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Entry #5

Discussion in 'Q2 - April Flash Competition' started by Xiph0, Apr 20, 2020.

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  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

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    Steam rises in wisps and curls, wrapping in on itself as it climbs into the air before dissipating from sight. It billows out from the rim of the goblet, filled just below overflowing with odd chunks floating within its depths, poking out slightly as they bob within the liquid. Gerald is pretty sure this potion isn't supposed to have whole newt limb in it, and really doesn't recall it having anything of the sort yesterday, but that's what those floating chunks look like. Unfortunately, he knows this supplier is the best he can afford, and previous experience has told him the goods are serviceable, if not perfect.

    Gerald reaches out for the goblet, but freezes when the man across the table from him puts his own hand over top it instead. The steam swirls over and around his hand, still rising high. Gerald grumbles, feeling the wolf that lurks beneath his skin growl with him at the implied threat. He tamps down on the unruly bastard and pulls the Galleons out of his pocket. Meticulously, coin by coin, he counts out the price before sliding them across the table in a haphazard pile. Gerald can't decide which is worse, the stench of the potion or the slimy look on the man's face as he counts out the coins.

    "That's an old potion now, got my grandpappy's twists on it. Makes it extra potent, you hear? Figured I'd bring out the big guns, as they say. Only the best for my favorite customer. Best take it quick, while it's fresh."

    "I'd rather have the standard recipe, as I said yesterday, if you could-"

    "Fah, potions is an art. Can't rightly brew anything now, only getting second hand tools and materials. What with the crackdown on practicing magic, ain't no new discoveries. That Wolfsbane Potion's near on 70 years old, Merlin's honest truth. Grandpappy's improvements is no more than 30, though. Anybody telling you they've got the original recipe or any of the Old Ministry's files is a New Ministry plant or a con artist. You won't likely find anything newer or better than this, I'll tell you for that for free."

    "The Statute fell down right before that, and the whole damn world along with it, if I recall. I'll bet you're right."

    "'Course I'm right, ya damn fool," the man scoffs, but Gerald isn't listening anymore. He's lost in memories of his past, of triumphs and devastation, none his own.

    His fingers ghost over the scars marring his face, feeling once more the rumble of the wolf within his chest. Or should he say the scant bit of face visible beneath all his scars? Gerald was attractive once, he knows, but it's so hard to remember. It's the damn wolf's fault he looks like this now, after going so many years without the Wolfsbane. If Gerald didn't know better, he'd think the stupid beast was even more vicious for having been tamed for so many years. It's only recently he'd been able to scrape together enough coin to afford it regularly, and even then, only every other month.

    It shouldn't be like this for him; he had been at the Battle of Hogwarts, all those decades ago! He was proud to be there, too, is still proud to have been there on those few chances he has to bring it up in conversation. He regretted it at the next full moon, though, always regrets it during the full moon these days.

    It had been a difficult fight, in those following weeks and months and years, to get werewolves access to the potions they needed. To turn fear and hurt into compassion and understanding. They'd done it though, after many long, hard political battles fought by the Order of the Phoenix, or what was left of it. It's those memories of happier times that keep his thoughts at bay. The dark thoughts, like "would it have been better if we lost the Battle?" Gerald can't let himself be caught thinking things like that, not nowadays. Most wizards couldn't recognize each other anymore, what with robes being outlawed and with magicals being scattered as they are. And you never know when someone's secretly a Legilimens working with the New Ministry.

    Gerald is brought back to the harshness of reality by the raspy clearing of a throat. Right, no time to waste. There were other things to do today in order to get ready for the full moon. It's only two more days away.

    "Same time tomorrow?" Gerald asks as he brings the steaming goblet to his lips.

    "So long as you remember to cast a decent Disillusionment Charm before you leave this time, rather than once you're on the street. Swore I had bobbies up and down this place for hours after you left, yesterday. Think there's a camera right up on the street corner," his potioneer sneers at him.

