Good (does some sleuthing) afternoon, Julie!
Your author page was recommended to me by hestiajones, so I decided that I’d pop in when I saw your rather compelling summary pop up on the Most Recent list.
I have to say, I wasn’t expecting this particular characterisation of Neville. Not many focus on his less-than-Gryffindor moments during Year Seven, but I really appreciate that you did the focus on Neville’s apprehension about being in a room that used to have ambient noises but no longer does. It’s sort of like being used to falling asleep with the telly on and then sleeping over at someone else’s place — someone who requires quiet. You took one of those tiny little details about being in a strange place and made it work for this all-too-familiar situation. These are the types of things that really help me identify with a character and with a scene, and you did it well.
The idea of a bell going off is sort of strange, since most clock towers and regular clocks don’t ring after ten, but I’m guessing it’s a part of the dream rather than reality. Anything could happen in dreams. Did the bell ring in the dream? I’m curious, now. I also hesitated on the bit where Neville thinks that Harry is better off, because he would know that wasn’t true. By that point, Harry would’ve already been Undesirable No. 1, which would make him a fugitive from the Ministry. I’m not sure anyone would call the constant terror and running as being better off. Maybe if Neville hoped that Harry was doing better, it would have been more in-character.
Neville going to the common room to feel less lonely does strike me as sort of strange, since it’s a cavernous room with no one else but him in it rather than a smaller space where he isn’t actually by himself. I get that he’s imagining he’s with people that formerly occupied the room, hence the allusion to Hermione, but I’m not entirely certain it would help him in that situation. It might be a personal preference, but I thought I’d point it out just the same.
I really like the interaction with Seamus. They commune on one of the deepest level because of what they endured together. I never really considered that Seamus and Neville would become more than mere roommates during Year Seven, but the way you present it makes so much sense. They went from being two guys who happened to share a room to being brothers in arms. Even the bit about fancying Ginny a bit was an interesting detail, since even Blaise Zabini carried a bit of a torch for her. It just adds to the very nice picture of camaraderie and understanding between the two boys.
I do have one minor nitpick about spelling/usage, and it’s here:
McGonagall would gauge out her eyes with her own wand before helping the Carrows.
‘Gauge’ is a completely different word. The appropriate term would be ‘gouge’.
The way you painted Neville’s nightmare, about him being in his cot as Bellatrix essentially took away his parents’ humanity is both horrific and striking. You did it delicately, since it is a rather touchy subject, but you also made it portray the necessary intensity to both touch the reader and tie it into the scene. It was so well done, and I can’t help but think that it did happen that way in canon. Those are my favourite types of stories, the ones that add to what we know of canon and bring a new dimension to it.
Your writing is very easy to read. There are times when an author will lack in variety and put out ‘noun + predicate + comma + repeat’ sentences over and over, but you don’t do that. It allows the actual narration voice to take a backseat to the story itself so the reader can be vested in the characters instead of the prose. Plus, my personal pet peeve is starting two paragraphs in a row with the same world. I could hug you for avoiding that, because things like that can ruin a story. Actually, the opposite is true for your fic, because your attentive writing in essence blends itself out of the picture. It’s hard to explain, but it really makes the story stand out in that certain aspects of it don’t stand out.
The end is just… love. Pure love. In particular, the last line just ties your fic into canon so very well. There had to be some point where Neville decided that he was going to fight the war inside the walls, and I think you picked a good moment. They’d had their small rebellions and pushed the Carrows’ buttons a little bit, but something had to necessitate that the entire DA go into hiding in the Room of Requirement. Now, I’ll forever think of it as a bad night’s sleep for Neville and a declaration that his nightmare would pale in comparison to the one that he’d make for Carrow. It’s a very fist-pumping moment, like it’s Score One for the coming out party of Neville’s bravado.
In conclusion, this is an excellent story. There were a couple bumps, which I pointed out, but they’re rather subjective and you may feel free to ignore me. I think you’re a talented writer, and I hope to read more of your work soon. Thanks for writing such a good piece, and I’m glad I picked it to read.
Take care and happy writing,~Jess
Author's Response: Thank you very much for your review! I'll have to write Natalie a thank you note. The bell can be interpreted any way you like. It's just an easy way to start a nighttime story. The common room has a fire, and the illusion. It is a place where Neville can be. Right, sorry about the typo. I'll fix that ASAP. Thank you for all your positive comments. Julie