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Mistletoe Kisses by Northumbrian

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Five years separate two kisses and two girls, a redhead, and a blonde. A lot can change in five years.
I am Northumbrian from Ravenclaw House, and this is my entry for the February Love challenge in the Great Hall - category First Love - at the MNFF beta boards.
Reviewer: tagriffy Signed
Date: 08/31/11 Title: Chapter 1: Mistletoe Kisses

First, let me say I love your entire cycle of post-DH stories. They are the best I have read, and "Mistletoe Kisses" is one of my favorites. I like it so much because I feel like Neville and Ginny's "romance" not only COULD have happened, but MUST have. All we needed was someone to show us that.

There is a small problem that needs a little work though. Ginny had to ask Neville which bed belonged to Harry, but she should have already known which one was his. After all, she was there the previous school year stealing Tom Riddle's diary back. And it won't do to say that she was under Riddle's influence. She stole the diary back because she had panicked, not because Riddle called to her. Indeed, Riddle was furious with her, which is why he brought her down into the Chamber of Secrets. See Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets chapters 14 and 17.

The problem could potentially be solved by simply cutting out that part of the conversation, unless you have something further planned based on the scene.

Author's Response: Thanks for the review.
Mistletoe Kisses is one of my least read stories, and Im glad that you think Neville and Ginnys Yule Ball date could have happened.
You are, of course quite correct, I had my error pointed out some time ago and I rewrote that section in February of this year. I was convinced that I had submitted the amended version. I havent. I will do that as soon as the queue reopens on Sunday. I hope that you approve of the changes.

Aurors and Schoolgirls by Northumbrian

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
The Wizarding War is over.

Auror training has begun and Harry and Ron find that their lives are centred round London and the Ministry of Magic.

For Ginny and Hermione there is the inevitable return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Their lives are centred round schooling in Scotland.

Do these divided duos have different destinations and divergent destinies? When, where and how can these parted pairings meet? Opportunities are limited to holidays, Hogsmeade visits and school Quidditch matches.

Nominated for: Best Post-Hogwarts (Chaptered) story - Quicksilver Quills 2012

Reviewer: tagriffy Signed
Date: 04/06/13 Title: Chapter 1: Quidditch: Rejection, Selection

I really like Luna's deconstruction of the house stereotypes, both for the deconstruction itself and because it was Luna who did it. Like all of Luna's pertinently painful pronouncements, she is spot on in her remarks. One is reminded that Harry used "Slytherin cunning" enough times to entirely justify the Sorting Hat's suggestion Harry would do well in that House. Or that Harry would eventually characterize Snape as the bravest man he ever knew.

Whether you intended it or not, the placement of Luna's pronouncement is particularly brilliant. Just a few chapters ago, you showed Fenella and her family plotting their break-in of the Ministry in one of the best displays of "Slytherin cunning" in HP fanfiction (simply because they did it so unconsciously). Now, going forward, the reader can't just put on their "Slytherin cunning" lens as we watch them make their attempt. Luna's deconstruction of the trope the reader can't do that anymore. Succeed or fail, are these kids "brave," "cunning," "clever," or "hardworking"? The answer is now all of the above and none of the above. Like Harry, they were just doing what they needed to do the best way they knew how to do it. The label that gets put on it will be due to preconceived notions and/or whether they actually succeed.

Luna was absolutely the best character to use for the deconstruction of the House stereotypes. Character-wise, whatever it is that makes Luna "Loopy Loony Lovegood" utterly removes the socio-cultural blinders other people have. (I've noticed one of your motifs is to use Luna when you need someone who can think outside the box.) Just as pertinent, Luna herself is a "victim" of these stereotypes. She is one of "six brave youngsters" because most of her friends were in Gryffindors. Yet if it wasn't for Luna's "Ravenclaw cleverness," those "six brave youngsters" would have never gotten to the Ministry in the first place!

Another stroke of brilliance was Harry's insistence that Fenella didn't do anything "really dangerous" during the War. Sorry Harry, but in real life espionage amounts to little more than what Fenella did. If she had gotten caught, we would have seen precisely how dangerous her work really was. Again, the brilliance is in the placement. We had earlier seen that Harry starting down the road of clearing his judgment of Slytherins when he complimented their Quidditch tactics. Now we see he still has a way to go. You deserve kudos for making Harry evolve realistically, which should naturally involve missteps along the way.

I hope you will be able to get back to this story soon. I have an idea where you're headed with the Veritaserum questions. I am anxious to see if I am right or to find out what I missed.

Author's Response:
Thanks for all of the lengthy reviews. I’ll try to do justice to them.

