Reading Reviews From Member: CambAngst
1,134 Reviews Found

Review #26, by CambAngstComplicated: In Which Cassie Misses The Train

15th September 2014:
Hi, Emma! I've been itching to get back to your story, and I finally have a bit of free time.

Once again, we see poor Olivia slogging her way through a sloppy pit of sticky, squishy awkward with her mother. At least her dad isn't there to make it worse. Her mother's vanity hasn't been a huge theme so far, but it came across strongly in this chapter. No wonder Olivia struggles with relating to others.

So Cassie's not on the train. Interesting development. I'm wondering whether she's just decided to be fashionably late (absent?) or whether there's something more going on. If I'm gauging the passage of time correctly, it's been around a week that she hasn't been on speaking terms with Olivia? Seems like a long time, even for her.

I love the one-sided conversation where Scorpius isn't really paying attention to Olivia. And I really loved what it took to get him to pay attention. Seems like Albus is a bit of a sore spot for him. Is there perhaps more to the animosity than just the obvious reason? But just a bit later, Scorpius actually expressed a bit of sympathy for Albus. He's a complicated character. I have to say that I felt really bad for him when the Zabini girl was mashing all over him. He was trying so hard to make a point and she was completely impervious to it.

I think maybe you should emphasize the fact that Olivia plays Quidditch a bit more. Honestly, sometimes I forget. I did like the conversation, though.

Aww, two out of three of the pictures from Christmas were actually rather sweet. And then there's the third. Probably best not to speak of that one. It's too bad that Olivia doesn't get on better with her cousin. It seems like the two of them could find a small oasis of sanity in their otherwise insane family.

Ha! Scorpius knows just which buttons to push to guilt trip Olivia into running with him. He really does have some insecurities, or at least he plays at it well. All in all, I think you've made him into a very likable, sympathetic character.

The letter to Cassie was really well done. Part snarky, part sweet and kind of vulnerable.

I can understand why you wouldn't have felt completely happy with this chapter. It's one of those chapters that you need in order to move the plot along, even though not a lot actually happens. I did think that you made some really good character development headway with Scorpius. Unfortunately, they can't all be crazy barn-burners. Looking forward to the next one!

Author's Response: Hiya! Thanks so much for the review. I just finished reading and reviewing your wonderful story so any positive feedback from you really means a lot :)

Pansy's vanity will definitely continue to be a theme so I'm glad you mentioned it. You're right, it does help to explain Olivia's difficulty relating to other people. Especially combined with her father's unfaithfulness.

Cassie's disappearance is definitely supposed to stand out as strange. Given that she's such good friends with Scor and Ollie it's out of character to be out of touch with them both for so long.

And Scorpius has a lot of animosity towards the Potters, regardless of whether or not it's justified. Ollie knows this, obviously, and so knows exactly how to use it against him. I'm glad you said he was a complicated character. He's one of the characters I feel I understand best, and he means a lot to me. Thank you thank you for saying he's likeable and sympathetic.

I'll bear that in mind about the Quidditch. I think it generally gets mentioned a bit most chapters but I could definitely add in a bit more (love writing Quidditch...).

Thanks so much for this review. Since writing this chapter I think I've started to feel a bit better about it, but it definitely feels more fillery than most of the others. All your comments have been really helpful and reassuring.

Emma xx

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Review #27, by CambAngstActions Speak Louder than Words: Bombs and Bonds: Scorpius and Rose POV

14th September 2014:
Hi Beth! So exciting to be back for your new chapter!

I think it was brilliant to continue the mother-daughter conversation between Hermione and Rose. There's so much common ground between their experiences and it's definitely helping both of them.

Before we get to that, though, there's the scene with the Aurors. You did a great job of creating powerful tension and making it all very gripping and personal from Scorpius's point of view. If I was him, I'd have to wonder at some level whether I'm getting too close to this case to really be completely effective. His struggles and lapses of concentration weren't a good sign. Then again, Harry's demeanor tells me that Scorpius isn't the only one who's struggling. Ditto for Ron. The whole department is under tremendous strain here and I have a feeling as though something has to give.

Small thing, but I liked the fact that they're bringing in the Department of Mysteries to try to determine how Stannous is doing what he's doing. I almost never see the DoM used in this way in stories and I think it's brilliant. The DoM is such an underutilized resource. Most writers act as though the entire department does nothing but research secret things and make discoveries that never see the light of day.

Albus's observation on Stannous was as unsettling as it is spot on. Whatever Stannous is playing at, it's obviously personal for him, too. He's possessive of Rose, in a way. I don't think he'd take a chance of anyone hurting Rose except him.

I thought your ideas on what post-war life was like for Hermione, Ron and Harry were amazing. I especially liked the reasoning behind them. Harry suffered from so much misinformation being used against him during his school years. I do think it would have been important to him to see the real truth take the place of all the made-up stories that the Prophet used to sell copy. But that clearly came at a cost. The parallels between Hermione's story and Rose's were subtle and brilliant.

Way to go, Scorpius! The way to Ron's heart is through his stomach. Unless you're Hermione, I guess. She doesn't seem to cook much. That's how you know it was meant to be. ;)

So back to my pet theory about who Stannous really is. So much of this story has been about parallels between Hermione's life and Rose's, and I'm getting more and more suspicious that the theme extends into the nature of Stannous's obsession. If the elder Lestranges failed to destroy Hermione, maybe the next generation is going after the next best thing? Trying to destroy the daughter as a way of extracting vengeance on the mother? Or maybe I'm still just reading too much in. Who knows? Beth does, that's who!

One typo I saw while reading:

We also know that he’s got several accomplices working with him, so he may choose to lay low and let his lackey’s do the dirty work. -- lackeys

Great chapter! Props to Kenpo for the suggestion, because I think it added a great deal. Til next time!

Author's Response: Hiya Dan!

I feel like I'm always apologizing to you for being so late with my responses. Eeep. Sorry - again...

I'm so, so happy with this chapter. It really did glue Part 1 and 2 of the story together.

I wanted the scene with the Aurors to give enough information to the reader without being explicit - *that* will come very soon, but not just yet. So, part of my reasoning for having Scorpius losing focus is so that the reader doesn't get too much info just yet. Also, I don't think Scorpius would ever admit that he is too close to the situation to back off from protecting Rose. She is his everything, and he is well... a bit stubborn. So glad you picked up on the Department of Mysteries, because it will be obvious later on why they were involved (insert evil laugh).

I really tried to think through about how the after effects of the war would weigh on the trio. We don't get to see any of that, but I did watch an interview with J.K. where she said that she wrote the epilogue for a few reasons (one was to have her version be out there). The other reason was to show that perhaps Harry's greatest triumph is that he came through it all and was living a normal life. She thought that someone who had been through all the trials he had done would find his greatest achievement in being a normal, everyday guy (I'm *totally* paraphrasing here, and misquotes are completely unintentional). Anyway, I felt like that path would never be paved smooth.

I don't know if you've found this with your writing, but I feel like I learn about the characters *as* I write them. Especially with this chapter, I felt like I got to know the trio and some of their post-war struggles. I even wrote some stuff about Ron and Hermione and the year after the war. Maybe I'll post that at some point, too.

Haha - I just can't get past the Ron and eating thing. It comes up a few more times, too. You're so right about Hermione! There is *no* way she's cooking for him anywhere close to the way his mum does - haha!

I like where you're going with the parallels. Maybe it's vengeance... maybe not...

Thanks for finding that! I'll fix it. Although I'm not allowed to fix anything right now... because I was nominated for a DOBBY (thank you so much - again ♥)


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Review #28, by CambAngstComplicated: In Which There Is An Attempted Kidnapping

12th September 2014:
Hi, Emma! I wanted to read one more chapter before time to get the kids settled in.

I'll start with the big picture observation this time: This chapter had some really good writing in it. I could feel the momentum building as you moved through it. By the end, I was really hanging on each sentence. I didn't know whether Albus would see Scorpius and Olivia hiding or whether this Clara girl was going to wander in and muck up everything. I definitely didn't expect Rose to come to Al's rescue, so to speak. And I really like the way that Olivia is gradually building this connection with Albus, sometimes without Albus even realizing it. I like what happened in this chapter as a complimentary plot development to Albus's "rescue" of Olivia in the last chapter.

I don’t know how either one of them ended up in Slytherin. They’re much too cuddly. -- A brilliant synopsis of Olivia's entire encounter with Joe and Oscar. I like the depth and diversity you're giving to your Slytherin characters in this story. Some of them -- Scorpius and Cassie and definitely Creepo Flint -- are very traditional Slytherin archetypes. Others, like our two goofball Chasers here, would go just fine in Hufflepuff. Cheers for not making the House of Snakes one-dimensional!

Ah, the Unbreakable Vow. I suppose that's a foolproof way to quit. If you relapse, it's curtains!

Scor looked at me, and then we both started laughing. Nobody says no to Cassie. She is masterful at getting what she wants. -- I don't know whether this was meant to be a really meaningful passage, but after the last chapter it really jumped out at me. There are a few one-word equivalents to "masterful at getting what she wants". Persuasive would be on the kind end of the spectrum, manipulative on the other. Where, exactly, is Cassie going to fall on the spectrum and how will that affect her relationship with Scorpius? That's what inquiring minds want to know. ;)

And then Albus comes along with his decidedly ex girlfriend. I really liked the way that you wrote their conversation from start to finish. An interesting contrast I noticed was how Laura attempts to manipulate Albus -- lying, equivocating, making excuses -- and he's having none of it. Compare that to how easily Olivia tends to be manipulated by Cassie. If any romantic spark develops between Albus and Olivia, I can see a lot of conflict brewing between Albus and Cassie. I'm not trying to guess the entire plot of your story after chapter 4... oh, heck, who am I kidding? Of course I'm trying to guess the whole plot of your story! My guess is that a spark of romance does develop between Olivia and Albus and Cassie doesn't like it at all, because she can't control Albus and she sees herself losing Olivia as a friend. My "dark horse" prediction is that Cassie leaks things about Albus and Olivia's relationship to the press, things that Olivia has told her in confidence, to try to break them up. You probably won't tell me whether I'm close or not, will you? :p

Let's see, what else? It was nice to see Al's family quickly rally around him. I'm not a fan of the version of Al that's very disconnected from his siblings and cousins.

Once again, superb writing! Great chapter!

Author's Response: I didn't expect you to be back so soon but this review definitely made me smile, so thank you thank you thank you.

I'm glad you saw this chapter as building on Olivia and Albus's relationship. That's what I wanted from it, but I'm not sure it's necessarily obvious given that they don't interact.

And I'm enjoying writing Slytherins so much! I figured there are lots of ways to have the characteristics Slytherin House values and still be friendly and loveable, and I hope my characters show the range of figures present in the House (although I'm not convinced that Joe Montague wouldn't have done a little better in Hufflepuff...).

