Reading Reviews for Year Five
329 Reviews Found

Review #26, by TreacleTart The Big Thing

12th August 2015:
Hi Roisin,

Back for another Gryffindor Review Battle review. Team Red!

Man this is sort of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Isobel is wasting away from an eating disorder. Laurel is in St.Mungo's from self-spelling overdose. Tristan and Emily are regularly getting high. I'm concerned for them. I really am.

I can't believe that Emily and Tristan went to get high even after their friend OD'd. I would think that would be a major buzz kill.

The whole Slytherin attack was sketchy and I was really sad to see Tristan's radio get smashed. I'm surprised that he didn't lose his mind when that happened, but I guess he was pretty stoned. Good thing that Emily was a little bit more aware of what was going on.

I have to admit that I was slightly confused by the whole instance in the hallway between Emily and Tristan. I get that the potion they took sort of opens them up to hear each others thoughts, but for some reason it all happened so fast that I was a little thrown and had to go back to re-read it.

All in all, I'm enjoying this story so far. I'm curious to see what happens next.


Author's Response: "Trainwreck in slow motion" is a comment I've gotten a LOT on this story, usually at about this point ;) YOUTH IS TOUGH, MAN.

Yeah I think the ridiculousness of Tristan and Emily doing that potion is pretty obvious to adults, or just when seen objectively. Writing this involved recalling a LOT of stuff from my teenage years, and ridiculous behavior like this was such a THING. Like, even having a friend nearly die from one drug isn't enough to dampen the teenager's complete delusion of their own immortality.

I do think he very nearly lost his mind when that happened. Like, yeah, lucky that Em was there to anchor things.

Thanks for pointing out the corridor passage, I'll definitely look closely at it when that chapter comes up for revision. Trying to be psychedelic-yet-vague can be tricky :P


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Review #27, by TreacleTart Self-Spelling

12th August 2015:
Hello again,

Back for some more of this Gryffindor Review battle madness. go team red!

So Laurel finally did it and overdosed on hexes. I knew this was going to be bad. And you wrote that scene really effectively. At firs it was a little humorous with what Isobel assumed was happening, but as the noise continued it took on a really ominous note.

The way you described Laurel as having hexed out was really interesting. The idea of her having her wand stuck at her temple and being completely out of it. It was a very vivid passage.

Then we see Isobel's eating disorder in full force. I figured that she was suffering from an eating disorder after seeing how she was analyzing herself in the mirror, but it's always a bit more real when the person is actually locking themselves in the bathroom to purge.

I was concerned about Tristan's spelling habits as well, but am glad to hear that he isn't in on the self-spelling. That seems like really risky stuff.

Hopefully, Laurel will be okay and the school will get her some help to get over her addiction. That scene where Isobel finds her is just burned into my mind.

Good work!


Author's Response: I'm glad you noted how there was almost a funny-if-uncomfortable lead-in to that. Def me trying to play Ominous in a novel way.

For the Hex Out, I did a lot of research into heroin overdoeses to get the details right. And I'm so glad that image with wand-to-temple was vivid! It was so terrifying and unsettling in my mind and I really wanted to convey that here.

One thing I need to do better, I think, is explain that she's not actually bulimic. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are completely different diseases that function in really different ways, but I included that because most anorexics, in their early days, will experiment with purging once or twice. But that's not the illness they have, so it doesn't really stick. (There are also bulimorexics, but that's another thing entirely). So yeah, that was there also to make a parallel with Self-Spelling and to offer an accurate and honest picture of the illness, but something that should be better handled in the revision.

These reviews are so helpful, thank you! I'm up to Ch5 right now with Pix so hopefully all the edits will be up soon :)


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Review #28, by TreacleTart Troll in the Dungeons!

12th August 2015:
Hey Roisin!

Still going strong with this Gryffindor Review Battle! Team Red all the way!

Tristan's birthday is on Halloween? That seems fitting considering his dark mood. I would say that the Halloween feast would be a great time to celebrate one's birthday, but Tristan doesn't seem like he feels up to celebrating anything.

This new mix of charms that Laurel is doing seems sketchy. It reminds me of all the countless celebrities who have died mixing uppers and downers. I know she thinks she's being clever and getting away with it for now, but I think down the road everyone is going to start to notice as it takes a hold of her. I wish Tristan would tell her to chill out with it a little bit.

Not sure if I mentioned it before but I find it quite funny that they all call Quirrell "Squirrel" That seems quite fitting.

And the ending where Emily is dancing in the water and yelling that she's from Scotland. I literally snorted as I read it. It was quite amusing.

I'll definitely be back for another chapter soon! Good work!


Author's Response: Halloween was always a night of Stuff Happening in canon, so it made sense to me that it would be Tristan's birthday :) The bummer thing here is that kids aren't allowed to sit at another House Table on feast nights, which ends up making the celebration sucky for him because he's all alone with the snakes :(

Oh yes, the parallel between Laurel's mix and 'speedballing' was DEF intentional. I also wanted that mix to basically mimic the effects of heroin (I worked out how each spell works in terms of neurotransmitters, and what she's on stimulates all the same receptors).

I figured "Squirrel" was JKR's inspiration for the name, so it was too easy not to do :) I also thought it'd be funny to show how little respect they had for them, because: dramatic irony.

Glad you found that bit funny! I wanted genuine Funny and Fun for a lot of these moments, but to still kind of give the reader a bit of pause (to see how kind of dangerous their behavior is, even if they don't). So like, looked at another way, she's high and wading through freezing water. Sort of that "OH PLEASE DON'T CLIMB ON THE ROOF RIGHT NOW" thing.


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Review #29, by TreacleTart Behind the Mirror

12th August 2015:
Hey Roisin!

Back for another Gryffindor Gold vs. Red review! Go team red!

Oh. Tristan's birthday! I really love that everyone went through all of this trouble to have a party for him. Since he's been moody and bummed out lately, it seems only fitting that they get him totally ripped and then play muggle music. If that doesn't make him feel better I don't know what will.

I also enjoyed that it's his 16th birthday they're celebrating. In cannon, they put a ton of emphasis on 17, where as 16 seems to be more of a muggle thing.

The little bit with Sir Cadogan was cute. I giggled when he offered to keep watch over them as they passed through the school so nothing unseemly could happen.

And it is fitting that Fred and George would get trashed. I don't know why, but they seem like the type to over indulge in the liquor. I chuckled when Fred puked right after George. That was clever.

