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2014-07-15 9:20pm
Excellent work on this one-shot! It's made me have to sit back and think about what you've done with Andromeda's character and about the way I've previously viewed her. This is a fantastic character study.

It's a difficult story to review because the pain of the narrative strikes one deeply - you make Andromeda's contradictions and difficulties real, bringing her to life in a way that I've never seen before. I really liked how you portrayed her as trapped between the two worlds - most stories about her seem to show how she left off being a Black much like Sirius did, but here you do something wonderfully different. She runs away impetuously without understanding the consequences - that it would mean cutting herself off entirely - and unlike Sirius, she doesn't move in with another pureblood family, and so the "culture shock" is that much more dangerous for her. It does make me wonder why she left - what was that inciting moment that made her steal away in the night? Or was it a very small thing that most people wouldn't even notice, yet for her it was the final straw?

Sorry, just thinking out loud (on paper?). I don't think that including that moment is necessary - all the readers need to know is that Andromeda regrets it for years. It guides her actions and makes what happens to her in DH that much more poignant. Both she and Bella - almost twins in appearance, so suitably similar in other ways - transform during adolescence, as though being separated brings them closer to darkness, Bella to the Dark Lord and Andromeda to melancholy, even depression. Andromeda distances herself from her new family, falling into herself so that it takes her a long time to realize how happy she is - you depicted her epiphany effectively, bringing out just enough angst with a hint of hope. Readers know that it still won't end well for her - that she'll be left alone - but at least for a short time she can fully appreciate the family she has (rather than the one she left behind).

The style was also effective - one can feel Andromeda cutting off her thoughts and the pain of disguising her regret, how she keeps wishing for that letter to come, for anything to signify that she is still part of them. Much of this story is perfectly restrained in its tone and language. The only section I would have liked to see more from was the final one - it seems lacking, her epiphany almost too quiet for it being such a monumental thing. This carries into the story's conclusion - that last paragraph doesn't fit there and makes the story lose its emotional power because it goes too far. The paragraph before it, on the other hand, makes a stronger conclusion, more focused on Andromeda. The slow steady beat of the clock is enough - to add that it's counting down the time isn't necessary - readers can interpret that for themselves. Does that make sense? Hopefully it helps you in some way.

My apologies for taking so long to complete this review. The only critique I can offer for this very well-written story is that you should reconsider the conclusion, and try to bring more emotion out of it to really make the story hit home. Other than that, amazing work!
2014-02-18 4:36pm
Excellent chapter! You've increased the suspense and continued the action wonderfully. I've enjoyed the hints about Ophelia, and I'm in wonder that Scorpius is so convinced that she's real, despite the fact that no one else seems to see her. Is she a ghost or malevolent spirit? Or is she, even worse, a projection of Scorpius's mind, a version of himself who isn't afraid, who dares him to do more - his own Tyler Durden. It's fantastic to see how you write this style of story with its combination of psychological suspense and horror. It makes this story stand out from others that I've been reading - it's the kind of story that has you guessing and second-guessing the whole way through.

This is one of those chapters that makes me go asdfghjkl afterwards because I want to leap into the story and make the main character do the right thing. That's a good feeling to have when reading, though, as it demonstrates how well the author has brought the story to life - your characters are especially realistic. Scorpius is amazingly written, his confusion and frustration at times overwhelming, yet perfectly suited to someone of his age and situation. He reminds me of both Harry and Snape, who also underwent terrible experiences with their peers, and like Scorpius, they both reacted terribly at times, resorting to violence without fully comprehending the consequences and the danger of it. I think that's why McGonagall showed understanding for what Scorpius had done - it was a great parallel with Harry's use of Sectumsempra. It came from the same kind of feelings Harry was undergoing, his hatred for this enemy, someone who had been bullying him (though certainly not to the same extent that Ismeme has been bullying Scorpius). Yet even though Ismeme really is a terrible person, I loved how Scorpius felt absolutely terrible about what he'd done to her. It not only emphasizes that he's still a good person, but it also shows how he understands (at least to a certain degree) that, no matter how badly she's treated him, she doesn't deserve that kind of punishment, that kind of torture. That curse is awful - it even sounds worse than Crucio.

But what's going to happen next is the big question? How will people react to Scorpius's changing behaviour? What will Scorpius do about Ophelia - will he continue to follow her influence, or will this be enough for him to cut himself off from her? And if he does succeed at fighting her influence, what will she do to him? There are so many questions! :D I'll be on the lookout for the next chapter! Amazing work!
Oh Amanda, this is wonderful! I was intrigued at the sight of a Slughorn story, and what you've done with it is amazing. It's filled with hope, looking forward into a brighter future despite the mistakes and failures of the past. If that's not inspirational, I don't know what is. I expected it to be darker, angstier, but that's the very misconception of Slytherins that you challenge with this story - not all Slytherins are villains, many of them, like Slughorn and (surprisingly! wonderfully!) Millicent, embody the traits of Slytherins in alternative ways - two sides of the same coin.

You've done a fantastic job at expanding the canon characterization of Slughorn, further humanizing him, drawing out his optimism and his love of people - he may also love what they can bring him, but here you show that he loves the connection with them and the knowledge that he has helped them reach a high position in life. He's disappointed when they fail because he knows they could have done better - the degree of optimism he has in regard to each student is almost painful because you show him believing so much in their abilities and potential. It reveals how much Slughorn genuinely cares about his students and how much he respects them - he sees their strengths and tries to guide them in the right direction. And somehow because of this, despite his own weaknesses, Slughorn becomes one of the better teachers at Hogwarts.

The style of this story is also lovely. There's something very soothing about your narration here that I can't quite describe - it's in the rhythm of the sentences and the word choice. It suits Slughorn, particularly at this pensive moment. It also suits the ending perfectly because, while the office is chaotic and blood stained, one comes to feel at peace, ready to move forward. I don't know how you did it, but it's brilliant how seamlessly you link the style and content of this story.

Incredible work on this! Your stories are always a pleasure to read, but this one was especially striking and poignant.

Author's Response: Thanks so much, Susan!

Yeah, the story definitely has a dark theme, but I usually try to end on a happy note because I think that can sometimes add a new dimension of meaning. As you know from my response to your TGS MTA question, this piece was originally meant to be more dismal and involve Salazar instead of Slughorn, but I actually like this take better because it does allow for that little sense of hope and the redefinition of what it means to be a Slytherin. It's not a sentence of doom :)

I wanted to go below the shallow surface of Slughorn's character and really delve into the pain and regret he must feel given his disappointment in Tom and many other Slytherins. He had to learn that a good pedigree and prodigious magical talent did not always translate to model citizenship. It was a difficult lesson, perhaps foremost because--as you point out--he clearly does care about them and has become personally invested in their success, though I'm sure many of them look back on their time in his club with less gravity than he does. I think he really takes his duties as a teacher seriously and goes above and beyond them.

I'm pleased to hear that the flow and word choice worked well and you liked the contrast between Slughorn's ruined office and his sense of satisfaction at the story's conclusion. I meant to emphasize that not all is lost, and new photographs can always be taken, new directions taken in the future. Slytherin isn't finished after all.

Thank you for this really sweet review!

2014-02-02 8:54pm
If last chapter made me flail, then this one is pure asdfghjkl because oh my gosh the flashbacks to the kiss and the secret hand-holding under the table and the glances across the room and wow. So far this is the kind of romance that makes a person melt from the chair. Can they like stop being so cute?

I've never seen the secret-romance type story written so sweetly and fluffily. It's almost funny how no one around them is noticing that anything is going on between them - you'd think the romantic feels would be radiating through the air at this point. But at the same time, it makes sense that no one notices because it suggests that no one in Molly's family thinks that any romance between them would be possible - it's so out of the question that it's beyond their wildest imaginings. That makes me worry what would happen once they do know about this relationship. Would they assume that Oliver is taking advantage of Molly? (Though it's very clear from the reader's perspective that he's not.) I really like how, when Molly is worrying, it's not about her family or other people's opinions - she worries about herself, thinking through her attraction to this man, what it means and how it affects her. That says a lot about her personality and her independence. She stands out from the Weasleys in more ways than simply her appearance.

It's also great to see you including Roxy and Dominique in fairly prominent roles, rather than the usual set of younger cousins, and that Molly's relationship with them and her sister is positive. They're all close, but not too close - just comfortable friends and cousins who support and accept Molly, even if she is different from them. It'll be interesting to see how her relationship with them is affected by her relationship with Oliver - I think they'll continue to support her, or rather I hope that they do (it'll be most awkward with Lucy, of course - "sorry I'm dating your boss?").

There are a couple of little things: "envelope" instead of "envelop", and some of the narration that accompanies dialogue makes it less clear who's speaking. One example is with the lines “Enjoying yourself?” Molly took another sip of her drink and nodded. / “Yes. And you?” Oliver smiled, filling a glass for himself as well.. I know that Oliver asks whether she's enjoying herself, but by putting Molly's name beside it, it's less clear. Does that make sense?

