Summary: An Irish witch languishes in the darkness of her family home, confined by her father and circumstances. What will it take to bring her out of this exile? The chance to return to Hogwarts? The opportunity to participate in the fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters? Or will it be Severus Snape, a man she did not expect to see again in her lifetime?
This is canon compliant to OoTP but written pre-HBP.
Reviews and constructive criticism are most welcome, and thanks go to Ashwinder who kindly beta read the chapters for me. :-)
Where to begin? First off, I'm not a Snape-phile, I don't love the brooding greaseball the way so many people do, and that's why it took me so long to actually decide to read this fic. A dozen stellar reccomendations, the fact that you're an awesome beta, and a little boredom finially got me past my Snape-fic bias.
It was definitely worth the read. Maeve is a rariety among OC love interests. She's likeable, believable, and she fits with Serverus very well.
I love how you wove real Irish folklore/culture into the overarcing plot. You paint a detailed lovely picture that breathes and lives.
Thanks for writing and sharing such a lovely fiction....now I must go read the sequel. I'm rather excited to see how you merged some of the HBP truths with your fannon truths. :)
Author's Response: Thanks for reviewing, deanine! I'm glad y6ou enjoyed it. It turned out to be far longer than I had anticipated and it was never supposed to be so heavy on the romance between Maeve and Severus, but once they got together again I just couldn't stop them. :-) The Irish folklore/myth was the main reason for writing the fic so I'm pleased you found it interesting.
Hope Severed Souls doesn't dissapoint! Jo gave those of us with sixth/seventh year fics some tough options.
Summary: Harry's sixth year; the burden of the prophecy, the grief over the loss of Sirius, the wizarding war, blossoming romances, the new Quidditch Captain, Weasley family drama - and that's just part of it.
THe dream was a nice beginning. A glimpse of a happier moment that can't quite be. Because of his connection to Voldemort, it's always seemed like Harry has a touch of seer in him. (I know it's fundamentally a false perception.) But I wish for a premonition here. And I've already cast Hermione as the bride by the way.
It's rather a short beginning. But then, you do have a a couple more chapters here to keep me busy. :)
Okay, the mad Spammer is back.
Printing and reading leads to a different flavor of review from me, and it makes less sense. Apologies in advance.
Ron's new look was an interesting addition. He's been working out. I've been trying to imagine buff-Ron since reading this chapter and my mind balks.
Let's see thoughts I had in this chapter, wonder who killed Kreacher? He deserved it. I liked that you allowed for Voldemort to have stolen information from Harry, eg. The Prophesy. I think I may have already mentioned this, but Harry's connection to Voldemort via his scar has always intrigued me, and I love that you're using it as a major device.
Constructive comment:"Important business to intend to," said Moody gruffly.Attend seems like a more appropriate choice.
JKR has always painted the Weasley's as an ideal for Harry to enjoy, a family that he's virtually a member of. You keep that tradition alive with this fic. Molly is still a surrogate Mum. It's a nice warm moment, this chapter.
Line that made me giggle: "You know, they do bring out the colour of your eyes."
Harry and Ron had a nice moment there in the attic with the pictures. It's also notable that Harry hasn't let go of his anger for Dumbledore yet, but he handles himself maturely.
Moment that made me go huh? Ginny giving Harry a magic diary. Considering her history with enchanted journals, it seemed a surprising gift.
And you leave us with the cliffie of Fred and George's present.
This is one of my favorite chapters. I love that you address Ron's attack in the department of mysteries. I love the insidious internal devastating nature of the attack by the brains. It was lovely.
I'd say this is a transition chapter. You sprinkle in some information. Ron and Hermione's relationship is discussed. Molly gets a chance to be maternal while Ginny rides to the rescue. I didn't really start to note it for several chapters, but you're doing something with Ginny that JKR only hints at in 6 books, you're giving her character, life and personality.
Tan Hermione made me smile, and you start to get rolling with your over-arcing plot I think here.
Constructive Comment: Around half way through, I got a slight feeling of vagueness, like things were slightly rushed. The section I'm talking about is where Hermione is asking what they're all been up to and they recap for her.