And I knew Emily was using the House Elves to procure her food. I think it's pretty cool that the elves would take care of hungover students, but I suppose that's in their nature. And that explains how Fred and George knew where the kitchens were in cannon. Your brilliance amazes me.

As always, another solid chapter. This story really is wonderful.

Good job.


Author's Response: "If that doesn't make him feel better I don't know what will." Well put. Since you're further along in the story, you know that he isn't "in a bad mood" so much as /depressed/. I think with depression, no external stimulus can truly make someone happy, because the capacity for being happy is what's broken.

You know, I hadn't even thought of that, but it IS very fitting for Tristan that the emphasis here is 16 :) Good point!

I'm glad you liked the Sir Cadogan bit, because I know you were a lil disappointed that Tristan/Emily weren't totally platonic after all.

And I'm SO GLAD that the Twins getting trashed seemed fitting to you! I also think that Ron would have been a big drinker had there been time enough for that (and he wasn't distracted with Fighting Evil). I mean, he's the one who wants to try and get Firewhiskey in OotP when they visit the Hog's Head. And since we know the Twins to be "mischievous" and "rule breakers," I figured they had to be up to a bit of underaged partying that Harry didn't really know about.

But then they're also a bit young here to be drinking (almost 14, so not totally uncommon, but still young), so of course they get sick. Circumstance dictates.

And yes that's how they discovered the kitchens! Heeheehee. And I'm stoked you found the near-synchronized puking funny. I REALLY hoped that would work!


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Review #30, by TreacleTart Three Times Charmed

12th August 2015:
Hi again!

Back for another Gryffindor Gold vs. Red review! Go Team Red!

I knew I jinxed it. Emily and Tristan do have a thing. Okay, so I think they're obviously a good match since they're into the same things and seem to have the same nostalgia for the muggle world (particularly music), but there was part of me that hoped they would just be good friends.

Laurel does seem like she's developing some sort of cheering charm addiction. Does the magic world have like C.C.A? Hopefully, at some point Isobel will point out that enough is enough because she seems to be the only one aware of the issue. Or at least the only one who seems concerned about it.

The part about Laurel and Isobel wandering around through Hogsmeade was amusing. The little waves from the different characters were really nice to see. You've done such a fantastic job of really merging them into the world that JK created. I don't know how you do it.

Just like with everything else you write, your writing is superb. You have really done a lot to make your characters realistic and the scenarios that they're in similar to things most muggle teenagers would experience, just with a magic twist.

Good job.


Author's Response: Ee, I hope you still like how I play Tristan/Emily. I mean, it's far from a cut-and-dry romance, and rarely fluffy. But: teenagers. Hormones. Stuff. Had to have a bit of that.

I think Isobel's the first to notice because they spend the most time together and she knows Laurel best. In the revision, I'm adding in a few more moments throughout of "are you sure you need another one" and "maybe you should cool it." But still nothing well-done or effective, because teenagers aren't fully equipped to handle that sort of thing. I had a few friends develop drug problems as a teen and no one really knew what to do or say about it.

I really wanted this story to FEEL like it was really the background of canon, in like, a believable way. I also wanted to limit OCs as much as possible, since it's a small school so canon figures were liable to pop up.

"Realistic teenage experiences with a magic twist"--the goal of this story. THANK YOU!


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Review #31, by TreacleTart Loose Lips

12th August 2015:
Hey Roisin!

Back for another Gryffindor Red vs. Gold Review! Just in case you forgot, go team red!

Ah. Tristan, so angsty, but then again, I suppose he is a teenager after all. I really love his observations about how if you're magical and you go to Hogwarts it's just assumed that you want to give up the muggle world. It would be pretty tough to return to muggle society and find a job with only basic education.

Man there are a ton of drug references in this. Do these kids do anything but smoke? I mean I know it's highschool and all, but I'm surprised they aren't floating away yet.

I like that you haven't portrayed Wood as the golden boy that he is in cannon. I thought his overly zealous personality was a bit annoying as well, so it's nice to see that reflected in this just a little bit. And Wood was definitely a bit of a jerk attacking Tristan like that. I mean really, did he need to bring three other people along to do it? They couldn't handle it one on one?

As always, your writing was lovely. I'll be back for more soon.


Author's Response: It's something that develops as the story progresses, but Tristan was designed to be something of the Anti-Potter. Like, a mirror image: identical yet reversed. Part of the reason for that is that JKR came up with the character Harry first and the wizarding world was invented after, around him. So this universe literally revolves around Harry. I was curious how someone else might fare, and what they would make of it. Someone who it wasn't custom-tailored to fit.

I like your comment about being surprised that they aren't floating away. As you know from reading further, they do begin to soon.

I do rather still like Wood as a character, but you're right that he has a lot of qualities that could be annoying in various contexts (and would especially irritate someone like Tristan). But I wouldn't say he's ENTIRELY at fault. Tristan definitely over-reacted earlier when he hexed him (AND THE GERANIUM. That's the thing that made me mad at him, really. HE KILLED THE GERANIUM).


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Review #32, by Unicorn_Charm Prologue (1991): Dozens of Little Televisions

12th August 2015:
Hey Roisin! Here for Team Red! :p

I have had this on my reading list for ages now and have decided it's time for me to get started on it. :)

I can already tell that I'm going to love this. It's going to be one of those stories that I end up blowing through in a few days.

I loved this introduction of one of your main characters through a character that we won't see again. I don't think I've read any other stories on this site that starts that way. It was really clever and unique.

One thing I've heard about this story is how everyone says how real your characters feel and really, they do! Even already after this introduction, Tristan just feels like a typical teenaged boy. I'm so excited to keep reading and see how his character develops and also to meet the other characters of your story.

I thought the whole bit with Sophie and the wizarding photos was funny. I mean, how would you react if you saw a bunch of picture moving? Especially in 1991 when the kind of technology we have no didn't exist. Now we could pass it off as a tablet or something, but not then. And I literally laughed out loud when the child version of Tristan in the photo looked shocked at being dropped.

His parents actually seem pretty cool. They seemed more upset that he had a Muggle in the house than having a girl spend the night. And then the tea with the calming draught! Love it!

That's a bummer than everything was obliviated from her. He seemed to take it really hard. Brooding and chain smoking. And then her calling to thank him for being a gentleman had to be a slap in the face haha.

I really liked this a lot! You've got a gift. I mean, wow. Your writing is just phenomenal and I so can't wait to keep reading this! ♥

xoxo Meg

Author's Response: MEG! Thank you so much for this review!

This story was written out all at once before uploading, so I think it does work a bit better read kind of all at once in bursts (since the chapters aren't self-contained episodes, and arcs play out across chapters more).

