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Flight Song by minnabird

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •

During the second war, many must leave their homes and run for their lives. What must they feel, forced to hide from a government that hates their very existence?

Nominated for Best Poem in the 2011 Quicksilver Quill Awards.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 04/09/11 Title: Chapter 1: Flight Song

I find HP poetry...odd and I usually hate poems with rhyming couplets but this was beautiful. The sense of loss at the same time as the sense of urgency was really well done and the final line with the repetition of "we're not alone" being quite desperate and the narrator trying to convince themselves that they are not, but really thinking they are. I also like the sense of childhood slipping away, and growing up much more quickly than anyone should have to. Beautiful poem, it definitely deserved to win a competition. Alex x

Author's Response: Thank you, Alex. I'm glad you gave this a chance even though it's not your usual reading. =) The childhood-slipping-away bit was especially hard to write because I couldn't put it into words properly. As for the last line...I actually didn't mean it to be desperate, but rather hopeful but disbelieving - can this really be possible? Repeating it and becoming more certain with each repetition. Although I can see where it's a confusing line. :/ Thanks again for reading and reviewing. =D

Bicie Serca by BlueJoker

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Sofia seeks refuge within the walls of Hogwarts from the bloodied and terror-filled streets of Krakow. Yet she is not entirely welcomed. The moment she reaches the cold shores of England she experiences jealousy, loss of identity, the perils of war and the question of her right to exist.

Nominated for Best Historical in the QSQs 2011.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 06/24/11 Title: Chapter 2: Chapter Two, The Rejection

Hello! This is the first of a few long overdue reviews (sorry for that). I liked your characterisation of Dumbledore here (which I know you said you found difficult). You gave a strong sense of his intellect, ethics and power being limited by someone else and his frustration at that in very few words. I also liked the pettiness of Dippet's contradictory foibles- it proved a nice contrast to what we know later of Dumbledore as an eccentric but definitely not someone restricted by his habits. The fact that Sofia could not read the rejection letter was very sad, and all the more sad that her mum read it for her. Somehow you manage to give a very strong idea of what characters other than Sofia are feeling, partly because I think their emotions would be so strong at this point but also through the strength of your writing.

I do think the scene with Sofia and her family felt much fuller than that of Dumbledore and Dippet. There was something rather restrained about your writing there, particularly in comparison to the end part. Whilst, like I said, I liked Sofia's interactions with her parents I loved the first sentence of the third last sentence. I know my sentences have a tendency to be too long, and I lose control of them, but this was perfectly controlled and just beautiful- is it called pathetic fallacy? (brain freeze- sorry)- when a character's emotions are projected onto the world around them- like "grim street" and "the misery filled every crevice and weeds" which is in direct contrast to the beauty and comfort of her own home. Having said that about long sentences (this is, however, really nitpicky) as beautiful as the image of her bringing life to the dead flower is, I think you need to give it time to breath more. For example when you say "She gazed at it in adoration...for she had not experience accidental magic since she was tiny" I think before the 'for' you should have a full stop, just to allow the laughter to settle, if that makes sense. I also think 'tiny' sounds a bit- slangy, or maybe because it's quite a- the word sounds irritating and given how poetic and visual your language is, I think just 'small' or 'much younger' would be better.

I like the way your narration for the latter section is from Sofia's POV but you draw the reader out with the last paragraph (again, nitpicky, but given you have line-breaks between paragraphs for every paragraph previously, I think it does break up the flow somewhat not to have one before the penultimate paragraph). The last sentence in particular is beautifully worded. Having just dehumunised them by referring to them as 'beasts' and with a usually critical epithet in 'selfish' you humanise them again, by stressing that they are doomed and through no fault of their own, and that in such gloom "individual dreams' and despair are all they have.

Your writing is consciously poetic and very beautiful to read. The only danger is that, having set this standard, you are to some extent obliged to keep to it, which you aren't with writing which is less poetic and just occasionally leaps into lyricism. I really hope you do and don't get discouraged by the lack of reviews- this is an excellent story and deserves far more reviews (having said that, not many authors have as many reviews as you do for a first fanfiction (on MNFF anyway), a predominantly OC fic AND only five chapters- the fact you have 14 is a credit to the strength of your writing).

I will read and review the remainder soon, but before I stop, given the duality of beast/ human in the last line, have you read "The Plague" by Albert Camus? That is, quite simply, one of my favourite books and also one of the best books I've read. It uses a plague of rats and ensuing illness as a metaphor for the Nazi occupation of France and whilst in the book this random force causes humans to, mostly, behave in an exemplary way, therefore demonstrating the best that humanity can be, you're also reminded that humanity is capable of bestiality, made worse in reality because obviously the rats carrying the plague is unintentional. Get a good translation though- if you in your Author's Response seem interested I'll dig out my copy and recommend you the translator (unless you can speak/ read french and read it in the original which I'm sure is superior). Anyway, brilliant story and look forward to reading the rest. Alex

Author's Response: :O :O :O Wow... This is absolutely amazing, Alex! Thank you so much. I think I might faint. Your review is so helpful and professional sounding! I'm sorry I've been a bit late replying to these as I had A-Level exams, but my God I can't wait to read your others. I'm so stunned and grateful at the effort you've put in! I haven't read that book, no, and I'm very intrigued! Sounds like just my kind of thing! Drop me an email or PM about it, sounds fab! xx

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 06/24/11 Title: Chapter 3: Chapter Three, The Acceptance

This chapter was very short so I'll just leave a quick review (and I want to read on :) ). I liked your description of DUmbledore's travels very much, as well as the hesitancy about Sofia's parents in that Dumbledore can save Sofia but not them or Oskar.

I'm interested at how you perceive Grindelwald and Dumbledore's relationship. I think I mentioned somewhere on the boards that I don't see him as being so- not anti-Muggles but having such a low opinion of Muggles this late on. And I think on some level Dumbledore would hold Grindelwald responsible for Ariana's death (not as much as he holds himself but still) and therefore not think or consider him in quite so---I don't know the way your Dumbledore thinks about him seems to be as a very intelligent, eccentric friend when actually I think there was a deep emotional/ possibly sexual connection between them. I think this is an important part of Dumbledore's character and whilst I know this is predominantly about Jewish wizards, specifically Sofia and the interaction of Muggles/ the Wizarding world, I think it would be interesting to explore that more.

As I'm coming to expect of you, this was well written and flowed well. I noticed in the last chapter Soraya thought it was rather short. I didn't agree with her there (or maybe she said it about this one- not sure) but this chapter did feel slightly short. Possibly incorporating Dumbledore's relationship with Grindelwald would make it feel more full, or maybe that's just because that's a dynamic I've recently become interested in.

Onto the next chapter! Alex.

Author's Response: I constantly change my mind about how much I'll have the Dumbledore-Grindelwald relationship in this fiction, which has probably led to a lot of mixed messages. A good friend of mine is a huge gay rights activist and fanfiction reader - although she does not know my screenname (or that I've started writing), I would hate for her to come across this story and be disappointed by a poor portrayal of homosexual relationships and feelings. As a straight woman, I struggle to relate. That does not mean to say I shall ignore it completely however. As for his feelings towards Muggles, to put it simply I imagine him to know that it is wrong and to feel immense guilt, but he is so besotted by Grindelwald that he geniunely believes that the ends justify the means (more on this later in the fic). I think he idolises Grindelwald to the point of obsession, and I think Grindelwald knows this and uses it to his advantage. I realise however, that everyone has their own interpretations - and good! It will certainly help the reader's own moral conflict later on. ;)

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 06/24/11 Title: Chapter 4: Chapter Four, The Train

This chapter felt like it was slightly too short as well, though I'm not sure, considering how much emotion there was in it, you could have lengthened it. I think the way you've used Polish and German s very well done, particularly since I know you want the dialogue to be predominantly 'real' English (I think you'll know what I mean) and that language is tied up with identity. For example I don't know what "Nie zapomnij o mnie!" means but in a sense it doesn't matter, and any of the things it could mean/ I guess from the context suit the moment.

I like the way it wasn't the perfect farewell. I mean there's no way something like that can be easy- it will always be jagged and heartbreaking but I think there's often the desire for characters to do the Right thing and be noble, which Oskar certainly isn't but he's a little boy, that's completely what he'd think. Likewise with the parents wanting their daughter back- they may be going to their deaths (though, as far as I know from admittedly potted history, they did not expect that yet- the final solution was decided in 1941 and it's still the late thirties isn't it?) but at least they'll all be together.

I also thought the scene with the other children was well done. I think children, because they are less self-conscious, have a tendency to talk more but Sofia isn't a child- she's sixteen although she seems younger in your story. Maybe because of the shock of what's happened she's regressed which, obviously, is a natural reaction and also an unwillingness to accept what's happening (and if she's able to lie to herself about leaving/ that her parents and brother will be all right then things will be much easier for her). But even if they can't talk tragedy binds people so I loved this part: "it did not seem so strange to grip hands over the table, or to suddenly embrace each other in hugs, or cry quietly onto each other’s shoulders. They were united by a common tragedy,"

A minor nitpick- in your fourth paragraph (I realise in my last review I wrote sentence instead of paragraph- sorry) the sentence seem rather short and disjointed. I realise they are emotionally heartbroken/ confused but I think they acknowledge this confusion and therefore this breaks up the flow rather than adds to the effect.

You've built up a very clear idea of Sofia's family, what she's been through and what she fears her parents and brother will go through in four fairly short, concise chapters. I think with this base it would be a bit of a u-turn for your fic to be sunshine and roses but you're clever enough not to let that happen. I think you've established an underlying sadness which, no matter how positive Sofia's future (which, somehow, I'm skeptical about) will permeate the rest of the story. Which is very, very clever. Alex

Author's Response: Thank you so much :) In clarification, I had a minor disaster with timelines since you beta-d for me; it's now 1940, but be prepared for occasional mistakes that I may have stupidly missed. (History student as well... >.<) I'm glad you considered the reactions realistic - something I was struck by when I spoke to Kindertransport children (by then OAPs) a few years ago was the complete contrast of emotions to events. One old man said "my mother screamed and kicked the train and told me to get off" with a very proud grin upon his face. Another woman said "my parents packed me a sandwich and some sweets and had made me a new scarf" with a look of absolute contempt and anger. I don't think anyone could truly say how they would react, so I'm glad I've written it as realistically as possible. In refrence to what those polish words mean... hmm, well, Sofia herself may be haunted by those. Thank you so much for your nitpicks! They're perfect, just what I need! :)

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 06/24/11 Title: Chapter 5: Chapter Five, The Arrival

I think anyone who started reading this story expecting fluff are idiots. This was never going to be a fluffy story and it would be- oh, I can't remember any words at the moment. Not facetious, but something like it, to make it fluffy. Now, I hope you know by now I'm really enjoying this story and admire your writing, so I'm going to start with some nitpicks (sorry).

