McGonagall is one character who seems to get overlooked often in the stories. Everyone just seems to be so used to her presence that it is just expected that she will be there when needed as unflappable as ever. What you do in your story is to show that even the most dependable people have to find a way to release pent-up emotions.
You do a good job of leading into your story. It starts off by focusing on the everyday, mundane happenings, such as eating a meal, that seem so normal. However, you quickly disabuse the notion that this is just any other day with your vivid descriptions of the eerily still castle and violently disturbed hallway. The contrasts are telling and only make McGonagall's calm actions stand out that much more.
I really like the fact that you include another character in this and that that character is Madam Pomfrey. Using the school nurse as the person to stumble upon McGonagall in her apparent state of denial is great simply because of her prfofession. Poppy seems to immediately recognize what is going on with her colleague but doesn't really know how to help her.
The one thing that really bothered me, though, was how easily McGonagall seemed to come out of her state of denial just by touching the cold stone gargoyle at the entrance to the Headmaster's office. Perhaps it is just me, but I would've liked to see something more jarring to bring her back to the reality of the situation. Though cold stone can be rather jarring itself, it just seemed like it would take something more shocking to force McGonagall to face what had happened - something like an empty office.
That aside, though, this was a fantastic story. I love the way you wrapped it all up nicely by alluding to the beginning at the end when McGonagall smashed all the plates as she had contemplated before leaving her own office. That scene ties the whole story up quite nicely. Plus, it is a great image to leave your readers with - McGonagall releasing her anguish by smashing everything to bits so that she doesn't end up smashed to bits herself.
Author's Response: Thanks you very much for the wonderful review. I understand your concern with McGonagall, but I wanted it to be more of a realization that if she went in, everything would be changed, everything was already changed, and that in her state she couldn't face the empty office. Even in her denial she knew he was dead, she just had to bring that denial to the front. I hope I explained my intentions well enough in that rambling spiel. And as for McGonagall smashing plates, well I must confess it is something I have always wanted to do, so there is a certain pleasure in at least living it vicariously.
Interesting take on McGonagall's reaction to Dumbledore's death. I've seen other stories that noted McGonagall's reaction to Dumbledore's death, though I believe this is the first time I've seen her try to hide it (which, now that I think about it, really is a McGonagall-like reaction).
Your opening paragraphs describing the food and McGonagall's actions toward it were brilliant. I can just see the agitation McGonagall was feeling, contrasted with the beauty of the food. (Mmm...potatoes). It's obvious that McGonagall was still struggling to come to terms with Dumbledore's death (which had rendered me to tears).
The crooked yet perfectly preserved picture also added to the grief of this story. I don't know what you had intended to show with the picture, but I had interpreted the picture to be something McGonagall desperately wanted Dumbledore to be: shaken up but in one piece. Something that can be easily corrected.
I also felt pity in seeing McGonagall's endless ways to assure others, and herself, that she was all right, that she wasn't hurting. Of course, after her death, most will look to her for the strength and resilience Dumbledore had shown throughout his life. It only make sense for McGonagall to hide her own pain and provide a beacon for others. I like how we are able to see a hint of the old McGonagall, that even in such a trying time, she can still maintain the character we know and love.
McGonagall's smashing of the dishes was heart-breaking. You leave a lot of the story open for questions, such as what was going on in McGonagall's mind when she grieved and who was Dumbledore to her. I tried to use what you gave me and can only guess what her favorite Dumbledore memory is. Whatever it was, it was powerful enough to cause McGonagall to show such emotion and hurt.
Some technical remarks:
"Daily Prophet should be italicised, and "house-elves" should be hyphenated.
It was piled high with rich, hearty food, untouched but for a few viscous stabs of her fork.
I believe you meant vicious and not viscous, which describes the thickness of fluid.
Reading this story was like reliving the death of Dumbledore all over again. I believe you picked an excellent snippet of McGonagall's experience and centered the story only on her grief. Several stories depict McGonagall going through what it was about Dumbledore that she missed and crying on Harry's shoulder. I rather like seeing her grieve in solitude and leaving, as I said before, everything open for the readers to interpret. Excellently done.
Author's Response: Thank you very much for such a thorough review! I appreciate the critiques and will try to get them fixed when I have a little time! I agree with you that McGonagall does not seem like the kind of person to share her grief with others. I have always liked the idea of people trying to be strong for others and that just seemed to exemplify her character. I'm glad to know that I didn't overdo it or underdo it- I didn't want her grief to be a spectacle, but I also didn't want to say too little. Anyway, thank you again for the absolutly marvalous review, I really appreciate it!
Very good, sad, but good. Interesting to see the events from a different point of view.
Author's Response: Thanks! I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I always wondered how Minerva would react to Albus's death, so I tried to write my own version. I'm glad it worked.