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So I have the oddest combination of feelings about the start of this. I know that it probably was a common practice for a wealthy, noble father to offer his son or daughter some number of servants to take along as they prepared to start a new life with their spouse. It was actually a very sweet gesture on his part, considering the fact that his wife is dead set on never seeing the wedding take place. Plugging the concept into the HP universe feels so bizarre, though. It's inconsistent with the values that three of the four founders of Hogwarts were commonly associated with. To me, it was a great reminder of how long ago this story was actually set. It's easy, sometimes, to slip a bit and forget that you're reading something from the distant past. The cognitive dissonance of seeing the Ravenclaw servants treated like chattel snapped me right back into the zone of the story.
Like any wealthy young woman, she had need for servants to freshen up dresses that had been crammed into her wardrobe, style her hair, and sneak her bits of fruit and cheese well past dinnertime. -- I have the strangest desire to shout, "Dobby has no master! Dobby is a free elf!"
So, I see the Edeline not only has no intention of helping Rowena to bring an end to Venn and Helena's engagement, she's now doing everything in her power to see that the wedding happens. It's an odd feeling, because I want to like what she's doing for Helena, but I feel like her reasons are somewhat selfish. There's also the fact that she's probably also playing right into Salazar's hand...
I like how you paced the conversation between Edeline and Helena. It was a very gradual progression from Helena feeling grateful and comforted by Edeline's warmth and willingness to help to her feeling smothered and trapped by the Edeline's rigid formality and patriarchal approach to both the wedding and married life. I especially liked this line: Edeline acted as if planning the wedding was a chore, when in reality Helena had dreamed of the day for years and years. The poor dear clearly has a lot of disappointment in her near future.
Venn's gift was really very thoughtful. He actually isn't as coarse or thoughtless as he comes across sometimes. I really like the subtlety and depth that moments like this bring to his character. He can be thick, but you just can't completely dislike the guy no matter how hard you try.
And then, he goes all Ralph Cramden/Captain Caveman on her. It was quite an emotional drop after seeing him be so thoughtful just a few short paragraphs earlier. The guy is a study in contrasts. You do a terrific job of keeping him balanced: likable enough to root for him to do better but frustrating enough to want to smack some sense into him. I guess you can't be upset with a character that you don't feel anything for.
Another really great chapter! The writing was beautiful, with not a thing out of place.
Author's Response: Hey, nice to see you again!
Yeah, it's interesting how the ownership of others isn't just restricted to the villains even in the canon series. I mean, Hogwarts has a whole troop of house elves. I think the distinction comes in the treatment of those individuals, and I tried to make it clear that the Ravenclaws' servants didn't personally dislike their masters/mistresses, even if they weren't thrilled about their station in life.
Hah, yeah, I bet Dobby wouldn't be stoked about helping Helena pick out her wardrobe in the morning and styling her hair for the day.
Part of me can't blame Edeline; she sees that her son has finally taken an interest in a woman and doesn't want to let a good opportunity slip through her fingers. Naturally, the other part of me thinks that if those two kids want to do things a little differently for the actual wedding, go for it, because at least they're getting hitched like she wanted. Poor Helena is whittling down the list of people whom she feels like she can actually trust.
Venn is entertaining and also really difficult to write. I actually feel a lot for him and Helena both and want to chide them for their errors even though I'm the one writing those errors. Hopefully by the end you don't feel okay totally washing your hands of either of them.
Thanks for this wonderful review :)