|Review:||Violet Gryfindor says:|
Oh Amanda, this is wonderful! I was intrigued at the sight of a Slughorn story, and what you've done with it is amazing. It's filled with hope, looking forward into a brighter future despite the mistakes and failures of the past. If that's not inspirational, I don't know what is. I expected it to be darker, angstier, but that's the very misconception of Slytherins that you challenge with this story - not all Slytherins are villains, many of them, like Slughorn and (surprisingly! wonderfully!) Millicent, embody the traits of Slytherins in alternative ways - two sides of the same coin.
You've done a fantastic job at expanding the canon characterization of Slughorn, further humanizing him, drawing out his optimism and his love of people - he may also love what they can bring him, but here you show that he loves the connection with them and the knowledge that he has helped them reach a high position in life. He's disappointed when they fail because he knows they could have done better - the degree of optimism he has in regard to each student is almost painful because you show him believing so much in their abilities and potential. It reveals how much Slughorn genuinely cares about his students and how much he respects them - he sees their strengths and tries to guide them in the right direction. And somehow because of this, despite his own weaknesses, Slughorn becomes one of the better teachers at Hogwarts.
The style of this story is also lovely. There's something very soothing about your narration here that I can't quite describe - it's in the rhythm of the sentences and the word choice. It suits Slughorn, particularly at this pensive moment. It also suits the ending perfectly because, while the office is chaotic and blood stained, one comes to feel at peace, ready to move forward. I don't know how you did it, but it's brilliant how seamlessly you link the style and content of this story.
Incredible work on this! Your stories are always a pleasure to read, but this one was especially striking and poignant.
Author's Response: Thanks so much, Susan!
Yeah, the story definitely has a dark theme, but I usually try to end on a happy note because I think that can sometimes add a new dimension of meaning. As you know from my response to your TGS MTA question, this piece was originally meant to be more dismal and involve Salazar instead of Slughorn, but I actually like this take better because it does allow for that little sense of hope and the redefinition of what it means to be a Slytherin. It's not a sentence of doom :)
I wanted to go below the shallow surface of Slughorn's character and really delve into the pain and regret he must feel given his disappointment in Tom and many other Slytherins. He had to learn that a good pedigree and prodigious magical talent did not always translate to model citizenship. It was a difficult lesson, perhaps foremost because--as you point out--he clearly does care about them and has become personally invested in their success, though I'm sure many of them look back on their time in his club with less gravity than he does. I think he really takes his duties as a teacher seriously and goes above and beyond them.
I'm pleased to hear that the flow and word choice worked well and you liked the contrast between Slughorn's ruined office and his sense of satisfaction at the story's conclusion. I meant to emphasize that not all is lost, and new photographs can always be taken, new directions taken in the future. Slytherin isn't finished after all.
Thank you for this really sweet review!