Okay, this was a dramatic chapter. It's interesting that the death eaters are assuming the Hermione is his girl. Ron should dissuade them of that fairly quickly. There won't be the book-long Ron-Hermione love/hate/communication-malfunction that HBP treated us to.
Constructive comment: The last sentence of the chapter... where blood spied through his fingers. Spied seems an off choice of words. Sped? Leaked? Dripped? But then I can almost see what you might mean with spied.
You capture the emotional aftermath of the attack well. Ron manages to be infuriating. I want him to evolve and stop being a jerk so often. Hermione is the glue that ties these boys together. Hermione's self doubt was interesting and timely and appropriate. She's a kid. They all are. And this is so much for them to bear.
You gave Harry his O in potions, yay! I liked how Rowling backed him into potions, but I assume this means we get to keep Snape where he is most effective, in his potions classroom.
This was another excellent chapter. Lucius is dead?! Draco blames Harry? Highly interesting. And I wonder what Mr. Weasley did to young Malfoy's wand.
The one thing I really remembered from this chapter was the romance. I loved Luna's drive by. She's perfect. And I smell some Harry/Ginny in our future. Harry/Ginny with developed Ginny is bound to be much more satisfying.
You brought Lupin back this chapter. That's a nice choice. I love him in that position. The Harry Ginny is practically screaming at us. It makes me happy.
I LOVE LUNA LOVEGOOD. Okay, she was perfect in this chapter. She may not get Harry but she deserves good things, love, and oh just a big hug. Of course you open with Hermione Ron sucking face, shades of Lavender/Ron. It made me laugh.
Constructive comment: Too any Ravenclaws lost family. I think you mean many.
It was just so easy to talk to Luna.
I still love Luna, but I rather hate it that this is causing a problem for Ginny and Harry. I'm a bit preoccupied with the romance lately. *sigh* I can't seem to help myself. The plot with the translation is still peeking at us.
Line that made me giggle: Riff and Raff's conversation was pretty cute and snarky.
Transfigured paintings was an intriguing concept. Potions was less painful than expected. I giggled when Snape picked Polyjuice as the first potion of year 6. Quidditch Co-Captains? I buy it I suppose. But I liked Harry having that job to himself, one head ultimate authority and all that Jazz. Yay, for continued DA.
*sigh* I love Luna dearly, and I hope she doesn't get hurt. But Harry and Ginny are meant to be. Please don't hurt her?
Okay I surrender.
I wrote through chapter 30 doing miniature encapsulated reviews. Then I got turned around and got confused about what happened in which chapters.
So I'm going to succinct for once.
The temptation is to write this review comparing HBP and your year six, and I'm giving in to that a bit. Forgive me. The thing that struck me as I finished was that this was a good year six, with some elements that JKR used herself, but it was really nothing like HBP. And I'm not talking plot. You approach the story from a different angle. You write a very personal story, smaller in scope but so rich in character. Ginny becomes a central real character. Harry is taken to a darker place: mentally and physically. You introduce a lot of unique interesting details, like the chains that helped torture Hermione and Harry, or the hilarious diary.
You have a very straightforward writing style that I enjoy reading. From time to time you slip over the line from succinct and brilliant to vague and less enjoyable. I pointed out one spot as I was mini-reviewing the first 20 chapters. It doesn't happen that often, but it's something to consider.
Now I can read All's Fair and not be totally confused. Woo Hoo!
This opens with a very reasonable sixth year beginning. We're at the Dursley's and Harry is still reeling from his loss. You portray his lonely grief well. He's surrounded by letters from people who love him, but he IS alone and guilty and tired.
Constructive Comment: This is at best minor and an opinion. One might even call it a quibble. The thin, bespectacled boy lay reclining, staring up at the ceiling. In the corner, the alarm clock flashed midnight in bold, red numbers. Harry Potter blinked at it, uncomprehending. I wanted to kill a couple of your commas, strictly for flow purposes. They're all gramatically justified... I said it was quibbly!!!
I shall read on...
