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Beta and ConCrit request - Harry Potter Group Beta

About Beta and ConCrit request

Previous Entry Beta and ConCrit request Dec. 1st, 2004 @ 12:55 pm Next Entry
I've just finished writing the first draft of a novel-length fic, and I would really appreciate some help on the fine-edit process. I know I have not caught every typo, misused comma, poor word choice and contradiction. I am going over it myself, but I do recognise the value of having an objective party view the text. I love my story and want it to be perfect.

I don't want to post the whole story all at once, of course, since it's over 72,000 words, so I'll just do a couple chapters at a time (after I have done my own edit one them), if that works for everyone. Thank you all so much in advance for your help!

And now, the prerequisite headers:

Author: pica_scribit
Title: Survivor's Guilt: Moony's Tale (Prologue and Chapter One)
Section Rating: PG
Pairing: Remus/Sirius
Summary: This story is a re-telling of Prisoner of Azkaban from Remus Lupin's point of view. Chapter One: Remus returns to Hogwarts as a teacher.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Don't sue me.
Warnings: None


PROLOGUE


He awoke, disoriented and sweating, at once trying to recall the dream and cursing himself for having it at all. Damn him! He could still feel the bastard's touch on his skin!

It was hot and stuffy in the small, bare room, and he went to open the window. The cool air of the late summer night felt good against his skin, and the moon was a reassuring sliver, low in the sky. He breathed in deeply, willing his heart to slow. Dawn would be breaking soon, and he knew that, with it, the memories would recede to manageable proportions once again.

But in the darkness, he was still very much at their mercy. The dreams came less frequently than they once had, but they were still unsettling when they came, and left him feeling guilty and uneasy until he slept again.

Twelve years it had been. Twelve years since that dreadful day. Betrayal, murder, loss. He had often reflected that they had all died that day; not just Lily, James and Peter. That bond of friendship, shattered by an act as shocking as it was unexpected. Sirius in Azkaban for life -- not that he doesn't deserve it, he thought savagely -- and himself exiled to this living death. Remus Lupin shook his head to clear it.

He was the only one left of that great friendship, and the knowledge of that loneliness had held him captive a dozen years. He had drifted, living hand to mouth, living for nothing and no one. He had learned to hide his true nature well enough, but he never managed to keep a job for long. His immense sadness made people uneasy.

Then, just last week, there had been a letter. Albus Dumbledore had written, inviting him to take the vacant Defense Against the Dark Arts post at Hogwarts. Dumbledore had mentioned that young Harry was now a student at the school. It had been a friendly, formal letter, but Remus had seen between the lines. Dumbledore, great man that he was, knew the broken life he lived, and was offering him a chance at something else -- to have something to live for again.

Harry. That one remaining bit of goodness to come out of his tainted memory of the Marauders. Dumbledore had chosen him to come help and guide Harry, who had also come from a place of being alone in the world, without family -- and at one time, without friends -- to care for him.

But the reason for the offer. It had been the reason for the dream as well, he knew. The story and the picture in the Daily Prophet had coincided with Dumbledore's letter. Remus shivered. He had almost turned past the story when it had first appeared, not recognising the wizard in the picture. But then a name had jumped out at him from the text of the article -- a name that still haunted his dreams and conflicted his soul: Sirius Black.

A dozen year in Azkaban had changed the man he had once loved. The face he had known better than his own was gaunt and pale with shadowed eyes, the hair a long, greasy tangle. He certainly looked the part of the mad, vicious killer now, as much as he had not before. He seemed barely human.

And now he had escaped. How? It had never been done before. Remus actually had a vague inkling about how it might have been done. But why now? Why come after Harry after all this time?

He sighed. Whatever the reason, he now had a job to do, and he would do it. He would protect Harry from this madman who had destroyed all either of them had held dear. Even if it meant killing the man he had loved, or dying himself, he would do it.


CHAPTER ONE
BACK TO HOGWARTS


A month later found Remus Lupin boarding the Hogwarts Express from platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station, as he had not done since he was a boy. He had known it would be difficult. The memories he had been trying to evade for years had come flooding back over the past few days. The previous night he had been unable to sleep because of them. Now, exhausted, he had arrived early, in the hope that he might secure an empty compartment. He did not feel in the mood for company, and everywhere he looked seemed to be full of memories.

