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Review:Violet Gryfindor says:
Oh, so that is where the AU part comes in. O_O I was not expecting that. At all. Yet I should have - it was coming all along, a slow thread weaving through the very canon examination of Harry's fractured psychological state in OotP. He was unravelling, Voldemort pulling him apart from within. It wasn't about mind control, about taking him over, as it was destroying him in an incredible, but horrifying way.

The moment that struck me hardest wasn't actually the end, but when Harry is screaming, wanting to save Sirius, but he can't because he's not actually there. His mind is there via Voldemort's, making him feel as though he, not Voldemort, is the torturer. It's just the kind of thing that would destroy someone like Harry who is very loyal and loving to the people special to him. It's an amplified version of that cruel game of torturing the loved one to evoke a desired response. Now, in the books, Voldemort wasn't so much aware of this, but here, in this story, you've shown what could have been, and it's chilling. More than chilling, but that's the word that comes first to mind. Voldemort could have taken advantage of the situation, not to lure Harry to him, but to ensure that Harry's powers were crippled. It actually strikes me now that JKR's Voldemort was very stupid, blind to the potential of this connection to Harry (and to other things as well).

My mind is exploding. Ouch. Your story has made me think too much. It is too late in the day for this kind of mental workout. :P But I like what this story has done to my head. I love stories that make me think, feel, and, better yet, re-evaluate things - they remind me of the power of a brilliantly told story.

As I mentioned in the forum comment, your story has also made me think of Harry in a different way. I have, lately, been trying to have more sympathy for him, but initially, OotP made me really dislike Harry. It was hard to say who I liked less - Harry or Umbridge - that's how alienated I was due to his constant whining and general fifteen-year-old drama queen behaviour. But a story like this demonstrates that what we got in the books didn't tell the whole story - he acted like he did because he had Voldemort literally in his head. That must have been a nightmare, placing him and everyone he loved in danger at every moment, and it must have reminded him of how Voldemort's head was fused onto Quirrell's. Can any of us imagine what it's like to have another person's consciousness in our head, much less having that someone be Voldemort? The fact that Harry managed not to go crazy in OotP says a lot about his strength - he let his emotions remain in control and, oddly enough, that's what saved him. Sadly, in your story, nothing Harry could have done would have preventing the ending. No one else, outside of Dumbledore (maybe), could have helped him, either. It's just so sad.

I'm in awe of how carefully this story is put together - even if it came out quickly and easily for you, it still feels very intricate, not only in the characterization, but also in how you use and recreate canon. Most of this story follows canon so closely that it felt like a series of of missing moments, extensions from the books to provide deeper insight into Harry's state of mind. But then you twist it sharply, but it's too late for us poor readers - we're caught up in your web. That's where perfect AU comes from - that little twist. Not a major change, but something small - the vision going wrong, affecting Harry in a different way, driving him to madness rather than action. I'm still reeling from it all.

Okay, I will stop with now to say that this is an amazing piece of writing - top-notch quality with a line of reasoning behind it which reveals that you are indeed JKR in disguise. I came to this story expecting amazing, and somehow, you gave better. Thank you for this.

Author's Response: Oh my goodness. I saw this just before going to bed last night, and I just... wow. Thank you so much for this!! I'll try and be sensible as I go through and respond, I promise. :)

This isn't the first time I've decided to sashay into delving into Harry's psychological state of being, and -- as odd as it might sound -- I absolutely love doing so. This and the other crazy!Harry one-shot I wrote are some of my favorite things on my author's page. :) I love that your favorite part of Harry's was his sort-of dream, seeing Sirius killed, because I kind of see all my stories in an arc, and that was intended to be the very top of it. I agree with you in that Voldemort could have tapped MUCH more deeply into his mental connection with Harry, and I don't think the outcome I wrote here would be a far cry from the truth, should he have realized its power. I love that you've somehow identified with the pinnacle of the story; it's Harry's breaking point, his sort of crossing through a metaphorical veil (fitting because of Sirius's canon death).

I actually used to not like Harry very much! And for a lot of the reasons you stated above, too -- the whiny fifteen-year-old boy did not sit well with me, and frankly I wanted to shake him when reading those parts. But when you think about how fragile his mind was, and how, for bits of the time (especially when dreaming) it was barely even HIS, it's no wonder he was cranky and upset. And even before all that -- he's just seen a classmate die, he's been tortured by the man who killed his parents. I can't even imagine the burdens on him. It really made me love him a lot more when I sort of connected all those things together... and now he's one of my favorite characters! ;) There's a lot writers can do with Harry; I've learned a good deal from writing his character. I'd love to be able to do a novel-length Harry-centric story someday.

I'm SO pleased to hear that you think this story is intricate! Each scene was a stepping stone toward the brink -- something Harry could once laugh off or explain away became more and more horrifying for him, and he caved to it, which is rather frightening. My AU Harry is, I think, a bit weaker than canon Harry, who at least tried to fight against his connection. One thing I really try and focus on in writing AU (which I've been doing more and more of lately!) is making it as real as possible. I want to tie it into canon and ground it into the stories as much as I possibly can, because I somewhat subscribe to the theory that there are infinite dimensions containing the outcomes of infinite choices. This is one of those, splitting from Order of the Phoenix at some points and interlacing with it at others.

Anyway! :3 I honestly, honestly cannot even begin to thank you enough for how seriously incredible this review is. You got EXACTLY what I was trying to bring to the table, and that's so gratifying! I'm beyond ecstatic that you enjoyed this story so much. ♥ Thanks a million, Susan!!


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