Hey there - stopping by from the forums with your requested review! Sorry for the delay - my wrist's been playing up recently and it's been fairly bad the last couple of days, which made it pretty painful to type. I'm here now, though ;)
I liked this chapter - I think it was good to skip theory lessons, if that was all the first few lessons were, and go straight to the first practical magic lesson, with the spell and show that. I noticed you changed the Levitation Charm from Wingardium Leviosa - any particular reason? Given that we know what it is in canon, it's a little odd to change it...
Still, it was good. I liked how Merissa went up to the teacher at the end of the class and asked about the purpose of spells and noted the lack of magical accidents. I'd never really considered it before, but you're right... it is kinda odd... huh, but yeah, it was a really nice detail. Merissa's character is being explored a bit more in this, I think, with the lesson and her trying to perform the spell and her curiosity coming up again, and then her loyalty and sense of duty to her family with the letters... it was nice. What you've shown of her so far is good, she's coming along really well as a character :)
Two things I would say, though. First, you have a lot of single-phrase, short sentences. A lot of these can be joined together. For example: 'Merissa put her satchel next to her desk. Helen sat next to her.'; instead, you could say: 'Merissa put her satchel next to her desk, Helen sitting down next to her', or something similar. Lots of short sentences are better for fast-paced action stories and thriller-style stories, rather than this ;) It breaks up the flow a bit. Also, grammar-wise, when you have a character speaking it should be a comma before the speech marks close, not a full stop, e.g. "Snape's a git," said Harry. "He's always picking on me". It's easy enough to fix :)
I loved how she was so worried about writing the letters and what she could/couldn't say in them and how she wanted to explain to her sisters and tell them everything about what was going on and such at Hogwarts, but couldn't state it plainly. The fairytale-style story was a clever idea and a nice touch. I don't really understand, though, why she couldn't tell her parents about things like music classes, Herbology (which is gardening, and something they would probably deem as just about acceptable for a young lady to be learning), and other less-magical lessons, like History of Magic. I get that she can't talk about getting her wand and other more magic related things, like performing spells, but there's obviously a lot more than that at school...
Her friends are great characters, too, though I'd like to see more of their separate personalities. At the moment, they seem too much like a pair, I think. They seem to do everything together, and while friends would have similar interests, they wouldn't be that similar.
Oh, one more thing quickly! I'd have liked to see more of Merissa's reaction to having a female professor. Obviously, in the muggle world at the time this is set, women weren't professionals, and couldn't teach to that kind of level. I just would have thought that Merissa would have considered that odd or reacted somehow to it. Even though it's not the first lesson, it would be nice to see what her opinion was.
As usual, the detail was great. I liked the lesson you picked out as it reminds me of Harry's first lesson, I'd love to see what you do with other first practical lessons, tests and suchlike and how you manage her family and friends, and her kinda two different lives at the same time. The historical detail is particularly fabulous, and I'm kinda curious as to whether or not anything odd/important is going to happen while she's at school, and how things are going to develop :)
Author's Response: Thank you very much!
Not a problem at all! Glad you're feeling better.
I changed the spell primarily to reflect a difference in the education. With the focus on learning languages in that time, they would be able to specify exactly what they wanted the spell to do. Especially as it seems that the spell wasn't necessarily what is said but the intent of the caster. I'll have one of the teacher's explain why they are learning different spells.
I've added a note to combine the shorter sentences. And will fix the speech parts. Thank you for catching the ones I missed when I reviewed before posting!
I honestly didn't think about the music classes or dance classes or Herbology when writing the letter to her parents. I was so focused on trying to write a letter that explained what was happening as viewed with no magic. But that makes more sense, especially as her parents would be extremely interested in how her skills are progressing for her future Season. I will add a little more into the letter.
I will add more differences between Alice and Helen.
I will add a little more reaction to a female professor. I switched governesses and tutors in my head. :I
I've added a notorious family line into the story, one that has a particular ring...