This chapter is less morose overall, but you start with a decidedly unpleasant concept. Harry's vulnerability to Voldemort through their spiritual/mental connection. I've been mildly obsessed with that connection since the moment in book 5 when Voldemort possessed Harry. When I read this line, I got a shiver. It was almost as if dementors surrounded him whenever he fell off to sleep, sucking the happiness from the room Lovely.
Then when Harry, showing amazing physical grace, falls on his face/butt and contemplates his bruises, I immediately started planning what the Order members (most prominently Moody) would do to the Dursley's ... and then Harry had the same thought on the next line. I'm developing Lex-ESP I think :) :)
Good chapter. I hope the exit from the Dursley's is a little fun. I love to hate that family so.
Hmmm, it was a big question which direction Harry would go after year five. He was angry and angst in book five, and he lost Sirius. Who would Harry be when he came out the other side and returned for sixth year? Now that we've read HBP I can compare your year six Harry with Rowling's. It struck me this chapter that Harry is subtly different here. When he was headed down the stairs and he spoke sarcastically to the Dursleys... He's more openly sarcastic. There's a hair's greater to edge to him. I *think* I'm gonna really like it.
Itty Bitty Grammar Moment: “He’d better not be lying, Dursley. You and I don’t like each other much, “Moody The quote spacing is off.
Cute story. I enjoy fics where Harry gets to interact with his parents. I did notice a typo in the first chapter. I believe you said something about it being Harry 188th birthday instead of 18th.
Summary: This story is set in the dystopian society of Wizarding England under the control of Voldemort. Fifteen years after leaving Hogwarts, Harry Potter is in hiding; he fears the words of the Prophecy and has lost the will to fight. This story tells the tale of an adult Hermione who sacrifices everything: her family, her moral beliefs and eventually her dignity, in order to save the Wizarding world. She becomes a Death Eater under the recommendation of someone she barely trusts. She struggles to find the courage and strength, but with every choice she makes she gets deeper and deeper into danger.
Chapter 33 is finally up. Thank you for your support and patience..
Dark and angsty. You definitely categorized this fic correctly. You sort of open with the unhappy ending, the hull of Hogwarts, the wreck of Harry, the penitent Hermione. All the images build to an emotionally desolate place. It is not a hopeful beginning, but it isn't completely devoid of optimism. Hermione is asking Harry to fight on. Will the next chapter move into the past, or move forward, I wonder? The past is going to be ugly, but maybe the future isn't? Constructive comment: A comma splice bit me on the nose. The lake still remains, it floods onto the banks like it used to.
Get ready for 18 reviews in one.
What really stood out in chapter 2 was the absence of two words. You never say Serverus Snape, yet he's a major player in the chapter. You leave it to the reader to see the character and recognize him if they can. If I didn't know that your one true pair was Hermione/Snape I fancy that I'd still recognize him in this chapter, but I have that bias to contend with.
Favorite line of the chapter: Great, I obviously lost my bravery when I lost my surname.
Constructive Comments: ...for lodgings here tonight", I reply. Dialogue error. ...he look like he has... Subject verb agreement there. There were also a couple of semicolons I wanted to kill.
You open this chapter with Harry-Hermione. This isn't a warm fuzzy rekindling of their relationship. Harry even goes so far as to call her a Mudblood. I rather thought this was him trying to shock her, scare her away, and perhaps unconsciously protect her?
There is an early plot-point made about all magic that leads to personal gain being Dark magic. This confused me when I read it. Why would the new regime of Voldemort's make more magic taboo? Nineteen chapters later as I'm writing this review, it occurs to me that you may mean that Voldemort colors more magic as dark as a tool to make dark magic acceptable/palatable to the general population?
Hermione and Snape's meeting was interesting. Knowing where it's heading as I write this, actually makes it harder to comment on how this section made me feel at first. I've lost that emotion over the last 50 pages.
Line that made me giggle:All I want him to do is resurface for a second or two so that Harry can do a quick Avada Kedavra curse. *sigh* If it were only that simple.
Constructive Comments: I intend to return to my old role I used obtain for the Order. Sentence didn't quite make sense ...bony and dusty it is but a chair nonetheless. This description reads a bit off. Is the chair literally made of bones?
