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Oregonian [Contact]

As my pen name suggests, I'm an American, living in Oregon. I started writing in 2012, just because I had a story (The Baby in the Closet) that I wanted to tell, but since then I have been trying to learn to write better by taking classes at the local college, reading some really useful books on fiction writing, and following their advice. Hopefully it's working!

I like to study history, languages, and science. I try to stretch my writing skills by entering challenges and forcing myself to write to prompts that I would otherwise not write, although Romance, Marauders, and Quidditch are topics I can't write well (so I avoid them). I am a registered nurse and have a daughter and a son.

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Reviews by Oregonian

I Would Be Good For You by HPAlison

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Remus Lupin is a man haunted by loss and self-hatred. Nymphadora Tonks is a burst of energy but also a young woman looking for more out of life. The story of how they met and fell in love.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 02/25/14 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

i, Alison. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on your story about the events of Remus’ life after the Triwizard Tournament. Yours is a story that I like very much. It starts off with a “bang” (truly, no pun intended) and goes galloping forward in the missing-moments tale of an exciting point in the Harry Potter saga.

I like your first-person-Remus point of view. Although this first chapter is mostly action, we see enough of Remus’ inner thoughts to comprehend his character better. He is not a depressed, hopeless, angsty, or self-negating person, as he is sometimes portrayed, but rather a strong, resolute (although hungry) person who is up to the task before him.

Sirius is also depicted well in character”impulsive, a loose cannon. You show this when you write that he wanted to rush off in the middle of the night to inform other people and was restrained by Remus only with some effort, and that in his dog persona he succumbed to the temptation to chase Mrs. Figg’s cat. I wonder if he had ADHD.

You tie the story neatly to canon with references sprinkled here and there to established points of canon, and you vary the serious mood with bits of humor, such as the line “Things had to be bad for someone to want to be closer to a werewolf.” That shows a sensibility on your part for how life must have been for Remus.

Your writing shows a good balance of dialogue, action, and brief reflections or “asides” on the implications of some words and actions. In some stories the author includes so many asides that it is hard to pick out the storyline, but you have avoided this fault, including just enough asides to give the story some flavor. This chapter also has an obvious story arc composed of elements that drive the plot forward; not all authors do this, and their stories risk being boring.

Your sentences flow smoothly, with good variety in sentence structure and good word choices. They are pretty much free of editorial bobbles that can distract our attention momentarily. In fact, there’s not really anything I don’t like about your story.

For a long time I chose not to read stories in the romance categories because I assumed in my prejudice that they would all be soppy or mushy or fluffy, but happily, in my recent troll through the romance fics, I have been proved wrong. There are many romance-labeled stories, like yours, that have a lot of merit and are well worth reading. I would like to see you finish this one. True, we already know how it turns out in the end, but the process of arriving there, like Arabella’s backstory, is sufficiently thin in the canon that it affords great scope for us authors to fill in all the missing details. I’m sure that others have tried to write these scenes, but perhaps not more successfully than you. Good job.

All This Waiting For The Sky To Fall by Dawnie

Rated: 1st-2nd Years • Past Featured Story
Summary: They found her body - broken, bleeding, face filled with signs of pain and fear, and the Death Eaters had clearly enjoyed what they were doing - amidst the rubble of a ruined book store.

During the first war against Voldemort, people fight and die and life for James and Lily goes on.

A tragedy in five parts.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 07/12/14 Title: Chapter 5: And I'm Still Here

Hi, Dawn. This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I was looking through the titles published during the last year, seeking particularly good stories to nominate for the 2014 Quicksilver Quill Awards, and so I read your Marauder-era story about the four Marauders and Lily, and I was struck by what a wonderful story it was.

First let me say that the structure of the piece is well planned, one chapter focused on each of the five principals, but with the others playing supporting roles in each chapter, and well-conceived original characters providing depth and interest. I like that you have all the chapters occurring within the same general time frame, but without the stricture of having them all occur on the same day, which would have limited what you could do for maximum effectiveness. And by starting with James (and Lily) and ending with Lily (and James), you tie the two ends of the story together so neatly. I’m sure you did this purposely, and it works very well, giving a story arc to what is basically a non-plotty story. (I say “non-plotty” because, although things happen, nothing is resolved.)

Your depiction of each of your characters in his or her own chapter shows multiple sides of that character’s personality; no one is flat or has a one-note image. Sirius, for example, shows great restraint while watching the Death Eaters torture the Muggle girl, in contrast to his often impulsive and devil-may-care behavior. He acts the goofball when he is brought drunk to James’ and Lily’s house but is deadly serious when thinking about the tortured Muggle girl. And I loved your line by Sirius: I promise not to let your child ride my motorbike until he is at least a year old.” His usual flippancy, which is, unbeknownst to all, darkly ominous…

Peter is probably the most difficult of all these five characters to write, but you have created a good exploration into his thoughts, feelings, and motivation. I like your development of his thoughts as he overhears Cynthia’s words; ”It is easy to overlook him, I guess.” and begins ”…wishing someone would explain why the other three Marauders were friends with him.” He seems to vacillate between being glad to be part of the group and feeling like a total outsider, between being proud of his ability to understand people well and his anguish at not being able to be larger-than-life, like Sirius or James. A question that has always haunted us readers is Why? Why did Peter go over to Lord Voldemort’s side? What was he looking for, that he wasn’t getting from his friends? What could Lord Voldemort offer that would tempt him so badly? There is a clue in your line: “He had to stop doing this, had to stop finding the negative in everything anyone said or did.” He has a bit of insight but not enough to stop him from making the biggest mistake of his life.

