Stumbled upon your page and clicked this story out of intrigue for its title--Until the Dawn. Simple, but also enigmatic. :) And now I shall proceed to all my favorite bits of the story, and why! From what you said on your profile, I suspect you are one of those people who actually read these reviews and reply. :)
She was above the school, above normality. Beyond the shadowed stone, there was only sky.
"above normality" I love that phrase, and it suits Professor McGonagall perfectly.
nothing more than meaninglessness turned to meaning by the human mind. Pure genius. "by the human mind" Wow.
The shapes in the fire had been nothing more than her own hope--her own desire. Love this sentence.
I found this an interesting idea---so Minerva took Divination in Hogwarts? Perhaps that's why she has so much contempt in the subject. The only things that niggled me was the capitalization of "common room", which never is in the HP books. Otherwise, really nice. :)
Author's Response: Indeed, I do respond to reviews! I have to confess, capitalization has always been one of my weakest points, and common room has been a problem for me in more than one story. It's funny to get a review for this story now, as it was at this time of year (two years ago) that I wrote it. The original idea was to explain how Minerva came to hate Divination so much, but the story morphed into something a little more than that. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading and reviewing!
Lian, this is a story to be proud of. This is the kind of story where I read it once and think it’s lovely. Then I read it again, start dissecting, and think “Holy crap.” (That’s good, by the way. ;)
The description is one of my very favorite parts. It’s so simple and evocative at the same time that the emotion and imagery fairly leap off of the screen. I love how you threaded certain images through the entire fic, such as the stars, and fire, and stone. My very favorite line of my very favorite part would have to be this one: “Surrounded by stillness and stars and tears, Minerva heard the distant chime of the castle clocks.” It’s just…perfect. But the paragraph about the constellations is a very close second, and I will now quote it because I honestly can’t control myself. : P
“Before her tear-blurred eyes, the shimmering sky looked like a dark fire, the constellations like omens. They surrounded her, dancing far beyond her reach. They mocked her. The omens were not real. They had not been real. They meant nothing more than the constellations; they were nothing more than meaninglessness turned to meaning by the human mind.”
*shivers* This is so powerful. Powerful in the way that it connects omens and the stars, in that it creates a vivid image, and then that it concludes with a relevant and profound thought on top of all of that. I love the last line.
Of course, none of this would mean anything without Minerva’s emotions forming the backbone of the fic. I almost laughed after the first sentence, because you had already begun to set up her character: Minerva wrapped her arms firmly around her legs. I’m fascinated by the depth to which you’ve delved into her character in such a short space, and with such subtlety. It’s almost like foreshadowing in a manner of speaking, because the little things that are mentioned all add up to when she is a grown woman in canon; her mouth thinning into a line, her ferocity, and even her dislike of Divination. I enjoyed the thought of her hair streaming free behind her in the wind, because it offers a new perspective on an exceptionally stern woman, and reminds readers that she was once a girl, after all.
This entire idea of bringing together details into a conglomerate whole is something that you are excellent at--I would even venture to say brilliant. It’s just…everything. Her grief as a result of her parents’ death and losing her faith coupled with the motifs of the stars and the fire omens all come together absolutely beautifully. And even then, there’s the overarching purpose of telling why exactly she dislikes Divination. There is something to be said for that--I’m in awe.
The contrasts and parallels are quite interesting. Between the unpredictability and the stability of the stone, Minerva’s mourning on the Astronomy Tower to Dumbledore’s later demise upon the same place, between her normal day and the tortured thinking that she is forced to. It’s great.
There were some areas that I felt you could improve, too. The paragraph where she finds out that her parents are dead didn’t feel quite right to me. If her shock upon receiving the news had been emphasized more, I think that would have made it more real, and raw. Also, the when she switches suddenly from thinking about Arithmancy to Transfiguration, a transition might be in order; it felt abrupt to me. A little nitpick--“Lunch had been unusually tasty -- large helpings of bangers and mash -- and there had been Bread Pudding for dessert.” Why is bread pudding capitalized?
But regardless of any criticism that I have to offer, this fic was a joy to read and review. The beautifully understated emotion and description combined in the best possible way, and I look forward to anything else that you write about Minerva.
