I enjoyed reading this story, a well-written glimpse into the life, thoughts, and moral evolution of Andromeda Black.
The timeline was a little confusing. Andromeda starts out at Hogwarts in 1964, takes the OWL exams five years later, in 1969, and should have graduated in June of 1971. But the 1973 entry sounds as if she is still at Hogwarts. Her father says, "I don't think we should let our daughters [plural] stay there anymore." But by 1973 there should be only one daughter, Narcissa, still at school. And Andromeda thinks "And Ted...How could I leave him?" as if they were both still at Hogwarts.
For a girl who was so determined at age 11 to do what her family expected, and who seven years later still doesn't know what to do because her family doesn't love her, she makes a fairly abrupt about-face. Even though she has been observing Muggleborns at Hogwarts for years and has been seeing that they don't seem bad, but rather as human as purebloods, she has been unable to resolve this cognitive dissonance until Ted Tonks spells it out for her. (I would have liked to see a few more lines of dialogue between Andromeda and Ted before she spills her story to him; her confession seemed a little sudden, given that she had not been in the habit of talking with Muggleborns at all.)
Then it is two more passive years (at school or at home?) before she finally makes a break, which seems to be impelled more by love for Ted than by a final, overt rejection of her family's values. I wonder, as she headed down the stairs with her trunk, whether she sneaked out of the house unseen or had a final blow-up with her parents.
This relatively timid girl, who doesn't get her backbone until she is 20 years old, contrasts sharply with the older Andromeda whom we meet in the books at age 42, tough and strong, a survivor.
The writing style is fluid and graceful, the words well-chosen, and the characterizations of the members of the Black family are well-drawn. This piece is a good addition to the backstory of Andromeda Black.
Author's Response: Hello! Thank you for the review :D. I see that you've found quite a bit of mistakes; I'm sorry ,but I guess I didn't do my research as well as I thought I had, hah. I'll go over it and edit any corrections. Thank you! And as for the contrasting characters: I had never written Andromeda before, and this was just a trial. I guess I couldn't nail her properly enough. But this is what it seemed would be like; it didn't seem to me that she'd be an outright rebel like Sirius, considering that she was a Slytherin. I think as a child she would have wanted to follow her family traditions, but as she got older she realised that it was all wrong. That's what I was aiming for :).
As I remember, Andromeda was blasted off her family tree "for marrying Muggle-born Ted Tonks". Since it didn't say that she was disowned for not following family values or anything, I just had her leave due to her love for Ted, hah. And I think she would have said something to her parents, but I didn't feel that scene was needed too much, so I left it up to the readers' interpretation :).
I'm glad you like the characterisation of the rest of the family, though! And once again, thank you so much for the review; it's greatly appreciated :). --Nadia
Hello SPEW Buddy,
I'm sorry I'm running so late on my review of this fic. I enjoyed reading it, and I can't believe that it has only one review. However, I shall remedy that. :)
The format of this fic, as a series of moments, works really well for me. I like how it shows a clear progression in Andromeda's feelings toward her family, while still staying very concise. It feels like you've condensed the essence of Andromeda's relationship with her family and with Ted into this fic, which, I think, makes Andormeda's emotions feel more intense.
I really like the way you chose moments that show, not only defining events in Andromeda's life, but also what her day to day relationship with her family is like. In almost every moment, it feels like her family is dissatisfied with her, making Andromeda constantly feel like an outsider. The contrast you draw between Bella, "the apple of [their] father's eye", Narcissa, their father's "darling", and Andromeda heightens this feeling. The repetition of her family's dissatisfaction with her in every moment makes it feel, for me, like this is how their family always is. One of the strongest things about his fic, in my opinion, is how every moment is similar enough to create a picture of Andromeda's every day life, while also being different enough to show the change in her character and in her relationships.
I don't think the contrast between Andromeda's interactions with Ted and her interactions with her family could be more dramatic. Ted feels like the polar opposite of Andromeda's family; unlike her family, who constantly impose their opinions about blood status on her, Ted listens to her, then asks her what she thinks. The stark contrast between Ted and her family really makes Andromeda's decision between conforming to her family's expectations and being her self clear.
One of the few critiques I have about this is that I found it a slight bit disconcerting to be thrown directly into Andromeda's sorting and then to be given the context about her family in the middle of the scene. Introducing the way her father viewed Slytherin, in my opinion, might have made the transition into the story a little bit more gradual by giving context to the sorting and by introducing the conflict between her family and herself. I just feel like the paragraph of context broke the flow of the scene slightly, taking away some of its potency.
I really like the way you portray Narcissa. In the books, I see her as a fairly self-centered character, for whom people outside herself and her immediate family (i.e. Draco and Lucius) are secondary concerns. Your vivid descriptions of Narcissa show that really well , I think, through her lack of interest in the actual ideals (e.g. "[taking] out her mirror and was picking at her blonde hair" while her father is talking about blood status), and her willingness to superficially accept them (e.g. "she would scrunch up her nose at the sight of Muggles and Muggleborns ... but Cissy wouldn’t waste her time on wounding half the Hogwarts population").
I think my favorite lines in the fic are definitely: "Oh sure, she would scrunch up her nose at the sight of Muggles and Muggleborns alike, no doubt. I swear her beautiful face would get wrinkled earlier than us because she did that so much." It's really easy for me to picture Narcissa in these lines, and I like how it also subtly connects to the way she is in canon. The way you mix vivid imagery, like in the first line, with Andromeda's commentary makes it feel like I'm experiencing the memory with Andromeda.