Remus appears to be more consistent; non-confrontational, long-enduring, frequently badgered by his friends to be something he’s not. In all his interactions, with Mrs. Rubrum, Moody, Sirius, Cynthia, James, nothing goes well but he never becomes riled, never gives up. He has a perspective that none of the others do.

You have created an interesting dynamic between James and Lily. Of the two, James is the more well-rounded character, torn in several directions by competing interests. Lily, on the other hand, is uniformly negative, to the point of being remarkably unlikable, almost unstable. Her expressed emotion is anger 100% of the time, with her hapless husband as the target. I find myself trying to reconcile this melted-down Lily with the more stable, loving (even though the war is still going on) Lily who wrote the letter to Sirius thanking him for the little broomstick gift to Harry on his first birthday. James must be a saint, to say “I would still take miserable and painful with you than not have you in my life at all.” But if it had continued indefinitely, he would have changed his mind.

Although much of this story is introspective and reflective, it is not too much so, as some stories are. It holds onto a firm balance between the action of here-and-now and the insight into why the characters are doing what they do. The writing is graceful and fluid, the word choices are apt, and the editing is refreshingly clean.

I think that these times and these events have been written about so much that it is a challenge to come up with fresh perspectives on them, and it is certainly a challenge to be successful in writing about a time span in which nothing seems to become resolved, no one is making any progress, and yet our attention is captured nevertheless. I enjoyed reading your story, and it certainly deserves to be included among the QSQ nominees.

Author's Response: Thanks for the review! I'm glad you liked the story despite its depressing nature and the fact that nothing ever gets resolved. I did have a lot of fun writing it, and trying to get into the minds of each character, and show how war can steadily destroy people. Peter was particularly challenging to write, and I agree that trying to understand why he switched sides during the war is something a lot of readers struggle with. So I was trying to make some sense of that.

Musings by 1000timesingoldenink

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Luna ought to be working on her History of Magic essay, but instead she’s scribbling a poem in the margin of her paper, contemplating the definition of reality.

Nominated for a 2013 QSQ.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/05/13 Title: Chapter 1: musings

The way the words are arranged on the page is a major contributor to the effectiveness of this piece. The same sentiments arranged in long lines forming a plain rectangle would have much less sparkle!

Author's Response: Glad you liked it. I wanted to break up the thoughts, be unconventional; plain, block verses would have been too ordinary for a poem like this.

Lying in Wait by dmbw7052

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: What the mermaids think of Voldemort.

I am Draco7052 of Slytherin. This poem was done for Nagini Riddle in the Annual Poetry Exchange. the prompt was 'what the mermaids think of Voldemort' and the quote was 'where your treasure is, there your heart is also.'
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/17/14 Title: Chapter 1: Lying in Wait

Hi, Georgia,

This is Vicki, your Slytherin housemate. I am reading your old stuff tonight and having a good time.

This is an interesting poem, and an interesting subject. You suggest that the merpeople know about Voldemort, have been watching him somehow, and know that he is evil, but they also perceive that, so far, he doesn’t pay any attention to them because they have no value to him. In his pursuit of world domination, he has failed to think about the creatures under the water, or if he does momentarily think about them, he believes that they are weak, unable to resist him.

But, say the merpeople, they will eventually prove him wrong. Your poem suggest that they will not enter the battle of their own volition, as did many non-human species at the Battle of Hogwarts; the merpeople will fight only if they are directly threatened. “If he ever comes below, he’ll hear our battle cry.” I wonder if this means that they would fight only to protect their own self-interest, or that they could fight only if he came to them in their watery kingdom because they cannot leave it.

It’s a compact, neat little poem, easy to understand. The rhyme is not totally consistent in the fourth verse, but that doesn’t matter. It has a freshness and a unique point of view. I enjoyed reading it.

Author's Response: Hi Vicki, It was a rather strange subject to write about! It was for a poetry exchange, so I had to go with the prompt. It took a very long time to figure out what I was going to write, that's for sure! As is often in the books, Voldemort tend to underestimate magical creatures such as house elves. He would never really pay attention to the merpeople, because he thinks they pose no threat. The merpeople, on the other hand, know how evil he is, and have decided that if ever threatened, they will fight back as hard as they can. They don't particularly care, however, about whatever else Voldemort does as long as it does not affect them directly. I'm glad you liked it! -Georgia

One Small Feeling by Theloonyhermione

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: There was just one small feeling that got everybody up again after the war ended.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/03/13 Title: Chapter 1: One Small Feeling

Hi, Emma. I will review your poem. I liked it. What I liked was that the images
were very clear, not so abstract that I couldn't tell what you were talking about.
As I read the poem, I was wondering what the small thought would be, and trying to guess.
Putting the answer in the very last word was a good touch. Nice job. Vicki :)

Author's Response: Hi, Vicki! So nice seeing you around here :) Thanks so much for reviewing! Thank you sooo much, even though I wasn't really trying to do half the stuff you complimented me on :P Thankssssssss for your amazing review! :D

All Over by Theloonyhermione

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: The Second Wizarding War is over. Now everybody seems to want to celebrate - everybody but Harry, that is.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 03/11/14 Title: Chapter 1: All Over

Hi, Emma. I can see the parameters of the Milestone Moment Challenge in the lines of your story. I’m glad you posted it anyway, even though it missed the deadline for that challenge.