Luna is great at pointing out uncomfortable truths. You’re right about the Slytherin kids, too. If you asked them, they’d tell you that it isn’t cunning or bravery, it’s merely a necessity. I’m really glad that you picked up on that, and it makes me feel guilty that it’s such a long time since I updated this story. You will, eventually, find out what they discover.

Harry does tend to underestimate some people (and not only Ginny). To be fair, he has been influenced by both Hagrid and Ron, and his reaction to Slytherins is an almost automatic response. It is my belief that Snape’s actions are merely the beginning of Harry coming to terms with the fact that Slytherin does not equal evil. His problem is that he tends not to listen to his more liberal friend, Hermione. I used Luna because, unlike Hermione, she doesn’t go on about stuff. Hermione lectures, and demands that Harry agrees with her position because it’s right, and Harry doesn’t like that. Luna makes a statement, and makes him think.

I’m glad to hear that someone has an idea about where I’m headed with the Veritaserum. I really hope that you’re right, because that means I’ve laid just enough clues.


Unspeakable by C_A_Campbell, Northumbrian

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Summary: Unspeakable, Michael Corner, is researching time, events, and probabilities. While testing his newly-invented RANDOM system, he stumbles upon an unspeakable possibility. Former supporters of Voldemort, all acquitted for their crimes, are dying of so-called natural causes. Intrigued by the possibility that these events might be connected, Michael investigates farther. But what he discovers will test him and raise questions that all his probabilities cannot answer for him.

What is justice? And what is unspeakable cruelty?

This is C_A_Campbell/thegirllikeme and Northumbrian of Ravenclaw writing for the 2011 Mysterious May Challenge in the Great Hall, Prompt 4.
Reviewer: tagriffy Signed
Date: 04/11/13 Title: Chapter 7: Shattered Souls

I love it when a story is good enough to raise philosophical questions like "What is justice?" without bashing readers over the head. Who is right, Michael or Marlene? You and C_A_Campbell wisely only chose to hint, while leaving room for the reader to form their own conclusion.

Having Michael take all that time to seek out Mulciber first was an excellent way of melding plot and character. Certainly, it was crucial to the plot for Michael to know how to get to Mulciber. I don't think any reader would have expected Michael to warn Alecto first, but it does seem unexpected for the otherwise logical person Micheal is supposed to be to waste time on the least expected potential victim. That is, until we realize Michael was, in fact, trying to waste time. "It did not take me long to decide. It had to be Mulciber. It was easy for me to justify my decision." Yes, it certainly was easy for Michael to justify his decision. As we watch him delay meeting Carrow day after day, we come to realize that all his reasoning was just a way to fool himself. Certainly he feared facing Alecto, but possibly, just possibly, he was hoping the murderer would succeed. Extra kudos for having Michael question himself on that point. Does this make Michael a coward? Possibly. Does this make Michael human? Absolutely!

There is a couple minor discrepancies in the "Those with shattered souls list" of the final chapter. First, Mulciber is not listed at all, though we have reason in the story to believe he was on the list the whole time. Second, the first chapter clearly says that Alecto Carrow was added to the list; Marlene simply decided to kill her before the others already on it. One would think that, if the list is in order of her intended kills, Alecto's name should be between Lucius Malfoy and Marlene Brocklehurst.

The RANDOM system is a great concept; I hope you use it again in the future. Perhaps you should have revealed the note of caution attached to the system's prediction. I'm having some problems figuring out why the system predicted Alecto as the most likely next target considering Marlene's decision to kill her next was itself almost random (if you'll pardon the pun). Mind you, it makes perfect literary sense to have a chiastic prediction to warning order. It just seems to me that Marlene making the decision on the spot to kill Alecto next is exactly the kind of variable that should have thrown off the result of Michael's calculations.

Author's Response:
Thanks for the review.

Given that C_A_Campbell (Chante) and I wrote this story in extreme haste in order to meet a challenge deadline, I’m still surprised how well it all fits together. In some ways it is a polite discussion between Chante and me about the nature of justice. We wrote alternative chapters, and passed them over to the other for correction. This was mostly beta reading, but I was allowed to rewrite Michael's dialogue and attitudes in her chapters, and she was allowed to rewrite Marley's in mine.

Until I wrote this, the only Michael story I’d written was his chapter of Tales of the Battle (Cornered) and that gave me the background I needed for my flawed and sometimes irrational investigator. We made the decision to keep the story morally vague early in the process of plotting, and I’m very glad we did.

