Reading Reviews for Diamonds into Coal
  
276 Reviews Found

Review #26, by GryffindorSeeker4 Desire

11th September 2013:
Well done. I can imagine this was a difficult story what with the different culture and characters that we don't know all that much about. However, I can safely say that you pulled it off- characters, dialogue, setting, everything was believable and well thought out. The "murder" scene was a little sketchy, though. Did Venn stab her thinking she was the basilisk?

Author's Response: Nice to hear from you again! I'm happy to hear that you liked the story and found it believable and thoughtfully written.

Well, I tried not to give too much concrete detail in the actual murder scene so as to avoid getting sticky with ToS compliance. Essentially, Venn was living in this heightened state of fear because Salazar kept threatening to let the basilisk loose and he panicked, accidentally killing his bride-to-be in the process. Does that make more sense?

Thanks so much for your lovely review!

-Amanda


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Review #27, by CambAngst Fight or Flight

8th September 2013:
Hi, there! Tagging you from Review Tag!

So more than anything, I love what you did with Salazar in this chapter. His goals are becoming more clear, as is the way that he's able to manipulate young Venn. I'm pleased, in one way, to see that I was right about Edeline's relationship with Nentres Peverell becoming a big problem for Venn. In another way, it's enabled Salazar to spring his trap on Venn. There's no way to know whether Peverell, coming from an old and presumable wealthy family in his own right, even has designs on Venn's barony, but it's an easy string for Salazar to pull. I also liked the contrast between how tiresome Venn finds it to manage his family's lands and how desperate he is not to lose them. He's a classic young man in the sense that he doesn't really seem to know what he really wants. Now, apparently, it's to be married straight away.

Salazar is brilliantly menacing with his talk of turning the Basilisk loose on the muggle villagers. I'm still a bit curious as to why Venn finds the idea as odious as he does, having no particular love for muggles. Is the Basilisk just such a horribly dark creature that no wizard who isn't dark would ever condone the keeping of one?

The game of truth or dare between Helena and her servants nicely complimented the frame of mind that she seems to be in. It's a bit childish, which is sort of how she's behaving at this point. I understand her motivations, but the way she's going about avoiding her upcoming wedding doesn't reflect all that well on her. She and Venn are well matched in that sense. It's awful that fate has thrown the obvious barriers up between the two of them. Otherwise, the two of them could be quite a pair, I think.

For once, I thought Venn came off as very reasonable when he made his ultimatum to Helena. I don't think he necessarily sees through the smokescreen she throws up to conceal her true motivations, but the effect is pretty much the same. He's been patient and understanding as he can be, and he's putting the onus squarely back on her shoulders. I felt a bit badly for her, although not nearly as bad as I felt for Ainsley and Isobel. Awkward...

And then you turned me right around and left me feeling terrible for poor Helena at the end. There was something incredibly pithy and tangible about the imagery of a young woman packing a few belongings and fleeing. It was really easy to relate to, no matter the separation in time. I liked the idea that she took the ink, quill and parchment along. It holds open the door, albeit narrowly, to the possibility that this isn't permanent. And then there's the diadem. This is really it, isn't it? This is the moment it became lost. You brought an interesting sort of practicality to something that's wrapped in lore and legend by the time of the books. If worse came to worse, she was actually planning to sell it.

I can really feel the story drawing to a close at this point. Both Venn and Helena have drawn their lines in the sand and Helena has stepped past a point of no return. Rowena has sealed her own fate, in a way, and Salazar's schemes are in full swing. Only two more chapter to go. Such sweet sorrow!

Author's Response: Hey Dan, nice to hear from you again!

I love your analysis of the relationship between Venn and Salazar. I think you're the first person to consider that Salazar might be lying to Venn about Nentres's claim to his inheritance, though you're right that what Venn believes may be more important than the truth in this scenario. Once again we see that Venn wants to have his cake but have someone else cut it for him, in a manner of speaking. Obviously he's not ready to be a good husband to Helena right now.

I think Venn's opposition to the Basilisk is more an issue of control than a reflection on his true feelings about the creature. Salazar's deep-seated evil is starting to frighten him, definitely, but more than that he worries about what effects this dangerous beast could have for the upcoming wedding and his ability to settle into his reign. It's just kind of a disruption for him, though I do think he's made of slightly better moral fiber than his uncle.

If they were more mature, I think Venn and Helena would be a great match and could really bring their kingdoms together. As is, though, they're obviously very immature and not ready to enter marriage or adulthood. On the other hand, though, as you mentioned--they do seem to have developed a bit of insight as to how to deal with one another, Venn with his loss of patience and Helena with her dislike of Venn's attitude. Again, with a slightly bigger dose of maturity, we could have two good rulers.

This is Helena's great escape, yeah. It's her last ditch attempt to put off or cancel the wedding by virtue of her just not being there and being hidden from everyone else. She's practical in some ways, with the tiara (well, sort of... it's a dead giveaway as to her identity), but not in others, like packing a whole wardrobe of fancy gowns. She's really just a scared little girl.

I hope to see you back for the last two chapters. Thanks so much for your kind review!

-Amanda


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Review #28, by Illuminate Erised

6th September 2013:
Hi! Ravenclaw review tag!

This is a really beautiful start to a story! It's full of mystery and emotion. You make me really really want to know and understand what has happened, who these characters are and why your protagonist is so stricken!

You convey his emotions perfectly, and it's very easy to care for this character immediately, despite the mystery. Your descriptions are lovely, especially that of Helena, you describe her beauty wonderfully. We can easily see why he is in love with her.

It is the perfect teaser for what is sure to be an emotional story full of twists and turns! Great job!

Author's Response: Hey, thanks for your kind review!

I'm happy to hear you felt like this was an intriguing beginning and that the emotions came through. It was important for me to mix the mysterious feel with the need to give the Baron a chance to earn some sympathy. I also worked really hard on the imagery in this prologue and it's good that you liked the way I described Helena.

Hope you stop by again to read more!

-Amanda


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Review #29, by WeasleyTwins Houses Joined

12th August 2013:
Back again!

Okay, wait wait. Is Venn going to end up being the Bloody Baron? I don't know why I thought it was the unknown man from the previous chapter - didn't know if you were being sneaky or not!

Helena has made me so mad! And yet, I understand. The heart wants what the heart wants. She wants to be married and the few promising moments with Venn have given her hope. It's great characterization, Amanda, even if I'm frustrated with her! In truth, I can't say that I wouldn't do the same. I think that most women in the world can relate to what she's feeling and that's what makes it so powerful. We know that she's headed down the wrong path (I think she is, anyway) and we want to stop her, yet we, ourselves, would probably do something very similar. It's great, really - you're connecting us all by something universal.

The wedding with its pureblood mania was fascinating. It hints at darker things. Okay, I can't stand it, back to Venn and Helena. Why does she forgive him?! I mean, yes, we forgive people for so many things because we're all human and make mistakes, but come on! What a pitiful excuse! I tell you, Amanda, unless he changes in a big way, I don't think I'll ever warm to this man! He's so evasive and cunning. Look at me, a Slytherin according to Pottermore, hating on the characteristic of cunning. I don't know. I just feel like he's going to get violent. Like he's not just cunning to be cunning, but that he's malicious.