Your observation about 'masterful at getting what she wants' placing Cassie ambiguously on the spectrum from 'persuasive' to 'manipulative' is an interesting one. I get the impression you might already have a pretty good idea where Cassie lies on that spectrum...

Albus is definitely one for straight talking. I thought Harry and Ginny would probably encourage honesty and straightforwardness in their children, especially Ginny. Plus you probably have to have that attitude when you're so in the spotlight.

Thank you so much for the wonderful review! You're also number 100 on this story so that means a lot :)

Emma xx

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Review #29, by CambAngstComplicated: In Which Albus Potter Has A Hero Complex

12th September 2014:
Hi, Emma! I'm here for the first installment of our September Review Exchange!

I've missed this story. One drawback to doing a lot of Review Tag and swaps and such is that you find stories you like and you say to yourself, "I want to come back and read more of that", and then for some reason it doesn't quite happen. Anyway, I was pleased to have been paired with you.

Olivia's parents are interesting pieces of work. They're so uncomfortable in their own skin. Even reading a scene with the two of them in it makes me feel uncomfortable, like I should leave the room or something. I can definitely see why Olivia has no desire to be around them, especially on New Years Eve.

Martin is officially very creepy. It started very near his first appearance in the chapter and only got worse as things went on. I imagine that he spends quite a lot of time in that nightclub, and a good chunk of that time doing to other girls exactly what he was trying to do to Olivia.

Which brings us to Albus. My goodness, he created a moment. Gryffindors are, of course, too heroic for their own good sometimes. They try too hard to fix the whole world, even when it doesn't want to be fixed, but I daresay Olivia will be very happy that he came along once she wakes up on New Years Day.

Cassie honestly annoyed the crap out of me in this chapter. I believe I remember you saying in a previous review response that she's difficult to get to know and not an especially likeable character at times. That came out in spades in this chapter. It was a bit shocking to see just how little she seemed to care for Olivia's safety and well-being. Maybe that's a theme you plan to build on some more as the story develops. Or maybe this was a one-time thing brought on by her being annoyed with...

Scorpius. I really liked Scorpius in this chapter. It's always hard to get a feel for characters in the first one or two chapters of a story, but here you started to round him out really well. From all appearances, he's a decent human being. He cares about his friends. And he wants to have what most would call a real relationship with Cassie, one where they openly and mutually love one another. I'm feeling like that's going to be a challenge to get to, owing to Cassie's aloofness and trouble dealing with her feelings.

Your writing was terrific in this! I didn't see any typos or grammatical errors and I thought it felt more polished than the first two. All in all, the story is progressing really well and it's starting to feel like you're more comfortable writing it. You seem to be in your element. Good job!

Author's Response: Hi! I just left you your review on your wonderful story too, so was happy to come back to see this :)

Thanks so much for all your feedback! That's such a good observation about Olivia's parents being uncomfortable in their own skin. I hadn't really thought about it like that but it's very accurate. Everything about them is supposed to be a little bit unsettling.

Your comments about Martin are spot on. He's pretty awful, but then sadly a lot of people in the real world are very similar to him. I think you're probably right that this is common behaviour for him.

Albus is so much fun to write, especially from a Slytherin's perspective because I can really criticise the Gryffindor traits, but yes, it's good he stepped in when he did.

I'm really interested by your thoughts on Cassie. I definitely agree that her behaviour's actually quite unacceptable, and I'l be interested to hear your thoughts on her in later chapters if you come back.

Scorpius is my absolute favourite to write at the moment, so I'm so happy that you're enjoying him. Of all my characters I feel like he's the one that comes most naturally.

Thank you for such a kind review! I'm really glad you enjoyed the chapter.

Emma xx

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Review #30, by CambAngstYear Five: Interrupted

7th September 2014:
Hi! First off, let me say that working for money is a horrible, debilitating thing. If you can possibly avoid growing up and living like an adult, I strongly suggest it.

"You really should tell them." Emily knew her eyebrows were arching at the middle beseechingly. -- Sometimes I think you should subtitle this story, "If they'd only listen to Emily..." In all seriousness, she's usually the one with the best perspective on matters. I don't think Tristan is anywhere near ready to deal with this situation yet, but she's definitely on the right track.

You know, for someone who prefers the muggle way and engages in so much self-loathing over his magical side, Tristan is actually a very powerful wizard. Not in the sense of excelling in his classes, although I'm sure that's only because of lack of effort, but when he wants to he seems capable of some really advanced things like this bubble he's summoned. I really wish I knew how to summon one of those when I was in college...

Oh, boy. So that's where Fred and George got the bottle of potion they gave Laurel. One thing I love about this story is how you can never take anything for granted, no matter how small. These little items and conversations and details weave in and out of the story and they always seem to come back at some really pivotal moment. You are an amazing storyteller!

Speaking of, the pictures! And here I thought those were only going to haunt Tristan directly. Seems as though the indirect damage will be problematic, as well.

Emily couldn’t tell if Tristan was pivoting away from a difficult subject out of cowardice, or toward a difficult subject out of courage. He evaded as he breathed. -- Easily the most meaningful line of the entire chapter, if not the story to date. A huge part of this story, at least for me, is being amazed at just how hard Laurel, Isobel and especially Emily work at being Tristan's friend. In one sense he makes it easy, but in another he makes it so very difficult. It's incredibly hard being friends with somebody you don't really know.

Oh, no. This makes, I think, the third time that Laurel has left Tristan in a very, very difficult and/or dangerous position. First she kept getting hexed with him, then she slept with him, now this. If Laurel survives, the poor guy deserves some sort of medal. Gah! And to top it all off, she ruins his perfect moment with Emily! OK, that wasn't even the topper. Then she nearly tells Isobel that he's some sort of junior Death Eater and to try to recover from that blunder, she makes up something about him snagging Emily. And the coup de grace is going to the bathroom to get hexed by herself. I think it's going to be a while before I can completely forgive her for this chapter's performance.

Wow. The harder Isobel tries to "fix" things, the worse she seems to make them. I hate how much worse it all makes Emily feel.

In less than a year, Laurel had become a mess, Isobel had become a skeleton, and Tristan had become a tosser. It seemed logical that Emily should be allowed to change roles as well. -- At least she hasn't lost perspective, though.

Aww, she wrote to Tonks for advice! And it seems that Tonks had some pretty good perspective to share with her. As much as I want Emily and Tristan to, I don't know, launch themselves at one another, it would be wise for Emily to take things slow. If Tristan gets involved before he's really ready, things will get messy.

I loved this chapter, but when haven't I? Good luck in the Story of the Month competition!

Author's Response: WHAT? SotM COMPETITION???

OH MY GOD! Just checked out the forum-- *cries* THANK YOU!

Everything you and Kevin wrote--I can't. AH! It was so perfect, and flattering, and amazing!

Ok, after calming down a little bit, the review:
THANK YOU, AH. (must calm down again). It's so heartening to me that you really seem to *get* this story. I knew, writing it, that it wouldn't be for everyone, but I suspected it would be for some people. It means so much to me all the care and insight you put into these reviews!

I love your comment about subtext! There is actually one moment of omniscient narrator in this chapter ("he should of chucked in the lake right then"--followed by an audible "DUN DUN DUN"), and I think it was the first in the story.

It was super important to me to kind of introduce all of this information without comment, and from the differing perspectives of the kids themselves. But I really hoped that readers would sort of interpret the stuff, and I definitely hoped people would come to certain conclusions themselves, so I'm SO GLAD that's working!

And yes! Tristan really is quite clever and talented, he just resents the magical world so much that he puts in minimal effort, if any.

Having a tightly plotted narrative was definitely the benefit of writing and editing it all before uploading--I have NO IDEA how you and other authors manage such careful stories while writing in a serialized way. That other authors can track all the subplots and details is amazing to me!

And yee, that line! I was really proud of it myself, and it might be my favorite too!

I definitely learned, when I was this age, that sometimes when friends are being the most difficult and unlikable, it's when they need you the most. Someone would start being just awful, but it didn't take too much thought to see that something was going on with them. I'm really glad for your comment about their "working" to be his friend.

Speaking of which--Laurel really does behave pretty badly. I feel like all of her own problems have taken up all her available emotional space, so she's has very little left to consider how her actions affect others :(

And yeah, Isobel is something of a meddler. But then again, the longer Emily would go on not knowing, the worse she would feel later. Knowing these kinds of secrets is terrible, because there is no right way to go about it.

And YES about things getting messy if they started a relationship! Plus, things can't get to good for either of them too soon, or the story would be rather dull. And I just couldn't help bringing Tonks back :) And she looks up to Tonks, so it seemed the best course of action.

Thank you SO MUCH for nominating this for Story of the Month! I can't even deal with the flattery!

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Review #31, by CambAngstYou Are Part of Everything : Dear Prudence

3rd September 2014:
Hi, there! I'm here for our review swap!

Ooh, you've made Sirius such a wicked heart-breaker! I like the characterization. Most authors make him so noble, even in his younger years. They want to see the same Sirius Black who tried to be a father figure to Harry. Instead, you experimented with a younger, more selfish and carefree Sirius and I like the results.

Poor Prudence was a perfect target for Sirius's game. She seems like the kind of girl who views the world from a distance. She undervalues herself because nobody really knows enough about her to properly value her. All she ever wanted was to be noticed and, for a time, Sirius gave her exactly that. He gave her his affection and attention, made her feel special. Because it all felt like it was just for her, she never noticed the way that he was deliberately concealing their relationship from his friends. It's all horribly sad, but you sold the character so well from the outset that it's completely believable.

Those quotes from the Beatles song that you were given to work with were tough. They definitely sounded a bit formal to be coming from Sirius Black. If I could offer one suggestion, it would be to spread them out a bit. Because you lumped them all in near the beginning, it felt a bit like you were just trying to get them out of the way.

Aside from that, your writing flowed really beautifully. I didn't see any typos or grammatical problems and there was maybe one bit of dialog that I thought sounded a bit awkward. The story had a nice pace to it and it was a very enjoyable read. Good luck in your challenges and great job!

Author's Response: Hiya! Thanks for doing the swap!

I know, Sirius was such a jerk! I was a little nervous about writing him that way, to be honest. That and, I absolutely love Sirius, so it was kind of hard to write him like this. I know what you mean, I'm guilty of writing Sirius that way as well. But I thought it would be fun to write him this way. I'm really glad it paid off! :)

I was *a lot* like Prudence when I was a teen. I was quiet, shy and kept to myself, for the most part. I know exactly how she felt, because I have felt that way in the past. I had a very similar experience to this when I was younger. Not quite this bad, but close. This is the first time I've written an OC, and I based her loosely off myself. It left me incredibly nervous and not too sure about this story because of that. So to hear that she was believable and that her character worked, is a major relief.

