Reading Reviews for Year Five
167 Reviews Found

Review #26, by CambAngst The Question

19th September 2014:
Hello, again!

There's one question that I'm dying to know the answer to after reading this chapter. I was also dying to know after the first time I read it, and foreknowledge has given me no closure. The question is, who decided to kiss Isobel, Voldemort or Quirrell? Or was Quirrell's self-control weakened by the presence of Voldemort? Or was Voldemort's disdain for most aspects of the physical realm weakened by the presence of Quirrell? I'm dying to know your take on this.

Oh, the poor elves! You manage to incorporate so many neat little touches like that into this story. They're all small things, but they add so much depth and texture.

I like Professor Sprout. She's kind, but also professional. She has expectations for the students and she's not afraid to show disappointment when they aren't met. I'm curious what she took away from her conversation with Isobel.

For once, we have a conversation (argument) between Isobel and Emily where I didn't see anyone clearly emerge as the better person. Emily seems to feel pretty ashamed -- and she should -- that she didn't even realize Tristan had been suspended. Isobel, for her part, first tries to mother Emily like always and then when she's rebuffed she hits on one of Emily's biggest insecurities. Don't be so dim! Before moving on, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out this: "I swear," she said, sparing a backwards glance. "It's like you're in love with me." -- I see what you did there.

Ah, so like a couple of Ravenclaws to feel the need to deconstruct every aspect of the situation and analyze it in detail. But in the midst of it, Laurel drops this bit of insight: "I'd actually be glad of it if they got together. I suppose it's just that I'd like to be a person who could be loved like that." -- Sorry to keep parroting your words back at you, but this chapter is full of characters letting out their deepest fears and anxieties.

Snogged by a lisping man twice your age who has Voldemort embedded in the back of his head. I don't have words for how creepy that is. Again, you drip a tiny bit of "canon to come" into this chapter and I loved it!

I really thing you did a good job of capturing Isobel's shock and horror and sense of having been violated. She has so many emotions running through her at once, she more or less shuts down for a while until she can get past it. Very realistic. Good on Fred and George to be in the right place at the right time.

"Oh, we're not students," George calmly replied, their uniforms ever conspicuous.

"Yeah, we've just come from a fancy-dress party," Fred invented wildly.
-- My takeaway here is that Aberforth needed the money. ;)

Ooh, so I'm not the only one who was wildly speculating about Tristan's true heritage. Good observation by Fred and George on his appearance.

Hagrid was so kind to Isobel and the twins. Perfectly in character, I'd say. Now that I think about it, Quirrell probably really had to hustle to get from the castle to the Hog's Head in time to ply Hagrid with the dragon's egg.

Wrapping the chapter with another highly relevant question from the Ravenclaw common room door was clever, and I liked the parallels to last chapter.

Not much farther to go, but I know you're working on big things. Looking forward to them, as always!

P.S. - "ear off", never too soon!

Author's Response: Hello!

Ah! Ok, so as for whose decision it was. I did want to leave it a little open, but I imagined it as being pretty much Quirrel's decision. I mean, this guy is in a really crazy place at this point in the story (drinking unicorn blood and all that). Plus, he's sort of experiencing both EXTREME hubris, as well as massive anxiety, stress, and pressure from Voldemort (as well as some "punishment" that he tells Harry about, but never offers details). This confluence of factors is what leads him to throw himself at the pretty-if-too-thin girl who seems to admire him so much. (Because SCREW TEACHER/STUDENT. An AWFUL trope that should NEVER be romanticized!)

As for Voldemort: it all sort of depends on personal Head Canon as to how much mind-and-body sharing is involved. So, that's up for people to make their own decisions on based on individual head canon. I myself am not sure there's a telepathic link there (since they communicate vocally in canon), but Quirrel wouldn't have done it if it would make Voldemort angry. So, at the very least, we're left to assume that Voldemort approved of the decision for at least *pragmatic* reasons (keep his servant happy). That, alone, is pretty darn terrible and awful.

I'm so glad you felt for the elves! I have SO MANY FEELINGS about their exploitation! I mean, Isobel's reasoning was pretty solid, but that's the whole issue Emily had originally mentioned about "not taking advantage." There's a reason Hufflepuffs never told the likes of Ravenclaws about the kitchens before.

I'm SO GLAD you thought that neither Emily nor Isobel seemed like the better person! That's ALWAYS how fights go, but it's hard to recognize that when you're in one.

And it's been super interesting to see how many people pick up on my Isobel clues, and when! Some people expressed suspicion as early as Chapter 2, other people got through this without saying anything!

Quirrel may have been my revenge against a certain High School English Teacher >:( (seriously, that trope needs to die a HORRIBLE AND PAINFUL DEATH! I can't even BELIEVE the audacity of ABC family--a little bit of normal substance experimentation or casual swearing or consensual teenage intimacy is Verboten, yet they CONSISTENTLY romanticize wildly inappropriate and creepy relationships--so long as it's "just kissing").

Ugh, yes, it is a pretty tight timeline. I sort of justified it to myself my thinking he left RIGHT AFTER Isobel ran off, while she wasted a lot of time stopping and crying with the twins in the secret passage. But I'm really glad you liked Hagrid! I SUPER wanted him to be in character, and SO glad you liked him!


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Review #27, by teh tarik Behind the Mirror

18th September 2014:

I can't get Billie Jean outta my head now.

Whatever the booze clue was, I didn't notice it. Or anything strange. Except perhaps, it kept multiplying before the party started. But I thought that was because more and more uninvited guests with seemingly unlimited access to booze were turning up and adding to the party. And everything being drunk to the last drop at the end.

You know, I read that last sentence in a funny way: Every last drop of alcohol had been drunk.

I somehow mistakenly attributed the definition of 'drunk' to 'intoxicated', rather than 'imbibed'. So imagine how weird it is thinking about alcohol being intoxicated. (If you didn't intend this, I just might cram this as an offhand reference into Background noise. :P But if you did, then don't worry.)

So, this is the most detailed party I've ever read in a fic on this site. My god, I just wish I was there. SERIOUSLY. And most parties I've seen take place in the Room of Requirement, but since your story follows canon very strictly, I don't think most people would have known about the room during Harry's first year. So using one of those caved-in passages then Fred and George know about fromt he Marauders' Map was a brilliant touch.

Emily is just, honestly, the best. And Tristan seems oblivious. Or unresponsive. But one of the scenes I absolutely adored and giggled over was the whole chaperone thing with Sir Cadogan. Good lord, Cadogan's characterisation was completely amazing: his old-fashioned speech, his offer to be their chaperone, etc.

And Laurel being relatively happy without any Cheering seems suspicious, I dunno? Maybe I'm reading too much into this. Maybe this has something to do with the mysterious self-spelling as mentioned by Stan Perkins?

So THAT is how F&G discover the entrance to the kitchens. Emily showed them! While they were both rip-roaringly drunk! Well, the Hufflepuff Wisdom has been spread. There can't have been a better way in which they discover the secret of the kitchens, seriously.



Author's Response: BILLIE JEAN HAS BEEN STUCK IN MY HEAD SINCE I WROTE THIS! I seriously listened to it on repeat while writing!

Oh man, the last drops being drunk! I hadn't thought of that, but I kind of like it! (And, ps, that was the clue! Basically, when Emily left the party room, there was a lot of booze left, and the next morning, it was gone. WHERE DID IT GO?)

I considered the RoR, but it shows up later, and YES, since it doesn't show up on the map, the Twins didn't know about it yet. Plus, it just seems too *easy.* I mean, it would have responded with way too much awesome stuff, and then that would have taken focus over the *human* fun at the party. Plus, if such a big party had been there, Harry/the school would have probably found out about it sooner.

I read somewhere while researching that Sir Cadogan is a reference to a mythological Knight from Arthurian legend, who was known for Chivalry. Could never find it again, though! He might have been one of my favorite people(?) to write!

YEE! I'm so glad you like how I did the kitchen reveal! And RIGHT?!?! Harry might not have known about it, but the Twins MUST HAVE been drunk during some of their discoveries because *of course they were.*


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Review #28, by CambAngst The Disappearing Room

18th September 2014:
Hi! It has been far too long since I've reviewed one of your chapters. I need to get back into the groove.

Poor Tristan. For somebody like him, isolation is a very bad thing. His self-esteem is precarious to begin with, and the way that his friends are avoiding him is definitely not helping. It's kind of endearing, actually, that he feels jealous of Cedric Diggory. And it was really sad that Isobel and Laurel simply ignored him. Especially Laurel, when you consider that so much of what's happened is because of the lie she told to keep Isobel from knowing about the pictures she found in Snape's office.

Wow. Just when I thought Tristan's exile from the group couldn't get any sadder, we see that he's buying drugs he doesn't even need just to have an excuse to talk to Fred and George. That's... wow. Things are really going poorly for him. While it's interesting to see Fred, George and Emily being so "enterprising", I also feel scared for all of them. I have a bad feeling (had it the first time I read this, even without foreknowledge) that this party is going to end very badly. I loved the mention of Sir Cadogan's war in the Internet, by the way.

Tristan and Laurel's mad rush through the castle had the feel of those movies made to scare teenagers away from drugs, one of those scenes with weird, jerky camera work where the protagonists are reeling about, getting freaked out by everything they see and heading for some sort of catastrophe in the end. Except we know what's waiting at the end and it isn't premature death or injury. It's another type of personal destruction, but one that's also purely self-inflicted.

Tristan closed his eyes, feeling the sting of that sentiment. This was what he appreciated about Laurel: their friendship was destructive, and messed up in a thousand different ways, but it was always honest. Nothing was left to implication, nothing was concealed, and they never said anything except what they really meant. -- Can't argue with one word of that.

I thought the way you wrote Dumbledore was spectacular. He behaved exactly the opposite of what Laurel was expecting, which was perfect characterization for him. Spot on. You just nailed it! Dumbledore is strangely intimate with Laurel -- NOT IN THAT WAY!!! He shares some thoughts and observations with her that he didn't share with Harry until much, much later. "Now while that may seem a simple thing, the great flaw of this mirror is that it provides no instruction," Dumbledore stopped. -- Gah! How do you do it??? That line was perfectly, flawlessly Dumbledore!

One more, and I promise I'll stop repeating your own words back to you: Without stopping to think, Laurel turned around and hugged the headmaster around the waist. He did not appear upset or surprised when she did, and gave her a warm pat on the back. -- That was, perchance, the sweetest moment in the story so far.

Excellent job with what Tristan sees in the Mirror of Erised. I wouldn't have expected anything else, unless perhaps he'd seen himself as a muggle.

Tristan's life had become such an unbelievable mess by this point that it was hardly even surprising when he agreed to take the fall for everything his former friends had been doing. I'm still struggling to completely wrap my head around the way that Snape coddles Tristan and looks out for him. The reaction upon discovering all of the contraband... anger mixed with disappointment. I hope, at some point, you have a chance to explain the connection between these two, if there's more to it than meets the eye.

Ah, finally we have the secret of Tristan's birth and adoption! What a lucky kid! I can't imagine how awful it would have been growing up with the Malfoys. Lucius would have had zero sympathy for Tristan's disabilities. If he hadn't managed to catch up on his own, I think there's a fair chance he would have found himself abandoned in an orphanage somewhere.

I think I'm running out of characters here, so let me just say that you did a good job water-dropping a few more tantalizing details into Tristan's panic attack, and I think it's perfectly obvious that he would have considered disappearing into the muggle world for good. But even that is denied to him.

For a long chapter, this one flowed beautifully and didn't feel drawn out at all. It was definitely the best chapter yet. Great job!

Author's Response: Hello! Thank you SO MUCH for these back reviews! I'm really impressed with your ability to offer feedback to the chapter as-it-stands in the story even with foreknowledge!

