Reading Reviews for Year Five
293 Reviews Found

Review #26, by water_lily43175 Torture

7th June 2015:
Wuh, there is TOO MUCH angst in this chapter. Isobel's internal thoughts on Tristan just sum the both of them up, I think, and it's nice to see that their little chat causes her to rethink it all. The poor guy's drowning in self-loathing. In fact all of them are, except perhaps Emily, and it can't be easy for her to have to watch everyone crumbling around her.

Cruciatus curse seems to be a trigger. HO HUM. Need to know things.

Creepy conversation with Quirrell at the end. Ewww go away you bad Voldemort man.


Author's Response: Your comment about her Tristan-angst summing "both of them up" is REALLY on point. No one else has mentioned that, and I hadn't really thought of it that way, but YES.

Yeah, the teenage experience is a LOT about defining oneself and self-reflection, which FAR too often results in self-loathing :( I think Emily is the most immune to it in part because she's had the most consistently supportive and lovely family, and in part because she's honestly just the smartest. They are ALL pretty clever, but I think Em's the most intelligent. She's really the philosopher of the bunch, and thinks about abstract ideas more, which is a better use of one's mind than constant self evaluating.

Ah yes, Voldemort mining ideas from teenage girls. He'd be so embarrassed if anyone found out!


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Review #27, by water_lily43175 The Trouble With Laurel

7th June 2015:
Okay so Tristan can see Thestrals. INTERESTING. Oh no, no no Laurel don't do it DON'T DO IT. :(

You know, it's a sad thought, but Tristan and Laurel really don't seem good for each other as friends at the moment. They both seem at that point where it's too easy for them to drag each other down. DON'T DO IT GUYS IT WON'T END WELL.

It's also quite sad, really, that Tristan has this mentality of "my friend has a problem but I can't do anything about it so I'll leave it to the other girls". He's doing it with Isobel, and to some extent with Laurel as well. I guess it's partly his personality ANYWAY, and his current mental state doesn't help things. But he's not the first to notice Isobel isn't eating, and if only he said something to Emily, I can't help but think that would spur her on to do something. And instead he just shrugs it off as someone else's responsibility.

But then, I guess that's what they've all been doing about Laurel. Sigh. Kids. Struggles. Teenage years are tough.

And yet having typed all that, Emily and Tristen manage to convince Laurel between them to take food to Isobel. So I guess they are both trying to help. Rambly review alert.

I like Tristan's musings on the Hogwarts Houses. I DO like them, on the whole, and I don't think Hogwarts would be the same without them, but more needs to be done to encourage people to integrate more and to stereotype less.

Oh poor angsty Tristan. I NEED TO KNOW MOAR.


Author's Response: Yeah, Laurel and Tristan are a bit different in the mind department, but they both have a tendency towards self-loathing. I think they have this idea that they can Just Be Themselves together, but they HATE themselves and so they end up just doing really self-destructive horrible things. Junkie Love. So it goes. (OH YEAH, and this was all foreshadowed back in the trippy-potion chapter! The 'junkie love' song Em and Tristan are listening to when the Slytherins show up is called "Drain You" [in itself apt] and the lyrics go like "chew your meat for you / pass it back and forth / in a passionate kiss / from my mouth to yours" which is very icky, and very much describes Laurel/Tristan... ANDANDAND, since I see you read "Interrupted" already, I can say that it's implied that Emily [while psychic] read Tristan's mind and found out he'd made out with Laurel after his birthday. But she's historically pretty sexually active so that didn't bother her much, since she could also tell it was more a "being really intoxicated" thing than a "they LIKE like each other" thing)

Ramble ramble.

UGH, their total inability to cope with Isobel is, unfortunately, pretty accurate to what I remember :( I knew people to suffer with anorexia nervosa, and a WEIRD amount of people sorta shrugged it off or just tried to ignore it. Or didn't even notice at all even when it's ABSURDLY obvious. Plus: the nineties. I think people are a bit more aware today about things like mental health issues, and more open to talking about them.

Yeah, I too love the Houses, but there are some valid points. Even Dumbledore thinks they Sort too young, and I kinda suspect that people might be too complicated to just divide up 4 ways and call it a day. But still, the Houses are fun!


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Review #28, by water_lily43175 The Little Things (1992)

7th June 2015:

I love that Sprout does guidance sessions. YES that kind of service would surely have to be available to Hogwarts students, and YES Sprout is the ideal person. Also I love this line: " A studentís troubles were rarely the result of one big thing, but rather a lifetimeís sum of little disappointments adding up." How very true.

Yas virtual confirmation about Tristan's parentage.

And what a lovely job Sprout does in chatting to Laurel. Not at all condescending, just trying to BE THERE.

Ah, yes. It makes sense that Emily and Isobel would struggle to know how to talk to Laurel. It's such a big thing that she's gone through, and I can imagine how awkward Emily and Isobel feel about the whole thing. How do you react around this friend who's become so self-destructive?

And yet poor old Isobel seems about to press her own self-destruct button. Here comes this self-determined discipline again - they all HAVE to stay friends, HAVE to be okay, and she HAS to be the one to hold them together. Even though she can't hold herself together right now. Poor thing. If only she and Laurel could help each other, but Laurel seems a long way off being able to help anyone else through their own mental struggles at the moment.

Those flashback scenes are heartbreaking. And her chat with Tristan at the end ... oh man guys. :( Lovely chapter, excellent depiction of Laurel's struggles. It definitely worked to hold back on her perspective until this moment. NICE WORK.


Author's Response: I'm SO relieved that you thought holding back on her perspective until now worked! I really liked the idea of building up everyone else's ideas about her first before getting into her head, but I was REALLY worried about her first chapter being compelling. After such a build-up I feel like it would be easy to disappoint.

Right?! Sprout WOULD do the guidance sessions, and there would HAVE to be a guidance counselor.

I'm really glad you liked that line. I feel like a lot of readers suspected Laurel might have some sort of DARK SECRET or that there was a BIG REASON for why she was the way she was, and yeah, worried that this answer would be disappointing. Her life is honestly kind of average. A bit sucky, yes, but a lot of people experience sadness and alienation and low self-esteem and it's not usually something that can be explained by just one thing.

Sprout was REALLY refreshing for me to write! All the adult characters, actually (I say "all." It's just her and Mary.)

Oh yes, VERY awkward. Her stint in rehab is a pretty big elephant in the room.

Isobel definitely internalizes everything that's happening with everyone else. Like I said, NOT self-absorbed, but to a fault. She takes all this stuff on and it's so upsetting to her that she gets this pathological need for control. And of course it doesn't occur to her that starving herself actually makes her more OUT of control.

Oh the flashback scene. Went back and forth forever on whether or not to include that. I definitely want to work on it more. BUT, I'm really glad that you liked this chapter!

Thank you again SO much for taking the time to review. As with most stories, there aren't as many reviews on later chapters and it's always SO great to see what worked and what people get out of it. SO THANK YOU!


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Review #29, by water_lily43175 Recreational Magic Abuse Recovery

7th June 2015:
Oh Isobel, getting jiggy with your mate's brother is either a very good move or a VERY VERY BAD MOVE. Lucky that Emily takes it well. Future family and all that.

And so Emily begins to notice Isobel's little secret. Here's hoping she's there for her with that, more so than any of them were for Laurel - it must be a tough thing to have to tackle with a friend, but it's something that has to be done.

Quick question - did you change the name of Isobel's sister? Because I think she's referred to as Elphia at some point in this chapter, and now I think about it wasn't that the name she was given a few chapters ago? If you're going through and editing then I'm sure that's something you'll pick up anyway, but just to let you know :)

Oh Luna. I think she must be one of my favourie characters, and you write her so well here. "Sick in her heart", YES.

Poor Laurel really is in a bad place right now isn't she? The matter-of-fact way she talks about what she's going through is just so chilling.



Author's Response: Hah, yeah. Emily's perspective is a lot more like "well that's a surprise turn of events" than "HOW DARE YOU, MADAME." But Emily is pretty relaxed when it comes to sexuality, and it wasn't really a big deal.

Emily is definitely 'there for her,' but at the same time, not necessarily someone who KNOWS what the right thing to do is. Even trained medical professionals can't always help people suffering from eating disorders :(

THANK YOU for telling me about that stumble. Her name is supposed to be Elphia Iman Doge-Mostafa, and I should REALLY clarify that one is her first and one her middle name. Thank you for pointing it out!

LUNA! So intimidating to write! She's just so special and beloved! I'm so very relieved to hear that you think I got her right :)

Also glad to hear that the matter-of-fact thing worked! "Chilling" was very much what I was going for!



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Review #30, by water_lily43175 Muggle Magic

7th June 2015:
Oh, Isobel, cabbage soup really isn't the way to go. Sigh.

Ah YES Albus/Elphias totally happened at one point. At least from Elphias' perspective. Either that or they were just VERY close friends.

And I love love love Emily's family! Such cool hippie vibes. And, of course, my favourite thing about Isobel's visit is the Muggle/wizarding world comparisons which crop up. James Bond, yes.

Poor Laura, blowing things up. Embrace your skills, Laura!


Author's Response: Oh yeah, that cabbage soup diet is a WORLD of trouble!

Albus/Elphias is SUCH major headcanon for me. Even if they didn't ever get together, I'm CERTAIN that Elphias is also gay and was totally in love with Dumbledore. I hope that they were actually boyfriends :) I mean, Dumbledore had to have had relationships, and Elphias is a strong candidate!