Author's Response: Thank you for leaving me such a nice juicy review! You're totally right that the moment with her parents death just doesn't work. I wanted to get the story written and so I totally rushed through it, and I never went back and fixed it. I might go back and rewrite that section at some point, actually. But thank you for pointing it out and making some incredibly helpful suggestions. *snuggles*
Wow, nice. I liked the Snape one, so I decided to read one more. Minerva is a cutely done student, not withdrawn at the beginning as Minerva stories I've seen usually show her, and I like her much better this way. The last line, though- I dont see why she said it out loud. After she was silent for hours and crying by herself with intense emotion, it doesnt seem like it should be so easy to open her mouth and words to slip out- especially with no prior comment by anyone else. If you really need Dumbledore to hear it for some reason, like if there was a second chapter of this, there is always his Legilimency- maybe he needed to find out what happened, if he didnt yet know why she was upset and didnt want to pry by This twist on events, though, beautifully explains the adult professor's aversion to Divination and loyalty to Dumbledore. The timeline doesnt quite seem to work, with Grindelwald while Minerva is a teenager, but that's minor, and this is a fic, after all. Perhaps you worked out the dates somehow, I don't know. Anyhow, I liked. And I do hope you're planning on continuing the Snape grading Hermione one, I saw a mention of that in a review response after and realized I should have mentioned it there, I do hope you won't mind my mentioning it here. Oh, and your descriptions of the stars quite reminded me of Keats's Bright Star, and Frost's similar poem, forgot the title. I had to write an essay on those some time ago- don't worry, that was a compliment, it was a fine description. Again, excellent work.
Author's Response: Thanks for taking the time to read a second story; that always makes me feel good. I used the lexicon for the timeline, and strangely enough it does work out. According to the lexicon Minerva would have been a sixth year circa 1940-1941. I have chosen to vary this by one year (which is definitely plausible, given that their estimate is based on her approximate age as stated by JKR) and make her a sixth year during 1941-1942, which would have been at the height of the second world war. Quite a few people have been surprised by the timing, but as it does in fact work out I'm not complaining.
About why she says that last line out loud: sometimes, even (or especially) in the midst of grief someone will experience a revelation so powerful that they can't not express it aloud. That's what I was trying to show there. Thanks again for the review, and chapter 2 of that other story is indeed coming!
No wonder she hates Divination so much. I hate it when I realize that I've made myself do things or see things just from wishing. Like when I was really uncomfortable this one night I actually gave myself a fever just from nerves. Once again your descriptions made my heart melt. Stars are such splendid things. I love how Dumbledore came at the end; how does he know everything?
Author's Response: I wrote this story as an explanation for why McGonagall hates divination so much. Thank you for reading and reviewing!
I know have decided what I am going to write (besides WOW!)
I think that you have every quality of a great writer and are on your way to being one. Your style caught my attention and I didn't want to stop reading.
McGonagall is my favorite character and I think that you got her character so close to perfect that it could have been J.K.R. writing. (and if you knew me, thats a big compliment).
This is definintly going in my favorites and you just joined my favorites as well. I am going right now to read the rest of your stories.
Author's Response: *blushes at compliments* Thank you so much for reading and reviewing; I really appreciate you taking the time.
Wow. That is about all I can say. Wow. Wow. That was like....Wow.
Author's Response: Wow. It's amazing to know that something I wrote can have that much impact!
This is very good. It's so tragic and and touching. It's also very well-written. I love the way you captured the young Minerva. You explained very well the source of her contempt for Divination and gave a very plausible reason for her stony demeanor. Very well-done! You have an excellent vocabulary and impeccable grammar as well!
Author's Response: Thanks for reading and reviewing! This story is the result of me challenging myself to explain Minerva's dislike of Divination. I'm glad you found it convincing!
That is excellent! I always wondered why Proffessor Mc Gonnagal hated divenation so much. Grindalwalt was probably just as evil as voldemort. It's a good thing Dumbledore defeated him.
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked it!
Maybe the stars were only reflections of human hope.