This whole review was nothing except fangirl musings. Well, just know that I thoroughly enjoy every chapter! So historically beautiful and relateable at the same time.



Shelby

Author's Response: Shelby! So nice to hear from you again and sorry I got behind on my review responses -hides-

Mmm, I won't give it away, but you'll know definitively in due time, don't worry!

I also felt like it was a pretty universal feeling to make stupid, impulsive decisions from time to time just in the heat of the moment. I'm pleased to hear that you agree! Helena is a young lady in love and she sees Venn as a chance to reconcile her mother's unceasing desire to see her wed and her own wish to be with a man who excites her. As he drifts further from the prince charming he's supposed to be, naturally, Helena will have to decide how many faults she's willing to overlook. I'm glad that you feel like my approach makes her more relatable.

Yeah, I meant for the wedding to be shiny and pretty on the outside and just to have that hint that the ceremony was about more than seeing a young man and woman tie the knot. Obviously the wizarding nobility are starting to take their own survival quite seriously.

Hah, well, I will definitely say that it is possible to finish the story without ever taking Venn's side, but I sort of hope your feelings end up being more complex than that--otherwise, I think I'll have failed you :) For certain, keep me up to date on how you feel about him as you keep reading further. Your reactions have been really intriguing for me.

Thanks so much for your amazing review!

-Amanda


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Review #30, by WeasleyTwins Feats of Bravery

12th August 2013:
Hello Amanda! I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to return to this wonderful story. I should be kicked.

I swear if you don't win a Dobby for this, I'll riot. At the very least, that's what this story deserves. I can't get over your talent, Amanda! This could be an original piece, it really could.

You know how much I love my history and I loved all the touches you put in this chapter. It adds depth and realism to an otherwise foreign world. At first I did wonder why Venn didn't tie the token around his arm, but I like your interpretation. To me, it represents his duplicity. I know that sounds wild - it's like he's cheating history and tradition, just as he cheats in the tournament. He can't cover up his nature if it's exposed, but by romanticizing the token and putting it over his heart, he can hide his less-than-honorable attributes. Okay, so maybe I just totally English major analyzed that, but there you go! :P

Now, at first, I didn't catch that he was cheating, but after the one man said something, I picked up your clues. And that man? Is he the Bloody Baron?

I liked the mixture of emotions in this chapter, especially those pre-wedding jitters. Helena wondering if she should or shouldn't marry Venn, how she knows so little about him, the argument over the color of her dress. By the way, I thought that was genius. It's so simple, arguing over the color of the dress, but shows just how little power Helena has over her own life. It reminded me of Helena as the Gray Lady in DH. She's bitter towards her mother and I can see why. She doesn't really have a choice. It's subtle and yet, so incredibly sad.

Another fabulous chapter, Amanda! Even if by some horror you don't win a Dobby for this story, it'll be Dobby worthy to me! :)



Shelby

Author's Response: Shelby, you're too sweet! I hope it wins, naturally; after getting the TGS award last year, a Dobby would be the sweetest icing on top of the best cake ever. We'll have to see!

I kind of love your interpretation of Venn misplacing the favor from Helena. It's like he was trying too hard to be romantic and sweet, when in reality he does have a lot to hide. Of course, Helena can hardly be expected not to swoon at such an elaborate display, poor girl.

I won't answer your question outright, so you aren't spoiled, but answers will be coming :)

I think you nailed it--Helena has so little control of her own life, and I think she's beginning to regret agreeing to be courted by this man when she was bold enough to turn down many others. A wedding is such an important time for many young women, and if it was anything like modern times when Helena was around, I'm sure it must be a deep blow to not have much of a say in how things go during that event. Pretty soon that bitterness will start to leak out.

Thank you so much for your wonderful review and, as always, incredibly kind comments :)

-Amanda


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Review #31, by magnolia_magic Desire

7th August 2013:
Hi Amanda! I've been meaning to come review the conclusion to this story for so long, and I'm sorry it's taken me forever to get here. And before I start I'd like to congratulate you on finishing it! Diamonds into Coal is such a wonderful piece of work, and I hope you're really proud of it. I know there are a lot of people (including me, obviously) who have loved reading it!

I feel like a parrot every time I comment on your imagery and your beautiful style. At this point it would just be "blah blah blah" if I brought it up again :P But I can't help but talk about it just a little more! I think your subtle, lovely imagery is your biggest strength as a writer, hands down. The pictures you paint stay with me long after I've read a piece of yours.

Now, on to the plot! I LOVE the way this chapter brings the whole novel full-circle, right down to the chapter title (Erised=Desire). Now more than ever, I think starting with a flash-forward prologue was a good move. I still remember how beautiful and mysterious that chapter was, and with this ending you've shaken some cobwebs off of that vague beginning. We now know why the Bloody Baron and the Grey Lady live at Hogwarts. We know the full story behind the image in the mirror. And we know how Venn and Helena fell in love, and how their deaths eventually came about. You've made sure to answer those burning questions we had at the beginning, and you've shown that the prologue wasn't just for dramatic effect or to show off your skill at creating gorgeous imagery (which, as I've said so many times, are just astounding). There was a purpose behind everything in that chapter, and with this ending you've shed some light on it. Diamonds into Coal has been such an incredible journey, and it's hard to believe that we're right back where we started, at the Mirror of Erised.

Although I really, really love the ultimate conclusion to Venn and Helena's story, I have conflicting feelings about the murder scene itself. I mean, this is the climax. This is the event that will go down in history, and define these two people forever. And it all boils down to...a misunderstanding? An accident caused by starvation delirium? I was hoping to spend a lot of time exploring Venn's mindset as he committed this terrible act, but the killing feels like a minor detail compared to the other events of this chapter. And I had a hard time believing that he could have "accidentally" killed her.

But then I thought about it. And really, it makes sense that Venn wouldn't have intended to kill Helena. This story is full of rash decisions and big egos, but neither of them ever did anything with the intention of harming the other. If the killing had been any different, it would have been terribly out of character for Venn. So after reading this chapter a few times I sorted out my feelings: I think you did a wonderful job staying true to your characters during the murder, but the scene itself feels glossed over. I was really looking for more there.

And that's the most concrit I've felt inclined to offer you in a LONG time. Also, I think the rest of the chapter is absolutely incredible, so I intend to fangirl for the remainder of this review :D

The scene with Salazar was really brilliant. It answers a question I never even knew I had! Of course the Bloody Baron would know about the basilisk, and you've explained why he wouldn't have ever warned anyone about it. Venn isn't the slimy, awful person that Salazar is; surely he would have wanted to make sure the basilisk didn't harm any "innocent purebloods." But he is a bit selfish, as you've established, and he values being close to Helena above the well-being of students who don't have personal meaning to him. That part was wonderfully executed, and I just loved it :)

And that last encounter with Helena just broke my heart! Why are you so stubborn, Helena! Just forgive him! It's been years, possibly centuries! (I'm drawing a blank on when the mirror scenes are set...oops.) Ugh, she makes me mad sometimes! Haha, I know you expected that with both of your MCs, and can I just say again how great a job you did with them? You made them both so incredibly complex, and I was constantly re-evaluating my opinion of them. By the end of the story I swore I would figure out which of them was my least favorite. It's a really hard choice, but I think I'm going with Helena. I mean, I get that Venn isn't the easiest person to deal with, but she could have just called the wedding off if she had misgivings. Instead, she ran off into the forest like a child, baiting Venn and then behaving as though she'd done nothing wrong. Get your act together, Helena.

