Gina, this story is beautiful. It’s rather simple in terms of plot, but shows a great depth of characterisation in a very short space of time, and you feel the emotions both James and Remus feel at that moment, as well as what they have previously felt, very powerfully.
I think the style you used, that of the present tense, was spot on for this story. I think the present tense works best when it is one long, sustained scene, and it certainly worked brilliantly here. I also loved the way you immediately grounded the reader within the setting, using absolutely beautiful imagery like:illuminating the lawn as if setting the stage for a dance of pixies and dust Which also gives your story an other-worldly quality, which befits what James experiences at this moment, as if it’s outside his normal life. I also love the phrase: late summer breeze whispers on the wind, which while poetic, also gives a sense of several sorts of breezes, and while James’ state of mind is rather pensive, the outside environment is, while not noisy, not silent either.
Your characterisation of James, and Remus, is excellent, but particularly James. His thoughts feel very real, and I love the way the pond acts as a conduit for memories of his childhood, and how distant he now is from it. I also think it’s realistic that his friends tried to talk him out of marriage--he is very young to be getting married, and I think it’s natural at that age (or even slightly older) for men to feel their friendship being threatened by the sudden importance of a woman in James life. The idea of him being nervous about the domestic and the war, and giving them equal weighting, is very clever, and realistic in that both are of importance to him. This continues throughout the story, including the moment at the end when he says to Remus that there’s a woman out there for him. Whilst I disagree with this idea, I do think given James fell in love at a young age that he would believe this, and it fitted with him perfectly.
And onto Remus. He was also very well characterised, particularly his jokes about ‘my inner wolf’, and how it was noted by James that it was unusual for Remus to do that. A sense of humour can help with very difficult situations, but I think it’s much easier for James, Peter and Sirius to see that, than for Remus to do so, and so it was a nice touch. Likewise, I liked Remus’ joke about hexing off James’ ‘bits’ off, and how this was also an unusually crude, but not so unusual for James to be shocked or surprised at it, sort of comment for him to make. As well as being very funny, it also linked Remus’ denial about his feelings for James with his denial, or at least battle with, his lycanthropy.
The dialogue in this was also very good. I loved the wizarding slang you used, like ‘kneazled’, and it just fitted in very seamlessly. I loved the banter, although I would say James’ comment about sleeping with Lily before marriage not being ‘legal’ was a bit odd- maybe ‘not with her father's blessing’ or something like that, would fit better, though it’s a tad more convoluted. My favourite line of dialogue, however, was Remus’ line: "Because the answer you'll give me is different than what you'd tell the others, and I just wanted to know." The fact that the potential of forever scares Remus (and, I also think, Peter and Sirius) shows James as, in a way, being far more mature than they are. It also shows the difference between the friendship James has with Remus, and the friendship he has with Sirius, in that while one may not be better than the other, with Sirius he would need to feel more masculine, and maybe live up to Sirius’ expectations of him, rather than his own. It was a very beautiful and concise way of demonstrating their friendship.
This may be rather over-flowing with (very deserved) praise, but I do have one criticism. This may be because I have a --thing--about italicised flashbacks--to me they always look clumsy, and unfortunately this is no exception. The change to italics somewhat disrupts the very lovely flow of your story, and I also feel that, particularly since this is mainly in the present tense, that it was completely unnecessary. I hope this doesn’t seem too harsh, but I think as long as you use the pluperfect for the first few sentences, then you pretty much wouldn’t have to change a word of it, and I think it would improve your flow.
The flashback itself, however, was beautifully written. I think it’s particularly notable that Remus and James seemed definitely more childlike/ teenagerish than at the beginning and end of your story, emphasising just how much they had matured in a rather short time. I liked how organic and natural the moment was--it wasn’t forced, as such, by either of them, but just happened, and once it had happened, they both went along with it. I particularly like the lines: And he had no idea if it was right, or if Remus was thinking the same thing, until Remus stepped closer, and they both knew in that moment, when another spark seemed to pass between them, that it was okay. I love James’ inner monlogue here- his uncertainty and yet sudden desire, are very realistic, and in character. My only minor nitpick would be that you could cut the word ‘seemed’ because it’s pretty obvious to both that there is a spark, and therefore not necessary.