Isolation is definitely a really big theme in this story when it comes to Tristan--isolation and confinement. It was one of those things that I hadn't totally planned out when I started to write, and I kind of can't believe how naturally it all developed.

I'm so glad the mad dash through the castle worked! I worried over writing that sequence a lot, because I really wanted a specific tone, but I also wanted them to be so out of it that I couldn't offer a huge amount of information Laurel wasn't in the position to notice. I'm so relieved to hear you found it cinematic!

I'm really glad you pointed out the lines that you did! For the first one, I was particularly proud of "the sting of that sentiment. This was what he appreciated..." I tried there to add another, more unconscious, layer to their relationship: one of a kind of emotional masochism.

DUMBLEDORE! I'm sososososo glad you liked him! He's probably the most ambitious character of all to try and write, and I had to think REALLY hard about Wise Stuff for him to say. This whole sequence with Laurel also wouldn't really have been possible if he weren't gay :) THANK HEAVENS FOR THAT! Since we all know he is, there is no question as to the propriety of the proceedings, and it let me do a lot in terms of gentle intimacy. (And teeheehee--Dumbledore gets the idea for the mirror to TELL Harry how to get the stone! I thought a lot about the powers of the mirror, and decided that must have been some clever enchantment that Dumbledore added later. Plus, you know, it's cool to sort of suggest that these kids were *just* off-screen during PhilStone, or running around in the background).

Snape's relationship with Tristan was definitely, in part, inspired by Snape's relationship with Draco. I wouldn't say it's the *same,* but that he has such a complex and hard-to-wrap-your-head-around relationship with Draco let me do something similar with Tristan.

Gosh, with all of Tristan's latent anger, childhood trauma, and predisposition to snobbery, he would have been THE WORST Malfoy!

Thank you sososososososo much for this review!!!

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Review #29, by crestwood The Disappearing Room

17th September 2014:
The best thing that happened to me today was that my review got (almost) caught up. You may wonder why I am informing you of such a thing and why a cleared review thread would go so far as to make my day. And to that I answer, in the most dramatic voice I can muster, "My review thread is the only thing between me and getting to the end of Year Five and it will delay me no more!"

I don't believe that this story is best read with such long, twenty four hour breaks in between each chapter. This story merits my sitting down and getting acquainted with it. I want to give my days to probing the inner workings of and monumental questions posed by this story, rather than just my nights. I am going to severely miss these characters when I finish, yes, but I have heard talks of a sequel and I am soon putting all of my faith in those rumors floating about and going for the plunge of finishing up this story and saying goodbye to my good friends the Ex-Hex Heads. (try saying that five times fast!)

I haven't even begun reading yet. I'm just trying out new ways of telling you how much I appreciate this story's existence. I will just never be able to comprehend that you've never written fanfiction before this. If this is only the beginning, you can be certain I'll be here for the rest.

But, I'm ahead of myself. I'll actually read the chapter now, I think.

You start out this chapter with the personification of the weather and that's quite beautiful. Tristan is ever the observant fellow, noticing that Emily has stopped speaking to not only himself, but Isobel and Laurel and deducing what she must really be upset about. With any other character I would find it strange that Tristan is fully aware that he's jealous of Cedric getting to spend time with Emily and is still convinced that he doesn't deserve to be around her. I believe some people might come to the conclusion that Tristan is selfish because of how cold he can sometimes be, but I don't think that's true. I think Tristan is so incredibly selfless that it's harmful. He completely puts the well being of Emily above his own. No matter how much he likes her, he's convinced that he'd be bad for her and that she's better off with the Hufflepuffs, so he actively gives away his happiness in exchange for hers. If only he realized that he doesn't have to be bad, he'd probably understand that their happiness is not mutually exclusive, but his mind will never allow it. I think what everyone brushes off as his personality, (although he *is* a naturally dark person) may be severe warning signs of depression. And somehow, I doubt you're just throwing those around for no reason, never to come back again as a relevant plot point because that's just not how you seem to work.

It's funny that Tristan is kind of taken aback by how small his world has become. I don't think he really even realized how much he relied on the group for human interaction. He must not be coping all too well if he convinced himself to attend a Quidditch.

I wanted him to send that letter so badly. Furthermore, I wanted to know what was on that letter, but that's besides the point.

After everything that's happened, it's nearly insane for them to be drinking the stolen Draught of Tranquility. Not even just because it's bad for them. This is the very thing that would have gotten Laurel expelled if she was found to possess it! And they're out in the open just drinking it by the lake! Oh, man these kids have no fear.
Tristan is right about the amount of punches pulled in his and Laurel's friendship: approximately zero.

Tristan is now on weed, that potion, Alacratus (which you compared to cocaine!!) and a Cheer to boot. This is probably the worst concoction he's been on through this entire story. You write these blurry drug fueled hazes so well. I love the paintings' reactions to their wild behavior. And this line "Tristan and Laurel had left themselves out by the lake a long time ago." is just amazing. You really drive home how out of themselves they were by having Laurel feel as though she'd never felt so out of control. After everything that happened to her.. that's saying a lot.

When Dumbledore walked into the room that Laurel was in, knowing what book this takes place during, I already knew exactly where she was. I can't believe you've had her only see herself smiling in the mirror. That takes J.K.'s little bit of symbolism and giving it this whole new profound meaning. That honestly made me just so sad for her. I guess when you've been so low for so long, happiness really is your deepest wish, isn't it? That was just one of the best scenes of this entire story so far. You did such an excellent job capturing the wisdom of Dumbledore's dialogue. When Laurel hugged him I was just so sad and happy all together and I don't know how to even react. This was super unexpected, but such an awesome surprise.

You're going for tears in this chapter apparently.. having Tristan see himself as the Bryce's biological son. I don't even have words..
And now he's having his dormitory search and they're finding all of his things.. and he hasn't been selling and he didn't steal the potion.. this is a bad chapter for Tristan. When he says that doesn't have friends anymore it was just so well placed and made worse by the fact that he's right.

I knew that Tristan was adopted, but to find out how close he came to being a Malfoy is scary.. I am now imagining an alternate universe in which he's Draco's older brother and he certainly doesn't have the heart of gold that I've come to know.

I didn't see a day coming when I saw a HP crossover with High Fidelity, but here it is. Even that turned sad, since it discouraged him about his job prospects should he choose to return to the Muggle world if he fails out. Honestly, this is the saddest chapter yet. I'm just feeling really bad for everyone.

Running out of space, amazing job!

Author's Response: I definitely agree with you on that point! I "completed" this story before even finding HPFF (and oh man THANK HEAVENS for HPFF, so much better than anything I could have hoped for!), so it really wasn't originally intended to be serialized. I tend to read stories in bursts, and usually devour a few chapters at a time--if not the whole thing at once. I so appreciate all the people who stuck with this story chapter-to-chapter during uploading, and I'm actually really glad that I had to do it that way, because I ended up doing a lot of revision to this story for that reason. But, I'm also really glad that it's all up now, so that people can read at whatever pace they like!

I MAY have written like three paragraphs of (very bad) fanfiction when I was like 10, not knowing what fanfic really *was*. Anyway.

I'm so glad you mentioned the weather-personification! Definitely says more about the person observing it, than the weather itself ;) And your analysis on Tristan re: selfless vs selfish is super great. "Self-destructive" is certainly in there somewhere to, but the thing about being self-destructive is that it necessarily hurts the people around someone too.

A secret: I really wanted to know what was in the letter too! I tried, at one point, to write out all of Tristan's unsent letters to Emily, but nothing I came up with was as good as straight up imagination.

I'm SO GLAD you liked their hazy dash-through-the-castle! I really fretted over the tone of that sequence, and of what information I was able to give from Laurel's (addled) POV. You were spot-on about them taking substances just TOO FRIKKEN FAR by the Lake, so I really wanted *something* to offer condemnation (hence the paintings). Plus I liked the idea that Hogwarts has a level of semi-sentience, and would try to kind of fight them off.

I *so appreciate* what you said about being low for so long you only want to be happy. That was definitely what I was going for there, and was very much supposed to show just how DANGEROUS the idea of mood altering charms are. I mean, that's been obvious in the story, but I wanted to show it on a more emotional level. I also kind of wanted to redeem Laurel there. She's behaved so badly throughout the story, and been really thoughtless and self-absorbed, but giving her such a pure desire kind of legitimizes the motivation behind her actions.

I'm SO. GLAD. you liked Dumbledore's characterization! Without a doubt, he's the most difficult of all to get right, and writing him at all is rather presumptuous. I read his mirror scene with Harry several times to get him right!

I definitely sort of think that Tristan takes punishment for granted. He just assumes he deserves it all the time, and surrenders easily :(

RIGHT?! Tristan would have been AWFUL as a Malfoy!

Hahaha, High Fidelity! When I decided to send him to a record store, in this era, in London, I just couldn't resist! I ended up researching a lot into the High Fidelity fandom (which exists), to find out the precise location of Champion Vinyl!

Thank you for another amazing, insightful, encouraging, FANTASTIC review!


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Review #30, by teh tarik Three Times Charmed

16th September 2014:
Oh, hey, hey! I am BACK with another review for you.

First, yay! Year Five (and you, too!) got a score of Dobby nominations - and you completely deserve all of them! Congratulations! Your fic is absolutely wonderful, honest and very smart in its portrayal of teenagers (you've probably heard this compliment dozens of times, but it really is true!)

OK, I'm so glad we get to see things through Isobel's POV again. I know there's already been one chapter through her POV, but I felt like I didn't know her as well as I know Emily and Tristan, so this chapter was wonderful. So Isobel is a top student and a make-up expert who has some issues with body image. To the point that she feels the need to control her food intake portions. It's a little sad that she would be so insecure about her body, but gah, I remember being a teenager and feeling like I'm in constant warfare with my own body. I think you've handled the issue very well here.

And in contrast to Isobel's fixation with her body image is Laurel, who seems to be a wee bit too addicted to Cheering. It sounds like she's quite psychologically dependent on Cheering now - like she can hardly get through the day without her mind being in an altered state. I can see how she's tiptoeing on the edge of something here; there's a possibility that she be lose herself in a downward spiral anytime. After all, Laurel seems to be the most emotionally volatile of the group.

Hahaha, I'm more in love with Emily than ever. I'm guessing the only Quidditch captain she did not bed is the SLytherin one. Her being a Muggle born and all that. And Tristan going on about the othering of the non-magical world made me laugh. Isobel and Laurel's Hogsmeade trip (no pun intended) was hilarious. Shoplifting and annoying shop owners in general.

OK, in your request you mentioned suggestions on how to improve language. I'm at a bit of a loss here; I'm not sure how to advise you, because I think your language fits the tone and atmosphere of your story perfectly. Your narrative is very crisp and clean, and I don't think you should clutter it too much with too much descriptive prose and all. Though if you really want to look for things to describe, I guess you could include some details on the state of Hogwarts, especially as time passes (and time certainly is passing in your fic). If it makes you feel better, I really love your opening paragraphs! They're descriptive and detailed, and I loved reading about Isobel's careful application of makeup - the swooping cat-eyes and the way she tries to curl her hair. They're all great. You shouldn't worry too much! I think you know your story well, and what it needs.

Well, I adored this chapter! Am definitely coming back for the next one! Lovely writing, dear!


Author's Response: Hello!
Thank you SO MUCH! I'd be lying if I said I hadn't crossed my fingers for a Dobby nod, but I absolutely DID NOT EXPECT such a strong reaction! I have no idea what to do with myself except run around giggling and hugging strangers! THANK YOU! THANK HPFF! AKHFWNVFKJGWKJG!

