I read this story a while ago and loved it. So here's a long overdue review. The way you begin, in media res, but in a moment of calm before the storm is really well chosen, and you start by establishing a lot about Lisa's character, without seeming to throw information at the reader. One minor nitpick "It wasn't as death had never touched her life" I think there should be an 'if' in there.
I really like the way you talk about her awareness of death, and the description: "She'd never felt Death's hot, fetid breath on her own neck or heard the chafing rattle of his approach echo in her ears before that night though," is incredibly powerful, particularly compared to your earlier description of how a matador views death. There’s the element of choice in the latter, but still the same fear of the former and her ultimate helplessness in the face of it. However I do think most teenagers (or maybe just me and my friends) think about death quite a lot, so I found that statement slightly jarring although the list of the things she wants to do, of her ambitions also is another example of you explaining her personality without it seeming clumsy. The relief that now they were fighting though, I think is a very realistic emotion. In spite of Lisa’s own doubts, however, there is a confident lyrical quality to your writing, particularly the image of Flitwick being near the precipice and drawn like a magnet to death. There’s a strong sense of danger and expectation and the poetic similes you use do not seem out of place in this setting.
I have to confess that with this story you kind of had me when you said in the author’s note that you would be quoting Shakespeare and Marvell, and when you slipped both of these in so seamlessly was beautiful. The phrase “(for they had been sent with their Head of House to guard that which was their own)” however, seemed slightly overly wordy and clumsy. I do, however, love the idea that Flitwick gave them dueling advice. Again, with Terry, you have a knack of characterising him in very few words and the contrast between his view of it all as a game, and Lisa being aware of the seriousness of the occasion. It’s a debatable point which is the better response.
I love the way Lisa refers to her friends as “her boys.” It’s just an affectionate, possessive touch which explains why it doesn’t even occur to her to leave, even though she’s scared. I read somewhere that bravery is really facing what you’re scared of, and that if you’re not afraid you’re not really brave, and Lisa is certainly veery brave. And I think her friends brotherly protectiveness is “bloody ridiculous” and, whilst I’d liked and respected Lisa up till that point, I really warmed to her then. And the idea of Zacharias trying to sleep with her is hilarious- regardless of appearances she’s too good for him. And then the Marvell. I love the way that you show that it’s something of a game for one to quote a line of poetry and the other to finish it and he misunderstands her. It’s heartbreaking, but somehow typical of the way you’ve shown Terry to be- quite Sirius like in a way.
I like the way you don’t show the main action of the battle on the ramparts but the chaos that would obviously follow it. Lisa’s reactions and Anthony’s are very real and though the death of Justin is a shock, they don’t have time to register it because suddenly the proximity of death is brought home to Lisa. And you don’t have to explain that here, because you’ve already established her relationship with death very thoroughly earlier on.
I like the change from them being “her boys” to suddenly only Terry mattering, to the extent that she leaves Anthony and doesn’t care about Michael. And the kiss was absolutely perfect because I think most readers would guess that Terry is about to die, making it their first and last. I think the paragraphing you use in this last section is well done. I mean the phrase “And then the world exploded” just sits there in its own right, and then the remainder of the story is the aftershocks of that. The description of “lines that didn't belong on his young face,” is somewhat cliche, but your story is good enough that you can get away with it, particularly when it’s followed by the striking and cruel image of “shadows and angles that cut mockingly across his usual warm expression. The way that you don’t actually state Terry’s dead, but just how Lisa feels about Michael because of it, is really powerful, as is her hatred of Michael because of it, which she acknowledges is wrong but is to some extent better than the grief that is about to overwhelm her and which you don’t let us see, because we just don’t need to.
I’m worried this review is rather repetitively saying just how realistic and well-fleshed out these very minor characters are, but it’s true. Fantastic story, thanks for writing it. Alex
This was such a beautiful story. I loved the characters, and the group of four you had here. It was a great way of getting over the barrier which often comes up with characters in Harry's year who weren't in the DA. It seems very realistic that the three boys didn't tell Lisa about it because they wanted to keep her safe.
I think it was very interesting to start with Lisa contemplating death, and seeing its impact. It fits very well with the ending. Somehow I knew that Terry was doomed from the start... perhaps it was his 'it's all a game' attitude, I'm not sure. But it was still so sad when it happened... right until those last few lines I was hoping with Lisa that he'd survived.
I love what you've set up between Lisa and Michael - it really shows how the death of a friend can tear another friendship apart... if that makes sense. You really showed the impact of death.
I also liked Daphne in this - perhaps she wasn't "evil" as we like to brand some people (although, is anyone ever completely evil?), she still went along with what was easiest for her, and she had fled the castle to Hogsmeade with the younger children rather than stay and fight. I think this made her realistic.
Anyway, I really loved this story. Your writing was beautiful and the whole story just tragic. You nearly had me in tears. (That's a compliment!)
