Wow. This is a VERY fresh thing. I have never thought about what Mcgonagall did before Hogwarts and you developed her entire life and a very solid backstory in one chapter. I especialy like that Dumbledore was always there for her amd this was was a perfect characterization of him and her both. Overall, fantastic!
Author's Response: Thank you very much! It's fantastic to hear that you think this story original and even better that you liked the characterization of both Dumbledore and McGonagall. They're two of my favourite characters to write - there's so much to explore with their histories and personalities. :D
My, oh my. This was lovely in so many ways that I'm not sure where to start this review. I suppose the thing that struck me the most in this one shot was that it managed to capture what Minerva herself couldnot standing at Albus' gravesite. This one-shot, what some 5K words? delicately and eloquently encompassed decades of their relationship into a little snowglobe world. I'm always a suck for symbolism, and so the fact that the question Minerva poses to herself is answered in the course of this was gorgeous and made my heart all fuzzy in a awe-filled sort of way. This really was beautiful.
I really can't comment on the depth of the relationship you portrayed here -- I'm not sure a few descriptors could possibly do it justice. So I'm just going to entrust you know how well you wrote it and skirt on to talking about something out. I'm such a copout. I really loved the arrangement of scenes in this. It's not chronological, but it flows logically, thematically almost? It was lovely to see a bit of the present and what they have and then to jump back through the decades and see the school girl adoration knowing where it will one day end up -- a beautiful friendship/partnership/what have you (see, inadequate descriptors ahoy!!) But anyway, I think the structure here adds to the power of the one shot and the impact it has on readers.
Finally, I'm going to comment on description because I love it and far too often find myself abusing it in my own writing until I check myself. Everything was so gorgeous. I could see and feel things as I believe Minerva was. Your descriptions were sort of stoic and succinct and very in tune with her characterization -- nothing was overly flowerly or extended and I really admire that, suiting the description to the character of the narration. gah. My ears are basically tinged green with jealousy :P
All in all, this was gorgeous and I'm so, so glad I managed to sneak in and snag a spot in the review tag -like a ninja- Fabulous Work!
Author's Response: I'm still floored at the response this story has received - it's nothing like I imagined (though I don't know what I imagined anymore, nothing much, I suppose). That history between the characters is one I've held in my head for a while, expanding and editing it over and over as new information came to light, or new inspirations hit me, and to me, all this story does it set it in stone. That makes it twice as strange to hear these things you've said about it - you make it sound as though I put effort into the whole thing! ;)
You're right, though, that their relationship defies description. That's the major thing I discovered while writing this story. By starting at the end rather than the beginning, I avoided the teacher-student issue and instead began with what we see in the books - that complex, intense friendship that at once has no boundaries and yet contains very many. Dumbledore hides so much from her, but it's because she holds a particular place in his life - she is part of the school, not part of the search for the horcruxes or any of that. My way of navigating this issue lead to the scene that included Dumbledore's poisoned hand - she had to be included somehow; Snape couldn't be the only one in on the secret. Then, stretching back, the relationship took on so many different possibilities - it could have become many things, but in the end, it was a way of making Minerva the next Headmistress. She becomes him in a way that no one else can.
Thank you so much for the compliments! *blushes* I love writing description, but it often feels like it's getting out of hand, like a bad Victorian melodrama. It means a lot to hear that that's not the case, and it's instead something far better. ^_^
And thank you for this glorious review! I've unfortunately rambled for a bit, but I want you know that it's fantastic to hear your thoughts on my work, and I really appreciate it.
Thank you so much for writing this story. This is one of the best one- shots i've ever read, and every line took my breath away. It's just so perfectly exquisite. I love this passage so much, it's so beautiful
But this was different. It was not the love of youth that blossomed in each flower and rose with an eternal sun. It was not the love of stolen kisses in the dark and other secrets of the night. This was the love that would not shatter at the slightest touch nor fade with the final dying of the light.
The blue eyes held hers and she felt her heat soar, the glass cage cracking open at last, the bird flying free into the endless sky.
This is the first fix i've read about McGonagall, and now i don't want to read any more because they couldn't possibly measure up to this.