You present a cranky, sleep-deprived Harry in this story, so I re-read the final pages of the chapter The Flaw In The Plan, to see how JKR depicted his mental state in the hours after the final battle. Her account ends at about noon on the morning of Voldemort’s defeat, so everything that happened after that is fair game for the fanfiction writer.

Your story depicts Harry as thinking ,….it was over, in one moment.” We can assume that his mind has been so focused, for so long, on the defeat of Voldemort, that after that goal was achieved his thoughts would be just a disoriented jumble. He would not yet have had the time or leisure to realize that it’s not really the end; they must mourn and bury the dead, deal with the remaining Death Eaters, repair the castle, restructure the Ministry, and rebuild families and the social order in general.

He needs to come to some sort of resolution about his role in these historic events, but he has not done that yet. In your story, Harry persists in the fiction that this was all about him. He thinks ”…they had died for him. If he had gone straight to Voldemort when he had been called, they wouldn’t all have died. They shouldn’t have had to do this just for him.” No, Voldemort began his murderous rise to power long before Harry was even born. And Harry’s earlier death would not have aborted Voldemort’s reign of terror. If Harry had “died” earlier, the diadem Horcrux would not have been destroyed (because Harry was the only one who knew where it was), and Voldemort would have survived. In truth, the noble dead died for the whole wizarding community (and wider society as well), not just for Harry.

You do well in pointing out the contradiction of feeling both happy (Voldemort defeated) and sad (friends and family dead) at the same time, but also identifying “relief” as the one emotion that everyone can agree upon.

As for the focus of the Milestone Moment Challenge, the party, I was hesitant about how likely it was that all those people would still be present at the castle by the evening of May 2. My question was whether most of the students’ parents wouldn’t have taken their children away from that scene of destruction and violence and returned home? And I wondered how likely it was that there would be a jubilant party so soon after those horrific events. I discussed these points with my daughter Elaine (Islastorm of Gryffindor); she suggested that a boozy revelry might be credible for people suffering from PTSD.

In the final moments of the story, Ginny says to Harry, ”You’re just going to have water? C’mon, have some fun,” as she fill his glass with firewhiskey. It makes me feel sad that she equates “drinking alcohol” with “having fun” (though I should cut her some slack, because she’s only sixteen years old). In his fragile emotional state, Harry is definitely not going to solve his problems with alcohol. Is it really impossible to have fun while remaining sober?

Your writing style is good, sentences well-constructed, good word choices, the pace brisk, a good balance of action and reflection. This is a complex subject, and a lot more could be written about the psychological aftermath of the battle than would ever fit into a one-shot. Nice job.

Stars Above by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Severus Snape's guilty conscience is magnified with scrutiny, and every star stares at him and what he has done.

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/17/14 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi, Jess,

Here are some thoughts about the ideas you expressed in your interesting poem, a glimpse into the conscience of Severus Snape.

He senses the stars as unblinking eyes that see everything he does, eyes from whose gaze he cannot escape. He says, in effect: the stars know what I have done; my treachery cannot be forgotten. The stars are my watchmen and celestial jailers. I have made my bed and now I must lie in it.

Harry’s eyes (Lily’s eyes) “stalk” Snape during the day (as perceived by Snape, not by Harry). Harry is surviving just to spite Snape. (Again Snape’s perception, his choice to take Harry’s existence personally. Whatever Harry survived for, it wasn’t to spite Snape.)

Snape blames the stars, but no, the stars are only inorganic heavenly bodies. It is Snape’s own conscience that torments him at night, when the events of the day, sunny or not, are no longer present to distract his attention from self-examination.

He sounds obsessed with where his life’s choices have taken him, if he thinks about it every night. As long as Voldemort remains alive, this mess will never be cleaned up; these wrongs will not be made right. Until Lord Voldemort is dead, Snape can never just put this sorry business behind him and try to build a new life with the time he has left.

This poem has many good lines, for example “I pull back the covers of the bed I made all those years ago.” A double reference, first to the actual action of going to bed at night, when the stars are out and the reproachful thoughts come flooding back, and to the old saying that I mentioned above.

A line that worked less well for me was “But from my task, I dare not stray, for I will feel those eyes again.” The first eight words sounded a bit stilted, though it was plain what you were talking about and they followed from the previous verse, and the final seven words surprised me, because I had thought that he was feeling the watchful, reproaching eyes all the time anyway.

A very eloquent and sensitive expression of something that Snape may have been thinking, one aspect of his perpetually tortured and regretful existence. Thank you for writing.

Tooth in the Brain by teh tarik

Rated: 6th-7th Years •

It's funny, Tom, the way you eat my words.

Ginny Weasley hates books. Irma Pince loves them.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/12/14 Title: Chapter 1: tooth in the brain

Hi, Nicole. This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I have read your story over and over, trying to decide what to say about it. I understand why you say in your Chapter End Note that you have never written anything like it before. It certainly is different.

It is odd and disturbing, but I do not mean that in any bad way. It is, after all, about Tom Riddle, and he is odd and disturbing. Ginny and Irma are being so controlled and manipulated by this book, which is a Riddle Horcrux; they are frightened, horrified, but at the same time fascinated. It’s like having a nightmare in which bad things are happening that you can’t control. I have seen fics written about Horcruxes, but generally from a fairly objective viewpoint; at most, they depict Ron or Hermione being taunted by their inner fears at the moment when they try to destroy the Horcrux, but those other stories don’t have the consummate creepiness that you have achieved here. The voice of the Horcrux speaks to us, pretending to be a friend, but ultimately to our misery; you have gotten the voice very well.

