Hello, again! Let's talk about this awesome new chapter, shall we?
The idea of Albus and Minerva having a very close friendship is one that seems so natural to me that I'm really surprised more stories don't include it. He was her teacher and has been her mentor for decades. They share a deep commitment to the well-being of school and students alike. The style with which they deliver on that commitment obviously differs, but in what I think of as a complimentary way. You hit on all of those notes in the first section of this chapter.
Before I even get into the wonderful job you did with McGonagall, there's this:
"The suits of armor will simply migrate back to their preferred corridors in the night," she answered, setting aside her own cup with a shake of her head. -- sublime. That was perfect, dry McGonagall humor. But her sense of humor isn't the half of it.
A lot of authors make McGonagall very institutional. Almost cold in her demeanor and the professional separation they maintain between her and her students. The McGonagall in this chapter is much more in line with how I think of her. There's a strong dose of that fiery Gryffindor spirit. An intense determination to do right by her young charge. And closer to the end, even anger at how somebody -- as yet unknown -- mistreated Sadie. I loved the way that she wanted Sadie to have the very best possible chance to reclaim her life. I especially loved the way that she wasn't afraid to show a bit of frustration with that maddeningly calm commitment that Dumbledore has to doing things his way.
For his part, Dumbledore seemed nicely in tune to me. It's a huge pain to write him in such a way that his dialog sounds natural, and you did a really good job with it. Sometimes he says more with the things he chooses not to address than with the things that he does. His personal convictions also came across very strong, which is the way that he always sounded in the books. He's endlessly optimistic, but also pragmatic in a way. He seems to see so much potential in Sadie, and he's not afraid to give her a challenge to rise to. All in all, very reminiscent of the way he treated Harry...
There were a couple of things I wasn't completely sure of in the first section. One of them was mechanical in nature. There were times where it almost felt like you were slipping into Dumbledore's point of view, saying things about his thoughts and motivations that McGonagall couldn't possibly know for certain. At least so far, you've avoided the dreaded "omniscient narrator" point of view, and if possible I think it would be great to continue picking a single character for the PoV of each scene. The second thing was more of a plot continuity issue for me. If Sadie disappeared well before she was old enough to attend Hogwarts, how would she know anything about Potions, Herbology, Magical Creatures or -- gulp -- Dark Arts? I think that point needs a little more elaboration as to where this knowledge came from or at least and indication of how McGonagall was able to assess her skills.
I'll leave the first section on a really fun note: "Certain rules are meant to be broken, my dear Minerva, at least once in a young person's life. I seem to recall quite a few you used to disregard yourself." -- Why do I feel like she's not the only one in the room who occasionally disregarded a few rules?
Oh, and lest I forget, who is Allalise? A relative? Friend of her parents? Guardian? It will be interesting to find out...
I loved the transformation we start to see in Sadie in this chapter. It was pretty clear from the prior chapters that she wasn't a completely feral child. She was merely in awful circumstances and unable to properly communicate with anyone. In this chapter we finally see her humanity starting to break through the walls that she constructed in order to survive and it was a pretty awesome thing. It's a small detail, but I really loved what you did with it: Is there anything more basic that separates us from the animals or makes us feel more distinctly human than a good pair of shoes? Well, maybe a hot shower with shampoo, but I still think I'd rather have the shoes in the long run. Even as you cultivate her rediscovered connection with other people, I liked the fact that the conflict is still there. Her flight instinct is still strong, even though she's controlling it. I have to imagine that will be an issue later.
Lastly, I loved how kindly and grandfather-ish Dumbledore was at the end. It's a side of him that very few students get to see, I think. Always nice to read.
Great job with this chapter. I am very excited to see Sadie arrive at the Burrow and meet her surrogate "family".
Author's Response: You really thought it was awesome? WOW! Thanks!
I must be weird. Many people have commented on the fact I wrote Albus and Minerva sharing a very close friendship and how they like the idea, but I honestly had no idea it was a new concept. I seriously thought it was canon, derived from what we read in the books. So, I must have been reading things differently than everyone else, then. LOL. Good thing it worked out!
You know how much I stressed over this chapter, so the fact you think I did them justice really means a lot to me. Both the serious topics, but also the humor. Thank you.
I have realized over the years that I really like McGonagall. Doesn't mean she's any easier to write, but I just think there is so much to her. She really has a lot of depth beneath that strict exterior she puts up. Whenever I find myself writing her too one-dimensional, I remind myself that she snatched Harry up for the team when she really should have been punishing him, and was almost giddy with excitement about it. That Gryffindor spirit you say - exactly.
I am so glad you buy her interactions and thoughts with regard to Sadie. I wanted her to care for the girl, but I didn't want to change her into a mushy pool of OOC goo.
WHEW on Dumbledore. I really do like the man, and all the many layers of his personality. But WRITING them gives me a headache.
Now, to the points you brought up. I may need to chat with you about the POV thing. POV is something I've worked on in the years since I started writing fan-fiction, and I do try to stick to the same one for a scene. If I change POV, I indicate with a scene break. So, when you mentioned this, I read back through several times and I can't find where I'm breaking it. Could you point it out to me sometime, please, because if I'm not finding it, it must mean I'm doing it a lot because I'm unaware of the rule or the change.
Now the second issue you mentioned - this one is more complicated. There are reasons behind why Sadie can or cannot do all of the things mentioned in this chapter, and they will all be revealed at various times over the course of the story. However, after reading it again, and seeing your comment and a few others, I realize I probably should have had Dumbles or McG comment a little more on how surprised they were, or wondered a little more how Sadie came by these abilities, just as the readers would, so that it at least showed I was aware of the questions they brought up. I think I'm going to go back and edit that section just a little bit, throwing in another line or two, when I post the next chapter on Sunday. Hopefully, that will help, because while I don't want to reveal everything right now, I probably had the pair accepting Sadie's abilities too unquestioningly.
And as for the Dark Arts...you might be right to gulp.
As for the rule breaking, I really wanted to throw in a Katherine Hepburn quote there, but as much as it fit, I couldn't see either Albus or Minerva knowing it. Alas. hehehehe
Annalise? - hm
Your comments on the second half of this chapter really made me smile. That is exactly what I was trying to do - show the change in Sadie. She has been through a lot and learned to cope with it, but she also has dreams for more than that. It will be hard, but she'd like to be just like everyone else someday.
And you caught my Dumbledore moment - just a little moment to counter all the mean, manipulative Dumbledore stuff I see out there a lot.
Thanks again for your help with this fic, and for your very fun and helpful comments on this chapter! Up next is the Burrow, so stay tuned.