R&R'ing for the Nargles! This was very cute, and I loved the inclusivity. I haven't read 'Confounding Factors' but it's making me curious! There seemed to be a lot of dialogue but what you put in about Albus' mental state was so dark, it painted a bleak picture. So it was lovely to see the debate and how they worked it out together. I enjoyed the nuances being debated and including Lily and her friend, and also how everyone called Albus out for being self-centred haha. Overall I really enjoyed this Christmassy inter-cultural angsty fluff!
Hey, Manno! Congrats on your FROG nomination!
Where to begin with this story? Omg, I loved everything about it. Your writing style is as superb and compelling as I have come to expect from you (I can't believe I'd never read any of your work until just recently, in the winter wonderland - I had really been missing out on some great things)
Having read a description of this story in the nominations I had a good guess as to what Albus was angsting about in the beginning, but I wondered if there was more to it than that at first based on the way the story opens: Impending doom, his academic demise, the actual world ending. It's very dramatic. Poor Albus *pats Albus on the head* there there.
On a more serious note, though, it's an effective start and really puts us into Albus' mindset. As much as I joked about his drama, one can't really fault him for being worried, and I feel for him here. Coming out isn't always easy, and I think particularly for asexuality, which is still a lot less visible or prominent of an orientation to people who aren't as familiar with LGBT issues. And he just doesn't know how to navigate what asexuality means for him yet, and reconciling it with the fact that he has a girlfriend whom he really loves - he's worried his girlfriend will leave him because of it possibly making them uncompatible :( Just, the depth of his worry is so well portrayed - it's clearly eating him up inside and he's struggling to do anything about it because it's so, so important to him that she understands, but he doesn't know how to say it because he's scared of losing her. i have so many feels.
Right from the very first introduction to Laila, it's evident how much she and Albus love each other. Their dialogue is so perfect and if I hadn't been preoccupied by Albus' worries I would have been grinning like an idiot throughout this entire exchange because it's just so cute. The way Albus' heart lightens when he sees her, even though he knows this Important Conversation is coming up, the way they lovingly tease each other, gahhh. I just adore them. I'm so invested in their relationship working out beucase I want this sort of cute interaction to be able to continue to happen all the time. *heart eyes emoji*
I really loved the scene when Lily and Rookie visit with advice. Lily poking fun at his tendency to be a 'recluse', but also genuinely caring for Albus and wanting to help him work through his issues - this is such a beautiful sibling bond and I loved the way you depicted their relationship. And I love that Rookie's confidence and her assertion that asexuality can be a different experience to each ace person depending on what they personally are comfortable with, are inspiring to Albus and even though he's still not sure what he wants or what asexuality is for him specifically, he gets the strength to tell this to Laila.
I loved Laila's reaction. She is so supportive, and so honest, and I just adore her. And I love that she acknowledges the conflict and is willing to work through it with Albus and they'll just kind of see where they end up - there's so much beautiful honesty in their conversation. I also liked that you addressed her family's somewhat conservative views and how she fits into that. You tackled two pretty big, nuanced topics that are difficult to write about, and wove it together so wonderfully into a conversation that is refreshing and poignant and hopeful. I just love how layered your characters and their experiences are - and this is only a one shot! Seriously, your characterisation is just perfect.
Last but not least I'm so happy to see a Muslim character in fanfic. That happens so rarelly and I just wanted to point out how much I appreciated her here.
Wonderfully written! Good luck in the FROGS!
Before I get into how much I love this one-shot, I have one very important thing to say: I LOVE IMAN MESKINI. I'm so in love with her; the way she speaks, the causes she supports, her dedication and bravery, the way she does her make-up... Lol. And she's such a stunning actress, too. (I think that Skam Season Four robbed her of a better storyline though.) So when I saw that you were requesting a banner with her in it at TDA (sometimes I stalk the request threads, hehe), I was so delighted.
And now I finally got the chance to sit down and read this! It's been on my to-read since you posted it in the Holiday and Diversity Challenge. Now that I've read it, I can safely say that I absolutely love it. Now I really want to read the larger WIP that this one-shot is based on, because if it's even half as interesting as this one, I'll love it.
I loved the diversity in this story: asexual Albus Potter, with his Muslim girlfriend. I thought the discussions about the two different topics were extremely enlightening and thought-provoking, and were also so, so intelligent. The confusion that Albus feels about his sexual identity is common amongst a lot of teenagers, especially since this sort of information isn't taught in schools. For this reason, I loved Rookie, for being so forward and understanding about Albus's stress concerning asexuality.
When you got into the part about Laila's family being conservative but also more progressive than expected, I was ready to stand up and point at the screen, saying, YES, YES, YES. Because that's exactly how I feel with my parents; they hold these terribly conservative views on same-sex couples, but I get the feeling that if one of their daughters loved a woman, they would definitely work through their prejudices and try to fix their beliefs. I think you hit this point beautifully.