It's definitely a SHAME that Isobel is so insecure. I very consciously chose a faceclaim for her of someone I find just TOO GORGEOUS to exist (Kat Dennings), who is also not a *thin* person (rather spectacularly curvy). Because I don't think that body-image has a single thing with what someone actually looks like--girls just be insecure :( I'm so glad you thought I handled it well, because it is such a sensitive and common topic, and I felt a lot of responsibility to be accurate.

Mind altering charms is such a LOADED idea! I mean, it's IMPOSSIBLE that some people wouldn't become reliant!

Yay I'm so glad you like Emily! I think she is, just objectively, my favorite (because: Hufflepuff). And I really wanted to give her that reputation and backstory, because highly sexually active girls tend to be stereotyped or two-dimensional (in basically all of the media).

Haha, "othering" the non-magical world! For that idea, I took a lot of nods from conversations I had in college!

I suppose, as for suggestions, if you ever see a bit of prose you just find really clunky, or a cliche kind of word-choice or anything, then just don't hesitate to point it out! You use language really creatively, and I'm still very much a beginner, so any ideas or concerns that ever pop in your head would be great to hear!

Thank you SO MUCH for the review! It means a huge amount to me that you are reading this story, since I am SUPER FANGIRL over your writing! (And there are a lot of stories of yours that I've read and yet to review!)


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Review #31, by crestwood Interrupted

15th September 2014:
I'm glad that Emily at least notices that Isobel isn't eating much. She pays a lot more attention to the rest of her friends than anyone other than Isobel herself, who refuses to take a look inwards. I am not surprised that Tristan has decided to continue keeping his secret from his friends. I mean, that's what he's been doing all along and he knows that Emily isn't going to tell them, so in his mind nothing has changed. And he knows that Emily is much more accepting than them, having been the reason he was invited into the group, (if I remember correctly) and just generally the nicest as well.

Tristan and Emily's 'almost' kisses inside of those bubbles are just what you'd expect of those two. Seems like a thinly veiled way to be close, without being emotionally close.

It's actually a huge step forward for Laurel to be losing some of her nihilistic attitude, even if it is causing some stress. She is in a really bad situation as far as exams go, with so much school missed and failing out of school doesn't seem like it'd go well in the Wizarding World.

Right when I saw that the envelope said 'For Tristan R. Bryce.' I knew she'd find out. This means I was right about Tristan's father being a Death Eater, which narrows down things a bit. The Big Thing is so big that even if I've guessed right, I'm pretty sure it's going to feel so good to find it out for certain. I am just blown away by the way you've revealed this secret a little at a time, I don't know how you keep yourself from spilling all of it in like the fifth chapter just to see people's reactions. I'm honestly scared of what Snape will do now that Laurel knows he's a Death Eater. I mean, I know he's good at this time period, but that doesn't mean he's nice.

I love Tristan's assertion that it's not just because Emily's muggle-born - it's because she's better. He has a pretty solid point there, I think.

Wow, I don't think you're going to expel Laurel.. are you?

I find her being rather bold for having found out that Snape is an ex-Death Eater. For all she knows, he's still active and would have no issue using Dark Magic to cover up his past. Of course, he's not going to, but I think she's especially brave to stand up to him that way in light of not knowing that.

I can't believe you cut off their kiss. I mean, I knew it was going to happen, but I can't believe. you set it up all so perfectly. Laurel getting caught by Snape just as Tristan and Emily are out walking by the lake.. of course THIS is when it all happens. There's no other time it could have, in this story. Things couldn't have gone right because that'd be too easy and none of these characters ever really have it easy. Amazing how all of the storylines connect, I'll tell you.

It's really mature of Laurel not to tell Isobel about Tristan's secret and instead deflected with the fact that he was in the process of snogging Emily when she found him.

I wish Tristan would take back that note to Emily. His insistence that he's a terrible guy is just really, really troubling.

It was so sad to watch Emily pretend to know about Laurel and Tristan. I don't think this is going to go over so well for Isobel's cherished group dynamics.

Emily is going to integrate with the other fifth year Hufflepuffs.. interesting. I can imagine that she'd be the one most likely to be accepted into other groups, as she is the most outwardly normal and stable of all of them.

Ah!! I love the letter from Tonks! Her advice is perfect and she might be exactly who Emily needs looking out for her. Clearly her thoroughly messed up friends may not be the most reliable source of help for whatever emotional issues she may be going through. Isobel patronizes her, Laurel can't see anything but herself and Tristan just blames himself for everything. Not exactly a bunch of role models, I'd say. I think I can feel the way the shrapnel is set to fly and things look to get worse before they get better. This is only getting better, somehow.

Side Note: Your nomination for Best Reviewer means SO much to me!! Considering how much I love and respect your work, having you appreciate my input is something I don't think I'll ever forget. Just.. thank you so much, really.

Author's Response: Oh Emily the Hufflepuff! Definitely the most compassionate of the bunch, and you remember correctly: the very reason he has friends at all!

And SHOTGUNNING! I had nearly forgotten about that little facet of teenage flirtation, but once it came back to me, I KNEW I had to include it ;)

Laurel definitely has a ways to go rebuilding her life. It was such a weird and difficult thing to write about, because there's so much anxiety and frustration implicit to that. So it could easily come off as either inaccurate, or just a CHORE to read, so I really struggled with navigating that complexity. I hope you think I did it well!

Hahah! The Big Thing was originally fully revealed in Chapter 10! But then since the other characters didn't know, it was almost silly to string along this mystery that the reader was totally aware of. So right before I uploaded Ch10, I rehauled the whole thing and pushed the reveal to the end. I wouldn't be surprised if you guess it all way in advance, since you've so far managed to pick up on every little nuance in this story :)

I love your comment about Laurel being brave there! You're totally right, and she has no reason to think he's as reformed as we know he is. I really do think Laurel has a lot of great qualities, and it was interesting for me to basically pick her up at her very worst.

EE! So this chapter was probably the most exciting for me to write! It's the first one that switches between POVs so much, and has a really different pace to the rest of the story. I'm SO GLAD that it came across! (I also sort of thought of it like this: POVs start conforming less to chapter-by-chapter rotations at this part of the story, because all of their lives are getting so mixed up).

It's so interesting seeing the different responses to Laurel here! Some people were really angry with her in this chapter, and they were totally right to be so, but then you see her as being "mature" and "brave." I think each analysis is totally valid. I really wanted so much of this story to be open to interpretation (hence the little "moral relativism" thing you picked up on in Chapter 9), and I just am SO SUPER STOKED that it worked!

Oh man, that note he wrote to Emily is one of many times writing this that I just wanted to smack Tristan SO BAD. UGH!

There were only so many ways I could get away with including Tonks in this story, and I basically took advantage of ALL OF THEM! Sometimes the hardest thing writing this is switching from "immature and half-formed teen perspective" to "wise mature perspective." Like, I actually sat around and brainstormed about Wise Things Dumbledore could say. And then Tonks would necessarily have a different flavor of mature wisdom from Dumbledore, or Sprout, or Mary.

Of COURSE I would nominate you best reviewer! You consistently leave such analytical, insightful reviews, and do such an amazing job unpacking the nuances of every chapter. And I've seen your reviews on other stories too, so I know you somehow manage both quality AND quantity! I can't even begin to explain how valuable your reviews are, because all of us here are trying to learn as writers, and it can be really hard to objectively see what works and doesn't work about your own writing. I think the single most important thing for me in writing/posting this story here was learning what my strengths were (and that I even had any!)--that's something I get too keep forever now, and has really encouraged me to continue writing, and make it a Real Thing I Do!


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Review #32, by UnluckyStar57 The Hex Head Express

15th September 2014:

WHY didn't I come back to this story sooner?! I feel really bad about the delay, but you know, life got in the way. :/

BUT I'm back! And oh my gosh, the first chapter might have been fueled by Tristan's angst and whatnot, but this chapter was plumb HILARIOUS. I can't offer you any sort of constructive criticism about the plot/grammar/spelling/dialogue/et cetera because you've absolutely perfected it all. Gosh.

To preface the rest of my review: I am comparatively innocent in comparison to your fifteen-year-old characters, and I don't really condone the use of mid-altering substances (because I'm that sort of old-maid-librarian-cat-lady type). But in the context of this story, I definitely approve because there were so many silly things that happened that would not have been possible had the characters not been so into substance use. :)

First of all: Cheering Charms=drugs?! You know, that makes far too much sense, and you're totally brilliant for using such a charm in the context of this story. After all, they DO alter your mood, and if no one feels like partying, using magic to cheer them up is a simple and fun fix. :D I loved the mention of Trevor the Toad after the four cast their charms--because I definitely knew exactly whose toad it was, and I knew that the firsties would be looking for him later.

FRED AND GEORGE ARE TOO MUCH I CANNOT HANDLE THEM BOTH AT ONCE. They are completely adorable despite their mischievousness and hijinks. All those jokes about Percy... And Harry's clothes!... And Ron! I laughed all the way through that scene--your sense of humor is obviously incredible, and I'm in love with this story already.

I love how you've taken the House stereotypes and twisted them a little bit. The most obvious example is Emily the Hufflepuff, who is a nice girl with a taste for partying and mind-altering substances. I'm super happy to see that she's not being labeled as a "scarlet woman" or any synonym that would degrade her, because that's such a common label in fanfic and it needs to stop. So yeah, I really loved your characterizations of all of the girls!

Just to get this straight: Emily is a Hufflepuff. Tristan is a Gryffindor. Isobel is...? Laurel is...? I don't know if I missed an important detail, but I wasn't quite sure what Houses the other two girls were in. Maybe that information is divulged in the next chapter if it isn't in this one. Sorry if I just accidentally missed the memo!

One question: When you wrote "Slytherines" in the sentence "If Slytherines weren't so categorically opposed to muggle drugs...", did you mean to write "Slytherins?" Because here's the thing--if you meant "SlytherinEs" (with the E on the end), then I am 100% okay with that. It made me think of Snape from A Very Potter Musical, and that is ALWAYS a good thing. If you actually meant "Slytherins," well, that's okay, too. :)

Okay, after revisiting this story and reading the hilarious and superb second chapter, I can totally see why this story keeps popping up in the Dobby noms. You definitely deserve at least one or two awards for all of your brilliance. :D


Author's Response: Hello again!

THANK YOU SO MUCH! This is really the first piece of prose fiction I've ever done, and I just had NO IDEA whether or not the comedy would even work! I'm sososososo glad you found it funny!

You know, I'd be interested to get your opinion going forward, because I'd HOPED that this story would still be readable even if people have very little tolerance for substance use. I really wanted to kind of submit a lot of this story *without comment*--to leave the readers their own room for interpretation. And I NEVER wanted to glamorize or condone (but also didn't want to preach). Anyway, I'm very interested in your honest opinions!

Heehee--Trevor! I just couldn't get over the childhood-destroying idea that while Harry was having his magical first journey to Hogwarts, some kids a few departments down were experimenting with recreational magic!

The Twins were SO MUCH FUN to write! I really feel like I *know* them, you know? So writing their manners and dialog seemed so, I dunno, *spontaneous!*

THANK YOU SO MUCH about your comments on Emily! In this story I wanted to both use common teen dramedy tropes, but then still sort of subvert the stereotypes (because real life *rarely* conforms to such narrow characters). I also feel like Hufflepuffs don't get enough love, so I really wanted to write a Puff and do them JUSTICE!

AhaAaAa, so all their Houses are revealed in the next chapter--super glad you're thinking about it! (Here it's mentioned that Emily is a Puff, and Isobel/Laurel are Claws--but it gets reinforced soon).

GAH! THANK YOU for the note on "SlytherinEs"--definitely a typo (I ALWAYS want to spell it like that!) Will fix it in my next edit!

