Roisin! I've embarked on my GryCReMo campaign and I decided to start with stories from the other participants. So here's my little bit of scorekeeping to start off:
GryCReMo (Review #10)
How long has it been since I first read this? Months? Where the heck does time go? Anyway, I was able to lose myself in it like I'd never put it down. I really, really love these characters you've created. I've been over and over this point, but I don't know if I can repeat it often enough. They're so real. So balanced. So perfectly flawed and fallible and human. Someday I think I'd like to see you try to write something with characters that are one-dimensional and cliched, just to see whether you're capable of it. On second thought, don't do that. It would be a waste. ;)
Sigh. I don't like seeing the four of them apart like this. Especially Tristan. I don't think he realizes how much damage he's doing to his own psyche here.
The studying and exam scenes are some of my favorite parts of this chapter. I love the amount of detail and creativity you put into little things like plants and spells and runes. You never get lazy and take a mulligan on the details; you make every one count. To me, that's one of the hallmarks of your writing. Did you hear that? You have hallmarks!
"I can't help it," Emily moaned. "Where do the vanished objects go? What if they make me vanish an animal? It's cruel!" -- She is so adorable! Hufflepuffs are such special people.
"Ballpoint pen," he scribbled on his test paper to demonstrate. "Like a quill, but less annoying."
"Casette tape," he jammed it into the portable stereo and pressed play. "Would play music under different circumstances." -- OK, maybe I like this a little bit better than the studying. ;)
I absolutely adored Tristan putting Malfoy and his thugs in their place. Moments like that, you realize there might be a little Gryffindor in him after all.
The general consensus was that he’d fallen in.
Emily knew better. -- Yeah, I think we all do. The small array of personal comforts that Emily found at his spot at the wall sealed the deal. I love the way you wrote that. You didn't say too much. You just left it to the bare minimum needed to tell the story. There's no joy or life in a moment like that.
The ending of this chapter was a beautiful kick in the gut. Succinct and perfectly matched to the moment.
I saw one little typo as I read:
Their friendship with Emily rekindled, the three spent most of their evenings on the seventh floor near the portrait of the little night, reviewing thick stacks of notes, and chain-smoking. -- little knight
I'm so sorry that it's been so long. I always tell myself I'm going to come back and finish reviewing this story and... yeah, stuff. Anyway, I have motive and opportunity now, so I will be back before GryCReMo is through. Lovely job as always!
Author's Response: WAIT WHAaAaAaAT?!?!?!
Oh man! Dan! I LOVED getting your reviews on this and I'd COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN that there were more reviews coming! What a brilliant and fantastic surprise!
Now, sad face, because /this goddamn chapter/
I'm so, so sorry. Still. Just... My apologies. Back when I was first writing the first draft of this I had this like OH NO moment, where I just realized that Tristan was going to jump in the lake at some point around the History exam. I didn't plan it, I just realized he was GOING to do it as if it weren't up to me. It was totally unplanned, but the lake had become this weird loaded symbol, and kept coming up in these odd ominous ways. Like, it took on a life as a sort of character of its own.
And then Harry missed his History exam because of his Sirius vision, and I'd established early on about Tristan skiving off from that class, and the parallel and unintentional building just became a /thing./ So yeah, I didn't plan it. And at least I saved him (via squid).
But all that didn't make writing it any easier. It was a huge struggle to figure out what to say, how much to say, and how to say it. Restraint seemed to me the best option, because the tragedy sort of spoke for itself and didn't need explaining. I'm glad you liked that.
So now the fun stuff: oof, I positively /scoured/ the internet for every bit of fifth-year cirricula (and even threw in a bit of sixth year, since Umbridge's rules probably cut out a lot they would have learned), in order to get all the details right. And this chapter was the only one where I consulted canon. I reread the OWLs chapter of OotP and kind of diagrammed it, even doing plays on some of JKR's phrasing.
I think the "ballpoint pen" line might be my very favorite of the entire story :D Well actually, I'm revising right now and there's a new line in "Hex Head Express" I quite like too ("Isobel thought she best resembled a bowl of custard that had been left out overnight and developed a skin.") [I'm proud of that one because zomg I think Isobel's FC is the prettiest thing that ever prettied, and so I really struggled for an apt-yet-critical thing to say about her]
BUT NOW I'M RAMBLING.
Thankyouthankyouthankyou for this amazing surprise!