This is my favourite of the two chapters because you wrote the romance so well here, including just the right details - the little things like the way he doesn't let go of her hand at the end. It's perfect. ^_^ Great work on this story! I'll be on the lookout for an update.
2014-02-02 7:26pm
That ending! *flails* It's definitely squee-worthy, though it's a slightly guilty-pleasure squee because of the pairing. I don't know why, but May-December romances are strangely interesting to read, perhaps because they have that extra difficulty to them, giving the characters something to constantly struggle against (particularly because of the way that society views those pairings). Somehow you make it seem so natural between Molly and Oliver, as though time was just waiting for them to meet - they just click in a moment of mutual attraction.

And the attraction makes sense because, although they're in very different fields, they seem to have similar personalities, or at least similar perspectives on the world. Both are driven by work to the extent that they prefer to avoid social situations, yet one-on-one, they're fine. But even in their speech, they tend toward short explanations, always to the point, not wasting words or the time spent speaking them. Interestingly enough, they also share an appreciation of aesthetically pleasing things, be it the view from his office window or each other's appearance. They do seem to fascinate one another in an endearing way. ^_^

The only thing I can think to critique is that, toward the end of the chapter, it would help to have additional narration to enhance the dialogue. I'd love to see more of Molly's reaction to the fact that Oliver is the same age as her father, even shared a dormitory with him. And how does Oliver react to learning that she's Percy's daughter? It'd be great to see more facial reactions and more details there to give more insight to the characters' thoughts and emotions.

Off to the next chapter! I'm really interested in seeing where you take this story. It's fantastic to see you back writing again! :D
2014-02-02 5:21pm
This is fantastic! There are a number of really cutting-edge stories being posted lately, and this is definitely one of the best - imagine writing about James's parents! As rival journalists! This is going to be a very fun story to follow, and it's going straight-away on my favourites list. :D

A lot of what makes this story work so well is the energy that radiates from every line, each of the characters emerging fully-formed. I could imagine the scene clearly in my head, though you never allowed the descriptions to overwhelm the story - you instead focus on the action, the sharp dialogue, and Andy's determination. The latter of these is another key point for this story. Andy is a brilliant character, and it's great to come across a story where the characterization of an OC comes across so strongly in the first chapter. Those first paragraphs bring her to life with all the little details you include about her and Corrine. I was reminded of Bel and Lix from "The Hour", fighting against misogyny and working hard to deliver the best news.

The dialogue in this story stands out. You've captured a mid-twentieth century feel quite effectively - I love that kind of attention to detail in a period piece. And it gives the characters that much more personality too.

I'm looking forward to seeing how you develop this story. It will be interesting to see what Glenn Potter is like, whether he'll be the same kind of newsman as Desmond and Turner, and if not, what will make him stand out from the crowd. What kind of scoop does he really have with that crazy headline? How will Andy react to him, and how will their relationship develop? Even more so, however, I look forward to seeing how Andy makes her place in this world and proves that she's the best journalist at the Prophet. Excellent work with this first chapter! :D

Author's Response: Hi Susan!

Wow, thank you! I'm really pleased you think so. This idea just popped into my head and James' parents just seemed like the perfect characters for the era I wanted to write.

I'm actually really pleased you think that because, to be honest, I just wrote this whole chapter in one sitting. The ideas just came to me, so I'm glad you think the characters are good so far. Attention to detail is always the best thing! I study history currently, so I'm a bit of a stickler for historical detail. So, I'm pleased you appreciated that.

Well, I hope I've kept you intrigued enough to see just how Glenn Potter will turn out and how the crazy headline they have will work!

Thanks very much and thank you for reviewing!
2014-01-31 9:46pm
Oooh a mystery story! There are never enough of these on the site, and I particularly like how you've set this one up. Lily as a wizarding pathologist is fantastic! It's one area of Healing that never gets referred to, and certainly never gets a story about it. I'm interested to know more about your version of Lily, her relationship with her family and how one becomes a wizarding pathologist (or even just the kinds of things a wizarding pathologist does - I liked the anti-germ charm!). She's brimming with curiosity and a love of puzzles, but at the same time she still sees each of the bodies as people, and she hesitates at revealing their painful secrets. That'll be a great tension to explore in this story, especially because she's so closely linked to it. (Will she be forced off the case because of it? Do the wizards have rules about those things?)

This is an intriguing start to your story! That's quite a way to end the first chapter - a certain way to keep readers hooked. And I love how you built up the suspense, leaving readers just waiting for something to happen. This is especially evident as Lily slowly pulls back the sheet, noting the things she sees in a clinical manner appropriate to her position. It's excellent how you use rhythm and sentence length in those last two paragraphs, the first of which is carefully drawn out with commas, while the second paragraph literally hits the reader.

Going back to the beginning section of the chapter, it's an effective way of beginning a mystery story. Showing the murderer's perspective in that first scene is something I've always enjoyed in crime shows - it sets the mood and brings the reader, not only into the story, but into the case. We were there, but even we couldn't see who did it, and that heightens one's curiosity, even as it increases one's fear of the killer because we've seen first-hand what they're capable of and looked into their mind.

This will be a fantastic story to follow, and I look forward to seeing how you develop the plot and characters from here. :D You've done an excellent job so far!

Author's Response: Wow, hi Susan, it's so fantastic and unexpected to see you here!

I know what you mean about mystery stories, I rather enjoy writing them myself though I do try and limit myself when writing them otherwise I begin to view everything in real life as a mystery :P Haha, I have to admit the pathologist is sort of a wish fulfilment on my part because I used to want to be one, so I'm really excited to explore this job and with magic a lot more, so I hope you like it too! I'm glad you picked up on her reluctance with the secrets because it will grow more and more important as the story progresses. As for the other two questions, I would love to answer them but that would give away the next chapter, so you'll just have to wait!

Wow, that means a lot to me because you're so good at cliff-hangers yourself! Yes, it's taken me a while to realise how much the sentence structure and punctuation used within it effect the suspense, but now I've grasped that it's almost more fun thinking about how comma placement can drag it out rather than the actual sentence (haha, I sound so sad now :P).

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the murderer's perspective because at first they weren't actually going to feature, but then when editing it it only seemed fitting to include it because just seeing Rose's body there instead made it feel a little disconnected and then there would be even less of the murderer.

Thank you for such a fantastic review, it really made my day getting it! I hope you enjoy the rest of it. :D

2014-01-31 6:57pm
This is an amazing story, not to mention an amazing idea for a story. The whole notion that Voldemort's name held so much power, even after his death, is a fascinating aspect of wizarding history and culture, and I love how you've constructed a story around it. His name succeeded where he did not, becoming immortal, striking fear into a person's soul, and in this case, corrupting that soul with nightmares until it owns her. There's a culture of fear around Voldemort's name and around him within the magical community, which is something that I've never seen explored with such depth. It's a psychologically complicated story about what it means to fear something and the isolation that comes with it. It's the kind of story that leaves one thinking and unable to stop thinking about it - it strikes that deeply.

For instance, the name is essentially meaningless to the girl for a long time, and it's that very meaningless that haunts her. And in the end, she has to strip the word of meaning - of the meanings she's given it in her nightmares, from half-heard whispers and sugar-coated versions of the truth. Voldemort has to be meaningless again for her to stop fearing it. And what's really interesting is that she has to conquer the name in order to conquer her fear of it - it's no longer her imprinting meaning onto the name, but rather the name being imprinted onto her. The complexity of it is mind-blowing.

The ending, though triumphant, still has a dark twist to it, and I can't help but wonder what she will do now that she owns that segment of chilling inhumanity. What will she do with it? With herself? As much as it's a story about fear, it's also an interesting coming-of-age story ending with the moment when she's ready to move on and assert her own place in the world. One could read this story metaphorically, where Voldemort stands for all the horrors of the adult world - violence, hate, suffering, hopelessness. It's perfect that she imprints the name on her skin because that way she's not running away from it - she accepts it as her own, as part of herself, as part of being human (the chilling inhumanity of humankind?).

There are so many possibilities! So many readings for this story! It's an English major's dream (or nightmare, depending :P). I'm going to be puzzling over the various facets of this story for a while. Thank you for this! I love coming across this kind of fanfiction that teases out the complex and fascinating potential offered by the Potterverse.

This is a brilliant one-shot, very creative and thought-provoking! I must read more of your stories!

Author's Response: Ahh, I'm so glad you liked the story! Thank you so much! I love writing stories which are based more in abstract or psychological concepts and fears, rather than actual antagonists, so when I got this summary in the unexpected summary challenge I immediately had an idea of what I wanted to write for it. I've always found the fact that voldemorts name was such a taboo to be very interesting, and I really enjoyed exploring it. The whole of wizarding society is affected by the fear of his name, but taking it to the extreme here was a really interesting way for me to explore the concept.

