HOW AM I MEANT TO DEAL WITH THIS, KAYLA??? HOW????
(Hello, I'm here with the first of my incredibly long overdue (yes I know I'm terrible) prize reviews for getting first place in my Historical Head Canons challenge!)
So I knew that this was going to break my heart, because let's face it, it's you, and as much as I love your Marauders, you never quite let them have the happily ever after they deserve. For some reason it only occurred to me about half way through the story that if James wasn't going to die in this story, someone else would have to, and then I was torn in panic about whether it would be Remus or Sirius or even baby Harry but I still wasn't prepared for how many pieces you shattered my heart into with this story.
The opening section took my mind in a different direction from the death denial, which I'm pretty sure was the intention, because that just meant that the ending had an even bigger impact.
Your characterisations of Remus and Sirius are so spot on - which doesn't surprise me at all, but I thought you really captured just how worn down the two of them are in this moment, and all the stresses and tensions that the characters are trying to deal with. Obviously this is right at the end of the first war, but they don't know that yet, and the strain is really showing here. It made me think of the years that families have had to spend at war and just how they cope (mentally, as well as physically) and I felt like you really captured that here.
It's so unfair that Remus has to spend all that time with the werewolves to try and convince them to join the Order's side during the war, and reading this made me think of just how difficult it must have been for him when he has to go back and do the same thing in the second wizarding war as well. But the fact that he feels too ashamed to tell Sirius about it is just awful, and I think that, more than anything else, really highlights the way it makes him feel.
Sirius is just so... Sirius. Quick-tempered and confrontational, but the fact that he's been brooding over this for so long shows how much it means to him, and that he doesn't want to have to believe that it's Remus who's the spy in the Order.
The scene between them, particularly when the suspicions first started pouring out, showed the strain of the war so well, and how hostile it had made two people who love each other. I just wanted to take them both and shake them, and then give them a hug, because nobody should have to deal with so many years of danger and tension and suspicion, especially when they're so young.
ALSO CAN I TALK ABOUT YOUR WORD CHOICE FOR JUST A MINUTE?
"there is a rat inside the Order of the Phoenix" - YES THERE IS AND IT IS YOUR FRIEND PETER WHO LITERALLY TURNS INTO A RAT REMUS
(Ahem. I see what you did there.)
"another part of him keeps going back to his family and their... proclivities" - maybe I'm reading too much into this, but knowing you, I feel like your word choice at the end was deliberate here, and I really like the way that you take the word proclivities and the connotations it's gained in some groups, and turn it on its head completely, if that makes sense?
It was so sweet in a way that neither Sirius nor Remus had ever even thought that they might be the target of suspicion, and that they didn't want to have to suspect the other, either. It spoke volumes about their relationship, and their own moralities.
(I hate Peter even more for the thought that he deliberately turned them on each other here.)
As soon as I realised that they'd worked out between them that netiher of them was the spy in the Order, I realised where this was going. I think part of me wanted to believe that there was going to be another way that you denied James's death? (Surprise, surprise, I'm sure :P) But NO of course you had to go and kill my heart, because in canon they suspected each other through Sirius's years in Azkaban and if this conversation happens then they can't be separated through that WHICH MEANS WORSE THINGS WILL HAPPEN.
There was such a wonderful sense of urgency as they went to Peter to try and find out what was happening with the Death Eaters and Voldemort, and then when they went to Godric's Hollow. I really wanted to scream at them all and make sure that they got out of there quickly enough, but at the same time I was filled with this horrible, dreadful certainty that it wasn't going to be okay. And as soon as Sirius stepped through the Floo to warn James and Lily, I knew it had to be Sirius.
SIRIUS. HASN'T HE SUFFERED ENOUGH, KAYLA? HASN'T REMUS? You are CRUEL.
But can I just talk about how the fact that Sirius was the one to rush upstairs to get Harry and he couldn't get out in time, but Harry still survived means that Sirius loved his godson so purely and so much that it equalled his mother's love and protected him from the Killing Curse??? Because that's genuinely making me tear up at the thought of it, and makes his death hurt even more.
