I've only read a few entries, but of all of them, yours seems the most... story-like, if that makes sense? I've been reading sweeping stories with jumpy timelines, examinations of the champion's character in multiple scenes and special extended metaphors and all that. But this seems the most like a short story, with a linear plot and clear narrative, which was refreshing for me. I couldn't have applied the prompt to an idea so seemingly simple because a story isn't a story for me until I overthink it like whoa, but I'm really glad you did something like this for Susan (trying as hard as possible not to mix up Susans in my head, hehe).
It's not simple at all, though, which is what makes it actually spectacular. It's all a metaphor! There is no dragon! (I was going to say 'kudos for the incorporation of the dragon/blood uses/breeds, which again all seem simple/obvious on first glance but that isn't the case'... and I think I should say it anyway because the kudos are well-deserved). Your Susan (... Susan's Susan lol) is so beautiful, so strong, and the memory of Alecto Carrow and that awful year of Hogwarts (I really wish we'd had a glimpse into what that was like in canon) is threaded into who she is now, and it's just... again, beautiful. Her fight with her dragon also worked really well -- it's so hard to get action scenes to work, let alone with dragons, of all things, and the idea that this dragon is everything Susan went through wasn't spoon-fed to the reader. It's still there, though, just under the surface, and I love that you don't spell it out.
So basically: I thought this was lovely. It was a straightforward narrative, which was something of a cunning path to take with the challenge, I think, and it worked really nicely. No especially frilly frills, nothing that didn't need to be there -- this was just a well thought out, deceptively simple story, and another great read from you, as always :)
Author's Response: It figures that the one time I try to write a "normal" sort of story, everyone else does fancy stylistic things. But hey, I like to be different, and writing this way actually proved to be more of a challenge. God forbid I should write a linear plot with more metaphors than a sentence can hold, but I agree that this style better suits Susan (not me-Susan but Susan Bones) as a Hufflepuff. She's practical and realistic, and while she's got the bitterness many of my characters do, she expresses it in her own way, which made her interesting to write.
Haha, it's the simple story that is anything but - I hadn't noticed that, but now that you mention those things... *brain explodes* Talk about overthinking a story. I wish I'd been able to go into more detail about the Carrows' regime and its effect on Susan - there is a whole novel there waiting to be written - but I'm really glad to hear that just those brief glimpses were enough to give Susan more depth, revealing the roots of her strength and determination. It's equally wonderful to hear that the action scene was effective. They are difficult to write, I agree! I had this idea of making Susan see Alecto's face and hear her voice in the dragon's as a way to strike more terror into her, but that probably would have been overdoing things. It's still there between the lines because it was such a strong idea in my mind as I wrote this, and I'm glad that it still showed through somehow. :)
Thank you so much for this, Gubby! Your reviews are accompanied by an angelic choir in my head, they're that amazing to receive. And this one, for a story that I really didn't have much confidence in (confidence isn't even the right word - I just didn't have enough time to properly think everything through), has brought up the self-esteem and made me look at this story with a much kinder pair of eyes.