I'm an American, have been married for "a long time", and have a son and a daughter, so to me the characters are like sons and daughters. I like to study history and science, and I usually don't write (or talk) unless I have something to say, so I tend to be serious. Rather than seeking plot ideas, I wait until I am moved to address a particular topic. That makes it harder to produce something on demand for contests and challenges. Oh well!
Summary: Draco tries to make sense of the new world order.
This is AidaLuthien of Hufflepuff writing for Round One of the Character Triathlon.
This story is just a snapshot, a moment in time. Nothing much occurs in the way of action. It simply illustrates how circumstances have changed.
I am reminded of the Shakespearean-age world view: society is like a giant wheel, with some people on the top and others on the bottom. At seemingly random times for random reasons the wheel turns. Those on top become on the bottom, and vice versa. The rise and fall are not connected to virtue or vice; they just happen.
This image of the wheel of fate comes strongly to mind while I read this piece. The first two paragraphs clearly lay out Draco's former status as the one on the top: rank, power, privilege, wealth, entitlement, superiority, an assured future. Then the whole wheel makes a 180-degree turn and he is on the bottom: disgraced, despised, lacking in opportunities, a very clouded and ill-defined future. How much of this outcome is due to his own sins and those of his compatriots, and how much is simply due to being one of the losers instead of one of the winners? After all, history is written by the winners, and the losers never fare well in that tale.
The Draco we see in this piece is notably more introspective than the Draco we met in the seven books. Not only is his personal world turned topsy-turvy, but his bedrock beliefs have been cast into serious doubt or even refuted. Voldemort was not a savior, despite what Draco's father said. The means can become so dreadful that they are no longer even remotely justified by the ends. One is forced to accept assistance from one's erstwhile enemies, so that the question of who is friend and who is enemy becomes confused, and the line between the good guys and the bad guys is all blurred. The only thing he knows for sure now is that the path before him is unknowable.
Pansy is portrayed more sympathetically than she often is in other stories. Draco considers her pretty, a fit consort for the Slytherin King, not merely a handy lay. She is described as tough and strong, a natural leader, but not coarse or crude. And because her involvement in the war and the events leading up to it was so much more peripheral than his, she does not comprehend the monumental changes in values so keenly as he does. For her the changes are merely inconvenient -- her father lost his job but her mother is still working. So Draco has moved far beyond Pansy, and how could she ever catch up? There is not another war to teach her the things she failed to learn in this one.
A neat detail: Draco picks some meadow flowers and asks if they are pansies. How could he not know whether or not they are pansies.? Perhaps it is because in his former life he never had to pay heed to the beautifully landscaped gardens around Malfoy Manor. Hired gardeners did all the planting and tending; they had to be the ones to know the names of what they had planted. One more symbol of what he has lost.
The author has achieved something I don't very often see in these archives: a non-action piece that avoids being merely an extended rehash of someone's emotions. The carefully chosen details of Draco's and Pansy's recent history, with (and this is a biggie) no unnecessary words, spell out perfectly the points that the author wants to make. A very enjoyable read.
Summary: The past: some cling to it, others deny it; some learn from its lessons, while others are locked in the cycle of their mistakes. How far would a man be willing to go to move beyond his past and ensure that it will not define him? Severus Snape is about to learn.
Hi, Martha. I was fascinated to read your story because I saw in it a parallel with my own story "The Baby in the Closet," which deals with the same general topic but in a quite different manner. Your story (and the others you have posted) is very well-written and obviously well-thought-out. The prose is easy to read, fluid, with no awkward phrases or word choices that can have a jarring effect. You give an excellent feel for what it must have been like for both Eileen and Severus to live with a man who is a brute. One wonders, "Why did Eileen marry him?' but we all know of cases of men who were charming before marriage and sorry excuses for husbands afterwards.
Severus strongly resisted opening up his thoughts to his wife, his business partner, or the American Healers. I get the feeling that he is resisting the readers also. There must have been more to his childhood story than this one incident that he remembers in the Pensieve. The paternal abuse was surely ongoing, spanning many years, much of which he always remembered. Does he think that by reliving this brutal scene from his infancy his problems will be cured? Does he have the strength to explore this issue as it needs to be explored, or will he pull back, close up, and hunker down again?
It is not unreasonable to posit that Snape could recover enough from the horrors of his childhood and young adulthood to rebuild an outwardly-seeming normal life (Holocaust survivors come to mind), but the damage to the psyche will probably never completely heal.
Interesting take on this topic, focused on the Magical aspects. Read my story and tell me what you think of it.
Hi Vicki. I was so happy to see your review. It's been a while since anyone has responded to this story.