The only muggle family we ever really see interacting with magic is the Dursleys (the Grangers a BIT, but barely), and I liked the idea of seeing a very different kind of family. I feel like a LOT of people would be really into it (I WOULD)

Laura is only little, she'll get there eventually!


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Review #31, by water_lily43175 War Children

7th June 2015:
Oh. OH. So there are THINGS happening here, BIG THINGS. The conversation with Snape, what is the significance of Longbottom, hmm? And Mary's little inner monologue. She's not his natural mum, is she? Otherwise why the hell would he have a name she doesn't like? Wild theories of him being a Lestrange or something now. HM.

Poor Tristan. He's not in a good place at all, is he?


Author's Response: You read FAST. PROPS.

And I will keep myself from commenting on your theory, but will say: it's not a bad one!


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Review #32, by water_lily43175 The Big Thing

7th June 2015:
Oh man, I love the whole first scene of this chapter, with Emily and Tristan. So well-written. Also, I LOVE Tristan's view of the wizarding world. I mean, I don't necessarily AGREE with him, but wow, they're all fairly legitimate points. This is getting DEEP. And I love it.

OH NO you don't just stamp on Tristan's tape player! Grr moron Slytherins.

Wait. WAIT. Tristan's mum was a Gryffindor and his dad's a Muggle ... so how does being Slytherin run in the family? BIG THING I want to know what it is.

So lovely to see the gang as innocent, untroubled eleven year olds. Well. Not 'untroubled' per se but certainly a lot less plagued by their issues and insecurities than they are now. Sigh. NEXT NEXT NEXT.


Author's Response: Ellie! You absolutely RULE! Care for my first-born?

Yeah, I don't agree with Tristan's analysis either, but I was interested in the idea of someone being critical of wizarding culture. A lot of these ideas and criticisms came from various things I've seen online sorta making fun of the Potterverse, and I liked the meta idea of folding those things in.

Ah yes, that is an incongruity, isn't it?

Writing them as 11-year-olds was slightly tough, since I'm not sure I know what 11-year-olds are :P I'm very relieved to hear that you enjoyed it!


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Review #33, by water_lily43175 Self-Spelling

7th June 2015:
Well this is my favourite chapter so far. And, incidentally, I think Isobel is fast becoming my favourite character of the four. It's almost as though her discipline is both her biggest strength and her biggest weakness - because the moment she slips, she just comes crashing down. Poor girl. I think the reason I like her so much is that - aside from her moment of self-pity, almost, when she decides that if Laurel is allowed to crumble, so is she - she puts her friends' issues before her own. She really is a wonderfully well-fleshed-out character. (Pun not intended. Stop starving yourself Isobel, you are most definitely not fat.)

And the moment that we all knew would happen has arrived. Poor Laurel. What a horrifically vivid scene.

And, weirdly, for once Snape's almost don't-care attitude seems almost caring. And yet entirely in character too.

Poor kids. EXCELLENT chapter.



Oh I LOVE your comment about biggest strength/biggest weakness! That is TOTALLY true. I actually suspect that that's true of everyone.

One thing that can definitely be said if Isobel: she is not self-absorbed. Possibly to a fault. She gets very invested in what's going on with other people (which runs the risk of overstepping or being nosy) but sometimes that HAS to happen. I mean, maybe things would be different if she'd been nosier and pushier with Laurel earlier?

As with all things, I think perspective is critical. Isobel and the rest have a dramatically different perspective on Snape than Harry (he might be unpleasant to other students, but he's not NEARLY as abusive with them as he is to him) so they have a bit less reason to loathe him. I honestly LOVE Snape (not in a shippy way, just as a character) so I really enjoyed giving him this moment of kinda-kindness. Canon characters are fun, because you can play around with drawing out of an established set of personality traits!

You are the best, thank you SO much!

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Review #34, by water_lily43175 Troll in the Dungeons!

7th June 2015:
Bah, I've been meaning to catch up on this fic for AGES now, like months and months, I am a TERRIBLE PERSON. Oh well, I'm here now, let's see how much I get through. :) I have to say, it's been fantastic to see Year Five gain more and more attention and recognition on the forums in the last few months, although admittedly that's made me feel EVEN MORE guilty for not having caught up on things earlier. (Did I really only get through the first six chapters before? Shocking stuff.)

Tristan's little dialogue with the Sorting Hat is rather wonderful. Poor kid, his head really isn't in a good place at the moment is it? And actually, as an aside, I think that point about the only communal areas being the common rooms is an interesting one. There really isn't all that much encouragement for inter-house friendships, is there?

"Free Time, and Also: Animals". I would LOVE this class.

Oh, Laurel. She's heading down a slippery slope, fast. And it seems as though Tristan is following her path. At least in Isobel they have a friend who is slightly more rational and seems able to spot the warning signs. Hopefully not too late!

Although having said that, it's probably not a good idea to carry on Cheering. Oh kids.

Oh my god. Isobel giving Hermione hair advice. I love it.

I'd forgotten just how refreshing I find this fic, the way it tackles the same sort of issues which affect young people in everyday life, and yet don't seem to affect the kids in the Potter books. Of course, I understand why JK doesn't address this - she covers enough as it is, without throwing in depression and drug use. But it's a really interesting thing to bring into the magical world, and it's really well carried out.


Author's Response: OH MY GOSH, YAY! I'm so excited that you're back! I really really enjoy your reviews and this is so heartening! I actually just got a beta, and I plan to go back and polish this story now that I know more (the story itself will stay the same, I'll just be tweaking awkward sentences and the like), so this is a really great time to be getting feedback :)

Yes, the lack of communal areas! The curfew is pretty early and there are so few warm days, so having a friend in another house must suck! I'm glad you mention the thing with the sorting hat, too. That was meant to play as an inversion of Harry's experience [because Tristan is an inversion of Harry! ;)]

Cheering Charms--such a bad idea. The more you think about it, the more you have to think that being able to make yourself artificially happy WHENEVER you want HAS to have some serious implications.

I totally agree with your point about the HP books being QUITE enough to go on--it would have gotten really busy had this all been included. And Harry's WAY too busy recklessly fighting evil to have much time for reckless teenager experimentation. But I just loved the idea of watching Real Teenage Crap play out at Hogwarts! I had no idea, when I wrote this, if anyone would even like it, so it means SO MUCH to me that you enjoy the idea, and think I'm carrying it out well!

Thank you A MILLION TIMES for taking the time to review!

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Review #35, by Slide The Question

6th June 2015:
I just saw you called the last chapter 'The Disappearing Room,' so my uncertainty and wild guessing about the Room of Requirement now looks WAY more dumb. That'll teach me.

I'm curious as to why Isobel is hiding Laurel's wand instead of just hanging onto it herself, though I suppose she'd have to hide it in a super-brilliant place in Ravenclaw Tower for it to be safe overnight from Laurel in a moment of weakness? Poor House Elves.

Brilliant lie, Isobel, to get out of trouble. Now let's see if you can do yourself some good despite yourself! Perhaps not. But perhaps you can do the rest good. Considering Emily's managing to, instead of pulling herself out of a toxic situation, pulling herself into a DIFFERENT one, an intervention seems wise. But then it would be easier for Isobel to fuss over other people's problems than her own!

Okay, even if she's brusque and undiplomatic about helping. Though I'm kind of adoring her cutting to the heart of matters with Emily and then with Laurel. Both in harsh truths and the gentler, but still important ones (like it not being all Laurel's fault). And, HRM, questions raised for your Isobel, let's see where this goes...

Isobel, are you teaching Voldemort how to fly? Don't do that.

Oh holy hell, didn't see that coming. This is disastrous on so many levels. The twins are such sweethearts. Such sweethearts possibly making the situation so much worse by sneaking her out the grounds.

I love how this story comes achingly close to brushing with Important Canon, only to veer wildly back into teenaged dramas immediately after. :-D

'Fred'll lecture my ear off,' says Georga. HA. Ear off. George. I see what you did there.

Oh my God I want to hug Hagrid. Of course Isobel won't tell anyone, or I'm 99% sure she won't, but he's so sweet and supportive here.

I should probably accept defeat and go to bed, but also accept I review your stuff 'best' after midnight for some ungodly reason. Loving all of this, still.

Author's Response: The main reason for Isobel using the kitchens (for erm, ME not her) was to bring back the idea of "taking advantage" of the house elves. Hufflepuffs kept the kitchens a secret for fear that other Houses would take advantage, and while Isobel has the absolute BEST of intentions, that's totally what she's doing. And, like, the kitchens were the only place I ever introduced the Isobel knew about but not Laurel, so it seemed like the writerly thing to do?

Laurel might spend a lot of this story self-absorbed to a fault, but Isobel is the opposite, also to a fault. She gets so wrapped up in other people's business and really takes it on, which I think feeds her problems because it gives her this mindset of wanting control.

Bah--you're comment about teaching Voldy how to fly made me snort-laugh AGAIN. I read once on cracked that even if humans /could/ fly, it would result in broken bones. It seemed like SUCH a Voldy thing to do to just 'patch it up' after.

I'm REALLY glad you didn't see that coming, because Isobel didn't either (and we have the privilege of knowing who's camped out under that turban). It was REALLY important to me not to victim-blame Isobel, or have anyone think she was stupid for walking with Quirrel. Again, I hoped it would click after.

