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Heat of Life by Equinox Chick

Rated: Professors •
Summary: Katie Bell was surprised to receive an official note from Harry Potter. Usually he just popped his head around the door when he wanted a chat, but then he tells her he needs her help tracking down a dangerous Dark wizard who is targeting Muggle girls.

She can't possibly refuse, especially not when it's Harry asking her.

Disclaimer: It is pointless me pretending any more. Look, I'm not JK Rowling, and never have been.

This is Equinox Chick of the Mighty House of Badgers, writing for the Inaugural Great Hall Cotillion thingy.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 02/24/12 Title: Chapter 3: Three

Well, Carole, that was very entertaining :) I loved Harry's summary of their date as "running off with another man and getting his trousers off... that’s definitely a new one on me" and the joke about Alicia doing Roger's back in. There was so much humour throughout, and I think this helped lighten the story. It definitely did not ignore the darker side of it--Dave's comment about "they were willing" is deeply disturbing, that someone might think like that.

However the focus of the story was Harry and Katie's relationship, and I think that developed so well--with Harry being so IC--being very noble about not wanting to go too far in case it was the potion affecting her, and being awkward around George. And I loved your George--he was just a really good friend to Katie, and Harry, in talking to them both and making them see sense.

There's something so romantic about parks. I liked the scenes in parks :) Also-this is going to sound kind of weird, but I liked the reflection of when Katie was in that storeroom with Willis, and the sex scene at the end with Harry--it emphasised the massive contrast between the two men very well. So I'm very glad you included it--there was a structural purpose to the smut, as well as it, of course, being excellently written :)

Anyway, lovely story Carole, which made me laugh rather a lot. Alex

Author's Response: Thank yoooooouuuu. Yeah, I wanted the scene at the end partly to spice up Harry, but also because I needed a good sexual experience in the story rather than Dave's horrible drugging and Roger and Alicia's antics - ha ha. (Roger makes me grin rather a lot.)

Glad you liked George. There is something always rather das about George post battle stories, so I wanted him to be a little happier in this one.

I like parks, too, and the Serpentine *sigh* Thanks again ~Carole~

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 02/16/12 Title: Chapter 2: TWO

I am literally LOL-ing at 'SCORE!' That's just--oh so tacky, but oh so funny as well. I'm surprised Alicia puts up with it, let alone Katie tbh. Anyway--to start being relatively coherent: There were many things I enjoyed in this chapter. Firstly the plot thickening--for some bizarre reason I suspect Pansy is in some way behind this, but maybe that's because she's on my mind atm. I loved the awkwardness between Harry and Katie, and him being lovely and apologising, and then when he kisses her--oh that was very sweet.

I like the way that, though they were at school together for so many years, but don't know basic information about each other--like that Katie's grandmother is a Muggle-born, and Katie not knowing about the Dursleys. It's very realistic.

I also loved the way you reveal information. There's no info-dump, but it's kind of obvious that there's something between Harry and Katie throughout, and that George and Katie had history, even if Harry didn't pick up on it :p

I also loved the lines about having a thing for Quidditch players--and also the wya you broke Ginny and Harry up. I never thought of that, but that's very realistic actually. Harry does have a more forgiving character than Ginny, and it's incredibly believable. Anyway, I am very eager for the next chapter. Alex

Author's Response: I had to really think of a credible reason for breaking them up because I kept coming back to the fact that when he was facing death, his last thought was of her. So growing apart didn't work. I also don;t think ginny is as forgiving as Harry. I don;t blame her for that; it still amazes me that harry spoke up for Lucius - ughhh - he should have gone to Azkaban! Howwever, he didn't. Then I ran my idea past Lori, who is canon shipper extraordinnaire and it passed her scrutiny. THAT!

Oh, I think Alicia just loves having sex - ha ha ha.

Thank you for R and R'ing. Means a lot. ~Carole~

Desire And a Half by hestiajones

Rated: 6th-7th Years • Past Featured Story
The room is vast and furnished only by the massive, thickly red bed, the billowing white curtains and a tall mirror. Dusk flows in through the windows and paints the white walls in pink and orange. The only sound that can be heard is the strong breeze disturbing the trees outside.

The stage is set just as I like it.

This is hestiajones' final entry for the Inaugural GH Cotillion Challenge, but you never know. She might pop up again. However, she assures you that she is not J.K.Rowling.

My heartfelt thanks to my fellow elf, the opaleye/Julia/Wise One of the Pear and Unicorn Wand, whose crit helped me turn this fic into something more worthwhile :)
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 04/15/12 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Natalie, I think I told you at the time how much I loved this story, and that I would (eventually) be reviewing it (and may or may not have featured it...). This is one of my favourite stories of yours. Not only is it completely plausible in JK’s universe, but it’s also beautifully written, and such an amazing character study of an intriguing and thought provoking character who is only briefly mentioned in the books. Likewise, with Fleur, I think you capture her between GOF and HBP, as well as between teenagehood and adulthood, being single and being with Bill, excellently.

Firstly, I loved the sense of retrospect that imbued this whole story. The way that Sesen is looking over events, always conscious at how things played out, and the warning signs that, in this relationship, the balance of power was not in her favour, was beautifully written. You immediately establish an interesting contrast between the relationship between Sesen and her husband, with whom she chooses exactly what information he needs/ doesn’t feel obliged to expand, and with Fleur and Sesen. The way you switch back and forth between Fleur and Sesen and Sesen once Fleur has left, never feels forced or confusing, but always makes sense.

I love the descriptions of the room. In another review response I think you mention Irene Adler as some inspiration for this--and the way the very bareness acts as her armour, but in this, once it’s imbued with Fleur’s presence, becomes powerless. “The stage is set just as I like it.” is such a simple, but evocative line, as is this piece of beautiful description: “Dusk flows in through the windows and paints the white walls in pink and orange.” Perhaps it is the descriptions of the room which contribute to the very theatrical sense within the story. Not that it’s melodramatic, far from it, but with Sesen you show the control of someone whose used to having it, slowly breaking down. But it’s not just that--at the end when she fills her room again in order to hide Fleur’s presence, and describes it as “My little kingdom. And now, my prison.” it shows that not only is she definitely feeling something more for Fleur than by her own standards, she ought to, but that desire and her relationship with it, has changed completely. One of the things that most interests me is the intent--Sesen is used to getting what she wants, wants Fleur, knows she can get what Fleur’s wants, and therefore barters it in a simple exchange of goods. Fleur I think is different--she wants something as well, but I don’t think she would have slept with Sesen had she not been attracted to her as well. It’s interesting the way she sees desire in a much more mature, and emotional way than Sesen. Sesen, possibly because she’s always viewed herself and judged herself in her control over men through sex, sees it as about power, whereas Fleur sees it so differently, saying that desire is not enough all the time” and that “I think, perhaps, she says, her accent adorably marked and thick, the bigger concern is that you do not know how to truly desire someone.”

The dialogue, and the way the two women interacted, was so beautifully written, like verbal sparring, with both surprised and intrigued by things the other said. I loved the way you had the dialogue in italics, and without speech marks. It made it sound--sublimated into Sesen’s thoughts, much more powerfully. The contrast between the rather baring and revealing dialogue between Fleur and Sesen, and that between Sesen and her husband, is also interesting. I also liked the way Bill was mentioned--peripheral as far as Sesen was concerned, but then feels as though she’s been played in some way. I don’t think this is actually the case. Like I said before, Fleur wanted something, and that something was in order to be with Bill, but she never lies to Sesen about her intentions, and has little control over Sesen’s reaction to her. She can certainly not have predicted the violent end to Sesen’s husband (her scorn of him is so amusingly and then terrifyingly written), which I think was coming anyway, but was certainly brought forward by the vast difference between her relationship with him, and her relationship with Fleur. The fact that Sesen had to include sex in the way she killed him, in order to amuse her, or prove that she had some control over him, shows how central it is to the way she’s lead her life, but she’s never been able to truly give herself over to someone, trust someone I suppose, until Fleur. And now feels so stunned by it, that possibly will never have the courage (or, perhaps as she would term it, foolishness) to do so again, which is incredibly sad.