I wanted to reply to you right away, but RL has kept me busy for the last 4 or 5 days. I did read your story The Baby in the Closet, and found that it did hit some of the same chords as mine. Your descriptions of the places in your story are very well done, and as realistic as if you’d actually been there. (That is one area where I struggle with my writing.)
I think that Harry and Snape’s basic personalities affect the way each of them confront issues from their pasts. Harry is younger and more open-minded, whereas Snape has had to stuff his emotions for so long that he’s very resistant to examining or, for that matter, having anyone else look into what makes him tick.
I have my story up on another site, and some of the readers there have also asked me why Snape seems to be cured after looking at only one memory, and if I plan to write more. As you said, there is so much more to his childhood memories than can be covered in just one story, but hopefully I have left him in a place where, along with the love and support of those close to him, he can continue to heal.
Summary: A young Muggle is in hospital and the doctors are looking for a
blood donor from a close relative. Harry has a plan to help. Pre Epilogue.
This story is not yet complete, but it seems that the sick boy serves as a vehicle for the larger issue of establishing connections between the Muggle and Magical worlds in law enforcement and medicine.
In the attention-grabbing beginning to this story, the Constable is looking for the "mystery man" who has left such a meager paper trail in his life. We catch a glimpse of the Dursleys, Petunia who has softened in her attitude toward Harry, and Vernon who is as irascible as ever. And we see Robert's first interaction with the wizard Harry.
It is a little hard to accept that Harry decides to confide everything in Robert so rapidly, or that Robert believes in Harry's magic world so quickly. Even given the incentive of helping a dangerously ill boy, one might expect more caution in Harry or more skepticism in Robert, and later in Eleanor. Still, Chapter 1 is interesting and enjoyable, and the sentences are well constructed.
Chapter 2 had two little issues for me. First, a lot of magical characters (Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Hannah, Madam Pomfrey, Kingsley, and the kids) are introduced all at once. I get a feeling of a Class Reunion. It seems overwhelming. I might have introduced them more slowly, one or two at a time over the rest of the story.
The second issue is that in-jokes and obscure references (such as trout and mushrooms) in the presence of Muggles who don't understand them and therefore get confused and cannot follow the conversation are not polite. I have seen this in other works of other authors, and it seems out of character for Harry and his friends to behave that way in front of their guests. It feels exclusionary. On the other hand, Hermione's impulse to explain Gamp's Law is the opposite; she is trying to be inclusive, though Ron's brief explanation ("rules and restrictions") is more appropriate at the moment.
We see here a Harry who chafes under the restrictions imposed by the Secrecy Statute and is eager to test its boundaries, even if that behavior gets him in trouble with the Ministry of Magic, the Muggle world, or both. One can almost see him charging into Radcliffe Hospital with wands blazing, if needs be, and ending up in a Muggle jail. (That would be an interesting development.) We hope he is more intelligent than impetuous, or, as Hermione would say, has a good plan. It will be fun to see where this story goes.
Summary: The rise. The fall. The thrill. The rush. This is Tonks's love life. And she never wants to get off.
This story shows Remus feeling sorry for himself. He had managed some sort of a life in his students days; he had accomplished what the other students did: learning the curriculum and making some friends.
But after graduation it was hard to find work. We know that he was in the Order of the Phoenix and that he served as Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts for one year at Hogwarts, but what else? Given his patched and shabby appearance, probably not much else.
When we see him in this story, his spirit is beaten down. And after nineteen years of battling almost insurmountable barriers, who wouldn't be discouraged? Who wouldn't fell sorry for himself? Who wouldn't use noble-sounding excuses to avoid being disappointed again? We remember how quickly he cleared out of Hogwarts in the spring of 1994 after being uncovered by Snape, without even fighting to save his position until the end of the term.
These are good lines: "I can't want things like other men. I can't live like other people."
The second sentence is true; many handicapped or disabled people don't live exactly like a completely able-bodied person.
But the first sentence is not true. We are all entitled to want, whether or not we obtain." Feelings of longing are our own possession; no one is forbidden to hope or dream. Lupin's statement that he has no right to his own feelings (ridiculous statement!) indicates his lack of self-esteem. He has internalized the negative attitudes of much of society.
The author says "He didn't [talk] for several minutes." Which of the things that Dora had said was he mulling over in his mind during those minutes? Was it really just a kiss that made the difference? Or Dora's excellent point that they were living in abnormal times that broke all the previous rules of how society functions? Her best line, in my opinion, comes right after he complains that he can't want the things that other men want or live as they do. At that point in history, no one was living as they used to do.
An excellent little story. I have seen various conceptions of what exactly persuaded Remus to seize the happiness that he had wanted all along. This one is a fine example.
Author's Response: Thank you for your kind remarks. It's been a while since I actually read this story, so I can't answer your questions right off, so feel free to speculate.