Introducing the story from a muggle POV was sort of a nod to canon, because the very first chapter of PS is from Vernon's POV. I'm really glad you liked that :)

It means so much to me that people found these characters Real. I spent so much time with them writing them that they did become super real to me. Like, I CARE about them, and it just means so much that other people do too!

Haha, yes! Being in 1991 DOES make it all rather more magical! I mean, HP moving pictures are basically just gifs, if you think about it, so it's a lot more baffling 20+ years ago. And a lot of this story is kind of me shouting HEY LOOK, THE 90s! Which is a lot because the films were set ambiguously present-day.

You're spot on about them being more concerned about a muggle being in the house. If circumstances were different, and she was a witch, they might have been upset by the sleepover, but I think there were just BIGGER ISSUES to get on with.

Yo, right!? That must be SO traumatic D:

Yee! Thank you so much for this review, Meg!


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Review #33, by TreacleTart R

11th August 2015:
Hey Roisin!

Here for review tag 4.0

Ah. So we get to see a different character per each chapter and this chapter is Emily. It's really interesting to see her breaking all of the stereotypes of being a Puff. I mean she seems nice, but she's a lot different than I would imagine a Puff to be.

I adore the dynamic between her and Tristan. They seem to really care for each other and really are best friends. They have sort of a similar dynamic to me and my best friend...and it's refreshing to see a male/female friendship without their being romantic expectations on any end. (hope I didn't jinx that) The idea that they stay up all night shooting owls back and forth is just awesome. That's how best friends are.

I also loved the little bit about waving to Dumbledore. That was a nice story and really helped me to get to know Emily a little bit better. It gives a bit of insight into who she is and how she thinks.

The only small bit of cc I can offer for this is that I noticed an unusual amount of typos for you in this. That's not to say that there were a ton, but considering that your writing is normally so flawless, I was a little bit surprised. I'm sure once you go through and edit it will be fixed up though.

All in all, another good chapter! I'll be back as soon as I can to read more!


Author's Response: Oh it's interesting you think she's breaking the stereotype! I suppose in a way that was intentional. I mean, I definitely gave her a lot of traditional Puff qualities (kind, patient, loyal, values friendship, hard-working), but you're right that I DID want to kind of provide another picture (or a more fleshed-out one) of what those things might mean. And I def wanted to show an awesome Puff character :)

You know, I do think that, whatever romance aside, their platonic love is still the most important part of their relationship. I swear there is a reason for this (there's is a very Philia love, which I hope makes sense later, when all is revealed).

Oof, errors. So all my other stories have been beta'd, but since I wrote this before joining the site, it was sort of just me alone. I'm getting this all beta'd now, so this will be addressed. Part of the issue is that I'm dyslexic, and then when I go back to edit one typo or clunky phrase I end up making 12 more errors in the process. IT IS GETTING FIXED NOW I PROMISE.


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Review #34, by TreacleTart The Hex Head Express

11th August 2015:
Hey Roisin!

Gryffindor Review Battle - Go Team Red!

Hex Heads? I'm dying. I absolutely love the idea of wizards getting high on cheering charms. That is sheer brilliance. And smuggling weed into Hogwarts as potions ingredients? That was good too.

I really like that you've added a sort of vibrancy to the magical world. In the HP series, there's a lot that sort of falls flat. There's no music, drugs, or really anything that teenagers appreciate, so it's nice to see you fill that all in a little bit.

Also, your use of HP characters is great. I love how Hermione pops her head in for a second and Fred and George are friends with the main characters. You mentioned Charlie and threw in a joke about Percy. Trevor the Toad is off on adventures. I can't believe how many references you threw out there.

Also, your characterization of Hufflepuffs as stoners seemed odd at first, but now I sort of get it. The only reason their so nice all the time is because they're always stoned. :D

Great work! I'm on to the next chapter right now.


Author's Response: OK YES. So, I understand the choices Rowling made. Aside from the fact that they were meant to be kids books at the start, I think Harry and co. were just too distracted Fighting Evil to get up to much teen shenanigans. And I think the books, which were already long and involved, would get a bit BUSY if all this stuff were included.

But hey, FANFICTION. Mind-altering spells are a FACT in canon, and they are taught to 13-14 year olds. This NEEDS to be addressed! Like, if you CAN just make yourself cheerful with a spell, why aren't people doing that all the time? As you know, I set out to answer this question.

And yeah, I just very much wanted to show how other kids, who aren't fighting evil, might have experienced the magical world. I really only wrote this story because I'd had the conversation "Well if WE were at Hogwarts..." so many times.

Hahahaha, Hufflepuff stoner jokes are a BIG thing among my friends, and I didn't invent "Huff le Puff" or "Huffle puff puff pass." There's a reasonably large section of the internet that agrees ;)

Yee! Thank you SO MUCH for this review battle and all of your amazing, helpful, thoughtful reviews!


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Review #35, by TreacleTart Prologue (1991): Dozens of Little Televisions

11th August 2015:
Hey Roisin,

Gryffindor Review Battle - Go Team Red!

After hearing a ton of amazing buzz around the forums for this story, I've finally decided to start reading it. I've had it on my reading list for awhile now, but for whatever reason, I just haven't gotten to it. Well, I'm here to make amends for that.

This was a really intriguing start to a story. I know that you said Sophie doesn't return in the story, but I really enjoyed seeing her reaction to everything and how Tristan's family dealt with a muggle in their home.

I was surprised that Tristan's parents weren't at all mad about the strange girl in their hallway early in the morning. I think that if my parents had ever found a strange person wandering around that I'd snuck in the house, they might've lost it. Very lenient parents indeed.

I feel sad for Tristan that his night with Sophie was obliviated. I also feel sad that he seems to think it meant a lot more than Sophie ever really did. She was just using him to rebel, but it seems that he actually was sort of into her.

I really like how you've chosen to begin this and I can't wait to see where the rest of the story goes. Good job!


Author's Response: Wow Kaitlin thank you so much! Yee!

I really liked the idea of beginning with a naive!muggle POV as a sort of nod to canon (like how the very first chapter of PS begins with Mr Dursley POV). Like, I liked the idea of reintroducing the magical world all over again, kinda :)

For the parents, I think it's 50% leniency, and 50% that there are just more pressing things to deal with (Statute of Secrecy). I may go back and expand that more though--I've been working on a full-scale revision of this. (This is the first edited chapter to be posted, but I'm always keen to address reader comments with edits). So yeah, they're pretty laissez faire, but they're also distracted. (In fact, that's something of the point here, so I should definitely edit: in a normal situation it would have just been very awkward and Tristan would have gotten in trouble and so on. But since he's a wizard, this entirely different situation happens where scolding gets left by the wayside in order to erase the memory of his first sexual experience. MUCH WORSE).