The flashback chapter, it fills in holes. The one thing that struck me enough to break out my hi-lighter, was that Lucius killed Albus. Then Hermione takes on the blame. It's the first time for her, and it's a pattern she falls into a lot in this fic.
This is the chapter where you start to enunciate some nice Machiavellian ethics. The ends justify the means, and all that jazz. I worry a bit that Hermione has so little hope going into this venture. Before she ever sets foot in her new home, she literally feels worthless and without any self-respect. Going into a difficult time without conviction and hope makes the situation more impossible.
Most striking description: The entry hall was disturbing to put it mildly.
Constructive Comment: ...horrible deformities, he is rowing... Comma splice.
Hermione accepts the Dark Mark, and tries to save her childhood friend, Ron. I wonder if you allow for an old romance between them? I wonder. Seeing Ron broken and mad was very difficult, and it doesn't get any easier in later chapters I might add.
Excellent Twist: I was gearing up for an angsty drawn out series of chapters in which Hermione would be tormented by her inability to save Ron. You didn't go there. You saved him, and I wasn't expecting that.
Constructive Comments: A wand is raised in front of me, it sparks. Comma splice.
The Trio is reunited. It's a twisted painful unhealthy reunion, but it's true to its story. Harry is almost optimistic compared to his earlier mood. I wonder if the arrival of Mad-Ron caused the change in attitude.
Favorite line of the chapter: One is without his mind, one is without his identity, and one is without her morals. Succinct, but powerful.
Constructive Comments: This is more a personal taste issue, but introducing the Christianity metaphors when Hermione is trying to talk with Ron seemed a little forced.
And a chapter for repercussions. Hermione has another of what look to be many encounters with the elder Malfoy. She and Snape stammering through their fabrication, was scary, and Lucious resorting to the Cruciatus curse was not unexpected.
Hermione and Snape start to get closer in this chapter. She's writing in the aftermath of her punishment and he's rather kind to her. How old would he be now? If he was 40ish when they started school and Hermione is 30ish now, that would make him 60ish. This fact keeps leaping out at me and making me go ewww, but that's my own mental problem.
Constructive Comments: ...when I have purposefully mess it up. Tense error. You need messed. ...cocking up a potion... What was the rating on this fic? ;)
Diagon Alley was almost unrecognizable and destroyed. While Fred was diminished, and simultaneously the most hopeful character on the canvas.
Constructive Comments: I realize who the wolf is. This line had lots of potential and promised Remus Lupin in the near future, at least that was what I thought. Since I've read on, I can say, that you leave us dangling here.
My thought about the Order meeting: What fireballs *sigh* But Hermione almost has a plan. Yay, for a plan.
Constructive Comments: Harry is sat...Sitting please :) Sputtering and splattering he hands it over, I smile slightly, he's not a natural potion brewer. Uber-comma splice.
You can definitely feel the influence of HBP in this chapter. The wrenching of is he really evil then? Even those of us who don't love Snape as dearly as you, were conflicted by his fall from ambiguity to murderer. You reinforce his characteristic ambiguity with this chapter, and you push these two toward their maturing relationship.
Favorite line of the chapter: You mean to say you have every intention of turning me evil?
Constructive Comments: wont Is missing it's apostrophe.
It's a strangely playful scene between Hermione and Snape as he practices Occulumency with her. Then the baby-Malfoy attempts his power play. It's a nice cliffhanger at the end.
I didn't take many margin notes for this chapter until the end. Hermione is in a tight spot and getting through it will be difficult, but first, there's a night between her and her 60ish beau. No, I don't completely embrace this romantic pairing, but the read is still enjoyable.
I refuse to comment on the intimacy scene. I honestly didn't read it closely enough. When a concept is causing me some mental anguish to imagine, I don't dwell there, apologies. It seemed well written from my point of view skimming it.
I was very worried about Neville when I realized where you were going, and your tendency to let bad bad bad things happen.
Line that made me giggle: …with a life expectancy around two weeks? A bit optimistic, I'd say.
