HELLO. I’m reviewing entries for my epistolary challenge now! <3
So you have this incredible knack for writing heartwrenching stories, which is an amazing gift which also makes me SO VERY SAD. By the end of this, I was wallowing in my sadness, because having this story be in letter form made in that much more heartbreaking, somehow. I mean, consider Remus’s position—he thinks that two-thirds of his very best friends are dead, and that their deaths were caused by his other friend, who he loved romantically. I MEAN. That’s just so brutal. I think that telling this story in an epistolary format was really successful, because (1) it allowed us to really hear Remus’s sad, broken voice as the only remaining Marauder in the free world [or so he thinks], and (2) the concept of writing letters that could never be sent or received is just the saddest thing in the world, and (3) I imagined it as Remus writing these letters in a therapeutic way, for him to gather his thoughts and say his final goodbyes that he wasn’t able to speak in real life.
The Marauders had such a tragic life, and you captured it all perfectly within these three letters, and I think that your writing in these letters is just absolutely beautiful. In the first, when Remus is talking to James and then begins to speak about Sirius—the way that he tries making excuses for Sirius, still, despite fully knowing [believing] what happened, is the worst kind of painful. Remus talking about how Sirius has never been alone is really true; ever since the age of eleven, he’s had James and Remus and Peter, and he loved them all, and they loved him back. But the way that Remus tries justifying to himself these events that led up to James and Peter’s horrible deaths hurts and how he “realizes” he’s being ridiculous in doing so—“realize” being in quotation marks because HE’S NOT BEING SILLY, SIRIUS NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE IT. I’m really glad that Remus can find solace in a church, and that the kind woman told him about writing letters, and I hope that writing these has helped him. Even if they’re so painful to read. <3
I think the misunderstandings in these letters, which are taunting Remus and hurting him inside-out without him even realizing it, are the most painful parts of these letters. How he still believes in Peter’s more angelic qualities, and is wishing him the best in the letter, and talks about all the beautiful memories from the past that they had together… IT’S SO SAD. Somehow, listening to Remus’s voice talking about the best qualities of Peter while Sirius receives the heartbroken, disappointed letter is unbearable. What I really love about what you’ve done is how you managed to weave different fragments of their life into the letters, so that we get to see how their school life was, how they fared together when they were younger, and the more personal aspects of their lives that we didn’t really get to see in Harry Potter. For instance, Peter’s sister, Sarah! It has never occurred to me that Peter might’ve had siblings, and I’m sure for the majority of HP readers, as well. Yet her existence makes so much sense; it’s so unlikely that three-quarters of the Marauders were single children, and having a sibling that he cares about would set Peter apart from the rest. I love that this has provided this mutual understanding between Remus and Peter, about why Peter was more gentle in the pranks against Slytherin than everyone else.
I felt like tearing up when Remus talked about how hardworking Peter was. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it—I know that Peter did this truly horrible, awful thing, but you write Remus’s words and beliefs in such a genuine, touching way that I can’t help but feel what he feels. And to see someone appreciating Peter in this manner, about his methods of studying and learning, is something that I just don’t really get to see often. But that he called Peter a “hero” hurts me.
My feelings are such a mess right now.
Something that I forgot, that Remus’s letter to Sirius reminded me of, is that Sirius did actually kill thirteen innocent people in his pursuit for Peter. Which is different from betraying his best friend’s family to the single most dangerous mass murderer in the history of wizardkind, but it is still not good. And I think that the evidence for that is indisputable, and so it makes so much sense that Remus is now convinced that Sirius really did do the horrible things that the Aurors claimed he did, even if he’s tried to persuade himself otherwise. Perfect health, no sign of torture, nothing. It’s so relatable that he desperately wants a reason for Sirius’s behavior—a diagnosis of his mental health, or something broken from torture…
So sorry for this disorganized review! There were so many things for me to think about, and if you were trying to overwhelm me with feelings, you definitely succeeded! :P
Thank you so much for participating in my challenge! <3
Oh, my Merlin, Isobel!
What is this? Why am I crying on the bus? This is your fault, lady! Be ashamed!
No, don't be ashamed... be proud because this is so good! You captured Remus' voice so well and all the feelings were so raw and poignant and real and... well... I think it's no secret how I feel about the Marauders, right?
Remus' guilt over not understanding, not being there for Sirius, not being able to stop him, maybe even enhancing the distance between him and James... ah, Remus, you silly... blaming himself is such typical behaviour and I can totally see him thinking along those lines. I actually had a very similar thought process included in Jimmy. Very different circumstances, but the thought process was basically the same. I love that he found some kind of comfort in religion. And that it was a memory of James himself that led him there. That first letter was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
I had never considered the possibility of Peter having siblings. Let alone a Slytherin sister. I love that idea. I also really, really loved that you took the time to show a more human side to my little Petey (I guess it's no secret that I love him as a character either... even if I hate what he did, and I hate that Remus thinks he is the hero and Sirius is the traitor at this time...) I love that Remus and Sarah got close through their grief. It's sad, but also sweet at the same time... I wonder if their friendship lived for the years to come, and what would happen once the truth about Peter came out... Now I really want a story about that!