George and Fred struck me as irritating in their insensitive ragging of Ginny and their failure to see that they are carrying it to extremes, but I see their function in the story, giving Horcrux Tom another topic to torment Ginny with, and leading to their tossing the Dungbombs in the library, resulting in Ginny’s expulsion and her sudden, desperate attempt to ditch the book by hiding it on the trolley cart where Irma can find it.

But it is not clear to me why it was necessary (for the sake of the story) for Irma to go into the diary and see Myrtle’s death, since we know about her death from other sources, and it is not clear what the significance is of Irma’s vision of being at her mother’s funeral. Why did Horcrux Tom do that to her?

You have added a lot of detail, dialogue, and action to this particular moment in canon, all very thoroughly and graphically expressed, in an emotionally intense style, but I believe it doesn’t violate canon; it could have happened that way. (I have been flipping through CoS hunting for a reference to Ginny’s having an injured hand, but short of rereading the whole book, I have not found it.) So I think you can be satisfied that you accomplished what you set out to do, to show us how horrible this whole experience was for Ginny. I hope that horror did not rub off on you while you were writing it!

You're Safe With Me by phoenix_tearPatronus

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Teddy and Victoire. Victoire and Teddy. That's how it had always been. Growing up, the two had been best friends, but feelings change and even the best of friends can be divided.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/19/14 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi, Abi. This is Vicki From Slytherin House again. I have been reading your chaptered story, Forever In Her Shadow, and this chapter, as you say, fits into that narrative, but from a different viewpoint, Victoire’s instead of Dominique’s, and presents a basic premise of the story in a very different light. Just goes to show you that you can’t really judge a situation accurately until you’ve heard both sides.

In this story, we actually meet Amelia, but apparently Victoire already knows what Amelia is like, from having observed her behavior at Hogwarts; Victoire knows that Amelia is scheming and manipulative, but she cannot help allowing herself to be manipulated by Amelia, and as soon as the two girls are together, Victoire rises to Amelia’s bait. It is frustrating to watch a teenager like Victoire be so stupid.

One wonders why she never just sits down calmly with Teddy and tells him calmly what was going on between her and Amelia. When Teddy asks, “What happened to us, Victoire?” is her perfect chance to do this, but she throws it away. ”I’m not going to tell you anything until you answer [my question] honestly.” She let the conversation get sidetracked into another issue and gets angry again. It’s a wonder she can manage her personal affairs at all, being completely ruled by her emotions in a way that is painful to read.

Concerning the final scene, I compared it with the Epilogue of Deathly Hallows to see how closely the two fit together, and the only discrepancy I noticed was that, if the family all thought that Teddy and Amelia were engaged at that point, then the family would have mentioned that fact when James breathlessly reported that he had seen Teddy kissing Victoire. Otherwise it was a clever way of tying your story into canon.

Your writing is smooth and fluid. Even though it deals mainly with Victoire’s acute unhappiness over Teddy’s romantic relationship with another woman, it avoids saying the same thing over and over tediously, which a story of this theme could easily have done.

The picture you give of Victoire in Forever In Her Shadow is so different from this one that I am left wondering if the continuation of that story will all be from Dominique’s viewpoint, which is acutely unflattering to Victoire, or whether we will hear more from Victoire’s viewpoint also. I would recommend the latter. Perhaps these wizarding characters should not even contemplate getting married at such a young age. They all desperately need to grow up.

I have enjoyed this story so far, both this title and the story it relates to. Hope to see more in the future.

The Peverell Prophecy by Equinox Chick

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: The Peverell brothers attempted to cheat Death.

Only one came close.

Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling.

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/15/14 Title: Chapter 1: The Peverell Prophecy

Hi, Carole,

This is Vicki Of Slytherin House, commenting on your compact little poem about the Peverell brothers.

The structure is atypical for you, three four-line verses with the simplest rhyme scheme, rhyming the second and fourth lines, but it is good to see you doing a variety of different poetic styles. I notice that there is some variation in line lengths and some uneven meter, but since well-known poets whose books are featured in displays at the public library also do this, that must mean it’s quite okay to have these irregularities.

The parallel construction of the three verses ties them firmly together. The rhymes in the first two verses are exact, grown-own and stone-own, so when we get to the last verse and the rhyme is is not absolute, home-own, there’s no problem because the rhyme scheme is already firmly established. And the identical final lines of verses one and two accentuate the variation in the final line, and idea, of the last verse.

Since the character of the poem is compactness, I appreciated the single well-chosen adjectives, “combative”, “doleful”, and “clever”, to describe each of the brothers.

You emphasized the behavior and outcome of the last brother by putting “clever and “…less” in italics to differentiate him from his imprudent brothers, but I do not think that the italics were necessary; the words alone would have provided the contrast.

I noticed that you wrote this poem in future tense, “will meet an inglorious end,” “will meet his fate,” and “his lifelong days will be strifeless.” When a story is told concerning something that happened long ago, it’s generally expressed in past tense. By putting it in future tense, you suggest that these principles still apply to people today.

In summary, your poem is a neat précis of the story of the Peverell brothers’ dealings with death, and an emphasis on the moral that is there for us all. Nice job.

Author's Response: This is Carole of Hufflepuff House responding.

Thank you very much for the review and the points raised. It's good to have poetry reviewed because it's so often ignored.

'Atypical'? Hmm, I'm not sure I have a typical style, so I can't really comment on the fact that you found it 'atypical' for my poetry. Basically, I have some free verse on this site and some with a more rigid structure, so I don't think there's anything that can be pointed out as my particular way of writing poetry. The only thing I suppose I could say about my poetry is that it's always short, or compact, because for some reason whilst I cannot contain my words in prose, in poetry I'm far more concise.