Summary: When Andromeda Black joined Hogwarts, all she wanted to do was please her family. But as the years passed, she wasn't sure whether what they had been teaching her was right.
This is majestic_ginny of Hufflepuff writing for Round 2 of the Character Clinic Triathlon - Minor Characters. I chose the Parent prompt.
I enjoyed reading this story, a well-written glimpse into the life, thoughts, and moral evolution of Andromeda Black.
The timeline was a little confusing. Andromeda starts out at Hogwarts in 1964, takes the OWL exams five years later, in 1969, and should have graduated in June of 1971. But the 1973 entry sounds as if she is still at Hogwarts. Her father says, "I don't think we should let our daughters [plural] stay there anymore." But by 1973 there should be only one daughter, Narcissa, still at school. And Andromeda thinks "And Ted...How could I leave him?" as if they were both still at Hogwarts.
For a girl who was so determined at age 11 to do what her family expected, and who seven years later still doesn't know what to do because her family doesn't love her, she makes a fairly abrupt about-face. Even though she has been observing Muggleborns at Hogwarts for years and has been seeing that they don't seem bad, but rather as human as purebloods, she has been unable to resolve this cognitive dissonance until Ted Tonks spells it out for her. (I would have liked to see a few more lines of dialogue between Andromeda and Ted before she spills her story to him; her confession seemed a little sudden, given that she had not been in the habit of talking with Muggleborns at all.)
Then it is two more passive years (at school or at home?) before she finally makes a break, which seems to be impelled more by love for Ted than by a final, overt rejection of her family's values. I wonder, as she headed down the stairs with her trunk, whether she sneaked out of the house unseen or had a final blow-up with her parents.
This relatively timid girl, who doesn't get her backbone until she is 20 years old, contrasts sharply with the older Andromeda whom we meet in the books at age 42, tough and strong, a survivor.
The writing style is fluid and graceful, the words well-chosen, and the characterizations of the members of the Black family are well-drawn. This piece is a good addition to the backstory of Andromeda Black.
Author's Response: Hello! Thank you for the review :D. I see that you've found quite a bit of mistakes; I'm sorry ,but I guess I didn't do my research as well as I thought I had, hah. I'll go over it and edit any corrections. Thank you! And as for the contrasting characters: I had never written Andromeda before, and this was just a trial. I guess I couldn't nail her properly enough. But this is what it seemed would be like; it didn't seem to me that she'd be an outright rebel like Sirius, considering that she was a Slytherin. I think as a child she would have wanted to follow her family traditions, but as she got older she realised that it was all wrong. That's what I was aiming for :).
As I remember, Andromeda was blasted off her family tree "for marrying Muggle-born Ted Tonks". Since it didn't say that she was disowned for not following family values or anything, I just had her leave due to her love for Ted, hah. And I think she would have said something to her parents, but I didn't feel that scene was needed too much, so I left it up to the readers' interpretation :).
I'm glad you like the characterisation of the rest of the family, though! And once again, thank you so much for the review; it's greatly appreciated :). --Nadia
Summary: Susan Bones will do anything, even travel halfway across the world, to destroy the curse which holds her mother in its evil grip. Each moment during her stay in Kumasi, Ghana brings new challenges, from the lack of running water to an extremely flirtatious Ghanaian boy who may or may not have secrets of his own...
I just had to write a comment on your story because my daughter has lived all her adult life in various African countries, and the colorful details of your story remind me of what I have heard from her. The question of "self-injection" has been debated in this forum, pro and con, but there is no doubt in my mind that some of our richest and most realistic tales result from our mining our own experiences.
Given that the pronouncing and receiving of curses is an active aspect of many cultures in Africa and elsewhere (my daughter had an interesting experience in Cote d'Ivoire), it doesn't take much tweaking of the story to make it fit into the Potter universe. The magical bureaucracy in Ghana can be a reflection of the secular bureaucracy in Ghana.
In your story the curse was genuine and the curse-breaking ritual had a genuine effect, but in real life the lines between real and fake magic are blurry. Do the curses and cures actually work, in real life, simply because the victim believes so strongly in them? You answer this question within the realm of your story by having them work at a distance; Sarah Bones suffers the effects of the curse without knowing about the curse and gains the benefit of the cure without knowing about the curse-lifting ritual.
And I loved your little detail about the pathogenic organisms in the water becoming spell-resistant. That's such a clever take-off of the problem of pathogens becoming resistant to the drugs we use against them.
What worked least well for me in your story was the boyfriend-girlfriend complication between Susan and Kofi in the time leading up to the curse-lifting ritual. I can understand injecting some tension right before the climax by introducing some element that threatened to derail the ceremony (and Sarah's cure) at the last minute, but I would have chosen something other than a romantic entanglement. I see their relationship as strictly business, a friend helping a friend; if it was supposed to be something more, that could have been developed more, though for the purpose of the story it did not need to be anything more.
