meant to each other - and I really, truly believed in it.


(I love you really)

I've read quite a few of these stories now and they're all so different, but I think this was the first that ripped out my feels and happily stamped all over them. I can't believe you just did that to Lavender and Theo when they've gone through so much already, and then they got here and poor Theo gets poisoned and poor Lavender is going to have to live without him, and it's SO sad and heartbreaking :(

I loved your writing in this - it was really powerful. Each word was chosen so carefully and even though it was for the A to Z challenge, I wouldn't have realised at all if it hadn't been for the story summary, because your words flowed so well.

And back to Lavender and Theo, because I'm still not over this. How could you do that, Tammi, how? There was so much emotion in this story, even though it was short. I loved the fact that we didn't know straight away who the characters were, but nevertheless I couldn't help worrying for them, sheltering in the aftermath of the battle with Theo obviously injured. The way you built it from there - the fragments of speech, the desperation that Lavender felt, wanting to do what she could to help him but not wanting to leave Theo's side - it was all captured so well and it really made me root for them.

I loved your characterisation of Theo - the fact that he had been one of the better guys in the group from the very start, giving Lavender her bag back when Goyle took it in their fifth year. It's a little detail but it showed the sort of person that he was so well, and marked him out from the rest of the Slytherins he was friends with because of his actions then - and of course, later, too. It was so easy to see why Lavender would fall for him, and then when I learnt they'd been together in secret for the year, I was hoping everything would work out for them,because they both risked so much doing that.

Then Blaise and Pansy came and I really thought that Blaise was going to be able to save Theo, and then he couldn't and it was too late for them to get any other help and it was so sad :(

I think you're definitely going to have to write a happy story with the two of them, and let me know when it's up so I can read it and put my feels back together again!

Sian :)

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Review #10, by nott theodoreEvolution: Pale Sunshine

28th August 2015:

This chapter was really interesting; I liked the way that it provided a real contrast with the previous chapter, showing the differences between Lily's summer now that she's single and James's summer with Katie. Then again, with the way that Lily and Lionel's relationship was going, I'm not sure that it'd have occupied her much through the holidays anyway, unless she forced him to meet up with her.

I could definitely sympathise with Lily at the beginning of this chapter, when she felt so bored and had nothing to do. I've been the person before whose friends are all away, and even though it's easy to find indoor things to occupy yourself with, it's not always what you want to do over summer - and if you don't get on with your sibling and can't do anything with them, either, it's got to be even harder. I think you captured the sense of boredom and frustration that Lily was feeling here really well. It definitely contrasted sharply with James's summer so far and his excitement and happiness at seeing Katie and getting to spend time with her.

Even though it was just a short scene, I also really enjoyed the interaction between Lily and her mother. We've only seen a little of her parents so far, but the way that you wrote the dialogue made it clear that Lily still has a good relationship with her parents, even if she's away from home for most of the year and she and Petunia don't get on.

It was really sweet of Remus to reach out to Lily so early on in the summer because he thought that she'd be as bored as him - it definitely seems like the sort of thing that he'd think to do, and I like the way that you're developing the friendship between the two of them through this story. Their interactions seem to be becoming more frequent in these chapters and it's great to see that.

It was definitely interesting to see the characterisation of Lily here in the second half of this chapter - you definitely did a great job of focusing on some of the aspects of her personality that I know you've wanted to bring out. Friends are probably the best placed people to really show another what they're like (if that makes sense) - Remus letting on that he thinks Lily wouldn't take not being Head Girl very well, and that she's quite judgemental and hot-headed, could be a bit of a wake-up call for Lily. I definitely get the sense that she expects to get the Head Girl job, even if she claims that she wouldn't mind. Her arrogance is definitely coming into play more as this story goes on, and it's definitely interesting to see the differences between her attitude and James's.

I'm looking forward to seeing the chapter about Sirius, too - now that he's not at home, I'm intrigued to find out about his summer!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Oh Lily. I felt for her writing this chapter, but I imagine she would have been a lonely figure most summers without Snape because of her relationship with her sister and the fact (which I've hopefully made clear so far) that Alana and Marlene's families often take trips that because of the Evans family dynamic, Lily isn't allowed on.

Remus...well, you'll find (if you haven't already) that he's going to be quite crucial to this story and to James and Lily connecting because of how observant and earnest he is. We definitely see him play a mentor role to Harry in canon that has a sort of "counselor" air to it and I think he was likely that person to his friends, lucky for them. Of course, in keeping with that, Remus knows how to be subtly obvious if that makes any sense, prodding people in the right direction without making them feel judged. And Lily DEFINITELY expects Head Girl - I think you'll be interested to see the interaction she has when she finds out she got the gig too ;)

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Review #11, by nott theodoreEvolution: Summer in Stroud

28th August 2015:
Hi again, Kevin! Gah, there's not long left at all now and I've been so busy that I'm really behind on these reviews, but I'm going to keep trying to leave them whenever I can snatch a couple of minutes!

This was an interesting start to the summer holidays for the characters - I feel like you've chosen it to really cement the fact that James and Katie are happy together and that they're excited to be together, but at the same time I can't help feeling like something is going to go wrong at some point - I know that they're not going to end up together, of course, but I do kind of suspect that things are going to go badly wrong here, even if I can't tell how or why right now...

Roger's character made me laugh a bit. I think you captured him really well; we've only seen a little glimpse of him so far in this story, really, when he came across as quite strict for not wanting to let Katie date James, but seeing him here made me warm to him a lot. He's so protective of his daughter - which a lot of fathers are, especially if their daughter is an only child - and despite the fact that he seems to be a kind and caring sort of person, he's definitely enjoying the power he has in being James's girlfriend's dad, and someone that he has to please. It was really amusing to read about the 'interview' of sorts that Roger put James through, and to see how James reacted to it all. I think that James did quite well, to be honest, but Roger definitely showed him that he wouldn't put up with people messing his daughter around, and James's reputation has to go against him there, it would seem.

In spite of loving James/Lily and all the moments of the two of them that you've included so far, I did enjoy the scene with James and Katie together on the hill a lot. It's sweet to see James relaxing more into a relationship that's more long-term than any he's had before, and I do like the two of them together. Katie seems to doubt a lot of what James says, though, even this far into their relationship - I can't tell if she doesn't believe that he's being honest with her, or if she doesn't want to believe it. And then with the ominous tone at the end of the chapter (or at least, what I imagine to be ominous), I'm curious to see how the rest of the summer will play out for them!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hello again! I'm finally going to have some for YOU tonight - I intended to blast through and leave you loads this weekend, but my body had other ideas and I got sick instead. :(

ANYWAY...I definitely wanted to use these summer scenes to underscore James and Katie's satisfaction in their relationship and with each other. Katie's doubts are intended to manifest a little insecurity on her part - less so because of James and more because of his background - fallout from the nasty girls she overheard. She doesn't so much doubt James's sincerity in the short-term, but wonders about it in the long-term, if someone who came from a life of wealth and ease could truly prefer the simplicity of the lifestyle she's more accustomed to.