Yee! Thank you SO MUCH for the kind words! I'm in what I think I could best describe as a state of shock! I am not exaggerating when I say I'm about 30% convinced that I'm still dreaming, and 70% JUST WHAT?!?!?!

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Review #33, by marauderfan Cleaner, More Brilliant

15th September 2014:
Wow, I can't believe it's the end! This was such a genuinely wonderful story, and I'm so impressed with your storytelling abilities. Even with not much of a plot to work with (life at Hogwarts without all the Voldemort stuff), you created such a rich, engaging story. I loved your attention to details, original ideas, the additional depth to the established canon, and ultimately the realness of your characters. They were all so dynamic, with different flaws, passions, ideas, strengths, and their friendships both as a group of four and individually one-on-one were so realistic and sensitively written.You handled some pretty dark topics in there as well and did it with a lot of tact, and I'm impressed how you handled those. I really can't say enough how much I loved your characters and after following their stories for these 22 chapters I feel like they're old friends of mine, as you feel about people you grew up with, or at least were around to see them change.

And even in the end, things aren't perfect for anyone. Some things still suck, and things are still moving forward. But it's better than it was before, and hey - that's as real as it gets. Great ending.

This review wouldn't be complete if I didn't gush about your writing style. You truly have a gift - your wielding of words and subtle details and especially satire, is just fantastic. You put a lot of planning and thought into this story and it shows - there are no plot holes or things that don't make sense -everything read just like I was seeing it happen in real life. I love the narrative voice you used in his story. Also, I (as well as like 37487 other people) nominated you for the best new author Dobby Award, just so you know. Your writing is awesome! ;)

I'm so, so glad you happened to click on my review thread months ago and dropped a request, because ever since then I've been glued to this story like that really sticky glue you use to fix things when duct tape doesn't work. And now... there's no more story so I'm going to stalk your author page to pass the time until you write a sequel, or another novel, or really anything - if you wrote about a day in the life of Francis the Flobberworm, I'd still read it.



Author's Response: THANK YOU SO MUCH! *sobs*

I don't even know what to say in my last author response of this story! Thank you so much for sticking with this story, and basically coming on this crazy journey with me! You were my first regular reviewer, and your encouragement is the real reason I was able to push through and get this all up!

AND JUST AGJKVFYWMBASJGW THE DOBBY NOMINATIONS. I genuinely CAN'T. I am so overwhelmed with joy and shock!

This was my first ever foray into writing fiction of any kind, and the positive reaction to Year Five has been (and I'm not exaggerating) LIFE CHANGING. I'm taking a creative writing class now, and have committed to learning more and continuing to write. I had no idea whether I'd be any good, and I've learned just a crazy amount!

Seriously, reading your reviews has taught me SO MUCH, and means more to me than I have words to explain!

And what you said about feeling like you know these characters is kind of the most flattering thing ever. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

Just overall, everything about writing this has been such an amazing experience, and it meant sososoSO MUCH to me that you read and reviewed this story!


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Review #34, by crestwood Torture

15th September 2014:
It's been a while since I've had time to come and visit this story and oh, how I have missed it. I will say, I went to go nominate this for all of the Dobby awards I possibly could and as it turns out, you seem to be the most frequently nominated person across all of the topics. We all seem to be in agreement about your skill level around here. Once this story wins all of the Dobbys it looks as though it's going to, I'm sure they'll be a ton of new readers and I'm going to be so proud of being one of the original reviewers!

So, Isobel is making the comparison between her disorder and Laurel's addiction that I've been making in my head. For some reason, I don't think she is really picturing it as a disorder quite yet though. I think she has yet to realize how harmful what she's doing is.

Even just in the beginning there is so many incredible lines. "About how every second involved the active decision not to take her pain away with her wand." and "as if it were somehow inconsiderate that Penelope even existed at all" especially. You just have such interesting dialogue and characters that sometimes I forget how beautiful your prose is.

Isobel is as concerned as ever with keeping the group together. It seems as though everything she says or does is for the greater good of the group dynamic. I wasn't surprised when she decided that she didn't like Tristan anymore at all. I had seen it coming - he was threatening the group by sleeping with Laurel. In Isobel's mind there is no greater offence. It seems as though she is just now taking the time to really examine his character from a viewpoint that doesn't feel forced to be overpoweringly positive about him, as she's decided she doesn't like him. She has certainly picked out a great number of his flaws and I can definitely understand where she is coming from about kicking him out of their circle, although I myself would try to be a bit more understanding about him. You have really gotten inside of her head though, I'll tell you that.
I love that you've written in real runes into this story because, of course you have. You've thought of everything. Percy is just the most annoying of people, but it's hilarious from your characters' point of views.

I wish Laurel would realize that Isobel is struggling with a major problem here, but she is just very absorbed in her own issues. Which, of course, is understandable because they're really serious, but I just wish she'd take a second to pay attention to the fact that her best friend rarely eats.

Isobel has noticed that Tristan flinches at the use of the word Crucio and she dislikes him enough to do it seemingly for fun. She really seems to be a vengeful kind of person. But then, all of these characters have their flaws. I still love her, even though she's massively overprotective of everyone. She means well...I think.

Of course Tristan would know that she's mad. He does seem to know a lot about other people. He's the observant type. I wish he didn't truly think that he's stupid, weak or an all around bad person, but he really thinks that lowly of himself. The only reason he acts like a bad person sometimes is because he thinks he's a bad person. I wish I could speak some sense into him or something, but he's fictional and I'm probably too invested in his mental health.

Tristan's joke about Cedric was the cause of an excited gasp from me.. like a literal audible gasp. I really got my hopes up the second I read that, but alas, it was just him with his deadpan humor.

I love Isobel's interest in non-western magic and all of her knowledge that she has on the subject, even though Quirrel is likely only asking on behalf of Voldemort. She may even be giving him really valuable stuff that he uses in the future. Such as these alternate methods of torture.. I thought that the idea of psychological torture by way of putting ideas or images into people's heads sounded somewhat like when Voldemort convinced Harry that he had Sirius at the Ministry. It might not actually be exactly that, but that's what it reminded me of. And clearly that caused a lot of pain for everyone involved. Another spectacular chapter!

Author's Response: ERMGERD! I am so overwhelmed and AH! THANK YOU! Waking up to Dobby nominations might be the best feeling EVER!

I'm glad you pointed out about Isobel drawing a comparison to Laurel's problem. The funny (well, not funny at all) thing is that Isobel equates food with charms; one thing nourishes while the other destroys. She is very mixed up right now :(

"In Isobel's mind there is no greater offense." YES! I definitely love my Tristan, so I really wanted to convincingly get into Isobel's head here to show her side of things. I think of it as her being so exhausted by dealing with her own issues, as well as Laurel's, that she just has limited emotional space left to show Tristan appropriate compassion. And Laurel is definitely TOTALLY self-absorbed right now.

You're right, I think, about Isobel meaning well. It's just none of these kids are really qualified to be the entire emotional support that their friends need--which I think is an interesting consequence of boarding school that went unexamined in canon. I definitely have my criticisms of Laurel and Isobel's parents, but not SO MUCH that I think their kids are actually better off without them.

"The only reason he acts like a bad person sometimes is because he thinks he's a bad person." That was such a great analysis! Tristan's behaviors and motivations in this story were so interesting to develop--and they weren't something I'd totally planned out from the get go. I'm so happy with how it all came out, and really enjoyed writing about the emotional space he occupies (even when it was FRUSTRATING or HARD). And I AM DEFINITELY TOO INVESTED IN HIS MENTAL HEALTH!

Isobel is pretty straight up cruel here, because I wanted to kind of show how much she's deteriorated (starvation necessarily messes with the head) from her own perspective. She might not see how bad she's gotten, but that her feelings are wilder and more erratic, I hoped, would help convey the point.

Heehee! Tristan/Cedric! This story is rather a shipper's nightmare, as Romance is really kind of a back-burner "well, they're kids so that's around--BUT IT'S SUPER MESSY" thing. I had fun dropping in a few doomed little nuggets hoping they might develop into ships! :D (I might privately nurse some really doomed ships for my own characters ;))

Non-western magic was just SUCH FUN to develop!!! I'm so glad you appreciate! And since WE ALL know about Quirrel's second face, I couldn't just let that little gem of dramatic irony go unexamined. I DEFINITELY wanted to suggest that Voldemort got some of his ideas from Isobel!

The Ministry/Sirius thing wasn't exactly torture, though--but I imagine Voldemort still got the basic idea there, and applied it towards manipulation rather than torture. I just REALLY wanted to introduce the concept that having images in your mind could be a kind of psychological torture. This chapter very indirectly tried to give gravity to a lot of the anguish that Tristan is in.

EE! Writing a story where the points are buried in the spaces between what the characters consciously realize was SO MUCH FUN! I also wasn't at ALL sure if it would work (since it takes the reader putting it together for the concepts to emerge)--so seeing your reviews and analysis is WONDERFUL!


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Review #35, by Yoshi_Kitten The Hex Head Express

15th September 2014:
Im back again for chapter 2! I have a feeling the character-limit is gonna cut me off here cuz there is SO MUCH I wanna comment on, but I'll try to cover everything...

OMG, THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!!! No really, I swear I know people just like this in RL, lol. In fact, Tristan reminds me a LOT of my little brother; especially when it comes to the music thing. Ever since the invention of portable music devices, Cody can pretty much ALWAYS be seen with a pair of headphones around his neck - no joke! My little bro is a drummer in 3 different bands, and he has always been pretty BIG into music. Most of my family members are musicians of some sort; myself included, so I must say that the musical aspect of this is one of my most favorite things thus far. Cant say that I blame Tristan for wanting to listen to his music before not being able to play it anymore for the duration of the school year. After all, he's got the whole year to hang with his friends, so I probly would have made the same call there.

So what happened in the last chapter was his first time them? Oh no, the poor dear. I hope he is okay. Again, I just wanna reach in and give him a hug! I hope he doesnt stay depressed for too long tho, now that he is around all of his friends and back at school again. Speaking of which; I think you did an excellent job, yet again, at giving us such a detailed description of Tristan through his friends. I feel like I really got to know him a lot better in this chapter, even though he didnt really say much. I cant help but wonder why he seemed so interested in Harry. Even though Harry is so much younger than Tristan, it would be cool to see the two of them bump into each at some point in this, I think.