I timed all the major events in this story to coincide with major canon events JUST so I could brush up on 'em! But that's being a teenager, right? I think they're allowed, at this stage in their lives, to think that they are the center of the universe. Little do they know, all this really BIG stuff is happening just out of view.

Hagrid might be even HARDER to write than Dumbledore! So glad you liked him!

Thank you SO MUCH for this review storm! You have made my WEEK!

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Review #36, by Slide The Disappearing Room

6th June 2015:
Ha, I can totally see Tristan expecting Emily to still stick around. Poor Tristan, it's not an unreasonable expectation, but good for Emily for looking out for herself in a situation like this. She does rather deserve it.

Of course, buying her brother's weed off the twins to have some semblance of contact with her is kind of amazingly pathetic. I must salute it. Oh my GOD, if Hufflepuff lost the Quidditch game because Emily got them high at practice, that's kind of amazing.

Drinking the Draught of Tranquility? No good will come of this.

Angry portraits offended by teenaged snogging are the BEST. Oh, you two crazy, destructive kids.

For some reason I randomly assumed they'd found the Room of Requirement. If so, I must commend you for your rather brilliant deconstructing of the trope of characters sneaking in there for illicit sex. Obviously it usually has more rose petals and silk sheets under such circumstances. And if it is the Room, then that makes a lot of sense, Dumbledore trying to hide the Mirror of Erised in there before realising this is just no use. It's a good idea to try.

I love Dumbledore. It's so hard to get his whimsy right, though, and you do it better than any fic writer I've read. The perfect balance of whimsical and insightful.

Oh good, it seems I was right about the Room of Requirement. Phew, I thought I was crazy. Poor Tristan's desires from the mirror are understandable and saddening.

Snape, why can't you be supportive to OTHER children of your old friends, hmm?

And Tristan does what is probably a noble thing in taking the blame. I love how ambiguous and awkward it is - why SHOULD Tristan take the blame for other people, though arguably it would be unfair for poor Laurel to suffer more. But his logic is sound even if blaming him is unfair, so I have to respect his choice here.

...okay, this scene with Lucius and Mary is bringing my crackpot theory back, if ONLY because of the reference to Narcissa - why else would it matter what she knew about Tristan? Oh, you and your wily ways with labelling photographs unexpected things! I must know!

On the other hand, this has opened us up to whole new insights as to how Tristan's mind worked; I was confident on my guess (in terms of Death Eater parents, rather than my crackpotting), but the specifics paint a much more disturbing picture - even if it makes a lot more sense for him.

And I thought I was going crazy with the High Fidelity reference until you confirmed it. It's been so long that I thought I was just slightly sleep-deprived and mad. :D

Poor Tristan! Great chapter.

Author's Response: It sucks to admit, but Tristan really HAS sort of taken advantage of Emily and his assumption that she would always be there. GUH, it just sucks. Because he kinda DESERVES someone to love him unconditionally, after the life he's lead. He has his parents, but since he's at boarding school, they aren't really around. Then again, that's a LOT to put on Emily, and she too deserves to think of herself just now.

There is exactly no other reason Hufflepuff could have lost so badly. I am forced to assume that they were all just high out of their minds.

I liked the idea that the sum of Hogwarts' parts result in a larger whole which is sorta sentient. Also, angry offended portraits are funny ;)

ON THE RoR: if it COULD have just been any random classroom or cupboard, it would have been. BUT, I needed to have the Dumbledore convo and mirror (and he's hardly move the mirror to just some other rando classroom, since he tells Harry that it's being moved somewhere he can't find it, and I needed something convincing to get over the implication that it had immediately been moved to the restricted 3rd floor corridor). AND, I needed Laurel to wake up alone, but DIDN'T want to have Tristan actually just leave her there. SO, yeah, RoR it had to be!

UGH Dumbledore is SO hard to write! I'm really glad you thought this was at least close! There's just something so PRESUMPTUOUS about trying to write someone so wise...

This story is just SO MUCH ambiguity layered on ambiguity, with some ambivalence thrown in for good measure. Life is hard, I guess? Being a teeanger sucks? THERE ARE NO RIGHT ANSWERS. EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED, AND IT'S ALL MUSHY. THERE A MULTIPLE TRUTHS, AND THEY ALL HAPPEN AT ONCE, EVEN IF THEY ARE IN CONFLICT. Emily probably gets it better than anyone else.

Tristan represents a much clearer line of cause and effect than the others. Hates being confined/enjoys time outdoors? Was confined as a child. Gets really despondent when lonely/needs a lot of attention? Suffered terrible neglect in early life. Extreme self-loathing and pathological obsession with all things muggle? DEATH EATER PARENTS.

YOU ARE THE FIRST ONE TO PICK UP THE HIGH FIDELITY REFERENCE! Just... Early nineties! Muggle london! Record store! It HAD to be done!

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Review #37, by Slide Interrupted

6th June 2015:
Oh, sweet Emily, you keep being oblivious about why Isobel's mad at Tristan. AND YET she knows more and isn't telling, I'm going nuts. Unhelpfully this fuels my mad theory. The two of them smoking together is rather adorable, which makes me suspect horrible things are coming.

Mercifully this sequence with Laurel has proven my crazy theory about Tristan's parentage wrong, though I'm thus not so surprised on the child of a Death Eater (or associate) likelihood. I SHOULD, thus, have twigged a past association being the reason for Snape's sympathy towards Tristan.

My 'bad feeling about this' is intensifying. On the other hand, this duelling sequences, Laurel and then Emily and Tristan, is so acutely propelling that I'm mostly just gobbling up the chapter instead of pausing to scribble my notes.

But of course Laurel interrupts. :-D Oh, no. 'He should have chucked it in the lake right then.' That's one of them sentences. No good will come of this.



Though I adore Laurel's fractured panic here. It's so real, so genuine, but it also really gets across the SITUATION, of how many problems are rolling together. Not just her mentality and struggling to deal with it.

*flips table* THERE IT IS. There's Emily's damage. It was only a matter of time, wasn't it? You crazy kids. In other news, references to Weetabix are making me think altogether too much about breakfast cereals at Hogwarts. There's a LOT to contemplate this chapter.

Isobel wins my love again for trying to do right by Emily in telling her about Tristan and Laurel. It may or may not be the right thing, but she's at least being assertive and not foolish and it's with good intentions. It's rare for the foursome to do something ACTIVE to help one another, especially if it's risky. And done in a bit of an overbearing manner. And yet I cannot help but love Emily a little bit more for lying, because she has every reason to lie.

It was so shocking to read Emily being satisfied in having a nasty thought about her friends that I laughed inordinately loud at her bursting into tears immediately after. Poor girl.

I adore how Bonky helping is very sweet, and sincere - and then you wildly avert a stereotype like Bonky giving some sort of MESSAGE to give Emily a whole new perspective to fix her problems. Bonky is nice. Bonky says nice things. Bonky does not save the day. Poor Bonky.

And then Tonks DOES give the important messages. Very sad from a reader's perspective, and I suspect the foursome will be okay in the end, but she's so entirely right about different social groups in different phases of life. Media, and the Potter books, try to convince us of lifelong friendships struck up from the very first, but it's nice to see it being pointed out that sometimes this isn't just unrealistic, but unwise.

Anyway, this chapter was a ROLLERCOASTER. I'd call it the best one yet, and it probably IS, but I know 'best' chapters are almost always the product of all the ones which came before in a story like this. So it would undermine the groundwork for me to elevate this chapter above its fellows. It's ALL brilliant.

Author's Response: "Something is adorable. Horrible things must be coming." You know me so well.

I'm really glad that the Snape thing wasn't obvious at the time, but clicks in retrospect. I'd never written ANYTHING before this, let alone a mystery sub-plot, so I had no idea if it was too obvious or too subtle.

Also pleased to hear that the POV alternation did what I wanted with pace! This is the first time there are rapid POV shifts, or, indeed, a lot of POV shifts in one chapter, so I hoped it would come off. There's just so little that actually HAPPENS in this story (I prefer to use the euphemism "character driven") so I tried to make kinda simple stuff as exciting as possible, since there's zero action ever.

Ooh yes, Omniscient Narrator stepped in to condemn the potion. There are actually a few things going on there ;) [one of which was a bit of foreshadowing that I hadn't even intended. Then I was like, "oh crap, I know what's gonna happen..."]

Bah! Your reviews, more than anyone else's, make me snort-laugh.

Oh Emily... I still feel guilty about doing that to her. I just LIKED her too much, and realized that that was a mistake. It clouded my judgement with her character, and it meant she wasn't being fully utilized. But yeah... the guilt...

Yeah, I still don't know whether telling Emily was the right choice, but you totally nailed it that at least Isobel's intentions were genuine and pure. This is something that will continue to develop, but Emily hates the idea of being cast as naive.

I SUPER didn't want to make the House Elf infinitely wise and silver-bullet-y. Bonky is great here--she offers sympathy, a bit of advice, and support, but yeah. She's not Dumbledore.

It kinda hurt to give that advice from Tonks... I mean, I'm actually still surprisingly close to all the friends I had as a teenager, but there are a few I lost touch with who I really loved once. It's sad thinking about it, at the time, that it could happen someday. But when it does... There's a reason you lose touch.

Oh THANK YOU SO MUCH! I really hoped readers would appreciate the way I built to this. This story was all pre-written, and written all at once, so it has a narrative arc over multiple chapters rather than an episodic structure with an arc within individual chapters. I know it means losing readers, but it means SO MUCH to get a review like this where someone appreciates how it all comes together. THANK YOU!