I'm really glad you think that ending was complex! I really try and put as many layers of meaning into things as I can but I'm never sure if people pick up on them. For her the worst thing is definitely the fact that she didn't know what the name meant at first, and that she had imprinted so many of her own fears onto it, trying to figure out what it could be, that in the end it just came to represent EVERYTHING which was bad in any way, which is a terrible thing for anyone to live with, because it meant she couldn't separate out her fears anymore and became consumed by them. Taking ownership if the name, in a way, was the only way she could really beat that.

While I won't ever expand on this story, I do find it interesting to think of what she'll do next. The whole time I was writing this I was in her very broken headspace when she couldn't really focus on ANYTHING, and after the end when she is freed from that I'm really not sure what she would go on to. I think she would still not be okay for a while, would be restless, would probably travel around feeling aimless, live with her parents for a while, get some odd jobs... But eventually I think it would be nice if she got a job related to the mental health field, like helping children with phobias or something. But who knows.

Thank you so much for this awesome review, sorry the response is so late!

2014-01-31 1:15am
Wow! Where to start! This story has so much going on and so much going for it - of all the possible situations I've ever imagined for Pansy, this is definitely not one of them, and you address that wonderfully because Pansy feels the same way. I loved that part at the beginning where she describes her upbringing and how her parents did everything to keep her life perfect. That suits the canon Pansy... well... perfectly. It explains quite a lot about her snobbishness and the way that she makes fun of Hermione - who would certainly be, in Pansy's eyes, the ultimate imperfect. It doesn't make her actions forgivable, but it does put them into perspective. You emphasize how Pansy was raised to a particular way of life and, more importantly, a particular ideology that she's been cruelly wrenched away from. You've positioned her so that she's forced to live an entirely different existence, yet she doesn't give up and doesn't show any signs of weakness. Here, in all places, she's able to do what she refused to do at the Battle of Hogwarts: fight.

The one thing that I'm not sure about in this story is the breaking of Pansy's wand. That's a pretty drastic thing to have done, and I'd like to hear more about it at some point in this story. How many others are in Pansy's situation? What kind of measures did the Ministry think were necessary against anyone associated with the Death Eaters? Is Pansy sent to Nevada, or does she choose it as a place safely far enough away from home? I want to know more! But I suppose that's the whole point of a prologue - to make your poor readers thirsty for more.

This is excellently-written, which is of course no surprise. I really like your take on Pansy and her future after the war - it's fresh and original, and it'll be fantastic to see where you take this story. I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to read it!

Author's Response: Hello, Susan! Wow, thank you! Coming from such a talented author as yourself, I'm really pleased that you're enjoying this story, and my interpretation of Pansy! I certainly do feel like she would be brought up to aim for a standard, and that standard is perfection. In fact, this is why I love making her current situation so imperfect, because it shows the resilience that I don't think she realizes she has. She won't fight for Voldemort, or Harry, but here, she'll fight for herself, and I love her selfishness because it's very black-and-white.

That definitely will be explored in a future chapter; I was concerned about being repetitive and interrupting the flow of this prologue. I agree that it was a drastic thing, but after Draco and Lucius walked free with Harry's assistance, I think the Ministry wanted vengeance and Pansy became the scapegoat. Again, this will be explored in the future - chapter three, if all goes to plan.

Thank you so much for your lovely comments on this story, and it's great to hear that you're finding it original! I hope the future chapters are as enjoyable for you as this prologue is! :)
2014-01-31 12:36am
You wrote a Teddy/Rose story! If I'd known sooner I'd have leapt on it right away. You had me right from the beginning and I wasn't able to look away. The structure is beautifully put together, and I especially like how it's easy to follow and still stylistically complex - that's a really difficult balance to achieve, and you did so effortlessly here. The story is a puzzle, presenting that strong image of Teddy in the snow, then leaving readers to slowly piece together how he got there. But even better, you show how he picked himself up again and made things right.

You've done fantastically with the ship, finding a new and really compelling way of constructing their relationship. You make it wonderfully complicated, and for much of it I was truly wondering why reviewers were calling this a fluffy story because it seemed that their relationship had hit rock bottom. What I think I love most about this story is how you aren't afraid to deal with heavier subject matter in a story that is, overall, fluffy. They're both flawed, human characters, and it's great to see how you've characterized them in creative ways. They're still both Rose and Teddy, easily recognizable, but you approach them from new directions, and I really admire that.

One thing that stood out was how Teddy sees Rose in a very particular way, and that's how he makes his fatal error. He constructs her as the quiet bookworm even though she herself does reject the image, answering his question about school in way that bookworm!Hermione never would have done. Rose isn't her mother, no matter how she may appear so initially. And you also show how Teddy is just bad at reading people, or maybe just women, by referring to his experience with Victoire, thus suggesting that he's made the same mistake with Rose. There's a lot more to Rose than Teddy realizes - even by the end, we don't really know what kind of pain Rose suffered from. Teddy has been so consumed by his jealousy (in his quiet rather passive aggressive way) and his insecurity that he doesn't stop to ask Rose why. He's an endearing Teddy, but he's also an appropriately frustrating Teddy, like his father with his doubts and insecurity. The baby can't entirely save their relationship, but hopefully Teddy's recognition of his mistake will make a big difference - I like the fluffiness of the ending, but I can't help wanting to know more about what happens to them now. This is actually testament to how well you've written these characters and if you write a million sequels you'll have my undying affections. ^_^

Amazing work! It was lovely to see you'd written a Teddy/Rose, but an absolute treat to find out how wonderful it was to read!
This was another enjoyable chapter to read! As I thought, it was worth waiting to see more of what Alara can do and better gauge her personality (you can probably guess that I'm out of practice with reading OC stories). Even now I want to know more about her, and I like how you're introducing new aspects of her history and her abilities slowly. You've also used the duelling scene to show readers her skills and judge these skills for themselves - she is almost a match for Snape (he does have more experience on his side, as well as the fact that he designed the place) and I can easily see how successful she must have been as an Auror. I'm interested to learn more about what she had to do during the war and how she dealt with the Death Eater control of the Ministry - it's something that links her to Snape, makes her understand what he was doing more than others, who weren't forced to play a role, would.

The one thing I have to admit being skeptical about still is the special wand. It's likely a matter of needing to learn more about it - you've provided the basic background information, but I can sense that there's a much bigger story involved. In a way, I suppose it's like the positive, white magic, female (as in ancient earth/healing goddess magic) version of the Elder Wand, passed down through virtue rather than prowess. What I find interesting is that Alara doesn't embody the virtues of the wand in an obvious way - she has the apt speech and eminence (to a degree just short of pride), but one has to read between the lines to see her goodness and charity (which partially drove her to speak up for Snape at the trial). I'm curious as to how you'll develop this aspect of the story - will Alara have to prove herself in some way? Will some danger arise that requires her particular abilities to resolve? Will the past somehow come to haunt her? It'll be fun to see what happens.

The action scene in this chapter is fantastic! You found just the right way of describing it so that it came across vividly while also maintaining a fast pace, and of course I really enjoyed the creativity of the whole duel scene. It shows how complex magic can be when practiced by experts, those with a thorough understanding of both theory and practice, which is something we only get glimpses of in the books, such as when young Snape creates his own spells, or when McGonagall or Dumbledore cast a highly advanced spell. What also stood out was how Alara and Snape discussed the spells as they used them. Part of it was to goad each other, but at the same time, they're both genuinely interested in this material, their subjects requiring the most complicated spell-work of all the subjects offered at Hogwarts. What you demonstrate with this is that, while Snape was involved with the Dark Arts, his interest is more with the spells and the intellectual exercise involved in using them. But he really holds back no punches, doesn't he? He's still the same professor, dangerous to have in the classroom because you never know when he might seriously injure someone or otherwise scar them for life. I love the idea of the duelling room because, as Harry proved, it's crucial for the students to know how to defend themselves and actually use magic, but will it work in practice? We'll see.

Excellent work with this chapter! It's been a pleasure to read this story so far, and it'll be great to see how you continue to develop the plot and characters! :)

Author's Response: The wand was a literary device I used to communicate several things about the character in a short span of time, at least at this point in the story. Not quite the Elder Wand, more like Lucius Malfoy's wand, a family heirloom handed down through the centuries. This one just has a bit of a story around its creation, enhanced by it's peculiar loyalty to Ravenclaw witches. It's importance to the story won't be the driving theme, but it will come back a few times.

The traits are also viewed from undoubtedly a Ravenclaw perspective, a Hufflpuff may not see "charity" the way that she does, though I think we'll start to glimpse some of it in the next chapter when we find out a bit more about what Alara did during the war.

Thanks for the kind words!
Excellent work with this story so far! It's been some time since I read a Snape/OC, and I'm glad to find one that's so well-written. Writing about Snape is difficult at the best of times, but it's even more of a challenge in a post-Hogwarts context because there's a painful amount of difficult issues to deal with. It's great to see how you've navigated many of these issues within a single chapter.