Then Remus discovering him, and having to leave his body behind because he knows that he has to protect Harry or Sirius's death would have been for nothing... you're determined to break me, aren't you?
"Downstairs, the clock strikes midnight." - this is such a powerful last line. It has this horrible ring of finality to it, like there's absolutely no going back now, and then at the same time part of me is hoping that the spell will have worn off by midnight, like in Cinderella, and everything will be alright again - or at least, back to the start of the day so Sirius and Remus can have their conversation quicker and save the Potters and themselves...
Basically, this was amazing and I don't have enough words to tell you how much I enjoyed it (apparently I love getting my heart broken by your writing), and you've done an amazing job with this story. I loved it!
Hey, Kayla! I'm here with your review from the staff review thread! <3
You are a master at this era and these characters. You're so, so good at balancing the anxiety and paranoia that had to exist for all of them with just... people having real feelings and emotions and hopes.
You capture that from the start with Remus's suspicion and better-safe-than-sorry sentiment, even though he really wants to trust Sirius... and it's heartbreaking for me as a reader, because I know that Sirius really is innocent and I knew even before the kitchen scene that he's pushing Remus like this because he's feeling suspicious about Remus. There's something so... pure, almost? about the fact that it doesn't seem to have occurred to either Remus or Sirius until that moment in the kitchen that they could be the target of suspicion.
I loved how quickly Sirius figured out the truth, too, once he had a couple more pieces of the puzzle, because that really is just like Sirius. He's impetuous and quick and impulsive, and that's usually a good thing - after all, if he hadn't been suppressing that for so long, this would have been sorted before now and Sirius wouldn't have ended up dead. His instincts are so, so good, and that's part of why this is so gut-wrenching. And as much as I love how you depict his relationship with Remus, I really, really love his friendship with James.
The ending broke my heart. It really did. I loved how you really did show how yes, Sirius put his money where his mouth was way back in PoA - he did die rather than betray his friends, and it says something that Sirius - who was in his early 20s - loved his friends' baby so much that he was basically able to stand in for Lily. Just. Wow.
A couple tiny pieces of crit:
The paragraph starting, "Don't," Sirius snaps felt a little muddled to me. I think that you switch speakers mid-paragraph, which made it harder for me to follow what exactly was going on and who was saying (and doing) what. I think that that paragraph in particular would have benefited from being drawn out a little more, both in your description and in Remus's thoughts. How does he get from freezing to challenging Sirius to roll up his sleeves? Did he mean to say that? What wheels were turning in Sirius's head? I just would have liked to see a little more detail and clarity there, especially since it's such a pivotal moment.
The only other issue that stuck out to me was that I wished you'd slowed down a little more with the Voldemort scene - I can see a universe in which Lily is that slow on the uptake and I can understand why Apparating isn't an option, but those are both things that I thought you could have spelled out a little better than you did, because as it is, it felt a little rushed.
Overall, though, this was excellent, and I loved it!
Hi Branwen! So sorry for my late response to this :')
Aw! You are too sweet! Thank you for saying so much nice stuff, especially about my Marauders. It really means a lot to me, because (as I'm sure you know, lol) I love these characters and this era so much and it's really exciting to hear that people like my portrayals.
Thanks so much for the crit too, I really appreciate that. I definitely see what you're saying, and I've put it off longer than I meant to but I am planning to fix those scenes up.
<3 You're the best, thanks again!
Wait... Just, wait... ARE YOU BLOODY KIDDING ME? You save Lily and James just to kill Sirius? Do you have a vague idea how unfair that is???
Sure, this is a better ending than the canon one... I mean, at least Harry will grow up loved, and Remus won't be completely alone and convinced the man he loved betrayed and killed the only friends he ever had... still...
It is so cruel to think that if only they'd trusted each other, if only they'd talked about it sooner, things might've gone differently. I loved their cofrontation at the beginning, by the way. It felt so real, I could depict that scene so perfectly. I was there thinking all the time, just say it! Well, they did. I wish they had the time to talk it through properly, apologize properly, forgive each other and start again properly... I'm just so sad...