Tristan really did need some "cheering up" after the way his summer ended, I'd say. (You see what I just did there? Haha!) Honestly, I still CANNOT believe that Ive never seen this done before... I mean, come on! I remember what it was like to be a teenager, and this is exactly how it pretty much went, lol! And for someone to bring something so REAL like this into the HP universe is just AMAZING!! I mean, using Cheering Charms as recreational magic to get buzzed? Thats just plain BRILLIANT! And the concept is just SO believable too. Like, seriously, I can relate to this type of thing on a very personal level. I have always been a bit of a misfit myself, so I know what its like to be on the outside/non-popular group in school. My friends and I kind of had our own nerd-gang back in the day as well; though we werent nearly as cool as the "Hex-Heads" seem to be tho, lol. Love that name for their group too, btw! (:

I am enjoying ALL of your OC's in this so far, and I cannot wait to get to know them more. Idk if Isobel is into guys or girls, but I feel like there could be something there between her and Emily. Maybe. Or I at least got the sense that Isobel might have a small crush on her. Perhaps. There was just something about the attention to detail that was paid to Emily's character (by Isobel) all throughout this chapter that suggested she may like her as more than just a friend. I could be way off here tho, and if I am then feel free to just ignore this comment, lol! ^_^'

OMG, I absolutely LOVE ALL the little bits of Cannon that you have included in this chapter. I recognized the toad as Trevor immediately, lol, and was especially happy when I seen Hermione make an appearance in their compartment as she was trying to help Neville find him. I enjoyed their conversation about Harry too, especially when the twins began to explain how their mom had helped him onto the platform. And what they said about Ron being a "Probable embarrassment to the House of Gryffindor" was just hilarious!! Their comments about Percy were hysterical too, lol. Honestly, the twins were just PERFECT in this - in every possible way!! =D

I love how you made mention of Charlie and Tonks hee too! I've always seen Tonks as kind of a Rebel, so it was nice to see that she had her own group similar to this while in school, lol. Were her and Charlie in the same group together, perhaps? I could totally see the two of them being friends, so I sure hope that they were. Plus, Charlie definitely seems like the type of guy who would like to smoke - I have always thought this - so it's good to see that someone out there is finally writing it this way, lol! Oh, and the image of a stoned Arthur Weasley gave me quite a good laugh too! As obsessed with Muggles as Arthur is, the idea that Fred and George would use this to get their father to partake with them is extremely believable. Albeit, unexpected out of Mr. Weasley, but believable nonetheless. I can only imagine what Molly would say if she ever found out about this, lol! =P

I liked the mention of Penelope Clearwater in this too, and cant help but wonder how much of her we'll see in this since she shares a room with 2 of the girls... Another thing I like is the fact that not all of these friends are from the same house. You have Isobel & Laurel in Ravenclaw, Emily in Hufflepuff, Fred & George in Gryffindor, and -wait- what house is Tristan in? He strikes me as a Slytherin, but I dont think it was directly stated in this chapter which house he was in for sure. It'd be cool if he was a Slytherin tho, because then they would have someone from all 4 of the houses represented in their group. & Speaking of the houses, that part where they were assigning each house a corresponding drug at the end really cracked me up! They were all pretty accurate pairings too, lol!! But I especially enjoyed all the "puff" jokes about Hufflepuff, and the implication that Mrs. Sprout secretly grows weed in her restricted greenhouse, haha!! ALL of this stuff is just SO GENIUS!!!

Well, Im all outta room now, lol. See ya in the next chapter!

100/10 =)

Author's Response: !!YEE THANK YOU!!!

I am SO GLAD you find the characters relatable and like, RESONANT. These are the kinds of kids we didn't really see much of in canon (or if they were this way, we didn't hear about it)--so I SUPER wanted to see how they would interact with the wizarding world. And just, GAH, I can't even imagine not being able to listen to music for months on end! And being 15/16 to boot!

I'm sososo glad that you felt like you got to know Tristan better in this chapter! Rotating POVs was really fun for me because I got to look at everyone from so many different angles, and play with how I revealed information. (I pretty much stole that whole idea from Rowling's Casual Vacancy, actually, where that method was just MASTERFUL!)

I had no idea when I wrote this whether or not recreational magic was a thing that ever came up, but it just seemed so OBVIOUS to me! I mean: TEENAGERS. This story was pretty much inspired by the conversation, "well, if *I* was at Hogwarts..."

Definitely the most fun thing about writing a non-AU Hogwarts era story was being able to weave in so much canon! I also understand why people tend to avoid this genre, because OH MY GOD THE RESEARCH IT REQUIRED! But I am a nerd, and it was researching POTTER, so I was actually pretty into doing it!

Yay, Tonks! I was sososo happy to realize she would have overlapped with my OCs! And my headcanon dictates that Tonks and Charlie were definitely besties :D And RIGHT! I completely agree about Charlie smoking! (And actually, more-so Bill. I am forever angry at how the films cast him. He was supposed to have long hair, combat boots, and an earring!)

And Arthur! Hehehee. It was really funny to me to imagine him not really understanding what it was, and thinking of it as some quaint muggle novelty ;) Molly would probably be worlds-destroyingly furious if she found out--but she would have to understand the implications of it. I've noticed that different cultures in the world have different attitudes about different substances, and certain widespread things elsewhere aren't widely used in the western world. So I thought it would be fun to suggest different attitudes/levels of knowledge about common muggle things.

And yee, I had SO MUCH FUN with the substances+houses assignments! That was some of my favorite stuff to write :D

Seriously, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your reviews! They are AMAZING! Once RL lets up a little bit in the next weeks I will be inhaling your story!


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Review #36, by dracoanddragons Cleaner, More Brilliant

14th September 2014:
WOW. That's all I can say! Sorry that I haven't read and reviewed in a while, life is crazy.
Anyways... what a great ending! You tied everything up into a beautiful, messy, realistically perfect bow and I'm so impressed with how much all of your characters made an impression on me! Rabastan! What a perfect name for Tristan...His father is the coward he didn't ever want to become, and it truly shows how his characterization was intended to portray his struggle of having that dark past haunt him. Thanks for sharing your talent with me and everyone else who read this fic!
Laurel, Emily, Isobel, and Tristan forever!

Author's Response: YAY! I am SO glad that you liked it! "Beautiful, messy, realistically perfect bow" is, like, the BEST COMPLIMENT EVER!

Right?!?!?! Doesn't it just suit him a MILLION times better! I really tried to hold that name in mind while I wrote him, hoping that people would think it fit once it was revealed!

And I love what you said about Rabastan being a "coward." It's not a common interpretation of Death Eaters, but as I wrote and the idea emerged, I sort of fell in love with it!

Just thank you SOSOSO much for taking the time to read and review! This story was a BEAST of a project to undertake, and your liking it makes it all worth it!


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Review #37, by mymischiefmanaged Three Times Charmed

14th September 2014:
Okay. As promised, I'm back to leave the reviews I failed to give last time I read this :)

I feel that this chapter is maybe the strongest so far in terms of characterisation. You use very natural conversation to develop your characters (I loved all the discussion about music), as well as creating very visual descriptions. I absolutely loved the idea of Tristan and Emily smoking and listening to muggle music on their Hogsmeade trip.

This is where, for me, Isobel and Laurel's intense friendship really solidified. It's suddenly obvious that they're much closer with each other than with the others, and it makes sense that they would be. Their dislike of Penelope Clearwater is brilliantly written. You make it funny and believable, but more than that you don't make Penelope ridiculous. She's a very real character who just happens to annoy her roommates, rather than being a caricature. You do this fantastic thing where you treat all your characters as the protagonist in their own stories. Nobody's just there for the effect they have in somebody else, and that makes everything feel more true to life.

Finally, Emily knowing how to get into the kitchens but keeping it secret is a brilliant idea. I love the idea of all the Hufflepuffs just casually not mentioning this huge secret they have, and the other houses not understanding why they always have the best snacks.

This is a really great chapter, one of my favourites. I'll be back for chapter six soon! :)

Emma xx

Author's Response: Hello!

Wow, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to back-review! You are AWESOME!

And thank you SO MUCH for what you said about characterization! I really wanted to use music like an expository tool, because I wanted to include it as much as possible, but thought it would be gratuitous to just throw in everything I personally liked and be like "LOOK HOW GOOD IT IS!" But music is, I think, a really big deal when you're that age (and I think it has a lot to do with developing identity), and the ways that teenagers engage with music was really interesting to me.

And YAY! Thank you about the Penelope comment! She really doesn't actually do anything bad in this story, the girls just hate her! I thought it was enough that she was a goodie-two-shoes, and liked Percy Weasley! But yeah, I definitely wanted to keep her realistically a person, and kind of give the reader room to think that maybe Isobel and Laurel are being too harsh (again: TEENAGERS).

Haha! Ancient Hufflepuff wisdom! I thought that was such an implicitly funny idea, and I'm SO GLAD that it worked!

Thank you SOSOSO much for your review! Definitely let me know once the next chapter of Complicated is up!


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Review #38, by Gabriella Hunter The Big Thing

14th September 2014:

I'm so happy to be back, you really had me worried with that last chapter. I was a little upset that we didn't get much mention of Laurel in this chapter but I think that you've hinted at other issues that deserve my attention. I thought that it was really reckless of Emily and Tristan though to try that Peruvian Potion after what happened to Laurel but I think both of them were trying to escape other more, unpleasant memories and I found that to be an interesting contrast. I wonder what's going on with Isobel at the moment and its obvious that her bulimia is getting out of hand, I'm wondering just how sick she must be to not be walking around in her make up. Has something else happened to bring about this change? I can't help but wonder about that.

But anyway, Emily and Tristan's moment together was both haunting and absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed the power of the potion too and what Emily saw in her friend, the Big Thing, which you've hinted at more than once has me really curious and it really showed Tristan as a very vulnerable person. Its obvious that he's hoarding a lot of pain in himself but I'm curious to know what happened and what's so terrible that he's hidden away for so long. I wonder if Emily will ever say? I doubt it but its obvious that she was a bit disturbed by what she saw, though that ending scene with them was wonderfully beautiful.

Also, Slytherins are jerks. What was interesting was the amount of lust that the boys couldn't help but feel for Emily and the blast of hatred was a good mix, confusing feelings for someone, I'm sure.

Now, the flashbacks were lovely. I really got a chance to see all of the characters back when they were younger, hinting at things to come in later chapters? Emily though was the sweetest person in the world and I really enjoyed how she eventually became friends with everyone. I've had very emotional conversations in the loo as well, they can be quite intense. Hahahaha.

Not sure what's going on with Tristan either, what's he doing skipping class? The nerve! I can't wait for the next chapter, don't be shy about stopping back!

Also, the music in this chapter was very spot on, it gave me chills. I think that you weave this in so well that it really helps me to sink into your characters and also, it gives me a chance to remember all the angsty goodness that I listened to when I was their age.

Much love,


Author's Response: Hello!

Ugh, I DEFINITELY agree that Emily and Tristan were being reckless. I remember seeing people behave like that when I was that age, and FIRMLY CONTINUE TO BELIEVE that they were indestructible even when evidence mounted to the contrary. I hope it came off as "unfortunate but realistic" rather than just "STOP IT YOU FOOLS!"

Yay! I'm so glad you liked that scene! The effects of the potions were really interesting for me to write, and I loved the idea of mixing "literal magic" with "trippy psychedelic." And I really hoped it all worked as a "forwarding the plot" device. I liked the idea of being able to reveal some information to a character, but in a way that was vaguer and more subtle than just a straight up declaration of the facts. Also, it let me string the mystery on longer ;)

UGH, those Slytherins! I have a lot of suspicions about the interior lives of properly prejudiced people (headcanon: Death Eaters totally buy muggle nudie mags on the sly). I'm really glad that you found that interesting, and thought it worked!

Right!?! Restroom-friendships are POWERFUL! And just, yee: writing young-Emily was so fun for me! I also really hoped to convey a lot about Laurel there, so I hope that worked!

So many times writing this story I just wanted to SHAKE Tristan, or SLAP HIM. The fool!

Super glad you liked the music too! I know it can really potentially put readers off, but like you said, teenagers listening to angsty music is such a THING. I really tried to make sure the music always had a *reason* to avoid gratuity. One of my all-time favorite fics is "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" (it's so amazing, I can't even), but the author ended up offering two different versions of a chapter. The first involved a parody of the "Ghost Busters" theme (and it was brilliant), but readers on that site were just SO allergic to any music in fics that he ended up doing a music-free edit. So glad that hasn't been the case here!

Thank you so much for the review!