Of course I HAD to have James and Katie's dad actually meet didn't I? First, I thought it would be fun from the "interview" perspective as you put it, but also to make clear that he's not just hard on Katie for the sake of it, but because he loves her and wants to protect her. I think he tentatively passed, don't you?

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Review #12, by nott theodoreEvolution: The Quidditch Cup

22nd August 2015:
Hallo! (Yes, I've been leaving you so many reviews lately that I'm starting to run out of greetings...)

Woo, the end of sixth year! It's a massive achievement to make it this far in their story, particularly when I consider how many chapters you've managed to write to get here (which, you know, may be the planned length of Jigsaw, which makes me feel kind of insignificant right now) and how many are left. Anyway, I'm far too late, but congratulations on making it this far already!

I really enjoyed the opening of the chapter. I've been keen to see the follow-up from the date in Hogsmeade with Sirius and Renee, and it was so interesting to read those scenes. I liked the way that Sirius kept teasing her and taunting her about her talents on a broom - which was very in character with what we've seen of him so far in this story - and yet at the same time he did slow down enough to help her, so that she wasn't just stuck there. I think that my favourite part was their interactions and dialogue; Renee does do a really good job of getting Sirius to open up about things that most people wouldn't be able to, especially girls he doesn't really know, and I liked the way they joke around together. I'm not sure if I can see anything happening between the two of them in the future (yet?), but it is nice to think that Sirius has someone else he can consider a kind of friend, who'll listen to him, if he wants.

The Quidditch Cup was intense! Obviously, I was rooting for Gryffindor (it would be blasphemous if I didn't, wouldn't it?) but you had me really worried there that Slytherin were going to clinch it! It definitely still had the feel of the match and I don't think there was a problem with the commentary being used to narrate it more than the normal narrative; I think it makes the story more varied and interesting, as a matter of fact.

The Lily and James interaction is making me smile a lot - they're definitely starting to se each other more as equals, and even if Lily still gets annoyed by him (not always justifiably, either), I can see the relationship between them growing more cordial and less conflicting. I think it's great that you're showing James's good qualities in lots of little ways that Lily might start picking up on - like the crown that Sirius had charmed on his head, which he clearly didn't want there, but which previously Lily would probably have thought as a sign of his arrogance. All of those little opportunities and details are going to help set things up for Lily and James getting together in the future, I'm sure.

I really enjoyed this, and I'll be back soon - I'm looking forward to seeing what you've got in store for us over summer, but for now it's 3am so I have to have a nap at least before I manage any more of these!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Howdy! And I have been leaving so few for you (so far) :(

I enjoyed writing the scene between Sirius and Renee, though it was tough ultimately because I wanted to walk back the romantic possibility. I haven't done enough with that dynamic subsequently, but you reminding me of it actually has given me the breakthrough I needed in Chapter 47! And it will inject some controversy as well... Thank you!

I'm glad you're liking the growing cordiality between Lily and James. It will be quite important that they maintain it going forward though summer can wreak a lot of changes and forgetfulness... :p Still you're correct about Lily ULTIMATELY noticing and I'm interested to see what you think of it in the end. I'm so glad that you've noticed the "little ways" strategy too, because most people comment on the larger strokes and obvious incidents and some on some level, I've wondered if that was working and its encouraging to know that it did!

Seriously, thank you so much for all these reviews! They have been AMAZING and though I will endeavor to repay you, I don't know how I ever will. YOU ARE THE BEST, SIAN! THE BEST!

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Review #13, by nott theodoreEvolution: Sixth Year Slump

22nd August 2015:

This was a really great chapter! I think that you managed to focus on a couple of themes and ideas that have been appearing so far in the story but not yet prominent, and also bring together several little plot points into a bigger story, so that it's obvious why there was a need for them.

Since I saw Lily rejecting James's advice, thinking that she was being clever because he was trying to trick her and get her a bad grade in Transfiguration, I've wondered what the outcome would be. I mean, with Lily, there had to be consequences with that - and for her to achieve such a 'bad' (comparatively) grade, it must be really frustrating and annoying, though it did kind of serve her right since she underestimated James. I can see why him staying behind to congratulate her - which is actually a really sweet thought - would rub salt in the wound, though. I wonder if he'll ever find out what it was that caused her to act so angrily towards him after the class.

After that first incident, it was really easy to see the build-up in this chapter and to sense that something big was coming. The scene in the Great Hall, where Lily draws her wand on James, was really interesting. James has changed so much this year, but he's still not the sort of person to take an attack like that lying down - even if it is Lily - and I think he's started to realise more of his own flaws than Lily has so far. It'll be interesting to see her become a little more introspective and make some discoveries, too.

Then, after the wands drawn in the Great Hall, we finally get to the duel that they have to take part in for DADA. I really liked the way that you described all the build-up in that scene, and the fact that you managed to cover the other duels so briefly and yet well, so that we had an idea of how much it had taken them to get there.

The duel itself was fascinating to read; I'm impressed with all the different moves and spells you thought of them using, and the writing made me feel like I was there watching it first hand. It was sneaky of James to change the clock, but he was right to do it - they were so evenly matched in terms of talent, but I think James does seem to be the better dueller as he knows how to get under her skin and not to react predictably. Even though she wasn't ready for it, I'm kind of glad that James won, and through hard work and talent. She can't argue anymore that he doesn't deserve his place, and I think it'll be interesting to see her noticing that more in the future.

The Lily and James interaction at the end of this chapter was cute to read about. I really liked the way that James was chivalrous about it, rather than crowing over the fact that he won when she was clearly upset and disappointed - he's definitely a lot more mature than he was even at the start of the year. It was interesting to see him revealing the fact that she was easy to understand and push into certain moves when she duelled, because I can imagine them working on that in the future together. And the fact that he'd have her as his fifth - over Katie - I think speaks volumes for the future, even if neither of them know it yet.

Sian :)

Author's Response: Aha! Another greeting in another tongue!

