I learnt pretty quickly that unless you want to be summoning the Bloody Baron every five seconds, it’s best to humour Peeves as much as you can.
One of the things I love most about this story is how you manage to capture that "Hogwarts feel" from the first three books, before the plot turned darker and became less focused on the trio's school experience. You are awesome at pulling in fun little canon details and creating very natural feeling classroom moments. I especially liked your Peeves and the way that Emily deals with him. No matter how insecure she feels about her teaching skills, it seems pretty obvious to me that she knows the ins and outs of being a Hogwarts teacher pretty well.
Once again, you did a really clever job of showing how the magical elements of Emily's life are balanced against her muggle heritage and family. Her parents seem about as normal as the parents of a young woman can be. They worry about the same sorts of things, make the same sort of "eye roll" comments and generally dote over her the way that any empty-nesters would over their youngest child. Her father reminded me of the way that Hermione's dad is usually written where Ron is concerned, doubting her ability to use simple muggle gadgets. Although it seems that unlike Ron, Emily is actually capable. Lastly, the fact that her brother was once jealous of her was another little detail that helped to make the picture feel complete and realistic.
The Slytherin boy in her class, Newitt, really helped to show how some things have changed and others have not in the years since the war. I can't imagine any of Harry's Slytherin contemporaries being so friendly with a mudb... err, muggle-born, even if she was a teacher. Their little running joke about the silly examples he slips into his essays was a really nice detail. There's a genuine sort of connection there. Again, I don't think Emily is nearly so bad of a teacher as she thinks she is. However, Newitt is also headstrong and too confident in his abilities. So there are definitely still Slytherin traits in Slytherin House.
Emily's flashback to Cedric Diggory's death was chilling. You wrote it really well, and the fact that you gave me so much time to get immersed in Emily's character before it happens made the impact that much stronger. I don't know whether you've ever been around someone suffering from post traumatic stress, but the physical and psychological symptoms you described -- the way she loses herself in her memories, the devastation, the way her body just sort of collapses -- all sounded very realistic.
When you brought her around in the Hospital Wing, I thought you did a good job of easing us into the scene. Putting Emily in a confused state and letting her work things out for herself was a great way to emphasize the way her episode left her feeling.
You wrote another great McGonagall scene in the Hospital Wing. She wasn't gushy or mothering or overly upset, but she makes her concern apparent in other ways. She's also very patient, letting Emily explain things at her own pace.
“Well it’s been a few years, but I have been known to teach the odd Transfiguration class myself, you know.” McGonagall raises an eyebrow and I can’t help but smile. -- I loved that line. You write her dry sense of humor so well!
As silly as it might sound, this passage stuck out in my head: She pushes the table closer to the bed so that I can reach it. I lay my legs flat again and pull the table so that the top of it stretches across my lap. To me, the fact that you remembered that her knees were pulled up to her chest and you took the minimal time needed to point out the needed change shows just how good your attention to detail is.
In the last section, I liked the way that you used a lot of small facets of Emily's journey home to keep filling in the picture of her emotional state. The way she avoids everyone on her way out of the castle suggested to me that she's having a hard time dealing with her problems.
I'll keep heaping on the praise about small details, because I love them! You took the fairly mundane act of apparating to her parents' home and turned it into something I really enjoyed reading. Her thoughts on the distance balancing out against the familiarity of her destination shows how much thought you put into things. And I liked the way that she picks a safe place like the tool shed instead of just popping out of nowhere into the middle of the street or scaring her parents half to death by popping into the living room. You think these things through so well!
The banter with her parents felt so warm and loving and natural. All the small things, like her father's hug and the smells of her mother's cooking, really added to that sense of welcoming and familiarity. Her mother found a new facet of her appearance to comment on, which was amusing. But in the end, she's home, and that's all that matters.
Just so this review gives you a little more value than shameless gushing, I'll point out a couple of things I saw:
“It was like I was there again, at the triwizard tournament.” - I think Triwizard Tournament should be capitalized.
“Thankyou Minerva,” is all I can say. - Thank you.
One other thing I noticed near the beginning of the chapter is that you have several really long sentences. This one stuck out in my mind because the whole paragraph was one long one: They take a little longer than usual to stop talking and turn their focus to me, but since they were just out in the corridor being serenaded by our resident delinquent poltergeist, and it’s only a few days until holidays, I can understand their restlessness.
Overall, your writing was great! I had no problems getting immersed in the flow of the chapter and it was all really vivid in my mind. I really love this story!
Author's Response: Wow, this review gave me such a boost! Thank you so much for everything you said :)
That "Hogwarts Feel" is one of my favourite things about the whole Harry Potter series. I really think it's a huge part of what makes the books so successful, that fantasy world that Hogwarts is. I am crazy about Peeves and I'm pretty sure he's made an appearance somewhere in every single FanFic I've written. He's just incredibly fun to write and adds a real element of whimsy to Hogwarts. I think that being so young, Emily still finds Peeves to be amusing as well as annoying which is part of the reason that she takes such a clever approach towards him.
I thought a lot about Emily's parents, because I wanted them to be as real and as normal as possible. Her relationship with them is a loving yet has that regular level of dysfunction. Her parents don't mean to be overbearing but, well, they're parents :) I think they also feel the gap that magic put between them and their daughter more than Emily realises, but they want to support her because they know deep down that she could never give up magic. I also wanted her to have a good relationship with her brother, but I think it's pretty likely that when one child in a multi-child family has magical powers, there are going to be envy issues.
Andrew Newitt was this gift from the muses. In my plan I'd originally just written that there was an accident in the classroom and a student got hurt but then when I started writing, Andrew just came out of nowhere and I'm thinking he might play a bit of a bigger role in Emily's story.
I'm glad you thought the whole cedric-memory-breakdown thing worked well, I was so worried that it would come across as over the top or unrealistic. One of my good friends actually suffered from PTSD so I'm using some of the things she's told me about her experience but I'm also taking ideas from research I've done and my own assumptions so I'm hoping it all comes together.
*Phew* McGonagall is still working. Good. I'm a bit worried with some future chapters that are coming up with her in them but we'll see how that goes.
Ok, the detail thing. I'm actually really touched that you complimented me on it because I'd always thought of it as me being super neurotic. Even when I'm a reading a book, my imagination sucks up every single detail, like I'll be reading a book and someone will sit down, and then later they'll be standing and I'll freak out and think "When did they stand up!?!?" And I'll have to go back and find where it's written that they stood up. Yeah...just a tad neurotic. So I tend to be pretty picky about details, I think they're important because they're what make a story seem effortless. The apparating thing bothered me so much I posted a topic about it in the help wanted section on the forums! I was checking out maps and everything to see how far Hogwarts would be from Swansea!
Thanks for pointing out those mistakes, I must have been a lazy editor the day I posted this because they're such silly mistakes too. I'll go in and fix them. I'll also keep an eye on sentence structure, I know I can get a bit carried away sometimes when I'm writing. I also have a semi-colon obsession :P
Thanks again for the awesome review, I'm glad you're enjoying the story!