Having just looked at Fleur’s dialogue carefully, for a story of mine, I do think you could change just a couple of the words to fit in with JK’s canon speech patterns for her, particularly since you have Sesen mention it as not being as good as her own, and later, when they are about to sleep together, “her accent adorably marked and thick”. Little things like “theenk” instead of “think” and “ze” instead of “the” “z” for “th” sounds (so zan and zat for than and than” as well as a tendency to elongate an “i” into an “ee” (so theenk and weesh instead of think and wish). In a story which contains such fascinating characterisations, differing views of sex and desire and love, that it is incredibly minor point.

I loved this story so much, and am again sorry it’s taken me so long to review. I hope there is something vaguely constructive in this review, but if there isn’t, it’s because this story is stunning already. If it doesn’t win something I may come after the judges with a small bat. Best of luck with the competition--Alex.

Picture of You by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor

Rated: 3rd-5th Years • Past Featured Story

A photograph and a slew of memories were all that remained of Remus Lupin's schoolboy romance with Marlene McKinnon. But she was gone, and he gagged on all the things he never said.

This story is dedicated to the gorgeous and always-inspiring Equinox Chick/Carole/Croll of the Dungeon. May your minions never stray in their worship of you. It was inspired by a rather gorgeous song by The Cure, called Pictures of You.

This story has been nominated for a 2012 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best Marauder Era.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 02/17/12 Title: Chapter 1: Hold for the last time, then slip away quietly

Oh Gods, Jess, that was beautiful. My sole criticism would be that it's too short. I love the present tense and ha, for once, the italicised flashbacks didn't annoy me, probably because they were short, perfectly chosen fragments, rather than long extended ones. There are so many things I love about this--the way you sketch Marlene's character so brilliantly in so few words, and then Remus' horror at her being defined by what she's left behind, and how it doesn't represent who she is adequately enough. That sentence is too long.

And the way that all this spirals from the photograph, and his horror at her death, and the screaming--I love your use of the word "putrefying" for the Dark Mark on the sky. And I also like how you hint at things--like the fact they've broken up when she dies, but you don't find out exactly when until right at the end. And when she proposes ( :) )and he doesn't know what to do--this is an incoherent review. But this story is beautiful. Alex

Author's Response:

It is kind of hard to respond to such loveliness. This isn't how my head canon goes at all, but I was trolling you tube, heard this song, and knew right away that this was what the story had to be. It was sort of perfect. I'm really glad you like it and wish I could respond on something besides my phone...stupid attack page thing. :/


Truth or Dare by Equinox Chick

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Summary: Cormac McLaggen, a sports journalist for The Daily Prophet is looking for a scoop to make his name.

Zacharias Smith, Chaser for the Falmouth Falcons is looking for acceptance and respect.

Will a game of 'Truth or Dare' get both of them what they want? Or will this collision of two colossal egos leave both licking their wounds?

This is Equinox Chick writing for The Inaugural Great Hall Cotillion Challenge.
This story is dedicated to Ariana (lucca4) because she dared me.
Thanks to Natalie (hestiajones) for betaing this story and also to ma flist for encouraging the impossible.

Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. I hope she doesn't mind what I've done to two of her 'most-loved' characters.

Completely and utterly overjoyed that this won the award for the Best SSP One-shot in the 2012 QSQ's. I suspect my pairing will grab the glory, which is as it should be ;)
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 02/21/12 Title: Chapter 1: Truth or Dare

Well, that was hilarious :D. So many good lines--like the "I'm not a cheap date" and the playing with Cormac's stereotypes of gay men. I loved the twist that Zach was comfortable with his sexuality, but not his actions during the Battle, and while it's easy to say what you should have done after the event, I think when he talked about how scared he was, you DID make me sympathise with him. And it was very sweet (now there's a word I never expected to use about Cormac) of Cormac to emphasise that in the interview, as well as be willing to have the answer to the Love Interest question there.

I also liked how well you showed Cormac's bluster/ chat up lines/ 'laddish' humour, but he was pretty obviously not getting much sex, something Zach hit on the head so perfectly. I also liked how natural the story felt--with odd pairings like this it would be so easy for it to feel forced. Also--another thing which made me like Zach was his interview answers about Oliver Wood and Cedric Diggory--I am, however, unsure if he genuinely thought this, or Cormac was doing a PR for him. I liked how you started with the very public pub (and the detail of how a pub could serve Muggles AND witches and wizards...I may have to steal/borrow that) and ended with the intimacy of them on the sofa, before the, whilst obviously public, also quite intimate interview.

Of course, they are both still arrogant gits (I found the part where they bonded over Weasley/Trio hatred very amusing) and you did not shy away from that, while still making me find them interesting enough to read about, and occasionally sympathise with. Great story--Ariana should definitely make you write random pairings more often :) Alex

Author's Response: DON'T ENCOURAGE ARIANA!!!!!!!

snigger. Okay, thank you very much for the review. I did have fun writing it and I am pleased you picked up on the bonding moment of their hatred of the Trio and the Weasleys because I always had that in mind when I started this and had to think of their common ground.

Right the answers to the questions. Obviously he didn't think Harry catching the Snitch was the best sporting moment ever. With Oliver, I think he recognises he's good but was probably sucking up. With Cedric ... I have in mind that is genuine.

Thank you, again, so so much. I am giggling at the ♥ this fic has received - hee hee. ~Carole~

The Sum of the Whole by Equinox Chick

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Summary: '...Benjy Fenwick, he copped it too, we only ever found bits of him ...'

At school Sirius knew Fenwick didn't like him. Following him around, or docking points, he was always in his face and trying to piss him off. Years later they are paired up on a mission for the Order. Can they overcome their mutual loathing and work together?

This is Equinox Chick from the Badger Sett writing her ... um ... seventh entry for the Inaugural Great Hall Cotillion. One more may kill me, but I shall give it a go.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. That should be obvious.

Thank you, Nat, for setting the pace and Alex for joining in. Our padded cells await us on March 1st.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 04/15/12 Title: Chapter 1: Bits of Him

Carole, this story was utterly beautiful, and I hope this review does it justice. The way in which you take a character rarely written about, Benjy Fenwick (whose name and backstory has always intrigued me) and one who is much written about, Sirius Black, and given them a relationship making it realistic and sad and poignant, is amazing.

Firstly, I loved the way you structured this story. It seems so simple, and yet by taking that one canon line of only finding bits of him, and from that develop little insights into Sirius and Benjy’s relationship based on a body part, all of which develop into something much greater than the sum of their parts. I particularly liked the way you start with the focus on certain limbs and then end on Heart, which is all the more intimate, and also the one part of Benjy that it wouldn’t be possible to recover, in terms of its emotional, rather than literal meaning. I also think the present tense worked wonderfully for this. I know it’s not your favourite of tenses, but you wouldn’t be able to tell, as you command it so well, with it always feeling natural and never forced. I think this is helped by the lack of exposition within this story--everything is shown through the character’s dialogue, thoughts and actions, rather than in info-dumps, which not only helps it flow but allows the reader to draw their own conclusions regarding Sirius and Benjy’s respective views of each other, before certainly Sirius, is aware of how Benjy feels about him.

Your characterisation was spot on. You write Sirius so well, and I think here his characterisation shines through your writing. Part of what I love, is how well you show him growing up. From his reaction to Octavia’s interest, to him comparing the difference to him as a new Order recruit to the older Benjy to that, but also being more mature in and of himself. His line to Benjy about him having his friends, and that being enough to him, encapsulates and extends JK’s characterisation for him perfectly--a man who would do anything for his friends, and who’s whole world is his friends. This does not tie with Benjy being romantically interested in him, and that provides a lot of poignancy and emotion in your story--with Benjy’s love being unrequited, and Sirius in a way incapable of requiting anyone’s love, other than that of his platonic friends. Your characterisation of Benjy was also very interesting--the popular boy, with a crush on the younger one and he seems somewhat embarrassed by it, particularly when they are thrown together in later life and his feelings have not changed.

Your characterisation of the minor characters within your story was also excellent. I loved the way Sirius refers to Lily as Evans, and how her relationship with James seems to be a snipe-y one, rather than purely hate/ love. Her conversation with him later was also beautifully written and in character. Also I love the way you tie in Benjy’s warning about Octavia’s brother, to Octavia later saying that he’d be shocked at seeing Sirius with her, not because it’s someone fooling with his sister, but someone fooling with the man he hero-worships girlfriend.