I'm pretty sure you spelt Oscar with a 'k' instead of a 'c' in earlier chapters (a quick reread- you spell it both ways in this chapter- keep it consistent) as well as capitalising the Ghetto. The latter I can kind of understand as it's now far away and less important to Sofia, therefore I can understand her no longer thinking of it in scary capitals. However I found the description of a 'Quaker' slightly off-putting. Given you don't actually mention Sofia's name initially, just starting with 'She' you place us firmly in her head. Given her lack of English (although is Quaker the same in every language? Are there Quakers in Poland? IF so- excuse my ignorance) she'd not realise that was what she was, maybe realising she wasn't Jewish but that's it. Also- I found "watchful eye of the crescent moon" a bit out of place- just because it seemed to be description for description's sake rather than adding anything to the story (also I don't like personification unless it's for pathetic fallacy purposes which, here, it isn't).

I think Sofia's idea that she's died and gone to heaven is a very clever one and emphasises just how impossible this seemed to her. She thought salvation came with death and now it's come, for her at least, in life. But it's not perfect, because she doesn't have her family.

Your description of her homesickness and longing for them was very well down. Again, minor nitpick, I think given how long (and beautiful -it was perfect) the previous sentence, your sentence beginning "It didn’t matter what a wonderful day she’d had..." should have a full stop before "the moment the moon rose..." just because otherwise it's a bit of a mouthful having a few long sentences in a row.

I liked seeing Dumbledore through Sofia/ your omniscient narrator's eyes. Mrs Brigham is awful, although I'm pleased Dumbledore is firm on not splitting siblings up. I do disagree slightly with them considering it mad to teach her English in two months though. At my primary school there were several refugees who couldn't speak English when they arrived- but within a few months were pretty fluent. It's easier when younger (I do keep forgetting Sofia is sixteen) but Sofia is in a foreign country- she has no choice but to learn the language and I do think most people in those situations learn quickly. I hope Mrs Brigham isn't too awful to Sofia and am eagerly awaiting the next chapter! Alex

Author's Response: Ah! Oskar! I intended to start writing it as Oscar as Sofia becomes more 'English' but I hadn't realised that I'd started doing it so soon! Good spot! I will have to scour through my next few chapters to make sure I haven't done the same there. In response to the Quakers, they can usually be identified via their very modest dress and, in the 1940s, bonnets, and they were the largest religious group which aided English Jews with the Kindertransport. However, I do see your point, I doubt Sofia would have recognised them - I let my knowledge run away with me there! Aw, Mrs Brigham isn't so bad ;) She seems scary but it's all a show.

From Green to Brown by MerrryD

Rated: 6th-7th Years •

Winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter.

Seasons change.

Best friends to barely talking, full of life to constant fear of death, "good" to "bad".

So do people.

This is MerryD of Hufflepuff writing for the 2011 Aprils Fools' Day Challenge in the Great Hall, Prompt #3--Marauder Era.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 04/30/11 Title: Chapter 1: From Green to Brown

I read this story about a week ago but wanted the time to give you a review worthy of it. Peter is so difficult to get right and yet you explain his motivations and why he did what he did perfectly.

In Winter 77/8 I like the way you establish the Marauder dynamics, with James and Sirius being closer than Peter and Remus, without it seeming clumsy. And yet, as the next section proves, Peter whilst seeming like a perfectly good friend, cannot quite accept the change in James. It was an original way of showing the beginning of Peter's change, when his friends are growing up faster than he is, with his inability to accept the new role Lily plays in James' life.

Just Peter, who now felt like an outsider in his own circle of friends. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs was fast becoming Moony, Padfoot, Prongs, Lily, and oh, yeah, Wormtail, too.

I thought this was a really good way of putting it. It's concise but shows the beginnings of his estrangement from them

I loved your characterisation of everyone in the next section. Lily's sense of humour, and Sirius' comfort with his friend's relationship whereas Peter clearly isn't, was well shown. The one thing I found a bit strange- I thought Dumbledore was a bit sudden. I think he would have led up to asking them to join the Order a bit more. I also think he would be clever enough to note that Peter hadn't replied. It would be more interesting if Peter had been quick enough to reply with the others, showing his ability to lie and just fit in with the prevailing mood.

Saying Fall through me off the second time reading this. I mean, I know what you mean, but I just think "Autumn" would have fitted in better (that's a very, very minor quibble though). I did enjoy the wedding scene and the growing impression of things going wrong elsewhere. I like the way you establish Peter's belief that they had owned Hogwarts, and then continue this need to have power in the next section, as well as showing his need for approval. You don't just produce a Peter, you slowly peel away different layers to his personality, which is really well done. When Marlene dies the way you show the distance between him not being able to feel their happiness, as well as their pain, is really realistic. As was him saying "My mother—what would my mother do? My friends? So soon after Marlene?" and framing his desperate desire to survive as thinking for his friends.

"The bastard. For the first time in his life, Peter felt vital. He felt necessary, important. He had power—at his signal he could have Malfoy here in an instant, who would just love to bring his wife’s traitorous cousin down." I think that phrase shows a fundamental change in his character. He now sees himself as Voldemort's and not his friends'.

"Peter felt like an imposter." I like the way this is framed in it's own paragraph (my spell check is telling me it should be "impostor" though- but I don't know) and that his feelings for Lily are now entirely resentment. Remus is a bit absent from the last section which is slightly odd. Also the realisation that he led to the Prewetts death- that was a bit of a shock. I think his discomfort with this slightly contradicts his statement that he is not upset by their deaths. In the third last paragraph- sometimes repeating words sounds off, but the repetition of "Hated" sounds really good, as well as showing what a small-minded person Peter really is, but nevertheless allowing the reader to empathise with him. I love the image you end on but I do feel your story doesn't quite back this up. It seems that Peter has played his part perfectly, giving no hint to his friends of his discomfort, so as beautiful as the last image is, it doesn't quite feel accurate, unless that's precisely what Peter is telling himself, even though it's not true. In which case- wow.

I'm sorry if this review was fan-girly rather than helpful, but it was such a good story that all my nit-picks were pretty minor. I really enjoyed reading it and will read and review more of your stories once my exams are done. Spew hugs for now! Alex x

Author's Response: Oh, wow, Alex! I really don't know what to say. Thank you so much for this review! I've been feeling not so great about this story lately and this review makes me glad that I did go ahead and post it. There are so many things that you caught that I wasn't sure if anyone would get, so that makes me really happy. :D re: Fall vs autumn: I believe autumn is more British and fall is American. So, while, technically you're right, I should have it as autumn if I want my writing to be as British as possible, fall is just more natural to me. *shrugs* As for Peter's discomfort over the Prewetts' death, I was hoping it would come off as he was telling himself he wasn't upset, but, in truth, he was a bit shaken. I guess I probably need to flesh that out a bit more, along with most other things in this fic. Thank you again so much for this review. Sometimes fangirly reviews are just what I need, haha. *SPEW hugs* <3Mere

The Half-Blood Prince Rhapsody by Virgil

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: This is a "Potter Parody" of the musical masterpiece, "Bohemian Rhapsody" - originally written and performed by Queen. It tells the story of Severus Snape's life, love, and ultimately, his demise.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 05/14/11 Title: Chapter 1: The Half-Blood Prince Rhapsody

That was amazing. Given tonight's doctor who is written by Neil Gaiman, and this is one of my favourite songs with Harry Potter, all my favourite things seem to be coming together :)

Apart from the genius of the idea, and the general hilarity it's amazing how IC it is. I mean most parodies rely on some OOC behaviour but this was completely in character. So congratulations. This brightened up my day :) Alex x

Author's Response: Thank you for commenting! I'm glad that you thought it was in-character. That's definitely the hardest part of writing song parodies, but this song was just so perfect for Sev to start out with :D I'm glad it brightened your day. ~Virgil

The Lost Weeks by the opaleye

Rated: 1st-2nd Years • Past Featured Story
Summary: Hermione sits and thinks of the boy who left and why she did not follow.

Tied in first place for the 2011 Quicksilver Quill Award in Best Poetry.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 12/05/11 Title: Chapter 1: Her thoughts linger on those silent weeks.

Hello Julia--this is my belated SPEW review for November, so I hope you enjoy it/ I review this poem in the way it deserves. I was on the Poetry QSQ committee and from the first round this poem struck me as being absolutely beautiful. I know this doesn’t bother as many people as it does me, but what I loved about it in part was its versatility, that you could write it with a certain pairing in mind, but that the themes and ideas expressed within it were more universal than that. Also for a rather long poem, it feels much shorter, as in it is never boring or drags, which is unusual for any poem of length (though the ability to retain the reader’s interest over a long poem is one you share with your co-winner Minna).

One of the first things that struck me about this poem was how intricate the form was, and yet how the poem never felt rigid or contrived because of that. In your poem the form works with it, not against it, lending increasing power and meaning to repeated lines such as “The light fades soft and yellow on the leaves” which at first strikes as just a rather beautiful, autumnal image, but when it is repeated, seems much more sad, far more explicitly associated with loss. I also love how the motif of the light and leaves develops, so that later the “light fades hard and blue, there are no leaves,” which is so sad, even with the potential optimism that they might be found again come the spring. The way you use the image of the leaves to entwine Ginny’s thoughts of Harry is so beautiful (I’m using that word way too much here :/), and this continues throughout the poem to the penultimate stanza where the “days fall like minutes”, just as the leaves do. Although the overall mood of this poem is one of longing and, in a sense, loneliness, I think your leaf image of “though it’s Winter, the tears from her lashes fall like leaves” is just stunning, because leaves cannot fall in winter, and yet they do, showing the seemingly impossible happening, which you return to in the optimism of the ending.

