My feels are aching on any number of levels. I'm sad to see that even after centuries, Helena and Venn are unable to come to any sort of reconciliation. I'm sad that they both continue to inhabit this plane, searching for the closure necessary to move on. Mostly, though, I'm sad that this beautiful, well thought out and painstakingly researched story has come to an end. It's been an amazing journey and I'm glad that I was able to follow along.
I thought that you might have detailed the confrontation in the forest a bit, but this was a really clever way to end the story. It reinforces the idea that Venn was not in his right mind when he killed Helena. The actual circumstances surrounding their deaths felt blurry and disjointed, much like I would have expected if Venn was delusional from lack of sleep and over-exertion.
The details of the murder fit well with what little we know from canon, building on it to round out your version of events. The reason he killed her was much more comparable with your story. Even the small detail of how he came to wear his chains was well done.
I really liked the way that his uncle is the one to confront his spirit and welcome him into his afterlife in Hogwarts. It was fitting somehow. It also makes it obvious how Venn became the house ghost of Slytherin.
Helena was perfectly in character in this, her last appearance. The way that she chastises him for dwelling on the mirror's fantasies fit precisely with the way she always treated him. Her inability to forgive was so purely intellectual in nature.
When you stole my life, you showed me no mercy, no opportunity for vengeance. I take it now, and forever.” -- I loved this line! So fitting.
Also this one: He only wished he were as ignorant and deluded as she thought. Sad to see that even the mirror's illusory comfort is unable to assuage his guilt.
This story was fantastic from start to finish. I am very glad to have found it and I've thoroughly enjoyed every chapter. Bravo!
Author's Response: Yeah, this chapter was tough to write. This story was tough to finish, really, because I got very attached to it and my characters, and beyond feeling sad that I couldn't give them a totally happy ending, I was just sad to have to let them go at all. It's weird to think now that when I started brainstorming this I worried about losing interest halfway through. I still mourn having finished this!
Part of my decisions about the actual murder/suicide scene were stylistic, as you mentioned, but part of it was honestly my worry about keeping in ToS compliance regarding spousal/romantic partner abuse. Ever since I became a TA, I've been a bit overly cautious about sticking to the ToS, which sometimes means that I really tone down potentially sticky situations or I go overboard with ratings and warnings. Better safe than sorry - I want to keep my status :) Anyway, I'm glad that the scene still worked stylistically despite leaving out some of the detail.
Venn feels a lot of regret over his actions, and I think Salazar understands that just enough to use his nephew in accomplishing his purposes. If he feels an iota of empathy for Venn, it's buried deep within his cold, black heart. I wanted Salazar to really be the villain until the end, and I hope I accomplished that with his little deal here.
Helena obviously learned a lot more about herself in the afterlife, and unfortunately she's got eons to take her revenge against Venn for what he did to her. Only time will tell if her heart hardens or softens for him, though she clearly isn't interested in reconciliation at this time (or in canon).
Glad you liked those lines! I was a bit proud of my writing in this chapter :) I think it all hearkens back to the initial prologue - Venn wants desperately to have a second chance with Helena, and yet part of him also wishes he could just fall away to dust in front of the mirror, just to have some sense of conclusion and escape from her.
Thanks so much for this and all of your lovely reviews! It's been so great going through this story with you, and I'm pleased that you enjoyed it so thoroughly. Hope to hear from you again on a different story!