Peter... I would kill him with my bare hands if I could... (okay, no, I wouldn't... but you know what I mean). The scene at his house was very reminiscent of the scene in PoA in the Shrieking Shack, I think you did a great job at picturing that one too.
And then at the Potters... I sort of knew what was coming, but I still wasn't prepared for it. I loved that Sirius saved Harry the way Lily did, though. I love the concept that love prevailed even this time. I think it's sort of poetic, despite being heartbreaking.
And poor Remus... you wrote his shock and desperation so well, it was so strong and so real and so heartbreaking (sorry for the repetition, but that's the only word that I can think of). I felt so horrible for him, I just wanted to hug him tight, he didn't deserve this pain...
I really, really, loved this! It was all so perfect! The pacing, the dialogue, the description, the characterization... everything.
Sorry for the yelling at the beginning, by the way... you upset me a little (I still think you could've given me a happy ending, you know? Just saying...)
Thank you for requesting, and feel free to come back anytime (maybe I'll try to be quicker next time... sorry about the long wait as well...)
Chiara! I am so sorry for my late response to this!
Haha yes, I know exactly how unfair it is. But the opportunity to take everybody by surprise was too good to pass up. Muahahahaha >:)
I'm really glad to hear you liked the confrontation between Remus and Sirius because I was kind of unsure about it. I wasn't so unsure of the confrontation with Peter but obviously it's still good to hear that you liked that one too.
I really didn't believe while writing this that there was the slightest chance that Sirius dying for Harry wouldn't protect Harry in the same way as when Lily did it. I really couldn't believe that. He loved Harry so much, and we saw in the books that there didn't need to be a blood relationship for the protection to work (see: Harry dying to end the battle at Hogwarts and people subsequently being protected from Voldemort).
I toyed with the idea of a happy ending when I first started writing. I knew it would be quite easy to get them all out of it alive. But then Harry wouldn't be the Boy Who Lived, Voldemort would still be around, etc... so I decided someone had to die so I didn't mess with canon TOO much. So here we are.
I'm really glad you liked this! And you're completely forgiven for the yelling ahaha.
Thanks for the wonderful review!
So wonderful to see you writing and uploading again! Not gonna lie, when I saw what this was called and what it was about, I was a bit like, "uhhh is this going to make me cry?!" But then I was all, "Nah, James obviously survives. Hooray!" BUT YOU KILL SIRIUS INSTEAD?! Yep, there are tears.
Okay gotta fix this blubbering mess of a review.
I forgot Remus spoke to other werewolves during the war (at least, I think he did? Awkies if not) so I like that you included that.
Wolfstar <3 I heart them so much, especially when you're behind it, and even when they're fighting.
Man you gave me chills with: "there is a rat inside the Order of the Phoenix". DAMN RIGHT THERE IS. Ugh so sad that that mistrust exists between him and Sirius though, and it's affecting their relationship.
The way you write, especially the interactions between Remus and Sirius just has me glued to the screen.
Even now, even to Sirius, Remus is ashamed of people knowing anything to do with him being a werewolf, and it's very in character and very well done.
Trust Peter to have so many locks on the door. You have all these tiny details included and I just love it so much. That scene is reminiscent of when they caught Peter in the third book.
Argh Sirius with Harry makes my heart melt into a big gooey mess! If you ever write more of them all playing happy families, I would totally be down to read that.
I have nothing to comment on, this piece is so perfect. I was gripped the whole time. Beautiful, beautiful work, Kayla. I hope you write more soon <3
So sorry for this very belated response. And sorry for making you cry :( although, tbh, I'm sort of not sorry about that second one. Muahahaaa.
I'm not sure if Remus spoke to other werewolves during the first war, but I know he spoke to them during the second. And it seems to at least be fanon that he did during the first too.
You are too sweet! And actually your comment about Sirius and Harry did inspire me to write another one-shot about them! But it's angsty, not very happy families. Oops. Sorry, but you know me... Hopefully I'll have that done soon but I've unfortunately hit a bit of a wall with it, so :/
Thanks for the lovely review!
Kayla! I'm here for our review swap, and holy crap! Not only am I glad that I got a chance to read this story, but how have I not read your writing before?!