All in all, an interesting and enjoyable story, full of rich cultural detail. It brought back memories of my visit with my daughter when she was in Madagascar.
Summary: O.W.L. results have arrived, and Scorpius is certain his parents will be less than pleased.
This is Acacia Carter of Hufflepuff, writing for the Minor Character Challenge of July 2012.
Many thanks to Julie/Peppermint Toads for the beta, Jess for the nudge to write Scorpius, Gina for the nudge to write Please note that this is a companion piece to another of my works, An Intervention. It can be read alone, but if you are interested in Scorpius's past, the beginnings of it are available on my author page.
It's not my fault I seem to be incapable of writing a story without Neville in it. Really, it's not my fault this time - blame Gina.
Many thanks to Julie/Peppermint Toads for the beta, Jess for the nudge to write Scorpius, Gina for the nudge to writethis Scorpius, and Soraya for listening to my angst.
Please note that this is a companion piece to another of my works, An Intervention. It can be read alone, but if you are interested in Scorpius's past, the beginnings of it are available on my author page.
It's not my fault I seem to be incapable of writing a story without Neville in it. Really, it's not my fault this time - blame Gina.
I particularly liked this story because of your spare (in the sense of not overdone) writing style. The story is told tightly, with the dialogue and no-more-than-necessary action, so that the reader does not have to slog through endless verbiage to glean the essence of the story. This makes your story very refreshing to read. I also appreciate a story in which the characters act intelligently and sensibly, since I tend to get impatient with characters who act like fools, as if they are their own worst enemies. Will enjoy reading more of this story.
Summary: Rosmerta Church has never really enjoyed Christmas since she was seventeen. In fact, it has always depressed her - there was just so much for her to miss. But one Christmas day, a recovering alcoholic visits Rosmerta's pub and gives her a bit of hope.
This is Eleanor Lupin of Hufflepuff writing for Round Two of the 2012 Character Triathlon.
This is a neat little story, nicely written. The first section (the prologue, you might say) is succinct but gives all the necessary background in a few short paragraphs with adept sentences and good word choices. In the second section, Rosmerta does not explain to her friend Caitlin why she is going to work at the pub, saying "You wouldn't understand." I'm not sure what was non-understandable. Caitlin seems to have known that Rosmerta didn't want to go back to an alcoholic father who ruined her life, and probably Rosmerta's sorry exam results were not a secret. (Or were they?) Maybe I'm missing something here. Was she hoping that she might see her father again someday if she worked in a pub?
The final section is sweet. Rosmerta's kind treatment of the impoverished woman shows that she still has a loving heart, even though she tries to be hard-boiled, and that fact that the reader can guess, partway through this section, who the old man probably is does not detract from that sweetness.
It was good to include the lines where Rosmerta asks herself if she wants to risk a reunion with her father. After all, she is nobody's fool, and she realizes that the reunion might not be what she hoped for. It would be out of character for her not to have these misgivings. But hopefully she and her father have both learned something over the years.
At a couple of spots in the second and third paragraphs of the last section, there was some alternating use of present and past tense, whether on purpose I don't know. But that's a tiny matter in an otherwise well-done story.
Summary: She sits at her window and watches the vanishing green. Nominated for Best General Story in the 2013 Quicksilver Quill Awards.
This is an interesting story about a character who has always seemed ambiguous. Her sisters Bellatrix and Andromeda are presented as bad and good, respectively, but Narcissa is harder to characterize. Is she an actor or a victim? Passive or resolute? Responsible or not responsible? The author captures this ambiguity well as Narcissa waits, alone, pondering her past actions and re-examining her past beliefs and assumptions.
I am impressed by the author's ability to organize Narcissa's jumbled thoughts so coherently and by the way the different topics flow, one after another, so fluidly: her trepidation about her upcoming trial and its probably result, her conclusion that everyone has already written her off as a criminal, her realization that her former values were ignoble and her former friends were merely sycophants.
The author cleverly uses the word "green", the color of Slytherin House, to symbolize everything that Narcissa used to have and has now lost. Even her party gowns are literally green. But now, all that symbolically green world is gone, and by setting the scene in the snowy months of the year, the author lets the disappearance of the green plants in the garden under a blanket of snow represent Narcissa's final loss of everything that constituted her life: her family, her social group, her standing in the wizarding world.
A story with only one character, no dialogue, and almost no action is a challenge to write without becoming bogged down in general emotion and angst or overly flowery description. But this stream-of-consciousness piece works, sentence fragments and all (which don't bother me in the slightest, though some people do object). It represents a seven-month-long turning point for Narcissa, even though she cannot see into her future, which, whatever it turns out to be, will be utterly different from what she has ever known.