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Review #39, by Yoshi_Kitten Dozens of Little Televisions (1991)

14th September 2014:
Hello Roisin, I'm Deana. I must say, I have heard nothing but great things about this story recently, so I was REALLY excited when I saw that we got paired together for the Review exchange this month!! I had been meaning to give this a read anyway, and this just gave me the perfect opportunity to get here sooner. And now I am officially hooked!!! Like, I'm coming back to leave this review, but I have already read the first 3 chapters because I just could NOT put this down once I started reading it!! You write like a pro, your characters are extremely realistic and relatable. And I am just so beyond impressed by this right now. =)

Now that I've gone and inflated your ego a little bit, (lol!) let me talk about the characters... SOPHIE: As she was a Muggle, and since they did obliviate her memories of that night, I get the feeling that we won't be seeing much of her anymore, now that Tristan is off to Hogwarts. Which is sad, really, as she had quite a back story going on there with trying to make her ex jealous and all that. And Tristan really seemed to be into her. Obviously I know now that she was his first now, but was he her first as well? If so, then that is awful that she doesn't even remember it now!! I really felt bad for her, and also for Tristan because he actually liked this girl and now they're taking her away from him. I mean, she as totally buying into his dad's cover story about advanced technology, and it's actually not a very far stretch, considering that Muggles really will have digital picture frames and the like 23 years into the future! I loved how she thought they were all a bunch of tiny little TV's at first tho, until she dropped it and the portrait reacted to her. That was brilliant! You have set everything up for this so well right from the start. I am loving it!! ;)

TRISTAN: First of all, I like that you used Sophie to describe his features, as he does not seem like the type of bloke to talk about himself much, lol. He seems quiet and shy, and like he doesn't really say much until you get to know him. He was so sad at the end. I just wanted to reach into the story and give him a hug! Tristan is a very deep thinker, the metaphor about the trees at the end was a great way to demonstrate this. He certainly is unique in his own way, and I cannot wait to learn more about the way he views the world. I love how emotional and angsty he is here too, it really adds to his character and tells a lot about his personality. If you don't mind me asking; who is the guy you are using for him in your graphics? He looks so familiar, but I cannot figure out where I've seen him before, lol.

The only tiniest bit of CC that I can come up for this right now is in regards to the POV switch in the middle of the chapter. It just kind of threw me off a bit at first because it wasn't really broken up at all, and it just jumped right into another person's thoughts without warning. I feel like there should have been an extra added space in between the paragraphs of the two characters, or perhaps one of those line-break bar thingys? I've even seen some people use the */b> or ~ symbols to mark POV changes within a solitary chapter before. Again, this may sound picky, and it could just be me, but it did distract me from reading it the first time, so I felt like it was worth mentioning. Once I read back over it again and realized what was going on, everything was absolutely great!! :D

Oh, and I also really liked how you used an actual Obliviator that was mentioned in Cannon here also. I know you said that you had done a huge amount of research for this, in order to keep it as close to Cannon as possible, and it really shows!! The time and effort that you have put into this is incredible, and all of that hard work has definitely paid off, I'd say! I seriously think that this could easily become one of my all-time favorite stories that I have ever read on HPFF Ė it has THAT MUCH potential!!! I am super looking forwards to reading and reviewing the rest now! I've already favorited it and I am going to recommend this to all my my friends now too. This is off to such a great start, and I am stoked to see what kind of mischief they get into at Hogwarts!!

10/10 - this was seriously SUCH a perfect first chapter!!

Author's Response: Hello!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for leaving such an amazing, insightful, review! You rule!

I'm super glad the just TRAGEDY of that whole obliviation scenario came off! I really wanted to examine in what ways the wizarding world could be uniquely cruel, and that idea was just THE SADDEST THING! Plus, it seemed like something that *must* happen from time to time (because kids would *totally* end up ignoring the statute if they could get some kisses out of it).

Ooh! You're the first person to ask about faceclaims! I was SUPER proud of them! Tristan is a Welsh actor named Craig Roberts (he was in "Submarine", "Skins:Fire", and had a small recurring role on "Being Human"--plus starred in the spin-off web series. Some other things too, but those are the main ones.) I spent FOREVER coming up with faceclaims, because I really wanted everyone to *actually* look like teenagers, look like they *could* be wearing robes for any chapters set at Hogwarts (or be easy enough to photoshop), and not all look super glamorous/high fashion. I ended up going with Indie actors who started out at teenagers, and picked the ones who had the most usable photos. I was really pleased when I thought of Roberts for Tristan! He was close enough to my original mental-image, and then I ended up rewriting the whole thing with that actor in mind! I'm actually really glad I did that, because I feel like it helped me catch awkward/unrealistic dialog :)

Thank you SO MUCH for the note about the POV shift! I will definitely take your advice, and do some sort of page break! I'll stick to the all caps tag as well, but you're right--the first time the shift happens the reader has very little indication of what is going on.

Your kind words! Ah!1!1! THANK YOU!

Weaving in canon was SO MUCH FUN for me! I also really liked that, since Rowling created *so frikken many* characters, I didn't have to come up with whole new names or anything--I could just scan the HP wiki or Lexicon! Plus, if you think about it, the wizarding world must be TINY, considering the size of the Hogwarts student body, and the canon indication that most magical kids in Britain go to Hogwarts. I decided to recycle canon as much as possible because that just seemed more realistic! I mean, all of Magical Britain probably amounts to, like, the population of one smallish city!

I can't wait to get started on your story, which has been on my reading list for a while!


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Review #40, by Gabriella Hunter Self-Spelling

12th September 2014:
Hello, lovely!

I am SO sorry that its taken me so long to get back to you but I was really busy and wasn't able to buckle down and get to my reviews. It was a major pain. ;__;

I was wondering when things were going to take a turn for the worse when it came to the group and here is this chapter, destroying my feels! I'm not sure what I want to talk about first but my mind is all over the place and I can't really get all of it out! Agh!

Isobel seems to be going through a stressful time and while I was reading I got the sense that she might be a bit tired of her group of friends. Perhaps it was just me but there wasn't really a strong feeling of companionship between them all this chapter and while she was in the loo, I got the sensation that those feelings had been bubbling up for a while. I wonder if she feels a bit artificial? She was talking about how much she put into her face and studies but that didn't leave her with anything very special. It really got me curious. And then...what?! Bulimia? Did I read that correctly?! That's a serious problem and I'm not sure what to even say about that, aside from the fact that you handled it brilliantly and have some MAJOR guys for actually writing something like that. I tip my hat to you madam because I would never have been able to do it without caving, its such a serious issue and I wonder when we'll see more of it--or if anyone will find out. How long has Isobel been doing this, I wonder? Hm...

Anyway, Isobel's concern about Laurel built up really nicely to give me a great punch in the bum later. I'm not sure how you managed to do it but I've been concerned for Laurel or about five chapters or so and I'm glad that we've finally got an answer. Tristan acted guilty of course but I'm not sure if he really understood the damage but maybe that's just me. Self-spelling is dangerous and such a unique thing to include in a fanfic, never seen it done before and its pretty fantastic. Well, your writing of it is but the actual problems are horrible.

I thought Laurel was going to die. I'm not even going to lie, that scene scared the crap out of me and by the time she was in the hospital wing, I was really shook up. :(

The remarks of the other students of course had me a bit riled as well but it seems to me that the Hex Head's days are nearing an end. I can't wait to see what you do next so stop by because I'm certain that I'll be finished with all my reviews by then. Hahahah.

Much love,


Author's Response: Hello!

I don't know WHY you apologize for being "late" with reviews, when I am the LEAST timely person EVER!

Thank you SO MUCH for your analysis of Isobel's state of mind! You are absolutely spot-on. And as for her eating disorder--it was such a difficult thing to write, because I really didn't want to do that to her (and almost didn't). But then I really wanted to be realistic, and push myself not the shy away from gritty realities (which I think is sort of offensive or belittling, if you are handling heavy subjects at all), so I'm SO GLAD you thought I did it with tact! That was really important to me, because I think it's also sort of *irresponsible* to include a subject like that and then mess up how it's portrayed. Anyway, THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!

I'm not sure if I mentioned this in another response, but I sort of envisioned "Self-Spelling" as a magical cross between "drinking alone" and "shooting up"--as for its implications and dangers. I really fretted over the execution of that scene, and did a ton of research, so I'm SO relieved that it was affecting! It's just such a pivotal point in the story, I felt like I had this huge responsibility to do it well!

Thank you sososososo much for this review!


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Review #41, by Midnight spark Behind the Mirror

11th September 2014:
Hey, Review swap!

Ooh... I noticed that subtle hint about Oliver! ;)

So many people were introduced! Siobhan, Stan, Lee, Angelina (and Cedric too!) and of course, Oliver. I loved reading about the party, it seemed very realistic to me.

Hufflepuff's password is 'Hufflepuff'? Genius, really. No one will guess it. That was my favorite scene.

Thanks for the swap!


Author's Response: Before I reply, I'M SO SORRY I'M TAKING SO LONG WITH OUR SWAP! I am the worst! Forgive me! I promise I haven't forgot, I just haven't had the time to sit down and write it out!

Yay, glad you noticed about Oliver! No one else has mentioned it!

I enjoyed writing that party scene *way too much.* And I had to come up with TONS of OCs, since there were so few canon characters named above Year Three.

I'm super stoked you liked the Hufflepuff password thing! That's tricky, because there's actually disagreement in the canon as to how one gets in. Before Pottermore, it was suggested to be a "pass rhyme", but then Pottermore says it's sort of a tapping thing. Since the canon was inconsistent (and I liked the joke!) I decided it was okay to do my own thing!



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Review #42, by mymischiefmanaged Cleaner, More Brilliant

11th September 2014:

I did a bad thing. I read your whole novel and haven't stopped to review for ages. So much for reviewing every chapter as I read...I blame your wonderful story. I got so caught up in it that I just couldn't stop. So, I'm feeling guilty, but I can guarantee that I'll be reading this again and when I do I'll leave you reviews on each chapter.

But OHMYGOODNESS I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S OVER!! I've loved reading it, really truly absolutely. All of your characters are so carefully thought through and developed. You weave together so many different little plots. And your loyalty to canon is just amazing and inspiring.

I wasn't sure exactly what to say in this review, so I'm just going to give you my thoughts on each of the main four characters for now.

TRISTAN: You give him these very believable vulnerabilities and flaws while still showing that he's a very valued character and friend. His whole rejection of the wizarding world is fascinating, and some of the most creative writing I've seen in fanfiction. Tristan's preference for all things muggle makes a lot of sense as a consequence of his past, but you put a lot of thought into the GENUINE REASONING behind it as well. He's a character that thinks carefully and deeply, and it's like you've worked through all his thought processes yourself to make sure they do him justice, which is hugely impressive and gives him a lot of depth. You write his depression very convincingly, making sure that you don't dehumanise him in the process, and every aspect of his character ties together wonderfully. As a person I don't think he's my favourite of the four, but as a three dimensional character he is perhaps the most impressive. Also I just LOVE the whole muggle music obsession. All your music references are beautiful, and it captures such an essential aspect of growing up. Is the music love something from you? I feel like it might be. Either way, it's a little thing that you've managed to make sum up so much of who Tristan is, and I love it.

ISOBEL: What really struck me about the way you dealt with Isobel as a character was the TACT you gave her. You managed to demonstrate how her illness affected her mind, giving some of the best examples of unreliable narration I've seen, but you really encourage empathy with her character at the same time. I adore the juxtaposition of Isobel trying to mother her friends and look after them all while she is creating this huge problem for herself. Like with Tristan's depression, you take Isobel's eating disorder as a very real thing. It's all encompassing and devastating but you maintain Isobel as a real person at the same time as Isobel as a person with an illness. It's obviously a very difficult topic to write about but you deal with it gracefully and sympathetically and I'm hugely impressed.