I especially liked the court case, not only because it gave interesting insight into how the Ministry handled such cases in the aftermath of the war, but also because of the way it allowed for arguments from both sides. Gladys's side had its merits, and I don't think it was right of Shaklebolt to pass judgement on her like that - although she shouldn't be using Snape as the scapegoat, Snape did do some pretty awful things. At the very least, he's guilty for the death of Charity Burbage, and the role he played at Hogwarts was a difficult one, very ambiguous (because he was limited in how much he could help the Order's cause when under such close scrutiny by the Carrows). So I can see Gladys's side, and she voices opinions shared by many.

But it's interesting how the worst punishment for Snape was the thing that pardoned him. That was brilliantly done! If there's one thing Snape would despise it's pity. It was equally interesting how absent he was, how silent and passive, letting himself be picked u and taken to Hogwarts although he must not have wanted to be there again. Yet he really has nothing else he can do - it's his only home outside of Spinner's End (an even worse place for him to go to), and teaching is the only profession he's known. His attitude in these scenes perfectly suits the trauma he's experienced - almost dying, being thrown into Azkaban for a while, undergoing a trial with his most painful secret brought to light... I was waiting for the moment when he would snap and his temper be unleashed.

The scene at the end stood out because you give readers a look into Snape's mind and his emptiness. You reveal so much about him that was fascinating to read. That what he did for Harry was an obligation, that he was always someone else's man rather than his own, not even left with his own thoughts (or to have thoughts of his own). He doesn't see himself as a hero, as the person Harry has claimed him to be. And it's all of these things, piled high on his head, that cause him to lash out at Alara. It's not she herself that he dislikes, it's what she represents because of what she said in court - that he's trustworthy and not guilty. Snape wanted to be punished, and she stands for the group who wanted to exonerate him. It was actually great to see Snape being himself, angry and unpleasant, but at the same time, I like the developments you've given him - especially how he says "Hufflepuff" instead of "werewolf". He has learned, he can move forward (especially seeing that he's one of the staff who is marked, a social pariah, a representative of Hogwarts's new era - he can't escape the fact that he's on the same level as Brandon now).

I haven't said much about Alara yet, and I won't say too much until I read more of the chapters (which I'm looking forward to doing!). She comes on very strong in the first scene, and I immediately was taken by her - she's very much a Ravenclaw, her words heavily guided by reason, weighing the facts carefully before coming to her conclusion. For this reason, I was surprised that, in the final scene with Snape, she breaks so easily. Snape does call her a failure (which is very painful for a Ravenclaw) and explains why what she did heightened the "public fascination" with his memories, but her apologies seemed too profuse. That's why I'm curious to learn more about her, so that I can see whether there's something more to her that explains this.

One more point to make is that the scenes between the professors were excellent. I enjoyed hearing about the reconstruction of Hogwarts and the many considerations that had to be made in hiring new staff, putting the castle back together, and improving the general running of the school. Although Snape is back as Head of Slytherin, hopefully there can be less conflict between the houses, and if there's one person who can make this happen, it's McGonagall. Your portrayal of her so far is great - in fact, all of the canon characters are wonderfully portrayed.

Apologies for the long review and the length of time it took to write it, but I'm very pleased to have found this story. Hopefully others will discover your work soon because you're an excellent writer who deserves more recognition!

Author's Response: Thanks for the kind words! I guess I envision Snape as being completely broken. One of the things that drove this story into being is the fact that I feel that Snape's death is a bit of a cheat. I understand why JKR did it, but how you lose EVERYTHING you hold dear and rebuild your life after it is of interest to me, so I really needed to have him completely gutted and unable to even react anymore. I'm sure that there was some prisoner abuse, and given that he was wandless, completely unable to defend himself.

Alara is a bit of an enigma, to be sure. I envision her being something of a hatstall between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, I eventually made her into a Ravenclaw simply because Snape would never let a Gryff get close enough to him to help him heal. But she needs that Gryffindor bravery to not only do the work during the war that she did, but also to stand up to him. Why she breaks down is really a bit more in the subtext and you won't find that out for several chapters, but what you can glean from it so far is that it had been a long day. Trial in the morning, stuck with a moody, dark former teacher all the ride back to Hogwarts, then having to admit her failure-- she's very Hermione-like in that respect, failure is not something she tolerates in herself. She was just as emotionally exhausted as he was, and they each reacted in their own way, her by beating herself up, him by berating others. It won't be the last time she overreacts to failure, she's a bit emotional when it comes to that. She has high expectations of herself and is very driven. But the war has also wounded her in ways that she doesn't realize yet.

Wow! This is an intense story - amazingly written. There's a lot going on here, and it's brilliant to see how many layers you've built into it. So here goes:

Your characterization of Sirius has turned out very well, but my favourite part is the desk. It has a life of its own, pretty much seducing Sirius, enticing him like a spider does a fly. The desk alone carries a great deal of meaning - it's a Pandora's Box, releasing all but hope, but it also reveals a lot about Walburga. She fears it too (what would her boggart be, I wonder? The destruction of the family, I assume.), but the fact that she can't part with it is everything. The Black family always comes first - every treasure, every ounce of pride must be maintained for the glory of the family, no matter the cost to its actual members. And in the end, all she has are the treasures and her pride - the name is dead. The last line of the story raises a number of questions about Walburga, gesturing toward an internal struggle, much repressed by the extent to which she values the Black name. She doesn't want the desk - she fears it, possibly even hates it, but she sacrifices her own desires because it's an heirloom. It introduces a different reading of Sirius's behaviour - he refused to sacrifice his desires and repress his feelings for the sake of the family. (He was right to do so on a moral level, but from Walburga's perspective, only those morals related to the family have meaning.) Sirius instead creates a family that requires a very different set of sacrifices, but that too is destroyed, his greatest fear becoming reality.

(And all of this comes out of 500 words?! But there's more.)

This story is also fascinating because you've taken a single moment in time and shown how its influence spreads outward. It particularly affects Sirius, and it demonstrates another reason why returning to Grimmauld Place and technically being imprisoned there was so difficult for him. If this is his last memory of the place, then returning there, knowing that desk is there, knowing what it showed him and the painful foreshadowing of his friends' deaths... wow. It also explains why he so easily sympathizes with Molly's boggart - her vision may have been less gruesome, but it was no less traumatic. They both love deeply, and losing the objects of that love terrifies them (when you think of it, how many characters in canon have such boggarts? More seemed to fear objects, so it says a lot about Sirius and Molly that they instead fear the deaths of others.)

Sirius's boggart also incorporates guilt into its projection of Sirius's fears. It's not merely their deaths that terrify him, it's that they will come as a result of his actions. The foreshadowing here has given me the chills. That guilt tears him apart, so that he becomes as insane as his mother - he feels that he has destroyed what he valued most, and she has destroyed what she (should have) valued most. Sirius feels guilt for something that wasn't his fault, and Walburga refuses to take the blame for something that was. And both characters are connected by this desk, by the blood and family that possesses them.

This has probably gone too far outside of your story. The short of it is that this story has made me think a lot about these two characters, and I'm amazed by what you've written and the implications it has on how one can interpret Sirius and Walbugra. Once again, you've created a brilliant work of art!

Author's Response: Hey Susan! Sorry for my delayed reply :)

I really like the contrast you've drawn between Sirius's idea of family and his mother's notion of family. It speaks of differing priorities. Walburga is hung up on her family's wealth and status and seems to be compelled, by a combination of fear and selfishness, to hold onto the writing desk. Sirius, on the other hand, is really focused on his "new family" and the happiness of pleasant company and acceptance that awaits him.

Yeah, my thinking was that Sirius would really, really identify with Molly in that canon moment where she saw her dead family members after interacting with the boggart, if something like this had happened to him. I like your comment on Sirius returning to the house and immediately recalling his last, most traumatic memory there. I'm sure it added a new level to his frustration and dissatisfaction with being stuck in the house and unable to get out and fight the war. I really like how you've made me think through the deeper meaning of this story.

Thanks so much for your awesome review!

I really can't express how excited I am about this story! This will be a short review because there is too much to say and far too much flailing would occur. So to save you from the squees and flails...

What you have here is fantastic. The style feels very 19th century in the rhythm of the sentences and your descriptions - it's hard to put words to what exactly that style is, but you've captured it very well. I was looking forward to seeing how you'd approach the period after your topic on the forums, and there's a lot of important aspects you've included, from the decorum and rituals of society to the wondrous fashions of Bathilda (her hat made me laugh even though I'm sure someone back then actually had a hat like that). Two things in particular stood out in regard to the setting/atmosphere.

The first is Albus's performance of the proper Victorian gentleman in contrast to his brother, who pretty much stepped out of a Thomas Hardy novel. It fits perfectly with canon, but it's also a major concern of the Victorian period, the idea of the natural person versus the person constructed by society. Albus tends to live by the book - even Gellert acknowledges this, and calls Albus out for it. It's at once his strength and his weakness - he represses too much of his feeling, and thus loses both Ariana and Gellert, but it also gives him the strength to fight against Gellert (despite what he feels for him). Aberforth is easily the happier brother, more at home in nature, separating himself from the complexities and contradictions of human society. I really like how you've characterized both brothers so far. There's already so much one could say about them, dissecting their characters to one's heart delight, and I'm excited to see how you'll develop them from here.