Your Albus Dumbledore was so perfectly characterized, just as i would imagine him to be, but you managed to put him into beautiful beautiful words and i love it.
I'd better stop this review because i'm rambling quite a bit and i might be crying a bit from that story.
I loved it Thank you.
Author's Response: Wow, thank you! I don't know what to say to this review at all, apart from "thank you" repeated hundredfold, and even then, it would not feel like enough. You've made a great many days shine brighter with this review!
Now the one thing I have to disagree with you on is that point about other McGonagall-centred stories: do read them! There are so many fantastic stories about her on this site - they constantly inspire me to write more, and I at least think they're much better than mine. But, it's a wonderful compliment that you rate this story and its portrayal of both McGonagall and Dumbledore so highly. It means a lot to have you say that, to say all of what you did. Thank you! ^_^
Ahh, I hav just been absorbed by this story. I'm going to be thinking about it and reading it over and over for the rest of the day, I can tell. I absolutely love stumbling across gems of fanfiction and when I do, I just feel so happy and, strangely, satisfied. It brings all my emotions into one big jumble :)
I LOVE THIS. SO MUCH.
The phrasing of every sentence, the layout, the characterisation. It's completely taken my breath away 8). I was literally crying (mascara gloop everywhere now :)) by the end.
'The sky above was as blue as his eyes, the clouds a match to his snowy beard. All the world was painted on his robes.' Every line of this was perfect, really, but this is just one that I'd like to press *favourite* next to and keep forever. Albus wasn't just a Headmaster, he WAS Hogwarts- he was the embodiment of trust and hope and /love/. He was the whole world :)
asdfhekegfw. It's all so perfect!! I can't believe I haven't read this before!! This is a work of art to be proud of :)
Author's Response: Wow! Just wow! I can't believe that this story ended up being so powerful and lasting for readers - I never thought it would have this effect, but I'm so pleased that it has. It's the ultimate compliment to have written something that sticks with people even after the story is ended. So thank you for that - it's really made my day. ^_^
Oh no, not mascara gloop! Now there's a warning that should exist for stories - "be advised to remove all mascara before reading this story". I have to admit that writing this story made me cry - when Minerva's emotions started rolling out, I had to keep stopping because it was just too intense, the story becoming too real. It's a very strange feeling when a story does that, and I worried that it would detract from the quality, so it's a great relief to hear that it hasn't, but has instead added to the experience of reading.
He was Hogwarts - that's so true! His time as headmaster there is only a drop in the bucket of Hogwarts' history, but his personality, his power as a wizard and a human being, is incredibly huge - it would fill whatever space he chose for himself, and thus it filled Hogwarts, every stone and every person within it.
Thank you so much for this review! I can't thank you enough for it!
What a great story! I came across it quite by chance and I'm so glad I did. It is very well written and I love the way you show Albus and Minerva's relationship over the years. I think that the jumps in time doesn't really confuse the reader but actually adds to the depth of this fantastic story. It was so bittersweet but I might have to go back and read it again!
Author's Response: Thank you very much for taking the time to read and review! I love to hear about the ones who come across my stories by chance, and it's even better to hear that you enjoyed the story! ^_^
That's wonderful news about the jumps in time - when writing something that isn't linear, I'm always worried that it will be confusing (which is why I try to make the dates clear). I hadn't written a story quite in this way before, with the scenes associated by objects or ideas rather than time, so I'm really pleased that they worked in the story's favour. :D
Ahaiodjoajifdoahohdiahfod. Okay, this was so perfect.
I can definately count the number of fanfiction stories I've read where Dumbledore is characterised perfectly, but I may have to count this one several times over because it was truly stunning. Especially when he spoke, then he was just so. Dumbledore that this has officially become a canon thing.
Minerva, too, was just so truly and utterly perfect. I loved the back story you gave her, I loved her interactions with Dumbledore and I love her emotions and her real-ness. She was wholly and utterly perfect.
I loved the little snippets and it makes me want to copy and paste them all on to word and then read them in chronological order and then read them backwards and all sorts of things.
Truly, this was wonderful. I loved it :)
Author's Response: Perfect?! O_O Wow! Thank you very much! To hear this praise from you means a lot - it's an amazing ego boost.
