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Review:nott theodore says:
Amanda! I can't believe this story is actually finished and I'm writing the final review on it! I'm sorry in advance if this review is long and rambling, but here's your hug to say thank you for writing it! *hugs*

First of all, I love the chapter title. Desire really reflects the whole situation that the two of them have been in throughout the story, and it also mirrors Erised which was the first chapter title. We've really come full circle with this story!

The quote that you chose at the beginning reflects the first chapter so well and I feel like it's kind of symbolic of the whole story, with the fact that they don't know what is "real or even possible". Then the contrast between such wise words and the stark reality of the first sentence of the chapter is extremely effective.

I'm amazed by how well you wrapped up all the loose ends in this story and answered all the questions I've had while reading it. One of them was how Helena was killed by Venn, because even though he was insensitive and cold at times, he did love her and I couldn't imagine him killing Helena deliberately. Knowing that it was an accident makes me both happier, since he didn't intend to kill her, and sadder, because Helena seems to believe he did it on purpose, and that misunderstanding will cause both of them centuries - an eternity, really - of pain. But the fact that Venn killed her in an attempt to protect her is so sad! I have to say that he did go about telling her the reason for his presence there in completely the wrong way, though. It makes me wonder if they'd ever actually have been able to have a successful relationship in different circumstances, or if the pair were always doomed...

Another question you answered was why the Bloody Baron never said anything about where the basilisk was during the second book. From the characters you've created, it's completely realistic and believable that Salazar would bargain with Venn, allowing him to remain with Helena as long as he doesn't reveal the whereabouts of his creature. I think that must have been so hard for Venn to keep to as he saw the attacks happening, but the chance of staying near Helena is clearly motivation enough for him. Salazar is so horrible though!

The description in this chapter, as ever, was beautiful - even if it was used to describe some terrible things at times. My favourite line would probably have to be "Her kirtle, stained with fresh blood, bore a remarkable resemblance to her funeral gown". In fact, the way you wrote the 'murder' was almost poetic, and it really added to the tragedy of the whole thing.

I loved the way that we got to see so many points in time in this chapter (well, three, but more than normal) but you wrote them so skilfully and seamlessly. The return to the present day helped to bring this story full circle, and I particularly loved your characterisation of both Venn and Helena in that section. Helena seems to have become much colder and less passionate than she is in life, and I can see how she earned the title of the Grey Lady. We see so little of both of their characters in the books, and you've brought them both to life as real people with a lot of depth. The only time we get to hear anything about what she thinks of the Baron, Helena seems to hate him, so this chapter seems completely consistent with what we know.

It was really such a beautiful ending to this story! The fact that Venn was still in front of the mirror, longing for the day he got to marry Helena was so poignant, as well. I kind of hope that in the future there might still be something for the two of them - after all, they have eternity left.

Congratulations on finishing this story, Amanda! And this was such a great ending as well - thank you for writing this and giving me the chance to read and enjoy this story!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hi Sian! It's taken me a few days to figure out how to respond to your amazing review, but here goes my best attempt :) Oh, and -hug-

The chapter title and quote were definitely chosen to (excuse the pun) mirror what happened in the first chapter, so I'm glad that seemed effective to you, as well as the first line, which was meant to be sort of stark.

I think I sort of always knew that Helena's death would be a mistake in my version of the story. Venn has obviously made a lot of selfish decisions and he just can't redeem himself now, no matter how much he's learned from his mistakes. Helena seems to have already made up her mind about Venn and is either too hurt or too prideful to reconsider him. I think both of them make good points and both of them also do things that they'll regret. It's hard to think about coming down on a side here!

I think it was you who first made the comment about wanting to know why Venn never told anyone about the Chamber, and so I made it a mission to find an answer for that and incorporate it into the story. I'm happy that you're pleased with the way I handled it! But yeah, Salazar really is quite horrible.

I'm glad you liked my handling of the two deaths. I definitely wanted to do it in a flashback to stay ToS-friendly, and I also thought that approach might contribute to Venn's overall portrayal as a man filled with regret. I was a teensy bit worried that I'd rushed it too much, but hopefully not :)

Your comments about bringing the Baron and Helena to life really touched my heart. I definitely tried to fill out their story and make them seem like real people who were more than just a passing reference to a tragic tale. It's also lovely to hear that the passage of time was well-executed, because that was something else that I was a little worried about.

I definitely wanted to end on a hopeful note. Maybe, with time, Venn and Helena can mend their relationship and really process everything that led to their downfall.

Thank you so much for this and all of your fantastic reviews! It's been so fun to dissect this story with you and get your feedback, and I hope to see your comments on another story soon!

-Amanda


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