This is such a powerful story. Your focus on how the thing that could have been Percy's absolute savior--his ambition--was also the thing that in the end led him astray. Your portrayal of Percy as someone performing as much for society as for himself is heartbreaking and strangely canon--what pressure, to live up to the eldest Weasley brothers, to do something expected and still end up happy!
Ugh. Utter and completely goosebumps at the line--they are stones in your pockets, dead weight, cast them off. This makes it so real. The allusion to suicide and the family as the rocks that he is using to aid in his own destruction is horrifying--it's freakish, and it's so, so touching. I don't know how to say how I feel, but this line burns, brighter, hotter, than others are burning, and I feel it.
Usually I'm not thrilled with stories that step back from the person and give an overview of their life but you do it so magnificently, believably in one little, tiny one-shot. I am actually so confused and awed at how you managed to portray a lifetime and still be so personal in less than a thousand words. Let's look at what you've done in concrete terms, if only to help me understand (because I do already appreciate, which is half the struggle--more than half): you've taken us outside of the present into this timeless, true narration, and then coupled that with the strikingly intimate insight into Percy's mind with his conscience, as you've labeled it yourself. I tend to read things like this conscience as just another version of the self presented outside of the parenthesis, because nobody is ever just one self, and to me the conscience reads as self-destructive at least half the time. Which might be why you've labeled it as fallible, but I think it's more: I think it's a negative force, one that's desperate and sad and just wants to make a way for Percy in this world that's confusing and small and large all at once.
It's funny how as somebody who has also written Percy and who feels so much sympathy for him this also shows the dark, purposeful side of his decline. I do feel for him, I do feel sympathy, but I also seem to take a step back and reconsider him, make up my mind again. Even if I do come out on the same side as I was before, what I mean is that this one-shot makes me spend time with a version of Percy that does so much justice to his character (you're in the habit of providing that!) that I'm using what I learn from you to make judgements about the canon Percy. This rarely happens with fic, but, well, here I am, amazed as ever ♥
In a word: CAN'T BELIEVE YOU WERE INSPIRED BY ME AND I LOVE THIS AND I seriously sound like a broken record when I cut off my reviews to you because it's always the same. You're such a consistently dazzling writer, with so much insight for someone your age. I don't try to say that you're young because I think it's a point against you, or as a way to belittle--I say it, I suppose, to reinforce my amazement and appreciation. I find it strange how writers who are quiet and have particular lives can so branch outside of themselves and understand anybody, if they try hard enough.
Author's Response: I am going to make a poor effort to respond to this now, or else I'll lose my courage to do so. As it is early morning, however, do not expect too much -- BUT I WILL TRY ~
This is another instance where you've picked out one of my favorite lines from the story, and without any prompting on my part, too. ♥ That's definitely a small allusion to Virginia Woolf and just the general idea of her death, so of course you picked up on it! I do love that line about the stones, though; I'm fairly proud of it. :3
You've no idea how much 'Bereft' inspired this little story, even though, as you point out rather aptly, it portrays Percy in a slightly different light. I can distinctly remember, when setting out to write this in the first place, trotting back over to your little one-shot and having another quick read-through, just to get myself in the proper mindset.
I'm really quite fascinated by your points about the second self and the conscience, too, and I think that in a way the fallible nature of Percy's conscience -- its advising him against logic for most of the story, basically -- is very much a part of its self-destructive tendencies. (Hello, headache, I cannot explain myself today.) I have much sympathy for Percy, it is true, and yet that doesn't allow me to look at him through rose-colored glasses, you know? I can see his flaws as easily as I can see his merits, and I have very distinct suspicions that you analyze characters in this way, too.
♥ You are absolutely fabulous. Full stop. Thank you so much for coming and looking at this story for me, and being so generally lovely about it, and for being not only a huge inspiration to me but a great friend in the exchange. YOU ARE FANTASTIC, LILY.