I used the italics because that's how I read the poem. I'm pleased you didn;t think they needed them because the words were enough to drive the message home, but I still speak the poem out loud and emphasise those words, which is why I've left them as italicised. Basically, I always write poetry as I'd speak it rather than read in my head (it's the actor in me).

The reason for the future tense was actually more simple than the fact that this will continue to happen (I hadn't thought of that, to be honest). It was because the prompt called for a prophecy which by it's very nature has to be written in the future.

Thank you very much for the review. I'm satisfied with this poem although I seem to remember, at the time, being overcome with the inability to string anything together and flying into a mad panic.

Today I Do Not Want to Be a Ravenclaw by 1000timesingoldenink

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: This has been the hardest time to be a Ravenclaw that I’ve yet known.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/18/14 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi Jenny,

You say that this is not one of your best poems, but your work fits the old saying, “When it’s good it’s very, very good, and when it’s bad it’s still pretty good.” In short, I liked this poem.

The title of the poem was prescribed, “Today I Do Not WantTo Be A ””, so that pretty much set the structure of your lines, four iambs and then a “secundus paeon” (I confess I had to look that up, a foot of short-long-short-short), but you handled it very adroitly, alternating with good old iambic pentameter. Interestingly, no matter what House you insert into the title, the result would have been the same, since all the House names are long-short-short.

The speaker of this poem (I’ll say “she”, but it could be either sex) is feeling that she’s not living up to her house, with words like “rebellious,” “shockingly,” “better Claws,” and “blow it off” (not just “take a break”), as if it’s a moral failing not to be perfect or at least not to be the top in every class. She says she is “supposed to academically succeed” (the Pacific Northwest accent there again), but supposed by whom? Where did all this pressure come from? They plop a Hat on your head and suddenly you’re in the pressure cooker.

The fact is, in the seven books we don’t see a lot of Ravenclaw; it’s probably the House that leaves the least impression on us, outside of Luna. Where were the Claws? Holed up in their common room, missing out on everything that’s not found within the covers of a book? (They did have a Quidditch team, I grant them that.)

The sad part is the last verse, ruining the speaker’s love of learning, not to speak of damaging her health by sleep deprivation, lack of exercise, etc. (Ironically, getting enough sleep, enough exercise, and change-of-pace break time actually makes the brain work better!)

The thoughts of the poem are well organized, and you have many good lines. The one that flows the least well for me is “My once-strong zeal for learning’s on the wane,” though I don’t have any suggestions for improving it.

This poem has a lesson for us all, that there is more in life that is valuable, other than simply book learning and memorization. Hermione is a good example of a person who came to understand that. Could a Ravenclaw like the one in your poem have done what she did? Thank you for writing.


Ice Cream Man by HalfASlug

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Draco Malfoy, still desperately trying to find a way to carry out the Dark Lord’s wishes, discovers his family’s involvement in the recent disappearances from up and down the country.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/11/14 Title: Chapter 1: One-shot

Hi, H.S. This story is another great missing moment, though it’s different from your other missing moments in a couple of respects.

First of all, it seems a lot darker than your other missing moments, although the choice of Draco as a subject doesn’t necessarily mean that the tone will be dark; you could have chosen to write about Draco as a ferret, for example.

And second, it seems to have fewer solid connection points to canon than your other missing moments. In fact, there is only one, the fact that Florean Fortescue had disappeared several months earlier under violent circumstances. Everything else is very reasonable and plausible supposition: that he researched poisons while at home over Christmas, that kidnapped persons were already being held in the cellar of his family home and were being executed, that he discovered this due to the wishes of his mad aunt, that his mother was powerless to affect the course of events in any way.

I really love the way you have gotten into the mind of Draco, filling out this fairly bare-bones story with a richness of Draco’s increasing understanding of what is happening and how things stand with his family, the Dark Lord, and the war. You have skillfully avoided the trap of saying the same things over and over, which one sometimes sees in an intensely introspective piece like this. You have managed to turn Draco into a sympathetic but tragic character, much different from the swaggering, bullying pre-adolescent whom we first met in book one. He feels increasingly trapped, his choices being taken away one by one until he has, as he thinks, “no other option.”

However, you did right in not portraying Draco as beginning to question his family values of blood purity and pureblood dominance; that change of heart did not occur until the very end of the tale. At this time of his life, all he felt was anguish, stress, confusion, desperation, and you express these feelings very well.

I was intrigued by your treatment of Draco’s mother. At the beginning of the story you imply that she removed the books dealing with poisons from the Malfoy family library, suggesting that she did not want Draco to learn to make a poison, but at the end of the story she answers, “I know” when Draco assures her he will succeed in killing Professor Dumbledore. She cannot change the course of events (or so she thinks at this point), but you have shown the love that existed between her and Draco, perhaps the only love in the household, and we know how that played out in the end.

Your writing is, as usual, hard to find fault with. In this story there is not a lot of physical description of the scenes, but I don’t miss it at all, since the focus is mostly what’s going on in Draco’s head, not what’s going on around him. In the cellar scene, your description is rightly limited to the abandoned and foreign (to him) clothes; the stone walls or cold air don’t matter here. My only suggestion would be in the second half of the final sentence: it seems to end a bit abruptly, and I would like to expand that sentence a little more, so that it trails off a little longer.

I really like the canon-compliant stories that you write. The saga in the seven books is a serious tale, and the missing moments add to its weightiness in a way that fluffy post-Hogwarts stories cannot. Thank you for writing.