The closing date for the competition was a few days after I went on holiday, and the final chapter was the only one we (sort of) co-wrote. I wrote the first draft (I think – it’s a while ago now) and sent it to Chante who rewrote it and submitted it in time for the deadline. This is one of those stories I would dearly love to rewrite. There are two reasons why I haven’t. First, I’ve tried to contact Chante and she doesn’t reply. It’s possible that the e-mail address I have for her is now invalid. I even tried to track her down via HPFF (she was a member there too but, like me, she was banned. I really hope that wasn’t my fault. :-( I gave her permission to post this story on HPFF without crediting me as co-author, because I’d been banned. I did warn her that she'd probably get banned if they found out. Second, to be honest, not many people read this story. A minor-character based mystery simply isn’t very popular. I keep looking at it, and thinking about a rewrite, but given the number of reads, and the fact that Chante hasn’t given me permission…

The RANDOM system makes a brief appearance in Strangers at Drakeshaugh, and it will be back in that story soon (when I again abandon Jacqui as a narrator and again give readers a glimpse into what’s really going on). Why did it predict Alecto? Would you believe it was magic? :-D


Hunters and Prey by Northumbrian

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
February 2000 Newly Qualified (in record time) Auror Harry Potter remains obsessed with “The List.” The ten people still wanted for their part in the Battle of Hogwarts. Their capture is essential. It will bring closure to the events of the past few years. Harry has set himself a target. He wants to see “The Last Death Eater” and the other nine captured before the second Anniversary of the battle. His attempts to meet his target will bring heartbreak, danger, pain, and a lifechanging injury for one former DA member.

Nominated for: Best Post-Hogwarts (Chaptered) story - Quicksilver Quills 2012

Reviewer: tagriffy Signed
Date: 04/09/13 Title: Chapter 17: Prey: Lioness Snarls, Badger Baited

This chapter, in my opinion, is not up to your usual standards. It reads like you wanted to do something, couldn't find a good way of doing it, and so just wound up pulling something out of your hat. The result is a plot bunny gone horribly awry.

I don't see any particular reason why Harry and Ginny's Patronuses should change. Nevertheless, I'm not particularly opposed that you did it; I have grave problems with the way you did it. Much of this episode does not really mesh with what we see in canon. Some of it doesn't even flow naturally from what you have already done in the story. Taken together, these factors break my willing suspension of disbelief.

The problems with canon. Legilimency, Patronus changes, and even potions don't seem to act these ways in the books. Despite the movies, a Leiglimens does not actively interact with whatever they see inside their target's head. While there is canon support (barely, depending on how you interpret it) for a Legilimens seeing a dream, Legilimency is portrayed, at most, as seeing what in the head of the target. A Pensieve journey made directly into the other person's mind. And a physical injury sustained by what happens in the dream? I thought this was Harry Potter, not A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I suppose a fight with Freddy Krueger ... sorry, dream Dementors ... would be enough of "a great shock ... an emotional upheaval" (HBP 16) that it would change one or both Harry and Ginny's Patronuses. But would their Patronuses change at the same time into the same creature? A creature that is not readily connected to each other? I could easily accept that Harry's Patronus becomes a stallion or that Ginny's Patronus becomes a doe; that would be consistent with both what we've seen in canon and what Rowling has said about the Patronus charm. Unless you're trying to say the real love of both their lives is Dumbledore, changing both their Patronuses into phoenixes just doesn't make much sense.

A Patronus Charm is enough to effectively counteract a potion because it contains "Dementor essence?" In canon, the effects of a potion are never counteracted by a spell. Only two things have ever been shown to reverse the effects of a potion: an antidote (i.e., another potion) and time (i.e., the effects wear off). If a potion could be counteracted by a spell, there would be no point in researching antidotes, as we've seen Hogwarts students doing on more than one occasion. Indeed, if a potion could be counteracted by a spell, that would pretty much defeat the point of having potions to begin with.

Some of this might be forgiven if we had been properly set up. You could have had Byers identify the Dementor essence way back in chapter ten. Then you wouldn't need the fiction of "possible Dark Magic" for it to be an Auror's case. Indeed, you could have had somebody go back to London and get the ingredient list of the potion Byers did identify, instead of having Hermione, Luna, and Fenella try to come up with an antidote based on what they think was in the potion (in fact, Hermione and Luna should have known better in the first place). Or if nothing else, use a Pensieve to get at Ron's memory of the potion recipe. You could have fed Linny the antidote the women tried and then used the Patronus Charm, then hand waved it to somehow fit Golpalott's Third Law. That would have still stretched credibility, but it would have at least looked like you were trying to keep things consistent with what we've seen in canon.

