Um, I think its shocking that this hasn't received any new reviews since the QSQs. What the heck? Well, I'm here now, so all is well. Hehe. Carole, I really, really liked this. And to be honest, I wouldn't have clicked on it because the idea of a story that ends in a massacre is not so much my normal cup of tea, as you already know. And yet, this surprised me, and I was so glad I read. Your Sirius is always a gem, but you also brought Benjy to life very vividly in this. I kept thinking, a Benjy Fenwick centered fic? Really? ;) But yes, really! And it's brilliant! How did you think of the structure? Organizing by section with the pieces of Benjy was a stroke of genius and really a stength in the fic. As a story of friendship and trust and love unfolded, you never let the reader forget how brutally this was all going to end. It contributed to the darkness... very effective. Thanks, too, for the lovely scene between Sirius and Lily. I get so tired of them not seeming like real friends after James and Lily are married. I think that so unlikely, and even erroneous in terms of canon, since we have Lily's warm letter to Sirius in DH. They were obviously close, and you've brought that friendship and the familiarity out here. I like the idea of Sirius as a book Lily has struggled to understand and eventually succeeded. This whole bit really bore the ring of truth. But my favorite part was the almost-end. It was so nice to have the friendship survive, have that conversation between them at the end. And Sirius, in particular... so self-aware! “I’ll be honest with you,” he says as he sips his drink. “I think it is me. I don’t feel things, Benjy, not the way other people do. I see James and Lily wrap themselves around each other physically as well as mentally, and that’s never happened to me. If I want sex, I sleep with a girl, but that’s all I need from them.” “It sounds -” Benjy grasps for the word. “Empty.” Sirius shrugs. “I have James. And Remus and Peter,” he adds. It's really sad, but so Sirius. And because of that, it is somehow less sad. Does that even make sense? I really enjoyed this. Your writing continues to reach new depths, Carole. And it never disappoints. ~ Lori
Author's Response: Gahhhh, thank you for such a lovely review, Lori. Although I'm not surprised that this doesn't have that many reviews (SSP warning, Extremely minor character centric etc etc), I do really appreciate any that come my way because of all the Cotillion entries (and my stories) this is one of my favourites. The reason, as you saw, was that I tried a different style and was pleased with the result.
Okay, so in terms of structure what happened was this. I was originally going to write some hot!Sirius smut with Benjy after a mission - just a one off thing - but as I started to think about it, I realised that by writing that, Benjy could be anyone, and I wanted him to be more than just a name in a story. So I took what we knew from canon - that they found 'bits of him' and based the story round that. What started off as something that looked a bit sick (the dismembered body parts still make me shudder) became far more integral to the story as each body part brought back a memory to Sirius. Yeah, for this story I really did think it out - which makes a change.
Glad you liked Lily here. I was unsure at one point about adding her, but I needed someone to talk about the 'heart' side of things, and I didn't think Remus was quite right there, plus I'm not sure Sirius would have wanted to talk to any of his friends about Benjy kissing him.
Thank you, again, for the lovely review. It's made my day (although it is only 8.30 am ... but you know what I mean :D ) ~Carole~
Carole, this story was utterly beautiful, and I hope this review does it justice. The way in which you take a character rarely written about, Benjy Fenwick (whose name and backstory has always intrigued me) and one who is much written about, Sirius Black, and given them a relationship making it realistic and sad and poignant, is amazing.
Firstly, I loved the way you structured this story. It seems so simple, and yet by taking that one canon line of only finding bits of him, and from that develop little insights into Sirius and Benjy’s relationship based on a body part, all of which develop into something much greater than the sum of their parts. I particularly liked the way you start with the focus on certain limbs and then end on Heart, which is all the more intimate, and also the one part of Benjy that it wouldn’t be possible to recover, in terms of its emotional, rather than literal meaning. I also think the present tense worked wonderfully for this. I know it’s not your favourite of tenses, but you wouldn’t be able to tell, as you command it so well, with it always feeling natural and never forced. I think this is helped by the lack of exposition within this story--everything is shown through the character’s dialogue, thoughts and actions, rather than in info-dumps, which not only helps it flow but allows the reader to draw their own conclusions regarding Sirius and Benjy’s respective views of each other, before certainly Sirius, is aware of how Benjy feels about him.