Wheelbarrow by BrokenPromise

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Frank Bryce remembers his brother.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/18/14 Title: Chapter 1: Sonnet

Hi, BP,

I read this poem a long time ago, when you first posted it, and it always seemed to me to be something of an oddity, since it is so far outside the Harry-Ron-Hermione mainstream of the seven books.

I went back to The Goblet of Fire to refresh my memory about Frank Bryce. He was born in about 1918, so he would have been 21 at the outbreak of WWII. Bert was probably a couple of years younger, if Frank could push him in the wheelbarrow when they were children, probably in the late 1920’s. Is the streamlined silver arrow a brand of motorcar?

The Goblet of Fire tells us that Frank was wounded in the war; your poem implies that Bert was wounded, or worse, killed in the war, because Frank is now alone.

I pondered the line ”Earth means life and death.” I guess that it means life because Frank is a gardener, and grows plants in the earth, but it also means death because Bert was buried in the earth. So Frank is comparing his happy youth to the cataclysm of the war and its aftermath, long years of being crippled and alone. When he uses the old wheelbarrow, it reminds him of the brother and the happiness that he lost.

As is typical for your poetry, you write very compactly, and you package a lot of information into a short space, choosing the one word that precisely conveys what you mean, without talking all around the subject. For example, “I pushed, Bert perched…” I often spend long minutes searching for just the word I need, writing lists of almost-synonyms that encircle my desired meaning but never quite hit the target, finally giving up the task until the next day, when the sought-after word suddenly pops into my head. But it is worth it, in the long run, to get that one perfect word.

Sometimes I wonder if we writers will ever run out of things to say about the Potterverse, but it seems unlikely, since there are so many tiny characters, events, objects, all ripe for expansion into a story or poem. Like this one. Thank you for writing.


Author's Response: Hi Vicki, thanks for your review. The arrow is actually just an arrow, but I really like your idea. Yes, I killed off his brother. Frank Bryce is to me, an earthy and grounded but bitter character, and so I felt there had to be some cause. Indeed the potterverse is vast in both breadth and depth. And finding le mot juste is always worth the time and effort - although I have before been searching for a word that simply did not exist! Thanks again and I'm so pleased you enjoyed this little poem. :) BP

The Final Duel by BrokenPromise

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: A sonnet on the Battle of Hogwarts.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/18/14 Title: Chapter 1: Sonnet

Hi, BP,

This is Vicki of Slytherin House, and I am happy to review your poem , even though the Slytherin is the Bad Guy and dies in the end. :) I particularly like sonnets, because they have just the right amount of volume (fourteen lines of ten syllables each) to tell the story thoroughly without being wordy. And I just finished writing a 2014 Cotillion story in which the Battle of Hogwarts features prominently, so my brain is full of this scene right now.

I like the way you reference the sun at the beginning and then at the end of the poem; it makes the poem feel as if it’s neatly tied up. And of course the fact that the good guys won just as the sun rose over the horizon has always given the scene high drama, sufficient to declare, as you did, that the suddenly-blazing sun and the explosion of spells that annihilated the evil are one and the same.

It was good of you to highlight something that other writers never do: Harry addresses the Dark Lord by his given name, Tom, and urges him to have remorse for his monstrously evil deeds. This is not just a throwaway line in the books; without these elements, Lord Voldemort is almost like a mechanical evil robot; we need to be reminded that, at his core, he is simply a person.

Another good line is “The boy lets fate run its disarming course. The wand was fated to come back to him, so he needed no stronger spell than Expelliarmus. And it did my heart good to read the line about the cackling witch who met her rightful end! Couldn’t happen to a more worthy person!

When I read in line five “victorious the red,” I did not realize at first that red equaled Gryffindor; I was trying to make it into blood, but all became clear in line twelve where you mentioned “green and red”.

One suggestion: in line three, where you say “knifes,” I think you want ”knives”.

In summary, I liked this sonnet very much. You use the language well; your sentences are succinct and accessible, with fresh ideas and images. Thank you for writing.

Author's Response: Hi Vicki, Thank you for all your lovely reviews. I agree, sonnets can make for fantastic narrative or emotive poetry, and I feel that the best poets can fit both in one. Yes the movements of the sky, be it planets or weather, can make for a great comparison to the events down here. I found it was a really important part of the books that Harry was not vengeful and offered Voldemort a second chance. Tom Riddle was one of my favourite characters (not least because I had a bit of a crush on Christian Coulson because damn...) and so I definitely think that a part of his character development was to do with him doing unforgivable things and feeling no remorse. You are so right that the line was certainly not throwaway. On the point of victorious the red, I thought it could also stand for expelliarmus as a spell. It always struck me that Expelliarmus and Gryffindor were the same colour and it's opposite green (Slytherin and AK) in the colour wheel. Thank you very much for your feedback! - BP

Taboos by William Brennan

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: After the war, the Auror Office decides to Taboo the Unforgivable Curses so that any use of them can be detected. This doesn't quite go as planned however...
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 05/31/13 Title: Chapter 1: Taboos

This was hilarious! I laughed out loud in a couple of places. Lots of fun. Thank you so much.

Holiday Spirits by abovelevel

Rated: 6th-7th Years •

It is Christmas Eve 2014 and instead of playing games with his nieces and nephews, Charlie Weasley is drinking. Stuck in Romania watching the dragon preserve over the holidays, Charlie decides a night at the pub is just what he needs. After a few ruckus hours exchanging stories with the bartender, Charlie is about to head out.