The other thing that stood out was the wonderful Gothic atmosphere you evoked in the section with Ariana. It has shades of "Turn of the Screw" in it for sure, as well as shades of the Brontes' novels, but it's also very much your own. I loved the way you described Ariana's magic and her "affliction" and the way it burned in her veins and filled her mind, making everyday things seem supernatural. And that last line. ^_^ She could have been a victim, but she doesn't accept that role - that image of her fighting the blanket being wrapped tightly around her again and again is excellent for symbolising her struggle against the barriers her family and society have placed upon her. Not only is she a young girl, but she's different (dangerous), and in that world, it makes her almost worthless. But you show that she's strong. Despite their weaknesses, the three Dumbledores are strong people.

Okay, this review is starting to get long, and I haven't said enough about the letter. The voice of Gellert Grindelwald was haunting. It came across so powerfully that I could hear it in my head - in a rather Moriarty-ish voice - but the best part was when the flow of his words began to break, revealing how overwhelmed he is by hate. It is the betrayal that angers him most, and in revenge he attacks Albus with the best ammunition he knows: Albus's guilt. Ugh, it was perfect.

This is the kind of story I wish I could have written. The subject matter is fascinating, multi-faceted with plenty of grey area to explore. These characters are complex to the extreme, where all of them are victims and villains in their own way - they all destroy one another, no matter how good their intentions may have been. And of course it's also a period piece, for which you've done excellent research. The resulting chapter is brilliantly-put together - it's an amazing introduction to your story!

(And yes, this review did get long although I tried to hold back.)

It's an automatic favourite - I knew even before reading it that it would be perfect, and it's even better than I imagined!

Author's Response: Hello Susan! ♥

Oh my goodness, what an amazing and detailed review! I'm sitting here, reduced to a pile of squees, but I'll do my best to coherently answer all the wonderful and very perceptive points you brought up.

First, thank you SO MUCH for your comments on the style! When I was writing this, I honestly didn't think I could accurately employ a 19th century style of writing; I'm very much a contemporary writer, and I think my usual style is quite informal. With this fic, I pretty much decided to be a little more formal with my sentences and with things like dialogue, but otherwise to write as I normally do, so my writing won't be completely unrecognisable to myself. :P Your comment really means a lot to me, and it has definitely made me feel more confident with how I'm approaching the story.

Young Albus Dumbledore is indeed a very restrained character; he does keep up a very clean public appearance, and I think I was a bit influenced by Aberforth's story in DH, about how Albus was brought up with "secrets and lies", which he learned at his mother's knee, or something like that. He is very much the responsible gentlemanly figure, and he did do his best to help Kendra maintain the Dumbledore family image. I'm so, so glad you picked up on how he lives "by the book"! I intend to explore this characteristic of his a little more; he is certainly going to be a bit of a contrast to Gellert (and to Aberforth as well). I think I'm going to enjoy exploring all the flaws of young!Dumbledore and make him less of the lofty, brilliant tactician and teacher which we are so familiar with in the books.

As for Ariana, I had a lot of fun with her. I find Ariana a rather undeveloped and useless character in canon. :P She exists solely to illustrate the flaws in Albus' character, and has been relegated to the role of a tragic figure in Albus' troubled past. I was influenced by the whole 'mad woman in the attic' concept, and I'm glad you thought the atmosphere was Gothic enough to have shades of the Bronte sisters! There most certainly is a dangerous aspect about Ariana; in many fics I've read about her, she seems to be this sweet, innocent, tormented girl, and I find that sometimes writers overlook the fact that her magic is very powerful, powerful enough to cause a fatal accident to her own mother.

Grindelwald's letter! Ahh, I'm so happy that his voice had some impact on you! I have a very soft spot for Grindeldore, though admittedly, this ship is a doomed one, filled with nothing but angst and tragedy. All your comments on Gellert's letter are spot-on; he is indeed very bitter and taunting - he does feel that Albus has betrayed him, and he knows the latter well enough to be familiar with all his weak points. Grindeldore is a very complex ship, and I'm a little nervous trying to write this!

I love your comment on the character complexity, and how they're all victims and villains; they most definitely are, and I suppose one of the things of this story I'm most excited about examining is the interactions between the characters, and how they act and react to each other!

Ahh, thank you again! ♥ Thank you for the favourite, and I do hope you come back to this fic! I'm a slow writer, but I'll get there! :) ♥

2013-12-29 1:09am
Wow. I can see how this story won the challenge. It's startling beautiful in its language and imagery - there are far too many excellent examples to list here. There's a wonderful fluidity to the images your works evoke, and you particularly use water imagery effectively to symbolize how Narcissa constantly drifts between life and death. Andromeda can never quite get a hold of her sister, rather like trying to hold water in one's cupped hands - it somehow always escapes. You find incredible ways of describing Narcissa and Andromeda's experiences - everything is ghostly, fluid, neither here nor there, just like Narcissa. It's a haunting story, made more so by the second-person narration (which you use amazingly well!). You recreate the atmosphere and mood of Plath's writing with this, which is quite a feat.

I think my favourite parts, though, were the repeated allusions to the Three Fates - the references to the thread that wouldn't snap, that even knits itself together again, too stubborn to let her die. This allusion revealed not Narcissa's weakness, but rather her strength, her ability to somehow keep coming back to life and going on no matter how many times she brushed with death. Lucius dies so easily in comparison. But I love how, in the end, Narcissa drifts away peacefully - she chooses to go, or rather chooses not to come back. Which it is depends on whether her gift is living or dying. I would agree with Narcissa that it's living, and it's interesting how Andromeda sees it as the opposite.

Another significant image that stood out was of course the mirror. It's perfect for Narcissa because of her name, but I'm also fascinated by the idea that she did become trapped in the mirror at her first death, or that the midwife's covering of the mirror made Narcissa become trapped in life. Once again, a lot of it depends on how one interprets that conversation between Narcissa and Andromeda in the middle of the story - what is "like hell?" for Narcissa, living or dying? That ambiguity is the heart of the story, a story about existing between life and death, about constantly being in a state of flux, caught between worlds.

I'm sorry for rambling. Your story is beautifully written, and I've enjoyed being lost in its magic for a little while. It's characterizations are equally well-done, and the references to the Black family and the war very carefully inserted, leaving the spotlight on the two sisters and their very complex relationship. You've done brilliant work with this story, and I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to read it!

Author's Response: Hi there! :)

Wow, thank you so much for all these amazing compliments. I loved writing this piece, and I'm glad you liked the imagery and the flow of the story. I'm glad you pikced up on the water imagery, and that's a beautiful way of describing it: how Narcissa is like trying to hold water in Andromeda's hands. I'm really pleased to hear you liked the perspective of addressing Narcissa, I was hopeful that would turn out alright. Hearing the story recreated and did homage to Plath's writing is what I really hoped to accomplish so getting your feedback is really lovely.

You liked the Fates! I'm so glad, I loved writing those allusions to Greek mythology and it's wonderful that you noticed and enjoyed them. Yes, her ability - or curse - to keep living is very questionable and difficult to pin down. I love your analysis of how the sisters see it differently: for Andromeda, seeing her sister die is horrific and the way that is exploited is even worse, whereas for Narcissa it's difficult for her to see it as anything other than a gift as that would mean admitting fault in herself.

Yes, I felt that the mirror was very important in symbolizing Narcissa, and that it went beyond the myth of Narcissus. The myth is not only about vanity, but on a deeper level about being trapped, and I wanted to convey that though it is very ambiguous as you said. I really love how you've described the ambiguity and contrast between life and death here: Narcissa is in a strange state of being in between and not quite pinned down, without her own identity, and in that way she is trapped.

I'm also so pleased to hear you liked the tie-ins with canon and the characterizations as well. I loved writing this and I'm very honoured you enjoyed it especially as I think so highly of your writing! :)

Thank you for the beautiful and thoughtful review, it was really such a lovely thing to receive on my story! ♥
It's hard to think of what to say about this story or where to start saying something about it. I knew it would be amazing because you wrote it, but this is above and beyond what I expected. It's a powerful story, very affecting, with a lot of feeling behind it.

What you've done with Dudley... wow. I have tears in my eyes, not only from reading his speech, but from seeing the conflict going on within him as he gives it and how it sends him reeling afterward. He's aware of what he's doing, yet it's clear that he didn't think about what it would truly mean to do it, the kinds of things he'd have to reveal about himself, his family, and about Harry. He has to delve into a past that made them who they are, yet it's also a past they'd much rather forget. And you capture Dudley's experience with these conflicting thoughts and feelings brilliantly. By giving him a voice like this, you make him very human and sympathetic, even likable. You bring out his goodness and portray him in a way I've never thought possible.