There’s also something very tactile about this poem, as even though you are dealing with Ginny’s emotions the verbs you use- even though Ginny is mainly static-with the motion of seconds threading and words like “softened, moulded, wrapped”. The sense of motion is probably also helped by the rhythm, and the long sentences, as well as enjambement you often use so the lines run into one another smoothly.

The way the poem moves through time is also beautifully done. I love how you manage to come up with so many images of time passing, and the memory of the days which were endless, whereas now she seems to measure every moment, without any sense of control over it, with images like “endless days” contrasted with “numbered weeks”.

I also love the characterisation here. This doesn’t show the rebelling Ginny, even though the reader knows she exists, but the Ginny who trusted and wondered and hoped. I loved her memory of their time together being described as “they wait/a little longer with naive faith and faithlessness.” I think in HBP there’s a line about Harry feeling as though his time with Ginny has been borrowed or stolen from someone else’s life, and this seems to exemplify that idea perfectly. I also love the idea of ‘naive faith and faithlessness’ because although those two ideas seem contradictory I think it shows their hope that this will last, and their acceptance that it won’t, rather wonderfully. The description of Harry as “the black, green and golden boy” was also very visual and very interesting that Ginny should define Harry in that manner, as although the first two are physical, they are combined with the golden to become more symbolic, and particularly the green stands out, not only as potentially his more SLytherin side, but more importantly the hope of spring, which you have at the end of the poem.

The slip into the first person could have seemed rather awkward, but because in the first three stanzas you establish her thoughts so well, it seems incredibly natural, even though what she describes is, ultimately, untenable, as they know this has to end, but the desire to have “Nothing...die, nothing...wither beneath our shoes” emphasises the strength of her feeling for him.

The ending was beautiful. I do have a tendency to, no matter how good what has gone before, judge something on its ending but here it fits perfectly. I love how pared down your sentences are, even thought then vocabulary is very rich and varied. Phrases like “time thread rough” just take on a greater potency for being so concise and also add a tangibility to the poem so that it doesn’t seem too polished, if that makes sense. THis is also helped by images such as “the stitches fray...the weeks/fall like snow” which has a certain weight about it, which is, however, contrasted because although it melts into nothing, and is therefore meaningless, Harry “fills her passing days/with thoughts of lips”. When you repeat the word ‘hands’ it could be too repetitive if what had gone before hadn’t been so good, but here becomes very sensual.

At the start you build up a sense of these weeks, and the length of time, being against them, and a force to be reckoned with, which slowly fails when “the days become undone, as the weeks shed Winter”. I find your last sentence rather abrupt, but I think this works excellently, in the context of the time stretching out before them and seeming both endless, and a memory of what is lost, when suddenly in your shortest sentence, and the most final full stop, that comes to an end, symbolising a change and the possibility for regrowth.

Basically this poem is gorgeous and if I had written it, I would have been fairly light headed for several days in amazement. I hope you know just how good it is. I’m sorry, that this review basically consists of me incoherently analysing your poem and telling you how much I love it, but its so stunning that that’s really all I can say. Alex

Author's Response: Goodness, how have I not responded to this yet? Sorry about the hideous wait! That's no way to treat such a wonderful SPEWer! First of all, thanks so much for this review, Alex. It was difficult handling such a rigid structure so it's always good to hear if someone thought that it didn't drag or fall flat half-way through. I do like changing physical states in my poetry, it seems to be an overarching theme. Treating light and time as something solid and tangible was really fun so it's interesting that you point out that imagery as something you responded to. Thank you xD

The only thing is, it's Hermione in the poem, not Ginny. It's fascinating to see how you interpreted it as Ginny and the more I read this review and then the poem I can definitely see where you're coming from. I guess that's the beauty of writing slightly ambiguous poetry - it really is open to interpretation. Listening to the music gave me the image of Hermione sitting alone beside the tent and it was such a melancholic and touching picture that it got me thinking about what those months in Deathly Hallows was like for Hermione. We often see those months from Ron's perspective in fanfiction (and of course we get Harry's perspective in canon) and so I set out to tell Hermione's story instead.

Again, thanks for the amazing and thought-out review! I've come away with a very different view of this poem now!

Julia x

Hollow Soldiers by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
"This is how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper."
-- T.S. Eliot,  The Hollow Men
Michael Corner was just one of many who fought for everything he believed in at the Battle of Hogwarts. He went in with all the right intentions and on the side of good, but the enemy he never thought he'd have to face proved to be fiercer than any curse that he would encounter during the fight.
And that enemy was himself.
This story was nominated for a 2011 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best Dark/Angst Story.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 02/01/12 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Jess-This is one of your most powerful stories and I hope I can write a review that does it justice.

One thing I love about this story, and Azure In The Snow, is the immediacy of it. You immediately tie a story of minor characters to a single canon event, and then take the reader straight into the mind of one of those characters. Your characterisation of Michael is, for me, this story’s main strength. You flesh him out brilliantly, making him incredibly realistic. Because we know so little about Michael, except that he was in the DA, we expect him to be basically a good person. It is one of the many things you do so well--highlighting the darker side of those on the ‘Good’ side, and the way in which the circumstances of that last year at Hogwarts, culminating in the battle, could easily turn a normal person. You basically show Michael falling further and further away from any sense of morality, from when he feels it’s Lisa’s duty to stay, to the final moment when he kills Miles.

I like the initial shock to the reader of Michael manipulating Lisa. His strong sense of morality, a ver Gryffindor streak within him, even though he’s a Ravenclaw, comes through. I particularly love the realism of: It is better to die for something than to live for nothing., I think in the situation Michael is in, it is very realistic that he would cling onto a single phrase to carry him through, and this happens to be it, which comes to particular fruition at the end of the story, when he is confronted with the effects of following this philosophy. This morality is also shown when his anger at Lupin’s death, is not focussed on the fact his old DADA’s master has died, but that: “That bloke had murdered Lupin without even facing him.” This very black and white approach to morally complex situations is one you explore throughout the fic- for example whether Michael persuading Lisa to stay, given she was in a coma for the rest of her life because of it, was a ‘Good’ decision or not, as well as the extent to which Michael’s actions are justified given the events that surround him.

I also find the lack of control, at least initially, that Michael prescribes to his situation, of great interest. At the beginning of the story, whilst understanding Pansy’s desire to rat Harry out, he at the same time feels obliged to the nobility he proclaimed to belong to during that year of suffering at Hogwarts. You, however, show his lack of self will at several points- for example, he “almost involuntarily” moves to attack when Lupin dies, and while other members of his house escape the fight, he is curiously stagnant. In a story of mine, I quote a far better writer than me, Jimmy McGovern, who has his central character in the UK TV Show Cracker say that heroes are people too afraid of being cowards. I think it’s interesting that Michael fulfills this perfectly-he is too afraid of not fulfilling the values he preached to flee, which is what his, and Lisa’s, gut reactions tell them to do, and therefore feels obligated t stay, and become a hollow soldier, as per the title.

Your writing style is, for the most part, bare, very much showing but this line is beautiful:He fought and fought, ploughing his way through these faceless, hollow men until the sun finally staggered its way over the horizon. particularly when with the title, it’s really the survivors and not the losers who are hollow.

This story brilliantly shows how war can change a man, or even boy, as Michael really is, for all his violence. The conversation with Miles, the jeering, the tension, particularly since you’d already established an existing conflict between the two characters in their first meeting, was excellently established. I would say that the mention of the racist term ‘Paki’ threw me somewhat, as the implication throughout your story is that Miles and Michael are purebloods, and therefore would be absent from the racism according to nationality (as opposed to blood status) which, unfortunately, the rest of the world was, and to some extent still is, at the time. That is, however, a minor nitpick. I particularly love the ending where you have Michael say:

He truly understood what Unforgivable meant.

Now, while I firmly disagree with Michael’s thought process, you have characterised him so well, that I think within the context of JK’s universe, where murder is the highest sin, and your characterisation of MIchael, this fitted seamlessly.

The ending is breathtakingly sad. The fact that, after committing the unforgivable of killing someone, Michael only wants to fall asleep and hope to wake up, already puts me at a sad point on which to end it, but no, Jess you had to go one further. When, several hours later, he awakes, and you mention, Terry’s ‘far-too-innocent gaze’, the distance between himself and his friends (including Terry) suddenly becomes very sharp and uncomfortable, making his situation all the more heart-breaking. And though he says “I remember” really, he’s remembering as if it were a dream, and there’s something rather horrific about that final image, unable to connect to one of his closest friends. Excellent story Jess, and I hope this review was good enough.

Author's Response:

Sorry for the late reply, but hopefully the fact that I wanted to do your review justice makes up for it. :D

It is my belief that every character, no matter how good or dedicated to just causes, has darkness within. We know this about Harry and have to speculate whether it was borne of the Horcrux occupying part of his soul or something borne of his own innate dark side. He was not able to use the Cruciatus on Bellatrix out of righteous anger, but he was able to toast Amycus Carrow for *spitting* on McGonagall. If the one-in-a-million man worthy to be the master of death is capable of that, imagine what the rest of us can do if we feel justified. And, for Michael, Miles was simply the culmination of every dark thought and hatred that had haunted the back of his mind.

One thing I believe about Michael is that it’s hard not to have a black-and-white view on justice after the Year of Hell at Hogwarts. The dynamics were simple: Slytherins and Carrows were evil, and the DA were good guys. In his mind, he couldn’t fathom there being a middle ground for those of age to fight. While Lisa wasn’t a member of the group, it was easy for non-members to side with those who were brave enough to piss in Carrow cornflakes and go to Support Harry Potter parties. But when the time comes to run away faster than a cat with his tail on fire or face down Death Eaters and the possibility of death, not everyone has it in them to get past that sort of hurdle. I imagine that a number of people who didn’t stay wish they had, but also that a few who stayed wholly wished they hadn’t.