Then, the door opens ...

Disclaimer: I am most certainly not JK Rowling
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 08/30/13 Title: Chapter 1: Holiday Spirits

Hi, Claire. This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I enjoyed your Christmas story. It has a refreshingly even tone, perhaps because Charlie is now 42 years old, and not thinking or acting like an adolescent. You write with a light, gently humorous style, and I loved the line "The room was silent with everyone hoping someone else would volunteer," because that's how it so often really is.

For a brief story, your tale includes a lot of historical detail, in individual sentences here and there, that really fleshes out the story well. The reader is left with a vivid impression of the staffing of the Dragon Reserve, and the quick characterizations of Charlie's fellow staffers really bring this group of people to life.

Charlie is well-characterized; we can see him as a cheerful, easy-going, competent guy, but still, even at age 42, intimidated by his indomitable Mum and struggling to write a frank letter, finally resorting to a white lie to explain a decision that he cannot explain even to himself.

I liked the fact that when Charlie went into the bar on Christmas Eve, he was happy and looking for fun ("a slightly ruckus evening"). I have read a lot of fics involving depressed people sitting in bars, often on holidays, feeling sorry for themselves, and that kind of story, frankly, gets boring, so I was very glad you didn't go there.

Charlie's initial interaction with Emma seemed cautious and tentative; even though they found that they had something in common, Quidditch, they seemed to be circling each other warily. That seemed realistic; after all, they were strangers to each other. The kiss in the barroom doorway might seem unrealistic, except that it could be the Firewhiskey talking, and the spirit of the season. (Maybe Fane had some mistletoe hanging over his door.)

The humorous undercurrent of your story breaks forth at the end, to give your story a neat wrap-up. Poor Charlie -- he was too old for her anyway, and as her boss he can't have a relationship with her, but he sees the humor in the situation, so all ends happily.

It is fun to read a story about Charlie; he gets stuck off in Romania, generally out of sight and out of mind, except for occasional brief appearances at The Burrow. You have shown him as a very likeable character. Nice job.

Letters by dmbw7052

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Dudley never imagined his daughter would be a witch.

Harry never imagined what kind of news he would have to deliver to his cousin.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 05/09/14 Title: Chapter 1: One-shot

Hi, Georgia. I don’t know how I missed reading this cute little story from last year, but now I’ll make up for lost time.

This story is really charming, without angst or problems more than the day-to-day annoyances that we all have to put up with. You tell the story in a spare style with a minimum of characters and not an overload of inner reflections, so the tone remains light. Given that the theme of the story, Dudley’s daughter receives an invitation to Hogwarts, is one single little event, a more heavy-handed treatment of the event would have been out of proportion. This is a story we can read quickly and enjoy while sitting in the waiting room of some office.

Obviously Dudley has had a long time to ponder his earlier life — what happened to his cousin, what happened to himself and his parents. You give a good description of the kind of thoughts he must have been having, both remembrances of what actually occurred and speculations of how things might have been different. For this reason, the arrival of the letter is not a total surprise, and he realizes that he has already made his decision, what he would do if ever…

I like your characterization of Dudley in this story: a kindly and loving father, relaxed, at peace with his life, with only one regret, which was the lack of resolution in his relationship with his cousin Harry. By letting his daughter go to Hogwarts, Dudley not only does what he thinks is best for her, but he builds a bridge across the gulf that has separated him from Harry for so many years, and puts to rest that troubled part of his mind.

There are two measures of Dudley’s maturity. He has obviously already discussed this possibility with his wife, who is not present at the moment, so that he can convey their joint decision to Harry immediately. This means that he has not tried to totally repress his memory of his boyhood contact with the magical world, but has tried to integrate it into his lifetime experiences. And he does not concern himself for a moment about what his parents would think about Trudy’s going to Hogwarts; if they still live at Number Four Privet Drive, their probably-unchanged opinion about magic simply doesn’t affect him anymore.

I also liked your characterization of Harry. After fifteen years he is still a celebrity, harassed by fans and reporters, but he still patiently answers their letters. That is a tiny indicator of his basic kindheartedness. His total lack of contact with Dudley for sixteen years is revealed in his concern that Dudley might resemble his father Vernon in his animosity toward the magical world; even the number thirteen on Dudley’s house triggers a foreboding that their meeting might prove to be unpleasant and difficult. This mirrors the statements made earlier that Dudley felt guilty about how his family had treated Harry during their childhood and his assumption that Harry despised him. So both of these cousins, now grown men, are still held back by memories of unhappy times decades earlier.

It was good to see the final meeting of the cousins described from each of their points of view. Harry suggests that they sit down and talk because he is anticipating a difficult conversation and thinks it would be better conducted sitting down. Dudley probably doesn’t sense that; instead he rushes to assure Harry, even as they take the first steps toward the library to find seats, that his answer is “Yes”, or, in other words, that he is eager to let bygones be bygones and to re-establish their friendship in a new way.

I enjoyed seeing this brief glimpse of Harry and of Dudley at age thirty-three, their two different lives, and the brief intersection at the end of each vignette, bringing their relationship full circle. This is a sweet story and you told it well.

Firework by 1000timesingoldenink

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Umbridge embraces her inner firework.

Or not.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/18/14 Title: Chapter 1: cuz baby you're a fiiiiiiiirework

Hi, Jenny,

This is Vicki (the Oregonian) of Slytherin House, here to say that it’s a boom-hiss shame that no one has written a review for this cute little poem.