Yeah, I didn't realize how difficult the lyrics would be to work into a story when I chose them. I specifically asked for this song and as I sat down to try to write, I began to regret my decision. Just because a song might be your favorite, by that artist, doesn't always mean you should write a story using it. :-/ After reading it over again, I see what you mean. It is all just crammed in there. I'll have to go back and edit that a bit.

Thank you so much, again, for doing the swap! I truly appreciate your kind words and your suggestions! I'm really happy that you enjoyed it, especially since this is the story I've been the most self-conscious about so far.

xoxo Meg

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Review #32, by CambAngstRoar: A New Friend

31st August 2014:
Hi, Sam!

I am slowly returning from my self-imposed time-out. It was the only way I was ever going to finish Shades of Anger. Too many wonderful distractions around. Like this story!

Everyone who writes a story where Draco takes a job puts a different spin on Lucius and Narcissa's reaction, and yours is definitely one of the better ones I've read. Better in the sense that it's very plausible and not at all overdone. Lucius has his expected knee-jerk reaction based on his own self-importance and his ideas about the family's honor. Naricssa, by way of contrast, is thoughtful and supportive. And Astoria, well, it goes without saying that she supports him. She only wants what's best for him, it seems.

Narcissa sat back in her seat and gave his question serious thought. "Your father once took a few hundred thousand galleons with fraudulent accounts and one or two brilliant lies from behind his desk." -- Interesting. I always thought of Lucius as inheriting all that he had from his ancestors. I never imagined him lowering himself to scamming someone else for money. Definitely a different take on the character.

He picked the cheapest, simplest set of robes he owned, not wanting to appear like he was trying too hard -- Another interesting twist. It says something, I think, about his attitude towards his soon-to-be coworkers. This is how the Malfoys slum it among the commoners.

As soon as Draco arrives at work, you start creating some of the dynamics that seem likely to shape his fledgling career. He's been taken beneath the wing of the Head Auror, but the head of DMLE seems to hate him. For what it's worth, he hates him in a fairly egalitarian way. Harry's obviously not immune from whatever this guy has against anything that makes him think of the war.

Ha! It wouldn't be a Sam Story if Harry and Theo weren't chums. Perhaps even something more. I'm curious to see how that develops...

"Do you realize this is the longest conversation we've had without insulting each other?" he asked instead. -- The beginning of a beautiful friendship? Somehow I doubt it, but time will tell. ;)

I love the lines that you've dropped into this chapter for the various characters. Draco's thoughts on Ron were priceless, but this line was so good that I highlighted it while reading: "He works here? Harry," Theo wrapped his hands and both his shoulders and squeezed, "it took me eighteen years to get rid of him. He is not a frisbee and you are not a dog; don't bring him back to me." Gold, Sam, GOLD!

Demi Marslow is an interesting creation. I can't tell whether she has a specific thing for Draco or just a general thing for guys who annoy Harry. Regardless, I feel a bit of potential romantic tension arising. Not an inherently good thing for Draco and Astoria!

I saw a few typos as I was reading:

"They offered me a job," he told her, ignoring his father's gasped what and his mother drop her gardening magazine. " -- dropping her gardening magazine. Also the spacing is out of whack at the end.

e knew know that he had genuine supporters, that they cared about what he wanted rather than what he could do for them - she said 'your life' not 'our life'. -- He knew now

"I am happy that you are making you're own way in the world and you're willing to work through hard times now. -- making your own way

I'm really enjoying this! On to the next...

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Review #33, by CambAngstDevlin Potter: Riddle and Rescue: Grand Finale

29th August 2014:
Hi, there! I'll warn you that parts of this review will read strangely because I struggled to keep it within the limit. There's a lot to cover and coming to the end of a story I love makes me a little sentimental. (sniff)

One of the things I liked most about the first section, where Devlin is almost begging to be allowed to go to school, is that Devlin is almost begging to be allowed to go to school. Dubhán would never do something like that. More and more, we see the Harry and Alexandra's son Devlin emerging from behind the walls of Voldemort's plaything Dubhán. It's happy in one way, but very sad in another, considering what happens near the end of this chapter.

"You're a werewolf." His green eyes were on him; searching his face for comprehension and dawning realization, but Devlin gave him neither, because he did not have them to offer. He did not understand. -- Probably one of the saddest moments in the story so far. One thing I love about this story is how true you've kept the setting to the "wartime" wizarding world we saw in the books. The characters are under a constant strain, and their lesser tendencies and prejudices are never far from the surface.

Interesting that Geoffrey starts to see the implications of Draco's death before Devlin does. Then again, Devlin has a lot more going on in his head these days, things that probably keep him from focusing solely on his own survival. Geoffrey hides his fears reasonably well, but not well enough.

Poor Sirius gets roped into so many awkward conversations with Devlin. "Eh, some of the boys your age don't even notice girls exist, some of them think they're a terrible sort of foreign creature, the other bit notices and wishes they were far older than ten." Sirius shrugged. "You're sort of normal any way you look at it." Wow, that's a succinct way of putting it. Maybe I'm not giving him enough credit. But I think his explanation of what fancying a girl feels like only confuses Devlin more. Devlin probably felt a lot of those things, but they had nothing to do with fancy.

He was frozen again, afraid that the least movement might wake her and shatter this transfixing moment before he had truly been able to make any sense of it at all.

Emma trusted him.
-- My favorite moment of this entire chapter, even more than the ending. It shows that Devlin is, in fact, connected.

"Voldemort knows the location, Devlin. We're not hiding our location. I've found such arrangements to be tedious and limiting - and hardly foolproof." -- Hardly.

I like how it suddenly dawns on Devlin that Harry's approach to keeping him safe is very different from Voldemort's approach to keeping him hidden away. If he could internalize why, that would be a big step.

Aha. So someone has implicated Harry and Alexandra in Draco's death. It seems like a fairly transparent plot to anyone who knows what's really going on, but since Draco hasn't been implicated as one of Voldemort's inner circle, I suppose the Ministry has to take it seriously. Especially if it gives them another excuse to try to pry information out of Devlin.

The "conversation" between Devlin and Voldemort was really well done. Devlin gets more than a little uppity and Voldemort responds pretty much the way you'd expect. He's dismissive -- correcting Devlin's spelling, of all things -- and merely acts as though the outcome is assured, so long as Devlin doesn't forget where his true loyalties lie. Interesting how a character who's as much of a control freak as Voldemort can take certain things for granted.

"I'm gonna tell Dad to come home, alright? I'll make sure he does, I promise." -- I obviously didn't see this for what it was the first time through. It really ties the ending together.

Interesting little bit of Legillimency between Devlin and Harry! I'm fascinated by the idea that Legillimency could work in reverse, "drawing" someone in instead of invading their mind.

I'm seriously running out of room, so I'll have to be brief about the meeting with the Minister. I love the cast of characters you assembled for this, and the roles that each one plays. Lucius is perfect, in all his self-important, demanding arrogance and the near-complete lack of genuine emotion he shows for his son's death. Susan was a very effective advocate for Devlin, which is the role I assume she was playing. She's a character that I have a huge soft spot for. It was great seeing her. Gah, Dumbledore is such an idiot! He stumbles headlong into Voldemort's trap, delivering the message that the Dark Lord couldn't deliver in person. That said, you wrote him very well, I thought.

In retrospect, Devlin felt entirely foolish to have missed it so thoroughly. -- Yeah, I'd have to agree on that point.

I realize that having the Potters arrive outside of the wards via portkey was essential to the plot, but wow! What a huge chance to take. And then to allow the situation to become a confrontation instead of just making a run for it... Harry, you're slipping!

I love Voldemort's arrogance in the final scene. "You offend me, Harry," he said, but he did not sound offended. He smiled in amusement. "I will not be moving at all." That line was absolutely perfect.

Mostly, he wished Harry wasn't watching. Humiliation flashed hot and feverish in his belly and he fought it down with a viciousness that left his head pounding. -- There's Devlin again.

The final confrontation was beautifully written. I could see it all playing out so clearly in my mind. The things that Harry is able to do for love and family... it was a perfectly Potter-esque ending.

In what little space I have left, I wanted to thank you. I honestly can't remember how I came across this story, but I have enjoyed it immensely. Your talent and creativity and clever storytelling are an absolute pleasure to read and I'm really looking forward to what comes next.


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Review #34, by CambAngstBuilding Dollhouses In The Sand: Chapter Twenty-one

28th August 2014:
Hi, there! Back again from the common room August review exchange!

So there's one thing that drove me crazy about this chapter and I'll get it out of the way right up front. The spacing between the paragraphs was so wide that I could only see about 3 at a time on my screen. I'm sure this is mostly because of copying and pasting into the HPFF editor, but it's something I'd strongly recommend that you fix.

Whew. OK, so that said...

Katherine is surrounded by so many different influences in this story. It's always really interesting to see which one(s) win out in any given chapter. On one "side", we have Pierre and George and the rest of her friends. People who care about her and want to help her. Yet she's doing nearly all she can to push them away (George) or she's convinced herself that her troubles are not worthy of their notice (Pierre). OK, that's not the precise reason she's not talking to Pierre, but it's not too far from it, either. One the other side, you have Michael Blackwood, who's using her, and Eldon Burke, whose intentions are unclear at best. And she's gravitating -- at least temporarily -- toward both of them. Teenage "logic" can be really hard to follow, and I think you've done a really good job of capturing the convoluted thought processes that have led our heroine to the conclusion that any of this is a good idea. She's too caught up in her grief and guilt over her uncle's death to think clearly.

Poor George! He's trying so hard to be a good, supportive friend. At the same time, it's clear that he wants to be more than that. I'm sure he's as confused as a guy can possibly be at this point.

But as soon as the feast started Katherine walked out of the room back to her dorm as she had done at almost every meal for the past few days, she was going to review the files once more take a good look at the pictures. She couldn’t just let Egil’s death fade, not when she was so close to his murderer. -- I've been thinking more and more about the fake Moody currently resident in Hogwarts castle and the scary truth is that she might be a lot closer to her uncle's murderer than she realizes. I couldn't help but notice how the characters keep emphasizing Moody's role in passing information to Katherine...

Antoine is another wildcard in this story. Now he's at Hogwarts, so he could play a role in how things turn out. Perhaps he'll amount to more than just an alternative love interest.

Aside from the development of your own story, I thought you did a good job integrating the plot with the events going on in Goblet of Fire. That made it really easy to put the story in context and make some interesting guesses about where things are going.

Good job. I hope you have more chapters in the works for us!

Author's Response: Hello before I start thank you for the review, I love your reviews (sorry I took so long to respond, I respond usually during my down time or whilst I'm procrastinating.) You'll see Eldon's intentions later on, when I thought of him at first I thought to make him a typical Slytherin yet he had the power to be so much more, which is what he'll be. Egil's murderer is close:) Antoine isn't a love interest and I hate the fact I had him come off like that XD I guess it's the way I wrote it, later on I'll probably end up editing this chapter after I'm done with Chapter 23.