Also, Albus is such a dramatic human being, haha. And the World Went On is such a fitting title for this story; the boy spent half of this chapter bemoaning his future. Lily's right. He's a drama queen.
I loved this. Congrats on the win!
Hi there manno!
I was reading the stories for the Prefect Challenge and I had to stop by and leave a review for this story. I thought you did an absolutely brilliant job with this. You have a real talent for storytelling. The words flowed and I was riveted throughout the piece. I thought you handled the topic beautifully and your characterization is nothing short of amazing. Really, really great job. Within this short peice, I felt like I really knew each person, and was impressed by their individual personalities.
The best part of this was the way you showed us how each person can handle their sexuality differently. Albus is brooding and dark by nature, and so he works himself into a tizzy over it, while Rookie is confident and unapologetic, so she acts as a bit of a mentor for him. The explanation that everyone has to find their own personal comfort zone was a great message to convey.
I also really loved the part where Albus and Laila talk everything out. Sex is too commonly portrayed as a spontaneous act that works perfectly, when the reality is so much different. I love that a couple can talk plainly, openly, and humourously about what they like or might be willing to try. This was so refreshing. Thanks for the great story!
Hey, Manno! I'm reading the entries to the prefect challenge, and I couldn't help but take a few minutes to leave a review on yours. <3
I loved this. I loved this so, so much. There's so much that you explore and touch on here that usually isn't explored or touched on, and you do it in a profoundly thoughtful and meaningful way. (I'm not surprised, of course, but I continue to be impressed!)
The way you navigated the cultural norms Laila exists within - both from her family and from her life outside of them - is really wonderful, and I really appreciated how you handled the "in trouble" vs. "disowning" - I feel like these sorts of conflicts are so often described as all-or-nothing, but in the real world, that's often not the case. Her reaction to Albus's confession is also amazing - she doesn't make any promises, but she's very clearly willing to try to sort things out and see where they go, and I really appreciated how matter-of-fact she was about it. I really, really liked her.
And Albus. Oh, Albus. He's so, so relatable - even people who aren't ace can definitely empathize with what he's going through, because the whole angst/talking it over forever with everyone rather than talking to the person/wanting a magic solution is just something that so many of us have done. His uncertainty surrounding what being ace means to him is also so, so perfect - I've had friends who navigate that, and I love the way you clearly talk about how each person has to draw lines for themselves, because there's not a one size fits all.
I'll definitely have to spend some time on Confounding Factors, because I loved this, though this story definitely stood well on its own. Amazing, amazing job. <3
Manno hello this is amazing and I love it and you've just firmly cemented your place as one of my favourite authors.
I'm meant to try and find words for this but it's kind of hard because it's just PERFECT and this will probably just entail an awful lot of gushing and me trying (and possibly failing) to write a coherent review.
So. Albus. Angsty, tortured Albus. I really loved the way that you opened this with that dramatic statement, and then lingered on it, rather than flipping that around immediately; I think it gave us a really good insight into his frame of mind as this story is beginning. You pulled me in immediately with that opening to the story - because while Albus kind of skimmed over the academic side of his life, I was wondering what on earth it was that he was facing that he felt could be the end of his world today, and I really wanted to read on to find out.
Your characterisation in this is so, so strong. I haven't read your versions of the next generation characters before this piece, but this was so great. I felt like I got to know most of the characters pretty well from reading this one-shot, and Albus, Lily and Laila felt particularly well fleshed-out in this. But even Rose, who we only see very briefly in this chapter, came across as a very vibrant and believable character. I'm looking forward to seeing more of their relationship in your other stories.
I was so intrigued by Albus's trepidation at seeing his girlfriend. It's definitely not the typical feeling you'd expect someone to have when they're about to see a long-distance partner. Laila seemed really nice though, and really happy to see Albus, so I was really intrigued to find out more about why he was so nervous about it.
Laila seems like such an interesting character - it's nice to see someone who's come from a really different background to Albus, and the fact that she was so frank and honest about who she was with him. I liked seeing a glimpse into the relationship between her and her brother, too - even with the teasing each other, I think they're definitely on each other's side and it would be lovely to read more about them and their family background.
Then we get to find out what's bothering Albus, and what's been worrying him so much in the last few months. My head canon is actually that Albus is asexual as well, so I really enjoyed reading this story and seeing the way that he's tried to grapple with how to understand that - how it works for him, and what it means, especially since he has a girlfriend.