You're right that Sophie was kind of using him, and he didn't mean much to her, but it's MUCH worse that she can't even remember it happened :( Like, I can't even imagine how tragic that would be! At the same time, I imagine it MUST happen from time to time, because: teenagers. Tristan can't have been the first person to sneak a muggle in to their house.

Yeeyeeyee! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a review!


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Review #36, by RavenclawFTW Cleaner, More Brilliant

8th August 2015:
So I started reading this story five hours ago and haven't stopped once since then. I've seen it recced consistently on the forums, but I never really liked Skins when I watched it, so I thought it wouldn't be for me. For some reason today I saw a post on the forums about it (by crestwood) and I was like let's do this. And I am so glad that I did, because this is such an excellent story. Seriously. I'm so impressed by your characters, your ingenious spin on the Wizarding world, and your intricate inclusion of canon details. I love all of the details you've managed to weave in and your end notes are super helpful.

I love how you've explored what seems like teenage angst to give such believable backstories, and how the histories of each character contributes to how they behave. I especially enjoy how gray the backstories are. Well, not Tristian's. Emily wasn't outright raped, but she knows it wasn't consensual, and doesn't really know how to handle it. Isobel's control issues comes from so much around her and her family's tiny comments that begin to add up. Laurel's family problems are gradual and she just hits her tipping point. Everything is just so believable to me. Especially Tristian's story, even though it's undeniably dark and one-sided. You've also done a brilliant job revealing all of the issues slowly, over the course of the story. I had guessed Tristian's story, but getting all the details wasn't just "oh I was right"-- it packed an emotional punch and I felt so bad for him. I also very much enjoyed your inclusion of Snape in that part of the story, and it seems to be to add a lot to Snape's character. More than that, I loved Tristan's reactions to Snape's bias and how it made him as uncomfortable as it made Emily (or Harry in canon) angry.

I really love how you've developed the information from Pottermore and used all the musical references to tie everything together. I love a lot of the bands you've included in an abstract kind of way, enjoying the music but not relating to the messages as much, but seeing the lyrics woven into the lives of these characters was really amazing to me. You've really given new meaning to the songs for me and I thank you for that. I also love your spin on the Muggle/Wizard divide and how your characters reacted throughout the story to the other world.

Also just the way you explored addiction problems and the Cheering felt real and desperate, and I could see Laurel's reasonings and struggle so clearly. My favorite book is Infinite Jest, which delves deeply into the issues surrounding addiction and recovery from addiction, and this story really spoke to me as a great look at how people fall into those behaviors and the struggle to recover from them.

So I saw recently that you had a beta request on the forums for this story, and with that in mind, I'm going to point out a few things that stuck out to me as things that could be tightened up a bit. Keep in mind that these points are set against an immense appreciation and enjoyment of the story.

The primary thing that I continually wondered about in the story was what exactly Emily sees in Tristian. She's obviously had some problems in her own past and isn't necessarily as good/pure/whole as her friends continually claim, but the story just felt a bit lacking in development on the reasoning behind her crush (such as there is reasoning behind any crush). It's just kind of accepted and acknowledged by everybody that they're going to tend towards a relationship at some point. At the beginning of the story, the letters definitely provide some explanation for their connection, but by the middle of the story or even when they almost kissed, I had kind of forgotten that connection and was mostly wondering what kept them together. Dunno if that's helpful, but it could be something to keep in mind if you're going through and editing.

The other part that nagged at me was Fred and George's involvement with all of the illicit activities. On the one hand, it felt very in character in terms of their unquestioning friendship (eg to Isobel in Hogsmeade) and general cheerful acceptance of everybody. At the same time, the extent of their indulgence in drugs/alcohol as 13 year olds felt off to me. I've known kids who were into that kind of stuff that young, but usually there was a reason behind it (like the reasoning behind your core 4 characters), and that feels lacking in the case of Fred and George. I dunno. It wasn't a huge issue for me, and I thought you actually wrote their interactions with the crew very in character, but it just felt kinda sketchy. I think Emily voiced concerns about corrupting them early in the story (it's all a bit of a blur at this point), but the issue didn't seem to come up again, and it seems like it could/would have.

Okay, I think that's about all I had to say. I'm sorry if the end way more critical than helpful or something, but I just thought I'd put my two cents out there. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. :)




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Review #37, by Shinicha Recreational Magic Abuse Recovery

3rd August 2015:
Hah, I'm back again! The last review was written drunk, but I promise, this is all crispy and sober, from the library even!

First of all: Isobel and Lucas, I knew it! :D
I didn't expect it to be her first time though. Can there be a first time that is actually "good"? I have never heard about anyone saying that about their own experience ... I kind of hope that he will get some space in the story again and not disappear like Sophie. Although it's probably unlikely since he lives as a Muggle in the US most of the time, as it seems?

The reasoning behind not letting them stay at Tristan's seems really feeble. The "Rec Magic" thing, that Isobel's parents worry so much about, seems a far better reason to distrust their kid's friends than possible ...sleeping around.

As to the scene in Mungo's: I think you did a fabulous job with EVERYTHING. First, I loved the passing comments on what is going on in the hospital (moths! insects! what a terror!) and the different departments.

Secondly, I think you managed to pin-point Luna's attitude perfectly, her dreaminess mixed with a weird down-to-earthness! It is quite sad to think of her past like this, with a dead mother and a depressed father. Also, there is clearly a Hex Head gang missing in the younger years, since she couldn't find any friends!

During the meeting with Laurel, the tension and delicacy of the situation was feasable. You don't want to treat your friend differently, but at the same time it seems dishonest to just ignore the big, pink elephant that is sitting in your midst (probably having fun with the biscuits)

The bracelett-hobby only added to the horror of what Laurel went through! (even though I also enjoyed making them when I was little.) She doesn't seem like a person that can get lost in "small details", but more of a big-rash-bigger thinker.

I wonder how you will make them interact once she's back to school.

On a side note: I tried to super-coolly slip in "stoked" during a conversation, but as my friends are also non-native speakers it ended up being a bit lame when I had to explain my Libanese friend what it meant. Next time!

Also, while I've always loved VU I didn't know Sunday Morning. As it so happens, I also started doing Yoga in the morning. So I'll try this Emiliesque intersection!