    Gerald closes his eyes and remembers the Wolfsbane of those bright few years when it was provided by the Old Ministry, after the Battle. Master potioneers had teased improvements out left and right, and by the end, though he hadn't known the end was coming, they had even offered the cure in flavors. His favorite had been strawberries and cream.

    He slugs back the goblet in one great gulp. Yes, definitely chunkier than it should be, and an acrid taste that seems to coat his throat. He's only glad it's too hot to have congealed at all. It's all about the little things, now a days, to keep himself sane. Or, as sane as any werewolf can be.
     
  2. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    Weird how there's a focus on dystopias so far. Sign of the times, I s'pose.

    Dialogue is more or less on point. Not really sure about Gerald referring to his lycanthropy as "his inner wolf" - it's a phrase ripe for abuse that's shown up in a shitload of bad slash fanfics so I'm rather leery of it. It's not like cancer has your inner bloodcells braying for blood or whatever. (I'm not a doctor.)

    If there's anything that dissatisfies me it's the concept of the New Ministry. How, who, what, why - questions principially unanswered. Apparently muggles take over the wizards and ban magic (???) but that makes no sense to me on any real level. But then not everything needs to be explained, so I'm not sure if this is merely a personal foible, or even really something that detracts from your fic, since I'm more curious than I am for most of the other entries.

    3/5.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2020
  3. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    ~936 words
     
  4. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Great description in this one. I was especially fond of the steam swirling over and around the guy’s hand when he puts it over the Goblet.

    Excellent world-building too, showing us rather than telling about the world we’re in. Good characterizations as well. It feels very ‘real’ that Gerald was proud of being at the Battle of Hogwarts but nevertheless finds himself regretting it because turns out it fucked up his life in a way that should be manageable but isn’t. And that’s even before we get to the rest of the world-building, where things might went to hell for everyone and not just this guy.

    Strawberries and cream. That line really hit hard.

    I think this one has a shot at being the winner. Very well done overall. No real criticisms here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
  5. soczab

    soczab Professor

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    Ok this was good. I enjoyed it a TON! You managed to make me connect with the characters very quickly. It was well written, flowed, and I found myself wanting more at the end. The only thing that threw me slightly was the whole new ministry thing, since I dont think we get enough hints to figure out what happened. It might have made sense to be a bit more coy there. But that's a minor quibble, this was a great story. Nice details on his being proud to fight at hogwarts but then how he regrets it on the full moon. The whole way you had him dealing with the werewolf bite was the highlight to me
     
  6. bking4

    bking4 Second Year ⭐⭐

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    Overall, a decent attempt. Good job pulling me into the scene, and I very easily feel like I know the characters shortly after you introduce them. But then you switch to that internal monologue, and it’s a jarring shift. Feels to come out of nowhere and give the impression of man staring off into the distance while in the middle of a conversation.

    On that topic, no dialog tags or descriptors on the short conversation. Easy enough to follow, as it’s only two people, but you’ll want to watch out for that. Also, a few occasional slips between present tense and past tense. Minor, but noticeable.

    Overall – 3.5/5, mostly well written from a technical perspective, could have smoothed out some things around the edges
     
  7. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    I like the idea that the Old Ministry is the one that Harry and Hermione instituted by winning the war but that it all went to shit anyway, and I enjoy some bits of your dialogue. I think this is well written in the most part, however, I think it fails my fundamental 'is this a story?' check. Nothing happens. He gets a potion to drink at the start, and drinks it at the end. He's in the same mood at the end as he basically was at the beginning. It's a conversation. It's exposition, and if it was the opening scene of a chapter where he's about to encounter the hinted at problem (of not doing disillusionments before leaving, or whatever) then that would be ideal. But it doesn't happen. Nothing happens.

    There's one or two bits where you say is instead of was, and I can see why you do it. Excepting the bit about where he is still proud, I think you should keep to past tense for your it'ses etc.
    This part here, I wasn't a fan of the beat, considering how the dynamic has been. It feels a different reaction than he ought to be giving. Besides that though, I don't think you can comma onto this, you need a full stop.