I loved seeing Lily come in to talk to him - she wasn't just poking her nose in as an annoying sister, she actually genuinely cared, and it was great to see that. The conversation that Rookie went on to have with Albus was really interesting, and I think it helped look into the more "grey" areas of asexuality that some people haven't necessarily heard of or don't understand, and it definitely helped Albus to understand himself more and come to terms with the idea of being in a relationship at the same time.
The conversation between Laila and Albus afterwards was so fascinating, and I thought you wrote it brilliantly. You really captured the depth of the relationship between them, and I liked the fact that we got to know their characters and their relationship better during that scene. The way that Albus approached the conversation was very believable, testing out the waters and trying to feel his way into opening up about his own sexuality. I was so, so happy that Laila took it so well, and the way that they talked through the issue and were more honest about themselves with the other. I think it means a lot for their relationship, and even if they might not stay together forever, I'm so pleased that Albus was able to open up to her and feel accepted for who he was.
I really loved the way that you ended this story, too, kind of coming full circle and referring back to the beginning of the story, with Albus's dread of the day turning into happiness. It was a really nice touch and tied the whole piece together really well.
Hello, Sian! I really have no idea where to begin with the response to this HUGE review. It's just so thorough and it still leaves me gaping so many days later. <3
First of all, I'm so thankful that you've addressed the issue of chracterisation because I was so worried it wouldn't make sense who is who. These characters have been running around my head for almost a year now, so it's very easy for me to forget to mention essential things about them and to think that they should just be obvious to everyone as well (which is a ridiculous notion, I know). So I'm very relieved to hear from you that it was adequate and makes sense.
Aside from the fact that Albus really is a drama queen, I think it was just him being worried as anyone else might be. And the other issue is that his prime advisor is Rose who is super idealistic and is all about honesty in relationships and unashamedness of one's self. Poor thing would've blown up had I not introduced Lily and Rookie with genuine advice.
I'm also really glad you enjoyed the conversation between Albus and Laila. Just because dialogue is my strong suit doesn't mean I get anxious about it like crazy because I'm not the most interactive person in general.
I really cannot believe that you've left me such a review or that I've cemented myself as ANYTHING for an author as talanted and amazing as you are. Really, this review made my week if not the end of my year. That's how much your kind words and encouragement means to me. And as I've been saying a lot lately, you really are the absolute best! Thank you for reading and reviewing and being your stellar self. <3
Thought it was about time for me to check your work... :P
Oh, I loved this! Especially since ACE is not a concept that's addressed often and something I'm particularly interested in (for personal reasons I'm not going to dig in deep now...)
Poor Albus... I was wondering what was the issue with him... I had all sort of thoughts at the beginning (I even thought about some illness or stuff like that, so I'm glad that was the problem in a way...) Probably if I were familiar with your novel I would have followed this better, but I liked to figure things out a bit at a time, so no matter. :)
Also, sorry, I'm a bit confused... Is Laila a Muggle? I thought at first she was a Muggle, than a Squib, than you mentioned something about her being fit for Slytherin if she didn't have a Ravenclaw brain... I'm a bit confused, but from what you said at the end I think she's a Muggle... anyway...
I loved that Albus got the chance to talk to someone who was asexual too and that she could give him some solid advice and clarify things for him a little. I guess it can be really helpful. By the way, I love how Lily and Rookie kept calling him self-centered recluse... Ahahah! Guess he actually is! And Rose with her strict ideas and ethics, too... :P I love that Rookie could show him that there are various shades and that it doesn't (have to) work the same way for everyone. It's what I find absolutely fascinating the more I learn about the LGBTQA spectrum (and I have to thank the HPFT community for it)
I'm so, so, so glad Laila's reaction was so positive about the whole thing, and that they even managed to joke about it a little. It's so encouraging. Albus is so very lucky! :)
I also really, really loved the closing line and how it opposes the opening one. Yes, the world can definitely not end today! That makes me so happy! I'm so glad this ends on an optimistic note!
Thank you for this wonderful story! I loved it so much!
Hey, Chiara, thank you so much for tackling my latest work and my mammoth of a one-shot (I always feel that chapters are huge once they're 4000+ words, haha).
I do agree with you that the asexual side of the spectrum is very undermined. And because I learned about it (and to be fair about the rest of LGBTQA) from the HP fanfiction community and I thought it's about time I contributed even if minimally to that.
I'm not surprised that you started wondering if Albus has a disease; he is a bit of a drama queen. And I'm sorry if things were a bit confusing; I did try to put some background information but it's possible that it might not be enough. Yes, Laila is a muggle; her brother Fares is muggleborn and he goes to Hogwarts. I'll try to go back to it and see if I can make it clearer.
I do think we try too hard to abide by rigid labels, but the more I read/think about it, I feel like everyone is different and we can't all fit into such sharply distinctive boxes, and I think that was the core message of this story, really. So I'm glad it resonated with you and that you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for leaving this review! <3