The other critique I have is that there are a small handful of places, for example the sorting scene, where I think it would have strengthened the narration slightly to add more detail. In those sections, it feels, to me, like Andromeda is explaining a lot of her thoughts without describing the scene in much detail, so her narration doesn't feel quite as natural to me as in some of the other scenes.
Overall, I this is a lovely piece. I really like how it provides an interesting insight into how Andromeda grows up and leaves her family, and I look forward to reading more of your writing!
Author's Response: Firstly, I'm so sorry for not reviewing earlier; I don't really know how to respond to SPEW reviews, and your one was so awesome I couldn't really form a coherent reply that didn't make me look like an idiot :P Anyway, I'm glad you chose this story to review; it's the only one that I was not totally sure about, considering I've never written the characters before :).
I'm really glad the format worked out well for you. For this piece, I decided to choose some of the defining milestone moments of her life, and her family's response to them. I've always thought that as a child, Andromeda would follow her family's ideals. She wouldn't have been a rebel like Sirius from time zero, considering her sorting into Slytherin. I believe that she wanted to be like the others; the middle child tends to be neglected in comparison to the youngest and eldest, so I think Andromeda would want to prove that she is as good as the others, and hence she was eager to be sorted into Slytherin. However, as she grew older and these moments happened, her ideology must have changed. I'm really glad you approve of the scenes I chose, because I'd been worried about them. Finding that you got the message I was trying to relay makes me really happy :).
It was great to know that you liked my portrayal of Narcissa. Like you, the books also made me feel that she was more concerned about the welfare of her family more than the ideals, and that what I was trying to get through. I'm also really happy that you could make the connection between that nose-scrunching line and the books! That really was what I was trying to achieve; I sort of made a link to the GoF book (during the QWC) where she looks like her nose is permanently that way. It's great that you noticed it :D.
As for Ted, I really wanted to show how different he was from the others, and so I tried to make him as different as possible. I needed to give a reason why Andromeda fell in love with him, and since she was starting to dislike her family, I thought giving someone totally different from them was a good idea, and I'm glad you approve.
Considering the critique, I agree with you. Even while writing it I felt that this scene was a bit weak. I don't really know how to start the introductory paragraphs :(. Thanks a lot for pointing out the mistakes I made, I'll keep them in mind for the future :)
Your review is really, really beautiful. Thank you so much for this lovely review, Meg, and I'm really sorry for not responding earlier!
Hope the whole thing uploads now!
Here you go:
Thank you so much, for this fic! I love youuu!
This is a wonderful story. I like that you chose Andromeda, she's a rather interesting character to write. Your first person format too was interesting, as we got to peak into Andromeda's mind directly.
The writing is good and so is the plot. I really loved how each aspect of her predicament came up, clear cut and well sorted out. I never considered the possibility of Andromeda being a Slytherin. I always automatically assumed it was Gryffindor because... I don't know why. Also, her pleading with the Hat was unexpected. For some reason, again, I thought only Harry did it, ever. Didn't think there would be others too.
Bella's characterisation was spot-on. The b**chy character, the blood-lust, it makes sense when she was like this since school. And Narcissa. Ha!
I swear her beautiful face would get wrinkled earlier than us because she did that so much.
This was so cool! I loved that line. And so canon compliant with why Narcissa always looks like there's dung under her nose. :p Haha. Just kidding. That was very, very funny and I giggled for five minutes. And yes, interesting turn on Cissy being interested in beauty. Someone in that family had to be interested in how they looked, after all (they need it).
That said, I think you should mention something about Ted before you bring him out again in the 1973 piece. It just came out of the blue that they were in a relationship. I mean, sure, we all know that Ted and Andromeda ended up together, but you should have mentioned her thinking at the dining table or something, that she was with Ted.
This was a very, very interesting take on Andromeda's story, Nadia. It shows familial pressures so well. I really, really loved this! Good luck with the challenge!
Author's Response: Love you too, hun! I'm glad you enjoyed this fic :) Andromeda was a Slytherin, because Sirius was the only member of the black family to have been sorted into Gryffindor. She wasn't like the rest of her family, though. That kind of made me wonder why she was in Slytherin in the first place, and when I saw the parent prompt in the challenge things just kind of clicked and I knew I had to go for this one :D. I thought it kind of made sense that Andromeda initially tried to follow whatever her parents said despite of knowing deep down that there was something wrong somewhere. As she grew older and learned to differentiate right from wrong, she just couldn't follow them anymore. I've always wondered how all that happened so I ended up writing this.
About the sorting hat, I think there would always have been some people who would prefer to go to a certain house. Ron, for example, would have definitely wanted to be in no other house except Gryffindor, and I can see him subconsciously pleading with the hat. Hat must have seen that as well (along with his obvious bravery and chivalry and occasional pigheadedness :P) and placed him in Gryffindor - he would have been placed there due to the aforementioned reasons anyways.
I'm glad you liked Bella and Narcissa! I've always known that Bella would have been mental from the very beginning, and I always took Narcissa for the more material type. I really loved writing that line, too, so I'm glad you found it funny, hehe :P
And about the line, I had thought of giving it first -- it was in my initial draft, but then I forgot to add it in the final version >.< I'm sorry about that! Hopefully once the challenge is over and judged I'll add that in :)
Thanks for the review, Di, I'm glad you enjoyed the story! It was really fun to write and I'm relieved to know that it was good enough. Best of luck for your own fics as well, hun! Love you!