Your portrayal of Harry is also excellently done. There aren't many who can write him as well as you do - he's difficult to recreate, but here he's humble and unassuming, all the things that Dudley described him as, all things that should be impossible based on Harry's upbringing. And I really like how Dudley is still overwhelmed and confused about how Harry turned out. At the end, Dudley is lost in more than the geographical sense - he spends the whole story feeling lost, perplexed, and out of place. I wonder how far this resonates into his life, how his own accomplishments must seem very small even though he was the one who grew up with everything while Harry had nothing. Harry has a bright future, but what does Dudley have? It's a thought-provoking ending, even uncomfortable because of the kind of thoughts it provokes. But that discomfort and lack of complete closure is what makes this story so striking. I love it when stories have that ability to affect readers in this way.

It's fantastic to see a new story from you as well as a hint on your author page that more might be forthcoming. It's been a great experience to read something of yours again - your writing has only become more amazing. :D

Author's Response: SUSAN! I have been avoiding answering this review because you are, as usual, far too kind and lovely!

Dudley is one of those loose ends at the end of the series, which gives us so much room to explore! That moment when he and Harry bond (in their strange way) for the first time when Dudley and his parents are leaving Privet Drive leaves so much room for Dudley's character to grow. I really hope this is how he turned out - not lost and somewhat self loathing, but at least aware that he was wrong and cruel. I like to think he would have found a way to apologize to Harry, but honestly I think he was probably too much like his father - proud and stubborn, and certain that he was right.

Anyways, all this to say that this story was a bit of a gamble in terms of characterisation and I'm really, really happy that you enjoyed it. I admire you so much, and respect your opinions and writing to the highest degree. You always make me feel really proud of my writing. Thank you, my dear! You are such a gem. xo.
That last line! lol, it was perfect! And Hugo's line just before that, as though it had come right out of his mother's mouth. XD You portrayed the next generation wonderfully in this story!

The plot of this reminded me a bit of Mr. Bean's Christmas where one thing after another goes terribly wrong. It made for a wonderfully comical story, though I did feel bad for the two of them - they put in a lot of effort, but it just wasn't working out at all. And you used repetition to your advantage with the way Fred had to remind Roxanne about using her wand to put out the fires (though she came by it honestly, seeing that none of the assembled family had their wands at the ready). The part I found the most funny, however, was when they switched aprons. That scene was amazingly done, and I loved the image of it, with Fred in the ruffles and Roxanne arm-wrestling him for the cooler apron. That was a lot of fun!

Another thing that stood out was how this kind of thing happens every year, as though the Potter-Weasley children are cursed to absolutely mess up the holiday dinner. Perhaps what's funnier is that their parents continue to allow them to be in charge despite the cousins' track record. You really can't fault the cousins for creativity, though - they try all sorts of exciting things, and it's just too bad that none of them seem to work out. :P

There are a couple of things I'm wondering about. First of all, how did Fred get himself into that mess outside? You don't need to explain this in the story - I like the idea that it just happens and distracts Roxanne from the turkey, but I'm still curious. Did he try to use magic to feed the chickens and it backfired on him? Or did the gnomes cause trouble? Another question regards the turkey - do the Weasleys have a fast-cooking oven because it burned really fast, or did I miss something? I do like the idea of a magical oven, though - it's just the kind of convenience that would appeal to magical folk. The only other thing would be to give this story a good read through once the queue re-opens so that you can fix the grammar and smooth out the writing. One major one that stood out was this line of dialogue: Yes, I’m sure now would you relax? - there should be a period after "sure". It's all little things like that, all easy to fix. :)

Great work on this story! It made for a fun holiday read. ^_^

Author's Response: The ending was my favourite part myself. Personally, I think it was one of the best parts of the one-shot but that may just be me.

I hadn't even thought of it being like Mr. Bean's Christmas but I suppose it is what with everything going wrong. It seems that the Weasleys and Potters are destined to have disastrous holidays no matter how hard they try. Fighting over which apron to wear seemed like something that Fred and Roxanne would do given their personalities in this.

I think that all of the adults are secretly hoping that maybe one of their children/nephews/nieces won't blow up anything so that's why they keep giving them so much control over Christmas.

Well, the way that Fred got into the situation with the chicken feed and everything was that he was carrying it outside to feed the chickens and accidentally tripped over a garden gnome. He fell, the open bag of chicken feed spilled all over him. The chickens started pecking because of the food and the gnomes were trying to get back at him for almost crushing one of their own.

In my head I think that the Weasleys have an oven that cooks food faster so that you don't have to wait as long to eat (that would be a brilliant invention in the muggle world).

I've just gone and read through the one-shot and fixed some of the things that have been pointed out to me so it should be better than the original. Thanks so much for your lovely review!
There's a lot to this chapter, and while reading I found myself wishing that you'd included Slytherin's chapter sooner because there's just so much here to deal with. His backstory is probably the most complicated of the four founders, certainly the most conflicted. I was fascinated by the relationship between him and Maeve even while I was anticipating its inevitably sad end. The idea that Slytherin was engaged to a Muggle and had struggled to gain her love is wonderfully creative and adds a new facet to Slytherin's characterization - he's not just a straightforward pureblooded Muggle-hater. There has to be something more to it like this that precipitates his breaking from the other Founders, too. You've found a way of filling in that gap in wizarding history, and it's very effective.

It had to be something abrupt like this that brought on its end, and the fact that it was over a green snake was absolutely perfect. That was really well done! However, I wish that the chapter as a whole, detailing their relationship as it did, had been drawn out more. Time passed so quickly that it's difficult to properly understand Maeve's character and Slytherin's motivations. You give an idea that Maeve doesn't comprehend how magic works and where it comes from, but it still seems strange that Slytherin talking to the snake disturbs her to such a degree - was her love just that fragile and shallow, despite her claims earlier in the chapter that she now trusted and loved him? Is it because his ability to speak to snakes makes them not the same (as she also claimed at an earlier point)? Why does she turn on him in that way, so completely? I can't blame Slytherin for overreacting like he did, not if Maeve's love proved so fickle.

This chapter contains strong scenes like the one with the snake and the one between the Founders as they discussed the school's progress and further development. You write the four of them together so well, and it's great to see how these aspects of Hogwarts developed slowly through trial and error. You take into account things that most authors would forget, yet the way that classes are taught and the organization of those classes is hugely important. I love seeing those kind of practical considerations - they make the story feel that much more realistic.

The one thing I think could be improved upon with this chapter is that, especially in the first half and at the very end, you include a lot of telling. You cover a considerable amount of material in a single chapter, and it's rather overwhelming. It would help if you divided the scenes more, especially those between Slytherin and Maeve - it's a significant aspect of the narrative, and right now, it feels rushed. The different times they meet blur together too easily, and while there are important markers of the growing tension between Slytherin and Maeve in their dialogue, the narration doesn't do enough to support it. The narration in the scene with the snake did a lot more to enhance the dialogue and bring out the characters' emotions, whereas when Maeve asks to learn magic - a very important scene - the narration isn't as effective. I hope that this critique is helpful to you in some way.

It was great to have the chance to read another chapter of this story! It's fun to follow along with your interpretation of the Founders! :D

Author's Response: Hi!

I'm glad you like the story of Salazar and Maeve, their abrupt ending, and the deeper aspect of Salazar's personality. I agree, it would be nice to have included more about him earlier on, but I think the previous chapters worked best as told by their respective narrators, so Slytherin came fourth, unfortunately. Maybe I will try to include some facet of their relationship as seen by one of the other Founders, in an earlier chapter, when I edit.

I will also make sure to include more about Maeve in this chapter - now that I look back at it, as you mentioned in your last paragraph, she only has a couple of scenes. To be honest, my intention in writing this was a kind of love-blinded Salazar who doesn't really consider everything he should - and for that reason didn't see how shallow Maeve is. I will try to make that clearer, thanks for pointing it out :)

I'm so glad that you liked the slow development of Hogwarts, the trial and error of classes. I was really hoping the practical and relatively uneventful things like that wouldn't bog the story down, so this is really great to hear.

Thanks for your review!
Since the first two chapters already had many reviews, I've skipped to this one to hopefully balance things out - if you'd like me to go back, I can, though I really just skimmed through those chapters to get a sense of your plot and characterizations. Founders stories are rather out of my realm, but I have really enjoyed this one, particularly because of the creative details you've added. Your writing is also very easy to read, and I think you've included enough historical content to properly set the story in the middle ages. There's a different atmosphere to the magical world here - it's far less organized, yet it was refreshing to see how well everyone was getting along, with even giants involved in the construction of Hogwarts. Although there are problems with Muggle-magic relations, there's an overall lightness to this story that also adds to the story. Other Founders stories I've read seem to focus on the negative things going on between the Founders, but here there's still an optimism that makes this story refreshing.

The way that the Founders decided on a name and Rowena's suggestion of the moving staircases was my favourite scene of the chapter - seeing the four of them working together and really brainstorming their way through the process felt very right, very canon, just as though JKR had written it herself. I also really liked how it was Helga who discovered the right place to build the castle - yay for Hufflepuff! Her visions of what the castle should look like were lovely to read!

