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Review:nott theodore says:
Hi darling! It's taken me far longer than it should have to get here and leave this review, but I finally made it!

The opening of this chapter, with Verity visiting Mrs Clearwater, was lovely to read. I think that you're managing to portray the grief that they share very well. You're really a master of showing and not telling, with the subtle mentions of Mrs Clearwater's trembling hands and the way that it seemed like someone had been hugging the pillow, both of which help to convey her suffering without just telling us it's happening. It's such a pleasure to read such high quality writing.

I was really struck in this chapter by just how much Verity's actually lost in her life. So far the main focus of this story has been the loss of Penny, her best friend - it's completely understandable and is going to impact her a lot. I'm curious to see how the grieving process continues in future chapters. There were subtle mentions at times, like the glimpse of Penelope out of the corner of her eye and the fact that she still couldn't perform magic, which emphasised the effects that the loss is having on her. But then there was also the reminder that Verity, at only 19, has lost both her father and her mother as well as her best friend. All of this and the war hasn't even properly begun - I'm a bit nervous about how many more people she's going to lose through the course of it.

Another aspect I loved here was the fact that Verity remembered - and wasn't afraid to remember - Penelope as she actually was. When people die it is so easy to be afraid to think about their faults and flaws, but they're what makes people real, so it's quite good to see that Verity is actually remembering those elements of Penny's character.

Gemma's introduction was great! I loved the description in that scene, and the Hunted Unicorn even sounds like an English pub, without your beautiful descriptions of it. The atmosphere was built up well and I thought it fit to see Gemma and Verity meeting there. Gemma seems like quite a different character to what we know so far of Penelope, but I think it's good for Verity to still have friends she can meet. I'm looking forward to seeing the pair of them go to this Irish night (there had to be one, didn't there? :P) with Dray. I have a sneaking suspicion that George will be there...

The flashback to their fifth year at Hogwarts was really interesting to read. I felt like we definitely got to see Penelope's character develop through that section, and understand more of Verity's memories of her. She's such a big influence on her life and this story, even though she's died. It was great to see another side to Percy portrayed as well, since there must have been something that attracted them to each other and meant that the relationship lasted for at least two years (that we know about).

I absolutely love the way that you weave history and different people's stories into this one. It really helps to set Verity up as someone who does collect stories and is interested in other people's lives, perhaps as an escape from her own, when we witness her recalling the story of Gemma, which she discovered over a bottle of wine, or little Bess. I have a feeling that the presence of Bess is symbolic, as well. I had goosebumps when I read about it, actually, but it's the perfect ghost story.

The mystery that you're building up here is so intriguing! I want to know what Penelope was doing meeting Aaron Hall, since I'm presuming that there is a reason the two of them were murdered. I wonder if this Christian character will be the next, or if Verity will find him and be able to ask him about what Penelope was doing? But even though I don't think Penny's been a part of the Order, she's clearly started working something out to do with Voldemort and I suspect that's why she was killed. M.M as well - I'm running through all the possibilities and the best I've come up with (I think the most likely) so far is Minerva McGonagall. I'm really so curious about this!

Verity and George! ♥ They're just so cute together and I love the way that you're building up a gradual friendship and then relationship between them. George seems more serious than usual, and I suppose that's partly because he likes Verity and is trying to impress her, but it fits since he's normally the quieter twin.

I thought you characterised the twins perfectly! The relationship between the pair of them is hard to get right but I definitely think you managed it here. Fred seemed more boisterous while George was calmer, but there's this understanding between the two which comes from them being so close - the way that Fred was almost teasing when he saw Verity but also got out of the way for George (who had clearly been talking about meeting Verity in the shop!). You've also managed to start adding some more depth to George's character and a vulnerability (with his claustrophobia) that we don't really see in the books.

You almost killed me with this line:
"I've never known anyone who died"
How can you put something like that in there so casually?! Within a couple of years he'll know lots of people who've been killed, including poor Fred! Gah, it's just so horrible to think about!

There were just a few typos I noticed:
"with the serious, be-speckled face of my old headmaster" - I think you mean 'bespectacled'
"I'm a little clausterphobic" - claustrophobic

I'm so excited to see how you're going to develop the friendship and then relationship between Verity and George. She's definitely in denial at the moment about Voldemort being back, but I hope that George will help her to see that he really has returned and that they'll be able to work on the mystery surrounding Penelope's death together. The Aurors are useless (which fits with the facts from canon) at this time, so they'll have to do it themselves!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hello! Ah, this is the review to end all reviews!!! Really, you've out-done yourself, and I absolutely love this review and knowing your thoughts on this chapter.

I'm very happy to hear you like the portrayal of grief so far, and Mrs. Clearwater making an appearance. I thought that she would be quite important to Verity and that they would want to reach out to each other after losing Penelope, and I'm glad the relationship comes across as believable while still leaving some things unsaid through the little details.

You're right, Verity really has lost a lot of people, the poor girl! As you might have noticed, she conceals her grief for both her parents very well, almost as if she can hardly admit it to herself, and focuses a lot of attention on mourning Penelope, a loss which she feels especially poignant since Penelope was there for her when her mother died (more about this in the next chapter! :P).

I'm so pleased you noticed how Verity doesn't idealize Penny, but remembers her as she was, faults and all. You're so perceptive, as always! I thought it an important trait of Verity as a "collector" to notice truthful things about people nad tell their stories honestly, not sugar-coated, though of course this is tricky for her to keep up at all times, especially when she misses Penny!

I'm glad you also liked Gemma, and the scene at the pub! My love for all things English is definitely coming through in this story... Gemma is very different from Penelope, but certainly a good friend for Verity. And yes, of course there had to be an Irish night... anything to include leprechauns! :P

I thought that to ground the story in canon and expand on who Penelope really was, it's really important to show what she would have been like at Hogwarts and how the friendship dynamic would have been. I think Percy is a great character and of course important to Penelope's canon, so adding him into the memories was enjoyable as well.

Ah, thank you! :) That's my favourite part of this story as well, including the little anecdotes and stories and how Verity focuses on them, as you said, to avoid dealing with her own problems. Bess' ghost story was so sad, and quite creepy to write as well, but yes, could be symbolic, so I'm glad you liked it! :)

Writing these mysterious aspects of the story is actually so intimidating, I'm so worried I'm going to forget a crucial detail or leave an obvious plothole! That being said, it's really interesting and fun to come up with the mystery surrounding Penelope's death and whether Verity will figure anything out or not. So, perhaps a little more will be revealed in the next chapter! :)

I'm really, really happy to hear you like how George comes across, and how him being a little more serious works well for potentially having a crush on Verity. Writing JK's original characters so intimately is very intimidating, but rewarding to know if I did them justice. I'm glad you thought the relationship between the ttwins fit well as well, and that George comes across as a little deeper than in the books: of course, Verity is getting to know him as an individual and in a different way than Harry! :P

Ah, I know, that line was very ironically cruel! :( Writing about these characters just before the war is so saddening, since they have no idea what is going to happen.

I'm so glad you're excited about reading on, and I really hope to have the next chapter up in the near future! (It's turning into a beast of epic long proportions, why does this keep happening to me?!) Thank you so much for leaving this amazing review, you wonderful lady! :)

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