Ral! I have been eagerly waiting for your new baby to make its grand debut ever since you wrapped up Twin Wands and now it's finally here. I'm so excited for you! I hope you have another twisty, turning mystery in store for us.
I liked the way that you concealed Rose's identity until Scorpius bursts her bubble on her failed attempt to sneak up on him. It made for suspenseful start to the story, only to drop us into something warm and familiar. You included just enough back story from Twin Wands that I imagine that somebody could pick this story up without having read its predecessor and not be completely lost. At the same time, you didn't overload the chapter with setup. The balance was pretty good. The only thing I thought was a little weird about the opening was the way that you refer to Rose as "they" and "their" before you reveal her identity. For a moment there, I though there were either two people under the cloak or perhaps somebody was being possessed. I'm actually not sure whether there's anything you could have done differently without falling back on "she" and "her", which gives a bit away. It just struck me as a little odd.
Rose seems to be sitting on the fence a bit where their relationship is concerned. He obviously wants to move things along a bit faster. Molly agrees with him, I would say. But Rose appears to want to cling to just a bit of her childhood existence. Or maybe she's trying to keep Ron from going spare.
And go spare he did, it seems. At least until Hermione talked him back to his senses. I loved the dialog between Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny. Heck, I love the four of them together in general. You did a good job of capturing Ron in "one of his moods", and also in writing a very realistic way for the others to gradually calm him down.
"Or, we can be her parents and we can forbid her to see him! You know that talk you used to give the kids when they were in school and were acting up! My house, my rules, that one!" he argued and sat down next to her on the sofa, placing his glass on the table. -- Ah, Ron. I love how even his approach to parenting has just a bit of immaturity in it.
You did a great job of setting the backdrop for the trial of Zacharias Smith and his co-conspirators, and using that as a way to frame up the subtle games that Ron is playing with Scorpius and his career. I can already see a few sources of tension emerging in Rose and Scorpius's relationship. It feels like you're setting up some difficulties that the two of them will need to overcome later on. Someone will obviously have to smack Ron around a bit, too.
I spotted a single typo that you might want to take a second look at:
It opened with eased, yet when pushed open, it creaked, with a long and painful sound, meant to alert anybody inside that an unwanted visitor was approaching. -- opened with ease.
Otherwise, I thought your writing was great. A terrific start to what I'm guessing will be a lovely combination of a mystery and a love story.
Author's Response: Hey Dan!
Nothing is this story is what it seems and I wanted the beginning to reflect that to some extent. Since "Twin Wands" started off straight with a murder, I wanted to keep some of that dark, mysterious air around this introduction as well. The "they", "their" thing was a bit strange for me as well, but I remember my English tutor telling me years ago that we refer to objects as "it" and to people of unspecified gender as "they". I just figured it looked weird because in Romanian we don't have a generic word like "them" to refer to a person something.
I see Rose as being very stubborn and very independent. She is kind of like Ron in a way, not believing danger until she sees it with her own eyes. But the relationship is new, as you can imagine and will be detailed over time. And Molly loves him already, cause she is such a lovely woman. She "adopted" the boy she found on the King's Cross platform, after all.
Ron freaking out makes perfect sense to me, in a strange way. I believe that over the years he has matured enough to not just glare and stomp his feet when he is annoyed or upset (like he did in HBP when Ginny was dating), but to keep his bursts in check until such a time when he can have a rant. Like when he is with his best friends/family. And for humor's sake, I really don't think that dating any boss' daughter earns anybody a pay raise.
I want to try and pace myself, like you've advised me so many times, and make the transition between important plot points gently and slowly. Right now I have so many ideas I feel like I could write the longest one-shot HPFF has ever seen, but I won't do that! :)
Thank you for the long and lovely review! It really made my day!