Yes, finally Lily got a deserved comeuppance that again SHOULD have been a wake-up call. Again, she's not quite there yet though, and thus she becomes quite frustrated. Where better to direct that than at the most constant thorn in her side?

And then of course later, it must be said, James doesn't quite cover himself in glory. I think this is probably the biggest relapse I've painted into the story so far on his part because he makes the choice to wind her up. Her reaction is obviously extraordinary, but James deserves his share of the blame for goading, trying to get away with something while Katie's not around. It's a little glimpse of his previous self for sure.

My biggest worry with the duel that came later was that the magic they threw down wasn't believable - what do you think? Too much power for their ages? Too skilled?

In the end though, I definitely wanted to walk back the conflagration of emotions to something positive and in so doing to create a moment of uncharacteristic closeness. It's in this moment that Lily actually starts to truly accept that there are things that James is sincerely better at than she is and that part of it is actually from WORK. Just like she works on her own skills. It's a little first taste for her before a huge moment that I haven't yet written - her discovery that James is an unregistered animagus. She'll have lots of thoughts on that, as I'm sure you can imagine, but one will certainly be wondering how she could've ever been so sure in her belief that he didn't work hard too.

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Review #14, by nott theodoreEvolution: Growing Pains

22nd August 2015:

I've been really interested to see what you'd do with this potential date that Sirius had to go on as an apology - whether you'd focus on it a lot or not - and so it was great to get to this chapter and see it playing out! I also really enjoyed seeing more of Sirius as a character in a different light; when it's not been about the Marauders pulling pranks, we've not seen much of them outside of James and Katie being around, so it was great to see some more development of Sirius in this chapter.

I liked the opening to the chapter and the way you built up the suspense about who Sirius was going to go on a date with - we were reading on to find out just like he wanted to. Honestly, I was surprised about Renee, but I didn't have any other candidates in mind for the date, and I think the intention was to surprise us anyway, so you succeeded there!

As far as Renee's concerned, I also really liked getting to see more of her in this chapter. We don't know much about her aside from her being Katie's best friend, and that she reads Witch Weekly - there hasn't been a lot of interaction in the story with her or much development of her character. I think that really left you with a lot of possibilities about how to shape her character and I liked the Renee that I saw here, shy at first but then refusing to be intimidated by Sirius, and going on the date so that she could find out more about him. She's definitely different to other girls he's dated before - I'm not sure if it'll go anywhere, but it was good to see them on a date together.

Sirius was also well written in this chapter, I think. His reactions for me were very believable - reluctance that he's on the date in the first place, and then at the same time a consciousness that he has to try and be nice and polite because of the deal he made with Katie. I think what I liked most was his reticence about being drawn out at all by Renee, or talking to anyone who wasn't one of his three friends - that really helped to show which topics he struggled on, and the fact that so few people could get close to him.

It made me laugh to see James and Katie sneaking off again and again so that they could have time alone and so that Renee could get more time to probe Sirius. I think my favourite part of this chapter was the ending; the fact that Sirius tried to get his own back on Renee after her comments, and instead of putting her down, she rises to the challenge - I really liked that exchange, and I'm interested to see the flying lesson!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Sirius is, I would say, the king of walls and though the chapter was supposed to be amusing too, that was what it was really directed at. Renee, as you obviously saw, is a little more sophisticated than I've led you to believe so far. The "shyness" on her part was honestly a bit calculated to see if it could get Sirius talking (him being a talker and all and her thinking perhaps he'd prefer volunteering things to silence), but quickly realizing that wasn't going to play out, she became herself. Sharp and unwilling to be brushed off like Sirius brushes off so many (especially girls).

Hopefully you'll remember those thorny topics in the future when we see Sirius again - I'll be interested to know what you think about how he reacts to those topics in that situation.

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Review #15, by nott theodoreEvolution: Three Funerals

22nd August 2015:
Hi Kevin! Okay, attempts at being quick and short really need to take hold, unfortunately, as it's past 2am here (these review races keep coming at terrible times for me, unfortunately) and I really wanted to get a couple of reviews done before I head to bed. Hopefully you don't mind, since you're taking part in the challenge as well!

I really liked the way that you structured this chapter - the title, Three Funerals, was so ominous from the start and it also drew a really interesting parallel with the earlier chapter we've read entitled Three Broom Closets. The differences are so striking because there's a really sharp contrast between the connotations of the two, so while the structure is similar, focusing on three different scenes, it also really emphasises how much of a hold the war is taking on their world, and the fact that things are getting darker and more dangerous.

The first and third scene were so ambiguous and kind of removed, and I really enjoyed reading them and working out what was happening. The first was so interesting to me because I don't think I've ever seen a Catholic priest presiding over a magical funeral before. It was a really intriguing idea, and I liked the way that you used religion and crossed it over with the magical world, and also wrote the funeral in a way that was very familiar to me (and some other readers, I expect). We didn't know whose funeral it was, but in a way, we didn't need to.

The third scene was really interesting too, because it was much darker (the first scene kind of hovers around the darkness, while the final scene shows it quite clearly), and emphasised again the severity of the war. I felt really sorry for Samuel, and the way that he was treated - for no apparent reason, of course, other than that the Death Eaters don't agree with him, and it's practice for one of their ranks. Am I right in thinking it was Bellatrix this time?

The second scene was an original take on the idea of a funeral - the end of a relationship, burying it all in the past - and it contrasted really well with the others. I have to be honest and say that I'm not surprised Lily and Lionel are over now, since they didn't seem compatible, really, but I did feel sorry for him when she broke up with him. I'm glad that Lily had the guts to do it, rather than letting it drag on, and I did find Lionel's reaction believable - he's kind of seemed a bit oblivious throughout their relationship, so it makes sense that he wouldn't see this coming and be more upset than he might have been.

This was really interesting, and I'm enjoying this story a lot, Kevin! Moving on!

Sian :)

Author's Response: I'm glad you didn't mind the resurfacing of the structure from Three Broom Closets. I was a bit hesitant, though I liked the contrast, with recycling it so quickly.

One of the things I wanted to do with that first scene (in addition to bring the war's growing impact into still sharper relief with the implication that the death toll is rising) is the differences, but connections between the magical and muggle world in the fight. I wanted it to be a first-generation half-blood funeral because: (1) it united muggles and wizardkind against a force that claims us all - death and (2) Harry's a half-blood.
With the third, as you rightly say, it demonstrates further how we're getting to the first scene these days, and what little it takes. You are absolutely right in thinking it was Bellatrix this time.