(Oh no. I'm speaking ill of the dead, aren't I? I just can't seem to help it, though. Haha, what must that say about me? :P)

But. Anyway. I'm at a loss for what else to say, Amanda. I think this was a wonderful end to a beautifully written story. And that last line is the perfect way to draw this to a close. It has this tiny ray of hope, because when you "live" forever, there's always time for things to change. But at the same time it carries the weight of years of guilt for Venn, and grudge-harboring for Helena. Will they ever come to any sort of truce? We might never know, and that's one unanswered question that just feels right. Amazing job, Amanda. I feel so privileged to have read this :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Maggie, you're awesome, as you already know :) I am really proud of this story, and I continue to be surprised by how much everyone liked it. The support I've received means so much!

Anyway, I'm so happy that you liked the imagery. Sometimes I get so into it that I err on the side of purple prose, which then bogs down the plot. I always hope that I've achieved a good balance since nowadays I can go a good couple of paragraphs before I do anything besides work on setting the scene.

I think I always sort of knew we'd go back to the mirror for this last part, the final encounter between Venn and Helena after all that they've been through together. As I was writing this, I kept track of questions that people brought up in their reviews and tried to figure out the answers and weave them into the plot. A lot of it didn't come until the end here, as you observed. I think that's a major benefit of not pre-writing, which I normally prefer, and I think the success of this story is due in some part to the feedback of others.

This answer will probably be dissatisfying, I'm afraid, but the truth about the murder scene is that I was just really concerned about getting too sticky ToS-wise when writing it. It felt much safer to describe it more vaguely in a flashback than to actually do it in real time. I just kept thinking about how these two had a romantic relationship and it could run into a difficult area in terms of spousal-like abuse. I tried to allude to those strong emotions in the aftermath, but I definitely understand where you're coming from, so I appreciate the crit :)

I really hope Salazar emerged as a monster at the end of it all, despite the charming sort of beginning I gave him. It was so interesting to explore his deterioration as he became more and more obsessed with his vision and his beloved pet. While I don't blame him directly for Venn and Helena's demise, I'm sure the energy he emitted throughout the story was toxic, and it negatively impacted everyone.

You're right, we're talking about centuries later at this point. You have to wonder how many times Venn has sat in front of the mirror and dwelled on all of his past mistakes and the life he could have had with Helena. I kind of want to cry now because you're basically saying that I did exactly what I meant to do with my characterization and that's so wonderful because these two are so convoluted! Haha. I do think it's funny that you eventually sided against Helena, because in the beginning a lot of people (maybe you included, but I don't remember) were adamantly against Venn, because he was just kind of spoiled and immature and canon isn't exactly on his side. I think it's hard to choose; I feel sadness and anger for both of them.

Yeah, I definitely wanted to end on a hopeful note, because this story made me so emotional. I do think it's possible for Helena to forgive and for Venn to win his lady's heart again, but as you said, there's a lot of baggage from the past standing in the way. I figure you can write your own ending now.

Thanks so much for your fabulous review!

-Amanda


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Review #32, by charlottetrips Vanity

31st July 2013:
Geez Venn is not likable to me. He's pompous, self-centered and insecure and altogether too concerned with appearances and himself and getting the most/best he can out of anything.

This was an interesting exploration of the dynamic between Venn and his mother. He seems like a mama's boy to me.

Author's Response: Hey Char, thanks for the review :)

Ouch! -massages Venn's feelings- Just kidding, he's meant to be perceived as a bit of a jerk. It would have been really OOC, I think, to make him into some charming suitor right from the get-go when we know what eventually happens between him and Helena. Hopefully your feelings about him will become a little murkier as you get to know him better.

Well, on the one hand, he does rely a lot on his mother because his father isn't around. I think you're definitely right about him being too old to be so attached to her at this point, though, and eventually he'll start to figure that out. Hopefully you end up liking Edeline; I think she's one of few reasons why people even give Venn the time of day in these early chapters.

Thanks again for your lovely review! I'm so glad you're continuing to read this post-Cup and I really do hope you enjoy the story!

-Amanda


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Review #33, by CambAngst Pieces of a Dream

19th July 2013:
It's really all starting to come unraveled now, isn't it?

You did a great job weaving some major cracks into Venn and Helena's relationship in this chapter, as well as their relationships with their families.

I feel sort of badly for poor Witter. He's trying to hold things together when it's pretty obvious that his family is coming apart around him. On one side, he has Helena sniping at her mother even though she seems to be seriously ill. On the other, you have Rowena who seems to be almost irrationally possessive of her diadem even as her health fails and her only daughter drifts further and further away. It's a sad end to a noble house.

For Venn's part, he seems very upset about the fact that his mother has designs on another man. It makes sense. It's the sort of thing that would disrupt his comfort zone at a minimum and perhaps even pose a threat to his inheritance of his father's barony. Then you have Salazar making a huge show of "giving" him the locket and then demanding its return in the next whispered breath. It's enough to make a young man feel very uncertain of his place in the world.

And lastly there's the re-opened schism between the young couple. The harsh, almost bitter edge that you brought to the disdain Venn feels toward the muggles really helped to drive the last nail in the coffin of poor Helena's girlish fantasies. When he dismisses all of her thoughts and gets selfish and possessive about everything that he brings to their marriage, it was as though you could feel her crumbling on the inside.

The brief aside with Godric and Salazar gave us a good idea of the backdrop against which Venn and Helena's personal drama is playing out. There's plainly a much larger divide in the magical world between those who think as Salazar does and those who see a role for muggles and muggle-borns. Now Helena and Venn find themselves approaching their wedding from opposing sides of it.

I'm very curious now as to what Helena has in mind for her wedding. With the changes she's ordered to her dress, I get the feeling that she's planning a major show of rebellion. Good on her!

Wow. I'm getting really close to the end here. Another great chapter, Amanda!

Author's Response: Hey, you! Nice to hear from you again!

Ugh, I really don't envy Witter. He's dealing with a couple of real drama queens here--a drama queen and a drama princess, perhaps?--never mind. Anyway, yeah, he's in a tough position. I think of him as being of the same mind as Edeline--let's just get the wedding over with, let the two lovebirds get on with their adult lives, and settle into retirement.

I think it's difficult for Venn not having his father around, because now he has to rely on Salazar as he tries to figure out what kind of man he needs to be, and that's obviously not the best choice of role models. You're right, Nentres could definitely be a threat to his possession of his father's barony. At least you understand why he's feeling a bit on edge!

Poor Helena's dreams are falling apart, which is precisely where this chapter title came from. The pieces were put together painstakingly to create this beautiful party, and now they're being torn to shreds. You're right that her changes to the dress represent a mental shift for her, and you'll have to see what happens with the engagement next.