Dumbledore is a strange character to write, but I found here that writing him through Minerva's eyes simplified the characterization - not by taking away depth, but because she knows him so well and isn't (as) mystified or in awe of him like Harry was. :D
As for Minerva, I can't take credit for the details, which are all from JKR's additional Pottermore material - I just expanded upon them. I've written another backstory for Minerva (which is my headcanon), but I really wanted to see what I could do with JKR's story of her life. If you want to find it, the HP Wiki has an abbreviated version. It tears at the heartstrings to read the details.
Thank you very much for reading and reviewing this story! I'm really glad to hear that you loved it. ^_^
Wow. I'm a bit speechless here. I have a hundred things I'd love to say about this story, but that would require finding the words to say them.
I guess I can talk about the repetition, the reason I'm here in the first place. That was incredible. The glass cage image prevailed throughout the whole story, though it built on itself slowly, so it wasn't distracting or confusing, just another detail until I realized how often I'd seen it. I think these were my two favorite references, because they said so much in so few words:
"...since she had locked her heart in its tiny glass cage, still visible so that she would always know of her weakness," and "But rules were not glass; they did not shatter like her nerves, nor break like her heart."
The first one rings so, so true. Everyone feels like love is a weakness at some point, I think, that it's making you too fragile, so the glass idea fit that beautifully. As for the second one, I thought that was interesting, because though it made sense, many would say the opposite. To McGonagall rules are not breakable, and I see that. But many would say rules are there for the breaking as well. ;)
What else? Well, there was just this idea of her two loves, sort of floating around one another. I don't know the updated version of McGonagall's story (waiting for Pottermore to open to the public to get into that...), so though I don't think I had all the pieces here, I didn't really feel like I needed them. I watched her complicated feelings for this other man, and I saw the simpler ones she'd had for Dumbledore all along, and the beautiful thing is it's all completely canon! Got to love that.
And then there was how absolutely sad this story was. You spun this lovely history of two people, a sort of love that's not there for all to see but truer than many other loves, and then at the end you have to remind us that Dumbledore's dead. You chose your details well and your moments better, because I always felt like the story was moving forward, in a way, even though it jumped around in time. That's hard to do. But the end really hit home.
I was going to end the review there... but then I saw the notes I'd jotted down while reading this, because I knew I wouldn't have time to review it the same day. I remembered I wanted to point out that I loved the idea of them mirroring each other. That thread running through the story was beautiful as well.
This is far too long, isn't it? That seems to keep happening these days, I think I'm rambling more and more as time goes by. I'll just end on the same general note I end on in every review I leave you, that I am in awe. Thanks for entering this in the challenge!
Author's Response: First of all, thank you for the challenge! I'd begun writing this at the end of December (originally for the writer's duel, but the muse wasn't taking to this story), and when I picked it up again, I needed a bump in the right direction - your challenge was the perfect one. I love being able to include consistent elements - either in the style or an object/image that keeps reappearing - and it was fun to highlight that rather than keep it subtle (and hope that no one complains, because some do).
Also thank you for this amazing review! I'm sorry to have taken so long to respond to it, but I've been astounded by the reactions to this story. I wanted to write something moving, a tear-jerker, but I didn't expect it to become as deep a story as it did. A lot of this depth did come from adding the repetition, which helped give the story more focus - it wasn't just the glass lamp that carried through, but the whole idea of glass - the cage, the shattered heart, things being breakable. You've described it all much better than I ever could - fragility! I never thought of using that word for some reason, but it describes everything in this story perfectly. The one thing that isn't fragile is their relationship - even though they're both shattered and damaged, together, they find strength in their friendship (which isn't even the right word for what it really is, but it will have to do). This relationship is strong enough to continue on after his death - he never really leaves because, like Harry was told, the loved one keeps living in one's heart (but Dumbledore also possesses a pretty powerful presence, which helps :P).
I'm glad to hear that the structure still had the story moving forward for all that it jumped around (mostly moving back in time - I originally meant it to be straight back, but then the parts fit together better this way - I still think of it as a form of reverse chronology).