The sex, or more like foreplay, is excellently written. I found it interesting that there was actually more passion in Octavia’s flirting with him, and Benjy’s kiss at the end, then in the actual sex in between those two. That scene was short, but realistic and so well written. However it also lead into the moment of realisation for Sirius of just how important his friends are to him, as well as that rather touching meeting with Benjy. If not for that, then this would be one of the few moments which didn’t involve him, and since he is the story’s focus, from Sirius’ perspective, it was clever to include. And with the growing realisation that Benjy fancies Sirius on the reader’s, if not the author’s part, how the moment when their hands touch is very sad and tender. As they are thrown together in Order business later, the way in which you have Benjy take the blame for Sirius and then Sirius’ confusion to Benjy’s behaviour, was a nice way of showing Sirius’ not being able to understand how Benjy feels about him, in a similar way to the fact he doesn’t seem able to understand the way Lily and James feel about each other, although he accepts that their love is genuine.

My only crit is a rather shallow one of formatting. The way you had two spaces, and then the title, and then a single line, looked somehow top-heavy. I think it would look neater as either both double spaces, or both single, but this is a very minor point.

This was a very cleverly written, emotional and beautiful story, one of my favourites of yours, and best of luck with the competition. Alex

Author's Response: Sorry that it's taken me a while to respond to this, Alex. I was actually rather stuck for a reply. Thank you very much for such a lovely and comprehensive review of this story which is a fic that rather surprised me. Initially supposed to be a one off heat of the moment shag after a mission, I soon found I had something else on my hands when Sirius took a different turn. ha - I don't usually think of characters as having their own will - it smacks of 'musedom' to me, but what I'd written lent itself to this isolation Sirius feels... so there you go.

One thing I was pleased you picked up on, was the way 'heart' was at the end, because there was a very deliberate policy here with that, and also (not sure you realised) but 'heart' wasn;t mentioned in the context of Benjy, but only as a reference to Sirius not being 'broken-hearted.'

Anyway, that was it really, Thank you so much for this review, Alex, and I'm glad you liked the story. ~Carole~

Flicker and Fail by xxbabewithbrainsxx

Rated: 6th-7th Years •

I know I have a fickle heart,

And a bitterness

And a wandering eye

And a heaviness

In my head...

But don’t you remember?

Don’t you remember?

The reason you loved me before

Baby, please remember me once more...

Leanne Starr watches Katie Bell anxiously as she awakens at last, six months after she was cursed in Hogsmeade. She is waiting for that spark of recognition to flicker in Katie’s eyes. But that spark never appears, and Katie just doesn’t remember her.

This story was written for the wonderful and fabulous Alex/welshdevondragon, my alpha-beta, who also happens to be a wicked writer, super mod and also my first ever friend on MNFF :D

:D :D :D This story has been nominated for a 2012 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best Same-Sex Pairing. Thank you!

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/02/12 Title: Chapter 1: When Will I See You Again?

Soraya--this was so lovely. I love the way you characterise them both, and the relationship between them, with Katie rediscovering it, and Leanne desparate for her to do so. I think it’s interesting the way you play with the danger that Katie may never remember, and also the way Leanne snatches on any chance that Katie might remember. The way you integrated the lyrics was very well done, also.

I loved their dialogue, and Leanne’s uncertainty and awkwardness, however I felt the “Do you...do you want me to explain?” seemed a bit...clumsy and sudden. You get the sense that Leanne is desperate for Katie to remember as quickly as possible, hence the spilling of her family history, but I think you could make it more gradual/ phrase it differently. Because she doesn’t really explain, so much as tell her life story, which isn’t quite the same thing.

However the way Leanne explained was well done. It was a lot of information, but since we are in Katie’s shoes of being ignorant of this, it worked, and particularly since Katie’s known her so long, but cannot remember--it’s just so sad. And then you built on this idea of shared history brilliantly with the scene of their first day at Hogwarts. Those are difficult, because there’s a balance to be struck between making it exciting for the reader, as there are so many sorting scenes, and to emphasise the excitement of the characters. I think if you’d written this linearly it wouldn’t have worked, but because you had foregrounded it with what is clearly such a strong friendship having been completely forgotten, it made it all the more poignant.

However, I hate to point this out (and it took Canon Queen Carole to point it out for me during In The Heat Of The Morning), but Leanne is canonically a Gryffindor. She and Katie are gossiping about Cormac in the Gryff Common Room at some point. Basically, ha, now I’m going to be annoying Carole for little canon details like that, and suggest you do the same. She’ll hate us both very soon :p

The acrimony between Angela and Mary, and the child POV of Leanne and Katie was good, but I think Leanne caught on a bit too quickly, given her age. I think it would have been interesting for her to not quite understand for a bit longer, but I understand that the focus was Katie/Leanne and not Katie and Leanne’s mothers. I thought the conversation between Leanne and her mother was so well done--it showed their closeness, and was just lovely :)

I really enjoyed Katie and Leanne’s conversation--it was very realistic, yet showed how close they were, but also Leanne’s increase in feelings towards Katie, while Katie was interested in Cedric. That jealousy of Leanne’s/ uncertainty over whether it was okay to be jealous or not, and inability to let Katie know, was really powerful--I felt sorry for her, particularly the moment where Katie feeds Cedric the chocolate cake.

The scene at the end, with Leanne being so much in love with her, but also being such a good friend, letting Katie shout and rage and be upset, while she has to just take it all. The lines “Yes, Leanne felt like saying, trying not to move. Only it’s worse, because the person I’m in love with is within f------ distance of me right this second and I can't do a thing --” are so powerful. Really, well done.

This is basically a chronological squee, isn’t it? I’m sorry this is not a SPEW review, and at times incoherent, but it is a beautiful rarepair, written very well, with great dialogue and characterisation. Thank you, so, so much for writing it for me, and I’ve read it on LJ, but I can’t wait for the next chapter of this revised version. Again, thanks so much!! Alex x

Author's Response: Alex, thank youuuuuuuuu so much for the review. Sorry for taking so long to reply -- I've been uber busy this weekend and I wanted to do this review justice (though I never really could). Yay to integrating lyrics nicely; it's something I've always been bad at, lol, so I'm glad you thought I did them well. And yaaay, you liked the dialogue too. I always find it difficult writing the dialogue of characters who I've never written before (which is part of the reason why I didn't use any dialogue, really, in TCTOTC).

The scene when they first came to Hogwarts was one of the scenes I really wanted to include in the original, but I was so, so pressed for time (dunno if I told you but Jess IMed me the morning after -- haha -- the deadline and I hadn't even started it properly) that I wrote it in such a rush, so I couldn't include every thing I wanted in it. And I love non-linear stories; you know the epic OF I plan on writing? Yeah, it seems that that will be fully non-linear, which should be a challenge for me. And I was slightly concerned that the sorting scene would be boring, so I'm glad you didn't think it was (at least I hope so).

Okay, I had a look in HBP (because I'm a stickler for canon too and I would hate to have to put an AU tag on this or anything) and I'm probably stretching things here, but my theory is that Katie only said *to Harry* that Leanne told her about the match with Cormac. There's no explicit mention of Leanne actually being in the common room, so, mainly for the purposes of this story than anything else, for me, Leanne is still a Ravenclaw. She could well be a Gryffindor, but I also find it slightly strange that, if she was in the Gryffindor common room, she would have been mentioned by name as one of the seventh-years in the common room.

Hmm, I get what you mean about Leanne catching on quite quickly. The thing is, she's eleven/twelve at this point, so she probably would understand sooner or later. I think the main reason she figured things out straightaway is that I wanted to make it clear why Mary was so angry at Angela. And I'm glad you liked Leanne and her mother's closeness :) I do like Angela as an OC, and I have a bit of a backstory for her too.