    So yeah, liked the tone, but a whole piece of exposition without it affecting anything at all just doesn't do it for me. I like the backstory, but you need a front story too.
     
  8. Gaius

    Gaius Fifth Year

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    I liked this entry a lot! It was an interesting decision to choose the invention of Wolfsbane as the 70 year mark for this story. I also like your decision to frame the (illicit) purchase to reflect on the past.

    Some more specific thoughts:
    I thought this was a little awkward. Perhaps “on top of it”?

    So why does G pay in Gallons if the Ministry is defunct and magicals are swept under the rug and disorganized? When I read at first I didn’t notice it because it’s the standard wizard currency. That’s nice since it delays our realizing how different the wizarding world is now, but in retrospect seems like it may be a mistake.

    i thought this was a great way to do exposition since it also helps to characterize the dealer.

    This made me think of the informant among the proles in 1984. I half-expected G to get busted.

    The phrasing is a bit awkward here. I had to back up to realize you meant the statute fell just before the 30 year date mentioned. The last lines of the dialogue “if I recall...” seemed stilted to me.

    Think you veered off course here. they sort of are his own since he lived through it all?

    It’s cool that there may be plain-clothes Legilimens working for an anti-magic faction. I also like the take that this world could arise from victory at Hogwarts and not defeat although it makes me wonder what led to the Statute falling down—was this the ministry’s doing because they wanted to integrate marginalized groups more? Were wizards ousted by muggle tech?
     
  9. WierdFoodStuff

    WierdFoodStuff Sixth Year

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    I think I already said in another thread that this is my favorite story in the current contest, well reading it again only reaffirmed my opinion.
    I mean it's excellent.
    It leads your mind to wander, did the ministry collapse because it tried to do too much?
    Does the new ministry block werewolves from getting wolfsbane so they wreak destruction on the muggles?

    Gerald isn't particularly interesting but that doesn't matter because he's used to shed light on the new ministry.
    The potion "master" is also intriguing:
    "Grandpappy's improvements is no more than 30, though. Anybody telling you they've got the original recipe or any of the Old Ministry's files is a New Ministry plant or a con artist"
    What a line!

    5/5
     
  10. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

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    The writing really pulls you in and the pacing is on point. I like the creativity of this. The fic does make me wonder about the New Ministry. I have a feeling it's run by muggleborns (outlawing robes) but I could be wrong. Though, with all these "modern improvements" (cameras) I wonder why they seem to have left werewolves behind. I'd assume Hermione would be involved in this New Ministry, and she's a staunch advocate for the less fortunate. All in all, I'd just like to know a bit more, so I have a more fleshed-out picture in my head.
     
  11. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    Overall, I think this is quite a decent entry. Very creative, brings up lots of questions around the New Ministry which sadly aren't answered, but understandable given the flash nature. The use of wolfsbane as the 70 year date was creative, and you made me care quite a bit for Gerard---who we can tell is proud of his participation in the Final Battle but comes to regret it because of what's followed.

    3/5
     
  12. bking4

    bking4 Second Year ⭐⭐

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    Hello friends! So this was my entry. Wrote it the day before it was due, the day it was due I gave it two quick passes of editing (I think, it was a while ago). Each time I ran through it to edit it, I ended up changing or modifying some stuff about the New Ministry/Old Ministry because I couldn't get it just right.

    What I was trying to convey was that around the time the internet really starts to explode (mid to late 2010s), the statute of secrecy crumples due to keeping their head stuck in the sand. The Old Ministry (run by the winners of the Battle of Hogwarts) gets taken over and subsumed my the Muggle government. Then, unfortunately, there's a whole lot of bigotry and regulation and tension for 30ish years which results in scenes like this being common.

    I think my review of myself is pretty accurate. I'm okay with this being largely slice of life, or snap shot style. I'm working on a slightly longer one shot piece (different Fandom) right now and when I finish that up I'll probably make some edits to this and post it into WbA.

    Thanks for all the kind words! I'm glad you all enjoyed it!
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
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