Wow, it took a bit longer than I expected for me to get this to you, I apologise.
The first thing I noticed was your opening line, it's brilliant and describes what one wouldn't think was necessary, but which adds to the whole 'setting of the scene'. Since dust particles floating through beams of light are things that usually get noticed, but aren't thought much about. This line is just the beginning of many lines of fantastic description. :D
I think it flowed rather well, the time jump did seem a bit odd at first, but the transitions are great and very clear. Once I read through, I decided the chapter seems better with the time jump in it. We get to see the child - what she becomes because of it - and why she is that way.
Reading this, I almost feel pity for her - I also hated her in the books - I never thought about what her past could have been. And I think this is an entirely believable idea - that Umbridge was bullied and mistreated as a youngster. Dumbledore was very much in character the whole time, and I did love his last line about the Jelly Bean.
I liked the other Slytherins that were there - Cygnus, Druella and Tiberius - they're canon characters, but ones that we know nothing about. It is common that a very unpopular person is friends with someone who will only show kindness to them in private, and I like how you've done that in here with Cygnus and Dolores. Druella was pretty much how I would imagine a pureblood Slytherin girl acting, especially when Cygnus was 'hers' - or would be someday.
All in all, I think this is a fantastic piece, it's extraordinarily well written and a very interesting idea, and I think you've come up with a great explanatory piece to show the history of the girl beneath the bow.
P.S - It's not icky in the slightest, I love it ;)
Author's Response: Hi Emily,
Don't worry, a review is always worth waiting for!
Thanks for commenting on the opening line - they're so hard to write, I find, and so I tend to start with a wide shot of the scene before zooming in! Similarly, I'm grateful that you commented on the final line. I thought it was a bit of a silly note to end on, but I love Dumbledore and I wanted him to have the last word in Dolores Umbridge's story.
The comment on the time jump is really useful to me, as whilst editing the story I kept moving the adult Dolores section around - from the beginning to the end and at one point I nearly deleted it! So it's good to know that you feel it works well where it ended up.
'I almost feel pity for her' - brilliant! That 'almost' is actually what I was gunning for. She's a loathsome woman (have I mentioned that I hate her? :P) and I didn't want to absolve her of all her sins by giving her a bad childhood. She's still a piece of work as a fifteen year old! I'm glad I seem to have struck that balance in your reading of it.
I'm so happy that you made the Cygnus/Druella connection, and that you see Druella's conceited possessiveness. One thing ...Tiberius isn't canon ;) he's an OC, for whom I borrowed a typical Slytherin/pureblood surname.
Thank you so much for this wonderful review. I was really unsure about this story but you've helped me feel more confident in it. "the history of the girl beneath the bow." is such an awesome turn of phrase!
I will definitely be requesting reviews from you again - not because this is a nice review, but because it's really thoughtful, and I appreciate that you really took the time to read it.
Thank you times a zillion.