The one thing I thought could have been expanded was the actual construction of the castle. How do wizards build castles? How did they put the various features together, the towers, the dungeons, the staircases? How did they decide on the common rooms for their houses? What aspects of the castle did each of them create? That part of the story went too quickly for me - it seemed as though the castle was put together too easily, and hearing more of the exact details would have only further enhanced the creativity of this story. It was great how you emphasized the teamwork involved in constructing the castle, and perhaps that was your chosen focus for this chapter. However, I think that adding more about what occurred during construction would have increased the action in this chapter. There were opportunities here to foreshadow Slytherin's creation of the Chamber of Secrets or even the later fracturing of the founders, and I would have been fantastic to see you include that kind of thing in some way.

Hopefully this review is helpful to you! It was great to finally be able to check out some of your writing, and I hope to have more opportunities to do so in the future. I've enjoyed reading this story so far - it's very well-written, with excellent characterizations of the founders. :D

Author's Response: Violet! ♥ Eek, I kind of turned into a melty puddle when I saw you had reviewed this, because I really admire your writing!

I'm so glad you have enjoyed the story thus far and like the historical setting and atmosphere - it's wonderful to hear that it seems properly medieval enough. I'm glad the beginning chapters feel optimistic; that's exactly what I was going for in the early stages of Hogwarts.

I loved writing that part actually, when they all work together to brainstorm. I think, in the beginning especially, there was a lot of teamwork in order to make things happen. Just like JKR wrote it herself? Seriously, best compliment ever, thank you!!

Originally I didn't expand much on the construction because I didn't think people would be as interested to read that, but you're the second person to comment that the construction was interesting. So, I will definitely be going back to add stuff in that section! Thanks a lot for the suggestions and I will keep that in mind.

Thanks so much for this absolutely lovely review! ♥
2013-12-19 5:00pm
Another fantastic chapter! Wow! There are a lot of very interesting things going on that I'd love to comment on, so I'm trying to do a running review to catch as many as possible. This is one of the most creative fanfics I've come across this year, and it's a wonderful treat to have come across it while it's still in progress. ^_^

The atmosphere once again stands out - your descriptions of the Hogwarts grounds in winter are refreshing because, while you capture the beauty of the place, there's also a hint of the Gothic in the skeletal trees and the unnatural smoothness of the lake. There's something off, foreshadowing Ophelia's appearance quite nicely. I'm also still interested in your characterization of Scorpius because, even more so than in the first chapter, he comes across as strange (but still very Malfoy-like - Draco in HBP had some of these same characteristics), which is why I suppose the other kids feel compelled to bully him. You can't blame him for wanting to be outside, especially when he knows that no one else will bother him - here by the lake, he feels safe and better able to complete his work without interruption. The similarities between his appearance and that of Ophelia are also of note - I wonder if anything will come of that. Even if nothing does, I still really like the way that Scorpius blends into the scenery in the first scene - he's part of winter and nature in a way that he can't be with his classmates.

When the girl first came out of the lake, I was struck by the allusion to the Lady of the Lake, Arthurian legend so easily fitting into the Potterverse. At the same time, the use of the name Ophelia is fascinating because, in Hamlet, Ophelia drowns, but in this story, she re-emerges from the water - I love that kind of reversal. She reminds me of a syren with the way that she entices Scorpius to come into the water, attempting to kill him. The way you write her is fantastic! She's so creepy - I can't really explain how she's creepy, but there's a strong sense of "wrongness" about her. This sense enhances the Gothic atmosphere of the story, making it even more fun to read. :D

Another aspect of this story that I like is how this supernatural side of the story is set in contrast to the realism of Scorpius's relationship with his fellow students. The tensions between him and Rose were very well-written. She embodied many of her parents' traits - and not necessarily the best ones - and she came across very strong, even though she only appeared briefly. Your characterizations are brilliant, and I look forward to seeing what you've done with other next generation characters.

I'm definitely going to add this story to my favourites - these first two chapters are of high quality, and the whole idea of this story really appeals to me. It'll be amazing to see where you take it next. :)

Author's Response: Oh, thank you so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed it!

I'm happy the atmosphere stands out, because I've always felt that there is a definite air of spookiness to Hogwarts - to all castles, really - and I definitely wanted to play on that!

Woo, you mentioned both the Lady of the Lake and Ophelia from Hamlet! I find that awesome, because I was inspired by both of those stories, and it's cool that someone else picked up on them! And I'm glad that you enjoyed the way I write her!

Oh, it's great that you think Rose embodies some of her parents traits! I wanted to make her her own person, but I also wanted her to be a 'Weasley' at the same time.

Thank you very much for the amazing review!

This is a very interesting one-shot - it's excellently atmospheric and the ending is powerful. That sentence near the end, where you describe Draco knowing that he's holding death, was fantastic - it hits the reader hard, yet it's a very subtle line. I love it when authors can find new ways of saying things, and what you did here was so much more effective than saying "she died" or using a familiar euphemism. She slips away so slowly that it feels like she isn't going to die - she literally fades, everything shutting down with painful slowness. It sounds like you put a lot of care into constructing this story and making the descriptions and the pacing just right, and all of these things, together, result in a moving story.

Before starting the review, I did a quick comparison between this and the shorter version, and I can't decide which one I like better. The other one has a nice simplicity to it, and the repetition stands out more, but at the same time, this version has more intensity because you were able to draw out the images and emotions that much further. There were places in the first few paragraphs where the language was a little wordy, with some unnecessary things (like "it was all in futility" and "it was a futile effort"), but I really liked the effect of the descriptions, how because of the darkness, you evoked other senses and focused on interesting details like Hermione's thirst and her humming. Adding these things really enhanced the story.

I can see why you felt compelled to make an extended version. And I think you expanded to just the right amount - to go further, even though I'm curious about how the characters got to this point and what happened to the others on the battlefield, would be to lose the structure. The repeated "not at all" statements are incredibly important, and the story grows well around them. They're like an echo in Hermione's mind as her body slowly shuts down, especially near the end, when it's that she knows she won't be afraid anymore. That progression was perfect, how it's at first that she couldn't be afraid, then that she would tell him that she wasn't afraid, and finally that, in death, she knows that she'll never be afraid again. Amazingly done!

Great work with this one-shot, Carla! I don't know if I've ever read your stories before, but it was lovely to see that you write as well as make gorgeous graphics. I'll be on the look out for more from you in the future! ^_^

Author's Response: I think you know already, Susan, that this review totally made my day. I did leave a comment about it but in case you didn't read that I just want to say again... This was the first thing I read when I woke up and I was feeling disgusting and then I read it and I was smiling again so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
Onto actually 'responding' to your review... First off, I was actually quite surprised that you reviewed this. Some people I've talked to mention that they like the shorter version OR that they didn't want to read this for fear that it would ruin the shorter version... But I am glad to get an opinion on this one-shot. Especially from someone that I admire and respect as a writer. (and in graphics but that's a different matter, lol)
I'm glad you found it atmospheric and you liked the ending. I remember thinking, ever since I started writing that what I wanted more than anything is an ending that would stick with anyone who reads it and I'm glad you think that's the case...:)
I admit, I read through it again and this is in dire need of trimming in some places! To be honest, I was just so excited to actually make an extended version that I piled on the words (mostly just because I can, which is no excuse I know!)
To be honest, I myself have no clear idea HOW Hermione found herself there (well, Draco took her) but as to HOW she came to be in such a state and how the battle is going before she arrived there I have no idea either. I guess, I was just as confused as Hermione was...
Anyway, cue crying Carla (see what I did there? anyway, I digress). That was a sweet way to end a review. By making me cry.. Thanks, Susan... you don't know how emotional this review made me. haha. And I mean that in the most sincere and happy way possible. -glomps-

This was fabulous! I haven't had this much fun reading a fanfic in a while. The action was incredibly written, the descriptions vivid and detailed yet with excellent pacing. You find just the right balance while also keeping up the distinctive narration, never once losing a beat.

It's a challenge to come up with a coherent review after reading this because my heart is still racing down those winding English roads, not to mention I still feel caught up in Sirius's raging emotions. They are another brilliant aspect of this story because you effectively capture the conflicts he's undergoing. I especially liked how you dealt with this relationship with Regulus, how he's regretful and feels sorry for what his brother has been, and will continue to, undergo. It's a more complex depiction of their relationship than I've seen thus far - most often, Sirius is just angry and despises his brother, but here, Sirius takes on some of the blame for what his brother has become. He did have that opportunity to influence his brother, but he didn't take it, and I was glad to see that someone finally addressed that issue.

The way you write Sirius is the way that I'd love to see him characterized more often. He's so much the sixteen year old rebel, the boy forced to grow up before his time by a family that never could accept him. He's filled with rage and is already growing bitter, but there's still a goodness to him - the way that he doesn't want to upset the Potters shows how much he cares for them in the way he can't for his blood relatives. But you also capture his reckless love of mischief - this prank was worthy of the character who sent Snape to visit a werewolf. This is a very canon portrayal of Sirius, and it's fantastic to see someone writing him so realistically.