Your characterisation was spot on. You write Sirius so well, and I think here his characterisation shines through your writing. Part of what I love, is how well you show him growing up. From his reaction to Octavia’s interest, to him comparing the difference to him as a new Order recruit to the older Benjy to that, but also being more mature in and of himself. His line to Benjy about him having his friends, and that being enough to him, encapsulates and extends JK’s characterisation for him perfectly--a man who would do anything for his friends, and who’s whole world is his friends. This does not tie with Benjy being romantically interested in him, and that provides a lot of poignancy and emotion in your story--with Benjy’s love being unrequited, and Sirius in a way incapable of requiting anyone’s love, other than that of his platonic friends. Your characterisation of Benjy was also very interesting--the popular boy, with a crush on the younger one and he seems somewhat embarrassed by it, particularly when they are thrown together in later life and his feelings have not changed.
Your characterisation of the minor characters within your story was also excellent. I loved the way Sirius refers to Lily as Evans, and how her relationship with James seems to be a snipe-y one, rather than purely hate/ love. Her conversation with him later was also beautifully written and in character. Also I love the way you tie in Benjy’s warning about Octavia’s brother, to Octavia later saying that he’d be shocked at seeing Sirius with her, not because it’s someone fooling with his sister, but someone fooling with the man he hero-worships girlfriend.
The sex, or more like foreplay, is excellently written. I found it interesting that there was actually more passion in Octavia’s flirting with him, and Benjy’s kiss at the end, then in the actual sex in between those two. That scene was short, but realistic and so well written. However it also lead into the moment of realisation for Sirius of just how important his friends are to him, as well as that rather touching meeting with Benjy. If not for that, then this would be one of the few moments which didn’t involve him, and since he is the story’s focus, from Sirius’ perspective, it was clever to include. And with the growing realisation that Benjy fancies Sirius on the reader’s, if not the author’s part, how the moment when their hands touch is very sad and tender. As they are thrown together in Order business later, the way in which you have Benjy take the blame for Sirius and then Sirius’ confusion to Benjy’s behaviour, was a nice way of showing Sirius’ not being able to understand how Benjy feels about him, in a similar way to the fact he doesn’t seem able to understand the way Lily and James feel about each other, although he accepts that their love is genuine.
My only crit is a rather shallow one of formatting. The way you had two spaces, and then the title, and then a single line, looked somehow top-heavy. I think it would look neater as either both double spaces, or both single, but this is a very minor point.
This was a very cleverly written, emotional and beautiful story, one of my favourites of yours, and best of luck with the competition. Alex
Author's Response: Sorry that it's taken me a while to respond to this, Alex. I was actually rather stuck for a reply. Thank you very much for such a lovely and comprehensive review of this story which is a fic that rather surprised me. Initially supposed to be a one off heat of the moment shag after a mission, I soon found I had something else on my hands when Sirius took a different turn. ha - I don't usually think of characters as having their own will - it smacks of 'musedom' to me, but what I'd written lent itself to this isolation Sirius feels... so there you go.
One thing I was pleased you picked up on, was the way 'heart' was at the end, because there was a very deliberate policy here with that, and also (not sure you realised) but 'heart' wasn;t mentioned in the context of Benjy, but only as a reference to Sirius not being 'broken-hearted.'
Anyway, that was it really, Thank you so much for this review, Alex, and I'm glad you liked the story. ~Carole~
Wow, I loved the structure. It was a fantastic read!! The ending was a little dissatisfying, but in a good way. It let me hungry for more; anticipating a sequel. Oh well... Hee :)
Author's Response: Um, well, Benjy's dead, so I can't write a sequel. I agree there was a certain dissatisfaction in the ending but that was deliberate because Sirius is a complex person and doesn't lend himself to happy endings (well, not in this story, anyway). Thank you for reviewing. ~Carole~
ZOMG. That was AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGG.