I don't know if my response has made any sense, but know that I'm incredibly happy that you liked this story. I never expected it to win the challenge - do have done so means a lot and has done wonders for my confidence levels. Thank you very much! ^_^
I've been dying to read this ever since you've first posted it. Minerva's story is simple fascinating to me and i love how you've painted this beautiful picture of her life and really made it come to life.
I am really at a loss for words at the moment and not entirely sure where to start. I did however adore this and the structure of this story and how you revealed little pieces of the story like a mystery at each memory that she encountered.
There was so many complex emotions that you explored here that i'm simply a little awestruck that you were able to portray them so beautifully. The relationship with Dumbledore really stuck out to me and i loved how you wrote them. They have this... thing this love, if you will, that's sort of this untouchable, unnamable thing. It's not the 'i can't live without you' love or anything, it's something else and i'm not sure if I have to words to describe it here, but you explored that confusion and their friendship so beautifully. Although it was confusing most of the time to know what it was between them, it fit with the story and fit with how they were together. I liked also their paralleled regrets and how they seemed somewhat similar in that respect. Of how they just wanted to live out their life in obscurity. I've never pictured Dumbledore that way, he's a character i avoid like the plague to write and i think you've written him perfectly. His regrets, his hatred of himself. It was so well constructed. I'm in awe, really.
Minerva is also such a gem here, i love seeing her weaknesses and her strengths here, how she was so unwilling to sacrifice her values and herself. I loved that she was able to experience love again, if only for a short time. I'm at a loss here for words, but know that you hit her characterization spot on. Her story has this bittersweetness to it, part of me really looks up to her and her independent spirit and part of me sees how many sacrifices she did make to get where she was. She kept saying she wasn't someone who sacrificed, but i feel like she did. She gave up things, her first love, sometimes even her hope. It felt like there parts of herself that maybe she didn't even realize she was giving up.
I think, by far, this is my favourite thing i've read on this site. There is this raw realness in this that i can really relate to and your wording is simply beautiful and the repetition of glass was perfect and pulled the whole story together. Great job Violet, this is a great piece.
Author's Response: I really don't know how to respond to this review! It's too beautiful, and I know that I can never thank you enough for it. Just hearing that you were looking forward to reading this story is a huge compliment, but also hearing that you loved the style and structure is squee-dance worthy - you've put this author in a state of glowing happiness. ^_^
The reverse chronology structure is fantastic for the reason you mentioned - the way that it reveals the mystery at the heart of a character's life (or a specific problem they're dealing with), and as each scene passes, the reader picks up more clues as to what that "heart" is. It's like peeling back an onion or, better yet, opening a present, and it makes writing this kind of story a great challenge. I write my reverse chronology stories as the readers get them - the events in reverse order (the story makes more sense when I write it as one would read it) - so I unravel the mystery as I write and it becomes just as much fun for me. :D
It's been interesting to read the reviewers' comments on Dumbledore and McGonagall's relationship in this story. I don't know how to define it - no matter how much I kept circling it in each scene, I could never pin it down. It's a deep connection, but it has its limits - not just in that it stops short of romantic/physical love, but also that neither of them can give all of themselves to anyone. Minerva won't because she's too independent, and Dumbledore can't because of that early betrayal in his life - he can give parts of himself, but never the whole - the people closest to him are always in the dark about something (Snape and McGonagall are the ones I have in mind, but Harry counts too). Maybe it's supposed to be confusing. I wish I knew.
It's wonderful that you liked the characterization of the two of them so much. :D Dumbledore is a very difficult character to write - he's changeable and multi-faceted, though at least in this story, I could focus on the side that he showed to Minerva, and that helped a lot because it's a lot more consistent than what Harry or Snape saw of him. Minerva is my favourite character to write, so you're paying me a huge compliment by praising how she's been portrayed here. ^_^ She did sacrifice a lot, you're right, though I think her fear was sacrificing too much to/for others and forgetting herself - she's not selfless like Lily or Harry (or even Dumbledore himself, though his guilt issues make it more complicated). It's almost ironic that she sacrifices love/happiness for her independence/freedom - it's a strange choice, certainly an unpopular one. I agree with you that she didn't realize that it was a sacrifice.