Someone had rightly commented that Godric wasn't making a strong enough showing in the story so far, so I decided to give him a bigger role here. It feels right that he would be the one to really put his foot down about Salazar's behavior. I also wanted to emphasize that, as you pointed out, the wedding may seem like the main event to Venn and Helena but there's really a much larger battle going on in the backdrop among the four Founders.

Thanks for your wonderful review, Dan!

-Amanda


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Review #34, by nott theodore Desire

17th July 2013:
Amanda! I can't believe this story is actually finished and I'm writing the final review on it! I'm sorry in advance if this review is long and rambling, but here's your hug to say thank you for writing it! *hugs*

First of all, I love the chapter title. Desire really reflects the whole situation that the two of them have been in throughout the story, and it also mirrors Erised which was the first chapter title. We've really come full circle with this story!

The quote that you chose at the beginning reflects the first chapter so well and I feel like it's kind of symbolic of the whole story, with the fact that they don't know what is "real or even possible". Then the contrast between such wise words and the stark reality of the first sentence of the chapter is extremely effective.

I'm amazed by how well you wrapped up all the loose ends in this story and answered all the questions I've had while reading it. One of them was how Helena was killed by Venn, because even though he was insensitive and cold at times, he did love her and I couldn't imagine him killing Helena deliberately. Knowing that it was an accident makes me both happier, since he didn't intend to kill her, and sadder, because Helena seems to believe he did it on purpose, and that misunderstanding will cause both of them centuries - an eternity, really - of pain. But the fact that Venn killed her in an attempt to protect her is so sad! I have to say that he did go about telling her the reason for his presence there in completely the wrong way, though. It makes me wonder if they'd ever actually have been able to have a successful relationship in different circumstances, or if the pair were always doomed...

Another question you answered was why the Bloody Baron never said anything about where the basilisk was during the second book. From the characters you've created, it's completely realistic and believable that Salazar would bargain with Venn, allowing him to remain with Helena as long as he doesn't reveal the whereabouts of his creature. I think that must have been so hard for Venn to keep to as he saw the attacks happening, but the chance of staying near Helena is clearly motivation enough for him. Salazar is so horrible though!

The description in this chapter, as ever, was beautiful - even if it was used to describe some terrible things at times. My favourite line would probably have to be "Her kirtle, stained with fresh blood, bore a remarkable resemblance to her funeral gown". In fact, the way you wrote the 'murder' was almost poetic, and it really added to the tragedy of the whole thing.

I loved the way that we got to see so many points in time in this chapter (well, three, but more than normal) but you wrote them so skilfully and seamlessly. The return to the present day helped to bring this story full circle, and I particularly loved your characterisation of both Venn and Helena in that section. Helena seems to have become much colder and less passionate than she is in life, and I can see how she earned the title of the Grey Lady. We see so little of both of their characters in the books, and you've brought them both to life as real people with a lot of depth. The only time we get to hear anything about what she thinks of the Baron, Helena seems to hate him, so this chapter seems completely consistent with what we know.

It was really such a beautiful ending to this story! The fact that Venn was still in front of the mirror, longing for the day he got to marry Helena was so poignant, as well. I kind of hope that in the future there might still be something for the two of them - after all, they have eternity left.

Congratulations on finishing this story, Amanda! And this was such a great ending as well - thank you for writing this and giving me the chance to read and enjoy this story!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hi Sian! It's taken me a few days to figure out how to respond to your amazing review, but here goes my best attempt :) Oh, and -hug-

The chapter title and quote were definitely chosen to (excuse the pun) mirror what happened in the first chapter, so I'm glad that seemed effective to you, as well as the first line, which was meant to be sort of stark.

I think I sort of always knew that Helena's death would be a mistake in my version of the story. Venn has obviously made a lot of selfish decisions and he just can't redeem himself now, no matter how much he's learned from his mistakes. Helena seems to have already made up her mind about Venn and is either too hurt or too prideful to reconsider him. I think both of them make good points and both of them also do things that they'll regret. It's hard to think about coming down on a side here!

I think it was you who first made the comment about wanting to know why Venn never told anyone about the Chamber, and so I made it a mission to find an answer for that and incorporate it into the story. I'm happy that you're pleased with the way I handled it! But yeah, Salazar really is quite horrible.

I'm glad you liked my handling of the two deaths. I definitely wanted to do it in a flashback to stay ToS-friendly, and I also thought that approach might contribute to Venn's overall portrayal as a man filled with regret. I was a teensy bit worried that I'd rushed it too much, but hopefully not :)

Your comments about bringing the Baron and Helena to life really touched my heart. I definitely tried to fill out their story and make them seem like real people who were more than just a passing reference to a tragic tale. It's also lovely to hear that the passage of time was well-executed, because that was something else that I was a little worried about.

I definitely wanted to end on a hopeful note. Maybe, with time, Venn and Helena can mend their relationship and really process everything that led to their downfall.

Thank you so much for this and all of your fantastic reviews! It's been so fun to dissect this story with you and get your feedback, and I hope to see your comments on another story soon!

-Amanda


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Review #35, by patronus_charm Desire

17th July 2013:
Amanda! Iím going to gush a little now and probably again at the end so hereís your warning! I cannot say how glad I am that I tagged this story in Ravenclaw review tag aeons ago! I had heard about this story quite a lot on the forum but never headed over but Iím so glad that I have as itís one of the best Founders stories I have ever written. Not only did tagging you introduce me to this brilliant story, but I began reading all of your other work as well and Iíve loved every piece! Woah that was long! Iím going to get to the actual review now! ♥

Ah the quote, I loved how it links back to the first chapter because itís as if weíve finally made our full circle with this story! Then the whole structure of this chapter was really amazing with it being post-death, pre-death and in Hogwarts present day. Gah it was just so wonderful.

The conversation between Venn and Salazar was really wonderful. It covered so many complexities of their lives such as love and the basilisk and we still got a resolution to them with us knowing what happened in CoS and then the final section. Iím so glad that it was an accident though! I could just tell that Venn still loved her and the way he killed was still out of his love for her. Then the horror of it being a mistake just gah really.

The ending scene really was beautiful with both of them by the mirror. They were fuelled by desire for a large portion of this story so it makes sense to finish it here. Itís so tragic that Venn still loves and probably always will. I can really see why this won the most romantic fic with the idea of his dream being their wedding. It was just so aw worthy.

Helena hating him still made sense as she is inanely stubborn person, though it touched me a little to see that she still called him Venn. She could have referred to him with a different name if she hated him so much, but just that little thing gave me a lot of hope for the two of them!

I really, really loved this story so much and if Iím sad about the end of it, you definitely deserve a hug because I dread to think of how youíre feeling! Another perfect story from you and I canít wait to see what you come up with next! ♥

-Kiana

Author's Response: KIANA :)

It's so great that this story (and some others of mine) has made such an impression on you! I've had a blast writing it, but it wouldn't have been the same without loyal readers like you to keep me inspired (and on my toes).

I thought the quote would be appropriate in returning to the mirror and the present day. It's sort of a question of if Venn is truly deluded or if he's just full of hope at the end. That is, is the mirror a blessing or a curse?

I went into this knowing that I wanted to write a real love story between Venn and Helena, not just the one-sided version of events that Harry gets from the Grey Lady in DH. Venn as I wrote him wouldn't really be capable of cold-blooded murder, and I think I sort of always knew that Helena's tragic death would be an accident. Helena, of course, wouldn't be able to see it that way, which I obviously understand. It's a bad situation for anyone.