I loved that because its so ture. Humans look at the stars and see hope. Its so true, my friend.
This was a beautiful fic, and I loved how there was no dialogue, until the end. One thing that was unclear was Minerva's age. She has to be over 13...but how old was she?
I loved this fic!
Author's Response: The only thing in the story which points more exactly to Minerva's age is her prefect badge. She's a prefect, which implies that she's at least a fifth year. She is, in fact, a sixth year (so 16 or 17), but only I could know that. Thank you for reading and reviewing!
I was led to your story through the BA Challenge forum, and am very glad I decided to check it out. What a beautiful piece this is. Your use of the English language is lovely. The imagery is exquisite, and the emotion is palpable. Sometimes I feel that writers try too hard to be poetic with their imagery, and it comes off contrived and ‘flowery’, yet this is simply elegant. I won’t pick out specifics because the whole thing is that way. Well done.
You also portray the young Minerva in a way that seems very consistent with the adult McGonagall we know.
A polite yet distant letter from the Ministry of Magic regretfully informed her that William and Diana McGonagall would not be returning home.
This is the only passage that gave me pause, and that was just for a moment. My first thought was that surely they would inform someone of a family death in person, especially a child still in school. But the Ministry of Magic does seem to be coldly detached, completely impersonal. And it works so well as you have written it in your story, I can’t even offer criticism here. :)
I look forward to the BA challenge banners, because if the talented members can portray even half of the beauty of your story, there will be lovely entries indeed.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review! I agree that that one passage falls flat. I messed with it quite a bit, but nothing I did really worked there. If I have the time, I'll think on how to change it. Anyway, I'm glad you liked the story and that you took the time to both read and review.
THAT WAS THE BEST FAN FICTION I HAVE EVER READ IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. I FELT TEARS BEHIND MY EYES! A BRILLIANT PIECE OF WRITING!!!!!
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked it :-)
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked it :-)
I just stumbled upon this story. It was a great story! It shows how Minerva is much younger then Dumbledore, and some of why she becomes as she does. The imagery was great. I could really feel how she was feeling due to they way you wrote the story. :)
Author's Response: Awesome, a review! What a great Christmas present! I'm glad my storytelling worked for you!
I was just browsing through the forums when I came across your signature, giving the link to this story.
I think it was the title that drew me in. Until the dawn It's simple but powerful, a lot like the actual story.
I can't really pick out particular parts I liked, because the whole thing flowed so well that I hardly realised reading the words at all.
One line I do remember though is this: She had Seen no omens, only wishes and empty dreams.I love the empty dreams part, it fits so well and sums up the whole oneshot.
Finally, I think the main thing that makes this oneshot so good is the way that it ties in with the canon and really is believable. That's always important ina quality fanfiction.
Sorry for that relatively pathetic review after all the fantastic SPEW ones below. Thanks for a great read, and well done on writing one of the best oneshots I've read in a long while. xxxClairexxx
Author's Response: Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review! That was certainly NOT a pathetic review at all, and it really made my night to get another review on this story! I'm glad it worked well for you. :)
I think everyone else has probably already said what I’m about to say so I’m not going to read the other reviews first or I’ll end up not reviewing at all… so here goes .
The first, and most striking thing about this chapter is the wonderful imagery and descriptive passages. The line that just sings out is…
Surrounded by stillness and stars and tears, Minerva heard the distant chime of the castle clocks.
That’s one of the best lines I’ve read in FanFic. It’s almost poetic. And there were so many others. You use words and her surroundings to reflect her inner turmoil and it makes for a beautiful bit of reading. And I like the way you opened with the young Minerva breaking rules when the one thing we know that she is a stickler for is rules. This attitude immediately alerts us to the fact that she has undergone something traumatic. I also like the way you show her seeking challenges. She has her favourite subjects but wants to push herself, to be good at something that she has traditionally found challenging. How very Minerva-ish! And there is an almost desperate quality to her wanting to See her parents fate. It's as if she values the skill for what she think it will bring her, and when it ultimately lets her down she concludes that Divination is a sham.