I'm glad you liked mixing the break-up in as a funeral of sorts as well. Indeed, this one wasn't ever intended to come as much of a surprise given the previous chapters. I want to go back and give it and the previous spats a bit more nuance and depth, but I thought it was fitting Lily would end it because of personality and because Lionel never would - and also because I wanted it to end like it had proceeded at every turn aside from when Lionel asked Lily out - at Lily's instigation.

Glad you're enjoying it! I'm enjoying trying to keep up with your incredible reviewing pace!

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Review #16, by nott theodoreThe Walk To Your Beloved: The Walk To Your Beloved

22nd August 2015:
Lauren! ♥ ♥ ♥

Ah, I'm so excited that you've posted this story and that you've finally posted something again, because yay, it means you're writing again and maybe that means more updates on the way? :D

Anyway, you already know that I love this story, but I can't not come and leave you a review (even if this is on my phone so it may be shorter than what I would normally leave you, sorry!) because even if it wasn't your first new story in ages, it is amazing and it deserves lots of love and attention!

Also oh my God, you're the sweetest! ♥ I can't believe this is for me, Lauren, as if I didn't love it enough already! This is seriously so exciting, even though I don't deserve it because I've done nothing but poke and prod you over the last year :P

This story... It was brilliant. Really, truly brilliant, Lauren. I honestly think that this story shows your writing at its best - for someone who hasn't written much in the last year, you've improved so much and this was such high quality. Your words flowed so well, the pace was perfect, and the word choice was great - the language was so varied and interesting and you couldn't help but love it. Normally something sticks out to me as I read, like a phrase which doesn't quite fit or flow, and there was none of that here at all.

I know that this story was written for the A to Z challenge, and I've already said that I didn't realise that until I was reading it for a second time, because your story flows so well. The language choice is great - there's nothing at all which is clumsy or awkward, even in the most difficult letters. I'm so impressed with the way that you managed that, because it's not an easy task at all, and it's just so impressive!

Lily ♥ I absolutely loved her as the protagonist of this story, and your characterisation of her was just so great. You really captured her so well, with her love for James. the eagerness to be married to him and yet the nerves and the strangeness about getting ready to get married, and then the moments with her father and remembrance of her mother on this really important day. This was such a short story and yet at the same time, you managed to fill it with so many little details and touches that made this so much more believable and interesting.

The moment between Lily and her dad was just so sweet. I'm so glad that you included it and that you wrote it so well - we know that both her parents had died before Harry was orphaned but this plays on that detail and really brings it out into something that's important in the story. It was sad to think of her having to celebrate the biggest day of her life without her mother, but I'm glad that she had her dad there and the moment they shared was so touching.

You also captured her love for James and her eagerness to marry him brilliantly. I loved how excited she was to get to the altar and marry James and just be with him - it showed how sure she was of her decision and the fact that she wanted to marry him more than anything. I loved the moments together when they saw each other and the way you really showed how much they loved and cared for each other.

And Sirius and Remus were just great! I loved the idea of him officiating at the wedding - I've never seen that before in fanfiction and it's such a great way of having him included in the ceremony as well as Sirius, who we know was best man. I loved seeing them both included and your characterisation of them!

This was such a great story, Lauren! I'm sorry this review wasn't longer but I love your version of James and Lily (and will always live them!) and this was such a sweet, fluffy and adorable story! ♥ thank you so much for sharing this!

Sian :)

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Review #17, by nott theodoreEvolution: Security

21st August 2015:
Hola! Okay, this one is actually going to be much shorter (if it's not, shout at me?) because the chapter was shorter anyway and it's also nearly 3am and I'm struggling to keep my eyes open :P

Also, I meant to say this a couple of chapters ago, but woo! I'm over halfway through the novel now which I don't think is that shabby an achievement considering the time I've had and the length of it :D maybe I'll even catch up with the whole thing and then I can pester you with everyone else for updates...

Anyway. The actual chapter and its review! Okay, first as a Brit-pick (if you want it) - across the pond, the past participle of 'drag' is 'dragged' and not 'drug'.

I'm glad that James and Sirius made up. The two of them fighting doesn't seem right, somehow - they're such close friends and always have to look out for each other, and I always imagine them more as a double act than Ron, who felt like he was in Harry's shadow. So it was great to see that they'd got over their argument pretty quickly, and that they're going to go on as normal again. I'm intrigued about Sirius being set up on a date as a sort of punishment, though...

While I remember it, I was wondering if I missed the fall out of Snape being shut in the broom cupboard by Remus and Peter? If I haven't missed it then I would maybe suggest including a line or two somewhere on any consequences of it - I can't imagine that it would just go by unnoticed by anyone else?

Aw, James and Katie are cute, I have to admit it, as much as my James/Lily heart loathes to admit it. Seeing them here actually made me kind of sad that they're going to end up breaking up soon because they seen to fit really well. I loved how nervous Katie was over the ever-awkward conversation about their relationship, and James had been thinking just the same as her about it. I'm curious because of that what's actually going to go wrong between them as they seen quite solid here...

Okay,now I have to finish this and sleep before I drop the phone on my face. I'll be back soon to read and review some more!

Sian :)

Author's Response: I will never shout at you to review shorter. :p I have no standing. You tell me you are going to leave a "short" review and I feel a little embarrassed because it's like my standard length...

Haha. Thanks for that. And FTR it's actually dragged here too, but sometimes I lapse into my southern roots where things ain't all formal like that. :p Believe it or not, I used to say "I'm fixin' to [blank]" - I'll let you puzzle over what that means. ;)

I totally agree with you on James and Sirius being more of a duo. They really do regard each other as brothers and so that helps them put things in the past.

As far as the broom closet fall out with Snape, I intended the lack thereof to be another part of the revenge. Just as it couldn't be proven that Snape was involved in the attack, the idea was that the identity of his attackers couldn't be proven either and thus there was no punishment. MUHAHAHA.

As for James/Katie, I may or may not have fallen a little bit too in love with them myself. The confirmation that Harry/Ginny really is my OTP and cannot quite be tied by James/Lily. But I'll keep you in the dark as to how and why they end. Spoiling that wouldn't do at all...

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Review #18, by nott theodoreEvolution: Sunset

21st August 2015:
Hi Kevin! I'm attempting shorter (and hopefully quicker) reviews because I've still got a long way to go if I'm going to make it anywhere near 150 this month, and I have a ton of other stuff to do too, so I want to keep going with the story.