LAUREL: I feel like of all your main characters, Laurel is probably the one we get to know least, but you have good reasons for that and it's effective. Laurel's problems have the biggest effect on the rest of the group, in a big way because they're all slightly culpable, and by showing less of her point of view you have the opportunity to further explore the influence she has over her friends. The whole recreational magic idea was just brilliant. I've never seen it before as an idea but now you've written about it it's obvious that it would be a thing. Of COURSE you'd be tempted to use a charm to make yourself more cheerful. I love how Laurel eventually fully admits her problem to herself and others. She accepts the addiction as a part of her but wants to develop to change it, and that's really inspiring. Also I absolutely love Laurel's friendship with Isobel. All four of them have this really intense, admirable bond, but Laurel and Isobel go beyond that. It's such a lovely exploration into friendship. I love how each of them just assume they can depend on the other, and are right to do so. That connection is one of my favourites in the novel.

EMILY: I've left her till last because she's my favourite. You've taken the characteristics of Hufflepuff as a house and then have done some fascinating exploring of what about a person makes them have these characteristics. I love Emily's caring about other people. I love how she sympathises but doesn't assume she can fix the problem (like Isobel does). She's observant and notices when things are wrong, and because of this people trust her to help them. I love how her friends need her more than she needs them. Isobel has to tell her about Quirrell because she'll understand, and Tristan clearly adores her. You've also done a really good job of giving Emily very real problems, but showing how different her coping mechanisms are than those of her friends. She's suffering but she totally refuses to collapse, and she finds the people she needs to help her feel better rather than taking the Tristan/Laurel method of self destruction. Of all the four, Emily has the most life outside the group. Also I love how her feelings for Tristan are always accepted but don't control her life. I love her writing to Tristan's mum when she's concerned. I love that Tonks and Dumbledore both took notice of her and wanted to help her, and that Cedric sees her as a friend even though she's two years older. She's just fab, all round.

Okay, I'm running out of space, so just a few more things I loved overall: the huge range of problems you tackled, how in character the Weasley twins were, PERCY/PENELOPE, the crossover of houses and years in your friendships, Oliver Wood, the absence of Quidditch, the interesting classes, how many of the teachers were understanding, guidance counselling from Sprout, SNAPE showing his thoughtful side, the different POVs, and so so many more.

This is one of the most original, creative, tactful, true to canon stories I've ever read. I've loved it and am so impressed.

Keep writing! You're amazing!

Much love,

Emma xx

Author's Response: I have been having SUCH a hard time responding to this review, because I keep writing way over the character limit!

In short: THANK YOU! This was kind of the Dream Review. Like, all of your reactions were just EXACTLY what I hoped someone would take from this story. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

I'm especially glad that you thought it was tactful, because that was probably the most difficult thing about writing this story. I very nearly cut some of the gnarlier stuff, out of anxiety that I wouldn't handle it well enough. Then again, leaving it out, I worried, might take away from the realism (in my, um, story about wizards). Ultimately, I did a rather ABSURD amount of research (thank heavens for my jstor access--which allowed me to read psychology journals).

All in all, writing this has been quite literally life changing. I never wrote fiction before, because I never had much confidence in my ability to do it. This was such a huge learning experience, and reading/reviewing other peoples' stories has given me the opportunity to think really critically about different styles and methods. And just the positive response to the story--that's HUGE for me! I am officially taking a creative writing class now, and all credit goes to HPFF!


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Review #43, by crestwood The Trouble With Laurel

10th September 2014:
It's like 7 in the morning and I haven't slept and I'm beginning to think this is the only time of day I'll ever read this story.

This line hit me so hard 'he was nearing the end of a long fought war with himself, and both sides were losing.' You've really made it painfully clear that Tristan is in an even worse place than usual. As a reader, I can almost feel the crash coming very, very soon. Laurel overall does seem better than before, other than her short-lived moment of weakness. In a way, it was a step in the right direction, as at least she wasn't self spelling again.

Isobel rebuilding Tristan's stereo is both a great gesture and an awesome way for me to get excited over your choices of music some more! Laurel's birthday was going okay at first - maybe the groups first normal time together since Laurel hexed out. But then she and Tristan had to go and ruin it. I had a feeling something similar happened at his party as well. These two have a thing for birthdays I guess. I do hope this doesn't shake up the group dynamic as Isobel fears. I wonder how Emily would react if she found out. I wasn't aware that Tristan knew about how she felt about him, but it makes sense that he would do nothing about it and continue to snog Laurel, who he knows has no real feelings for him. It aligns perfectly with his idea that he doesn't deserve someone who cares and how he'd just hurt her and on and on. That boy has some serious self esteem issues.

Sprout really tried her best with Tristan. She really did. I can't discredit her efforts at all. It's just that - Tristan is not Laurel. He has not yet reached a point at which he is emotionally vulnerable enough to allow her questions to get to him. He's very much still guarded and he knows just what she'll throw at him before she even gets a chance to. He's constantly a step ahead of anyone attempting to help him. He doesn't want the help. At least not now, and he wont accept it. Something big is going to have to happen before he's accepting any assistance from Sprout or anyone else. Like he says, he prefers to keep the bad beneath the surface because talking about it makes it real.

I love to read your ideas about both American and the rural UK Wizards that live on the fringes of society. I imagine that Americans would have a totally separate culture to British Wizards and the extremely poor in Wizarding society would certainly have a different way of going about things, not having much contact with other Wizards in their environment.

Once again, you've managed to find things about the Wizarding world that I've never thought of and force me to consider them for the first time. It's remarkable that you can still surprise me, 14 chapters in. I can't wait until I get to read the next chapter, these reviews practically leave themselves.

Author's Response: I am SO GLAD you liked that line! I was SO proud of that! (Weirdly, another thing that came out of studying for finals--except I was referring to procrastination). I think, though, that it's an apt way to conceptualize of that mindset.

Gah, I felt really, like, *guilty* writing all this stuff about Tristan. I really wanted to make him relatable on a lot of levels, and grew to really care for/identify with him. And man, torturing him like this was the WORST! But, I rarely *wanted* anything in this story to happen, more felt like it *had* to.

Speaking of which, Laurel/Tristan. You are BANG ON about the birthday party (that was the answer to the booze riddle!) And just YES. Your interpretation is so amazing and on point!

I definitely didn't want Sprout to seem *inept*, so I'm so glad that came off! "He's constantly a step ahead of anyone attempting to help him," was such a perfect way to explain that!

Being American, I couldn't help but be curious about Wizarding America! And in the real world, there is definitely a connection between drug addiction and poverty (usually the former leading to the former). And then, there was also the whole Gaunt family, who lived outside of society, and the little mention in Book 1 that some parents homeschooled. I sort of liked the idea of backwards wizard hicks, who double as the town witches (like how in old fantasy stories, there's the evil magic weirdo on the fringes). Anyway, spinning together headcanon, canon, RL themes, and fiction inspiring Potter canon was super fun! I prettty much decided to do Sprout POVs so I could include all of that!



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Review #44, by rosiful Three Times Charmed

9th September 2014:
I really like Isobel! I think she might be my favourite!
I also love how vain she knows she is, but she doesn't care about it at all.

There trip to Hogsmeade sounds like it would've been a lot of fun! (Maybe not all the drugs and smokes though :P). The little meet up with Percy and Penelope was really funny! I love all of Isobel's snide remarks.

Really curious as to why Laurel left the Hog's Head so quickly though..

I'm having a break from reading for the moment (not that I have been reading the whole time, I'm not quite that slow :P), but I can't wait to read the rest!

(Also love that the kitchens are a secret!)


Author's Response: Hello again! Gah, you rock!

Haha, I had SO MUCH FUN writing Percy and Penny! And I'm really glad that the scene came off--it can be so tricky when you super like something in your HEAD, but aren't sure if it's coming all across.

*cowers*--I really didn't mean anything by the Hogs Head departure, just that the bar was super sketchy, and Laurel changed her mind about how wise it was for two 15-year-old girls to go in. I super need to fix that section!

Thank you so much for taking the time to review!


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Review #45, by rosiful The Hex Head Express

9th September 2014:
I love their group dynamic!
I really, really like Isobel, but I don't know if that's just because it's in her POV or not, so I can't wait to find out more about the other girls.
And a cheering charm as their drug is great xD

It's very interesting to see this different side to Fred and George, it's good to see them as something other than the 'older brothers causing trouble'!

I really do like this story so far and will continue reading!
(Probably not reviewing every chapter though.. unless I feel like I actually have something other than 'Wow this is so good!' to say!)


Author's Response: What did I ever do to deserve you, Rosiful?!?! Thank you SO MUCH!

Recreational Magic! I was really surprised that that doesn't turn up in more stories--because, like, !1!! At least SOME kids would try it!

The positive reaction to the twins is such a HUGE relief! They're some of the most charismatic canon characters, and I really wanted to get them right, while still offering another perspective on them.

You rule! Thank you so much for these reviews! I really hope you like the rest of the story :D


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Review #46, by crestwood The Little Things (1992)

9th September 2014:
I'm back again to review for today!

I've given up attempting to pick a chapter as my favorite because each one I read seems like my favorite until I read the next one, but I can now say that this is the first chapter to make me actually cry real tears. Some of that may just be the mood I am in and the fact that it's 6 am and emotions aren't terribly stable this late, but most of it was the conversation between Laurel and Sprout.

Laurel's response to why she judges herself the way she does literally caused me to cry. I expected her to continue on with her pretending to be fine and it just took me off guard honestly. I loved the entire meeting so much. It was one of the most honest moments of the story so far. Sprout is just a wonderful teacher and authority figure. We don't get to see much of her in canon, but I like to think that she would have been this helpful to her students.

I don't like Laurel's mother very much, I must say. I understand that she's worried, but she just seemed really condescending and apparently she slapped her at some point, which really doesn't surprise me considering how she acted in this chapter. I can see that it's not her mother or her father not being there that caused Laurel to end up how she did though, but rather, as you say, 'a lifetime's sum of little disappointments adding up.' That was a beautiful way of wording that and is something that I have thought about plenty of times reading this. It's like you read my mind and have a phrase that captures my every idea.

Tristan is really shirking his responsibilities as far as schoolwork the point where I am not sure how well he'll do with his exams at all. He seems to be on a fast track toward terrible marks. The story about Laurel sneaking off to get high at St. Mungo's was heartbreaking and definitely paints a picture about the strength of her addiction.

I can't believe you made sure that Laurel's wand was made of Bay wood! That's so clever and only goes to show, once again, that you put the most attention to detail imaginable into your stories. Lithium happens to be my favorite Nirvana song and one of my favorite songs of all time and I can't believe you used that lyric to such great effect! I daresay Tristan and Laurel's relationship perfectly encompasses the point of that line and now I think it'll have two layers of meaning to me. You've already strengthened my love of so many songs within this story - most of all Tainted Love thanks to that dance scene - and this is just one more time you incorporate music beautifully into your writing. It almost seems to go without saying that I loved the chapter at this point.

Author's Response: Ah! Thank you!

So It was such a long, long time before a Laurel POV, and I REALLY didn't want to disappoint. A lot have people have wondered when it was going to come up, and I wanted it to be a major point in the story. I'm so glad it had impact! (And I totally know what you mean about 6am reading--I recently burst into actual tears while reading a one-shot, and then started crying again while reviewing!)

So many people have expressed curiosity about what was going on with Laurel--and I was worried it might be disappointing that it wasn't some Big Thing (Tristan already has one of those). I'm SO relieved that you thought the whole "lifetime of little things" was poignant! I think it's really true!

I loved writing Sprout's POV! She's McGonnagall's best friend, so I figured she had to be pretty awesome :) I also liked the idea of injecting some adult perspective into the story, since we've only seen Laurel from the POV of her peers. I also wanted it to be something of a break, and allow for a more kind of cogent/mature analysis.

Man, I was SO close to cutting Laurel's memory of St. Mungo's, because I wasn't totally happy with it. It *actually* came to me in a dream, so I wanted to include it--but I fretted a lot over its execution. I reallyreallyreally hope it worked!