Okay so I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about this, but you convinced me. You convinced me so much that I was even seeing it like a movie running through my mind, and you had me gripped throughout the entire story.
Let's start with Remus and Sirius. I love the way you wrote them, the way they figured out who the rat was, but I also loved Remus' inner thoughts about their relationship and how it was failing. This line in particular really stood out to me: He never used to notice the flaws so much back when they first moved in; they were young and in love, and the flat was shabby but it was theirs. He's not sure exactly when the dripping tap became louder than their morning conversations, but now it seems to be all he hears. It just felt so realistic and so painful becuase things are different, but when did that happen? It's easy to imagine that happening over the time of war, especially when they can't really seem to trust each other. I really think you did their relationship justice and my heart was breaking for them the entire time. And when they thought the other one was a Death Eater and Remus had Sirius roll up his sleeves? JUST TAKE MY HEART OKAY.
I also loved their personalities in this. You did an amazing job of showcasing Sirius' loyalty to the Potters and showing us his bravery, too. And poor Remus, I can't imagine having to try and convince the werewolves to get on his side and then not being able to talk to Sirius about it. Their love was just so tragic in this story, I really felt for them.
And OKAY, when they both stormed Peter's hide-out! THAT WAS AWESOME. I was getting all excited, thinking that they were all going to live happily ever after, except for maybe Peter, because, well, he's a rat.
AND THEN YOU WENT AND YOU KILLED SIRIUS INSTEAD, WHAT. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?! I'm actually pretty impressed because I know he's your favorite character so I definitely wasn't expecting that ending from this piece. I really thought they were all going to make it, but then I guess Harry wouldn't be the Boy Who Lived anymore. :'( And poor Remus, having to find his body like that! UGH.
So if you couldn't tell, I really loved this and I think you did an amazing job creating a different reality. Everything felt authentic, from their personalities to their relationships. The language and descriptions you used were on point, and it was a smart choice to tell this in present tense because it really helped with the pacing and keeping me intrigued.
Excellent job, thanks for the swap!
Hey Jill! So sorry I took a while to respond to this.
Well, I'm very glad to hear that I convinced you! :) Yeah, Sirius and Remus break my heart. I always see it as such a tragic relationship (mostly towards the end) and I'm glad I managed to capture that here.
I'm so happy that you liked the scene at Peter's house. I've never really written anything so action-y before so I was really nervous about it.
Hahaha! I was definitely trying to take people by surprise with that ending. When I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for the challenge, I was really focusing on ideas where Harry would still be the Boy Who Lived, so I knew someone still had to die. I toyed with Neville getting chosen instead or Lily still dying, but I thought this would surprise people the most.
Thank you so much for the wonderful review, Jill! We'll have to swap again sometime!
Kayla, it is unexpected. As I didn't read the first note, I thought the story would end like J.K.Rowling's original one. How could you let Sirius die? I mean your favorite character has been Sirius, right? I never imagined you would choose the story like this at all. :- 0 I was very surprised.
There seemed to be some misunderstandings between Sirius and Lupin. I want to think they could understand each other at the end before rescuing Potters. The process that they suspect each situation are well written. I felt their frustration each other and hoped they would been solved soon.
Poor Peter. He couldn't be a hero again. I wonder if he could be the one without Voldemort's threatening.
As I thought Lily would come back to Sirius and sacrifice her life for Harry, the last scene was so shocking. The description of Harry and the feeling for him from Sirius's POV are very moving scenes. Then I wonder, how Harry could survive. Lily used her old blood magic. Then what magic did Sirius use before he died?
Good! I was hoping it would be unexpected and surprising. ;) I wrote this precisely because Sirius is my favourite character and I didn't think people would expect me to kill him.
I was worried that my idea wouldn't work because I thought Lily's protection had something to do with blood magic and her being Harry's mother. But then I remembered that in the seventh book, Harry walks into the forest and dies to save the people at Hogwarts, and then they're all protected from Voldemort. So I don't think that the person has to actually be related, they just have to selflessly sacrifice themself. I think Lily being related to Harry by blood only came into play when it came to him being safe at Petunia's house.
Thanks very much for reading and for the review!