I love the way that they were both thinking about the same moment- you have it in James’ mind, but then it is Remus who mentions it (and where you to not italicise the flashback, the switch to the present tense would alert the reader that you were back to the present. I love the way that they both accept what happened between them, but are not awkward about it, using very little narration. My final, and incredibly minor, nitpick is the use of the word ‘again’ in the final sentence. Throughout the story, they’ve never felt anything other than best friends, and so the implication that they at some point were not through me off somewhat. However, that’s a minor point. What I love about this story is that you explored their relationship, particularly in the last part, all through dialogue and the occasional expression. Normally bare dialogue is something of a peeve of mine, but here it was entirely suited to the subtle relationship you were exploring between the two men. Excellent story Gina-and I’m glad after an awkward first try, it worked out so beautifully. Alex.
Oh .... Gina, this is so so beautiful. I had my doubts because I know you were really struggling at one point, but this is so in keeping with their characters, and fits canon, and ... and ... and ... it's just lovely.
I love the simple pleasure they get in each others' company, the banter and ease they feel. And there's no bitterness, at all, (or I don't sense that) from Remus that James has moved on. I suspect that Remus has moved on, too, and yet there's a part of both of them which will be connected to water and the lake and everything wonderful and bright about Hogwarts.
How do you do it, make me cry a little with such a great story?
Okay, sorry, but I have a minor nit-pick.
There will fewer late nights at the pub, fewer midnight runs with the stag and the dog, fewer times spent with just him and not all four of them.
First, it should be 'will be' but also, this is confusing. James is thinking this, but he's saying he's going to run 'with' the stag and the dog. He's the stag. So you either need to change it to 'the wolf, rat and dog' or change 'with' to between - or something.
Anyway, that in no way at all detracts from such a beautiful story. Very touching, very bittersweet. *sigh* I have to go to work now, and all I want to do is curl up and shed a few tears over the loss of the Marauders *sob*
You wondrous witch. ~Carole~
Author's Response: Thank so (very late) for such an amazing review, Carole! I'm so glad it worked for you. I barely remember why I struggled with it now - I deleted what was pretty much a completely different story. It turned out rather well in the end, though. It is sad, to think of these sorts of things between them and then realize what happens later on. Very bittersweet, as you said. Sorry to make you cry. And yes, that line is confusing so someday I'll fix it, lol. Thanks again for the lovely review, it still makes me squee! ~Gina :)
Oh Gina. This really took my breath away and I'm still a bit teary. This is just so beautiful and touching and sweet and funny and sad and heartbreaking and lovely and James and Remus. I'm really just speechless here because there is so much in this fic that I absolutely adore. The dynamic between James and Remus is just perfect. There is one particular line that stands out to me so much.
Because the answer you'll give me is different than what you'd tell the others, and I just wanted to know.
I felt myself nodding along to this because that's so Remus. He just seems like a character that you can confide in and trust with your deepest fears and secrets.
Okay, sorry for this flaily review but I really can't muster any sort of coherency right now. I'm in awe.
Author's Response: Julia, a very late thank you for the amazing review! This made my day at the time and rereading it still makes me squee. It's not often I can pull flails out of the flist, so thank youuuuuu! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It can be a lovely pairing, I think. I might have to try it again. Thank you for reading this, and for the wonderful review! ~Gina :)
This is the first Remus/James fic I've ever read, and I'm very glad particularly this one was my first because it was lovely! They make a beautiful couple. The characterizations were spot on! Great work. I loved reading it. Good luck with the contest.
Author's Response: A very belated thank you for the review! I'm so glad you enjoyed this story and really appreciate the lovely comments, especially about characterization. That's tricky when you are veering off into ssp territory sometimes. ;) Thanks again for reading! ~Gina :)
Helloooo, Gina :)
You know I've had a soft spot for this pairing -- ever since I read that amazing on on LJ. So I've really been looking forward to reading this ever since you claimed the pairing and were discussing it on the LS, and you definitely didn't disappoint! (But then, you never do, and I haven't read a single thing by you that wasn't fab so that's just a given :D)
I think the best thing about this story was the amount of emotion packed into what is actually a relatively short one-shot. And you did that through using some well-chosen words in both dialogue and description (the description at the beginning was particularly beautiful). The humour in it was quirky and well-placed -- my favourite one is definitely this line:
"It's the name," Remus replies blandly. "My inner wolf thinks it's good for glossy fur."
It's nice to see some humour injected into the piece -- it really brought out the overall bittersweet tone of the story. I also liked that you stayed away from including the... erm... details of their relationship, if you will. (Not that I don't like smut, lol.) I think it's actually more impressive that you managed to show how James and Remus's relationship changed without really going into a lot of detail about it.
Excellent story, Gina, and good luck in the challenge!
Author's Response: A very belated thank you for this review, Soraya! I'm so glad you enjoyed this story. I may have to revisit this pairing someday. That story on LJ was just so good I don't think I could ever do it justice, but it's fun to explore. Thanks again!! ~Gina :)