Thank you again for the review :)

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Review #35, by CambAngstBuilding Dollhouses In The Sand: Chapter Twenty

27th August 2014:
Hi, there! I felt a little bad about being paired with you for the monthly review swap since I've already reviewed so much of your story. At the same time, I was excited to find that you had two new chapters posted. Let's dig right in!

Ooh, the mystery gets even deeper! Somebody seems to be taking a perverse joy in taunting poor Katherine about the death of her uncle. The timing is interesting, I think. So soon after the huge fights she's been having with her father, that definitely looks suspicious. At the same time, we know that Barty Crouch, Jr. is already in the castle and he's definitely taken an interest in Katherine. Lots of possibilities here...

... her best bet was to contact Pierre, he could investigate.

"I'm not going to trouble him" she whispered kneeling in front of her trunk.
-- Sigh. It seems our protagonist has a fair dose of Harry Potter-style, "I can do this all myself" stubbornness in her. Just like Harry had Ron and Hermione to help him through the worst of his troubles, I hope George and the others can help Katherine, whether she thinks that she wants their help or not.

Gah, the kiss! I love the way that you wrote that. It wasn't overdone and you captured a few neat little details -- like Katherine having to stand on her tip-toes -- that made it feel very real and even sweeter.

Oh, come on, Fred! You seriously have the worst timing in history!

Oh, no! Just at the moment that she really needs her friends the most, she's concocting schemes to push them away. You're pretty good at capturing the essence of "teenager logic". So many things make sense at that age that you look back at and slap yourself in the forehead. It's frustrating to read, but very accurate.

A tight knot formed at the bottom of her stomach, her love for George Weasley would have to wait. -- And so will I. :(

I noticed a couple of typos as I was reading:

As she laid her on the trunk she could remember how excited she was to be learning more about magic. -- was there something that she laid on the trunk?

"We wouldn't say a word" assured Fred as she turned her back on the walking out the Gryffindor common room towards the library -- turned her back on them

She knew what would happened, and if George ever found out he probably tie he down, but neither he or Fred had the authority to tell her what was right from wrong. -- probably tie her down

I think there might have been one or two more, but I can't find them now.

I'm frustrated, but that's mainly because I want George and Katherine to work out. I can't wait to see what you have in store next!

Author's Response: I know, I felt bad for the swap but at the same time I couldn't be happier since you're an awesome reviewer (I'm not as skilled at reviewing since grammar and such aren't my fortes)

On to the response:
I loved writing the kiss, I thought it was time for it to happen anyway, Fred does have the worst timing in history.

Oh no typos XD as much as I try to avoid them my brain thinks to fast for my hands sometimes (same thing happens with my art.) I really want these two to work out as well and hopefully the will only time will tell.

Thank you for the reviews, I really appreciate you taking your time to give me such detailed reviews, again thank you.

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Review #36, by CambAngstDoing the Right Thing: Doing the Right Thing

21st August 2014:
Hi, Roxi! Here for our review swap.

First off, congratulations on nailing the 1,000 word mark. I'm sure there was a huge amount of editing and hand-wringing choices that went into that.

Your Draco was pretty natural-feeling. He goes into his mission with a pretty clear objective, but then he thinks things through and comes to an epiphany. And his mother was one of the biggest drivers of that epiphany. He's very reminiscent of the Draco we see in Deathly Hallows, struggling to make better choices in the face of overwhelming pressure to the contrary.

Get in. Cause a diversion. Then get out of the way. -- Sounds about right. I can't imagine the Dark Lord would trust him to do much more than that with a mission as important as bringing down the Minister of Magic. This isn't meant to be a suicide mission like the one to kill Dumbledore, Voldemort actually expects this one to succeed.

The only real constructive criticism I could offer is that it felt really easy for Draco to make it to Scrimgeour's bedside. I think the story would have benefited a lot if you could have made it something specific about Draco or the Lestranges that made it possible. For instance, maybe they recruited the Death Eater inside the Ministry who betrayed Scrimgeour. All that said, I'm not sure what I'd cut to make it still fit in 1,000 words. There's a good reason that I've never attempted this or the 500 word challenge. ;)

I thought you did a good job with Scrimgeour's reaction to Draco. He keeps his wits about him and tries to stall for time. He's an Auror, not a terrified politician like Fudge.

Your writing flowed really nicely in this story and I didn't see a single typo or grammatical problem. I can see such a big improvement compared to when I first started reading your writing way back when. You're come a long way, Deana! Great job!

Author's Response: Hey Dan! Haha, yes, there was a LOT of editing that went into this, for sure. You know me. You know how long my chapters usually run. So yeah, only being allowed 1000 words was HARDWORK! You are such an amazing writer tho, I'm sure you could do this with no problem at all.

And no, Voldemort really doesn't trust him with much. As you know from reading the beginning of "All is NOT Fair in Live & War" he only had until he was seventeen to get it right. But Lucius was in Azkaban, so he gave Draco an extra year to prepare with Bellatrix. This mission was meant to be a test to see how loyal and dedicated to the cause that Draco could be. Which he obviously fails miserably at.

You're right about it seeming too easy to get to the Ministers bedside. I thot the same thing as well. Although I trust you have it worked out by now who the Death Eater helping them was? (A certain red-haired villain we meet in chapter 6 of AiNFiL&W.) *wink* And since he worked for Scrimgeour, he would have had it set up with limited protection that night on purpose. Or that was my reasoning at least. I suppose I could go back in and try to squeeze in a little sentence somewhere to explain all this... Something like:
"Our man on the inside had done his part well, setting up as little security around the Minister as possible."
I think I'll go try to add that in now. That's an additional 20 words tho, but I think I know how to manage this! Thanks for the suggestion, Dan. Great catch!

GAH!! You really think that my writing has come a long way!?! OMG, that means SO MUCH to me, coming from you!! Seriously, that little comment just made my day! I suppose that being in college for a year and half, and having to write 2-3 essays each month may have had something to do with that, lol. Personally, I like to think that I have improved over the years, but I digress...

As my writing has improved so substantially since 2009 when I joined this site, I am currently in the middle of rewriting my Novel. Ive changed the title and made a new banner for it and everything, as you might have noticed... Its funny to me that you were 1 of the first to takeup my swap idea here, because YOU were actually kind of the driving force of inspiration for this one-shot, if I'm being honest. And I was going to PM you at some point, to see if you would be interested in giving this a read.

You see, in the process of editing each chapter, I have been reading over the old reviews, taking all suggestions from each one to make the story better. Anyways, Idk if you remember this or not, but in your review for chapter 6 (I believe it was) you had mentioned that you did not like the fact that I had skipped over Draco's conversation with the Minister to regain his freedom. At the time, I had no idea what that conversation would have even looked like, so I did just skim over it. But when I was rewriting everything a few weeks ago, that really got me thinking again; which lead to the changes that included THIS mission to take place right before the story picks up. So now this gives Draco something to exchange for his freedom besides just information, and I really think it ties up alot of my lose ends as well.

To make a long story short, I wrote this whole entire new chapter for AiNFiL&W (now titled: Love, Not War) and it includes the scene where Scrimgeour gives Draco his freedom back. It is intense, and full of drama, and I think that it is one of the best chapters I have ever written! I guess what I'm trying to say here is THANKS, Dan! Thank you for inspiring me to think outside the box, and write something that was outside of my comfort zone. Had it not been for that one review that you left me (2 years ago now, mind you) then I dont think this story, or the new additions to my Novel would have ever happened. Thank you SO much for ALL of your kind and helpful reviews; both now and in the past. I for one am glad to see that you haven't gone anywhere in my year-and-a-half absence, haha!

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Review #37, by CambAngstHow to Fly: How to Fly

13th August 2014:
Tagging you from Review Tag. And though it will probably be a struggle, I'm going to try to keep this review shorter than the story, itself. ;)

I absolutely love the concept of this story. First off, because I love Hermione's mantra. It actually made the story a little mysterious until I got into it, because it could just as easily refer to Ron or Harry. That was a nice touch, a way of building a little suspense. Second, I love it because I can relate to it so directly. There are few things in life more daunting that being a parent. I find myself constantly reassuring myself that, yes, I'm up to the challenge. I've never ridden on the back of a thestral, a hippogriff or a dragon, but I do have my own laundry list of past accomplishments that I draw upon.

Oh, how I remember that trip home from the hospital and those first few days after. It was one of the craziest learning curves of my life. It's not that anything you're doing is so hard, but the self-imposed pressure to do everything exactly right is huge. Everything you manage to do feels like a Big Achievement and every setback feels like utter failure. You captured the whole experience perfectly here. Especially the part about growing closer and learning about each other.

Poor Hermione! She doesn't like flying at all, as I recall. But she puts that aside for Rose and she eventually finds joy in the learning process. This was a beautiful twist on her character and a great way to emphasize how much fun it can be to learn something silly with your child.

The last section was a clever little role reversal. Daughter comforts mother as daughter prepares to leave the nest. I haven't mentioned it so far, but I love the occasional moments where Hermione recognizes ways that Rose is like Ron. It keeps things balanced.

The closing two lines were beautiful. They perfectly summed up this story. I am in awe of your creativity with this story. Just the idea is brilliant, but the execution brought it home with a flourish! Great job!

Author's Response: Hey Dan,

This was a wonderful surprise! I love all your reviews, but I was so excited to log in an see you reviewed this story. I'm so glad you felt connected to it.

I didn't even think that the opening line could have been Ron or Harry, but you're right. To me, it was always Hermione. I did realize that I never mentioned either her or Rose's name in the entire piece (except in the story details) because I thought it would be obvious at some point who I was talking about.

I can't remember if she didn't like flying or simply wasn't good at it. To me, Hermione likes to excel at things, so her teaching Rose how to fly was a definite challenge on her part.

I wrote the last part because I've found that every now and then (or even more frequently than I care to admit) your kids surprise the heck out of you - usually when you least expect it.

Thanks again for these kind words - this review was a real treat!


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Review #38, by CambAngstLike So Much Red Wine: shattered glass, cracked porcelein, buckled steel

13th August 2014:
I'm here for our review swap!

This is really, really clever. I'm envious of the creativity and insight into Snape's character that it took to come up with the concept of him living mostly in the depths of his own imagination. It makes perfect sense, though. From a young age, he seemed to have a strong tendency toward denial. He believed that he could indulge his desire for power and control in the darkness without losing the light that Lily brought to his otherwise grim existence. He thought that he could maintain the wall between a happy life of love and comfort with his muggle-born best friend and a clandestine life of dark magic with "friends" who hated the very fact that she existed. The fact that he was horribly, tragically wrong doesn't seem to have dissuaded him from continuing to live in the fantasy. It's sad, but also kind of pathetic. Doesn't really speak well for his mental state.