Ironically, although she shuns Divination for its false promises, she holds onto the stars as a steadfast rock to cling to. And yet astrologically they are probably more powerful than the fire. I liked that twist, the contrast between the flightiness of flames and the solidness of rocks. And I liked the rationale you gave her. It was very much in keeping with the older McGonagall and yet it had much of the immature child in it, a perfect blend of the two…and not an easy task to pull off.
I don’t have much to nitpick. Drought should be draught and you need spaces beside your dashes, e.g.
“…tasty – large helpings of bangers and mash – and there had been Bread Pudding for dessert.”
And I found this sentence awkward…
“Arithmancy had been wonderful as always; she never lost the sense of exhilaration she felt at working out a perfect cycle of numbers and conditions.”
I think you need a comma after wonderful and I would lose the semi-colon and put a full stop in there and start a new sentence.
But that was all I could find. The rest of it is perfect FanFiction. Thanks for such a moving and beautiful read.
Author's Response: I went back and fixed the issues you pointed out days ago, but it's taken me a while to get to this. First of all, thank you for taking the time to write me such a lovely review! I'm glad you like how I've done the characterization; I was quite nervous about it as I was writing it. Young Minerva is hard to pull off believably, and I wasn't sure I had managed it. I feel honored that you took the time to read, and moreso that you enjoyed the story. Thank you ever so much.
This is a beautiful piece of work, for many reasons. Firstly, the writing: The imagery is descriptive, yet subtle and, of course, powerful. Everything just flows. Secondly, the message. Grief is a powerful emotion, and you handle it well. On the surface, this might seem to be a story about losing faith in the art of clairvoyance, but it’s about so much more. It’s about the realisation of our greatest worries, and the extinguished flame of our own hopes – the power and constancy of hope and the miracle of human perseverance.
She did not care. Cold was at least a sensation. That is incredibly accurate – to be so numb, you just want to feel something to know you’re alive, or perhaps to distract you from your emptiness. It brings such a sense of realism to the emotions.
One nitpick: Drought of Peace should be Draught of Peace.
The shapes in the fire had been nothing more than her own hope--her own desire. She had Seen because she was so desperate to See. I find it interesting that she believes the shapes where nothing more than her own hope. I don’t think she saw them because she was desperate to ‘See’, but because she was desperate to see her hopes – her hopes that her parents would be safe.
They were as worthless as the ashes of the fire that had remained at the end of the lesson, no more solid than the air that whipped against her face. My favourite line, just had to point that out ;) [Except for of course, the very last line]
Tears poured and poured down the girl's face until her robes were wet and her eyes were dry. Another beautiful line, I love the contrast – it makes a simple message more powerful.
The Astronomy Tower. I’ve spent many hours thinking about the Astronomy Tower, and how I do love that you put it there. The highest point of the castle, perfect for stargazing and, now, synonymous with loss and grief. I can’t know that you considered that in your writing, but it touches me on a deeper level because of it. Not only is this tower the setting of Dumbledore’s death, but it is also the place from where McGonagall’s students will witness her fall in battle many years after the night that she sits and mourns the loss of her parents. I just love it!
It’s amazing what you do with words. On one hand, little actually happens in this story. Few actions are described, you paraphrase an entire day, and you have a single line of dialogue. How then, do you write so much, and how do you keep the reader hanging on ever word? How does every word mean so much? The only answer I can come up with is simple, yet infinite in it’s meanings: you are a writer. You have the heart and soul, the essence, of a writer. This isn’t something that someone with good mechanical skills sits down and types up – this is a story waiting to be written, by someone with that essence and inspiration, and you chose it, you felt it, and you wrote this. You wrote the hell out of it. :D
And then, on the other hand – so much happens. The loss of two parents in a single devastating blow on the one day she did not worry. But you don’t talk around it in circles; you say as much needs to be said, in the best of words. It’s the perfect middle ground. Not too much, not too little – but just write. ;)
Author's Response: Hullo, Jenna dear. 'Drought' is already changed to 'draught,' and I must say that has to be one of the most amusing errors I've made yet. I grew up during a drought (until I was about 6 or so), so I guess it's permeated my thinking... *cough*
I can't really respond much to some of this review except blush bright crimson, but of course you can't see that so I have to tell you I am.And yes, the Astronomy Tower was premeditated. I wanted, symbollically, the highest point in the castle. I also wanted to connect it with Dumbledore's death, and I did know what I was doing there. I wasn't actually thinking about the Astronomy OWLs, but I did think about one other time in the books: when Harry and Hermione have just left Norbert and are found by McGonagall. She is furious, especially as they have no good excuse. I decided that her fury was partly because she they were not just out of bed, but in the place that meant so much to her. Since they clearly had no reason for being there, she was not sympathetic. :: shrugs :: That's the twisted way my mind works.