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Review #38, by Slide Torture

6th June 2015:
I really like the CI for this one. A particularly haunting choice on quotes and image.

I hadn't picked up on Isobel not strictly being the smartest of the lot, though it makes a lot of sense now you mention it. While she tries very hard to come across as the hyper-bright one, something wasn't quite ringing true. I think it's because the others don't pick up on it, and neither does she herself. OR I'm not so attentive. :D Anyway, onward!

And immediately, OH NO, Isobel, you were so close in looking towards Laurel for some sort of lesson and you picked THE WRONG LESSON. Then again, Isobel in general is clearly not the right person to be supporting Laurel at the moment - for her own sake, if not Laurel's. Though at least she can give good guidance on the Tristan issue - and is rather right on why it's different to Emily's experiences. Not to mention that Laurel's invoking about six, seven months prior. Things change.

This situation with food needs to - unfortunately I'm feeling it may need to hit a crisis, because I'm not sure anything ELSE is going to precipitate change, and that's a depressing thought. The others have noticed but they're not doing much, and again, it's not their fault as they're hardly equipped to intervene.

While Isobel's internal lashing out at Tristan made me at first cringe, I realised I had to see some truth in it. It can be incredibly hard to support someone going through depression, especially if you have your own troubles AND you don't know what's going on with the person. Isobel's not in a great place to be sympathetic, so it's so easy to see Tristan as his illness; she's clearly capable of remembering who he really is, but it's been overshadowed now. Briefly I thought a little less of Isobel for the lashing out, but I must be more sympathetic. She is in the worst situation of any of them for thinking well of him.

Let's see if this ends up in an open lashing out.

I see Isobel favours my mastered classroom technique of getting an easy answer offered early to avoid engagement later. PENELOPE CLEARWATER, I have been SO forgiving of you in this story, but what kind of historical answer is 'the early middle ages'? That's perhaps a FIVE CENTURY WINDOW!

I keep having this deranged theory that Tristan is the son of the Lestranges. I'm not sure I've voiced it because it's the kind of theory which is either hella brilliant or hella WRONG.

The team label is brilliant. I must commend your research in British slang. :-D

...Percy, you little British Slang Word I'll decide on later.

Aww, the conversation between Isobel and Tristan was nice. And a good example of that kind of situation with a friend; there are times where the good parts shine through and you forget why they're so frustrating, or you understand the parts that were frustrating.

Cedric and Tristan WOULD make a beautiful couple.

Haha, Isobel manages to inadvertently NOT arm Voldemort with new forms of torture. Brilliant. And your author's note again demonstrates your creepy levels of research. Respect.

Author's Response: Oh the CI text for this chapter. The story is set a few years too early for Fiona Apple, but uh... ShHhH!

Isobel's relative intelligence isn't an important point--just a subtle character nuance. Not anything super important to pick up on, and it doesn't really matter. It's just one element of the difference between who She is and who her Persona is.

Yeah, there totally WAS a lesson there, and she missed it. But she's really bad at recognizing things right now, often believing the opposite. She thinks her anorexia is a way of gaining control and maintaining something even, when really it makes her more out of control and uneven :( She doesn't realize it, but the starvation has affected her mental state, making her erratic and emotionally unstable.

Ugh, that's the thing with anorexia though--it's very slow. It doesn't really have crises until after a lot of time has passed. Lasting damage might be happening, but the body adapts to keep someone functional (which often has grave consequences of its own--physical and psychological.) And this is rough to say but... Isobel's ED is pretty 'garden variety.' That does NOT mean that it isn't terrible, but... Well, I just deleted several rambling paragraphs about some RL stuff with my friend, but that's neither here not there, and much too big a bummer.

Very well said. I wanted Isobel's feelings to be SOMEWHAT valid, and her criticisms to seem at least a bit convincing, but you're VERY right to recognize that she's missing the issue of depression. I think that's in part because she is not equipped to handle it; she's only fifteen, she's got her own illness to contend with, and she's a pureblood (doesn't know a great deal about psychology).

Ah yes, a very clever technique. I should really follow it, but I'm much more of the Hermione school of thought (raise hand at the beginning, and then also every single time after that.) HAH! Yeah, Penelope's answer was pretty lame :P Being a Ravenclaw doesn't necessarily mean that you're smart, only that you care about school and grades (I go to an Ivy League school and while there ARE a lot of geniuses, there's even more 'I just care a lot' types. Most of my highschool-drop-out friends actually possess more raw intelligence).

The Lestrange theory isn't bad! But you've already read the next chapter, so you know what's up.

Glad you dug the name! My dad lived in London when I was a teen and I have a British stepmother, so I know some tricks ;) I do worry though that the voice in this story isn't always convincing. I TRIED to use English actors as faceclaims to better get a handle on the dialog, but gave up and used Americans for Isobel and Laurel. If you EVER have britpicking suggestions I'd really appreciate it!

Indeed, it's much easier for Isobel to hate Tristan in the abstract. There's just too much history and affection there, and Tristan is already so self-loathing it was easy for him to pick up what Isobel was angry about.

Teehee--I kept trying to introduce as many doomed ships as possible just to see if readers would bite! (Crestwood totally ships Trisdric. No biters for Isover/Ollibel yet)

"Creepy levels of research"--the most apt word choice yet.

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Review #39, by Slide The Trouble With Laurel

5th June 2015:
Huh, did we already know Tristan could see thestrals? Damn my memory. WELL NOW I KNOW. Yet more clues for my wall of crazy conspiracy.

And so do we see how fragile Tristan's moods are; on the one hand, the music catapults him upward, breaking him out of that cycle, but on the other, he's clearly much, much quicker to descend.

Then descend into the situation with Laurel. On the one hand, it doesn't seem ideal for the two of them to feed off each other; on the other, they both feel completely misunderstood and/or like they'd be letting down Isobel and Emily if they were honest.

And THEN they all feed off each other's damage and buttons. Which is very compelling from a reader perspective, but yet again makes me want to facepalm. I love these poor, damaged kids. Really, send the lot to Sprout. :D

Oh hey a Sprout scene.

I LOVE the comparison with the Death Eater gangs. Obviously these guys aren't about to become genocidal terrorists, but the simple reminder of such people living as teenagers and how they interacted with society is so nice.

Mmm worldbuilding. All beautifully logical and also with its implied consequences. I love it.

A great chapter for rounding out not just Tristan's descent, but offering all these clues on everyone else's.

Author's Response: That was the first Thestral reveal, no worries!

'Fragile' is an excellent word to describe Tristan's moods. And yeah, he's very quick to close in on himself and start digging himself into sadness holes that he can't get out of. It's weird, I'd originally planned on Tristan being this handsome, sexy, whatever character who was a lot more charming, but I think he turned into something more interesting. Then I went and decided on Craig Roberts for a faceclaim (whom I find ODDLY attractive, but is not traditionally good looking) and I think imagining him playing the role resulted in something more complex and less lame.

Laurel and Tristan are definitely different in the mind department, but are similar in that both suffer from self-loathing. They have this idea that they can just Be Themselves together, but since they hate themselves, they end up just indulging that together and making poor choices.

Yes! My mom used to say that sometimes people who are kind of pushing against boundaries or rebelling from the status quo can take it too far, and lose sight of what lines not to cross (think Michael Alig). So while the Hex Heads are NOT the Death Eaters (or Michael Alig), there is something of a similar MO going on.

Ah yes, the rural wizards! The canon note that some families home-school, combined with the American stereotype of "hicks" or "hillbillies," plus the existence of the Gaunts, plus the Village Witch archetype resulted in that inexorable headcanon!

Thank you sososo much for these reviews! I started reading Starfall, so expect a flurry from me soon :D

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Review #40, by Slide The Little Things (1992)

5th June 2015:
UGH it has been MONTHS and it's about time I got back into this story. I just keep wanting to sit down and Properly Review, and you know the cycle. It means I never get around to it. So I guess I'll just try!

Hooray, a chapter from Laurel's POV at last. I admit I have thus far enjoyed her more as a foil for everyone else, but it'll be curious to see her in her own right. Immediately I'm hit with her sense of frustration and yet self-loathing. I've only done the "I live away from my own bedroom" for a couple of years at uni, but I imagine four and a half years of serious growing up mostly away from home is going to make for some conflicting home life. And a strained relationship with her mother, or a relationship which looks like it was already strained.

Seeing Isobel from another perspective is always entertaining; there are more layers in her, probably, in terms of how she presents herself compared to how she is. So seeing who spots the chinks in her armour and who doesn't is curious.

I love flawed parents. I don't know why. It's always so refreshing in fanfic to read about parents who aren't either plain evil or entirely supportive and wonderful. Usually those in the middle only tend to exist to object to someone's love interest and eventually come around. Betty presenting the return of her wand as an act of trust, instead of an act of necessity...

OOH we're in a SPROUT POV! That's different. It makes perfect sense that she does the guidance work at Hogwarts (has that come up in a past chapter? Oh, don't rely on my memory). You know, it's actually very interesting coming back to Year Five after reading The Casual Vacancy; I remember thinking at the time that your chosen style for this story made a lot more sense. Particularly how you develop and reveal backstory.

This Sprout scene, in particular, is feeling very Casual Vacancy - and I mean that in a good way. It does that same job of expanding characters by seeing them through different perspectives, and everyone's a little bit useless in their own adorable way. In Year Five, anyway. But I digress.