Control is a deep theme in war. In a vast majority of wars throughout history, the more disciplined ranks triumphed over the ragtag soldiers nearly every time. The Romans conquered because they were a military machine. The American Revolution, while seemingly an exception, didn’t turn in the Americans’ favour until the French stepped in and showed them how to be a proper army. Some people don’t have it in themselves to forge ahead with purpose rather than an adrenalin-charged haze of emotion, and I think Michael is one of those people. But, as you said, he was afraid of being like his pure-blooded cousin (Miles), who turned to the Dark Lord as easily as Michael had fallen into the DA. The two boys are a lot alike in my head, as well as on paper, but with radically different outcomes.

The title and the theme of hollowness were inspired by an absolutely gorgeous banner by Minna (poke me on AIM, and I’ll show it to you), depicting a scarecrow and text that said ‘we are the hollow men’. For once in my life, I actually knew that it was from a poem and even who the poet was. I looked it up, flailed, and then thought. After that, this story just came spilling into my brain. I had a loose thread from Azure in the Snow about Michael and his level of messed up-ness, and this gorgeous plot for a battle fic to go along with it. It just…worked.

Miles’s comment about Padma’s race wasn’t really meant to be slanderous to her, but rather because it would make Michael angry. It was more the tone and contempt with which it was said that was meant to offend rather than the word itself. It goes back to the pre-existing hostility between the boys, which went back before either set foot in Hogwarts or even knew what a Death Eater was. That childish desire to hurt someone who hurts you never quite left them.

Unforgivable means a lot of things to me. I don’t find killing unforgivable in all instances, and the same goes for the Cruciatus and Imperius. There are dozens of ways to do all of these without using the three Unforgivables, yet they are not considered unforgivable. Punishable, yes, but not on the same level. This is where my head canon comes into play. In my head, the thing that separates the Unforgivables from the rest of the spells in the Potterverse is how defensible they are. No known defensive spell or shield can stop a Killing Curse, and the only thing that seems to stop the Cruciatus is the will of the spellcaster. The only one that seems like one can defend oneself from it is the Imperius, but even that takes supreme willpower and effort. It’s not a spell, curse, hex, jinx, or charm. There are not words or wand movements or protective objects to ward it away. And the people who are most susceptible to it are the weak-willed and already defenceless. The long and short of it is this: Michael could’ve killed Miles in so many ways, most of which would go un-looked-at as a natural result of battle, but he used the one spell that Miles couldn’t fend off and would kill him for sure. And, as you pointed out, it was because he couldn’t control himself. Miles knew it, which is why he mocked Michael and insulted Padma and all of that, but it bit him in the end.

Speaking of the end, I have a *thing* about characters feeling hollow and full of regret all at once as a story ends. Whether it’s because I’m depraved or I believe that happy endings are far rarer than people wish they were, I don’t know, but the one thing that blows the cork off of my brain is when battle survivors and their families go on like everything is okay afterward. Things happen in the heat of battle that make people wonder if they know themselves half as well as they think they do. When Fred died, Ron’s first reaction was that he wanted to go kill Death Eaters, rather than run to his brother’s side and grieve. Lupin chided Harry for merely Disarming during the Seven Potters thing, telling him that he had better be prepared to kill. In a way, I wish this dual morality had been better explored in Deathly Hallows, because so many parts of the book craved attention in that respect. Characters moved away from who they were and who we knew them to be and became something darker. Hence why fan fiction is glorious; we can do that on our own. No, Terry didn’t kill anyone and was mostly the same person, but he didn’t leave the battle with a boulder-sized guilt complex, either.

All in all, this story was an exploration of what people are like and what people think they’re like and how they deal with the disillusionment of their preconceptions of the former. And yes, typing that out made me feel like a pretentious a-hole, but it was what I was going for. Thank you so much for the lovely review, and sorry about the long time it took to respond. It takes rather a while to think critically about how I wanted to respond, and I did want to respond in the best way possible. You know where to find me if you care to discuss further. Again, thank you, and ta for now.


Facades by lucca4

Rated: 6th-7th Years • Past Featured Story

When a lavish engagement party ends in tragedy, Teddy Lupin takes on the case, despite its personal ties. What begins as a search for the killer soon turns into something much more, and Teddy is startled to witness the personas of the people he thought he knew melt away in light of the crime.

It doesn’t take long for him to realise that nothing is what it seems to be.

Nominated for a 2011 QSQ - Best General Fiction and Best Same Sex Pairing Story

Nominated for a 2012 QSQ - Best Same Sex Pairing Story.

This is lucca4 of Gryffindor writing for the 2011 Mysterious May Challenge in the Great Hall, Prompt 2.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 07/06/11 Title: Chapter 4: Emergence

Ariana- that was amazing. I meant to review each chapter but this was so good that I had to read it all in one go and therefore you’re going to get one long review of basically every chapter (sorry).

I loved the beginning. There’s something about the first sentence that immediately conveys the tension and the secrecy of their relationship, and then the laughter and the enforced jollity of the party outside that bedroom closet. And, for something that gets written about so often, you wrote James’ jealousy incredibly well. The similes in “James imagined her hands caressing Teddy, creeping over his body like skinny spiders. He pictured her lips on Teddy’s, small and red and round like the suction cups of an octopus” were just amazing, and immediately conveyed James’ dislike not just of the fact she was Teddy’s, but that he did not like her personally. You got the impression that James was a good enough person to maybe have let Teddy go if he thought that Teddy was genuinely in love and it was that, just as much as his hatred of Christine. Your characterisation of James was really interesting throughout. In spite of the flashback, or as I read it at first, dream, his character remains fairly consistent, compared to the illusions both Teddy and Victoire have constructed. I particularly loved his honest about himself, and his automatic fall to drink, when he says “Hate was a good emotion ... True, it tasted just as sour as love could at its worst, but hate was an emotion James could let drift away with a few drinks.

Love wouldn’t leave that easily.”
That phrase was profound without seeming preachy or clumsy compared to how James was feeling.

The tension between Teddy and James in all their encounters, particularly post Christine’s death, was really well done, as well as Victoire’s and James’ encounter. Particularly in that case, because of Victoire’s ignorance re-James and Teddy. Because we knew something that James knew, I think that made the reader sympathise with him more so there and therefore made the reveal at the end all the more shocking.

I also thought that, throughout, your use of profanity was very realistic and never seemed gratuitous. You gave the impression that the characters, particularly Teddy, were not usually the swearing types but the extremity of the situation and the emotions he and James were feeling made those words seem the only ones capable of conveying their emotions. One line I particularly loved was “You may have had him in life, bitch, but there’s no way you’re taking him now that you’re dead.” That was just--wow. The power a dead person can extend is shown, mostly positively I think, throughout the Harry Potter books in the way Harry gains strength from them. This shows the flip side of that. It also shows just how well you characterised Christine. It’s something I really enjoy writing and reading- how you can build up someone’s character without them actually being in the story and you did it brilliantly. I loved the contrasting views of her, from James, Teddy and Victoire and how, until the very end, we weren’t quite sure which one was accurate as each person had their motivations for believing their version of her, rather than being objective about it.

The one thing that snagged me in chapter one was that the Auror office would let Teddy investigate the case, given his personal connection but I can see how he would desperately want to be involved in finding his fiance’s murderer, if not his love and by the end of the first chapter I’d honestly forgotten.

In chapter two I think the way you contrasted the interviews with someone who certainly was not a suspect/ who had little emotional connection to Teddy (though I loved the tiny mention of her telling the boys off for bullying him) and then compared to his interrogations of Victoire and Scorpius. Talking of which (this is a very jumpy review- sorry) I really thought your characterisation of Victoire, considering she’s not really that important in the overall plot except to serve as a red herring, was excellent. I really disliked her in the second chapter but when she appeared later, clearly upset by Christine’s death and yet with, presumably, a one-night stand in the toilet as she has to talk to Teddy about it, you really made me feel for her.

The one part of this story that did, for me anyway, drag slightly, was when Teddy visited Christine’s parents. It just seemed to drag and although I liked Alicia’s statement that she’d kill whoever it was as well as Teddy’s response, I thought the rest could have been more concise. But the twist at the end was rather brilliant. What I particularly loved was the cruelty of it being something Teddy had bought Victoire when their relationship was on better terms, but I also thought the last line, paralleling Christine/ Victoire and Teddy/ James was very clever.

So the last chapter and the reveal at the end. I thought your flashback was excellently done- they can so often seem clumsy but this fitted in seamlessly. I strongly believe that being drunk is no excuse but the way you’ve characterised James thus far, particularly his confidence in Teddy’s and his view of him that he couldn’t have done it, really made me wonder what could have happened to drive him to kill Chrisine. Within the flashback, where, for the first time we see Christine for who she genuinely was, you strongly showed James’ discomfort, because of his dislike and jealousy of her but then her proof that she was completely unworthy of someone like Teddy who does seem lovely if rather too eager to please people and not hurt others, which although I sympathise with immensely, just leads to him getting hurt. I loved the fact that, in the end James’ motives for killing her, that she was planning on killing Teddy (when Victoire kept on mentioning that Christine would not have stayed with Teddy for long I assumed divorce, not murder--but that was a very well laid point) were ones which I can, and most people including Teddy, as it does prove James’ love for him, can sympathise with. I loved the way that, at the end, all he really cared about was Teddy. He knew the guilt was coming, but he waited until Teddy fully believed him- it was Teddy’s view of him that mattered more than his own emotions. The line Waiting for Teddy’s answer was the only reason he wasn’t retching in the sink, crouched over with guilt as somehow the rest of the world continued to move on. showed this beautifully, as did “James wished it didn’t hurt so much to realise Teddy loved him.” In a way, I think that was the perfect line to end it on and the last line was, although good, slightly unnecessary, but maybe that’s just me. As a final point- I loved the way you only felt it necessary to mention the colour of Teddy’s hair and eyes at particularly important moments, rather than in every sentence as I’ve seen in some Teddy stories. It made it all the more powerful and poignant.

