Oh Susan, this is gorgeous. I've always been a fan of your stories (Winner Takes All was the first I read of yours, I think) and I've also been a fan of Tom/Minerva for quite a while, so this was the perfect story for me to come across :)
I don't read stories as often as I used to, apart from in the queue, but this was definitely one of the most impressive one shots I've ever read. The imagery you create is amazing, I could picture this whole scene in my head. I think you've also managed to portray both Tom and Minerva very realistically and true to canon, which is hard to do with such a ship that is definitely not canon.
I love that you used the quote at the start, as you said in your author's note, it really ties this moment with Voldemort's death. The way you've written this, I can imagine this being a very important moment in Tom's life. Obviously he relies on her to some extent, as the brief flash of emotion across his face suggests. The fact that she rejects him would have hurt, though I have a feeling he wouldn't feel it fully, it would be more subconscious.
Anyway, I'll stop rambling now :P Lovely writing, I'm glad I took the time to stop by and read this :)
Author's Response: Thank you very much, Giola! This review came as a surprise (as does any review from a staffer, as the queue can be a consuming beast), but I assure you it was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. :D I appreciate that you took the time to read and review this story, which is one of my favourite one-shots (as is the other Tom/Minerva I wrote - I think I love writing these characters way too much).
This ship is very interesting to explore, and while it's not very shippy in this story, the tensions between the characters are so taunt - they're on opposite sides, yet not wholly. Minerva has that shadowy side of her, just as Tom so easily stands in the light. To put them together is outside of canon, like you said, which is strange for me, as I'm usually a canon-stickler, but there's something about Riddle and McGonagall together that still captures my interest. I suppose it's like my version of Dramione. XD But anyway, I loved writing this story with its imagery and dichotomies, and it's fantastic to hear that you liked it too!
Being able to tie this back to Voldemort's death was a strange coincidence, but with that context in mind, the story gains more significance - like you said, it becomes an important moment for him, that one person he could not convince, seduce, bring over to his side. He is attracted to her, physically and mentally, so the rejection is a sharp one, something that he hasn't experienced in a long time, and while he doesn't show his emotion, he does feel it - he's merely become so good at hiding it that he can hardly recognize it himself, all feeling is buried very deep in his subconscious.
And I could keep going, oh dear. :P Thank you again for the review!