Hi there! I want to start off with a huge apology. The challenge has only been over for what, two months now? D: I'm really sorry for not reviewing until now, especially as this was gorgeous in every way.
I don't really like Ginny as a character, to be honest. I don't necessarily think she's a Mary-Sue, as a lot of people do, but I don't care much about her either. So the fact that you made me want to curl up in a ball and sob for her is incredible. I've read a few stories here and there about the regin of the Carrows at Hogwarts, but I haven't read anyting that even comes close to describing it the way you do. The sadness, the anger, the desperation. Everything came across perfectly, and I could /feel/ Ginny's anguish. I also really like how you made it clear that the Slytherins weren't completely free from harm. They weren't lording over the school while the rest of the students suffered, and that added a more human aspect to this. I don't think all but the worst human beings could be happy and proud while torturing others, or even seeing others be tortured. It certainly took its toll on some of the Death Eaters (Lucius Malfoy comes to mind) and as much as people like to say that they are, Slytherins are not purely evil. Sorry, I could rant forever about the misconceptions of Slytherins :P
One of my favorite parts of this was the imagery. Though it was short, the descriptions were stunning. One line that stood out to me in particular was this: "Harry always appeared smiling, alive and in one piece, and he always scooped her up into his arms before she could even detect him. His arms were warm and smelled of faint evergreen and the light sheen of sweat on his skin, and then, just when her heart slowed to a normal rhythm and a smile graced her softly painted lips, she would realize that the scent of the forest meant he was not here, not trapped in the dank castle." It was so delicate, so beautiful, and I like that Ginny had a connection with Harry. It fit in so perfectly with the nights he spent looking at her on the Marauder's Map, and there's something really sweet about the thought of them both thinking of each other every night. I really love your style because you don't need big, imposing vocabulary or really complicated sentences to create the vivid images you are so brilliant at creating. You do it with really simply placed words, but the way you string them together is incredible.
(Also, I realize this is just turning into a squee-fest xD Sorry I don't have anything constructive for you, but your writing is just magic ♥ )
Last thing, the part at the end just destroyed me. You had mentioned earlier Ginny's desire for life to be like a fairytale, and that coupled with her thoughts at the end was so innocent that it killed me. You captured the desire of pretty much every girl to be swept off her feet by Prince Charming, but you also managed to keep the sense of darkness surrounding that, and the opposites worked so well. Ginny is a really strong character in the books, and here you've given us a reason of how she managed to stay strong. This little reality in her head. It was so sweet, and like I said earlier, so innocent, that it became really relatable. That made this story for me.
Like I've said, this was incredible. A note on the prizes: Due to my lack of time and the lack of entries, I'm not going to be able to pick winners :( Because there were only two completed entries, I don't feel right picking one over the other. However, you still deserve a prize, and that prize will be 5 reviews. I'll be leaving them over the next two weeks, as I'm on Spring Break in a week and will have time! :D
Thank you for putting up with my awful procrastination/lack of time with getting to this. Lovely story.
Author's Response: I appreciate you coming by! :)
I didn't like Ginny very much before writing this either, which is part of why I chose to use this pairing, as a way of personally challenging myself to try something new. I definitely gained a new appreciation for her, and I'm glad you felt bad that she was stuck in such a terrible and confusing situation by herself, because I felt that way too.
I'm pleased that the ship worked for you. I really wanted to emphasize that Ginny misses Harry, but also that she resents him for leaving her behind and thinking she could be safer living under the reign of Death Eaters. It always shocked me that parents would send their children off to Hogwarts in this condition, though I know they really had no choice.
It's great that Ginny came across as strong, and that all of my description and word choice helped to bolster that image. I think she would have to be a tough young woman in order to remain committed to Harry after all that he went through, and sort of dragged her through, even if he never meant to do it. As I said earlier, I've gained a new respect for her.
I'm so glad you enjoyed this, and I apologize that my response took forever! :)