Okay, not much I can say to the rest of it, either. So I suppose I'll end here and thank you for reading and reviewing.
Vondabar [muwhaha] story! I enjoyed how you sort of explained why Minerva doesn’t like Divination.. It gives a whole new perspective on her personality and, obviously, her background. To me, it was like you were transforming her before our eyes. I liked the way you used the words in this story. It all seemed very Divinationish which is both fitting and eerily ironic at the same time. There were just a couple of points I would criticize on. Firstly, some (but not all) parts were a bit disconnected; they didn’t have a proper transition and were a bit jerky. It would have been more constructed if you have had the story flow a bit more in those places. Also, (and this might just be because of the state of my brain right now) it was difficult to discern that this was a younger McGonagall until much later in the story. Other than that, it was great! It was interesting that she resembled Hermione, with the way you described her. Great job!
Author's Response: LMAO! Josh, you moved your review!
:: dies laughing ::And I love it just the length it is, Joshito. I understand that procrastination makes the length get shorter;)
Divinationish still isn't a word.*runs away*
Thanks for the review!
Lian...I envy you so much. Your ability to just take an emotion and so effectively and simply capture it in a few choice words is completely beyond me. The hugeness of McGonagall's sorrow...and the way that even when it was so huge, you so fully grasped it is just...mind-boggling. And the quote at the end just brought it full circle.
The power of the stars seemed to stand for so much more; her parents, perhaps, or maybe it just stood for her own smallness in something so much larger than her. Wow. I could be completely off the mark with my silly ramblings, but there's just something so powerful and so much bigger in this.It seem so petty to go on and be nit-picky after being so moved by this story, but, of course...what else am I good for? :P
I was a bit tripped up by this sentence: they were nothing more than meaninglessness turned to meaning by the human mind. This is mostly the same sort of thing that I usually pick up, which is repetition. Repitition in the way you usually use it is beautiful, and enhances the entire story, but in this case, where it's so close together, (and meaninglessness is a mouthful on its own) perhaps a synonym would make it flow a bit smoother.
Slowly, as she thought, her mouth drew into a thin line. The middle clause (I think that's the right word), "as she thought," stood out to me as sort of out of place. I had to read the sentence over a few times before I realized that you were saying her thoughts caused her mouth to become a thin line, but it hadn't come off that way to begin with. Perhaps a rewording, keeping "as she thought" seperate, just to clarify that?
And, just to be a ridiculous loser, I noticed that there could have been a comma between "real" and "ave" in this part: nothing was real save her pain, her tears, and the cold of the stone beneath her.All right, I'm finished with concrit, and I'm now free to gush and praise all I like. So here I go. *heaps gushes and praise all over the place*
I want to go back and copy all the quotes that were beautiful, and deep, and poetic, but I'd probably end up just copying the entire story. It was full of this wonderful prose, but not so full that it was over-flowing. It wasn't overboard at all, and I have no idea how you managed that. Even the sentence that I mentioned in the last paragraph was beautiful, and the fact is, I can't even say that was my favorite part, because there were so many more like it that added to the feel of the story. Incredible.
Before her tear-blurred eyes, the shimmering sky looked like a dark fire, the constellations like omens. They surrounded her, dancing far beyond her reach. They mocked her. The omens were not real. They had not been real.
There isn't a single thing that I can say that makes that any more beautiful. Honestly, it's so perfect, and yet so simple.