Ooooh, I'm glad you liked Katie and Leanne's conversation. As I said, writing characters I've never written before is always difficult for me so it's good to know I at least got the dialogue kind of right, lol. And yay to you liking that line :D

Anywho, thank you for such a wonderful and definitely SPEW-worthy review (minus the chronological squee comment, hehehe, after my tutorial re disclaimers). I am honoured to have written it for the mighty Deathlex, and I shall see you on the next (and improved) chapter :D

The Unbreakable Curse by Karaley Dargen

Rated: 6th-7th Years • Past Featured Story
Summary: In 1993, Bill Weasley is working on a tomb in Egypt with a team of Magiarchaeologists and Curse-Breakers. It is a job like any other ... or so it seems, until members of the expedition start dying, and Bill has to race against time to figure out what exactly it is that they awakened in the tomb of Mentuhotep, and how it can be stopped before it reaches him.

The following are characters from JKR’s creations: Bill Weasley, Ragnok, Agatha Chubb (QttA), and the last names of Deverill and Pilliwickle. I don’t own them and never will!

I owe a large debt to Hannah (coolh5000), Carole (EquinoxChick), and Natalie (hestiajones) for their constant encouragement and help at various stages of this story.

Fair Warning: Some of the reviews (naturally) contain spoilers, especially those towards the end. So if you want to be safe, don't read those before you read the story.

This story just WON a 2012 QSQ Award in the General category, as best chaptered story. THANK YOU!!!

m m

So here we are, at last, at our journey’s end,
And it’s time for some sweets; come on, bring a friend!
Simply search for the holiday and the first thing you’ll see
Is a familiar character’s first Halloween.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/02/12 Title: Chapter 7: Horrors

KARA--I am here. I’m on the train, but have all your story up, so instead of leaving one review now and then, this will be as I go along, and then I’ll post the whole thing when I have internet again. I hope that’s okay.....

SO Chapter 1--well this is an interesting set up, isn’t it? I really like your Bill--he seems relaxed, but a good friend, and someone who really enjoys his job and the people he’s with. Althea and Natasha both seem interesting, (why do I suspect Althea is not being entirely honest about why she’s there?) and I’m looking forward to the next chapter. There’s something really nice about this one--the description of the desert at the beginning was just lovely, and you really got a sense of Bill’s love of the place and what he’s doing there. Which, given he goes back to England in OOTP, shows his commitment to the Order, and perhaps Fleur. The description was lovely-=I think it would have been nice to have--like more reminders of the setting during the dialogue around the campfire, if that makes sense. Oh, but I love the nickname Nifflers. That’s nice :)

I LOVE the idea that the Prewetts were good drinkers :) The relationship between Marcus and Bill is nice--it’s a bit laddish, but also familiar and close--the Bill/Marcus (not in a slash-y way) dynamic is kind of similar to Harry/Ron in that it must be hard to be friends with someone who always seems better than you--but I like that Bill acknowledged in Marcus’ shoes, he wouldn’t accept help either.

I love how much thought you’ve put into this. I may have given up on archaeology academically, but I still find it fascinating, and the way you’ve related the two is really thoroughly thought through and interesting to read. But then I’m a nerd :) I also liked the danger of the job, and Bill’s confidence, in contrast to Marcus worrying. OOH Eavesdropping-- have you read Agatha Christie’s Murder In Mesopotamia? This is reminding me a bit of that--in the set up in the desert/ people saying things they shouldn’t (ha, I was right about Althea!)...I am definitely hooked. That’s interesting that she’s so well known, and intelligent, and Roger is not willing to be with her to ride off that/ and she seems to have quite an obsessive side, talking of making Roger hers, and Roger declaring that he’s not her toy. I respect Roger for that

Chapter 3: You started this with archaeologists, and for the first time I noticed that you switch between calling them that and calling them Magiarchaeologists and I’m not sure why. Magiarchaeologists is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s a nice reminder of this being firmly fanfiction (and a very plotty, fun one at that :) ) so keeping it consistent might be an idea. It’s up to you though. Also while talking of consistency, I thought you used Brit English on LJ and AIM but here you’re using US. Or have I just forgotten? And lol at Marcus clearing his throat to return Bill to reality. There’s obviously something there between them--neither are being particularly subtle and discreet, so I’m not giving it long before they’re unable to keep their hands off each other. Hmm...I’m not sure I like hieroglyphs which are not magic being described as ones which “only served decorative purposes.” It seems to demean them somehow, in quite a superior pureblood way which is unlike Bill. Bill can read hieroglyphs though. I don’t know why that didn’t quite twig before--I’m not sure whether to be jealous of him or love him all the more. I love the tension of the three of them being underground, and the danger of a potential curse, and the way you build up Bill’s concentration. OOH gold!! So much gold....This is very exciting...

Chapter 4: LOL at “you never forget your first” and Bill being awkward about it. Oh, this is so exciting. I told you, from the second I knew it was set in Egypt, I would end up reading it. I get a shiver down my spine at words like sarcophagus and Bastet. It’s interesting that now Marcus thinks everything’s fine, he’s much more lax about the rules, and it takes Bill to tell him that. At first I thought he might have been hit by a spell....I like Bill’s attitude to the rules. It’s relaxed, but when he knows there’s a reason, like regarding the sarcophagus, he knows what to do. OH what did he see? Kara, this is so exciting! I don’t read page-turners like this that often, but I am well and truly hooked.

Chapter 5!! NSFW and probably NSF a train, but hey, it’s sunny and this story is fun and I’m happy that I’m going home. Oh, I meant to say--your chapters are such perfect lengths. Enough happens in them that the plot whisks along, and you write so well--it’s really elegant and smooth and doesn’t feel worked over at all, which I think if I attempted to write something like this, it would. It’s really enjoyable to read. Ooh Mahon and Althea. It’s a bit odd that Bill’s known Mahon longer, but calls him by the surname, and Althea by her first. Tea and rum? I will have to try that one day. I love the idea of them exchanging stories around the campfire--it’s such a lovely thing to do, and has this strange sort of power that you get across brilliantly and so simply, with the detail of the moon, ad Natasha and Bill together. WHY is Althea calling to Ragnok’s health? Was it him who Marcus saw? I get the feeling that something other than Natasha and Bill getting together will happen tonight...it seems to be building up to something. Your Bill is rather adorable. At the beginning he’s rather confident and brash, but he’s kind of awkward and caring with Natasha, even though he obviously wants her and she obviously wants him. The sexual tension between them is incredible.

This is so romantic, and beautiful, and lovely! But part of me was thinking making out on sand can’t actually be that comfortable, so thank God for magic and their sense of practicality regarding that. I KNEW something was going to happen--And he’s dead! Hmm I’m guessing Althea either didn’t do it, or had a cast-iron alibi. Oh, this is exciting :)

Chapter 6: That was not an accident. I wonder when they’ll work it out....Marcus is quick -- it’s sweet of Bill to reassure him, even though he has his own doubts. This sentence: It wasn’t until he had made his way halfway through the colony of tents that he realised where most of the members of the expedition that would usually be enjoying calling it an early day had got to. is a bit clumsy. It’s, ha, the first clumsy sentence of yours in however many thousands of words this is, but that’s probably why it stood out so much. It definitely needs some commas, and could perhaps be phrased a bit more concisely. Poor Margaret-I liked her. I like the way how Bill was investigating himself anyway, but is now doing so formally. It makes his position more fixed--and he has a licence to be nosy now--even if the focus is still ostensibly on curses, which is always helpful. OOH I like Stadwell. That’s clever. Incredibly clever on the part of the murderer/ attempted murderer, but also on him for having noticed it. Also he’s right-his job is to state the facts, it’s now Bill’s job to theorise. And I like the way he’s considering the practicalities of how a curse can be designed to target specific people--it’s an interesting train of thought to follow. The description of Margaret being so ill was also poignantly done.

OOH the tap. Did I mention that earlier? It annoys me so much when someone leaves the tap dripping, so I meant to....Oh don’t let anything happen to Bill! The tension!!! And delaying telling us what Bill sees so the horror increases--that was powerful. And god, that’s a rather terrifying image. That last section--Bill’s panic--was just magnificent. UPDATE SOON!!!!!!!!!!! I’m enjoying this so much. I hope this review makes some sort of sense. Alex

Author's Response: Aleeeeex

FIrst of all, I love you so much for this review. I totally wasn't expecting it, especially not so soon, and not something of this length! It's absolutely magnificent! :D

Okay, so how do I respond to this...