Favourite thing?! O_O What do I say to that? I'm speechless, but brimming with gratitude. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing this story, and especially for loving it.
This story is simply wonderful. The structure and the plot mesh together perfectly, and compliment each other. While the order of the scenes is fragmented, it fits with the idea of memories, and the image of a mirror. You never remember things in the order that they happen, you remember them as you are reminded of them. Each scene is a tiny jewel that, when placed together creates a lyrical analysis of Minerva. You really explore who she is, and why.
This piece is filled with gorgeous writing: metaphors, images, etc. But this one part stood out to me: "Their eyes met, and once more she gazed into the mirror of her soul.
Love, that force of betrayal and pain, of suffering and passion, of wonder and glory, shoving the world off its course and felling the bravest men on its endless course of destruction. But this was different. It was not the love of youth that blossomed in each flower and rose with an eternal sun. It was not the love of stolen kisses in the dark and other secrets of the night. This was the love that would not shatter at the slightest touch nor fade with the final dying of the light. "
You are describing a remarkably complex emotion, yet you make it accessible to the reader through these images. I can't really even find the words to describe it hear. I can only say what it isn't. It's not romantic love, per say, but more intimacy, in the old-fashioned sense of the word (describing deep friendship, but without today's sexual connotations).
Minerva is really trying to grasp at immense concepts throughout this. The idea of love. The idea of grief. And, in the end, the idea of a person. I would never be able to write about all these, and still have a coherent story, but you manage to and do it well. And in doing so, you really create a humanity in your Minerva. She struggles with the philosophical concerns we all do, to an extent. And yet, you manage to convey them through writing and through this story. At the same time I feel both that I can relate to Minerva and that I will never truly understand her.
Really, I cannot think of critique for this. I am blown away by your talent as a writer, and by your perception of the world, as shown in this piece. Absolutely brilliant work here!
Author's Response: Wow! Thank you! I don't know what to say in response to this, but hopefully I'll come up with something worthwhile. This review is fabulous!
Your reading of the fragments is really interesting - I hadn't thought of it that way at all, that it's actually a more realistic way of exploring memory. You're right that the mind associates things together rather than follows a linear timeline, so what this story ends up being is an exploration not just of the relationship, but of Minerva's way of remembering it. It leads one to ask why these memories stand out to her, and what do they say about her as a character? This reading makes the story far more complicated in its design, and I like it. :D
Did I write that paragraph? I don't remember doing so - one of those automatic writing moments, I guess. O_O It's scary when that happens, and I'm glad that it made sense and was a powerful statement. Their relationship is a different kind of love, and describing it was a challenge - I think in that paragraph, I was struggling to find the right words, so I used metaphor after metaphor, trying to approximate what I meant. Even now I don't know what it is, though I know what it feels like. It shows just how useless words can be sometimes.
Thank you for that compliment in regard to Minerva's character and the feelings she works through in this story. I never realized when I first started writing this story that it would grapple with these really big topics, and then when they started taking shape, the story just kept growing - not in length, but in depth and breadth. I'm still boggling over how and why it happened, but if it means receiving amazing compliments like this. ^_^
As soon as you mentioned this idea to me I had that little hint of excitement because I knew how brilliantly you could pull it off. You never cease to amaze me, honestly. The relationship between Albus and Minerva has always been so strong and to put it under the microscope like this is just wonderful. In a way Dumbledore needed her just as much as Minerva needed him because he had never told his story before and to be able to trust someone with a secret as big as that meant he knew how loyal she would be and a great friend she would be for him.
The characterisation of both characters is spot on, as always you portray Minerva spot on with such little and realistic characteristics that make her who she is and the fact that you do this consistently whilst adapting her as she gets older through the one shot. Albus was true to the way in which J.K Rowling wrote him, and the way he acted towards her as well.
All in all I loved every part of this one shot so thanks for putting this up!
Bex (10/10 btw)
Author's Response: Oh wow, thank you! I can't thank you enough for your support and enthusiasm for this idea - it took so long to finally get this story out in the way that I wanted. It's strange writing a non-romantic story about love, and the relationship between Albus and Minerva is a neverending stream of complexities. They do need one another intensely as rocks, as someone to go back to at the end of the day, someone they can trust entirely.