Briefly misread description of Laurel's father not as a muggle, but as a smuggler. Very different story. HOWEVER, her family life clearly has some secrets. See above for how you're developing and revealing backstory. And anyway, a very good scene, and pleasantly insightful about Sprout as well as poor Laurel.

Aww, all the feels from Isobel.

The depiction of Laurel's struggle with addiction is very effective. Combining the difficulties with both the minutiae of everyday life and the genuinely tougher parts, like Patronus summoning and trying to avoid falling back on old habits, makes it feel very real. The elements of choice, and the wondering what she GETS out of breaking the habit, and the cycle of defeat - all compelling. And, of course, very real. As is the joking about the horrible incident; it's a very valid thing people do, and those outside of the trauma reacting badly to it - also very real.

'It's all just Protego or Expelliarmus anyway.' Much as I try to expand depictions of combat magic... Isobel isn't wrong. :D

Oh Christ, the flashbacks. Oh, Christ - oh, phew, the conversation with Tristan actually went helpfully, didn't just get worse like I thought it might. 'All the little things.' Words of wisdom from Tristan.

An excellent chapter, as you may be able to tell from my blathering.

Author's Response: Hello!

I really wanted to build up everyone else's perspective on Laurel before getting into her head--and also, her head would have been weird to occupy when she was hexed all the time. And probably very boring, too, as she'd kind of anesthetized herself to everything. I've never lived away from my own bedroom (my mom rented my old room out just as soon as I left) but one of my biffles had one of those situations. I'd spent a LOT of time sleeping over at her house as a teen, and helping her clear it out one time was like, I dunno. A really weird experience. She'd, like Laurel, sort of been using it as a locker to dump crap, and it was so odd coming across old things (like old notebooks of mine from highschool that got wedged under a shelf somehow).

You're super right that Isobel, probably more than anyone else, Presents Herself. She has a Summer birthday, so she's actually the youngest of the lot (almost a full year younger than Tristan), but she's always trying to act like the Mum. I think she's more of an adorable sweetie than she lets on, and kind of keeps an icy mask on a lot of the time. (And this isn't a bad thing, but while she's the most active in her studies, she's not actually the smartest. Her POVs tend to have a lot less intelligent language and she uses parentheses a lot).

FLAWED PARENTS! Obviously, family is really important to people and their experiences, and especially children and teenagers who aren't fully independent yet. I definitely wanted to examine a lot of different styles of families and parenting, and I think all of the parents in this story have their strengths and weaknesses. Betty is the least likable, but even she isn't all bad--having a teenager is just really hard and confusing (I imagine?) The parents are all just as confused as their kids. (Oh, and if you're curious, I imagined Betty as looking like Samantha Spiro from Grandma's House).

It got mentioned in Ch4 that Sprout did guidance, but pretty in passing. I DEFINITELY was inspired a lot by Tessa Wall (though they have their differences). I took a LOT of devices and ideas from Casual Vacancy for this story (I'd just read it when I started writing). An RL friend of mine read this story and then CV, and said of it "it reminded me a lot of Y5." Then I was like, "OTHER WAY AROUND, BRO." But yeah, CV was the first time Rowling explored things from multiple perspectives (and she did it SO well), and I loved the idea of bringing multiple perspectives into her Hogwarts world.

Laurel's struggles required a huge amount of imagination on my part, so I'm glad it seemed compelling! I've known a lot of people to suffer from addiction and been involved in some community organizing and stuff around harm reduction and service providing, so I had some stuff to go on, but I'm really glad that her POV was convincing and seemed, like, thorough.

Ah yes, all those little things. I didn't want every character to follow the same arc or be different permutations of the same thing. Tristan has a Big Thing, so many readers assumed Laurel did too. But she doesn't have any DARK SECRETS or anything and her life has been pretty average. But yeah, there's a lot of ways that people can hurt, and people will have Feelings even if there isn't a major trauma to pinpoint.


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Review #41, by Gabriella Hunter The Disappearing Room

2nd June 2015:

This is Gabbie from the forums dumping another review on you and I'm so sorry for the wait. I was watching Attack on Titan for almost two days straight without any sleep so I didn't have time to get to these reviews. I know, I'm a nerd.

Anyway, on to this!

I am SO worried about my little crew! It seems like Tristan's secret and the crumbling of each friend has finally taken its toll. Emily has distanced herself from the others (While I can understand why, it still came off as a sad moment for me) and I had a feeling that Tristan and Laurel would crash and burn. I was right, of course but it was hard to read! What I was thankful for, as always is your way of writing these scenes without turning away from how awful they can be. Drug abuse, depression and trauma are things that you don't really see much but I'm so thankful for this story.

Tristan seems to have declined rather quickly, which was something that I feared. I could tell that his loneliness was eating him up and it was a side to him that I hadn't really seen much before. He didn't seem quite so hard on himself and this vulnerable part of his personality gave him more depth to me--it's strange, but I can think of him as human now. Before, I felt like I knew him but after reading this, I feel like I KNOW him. I'm not sure if that makes sense...

Now, I knew that you were building up to some major character development and surprises from the very beginning but I was still pretty shocked by what happened. I had a feeling that things would spiral out of control and I was pulling my hair out a little with Tristan and Laurel though (I was angry, upset and amused all at once while reading their scene). I'm not sure what's going to happen with those two, relationship wise and I'm curious to find out.

Laurel stepped up though, she recognized her problems for the first time without shying away from them. Dumbledore, I think gave her an unbiased opinion on life, which is what I think she needed to hear and experience. I'm glad that she's trying to get better, I just hope that it lasts. Also, Isobel! What's going on with that girl, hm? I hope to find out soon, I'm worried about her as well.

Anyway, I'm glad to finally get more insight on Tristan's past. It sounds horrible and I was touched by how much Mary cared about him, horrified at the thought of him going to the Malfoy's and relieved that she could love him despite everything.

As for Tristan at the end...well, I feel like he might be able to take a valuable lesson from his suspension. You can't get anywhere in life without making some effort and I'm really eager (Concerned, angry, fond) of where he is right now. I want to see him grow more and I can't get enough of how much I enjoyed reading this chapter, it was beyond brilliant.

Much love,


P.S.: I shall return to Perry and Roxanne soon!

Author's Response: Hello Gabbie!

And to appropriate a quote from Alice in Wonderland: we're all nerds here :)

Yeah, they all need Emily a lot more than she needs them. At the same time, I feel like they would have warned her against her little extra-cirricular activity. They're a bit closer to the dangers of that, while the twins and her fellow Hufflepuffs might just naively take it as a clever idea to get some spending money without thinking of the ramifications. Honestly, I don't think there's really One Right Answer when it comes to their friendship, but Tristan at least definitely suffers without the others :(

I'm really glad you mention the thing about not turning away from the difficult stuff. I really hadn't planned this story to be as bummery as it became, but I felt like it HAD to be, or would have been somehow dishonest otherwise. It was genuinely hard to write at times, and I really had to push myself to write these difficulties. I'm so happy that you appreciate it!

I also love what you said about Tristan, and how he's sort of humanized here. For a lot of the story he kind of hides behind his enigma and his secrets, and I'm really glad that he became successfully dimensional here.

Angry/Upset/Amused is exactly what I was going for there! Tristan and Laurel have a tendency to sort of wallow together. They both struggle with a lot of self-loathing, so when left alone together, they sort of indulge their worst selves.

But yes, lovely Dumbledore! I think it helps that he's very old, and has been around the block quite a few times. He's seen terrible things from people, so Laurel's struggles aren't really as shocking or upsetting to him as she might think (fear of judgement is a real anxiety for her). And Dumbledore has a knack for knowing the exact right thing to say and do--in that moment, she didn't need a lecture or a punishment (she punishes herself quite enough on her own), and he could tell that.

Oh Mary! She really struggles in this story, because even I don't know what the Best Thing for her to do might be. But she's a good person and she loves him and wants the best for him, and I suspect that's the most important part.

I definitely think Tristan needed this break. Even if he didn't actually do what he was accused of, he really needed that suspension. I think the one thing that his parents messed up (though it would be a LOT to ask of two working parents), is maybe they should have taken some time off, or even gone on a holiday or something. But again, I have the hindsight to recognize that, and they wouldn't think of doing something that might come off as rewarding bad behavior.

Thank you sososo much for this amazing review! It's so heartening to see someone pick up on all the little things this chapter was trying to do, and feel like it WORKED.


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Review #42, by musicluffler Prologue (1991): Dozens of Little Televisions

1st June 2015:
So this grabbed me. Wow. I'm in love with what you explored in this chapter - the dangerous territory wizards cross into when fraternizing with muggles, an implied to be pre-established (in their family, at least) protocol for drugging Muggles, and the Obliviation. Sophie's instinctive perception of the wizarding photographs as TVs was so believable, and the way you wrote that section was just perfect. Finally, in love with the prose! This story is unlike anything else I've ever read (in a really, really good way) and I am obsessed. I found this yesterday so I'm gonna try to write a few more reviews for some of my favorite parts from other chapters, because seriously, I couldn't be more thankful/appreciative you wrote this.

Author's Response: Hello! Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to review!

Yeah the more I thought about it the more I realized that something like this HAS to happen from time to time (Teenagers being TEENAGERS and all)--and it is QUITE a sad idea :( Harry really loved and was accepted by the wizarding world, so I was curious to examine all the ways someone else might resent it.