The way that he measures the passage of time by watching Harry grow was also brilliantly done. And you hit the nail on the head during the confrontation in Myrtle's bathroom. Combined with the fact that Severus doesn't want time to pass, it leads to a rather grim conclusion. The idea that he could somehow "save" Lily by killing Harry was twisted and totally flies in the face of normal logic, but from Severus's tormented perspective it makes sense. His grip on reality is still firm enough for him to take out his frustrations elsewhere, but only just.

I loved all of the tactile and visual details that you used to illustrate Snape's perception of the passage of time. The story is so conceptual, but you also keep it firmly grounded in the little physical details. It makes the narrative gripping and very accessible.

You blended the storyline from the books with the inner workings of Snape's mind in a seamless way. The quotes that you pulled had an interesting affect, at least for me. They span such a short period of time in the books, and yet you've managed to fit this deep, rich story into that small amount of "plot time".

I enjoyed every bit of this story. I probably sound like a broken record because I always say this about your writing, but the way you paced and delivered the story was awesome. It flowed so nicely from start to finish that it was easy to get immersed in the moment. You started with a heated, poignant moment from the books and then you nailed all of the small details to bring it all together. Excellent job!

Author's Response: Ooh, yay, hello!

Thank you so much for this really wonderful, analytical review!!! It means a lot to me that my intentions here came off (Snape is my very favorite character from a literary standpoint!)

I have a truly absurd amount of headcanon for Snape--I'm rather obsessed, really (I found out, while referring to my copy of HBP for this, that my original book is ANNOTATED. Also, I pretty much called Snape/Lily in like, book 4, and Snape's memories in DH were already headcanon for me--satisfyingly crystallizing into real canon.)

For his interior world--in a weird way, I sort of borrowed that idea from David Sedaris (who wrote a thing about coming up with really detailed fantasies, but his story was more, well, FUNNY. One of the fantasies was that he was Monica Lewinsky, who was also the author of Lolita, instead of Nobokov).

I figured that, outside of working as a double agent for Dumbledore, Snape really doesn't have anything going on in his personal life. His whole world is just vengeance, so I thought that he needed a weird psychological place in order to throw himself so fully into his mission. Plus, I figured it explained why he was so moody, and short with students--if he resented being pulled out of his fantasies and into the real world.

I'm glad you noted that it was "pathetic," because "pathetic" is an attribute usually assigned to very specific types of behavior, none of which usually apply to adult-Snape. (BUT, young Snape got hung upside down and his boxers exposed to the school, and so on).

As for the "Harry marking time thing"--since this was also for the "unreliable narrator" challenge, I wanted to subtly imply that Snape, in his own convoluted way, kind of loves Harry. He, at least, watches him grow. (Plus, there were very little details about puberty in the books--and we never see Harry start shaving, start wearing deodorant, so I thought that was fun to explore).

And yeah, I think this story is a lot stronger if readers remember the original chapter. A lot of how this unfolds in a short stretch of real-time was actually because of the TOS (I could only quote like 4 lines of dialog). But I'm glad for that restriction, because I think it forced me to stay in Snape's head, rather than stepping out into what was literally going on.

Thank you again for taking the time to probe into this little story in such a meaningful way! I think this is a super good opportunity for me to stay in the same vein, and go review "Like a Rat in a Maze"--which I've been looking forward to reading!

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Review #39, by CambAngstThe Harder Struggle: Epilogue

12th August 2014:
Hi, there.

I discovered your story just by searching for Completed Novels in the Post-Hogwarts era with Harry and Ginny as the main pairing. If I were to offer one tiny critique, it's that I came to think of Ron and Hermione as being more of the main pairing, although Harry and Ginny clearly play a role.

Beyond that, I thought this story was brilliantly done. You did a remarkable job of capturing every aspect of these characters as I remember them from the books and then maturing them in a completely realistic and natural fashion. I think you have an amazing grasp of their strengths and weaknesses, their thought processes, their mannerisms... basically everything that makes Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione tick. Even the minor characters (George, Neville, Luna, Molly, Arthur, Kingsley, etc.) came to life in a vivid and wonderful way.

Your original characters also showed amazing depth and detail. Oliver Grantham, in particular, was a gem. You plainly put a huge amount of thought into him and it shows.

Your plot felt like a natural continuation of the world as I remember it at the end of Deathly Hallows proper. I could feel the fragility and grief of the magical world at the conclusion of the terrible war, but also the political intrigue and social intransigence that characterized the Ministry and other magical institutions throughout the last four books. It was a situation tailor-made for someone like Hermione to spread her wings and start to lead, but also for reluctant leaders like Harry and Neville to rediscover their commitment and purpose.

You did an all-around fabulous job with this! Congratulations on a very impressive accomplishment!

Author's Response: Thank you for your detailed and generous review. It is especially valued coming from someone who has written many stories in the Harry Potter world.

I appreciate your remarks on characterisation and yes I did give a lot of thought to Grantham's character including creating a detailed backstory for him. I wanted to portray an antagonist who wasn't a cardboard cut-out villain. I was also trying to convey that people can have very different views to you on matters that are very important but that doesn't necessarily make them evil. To many people today have difficulty with that notion.

To me this story is both a Harry/Ginny story and a Ron/Hermione one, but unfortunately I am unable to list it as both. I would agree that the story gives more weight to the Ron/Hermione relationship, principally because at this stage of their lives (immediately after the war) it has far more depth. I switch the classification around from time to time so that people into either relationship have a chance to discover the story. It is probably time to reclassify it again.

Thanks for the review. Having discovered your stories I am now looking forward to reading them.

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Review #40, by CambAngstRoar: A job Offer

12th August 2014:
Hi, Sam! Thank you so much for thinking of me for your challenge entry. I'm touched and honored and just all around grinning madly!

I love the thought that you've put into this and the back story that you've constructed. It's great to see that the Malfoys' actions before and during the war were not without repercussions. I tend to think of that as a gaping plot hole in a lot of post-war Draco stories. Also, the repercussions seemed proportionate to the crime instead of the lot of them having the proverbial book thrown at them. The world at large didn't just "forget" the crimes that got Lucius thrown into Azkaban in the first place and he goes back there to finish repaying his debt to society. Draco is not a prime instigator but he's not guiltless, either. Narcissa can't be accused of much beyond complicity, but she certainly still suffers consequences. Even Harry's considerable influence can't spare them completely. All in all, it holds together beautifully and sets a very realistic backdrop.

You also water-dropped a possible mystery into the setup. Where did Harry disappear to during the absences Draco recalls?

It was neat that you didn't completely wipe away every aspect of "the old order", installing a longtime friend of the Notts as Head Auror. Amusing side note: there are a large number of O'Dells on my mother's side of the family if you go back 4 or 5 generations. They were farmers in rural Virginia, however, not wizards.

Ah, I love the gradualism of Draco and Astoria falling in love. If I had one thing about Detox to do over, I think I would have slowed the pace down a lot. The first 5 chapters of the story really could have spanned a lot more time and depicted a much more realistic process of them developing feelings for one another if I'd had a different timeline in my head. The way you've described things here is much more natural and organic.

The animosity between Draco and Harry also felt really consistent with canon. All of their past hatred has been cooled somewhat by the passing of time and the perspective that comes from surviving a war. Each has saved the other's life on at least one occasion and while they'll never be pals, they've worked out a serviceable detente that still allows them to take verbal jabs at one another when they feel like it.

I think I'm going to need some more time and context to get my head around this job offer. The concept makes sense, but the timing and the particulars are very intriguing. Draco seems to still be trapped by the dark shadow of his past and suddenly this situation is thrust upon him. I get the feeling it's going to be both an opportunity and a challenge for him. He can rebuild his reputation, but he'll have to recall and in some ways relive some of the worst moments of his life to do it. It's a great setup for a lot of self-discovery and angst and coming to terms with his past and lots of other yummy things that will make for an awesome story.

On to some constructive criticism. I think it could be very beneficial to take a slow, careful read through this chapter with an eye out for overly long sentences. When I'm reading and I come across a sentence that's 4 or 5 clauses long, I find that it really slows me down because I have to pause and figure out how the different parts of the sentence are meant to interact with one another.

I also thought that the way you started the back story on what happened to Draco after the war was kind of abrupt. You're in the midst of a wonderful, compelling opening full of Draco's feelings for Astoria and then, bang, we fall right into "After the war..." I'd suggest easing into it a bit by finding a nice segue between the two. Perhaps have him think back to a time right after the war when finding love and happiness seemed like it would never be possible. I don't think you need a major change, just something to smooth the transition.

Finally, I saw a few typos as I was reading:

Three and a half months went by before his own trail, having gone through the Death Eaters they'd known where dangerous first, but by that time Potter had come back for certain trails. -- trials

The Auror would be a rookie, someone who had just graduated, and their first assignments was always looking after witnesses and people just out of jail or off probation if it had been a major crime. -- "their first assignments were"? Even with that change, this sentence feels a bit odd.

"I never said that," Draco said with smug smile, because he also never said that agreed with Potter, -- that he agreed with Potter

Being forced to wait alone because said Head Auror wasn't in and Potter clearly hadn't been able to wait was an opportunity Draco had relished in at first. -- had reveled in? I don't think you can relish in something. ;)

"Well, I got to sit in on some meetings and there were times when I could listen in on others because he didn't know all the secret paces like I did, so I knew plans and locations and names. -- secret places

"Good. That's good. So this job offer," Stephen began, "Is to go through our cold cases, missing persons and the like. -- Since the same sentence continues after the dialog tag, "Is" shouldn't be capitalized.

Once again, thank you so much! You're off to a really amazing start and I'm pleased as can be that you thought of me when writing this!

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Review #41, by CambAngstActions Speak Louder than Words: Beautiful: Scorpius POV

8th August 2014:
Hi, Beth!

I'm thinking really hard about the ideal word to describe this chapter. What word really captures the lush depths and gripping sensuality of your descriptions? It feels a little odd, but "luscious" comes to mind. Reading this was an almost tactile experience. It's too bad that you can't close your eyes and still be able to read, because at times I felt like I could have closed my eyes and actually experienced the sensations that Scorpius was feeling. You wrote it just that well. Bravo!

His encounter with Albus and Selenia was a nice little mood-setter for what was to come. Scorpius obviously wasn't going to stick around for the show, but I think it put him in a mindset for the best way to celebrate being alive and all in one piece.

Based on your descriptions of the ash and sawdust covering him, it seems that Scorpius and Ron released a lot of pent-up frustration on the woods.

Wow. The whole shower scene was an amazing piece of writing. I don't think you could have done a better job of drawing the reader into a scene. It was so vivid. Losing yourself in it was effortless. THIS is how two people who deeply, passionately love one another interact. It was honestly breathtaking.