There are good things in this chapter. Luna giving the others a job at the Quibbler is pretty good. Everyone is in character (though one might argue Hermione should have picked up where Luna was going first, it is not out of their characters for Harry to do it); Luna's line "I'm as sane as I've always been" is a nice allusion to her line in The Order of the Phoenix movie; and the ease of getting around security is perfectly consistent with the books. The parallel "all Aurors alert" with the previous chapter is also a nice way of alerting the reader that the timelines are now synched up.

I'd like to close with a question. In the previous chapters, you had a Scottish judge issue a search warrant for a residence in Wales. Would that actually work in the Muggle U.K.? Given the semi-sovereign nature of the individual states, it would never work in the U.S. A California judge could not issue a warrant to search a location in Arizona, for example.

Author's Response:
Sorry for the much delayed reply to this epic review.

I can understand your concerns at aspects of this chapter, and I really should go back and re-edit a couple of the earlier chapters (and this one, too. There is a change, but only a slight one, in my proposed denouement which made sections of this chapter necessary.

Partonuses can, and do change. I did not want Ginny to become a doe to Harry’s stag. Nor did I want Harry to become stallion to Ginny’s mare. I gave a lot of thought to alternatives and finally chose a phoenix. Why? First: James, Lily, Arthur and Molly were all members of the Order of the Phoenix. Second: Harry’s life (and by default Ginny’s) was saved by Fawkes in the Chamber. Third: the phoenix is a symbol of both change and constancy, which I see as applying to their relationship.

In the books the only time we see Legilimency, it is being used to seek out memories. Although it seems that Snape does use it to try to read surface thoughts (to determine whether Harry (or Draco) is lying). This use was certainly outside anything we’ve seen, but in the books we’ve never seen anyone accept (or at least not fully resist) an intrusion into their mind. In every case, the person being invaded has been fighting back against an enemy, not facing a friend or lover.

Snape says that potions can “bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses”, so I don’t think I’ve taken great liberties with the potion. However, you’re right about Byers, and you’re right about Hermione, Fenella and Luna, too. Sometimes I make plot mistakes, and I don’t always spot them. So, thank you for this. I’ll go back and look at doing some fairly extensive rewriting in order to improve the plot. It’s always good to have your errors politely pointed out, and I try to listen to my critics.

Thanks for the final compliments, too. The Luna/press conference section has been written for an absolute age, much of the rest was written around it.

As for the judge, a warrant would actually be issued by a District Judge, but in the UK a District Judge does not cover a district, he moves from District to District and (so far as I know) can issue a Warrant for any property provided that that there are reasonable grounds for believing that “there is material (at the address) that is likely to be relevant evidence and be of substantial value to the investigation.” Someone who knows (rather than has simply researched) UK law may correct me on this.


Yggdrasil by Northumbrian

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Luna attends the International Symposium on Fantastic Beasts in Sweden. She is looking for proof of the existence of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack. What she finds is something else entirely.

This is Northumbrian of Ravenclaw writing for Round Two (Travel Prompt) of the 2012 Madam Pomfrey’s One-Shot Character Triathlon.

Reviewer: tagriffy Signed
Date: 04/11/13 Title: Chapter 1: Yggdrasil

After her chapter in "Tales of the Battle" and "What Luna Sees," it seems a little weird to read a third-person Luna story by you. It is also a little weird to have Luna say she is waiting for someone to ask her out; in your stories, Luna was never afraid to take the initiative. Still, I note that she kissed him and that she asked to meet him. Then again, Rolf had been chasing her for years.

You know, any other character but Luna would probably ask themselves what just happened. That is what makes this such a good Luna story.

Author's Response:
Thanks for the review.

I’m not sure why this one ended up being third-person. Luna is probably wondering why she waited, too. I suspect that she wanted to see what Rolf would do.


Troth by Northumbrian

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Summary: Fame and infamy are closely related. Reputations are not always what they seem. Lavender Brown has a lot of explaining to do.
Reviewer: tagriffy Signed
Date: 04/15/13 Title: Chapter 1: Troth

An interesting story that seems to come out of left field. Why do I suspect that you are setting up something for another story?

If you are, and you plan on using "Jose Wonders" again, I should warn you that is a very unusual name, even for an American. Typically, you don't see a Spanish first name with an English family name. "Wonders" itself sounds like the kind of name an immigration official would saddle on an early 20th century eastern European because he couldn't be bothered to try spelling a name he couldn't pronounce anyway. But that would make a Spanish name like Jose all the more unusual. If there isn't a story behind the name, I'd suggest Anglicizing the name to Joseph or Joe.

Author's Response:
Thanks for the review.
This story was written for a challenge on another site. It was simply intended to bring more background to Lavender/Mark and to give Rhys another outing.
I thought a lot about Jose’s name, and I appreciate the comments. I’ll probably simply change his first name to Joe.