Author's Response: Thank you for the lovely review. I'm glad you liked it.
Samuel Radley is a wizard born without magic. Coming from a family with generations of witches and wizards, his brother Adrian has never really understood why Samuel has been left without, especially when there are others, with no magical blood at all, who somehow find themselves able to do magic. As he enters his fourth year at Hogwarts, it seems that the Ministry are finally starting to do something about this imbalance and Adrian couldn't be happier. All around him however, there is resistance to the new laws, and suddenly Adrian finds himself an outsider in his class and abandoned by his friends, when all he's ever done is love his family.
This is coolh5000 of Slytherin writing in the Great Hall chaptered challenge, for the Phoenix Rising prompt. I am pleased to say this story won in its section!
I am also really thrilled to say that Adrian Radley won the Chaptered QSQ for Best Original Character 2013! The story was also nominated in the Best General category.
I am hugely enjoying this story. A refreshingly un-hackneyed topic, excellent writing, good plot development, good pacing, and so on, and so on... I am looking forward to reading the next chapter.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for the review! I have finally updated after a rather hideous wait, so I hope you will enjoy what comes next :) ~Hannah
Summary: During her Sixth Year at Hogwarts, Luna Lovegood is captured by Death Eaters as she rides the Hogwarts Express home for Christmas. What on earth was going through her head during this harrowing experience?
This is an interesting description of a little moment in time, when Luna is captured by the Death Eaters. It is written in the first person, from Luna's point of view. The short sentence structure evokes her unique thought processes. She jumps, in her mind, from topic to topic, and thoughts of the imaginary creatures invented by her father intrude on her attempts to understand what is going on around her.
The first conversational section, between Neville and Luna, seems unsubstantial to me. I'm not sure what it contributes to the main theme of the story. The collection of short paragraphs that follow are a good description of the changes and deterioration of the environment in the school and in society in general as Voldemort rises in power. Then the last of these short paragraphs, where Lune speaks of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, reminds us again that her grasp of the situation (and therefore her reaction to it) is still distorted by her belief in her father's "crazy theories".
In the end, she is too distracted to protect herself, to Ginny's great frustration, when the Death Eaters seize her and take her away. She asks, "How do you Disapparate?" but I do seem to remember that somewhere in the books Luna says that her father taught her to Apparate when she was younger than the usual age for Hogwarts students to learn the skill. (Maybe I disremember.)
Writing Luna must be a challenge. (I have never tried it.) It would be a mistake to stereotype her as a ridiculous figure. She was not a stupid or crazy person, despite her adherence to her father's beliefs. She was a successful Hogwarts student, but with a unique outlook on life and a remarkably even temperament. The author has captured her personality well.
Summary: Growing up as a member of the Malfoy family, Valeria has always struggled to conform in an intimidating environment and to the strictest of demands. Until one fateful day when she finds herself completely cut off. Lost, adrift and facing destitution, she finds help from the unlikeliest of benefactors. The opportunity arises to build a new future for herself, and her life will take an unexpected turn...
Dad is right. This is a very good story and deserves more reviews. The writing is graceful, the details greatly enrich the story, the characterization is well done, and the plot is intriguing. I look forward to reading the upcoming chapters.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for the complimentary review! I hope you enjoy the rest of the story as well.
Summary: Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. -C.S. Lewis
June Bagnold comes from a family very focused on success at the Ministry, but she's not so sure she'll be able to fulfill her father's wishes for her, especially with her near-crippling shyness. But she's a seventh year now, and she must face NEWTs and the beginning of life after Hogwarts.
This is minnabird of Hufflepuff writing for Round Three of the 2012 Character Triathlon - Fairy Tale Prompt
It tied for third in its round and has now been nominated for Best General Story in the 2013 Quicksilver Quill Awards
This is a sweet story about surmounting failure and disappointment to go on to what is really important and satisfying. No, Mr. Bagnold will probably never approve of his daughter's not getting a prestigious job at the Ministry, but it is his loss for failing to see the value of any other occupation.
June makes a big step into adulthood by coming to understand that it is no longer her obligation to direct her life so as to please certain other people. The life and the decisions are hers, and the opinions of other people, even people as close as her parents, simply don't matter any more. In metaphorical language we refer to it as cutting the apron strings, and I suppose that most of us have gone through this process, even when we didn't graduate with disappointing grades.
I like the structure of this story: a series of snapshots to illustrate the pivotal moments in her journey, so that a long tale could be told in a brief span. (That is an art, as I have learned in trying to cram a whole story into the word-limits of a drabble.) Some less important considerations must of necessity be left out, such as what did her father think of her final decision? Did he ever come around? And, as she knows now, that IS unimportant. Once she is released from paternal expectations, she is free to grow in the directions that are right and needful for her. Mr. Bagnold's insistence on an "important" and "prestigious" career in the Ministry suggests a basic insecurity on his part, due to his family's attempts at upward mobility, whereas June is moving past that level of development.
