Hello Chiara, I'm here to judge for the Say Goodbye challenge! ♥
You know how much I loved Liar, so I was super excited to read this missing moment from the piece.
From the beginning, you caught my attention; I love blunt facts to draw a reader in, and you certainly delievered that. And I also enjoyed how this was focused on James; you did such a great job of capturing his character, especially when he first got the news of his cousin's death. I loved that it was a total opposite setting -- people were laughing, running around, going about their day. They had no idea that James just received Earth shattering news (because how could they know?), and it just proved that life went on, even after death.
I also really loved that this happened at the time when James and Sirius weren't really talking. He wanted to turn to his friend for help, but his best friend wasn't there. And I can totally see him taking his aggression out on Snape; I thought including him was a brilliant move. I think not having James and Sirius on speaking terms made James even stronger because he had to find the strength in himself, and it was so nice to see that in the end, he did.
I'm a sucker for flashbacks, and I love that you included memories of Aaron here. I could tell just from James' reactions that the cousins were close, but the memories really helped with that. It's so cute that James admired Aaron when he was younger, and then they grew up to be so close-- even talking about Lily in that last memory was really touching.
I always love how you structure things, and I really appreciated all of the metaphors here. They weren't overdone at all, but only helped emphasize as James was moving on from Aaron's death. I love how it was linked to the sun and the sky, and that you came full circle and ended on a more hopeful note -- and I love that it was words from Aaron himself that allowed James to know that he was going to be okay.
So if you couldn't tell from this semi-rambly review, I think you did a really, really great job with this! You had great control over James' character throughout the piece, and it was nice to see that it ended on that hopeful note. We know James is going to be okay, but it's nice that he knows it, too.
Excellent job, my dear. Thanks for entering the challenge! ♥
Hey! I'm here for the Secret Cupid event. <3 I know that this is meant to just be a small scene from Liar, but it didn't have a banner, so I decided to read it + make a banner. I think it's a piece that can very easily stand on its own regardless, though. :)
You did a really, really amazing job here. As someone who's gotten very unexpected and unwelcome news before in settings that were not super ideal (including about death, unfortunately), I think you captured James so, so well here. That disconnected, unreal feeling like you're out of your body hit me like a punch to the gut, and the vacillation between anger and sadness and nostalgia was so, so well done.
It can be tough to capture a subject as awful and painful as death - especially the death of someone who was still fairly young - and still keep an uplifting note at the end, but I really liked that you did so. I think it fits really, really well with what we know about James as a person, especially his defiance even to the very end. It's nice to see that - and the process he takes to get to it - here, and even nicer to see where it came from.
This was an amazing story. You did such a good job.
Hello, Secret Starfall (or should I say Branwen... :P)
Sorry for the absurdely long wait before this reply...
I'm so glad you felt that I captured James well (and I'm so sorry you had to go through something similar...) I'm glad you found his reactions and his emotions believable.
That's something I can't help but do, keeping a positive note in the end. I'm glad you liked it and thought it was fitting for James' character, I think that too.
Thank you so much for the lovely review and also for the wonderful banner! I'm so glad you liked the story!
Lots of love,
Hi there! I’m here for our review swap! I chose this piece, since it looked like it was the most recent one you’ve written, and also because I was eyeing this challenge too, so I wanted to check out what someone had already submitted. ;)
This was a fantastic portrayal of someone who’d lost someone. I haven’t read your other work, so I didn’t have any of the backstory, but it absolutely wasn’t necessary. Great standalone oneshot! I loved the first lines so much, because it set the tone for the whole piece. I knew, after that first bit, that James was in for a real struggle, and that even if I figured out what was going on before he did, none of this was going to be easy for him.
Your imagery of all the things going on around him and how he reacts inside are so great. I was immediately drawn into his head. The sad moment where he looks for his support group, and they aren’t there… sigh.
The flashbacks are perfectly placed. I didn’t know a thing about Aaron, but you painted him the way James knew him, and I felt like Aaron just jumped right out at me during those memories… more importantly, the way James felt about Aaron was so present and added to his grief. And of course, the antagonist shows up just at the worst moment to push him over the edge.