Author's Response: So glad that I'm not the only one who leaves drunk reviews! YAS! (But for the record, you seemed perfectly cogent to me :))

You make a good point that there isn't much by way of SPECIAL first times in this story. I guess here I just wanted a character to have a "whilst on holiday" experience, since that's a thing.

THAT SILLY WORRY! Man, those sorts of "you canNOT sleep at a boy's house!" parents were the bane of my teenage years. Luckily my mom was reasonable, but I had friends whose parents weren't.

Yee, I had so much fun making up those waiting room maladies :D

And I'm SO GLAD you liked my Luna! She might be the single most difficult character to get right, and I knew I was already asking a LOT of readers by expanding her backstory in this way. (Oh, and I headcanon that Luna totally continued hanging out with these older kids once she started Hogwarts [granted, they behaved themselves better around her], but then they graduated before Harry met her).

It is VERY difficult to carry on and hang out like normal when you're visiting a friend in this sort of context. Glad that the awkwardness there came off. And I really like your analysis of Laurel :)


Heheh, Sunday Morning is probs the only VU song one can do yoga to. OH, and that Y5 playlist I linked you to (the one in my forums blog) has a really neat cover of it!

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Review #38, by Gabriella Hunter O.W.L.s

29th July 2015:

This is Gabbie from the forums dropping by with you review! I was a tad bit late this time but I've moved and it's been crazy! This adulting thing is annoying, man.

On to this!

So, the dreaded OWLs have arrived. I thought that I could practically feel the group cringing through some of them. There's nothing worse than knowing that you have this huge life altering test coming up but what I liked was that each member of the group was going through something completely different. I'm not sure if this was on purpose or not but I think that you showed each of their lives well here, the tests that they took reflected on their lives and how far they had come.

Perhaps I'm reading a little too much into metaphors here but I thought that was a great way to tie them all together. It's great to see that some of their issues have slowed down somewhat (Emily not smoking anymore) while others still need to be resolved. I thought that you wrote the passage of time really well though, you didn't dwell too long on one particular subject--the span of days went by quickly as they were met with more and more challenges.

I also enjoyed that you didn't just have all of the group miraculously getting through their OWLs without making mistakes. That would have been completely unrealistic, I think but what I gathered was that if this group, with so many issues can actually try for a better future, anyone could. They worried for each other, encouraged themselves and kept on going (Except for Tristan, who gave the middle finger to History of Magic like a boss. Hahahaha)

Now, onto Tristan...



I know that it wasn't some kind of accident and I had a feeling that something would go wrong after that little thing with Malfoy. Ugh, what a little snot, eh? I also like the canon that you added into this too, what with him bragging about that Nimbus his Dad was going to get him and all that. But...but...Tristan! Ugh, I can't believe that you've done this to me!

I'll be back, darn you.

Much love,


Author's Response: Yay Gabbie!

I'm so glad you thought there was, yeah, like a reflection of where they were at. I think for a lot a couple of them (like Emily and Laurel), the exams kind of shook them out of their more personal worries and gave them something else to focus their energies on. (I think a big problem for these kids is that they're sort of under-stimulated. Very clever, each of them, but with not enough outlets for their energies. They would probs have all benefited a lot from more extra-curricular activities).

Passage of time here was something a thought about a lot, so I'm glad you think it was well done. I worried about rushing in this story, but here, I think a kind of rushed pace made the frantic mood come through better.

And yeah, they def COULD have done better on their exams if they'd worked put more energy into their classes before.

About Tristan. I'M SO SORRY! I swear I didn't plan this, but then all of a sudden I realized it HAD to happen, and that I'd sort of subconsciously been building to it (and that the Lake had come to take on this weird sort of significance).

Sorry sorry sorry!

And AH! Only two chapters left! EeEeEeEe!


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Review #39, by Shinicha Muggle Magic

29th July 2015:
Ahh okay, I hope I have kept everything in my mind that I wanted to comment on (not sure if I did).

1. Okay so when I said last chapter that locking their kid up to protect it is NOT the way to do it, now this is exactly what Isobel's parents are doing ... but admittedly, she's a different case to Tristan.

I really feel with her concerning the smoking-thing though. I never went as far as smoking in the shower (how obvious would THAT be?) but from eating bananas to hide the smell and washing my hands to carrying around perfume I did all kinds of things :D All in all, she is handling the pressure with much elegance and patience though. Maybe it is because she only has to spend her holiday's with them, but I admire her self-composure.

2. I immensely enjoyed the "muggle-wizard" interaction! First, it was nice to see how grown-ups get along so well and do not clash as it so often happens in stories and also real-life (slightly disapproving families, forced politeness...) It also feels scary that I almost can relate more to the parents than to the kids. Damnit, I'm only 23!

3. On the other hand you wrote about so many things I was wondering about when reading the books! I never did much research reading the Wiki, so I have to ask: Are the facts about hags being a different species, and about Arithmancy made up? Or true? In any case: interesting!

4. Nice way to mention Albus fist boyfriend btw :D

5. And the subtle critique of state meddling was also amusing. If the Unspeakables are anything close to our intelligence services or "constitution protection units" they're nothing but despicable. Úo

6. I laughed at the "hippie-ness" of Emily's parents. They seem very lovely.

7. Speaking of family: There is SO something gonna happen between Isobel and Lucas. RIGHT?

A few more things:

-Isobel's non-eating habits are worrying (I once read this book "air for breakfast" (was the roughly from German translated title), and felt shocked when I felt I could agree to almost every point up to the stage where the main cast grew these baby-hairs that the body produces when you hunger too much. ISOBEL DON'T GROW HAIR. EAT.

-Thanks for also introducing me to the word "stoked", I'll be careful to use it from now on :P

- I noticed a minor spelling error: "iare you certain you're getting enough protein?Ē "

- brownies are tricky, I hope they don't plan to eat all of them at once, otherwise they might have to extend their visit to the rehab clinic!

Author's Response: Ooh fancy, I'll reply in number form too :)

1. The interesting thing here is that I'm not sure whether or not this was even a good idea :P Like, I write it as though it isn't, but maybe it is?

Heh, I smoked in the shower, and it WAS obvious. Me and my friends would do it under the auspice of shaving our legs. Bloody ridiculous.

2. I wrote this when I was 23! And yes, I weirdly identified with the parents a lot too! I think it was the first time I properly looked at a parents' perspective and tried to consider why they do what they do in, like, a mature way.