Peter's prank was great! I think you did a fantastic job of thinking up a prank that he would he able to pull on his own without the help of the other Marauders, like you said, something that was worth all the time and planning he put into it but at the same time something that wasn't so difficult he needed help to pull it off. I'm kind of oddly pleased for and proud of him, reading about the prank that he pulled, even though I don't normally like him that much as a character. The prank was creative though (kudos to you because I'm sure I could never think of them) and I really liked the way that we couldn't tell what the prank was going to be either as we read his preparations, so we were unprepared and more impressed for that, just like his friends were. It was great to see them congratulating him!

The second scene - thank you so much for that. I know that it hasn't been intentional and it's something you're aware of, but it was good to see the girls talking about something that wasn't boys and their appearance here, no matter how brief it was (and to answer your question from an earlier review response, I think you could very easily insert/extend scenes with more varied topics of conversation between the girls, since they don't appear as often anyway. Conversation always changes and flows so that would be fine - I'd be happy to help if you think it would be worth anything, too!). Anyway, I really liked seeing Lily more flawed here and her arrogance about the position at the top of the class, followed by her misgivings over her relationship with Lionel. I don't have high hopes for then to be honest...

The final scene was really enjoyable! I liked seeing some more Lily and James interaction (of course!) and I think it highlighted the differences in James this year for Lily. Or it would have done., if she'd been prepared to accept them... I get the feeling she isn't going to do very well on that essay!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Well, part of my mission with this fic (God, I have too many missions for it don't i?) is to also make people UNDERSTAND Peter. Not just understand him though, but also understand by the end why he turns. I'm glad you enjoyed the prank though, especially because like I said, they're not exactly my strong suit.

Yes...the stereotypes and terrible gender framing (at least in that aspect) have come to this chapter to begin dying. It shows how difficult it can be sometimes when you're writing without thinking, especially after trying to get yourself back into the mind of a high school aged folks, battles still have to be fought against subconscious socialization. Inserting the types of things you've mentioned is actually one of the most major aspects of the edits I intend to do (along with clearing up some of what I view anyway as inconsistencies).

Yes...Lily definitely has her arrogance. It's one of the things I've always found amusing in my head canon for them, that while James embraces his, but learns to tone it done to where it becomes simply confidence, Lily's journey is partly about accepting that she's (albeit less harmfully to others) possessed a similar level of arrogance. And as you know she WILL get bit this time, though it's not quite the wake-up call (yet) that it really should be. What I'd be intrigued to hear from you as you carry on is whether I've walked the line well enough of having Lily learn that about herself without diminishing her.

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Review #19, by nott theodoreEvolution: Confrontations

21st August 2015:
Hi Kevin! Back again, but as I'm on my phone it's only going to be a short review, unfortunately!

The title of this chapter was quite transparent, but I enjoyed the way that we got to see a different side to some of the characters here by watching them argue and fight with people close to them, especially because the truth about people's feeling often comes out in anger.

I have to admit that I'm a little bit glad that the first scene tool place and that Sirius was finally forced to think about his behaviour and that he kind of got what he deserved, to be honest. I think he's gone too long taking what girls want for granted and not treating them properly because of that, and it was only a matter of time before something happened to make th st change, I think. Shannon has always been portrayed as quite silly so far in this story so it was really nice to see her in a different light, unafraid to stand up to Sirius over what she wanted from their 'relationship'. He was angry, but he was so rude and I was kind of glad to see him being brought down a peg or do

Then to follow on from that, Sirius goes and has an argument with James and insults Katie in the process - he really isn't having a good day. I liked the way that James tried to tread around the issue and point out it wasn't unlikely for that to happen, given the way that Sirius treated girls, and that he stood up for Katie. It was also really interesting to see Sirius letting out his anger and thoughts about his best friend in the argument. Sirius seems a lot more immature than James and his best friend has changed a lot thus year, so it's natural that would be something he thinks.

The final confrontation was really interesting. Lily clearly wants very different things from a relationship that Lionel does, and in spite of his admission (which I found really interesting, and it's nice to find a story where guys are more reticent than girls at times) and the way they seemed to resolve it, I can't see the new behaviour continuing for much longer and I do think that Lily and Lionel won't stay together for much more of the year.

Sian :)

Author's Response: Oh Sirius DEFINITELY got what he deserved. Fully the point. And he definitely compounded things by having a go at James as well - something I think he is prone to when cornered. Poor James was caught in the crossfire between Katie and Sirius, making it tough on him to decide who to side with, but I think he certainly made the right choice.

As far as Shannon's characterization goes, her previous portrayal is actually part of the reason I wanted her to be the person to call Sirius out. Far too often such people (male and female) are taken advantage of by others and a lot of times they aren't portrayed as fighting - just crying about it later. But I wanted to turn that on its head a bit and show that just because someone seems superficial they have personal pride and thoughts and feelings that deserve to be valued as well.

As far as Lily, I know a lot of people are quite puzzled by her being so forward about the physical side of the relationship. And while part of that is to emphasize (as you previously noted) that girls and women enjoy that side of relationships as well, the other part traces actually to some of what's been alluded to with her prior relationship. In this vein, Lionel's comment that everyone has a past will prove telling because while Lily is a strong, independent person, she's had her conceptions about what a serious relationship is skewed by her own past. And when people learn of that past they may be a little surprised, but hopefully intrigued by it and how it should give what seems weird now some context.

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Review #20, by nott theodoreEvolution: Three Broom Closets

20th August 2015:
Hi Kevin! Back again (sneaking these in during the early hours of the morning when everyone else in in bed in a desperate attempt to meet my goal, especially because I keep missing review races) for another chapter!

I have to admit that when I saw the title of this chapter I wasn't entirely confident - it sounded like a lot of broom cupboards in one chapter, at least for the purposes that they're usually considered for in fanfiction. It's a bit of a trope at times I think but I did enjoy this chapter and I really liked the way that you wrote it and the content!

The structure for this pleasantly surprised me by how well it worked and built up to the end of the chapter. It certainly allowed you to focus on various different issues through the three different perspectives, and though switching around point of view so often - certainly within one chapter - can be a little much, it flowed fine here because you're using it with characters we're already familiar with and know about, plus the scenes continued previous events.

I liked James's frustration with the fact that he wasn't able to do anything about the attack Snape committed on the first years because there was no evidence - it makes sense to me that he'd want to get his own back in a way. I think that he definitely was sensible to avoid doing it himself, after the conversation with McGonagall, and that showed how loyal his friends are too him as well. In answer to one of your earlier questions (in a review response), I kind of feel like an occasion like this would have been an ideal opportunity to show James struggling at times with his change if you wanted to; something this far along could frustrate Katie, especially if he has to cancel plans for punishment, and add a different dynamic to their relationship. I'm not saying it needs it here but I think if you wanted to show James struggling at times (which might be a little more realistic, even on just a few occasions, because everybody slips up now and then) there are easy ways to insert that. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I liked that section and the revenge that Remus and Peter carried out on Snape.