Your use of metaphor was fantastic as well. I loved how you rounded out the story by beginning with his attitude towards the sun, and ended it with that as well. Symmetry is one of my favorite things, so I’m giddy when I see it in fics! And the stages of grief were portrayed here, so very well, also. This was a great piece. I’m glad I came by to read it!
Thank you so much for swapping, I'm glad you picked up this piece! :)
I'm glad you found I portrayed the loss of a dear one well. This is actually quite separated from the main story where this episode is only quickly mentioned, so yes, it is supposed to be read as a standalone.
Poor James, it is so hard for him. The news came totally unexpected, so I imagined he wouldn't believe it at first, that he just wouldn't be able to grasp the concept. And yes, he doesn't even have his friends by his side, which makes it even harder...
I'm glad you liked the flashbacks, and that they gave you a clear picture of how Aaron was like, or at least of the way James saw him. Yes, Snape chose the worst moment ever to show up... :(
I love simmetry in fics, too (a bit too much, probably...) I'm so glad you liked the weather metaphores. And also the way I wrote the different stages of grief.
Thank you so much for this great review and for swapping with me! This is a piece I had a lot of doubts about, so it's great to know that you liked it! :)
Thank you again!
You absolutely should have confidence in this piece! I have no idea why you don't! Every word of this was so emotional and full of grief, and I understood the characters and timeframe perfectly despite not having read Liar. (Speaking of which, I absolutely must read Liar, since I loved Jimmy so much. Please kick me to read Liar! I swear I'm not purposefully putting it off, I just get so short on time. *cries forever* BUT I DO NEED TO READ IT SO PLEASE POKE ME.)
Back to this piece. I thought the way you presented James' emotional attachment to his cousin was so well done, especially because Aaron is an original character of yours, and therefore I was unfamiliar with him. (Though maybe he showed up in Liar, and if he did, I'm once again doubly sorry that I haven't yet read that.) But from the way you wrote the interactions of James and Aaron, from the time James was a tiny little boy (that scene absolutely melted my heart, especially when James grabbed Aaron's legs in that adorable way children do) to the more serious discussions of the real world problems plaguing wizarding society, I felt as though I truly understood their relationship. And therefore, I felt James' grief more strongly.
And I absolutely loved the hopeful note that this piece ended on. He's reunited with Sirius as friends after Sirius pulled that absolutely horrific stunt on Snape (who is definitely a Jerk with a Capital J as well as a few other words I can think of, but who does not deserve to be unknowingly mauled by a werewolf), which I'm really glad about. What Sirius did was awful, but he obviously learned from his (huge) mistake and so I'm glad James took him back in as a friend. In a time of grief, James really needs support. But anyway, the ending was optimistic and hopeful and practically broke me on the inside (like I'm still an emotional wreck) and I loved that.
You also hit on the different stages of grief really well, too. James' denial in the beginning was absolutely heartbreaking to read, as was his anger in fighting Snape. And in the end, acceptance of what happened, and a stronger determination than ever to fight for the greater good in the war against Voldemort. I thought showing James at various levels of grief was such a good idea, and it just worked so so effectively in conveying the pain that James is going through.
You asked about the flow, and I definitely think that, while the piece doesn't flow per se, it definitely has a solid structure that works so, so well. A piece like this doesn't need to read like a long, continuous story; by picking out different scenes from James' grieving and James' relationship with Aaron, the story really packs a huge emotional blow with each section. And I think that's perfect the way it is. (You also asked about how emotional it is, and as you can tell, I am feeling very emotional about this piece, hahaha. <3)
James' reactions are spot on. I honestly could not think of a single way that James would have reacted differently to this, with his bewilderment and first, then slow anger, then this desire to take it all out on someone, and then turning his grief into a sort of hope and motivation to help make the world a better place. That's so James.
Chiara, you're so perfect, have I ever told you that? And you write so well in your second language, which is the most incredible part of this whole thing. I'm just in constant awe of you. <3
I love this story so much omg.