I'm very happy to hear that the characterizations are spot on - they're challenging character to write in the best of times, and the emotional level this story required made me uncertain of whether I was capturing them in the way that they deserved.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing this story! ^_^
I read this. I wrote out a review. I got asked to see my friend's softball game. Came home late. Forgot about the unfinished review, but here I am, and I'm so glad you asked me to review this one, because I really do love this one so, so, so, much.
I love the love you have for Minerva she is an amazing person and you capture her so well that I'm thinking about reading more of her, you give her so much to like, so much to love, you give her the personality other people ignore and it is a perfect fit for Miss Minerva.
I think you truly are a brilliant writer. This story was well written, great plot line, great ideas, great everything, no complaints what so ever. This was pure brilliance in one story, and I really do mean every word.
Thank you, thank you for giving Minerva a light :)
Author's Response: Thank you very much for taking the time to read and review this, Lizzie! I'm so glad that you loved the story so much - it's wonderful to hear! I really wanted to write something that, though filled with lots of sorrow and loss, was still also happy. Even though McGonagall went through so much, she was strong throughout - she never gave up. Her strength is one reason why I love to write her. ^_^
This story was long in the making, so it means much more to hear that it turned out so well. Thank you again!
As usual your writing is stunning, your bittersweet stories just break my heart again and again and this is no different.
Author's Response: Thank you so much! *hugs* It's fantastic to hear that this story was so affecting - it's done what I hoped it would - and your compliments mean so much to hear. ^_^
First off I have to say that you are an AMAZING writer! I absolutely adored this story, I even added it to my favorites because reading this I actually felt like I was there! Everything was described amazingly, the flow was perfect! I love how you split it up into different years that was really cool! Wonderful story, great job! Amazing plot! 10/10!
Author's Response: *blushes* Thank you very much for reading, enjoying, and even favouriting in addition to reviewing! It's wonderful to hear that you've thought so well of this story. :D
Whoa... I'm not usually one for reading about Minerva and Albus, but maybe I should, though only if its written this well because that is what those characters deserve. This is a really amazing portrayal of her, each of the excerpts from the times in her life with him were pretty much all capable of making me feel something. And the descriptions of the smallest details to her thoughts were amazing and enviable. Siriusly though your descriptive powers are awesomesauce. I salute you for another great story. :D
Author's Response: Wow, thank you! I don't think I can properly thank you enough for these compliments, either. McGonagall is one of my favourite characters, and being told that I've been able to capture her so well, deservingly well, means a huge amount. ^_^
I am quite honored to be requested to review one of your stories! I’ve long revered you as a legend among HPFF fanfic writers so I hope that any feedback I present on this story will be of use to you!
I like reading stories from Minerva’s perspective. (As an aside, I often call her “Minerva” because I can’t seem to EVER get her last name spelled right. Maybe one day, when I’m not so lazy, I’ll take it upon myself to write it out in lines so I get it right :P) She’s such an interesting character, so strong and fierce yet the head of Gryffindor house, known for bravery, courage and loyalty. There’s also the added layer of her being a leader and a woman, one always, at the risk of looking anti-feminism, wonders where her vulnerability is. I at least do.
First, a little cc, since it’s the first thing I see (Running Review remember?):
but to take on the [reigns] of Hogwarts - [reins]
I can totally be there with Minerva as she’s entering what she’s probably thought of as Dumbledore’s domain for decades. It is a bit like being an imposter and I would totally feel like I couldn’t move anything. Basically, I’m just saying that you’re bringing me along with you on this story. You’re making it connect. This is good.
Then moving into this moment of having left Harry on the Dursleys’ doorstep, I feel like you eloquently capture Minerva McGonagall’s (practicing!) feelings here. She’s relieve that the war is over, that Harry is alive, but saddened by the price that had to be paid. She also knows that it probably doesn’t compare to what Dumbledore is feeling and is being a friend to him in how she wants to cheer him up.