I like the fact that the relationship between June and Vivian did not appear to be strained. There was no reason that it should be, even with their individual differences, but some authors might have been tempted to insert some tension there. This author wisely did not.
Although this story is made in large part of June's thoughts, without a lot of dialogue, the narrative carries along at a nice pace and does not get bogged down. The characters of June and her mother are well developed, and the lesser characters of Vivian and Mr. Bagnold fit neatly into their roles. A successful and enjoyable story.
Summary: His mum's a witch and his dad's a wizard, but Phoenix isn't going to Hogwarts.
His parents have other plans, and they know their rights much better than
Vernon Dursley ever did. It all makes perfect sense to them -- but not to
their unhappy eleven-year-old son. The magical education authorities might
have an opinion, too, if anyone were asking them. Or is it just that no-one
Hi Geoff. I half-promised to write you another review after this story was finished, so here it is. I am hard-pressed to find anything to complain about. Obviously you have made good use of the suggestions you received from the various assistants whom you credited. The subject was original and touched on a part of the Harry Potter legendarium that I have not seen addressed before. It is plain that you took great care with the details, which can make or break the plausibility of the story and function as little nails tacking everything firmly into place. Examples would be the reference to widdershins, an old supernatural belief, and "Tom Brown at Hogwarts", a take-off on the old "Tom Brown at School" books, which actually existed a century ago.
The plot is well-developed and well-paced, not draggingly slow or superficially fast, with the surprising twist of the letter's not being a Hogwarts invitation after all, when we readers were so sure that it was.
The descriptive sentences are well-done, with good, careful word choices, that avoid the extravagance one sometimes sees, mere novelty for the sake of novelty, and they never impede the flow of the narrative but rather contribute to it by making it more vivid.
The characters are well-developed and distinct, but the story never wavers from Phoenix's point of view. I like the fact that Ron is almost always referred to as Mr. Weasley, because that is how Phoenix sees him. I also like the fact that Ron, at age 29, is depicted as a mature and competent adult, not a perpetual bumbling adolescent. You would think that maturity on his part would be a given, but it is not always written thus.
Of course a good Sorting Hat song is always a treat to read, and yours certainly qualifies. But it does raise questions in my mind, not fully satisfied, about how it is decided, pre-invitation-letter, that some students are not suited to attend Hogwarts.
My only other qualification is that the ending, where Ron is so certain that Mrs. Jones will come around eventually, is a little weak in that the matter is not so unquestionable in my mind as it seems to be in Ron's. I would much enjoy reading a sequel, the first chapter of which would settle this question beyond further doubt.
An excellent story. Well done.
Author's Response: Thanks for such a long and flattering review! The plan was always for this story to finish where it does, but I agree that in retrospect the ending does seem a bit abrupt. While Ron is only too happy to see what he (or, rather, Minerva McGonagall) wants to see, Mrs. Jones will probably not be convinced that Phoenix belongs at Hogwarts until he has spent a term or two there. So perhaps a sequel is in order. But I have another chaptered story to finish first (I'm hoping I'll be able to start posting it here soon). I re-read "Tom Brown's Schooldays" recently; it's easy to see it as a distant ancestor of Harry Potter. (Tom Brown arrives at school and makes a new best friend who doesn't have any money. But Tom has plenty, so he buys some snacks for them to share...) Thanks again. By the way, "legendarium" is a great word.
Nicely written, and I am glad that you are addressing a topic I have wondered about also, namely, parents who have reservations about sending their children to Hogwarts. It will be interesting to see where this story goes.
Author's Response: Thanks! More about Phoenix's parents' reservations in the next chapter.
A story of the origins of Hogwarts. 11 chapters.
It is the tenth century. Across the island of Britain great changes are taking place and history is being made. But its wizarding community is mired in division and violence, with little hope of an end. Everywhere, the future seems uncertain.
And amid this, in a glen in the Highlands, a young pregnant woman buries her husband and makes a vow that will change history forever.
Her name is Rowena. They call her the Raven's Claw.
So far I am enjoying your story. It is nicely written, and I like how you link actual history and canon artifacts. Looking forward to reading the rest of the tale.
Author's Response: Part of the reason I wrote this was the challenge of plausibly linking the Founders into real history, so I'm glad you like that. There's so much diverse background detail on the Founders, and it's fun to throw in these little hints and references.
Summary: Some things are worse than losing someone, like never having them at all. A short Shell Cottage missing moment.
Warning is for implication, just to be safe.
This story was a bit challenging to read, and as moments in Shell Cottage go, it was a little moment, but worthwhile.