You let us think that everything went as planned. Very cruel of you, I might add. Hermione is nearly raped again, and I'm beginning to think SNape should just castrate the flipping reprobate before something unfortunate happens.
The death of Neville was terrible, and emotionally devestationg. You handled Hermione's guilt, and grief well, with sensitivity and insight. Snape was a comforting presence.
The scene where Hermione faces her friends was surprisingly calm and reassuring. Ron still makes me sad every time he creeps across the canvas, but that's to be expected I suppose. Harry being sensible? It was a nice change.
I found this chapter frustrating! Mainly because Harry turns on Hermione for intimacy with Snape, when he could forgive her for accidentally killing Neville? It just baffled me. Ron is insane, and that's one thing, but Harry should have more sense. I mean, he and Snape haven't even exchanged cross words in this fic. Harry practically vouched for Snape to Hermione earlier in the fic.
That bit aside, it was a powerful angsty sad funeral. *sigh* I hate that's Neville had to die.
Final Thoughts I think your concerns that this fic falls apart when held up together are unfounded. I pointed out the one spot where I think you left us dangling. The rest of your plot lines seem cohesive and steady. You have a unique voice Insecurity, and I look forward to your next installment. As usual, I choose to be an optimist, and I hope you allow these poor tortured souls a happy ending eventually.
Author's Response: Wow - this has to be the longest review I have ever seen! *Gives Bridget a crown made out of turnips* Thank you very much, this has really helped me get an overview of the story and I promise to sit down one hour and run through all the errors and correct them. You've really helped me with this story, because now I know which bits I need to round up and which bits are doing okay.
You say about Christian metaphors in chapter 7 --- I have to agree, and I will tone that down a bit. When I read back, I cringe at the melodrama of that chapter.
Just to clear up the age difference, I went on the HP Lexicon (which we have to admit is the HP bible! The picture of Hermione on there looks somewhat like her… kudos to Lexicon!) Snape was born in either 1959 or 1960 and Hermione was born 1979, this makes him either 19 or 20 years older than her. Seeing as this story is set in autumn and Snape’s birthday is in January, I will deem him 49 years old. Still too old? Possibly. There is also the factor that Wizards live longer than Muggles, Dumbledore died at 150 (and not of old age, also Sophie told me to tell you that Dumbledore had ginger hair until he was about 100 and so thats evidence that wizards can boogie on for years!) so we can assume that the men keep their youth just a little longer, perhaps a decade or two. This would make Snape “slightly past his prime.” *senses victory*
I am genuinely sorry about the sexy scenes, Bridget, I don’t usually go in for that kind of thing *is a nice Catholic girl underneath it all*
Thank you for all the "lines that made me giggle" -- they reminded me taht I *do* have some type of sense of humour!
You've really helped me here! Thank you again!
Summary: Ginny Weasley finds out how her relationship with Harry Potter will affect the outcome of the war against Voldemort.
The sequel to Ginny's Task has been posted! It's called 'In Search of Her Heart'
This is a very effective opening chapter. You set the stage. We know the year the relationships, the direction we're headed. The descriptions are well balanced and you generally have a good ear for dialogue.
The concept of a woman's love saving Harry a second time is symmetrical and I like the idea.
Constructive comment: Scaredy cats seems odd coming out of Harry's mouth there. I don't think it's an Americanism. It just reads off to me.
This is so different from where JKR went with her story. It's interesting to read this other path. :D Your characterizations are solid and you're leading us along in a logical progression.
There are a couple of awkward phrasings in here that I want to tweak.
Once they arrived, all four of them were surprised to see the elder Weasley’s, Lupin, Tonks, Kingsley, and Moody there with Dumbledore and were sitting on the couches that graced the room.
The reader has to stop and read at least twice to figure out who is on the couch because of the phrasing.
This is quite lovely *reads on*
The characterizations are definitely your strong point. Ginny and Harry and Dumbledore come thorough very strongly.
Constructive comments: You have a favorite homonym error like me. Mine is your vs you're. Yours is its vs it's. It doesn't matter if you know the right one, your fingers refuse to type it. *smiles* There were a couple of other small blips in capitalization and dialogue.