It made me smile to see that Minerva's mom's name is Diana--someone keeping up with their Greek/Roman mythology. In the first part too, there was a part that brought a grin to my face; the mention of Minerva's long black hair blowing in the wind. I had never pictured her like that before, but it was a distinct, and very beautiful picture, and immediately made me start thinking of McGonnagall in a different light.
So, I think there isn't too much more I can say but that I loved this story, and all of your work. I wish I knew how you did it! :P Amazing. Superb. Touching. Not much more to say! =)
Author's Response: :: huggles Mala ::
Thank you, m'dear, for reading and reviewing! I'm glad you enjoyed my story! I really appreciate positive comments from you on imagery because you yourself have a knack for descriptions, and it means so much coming from someone who does it so well herself!As for the nitpicks, I think I'm going to keep the sentence about "meaninglessness turned to meaning." I know it's repetition, and I know it's slightly hard to read, but I think it helps to show the lack of clarity in her thought.
I do think I'm going to change the sentence with her mouth around. As she thought, her mouth drew slowly into a thin line. is much clearer.For the sake of flow I'm not going to add that extra comma after real, though you're right that I could ;)
Okay, dear, I don't think I can adequately respond to the rest of your review, so I'm just going to let it be. Thank you, sweetie, for taking the time!
Vader very much enjoyed this take on Minerva McGonagall. It had a certain poetic quality to it, something he truly enjoys. It was also very rich with imagery without being overdone. Details and emotions are made very tangible and yet they are not so overpowering that the reader loses the sense of the story. This is a fine line that many writers (Vader included) cross frequently. You have avoided this pitfall here.
Vader would like to cite here a few of his favorite lines:
Cold gusts cut through the sleeves of her robes, driving like icy pins into her. Very nice, it connects the reader with the story because many have felt cold like that before.
Before her tear-blurred eyes, the shimmering sky looked like a dark fire, the constellations like omens. With the mention of the fire omens earlier on, this is nice use of a recurring theme. It is also a very crisp image.
Vader also liked how you portrayed McGonagall’s feelings about the stars. How she envied them, hated them, scorned them, and loved them for what they represented. The last line was particularly good, about how they stood their watch through the night.
Much like the other one-shot Vader read of yours, Fifteen Minutes, this is a well written, very enjoyable work. You’ve done a fine job!
Author's Response: HermioneDancr would like to thank Vader for taking the time to both read and review her story. She is glad that she did not cross the line and add too much imagery; she is aware of this peril and knows it is to be avoided. HermioneDancr is pleased that Vader liked her portrayal of McGonagall's feelings about the stars. She would like to thank Vader once again for reviewing.
Wow, that was a very powerful piece of fiction. You took Minerva, made her a youngster, but it still felt like her. I really enjoyed your writing style. It goes deep exploring emotion and character, but you keep a thread of tangible descriptions that keeps the fic from become too introspective.
My favorite section had to be: "These same stars had, only the night before, presided over her parents' final breaths. She envied them for being there when she was not. She hated them for doing nothing to protect her parents. She scorned them for their irrationality and imprecision. And yet, she loved them. For even in the darkest hour of deepest night, they still shone brightly."
There is an irrationality to the section that jives perfectly with a teenager grappling with grief. Bravo!
Author's Response: Wow, thanks for the review! I'm glad she seemed IC to you. I just sort of... wrote her. It's good to know that it worked. The irrationality of grief is important, and I needed to show it. Good to know that it came across. Thanks again for reading and reviewing!
This is a beautiful and sensitive treatment of the issue of why M. feels as she does about divination. I love the characterization here; in particular, during that instant when Minerva's lips press into a thin line, we see echoes of the woman she will become. And how appropriate it is, at the end, that she doesn't lose faith in the stars. As a grown woman, she is such a mixture of sensibility and compassion, and you've captured that quite nicely here: she resents the lie of the omens, but her resentment doesn't make her hard...only stronger. Finally, that moment of tenderness on the part of her professor really touched me. They didn't need to speak; he sees her need and acts. This is why we love Dumbledore--his protectiveness and love for his students. Another clue to why Minerva is so fiercely loyal to him? In any case, I loved it!
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm glad it worked for you!