Here with the promised review. :)
Maybe it's because I've had a sad song on repeat for the last hour, but I've been sniffling since the moment I began reading. I've read a good handful of stories that take place directly after the war—stories that show the trio as they go back to school, stories that show Hogwarts being rebuilt (and you'll get a mouthful on the brilliance and originality shown here, later ;)) – I've read a lot of post-Hogwarts. This story, so far, even though there aren't any pointedly-make-you-cry passages or narrations, is just heart-wrenching, and very, very original.
I just love you two's take on the prompt; I've only read one other entry so far and while they are both equal in originality I think this story shows a very accurate account of what might have happened after the war. Concentrating on the rebuilding of trust between the Houses is something I have never seen and, as shown by the story, something that shouldn't be overlooked in fanfictions.
(I haven't had this hard'a time writing a review in a long time—there are simply too many things to get to.)
The characterization—all across the board—was fantastic. From McGonagall to Draco, and even Slughorn and the short (and so terribly bitter-sweet) line from Severus, I can't find one instance within this story to point to and say "this is off". I am guilty of laying things on too thick when I attempt a post-war story (and more importantly do I read fictions in which things are laid on thick); a character's eyes glaze over as the memories of the past haunt them… Draco falls to fits of either tears or rage… Hermione is "changed" and not even a smidge of her IC characterization is seen…. Nothing even remotely close to these clichés were present, and even more remarkable was that I didn't feel that the emotions were downplayed either.
If I had to pick one character I loved most it would be Hermione, without a doubt. This line…
“Clap, you fools, they clapped for us.”
literally brought tears to my eyes. I don't know why—it's not a sad line and it's not in a sad or emotional passage. Coupled with the fact that it is just so Hermione, it was just… bah! You two are making my reviewing capability very, very hard. But settling for "This is a fanfreakingtastic story" never really makes an author feel accomplished so, I carry on….
At first, admittedly, I was expecting this to be a happy-go-lucky story about how the troubles of war were overcome and everyone ended up hugging each other crying and singing together like good ole' friends. And while that would'a been a nice story (xD) I just love how the prejudices were incorporated and not overlooked. Pansy's rant in the common room and Seamus' words to Hermione (among other narrations and lines) were very nicely done, and kept the sense of reality prevalent. I suppose a good way to put it would be that there was a fine balance between hope and prejudice; between the past times, the present struggles, and the future that everyone was working toward. The plot and the characterization seem to work seamlessly here.
Before I forget: The way the castle rebuilt itself. O.O (That face says "OhmyGodricGryffindorgivemewhateveryoudrankthedayyouthoughtofthat.) I'm not sure what can be said other than that was absolutely the most enjoyable piece of magic I've ever read in a fanfiction; several authors have written their own ideas about how Hogwarts was rebuilt and several have done that very well, but the castle itself having magic to rebuild itself? Brilliant. Just absolutely brilliant.
Overall, I'm still just awed by this story (as you might be able to tell by this ramble that puts shame to the word 'review'). I'm also kind of annoyed because I cried while my family was watching. :p
This, without a doubt, deserved it's first place.
Author's Response: WOW! Well, Thank you for this review! It is very detailed and thought out and having done a bunch of reviews the past few days I am freshly reminded of how much easier that is when the story has obvious flaws and things one doesn't like. For a North American I have a reasonably thorough understanding of European medieval architecture, and I have figured for a while that the castle MUST be able to rebuild itself. Salazar Slytherin did not hide the chamber of secrets under a nineteenth century bathroom "A thousand years or more ago." While I am willing to grant that wizards may have kept a better handle on Roman engineering and had some sort of running water and sewage systems - vitrified porcelain? Taps that turned? I am just not buying it. Being well acquainted with plumbing that is only 50 years old, I am dead certain the taps, if by some miracle they existed, did not go a thousand years without repair of some kind. Yet, there is a tap marked with a snake and a functioning entrance to the Chamber's outer halls. This has got to mean that the castle has been repaired or updated, but not changed so much that the entrance was lost. Would wizards who didn't even know the chamber was there have been able to do this? Even if knowledge of the chamber were passed down in Slytherin - which it does not seem happened - would it go one thousand years unbroken, and every time the bathroom needed repair, provide a properly trained Slytherin wizard to do it? I don't see it. Also, any castle that lasted through certain parts of the Middle Ages would have had a chapel. We don't see one. A one thousand year old castle would not have had the types of towers this one has, or be entirely integrated - they started out as towers inside of walls. Etc. So I have thought for a while that the only way the castle could deal with its evolving roll in Wizard society would be if it were able to change on its own to meet the needs of the Wizards within. The Room of Requirement does this, in a way. So, there had to be a way to make it happen. Thanks for thinking this is cool! Hogwarts is a pile of magic that gets bigger with every year, and if Dumbledore did not know all its secrets, none of us can - so lots of things are possible, in my mind! I did try to stay very much in character. These people were traumatized, true, but the ones we see this term are the ones who were able to make themselves come back. It is quite possible there are witches and wizards all over Britain whose eyes really are glazing over, and who really are going from vacancy to hysteria - but they are not back. I can't imagine Hagrid being anywhere else - you notice Slughorn has to talk to himself about it, but all Hagrid is doing is worrying he's to be sent away. When people are bumped or disturbed in a life of privilege, they will either rise to the occasion or become bitter, it seems to me. Pansy never struck me as being much of a human being - forgive me, Miss Parkinson, but if you have hidden depths they are just not seen in canon - so I had no trouble making her rant. Draco is, I think, more of a survivor. He is able to take a practical view. And the Aaswells are not terribly political people. The brother has strong ambitions, but they are ones anyone would admire, and he is close to his sister. I am betting at least one parent was Hufflepuff. Thank you so much for taking the time to be so detailed in your review, and I am so happy that you liked it! PP