Here, the compartment where James and Sirius had set off a load of dung bombs under a sleeping Severus's seat. Here, the compartment where they had played Strip Exploding Snap for the first time, and had been caught and reprimanded by the witch with the food trolly. Here, the compartment where he had walked in on James and Lily's first kiss. And here .... Here, the compartment where he had met Sirius Black for the first time, over twenty-five years ago. He hurried past that one, and at last found a memory-free, and mercifully also student-free compartment near the front of the train. There, he pulled his cloak up over his head and went to sleep.

* * *


He awoke, disoriented this time not because of disturbing dreams, but because it was very dark and very cold. The train had stopped and the lights were out, but he could hear children's voices calling to one another, nervously asking what was happening. There were children in his own compartment from the sound of it. Two boys and a girl, he guessed. Two more children entered, tripping over the others, and exchanging hurried apologies.

"Quiet!" he told them, quickly making a light, "stay where you are." He was just about to move towards the door when it opened. Standing in the corridor was the very thing he had known it must be, but had hoped it wouldn't. A Dementor.

The temperature dropped even further in the compartment as the tall, black clad creature inhaled, as if sucking all the warmth from its surroundings. By the dim light, Remus saw one of the boys drop into a dead faint. The other children were clearly terrified. Remus was not sure he felt much braver than they did, but he knew that, not only as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, but as the only adult present, he must do something.

He bravely took a step over the prostrate form of the boy, looked the Dementor squarely in what he supposed must be its face, and said, "none of us is hiding Sirius Black under our cloaks. Go." He felt his heart skip as he said the name he had not voluntarily uttered in twelve years.

The Dementor did not move. Well, if it doesn't understand words, I know one thing it will understand. "Expecto Patronum," he muttered softly, pointing his wand at the thing in the doorway. There was a blinding flash of silver light, and the Dementor turned and quickly retreated down the corridor, taking some of the cold with it.

There was silence in the compartment for a moment. He could feel all their eyes on him. Then the train shuddered back to life. The lights came back on and they began to move again.

"Harry!" cried one of the girls suddenly, crouching beside the prone form on the floor. "Harry! Are you all right? Wake up!" The other children also crowded around the unconscious boy.

Harry. So this is the boy I am living for. And now that he had a good view of him, there was no mistaking who he was. Even without the telltale mark on his forehead, he looked so like James that Remus felt mildly dizzy.

Harry was coming around. The other children all began asking him if he was all right. He looked very pale. No one was paying any attention to the man standing near the door, which gave him a chance to collect himself. Harry was asking about someone screaming. Remus couldn't remember anyone having screamed. He shook himself. Chocolate. That is what is called for in situations like this.

He took a large slab of the stuff from his bag and broke off a big piece for Harry. "Here," he said hoarsely. "Eat it. It will help." Everyone was looking at him now. He began handing out smaller bits of chocolate to the other children as he explained to them what they had just seen. "I need to speak to the driver," he lied, and left the compartment quickly.

What he really needed was time alone to collect himself. No, there had been no mistaking James's son, nor Lily's either, once he had opened those eyes. It was as if their ghosts had walked into that compartment and spoken to Remus. Well, perhaps they were. He had a duty to them. He must protect their son.

* * *


Remus's reintroduction to Hogwarts continued to be both disorienting and bewildering. In a way, it felt like coming home. Not only was he amidst familiar surroundings, but he was properly back in the wizarding world for the first time in more than a decade. He had lived for so long as an outsider -- almost a ghost -- that just hearing so many voices and being surrounded by so many people felt strange.

The children looked at him with either speculation or outright mistrust. They surely all knew which post he had come to fill, and he had heard their previous experience of Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers had been less than confidence-inspiring. It was understandable that they should view a newcomer with suspicion.

In a way, coming back to this place made him feel more like a ghost than ever. He was still an outsider. When last time he had walked these halls, they had been filled with friendly or at least familiar faces. These children were strangers to him. Some of the professors he knew -- some he would rather he didn't -- but all in all, coming back was a very lonely feeling.

He drifted into the great hall, and found his place at the head table among the other professors. There was Professor Dumbledore, looking very much as he had in Remus's days as a student -- a cheerful man with twinkling eyes, and of an indeterminate but decidedly great age.

And there was Severus. It had been many years since Remus had seen him, but he looked just as Remus would have expected him to look by now; bitter, sour, unwashed, and beginning to age ungracefully. A pity, he reflected, as he had often done before. Severus could have been a very attractive man, but for his personality and grooming habits. The black haired professor met his eyes, and they both looked away quickly in dislike.

Remus's feeling of otherness was not to last long, however. At least, his isolation from his surroundings cracked and crumbled a little when Dumbledore -- old, familiar, warm, funny Albus Dumbledore -- rose to make the start-of-term announcements. Of course, these started with the bad news about the presence of the Dementors and their search for Sirius, but those thoughts were never far from Remus's mind, so they caused him no undue discomfort.

