Hi, Laura! Here for our swap!
I really love the way you write. There's no single word that captures it exactly, although I'll try this one on for size: lush. There's so much detail and it's so immersive and evokes so many sounds and smells and sensations in my imagination. It's so very easy to lose yourself in the story.
Kudos for the way you slowly introduced the main character. My initial guess was Albus, but it's obvious now that either he or James could have fit with the particulars. I love that narrative style where I get to spend the first chapter or two working out what's happening and to whom.
Anatole is a great foil for James. He has enough of his own troubles to easily see the struggles James is dealing with, and enough challenges dealing with those troubles that he isn't going to preach to anyone else. At the same time, he's genuinely concerned for James and tries, in small ways, to help James along.
It seems that James has fled England because he was suffocating under the weight of his family's fame. Not an unusual situation to ponder for the Potter and Weasley children. I like the way you layered on some additional family disfunction in James's letter to Teddy. The way that Harry and Ginny steadfastly avoid dealing with the hurt of James leaving. It's certainly in character for Harry and not at all impossible to imagine for Ginny. Only Albus seems to be willing to take some action to try to bring his family back together.
Another beautiful bit of atmospheric writing inside the Leaky Cauldron. James struggles so much with the decision he's made and whether he's willing to carry through. You can tell that he's dying to escape, but on some level he still wants this one shot at restoring some sort of normality. It's heart-breaking.
I noticed a couple of things while I was reading:
- It's stupid, but I want my family to happy for me at that party - "to be happy for me"?
- He knows Anatole vanishes the bottles when he's not looking, knows Anatole worries sometimes about just how much it is sometimes - Double use of "sometimes" in this sentence reads a bit awkwardly.
Otherwise, gorgeous, flawless writing. I really enjoyed this. Thank you for the swap!
Hi Laura! I'm here for our review swap - I know that I've already read the first version of this chapter when you posted it on HPFF, but I hope you don't mind me picking it again. It's been a while and I'm super excited to see that you're working on this story again <3
What fascinates me most about this story is the way that you've taken a really popular next gen character and already, within this first chapter, put such a clear stamp on him that James is very obviously yours. And I'm so, so intrigued to find out more about him and know more about his life, especially because of the tone that this chapter has set.
James seems quite angsty, and there's definitely a dose of anger and frustration and regret, I think, all mingled together to create a James who's very different to most of them that I see in next generation stories. The writing is recognisable as yours, but there's still a departure from the tone and style that you use in L'optimisme, for example. This story seems darker, in a way (which sounds strange, given that Albus and Gellert are pining for each other across decades and countries, and there's a healthy dash of world domination attempts there). The introspection we see in this story is more cagey and shadowed, I think: James has certain thoughts which shine through, and some aspects that he's honest about, but equally there are definitely things that he's avoiding confronting and dealing with. It makes for a really intriguing character so far, and a lot of questions on the part of the reader.
I'm really curious about the relationship between James and Anatole, too. They've been together for a while, it seems, and they obviously care about each other and know the other well, but at the same time it doesn't seem like it's necessarily the healthiest of relationships? I'm not sure, I feel like I need more background on the two of them, but I'm really curious about it.
And of course, James being completely estranged from his family - what happened? Did he do something? Did they do something? Why hasn't he spoken to them in six years? Why don't they even know where he is?
I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!
The letter from Albus to Teddy was kind of... heartbreaking? Like, it was just so sad when he said that he didn't even know where James was, or if he was alive - that they were just hoping they'd have heard of it if he wasn't - and that he really just wanted to be able to recognise his brother if he saw him again. I get the feeling from the letter that the family aren't really sure why James wanted to cut off ties with them, but they've tried to respect his decision. At the same time, Albus's frustration comes through, and it's pretty natural - they're stuck in a kind of limbo, and while they want to be able to continue as normal, James's absence always comes up at the big moments, and there's a tinge of sadness to every happy occasion.
(Also, I'm guessing from the chapter summary that the good news is Albus getting England selection, but it's not really explicitly stated in the chapter itself?)
Even though I said there are certain things that James seems to be avoiding confronting in his narration, he has made it to England - and in staying at the Leaky Cauldron, even though he ran away from his Uncle George, it's almost like he's making it impossible for him to keep avoiding the situation, because he must have known that people would recognise him and he'd be likely to see someone he knew, or was related to. So I guess that seems to be a step forward for him, of sorts?
I'm so, so intrigued by this story already, and I really want to know what happened between James and his family, and what's going to happen now that he's back. Fingers crossed you can keep up the motivation and inspiration for this story!
I’m here for our review swap! Gosh, it’s been ages since we’ve done one of these things.
This particular story struck me immediately because it seems like such a departure from your usual writing. Next gen? Angsty James? Estrangement from the Potters? Umm... Yes, please.