The second scene made me feel quite sorry for Lily. I'm still really curious about the previous relationship that she's hinted at having had, but I have to admit that it does seem like she and Lionel may not be a great match. He is so polite and almost...disinterested in her and she clearly wants the more physical side to the relationship as well. I suspect it won't be long before things end between the two of them.

The third scene was great to finish on and it really served to emphasise what the differences are between James and Lily's respective relationships. It was pretty awkward for Lily to walk in on them but I liked how protective James was towards Katie (very much in his nature) and that Lily was so good about it.

Sian :)

Author's Response: Ahh, but Sian, your initial misgivings re: the trope-iness of it was exactly why I titled it what I did! I definitely wanted people to have certain expectations about what might go on in this chapter, only to have it go in a very different direction, with the only snogging being the very brief bit between Lily and Lionel and then Lily's third-party view, since ultimately the act itself was more a sideshow here. ;)

You raise a good point in re: injecting obstacles to his growth and that's definitely a course I considered, especially since missing time with her on account of detentions is something Katie specifically (if sweetly) warned James about. Fitting it in is the big issue, but I do think it's something I'll look back on. Truthfully, I'd have done it already, but I'm not a jokester really and so coming up with quality pranks is a tall order for me.

Since you've read on at this point, I'll only say re: the final paragraphs that the contrast was certainly a big part of the point of those scenes, along with James's protectiveness and Lily's reasonableness about the situation (not her strong suit when rules are broken).

Now I must move swiftly to all these other wonderful reviews you've left! I've fallen behind!

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Review #21, by nott theodoreEvolution: The Prince's Pain

18th August 2015:
Hi Kevin! Ugh, sorry for taking another break from this story - real life keeps getting in the way of things in a not-so-fun manner, but now I'm on holiday (though with an essay still to write, oops, and a best friend to entertain when she's not sleeping :P) so I have a little time! This is a phone review though so once again it's likely to be shorter... (Or as short as my reviews ever get, at least!)

The opening section of this chapter was great - and yay, I was right! I'm doing a little celebratory dance about that fact right now, hehe. Snape and his friends were behind the attack all along and they were the ones responsible for threatening the first years. To me that makes a lot more sense than any Death Eaters attacking the school, partly because of the reasons that you've already mentioned here, like the level of magic they were using and then the fact that it's still an incredibly safe place - or supposed to be. I also really liked the way that you highlighted the differences between the magic that Snape and his friends were using. Snape is a lot more advanced than the other two, creating his own spells, and while it seems like James might have held Avery and Mulciber off alone, Snape was a match for him - he gains a level of respect later on that only a talented wizard could in the company of Death Eaters, I think.

You captured McGonagall really well here; to me she's always one of the most difficult characters to write, but you did a great job of her dialogue in particular. It was frustrating for James that she wouldn't believe him (or at least didn't want to) that Snape was behind the attack but needed proof. It drew some interesting parallels with scenes from the books.

The second section featuring Snape was also really interesting. I like the way that you've chosen to characterise him and have picked out some of the personality traits that we see later on in his actions here. His love for Lily doesn't seem too intense here; we know he must have loved her (in a way, at least, but there's not time to go into that) to have done what he did later on and I can imagine that after their fight, this Potions class would have been one of the only times he could indulge his feelings properly without being distracted by his friends. It was definitely interesting to see his perspective again - he doesn't seem to have felt any better after his planned attack and I'm a little curious about whether he'll also try and take revenge on Lionel too now...

Sian :)

Author's Response: Always with the apologies! :p Seriously, there is no need - I hope you and your friend had loads of fun since I remember you saying it had been quite awhile with you being abroad and all.

You were definitely correct! Though it will become clearer as the story goes on, while Voldemort and the Death Eaters are actually QUITE interested in Hogwarts, they are more interested in conquering it in a different way. Now that I think about it, the whole strategy actually just gets laid out for you in a later chapter...oops.

I definitely wanted to make out in this story that Snape is very talented. Sometimes his emotions affect his ability around certain people, but I've always considered that if Lily and James are 1-2 (which I just think they were, it's my head canon and adds an extra layer to their early feuding) Snape is right there with them. We can say what we want about his morality and choices (I feel like you and I are probably on the same page there), but he's definitely supremely skilled.

I'm glad you liked McGonagall - and you're right she IS difficult. I spend so much time thinking about Dumbledore and how hard he is (and I definitely need to edit some of his scenes because they're just...bleh), but McGonagall is very unique in that she's strict, while being just and even-handed, but she's also got this quality that lurks beneath the surface mostly, sometimes coming out in a knowing look or slight smile or other small thing that shows more going on. I enjoy it. And though I didn't think about it too closely at the time to be honest, I guess it actually does parallel pretty well with Harry's concerns about Draco.

As for Snape, with him I tried to take into account HIS perception of his feelings for her. I think we're on the same page about his "love" as well. But what I wanted to show through it at the same time was the way that he perverts the situation, in particular the attack by he and his friends, so that he doesn't have to take responsibility for jeopardizing her safety. It's so easy for him to blame someone else. I think we've all been there, but I see an inability to be accountable to himself about his beliefs, choices, and path is so central to his character and wanted to show how it even tainted his "love" for Lily.

Thanks all the spectacular reviews!

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Review #22, by nott theodoreEvolution: An Unexpected Partnership

16th August 2015:
Hi again, Kevin!

Ah yay, I really enjoyed this chapter! I mean, obviously I love Lily and James together, so I have been really eager to get to see them interacting more, but I know that they are both in relationships and it'll still take quite a while before we see the two of them together as a couple. Still, I really enjoyed getting to see the two of them interacting more directly here.

This chapter was really well set up and put together - you thought out the scenes so well beforehand and the two sections really complemented each other, with James and Lily duelling each other and trying to win in the first half and then in the second half being forced to join forces and duel together against an unknown enemy.

I really liked the duelling scene in the first half of the chapter - I think that the teacher was right and that the pairings need to be changed around so that people are challenged more and become more prepared to match what they don't know, especially if they're going to end up in a duel in real life - they're not likely to know their opponent well enough to be able to predict the different moves. It was a great idea to pair Lily and James against each other here, as they've both been mentioned for their skill and talent, so it was always going to be a tough duel.