In addition to all that, you've kind of ticked every Next-Gen box for me in that it's Sciliy (I laughed at James' brotherly protectiveness even though it was obviously a serious chapter) and not a Teddy/ Victoire happily ever after but even if you hadn’t, I still would have enjoyed this story. For such a short story you conveyed the strength and passion of the character’s relationship and the facades (sorry, I’ve only just learned how to type accents, a cedilla is beyond me) particularly Teddy and Victoire had constructed about Christine’s personality, but also James about his own actions in Christine’s death and repressing them, were all excellently done. Congratulations on a genuinely moving, sad story (I hardly ever cry when reading/ writing and although I’d be lying to say that I did, I wouldn’t be lying to say that I was close to) and best of luck with the challenge. Alex

Author's Response: Alex, thank you so much for this absolutely gorgeous review! It definitely made me smile/squee inside :). It makes me so happy to hear that you genuinely liked the story, as I felt that when I was writing it it was more word vomit than a nicely-constructed story. I'm glad you liked James and Teddyit was sort of a random decision I made that they should be together but I ended up loving to write them. I agree it was probably a little unrealistic for Teddy to be assigned the job with all the personal ties to the case, but I'm glad you forgot about that little detail after reading on :). And it's ironic, because the one part that dragged for me when I wrote it was the interaction with Christine's parents, but I wanted to show what would have been Teddy's role if he had married Christine, plus he needed a way to see Victoire's thong. But I'm so, so, so unbelievably happy that you liked reading it, and that you enjoyed the characterization of Christine (who was definitely hard to write) and James and Teddy. Your review made my day :) . xx ARiana

Himnusz by eldritcher

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Once upon a time, a young Hungarian patriot came to Godric's Hollow, where he met Albus Dumbledore. Before Ariana and Nurmengard, before wand and war, there were two boys who loved lemon-drops.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 06/23/11 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

This was a very intriguing story, although initially I was slightly put off by you feeling it was necessary to tell us it was from Grindelwald’s POV. Your writing is good enough for us to realise that, if not straight away, pretty soon, particularly since you have given him such a strong Tom Riddle-esque but nevertheless distinctive voice. This is apparent from the It was crucial to be in her good books given the circumstances of my expulsion and the unfavourable situation at home. comment, as does his sarcasm in all wide-eyed and heartbreakingly sincere. . It’s very Machiavellian, seeing politeness as a method of manipulation rather than a common courtesy, as well as using sarcasm to entertain oneself whilst being subtle enough that the person you’re using to doesn’t notice. One thing I did wonder- Bathilda is an old woman in Harry’s day. Therefore I doubt she’d be an old woman in Grindelwald/ Dumbledore’s day- unless you mean Grindelwald’s great aunt is an ancestor of Bathilda Bagshot.

When you say “My father had passed out from Hogwarts” - I think you mean “finished Hogwarts”- passed out means losing consciousness.

I do like your description of how Grindelwald’s parents met. It is very romantic, possibly too romantic to have actually happened quite like that, but I think there is this quite English trait of wanting to fall in love with another country, which your sentence No man had ever sung the Himnusz, our anthem, with more passion and conviction than my late father. describes very well.

I love how grandiose and yet how very schoolboy his dreams are, all the more scary because we know that he, to some extent, accomplishes at least his dream of controlling Europe. I like the idea of Hungarian nationalism- nationalism is always very interesting, particularly within a Wizarding context as the view of the Wizarding world is quite insular although in the Muggle world Britain has always been more insular than countries on the continent.

I think there’s something very insightful about this paragraph: Five years ago, soldiers passing through the town had shown me how to gun down game. I had not liked the smoke or the blood a gun caused, so messy, but I had very much liked the sound of the report. It had scared away the birds and sent a shiver down even the hardiest man’s spine. Killing did not give one power over others, but fear did. And the gun’s report had stirred fear. It’s very specific and very precise.

I liked the parallelism between Grindelwald’s father going to a foreign land and falling in love with blue eyes and Grindelwald first noticing that Dumbledore had “the bluest eyes I had ever seen.” However when Grindelwald says “The teller’s blood in her had shown her broken cradles” I’m not sure what you mean. I mean it’s obviously a soothsaying method but it sounds intriguing and you don’t really expand on it. I’m not sure about your use of Islanders as a word for the English/ British. Do Hungarians call Brits that (out of interest are you Hungarian/ do you have Hungarian relatives?)? If they do then that’s my ignorance, but given there are islands geographically closer and, I’d guess, of more socio-economic/ political importance to Eastern Europe than Britain (which is a garbled way of saying there would be closer islands which Hungarians might refer to).

I liked your characterisation of Albus, particularly your descriptions of him as “Shy, then. How could someone so talented and aware of power be so shy?” which says as much about Grindelwald as it does about Dumbledore, as well as Albus, after not exactly punishing his brother’s bully, worrying if he’d done the right thing. I did like the reference to lemon drops :)

I think it’s an interesting characterisation of Albus as a “cynical soldier” because people caring for an invalid would feel like that. Albus opening up to Gellert was really well done. I did, however, love the way you had the balance between them and their exchange of influence, such as “However, I believe that fighting and dying in the name of borders someone else has made is idiotic” and ““I would die for this glorious madness.” as well as the subtle slide from a conversation between friends to the kiss.

At times this story does read slightly disjointedly. I know this is essentially snatched moments, and the way you refer to Gellert’s past is clever, but it does come across as disjointed. Nevertheless there are moments, such as the earlier part I quoted about the gun and killing and fear. But the moment of Albus and Gellert kissing was brilliant. It was by far my favourite part of the story. There was something about this boy, who you’d built up as powerful and intelligent being rendered utterly vulnerable by his love for Albus. That moment was very beautiful as was the powerful scene where Albus tells Gellert to leave, and his desperation for Gellert was just as clear as Gellert’s for Albus. I liked Gellert and Aberforth’s decision not to tell Albus, and yet the comment “His eyes turned bleak. Then he graced me with a weak, crooked smile and said quietly, “What right have I to avenge Ariana?” implies Albus knew he had done it. Albus kissing Gellert’s fingers was a beautiful gesture as well.

I’m intrigued that Gellert knew that Albus had died. Somehow I don’t think he would have. I do think Gellert’s view of their relationship is incorrect- it was more than patriotism that bound them together. I also think that the image comparing Gellert when faced with Voldemort and Ariana is slightly off, or at least needs more development. Ariana was completely helpless- and he is not helpless- as he points out he’s grown up and acknowledged his errors which Voldemort can not do. Like I said, I think this story is good but there are moments which are just okay and moments which are brilliant such as ”Voldemort knew nothing of the agony of two sets of fingers seeking each other through iron bars. He knew nothing of crooked, half-shy smiles and easy surrender and falling endlessly with another into that vibrant land of pain and belonging which the wise men called love”. I think you could expand on the conflict between their ideals, their love and Albus’ family more, but it’s still a good story with moments of genuine emotion and beauty. Alex.

Author's Response: Hello, Alex! Thank you for writing to me about the story! It's much appreciated. The interesting thing about the turn of the century politics during the time was the rise of the socio-political movements in different parts of the world. Grindelwald, young and passionate, would have been surrounded by nationalists whatever country on the Continent he had been born in. Britain itself was mostly insular, as you said, but to other nations that were dependent on/ruled by the Commonwealth Empire, which was the largest empire in modern history, anything that happened in Britain was important news. In my part of the world, yes, the term Islanders is commonly used among the older generation (Pre-WWII) to refer to the natives of UK. The hold of the Commonwealth Empire was still strong, it had tremendous influence during the time, and I daresay this is why they referred to this country in this manner despite there being other islands nearby. The term pass out - I admit that I'm in a quandary here. I thought it was officially used to mark the successful completion of a course/training. [http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/pass-out/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pass_out_(disambiguation)] I've seen the term used in formal correspondence in academia too, now that I think of it. Perhaps it is a regional quirk and not proper usage. I'll look into it. My knowledge of Hungary is entirely limited to the theatre. I wouldn't dare expand more on the subject of their conflicting ideals or their love though the ideas seem very intriguing. Writing them once was hard enough. Thank you again for writing to me about the story!

Xanthe, Interrupted by Equinox Chick

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Ten years after her mother's death, Luna Lovegood decides to ask her father what her mother was brewing. Unsatisfied with his reply, she turns to one of his employees, Lavender Brown, and asks for help to investigate the truth.

Lavender is unsure this is a wise course of action, but like Luna, she doesn't quite believe Xenophilius' version of events.

This is Equinox Chick of Hufflepuff and this is my entry in the Mysterious May Great Hall Challenge - prompt Extra Credit.

Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. That shouldn't surprise anyone.

Thank you so much, Gina (Gmariam) for beta'ing this tale and whipping Luna into shape. You are zechadly amazing!

Thank you, Natalie, for suggesting Xanthe's maiden name.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 06/23/11 Title: Chapter 1: Buttercups

I thought it was about time I gave you a review :) As usual for you, this was beautifully written, especially the first section from Xenophilius’ POV. There was something very said and very beautiful from the first sentence and the construction of ‘would’ (mind blank on proper names for tenses- sorry) gave a sense of how often this has happened, and that it will happen the next year. Sorry to quote a huge section but I think this sentence “The colour sparkled in the smeared glasses, reminding her of summer days, buttercup meadows and dancing hand-in-hand in the sunshine” is particularly gorgeous.

I liked the image of Luna growing up- as in she can make eggs properly (most of the time) but her father’s response to her question treats her as if she were a child still, even if he realises it.

I’ve always liked your portrayal of Lavender and here especially, regarding the change in her relationship with Luna as well as Lavender being mature enough, at the end, to admit that she treated Luna badly/ apathetically at school and that she was wrong to do so, especially when Luna was there to look after them all and keep them strong. I meant to go through this chronologically, but I particuraly liked how later you mentioned that it was the first time Lavender had seen tears in Luna’s eyes, and that throughout her time in Hogwarts, Luna was the strong one.

Your Luna is really good as well. I think people have a tendency to write her as the ‘weird friend’ stereotype from sitcoms etc but, partly because this story has more emotional depth, you avoid that, although still embrace her eccentricities. I am quite intrigued as to why she went to Lavender, though. I understand Lavender works for her father and that they grew closer during the war, but I’d be intrigued by Luna’s thought process in making that decision.