Thanks for the hug--it still hurts, in the best possible way, to have finished this at last. I really appreciate this and all of your wonderfully kind reviews. They always make me think and remind me why I write at times :)

-Amanda


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Review #36, by ValWitch21 Desire

17th July 2013:
I am almost in tears now (and I'm moving to Rachel's Bad Blood afterwards, oh dear), though I'm not sure who I feel saddest for.

This is giving me so many feels and I hate not being able to stay coherent!

The retelling of both their deaths physically hurt me, as did Helena's harshness towards Venn (though he deserves it, in my opinion). And Venn who still thinks Helena might forgive him and who still hopes to see them married... All I want to do now is go and write a fanfiction of your fanfiction where Venn and Helena are united properly and she forgives him and all that unprobable soppy nonsense.

Salazar is a monster, exchanging Venn's presence close to Helena against his silence about thd basilisk. Now I also want to see a story retelling CoS from Venn's point of view.

Gah, I don't think I'd properly realised how in love I am with this story before it was over. Something is going to be missing for a while, but hey, I still have Post Scriptum to catch up on!

Congratulations Amanda ♥

Author's Response: So I really just feel so awful for Venn. I really wanted to believe in love and let them make up, and I had to entertain the possibility that one day Helena would forgive him and they could live a peaceful afterlife together forever without any more drama to break up their happiness. I don't know how realistic that is--I mean, I obviously understand being angry at the person who killed you, whatever the reason--but I hope it's an intriguing thought :)

You know what? Write that fanfiction. Haha. Someone needs to be comfortable deviating from canon and giving us ALL THE FLUFF. I would love to do an "alternate ending" but I just don't know if I or the readers would buy it.

Yeah, I was hoping that Salazar's final appearance would really cement him in there as the true villain of the story, despite all the stupid and selfish things other characters did. Someone asked me why I thought the Baron didn't tell anyone about the Chamber and this is the reasoning I came up with. I do think it's kind of a cool way of re-framing that plot line.

I've got a big hole in my heart that hasn't properly healed yet--but it's only been a few days, and never fear, I have other stuff in the works for the fall!

Thanks, Val, so much, for all of the wonderful reviews and just being willing to be patient with new chapters and offer up your thoughts and really engage me in discussion about my work. Your reviews are so satisfying and you are one of several readers who really kept me going when I hit blocks and struggled. I can't really express how much your comments and your support mean to me. Thank you :)

-Amanda


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Review #37, by ValWitch21 Rowena's Last Hope

17th July 2013:
This review is going to be shorter than I'd want it to be because I'm also here for the HC.

I think it's the first time we properly see things through Witter's eyes. I've rambled about him before, but those first few paragraphs really set him down as my favourite character of all in this story. Of course I would get even more attached now that this is all over.

Annndd you did it again! I massively disliked Rowena up to here, but now you suddenly made me change my mind about her, and I'm getting even more feels. Pah.

Venn, you deluded human being. Stay where you are!

I am now screaming at the screen for Helena to run away, but it's too late. - sobs -

Moving to the last chapter now!

Author's Response: Hey Val, nice to see you again!

Aww, I'm so happy you felt like Witter was your favorite character in the story! I think he's great but it's easy for him to get lost in the shuffle with all the drama going on between Helena, Venn, Rowena and Salazar. He definitely worked hard to try to keep Helena and Rowena together throughout the story and I felt bad to not be able to give him his happy family back when it was all over.

Yeah, I feel bad for Rowena because this is the first moment where she really realized what was important, sadly in her final hours. At least I effectively villain-ized her up until this point, that's good to hear :)

Gah. Squishes for my lovebirds. Sadness.

Thanks for your lovely review!

-Amanda


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Review #38, by charlottetrips Of Wit and Learning

16th July 2013:
I have to say a couple of things:

So far I've been impressed with your keeping to the more formal language that ruled the day. No "Wassup?" and "nah, it's cool" filtering into this story! I don't know if you mean to keep it so formal between family members though. Rowena and Helena actually seem closer in this story as opposed to others where I've seen Helena being a brat to her mum.

I smiled when you wrote about the secondary reason Helena looked forward to her Thursday visits to the village ;) Haven't we all been there at one point or another.

And the other thing I wanted to mention, before I forget and completely tangent off, is the tradition that JKR had of making people's names be something significant. This is really only something I've been able to appreciate now that the books are done and we've dissected them to no end. How do you come up with these names? It's really interesting to me.

Looking forward to the rest!

Author's Response: Hah, yeah, no YOLOs here. I'll be honest, I haven't looked at this chapter in a long time, but the language probably does sound a bit formal. I do think you'll see it deconstructed a tiny bit in the more emotional mother-daughter moments to come. I'll glance back at it now that the story is going to be completed and see if I find places that need more editing.

Honestly, I just look for lists of English male/female names from medieval times (closest I can do, really) and try to choose names that reflect something significant about the character. Venn, for example, is a variant of Fenn, which is where Salazar was from. I don't really search thoroughly enough to make sure the names really encapsulate the characters or reflect their most prominent traits, but I don't pick them willy-nilly, either. I'm glad you can appreciate those details!

Thanks for your lovely review!

-Amanda


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Review #39, by charlottetrips A Birthday Feast

15th July 2013:
Sooo I saw you finished this so decided to come back and read it all! I am not find of WIPs (maybe because I have so many myself...) so tend to stay away from them. I think I've mentioned this before but Founders Era fic isn't something I often read.

This was a good intro chapter to the characters. All three nobles feel distinctly Slytherin-like to me with their natural arrogance and idle wonderings of the less privileged. Salazar also shows the characteristic manipulative attitude. I guess it just goes with the name, eh?

Author's Response: Aww, Char, I'm so glad you decided to stop by! It means a lot to me :)

I'm happy to hear that the Selwyns and Salazar all seem Slytherin-y enough. I tried to get across that trademark arrogance and Venn's slippery attempts to get to his prize.

Thanks for your kind review!

-Amanda


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Review #40, by Beeezie Second-Best

15th July 2013:
Yeah, I thought that might be the case.

Venn came off as quite stiff and even a bit removed in the last chapter, but I did wonder whether that was actually what was going on inside his head. I suspected that it wasn't, but that he can be very difficult to read at times (and probably makes himself that way, judging from his interactions with his mother and his uncle). I loved that in this chapter, when he heard that Cepheus was marrying, his immediate thought was, "Oh god, it's Helena, isn't it?" (Horribly paraphrased.) That's totally the paranoid thing someone falling for a person but trying hard not to would think, and I loved it.

I also liked their second encounter, and I'm interested to keep reading. This event has been great if for no other reason than to get me into this story!

Author's Response: Yeah, Venn isn't really comfortable letting his feelings show, because he doesn't quite have them all the way figured out for himself yet. I love that you're already getting a paranoid vibe for him--that will only be amplified later on.

Thanks for your lovely review :)

-Amanda


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Review #41, by Beeezie Reflection

15th July 2013:
There was so much I loved about this chapter.