Go read Liar! Go read Liar! Go read Liar! (is it poking enough? :P)
First of all, thank you so much for this super lovely, detailed and encouraging review! You really are wonderful! As for why I don't have confidence in this piece... I guess I just have some serious confidence issues in general? Anyway, I'm glad you liked the story and could feel the characters and understand the timeframe.
Aaron doesn't appear in Liar, I just mention quickly his death, so quickly that people might not even notice... This is exactly the reason I decided to write this, I wanted to give a wider representation of it. I'm glad you liked James and Aaron's relationship, anyway, and the little flashbacks. They were really close and James really looked up to him and was inspired by him.
I'm so glad you liked the hopeful note at the ending, and James being reunited to Sirius. He does need his friends' support in this time and yes, while what Sirius did was awful, he did learn from his mistake.
I'm glad you think I portrayed the different stages of grief well, too, and that you felt James' reactions were authentic and true to his character and that you could feel for him. I'm also so glad you felt the structure worked and that the emotions were clear and intense. That really is a huge relief for me to hear.
Oh... shut up... you make me blush...
Thank you so much for this wonderful review!
Lots of love and big snowball hug,
Okay, based on the title and the summary, I'm going to have a box of tissues ready for if(when) I need it...
...This wasn't as heart-wrenchingly sad as I expected it to be. It did crush my heart a little, but it ended in such a hopeful way that it's hard to be extremely sad afterwards. Before I talk about the end, though, I'll go back to the start so i can review this somewhat in order :P
I love the way you really portray the different stages of grief in this story. The first part (shattering) begins with James' denial, as he first hears the information and just can't process it and everything is just all wrong, and then part two (dying) primarily focuses on the anger phase, and then it ends (healing) with acceptance. In portraying stages of grief I think that naturally comes along with it being quite emotional, as the story takes us through his journey to acceptance, so in response to your question about whether it feels emotional enough, my answer is yes. You really make the reader feel as James feels, and the flow from one section to the next as different stages of grief is very effective. The flashbacks also fit in perfectly into the narrative.
Kind of related to the story flow, the structure was also great and I liked that you separated the sections. And most of all, I loved your closing lines to each section about James' heart and the universe.
Is James believable? Yes. The denial in the beginning gives a hint of just how important Aaron was to James, which is later confirmed in the flashbacks (tiny James 'flying' and then hugging Aaron's knees was just about the cutest thing I've ever read), and considering how close he was to Aaron and how much he was inspired by and looked up to him, his anger is understandable. Oh man, I was so nervous when Snape walked in because I knew James was emotionally unprepared for it, I knew he was going to snap. The Slytherins really showed up at the absolute worst possible time. And Snape doesn't deserve any of the treatment he gets, because for once he actually hasn't done anything. He was just there. So I feel bad for him - he's getting beat up over something that has literally nothing to do with him. James is horrible for taking out his anger on Snape, and I don't condone what he did, yet I still do feel sorry for him as well, becuse he is just that hurt and falling apart and his world has just shattered, and the fact that he does something like this at all shows how much he is breaking inside. (But, yeah, his anger management skills need some work).
And I love how in the end, it's a memory of Aaron that brings James to some degree of acceptance - he's going to keep going for his cousin who isn't able to. He's going to make Aaron's death mean something and not be in vain. It's touching to see James be inspired again, calling back to his earlier memory of Aaron.
So, yes I do think it was an interesting story and that it made sense! You did a wonderful job with it. If I had any CC, it would be that it seems to be quite a jump between sections two and three based on how rapidly James' state of mind has improved - there wasn't much in between punching Snape and then being at peace. You could add more in between if you wanted. But you don't need to; I kinda chalked up the emotional U-turn to the passage of time and assumed that a few days had passed before the funeral. Basically, there's room for more story if you wanted to fit it in, but the story you tell here is compelling and emotional and very good as it is. :)
I saw one typo, where it said "carrier" and should have been "career", but nothing else stood out to me.