I don't think there's anything else to say. I certainly didn't see any typos or grammatical problems. It was short and beautiful and amazing. Great job!

Author's Response: Hiya Dan,

I'm still swooning over the awesomeness of this review. Wow. And seriously. Thank you.

Luscious. I love it.

I couldn't help myself with the Al/Selenia scene. They are just that 'madly in love from the beginning' couple that can be annoying, but you love them so you put up with it type. (Wow - seriously run on sentence, there - haha).

The shower scene took a few edits to get right, but I was actually pretty confident when I submitted it. The very last paragraph (that I wrote forever ago), I was the most proud of.

Scorpius needed this from her. He is really alone in this world - no parents or basically any other family. He does have his Aunt Daphne, but she lives in the Muggle world.

And Rose needed to do this for Scorpius. She 'needed to be needed' by someone for reasons other than Healing.

I know this chapter is so different from the others, but I really had fun writing it!

Thanks again!


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Review #42, by CambAngstChoreographed Affair: Choreographed Affair

7th August 2014:
Tagging you from Review Tag! I'm always really excited when I see you post in this thread. It gives me a chance to check out another of your stories.

I loved this! A beautifully crafted tale of forbidden, passionate love. You took your time and paced it very well. Your two lead characters are drawn together gradually but certainly. The progression had a very natural feel to it.

Your take on the diadem and its effect on Helena was a clever start. The knowledge it provides has an awful sort of quality to it. It taunts her with visions of the happiness she can never have and the empty, loveless life that awaits. Ironic that Rowena's prized possession, the one she is furious at her daughter for taking, also seems to be a major catalyst for her daughter's flight.

You brought Godric and Helena together for the first time in such a Victorian setting. I can easily imagine the teachers and students of Hogwarts each occupying their own sphere within the room. Then Godric crosses the void and asks for a dance and the connection is made. So elegant!

I love that she decided to fight a Chimera to attract his attention. It was a pretty clever move on her part. Godric would obviously value her bravery and spirit, even as he chastises her for the poor choice. He seems like the sort of man who would like a woman with a few dangerous contradictions about her.

And then they move on to corresponding. Not a betrayal in the flesh, but definitely a betrayal in spirit. He's doing down the path...

He's so gentle with her to be such a bold, dashing figure. She's not the only one with contradictions.

She created a secret passage in the castle for them? I love it! Hogwarts: the formative days. I wonder how many other couples snagged in that same passage over the centuries? Dozens? Hundreds?

When Godric rejects her plea to run away with him, it's heart-breaking but entirely foreseeable. He's a man of duty and honor; he won't turn his back on those things. I liked the small amount of spitefulness you worked into her character here. I thought it was appropriate, since she's probably passed on opportunities to cultivate better romances than Lord Gaunt while their affair has essentially cost him nothing.

You handled Helena's death in a very sensitive, emotional way. She's honest with Lord Gaunt, even though she knows it will cost her everything. Instead of trying to fight, she dies with her best memories foremost in her mind. It's a very poetic way to go. We should all be so lucky.

Your writing was beautiful in this. The dialog felt very period-appropriate and there was a formality to it that matched the characters and setting well. It all flowed wonderfully and there was nothing to distract from getting deeply immersed in the story. I really enjoyed it! Great job!

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Review #43, by CambAngstYear Five: Torture

7th August 2014:
Hello, again!

It's been a while since we've dipped into Isobel's difficulties and I see that they've gotten worse with the stress of her friends' problems. She doesn't seem to comprehend the messages that her body is trying to send to her. I guess that's a big component of any self-harming psychological condition. Also, the way that she projects a lot of her difficulties onto Laurel is telling. Her brain has nearly as many defensive mechanisms as Tristan's. Say what you want about Laurel, at least she's honest about what she's done to herself. It's sad that, in a way, that makes her the least poorly adjusted of the three of them.

Isobel tries so hard to hold the group together while she's personally falling apart. That makes the situation even sadder. Then we reach a point where her mental state seems to go downhill in a hurry. She's flipping on a dime about how she feels towards her best friends. The way she turns on Tristan was a really nice piece of character development. I feel like you're setting her up to receive some very difficult messages in the not too distant future.

Ha! Percy is a jerk. Didn't see that coming. ;)

Snape... hair-growth potion... bwahahahaa! I love it. Poor Madam Pomfrey!

It was nice to see Isobel come back around on Tristan relatively quickly, but also symptomatic of how emotionally volatile she's getting. Tristan was on point in this chapter, letting his self-loathing shine through. It was so sad and so genuine, the way that he doesn't even try to argue with Isobel's harsh critique. And true to her own "den mother" character, Isobel changes her point of view to try to be supportive. The whole conversation epitomized what I feel like Isobel's life has become: she's living for everyone else while slowly killing herself.

Oh, wow. I seriously did not see this coming. Isobel is unintentionally becoming Voldemort's research department. Her research topic is horribly dark, definitely an unintended consequence of her father's work. This is a really clever plot thread. I've never seen the like of it in an HPFF story before.

Great chapter! On to the next...

Author's Response: Hello!

Yes! I introduced Laurel's character at a time in her life when she was least like herself, and only now is she starting to slowly go back to normal. I thought it'd be an interesting way to mess with character development--sort of reverse engineer her. That's why there were no POVs for her during the first half. But yeah, Laurel has, I think, a great many wonderful qualities. And I think some of her strengths are also her weaknesses. But overall, yeah--she's not necessarily the worst adjusted.

After that whole thing in OOTP with Percy telling Ron to stop hanging around Harry, my feelings have chilled significantly toward Percy. I bet he'd be a jerk sometimes to his peers. Hurrumph.

It's weird how much fun I have making these kids bash Snape, considering how much I LOVE THE SNAPE.

"She's living for everyone else while slowly killing herself"--perfect way to put it!

I really wanted Isobel's feelings about Tristan seem realistic, even when they switch, so I'm glad that worked! And I definitely wanted the chaoticness of what her brain is turning into to bleed into her POV, so thank you for pointing that out!

And Quirrel! Voldemort research! I think I was drawn to writing a Hogwarts era for the same reason so many people avoid it: there's an established plot and direction, and it's very detailed. I liked the idea of writing something within those confines, where the possibilities for dramatic irony ABOUND. WE know what's under Quirrel's turban--I couldn't let that fact lie!

Thank you so much for taking the time to review these chapters! Your feedback is really encouraging!

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Review #44, by CambAngstYear Five: The Trouble With Laurel

4th August 2014:
Hi! I finally managed to get all of those awesome reviews answered, so now I'm back to pile some more upon this magnificent story of yours!

I'm a bit torn about how to feel about Laurel's relapse. At least she didn't take matters into her own hand. In a small, weird way, that's progress. For poor Tristan, however, the encounter was the last thing in the world that his frail mental state needed. He already carries so much guilt over... well, over everything, but Laurel's hex-out is certainly high on that list.

Isobel's gift to Tristan was a beautiful, touching moment. His reaction was brilliantly crafted, and her reaction to his reaction was pure Isobel. A short scene, but very well done.

“Be careful with that last one,” Fred warned.

“We reckon it could be poison,” agreed George.
-- Ugh. If only it was that simple. Oops, I utilized foreknowledge. I'll just say that you did a great job of making the introduction of the bottle memorable but not too memorable.

But it was easy to start kissing, and hard to stop. He knew he and Laurel were both spent every moment battling against all the little things, the little mistakes they could make, and that they were both finally exhausted enough to surrender. -- Awesome job of explaining the thought processes -- and failures thereof -- that led Tristan and Laurel to do what they did. It was fantastic, the way that you mixed all of the self-loathing and yearning and weakness and wariness and the ultimate surrender into a seamless path.

And... Laurel told Isobel. Yeah, hard to imagine that wouldn't have happened. Still, it's unfortunate. And poor, sweet, naive Emily just makes him feel that much worse by being her normal self. Nice touch, by the way. When you've screwed up royally, people behaving normally can feel even worse than dealing with anger.

Tristan's conversation with Professor Sprout didn't really go anything like Laurel's. He's such a tough nut to crack. He's one of those kids who is smart enough to keep himself one step ahead of whatever game the adults might be trying to engage him in. Evasion and deception become more important than stopping to think whether the other person might have a point. Tristan obviously knows all the tactics and all the answers. Like Professor Sprout realizes, he's been to counseling before. I loved the two small, tangential ideas in this section. First, the one about American witches and wizards and their different attitudes and approaches. Second, the concept of "backwater" witches and wizards in the UK who choose to live outside of the social norms. You made me imagine hillbillies living in the mountains of Appalachia here in the U.S., distilling moonshine and marrying their cousins. Hillbilly wizards: there's your Dobby award winning idea for the day! ;)

I'm wondering when somebody will have a very important conversation with Tristan. The one where -- and I'm sort of generalizing and also hoping a bit -- they smack him upside the head and suggest that maybe, just maybe, it should be up to Emily to decide whether he's too harmful and toxic for her. Until then, he'll just continue to bathe in self-loathing and deny himself any chance of happiness. Such a shame.

Excellent chapter! I didn't see a single typo or grammatical problem. Until next time!

Author's Response: I was very much ALSO torn about Laurel's relapse: on the one hand, it's terrible. On the other, it's realistic. It would irresponsible to suggest that recovery was easy. And, unfortunately, kids find themselves in these situations, and are ill-equipped to deal with them. Laurel is too immature to think of what she's doing to Tristan, he's too immature to know what to do.

As for the potion intro: I really tried to emulate Rowling's style of introduction here (which is inimitable)--so I'm very pleased you thought it successful!

And AHA, this story is, I think, a shipper's nightmare! My goal was for people to not be into what happens, but reluctantly understand why it did. Also: just, teenagers. Far too self-involved for grand romance.

And yeah, teenage girls who share a bedroom and class schedule and grew up like sisters TALK. And of course Tristan, who grew up so isolated, wouldn't have thought of that.

"He's such a tough nut to crack. He's one of those kids who is smart enough to keep himself one step ahead of whatever game the adults might be trying to engage him in. Evasion and deception become more important than stopping to think whether the other person might have a point. Tristan obviously knows all the tactics and all the answers. Like Professor Sprout realizes, he's been to counseling before." THANK YOU! Ah! Just--I'm so glad that all came off!

And yeah, I really enjoyed doing social analysis of the wizarding world--the "wizard hillbilly" idea had a lot to do with contextualizing the Gaunt family!

And, AH! I will avoid saying anything spoilery about that PRECISE conversation with Tristan. I smile, steeple my fingers, and choose to end the response here; lest I, in my enthusiasm, ruin it. (*butitshouldbesuperobviousandonceyouseeityoullrealizeyouknewthat/thoseweregonnahappenallalong!*)

I LOVE YOUR REVIEWS SO MUCH, thank you for taking the time to respond to all these elements! It's SO encouraging--this is my first HPFF, my first long-form fiction, my first writing that wasn't poetry, academic, or copy. It's incredible to see that the things I wanted to come across DID. And I KNOW that you're a great writer, so it means that much more.