She had [one] deluded herself that - [once]
It was like the ringing of tiny bells, the bells of Peter Pan’s fairy, the bells her father had told her hearkened the birth of an angel. - I loved this line. I don’t know why. I think it’s because it speaks of innocence, how Minerva’s reminiscing on this at a point where she’s coming to face that she is going to lose a very dear friend. This particular scene, too, is quite bleak and so offset by such a pretty thought, it adds a sweet tinge to a bitter moment.
Ah, now I get a little confused, but only because I haven’t read the bio on her on Pottermore (somehow must include that in my internet travels) as well that I think you mislead me on purpose, starting out with her husband’s death before you tell of the other parts. Sneaky, sneaky.
she [focused] her gaze on the tension in his jaw, - [focused]
I love how you introduce this lasting unrequited love (maybe not so unrequited) in a quiet way. It’s understated yet not. You don’t spell it out for me but leave enough there for me to string the thoughts together and just come to the sad conclusion myself. The way you have made Dumbledore and Minerva is very nicely done. They’re similar and understanding of the other. This moment of sharing secrets is such a brilliant way to forge a bond and very nicely done as well.
Though you did flit from past to present to past again, I didn’t feel like it was disjointed or non-sequitur. The moments seemed to have relevance to one another and it was like going back to the beginning and the basic of this relationship. Also the tone of the early past compared to the present was clear to be seen; in the past, there is more formality, more tension between them while closer to the present, there is more understanding and familiarity.
The repetition of “glass” wasn’t that repetitious to me. I did notice how it kept popping up, but you couched it in terms that made it seem new and on its own and didn’t become annoying.
A very lovely look at McGonagall and I do feel like you’ve given me more insight into her character and answered some of the questions I had posed at the beginning.
Author's Response: Thank you very much for your review! I liked the way you reviewed one of my other stories, and when I posted this, I knew you'd definitely be the right person from whom to request a review. :D Thanks also for pointing out the typos - I try to catch them, but it's amazing how they slip past the eyes nonetheless. I've since fixed each of them.
Oh no, I see Minerva in much the same way. She's a very strong character, and also one of the first we meet in the series, so from the beginning, JKR put her in a significant role - we're meant to take note of her. Although I've heard it argued the other way, I see her as a strong female role model in the series, even more than Hermione. There's something about her that I find fascinating, which is I suppose why I keep writing about her. :D
I'm very glad to hear that the first scene helped you connect with her character. I liked the idea of starting at the end, after the battle is over when she's finally entirely in control of Hogwarts. It's a big moment for her, and entering the room in that new capacity, no matter how often she'd been there before, would be meaningful, to say the least. She does feel like an imposter, even though she's very deserving of the new position.
It's wonderful that you liked that particular line about the sound of bells - it's very whimsical for her, more like something Dumbledore would think of, but she focuses on it because of how dark the moment is. She needs something good to hold on to so that she can maintain control of her emotions. It's the one scene I'm not sure actually happened in canon, but I wish that it did, that he revealed to her the dire nature of his condition. It seems in line with their close relationship.
Haha, I meant the story to throw readers off a bit with its non-linear structure. The secrets are revealed one-by-one, like the peeling of an onion, and each of the parts is related to one another not in time, but by shared ideas and similar moments. The impending death of Dumbledore leads right into the actual death of her husband, building a connection between those two parts and the emotions contained within. Confusion is one of the inevitable results of reverse/non-linear chronology, and I hope that it didn't throw you off too much.
The question of unrequited love is THE question of this story. Although the story is limited to Minerva's perspective, even she does not reveal just what it is she feels for Dumbledore. It's a kind of love, but not the same kind of love she feels for Duncan and her husband - it's something unnameable, and perhaps more powerful and lasting, built on trust and strong devotion with their shared secrets at its core (which is why that ends up being the "founding" scene of this story, the one that comes just before the conclusion). I originally came up with the idea of this story for the Writer's Duel prompt "a different kind of love", but I left the kind of love uncertain - it starts as mentor/student then develops into a highly complex friendship. It's impossible to put into words just what kind of bond they share, even now.