I love how you started this. The convo between Anatole and James gives us an idea that something is wrong, but never really clarified exactly what is wrong. It’s nice because the suspense keeps on building as James contemplated what to do.
I do find it interesting that James wants to remain hidden, but chooses to stay at the Leaky. He had to know that Hannah would recognize him and that the odds that someone else would too was high. I think that deep down he really did want to see someone from the family even if he wasn’t ready to speak to them yet. Hannah’s response was both, I think, what he needed and what he’s terrified of.
I wonder if him seeing George is going to spook him. I’d like to think that George will recognize the fragile situation and not alert the entire family. I always thought he was one of the more thoughtful Weasleys. I hope instead of making a big deal, he simply sits and tries to talk with James.
All in all, I really enjoyed the start of this. I’m so curious to find out what it was that made James bail and how the family reacts to him being home. Please, tell me all the chapters are coming soon.
Hello, here for Nargles review fest!!! I was looking through the Ravenclaw fics, and this caught my eye. I think it's the first thing of yours I've read! And hooo boy do I need to come back and read everything else you've ever written, this was such a magical experience. It reads like you have selected every single word with such care and expertise, and it made every sentence like a beautiful work of art.
My favourite part of this chapter was for sure the letter between Albus and Teddy. " It's ridiculous now - none of us know how to contact him, not really, we don't know where he is, or what he's doing, even if he's still alive, really. (Though I suspect if he'd died, we'd have heard something about the body being found, right? But that's not really comforting in any way.)" It's so perfect -- I don't quite know what delights me the most about it, but it might be the way they could find him if they really put the effort into it? He's not underground. But they're respecting his choice, and I love that. Ooooh, no, I think I have revised, my favourite part of the letter is this bit: "p.s. do you think he's changed a lot? I just... I want to recognise him, you know? But I'm not sure if I will now." because hello, heartbreak. Albus is worried he won't even RECOGNISE HIM.
The way Hannah reacted to him was utterly perfect -- the way she made it so clear that if he chose not to be a Potter, then she was going to double down on it and treat him with absolutely zero favouritism. And then the fact that it's George, out of everyone, who sees him first! Stabs me right in the heart. I think it hurts most because George has lost the most? And so even though James is his nephew, it's like -- it's another person leaving him.
Godddd, I feel so much for James in this chapter. He's under so much pressure as a Potter, and I think it's totally understandable that he opted out of that? I mean, it's also reasonable that his family is hurt, but when push comes to shove, I think I'm on James's side here. I cannot wait to see where this goes and the inevitable confrontation!! I hope I can work out which Nargle to nominate you for. Bah this is so good.
LAURA HI. <3
I am very excited to be reading your Next Gen fic! Especially since I’m pretty sure everything I’ve read by you has been set in an older time period. So I’m prepared for all your breathtaking descriptions to take me into another dimension. <3
(I should probably start reading now, shouldn’t I. Why do I start reviews before I actually read things this is not a good habit.)
Whoa omg this is so interesting because it does feel different from your other stories. Obviously the description is still bountiful and beautiful – I was swooning at the way you described the wine, and pretty much the entire section between Anatole and James – but there definitely is a more modern feel to it, and I can see it in the writing. It’s a super interesting shift, and I’m really enjoying reading it so far! I just want to know how you select your words so perfectly omg. Even when you’re not actively describing something, and you’re just adding supplementary sentences to dialogue, the words you pick are just so perfect that it sets the tone and the mood of whatever your character is doing, and I admire your skill so much. <3
Anatole is one of my favorite names. I’m pretty sure it’s in War and Peace (which I, ahaha, haven’t read) but my love for the name came from this brilliant musical called Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 (which is a mouthful, I know, and it’s also based on like 70 pages of War and Peace haha). Anyway, sorry for that brief tangent there, but I just wanted to let you know that as soon as I saw Anatole I totally connected with him, only because you picked the very best name for this character haha. I’m burning with curiosity about the nature of James’s and Anatole’s relationship; both of them don’t seem to be at their best right now, and I hope they can help each other out somewhat.
Albus’s letter was also super fascinating! And it only added to my question of, “What are they celebrating?” Because James’s inner conflict is really understandable, not wanting every aspect of his life to be tied to his famous relatives. (Though, I wonder how Albus managed to escape this fear of the spotlight? What does Albus do for a living that makes him so well known? And also, what are they celebrating?)
Honestly, James hiding from everyone is very relatable. But this rift between him and his family… I’m so curious to see how it’ll play out. Because it takes a lot, I think, to completely abandon one’s family like that, and I reaaally want more details of this wonderful Next Gen world you’ve set up! <3
This is so good! When will the next chapter be up? :P