You rule,

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Review #45, by CambAngstYear Five: The Little Things (1992)

1st August 2014:
Hello, again!

So first off, I'll disclose that I got impatient yesterday and read all the way through to your last posted chapter. I am going to try -- mightily -- to review each as though I don't know what's coming. We'll see how I fare...

The battle to measure up to "innocent, wide-eyed, whole-life-in-front-of-her" 11-year-old Laurel is just not a battle that "15-year-old, just out of rehab, fallen from grace" Laurel has a chance of winning. I really love the idea, because I can distinctly remember instances during college -- the ones where I was at my worst -- when I pondered what a younger me would have made of my life at the time. Also, I like the references to Laurel's wand and its behavior.

It seems like the competition Laurel feels with Isobel is nearly as much of a lost cause as her attempt to live up to her younger self. I wonder what the Doge-Mostafas would make of it if they knew how inadequate most of the other students feel compared to their "disappointing" younger daughter?

Laurel wanted, for a reckless moment, to say something inflammatory, just to see if her mother might lose it and slap her again. -- Wow. That's one heck of a water-drop for some past or futures event(s). I'm a little curious but mostly just horrified.

Is this your first scene from a professor's point of view? Unless I've forgotten one, I think so. Professor Sprout is so rarely written in HPFF stories. I love seeing through her eyes for a while.

A student’s troubles were rarely the result of one big thing, but rather a lifetime’s sum of little disappointments adding up. -- This chapter has some awesome thematic consistency.

Ooh, another tantalizing nugget about Tristan. It's definitely consistent with my operating theory...

Professor Sprout does a pretty amazing job of getting Laurel to unstopper herself emotionally and react. That's far from an easy task with any teenager, especially one who's just been through an experience like Laurel. Everything about the process of getting busted, getting sent away to get help and having to deal with a judgmental family upon your return conditions a person to either clam up and say only what's expected of them or to lash out against any attempt at offering "help". Laurel did some of both, but it seemed like she found a topic worth discussing at the end.

It felt to Laurel like every second of every day since she’d hexed-out, she had to make a decision. She could either go about as she was supposed to, or jump off that cliff into a dark unknown. -- It's a pretty heavy thing to deal with, to be sure. Poignant observation there.

Laurel's struggles in rehab were tough to read, but very realistic. When you go that far down a bad road, it's not usually an easy walk back. Laurel’s face is a mess of snot and unwiped tears--her body’s salt laid bare like a sacrifice. -- Such a visceral, gripping image!

And lastly there was the conversation in the corridor. Tristan, the boy with the mind of a junkie and the soul of a poet. One of the most challenging things about this story, at least for me, is to try to decide whether the individuals in this group would be better off or worse off without the others. Don't know the answer to that yet.

I saw one typo in this chapter:

Returning to that room meant accidentally uncovering old trinkets, things she'd once loved and squirrelled awat, that reminded Laurel of just how far she had fallen. -- squirrelled away

Awesome job. I enjoy this story so much. I haven't found one in a long time that captured my imagination like this.

Author's Response: One of the most challenging, and interesting, things about writing this story was getting myself to remember the teenage perspective, and all of those tricky little feelings. During my first go at chapter one I fretted that I wouldn't do teenagers justice. Once I got deeper, tons of long forgotten memories were coming back. I'm really glad these ideas are resonating!

I liked the wand stuff too. The DH concept of wand allegiance was interesting to me, and I wanted to play with the relationship between Laurel and hers.

The thing with Laurel's mom--definitely wanted to write that quick, rather than overplay it. I figured it was horrifying enough on its own, and I'm glad that came off. I thought it was sadder if Laurel took it lightly, and didn't dwell.

Yeah this is the first Sprout POV, but not the last! I really wanted to write from her perspective specifically because she's not such an obvious choice, but potentially really interesting! Sprout always struck me as tough in her way, but was usually overshadowed by McGonnagall. I also thought it was a nice respite to retreat into the mind of someone more stable, and get a little break from the chaos by having an adult POV.

Laurel's memories of rehab were a last minute addition when I uploaded, and I wasn't 100% sure of them, so I'm glad you liked. I ended up just closing my eyes, hitting 'save chapter,' and hoping for the best.

"Mess of salt and unwiped tears--body's salt"--totally recycled from a poem a wrote ;)

"The mind of a junkie and the soul of a poet"--THAT IS OFFICIALLY MY FAVORITE DESCRIPTION OF TRISTAN EVER. I might steal that line from you when I revise!

Whether they would be better off or worse without eachother--definitely an idea I examine later! But I guess you know that :P

Thanks for pointing out the typo! And thanks again for another amazing, encouraging, delightful review!

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Review #46, by CambAngstActions Speak Louder than Words: Beloved: Scorpius POV

30th July 2014:
Hi, Beth!

This review will be a bit shorter than my usual because I'm writing it on my phone. Challenging. But don't think for a moment that I enjoyed the chapter any less!

I could see Rose and Al not wanting to wake Scorpius up after the horrible day he had before, but come on, people! Leave a note or something! I can't imagine the gut-wrenching anxiety that caused. I liked that he retreated into cooking as a coping mechanism. You drew out such amazing contrasts between different aspects of Scorpius's family in this chapter. The mother who taught him to cook like a muggle. The father who was cold and withdrawn because he wanted to protect his son from the shame and horrors of his past. The grandparents who died in disgrace for their crimes. And lastly the insane aunt who nearly destroyed his beloved's mother. No wonder he went kind of bonkers. It's a lot to get your head around.

I felt really badly for Rose. I know that's not how she wanted that conversation to go, but I admire her courage in having the conversation in the first place. She couldn't have realized how it would affect Scorpius, and I really hope that she doesn't end up taking his reaction too badly. I could definitely see how she might.

I feel like you redeemed Ron completely in this chapter. It came through loud and clear that he wants -- demands, really -- what's best for Rose. It's not a personal thing between him and Scorpius. His willingness to honestly confront what happened at Malfoy Manor was also pretty big of him. I was also impressed with Scorpius, the way he opened up about his feelings for Rose. I just hope that he can actually get those words out to her sometime soon. Ron's parting wisdom was sage. Scorpius should definitely listen to him.

Awesome chapter! Now I'm on the edge of my seat to see how Rose and Scorpius mend this.

Author's Response: Wow!

You typed this all on your phone with zero typos? I wouldn't even attempt that - bravo!

Hah - I actually didn't even think of leaving a note, but you AND another reviewer mentioned it. What bad etiquette on Rose and Al's part!

Scorpius's cooking with his Mum was a way for me to keep her close to him, even after death. It comes up several times in the story and reflects my own view that cooking a good meal is a way to show love for your family and friends (can you tell I'm from a large, Italian family? - haha).

Rose wasn't sure how that conversation would go at all. She was ready to accept any reaction he had, but she didn't expect him to walk out. She knows that Scorpius has issues with his family - and that he has taken some hits in the past because they were on the dark side during the war.

You hit it just right with Scorpius. The demons that haunt him from his family's past are far from over. He feels a responsibility to pay for them, although they weren't his doing. Probably why he's become an Auror.

Thanks for the note about Ron. He sees the similarities between how Scorpius cares for Rose and how he's cared for Hermione. I don't think he's going to *completely* let Scorpius off the hook for being a Malfoy just yet, but this was a big step.

Thanks again!


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Review #47, by CambAngstYear Five: Recreational Magic Abuse Recovery

30th July 2014:
Hello, again!

This chapter was a really nice change of pace after the intensity of the last few. Not that it didn't have a highly dramatic moment or two, but most of it felt like relatively normal teenage girls doing the things that normal teenage girls do as they grow up.

"What is with that bleeding shack?!” demanded Emily. - It seems like Emily's family has an entirely different kind of shrieking shack. Ba-dum-dum-tssh. Sorry, probably the worst pun you'll see in a review any time soon. With that out of the way, I thought you did an excellent job of writing that moment in Isobel's life. You didn't overdo it and the girls didn't spend paragraphs and paragraphs debating "what does it mean???".

Isobel just nodded, looking half humiliated, half pleased, and totally overwhelmed. -- This. I think this summed up how most people feel after the experience very succinctly.

Another small reference to Isobel's deteriorating physical condition. At this point, I'm viewing Isobel's physical collapse not as a matter of "if" but "when". She's such a proud girl, so put together and so image conscious. I think this is going to be much more difficult for her than for Laurel.

I loved your description of the waiting room at St. Mungo's. It was just magical enough without being over the top and silly. Aww, poor Neville is visiting his parents. :(

Iman filled in another piece of the picture on Isobel's condition. The beautiful, talented older sister that she can never quite live up to. The poor girl has so many things working against her...

I liked what you did with little Luna. Very sweet and she sounded very much in character. "sick in her heart" It sounds exactly like something she'd say.

Upon that recommendation, Laurel took a biscuit and nibbled it, and Emily second guessed the wisdom of smuggling drugs to someone in rehab. -- I'm glad that point wasn't completely lost on all involved. Poor Laurel also seems to have a lot working against her. I'm sure her friends want to help, they just don't seem to know how.

"Like waiting," Laurel shrugged. "Waiting for the day when you can feel cheerful again all on your own. Waiting for when you stop screaming inside because you can't turn a wand on yourself." -- Amazing description. Sad and pithy and accurate.

"We lost that album in the move," Tristan lied easily. -- Another piece of the puzzle. While I do appreciate the information, I also feel compelled to point out that you had a slight break in narrative voice there, since neither of the girls could have known he was lying. Actually, depending on what Emily learned while they were using that telepathic potion, I guess that's not 100% guaranteed. Either way, it sounded like an omniscient narrator because you didn't attribute the realization to anyone in particular.

Poor Isobel seems to have early development and a weight problem hopelessly mixed up in her head. You really laid out the case for her -- against her? -- in this chapter. Like I said before, not "if", "when".

Excellent chapter! I shall return soon!

Author's Response: Hi!

Yeah, I think the fact that they are on vacation influences the tone a lot. And I try not to let the story ever go too far in one direction, and pull it back another direction, so I'm pleased you liked the change.

Yup, you were exactly on mark about sensing something between Lucas and Isobel! And I'm glad you liked my restraint. I wanted Isobel's experience to be realistic of one way that this moment can play out in a girl's life. Namely, "whilst on Holiday/not a huge deal."

Yeah, I definitely think this chapter and the last give us a lot of insight on Isobel.

