Great!! i really, really, really loved this story. Keep up the wonderful Writting!!
I can say I really enjoyed the scene between Cedric and Cho. It’s nice to see that relationship not get written off, and I really liked the light dialogue between the pair. There’s about a gazillion things I want to say about this fic, and I’m not going to quote specific lines because I loved too many of them. I think the best part was in the way you just made the words flow; it’s difficult to describe a life-after-death scenario and not make it sound cheesy. You managed to pull that off and then some. I liked how you had Dumbledore appear on the platform, too; however, the way you explained it was nice. I also liked how Dumbledore seemed to understand perfectly what was happening because he always seemed to understand death better than anyone in the series, too. ‘Dumbledorian’ should also become a real world because it described exactly the way Dumbledore speaks; his own name is the only world the really seems to do some of his lines justice. The metaphor of a train that could go anywhere was also interesting, but was that simply a ‘standard’ part of dying? Does everyone see that train, or is it just specific people who had Hogwarts mean something special to them? In addition, your description just blew me away. There was a lot of description, but it didn't feel heavy or like it WAS too much description.
This fic is made of Win, by the way, and is completely fabulous.
Hello! I've been reading some of your drabbles for a while on the Beta Boards (I'm Miss K over there) and I can honestly say I expected nothing less of you, but I still finish this story, completely stunned by what you have accomplished in this one-shot. Fabulous work.
I suppose I must start with a question, because that is the most pressing thought in my mind. Why was Cedric given the choice to go back or to continue onward, as Dumbledore described it? And why, when Cedric died at the end of the fourth book and Dumbledore at the end of the sixth book, why was Dumbledore waiting for Cedric when he had to make that choice? And why, finally, did the Hogwarts Express appear for Cedric just as it had for Harry--do all Hogwarts students who die and are given the chance to return see the same thing, in your opinion? I'm really interested to hear your thoughts; I think it'll give me better insight into your story.
Now, I'm going to continue into my actual review of the story. You took on a huge challenge of describing what happens to a soul that goes through death in this plot. You did fall back on a pretty recognizable theory: people see flashbacks from their life. But you made this--dare I say it, cliched--depiction of death into so much more than just flashbacks. Cedric's memory with Cho was probably the most poignant, beautiful part of this piece. Tears came to my eyes, both at their interaction and the dreams they had for each other, with each other. I was also particularly struck by Cedric's return from death--the verbal barbs that he threw at Voldemort were very insightful and I think his realizations about Voldemort then cast a new light upon his character.
I know, from your drabbles, that you pick your words very, very carefully. This one-shot was no different. The flow of particular sentences (one that stands out in my mind was at the beginning where sound and ground rhymed within a complete thought without sounding forced) as well as the diction and description of scenes was a huge strength in this story. The symbolism of "The Spare" and the hunched sallow tree would not have occurred without your careful phrasing and repetition of certain ideas. I was very impressed.
Let me move into characterization. I've never considered Cedric's character very much, and you bring out so much in him through this story. His sympathy for Harry, his affection for Cho--this Cedric is so much more complex than the canon character we know as readers! My only nitpick is that Cedric...has absolutely no faults in this story. You veer close to making him a Gary!Stu and I'd be particularly careful of that. No human is perfect. I think if you demonstrate even a single fault, it will function to highlight all of Cedric's positive qualities. That's just something to think about.
You have a very good understanding of how people relate to one another. That comes through in this story in every relationship that you describe Cedric having with another person: Dumbledore, Voldemort, the Weasley twins, Cho, Harry, and his other competitors in the Triwizard Tournament. Combined with your powerful control over language and a riveting plot, the depiction of human, imperfect, lovable characters in your story make this one-shot a beautiful piece.
Thank you for sharing!
Author's Response: Thank you so very much for taking the time to compose such an exceptional review. I think that, in the context of the Potterverse, the (whole) soul of any wizard that crosses over is given a choice to go back in the form of a ghost. Nearly-Headless Nick made a comment to Harry in OotP regarding the decision to become a ghost, though he said that not many wizards choose to do so. I don't recall if Nick specified that it was a conscious choice, but it seems to me that in order to truly accept one's death, one must have the opportunity after dying to consider the option of returning. I read a story once in which Fred's crossing-over point was the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch, with Gideon and Fabian Prewett as his guides. In Cedric's case, there's no one that we know who was particularly close to him that died who would act as a guide, so I chose Dumbledore for the convenient reason that we'd seen him in that role already. I also set the crossing-over scene at King's Cross because, again, we don't know of any location with a particularly strong attachment for Cedric, and I'd already read the story with Fred crossing over at the Quidditch pitch. I chose King's Cross because, with Dumbledore as guide, I wanted to imply that Cedric's crossing-over took place immediately before Harry and Voldemort appeared, indicated by Dumbledore's comment about another bit of business. As to the two year lag between Cedric's death and Dumbledore's death, I've always considered an afterlife as existing outside of not only our stream of time, but our conception of time. Thus Dumbledore's comment about the "slippery quality" of time in the crossing-over point of King's Cross. Chronologically, Dumbledore died two years after Cedric, and Harry "died" a year after Dumbledore, but Dumbledore appeared in King's Cross first, after which Cedric appeared then left, after which Harry appeared, probably all in the course of what would seem like a few minutes. I used the Express for Cedric because I felt that, as a student, it would be something he would feel connect to and comforted by. It was an object that took him somewhere he liked to go, and when he chose to cross over, I felt like that was the object he would choose to take him across. I agree that the use of a flashback just prior to death has become a cliche, and that was part of why I went that route (and I do know that you're not accusing me of being cliched). I feel like cliches are cliched because they worked once, but became over-used by writers too lazy to use them properly. I am particularly interested in sorting through cliches to find the parts that work, and doing those parts right. Rereading the story, I have to agree also that Cedric comes across as faultless. I think perhaps that in writing a story specifically about his death, I wound up glorifying him a bit. I feel like Cedric's biggest flaw might have been pride, but that his pride (unlike Malfoy's vanity) was founded on how hard he worked he achieve his goals, and that his hard work was, in turn, founded on a deep sense of inadequacy. Perhaps that inadequacy came out of being mocked for being Sorted into Hufflepuff, or from somewhere else, but I think Cedric had a driving need to prove himself, and that need compelled him to enter the Tournament. Of course, Cedric did start to make a comment about Ginny that had nothing to do with her ability to cast a Bat-Bogey Hex, and he earned a slap on the forehead for it.
I had to get up and go breath in another room before I could write this. I neve rliked cho and I have no idea what poor Cedric sees in her. Other than that, I think this really does him justice. I like the continuing use of King's Cross station. I like the sense that Fred is already on the train, or coming, and the way you tie that to his meeting the Weasleys. I just don't know what else to say.
Oh, except that I wonder if you intended the whole second half to be in italics, or if you missed a bit of code...