Just... gahhh, I don't even know what to say! Carole, I've missed reading your Marauder Era stories, and I think this was a beautiful one. I just loved your characterisation of Sirius and Benjy -- especially with how snarky Benjy was, lol, and how hot Sirius was, hahahaha.
Also, I think you packed a lot of emotion into this story. There was humour, with Benjy putting Sirius in his place, and romance, and angst, too, not just on Benjy's part but on Sirius's as well. Octavia is a bit of a byotch, imo, leading poor Sirius on like that :-/
I loved your choice of POV and tense. Present tense is rather subjective, but it worked perfectly here, really made me feel in the moment. And I thought the way it was structured was so very clever and logical. It's different from what I usually read from you in that respect, and it worked perfectly.
Wonderful, wonderful story, Carole, and sorry for gushing. Just... wow. :D
Author's Response: Thank youuuuuuu
,br> You know, I was so unsure about this story. I knew I liked it, but wasn;t sure how it would go down so I am incredibly pleased with the reception it's received. Also, it turned out VERY differently from my initial plan which was to be a brief encounter after a mission and some hot m/m action. Sirius, however, wasn't playing ball and I thought it needed to be a touch deeper. So, he might be gay or straight, but really he's not attached to anyone except James and to a lesser extent Lily, Remus and Peter. However, he does get close to Benjy. Ihated killing Benjy - darn canon!
Present tense. Yes, it's sadly addictive. I hated it and then loved it and then cursed it again when I was writing Dean/Ginny and it kept appearing - ha!
Thank you again for this review and all the others. Much appreciated. ~Carole~
How can I read something like this and not leave a review?
This is one of my favorite stories you have written, hands-down (maybe it's the present tense…kidding). I love the way you've broken it up into different sections, it makes the story seem so much more poetic and artsy. It really is a beautiful story, and I like how it kind of (but not completely) tags onto the Monochrome-theme of Sirius. Sirius is gorgeous in this, by the way. So is Benjy…and his death at the end was absolutely heartbreaking and I wonder if it would have been as heartbreaking if he and Sirius had actually been together. I think not, really, the way you've put it is so sad because they had a real friendship beneath anything that could have happened between them.
So, so lovely, Carole, in so, so many ways. You are a brilliant beyond brilliant writer.
Author's Response: Wow... thank you. You know, i wasn;t sure about this story. I had the idea of Sirius and Benjy on a mission and um ... getting together - ha - but when I set down to write it, it really wasn't working. The fact that we know nothing about Benjy, except the manner of his death, gave me a great deal of free rein with his character, but I knew the one fact we did have, had to play an important part in the story. So Sirius either crying with grief or not knowing what to do played a huge part when the story was taking shape.
I deliberated about whether this was a requited love. If you look at my ls, you might see certain statuses that show what I initially intended, but it didn't work that way. (plus I'd just written Zacmac and I wasn't sure if it was going to be a bit samey). Like you I think it's more heartbreaking that they didn;t get together because Sirius is left feeling guilty and now will never know if he could have had anything meaningful with Benjy. He's not repulsed at all by Benjy, just indifferent - which is sadder, I think.
Ariana, thank you so much for this review. Means a lot ~Carole~
I am Padfoot.
Between the amazing writing which is so filled with tension and the characterisation of Sirius as the unable-to-be-intimate and yet loving person whom we know him to be and the loveliness that is Benjy and the so, so sad unrequited love that is this story and the tragedy of regret and loss and the fact that you have pulled off such a wide range of story types and categories and whatnot, OBVIOUSLY I loathe it.
Ugh. I am going to add this to my "Un-Favourites". Yes, I am special and I have that feature in my user stat.
Author's Response: You are that special because you are Special HJ/Nat/PP the triumvirate of ebil smexiness.
Being Padfootical now, I hope what came through was that Sirius' main connection was to James, and to a lesser extent Remus and Peter - although Lily is becoming more important to him. As you know from my ls, I was intending a different ending to this story, but it didn't feel right and so I left it with the kiss and the whole unrequitedness of love :(
Thank you very much for the review (which is always appreciated) and your on-the-hoof beta'ing skills which have rescued this from disqualification (ooops). And thank you for ... lots and lots and lots and ... lots. ♥♥♥ ~CON~
I loathed this story.