Thank you again for reading and reviewing this story! I really appreciate hearing your thoughts as you experienced the story. :D
So I'm not going to be entirely coherent throughout this review, but I think the first thing you should know is how much I absolutely adore this.
I've read few of your other fics and haven't gotten round to reviewing them, but I thought I'd start out small first. :P
I've been waiting patiently for this one-shot to come out when you first updated your bio on your author's page about it - I didn't really have any inkling whatsoever to what it would be about and although this piece didn't really surprise me in the way of content it did with your intense expertise of writing Minerva.
The emotional build up and the familiarity of Minerva is really very strong throughout all of this and I love the order in which you have written this too, all the stolen moments out of Minerva & Albus' life together. They've always had a strong relationship throughout the books and I have to admit that while reading them I shipped the two together. They were salt and pepper, two very different beings, two different personalities, two different lives, but you couldn't deny their greatness together.
I love that you chose Albus to give over his secret, one that he must have kept with him for a very long time to Minerva, because that really portrayed their close relationship as a pair. It was a sign of ultimate trust even if they kept secrets from each other - there was always a closeness between them no matter the distance.
I like Minerva being the type of woman not to be one to sacrifice things - even though its an idea that anyone would like to do in a fairytale of princes and princesses, Minerva was practical. She wasn't going to give up on a way of life for love without it. It may be harsh, but I truly admire her, as a character, for that. I think you made the point that you don't always have to sacrifice everything or one big thing for something else if you don't want to - you just need to choose what you can live without.
I couldn't possibly tell you enough how much I think you have the characterization to pat, so maybe this sentence will be enough - for all its worth I didn't feel like I was reading the characters in a magnificient JK way, but rather I was reading it an even better way that she couldn't have succeeded in.
My favourite part of this piece is, really, from 1976 onwards - that's when, for me, Minerva really jumped out of the page, the screen, whatever you like - she was suddenly so very real and so very vulnerable and emotional. Not to the point where it wasn't unbelievable which was incredibly important - it was enough.
I've only resultedin gushing about this as I suspected I'd do when I first started typing this out, but every story needs a bit of love!
As a last comment -- the last line in particular was so fulfilling in that I had to let out a breath I didn't know I was holding in the first place.
Author's Response: Wow, this review is fabulous, and so are you for giving it! It means a lot to hear from readers on the one-shots as they're more of my show-pieces - I experiment a lot more with one-shots, making it far more important to receive feedback on them. And your review... *swoons* It's beautiful. It certainly made me feel a lot better about this story, which did not turn out according to plan, so I wasn't sure if it would have the same affect I was looking for. That you adored it is fantastic. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read and review this story. ^_^
It's funny because up until the end of the series and the new information about Minerva's life, I never could have written this kind of story. I was adamantly against the whole idea of Albus/Minerva - the age difference being one major factor, as was the fact that they seemed more like friends than anything more - yet as I wrote this story, I found that I wanted to ship them! It was very strange, and I pushed it aside because it would contradict canon. I think it happened because of the emotional connection the two of them have - they're very much alike in their regrets and the way that they've repressed their emotions to a dangerous extent. In some ways, it's like Dumbledore encourages McGonagall to marry because it's the one thing he was never able to do whereas she has that opportunity to experience that kind of love.
I wish I could take credit for the scene when Dumbledore relates his secret, but that was actually mentioned in the Pottermore story - I just elaborated and dramatized it. Oddly enough, it's something I assumed he would do - even in an older story, I've had him tell her about his past because their level of trust was that powerful. She probably would have found out about it if he hadn't told her, rather like Harry did, and I wouldn't want to imagine McGongall having to find out that story from the wrong sources - she's too devoted to him.
I'm glad to hear that you admire Minerva for her strength. She won't give up her independence no matter what and I admire her for it too - she's definitely a strong role model in the series, and I love showing off her strengths when I write about her. Even with all of the emotional trials she undergoes, she still knows herself, and that's a significant thing.
*blushes* It means a lot that you think I have the characters spot on, more than I could possibly express. I love writing Minerva and have often enjoyed writing Dumbledore, too, so being told that they're exactly as they should be is fabulous. ^_^
Thank you again for reading and reviewing this story!