But when Dumbledore announced his own arrival, the halfhearted applause of the students was broken by enthusiastic cheers and clapping from the middle of the Gryffindor table. Remus looked more closely, and saw young Harry and his friends beaming down the table at him. At once the whole feel of the place changed for him. It felt somehow warmer, more inviting. More like home. These children -- and especially that child -- were glad he had come to Hogwarts, and suddenly, so was he.

* * *


The feeling of tentative optimism was nearly lost to him in the hours following the banquet. He had been prowling the corridors in a much better frame of mind than when he had arrived, remembering the happy and innocent moments of his early days at Hogwarts, helped along in these thoughts by the clusters of first years, discovering the wonders of the castle for the first time.

Then he had turned down a corridor, deserted but for one person. Severus Snape.

"Lupin," Snape acknowledged stiffly, nodding, though a twitch of his lip betrayed his barely-concealed dislike.

Remus sighed. He knew this could go one of two ways. Either they could spend the rest of the year pretending not to know one another and avoiding all contact, or they could acknowledge the long-standing animosity and deal with it like adults.

"Severus," he said at last. "The years have not been kind to you."

"Nor to you, I think," replied the potions master. His eyes flicked over Remus, taking in his shabby, dusty appearance, the lines of hardship and old grief on his face and the premature graying of his hair.

"Severus --"

But Snape cut him off. "Never forget, Remus; I know what you are. I know what you've done. And yes, I know who you've loved as well. Dumbledore may trust you, but the old man can be a sentimental fool. I know you. Make no mistake, I saw enough during our school days, and heard enough after to know that you're a man to be watched, now that the name of Sirius Black is being whispered again. I'll make your damnable potion, because someone has to for the sake of this school, but know this: I shall have my eye on you." And with that, he turned on his heel and strode away down the darkened corridor, robes billowing in his wake.

Remus closed his eyes and sighed. Apparently schoolboy grudges were not to be forgotten, at least while the two of them were still within the walls of Hogwarts. It was going to be a long year.
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From:deirdre_riordan
Date:December 6th, 2004 08:01 pm (UTC)
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Okay, just dealing with the prologue at the mo, as I don't have a lot of time right now. Might be better to just do one chapter per post next time, since it's long. :)

This is cool. I like your writing, and I like the premise a lot. And the idea that Remus was called in for Harry's protection is one I've always agreed with. Anyway, on to the picky stuff!

...and the moon was a reassuring sliver [Okay, this seems to be our first clue that it's Remus here, but it doesn't quite come across. It sounds as though he's reassured by the moon itself, rather than by the fact that it isn't full. I don't know if that's your intention or not. Something like "reassuringly small sliver" might get the clue across better, if that's what you're going for.], low in the sky.

... and he knew that [the comma here isn't strictly necessary, and the phrasing is clearer without it.] with it, the memories would recede to manageable proportions once again.

...he was still very much at their [Especially with the paragraph break, "their" lacks a reference. Something like "at the mercy of his recollections" or whatever, just so it's clear what "their" refers to.]mercy.

...and himself [It's not quite clear whether "himself" refers to Sirius or Remus. Using "he himself" might help, or changing the punctuation so that the pronoun isn't so close to the Sirius reference.]exiled to this living death.

He had learned to hide his true nature [Do you mean his lycanthropy, or his sadness? It sort of sounds like you mean sadness here, so if you mean lycanthropy, you might want to say "condition" or "illness" or something.]well enough, but he never managed to keep a job for long.

It had been a friendly [Not quite sure that "friendly" really goes with "formal." They sort of contradict one another. Perhaps "cordial" might do better here.], formal letter, but Remus had seen [read?]between the lines.

That one remaining bit of goodness to come out of his tainted memory of the Marauders. [This is phrased a bit awkwardly. My suggestion would be "The one bit of goodness that remained in his tainted memory..."]

Dumbledore had chosen him to come help and guide Harry, who had also come from a place of being alone in the world, without family -- and at one time, without friends -- to care for him. [Getting canon-picky here, but there's no evidence that Remus actually knows this. I mean, he knows L&J are dead, but I don't think he's got a clue about the Dursleys or Harry's social life.Take it as you will.]

The [appearance of]story and the picture in the Daily Prophet had coincided with[the arrival of] Dumbledore's letter. Remus shivered.