1st Chapter: Ah, about the setting... I love writing dialogue, and I think I get caught up in it sometimes and forget the descriptive parts about the surroundings within the dialogue. And yeah, I always wonder whether Bill ever went back to this job after the war was over, at least for a couple of weeks per year.

2nd Chapter: I'm glad you like the dynamic between Bill and Marcus. I really wanted to show that they were friends, without shoving the reader's face into it. And haha, yes, Agatha Christie is probably always going to be my favourite Mystery writer. I love the way her detectives do their detecting, and the character and humanity her stories always have.

3rd Chapter: Yeah, I switched to archaeologists because Magiarchaeologists was beginning to feel like too much if I used it too often. I'll have to think this over and might change it though. OH and thanks for pointing out the Americanism, I'll have to fix that too. The thing about the Muggle hieroglyphs is that to Bill's job, they serve no purpose at that moment. They tell of the pharaoh's life, not of any curses or clues as to where the actual treasure might be, so he dismisses them. I'm sure that under different circumstances, Bill would have stopped to give them a read, but not if he's about to uncover a hidden passageway.

4th Chapter: Haha I was a bit nervous that you'd start picking holes into my Egypt, because I'm sure you know a ton about the country and archaeology, so I'm all the happier that you seem to like it!

5th Chapter: Thank you SO much for that huge compliment on my writing! Especially since we were talking about our writing processes just the other night. I really want this story to be gripping, so I thought for a while about the ideal chapter length for each section and stuff like that. Ah, hahaha it's actually funny that you picked up on the first name/surname thing because whenever I mentioned Althea Chubb's name, I did not know whether to call her Miss Chubb, Chubb, or Althea... The main reason Bill calls Papadopoulus by his last name though is that he's still his main superior. And wow, your gut feeling is good with these predictions! :D

6th Chapter: You're right that the sentence is clumsy, and I actually did ponder over it for a while. The problem is that rules-wise, there is no space for a comma in there, so I'll probably have to rewrite it to make two sentences or something like that... or so that at least there's room for a comma. I like Stadwell too -- he didn't even really have a role originally, but I just ended up liking him as a sort of man of science in there.

7th Chapter: I hate it when I notice that there's a tap dripping somewhere because once you hear it, you just can't tune it off in your mind. Especially when something is keeping you up anyway...

Oh Alex, thank you so much for the review! It made my entire day, and kept me smiling for hours. Thank you thank you! I'll update... soonish. Maybe tonight, actually.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/21/12 Title: Chapter 11: Storm

Ooh Kara, this is exciting! So many questions still, and only one chapter left. One of the things I love about this chapter is that there's humour within the danger, but you never lose sight of either. Like when Bill realises what may be the solution, and he has to talk to someone, and Natasha says, "Well is it me?” That made me laugh :)

I also love your pacing in this--the way they go from being trapped (I think the spell to find out how much air is left in a room is very neat) to Bill working it out to the suddenness of the escape, and then the sandstorm--it is excellent.

One nitpick--you have “a certain kind of photos”, where photos shouldn't be plurarlised. Oh, talking of that bit, I loved Bill's summary/ appraisal of the murder/ attempted murder victim. It was concise and yet not reductive, which is tricky but you managed it. SO I would rush to the final chapter but my lovely Mum is making me breakfast. Expect me to finish shortly though :) THis is a great story--Alex

Author's Response: Thank you so much, Alex. I changed the "photos" to "photo" -- that's a construction that confuses me a bit, and I always get it wrong. Thanks for pointing it out!

I'm very glad that you liked it so far... I really hope the last chapter holds up to the expectations!

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/21/12 Title: Chapter 12: Endings

WHAT THE ************ (which I don’t think is a swear word recognisable in English but still). MARCUS!! I liked him! That was sneaky.

Though even as he said it, I thought that while Marcus is playing a crucial role in sandstorm prevention is not the right time to ask, but can understand Bill wanting to get it off this chest. I loved this line: “He relished every grain and the strain that it brought on his mind and muscles.” and the fact that it comes when Bill knows it’s Marcus, but we don’t makes Bill’s desire for some physical feeling rather than an emotional one, heightened. I love the description of the sand hitting Marcus, and Natasha jumping in--it was very well-written, and so quick and rather sad.

AND THE TEASER. I like that Bill feels for his friend, and even as the interrogation went on, by saying, “is that possible”, afterwards and talking about the curse with Stadwell, all of that shows how good a friend is, and in spite of what Marcus did, is willing to help him in any way he can. Oh, and Stadwell, I am rather fond of him. Yes they are going to do something semi-illegal, but if they do that, then they will do it properly and with minimum harm. Please write more about him. And Bill, more about Bill.

I suspected there were more than two plots running side by side (possibly because of Murder In Mesopotamia mind) and the reveal with Natasha was less surprising than Marcus, since if Deverill had been up to something, she really should have said straight away. Her, ““It would have worked, too,” Natasha spat. “If that idiot hadn’t got so worked up over his feelings.” “ line was rather Scooby-Doo-ish but it did work, because of the confusion of Bill/Marcus--and I liked that initially Marcus didn’t want Bill getting involved with Natasha because he felt more morally compromised by it, perhaps, but then when crunch time came, he trapped BOTH his friend and accomplice in a tomb. It’s rather sad that ambition and wounded pride could lead someone to go that far.

Minor nitpick--you have “an coincidental”, where it should be ‘a’. But that’s it :) Your writing is so concise--oh and I meant to say in the last chapter how interesting I found the way the goblins and humans interacted so I’ll say that here. I also like the way that Natasha does care for Bill, which is rather sad, but I don’t think the reader, or Bill, is allowed to sympathise with her that much. With Bill however, that last line was rather sad. It’s interesting that one of my favourite moments from earlier, when they are all happy and laughing around the campfire in the desert, is somewhat repeated here, but in a rather sad context. And the last line...poor Bill. I want to give him a big hug. You’

Anyway, this was an excellent mystery, with a brilliant page-turner plot and I thoroughly enjoyed it. YES write your next one, and sooon!!!! Alex

PS: Oh, also I want to know what the Freudian slip was. I will have to employ some detective skills/ or just ask you.

Author's Response: Thank you thank you thank you. I'm glad that you caught on to the "that idiot" bit, where it could have been both Bill and Marcus. I was wondering whether that was going to make sense. Bill was ... a tough cookie in this chapter. I was trying to get into his frame of mind, and all I could think was that he would feel everything sort of dully, like from far away... but then this is something so personal to him, and so huge, and he is a Weasley -- they're not exactly known for keeping it in... So, I'm very happy that it all seems to be working out!

Won't reveal the Freudian slip here... I'll IM you instead. I want to wait for someone else to read this before making it public :P

Again, thank you a million times for all your reviews. I owe you a lot!

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/04/12 Title: Chapter 8: Darkness

I really enjoyed this chapter. I think it was good for nothing 'twisty' to happen, as such, but to explore Bill's reaction to events, and it's quite a terrifying one--I think it's very natural for him to be haunted by it, and god those Weasleys--not going for another potion because he doesn't want to disturb Stadwell...some people. Anyway--I can't wait for the next chapter. Alex

Author's Response: Oh Alex, I completely forgot to reply to this review until now! Thanks -- those uneventful chapters are a bit tricky, but I'm glad it fits in. Thank you so so much for reading and reviewing :)

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/17/12 Title: Chapter 10: Traps

Hello Kara! I really enjoyed these two chapters. You write so well, and I hope you’re not bored of me saying that yet. I love the balance of horror, excitement, romance, intrigue and yet humour as well (such as Bill when he gets thrown back when trying to sneak into Natasha’s tent). I thought it was interesting that Marcus made no comment on Bill and Natasha coming down to breakfast together--he’s annoyed about it, and probably trying to hide it. I think one of the things that makes this story so enjoyable is the amount of detail, like with the protocol when Aurors and Hitwizards get involved, and the way in which goblins will get annoyed by it. It’s really well thought out. And possibly becasue I’m a nerd, or because you write so well, I love the detail of how the expedition is set out, how the artefact’s tent is arranged etc.

