Why have I never reviewed this? Perhaps because on an unconscious and clairvoyant level I knew that one night I would be sitting here at ten-to-four, tired and determined, fully mentally capable of writing a competent review, but exhausted enough to cry at reading a new fic, and that the comfort of a fic I am so intimate with sitting with an open and inviting blank review box would be perfect.
I believe I have mentioned several times how much I appreciate the way you open your stories and chapters. This story is no exception. You do describe the setting, as authors so often do, but your description is more than just easing into the story, or even setting the tone. Your setting is important to the story itself. The darkness is, as we learn in the second setting, a cover for what is about to happen. A secret to take place in the night.
Also you find an excellent excuse to use a horse & carriage. Silence, indeed.
And by the end of the first paragraph we gain more understanding of what is about to happen. Not only is it happening in the cover of darkness and silence, but it is causing Siobhan heartache. The moment that the words "A child" appear, the knowledge of the impending exchange sinks in. What else could it possibly be? I love how much is conveyed without having to have said it at all.
A little hand reached out, found and gripped the fur on her cloak, and Siobhan felt her soul cry out in agony. What was she doing?
That is absolutely heart wrenching; I can feel the cry of agony in Siobhan's soul. Even though I've read this fic so many times already, over a period of what must be years now. It is so simple, yet strikes such a powerful chord.
The featureless coachman's apparent lack of compassion angers me, and the fact that Siobhan doesn't tell him to, essentially, shove off, shows the depth of her sadness and her attachment to Lucille.
She knew why she had come here, what she must do. There was no point in prolonging the pain.
This upsets me because it is so thoroughly Siobhan. This is not a decision she ever makes in any Universe I write her in, but it is the type of decision she always inevitably makes. She convinces herself that she must go through with a certain decision. And, maybe she is always right; we have a horrible tendency of putting her in unbearably difficult situations. But these decisions are always based on a strange mix of propriety and secrecy and self-sacrifice rather than what would make her the happiest. And, as I said, though I never make this decision for her, it falls perfectly in line with the decisions that she does make.
And… Lucas, no one must know. This would not be a good time to be recognised as his child.” Siobhan paused, suddenly aware of what she had said. “As you would well know,” she added.
I like this line because it has two uses. One, it strengthens the reasons behind Siobhan's decision. Two, it is the first clear hint (an addition to the earlier mention that he looked like his father) of the connection between Siobhan, and Lucille, and this "stranger". Which is reinforced a few lines down with Lucas' promise, " “She will never be a burden. She is my sister.” Which is absolutely beautiful. I am tempted to say that it is my favourite line from the story. That, while the title is A Moment of Parting, and Siobhan's pain is profound, the redeeming joy of the story, the glimmer of light within it, is the bond between Lucas and Lucille. It's a moment of parting, but also a moment of union, between two siblings that may never had known one another, otherwise. And while they will have a complicated relationship, I know that Lucas is true to his words, and that he will give Lucille the best he possibly can.
Another line that comes later, when Siobhan knows that she has handed Lucille "from uncertainty to safety" emphasises this aspect of the story. You've created, not quite a balance, because I feel the story is, overall, a sad one – but a redeeming amount of hope. All George Lucas did was stand Owen and Beru Lars in front of a twin sun-set, which wasn't quite enough for me. But, you've assured the reader that there is love and security for Lucille.
In spite of the sadness, I do have to stop and shake my head and smile slightly at the mention that Lucas is "not that much older" than Siobhan. Considering that she just had bore a child from his father.
“Give my regards to Maximilian,” she said.
“I wish I could.” A shadow seemed to pass over Lucas’ face, and he sighed deeply. “He passed away three days ago.”
“Oh no,” Siobhan breathed. “I’m so sorry.”
I have to say it, though the RAC may frown upon it – "well this is fucking awkward".
