Hello! I'm finally here for our exchange :)
So I got the sense that this might have mental illness as a serious theme, and I'm doubly thrilled to read it now that I know that's true. I wondered a little if this might have a connection to Descending, which I still have not read and really must. I personally think of Harry first when I think of characters that might have mental illnesses. It seems silly, a bit, since there are others with much more complex and tragic histories, but I just think of the weight that Harry shouldered and don't know how he would walk out of his school years without being traumatized. It's cool to see you explore this idea here, in a way.
I really admire the accuracy of your portrayal here. Schizophrenia literally means "splitting of the mind," which is why so many people confuse it with Dissociative Identity (Multiple Personality) Disorder. I could really see Harry splitting in this story, falling apart little by little as he tries to process being surrounded by the other students and yet being unable to just be one of them. I love how his insanity filters in little by little, first with bothersome sounds and visions, and then with the sensation that his scar pain is drifting from the internal out into the external, coming from others. He ends up turning on himself to try to escape, because he simply can't perceive his attackers. I know this is AU, but I think it actually fits quite well, in terms of how Harry behaved in Book 5, half of him twisted and manipulated as a Horcrux. By the end, he's barely a shred of himself anymore. Schizophrenia robs you of who you are, and you've illustrated it in a darkly poetic way in this one-shot. Plus, you've managed to not make it too clinical, which can be hard when you're researching things.
The ending here was so innocent that it was scary. Ginny's observation actually sent a shiver up my spine. I think it was a little taste of what a horrible reality this might be, where Voldemort has truly consumed all the goodness inside of poor Harry.
I thought the flow here was great, even with the gaps, and I could follow it pretty well despite not having read or seen OOTP very recently. I didn't really notice any problems with technical work. The imagery was beautiful, just as I expected, and it helped to play up the haunting mood of the piece. I especially liked the places where you compared Harry to an animal, like Sirius with his curling lip.
I'm sorry this review took almost until the end of the month to get to you, but this was truly a wonderful piece. You should be proud of it ♥
Author's Response: Hi, Amanda! Wow -- thank you for leaving me such a long, lovely review on this one-shot. ♥
'Descending' is still one of my favorite things on my author's page, and I'd been searching for another excuse or plot in which to give Harry a mental illness for almost a year. :D It took me that long to connect that idea, and his fifth year -- when he looked rather mental to half the school -- and as soon as that happened, the plot came almost instantly! Oh, brain. You work in odd ways sometimes. I definitely agree with you, though; I always kind of felt like Harry experienced too much in his adolescence NOT to be affected by it later on in life.
I'm really, really happy that Harry's illness came across so realistically, too -- I'll admit that I did next to no research on schizophrenia (probably not something I should be admitting to, though!) before this, but hearing that it sounds like I might have is actually quite a relief. ;) I definitely wanted his insanity to sort of filter through, though, and I'm so, so glad you caught that! I don't know why, but mental illness fascinates me. Just the thought that you might not notice, until it's too late...
Ginny's line is one of my favorites; mirroring back to something Harry said, when I got the idea for it, sent a bit of a shiver up my own spine! (Is that lame?) I actually found the banner before setting out to write this one-shot, and the owls part came solely from the birds on the banner. A bit of luck, really!
I'm glad you could follow the story well, too. That's still a slight concern of mine. ;) Sometimes in angsty stories, like this one definitely is, the story itself is lost in the telling of it, if that makes sense. Thank you so much for all your kind compliments. ♥ I am sort of reeling from them now. You are too good to me!
This was a beyond fantastic review, Amanda! Thank you so, so much for leaving it. :3 And I'm really happy you liked this story, too!