I don’t know if it fits the definition of a double dactyl precisely, since the six-syllable word is typically found in line seven of each eight-line group, but it’s great fun anyway. I love the phrase “Toad-slash-Inquisitor’s guts-haters muttering…”, a delightful compaction of the concept: “those who hate the guts of the Toad/Inquisitor are muttering…”

I’m also pleased by the frequent appearance of words ending in “…utter”: splutters, sputtering, nutter, buttered, clutter, muttering. Maybe you found some of them in a rhyming dictionary, but they all fit into the thought of the poem just fine. (Sometimes we see a word used for the rhyme when it doesn’t really fit the thought of the poem, but no problems here!) I think that in a double dactyl, you are required to rhyme only the final words of the verses, sounds-crowned and around-abounds, but you threw in a whole lot more.

And I liked that the first three verses were all about Umbridge (though in language revealing Fred’s and George’s point of view: “ministry nutter”) and the last verse was about Fred and George, expressing their emotion perfectly: “What bloody glorious chaos abounds.”

In order for the word “antipathetically” to be six syllables, one must elide the syllable “al” and pronounce it “antipathetic-ly”, which is fine by me, since the Pacific Northwest accent (my daughter knows all about this; I didn’t realize that not everyone pronounces it thus) elides syllables anyway, changing “victory” to “vict-ry”, and so on. (Readers sometimes chide me for assuming that they will read my poems with a Pacific Northwest accent, and they tell me my meter is wrong, and I say “What?”)

As a closing thought, something that I have noticed about your poetry is that you write in a wide variety of styles, so my hat is off to you for that. It is a pleasure to read your works.

Author's Response: Oh, this was a great prompt. I had a few -utter words I really liked (especially "ministry nutter" and "ash-buttered cardigan," and then decided to go all out and sprinkle them everywhere they'd fit. The rules for these poems were quite constricting, so it took a long time to make everything sound just right, but I was pleased with the final piece. It's such a cheeky little poem. :D Thanks again for your lovely review!

Look At Me by 1000timesingoldenink

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: But give them me, the mouth, the eyes, the brow!
Let them once more absorb me! One look now
Will lap me round for ever, not to pass
Out of its lights, though darkness lie beyond:
Hold me but safe again within the bond
Of one immortal look! All woe that was,
Forgotten, and all terror that may be,
Defied, -no past is mine, no future: look at me!

--Robert Browning

His guide in life, his guardian in death: the silver doe.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/18/14 Title: Chapter 1: the green eyes found the black

Hi, Jenny,

This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I remember reading this poem last year and thinking how beautiful and how perfect it was. Excellent rhyme, excellent meter, nothing that jars the effortless flow of the words.

It touches on the moment of Snape’s death, but the events that came before this moment are mentioned in only two lines, “Have they not seen the sins for which he pays?” and “No battle-ravaged penance need remain.” The present moment is represented by only the first line, in which, as Snape looks on Harry, Harry morphs into Lily in Snape’s mind.

All the rest of the lines, eleven in total, are about Snape’s perception of himself going forward, aided and welcomed by the spirit of Lily into an afterlife Paradise where he finally achieves what he always wanted.

One can debate whether this vision is the final hallucination or dream of a dying man, or an actual transition towards an afterlife, such as Harry experienced at “King’s Cross”. If the latter, one wonders where James fits into this afterlife. Clearly Snape is dreaming of a time before James. Does this suggest that souls in the HP afterlife are allowed to choose which era of their lives they wish to persist in?

This poem is full of beautiful turns of phrase, perfectly evoking the mood of an outdoor paradise of grass and flowers, where pain and struggle are no more, and one’s heart’s desire is finally at hand. I like the variation in sentence structure of line eleven; as we are about to float away in a soporific cloud, it wakens us again to finish the poem. And I notice that you capitalize Garden, granting it a celestial status above ordinary gardens.

I hope you won an award in the Scholastic Art and Writing competition; it is hard to believe that any other entries were better. Thank you so much for sharing this poem with us.

Uncertainty by 1000timesingoldenink

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Somebody seems to have written a quintet of impatient love couplets and then cast Diffindo on each one.

Definitely wasn't me.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/18/14 Title: Chapter 1: Fluff

Hi, Jenny,

This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I don’t know how I missed this poem when you posted it; I guess it’s so slender that it just slipped past me.

It’s a cute little poem, with a careful syllable-and-rhyme scheme that I didn’t notice in my first reading of it. :p You must have had fun in writing a poem with so few words, but with meter and rhyme. I did one like that once, but not on a HP theme.

Because of the uncertainty, the tentativeness of the words, I would say that it is the guy speaking, not the girl. The mild swearing (damn; Merlin! used as an expletive) also sounds more like what a guy would say. And traditionally it is the guy who is expected to make the first move. But, as you say, it could be any of a number of pairings; only the words Knuts and Merlin tie this poem to the Potterverse and not to the world at large.

It sounds like a very young pair, perhaps 13 years old. Lots of readers could recall a similar situation in their own lives when they were in their early teens. Frustrating it must have felt at the time, but now we can laugh about it.

Thanks for writing. It was fun to read.

Author's Response: Funny you should say 13--I took the idea for this poem, and a phrase or two, from something I wrote at the age of 12. It certainly is humorous now...if only the speaker of the poem (who, to me, feel closest to Ron or Hermione, but really could well be any one of own younger selves) knew how adorable they were! It's a fun poem, and it was definitely fun to write--took me a while to get the meter pattern all consistent, though! Anyway, thanks for reviewing, and glad you like it.