3. The thing about Hags is from Fantastic Beasts (they're given the classification of 'Being,' which implied to me that they're a separate species). The Arithmancy thing was kinda made-up though. I looked into it, and it seemed way too simple to have an entire course on stretching multiple years (since it's basically just one kind of divination), so I messed around with it by including some numerology stuff and some other neat ideas I had :)

4. RIGHT! Elphias was TOTALLY Albus' boyfriend at some point! Like, COME ON. That eulogy?

5/6. Heh, yeah. The Unspeakables always struck me as shadowy and sketch, and some of their research reminds me of CIA tests back in the 50s and stuff. The Madleys DEF have a perspective I've seen before (a lot of my friends have hippie parents)


-OH MAN, I just looked up that book and HOW WEIRD. Ok, so one of my friends is recovering from anorexia nervosa right now and her name is Serafina! ~WoOoOoOoOo~

-Heh, 'stoked.' My California is showing :P

-Whoops! Thank you! Editing now!

-oof, yes. Edibles can be QUITE easy to overdo!

YEE! Thank you so much for another fantastic review!


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Review #40, by Shinicha War Children

28th July 2015:
Ah, I admit the level of self-hatred that Tristan has reached is hard for me to comprehend, by which I mean to put myself into his position. How do you do it? (Asking this question without wanting to touch any nerve) I feel that even with close friends that had a full-blown depression, it was more out of a struggle to live. But maybe I'm just telling myself that.

The effects of the charm Laurel "invented" immediately reminded me of how H is being described including nausea. So there is the confirmation. For some reason I have utter respect and terror of heroin and it always unsettles me when I read about how people take it. Even though there must be a lot of people who try it and never get addicted... I really hope that Tristan doesn't make a habit of it. Also, "smack" or "smacked" will never be the same for me again! I didn't know this word! (English slang is not my fortť :P )

As to the whole mystery: Now we have additional clues. After the initial wondrous feeling of Snape actually being ... caring!! ... (could it have been just before he gets bitten by Fluffy? I really don't have the exact timeline in my head now!) ... I internally kicked myself - because I thought something was up when Tristan reacted weirdly to Neville being sorted! What, I still don't know. I was thinking about adoption when reading about the scene with Mary, because then the "family" thing would make more sense. And R could be the name of Bellatrix' husband - what was it? Rudolphus I believe. But how that would make Tristan at fault of anything still isn't explained. SO THE MYSTERY CONTINUES.

I really feel with Tristan's parents, because really, what can you do when you suspect your son of seriously abusing drugs? Locking him in wouldn't really solve the matter, probably worsen in.

I still can't grasp the 'energy' between Tristan and Emily. She is so incredibly patient - I would in the meantime have made several desparate attempts to approach him and been jealous during all the hours he disappeared with Laurel. And he seems to be calmed down and somewhat happier around her, it seems so strange to fight off what is helping you!

And a question on the side: how did you go about researching your story? Did you read the first book parallel to exactly match everything that's happening with the book? How do you even THINK of all the side-characters and even invent relatives that fit into the chronology perfectly?!

Also, thank you so much for replying to my reviews, I'm happy to read it :)

Author's Response: You have a really interesting point there, I think. So like, I do think that depression involves amounts of self-hatred that would seem absurd objectively. That said, you are on to something about it. Like, his self-loathing isn't /generalized/ the way you might expect from depression. It's more, I dunno, specific. And there is a reason for that, promise!

Really glad you caught the smack/charm-blend comparison! I'd modeled Laurel's invention and general behavior on that. Also, sorry for destroying the word 'smack' for you!

I got all excited and checked Snape's timeline, but alas, it was actually after the Fluffy bite. Super stoked that you dug Nice!Snape, (or, rather, Unsettling!Snape). And it's insanely exciting to see someone sort out the clues :)

I'm a big fan of Tristan's parents myself--and yeah, writing them, I realized that I didn't know what /I/ would do in their place. Which helped a lot, because I wanted them to be sympathetic and not, like, inept.

You make a good point about Emily. I think that part of it is that she's done a lot more dating than Tristan, so she's more comfortable be patient. And she really cares about him, she doesn't just /want/ him.

OK, RESEARCHING THIS STORY: It was SUCH a thing! I did a whole mess of research before I even started writing. Luckily, I didn't have to read PS at the same time because the HP lexicon has really detailed calendars and timelines. I also used the wiki a lot (but you have to be careful with that one, since they site video games and movies as canon, so you always have to check their sources). As for minor characters, hp lexicon and wiki both have all sorts of character lists, so I compiled usable names and associations to draw from when I needed. While writing this, I usually had like ten research related tabs open and certain things (like the calendar and some Hogwarts maps) that just LIVED at the top of my browser.


Also, I always respond to reviews! Partially because I really enjoy replying, and partially because I too love getting author responses :)

Yee! Thank you again sososososo much for all these reviews!


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Review #41, by Shinicha The Big Thing

28th July 2015:
The things are getting intense and there is truly not one incredient of teenage drama missing!

Unfortunately I have never read the Casual Vacancy, however I love your writing. The scene in Hogsmeade was, just incredible. Not because my wish for psychedelic drugs has come true ( :P ), but because of the smartness with which you wove in the future-present-trippy parts. Also, I am now bursting to know what the BIG THING might be. When Tristan first didn't want to reveal his middle name that started with "R", I irrationally thought of Riddle (which doesn't make any sense whatsoever, since it's a last name PLUS hardly anyone realized the connection between tom and voldy).

But it must be connected somehow to the Big Thing, no? Since he also talks about his "family"... but at the same time, judging from Emily's reaction it was something he did himself, when he was small? Ah, so many questions...

Behind all your characters' declared independence from the rest of the student-body you get their fragile emotional (teeny) state very well across; the fact that they do care a lot and in fact almost all their problems stem from exactly caring a lot about what "society" thinks of them.

By the way, for some inexplicable reason Isobel refuses to have black hair in my head!! I tried telling myself so often, and still she remains the blonde I saw in my mind when I first read the name. Why might that be??

Overall I'm really, really impressed with the effort and research you put into this fic. I'm sorry that my reviews are so useless .-. but believe me when I say that I enjoy it immensely, love it dearly and admire your writing a lot!

And btw, thanks to you I listened to Blur for the first time in my life (don't ask me how I managed to bypass them ...) and I love the song you mentioned. So thanks :D

Author's Response: 'No ingredient of teenage drama missing'! Yes! That was exactly what I was going for! I really wanted to see how all these Teen Drama conventions would play out in the Hogwarts context, since a lot of them never came up in canon (which makes sense, since Harry and co were a bit preoccupied fighting evil). But yeah, like, what's Hogwarts like for normal kids? Or rather, what's Hogwarts like for the kids who'd rather smoke under the bleachers than watch a Quidditch game?