And I'm glad Luna came off well! Yes, definitely a formidable canon character to write :)

And of *course* Emily is the one to rethink smuggling those biscuits to Laurel. Teenagers, I think, can sometimes go too far when they go through their "rules are stupid because I know what I'm doing" phase--which isn't to say they're completely dim all the time.

The "Tristan lied" bit--aha. I really like the verb "lied" because it's so revealing, and only one syllable. I've used it in this way before (Tristan's dad asks if he's ever self-spelled before. '"No, never" Tristan lied.') Ultimately, your last guess was right--Emily knew he was lying because of what she learned via potion. If the prose there was confusing, it was probably because I was all like "IT'S A MYSTERY! SO MYSTERIOUS!!1!11!!"

Thank you for another wonderful review! I get really excited when I see one from you!

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Review #48, by CambAngstYear Five: Muggle Magic

28th July 2014:
Hello, again! So you've reviewed about a zillion of my chapters today and I'd feel bad about tagging you again. Hopefully another new reader will tag you and discover this awesome story!

Gah, poor Isobel! I don't know if you've read the book Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, but Isobel makes me think of it. In the book, Famine -- one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse -- is forced to reinvent himself after modern agriculture limits his opportunities. So he becomes a fad diet guru and essentially convinces vain people to starve themselves. Isobel's problems obviously run deeper than vanity, but the cabbage soup diet brought me right back to the concept. Unrelated tangential note: In the book, Pestilence is forced into retirement after the discovery of Penicillin, and is replaced by Pollution.

Isobel is hiding so many things from her family, I don't know how she keeps it all straight. I have even more respect for her intelligence after reading this chapter, although that intelligence is being applied to frightfully self-destructive purposes.

Wow, Doge and Dumbledore as a couple. It's not impossible to wrap my head around, but tricky. I think maybe a one-shot on the topic could help. ;)

I'm feeling... something for Isobel's parents. My knee-jerk reaction is to say "dislike", because a lot of her body image issues seem to arise from the way they're treated her in the past. It's horribly ironic that they would have noticed the issues when she was nearer to the heavy end of the spectrum and they seem oblivious to it now that she's inching toward the dangerously thin end of the spectrum. Except that they aren't completely oblivious. Her mother seems to have half a clue, she just isn't doing much with it. Maybe "disappointing" is a better word?

Ha! Emily's parents seem like the best kind of muggles. They're fascinated by magic, they live off the grid, they have a son who works at a growery... I love all of the back story that goes along with them. It's easy to see how Emily ended up the way she did. A smart, loving, carefree girl who's also a bit on the sensitive side because she was likely sheltered from some of life's crueler realities as a child.

At least Isobel's dad didn't come off like a complete jerk during the conversation. He's a little self-important, but not at all in the Lucius Malfoy sense.

Lucas seems like an all-around solid older brother. One thing I noticed that might or might not be a continuity error was the following in the author's note: Levinia was disowned by her family shortly after becoming pregnant with Emily, and moved to the Highland’s with Jim to set up a small, sustainable, organic farm--mirroring the American 'back to the land' movement of that era. If Lucas is the older sibling, did Levinia's parents approve of her husband and ideals for the first child but not the second? Just seems a bit odd. Not a big deal, though. I like the fact that Lucas asks the girls about recreational magic and what happened to Laurel. He probably sees enough "drug people" in his job that he's hip to some of the dangers.

I really liked the conversation between Lucas and Isobel. Might there be just a hint of a romantic interest there? I felt a little something...

Another awesome chapter! I'm looking forward to the reunion at St. Mungo's, even though it might not be so much fun to read.

Author's Response: No, I've never read it, but sounds super interesting, and I generally like Gaiman.

As for Doge and Dumbledore as a couple: reread Deathly Hallows with that in mind--totally implied! Or not. But enough for Isobel to get the same idea :)

Yeah, Isobel's parents are pretty imperfect--partially because of their desire to be perfect. They aren't bad people, but I've seen parents like these, who don't realize how much they're hurting their children in subtle ways. I had a friend who pulled an Isobel in her late junior-early senior year because of the stress of applying to college. Her mom was actually proud of her, and only realized later that her daughter's weight loss was a bad thing.

And for some reason, I really enjoyed writing Ahmad. He's a fun combination of intelligent, kind, arrogant, and oblivious. I imagined him as looking like the Hedge-Fund guy from Skins:Fire.

"A smart, loving, carefree girl who's also a bit on the sensitive side because she was likely sheltered from some of life's crueler realities as a child." Yeah! Exactly! Well, mostly! You'll see!

Ah, it should have said 'Lucas', not 'Emily.' Indeed a continuity error. Thanks for catching it! I don't edit my end notes nearly as thoroughly as my chapters!

Thank youuu for another review!


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Review #49, by CambAngstYear Five: War Children

28th July 2014:
Hello, again! Sorry for the long absence, but certain trade-offs were made to allow for the House Cup even and the piper had to be paid. Anyway, I'm back again and using the Common Room review thread as an excuse to kick this off.

TRISTAN had three times started a letter to Emily apologizing for avoiding her and explaining himself, and had three times torn the parchment to shreds. -- After the events of the last chapter it would have been easy to roll right into a thriving Tristan/Emily ship. You've set it up well. Nobody would have held it against you. Instead, you back them up a step, which is pretty much the way that actual angsty teenagers would behave. Pacing, pacing, pacing. This story always has excellent pacing!

Whoa! Of all the things that could possibly happen to a Hogwarts student, I think Snape trying to be supportive and comforting would be near the top of any decent list of the weirdest, most unsettling experiences. Like Tristan, though, I couldn't take any of it at face value. Snape just doesn't do things like this. And then at the end, the other shoe drops. Longbottom Maybe the R name I was looking for wasn't a surname? Maybe Tristan's middle name is actually Rabastan? Rodolphus? You really keep the mystery going!

Aww, it's so sweet that Emily wrote to Tristan's mom. Whether the teenagers realize it or not, that's something solid right there.

"Child of Sorrow" I feel like more and more pieces are falling into place. He was born during the Dark Lord's first rise to power, but well before Harry.

I like that he sees a choice with regard to Sophie where his mother only sees something that had to be done. She's a witch, he's a half-blood who prefers the muggle world in many ways. Makes sense.

Poor Eddie has so many things working against him that I have the utmost respect for the fact that he's willing to make a go at talking to Tristan. Given my doubts about whether Eddie is actually Tristan's father, my respect is that much greater. Poor bloke is trying so hard to do the right thing and I think he really might have gotten there if Tristan had been in a mood to give him have a chance. Kind of ironic that Tristan holds the muggle world in such high regard and yet he completely blows off the earnest muggle sitting in front of him with a hand held out in sympathy.

Ah, the visit to the dealer's seedy apartment. I might or might not be in a position to say that you captured the details of the experience sublimely. Drugs tend to lead you to hang out with people that you'd never in a million years associate with for any other reason. Also make decisions about your personal consumption that you wouldn't make otherwise. Again, excellent description of the physical effects of that decision.

Oh, wow. So Sophie had a boyfriend. Reintroducing her earlier in the chapter when Tristan's mom was talking to him was a small touch, but a really important one. It's a good thing Sophie's boyfriend buys the story about what happened. He didn't sound like anyone you'd want to mess with and Tristan was being stubborn about going out unarmed.

I hope that Tristan finds the wherewithal to buck up and go see Laurel. Probably won't happen, but I'm hoping anyway. He does, however, lower his walls just enough to sign his full name. Baby steps...

Great chapter! It had so many small things in it that added up to an excellent whole. Your writing was also error-free and it flowed very nicely. Loved it, can't wait to read more!

Author's Response: Ha, no worries! Although, your detailed and thoughtful review makes me feel hella guilty for the many nonsensical and repetitive ones I left on Detox.

Yeah, Tristan/Emily can't be that easy. It's only chapter five--where's the fun in that?

Hah, being offered tea by Snape is definitely one bazillion times more unsettling than being shouted at. Snape's fascinations and relationships with students are endlessly interesting. He spends 6 years verbally abusing Harry, but sacrifices himself for him. He weirdly loves Draco, despite that Snape's WHOLE LIFE is avenging Lily, and Draco is of Death Eater stock.

This story flowed in weirdly chronological order during the plunny phase. I came up with Tristan, and knew I wanted to kickstart the story with a woefully timed memory modification--BECAUSE THAT IS SO SAD. That whole idea, that the magical world could be a cruel place in novel ways, was really interesting to me. I also like that Tristan and his mates are kind of anti-statute-of-secrecy, and so were the Death Eaters/Grindelwald and co, but for very different reasons.

Your point about Eddie is really interesting. I feel like, in his own incorrigible way, Tristan actually gave his father more patience right then than he would anyone else for precisely those reasons. I mean, he was more honest than most kids would be in the same situation.

I had WAY too much fun writing the scene with "Spider." I actually researched the history of Sonic the Hedgehog to figure out if it was era appropriate to have multi-player mode, or if they had to switch.

Glad you liked the Sophie play-out! Wanted to remind readers that Tristan started the year in a really crappy way, lest I strain their capacity for sympathy too much with his prat-ness. I really CANNOT IMAGINE how traumatizing of a first time that would be--how lonely it would make someone feel, if the other person couldn't even remember it (and not in a real-world roofie way--which is entirely different).

Thank you for taking the time to review!!!

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Review #50, by CambAngstGhost in the Machine: Rebirth

24th July 2014:
Hi, Beeezie! I don't know whether you remember, but this story was actually one of the first that I ever wrote a review for on HPFF. It's been on my favorites list for ages and I've been dropping in on it every few months to see if it had been updated. I saw your Chapter Updates post this morning and I couldn't wait to find time to check it out.

You closed the loop on Lavender's self-imposed exile in a way that felt natural and complete. She's been down a very dark path and it took a very long time but she's finally found her way back to the light. I loved Seamus's persistence and his refusal to give up on her. The contrast you drew out between the type of support he's given her (pushing her recovery to the point of being annoying) and the type she's received from Parvati (being understanding to the point of enabling her problems) was really clever.

I liked the way you paced things. Nothing about her recovery felt like it happened unrealistically quickly. It takes time for her to accept Seamus's offer and it takes time for her to convince the Healer that she's ready. It all came together in a nice, organic sort of way.

I didn't see any typos or grammatical problems and everything flowed really smoothly. Congratulations on marking this story complete, and great job!

Author's Response: Thank you so much! I do remember - I was really touched and pleased, because this was kind of one of those stories that took on a life of its own once I started writing it. It's definitely one of my favorite things I've ever written. I've had the last chapter half done for ages, but I had a block on how I wanted to finish it. I'm really glad you think that I did it justice.

I'm also glad you liked the way I described the different supports Lavender got from the people around her. People like Seamus can be really annoying when you're in a bad place, and you can definitely start to resent them... but IME, they're also the ones who are often the most effective and helpful.

Thank you so much for the review, and for your support throughout the story. I really appreciate it.

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