Laurel and Tristan's names were the first I'd decided on right from the outset--and I *always* knew I wanted her to have a Laurel wand! (Luckily, canon suggested precisely the attributes I wanted, since the symbolism is precisely why I gave Laurel that name!)

Ah! Lithium! I always thought that line was so interesting. And you know how sometimes you *think* you know the lyrics of a song perfectly, and later realize you were actually just kind of making noises during some parts? I never knew they were saying "we broke our mirrors" until I was reading through Nirvana lyrics for this story. Anyway, I really challenged myself to write that idea, and flesh it out. It means SO MUCH to me that you thought I did it well!


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Review #47, by rosiful Dozens of Little Televisions (1991)

9th September 2014:
I keep seeing you around the forums (usually you beat me to the review threads :P), so I thought I'd give your story a try! While it's so completely different from what I usually read, I think it's amazing so far!

I really liked Sophie and her reactions in this chapter, it seemed quite realistic. I'm pretty sure I would be beyond curious if I saw millions of moving pictures on the walls too!

Tristan does really seem like a character straight off of 'Skins'. Which is awesome, I loved all their characters!

I also like how you're trying to add in characters that were hardly mentioned! JK put so many in their that we never really think of!

Great start and I'll keep reading on now :P


Author's Response: Oh wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by! You made my day!

I really liked the idea of introducing the story from a random muggle's POV, to kind of give it a fresh beginning :)

Yee! Skins! I loved the way every episode rotated with character it focused on, but the story still all went together in one direction, and totally tried to emulate that!

Whenever I wanted to create a character for this story, I decided to poach someone from canon (or at least a surname). Since Rowling made so many, I figured I didn't need to make very many totally brand new characters!

Thank you sososo much, again, for all the lovely, encouraging, kind words!


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Review #48, by mymischiefmanaged Loose Lips

9th September 2014:
And we're back to Tristan. I'd quite like to hear from Laurel but also Tristan's story seems at the moment to be the most mysterious/interesting so I'm not disappointed at this POV choice.


And also I love that her friends call her out on it straight away. She's adorable.

That whole observation about what it's like to be a painting is such a lovely insight into Tristan's way of thinking. I love how he just accepts that when he's high Sir Cadogan freaks him out. He doesn't try to resolve the problem at all. He's such an adolescent :)

The discussion of muggle studies is actually really interesting. It's implicit in all of the HP books that people (except Arthur Weasly, obvs) DO believe muggle society is backwards and inferior. Even Harry seems to kind of hint at it. They think they're not making judgements about the people, just about the way of living, but Tristan seems to view the situation much more logically and sensibly. The ink well observation is brilliant. I bet he'd get along very well with Arthur.

That line about Tristan's connection to the muggle world coming more from rage than love is another one to add to my catalogue of things I don't currently understand but very much want to understand about Tristan.

FRED AND GEORGE ARE BACK. And everything about them made me laugh. You write them exactly the way JK does and I love you for it.

Tristan's absolute dependence on muggle music is really interesting. His becoming actually despondent because he can't listen to it is intriguing. I guess he's associated a lot of problems with being trapped away from the muggle world? I get the impression he's linked the muggle world with feeling safe, and music comes into that. I don't know, but whatever the reason is, it works very well.

Of course Oliver Wood's boasting about Harry and keeping him a secret. That's so utterly believable and in character but also really irritating of him.

And now he's bringing up Tristan being a Slytherin! I think Gryffindors don't think enough about tolerating other houses. In canon they always seem very quick to make judgements based on house, perhaps more so than other houses are.

I really want to know more about Laurel. So far she's the character we've seen least, and it just seems like she's got some pretty big issues. While the others see the charms etc as a bit of fun she seems much more dependent, and I get the impression there must be some explanation for that.

Hehehe of course the twins don't mind that Tristan hexed Oliver. I know they're not the focus of the story but I'm enjoying them so so much.

And is Tristan really muggleborn? That doesn't seem right. So now I'm thinking maybe he's adopted? I don't know and I'm finding it frustrating that I don't know because you're dropping so many little hints and I'm sure everything's going to be fascinating and wonderful but I bet we don't find out what's going on until much later.

Well, this is another flawless chapter. I'm so glad to have started reading your story! I've never read anything like this before and I'm loving it.

Much love,

Emma x

Author's Response: The POV rotations are pretty consistent for the first chunk of the story, and leaving Laurel's out was a decision I made, to kind of keep our understanding of her limited to other people's perspective (and to give it more impact when we finally get into her head). I hope it works out!

Yee, I love Emily! It's funny that 'unethical' really is rather a big insult to here :D

Paintings would TOTALLY freak me out to. The sentience and self-awareness of paintings and photos really interests me (in Ch1, a photo seems to respond to getting dropped).

THAT IS SUCH A HUGE COMPLIMENT! I had sososo much fun writing the twins, and really all the canon characters, because I feel like I know them so well!

I really liked what you said about music representing the muggle world and safety! What a wonderful analysis!

Oliver always had a few quirks in canon--like a manic obsession with Quidditch. Since he's one of the only named canon characters in Tristan's year, I thought it would be really fun to see how he bristled Tristan, as they are so at odds. And I think you are totally right about Gryffindors judging other houses--I've never thought of it like that so specifically, but it super rings true.

I should edit that sequence to make it more clear: Harry was a "half blood," since Lily was muggle born. Therefore, since Mary MacDonald is a Muggle Born, and Eddie Bryce is a muggle, that would ostensibly make Tristan a "mudblood," since he has no pureblood ties. Will definitely revise!

Thankyouthankyouthankyou! Now that my internet isn't being bratty, I can get back to Complicated!


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Review #49, by mymischiefmanaged R

9th September 2014:
Hello! Chapter Three :)

And this time we have Emily's point of view, which I maybe love even more than I loved Isobel's.

So Tristan's in Slytherin? Interesting, especially given that his Dad's a muggle. Hmm. Not sure what to make of that for now but knowing you it'll have huge relevance later, and I kind of love the idea of him with his love for muggle music being stuck sharing a dorm with stereotypical slytherins.

It made me laugh that you included Cedric and mentioned his acne. It's a nice little reminder that all these characters still have lots of growing up to do.

And Tristan looking worried about Neville Longbottom? Ahh I just want to know what's going on with him already! I'm kind of thinking he must have some link death eaters maybe? But that doesn't fit in very well with his being half blood, so I'm undecided.

'Super baby Harry Potter' made me laugh as a line. Love love love Emily being so casual about his sorting when it was such a huge deal to him.

That's so sweet and such a Dumbledore thing to do to wave at worried students, and it's lovely how Emily's just accepted it as a tradition.

And Tonks! I'm so glad you brought her up again. It's amazing to get these little insights into who she was before the Order, and I love how through Emily's eyes you can show how big an effect Tonks had. I'm sure it just came naturally to her to be kind but she really made a huge difference and that's a quality in Tonks that's still present when Harry meets her.

You're very good at writing very visual passages. Emily leaning out her dorm window to smoke so she doesn't wake up her dorm mates is a wonderful image that really gets across the idea that she doesn't fully fit in there and would rather be elsewhere.

The letters to Tristan are great. I laughed at her asking how the owl can possibly deliver to the Slytherin dorm, and then his total evasion of the question was perfect (but HOW does the owl do it?!). I'm thinking there's a little more going on between Emily and Tristan than either of them realises at the moment, and I hope that develops later on.

Ooo 'R'. Well, my current guess is that (sticking to the being involved with death eaters theme) perhaps Tristan's related to the Lestranges? So 'R' could stand for Rodolphus or Rabastan, and that would also explain his interest in Neville? Haven't quite worked out how that would all fit together but if it's right I'm sure all will be revealed :)

If that's not the case then I'm completely stumped, but I love Emily comparing it to 'Sunshine' and being at a total loss to why Tristan would hide it.

And then the whole discussion of muggle music is fab. The idea of teenagers staying up till dawn to discuss music they're not even listening to is so accurate and says so much about their friendship.

I am LOVING this story. Going to go straight to chapter four :)

Much love,

Emma x

Author's Response: Yay! Hello!

I was really hoping for SURPRISE, SLYTHERIN! So I hope that worked! I was so drawn to the idea of writing a reluctant Slytherin, who rebelled against the idea. Tristan is meant to be a kind of anti-Potter, and I hope that theme is interesting as it develops. (This is a very fanficky kind of fic, and so I play a lot with some meta-theme stuff, and basically revel in the fandom).

Cedric had an awkward duckling phase! I just loved that idea ;)

There's more to the Neville thing than this, but PARTIALLY, it was kind of one of those meta-theme statements (Neville's Sorting getting more attention than Harry's).

Tonks would have been wonderful, wouldn't she? She's one of the only badbutt Puff characters in canon, and her being a Hufflepuff, I liked the idea that she would be awesome and welcoming and inspirational!

THANK YOU SO MUCH about what you said about visual passages! This was really my first stab at writing any kind of fiction prose thing, and I had NO IDEA if it was going to work out. (I'm taking my first ever Creative Writing class now, and MAN, HPFF is SO not a waste of time! I've learned SO MUCH doing this!) Just like "have picture in head-->put words together-->readers see picture in head" is still so exciting to me! I'm a big reader, and definitely sort of see movies when I do, so reverse engineering that is just MAD!

Hahaha, ok, so owls delivering mail: I really wanted this correspondence to happen, but I'm SUPER sensitive to canon and wary of plot holes. So, I decided if I just addressed it straight off, PROBLEM SOLVED. And I have no idea how they deliver post to the Slytherin dorm. Magic, I guess? I considered suggesting a reason at some point in the story, but thought it was funnier to leave it unexamined :D

Yay, thank you so much for the review!!!

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Review #50, by AlexFan Muggle Magic

8th September 2014:
I liked how Isobel wondered whether Dumbledore was gay, it just goes to show that even though Harry didnít wonder about Dumbledoreís sexuality, it didnít mean that no one else had. I thought it was interesting that you made Elphais gay but it brings a whole other meaning to his devotion and praise of Albus when you really think about it. Oh, if she only knew who Albus really had a thing for.

This was something really small but I liked your title for the article about Myron Wagtail (and I also thought that it was really awesome how you named what I gather to be his girlfriend Circe because of the role she played in Greek Mythology. Sorry, back to the review).

Oh my God, I canít believe that Isobelís parents actually suggested that she tone up. She was so young when they started on her case as well. What kind of parent tells their child, indirectly, that theyíre gaining too much weight. As long as your kid is healthy, nothing else should matter. I am just so angry right now, if you cannot accept and love your child for who they are, then you shouldnít be having children. Breeder does not always equal parent.

I donít know how Emily kept quiet about so much magical stuff to her family. If I was in her place, I would never shut up about everything that Iíd learned and knew existed. How are people so chill about magic, like come on, ITíS MAGIC. But I guess you donít notice privilege when you grow up with it.

I was so sure that something would happen between Isobel and Lucas in this chapter and I was fully prepared to begin rolling my eyes so you have no idea how relieved I am that nothing but friendship came from the two of them.

Author's Response: Yay, I'm glad you liked that! Dumbledore/Elphias is total headcanon for me :)

And yee, I was really proud of that title myself and Circe myself! I looked into canon, and aside from the mythology, there was no one else named Circe. It was just too perfect for a first-name-only popstar, so I nabbed it!

Ugh, I definitely seen parents treat their children like that, and it's just awful. It always makes me really angry. And way too often, girls who develop early get quite a complex about it :(

You make a really good point about magic stuff! The fact that IT'S MAGIC was what I sort of wanted to play up here, through Isobel talking about it with them.

And OH NO. Well... I hope you don't get really bummed out by the next chapter!

It's taking me a minute to get to your review, because I want to read all the chapters, and not just the fourth, but I'm making my way through!


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