The letter to Sirius was the most heartbreaking (why am I not surprised?) As I already said, it's so cruel that Remus believed Sirius to be the spy... especially if you are a Wolfstar shipper (which I'm not, but you clearly are, and seeing things in that light makes it all even more painful than it is in itself) Remus' disperation to deny Sirius' guiltiness, the way he tried to find excuses and justifications, only to be faced with even more evidence... I just want to hug him, both of them, so much, okay? I love that he still have this guthrir feeling that it is not possible, even if rationality leaves no place for doubt. I love that he wants to hate Sirius so badly, but can't help to love who he used to be (that's a concept I've expressed in some of my stories, too... sorry for keeping making parallels with my writing, btw... I just love when my headcanons align with what other people write...)
I'm sure I didn't say everything I wanted to say, but the point is that this was just so good! You are such a great writer! (I knew that already, but it's always worth repeating)
Wonderful job and congrats being nominated for Hufflepuff SotM!
This story is amazing!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to try talking about the story with each letter but one thing you did brilliantly well throughout was just capture the real essense of Remus. I mean, I could really see him saying/writing these things and feeling this way after James and Lily died. Writing letters is such an great way to process grief.
His letter to James --
This was so sad and heartbreaking!! I'm not at all surprised that Remus felt responsible for Sirius breaking or betraying them. I could definitely see Remus keeping his relationship with Sirius private and his fear that being gay on top of everything else would just push James away. That's so sad but I could see him thinking that. I got super sad thinking about Remus wanting and trying to visit Harry. It's so shady and upsetting that Dumbledore didn't just tell Remus where Harry was even if he couldn't have visitors. I also like your idea that no magical visitors was a rule Petunia set out. That bothers me from time to time but you really put a reasonable spin on it. It's also a bit fitting that Remus would go to church. I could see him enjoying the community and fellowship that church can provide.
Letter to Peter --
oh man, this one was just too sweet and sad. I like that you gave Peter a sister and also put her in Slytherin. Remus was such a dedicated friend to Peter, even if he doesn't feel like it when he's writing the letter. It's clear that his friendship with Peter made Remus such a talented teacher. I really love that Remus became friends with Sarah after Peter's death. I kind of ship them now even if nothing has happened between them yet. Then I also wonder how she was during the war (uninvolved, a death eater, etc.). After all the gooey feelings from having Remus' heart break over losing Peter, I get angry that he's going through grief for a death that hasn't happeend. :( :( :(
Letter to Sirius --
rip my heart out much??? You do such a good job showing how Remus is processing the grief and shock of Sirius' betrayal. Poor logical and factual Remus -- of course he's going to struggle with Sirius being in leauge with Voldemort. It had to really shake his confidence for a long time out.
This is brilliant and I'm really glad Sam sent it to me when I was looking for stories to review.
Hi, Isobel. Wow. Juat wow. This was fantastic. I had an idea of doing something like this once, but I never got around to it. Honestly, I'm not sure if I could have pulled it off as well as you have anyway. I keep saying it but this really is great.
I think you packed a lot of emotion in this, and even without showing anything but Remus' thoughts all the marketers are so three dimensional and human. Which of course makes things even more heartbreaking. Especially with Peter. I agree with Sam that people tend to write Peter in a very negative light, and I love how you displayed more of his character. I also love how you gave him a sister, and the doubts Remus talked about with the Slyrherin house.
James' letter had me tearing up. I loved how you discussed religion in it. You really don't see that come up too often in fics like that, and I appreciated seeing it. I also love how it wasn't blind faith. How Remus talked about his own questioning and struggles with it, which really hits close to home for me because I'm going through that myself. It felt so real and genuine.
Now Sirius', that was a hitter. It's so tragic because Remus was right. It wasn't him, but all the evidence speaks contrary to his heart. Then almost as soon as he'll learn that, Sirius will be dead. I love wolfstar but it's also so tragic because you know how it'll end, baring an AU.
This was so well done and I'm so happy (if that's the right word) that you linked me to this. Thank you for the stunning read.
WELL THAT HURT.
I am very glad you’re working on writing a fluffy wolfstar, because I need it after this.
Pain aside, I really really liked this story. It is incredibly humane, is the best word I can think of for it. There is so much compassion for all of the characters. You feel it in Remus’ complicated feelings for Sirius, and in a different way for Peter. With Peter the complications are more under the surface, as Remus doesn’t know there’s any reason not to trust him, but it comes through in the writing. You treat Peter as a full complicated person, not a two dimensional villain who is inferior to his friends, which is my most frequent pet peeve with marauder stories. I like that you point out that Peter was the first to successfully transform, and that his special needs are a big reason for Remus’ academic success. The inclusion of Peter’s Slytherin sister is really interesting, and in a way it is the think that adds the most judgement of Peter in this - he didn’t just betray and walk away from his friends, but he also abandoned his sister who clearly needed him.
I found the part about Remus hoping James might be able to read what he was writing in whatever version of an afterlife he had very touching.
I don’t know if these letters are meant to be written at the same time, but to me there was a feeling of time passing, at least before the Sirius letter, as Remus was working through processing a lot of things.
You have such solid characterization of all four of them in this story. It’s even more interesting because it’s characterization as filtered through Remus’ eyes, which we know at least in the cases of Peter and Sirius is not fully accurate.
This left me with so many feelings! Very good job.