I loved the way that you wrote the duelling scene - you did a really great job of communicating the way that they were having to think on their feet and try and match each other. In a way, I'm actually really glad that James won the duel, because he was so chivalrous about it at the end, but also because it might have reminded Lily that she can't assume she'll be the best all the time. I'm really intrigued about the spell modification that Sirius and James apparently often use which managed to get through her Shield Charm! And I think it's great that this scene has proven that James is definitely making progress with his efforts to show Lily he's just as good as her - even if that's not his motivation any more.

Lily definitely came out as a more flawed character in this chapter, which was great to see - she's arrogant in a way without realising it, I think; not naturally, but she's become so accustomed to being at the top of the class that she doesn't think other people can match her, which can be a dangerous assumption and I think that James will help keep her on her toes now.

The apology was well written, too - I liked the way that James was so magnanimous about it and his introspection this year has definitely made a lot of difference, while Lily found it difficult to acknowledge that he had actually changed and he might not be as bad as she thought he was. I'm looking forward to seeing them interact more in future chapters!

The transition to seeing them duel together against the people attacking the first years was great - it really highlighted that, in spite of all their differences, the two of them are on the same side when it comes to this war. I wasn't sure who it was attacking the first years but I'm wondering if Snape and the others were involved?

Sian :)

Author's Response: I'm glad you liked the set-up! It was one of many reasons that Lily HAD to duel James in DADA (others of which you also picked up very nicely).

With James, in this case his chivalry is actually genuine and honestly not a product of his quest for growth. He's big on honor (Gryffindor :p) of course, but he also does (and really always has) have a lot of respect for Lily's talent, including her ability as a duelist. Though he's certainly confident in his ability to deconstruct her and in his superiority over her in this regard, he knows she's a force in her own right.

Part of the POINT of this chapter was also admittedly to plant the seed that unlike many authors seem to characterize her (which I think owes to them taking canon commentary on her completely at face value), Lily is NOT perfect and the story isn't all about James being "good enough" for her. Suffice it to say it's going to take her awhile, but she's going to eventually recognize the flaw that manifests here because you're absolutely right. While James's struggles with his arrogance are more obvious because they're more open and he's more typically full of obvious bravado, I would argue Lily is actually equally arrogant, but because she isn't confronted with inferiority often, and bragging doesn't come naturally to her nobody much notices it. But here it's underscored by her being an incredibly sore loser.

As far as the spell goes, Osorio basically lays out that it IS a stunning spell. But because I've ALWAYS been incredibly dissatisfied with how easy blocking spells seems to be, I decided to add a wrinkle both the offensive and defensive side of magic. It'll be explained in a later chapter, I promise, but it's pretty straightforward truth be told.

And attack the first years? Snape and Co.? Never... ;)

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Review #23, by nott theodoreEvolution: Three Months

16th August 2015:
Hi again, Kevin!

I really liked the way that you started to introduce the conflict in this chapter - at three months, I think it's safe to say that the honeymoon period would start to wear off a bit and they would have at least one fight, even if it's over pretty quickly and they'll hopefully move on from there. Still, it's more realistic to show that they do fight than give James a perfect relationship with Katie, especially because I know you're going to have to break this one down because Lily and James will end up together.

I think it was a great idea to include scenes with James and Katie apart before we saw them together and the ensuing fight. It definitely helped to build up the reasons that they might have to fight over something and also let us find out more about them as people, too.

It made sense to me to have Sirius checking on James to work out whether he was serious or not about this relationship with Katie - James doesn't seem to have talked to Sirius much about it, and maybe at only three months in, it's a bit soon for him to be sharing those sorts of thoughts and feelings - particularly as Sirius has come across as quite immature regarding girls so far in this story - but it would be a concern for his best friend. I'm kind of intrigued to know what exactly has been difficult for James to get past the three month mark, but the fact that Sirius has picked up on it and isn't sure about James making it past it with Katie is interesting. It's good to see that James wants it to work with Katie though and he isn't feeling scared about carrying it on past three months.

I really liked the glimpse into Katie that we saw here. She's really hard-working but she does clearly struggle with some classes, and she isn't as naturally talented as James or Lily at things like that. That made me think several things - that I'm worried if she does get caught by Snape and the others, because I don't see her being able to defend herself very effectively, and that can't be good. I also wonder how long she can realistically continue feeling like she's James's inferior as far as talents go, even if he has no desire to make her feel like that, because that's not a healthy grounding for a relationship. From what we know, that's one of the reasons that Lily and James would probably be much better matched, as they're competing for the spot at the top of the class.

I was glad that Lily helped Katie, even if they don't know each other very well. It's good for Katie to have someone else there who's willing and able to help her, and it shows another aspect of Lily's kindness. I like the fact that Katie doesn't want to rely on James for everything, though, and wants to do things on her own.

The fight between them was well written and realistic, too - I definitely believed their reasons for it and the way that they argued about different things. I'm glad they seem to have resolved it for now, but I'm intrigued about how long they'll continue together for. Now I'm off to read some of the Lily and James interaction! :D

Sian :)

Author's Response: Haha, it was rather short-lived wasn't it? A by-product of me trying to avoid unnecessary levels of drama between two ultimately reasonable people who are quite happy with each other and needing to have Katie show she's not afraid to assert herself.

As far as James goes, he's actually quite unconcerned (see the conversation with Remus) about sharing this sort of stuff with his closest friends, it's more so that he's well aware of Sirius's attitude toward relationships and so doesn't bring it up with him. Before you put him through the wringer though, Sirius is legitimately interested and for James's well-being rather than his own motivations. I know I mentioned you'll find out more about that past relationship of Lily's in the last response and I can say you'll find out more about this "reputation" of James's as well. Though I think I mentioned this element in an earlier response, it probably won't be what you expect it to given the way people have discussed it so far.

And Katie is SUPER hard-working - part of why she takes such umbrage at her father's commentary about seeing James - and though she's more talented than she gives herself credit for, she's just not on James, Lily, Remus, Sirius, Snape's, or other top students' levels. I wouldn't take Snape's dismissal of her as inept though as 100 percent accurate though. He's vengeful in that moment and we know how that can distort the accuracy of our perceptions. The key with her is that she is determined to be independent, both for herself and in her relationship with James (even though she actively caters to James to a degree). That's a big part of why she accepts Lily's help though. First, she does know she needs it ultimately. But second, she sees Lily as another strong, independent witch and respects that and so doesn't feel as uncomfortable around her.

See you next chapter!

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Review #24, by nott theodoreEvolution: New Year's Eve

16th August 2015:
Hi again, Kevin!