Overall: This is still flowing forward at a steady enjoyable pace.
I think you have a beta reader as of this chapter. The technicalities were much cleaner. Harry and Ginny happy always makes me worry -- and you write the pairing well. JKR has never let Harry have more than a moment's happiness so any time he finds some, I start looking for the bottom to drop out.
Constructive comment: I do this too, but italicizing cast spells.
Chapter 7 – No this isn't a SPEW Review but the boob scar made me giggle. I don't know why! And this is crazy speculative insanity, but I had this strange though cross my mind this chapter, maybe, just maybe Dumbledore is going to give them Barry White albums, a couple of VHS tapes of British porn, and tell them to learn the greatest magic of all.
Chapter 9 – The end? That is not the end. That's the end of the beginning at best! To leave us there is a tease. The music was a lovely creative plot (why you didn't go with Barry White I'll never know).
This is the moment to give my overall feelings, what you evoked, where you shined. You write a good moment of preparation, Harry and Ginny happy. It brings a smile to my face. This feels like a picture of happiness in a snowglobe, artificial in it's idyllic moments, but lovely just the same. I want 20 more chapters, the grit and the pain that's to come. It makes the sweet moments so much sweeter.
All in all this is a lovely story, and I'm so glad I took the time to read it.
In fact, the horrendous things in this collection are too numerous to name. I wouldn't think of mentioning such things as an evil wizard, birthday presents, ghosts, an owl, or a spider-filled closet.
With all due respect,
P.S. This chapters in this collection may be read in any order you please. Although, it would probably please you more if you did not read them at all.
I love Lemony Snicket, and you write his style very well. It was interesting to read the first chapter of SS through this filter. Or course the main pitfall with a parody like this can be that if reads too close to the original. I think for most of the chapter you dodged that bullet very well. It was a fun read, very thoughtfully written. Constructive comment: I spotted one word slip. You might as the question: As should be ask I think.
Summary: A series of one-shots from inside the minds of various characters. Different formats and styles for each character.
This is a past featured story, but from way back before they did rosettes for it. Bellatrix, Gargoyle, Ollivander, Sorting Hat, Filch, Rita (New)
You write with an introspective style that really gets inside the head of the character you're exploring. This is an interesting take on Bella's point of view for several reasons.
First the diary: it's a tool to teach her that Muggles are untrustworthy, and fundamentally flawed. It's interesting that you give the Muggles so much power in this dream sequence. Rowling kind-of shrugs off the Muggle activities like witch burning as at worst an annoyance that a witch would have to extricate herself from with a little thought. It gives her another reason to dislike Muggles, and adds a dimension to her character.
I also love how she's so completely crazy that she can calmly sit back and think how sane she is, and how insane the world is.
This was a unique perspective, very enjoyable to read. I like the mystery of not knowing exactly who was talking for the frist part of the story. It always makes me read for details when the narrator is unknown.
Constructive comment: A gargoyle’s password was a sacred thing to it, it was very literally the reason for it’s existence, a classy password was something to be proud of, it implied a certain stature and respectability to the guardian. This is a comma splice. If it's intentional, I don't think it really adds to the narrative flow, you know? Just my opinion though.
That's an original take on the Olivander's wands business. It reminds me of the Santa Clause, and no, I'm not kidding.
It's a letter fic, so you're addressing your reader. I don't always engage emotionally with letter fics, but this one was captivating. You had three or four good chuckles in there as well.
I have one more SPAMeriffic, not nearly SPEWy review in me for you Tom. The hat perspective was largely depressing. Living life as a hat isnt a wonderful thing, I suppose.
“Fine, fine, what’s your favourite colour? Red?”
LOL... that was my favorite line of the fic.
Author's Response: Thank you for the review, I have to admit to a habit of writing depressed characters >.>
Oh my word, I think I've read this chapter oh eight times, so it's about time I reviewed. :) :)
Harry being left behind is very appropriate. It's good to give these new guys a chance to get their footing before the past gets into it.
The children are all emerging slowly as individuals, and I adore Rhea. She's a bright one, shades of Hermione, yet not.