I also like the way, from quite early on, you explore the truth and manipulation of it. Obviously Xenophilius has lied to Luna all along by not telling her the truth, but also Lavender in speaking to Xenophilius, says “It wasn’t quite a lie, for Luna had talked about her mum during the quiet hours when they’d been hiding from the Carrows” and, when she decides not to tell Luna the truth, she becomes complicit in his lie as well.

I did find italicising of the flashback slightly unnecessary and I think it threw the story off. You make it very clear that this is happening in the past- pretty seamlessly. However, particularly having recently gone back to my old school, I found your characterisation of both McGonagall and Dumbledore (and the hint of Snape) excellent for most of the story. Lavender is there as an acquaintance/ friend but they were still once her teachers and so there’s the fear and awkwardness from that. I thought it was very McGonagall to want to speak to her Gryffindor alone, although I thought Luna’s walk was more interesting. But I do I love the fact Rita Skeeter has been immortalised as slang for a, presumably, cheap article which is mostly fiction. That was a nice touch.

I like Luna’s Romanticising of their search for the truth as a “quest”. It suited her somehow and whilst I liked Firenze as well as Hagrid’s dialogue, I did think his comment “ “Truth, eh?” Hagrid looked at her furtively. “Causes a whole lot o’ trouble.” ‘ was not very--Hagrid. I don’t know, I just think given that he was expelled because of a lie, and how furious he was when he heard the story the Dursleys told Harry, he would not say something like that. Even though I agree with that, I think that’s a far more Dumbledore, or maybe Firenze, thing to say. The use of the crystal ball, as well as Lavender’s reference to the Battle, did make me smile though.

Like I said before, Luna and Lavender’s relationship was really strong and it was nice that Lavender was willing to watch Luna’s memory when Luna could not. I think (again, here I am quoting) the paragraph “She had to recover, could not let Luna see whatever emotions were wrought on her face. It didn’t matter if Luna saw sadness, but anything else would not be right, not yet. As she pulled herself back to the headmistresses study, she forced her features into an expression of tenderness, and held Luna close.” described that perfectly. It’s something that annoyed me in OOTP/ HBP just how precise the memories were but that is how they are described. The part of the memory scene I liked best though was the grown up Luna actively remembering the memory as she was inside it, if that makes sense.

The last scene was a good way to end it. Although I think the ‘right’ thing to do would be for Lavender to tell Luna, because I think Luna’s made it very clear that she wants the truth, whatever that may be, it is a difficult decision and one which I think Lavender would want to talk over with a non-biased person who probably doesn’t see Luna much (like McGonagall and Dumbledore). I personally think that McGonagall though would probably think Lavender should tell the truth, but that’s a pretty moot point. One thing I did really like was Lavender’s characterisation of Luna as someone who ”retained an innocence that the rest of us lost a long time ago”. That’s very realistic, I think. And also McGonagall’s characterisation of Lavender as a student, and, like I said earlier, Lavender being able to admit that was what she was like.

I didn’t like the last line, at first, until Lavender justified it by saying “not in the world of The Quibbler.” Because as long as you can fool yourself that you don’t have to do something, or that it’s not impossible/ you’ve done the right thing, it isn’t until reality sets in, but Xenophilius doesn’t exactly live in reality. I think Xanthe was probably a more grounded person than he is- deciding to kill yourself rather than have a long drawn out illness (this wasn’t inspired in any way by the recent (excellent in my opinion) Terry Pratchett documentary) is something I’m not sure Xenophilius would be brave enough to accept, and it’s a mark of how much he loved his wife and daughter that he let her do it.

Anyway this was a really interesting, thought-provoking story and while I think the writing did, very, very rarely, drag slightly (which I’ve never read in any of your other stories) I think this must have been a difficult story to get right, and you did a brilliant job. Alex

Author's Response: Thank you, Alex. Wow, that's quite a review! Okay, point by point ...

Id be intrigued by Lunas thought process in making that decision.

Her thought process was along these lines. Lavender works for her dad and has a good relationship with him. She's also a journalist and investigates things. I think Luna knows that if she'd asked Hermione or Harry, then they'd say no. Hermione tends not to want to upset the applecart. It's possible that Ginny would have helped her, but Lavender is a bit more unscrupulous - in my mind. Anyway, because Lavender in my personal canon is a journalist, I thought she was the best person, but I can see why she wouldn't be the first choice as Luna's confidant.

I do disagree about Hagrid. To me he seems to spend a lot of time avoiding truth even though he does know that in the end it's for the best. He hides so many things - Aragog, Norbert, Grawp - and somehow I think he will continue to do that.

Should Lavender have told Luna? I'm not sure. She wants Luna to know the truth, as does McGonagall, but she wants Xenophilius to tell her. Luna is strong enough to face her mother's death, but not necessarily strong enough to face up to the fact that her dad has not been telling her the truth. If you look at the Erumpet Horn incident, she still refuses to believe Hermione's version that the horn exploded. She believes her dad's story that the horn is a Snorkack and that it will mend. If Xeno does tell her the truth, she'll accept that, but not if she has to hear it from someone else.

I agree that it dragged in places. Fact was, I found this blooming difficult to write. Luna makes me want to tear my hair out in frustration - ha ha - I was very close to scrapping the whole lot at 3k, but something kept me writing. (I think it was bringing the teachers in; I always like writing McG and Dumbles)

Ha - the last line. I wretled with that and you seem to have read things into it that I didn't see. Basically I wanted to have a dig at Meyer and her sparkly vamps. But there is a subtext here, I suppose, in that Xenophilius has always struck me as someone far more fanciful after his wife died. So, he helped kill her and then had to invent fantastical things to believe in. The reality of life for him was horrible, so he created an escape for him and Luna. Hmm, I'm getting all deep now. I would write some more, but Luna drives me nuts. Give me Lavender and Blaise anyday.

Thank you very very much for the in-depth review. Much appreciated. ~Carole~

Lacuna Mentis by hestiajones

Rated: 3rd-5th Years • Past Featured Story
Summary: There were blind spots in his mind. They said he might recover the lost memories; they also said there was a high possibility he might not. Along came a girl, and everything changed.

Warning: This story is originally rated Professors, for the bunch of warning tags applicable to it. The rating has been changed temporarily only because we're having some technical problem with stories that have higher ratings. So, please click at your own discretion.

This story is written for ToBeOrNot..../Jess, my close friend and one of the most gifted writers I know. O Believer of Rarepairs, this is my fluff-free, dark and angsty present for you.

Winner of this year's QSQ Best Dark/Angsty and nominated for Best General!

DISCLAIMER: I am not J.K.Rowling. I highly doubt she ships this ship.

PLEASE DO NOT READ THE REVIEWS before reading the fic.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 07/24/11 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Wow, Natalie. This review won't be long because I'm going to head right on to the next chapter and there's nothing really more to say about it except that that was amazing. Hopefully I'll be a bit more coherent/ detailed when I review the next chapters. Alex

Author's Response: Hello!

I am glad my story is keeping you interested enough to head on to the next chapter ASAP! Thanks for the R&R.


Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 07/24/11 Title: Chapter 3: Chapter 3

Wow. Lost my internet for a bit there when I was on the edge of my seat. That was amazing. I love the way you took three characters who seem perfectly possible within canon and yet expand them. I particularly love your Theo. Using the first person for him, making us sympathise with him even more, made the reveal at the end all the more dark.

His language was much more emotional than Padma's- her's was so clinical and philosophical, except when she wipes the tear and just the effort to lay those plans and get away with it.

I'm sorry to be short/ incoherent but that was deliciously dark, intelligent and thought provoking without ever seeming pretentious or glossed over in any way. Wow. Alex

Author's Response: Sorry for the late response, but I want to thank for leaving another review! :) I'm glad you liked it overall and found it thought provoking. Thanks, too, for the comment on the differences between Theo's and The Healer's POV. I'm super happy you noted it!


When the River Runs Uphill by bunnyzilla

Rated: 6th-7th Years •

There are suitors at my door
Six or eight or maybe more
And my father wants me wed
Or at least that's what he said.

And I told him that I will
When the river runs uphill
And the fish begin to fly
Or the day before I die.

Daphne Greengrass lives in a home that harbors no love, only motives. Pansy Parkinson is trapped in a marriage with a man she hardly knows. Moral dilemmas are rather unpleasant things, especially when you have to chose between yourself and those you hold closest.

Nominated for a 2011 Quicksilver Quill! Thank you~

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 08/29/11 Title: Chapter 1: Suitors At My Door

I was intrigued by your summary for this story and am very glad I clicked to read it. I liked the way you took two Slytherin characters, who we only ever see from Harry’s POV, and made them very realistic. I thought the first paragraph in particular gave a great insight into Daphne’s attitude to her sister and her family in general, without being too much ‘telling’. You used quite a simplistic sentence structure, which would have been boring had you used it throughout but as a first paragraph was very effective. One thing I questioned was the word “gotten” at the end of the first paragraph, because that sounds very American to me and therefore awkward within the first person narrative of an English narrator.

Your description of Pansy was also clever in that, whilst you don’t go against canon in claiming her to be a beautiful, intelligent witch (which, amazingly, some stories do), you show her through Daphne’s eyes, which despite her denials are very rose-tinted. I found, given how strong Daphne feels for Pansy, the fact that Pansy didn’t realise Daphne didn’t just want to not marry an ugly guy, but didn’t want to marry a guy full stop, slightly odd, though this does prefigure Pansy’s marriage, I think some development about this fracture would have been interesting. Having said that I loved th e idea that Daphne wanted to fall in love/ wanted to marry Blaise but knew it was pointless- the phrase “Her words yearned to reach my ears, struggling with all their might, but failed to get through and melted away resignedly into a puddle on the floor.” being particularly poignant.

I found the conversation between Daphne and her father slightly forced, although I did enjoy Astoria’s interjections and Daphne’s description of the ring on Astoria’s finger. I think its because it seems a bit abrupt- going from Pansy and her talking, and there doesn’t seem to be a particular trigger for them to have this conversation now, as opposed to after one of the other suitors, if that makes sense. I also thought a Slytherin like Daphne, even if she is in denial about her own feelings, would be more careful than to say “I will marry when Pansy no longer meets me for lunch” and the way you continue to characterise her does imply she’s careful, so it seemed a bit off.

