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Hi, Jenny. I see that Pooja has already written you a long review, but I have not read it yet because I want these comments to be all my own.
I think it is always a challenge to write a battle scene where so much is going on at a rapid pace, and you have to provide enough to give the feel of the battle without including so much that it becomes tedious, and you have to think of different details to include (such as the wooden pixies). (JRR Tolkien dodged this problem in [i]The Hobbit[/i] by having Bilbo knocked unconscious at the beginning of the Battle of Five Armies and not awakening until it was all over!) But you cannot dodge the challenge in this story; it [i]is[/i] the story, and you handle it very nicely. There is just the right amount of violent description to set the scene well, before you get into your main subject, which is the death of Tonks at the hands of Bellatrix.
I noticed that at first you have Tonks using non-lethal spells, stunning, stupefying, disarming, petrifying, but not killing. These spells are appropriate for Auror work in which the goal is to capture the suspects alive and bring them to trial, but not so appropriate for all-out life-or-death warfare, the situation in which she finds herself now. Her extensive Auror training has not really prepared her mentally for a free-for-all like this. She knows intellectually that âthis situation was real and deadly,â but she does not change her approach until she sees her husband die. It was perceptive of you to see and write this mental change; I donât think it was just grief or a desire for revenge, though you show her having those feelings also, but a realization that she [i]had[/i] to take this fight to its ultimate degree.
Bellatrix. It is easy to make her into a caricature or stereotype. There [i] are[/i] some behaviors that she often displays, but they have to be used judiciously. I would have used another word than âcackledâ, but her speech about wanting to kill all the unworthy members of her family works well here, without being hackneyed, because in the midst of the battle she actually is counting off how many unworthy relatives are dead and how many are still left to kill. (Was she planning to kill Andromeda someday too, do you suppose?)
It is interesting that you have Bellatrix using [i]Sectumsempra.[/i] In book six Snape states that he invented that spell himself, and I had always assumed that he had never shared it with anyone, but maybe he did. Itâs entirely believable that Bellatrix would be sufficiently sadistic to want to kill people slowly rather than instantly. For her, death is not always enough; she wants suffering too.
A couple of tiny observations: obviously Molly is a better dueler than Tonks (letâs hear it for the older generation!) and [i]episkey[/i] doesnât work if you have lost too much blood.
The seven books donât really get us inside the head of Tonks very well; why she fought and how she died were never spelled out in any detail. By opening in the midst of the action, this story does not address her decision to join the fight, but it does give a beautiful vision of her final minutes of life. In the end, itâs a sweet story; if she must die, it is nice to know that she drifted away peacefully and unafraid.
A good job on an important moment in the canon.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review, and sorry it's taken me so long to respond! I'm glad you thought I did the battle well; I wanted to set the scene, but didn't want to burden the reader with too much action--not to mention that it would be difficult for me to do as a writer, since I don't like action very much (this is my main problem with part 2 of the 7th movie!) and thus don't like writing it. I like to concentrate on how people think and interact, and this story is pretty typical of my writing in that respect. Of course, I'm still working on writing more complexity into the thoughts and emotions of the characters; I hope Tonks seems fleshed out here. Bellatrix is a challenge, since it's so difficult to empathize with her. And I definitely agree on the suffering thing--Bella likes to play with her food before she eats it...:P I wanted the ending to carry a strong feeling hope, wanted her death not to feel meaningless and cruel, although in some ways I suppose all deaths are, no matter what they're for. At least it made the story a little less sad to read.
This has been on my reading list ever since I made the banner for it. I am so glad now, that I made the decision to read it, because this is honestly beautiful, and I really loved the read.
The story is really quite short and sweet, but it conveys a lot in those few words. The structure helped a lot towards building up to the final moment that you wished to portray, and stylistically, you have done very well. I was intrigued, right from the first sentence, because you have started it with a very active scene. âPetrificus totalus!â Tonks screeched, jabbing her wand at the masked Death Eater who had just come dashing down the staircase. The âjabbingâ, âscreechingâ and âdashingâ got my mind active and awake, and I was immediately squinting into the screen to continue reading. And this brings me to my main point here: the action.
