Funny, how old friends can snap us out of the doldrums of adult life for a little while, isn't it?
You definitely continued to add depth and substance to Emily in this chapter. Aside from major-league feelings of inadequacy, she also seems to be turning into a bit of a recluse. It isn't an easy thing to do inside of a castle filled with around a hundred people, the majority of whom have a built-in incentive to kiss up to you, but she's pulling it off pretty well.
Certain aspects of teaching seem to be universal, regardless of whether you're in a magical school. I suppose there's no easy or quick way to mark essays, even with magic. I'd never really thought about it before, but for someone who teaches a subject that's required for all students and nearly all years like Transfiguration, that must amount to a huge amount of homework to grade. When do these people sleep?
But I digress. Having Emily reminisce about going to Hogsmeade as a student was a great way to introduce some more back story and character development without it feeling forced. And I think that getting her out of the castle for a while helped your narration out. A change of scenery is always good when you want a character to be pensive. You've obviously put a lot of thought into what it means to be a muggle-born wizard or witch. Her fascination with Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade reminded me of the wonder that Harry always felt when he visited these places in the first few books, before things started to turn bad.
I thought the character Michelle was a great foil to help Emily continue to draw out her feelings about her life. Michelle seems to have a lot of things in her life that make Emily uneasy, possibly even a bit jealous although she isn't eager to admit that to herself. At the same time, Michelle also expressed a lot of admiration for Emily and her achievements in life. It seemed like Emily came away from the conversation feeling like her life might not be quite as bad as she's been thinking, but that there are obviously things that she's missed out on because of the need to hide during the war and her work/life balance since the end of it.
Once again, I thought your writing was fantastic. I couldn't find a single typo or grammatical problem. You really have a knack for writing with a nice, smooth, regular flow that's easy to follow and immerse myself in.
Great chapter! Back again soon...
Author's Response: lol...I love your comment about 'major-league feelings of inadequacy' I think that sums up Emily's feelings about her teaching abilities pretty well! And Emily is definitely hiding from the people around her, partially because she doesn't want to think or talk about work too much, partially because it's exhausting and partially because she just wants to run away and hide. When she's around other people, she also has to put this mask on, the mask of a person who is fine and happy and that takes a lot out of her, so it's easier to avoid people sometimes.
Teaching is a challenge, and for Emily, who is so depressed, it just becomes this huge unclimbable mountain she can't get past. The saddest thing is that deep down, Emily does actually enjoy teaching Transfiguration.
I'm glad you picked up on the muggle-born thing, I think there are a lot of aspects about being muggle born that are glossed over in JKR's books, not in the sense that she wrote it badly, but in the sense that there were a lot of things that just weren't pertinent to the story she was telling. And I want to explore a lot of those 'gaps' with Emily's story. One thing JKR did brilliantly, was describe the wonder of seeing the magical world for the first time as a muggle-born witch or wizard, and I was hoping to capture that similar feeling with Emily's memories.
There's definitely a bit of envy with Emily and Michelle, although not really enough to cause a rift between the characters, it's more like there's just enough to make Emily feel a little bit more depressed. Michelle is someone who suffered through the war but as a pure-blood who was able to be relatively sheltered during the war, she hasn't suffered the trauma that Emily has. She is a lot like Emily used to be and that's working to Emily's advantage because Michelle is something of a catalyst to lure the old Emily out into the light.
Thank you again for the great chapter, I really appreciate all of your thoughts. Thanks again! :)