I have a couple of minot nitpicks--at the end of first paragraph/beginning of second the repetition of ‘thought’ is a bit clumsy, and you could easily change one to ‘idea’ or something. Also I found it a bit inconsistent when Bill asks Deverill (who intrigued me as I read this chapter and intrigued me even more in chapter 10) if he’s working alone, to see if he could have Natasha around. I mean I know they’re working together, but still, I think she would, ha, distract him and it wouldn’t be professional. But when Marcus comes around later, he has these qualms. I thought Marcus was great here-if there’s a rumour, you tell your friend, and the fact that he quickly told Bill he didn’t have to justify himself was nice.

People are horrible--I think it’s realistic that people (and goblins) might start suspecting Bill under the circumstances.

Anyway I also enjoyed Chapter 10. I liked Stadwell’s care over his patient, possibly at the expense of Bill’s inquiry, but her health was paramount. I also like Mrs Pilliwickle--the comparison to ‘vivacious storyteller’ of earlier emphasised how much has happened in such a short space of time, and made her current position all the sadder, though at least she’s alive. I also had to smile at the fact she is more concerned for Althea’s lost potential offerings to archaeology than to her lost life. That’s very--cold in a way, but so fitting for an academic.

And Deverill--there’s another twist. There’s so much going on here and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are several things at work. I am very curious as to why Natasha hasn’t told anyone this earlier as well. And the CLIFFHANGER. Yes, I’m using capitals. This story is such a good adventure, and I really want to know what happens next and who or what is behind the deaths. Or maybe it’s more than one person....I don’t know, but I want to.

Great chapters, Kara, and please update soon!! Alex

Author's Response: Aleeeeex! I'll never get bored of flattery, especially not when it comes as part of such a lovely review!

Yay I'm very glad that the details work and that you're enjoying them -- because I know that you know a lot about this sort of stuff, so it's all the better if it works with you as well. Thanks for the nitpicking too -- I made a note of it and will go back to see what other word fits best. The reason why Bill wants Natasha around is that artefacts work boooores him (sort of) -- of course it's somewhat irresponsible of him, but he's (shockingly) not perfect.

People gossip so horribly in these situations!

I'm beginning to sort of like Stadwell a lot more than I expected... I might keep him for future stories, haha.

Hah! Not long now until all is revealed... or is it!

Thank you so so so so so much for your review. It's perfect, as always.

Vituperation by Northumbrian

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Villains? Voldemort's virulent verbiage preaches vigorous vendetta against those inferior. Are these two M's merely victims, or are they venal violators of the innocent. Is violence in vain?

Marcus and Millicent make their mark on Muggles, and each other.

My final Cotillion tale.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/06/12 Title: Chapter 1: When Marcus met Millicent

Hello Neil--This was an interesting idea, and very different from your other writing in that the focus is on, as you say, two deeply unpleasant people. I like stories about unpleasant people, so was interested as to how you’d flesh out these two characters that we know so little about.

I know these are unpleasant people, but I think your characterisation was strong enough for you to show that not through accent, but through the language they used. Their accents really threw me off, because they were so stereotypically ‘lower class’ that the implication seemed to be that, because of the way they spoke, they were automatically worse than the people who spoke properly (such as the Muggles they rob later, and the ‘well dressed witch’) which I found rather uncomfortable. It seemed a cheap trick, which played on your reader’s prejudices in a rather crude way. This was further emphasised when you refer to Marcus living in a tenement, which just seemed over-kill. You show their character’s well through the actions, and their vocabulary--you do not need to emphasise it through incorrect grammar (“I’ve brung the kid--” stuck out for me particularly, since I’ve never heard anyone for whom English is a first language/ over the age of ten say that). Also the use of the word ‘rozzers’ seemed very out of place with such pureblood characters.

The strongest part of this story, I think, was Millicent and Marcus’ relationship when they robbed and attacked the Muggles. It was interesting to see how well they worked together, and how eager Millicent was to impress the older guy. However, what I found more interesting, were these single lines that felt like throw-away comments, and things which could develop their personalities in a far more interesting way than you do here. When you write: “but Marcus had sorted that out. She had found herself a man who could, and would, stand up to her dad for her. She would never have to take her mother’s place again.” seemed to imply a much darker, more unpleasant backstory for Millicent. There’s a reason she enjoys power, and the kudos being with Marcus gives her, and I think that was a darker, more unpleasant, but also more intriguing dynamic than the one you write about between her and Marcus. I understand that this was for the Cotillion, and so Marcus/ Millicent was your focus, but I think this would have developed her character and made her more sympathetic. I don’t personally see sympathetic characters as important to a story, but I do think it would have been interesting to have more of an idea of why Millicent was the way she is. Likewise, you write this interesting titbit about Marcus regarding the leather strap: “Marcus liked her to use it on him.” Now, you present Marcus as a greedy, grubby, criminal, but he also likes, occasionally, having pain inflicted on him, and playing the submissive. I find this very intriguing and would love to hear more about this side to him, as (possibly because the story is told from Millicent’s POV admittedly), he does come across as somewhat one-dimensional, aside from these hints at fleshing him out.

When they rob the Muggles, it was very interesting to see how they thought and treated them, and you gave a good insight into their misunderstandings of Muggles, as well as the inhumanity with which they treat the people there. It was crude, violent, and powerful in emphasising how much Marcus and Millicent can only get validation/ a thrill from other people’s suffering. Their Bonnie and Clyde style dynamic, and the way they worked together as a team, and trusted each other to do their jobs, was well shown, and given that, it’s realistic they’d want sex afterwards. However this line, “Marcus groaned like the unstoppable rutting beast he was.” made me feel rather ill, in a different way to the scene before. The ‘he was’ seemed to be pigeon holing him/ and dehumanising him, just in the way he and Millicent had dehumanised the Muggles, and therefore put the writer and the reader, for thinking that, on par with them, which is an uncomfortable position for the reader to be in. Readers should, sometimes, be made to feel uncomfortable, but here it seemed unnecessary, and a forcing of the authorial point of view on characters of (effectively, since we know so little about them) his creation, where the reader should be left to come to their own judgement.

However, after this, there are some inconsistencies in your characterisation. Once their relationship is about sex, it’s unclear how much deeper it is. There are several inconsistencies. You write that they both acknowledge the brevity of their relationship in, in the line, “Tomorrow morning, they would be parted,” with the implication obviously being that it’s emotionally as well as physically. There’s also the giving of the eternity ring, which reads like a gesture according to both, and then Millicent says, “I’m gonna keep it hidden, Marcus, on a chain, around my neck. It’ll be between my tits,’ she said. ‘I want everybody to know that you’re mine.’” So it’s unclear whether she wants their relationship to be acknowledged, or not, and I think it would add depth (or lack of) to their relationship if you were clearer about which one it is.

The branding scene, however, seemed definitive that this was something rather strong for the both of them, even if it was unclear up until that point. I like the equality that they both brand each other, but the fact their branding at all seemed very over the top, particularly given how loaded the significance of branding is in a context where the Dark Mark gets burned on your skin. I think if you explore this parallel, and how Millicent and Marcus (who certainly wants to be a Death Eater and therefore you’d think would be aware of this) see this as relating to them, it would have been a very interesting scene, but as it is, it seems rather unnecessary.