At this point, you probably know me well enough to know that I can be a bit obsessed with intricate backstories and histories, so the beginning of this chapter made me really, really happy. The mention of Gryffindor's son being killed by Norman armies was really exciting for me, because it's real history integrated into the wizarding world in a way that makes total sense and then commence flailing.

And I loved the way you briefly touched on Hogwarts when it was first founded. The growing pains you describe were really interesting - I'm not totally sure, but it seemed like the implication was that at this point there weren't even Houses? (I could be misreading that.) Either way, it was lovely, and I liked the fact that you acknowledged that yes, they were at Hogwarts at the same time - I'd have wondered, otherwise.

I also loved Helena's reaction to Venn - it felt very realistic. She's clearly well on her way to infatuation, and I liked the mention about halfway through of her playing along despite not like his arrogant tone. That felt significant to me on a couple levels, and I'm curious to see how her feelings evolve. (And what he made of the dinner!)

HOUSE CUP 2013 - RAVENCLAW

Author's Response: Hey, you liked my details! That's lovely :) Just think, Gryffindor's son could have made a more appropriate mate for Helena--if only, if only.

Ugh, when I put it like that, it's like I don't ship Venn/Helena. But I do, I so do. Even knowing their ending, they still break me up.

Anyway.

Yeah, I guess there weren't formal Houses yet in my version. I think for some students, like Venn and Helena, it was sort of obvious which Founder each of them took after the most. Maybe that wasn't the case for all of them.

It's great that you're having fun watching Helena react to Venn as he reacts to her, too :)

Thanks for your sweet review!

-Amanda


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Review #42, by Beeezie Vanity

15th July 2013:
Oh god, I loved this.

You did such a great job with Venn's skepticism at first, and I think his personality and attitudes concerning romance became very, very clear in this chapter. Between his descriptions of the various girls he'd been briefly entertained by in the past and his sentiment that Helena doesn't need to be kind, just glorious, I can see how he would be the sort of person to latch on and just not let go. From this point, I wouldn't necessarily guess the ending of their story if I didn't know it, but I will predict that his views on relationships will be pretty unhealthy, and that he'll probably fluctuate between idolizing her and resenting her (or some other negative emotion).

Or maybe I'm just way off base.

Either way, I loved the chapter, especially his reaction when he first sees Helena. Despite everything, I thought it was pretty sweet.

Great job!

HOUSE CUP 2013 - RAVENCLAW

Author's Response: Venn, I think, is really in love with an idea. He and Helena sort of have that in common, I guess. Helena reminds me a little of Sansa Stark in that she's attached to this idealized world of knights and charming princes and pretty clothes. Venn views marriage as a stepping stone to what he really wants: his father's title and all that he stands to inherit. It's cool to hear that you wouldn't necessarily predict an unhappy ending for them yet but could see foreshadowing of some pretty unhealthy attitudes, at least on Venn's part.

Thanks for your very sweet review!

-Amanda


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Review #43, by Beeezie Of Wit and Learning

15th July 2013:
Again, this was absolutely amazing. You continue to capture the time period, and I really enjoyed your characterization of Helena. She clearly has her priorities and is very single-minded, but she didn't come off as an overt rebel, which would have been a harder sell for the era, IMO. She's done very well.

My only real issue was that you occasionally talked about her body parts as if they were independent actors, which felt a bit strange. For example, at the beginning, when she was searching through the books, you wrote "the hand that wasn't assisting her in the search" - it almost came off as if her hand was not attached to her body. I noticed a couple other instances of this in other chapters, too, so I thought I'd mention it. Otherwise, your prose is lovely, as is the story thus far.

HOUSE CUP 2013 - RAVENCLAW

Author's Response: I agree that it would have been weird to depict Helena as this totally headstrong young woman with zero concern for societal expectations. She's a noblewoman and her family is famous and I think she understands all that comes with that, even if she doesn't like it most of the time. However, I definitely couldn't imagine her just taking all of it, either, so I tried to strike some kind of realistic balance between the two extremes.

Yeah, I can see how that would sound a little weird. I haven't looked at this chapter in a long time, but I'll have to go back and make some edits here and there now that the story is finally going to be completed.

Thanks for your lovely review!

-Amanda


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Review #44, by Beeezie A Birthday Feast

15th July 2013:
Huh.

This was really, really interesting! I'm not sure if it was just so long ago that I read the first chapter of this story that I don't remember, or if you didn't mention Venn's specific background before this point. (Maybe both?) I was a bit surprised when Salazar showed up, but then I realized that I was being ridiculous - of course Salazar and the Bloody Baron (which I'm assuming Venn is) were contemporaries, because they both clearly interacted with Helena.

Anyway.

I really, really liked this. I felt like you really captured the era - this definitely felt old-fashioned. It wasn't just the way they spoke to each other - though there was that, too - it was also his family's focus on finding him a bride. I'm also intrigued by the idea that he doesn't want one, though I think it fits with the baron's personality as we know it. He was obsessed with Helena. Maybe that's why.

I did think that the 25 years old to inherit thing was a bit odd, but after reading your author's note, I can see why you chose to do it, and I can suspend my disbelief in any case.

HOUSE CUP 2013 - RAVENCLAW

Author's Response: Branwen :) I'm legitimately thrilled you're reading this again. Hope you are enjoying it!

The first chapter was more like a prologue, and it was set very far in the future, so you didn't really miss anything here. It's great that you felt like Salazar fit in okay as Venn's uncle.

Venn will go through a lot of personality shifts as the story goes on. He doesn't fully understand his own feelings about Helena and marriage and his future, and as you can imagine, he doesn't cope well with pressure. I chose to make the pair of them a bit older than average to avoid the super-young couple and arranged marriage cliche as much as possible. Don't worry, the age doesn't necessarily reflect the maturity for either of them.

Thanks for your awesome review :)

-Amanda


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Review #45, by AlexFan A Birthday Feast

15th July 2013:
I started reading this a while ago but I never got to finishing it so I'm re-reading it again. I usually don't read stories like these because I end up getting bored but yours is very interesting. There was great flow and plenty of description which I like.

I always pictured Rowena as the type of mother who would be proud that her daughter paid so much attention to her studies. Of course, considering the time period it makes sense that she would want her daughter to get married.

From what little was described of Helena, I could picture her as the Grey Lady in Deathly Hallows when she spoke to Harry. Maybe I'm overthinking this and looking into it too much.

But anyway, I really enjoyed reading your chapter and I love your writing style.

Author's Response: Hey, thanks for stopping by! I'm happy you decided to give this story a chance even though it's not your usual cup of tea.

It's kind of funny that you commented on the Ravenclaws in the chapter before they're properly introduced. Maybe you meant to review the next one? Oh, well :)

Yeah, Rowena and Helena have a tough dynamic. Rowena wants her daughter to fulfill all of her expectations, both societal and academic, and Helena wants to extend her single, free life as long as she can, at least until she meets the groom of her dreams. It's a big clash of the practical and idealistic.

Thanks for your kind review!

