Di! Oh goodness! This is going to be rather less coherent than my last review because oh my Godric! I rarely read fics that feel this fresh and new and so convincingly Marauder. Like, the war feels absolutely rea,l and completely and utterly petrifying, rather than just being this dimly menacing background presence as I usually feel it. And the amount of love I have for Sirius and Remus right now -- the relief of seeing Peter captured and Sirius safe. Gah. But who helped Sirius? My mind has jumped to Snape, but I don't know at all. This story is so much richer, more complex, than I could ever have imagined, even after that fabulous first chapter. I can't help but wonder what surprises you still have in store for me. Incredibly well written and plotted and characterised -- you have floored me.
I came to this story via the QSQ nominations. I rarely read AUs, but as yours came so highly recommended, I thought it had to be worth trying and I'm very glad that I did. So far, I've only read the first chapter, but once I've posted this review, I'll be racing onwards. There are so many questions that I want to find answers to!
I think that's largely why this story is successful for me: it poses a series of interesting questions, but at the same time, I can see exactly how everything relates to canon. I can even imagine that the story could rejoin canon, if Sirius turns out to be alive and Peter turns out to be the traitor. The way you've set your plot up, it seems possible, and it's that element of possibility that has really got my attention. I'm constantly trying to piece together how far this is going to return to canon later.
One of the main questions that has my attention is whether or not Peter is the traitor. Clearly he isn't under suspicion, but then it could just be that he's a very good spy. I felt like his actions could be interpreted as emotional manipulation of Remus, but equally, I could believe it if he turned out to be innocent thus far. He's a character whose motivations I've always wanted to understand, and in this scenario, with him as the only single Marauder, I can see why he might have felt left out to the point that he wanted to turn traitor.
Equally, however, in your fabulously topsy-turvy universe, I could believe in it being someone else. The dynamics between the four Marauders must have been rather different if Remus and Sirius were openly in a relationship. I've often read about secret liasons between them, but less commonly about them as a couple. Part of me wishes that the story had started slightly earlier so that I could witness that dynamic (although there is still time, I suppose) but then the way you started this story built up an instant intrigue, a sudden, strong tension, that I found highly effective at drawing me in.
Another element that drew me straight into this fic was your prose. I thought the metaphors in the opening lines - grief “swallowing every other emotion” and being a “vast, bare, greyness” - were incredibly vivid. They drew me right into Remus's pain, even before I knew what was going on. On rereading while writing this review, I kept noticing more and more lovely little details, things like the alliteration of “hesitant hugs, and pathetic platitudes”. I didn't spot that initially because it all flowed together so well and I wasn't reading slowly enough to pick apart the details, but second time through, they added even more to the story.
I also really appreciated your description of the mundane details of Remus and Sirius's life together, and how they came into play once Sirius was gone. It added some wonderfully bitter-sweet moments into the fic. For example, I laughed out loud at the thought of Sirius comparing the flowers on the wallpaper to monkeys, and then wanted to cry because I could only hear that via Remus. The crips and the shampoo, when James had taken Remus outside, were less sweet, perhaps, but they too were important in conveying the history of their relationship and they brought me close to tears for Remus's sake.
Of course, Remus was a huge strength of this fic. He's always been a favourite character of mine, and I felt especially close to him in your writing. One detail I liked was the presence of the wolf in him. Perhaps grief brought it out; perhaps it's how he normally is. Either way, it helped him to feel uniquely himself, I thought, as well as adding a very interesting new element to his relationship with Sirius. Your suggestion of the bond between wolf and dog made me believe even more strongly in the strength of their relationship, and thus made me hurt even more on Remus's behalf.
The final thing I'd like to mention is that I thought you handled the issue of Remus's repressed emotions extremely well. We always see him putting his own desires aside in canon, so that he can look after the interests of others, but we don't really get to see the flipside of that, the emotional toll it takes on him. The anger that you showed in him, that desire to smash things and yell at people, seems like the exact inner dialogue I would expect to see in him. I was so glad that James was there to help him vent; it obviously helped him, even if only slightly.
I have absolutely adored this first chapter, and I'm very excited to read on. The interesting premise, great technical writing and incredibly strong, well thought-out characterisation make this a great read. Good luck for the QSQs!
Please update as soon as you can! I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for more!
Can I just say that I really, really, really love this? Okay. Because I do.
Author's Response: I am so sorry I didn't respond earlier! I don't know how I missed your review! Thank you so much for letting me know you like my story. I truly appreciate it.
Really loving this story so far. Clearly, you’ve taken a lot of care to make the Sirius/Remus connection very believable – and it is not one of my favorite ships, to say the least. Since you’ve set this in an Alternate Universe, I’m only hoping you’ll be kinder to the characters than Fate was (i.e. canon). Toddler Harry’s nickname of Pronglet couldn’t be more perfect! I’m so jealous that I didn’t think of it myself. Looking forward to next update.
Author's Response: My gosh, I didn't know I had this review! Many apologies for not responding quicker. Thank you for saying such nice things--and for even reading this in the first place, considering it's not one of your favorite ships. I do appreciate it very much. I'm submitting the final bit today, and hope you enjoy the ending. Thanks again for reviewing!
Awesome, and poignant, and sad. Poor Remus, I feel so bad for him. Any chance Sirius is going to miraculously reappear? Please?
I can't wait for the next chapter. Update soon!
Author's Response: Sirius? Miraculously reappear? All I'm going to say is that I'm not J.K.Rowling. I don't have the heart to kill off the characters I love. :D Thank you so much for the wonderful review. I'll be submitting the next chapter soon!