Story Title: Innocent (I only recommend Chapters 1-71)
Author Name: MarauderLover7
Category: Harry Potter
Story Url: Story Link
Alternate Url: Google Doc
Content Rating: Mature (I’m not sure why it’s got such a high rating. I would’ve said “Teen,” and that’s just for the language.
Length: 494,191 words
Story Summary: Mr and Mrs Dursley of Number Four, Privet Drive, were happy to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. The same could not be said for their eight year old nephew, but his godfather wanted him anyway.
This is a first for me. I adored chapters 1-71. I am not recommending the rest of the story, though, particularly chapter 79. I’ll explain why at the end, because if your interests are anything like mine, I strongly suggest you skip the last act of this story.
First, I do recommend it as one of the best stories, if not the best, that I’ve ever encountered in which Sirius rescues Harry from the Dursleys. The author not only does a masterful job of creating well-developed, age-appropriate, dynamic characters and riveting plots, MarauderLover7 also created magical spells and theories which flowed naturally into JKR’s world, while still belonging wholly to this story. “Innocent” was a rich and vibrant world, and I was absolutely mesmerized for a week by this epic length tale.
The story weaves together the lives of numerous characters scattered throughout the wizarding community. Kreacher is a real treat, the relationship Remus has with Greyback’s pack was brilliant, Tonks’ relationship woes as a new graduate were very discerningly written, and even Petunia was written in a way that was quite astute. I was equally fascinated with the author’s insight into the House of Slytherin, for example. I know many fanfics, and perhaps even the books, seem to indicate that the Slytherins learn their lessons of ambition and cunning while at Hogwarts. However, MarauderLover7 rightfully illustrates that it is in the home that children first learn such lessons. For example, from Lucius Malfoy we learn that he believed a parent should quit showing signs of physical affection to a child after the age of 5; that the child no longer needs it. Additionally, we see scenes in Malfoy’s home in which the children of Slytherin families ridicule one other heartlessly, even mocking a girl for crying when her mother dies, while the parents do nothing to stop this malicious behavior. It makes sense to me that the children are prepared in this manner when I consider how malevolent Pansy Parkinson is toward Neville Longbottom in canon during that first flying lesson. MarauderLover7 is also correct in establishing the idea that a child’s behavior is the responsibility of the parents, not the school.
The ending plot thread, though, ruined the entire story for me and left me so enraged, I was a mess for the rest of the day. Details are below, due to the obvious spoilers. For those of you who don’t want spoilers, I’ll simply suggest that you stop reading before you hit Chapter 72. Every major plot point is resolved by the end of Chapter 71. Chapters 72-80 are an entirely different story arc which is unnecessary for one to understand or enjoy the previous 71 chapters. If I’d had someone to offer me that advice, this recommendation would likely be much longer, as I waxed rhapsodic about the thousands of reasons I loved the brilliantly-written story.
My Only Critique: The Serpent Sworn mystery which Harry and Sirius stumble upon in Chapter 72 turns out to be an incredibly manipulative, dangerous test set for certain characters by people they trust. It’s comparable to the Season 1 episode “Helpless” on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For the perpetrators to have thought it was a good idea to throw this traumatic exercise at anyone – much less those who had fought in a war, had lost others in battle, and naturally had resulting difficulties with trust issues (and rightfully so, given their awful pasts) – was nothing short of vicious cruelty.
In Deathly Hallows, Remus scolds Harry that he can’t avoid killing enemy combatants; that it’s dangerous to keep disarming them without permanently disabling them from a battle. Canon Harry stands firm against Remus, and I think it’s probably the right answer for Harry at that age and in that moment. But those of us who are parents know very well that we would absolutely not hesitate to kill someone who was a threat to our child. The fact that nobody is killed as a result of the senseless, callous Serpent Sworn test is a matter of pure chance. Sirius and the person who fights at his side appear to be in grave danger for their lives, and Sirius is terrified for Harry’s life throughout those scenes. If he and the person assisting him had killed someone in defense of others, only to find out later on that it was a hoax perpetuated by people they trusted, it would have devastated them. Frankly, Sirius’ ally in that scene many not have survived such an unveiling, considering the similar grief and shame that person was already fighting. Had I been in that situation, I would have packed up my child and fled upon discovering it to be merely a nasty test. The main thing that test taught me was that Sirius was right not to trust anyone else, except perhaps for his only ally during that awful battle. I was already struggling with Dumbledore’s behavior toward Sirius, both in denying him a trial in 1981, and in denying him help again in Chapter 76. That so-called test, though, was just too huge and risky for me to accept. It wasn’t that I had a problem with the way the author characterized Dumbledore; she was spectacular in that regard. I simply struggled along with Sirius on the matter of trusting Dumbledore in light of his mistakes. Therefore, when Sirius laughs off the Serpent Sworn test at the end of Chapter 79, my love for this story was greatly hurt. I felt manipulated and betrayed.
In spite of my complete melt-down at the end of Chapter 79, I really do recommend this story. As readers here should know, I never recommend a story unless I am nuts about it. This is simply the first time I’ve ever had to discriminate between sections of the story. There are two sequels: Initiate, which is completed, and Identity, which is still in progress.