Also, this is just opinion, but I don’t think the violence or the sex was explicit enough for you to give it a professor rating, and you’d probably get more readers if you lowered it to 6th-7th years. if I hope my comments make sense. I would be interested in your response/ feel free to contact me if you want to discuss it further/ anything is unclear. Alex

Author's Response: Alex Thanks for the frankly epic review. Sorry for the delay in my reply. As you know, I write only one story and I strive to keep it completely canon compliant. I also try to write most of my stuff within “the Harry Potter genre” which (to me) means stories suitable for younger readers and no swearing or sex scenes. This was (very hastily) written for the Cotillion and it was very much a last-minute dash to get the thing finished. I submitted it a mere three days before the deadline, well aware that it could really have done with at least another week’s work. This will probably sound like an excuse (and in a way it is). I have no idea how you, or other writers work, but I have dozens of unfinished story drafts on my hard drive. Of my Cotillion stories, only this and April Fool were entirely unwritten, but even then I’ve “known” the bones of my George/Angelina story (April Fool) for years. This was the only story where I started completely from scratch. When I write, I hear my characters. I hear speech patterns and accents. I wrote Marcus and Millicent the way I did, not in order to stereotype them, but because that’s what I heard. I tried to write them as “Stan Shunpike” types. I actually considered toning town the accents a little, perhaps I should have. I have heard, and do hear, brung used instead of brought, put perhaps that’s just the people I hang around with. As for “rozzers”, I thought about trying to come up with a slang term for the law, but failed. I stuck with rozzers when I discovered that its etymology is unknown. Perhaps it crossed over to us from the magical world? I have a fair idea of the backstory for both of these characters, and I’m not certain that I want them to be more sympathetic. They’re a couple of racist thugs, after all. They will appear in other stories (in fact this story includes elements from the chapter “Broken Flint” in Tales of the Battle. You certainly picked up on Millicent’s throwaway sentence, which deliberately hinted at something a lot darker. As for her comment about Marcus being the unstoppable rutting beasty, she would regard that as a compliment, and so would he. This story could do with a rewrite, but that won’t happen until after the judging. Any characterisation flaws are probably down to poor writing, too. I’ll admit to being a little confused at times by the mnff ratings, my only other Professors rated story is Spontaneity (which was edited down to a Profs by my beta) despite the fact that I think of it merely as smutty fluff. I stuck the Professor’s rating on this story because of the branding scene, but I’ve downgraded it now. My understanding was that this level of violence required the Profs rating. -N-

Two Negatives by hestiajones

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Marcus Flint and Millicent Bulstrode.

Love sometimes thrives in the unlikeliest quarters, and between the unlikeliest souls.

This is hestiajones of Hufflepuff submitting her eighth entry for the GH Cotillion Challenge. Thank you, Lea, for reading the chapter and giving me confidence! I am not J.K.Rowling. And thank you, Kara, for your ninja betaing skills and all the giggles!

(I know this pairing sounds kind of dire, but please give them a chance. Lol. The story is not as dark as the warnings are making it sound like :D)
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 02/27/12 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Ooh I am intrigued. I love how quickly Marcus and Millicent spring to life, and you write non-linearly with such clarity (why can't I do that?) it's obvious what's happening in relation to when.

I loved the detail with the teeth, and how Fred and George's bullying had such an effect on him. That boy cares far too much about what other people think--I Loved how un-smooth he was, about getting onto the Quidditch team--if they're okay with that level of brutality, then he should be happy there. And I liked his interaction with Draco--that small detail about Draco rubbing his Mark dry more than any other part of his body is a very powerful one.

And Millicent! I love the way she's an outdoorsy type who doesn't really fit anywhere- hence clinging first to Umbridge, and then to the Carrows, as some sort of 'gang' to belong to. And even given that, I was shocked when she doesn't understand that fighting for the Death Eaters is a bad thing. She and Marcus both are quite naive in their own way--like at the end, him deciding to save her and thinking that it will just happen. But back to Millicent--her mother is a nasty piece of work, isn't she? I did think--it didn't seem suicidely bad yet, but there is something impulsive, about both of them really, and so it does fit. Anyway, I am very glad this is for the challenge, so you'll HAVE to submit the next chapter in the next few days--I'm looking forward to it :) Alex

Author's Response: YAY! In spite of my whining about getting few reviews, I must say that the feedback I got from you (and Croll and Kara) is fantastic! This story was written in a fit of whimsy at first, but the more I typed, my attachment grew. I wanted people to enjoy it, to stop and consider these characters, to make them feel about them. It's nice to know it succeeded to an extent. :D

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/01/12 Title: Chapter 2: Chapter 2

I LOVE this story! It’s going to my favourites right away-how could I not like it? It’s beautifully written, two Slytherins exceptionally well developed, without being romanticised, and an awkward sex scene, which ends up being quite romantic! It’s about two fairly normal people, who have always been caricatured by those around them, and you make them real. And then it all got dark, and murderous and brilliant!

Okay. Try and be coherent. Firstly I’m glad this went back a bit, and covered Millicent’s exact reasons for getting to a suicidal point, even if she later denied that. I also like the Potterisng of the phrase “straw that broke the camel's back”--nicely done :) A couple of minor nit-picks: “gust of breeze” seems a bit repetitive, one or the other would do. And I think “in somebody else’s engagement party” should be “at somebody else’s..” Right, that done, onto the rest. I think what I loved about this was how similar Marcus and Millicent were, and yet they don’t seem to have realised it within the time frame of the story--though obviously do between the last part with Marcus and his parents, and the newspaper article, they’ve got it.

I love the comparison between them both deciding they want the other, but Marcus being completely clueless, and Millicent being the one who leads him on, who flirts with him. I laughed when Marcus thought he was being so smooth groping her, and yet in the bedroom was deeply clueless, until instinct or something, much to Millicent’s surprise/joy kicked in. That sex scene was brilliant. Just--the perfect balance between awkwardness and lust and it seemed so real. Both of them did, and everything contributed to this characterisation of them. They were so normal, but had been talked down to and controlled by their parents, and peers (including Millicent by Marcus--I loved her talking down to him after the jump and his shock at her brashness) that eventually, something had to break. Millicent killing her mother was a massive twist though. I did not expect that, and yet looking back everything built up towards it--her physical strength, which has always been something her mother criticises, and then Millicent, the Slytherin, lying and acting it up for Harry Potter. That made me smile. Also the line: “Pansy who often moaned about Draco’s lack of libido and who left school without coming even once,” LOL. Massive, lol.

I liked the way you paralleled the narratives, with both arguing with their parents at the same time, but Millicent being more careful and getting away with it. Although I preferred Millicent, I did really sympathise with Marcus when he has his epiphany concerning the way his parents have treated him and his general oafishness, and really seemed genuinely upset that Millicent wouldn’t want him penniless, but also being quite selfish and self-pitying. And the moment his parents said they were proud of him was a lovely touch--they were much better parents than Millicent’s mother, even if also flawed.

And I liked that you did Millicent and Marcus’ reconciliation via the newspaper reports. It would have seemed--I don’t know, wrong somehow, if you’d actually described it--unrealistic and overly sugary. But the distance made it sweet and romantic, and full of potential for their relationship, which is a lovely way to end a story. I loved it :) Alex

Author's Response: This review is made of spectacular-ness. It covers many things I want to bring the reader's focus to about the fic.

"I think what I loved about this was how similar Marcus and Millicent were, and yet they don’t seem to have realised it within the time frame of the story--though obviously do between the last part with Marcus and his parents, and the newspaper article, they’ve got it."

They are similar creatures: deeply insecure and unhappy but can be nasty too. There's that part in the sex scene where Marcus comments aloud on his memory; I wanted that to be an example of that sameness. And yet, no two persons can be exactly the same, and thus, the differences in their temperament. Marcus is way more timid than Millicent when it comes to romance and sex because he's been so bluntly rejected by Blishwick a million times over. Millicent is cunning enough to take good advantage of that. Millicent is also more coldly methodical than him. Actually, he lacks method in general.

While I hadn't thought of murdering anyone at first, Mrs Bulstrode's death became a necessity for several reasons. Some are obvious ones already covered within the story itself, like how cruel and manipulative she is to her daughter, and how she intends to be a parasite. However, I needed it to happen for Millicent's character development, as well as bring the story to a full circle as far as Millicent's bodily strength is concerned. She does use it for positive purposes in the end, but ever since Pansy, there has been a deep-rooted need in her to actually kill a hateful figure with her own hands that called for a release.

As for Marcus' parents, they are vicious crackpots, and I had a lot of fun writing them.

If there was one thing I was sure about, it was that this story wouldn't end with a scene in which Marcus and Millicent confessed their undying love for each other. That really seems wrong, doesn't it? Even if they have decided they like each other enough to marry. It's an attachment growing out of a newfound thrill of being with somebody, so a strangely romantic sentiment as well as an arrangement of convenience. The newspaper articles were the best way to tie up everything.

Thanks for reading and reviewing, Alex!

The Folds of Life by hestiajones

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: "To the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure."

