Hey Amanda! As my exams are now over, I thought I'd pop by - I've actually kinda missed this story, you know. It's so easy to remember that I notice when I haven't read it in a while :)
Anyway I loved this! I loved how there's this whole sort of theme of this chapter of tension and sort of rapidly dissolving relationships between the characters: between Venn and Helena, between Helena and her mother, between Gryffindor and Slytherin. I liked that - it was very neat and kept the chapter fast-paced.
Ah, poor Helena! I totally understand where the serving girl who thinks she's being spoilt coming from - after all, most girls wouldn't ever dream of being in a similar position at the time - but I do feel sorry for her. In her mind, nothing's right, everything's falling apart. Venn is revealing himself to be different to what she thought at the beginning, and they're starting to argue... and then there's her mother, who she's argued with and doesn't realise is really actually ill. I love, though, how she has all the snippy-ness and sass of a modern girl, even though she's from such a different time. It's nice - because she is clever and strong in her own right, you know? She's just such a beautiful, real character and I always love it when I come back to this.
Venn! Nooo, he can't be corrupted! I love him! He was so lovely at the beginning of the story... so sweet and handsome and not a genius but not stupid either and nice mannered... I love how you've made him change, though, and how Salazar is manipulating him and making him believe that mudbloods are bad and peasants shouldn't mix with nobles and everything. It's so subtle and so clever of both you and Salazar and it really embodies the 'cunning' trait of Slytherin house :)
Also, the way you've included the growing rift between Salazar and the other three founders is so clever - I never thought about the two events being linked, or even close together in time, so kudos to you for that! It makes so much sense now you've written it like that, lol, and it just adds to the tension so much. I kinda feel sorry for Rowena, as well, because she's going through so much and knowing what will happen... ah, poor her!
Haha, Witter, though... stuck in the middle of an argument between his wife and his daughter... poor bloke :D Not an enviable position!
Can I just say (and I know this review is turning into a long, gushing thing, sorry!) that I like how you're including the locket and the tiara? I mean, obviously the tiara would need to be included, but the locket was a brilliant inclusion as well. I also liked how you had Rowena and Salazar unconsciously imitate each other by wanting their heirlooms back after their nephew/daughter had used them for a while - it just shows how precious they were, and that sort of mystery which might well be around things like that, you know? Kinda like the Hallows, I guess...
As always, your detail was fabulous - the party decorations, the jobs of the servants, the pitcher of water, the idea of rumours, the wedding dress. It's always so so good and part of why I love reading your work.
So yeah, I loved it :)
Author's Response: Hi Laura! Sorry this response took a few days; I was out of town and busy with old friends.
Yeah, that theme is kind of where the title came from. I don't often come up with chapter titles until I've finished writing a chapter because I try to use them to unify the diverse themes and plot lines in my chapters. For this one, I wanted to focus on the cracks in Helena's dream and the similar failings that occur for other characters, like Salazar.
I view Helena as sort of waging this internal battle between her grief over losing her girlish dream (in terms of the wedding and marriage and future) and her determination not to let herself fall victim to the expectations of those around her. In this chapter she really started to approach the end of her rope; she can't take much more, which makes her different from other uneducated girls of the time who would have no choice but to go along with it. I do feel bad for her because she can see that somehow things aren't going to end well and she has to make difficult choices to figure out how to salvage what she can of her destiny.
Unlike Helena, Venn isn't really willing to take a stand unless it's to preserve his own interests. He's perfectly fine with going along with tradition, since it favors him, and ignoring what is going on with his uncle. I do feel quite awful about him because I know I tried to turn him into a romantic hero before he and Helena began to meet their downfall. Unfortunately, his heart is just too ephemeral.
It's sort of like this falling out among the Founders is happening at the same time as Venn and Helena's relationship and eventual end. I don't think the lovers are really, truly conscious of it, but obviously (as we know) it will have major ramifications for the wizarding world. I didn't feel right writing a Founders story and not discussing the Founders at all, so it's great that you like seeing them included.
I'm happy you like the tiara and necklace being included! I view them as sort of symbols of the burdens that Venn and Helena couldn't wait to bear earlier and now find a little too heavy. They represent the theme of innocence ending and dreams falling apart as well.
Thank you for this truly amazing review!!