-Amanda


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Review #46, by WeasleyTwins Midsummer

14th July 2013:
Amanda! ♥

Okay, so I'm trying to figure out this illusion you've very subtly put into play. Nentres was king of Garlot and although he first opposed Arthur's right to the throne and took up arms against him, he was eventually made a knight of the Round Table after Arthur's man, Sir Gawain, rescued his wife, Elaine, from the Saxons. Or so the story goes, anyway (thanks to Google because I had no idea - learn something new every day!). Are you intertwining the Peverells and the legends of Arthur? I really have no idea. Even for an English major, I'm rubbish at figuring little illusions and riddle-type things out and resort to making wild accusations! :P But, do tell me!

As I'm sure many of your reviewers have told you, the differences in personality here between the two lovebirds are extraordinary. Helena's wonderful and Venn, well, I still don't know about him. Their difference of opinion, though unspoken as of now, about Muggles is fascinating and I like that you've incorporated that. I've always assume (blasted headcanon) that Hufflepuff was the one who advocated for Muggles and never even considered that the Ravenclaws were so kind.

Your inclusion of the festival is genius. It helps to reveal personality and inner thoughts and also serves as a driving force for the plot. It's a fabulous chapter, of course. No CC from me today! I've felt DREADFUL for a week since they removed my wisdom teeth, but let me tell you, this is a great way for me to relax. Your style and stories really are always so relaxing and enjoyable. A true author, you are.

Shelby ♥

Author's Response: Hey, Shelby!

Hah, you thought further into Nentres than I did! I honestly just chose names that seemed appropriate for the time and had a meaning that made sense for the character, and that's the story for Nentres as well. Let's just say that Nentres isn't about to do anything that will make Venn into a big fan of him.

Well, Helga and Rowena are best friends, so to me they'd have some ideological similarities as well. I guess the main difference is that Hufflepuff is more inclusive; Ravenclaw is still stingy about whether you're bright enough to fit in, but blood status isn't a major concern. As you pointed out, it's a different story for Venn, and you can guess that Helena won't be particularly impressed by his attitude.

I happened to run across this festival in the research process and thought it would be cool to include the notion of religion. I'm glad it worked as a vehicle for further unveiling the ideological differences between Venn and Helena. I'm so sorry you had a rough recovery (mine wasn't awesome when I had my wisdom teeth out, either) but I'm glad you were able to relax and enjoy this chapter!

Thanks for another fantastic review :)

-Amanda


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Review #47, by CambAngst Devil in the Details

8th July 2013:
Tagging you from Review Tag!

So I have the oddest combination of feelings about the start of this. I know that it probably was a common practice for a wealthy, noble father to offer his son or daughter some number of servants to take along as they prepared to start a new life with their spouse. It was actually a very sweet gesture on his part, considering the fact that his wife is dead set on never seeing the wedding take place. Plugging the concept into the HP universe feels so bizarre, though. It's inconsistent with the values that three of the four founders of Hogwarts were commonly associated with. To me, it was a great reminder of how long ago this story was actually set. It's easy, sometimes, to slip a bit and forget that you're reading something from the distant past. The cognitive dissonance of seeing the Ravenclaw servants treated like chattel snapped me right back into the zone of the story.

Like any wealthy young woman, she had need for servants to freshen up dresses that had been crammed into her wardrobe, style her hair, and sneak her bits of fruit and cheese well past dinnertime. -- I have the strangest desire to shout, "Dobby has no master! Dobby is a free elf!"

So, I see the Edeline not only has no intention of helping Rowena to bring an end to Venn and Helena's engagement, she's now doing everything in her power to see that the wedding happens. It's an odd feeling, because I want to like what she's doing for Helena, but I feel like her reasons are somewhat selfish. There's also the fact that she's probably also playing right into Salazar's hand...

I like how you paced the conversation between Edeline and Helena. It was a very gradual progression from Helena feeling grateful and comforted by Edeline's warmth and willingness to help to her feeling smothered and trapped by the Edeline's rigid formality and patriarchal approach to both the wedding and married life. I especially liked this line: Edeline acted as if planning the wedding was a chore, when in reality Helena had dreamed of the day for years and years. The poor dear clearly has a lot of disappointment in her near future.

Venn's gift was really very thoughtful. He actually isn't as coarse or thoughtless as he comes across sometimes. I really like the subtlety and depth that moments like this bring to his character. He can be thick, but you just can't completely dislike the guy no matter how hard you try.

And then, he goes all Ralph Cramden/Captain Caveman on her. It was quite an emotional drop after seeing him be so thoughtful just a few short paragraphs earlier. The guy is a study in contrasts. You do a terrific job of keeping him balanced: likable enough to root for him to do better but frustrating enough to want to smack some sense into him. I guess you can't be upset with a character that you don't feel anything for.

Another really great chapter! The writing was beautiful, with not a thing out of place.

Author's Response: Hey, nice to see you again!

Yeah, it's interesting how the ownership of others isn't just restricted to the villains even in the canon series. I mean, Hogwarts has a whole troop of house elves. I think the distinction comes in the treatment of those individuals, and I tried to make it clear that the Ravenclaws' servants didn't personally dislike their masters/mistresses, even if they weren't thrilled about their station in life.

Hah, yeah, I bet Dobby wouldn't be stoked about helping Helena pick out her wardrobe in the morning and styling her hair for the day.

Part of me can't blame Edeline; she sees that her son has finally taken an interest in a woman and doesn't want to let a good opportunity slip through her fingers. Naturally, the other part of me thinks that if those two kids want to do things a little differently for the actual wedding, go for it, because at least they're getting hitched like she wanted. Poor Helena is whittling down the list of people whom she feels like she can actually trust.

Venn is entertaining and also really difficult to write. I actually feel a lot for him and Helena both and want to chide them for their errors even though I'm the one writing those errors. Hopefully by the end you don't feel okay totally washing your hands of either of them.

Thanks for this wonderful review :)

-Amanda


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Review #48, by WeasleyTwins Second-Best

7th July 2013:
Hello Amanda! I'm back again - I'm sorry it has taken me so long to keep reading! I finally added this to my favorites (how did I not add it before now?!).

You know, I really don't know what to tell you anymore, my dear, I really don't. I've run out of words of praise and there isn't anything for me to CC. Your writing, as always, is phenomenal. You've researched so very well and I see nothing that is grossly historically inaccurate. Characterization is excellent - from how you've set up the characters and their characterizations, everything flows really well and seems to remain true to what you've written thus far.

I think what I love most about reading this is the plot. I love anything set in the medieval era - it's one of my favorite eras if written properly and you sure do know how to write historically-centered fictions. The plot, the characters, the dialogue, it's all so wonderful. The glimpse you give us of the Four Founders is perfect. Your story isn't focused on the four, but you've given us enough of a look and made them minor characters/events so that it concretes what little we know about the era from the books.

If you remember, I didn't know if I was fond of Venn or not. I'm still unsure about him, but he's warming up to me. There's something about the way he pines for Helena that is intriguing, cute, and oddly disturbing at the same time. That may not be what you wanted to get across, but it's the vibe I'm getting - and that's what makes you a great storyteller! Your readers and reviewers get different impressions from the story and its characters because your style and the story itself is so well-written.

I hope you know that I just love you as a writer and this story! I can't get enough. If I didn't have to work or write myself, I'd just read and write reviews for you all night long!