At first I thought the voice was just Hermione's during the time when she was being tortured by Bellatrix, but there were odd elements: looking around and seeing four bare walls, no other people. Then seeing a window/mirror that wasn't there a moment ago. Then looking at herself in the mirror. These things didn't happen in Malfoy Manor.
I felt a sense of deja vu when, in the midst of these terrifying events, Hermione sees the humor in comparing her situation to characters in books. Why did that seem familiar, someone taking a break from their present horror for this stray parenthetical thought? Then I realized why; my mind flashed back to the day in Mexico, waiting at the side of the road for the arrival of the ambulance, crying "My God, my God, it hurts, it hurts" but simultaneously assessing what number this level of pain reaches on the Clinical Pain Scale, according to the parameters. Yes, people can think like that. Hermione could.
Then suddenly it is all revealed to be a nightmare, a blend of memories of things that actually happened and metaphors for what those things meant. Like a miracle, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, Hermione is transported from total disaster, the brink of death, to total safety and enfolding love.
It is completely believable that after her harrowing experience at Malfor Manor, Hermione cannot bear to be parted from Ron. I am reminded of accounts of families who have experienced some major disaster and afterwards feel compelled to sleep all together, huddled next to one another on the living room floor with all the lights on.
The writing is lush, but not too much so. The whole story is summed up in the final line; that's the short version. The rest of the story is the elaboration of those thirteen words, but it avoids repetiton, and each paragraph manages to provide something new and unique. If this is a story that was just dashed off in a brief span of time between classes, that's impressive.
Author's Response: Yes, that's why I'm usually wary about writing those moments. There's plenty of space where you can fill the blanks but, oftentimes, I don't think I'd be able to write a coherent enough story to fit that space. So thanks for the comment on that!
I'm also glad that you picked up on the nightmare, since that was supposed to be the segue into Shell Cottage. I didn't know if I had made it 100% clear that was going on and was an aftermath of the torture, but if one person picks up on that then I think that's fine. It's even better that others interpreted it differently. As for the length, I just can't seem to write anything long without it just falling to pieces. It's probably because I can only really fire off a story in a few sittings and after that I lose focus.
Either way, thanks for the review! (I'm sure you'd like the thematically similar Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean, by the way.... just shillin' here)
Summary: Colin Creevey sees acceptance as an art form. It disguises his loneliness, his insecurities and his conviction that he does not fit in.
Luna Lovegood has never been accepted, but remains perhaps the most content person Colin has ever met. As his feelings for her develop throughout their years at Hogwarts, Colin must prepare to renounce the acceptance of his friends; instead learning to accept her and, ultimately, himself.
I have always wondered how a place like Hogwarts could function and thrive with so little adult supervision of basically clueless adolescents. Each house has its contingent of prefects, who are just middle teens themselves, and a Head of House who does not live with them or supervise their hour-by-hour behavior, as would a parent who lives at home with his or her children. The situation is a little bit better than Lord of the Flies, but not a lot, as it pertains to non-homicidal misbehavior. (This issue is also raised in Inverarity's story "Hogwarts Houses Divided", in the description of the internal functioning of Slytherin House. Isn't anyone teaching these kids right from wrong?)
In this well-written story, which takes place all in one day, Colin's first day of his second year (though the first year hardly counted), Colin is still trying to establish his place at Hogwarts. He doesn't know what the unwritten rules are, concerning friendships, inclusiveness, and belonging. He doesn't have confidence in his own ability to make right decisions. He doubts because he does not think his decisions should be based on basic principles of right and wrong, but rather on obscure factual knowledge that Jack and Jimmy seem to have but that he himself does not.
In his confusion he feels compelled to make an on-the-spot choice, believing in actuality that he has no choice. If there are any options beyond the obvious either-or that presents itself, he cannot see them. The day that started with such high hopes ends with the taste of ashes in his mouth. And this is just the first day.
The details in this story are spare. The author gives us a few examples of the bullying that Luna endures, but the reader is invited to imagine that the incidents are multiplied many times over. In the last few paragraphs of the story, with no superfluous words, the author shows Colin beginning to try to resolve his moral dilemma,now that he has time, through the long hours of the night, to reflect on his choices. Hopefully the next time he will be better prepared.
Haunted memories are as the ghosts that follow...
Merope's life takes a different path when she meets Abraxas Malfoy, a rich young man who promises to help her out of her situation. But when she arrives at the designated place to meet, he isn't there, and all she can see is a ghastly green potion beckoning her to step forward and drink.
Consuming the potion leads her into another world, where marbled structures speak in Delphic tongues, forests hold the mind prisoner, and poisonous bugs stalk their victims.