So glad you liked the 'little televisions' thing! I super enjoyed writing that part :)

I so appreciate all your kind words! Thank you so much again for reviewing--it's so heartening to hear that you like this story :)


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Review #43, by Charlie Darwin The Big Thing

31st May 2015:
Er, umm, hi there.

It's me, Charlie Darwin. I guess you know about me from my crazy birds leaving comments on your story. Sorry about that; I hope they weren't too weird. They got a little hooked on the story, and whenever I stepped out, they went wild.

But now that I'm reading this chapter to see what they've been getting themselves into, I'm intrigued. I'll have to review the rest of them as the year progresses, and hopefully my busy schedule will allow time for that. It's not easy to write stories, as I'm sure you know, and writing treatises on the origin of species is no menial task. I'm sure I'll get to publish it eventually, though...

Anyway, about your story: As a good Victorian, I am always ready for some social commentary, and I love Tristan's conflicted worldview. Not that it's a good thing to be confused, mind you, but the world is full of many contraries and it's best to straddle the lines wherever possible. Tristan struggles with this because his own House has rejected him and he is part of a world that demeans his love for another world. That's harsh. It's like trying to reconcile religion and the new concept of natural selection with these people, sheesh.

The Peruvian potion was very intriguing to me. I know some people do opium hereabouts (I wouldn't try it myself, though), and the sensation seems like it would be similar, without the magical side effects, of course. Emily and Tristan's friendship is bound to become more complicated after this, especially after her memory of Tristan's comment "It runs in families." Did he have a family member that was in Slytherin? At this point, I cannot be sure, which is why I must read on!

Isobel seems to be getting much thinner, although it is clear by her actions that she does not believe she is. I pity the girl and hope that she will get better. It is not easy to watch your friend suffer through illness or drug-induced complications, and I pray that she gets help soon.

This was a very raw chapter. The attack on Tristan and Emily by the Slytherins was simply horrid, and I gasped when the music player was destroyed. One of Tristan's only beloved links to the Muggle world, gone in an instant. It's truly terrible. I especially appreciated the inversion of the line "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt," because that accurately describes pain in an honest and tragic way.

Very brilliant story, Roisin, and I hope to revisit this in the future.

Charlie Darwin

P.S. Each of the finches claimed to be my "favorite," but they're actually all a royal pain in my behind. Who knew that beaks could vary SO MUCH within the same species?!

Author's Response: Hello!

You have been such an amazing Secret Santa--thank you SO much!

Yeah, Tristan is definitely someone who straddles two worlds. Harry adapted to wizarding society really well and it totally suited him, so I was curious to explore how someone else might fare.

The Peruvian Potion was super fun to write :) Emily's got most of the raw data when it comes to what's up with Tristan. Mind reading is a pretty tricky business (lots of flashes and feelings), but she knows him well enough to have put everything together.

Oof, the more weight Isobel loses the worse she feels about herself :( Those sorts of hallucinations are woefully common among people struggling with eating disorders. And yeah--she's pretty overwhelmed after everything that's happened and doesn't have quite the tools to cope (and honestly, her friends are only teenagers themselves--hardly trained professionals).

I'm really pleased that you use the word 'raw'--that was very much what I was going for! (What with everything that just happened, they are pretty raw). And that the radio destruction had impact! I got genuinely SAD writing that, and really hoped the tragic violence of that moment came across. The inversion to the Vonnegut quote is something my friend once said during finals and it really stuck with me--so clever!

Thank you again SO much for being SUCH a fantastic Secret Santa!


(And, to answer your question: NO ONE KNEW there was so much variation within a single species! ONLY YOU! YOU challenged the concept of Fixity, and suggested that variation should be THE focus of study, rather than some assumed deviation from a platonic ideal!)

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Review #44, by Gabriella Hunter Interrupted

29th May 2015:

This is Gabbie from the forums dropping by with your review and I'm SO sorry that it's taken me this long! I would have been here sooner but some real life stuff kept popping up. Whenever I was able to get online, I'd have to do boring grown up stuff. It's such a pain!

Anyway, it's good to be back! There was so much that happened in this chapter and I'm not sure if I'll be able to touch on every monumental thing but I'm going to try! I liked that we're back in Emily's head, I was wondering how things would play out now (Especially after the Tristan/Laurel thing) and it didn't disappoint. I liked that she was beginning to see just how sick Isobel is becoming and I wonder how the group will handle the issue. There was so much happening though that I don't think they'll be able to get to that particular problem anytime soon.

I enjoyed the moment that Emily had with Tristan, I can kind of see how they would be as a couple but at the same time, I still wonder if they'd be any good for each other. They've liked each other for so long but even still, that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll last. I'm not sure if that's what you were going for but while they were in their "bubble" I couldn't help but think that and one thing that I really loved was Emily's patience with him. Now, anyone else might have been too aggressive with trying to get answers out of Tristan but I appreciated the fact that Emily backed down somewhat once he began to get uncomfortable. They were speaking in a strange rhyme though that I don't think even they understood but there was something about that was surreal and touching. I had my fingers crossed for that kiss.

And then Laurel happened.

Now, I'm going to say that my jaw dropped a little with her entire section. I know that you haven't strayed from your POV in each chapter like this but I think they blended well. I was still able to follow everything without it feeling choppy so good job on that! Anyway, Laurel discovered something about Snape that she could use against him (Though I'm going to give him points here for not denying it) and Tristan's secret is finally revealed!

I had a feeling that it was Death Eater related but I was still shocked. What is Laurel going to do now with that knowledge? I'm worried that she's going to start self-spelling again too, where did she vanish to? Gah, I'm so anxious for the next chapter! I want to know if she's going to get expelled!

I'm really curious to find out how the gang will cope with all of these monumental changes. Emily is already starting to branch out more towards other people and I loved that you included this point: You can have as many friends as you want but that doesn't mean you have to let them rule your emotions.

I know that's not exactly what the lovely Tonks said in her letter but it's pretty much what I thought. Letting go is a huge step in growing up and I really love this aspect for the story, I hope that it won't be too late though. ;___;

Thanks so much for the read!

Much love,


P.S.: Here's something fun for you since you include music lyrics. You should go listen to The Weeknd's song "Earned it" while reading the first chapter of Audrey Tang. It will blow your mind with it's awesomeness!

Author's Response: You continue to astonish me with how amazing and insightful your reviews are! And whatever you say, I still think of them as DAMN timely!

I'm really glad your felt ambivalent about Tristan/Emily. That scene was an absolute monster to write, and I wrestled with it to no end. And your comment about it being 'surreal' is just SO flattering. I really struggled with the tone, and never wanted it to go too far in the "sweet" direction, while still keeping it, like, sweet at times (and then pull back and make it Complicated). And the 'strange rhyme' comment--yes! They are very much talking around things there, and it all gets very abstract and strange. This story is rather a shipper's nightmare, but in reality, teen relationships are rarely Grand Romances.

I'm really glad the rapid POV shifts worked! I wanted to kind of build suspense and all, and also, liked the idea that POVs stay less consistent now that their lives are getting so mixed up together.

Getting reader reaction on Laurel for her whole section is always really interesting. Some people are furious at her for her selfishness, while others admire her bravery in facing Snape and discretion for keeping Tristan's secret. For some, it's the moment they start to really like her, while others only hate her more for it. And I think there's a case to be made for both perspectives--Laurel is a lot of things. Chiefly, she is young. And you're right--it's heavily implied that she went and self-spelled in the bathroom after everything :(

I think that's a pretty solid interpretation of Tonks' letter :) Emily, out of all of them, is probably the best equipped to make new friends. The other ones have a complicated sort of cocktail of Shame and Superiority that makes it difficult for them to get on with others, but Emily doesn't struggle with all of that.

Oh man, listened to that song and YEAH you are right! It fits really well, and as it's a long song, so it carries through most of the chapter!


(PS, I posted the first four chapters of my novella and totally plugged "This is Audrey Tang" in the A/N of C2!)

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Review #45, by Gabriella Hunter Torture

24th May 2015:

This is Gabbie from the forums with your review, I've really missed you and junk. It's been ages since the last time I left a review for this story but here I am!

I think that it's strange that so much time has passed and I can remember nearly everything about our gang. I didn't have to skim any of the previous chapters to get a grasp of what had happened because it had lingered in the back of my mind all this time. How weird is that? Of course, this is one of my favorite stories on the archive so I may be biased and I did check up on it when I had the time. I couldn't leave any reviews though until now so this is just going to be an awesome day for both of us!

I'm getting really worried about Isobel. I think that she's beginning to spiral even more out of control with her eating disorder, a subject that I think you've handled splendidly well. This is an issue that I don't think a lot of people would be willing to write about but I like that you've made this a very real problem. I think that Isobel's POV is one of my favorites, though I feel like her resentment towards Tristan is somewhat justified (Even though Emily had been with quite a few boys, which was a point that I was glad she realized) I feel like it's stemming from how she feels about herself as well. I'm curious to know what happens later on though and when she'll get some help for her disorder, surely everyone has noticed by now.

Now, I am always fascinated by Tristan and I am really curious to know about his past. Isobel noticed his reaction to the Cruciatus curse and later even mocks him for it a little but I know that there's a deeper story behind that. You've already hinted at that more than once in the previous chapters and I'll keep my eyes wide open for the answer.

I'm wondering how the Tristan/Emily/Laurel triangle will conclude as well. I have a feeling it's going to get nasty...