A first kiss is so often wildly romanticised although in this case there has been enough of a build up for this to be somewhat justified. However I thought your acknowledgement and rejection of those cliches by saying “There were no fireworks. The world didn't stand still. Time didn't freeze, and things continued as they were. The universe moved on, but I didn't mind one bit. I was too busy kissing Pansy.” was very clever, and a beautiful piece of writing. The mention of the universe not standing still also somehow led in nicely to the short quick sections which follow, and the development of Pansy and Daphne’s relationship into being an almost entirely sexual one rather than that of friends or even, actually, a couple.

I sympathised throughout this story with Daphne, and found Pansy very hypocritical as she herself is married (I like the way you never state that, her husband just gets casually mentioned instead) and also her reaction an over-reaction. I think its realistic or someone who isn’t actually that nice, but found it a bit of a surprise. I did like the way its suddenly Pansy wanting a reconciliation rather than Daphne, as Daphne has always seemed- not the weaker but the less confident/ more immature member of the couple and this was an active decision on her part not to reconcile.

I loved the description “Rings are like leeches. They suck away more of your life the longer they are attached to your finger, and they encourage shocked stares from anybody who looks close enough. “ I think its images like this, and others which I’ve quoted earlier, which make this such a powerful story, and what will make me keep an eye out for any future stories you may write.

It was rather disingenuous for Daphne to blame her father for forcing her decision, even if she did accept that she was a coward she doesn’t really accept her own decisions which is rather sad. But the ending was very powerful. She’s always been a muted character except when with Pansy, and simultaneously denies her ability to feel love or pain, which made the penultimate sentence “I felt pain” all the more poignant. It’s a very visual and painful, almost self-punishment, way to kill herself, which I think fits with the self-loathing she obviously feels at the end. It’s a very sad, but fitting ending, to an excellent story I think more background, rather than just the acceptance of homosexuality being disapproved of, to that would have been interesting- as in whether families like the Weasleys/ Longbottoms are more accepting of homosexuality and whether within the wizarding world there was a possibility of Pansy and Daphne having a life together. But overall this was an excellent story which I thoroughly enjoyed. Alex

Author's Response: First of all, thank you so much for writing sucha comprehensive review! You know, this kind of feedback is every writer's dream. XD I can see what you're saying about the conversation between Daphne and her father being forced. Most of their interactions were difficult to write and I was never quite happy with the way they turned out. That also makes sense that Daphne wouldn't be so obvious about her relationship with Pansy, but at that point in they are only friends, so it wouldn't bring unwanted attention compared to if she had said it later into the story. Oh, yes, the kiss! I really do despise such cliches, and they make me rather irritated. I can't help myself, but when I read them, I can't help thinking, "Oh really? Does exploring your significant other's mouth honestly make the world disappear? I think that's 'cause you closed your eyes, buddy." Pansy does become rather hypocritical as the story goes on. To me, it's kind of a combination of her own personality and the simple selfishness of love. Thank you for the kind words about my phrases! They're quite a lot of fun to write. :) When it comes to the issue of homosexuality, I really just wanted to avoid that as much as possible. I think it really takes away from the story when the characters start going on about "being gay" rather than just loving who they do. And I'm sorry if this comes off as rude, but who cares what the Longbottoms think about homosexuality? There are simply two girls in love, why do we need to know everybody else's opinions? I don't think that everybody needs to have a stance on things, people just live. Once again, thank you for your *wonderful* review. I really do respect your opinions and evaluations, and I hope I didn't come off otherwise. ~Katie

Is Draco Malfoy a Git? by Northumbrian

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: This important question needs to be answered. Reputations are at stake.
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 08/16/11 Title: Chapter 1: At the Wizard Courts

I don't mind not getting a verdict! I don't normally read humour (and I don't think Draco is a git- well he was at fifteen but he grew up) but this was very funny. The reason I clicked on it at all was because of your chapter notes regarding libel laws, where I agree with you entirely and it is something that more people should have an opinion/ want to do something about.

But aside from that and regarding the actual story this was brilliant. I liked the way it seemed rather dry and formal at first but then the opinions of Wooley started influencing his speech, and it was a good way of summarising what could have been quite a long story.

I also liked the names- they seemed very Dickensian, and the etymology was very interesting, as well as the (quite easy to do- my gran was getting them mixed up in a crossword just an hour ago) confusion of etymologist and entomologist.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this and it made me laugh. Thanks, Alex

Author's Response: Alex
Thanks for the review. UK libel laws are dreadful, its only a shame that the LibDems appear to have forgotten their pre-election promise to do something about it.
Regarding Draco: Fifteen? At sixteen Draco was busily (and ineptly) trying to kill Dumbledore and almost killing two innocent students instead. At seventeen, well, Harry deals with that in his evidence.
The names were deliberately Dickensian and JKR is extremely fond of word play (to shun the pike is to avoid a toll road or travel by the back-roads). This was fun and silly, and the sole intention was to make people laugh.

Two Halves by KaleidoscopeKate

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Fred and George, in all of their irresistible sexiness, decide to ask out the Patil twins, but the date is a flop. Years later, two half-sets of twins remain alive and begin a reluctant friends
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 08/17/11 Title: Chapter 1: I Don't Have a Raisin

I thought the premise of your story in the summary sounded very interesting and so was eager to read it. However I was slightly concerned that it was in the humour category, given that you imply after the war an obviously very damaged George would reunite with Padma/ Parvati depending on which one you decide to kill off. That doesn't sound to me like a humorous set up but since this is the first chapter I cannot tell whether you will continue with the light-hearted, relaxed tone that you establish here.

One thing I liked about the chapter was the dialogue, which sounded very naturalistic. You used only a few words to describe the tone of their voices which was simple but effective throughout, as was your introduction with the twins. A minor note about dialogue punctuation, however. When dialogue finishes, if the next part does not use a dialogue tag (i.e a “saying” word) then the dialogue should finish in a dash rather than a comma. That is, in your first sentence “All right, mate,” Fred patted his twin on the back” it should be “All right, mate.” Fred patter his twin on the back.” It is a minor point, but one you can easily fix.

Another minor point is that spells are generally italicised, but as long as you’re consist this wouldn’t really bother me. What does sound odd is that George casts a spell without a wand. I mean he’s been a wizard all his life, I think he’d find it odd to say a spell word without a wand in his hand. Also “Stupefy” is quite harsh- it is intended to knock the person unconscious, given George just wants Fred to ask the Patils on a date with them. I also think, given it is Fred and George, it might be a spell that’s more amusing- a Tickle Charm or something like that.

I do like the banter between Fred and George, but I think it would be good to establish a sense of location in your story. Since they’re asking the Patil twins out, they must still be at Hogwarts and since the Patil twins are in different houses, are not in the Gryffindor common room. Although you mention they are in a corridor, this is relatively a long way into your chapter. I think establishing it earlier would give the reader a clearer sense of where the Weasley twins are talking.

Also since the Patil twins are in different houses, therefore probably have slightly different friendship groups, I think you should mention that the twins have seen the Patils i.e there won’t be a particular place where they can always find them. I also found it slightly odd that the twins were studying in an alcove. Surely, given this is a boarding school, a spare classroom or the library would be more suitable?

I do like the banter between Fred and George, particularly regarding them being sexy. However so far you’ve only got Fred and George’s word for it, later confirmed by the Patils, that they are. I know this is fanfiction so anyone on MNFF will have an idea of what the Weasley twins are like, but I think it would be good to have some narration describing them and describing them so we don’t have just the twins word for it. I know attraction is in the eye of the beholder, but I think it would be nice to have a slightly less biased voice establish that they’re like this.

I found this sentence “Padma's eyes never left hers.” slightly confusing. You’ve just said Parvati looked back at the Potions text book, so does this mean Padma is staring at her sister? Surely at the twins would be more likely. Also, given that the Weasleys are two years than the Patils this, usually, means the Patils will be more inclined to say yes. I think if you’d gone into a bit more detail about this dynamic than that would have made a fuller and more interesting scenario.

I also don’t understand how Padma staring at them with mild disgust causes Forge to think “This was perfect. Almost too perfect”. It felt as if there was a bit of dialogue or thought process missing, rather than flowing naturally on. As another minor nitpick- you can’t sigh silently. Or, at least, I’ve never heard it happen, so Padma and Parvati would obviously notice his relief. Given you then switch from the Weasleys POV to the Patils, this would be a good point to do it, as well as add some narration about how the Patils feel about being asked on a date by older, handsome people who are not only on the Quidditch team but famous mischief makers (particularly since this is during OOTP?). If you establish this it would also make the last line more built up towards and more amusing.
br> Like i said, your strength is naturalistic and amusing dialogue, which I thoroughly enjoyed. However I think by adding narration, the character’s thoughts and a sense of location this story could be improved. I will definitely be reading the next chapter.


The Girl Who Loved Tom Riddle by The computer is an enigma

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Before he became the Dark Lord, he had been student like any other.
Before it was a sin, it had been a house like any other.
Before it all had ripped her to pieces, she had been a girl like any other.

People change. Sometimes for the worse.

This is the story of Hogwarts when Tom Riddle was there, and how the lure of the Dark Arts led him, and the people he dragged in his wake, to madness.


Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 08/17/11 Title: Chapter 1: Prologue

This is a highly intriguing and very well written start. I'm interested in Nella, in the detached way she talks about her friendship with Myrtle, which makes me trust her narratorial voice a lot more than I would if it were passionate. It also creates a sense of distance which, particularly in the last line, that you acknowledge that she is speaking from a definite point in the future, rather than just reminisces. It's interesting that we already now so much about Nella, her attitude to her parents, to magic and to Myrtle.

One minor nitpick- Myrtle says "Mom" which is oddly jarring as that is very much an Americanism.