Shelby ♥

Author's Response: Ahh! I'm so flattered that you added this story to your favorites! I've been kind of stunned by how good of a reception it's gotten--when I first thought about it, I almost didn't even go with it because I thought no one would want to read it. But it's been a real treat to write.

I always try to do my best with everything I do, and so my mindset was that if I was going to try to be historically accurate and work hard on characterization and such, I needed to make sure it stayed consistent throughout the story. That means, obviously, that my updates don't come as quickly as for others. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be too much of a deterrent for lovely readers like you :)

This story is so, so different from anything else I've ever written and it's just so fun. I kind of like keeping the Founders in the background and watching their interactions play out in the macrocasm while Venn and Helena have their little journey going on.

I hope that people's feelings about Venn are generally divided throughout this story. The poor guy didn't get a good rap from the beginning, so I tried to make him pitiable without excusing any of his obvious faults. At the same time, a major goal was to create some conflict for Helena, too, so that her role in the story wasn't purely that of a victim. I'm pretty happy with how they've turned out and feel quite sad to be writing the last chapter now. It'll be interesting to get your take as you continue and eventually finish this story.

Haha, it would be wonderful to just be able to sit back and review all the time, wouldn't it? I've found more time lately to do so and it's been such a nice return to my early HPFF days. Writing and reviewing are such wonderful escapes from everyday stressors.

Thank you for this truly wonderful review!

-Amanda


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Review #49, by nott theodore Rowena's Last Hope

3rd July 2013:
Hi Amanda!

It makes me so sad to think that this story is coming to an end and I can almost see the tragedy approaching already. I've been enjoying this so much and I don't want it to end at all, let alone the way that I know it will!

I think that this chapter being short worked well, because it conveyed the sense of urgency in finding Helena really effectively, as well as Helena's constant travelling to try and escape.

The imagery you used was really lovely, even if it was showing how much poor Rowena's condition had deteriorated and how close she is to death. It makes sense to me that it would only be at this point, when she is so close to dying without seeing her beloved daughter a final time, that she would accept Venn as Helena's fiance and choice. To her it must seem like sending Venn to find his love is the best decision she could make, but of course with the rift that there's been between Helena and her mother, Rowena couldn't be expected to know that the prospect of marriage to him was part of, if not the main, reason that she fled. It makes me wonder whether Helena might have lived if Venn had not been sent to find her, which is actually really sad to think about!

One element I loved here was the chance to get more of an insight into why Helena made the decision to run away from home. She seems much more like a woman who would be at home in today's society, rather than when she lived, and the idea of losing who she is must be horrible, so I can understand why she made that choice.

Another aspect which was really great was the fact that Helena wasn't miraculously coping easily with the travelling. She's lived such a sheltered life and even though she is magic, she doesn't know how to provide for herself or cope well with hardships like hunger and not being able to wash properly. It reminded me of what Ron was like during the Deathly Hallows, and I think it's very believable and realistic.

Once again, I'm both looking forward to the next chapter and almost dreading at the same time, but I really enjoyed this chapter, as I always do!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hey Sian :)

It's great that the length of this chapter worked okay. I wanted it to be a little longer to fit better with most of my other chapters, but I also had a specific structure and purpose for it and I didn't have a lot of fluff to throw in.

Ugh, that is sad to think about, isn't it? I even have a hard time picturing how things might have gone had Helena just missed the wedding and then tried to return to her life. Naturally, she has no idea how much her absence has caused her mother to suffer, which adds another dimension of sadness.

I think Helena is just terrified at the thought of living her life and then looking back and realizing that she's not happy with the end product. She's young and there's so much she wants to do and see and she views marriage as forcing her to put an end to those dreams. Of course, there are other adventures to be had down that path, like raising children, but she views that sort of life as being inferior to what she has planned and what her abilities are. Venn certainly isn't the ideal man of her dreams, but he's been more generous with her than most of her other suitors, and yet it doesn't seem like she would ever be satisfied. Anyway, enough philosophizing... the last chapter will hopefully show you my final take on the whole situation with Venn and Helena.

I'm so glad you picked up on Helena's inadequacy in terms of being out on her own. She didn't even pack food for the road, you know? She was more preoccupied with her expensive, heavy wardrobe than anything else. I feel bad for her because she's desperate and I understand feeling trapped in a bad situation, and yet part of me wants to shake her and just tell her to grow up already.

Thanks for your wonderful review :)

-Amanda


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Review #50, by patronus_charm Rowena's Last Hope

29th June 2013:
Hi Amanda!

Even though this chapter was shorter than usual I think it was more fitting, and it meant a quicker update so no complaints from me on that front. It sort of reflected how Helenaís time is coming to an end and it made me have lots of feels. I was on tenterhooks throughout this chapter so I dread what Iím going to be like in the next!

I thought Rowenaís characterisation in this chapter is the best that Iíve seen her at throughout the whole novel. You caught her pain and fear so well I almost wanted started to cry due to the state she was in. It really is tragic to see that the great founder of Hogwarts has now become this.

This chapter had so many moments when I wanted to shout at all of them and tell them to stop what they were doing thought it was primarily focused towards Rowena speaking to Venn. Itís strange how when she finally accepts him as her daughterís fiancť it results in her daughter dying. I thought that entire scene between them was written really well.

I liked getting more of an insight into Helenaís reasoning for running away, because though there were signs it was still really sudden so it was nice to see that. I liked how you kept up that Helena is an independent woman and thatís why sheís doing it.

I canít really write anything coherent at the moment as Iím just so sdjbeig (that really is how Iím feeling!) over Rowena making Venn go and save Rowena when he ends up killing her and then ending with the rustling, so Iím going to cut this review short. That has so many possibilities and Iím holding on with my little finger so Iím hoping the next chapter is up soon! Youíre even making me worried about what happens to Eostre!

I really did love this chapter though ♥

-Kiana

Author's Response: Hello, thanks for christening my new chapter!

Yup, we are coming to the end of the story! The final chapter is going to be a little different, so I hope you like it and are satisfied with my choices in terms of how things wind up there.

WOW, thank you!! :) I relied a lot on canon for this part, because we know that Rowena called the Baron in to help her find Helena because she believed that he wouldn't give up and would search endlessly for his true love. I also tried to play up the imagery to show just how much she's suffered and deteriorated as a result of her ongoing conflict with Helena. Even the physical symptoms of her illness resulted from running out in the rain to try to convince Edeline to cancel the wedding.

Yeah, it's sad to think that things might have been okay if not for the fatal exchange to come. On the one hand, the hopes of various characters in this chapter seem way too good to be true, and on the other I want to let them have those final moments because the truth turns out to be so much bleaker. I'm glad you felt like they had a good interaction because they obviously haven't been on good terms for most of the story up until this point.

I wanted to emphasize that Helena's decision to run away is childish, not because she isn't under incredible pressure and needed to escape somehow but because she didn't think through a better way to deal with her circumstances. Although it would be frowned upon for a girl to try to get out of her engagement in this time, she still could have gone to her mother and father or Helga and at least tried to talk to someone with more power than she has. She doesn't even know what she's going to do after skipping the wedding--go back home? Keep running? She's independent, but it's to a fault in my mind.

Keep holding on--the last chapter is coming soon :) Thanks again, Kiana!

-Amanda


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