But that isn't all. She comes to the realization that perhaps memories and experiences are naught but deceitful apparitions meant to drag her soul down into endless misery. It is then that she must make a decision - give in or simply give up.
This is Nagini Riddle of Gryffindor, writing for Round 9 of the Gauntlet.
I have read a lot of your poetry, so I was intrigued about seeing how you handle a prose piece. I enjoyed reading your story; it was very imaginative. The first part (Merope's initial interactions with Abraxas) and third part (Merope's interactions with Salazar and Abraxas in the castle) were written in a more straightforward manner, though with your trademark colorful description. The central part (after Merope drinks the potion until she wakes up in the cottage) was almost surrealistic. If I wrote the story, I would use fewer adjectives, but that would be my style, not yours.
The third part was a little confusing to me; I had to read it over again to get a good handle on what was going on and to understand more fully the conversation between Abraxas and Salazar. That is not bad; I like a story that makes me struggle a bit to catch the implications of things not spelled out in words of one syllable. And in the end there were still points I was unsure of -- some of the specifics of what Abraxas and Salazar were planning, whether Abraxas had visited Salazar before, why Abraxas needed to make his own antidote when it seemed that Salazar had plenty of it, etc. But that is how it often is in real life, questions remaining unanswered, skeletal remains never identified.
On the technical side some items of grammar and word choice needed to be improved. There were places where a past participle was used in the place of a past tense, such as "She almost sunk to a heap on the floor." It should be "She almost sank..." ("sank" is a past tense) or else "She has/had almost sunk..." ('sunk" is a past participle, like "eaten' or 'flown", and needs a helping verb "has" or 'had'). In other places a past tense was used where you needed a past participle ("she had never ran for her life before" needs to be "she had never run..." and "she had drank a potion" needs to be "she had drunk a potion).
In a few spots it appeared that you were looking for a particular word but ended up with a similar-sounding word that actually has a different meaning. At one point you said "allies" (friends, supporters) when I think you were looking for "alleys" (paths, roadways), and there were a few other spots of this sort.
These flaws don't detract from the pace or imagination of the story, but they give it an unpolished sound. To your group of betas who advise you on plot and characterization, you could add a beta who is simply a stickler for grammar and word usage.
Speaking of characterization, I though you did a good job depicting Merope's dejected and depressed personality, the result of a lifetime of abuse. But you also showed flashes of the strength and initiative that she could have had under better circumstances, if she had lived longer.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for your review. :) I like the points you made on my grammar- to be honest, it's more my computer/keyboard hitting the wrong letter and autocorrecting to what it think it should be in that moment, which is annoying. So if I spell "run" wrong on accident from going to fast, it likes to make it "ran." And, of course, I suck with past tense grammar. Anyways, the point of the mystery was because it was supposed to focus mainly on Merope, who wouldn't even know why Abraxas did what he did. I debated leaving it completely from her point of view, but I felt a few questions- not all- neede to be answered. In the future, I may revise it. It makes me happy to have you think I characterized Merope well. Abraxas and Slytherin, on the other hand, were much harder! And then, we must remember that this was based on picture prompts given one at a time, and then only a month three weeks to tie it all together. I am not a fast prose writer! *chuckles* This being one of my few Chaptered stories, I was pretty proud of how it turned out. Thanks again for your review. ;) I love to hear from you!
Summary: Today is Lily's last day. Everyone she knows will soon be gone. Menkes had finally won, and she had lost.
I read your story when it was brand new and didn't have any reviews yet, and I meant to review it, but didn't get around to doing that until now. I figured you had some personal connection to Menkes disease since it is rare, but we're never wrong in writing about what we have experience with. Actually, it's not impossible for Lily to have this disease. A previous reviewer mentioned that Lily would have to receive one defective gene from Harry, but that does not mean that Harry would necessarily have the disease himself (although he has only one X chromosome) because about one-third of all cases of Menkes disease arise as the result of spontaneous mutations, from a parent who has no familial history of the disease. In plain language, a perfectly normal and healthy Harry produces (by spontaneous mutation) a defective sperm cell which fertilizes a egg cell with a defective gene, produced by Ginny (who has no inkling that she carries a recessive mutated gene), and voila! you have a female baby with Menkes disease. Not all the mutations are alike; some disrupt the metabolism of copper more than some others do, so you can have victims with varying life spans. It is possible, but rare, to live beyond the age of ten.
But this is a writing forum, not a science education forum. And I congratulate you for being gutsy enough to write something and post it for all of us to read. I'll bet that the more you write, the better you will get. At least, I hope that that will be true for me. When I read something that has fluid and graceful prose (not necessarily whiz-bang action, just well-crafted sentences and paragraphs), I like to study carefully what makes it so, and then try to revise my own paragraphs to have more of that quality. It takes time.
Wishing you lots of luck.