Back to serious business. The way you write the bond between Siobhan and Lucille, and the "tearing" of that bond as Siobhan leaves reminds me very strongly of the human-daemon bond. I imagine, on some level, you took some of your inspiration from that. And, for me, the similarity strengthens the sense of pain. I doubt I can even fully imagine what it's like to give up a child, but in spite of that, I know what Lucille means to Siobhan – having created her and all. I know that every mother loves their child on some level, but that love takes different forms. And, the idea that Lucille is a part of Siobhan as much as Pan is a part of Lyra is a close way to put it. And to walk away from her is not leaving something she loves behind so much as leaving a piece of herself behind. And, even for someone who doesn't have the human-daemon reference, the way you write the scene in which Siobhan feels that tear really conveys that sense of actually having a vital part ripped out of her.
She felt her face harden a little as she answered. “I will have a new one to replace it, soon enough.”
I appreciate this line because, this is a very extreme situation for Siobhan and so she isn't quite Siobhan, as people might recognise her, for the majority of the story. Yes, she's in character, but this is so far from the ordinary for her that this part of her character isn't part that we'd normally see. This line, however, is closer to how we see her usually. I can't quite find the words to explain what it is, but … it's there.
The end is just so terribly sad. It's interesting to compare the last paragraph to the opening one. In the beginning, we're not sure what's going on, and in the end, there is the intense act of sobbing; but both paragraphs seem to convey the same emotion somehow. A certain emptiness, unwillingness, resignation. And that overwhelming sense of darkness.
I'm also reminded of The Magnificent Malfoy, and I can see very directly how the woman sobbing in the carriage at the very end of this story becomes the shell that we see in TMM. It's not merely the circumstances of her marriage or the separation from her lover – it's also the part of her that was ripped away when she gave Lucille up to Lucas. And, knowing what is in store for Siobhan in this universe just reinforces the sadness.
I've probably thanked you before for this fic, and all the others that accompany it. But, I must thank you again. I'm incredibly grateful.
It's always a pleasure to read something by you, Anna. I really enjoy how smoothly your prose flows, though it also makes me a little envious. Your writing is so solid. It's like a well-woven tapestry; description, action, and word choice are all wound so neatly together that there aren't any holes and it makes exactly the pattern that was intended.
This one-shot is tremendously moving. Your portrayal of Siobhan's grief is wrenching, and the way that you built it up was brilliant. The image of Siobhan sitting in the carriage with her daughter pressed to her chest made my heart ache for her as I realized what was going to happen. I've often thought that it I have children that I'm going to be very deeply attached to them, and your descriptions of her inability to move, feeling the connection stretch between them, was aching and perfect. The use of the closing of the carriage door to symbolize the cutting off of that connection is really great symbolism. The one part of your characterization of Siobhan that felt off to me was her sobbing in the carriage; somehow, I picture her being a bit more restrained even as she feels her heart breaking, sitting in the carriage with dry eyes and trying to numb the pain inside. But it's really probably a matter of perspective, so I'm not necessarily right. Everything else was wonderful about the way you wrote her.
Lucas was also wonderful. Oh, how I love him. Compassionate, wise, considerate...Lucille is lucky to have a guardian in him. He really is a remarkable man, and I can't wait to see more of him.
There were only a couple flaws that I could see. There were a couple of phrases that were slightly awkward in their wording, and I'll try to give some suggestions, though they'll not necessarily be better.
The lampposts in the drive had been put out for their discreteness. Discreteness should technically be discretion, but it doesn't really have the flavor that would want. If you said something in the vein of “to mask their arrival,” it might work better.
Already feeling how tears were beginning to burn her eyes. The use of “how” makes the reader stumble just a little; if you change it to “already feeling tears beginning to to burn her eyes,” it gives it much more impact.
I also wasn't clear on why “time was growing preciously short”; was it the night before she was going to marry Harry? (Hee, that rhymes. >.>)
So...that's it. =) Excellent, excellent work, Anna.