Author's Response: TROLL (Kara told me to say that)
Well written as usual. It was sad and not at all what I expected from the summary, but I didn't read the category or warnings so I suppose that's my fault. (I kind of just saw your penname and thought 'this is bound to be good')
No, a really interesting idea, and I loved the numbness at the end. Was it just because he didn't feel love or hate or could it maybe have been a bit of guilt? Well that's probably just me and my crazy mind reading more into things than are there. Just amazing as usual!
Author's Response: I think your crazy mind is spot on, actually. I have in mind that Sirius didn't/couldn't feel that much of an attachment to anyone other than his friends, but was starting to feel something for Benjy. His fear would have been that if it ended badly then he'd lose a friend as well.
I didn't want to put this in the SSP cat because, as you've discovered, it's unrequited, so I kept it as Marauder but with the warning.
Thank you very much for the review ~Carole~
The depth you managed to give a character who was given a mere few lines in the books really is remarkable, you made a dead man seem so alive, and it was nice to see someone, as Lily put it, 'who could cut both you and James down to size', yet on the same side. Sirius was perfect, another great fic from my favourite author on here! (Unabashed sucking up there!)
Author's Response: Thank you so much. That really is lovely to hear. This actually turned out rather different from how I'd initially envisaged. Benjy remained the same, but Sirius was a touch capricious. The Order members were all so brave in that first war - outnumbered and outmanoeuvred - they must have been so brave and strong. *sigh* Thanks again ~Carole~
that broke my heart a little.
Author's Response: Thank you very much. I was a bit torn myself when I wrote it ~Carole~
Carole! This was not at all what I expected! How many unrequited stories are out there? That's such a bold choice, to leave it this way. I mean, I was halfway sort of hoping they would hook up, because you are so good at that. But this feels right, it really does. And it's very sad, but for Benjy--which is odd, because it's not even from his point of view, but he's the one I sympathize with more.
Anyway - great start with introducing Benjy at Hogwarts. That really set his character. I LOVED the scene where the dynamic changes between Sirius and Benjy - both by the water and then at the game. You dropped some subtle hints that something else was going on, but it could have been exactly what Sirius thought it was: that Benjy hated him for his name. That was well-played for mystery.
The climax, where Benjy was injured, was great. Sirius wanting to impress him kind of made me wonder if he was thinking about Benjy in *that* way. Benjy was great about sticking up for Sirius, and it really created good tension between them. I wonder how it would read if he didn't grab Sirius and kiss him to reveal his reasons, but just told him? But, the visual is nice and I liked that Sirius didn't push him away in disgust.
I really liked Sirius talking it over with Lily. I came away from that with the feeling he might go for it with Benjy, so the end was a slight surprise. But they both handled it so well, it was really nice. That's where I felt really bad for Benjy, poor guy. That and whatever happened to him between Hogwarts and when Sirius joined the Order to change him so much. There is good backstory there, I know it!
And then of course, the end when Sirius is looking at his body. So, so sad, but tied to the beginning really well. As were the subtitles linking it all to the title. This was so unique. I don't know how you keep doing it!! I really, really liked it - well done!
Author's Response: Gina, I am so glad you liked the unrequitedness of the story. When I first thought about the fic it was going to be full on steamy - yadda yadda yadda - but then the story developed and I couldn't see Sirius acting on it. So ... it remained him being largely unmoved by 'anyone' except perhaps James but even then that's not physically.
I needed the kiss in it. I needed to show the physicality that Benjy so needed and wanted from Sirius. I think if they'd had a conversation then it wouldn't have worked because Sirius wouldn't have kissed him and they'd not really have known whether there could have been anything. The fact was, Sirius was only 18; he didn't react with disgust. He simply didn't react at all. Indifference being the killer here.
Thank you for not squicking out over the subtitles. I was wondering if it was a little sick, but it seemed important because that's all we know about Benjy - that they found 'bits of him' (and yes, i have changed the title having been told there's another on the site with the same title - ooopsie) Thanks again ~Carole~