I am also intrigued by the italics. I suspect that that's Tom Riddle but I'm not sure. Anyway I'll be reading the next chapter with great interest. Alex

Author's Response: Thank you for understanding exactly what this prologue was about! And yikes... I must have missed that 'Mom' part. I'll sneak an edit later when I have the time. I believe that the proper replacement would be 'mum', but that's only from my limited knowledge of British English. At any rate, I'll do my best to fix it. Thanks for pointing it out! As for the italics, that's just a way of introducing the memory. You were right about Nella narrating the prologue from a time in the future, so think of the italics as her 'glimpse into the past'. It's a bit of what happened before, kind of like taking a look into the Pensive. That's my best explanation. xD The rest will become clear when you read the first chapter. As for Tom Riddle, he doesn't play a role here... yet. *wink*

Pulled from the Shadows by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor

Rated: 6th-7th Years •

All her life, Tracey Davis had been good at one thing: staying out of the way of history. Yet as the Carrows sank their claws further and further into the heart of Hogwarts, it became increasingly difficult to remain unnoticed, no matter which side she was supposedly on.

When times are dark and the future uncertain, one must choose between silence and damnation. But could Neville Longbottom convince an oft-overlooked Slytherin girl that she is more than the sum of her house?

This story has been nominated for a 2012 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best General Story.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 09/27/11 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Jess- I think I said on LJ how much I loved this story, so I thought it deserved a review. Firstly I just want to say how well you integrated the lyrics of the song into it. It’s often difficult to have a broad introduction, but you pulled it off. I particularly liked the line “I did what any sane Slytherin girl would do: I stayed out of the way and did as I was told.” because that does not make her a bad person, though several Gryffindor types might assume it does.

One thing I particularly loved about your story was your characterisation of other houses as being prejudiced against Slytherins, whilst it was unfair for them to be so, such as the small detail about Ernie Macmillan becoming “increasingly vicious” by forcing Slytherins who were not actively fighting to be have to listen to the Carrows enforcing punishment, as well as later with the detail about Neville (which I will expand on more later on). I loved the contrast, however, between Tracey listening to the screams and then having to be confronted with Seamus Finnigan, and the line, “in my wildest imaginings, I couldn’t have brought him this low, which was likely why my Dark Arts score was hovering dangerously close to Troll. Just the sight of it made me forget that Professor Carrow was watching me stare.” I hate portrayals of Slytherins as all enjoying the torture, and this brilliantly reversed that, showing that they are not all onboard with violence, which is never mentioned as a Slytherin trait (although power is). Also the contrast between Tracey’s very physical reaction (turning pale/ wanting to vomit) and the description of Carrow as ‘nonchalantly’ returning to his office.

I loved the entrance of Neville, not the shy Neville from the other books, but a war-torn, hardened Neville who assumes that Tracey is behind Seamus’ injuries, and his surprise when he realises that Tracey has been helping Neville. I loved the little detail about how she “had to hold off the snide smile that threatened to form on my face. Served him right for assuming that I’d done it”. It really fleshes out Tracey’s character.

When Tracey has to go to Carrow’s office, I didn’t quite realise what she meant when she said “I knew what he wanted”, but I think it works better if the reader takes a while to catch up to it, because it makes her standing up to him all the more heroic, although also showing “a streak of defiance” which is both Gryffindor and Slytherin, and her knowledge that it is foolhardy when she says she utters “one damning syllable.” I also liked the detail that “Less than twenty-hour hours before, I might even have given in to him” which just shows how much her encounter with Neville and Seamus has changed her, without you directly saying so.

The description of the Cruciatus Curse was also very well done, and I think given your story its important not to gloss over the details of that. Your description of her contrasting this to what others had suffered, when she is confronted with Neville, is also very physical, when you say “The torture didn’t matter, because he did that to nearly everyone, but the thought of the rest made my stomach heave.” The fact that Snape is the one who saves her also makes your Slytherins far more three dimensional than they usually are in one-shots like this. The difference between Slytherin and Gryffindor, however, is perfectly encapsulated by the lines “That was why I would’ve done it all again. Not because it was moral, but because it made me imagine myself to be better than I ever had been.”

I think since, as readers of the Harry Potter books, we know that everything is going to be all right in the end, and that there will be a battle, just because that’s what DH is leading up to. So when Tracey said that “Until that moment, joining the fray had not even occurred to me” it was rather surprising, but exactly how most people in that room would feel as was the line “To give up Potter seemed like the most natural thing in the world,” particularly since that line didn’t make me hate Tracey, as in DH Pansy stating the same thing made me hate her, because you’d built up her fear of being hurt and the reader’s empathy for her so well.

And onto Neville. I think its interesting that in their reviews Katrina and Gina both really like Neville, when I found him (brilliantly) rather dark and manipulative. I think that last kiss, far from encouraging Tracey, is forcing her and playing on her love for him into doing something that she is, and he knows she is, incapable of doing. I think what’s interesting, and not really developed in the Harry Potter books (aside from Dumbledore), is how doing the Right Thing can turn someone into a bit of a monster, and I think you showed that perfectly, by describing the kiss and her final conversation with Neville in such detail. I would quote all of it. However I’ll just quote the last time, as throughout it has been Tracey’s physical reactions which have mostly defined her personality and increased our empathy for her, particularly when you say: “And I truly was sorry. I was sorry he put any sort of faith in me, sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to live up to it, sorry that what was likely the last time I would see him had to leave a bitter, salty taste in my mouth.” I think that is a brilliant way to end that section, although my only crit would be that parts of it are a tad wordy, and it may read better: “And I truly was sorry, Sorry he put any sort of faith in me, sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to live up to it, sorry what in all likelihood” (just because the ‘that’ and ‘what’ together sounded clumsy) ‘was the last time I would see him left a ...”.

Things have to end a certain way- it was wrong for her to have stayed (though if canonically all the Slytherins did leave then that’s my redemption for Theodore Nott and Daphne Greengrass out of the window- though I do have them arguing with McGonagall about their motives in staying). So your ending was brilliant. I’m sorry this review isn’t that critical, but I’m blaming your story being far too good for that :) I loved the going into the present tense at the end, and her admittance that “I am a coward” as well as the poignant last sentence “I pray to myself that Neville Longbottom might live long enough to hate me forever” make for an excellent ending. In addition- a very minor point- its an Arcade Fire song (though I think in my rambling list of prompts I was suggesting Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire songs, so easy mistake to make). Alex

Author's Response:

Yayyyyyy! I love it when I write something and the giftee actually likes it. :D

Anyway, my response, as it is half seven in the morning and I need to sleep, will be short and slightly stupid, but here goes. You *got* the person I wanted Tracy to be in the story. She is the ultimate wallflower, hanging out in the shadows (which, upon reflection, made more sense for a title and slightly less angsty, hehe) and keeping out of the way. And she was happy there. I picture her as one of the unseen victims of the escalating danger at Hogwarts as the years of the series wore on. As a girl with no remarkable talent and a diminutive personality, she is ripe for being sucked into the dark doings of the worst of her housemates.

I think you nailed Neville as well. Seeing the series from Harry's POV, someone who couldn't fathom not fighting for the cause, we sometimes forget that there were some Puffs and Claws who didn't stay to fight who could've done. Not everyone has a proverbial pair when it comes to violence. Maybe, having seen a hint of this violence via the Carrows, Tracey might've realised her lack of tolerance of violence before she thought about staying to battle. Neville might not have understood this, because his friends are all in the DA, all of whom (save for The Git) stayed to fight. He had no idea that he was manipulating her because, for him, right and wrong were determined by a different set of variables. 

The scene in Carrow's office was one I would not have written for any other SPEWer save for maybe Ariana. It was intense and scary and one of the few times someone could say 'Thank Merlin for Snape' with a straight face. I believe that there had to be some underlying evil inside of Carrow for all of Ravenclaw Tower to watch him being tortured and barely flinch. Yes, he was a bit sadistic, but we never truly knew how far that went when he was a bit too drunk on the power the Dark Lord gave him.

Ultimately, though, she was never going to stay. She fancied the idea of being heroic and even thought she was capable of more, but in the end, selflessness and sacrifice had never truly been enough a part of her influences to make staying a logical thing to do. But her run-ins with Neville changed her just enough that she hates herself for not being braver.

Anyway, I"m out of ramble and this was probably not enlightening in the slightest. I fixed the Arcade/Arctic thing (>.<). Thank you for the lovely review. 


Waiting by hestiajones

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Summary: There was something beautiful about the sight in front of her: the pink and orange splashed on the sky, the tall trees fighting for prominence against the lavish background, and the gentle swaying of curtains that were being teased by the zephyr. Dorea thought, this is the perfect moment to die.

This story was written for the Great Bannermakers' Hall Challenge. Thanks to lullaby BANG for her amazing banner, which may be found here: http://i55.tinypic.com/mbk6eu.jpg.

Thanks to Croll/Equinox Chick for beta-reading this, helping me with historical facts, and giving me encouragement and support! I don't think I could have done this without you.

Disclaimer: I am not JKRowling. Also, a word about canon: Charlus Potter and Dorea Black married and had a son, but it is not known if it was James (and various other canon info actually suggest it was not him.)
Reviewer: welshdevondragon Signed
Date: 10/16/11 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Oh Natalie. I've been meaning to read this for a while, and I had intended on leaving a lovely long SPEW review, but I find that I'm just too squeeing to do so. I love the way you introduced it with May 1977, and then finished the same way, so that all the memories, plus the readers knowledge that Dorea marries Charlus and not Issac, feel all the more poignant. I don't believe that you wrote this in three hours. I think you're lying. It flows well, and the instability of Dorea's relationship with Issac is so good.

It's also something that- its impossible to write a story set in the late thirties, particularly one involving a Muggle, without the reader knowing that war is about to break out, and you use the reader's foreknowledge excellently.

This is so good, and this is a rambling review, but particular moments I loved were Issac and Dorea's playfullness, the moment that Issac's son drowns and Charlus thinks its his son still, the realisation that Issac is at war, and is not coming back. And, no matter how much she loved Issac, I loved the line 'There was guilt, too' showing she did care for Charlus, and felt guilty about how she'd treated him.

Anyway, if you haven't gathered from that incoherent mess, I loved this story. Alex

Author's Response: Alex! Oh gods, I am terribly sorry for the late reply. When I get amazing reviews, I am usually too overwhelmed to reply instantly, and then I forget. >.< >.< I am happy you liked it. :D It was written in a fit of insane inspiration and "motivation" and I am still shocked it came out readable. Thank you for the wonderful review!