So reading CasVac DEF isn't required for reading this, but, funny anecdote: an RL friend of mine got super spy status and found this online and read it all (luckily, he was down). Then, some months later, he read CasVac and said "it reminded me of Y5 a lot," and I was like "OTHER WAY AROUND, BRO."

And YAY I'm so glad you found Smartness in, erm, yeah psychedelia :P That was super fun to write, because I liked that canon idea that there are older and more subtle magicks outside of wand-waving.

You're def not the first person to think Riddle, and I won't lie: I do kind of dangle that thread.

Your point about their preoccupation with what 'society' thinks is very apt. Like, I think rebellion is important, and so is criticizing the status quo, but young/dumb kids CAN take it too far. When they decide that certain lines are dumb, they can also cross lines they maybe shouldn't. In a way, I think canon explored the same questions, but more to do with rule breaking. Like, when is it ok to break rules/laws? Sometimes the trio do it for good reasons, and sometimes it works out, but sometimes it doesn't, and the story is a lot about them learning how to be smart and thoughtful about it.

Huh, that's so interesting what you said about Isobel! It's such a brunette-y name in my mind! And while she is supposed to be half Arab, maybe she can have dyed her hair in your mind-cast :)

You're reviews aren't useless! I so appreciate all of your feedback and analysis, and it's so on-point and interesting :D (hence this absurdly long reply)

(And YAYAYAY BLUR! So stoked that I was able to introduce you!)

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Review #42, by Shinicha The Hex Head Express

28th July 2015:
Loved the second chapter as well!!! :)

It is always really interesting to think about what the side characters in the books are up to when we don't read about them. So i enjoyed the Percey and Penny interlude immensely, even more so the twins!!! But most of all I loved how you connected the far-away stories of the ministry and the order with Hogwarts by creating Tonk's past.

So far I enjoy the group's dynamic and all the potential future conflicts that are already implied; such as emely-tristan-(isobel?); laurel's inclination for charms etc.

The drugs are another thing I found hilarious and imaginative. (Speed-for stuying :'D ) I noticed that there are no psychedelic substances in play yet! (But would that fit better than whiskey?? Btw: why whiskey for gryffindor?? :o )

Can't wait for more!

Author's Response: Yayay thank you!

Since Percy and Penny were in their year, I definitely wanted to include them, especially because I thought it would be funny to see what these kids thought of them. And the twins! That was fun too, since they were older than Harry, and seemed all big. But to Tristan and co, they're younger, which was cool to think about.

And Tonks! I was SO stoked when I realized they would have overlapped at school!

I'm very interested in the dynamic you named--I like how you're thinking right now. That's the suspicion I'd hoped readers would have ;)

As you know, psychedelics are yet to come! But yeah, so, whiskey: that has a lot to do with what /these/ kids think of Gryffindors. Loud, prone to aggression, etc. And think about it! There are tons of Gryffindors in canon, and the main booze they drink is whiskey!


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Review #43, by Shinicha Prologue (1991): Dozens of Little Televisions

28th July 2015:
First of all, excuse my short review, as it is a bit bothersome to write long texts on a phone!

I'm really intrigued by the story so far, also because you said it's inspired by Skins. I watched the first three seasons years ago (when i was still young and innocent haha) and remember it left me very disturbed indeed :D

You did a great job with so many things in this chapter: finding hilarious excuses for magic in a home (the ikea-part made me laugh out loud); including canon characters in a subtle way; shaping Tristans broody teenage character subtly but clear (telling the story from this omniscent authors perspective is very refreshing!) .

So i can't wait for more!! :)

Author's Response: Yee! Hello! Thank you so much for dropping by this story and taking the time to leave a review (especially since it's all annoying and on your phone!)

Oh man, so I was the same age as the kids when the first season came out, so my reaction was very "HOW DO YOU KNOW MY LIFE." Although I was more of a "Jal" type--like, the goodie-two-shoes, Hermione-ish friend. If only relatively.

But anyway! I'm s glad you liked the kind of tone and style of this, I def loop in canon as much as humanly possible, while providing an alternate POV for all the stuff. And yee, the ikea line was my favorite too :)

Thank you again so much for reviewing!

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Review #44, by Pixileanin The Big Thing

27th July 2015:
Hey there, I needed to get on with the getting on, so here I am. When I started reading this chapter, I immediately had to stop and wonder what I was writing at the time that you were writing this. I don't know why that first sentence made me think of that, but it did.

Ah yes, I was writing that kooky rabbit story. Anyway, I don't know why or even if that's important, but I was just curious. Sometimes life has a way of getting away from me.

"Emily noticed, also, that she knew things."

What exactly was in that potion?? Maybe I don't want to know. Getting that close to someone is risky and dangerous, but Emily is the right person to do it. Poor Tristan though. I don't think he was ready to be so transparent, even though she was able to soothe him. So there's the Big Thing, which we don't know, but Emily does, and then somewhere down the line you show us that Emily feels like Tristan has been hinting at it all along.

I love the tender, yet sad moment that these two have together in the Corridor. I have best wishes for them, but it seems like a long, hard road. Or maybe you just tease me. Harumph with the teasing!

So back to the potion thing, which I have to say the execution of was completely brilliant. You managed to make social commentary sing in the midst of being under the influence of mind-altering substances, and it hit like a splash of psychedelic colors. And the bit about Emily bouncing around inside other peoples' heads was both cool and disturbing at the same time. Those boys, ugh! I didn't want to see what they were thinking, but man oh man did it make an impact.

Brain bleach. Poor Emily. I don't even blame her for not telling Isobel anything. There were Deep Thoughts, and it really wasn't Emily's place to tell anyway. And when is she going to say something to that girl about the not eating? It seems like she's wise to the situation, but maybe there's just too much stuff going on for her to take it in. You've overwhelmed your characters to the point of breakage. So many issues!

Another fantastic installment!


Author's Response: Hm, now that you said that I'll be keeping an eye out in your story, see if I can't have a similar ~woOoOoOo~ moment.

Dimethyltryptamine and MAO inhibiting harmala alkaloids. That's what's in the potion. Heh, it really IS a real thing! And all of Emily's experiences with it were based on research into the shamanic rituals and beliefs around what the potion does (it's used sort of as psychic medicine, apparently) and first-person accounts by people who've done it. As far as I can tell, it IS risky and dangerous, and should probably only ever get used under the supervision of a Shaman. But you know, Emily. Close enough.