Now that I've read and marked, I can leave a review. Hannah, this was an amazing story. I loved the characterisation of the four Ravenclaws. Lisa as the lynchpin with her 'boys' was such a good idea. I think what I found particularly impressive was that Lisa didn;t actually like one of them that much and I'm wondering why - it intrigues me which is always a good thing.
Wow, the class seemed determined to kill old Terry Boot, didn't they. Poor boy!
I like Daphne, here. In my mind she's always been a more sympathetic Slytherin, and I liked the concern for her sister, yet you didn't fall into the trap of making her totally redeemable. She did take part in the detentions, and there was no excuse given.
Amazing story. I look forward to relaxing one afternoon and reading all your stories. ~Carole~
Author's Response: Aw thanks, Carole. I really like the idea of the complexity of the four-way dynamic (actually the story this was a prequel too explores the way that dynamic fragments without Terry). As for Lisa and Michael, her discomfort with him is more based on the fact that she thinks he doesn't like her than anything else, which couldn't be further from the truth. Those two have a very messy and complicated relationship that only gets more complicated. As for Daphne, I'm glad her role worked, I really wanted to find a third way between the extremes of the bad Slytherin fighting for the Death Eaters and the good Slytherin who's fully redeemed by fighting for the good guys. I wanted her not to fight because ultimately she a true Slytherin pragmatist and her own self-interest is paramount and she wouldn't see it as in her best interests to pick a side, but for there still to be one thing that mattered more to her than saving her own skin.
I was super depressed after i read this. which didnt help my already depressed mindset that hp is coming quickly to a close...
anycrap that was really good writing!
Author's Response: Thanks for the review and I'm sorry it depressed you.
Aw, Hannah, I so did not want him to die. But you know, it was going to be him because he was the optimistic one, the one who, if personality had anything to do with it, would be the one to defy death with a laugh. This bit reminds of Fred.
I'm so glad you had her go and find him, and kiss him, and know that, at least in that moment, he kissed her back. It would lessen her regret, for sure.
Nice ending with letting us wonder if it could have been Michael... but the sense of dread you had already led the reader into told me it was definitely going to be Terry. Nicely done.
I enjoyed being in class together! I'm bummed it's over. :)
Author's Response: Thanks for the lovely review, Lori.
It probably helped the sense of inevitability that, having already written a fic about Lisa and Michael not dealing well with his death, Terry was almost already dead for me even when he was still alive at the start. I see what you mean about the Fred parallel; I hadn't really thought about it like that.
Wow. Wow. Wow. This was so brilliantly done. Great job with this! I love Lisa's character, how she is so very Ravenclaw and yet she is able to be brave in her own way and seize the moments as they come.
I really enjoyed reading about her friendship with the Ravenclaw boys in her year, and how they were like brothers to her (except Terry, of course :D). You managed to make the boys so different, but with enough similar roots to show why they became friends.
Despite the fact that this might have led to Terry's demise, I love that Lisa went back to tell him how she felt and kiss him. I'm glad she got to be with him one last time before his death, so the regrets she had when this was all over would be minimal.
The last section was so powerful--I think it was probably my favorite part of your entire story, even though it was almost unbearably sad. Her emotions feel so raw and real to me, especially when she wishes that Michael was dead instead of Terry. And I love the suspension in finding out whether Terry or Michael died (I didn't read the story this is a prequel to, so I had no idea what the outcome would be). And then Michael steps into her line of vision, and it's so heartbreakingly sad but so incredibly beautiful. I love the way you wrote the death scene, it was so smoothly done and deeply felt.
Beautiful writing here--I love it!
Author's Response: Thanks for the lovely review, dear.
Funny thing for me writing this, having already written A Fitting Memorial, was that Terry was always already dead for me, so it was hard to connect to the emotions in the last section as I was writing them, if that makes any sense. So I'm so glad they still came across as powerful for you despite that.
And as for Lisa having no regrets, sadly if anything having had that kiss makes it harder for to lose Terry. Terry's death kind of shapes all three of their futures (I've still got Anthony's story, much later in life, to tell) in various ways.
I really reallu loved this, and I'm sorry it doesn't have more reviews!
A lot of people portray people in the battle having so much courage. I'm not sure why, but people really have a fascination with brave people. But Lisa is not a brave person, and the fact that she knows this makes it so much more enjoyable. She's an honest character. However, I think she's more courageous than she thinks she is, if that makes sense?
Very well done, I had shivers during some parts. I really felt the anxiety from Lisa, and I love the little quartet thing you dreamed up, that was cute :) I was almost ready to cry when the minute she kisses Terry he dies..
I loved this to pieces, every part of it, the plot and the ideas. It was so good! The last line was amazing too, your characterization of Lisa was truly brilliant.
Author's Response: Thanks for such a lovely review.
It was interesting to explore a character who wanted to do what she thought was right, but wasn't really all that brave, because I think there must have been quite a few students fighting at the battle who felt like that. But you are right about her having more courage than she realises. I'm glad that you liked her characterisation.
I really like playing the dynamics of this little quartet. I've written them before in the post-DH world from Michael's perspective, and one day I'll get around to telling Anthony's story too.