Now, I like that you've included that Isobel is a good student. She's not just seeking information for the sake of it, she actually enjoys what she's doing. Looking for different angles and other solutions shows that she's far more dedicated to her schoolwork than people would readily believe.

The ending to this chapter was a little ominous and I'm really eager to hop onto the next chapter so I hope you re-request soon!

Much love,


Author's Response: Gabbie! I have missed you so! Disclaimer: your review is making me flail with joy so I might get rambly and incoherent. I'LL TRY'N STAY COGENT.

It's like, amazingly flattering and SQUEE inducing that you were able to jump right back into this story! That has absolutely made my day :)

I seriously went back and forth SO much about whether or not to write about eating disorders--it hadn't been planned, and just sort of started HAPPENING in the first Isobel chapter (C2). But, it IS a woefully common struggle for teenagers, and I felt like it was something that had to be included. I've known a lot of people who've survived anorexia nervosa, so I worked really hard to portray it as sensitively and accurately as possible (and NEVER glamorize it). As far as the others' perspectives, I can recall that when I was a teenager, it often took people a REALLY long time to figure out that a friend was sick even when it really should have been obvious. It seems almost absurd looking back at how much people just let slip. So yeah, Isobel's friends' slowness to react and general ineptitude at dealing with it is something that is, unfortunately, kinda realistic :(

I'm so glad that Tristan is properly compelling, and also that Isobel's frustration seems justified. I wanted her perspective to seem legitimate, but still not necessarily /convince/ readers to turn on him. Like, I wanted people to feel like they saw both sides, or at least sympathize with where everyone is coming from. Because yeah, Tristan wasn't actually going out with Emily, and she dated loads of boys the previous year. But he's also being a butthead. Everyone's just really messed up and not making the best decisions--that's mostly what's going on.

Hah, I'm just such a huge nerd and had a ton of fun theorizing about magic and their schoolwork and SUPER enjoyed throwing all that stuff in :D

You are such a STAR reviewer Gabbie, thank you so so much for making my day with this wonderful review!


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Review #46, by Charlie Darwin's Favorite Finch Self-Spelling

23rd May 2015:
sad chirp

I might be a vampire finch with a sharp beak and an appetite for blood, but I took no delight in the events of this chapter. Things just keep getting darker for these characters, and they can't fly on broken wings. :/ However, Windar is away, and so I have come to taste this story, which my fellow finches find so interesting. It will distract me from their fragrant lifeblood, at least.

If tragedy strikes, I am the first one on the scene. It comes with the name, really. But that doesn't mean that I enjoy it, and the graphic scene depicting Laurel's episode filled me with dread. What monsters does she carry within her? At the very least, I hope she can recover, although I can't say for certain if she will be able to kick the habit of mixing dangerous Charms.

Isobel, that poor little duckling, has suffered through so much in this chapter in particular. From the elevated body image issues--I find it all-too-appropriate that she would use a spell to cause herself to purge--to finding her friend in a state of dire emergency, she has experienced loss and trauma, and is probably in need of counseling. It is appropriately hypocritical that she should use a spell on herself in the very same chapter that Laurel's life is threatened because of self-spelling.

Is the purging spell categorized under Dangerous Self-Spelling like Laurel's Charms mixture was? If not, the irony still resonates in a big way.

Tristan and Laurel were both filled with this lagging, drowsing attitude in this chapter, and that makes me uncomfortable. If Tristan isn't self-spelling, he seems like he isn't too far behind Laurel. Especially by the way he reacted to his peers in Flitwick's class. Isobel, who doesn't self-spell (if we don't count the purging spell), did not lash out. Tristan, who has been under the influence of several Charms lately, did. This may be a product of his character, but I think that it is also due to the added stress on his body's systems from the Charms. At this point, it becomes harder to separate his actual character from the effects of the Charms, especially when viewing him from Isobel's eyes.

The reaction of the Charms class to Flitwick's lecture was appalling, and again, all-too-accurate. Teenagers, assuming that they are infallible, look down on their peers for being under the influence of substances without considering the circumstances or looking at the situation from a different perspective. It is a difficult thing to do at the best of times, but people can be very nasty when they think they have the moral high ground.

Oooh, and that Oliver Wood! If his neck were ever near my sharp, pointy beak, I would slurp up his blood in an instant. He's proving himself to be truly awful. :/

Windar is coming back now. I must fly.

Vampire Finch, or
Charlie Darwin's (Actual) Favorite Finch

Author's Response: Ah! Thank you so much for this amazing, fantastic review!

You are actually the first person to mention that Isobel ALSO did a spell on herself! And yeah, her purging was also dangerous in a few ways--self induced vomiting is already really unhealthy, but as hers was magically induced, she also wouldn't have been able to stop it if she couldn't do nonverbal magic and could have easily suffocated.

I imagined self-spelling with mind-altering charms to be problematic in a few ways. One, it is a warning sign of dependency on a substance (like drinking alone). Two, it is dangerous for someone to cast a mind-altering charm on themselves because, being altered, they might go to far and overdose ("Hex Out"). I also imagine it to be something of the wizarding equivalent to IV substance use (shooting up). So yeah, while Isobel's "self spelling" was fundamentally different for not being mind-altering, it is a parallel.

I really like your comment about Tristan's behavior being the possible product of his charm abuse. It's true that he already has some mood problems and has issues about lashing out, but it definitely doesn't help that he's messing around with charms that alter his already unstable moods.

One thing I really wanted to examine in this story is how issues of substance abuse get kind of complicated by weird ideas of morality. Drugs are bad for obvious reasons, but people tend to take it a step further and act like doing them is bad for some sort of moral reason, or that people are bad for doing them. You're right that it's absolutely more complicated than that. Tristan and Laurel's behavior has been a confluence of self-medication and self-destruction.

And oh yes, Wood can be a bit of a prat. He's not a bad person, I don't think, just a touch annoying at times. That was always an aspect of his character in canon, and I was interested to draw it out and see how he was around people his own age. I also cast Flitwick in a less than flattering light in this story, mostly because he was one of the more easily flustered professors in canon. Again, he's not a bad person, just a bit out of his element when it comes to dealing with these kids. He's really more of an academic than anything, and ill-equipped to handle the complex issues his students are navigating.

Thank you again for so many fantastic gifts and reviews! You are an incredible secret santa!


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Review #47, by Charlie Darwin's Favorite Finch Troll in the Dungeons!

22nd May 2015:
Twitter tweet chirpchirp!

My sincerest apologies for my absence in these past few days. The Darwin turned his strange whirring machine off and I could not figure out how to fix it. However, it was I, the green warbler finch (and best of all the Darwin's finches), who created the playlist for you. I have the most musical ear of the bunch, although I am not as familiar with music from the 1990's as I am with music from the 1870's. Wagner, anyone?

Tristan continues to reveal himself as a character who is constantly at war with his own identity. Perhaps he is Slytherin-esque at heart, but his Sorting could have gone very differently if he had chosen to contest the Hat's decision. It is clear that he never wanted to be in Slytherin, but perhaps he allowed himself to be Sorted there because he felt that no other House would accept him without a fundamental change in his nature. And that sort of adaptation comes over centuries and millenia, like my delicate beak, perfect for snatching insects out of thin air.

...But that's beside the point, is it not?

Tristan and Laurel are worrying me greatly. Teenage rebellion is all well and good, but their increased tolerance of Cheering Charms and the dangerous mixing of several charms seems to be having a snowball effect. I can only hope that they can find some way to shake this dependency.

Tristan's birthday could only be on Halloween, of course! As always, the parallels between canon and this story are incredible. I find it very appropriate that Halloween was overshadowed by the greatness of the birthday party that preceded it--Tristan is certainly not the type to enjoy huge celebrations, especially when he cannot enjoy them with his friends.

Witnessing the gang behave under the influence of Charms was quite a treat. They do some loopy things, indeed. Emily was especially adorable, and I think that I may ship her and Tristan. This is strange to me, as I came to Inglesland on a ship named after a dog. I hope that something concerning their relationship--whether for worse or for better--happens soon.

The Darwin is returning. He is beating his head against the wall and muttering about people who don't accept his theories. I must go comfort him with a song.

Tweet at you later!

Green Warbler, or
The Darwin's Favorite Finch

Author's Response: You are very, very right about Tristan's Sorting! I wanted to make a very clear parallel with Harry there in order to show a fundamental difference between them (Tristan, you will discover, is the "anti-Potter"). And that's the thing, isn't it? Tristan isn't a Gryffindor, because he didn't have the guts to just ASK for another House. And I do think he's a Slytherin, but I also think he would have had a way better time in Ravenclaw. (This character genuinely annoys me sometimes, like, GUH WHY YOU GOTTA BE SO SELF-LOATHING ALL THE TIME, TRISTAN)

A lot of the fun of writing this story was kind of downplaying major events in canon. It's an odd sort of toggle, that, because it's sort of funny that these stoned teenagers are like "um, what?" when things happen to Harry, but at the same time there's a real darkness to it because, as you mentioned, their behavior is pretty troubling.

I'm really glad my vision of Emily in that scene came off! I had really specific ideas in my mind about how I wanted her to behave, and I'm really glad it worked!

Hahaha, it seems like every Finch is getting closer to getting the name of the ship right :D


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Review #48, by Charlie Darwin's Favorite Finch Behind the Mirror

19th May 2015:
Twitter tweet tweet!!

