I really, really love what you did with the First Year lessons in this. I can see Emily's point perfectly. There can't be anything quite like the excitement and awe of young kids who totally new to the subject, some of whom (muggle-borns) are seeing complicated magic for the first time in their lives. The way that you wrote the kids was perfect. Their eagerness to please and earnest competitiveness were brilliant touches. Emily obviously connects with them very well.
Again, I thought you did a really good job with McGonagall. Even when she's trying hard to be nice to Emily and supportive, she's still so intimidating. I liked the fact that she seems genuinely concerned about Emily, that was very much like her. Also the measured words of encouragement. I hope we get to see more of the two of them interacting. I imagine McGonagall would have a lot of advice as to how Emily could better connect with her older students.
Finally, I enjoyed the way that I could sort of feel Emily's hair coming down as she enjoyed an evening at the Three Broomsticks with her friend Michelle. Drinks aside, I thought the company really had an impact on her. Spending all of your time in the company of children will definitely wear an adult down over the long run. I see this with my wife every day when I come home from work. ;) You need to interact with other people your own age or your social skills start to degrade and you'll quickly find yourself in quite a rut.
Suggestions? I think I would have liked to see Emily and Michelle talk a bit more about their respective lives, and especially about Emily's. I assume that a part of Michelle's role in this story is to help Emily come to grips with her own need for companionship. More of that may be planned for future chapters, but this one felt a bit slow on the character development front.
I'm going to just stop commenting on your writing, OK? If I don't say anything, just assume that it was brilliant! :)
Back soon for chapter 4!
Author's Response: Yeah, that lesson with the first years was really easy to write. I imagine the majority of the first years, and especially the muggle-borns, would be super-enthusiastic about their classes at Hogwarts. And I thought it was important for Emily to have the reprieve as well, because it demonstrates that she is not only good at teaching, but deep down she actually enjoys sharing her talents with these kids.
I think there's so much of McGonagall we don't see and after reading about her back story on Pottermore, I think there must be this kind, motherly side to her that rarely gets seen. She wants to be a mentor for Emily the way that Dumbledore was a mentor for her and helped her through her own suffering.
I definitely agree about the whole spending time with people your own age thing. The fact that she's become so reclusive has contributed to her change in personality. She's forgotten how much fun it is to be young and Michelle is starting to remind her of that. I really appreciate your thoughts on Emily and Michelle sharing more about their lives and I'll definitely take that in to account, although how I envision Michelle is this link to Emily's former personality rather than the person who draws the real issues out. I want Emily's journey to recovery to be a team effort of sorts, there won't be one person who magically saves her from everything, but rather a tapestry of influences help Emily to look at things differently and find happiness again. I see Michelle as the one who encourages that young teenage girl in Emily, the one who takes her out dancing and shopping and makes her giggle. Michelle isn't trying to 'save' Emily, she's just befriending the girl she remembers Emily to be and that will hopefully draw aspects of that girl out of Emily. On it's own it does sound a little superficial, but when it's hand in hand with the other people that will step forward to help Emily, Michelle actually becomes a vital part of Emily's healing. I hope that makes sense. But you're right, I could review some of the character development with Michelle - I don't want her to become a one dimensional character on page because she's quite vivid in my mind. Thanks for the suggestion :)
Thanks again for reviewing, I'm planning to write another review for you once I've replied to mine so you'll be seeing me again soon :)