This is hestiajones' ninth submission for the GH Cotillion Challenge. I am not J.K.Rowling.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/19/12 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

This is one of my favourites of yours for the GH challenge (along with Desire and a Half, and I promise I'll be SPEW-ing that shortly :) ) It reads like the thinking of someone in the very early morning, and half awake and half asleep. There's a wonderful stream of conscious-esque-ness about it, without that breaking your sentence structure/ while being very clear.

The characterisation was wonderful. We know so little about them, and yet I don't see why their situation isn't explored more, as the concepts of eternity and time (your first few paragraphs about maths/ eternal laws were just beautifully thought-provoking and concisely put). The lines about it going to rain were also beautiful. This is a horribly fangirly review, but yes, I love this story, and particularly the subtlety of the ending and the next adventure. It's elegant and dense and beautifully written.


Author's Response: I had a bit of a tough time fitting the events into the same continuous stream of thought and narrative tense. D: But there was no way I was going to allow myself to put italicised flashbacks here. The challenge was a great excuse for me to explore various narrative styles, and in spite of the misses, I'm glad a few worked.

This review is gorgeous and makes me feel warm and fuzzy :D Thanks for reading!

Passion Among the Primroses by Equinox Chick

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Mafalda Hopkirk is only too pleased when her transfer to the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Department come through. For one thing it means she won't have to work with the bumbling Cornelius Fudge anymore.

And for another, there's a new and rather shy clerk working alongside her.

Confiding in her diary, she tells her tale of passion and primroses.

Disclaimer: I have no idea who I am, but I'm certainly not JK Rowling.

Another entry for the Inaugral Great Hall Cotillion. Thank you Jess and Viv for such an amazing competition. Let's leave it a while for the next one, eh?
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/01/12 Title: Chapter 1: Passion Among the Primroses

This was light and entertaining. I enjoyed Mafalda's rather chatty, if slightly annoying, diary style, and her excitement as her friendship with Arthur became a full blown crush. And Arthur was very IC--the thing about him using magic on Muggle plants so they bloomed at the wrong time of year, was very apt :) And being slightly dopey, he obviously is just being kind and sweet and would never dream that poor Mafalda would misconstrue his intentions.From the timeline, I knew he'd be marrying Molly *soon* and so was expecting that to end, and Mafalda's crush to not be reciprocated, and the way you carried that through was really sweet.

I also liked the way, at this stage, the people who are so high up in the Ministry by trio era are middling officials--that was a nice touch to use canon politicians rather than make up OCs. I loved Mafalda's fury at the end--poor girl, she doesn't seem able to get a break. Nice story :) Alex

Author's Response: GAHHHHHHD, thank you, Alex. This makes me laugh a little (the fic not your review.) I could have developed a plot with it - at one point I was going to have them running through Muggle gardens but I was constricted by time and the diary format - which I knew would keep this short.

I used Crouch and Fudge because it made it more relateable, I think, to the Potterverse. Umm, sorry, can't respond coherently hahahahahahahhahahahah - where's my padded cell?

Bliss by lucca4

Rated: 6th-7th Years •

Cho Chang is contently married to the Muggle man of her dreams (or so she tells herself). The Wizarding World and all the pain it brought is far behind her -- at least, that is what she believes until she bumps into an old classmate.

Pansy Parkinson weaves her way through bars and men (in that order) and tries to forget which side she was on. She needs help, but she isn’t sure how.

Perhaps, it takes recognising sorrow to move on to bliss.

This story is for the GH Cotillion Challenge. Thank you, Jess and Viv, for setting such an ingenious challenge!

Third Place winner, along with Paris by welshdevondragon.

Nominated for a 2012 Quicksilver Quill Award - Best Same Sex Pairing.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/01/12 Title: Chapter 1: Bliss

Hello Ariana! Well this was interesting. I’ve never found Cho particularly interesting--but I’m really enjoying thinking and reading about Pansy at the moment, so was intrigued by this pairing. Then, of course, you make me go and feel for both of them. I think this was so beautifully constructed. Just--from the very poetic and stunning start, to the dialogue. I love the way you write--you’re probably tired of me telling you this--but that the narration can be so beautifully lyrical, and yet the dialogue blunt and real and crude. I love that :)

I thought it was great that you characterised them separately, and gave such an accurate picture of their two very different lives, where both shared a certain numbness but with very different causes. And then they meet, and my don’t the sparks fly? I LOVED the dialogue. Pansy’s characterisation up until that point was so--cruel and drunk and just exactly as I see her as being after the war--and then she meets Cho and is rather sweet. Offering her the drink, and talking to her. I loved the line about masochism :) and the “He Who Gives Better Head Than Harry?” That was funny :) Your Pansy is very intuitive--saying that, and then later when she, from not much that Cho has said--indeed they reveal more of each other in that first meeting, before sex takes over--points out the line about the butterfly, and Cho’s husband. Who is a git. He reminded me of Joan’s husband in Mad Men....which if you don’t watch, I think you’ll love. He finds out his wife is cheating adn is embarrassed? What a w-----, and the way he talked to Cho before she met Pansy--ugh. That’s incoherent. He’s a git, and Pansy is bamf for telling him, and forcing Cho to realise that he is, and that she doesn’t need him. I love the way Pansy does much more for Cho, than Cho does for her really. It’s an interesting dynamic between them.

I think why I prefer Pansy to Cho, is Pansy’s lack of self pity. When she says the lines: “A kiss?” Pansy supplied with a smirk, because this moment was supposed to morph into something glib and not serious.” and “You’re obviously unhappy and miserable -- especially if you think fucking me is going to get you anywhere.” just--HOW do you write lines like that? With such a low opinion of herself, and fear of going beyond sex, and yet at the end, there’s something rather beautiful and cosy about the image of her at home, with her mug of tea. Although I liked that Cho got her life together, and the way her section ended, with her illusions falling away and taking control of herself, I thought the way you ended it was perfect. It wasn’t love, but it was an important relationship for them both, though I’m not sure either would admit it. I feel at the end though, that Pansy is being genuine when she says she just enjoyed being with Cho, and the way it was less crude than her previous lifestyle. And the final line--perfection.

The change from being sex, to a confrontation of Cho’s faults, and Pansy learning something about herself in the process, was so elegantly done. This story was beautiful, and this review incoherent. Apologies, but I loved this story, and I can't remember ever saying that about a Cho as main character story before. Alex

Author's Response: Alex!

Thanks so much for leaving me such a long and lovely review :). It really does mean so, so much to hear that you liked it, particularly because I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it atm. I think it's a little bit different than what I usually write (maybe it's the optimism that's throwing me off :D). I'm especially happy you liked the characterization - and I agree wholeheartedly with you that Pansy became my favorite between the two (which I never expected to happen). God she was so much fun to write, I might have to jam her into another fic somewhere.

I haven't seen Mad Men and it's been on my list of shows to watch because I've heard nothing but good things about it. I probably based him off something I read, or maybe a combination of things I've read, kind of the typical self-centered guy who can do no wrong and believes he deserves everything. And reading your review made me realize that you're right, Pansy does do a lot more for Cho than Cho does for her - although I'd like to think that somewhere down the line Pansy does realize her potential.

Again, thank you so much for this review! It was anything but incoherent, and really made me feel better about posting this. xx Ariana

Discovery by Gmariam

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: A loose sonnet about two people coming together at Hogwarts one night.
And no, they are not James Potter and Lily Evans. Shocking, I know.
Written for Carole/EquinoxChick because she's so awe…inspiring. Happy Birthday, my dear!
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 03/21/12 Title: Chapter 1: Discovery

Beautiful, Gina. I don't know what else to say, except that's beautiful.

Author's Response: Thanks, Alex! I really appreciate you reading this! ~Gina :)

Sleeping Beauty's Kiss by armagod679

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: As she walks to her end, Mary remembers a different kiss.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 04/17/12 Title: Chapter 1: Soul Searching

This story was beautiful. I love the way you talk about the difference between fairy tale magic, and the magic she encounters at Hogwarts, and weave that in with her finding her Prince Charming, even though he isn't entirely perfect.

You characterise such a minor character so well here, in such a short amount of space, and the awful comparison of the Dementor's kiss and Prince Charming's true love's kiss, is a very powerful one, that makes me feel for Mary, a character I've never given much thought to before. It was beautiful--Alex

Author's Response: Thank you!