But the shining star in this chapter has to be the Snape Hermione at the end. THis is a pair I don't generally enjoy, but your treatment of them, works on every level. I read that section with glee that surprises me every time I return to it.
Yes, this review is very gushy, but I couldn't help myself... I never can with this fic.
Author's Response: *giggles*
Oh, Harry is so dark he crackles in here. And the Snape vs. Harry, just made me gleeful. I loved it.
Hermione and Ron talking was good. Forgiveness is important whether they come back together romantically or not.
I can't help wondering how Snape will respond to this situation. I have a little niggle that he might try to posion Rhae against her father out of maliciousness.
You missed a quotation mark here:
“You’re telling me, he groused.
Author's Response: *giggles* I\'ll have to go in and fix that. Thanks!
This fic starts with a idyllic picture postcard. You have a lovely family, living their simple Muggle lives, enjoying a beautiful day and a picnic. There are three perspectives that you address from within the postcard of the beginning: Sara, Rhea, and Harry.
You first see the word through Sara, the mother. She seems to have the most perspective, watching her family from above. She appears as the center of the family, the sun around which they revolve. From the moment she mentioned that her daughter was eleven, without any perturbation I suspected that she was missing some vital information that might have tainted her view of her perfect family.
When you move on to Rhea's perspective, you let us know right away that vital bit of information that Sara is missing. This little girl is a Parselmouth. She is her father's daughter, and for her the world is not so perfect. She knows she's different, and on a personal note - shame on Harry for not preparing her for it.
Finally you have Harry's perspective. I am surprised that he is living the same oblivious fantasy as Sara. He doesn't see the pink elephant that is talking to snakes in the corner. I was looking for a moment of trepidation, of concern that this most notable of birthdays in the life of a witch/wizard might shatter his perfect escape/home. It's one thing to hide from the wizarding world and try to push it out of your mind, and another to ignore your first child's eleventh birthday and the potential repercussions.
As a prologue, this definitely works. You've given us a picture of a nice happy family, a family with trials lurking just around the corner. There is a vividness to your writing that is really enjoyable to read. The images and emotions are crisp. Bravo.
Author's Response: I love what you've pulled out of this chapter! Despite Harry's strength, in this fic I'm really exploring the smudges on his character. I'm having a good time writing Harry, the coward instead of Harry, the hero ;)
Now the story goes into flashback mode. You let us see what drove Harry to his Muggle life.
After reading the first scene, I got a bad feeling about Virgin Sacrifices, Rites and Rituals. One word came to mind, foreshadowing. Then we head into the next section, the final battle. When I read the following line, it hit me where your summary's opening disclaimer referred. Harry looked to Ginny's prostrate form and an idea began to form. To quote my mental state upon reading that line: Oh God. Oh God. Oh God... Oh God…
What a terrible price to pay for the defeat of Voldemort? You made me cry here.
Finally the flashbacks have run full circle, back to the picture postcard family. And you return to your triumvirate of perception. Sara shows us a new flaw in the perfect family, her husband's night terrors, and she exhibits a bit of mother's intuition with the thought: Something was about to happen – she just didn't know what.
Rhea strikes me as a very unique little eleven year old, very in tune with nature and the world around her. She's slipping out to watch the sun rise, when the Owls start dropping off letters.
Harry's perspective is quite limited in this section, only showing a bit of surprise, but I'm hoping for more next chapter.
Finally, I'm assuming that one letter is from Hogwarts as Harry is an Alum, and the other is from the US equivalent.
Overall, this was a painful but beautifully written chapter. It makes me pang just thinking about Ginny and Harry and the final battle. I'm left wondering if Ginny survived, if she's been able to live her life if she did survive physically.
Author's Response: I really liked leaving that question as to whether or not Ginny lives. We only know what Harry saw, not what actually happened. I don't leave the question unanswered for the reader for very long, but I felt in ending the chapter there, we'd have a better understanding of Harry and why he ran. It is very difficult to believe that Harry would ever leave and that no one would chase after him, so I must continually show the severity of the breach.