After the last chapter and its intensity and darkness, I have to say that this one came as something of a relief, to be honest! It was much nicer to see Lily and her family celebrating New Year's Eve, and then running into Lionel by accident and maybe getting the chance to settle a few things between the two of them before they go back to school.

Haha, just the thought of being outside in Blackpool on New Year's Eve is enough to make me feel cold right now, sat in Spain :P It's definitely an unusual choice for New Year's Eve as a family, although the town didn't have the same reputation it does now, luckily. The only things that I'd say about the setting is that you could potentially have included a little more description to bring it alive even more (though if you haven't been there, I understand that might be difficult). Blackpool Tower is a pretty famous landmark to anyone who's visited the town and it's right by Central Pier, so I'd have expected some mentions of that, maybe, and the tramlines and the Christmas lights decorating the city. None of these are massively important details, but if you wanted to edit then something you might want to consider including?

With all of that out of the way (sorry :P), I really enjoyed seeing Lily with her family, and I think you did a really good job of showcasing the tensions that exist, particularly between her and Petunia, and the fact that their parents don't seem to know how to extract the venom from their relationship and are just trying their best to keep things calm for the four of them. It can't be an easy situation to be in as a parent, although I can't help thinking that if they'd been a little more firm with Petunia that they might have stopped the tensions getting as bad as they have done, at least. But you characterised Petunia really well - I can imagine her being that bratty, even as a young woman, and not thinking Lily should have anything unless she has it first.

The conversation with Lionel was sweet - it's good to see them together again and it's kind of unusual that Lily seems a lot more forward than he is, to be honest. He also seemed very self-conscious around her and was very aware that she'd been in a longer relationship already (which I don't remember reading about yet? But I could have missed it, sorry!) and I wonder how that will impact their relationship, too. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the two of them are like together when they're back at school!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hooray the return of happiness, right?

Let me just say thank you SO much for all of this discussion about the realism of the setting. I was admittedly fairly lazy about the section - I just wanted the family to go somewhere not CRAZY far from an area where Cokeworth could be, but that had a pier :p and stumbled across Blackpool's Central Pier. I didn't figure it could be THAT frightening based solely off the fact that it had a Premier League team as recently as 2010-11, but that's what I get for basing things off of sports :p Is it really such a dark place? I'll definitely go back in and add the tower though - COOL INFO!

Lily's parents are definitely quite responsible for the Lily-Petunia dynamic. Though obviously Petunia should be more mature and deal with things better, the Evanses were actually fairly permissive parents and unpretentious, being of rather humble background. In my headcanon, Lily got her work ethic from her father, who with her mother staying home to raise them, worked himself to the bone to earn promotion from a floor-level job associated with manufacturing to achieve a middle-management role. They want their daughters to have everything they didn't though, hence the permissiveness and spoiling where they can (which mostly fell to Petunia because, well, the squeaky wheel gets the oil...).

As for Lionel, Lily is definitely the more forward one. You'll get some insight into why that is later, though you have to read it against his actions to get the real truth. Ultimately he's just SO concerned about being "proper" that he is exceedingly restrained. And I promise there's a distinct reason that Lionel is so aware of Lily's previous relationship. ;) I'm glad you caught it because I've kind of tucked it in very lightly a couple of places so it would be easy to miss, but will actually turn out to be somewhat important, albeit moreso for her relationship with James than with Lionel.

Get excited!

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Review #25, by nott theodoreEvolution: Winter's Chill

16th August 2015:
Hi again, Kevin!

Wow, this chapter was... chilling. I can't really think of any other words for it right now, to be honest, but I imagine that was what you were aiming to achieve when you wrote this chapter. The title fits so perfectly, as well, and yet at the beginning it doesn't reveal anything at all about what is actually going to happen in this chapter.

I think it worked really well, especially considering this isn't what I was expecting to read, to have this chapter from the perspective of characters entirely unrelated to the protagonists of the novel - at least, unrelated as far as we know. For a moment at the start, I did wonder if it was Snape and his friends when you mentioned that there were three figures there, but I quickly realised that this was far more serious and deathly than (I hope) what they're planning on doing. Still, it shows all to clearly the sort of thing that Snape and the others are aspiring to join in with when they leave school and become Death Eaters, which was really effective.

So many aspects of this were so chilling and horrible to read, but had such an impact at the same time. The Death Eaters were so cold and callous and removed from the humanity of the situation - I can't imagine how they walked into that house, and saw sleeping children and defenceless Muggles, and took pleasure in hurting them and killing them. I mean, it's exactly what we know the Death Eaters are capable of achieving, but you portrayed that really well here - it was so stark and blunt, in a way. I'm wondering who the Death Eaters in this were, whether the witch mentioned was Bellatrix, perhaps. I wonder if we'll find that out later on, along with the identities of the family who've been killed.

I think you did do a very good job of addressing the darkness that is growing outside Hogwarts and is going to start creeping into the characters' lives more and more. One of the things that I found really interesting here was the fact that they didn't put the Dark Mark up above the house - if you have the group not yet anywhere near its full power, it makes a lot of sense but also explains why there hasn't been as much consciousness of it shown so far in the story.

Sian :)

Author's Response: YES! Dun dun DUN! The war IS happening, so I figured it needed to manifest, especially given the role it will play later in the fic in a number of respects, and so I felt that things needed to be laid out and laid out in a raw, brutal way - and of course take readers by surprise.

I can answer two of your questions though! First, this witch was not 'Trix. She will make later appearances though. ;) And re: the Dark Mark, I was actually very torn on this because I don't think it's every made explicitly clear the extent to which muggles can SEE magic. Obviously they can see the results thereof, but can they see the Dark Mark? I want to believe they can, so since the POV character wanted to pawn this thing off as a muggle crime gone bad, he decided no Dark Mark. Also, I've always imagined it being limited to prominent or "prestige" attacks, rather than everybody just throwing the Dark Mark around every time they kill someone "in the name of the Dark Lord."

As far as their power goes though, I'm admittedly walking a fine line. I get the idea from the limited description of their first rise in canon that a lot more time was spent recruiting and indoctrinating and infiltrating the first time around before really becoming a public force. And so I've (admittedly conveniently) decided that since the Ministry had not yet fallen in 1981, that 1977-78 would be a realistic time for them to actually begin killing with frequency, triggering what would be described as "the war" whereas before it was more kind of hushed-tones, "crazy extremist" type talk going on.

So that's that stuff. You have made me think hard about it again now though! Thank you! Now onward and upward to my next response!

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