I've been a silent reader until now, since it's been a while since this story was posted and I don't know if you still read reviews, but I have to say that I absolutely love it. So much brilliance, from the start (Harry talking to Ginny's grave, and at the same time telling the reader what the settings are), to the dialogue, different POVs, Hermione's change under the influence of dark magic, everything.
A lot of your characters seem to fill the same role as a canon character. Lady Tebabra/Lord Voldemort (anagrams, similar styles, even though Tebabra is more manipulation where Voldemort is more brute force), Gamp/Bellatrix (cruel and crazy), Rose/Frank and Alice (slowly breaking under the Cruciatus curse), Portia/Luna and so on. But that's not a bad thing, not at all! They are good roles to play.
I love the characters Susan, Esme and Octavia, but as much as I hated to see Esme die, I understand how it was probably necessary. A widower falling in love and embracing it in a world where souls can meet in the afterlife might get a bit too complicated, in a way that maybe wouldn't fit in here.
I wonder, too, if Tenabra is really the villain, or if it's Herodonthos (or whatever his name is) acting through her, transfering part of his self into her, from the book. (I also wonder if the "dragon" Heermione fought was him, or if that was another manifestation of dark magic willing to stay alive.) But I presume that will all be explained before the story is over.
As for this chapter, and Neville... The first thought to hit me was that he seemed to be a bit out of character. Neville in the books is not a duellist, despite his time in DA and his part in the battle of Hogwarts. He's brave and he has a good heart, but he's clumsy and forgetful and his magic is not strong. He finds his place in herbology, and moves on to teaching and, in this story, becoming a headmaster. It is, of course, possible that he learned over the years, but I have a hard time seeing how or where. It's not like he went through auror training or anything.
I can live with it, though. Neville deserves the glory. He deserves to fight a righteous fight, and die protecting the students. It's worthy, and it's beautiful, even though it's also very sad.
That will be all for now. If you're still reading this, thanks for an amazing story!
Author's Response: Hi, there!
Yes, I do still read reviews and I cherish every one. Especially the detailed, thoughtful ones. ;) So I'm glad that you decided to exit "silent reader mode".
Thank you so much for all of the compliments. This was my first attempt at writing anything of this length and it was a labor of love from the beginning. I loved the Harry Potter books so much and I started reading fan fiction after I finished Deathly Hallows, looking for something to fill the void. I realized that I had never seen anything set in this time period that focused mostly on the canon characters, so the wheels in my head starting spinning.
I'm sure there are a lot of parallels between the roles certain characters play in this story and the roles played in the books. They were the inspiration, after all. I'll take that as a compliment.
Susan and Octavia became two of my favorite characters as I made my way through the writing process. They were always scene-stealers when they appeared. I tried very, very hard to think of some way that Esme could survive, but none of them were satisfying. Some things are sad -- like Remus and Tonks dying during the final battle, for instance -- but they simply have to be for the story to end the way you want it to.
You'll find out in the end who the "real villain" is. Tenabra is a very complicated character, and she'll only get more so.
A lot of what I think about how Neville turned out was shaped by stories like Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness. I felt like he had to become a much more formidable wizard if he was able to survive life under the Carrows and actually lead the resistance inside Hogwarts. I can definitely see your point, though. And I definitely felt like he deserved a glorious death.
Your review really made my day! Thanks so much!