There's a lot more I could say about this story, but suffice it to say that I really enjoyed reading it. It's an amazing one-shot, one that's definitely going on my favourites list. :D

Author's Response: Hi, there!

This story is one of my favorites, actually. I little guilty pleasure that allowed me to combine two things I really like: angry, sarcastic Sirius Black and Judas Priest. I'm especially glad that you liked the pacing, because I've never been quite sure about that. It's short compared to what I usually write.

Wow. I don't think I've ever heard that this story made anyone's heart race before. I'll definitely take that as a compliment. Sirius is such an emotional guy that I'm sure a confrontation with his family would turn him into a basket case. Like you, I've never been wild about portrayals of his relationship with Regulus that suggest that there was no love remaining between the two of them. I doubt that was possible for somebody like Sirius because it isn't like Regulus betrayed him in a personal way. Regulus just grew up to be the son that he was expected to be. I'm sure Sirius would have felt that he missed some opportunities to help his brother find a different path.

I wanted to give Sirius a bit of that James Dean swagger in this. At the start of the chapter, he's rebelling against pretty much everything, friend and foe alike. Gradually, he comes back from the brink. He works through some of his anger in his own special way and gets to the point where he's ready to discuss things halfway rationally with his adoptive family.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and reviewing!
2013-12-11 2:23pm
This is a fascinating study of Peter, and you especially capture his conflicting, often contradictory, thoughts and emotions. There's still a part of him that wants to do good, be the knight and save the day, and yet he's also able to recognize - in a very mature, cynical way - that neither side is truly good. Both sides of the war are flawed, even corrupt, and his desperate need to survive at any cost, leads him to this choice. What I really like is that your narration doesn't judge Peter - you simply present his thoughts and leave it up to the reader to decide, which is very important when writing about Peter. It's easy for people to brush him aside as weak or cowardly, when really he's struggling with very human problems, and it's hard to say for certain whether any of us would make the same choice. There are very few Sirius Blacks in the world, but there are many Peters.

I'm also interested in the cynicism that you write into Peter's character. It suits him, and I think it gives him strength - he doesn't sound like a coward or silly rat in this story at all. Rather there's something else beneath the surface that drives him, but I can't put a name to it. While such cynicism makes Remus quiet and retiring, it makes Peter darker, bitter and without hope - he's been drained of feeling and empathy, crushing the last vestiges of his childhood dreams. I can see how this state of mind would lead Peter to the Death Eaters. But where did it come from? Was it always part of him, or did it occur after Eleanor's death, or is it a product of the war, years of darkness and fear that have driven him to prize survival above all else? Your story has left me thinking, and I love that. ^_^

There were a couple of grammatical things I noticed while reading - there's one that I've found again. "The man he pledged allegiance, the one to whom he’d been passing information on to for months now was looking at him" - it should be "the man to whom he pledged allegiance.

This was an excellent one-shot to read. You've done a great job with Peter's characterization as well as with the overall style of this story. Not that it's a surprise - your stories are always a pleasure to read. ^_^

Author's Response: Hi,

Thank you so much for choosing this story to review! Peter is always an interesting character. Someone i've tried to wrap my head around a few times. I'm somewhat happy with how this thing turned out. I've always felt like it would have been hard, the beginnings of his betrayal. He would have had to go through a lot of different emotions and I don't think he would have fully wanted to bend down to Voldemort at first. There is still that boy in him, he still has a sliver of innocence that he wishes he could still be. But through various circumstances, he's become cynical. I remember reading in the books how the Order was quite disorganized during the first war and how so many people had either let Voldemort rise to power, or joined him for survival sakes. There was less of a goal for Voldemort the first time round other than cleansing the wizarding world. Harry came later in the project. So, I think it could turn anyone cynical if they'd seen enough.

I also wanted to explore a Peter that was strong once, that was a friend, and who the others would have trusted. Not just some chubby boy who followed them around. I wanted to capture him before his actions led to his friends death. At this point, he doesn't even imagine that is where he'll go. I'm really pleased you felt like there wasn't judgement to him with this. I wanted to find that medium where he was just a person trying to get through life and trying not to die. As you say, there is very few Sirius Black's about and I think most would turn the other way if there was enough pressure.

I love how this has you questioning! I think there are a variety of things that have brought Peter to this point, where his bitterness and cynicism has taken the humanity out of him (at least, when we meet him in the books). He doesn't seem human there, just cowardly and scared. But perhaps when he let go of his boyish dreams, slowly saw the fading of the light and the deaths, and how there was this struggle that kept going downhill it drove Peter to a point where he didn't have the hope. He became dark. Why did he turn this way when Remus turned into a quiet and retired individual? There are so many could be answers to those questions, it all depends on their own growth and how they interpret the events in their life. Perhaps Peter's crush hope made him believe in the darkness. Or someone's specific death? A lot of that though, i think, comes down to the individual reader to figure out. I love when people start asking questions because I feel like my jobs been done :) I don't always like answering all the questions, even if i have my own idea of who exactly made all this happen.

Thank you for pointing those grammar things out. i'll have to go back and try to smooth it out :) Thanks for your review, it was very insightful =)
2013-12-09 7:59pm
This is an exciting first chapter! You've done many interesting things with this, and it's hard to decide where to start. The introduction of the mystery was very well-constructed, and it's left me eager to read on. :D

I particularly like your interpretation of Scorpius's character - it was refreshing to see him depicted in a different way as the bookish, unpopular one who makes a mysterious discovery. While I've seen that kind of storyline before, I haven't seen it with Scorpius, and it'll be fascinating to see where you take it, and how you continue to flesh out Scorpius's character. I'm curious about how he became so unpopular in comparison to his father - and thank you for mentioning that point in this chapter - and why Ismene calls him a 'freak'. There's a history there - you can't call someone a freak at a magical school unless they've done something really strange. Additionally, I don't think Madam Pince would allow him access to the Restricted Section, even if he was the best student in the school, without another special reason. There must be something different about him, but what?

That book and the ring suggests that what sets Scorpius apart is a thing of great significance. There are so many possibilities... Time travel? A connection to dark wizards of the past? Is Scorpius named after someone, and this is their book and ring? There's a wrong-ness to these items, and yet of course he's drawn to them - who wouldn't be? The timing, though, is ominous because just when his mind was filled with a thirst for revenge, just barely repressed, he discovers these things. And what will vampires have to do with it? The plot and character development have a lot of potential, and it'll be fun to see what direction you choose to take this story.

This first chapter was well-written and very enjoyable to read. Please update soon! ^_^

Author's Response: Hey there!

Oh, I'm glad you think so! I've already finished writing this story, and I really enjoyed doing so!

I'm also glad you like my interpretation of Scorpius' character! From what I've read, Scorpius is so often percieved as either really popular or funny or basically a copy of his father who often turns 'good' so I wanted to do something different!

The book and the ring...all will start to be revealed next chapter! I do hope it won't be a terrible letdown, because some of your ideas are awesome and I want to steal them!

Thanks for the review!

The scene you've created with this story is a lovely one - one that is straight out of canon. This may be your first time writing Harry, but you capture his personality and manner very well, and that's a challenging thing to do. He's a very average sort of person, like an everyman, and he can be reserved and humble in his quiet moments, just like this. He needs to be alone in this moment because, like in the woods at Hogwarts in DH, he needs to converse with the ghosts of those he's lost, the people who gave their lives for him. I'd love to have seen a moment like this in the books - it would have made for a more emotionally powerful epilogue to the series.

There are many lovely descriptions in this story, though the ending line was the most striking for me. It evokes a beautiful image, filled with sadness, yet also with hope - that's an important combination for the series, and especially for Harry's life, he being the boy filled with sadness who gave hope to many. Even when he stands over their graves, he experiences both feelings. Though he doesn't lose himself in that sorrow as he did after Sirius's death - he's grown up a lot and demonstrates here that he can pay homage to what's been lost while also looking forward to a brighter future.

In terms of constructive criticism, I can only offer nit-pickings. The sentence starting with "The Ministry had never been..." needs some smoothing out, and possibly also needs to be broken up. The final part about the empty grave was already mentioned in the previous sentences, so to repeat it isn't really necessary. That's all I've got. It was a wonderful one-shot to read and a fantastic depiction of Harry after the war. :)

Author's Response: Hey! Thanks so much for reading & reviewing. Sorry it took me so long to respond.

I am glad you liked the scene and think that it fits in canon. It's such a relief to hear that you think I have captured Harry well. It is indeed very challenging. Such a moment would have definitely made for a more powerful epilogue but I guess JKR wanted to keep it light and happy and such a moment would have been more bittersweet. But really, I am flattered by your lovely comments, thank you.

I am pleased you liked my descriptions too. I wasn't sure at first on what note to end this with but when I finally decided on that sentence, it seemed right to me and I am happy to know you liked it too. Yeah, the combination of sadness and hope has been with Harry throughout his life and I think it will never leave him so it was important to emphasise it here as well.

Thanks for the CC too. When I go back to edit I'll surely look into your comments again. Thank you once more for your review, I am pleased you enjoyed this.


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