It is often difficult to describe action packed scenes, but I think you have handled this very well. I like how clearly you have described each motion, each combat move, and that just made the story move quicker. There seemed to be something going on at all points in the story, reminding me of Sidney Sheldon novels. But the action soon moulded itself into emotions, and I loved how when Lupin was killed, everything else was blurred for Tonks, because until then, she had been very alert. The physical motions are now taken over by the thoughts in Tonksâs mind, and the gap is bridged beautifully.
Characterisation was very well done, as I would not expect Tonks to act in any other way, once she saw Lupin dead. The raw anger, then the grief, and then worry for Teddy, and finally submission â” it was written naturally, and melded well with what Iâve read, and guessed about Tonks from the books. And then there was Bellatrix. She is definitely one of the more difficult characters to write, but you pulled her off with ease. I can imagine her wanting to tackle Tonks herself. And then there was Fleur â” she had two lines, probably, but I appreciated the denial that Tonks was dying, and Fleurâs effort to save the other woman. It was just like her.
The story also ended on a beautiful note. I loved how the first thoughts in Tonksâs mind were about the people she was leaving behind, and about Teddy, whom she wanted to see for a final time. And then, gradually, her thoughts drifted to the people she would be seeing again. It is so natural, even in a state of coherence. When something â” anything happens, most of us tend to think of the bad things that will come off of it, and slowly, we give ourselves hope by thinking about the good things. Here, Tonks is dying, and that is definitely not any situation, but the psychological elements you have used here are perfect.
Finally, the Les Mis reference was just perfect to wrap up your story, and end it on a good note. Gorgeous piece of writing here, I must say, and Iâm ashamed of the banner now, because Iâm pretty sure it does no justice to this story. Good job! :)
Author's Response: Oh my goodness! Wow, Pooja, this has to be the most amazing review I've ever received! :D Thank you! And don't worry, I loved your banner. I thought the flowers in the monochrome version seemed almost holy-looking, and the picture of Tonks was perfect--so determined-looking, like nothing could ever set her back, which ties in well with how she is feeling when she dies.
I actually thought writing the action was fun, and not too hard. I tend to write in a very stream-of-consciousness style, which I think helps a lot for action scenes: I move straight from one thing, to the next, to the next...and when the physical fighting stopped being the important thing in Tonks's mind, I simply switched over to focusing on her emotions. Oh, and I'm really glad that you liked her characterization. I think she's often shown as witty and--for lack of a better word--spunky, which are both important personality characteristics, but in this situation, I couldn't really use them! You said her reactions corresponds with what you've guessed about Tonks--the side of her character that the books never had an opportunity to show you...that makes me really happy, because it's what I was going for.
About Tonks's state of mind--I'm happy that you think it works psychologically, since I was initially only thinking about it in terms of the theme....and the theme is really just my interpretation of Les Mis. When I first heard this song, I thought it was about building a better world, about how yeah, there's suffering, and sometimes people die, but in the end hope prevails and the spirit of humanity cannot be broken. You and I may die in the battle, but if we all keep fighting evil, we'll bring a better world. Since then, I realize that maybe this is not what the song was intended to mean; some of it seems more in line with the Christian idea of heaven, how those who have suffered and died will live harmoniously and happily in heaven. But I was never interested in heaven. I have hope for this world, the world we live in. You see, there's this Hebrew prayer called Ani Maamim, traditionally said by those who know they are about to die (I mean, not that I think I'm about to die--I just think it's a beautiful prayer). The English version begins with the words "I believe in the coming of the Messiah, and though he may tarry, still I will wait for him." In Judaism, it is said that the Messiah will come when humans have finally learned to live in peace, when we've ended suffering and made the world a good place. So I guess this whole piece is my statement: I believe.
Again, thank you for your wonderful review! :) It really made my day.
A truly beautiful, wonderful story. Tonks sounded so desperately like Lily in her last seconds. It showed how much she cared about her son even as she came rushing to the battle to be with Remus. I think that was my favorite part. Charlie Weasley wasn't at Hogwarts for the initial part of the Battle though. You might want to change that. Again, a lovely story! :)
Author's Response: Thank you, and thanks for reading! I wanted to write Tonks's death, but I didn't want it to be a d/a...so I wrote her last thoughts as full of boundless love and hope, instead of fear. Also, thanks for catching the Charlie Weasley thing. I'm guessing that is interview canon, of which I am woefully ignorant.