Despite what that stupid large tree finch might have you believe, I am truly Charlie's favorite finch. How could he not love my beautiful jet black feathers and my gorgeous beak, perfectly evolved to eat the tastiest of cacti? Also, I am the largest of his finches, so take that!

This chapter was especially appropriate for me to peck away at, seeing as I have often experienced a heightened state of euphoria due to overripe cacti. However, after sailing away on the Eagle (not a bagel, as my idiotic counterpart suggested), I haven't been able to find any cacti in the Land of Angles. This chapter will have to sustain me, but fortunately, it was so succulent and delicious that I am satisfied.

I think it's lovely that Emily would throw a party for Tristan, even if it got a little out of hand for her. It's quite good that she was able to keep the secret until party time, especially because she isn't very good at being sneaky. :^) The party was very nice. I like that Oliver Wood and Tristan seemed to forgive each other for their differences, although that might end up being a one-time thing, aided by alcohol and general festive spirit.

Emily's rapport with the house-elves is very fitting for her Hufflepuff status. I love that she keeps that secret from her peers, though they badger (haha) her and she's naturally bad at secret-keeping. Despite having beady eyes, I did spot the irony in her statement that she would divulge her secrets in case of emergency, and then the twins were the ones who benefited from her knowledge. The origin story of their knowledge of the kitchens was really appropriate for the narrative, and I like the connections that you make to canon. You're making excellent parallels and adding to the things that are known from the books in a very cool way.

The use of the Alacratus Charm to aid studious Ravenclaws did concern me a little. And the copious amounts of alcohol that young people consumed also worries me. I certainly hope that those little chicks don't fall out of their nests because of one too many beers or charms. I think that the Alacratus sounds very dangerous. However, you did an excellent job of portraying the substance abuse as something that was not a very good idea. I have a feeling that something even worse than a hangover is going to happen to one of them, and I don't think my small birdy heart will be able to handle it.

An excellent chapter! Charlie is waking up from his nap now... He's spilled ink all over his research journals, the silly man. I tried to tell him that a computer would be more conducive to writing a manuscript, but the man just doesn't listen.

Large Cactus Finch
(Charlie Darwin's Real Favorite Finch)

Author's Response: Haha, you're definitely right that there was a lot of social lubrication that helped reduce the friction between Tristan and Oliver. They are just NOT cut from the same cloth--but even so, there's no reason they can't be civil and amicable :)

One of the critical things to me about House Elves is the idea of taking advantage. Like, if you think about how much Kreacher changed in DH, it's obvious that elves should be treated more like mothers than like servants. Like, they should have authority in their service. So yeah, not taking advantage of their cultural desire to nurture is the critical issue there, and I think Hufflepuffs are best equipped to treat Elves with dignity and respect (and then there's the proximity to the kitchens and my established headcanon that they're stoners). And yeah, making up some origin stories for the twins was SUPER fun for me!

Mind altering charms are definitely a DANGEROUS game. One thing I hoped to show in this chapter is how there's a lot of grey area among teenage experimental strategies. Like, it isn't just "straight edge" or "druggie"--some people are more or less responsible, and maybe go to a party and mess around with things every now and then. Some people go way too far and hurt themselves. Some people moralize substance use, and behave as though intention is more important than outcome ("if I'm doing it to get better grades then it isn't the same thing") Even among Tristan's friends, they aren't all the same. Emily and Laurel for example can hardly get painted with the same brush, even though they hang out all the time and get dubbed with the same "hex head" label.


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Review #49, by Charlie Darwin's Favorite Finch Three Times Charmed

18th May 2015:
Chirpy chirp!!

I used to live in the Galapagos, but I sailed on a bagel to Angleland...? The Darwin man says I am his favorite because I'm such a pretty birb, so I stole his computer. Haha, I, a large tree finch, am so smart.

With a beak as blunt as my attitude, I peck through the trees for some good eats. As such, I have pecked through your chapter to find the best and juiciest parts of it to enjoy.

You have a real gift for narrative. If I were hopping around on Hogsmeade's High Street, I would peck at the ground and listen on with interest as Isobel and Laurel giggled their way through their shenanigans. I like that their in a House of birbs. I guess I must be related to those birbs, but I don't know how...

Isobel's characterization in the beginning was quite clawsome. I like that she wears makeup and crushes it in the classroom at the same time--that'll show everyone that the prettiest plumage hides the sharpest beak!! It's very relatable that she has body image issues that remain present throughout the chapter. I too feel sad about my stumpy beak sometimes, but then I remember how awesome I am at eating bugs and I appreciate it. I hope that Isobel also appreciates herself.

Tristan continues to prove himself a worthy protagonist, as new things are revealed about his character. He is a champion of Muggles and is very conscious of the social issues surrounding the divide that magical folk place between themselves and nonmagical folk. It's almost like the water between my old island and the islands of these other weirdo finches. We developed different civilizations and we don't make much of an effort to understand each other's points of view. (I have no idea what some of them are saying, but it's okay because I'm the One True Finch.) Tristan is definitely a character to watch out for. I like that he's into music--would he like to hear my beautiful songs sometime?

I have very much enjoyed reading your story, although I am unfamiliar with the strange technology like cassette tapes. Perhaps I am a century too early to understand, but that did not detract from my enjoyment. I think the Darwin fellow is coming back, so I must bid you farewell.

The Large Tree Finch
(Charlie Darwin's Favorite Finch)

Author's Response: HELLO MY AMAZING FANTABULOUS SECRET SANTA!!! You rule so much! (And your puns make me snort-laugh)

I wanted this to be a pretty comprehensive Teen Dramady, which necessitates Body Image issues, and I'm really glad you think I played it well. I want to keep it realistic and relatable, but still give the reader enough room to be like "noOoOoOo!"

I'm sure Tristan would be delighted to hear your songs :)


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Review #50, by pointless_proclamations Troll in the Dungeons!

11th May 2015:

I am here again! You know, for an absolute crumbling of my feels.

"Iím going to be in Slytherin, arenít I?" was the first thing Tristan had thought, over four years ago, inside the dark Sorting Hat.

"You must agree that the Slytherin bits are obvious," the Hat had responded.

"Go ahead then, get it over with."

^I love that. I really, really love that.

And my heart breaks for a guilty Tristan. The poor--I want to call him baby, but he isn't really one--Tristan!! [wails] You can be good, you are. . . sometimes. He's broken, his self-esteem is broken, waican'thebehappyyy. . . and that jealousy he feels because he doesn't get along with anyone from his house, Roisin. And that his house mates have put him in the Slytherin Hex Head and 'Mudblood' boxes even though that's not all there is to him, but that's all they see and all they care to see! But he doesn't fit into a stereotype!

"adding Tranquilus to Hilaris" . . . That means that one could get away unnoticed using Hilaris by adding Tranquilus? This makes me feel a bit uneasy.

Aww, and even Flitwick is a bit prejudiced against Slytherins for being Slytherins? That's ARGHH!!

"the constant level of Cheer and Tranquil she stayed on these days. . . " No Laurel, NO! The neurotransmitters, they're getting messed up and this is not good, so not good. Dependency increasing. Natural happiness decreasing. Feels obliterated.

'"I feel,Ē Laurel said in a mild voice. "What do I feelÖ"' This, you sneaking, thing you, I want to hug her.

"Tristan got told off by a bossy first year, and to her frustration, Tristan found her hilarious. Her friend, the youngest Weasley, had to drag the offended little witch away." HERMIONE!!! I am in awe of all these times you add these PS moments into Y5!

Roisin, you have this extremely volatile mix of dark issues regarding the decreasing mental healths of this group of friends as their reliance on spells increase and humour. They're having fun, yes, but it's also self-destructive. Having fun, I suppose, makes it harder for one to realise that it's detrimental. Though, they must know when they're not on a Hilaris. Then it becomes a cylce or a downward spiral as the lows get lower.

Much love,

Author's Response: Em!

Ah yes, Tristan's Sorting is pretty META. It's supposed to be kind of a tragic irony, because READERS know that he could have been Sorted into any House if he'd just asked nicely. Not sure if I mentioned this already, but Tristan is supposed to be kind of the "Anti-Potter." Like, identical but inverted.

Also, I'm really glad you think Tristan doesn't fit neatly into a stereotype :D

I totally worked out how those spells work on neurotransmitters and stuff! Hilaris basically just forces dopamine to release (with a small side-order of serotonin, endocannibinoids, and norepinephrine), while Tranquilis basically affects the GABA. When combined, "Hilaris Tranquilus" ends up acting on the whole suite of endogenous opioids, with the norepinephrine getting balanced out by the hyper-efficient GABA (open chlorine channels). So yes--supremely dangerous behavior. That said, dosage is pretty critical. Someone like Emily is taking much smaller doses much more rarely, reducing her risk of chemical dependency and other nasty complications. (I get into how dosage/intensity works later in the story, but it's actually a canon reference to PoA).

As for your point about Fun, a lot of that has to do with my not wanting to paint a unilateral picture. See, my first intentions for this story were something of a light-hearted stoner romp, because OF COURSE some kids would figure out the recreational potential of mind-altering spells. But the more I thought about it, the more dangerous I realized that would be (see above). Then I also started remembering all the ANGST of this age--not to mention, I didn't want to glamourize substance use. So yeah, I ended up with something that toggles Silly Fun with Harrowing Angst. Glad you're enjoying it! IIRC, it's what being 15 felt like :p

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