... not recognising the wizard in the picture. [You're using British spelling here, but you've used American spelling up to now. Either this should be changed to "recognizing," or "Defense" and "had learned" should be changed to "Defence" and "had learnt."]

A dozen year [years] in Azkaban had changed the man he had once loved.

And now he had escaped. How? It had never been done before. Remus actually had a vague inkling about how it might have been done. But why now? Why come after Harry after all this time?

He would protect Harry from this madman who had destroyed all either of them had held dear. [A couple of problems with the phrasing here: for one, "either" should be "both." For another, it's unclear whether by that you mean Sirius and Remus, or Remus and Harry. And for a third, canon-picking again, but Remus doesn't know Harry yet, and by consequence shouldn't know what Harry holds dear, so a thing to consider if you mean Harry.
From:deirdre_riordan
Date:December 6th, 2004 08:03 pm (UTC)
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Er. And where I inserted "appearance of," it was meant to be "appearance of the." *facepalm*
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From:pica_scribit
Date:December 13th, 2004 11:07 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for all this. I've changed a few things at your recommendation (kept a few the same, but then, I get attached to my phrasing sometimes. it's a failing).

About Remus knowing anything about Harry, I can't imagine that he never let his curiousity about him get the better of him at any time during his "lost years". Maybe Dumbledore at some point told him a little about Harry's life. Maybe Remus looked in on him magically. And he would know something about the kind of family Lily came from.

British vs American spelling: I prefer to use British, since I lived there for six years, and I intend to go back, and don't want to fall out of the habit, but sometimes I get confused. I can never remember who uses which "defenc/se". Thanks for reminding me. I've done a "find/change" throughout the story. Is it always "learnt" in British English, or only after "had"?

Re: What Harry holds dear: At the age of one year, that would be, most likely, his parents and his toys, so I am going to stick with it, though I agree about "both".

Thank you again! I will post more soon.
From:deirdre_riordan
Date:December 14th, 2004 03:29 am (UTC)
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You're quite welcome! :)

On the learned/learnt thing-- agh. That's a question for the ages, and one that people seem to feel differently about, depending. Oddly enough, though, I just posted a question about it on hp_britglish the other day, so you could have a look at the responses and see what you can make of it. It's mixed in with some stuff about pavement, which is also informative if you wanted to know. *g*

Are you set with Chapter 1, or does it still need picking apart? If it does, you can either just post it again by itself, or I can post an admin-type reminder that it still needs doing. Let me know what you'd prefer. :)
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From:pica_scribit
Date:December 14th, 2004 05:14 am (UTC)
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I've had a couple people go over it for me, but you're welcome to give it a go as well, since everyone seems to see different things. The newly-edited version is here. Hopefully it already looks pretty good.
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From:sapphiretragedy
Date:December 6th, 2004 08:21 pm (UTC)
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I only had time to do the prologue right now, I will do the rest after I get back from class -- RL gets in the way of my fun far too much. I want to say that I think that this story has beautiful and poetic imagery. I really love your turn of phrase, it really gives this piece a lot of depth. I see you making a lot of the mistakes I make ... it is easier to see them in something one hasn't read 800 times though, lol. I can't find my small mistakes so I too understand the value of having someone else read your work. I really like this piece so far and hope I get the opportunity to read more...

Just my opinions on what I see. My suggested changes are in brackets below your original quote.

Dawn would be breaking soon, and he knew that, with it, the memories would recede to manageable proportions once again.

[Dawn would be breaking soon. He knew it would make the memories recede to manageable proportions once again.]

The dreams came less frequently than they once had, but they were still unsettling when they came, and left him feeling guilty and uneasy until he slept again.

[The dreams came less frequently than they once had. However, they were still unsettling when they came and left him feeling guilty and uneasy, until he slept again.]

He was the only one left of that great friendship, and the knowledge of that loneliness had held him captive a dozen years

[He was the only one left of that great friendship. The knowledge of that lonliness had held him captive a dozen years.]

Dumbledore had chosen him to come help and guide Harry, who had also come from a place of being alone in the world, without family -- and at one time, without friends -- to care for him.

[Dumbledore had chosen him to come help and guide Harry ; who had also come from a place of bieng alone in the world, without a family -- and at one time, without friends -- to care for him. ]

The face he had known better than his own was gaunt and pale

[The face he had known better than his own, was gaunt and pale]

He would protect Harry from this madman who had destroyed all either of them had held dear.

[something about the word choice 'either' threw me, but I can't think of a bette word at the moment]

I will continue with chapter one later...

Still a great story. I like where this is going so far :)
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