All in all, this was a very powerful one-shot and you wrote it so well. I am always impressed by your writing <3 Good luck in the challenge!
Snowball hug!! <3
Kristin! Thank you so much for this lovely review, dear! *hug* *wub*
I'm so glad you could feel James' emotions in this, and that you think I gave a true portrayal of the different stages of grief. That's exactly what I was going for, so I'm happy it worked!
I'm also so glad you felt the flow was good and that it worked also with the passage from one section to the other. I'm glad you liked the structure and the parallel closings to the sections.
I'm so glad you thought James was believable and that you liked his relationship with Aaron. They were very close and James really looked up to him and was inspired by him. So glad you found the flashback of child James cute, I have a thing for cute childhood scenes... :P
And yes, the Slytherins did show up at the worst possible moment. And Snape definitely didn't deserve any of it. This is James' lowest moment, and he will admit it himself later on, but right now he's just broken and not thinking straight... so, yeah, I just agree with everything you said...
And yes, it is again a memory of Aaron that gives him peace in the end. I'm glad you liked that, too.
I'm so glad you liked the story as a whole and that it had a clear meaning. As for your CC, yes, I agree, that was a bit abrupt (a few days have passed between sections two and three, and in that time James has talked to Dumbledore and has fixed his friendship with the Marauders, so...) I didn't want to pack the story with too many events, and I didn't want to add scenes that I already covered in Liar. But I see what you mean, and there definitely is room for more story, but I'm not sure if I want to add it in here...
Ahahah! Did I really write carrier again? I don't think I will ever learn that one... Career just doesn't feel right in my stupid Italian brain... but maybe I will learn it one day... :P
Aww, thank you so much! You are too sweet and I'm so glad you liked this story!
Snowball hug rolling right back!
Why you make me read sad things D: I haven't even started reading and I already feel sad haha.
The first thing that really hit me was that James recieved the news in the owl post over breakfast. That definitely made the situation more surreal - that it was just an ordinary morning at Hogwarts and then he recieves this awful news. It's like, James' world has stopped but others' is still going on around him.
The "no pun intended" breaks it up a bit, so I like that haha
Oh! So sad that it happened during the time he's not on the best terms with Sirius. He must feel so alone and that makes this story even more hard to read wahhh.
James' heart was shattering and the universe was laughing at him. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL I LOVE IT
I love the little flashback of Aaron, too. He seemed like such a great older cousin :( And beautiful little speech he gave to James about going on was so inpsiring and wonderful to read.
Ugh no what a terrible time for Snape to appear! I love that his friends were still there to help, even if James isn't considering them to be friends at that time.
James' heart was healing and the universe was cheering on him. Aw this made the last line I pulled out even more beautiful. I love how you ended the scenes with a similar sounding sentence.
You had absolutely no reason to be nervous about this piece, Chi. It's so heartbreaking but it ends on a bit of a happier, hopeful note with I LOVE. There is life after death and I think you've written that very well, and my heart isn't completely broken, so that's good :P Good luck in the challenge!!! <3
Erm, sorry... didn't mean to make you sad... but you know I just can't work without your feedback...
Yeah, it would definitely feel surreal... receiving such a terrible and unexpected news in such an abrupt way... It must have been so hard, poor James...
I couldn't resist it... I have to put Sirius/serious puns everywhere... :P
Yes, James is so alone right now. But the thing is, Aaron's death is what pushes him to confront his friends and bring them back together in the first place. So I guess that's one good thing coming from it?
Oh, so glad you loved that sentence! And also the flashbacks! (I love writing cute childhood moments, I'm quite sure you had noticed... :P)
Snape really "chose" the worst moment to show up... :( Yes, even when they are angry at each other, the Marauders still remain loyal and ready to do anything to protect each other. That's why I love them so much!
I'm so glad you liked the parallel closings to the sections. :)
I'm so glad you liked reading this and that it felt heartbreaking but hopeful at the same time. That's what I was aiming for. Thank you so much for this super sweet and encouraging review!