But yeah, the Potterverse was all inspired by British/Western European mythologies and stuff, and basically said "all this stuff is literally real here," so I liked the idea that the same might be true for other cultures. Like, this 'potion' really is psychoactive, but it's /believed/ to be magical and involve psychicness and stuff, so I was like "YUP, THAT TOO--REAL."

Ooh so glad you liked the commentary in there! Anti-muggle-born prejudice is so obviously silly to us, so I really wanted to challenge myself to think what /real/ and /vehement/ hatreds a person might have, and make them as compelling as possible (even if they were stupid, all things considered). I have a lot of suspicions about what might motivate hate IRL, so I definitely drew upon that here to invent the perspective of those Slytherins.

As for Isobel, and why no one has done anything, that's sort of a reflection of an unfortunate reality. It can be months and months, sometimes years, before teenagers realize their friend has developed an eating disorder--even when it OUGHT to be obvious. I'm guilty of this too. There's also the fact that readers get to see from everyone's POV in this story, so the whole picture is there. We get everyone's clues. The characters each only have bits and pieces.

Man, writing such a downer story means always ending responses on a super downer note!



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Review #45, by Gabriella Hunter The Presence of Love

23rd July 2015:

This is Gabbie dropping by for our swap that was about half a century ago. I'm so sorry that I'm late, real life issues got in the way and I wasn't able to find the time to do anything. Like, what is this adulting thing that people have told me is so great?

They obviously lied. >.>


So, I'm back with my broken little friends for this chapter. I was really eager to read on in this story and I was not disappointed by any of the growth you displayed here with each one. I was of course, blown away by how easily you managed to connect everyone through loneliness, sadness and hope.

I think that what stood out to me the most was that this wasn't merely about the kids. There were a slew of adults here that varied from giving good advise to the ones who were merely wishing it were over. It's something that a lot of people experience growing up and you're not quite sure how strong your bond is with anyone until you're shattered. What would happen if there was nowhere left to turn? That was the question that popped into my head more than once while reading this and it seemed like Emily learned that lesson here. I was so proud of her for doing the right thing and I think that what Dumbledore said about her reflecting on her actions may have helped talk about what happened with her with Andrew. I kind of want to rant about that but I'll hold off for now because I have to let the hate flow through me for a while and it's going to be a minute before I can cool off.


I liked that you bounced back and forth from Laurel and Emily too. The theme was obviously love here and you showed so many different forms of it, the girls miss one another as deeply as Tristan misses them and to see it written so wonderfully was amazing. Laurel and Emily worried me for a while because I was unsure if they would make up or not, there were a few things still in their way.

Laurel's relationship with her mother was something that I liked too. It was a very raw, uncensored conversation that I think both of them needed and I was glad that there was some closure between them. I also caught that Rita Skeeter Easter egg and I admit, it made me shudder to think of how her horror began...

What I found really surprising was the entire section with Emily's parents. Now, they were fine with her brother growing pot but how dare he sell it? That just baffles me! I think that there was a big disconnect between them all as a family and I wonder if that will be resolved before the story is finished.

But while Laurel and Emily finally made up and accepted that their friendship was too strong to ignore, Isobel finally confesses her secret. I was so relieved! Gah, I hope that she gets the help that she needs because I was so worried about her. It felt like all of the characters broke in some way, revealing their true selves and I thought you wrote it brilliantly.

But gosh darn it! Andrew and Emily! What?! I want to do so many horrible things to that guy but on a whole other note--we've been shown that Emily has a rather promiscuous time at Hogwarts but now I see that it might actually stem from trauma. Very clever of you to tie that in for a good thought, it makes her seem far more vulnerable somehow. Also, thank you for being so bloody honest about the entire thing, I don't know a lot of authors out there that would have handled such a topic so openly without deflecting from the issue.

Ah, I feel like Emily might have given Squirrel the touch of death with that last line. Hahaha.

So, there were a thousand things that I would have loved to talk about more but there aren't enough words. Wonderful writing as always and I'm glad that Tristan showed up towards the end of this chapter, it seems like he's shattered as well and I hope that the pieces are put back together soon.

Much love,


Author's Response: Gabbie!

This review is one of those great ones where I want to make sure I don't waste my response, and really reply like I want to, because your analysis is so fantastic.

Hah, adulting is SO overrated :P

I'm really glad you liked all the adult characters I had in here. It was one of the more interesting things to write when I was working on this. Like, I've been a teenager, so I know that perspective really well, but this was the first time I really pulled back and tried to properly conceptualize of a parent/caretaker point of view in a meaningful way.

The Laurel/Mum relationship is definitely a complicated one, and I really didn't want to simplify it--like, make it all good or all bad. 'Uncensored' and 'raw' were such good words to describe their convo!

The disconnect Emily's parents have is weird, isn't it? I absolutely have met parents like that! Like, they're fine with moderate cannabis use, and they'd be cool with an adult child working in the grow industry--but a teen selling at school? TERRIBLE. And maybe there's a point there, but there is sort of a disconnect too. And the justification of doing the same thing "but it was the 60s" is sort of stupid. Like, yeah, that was them in the past being silly kids. But one day, Emily's own behavior will be the past/her being a silly kid, so it doesn't really hold water.

So I definitely don't want to shame someone, even a teen, for having casual sex with multiple partners, BUT. Butbutbut--the earliest indication of her 'reputation' as school was at the latest age 14. That's young enough to wonder if something more troubling might be going on. And Hogwarts doesn't have that many students, so you'd think it'd be pretty slim pickings when it came to boys, so we're left having to assume Emily wasn't being all that discerning. Which is all pretty standard behavior for some people who have experienced abuse.

I'm really glad you think I handled that well--it's just such an unfortunately common thing to happen, and I think back in the early 90s (or I guess, late 80s is when that happened), people were a lot less knowledgeable about sexual violence/what constituted sexual violence, or how to deal with it. I think readers will recognize that she didn't give consent, on top of it being a statutory assault, but I think it took Emily a long time to realize that she had in fact been raped. In fact, I don't think she really put it together until Isobel asked about it.

And I don't really want to end on that note, so, eep. Thank you SO MUCH for this review. It's really heartening to hear that you think the various elements in this chapter were, like, valuable and well executed. Your reviews are always so thoughtful, and I can't explain how encouraging it is to see someone really engage with this story.


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Review #46, by Pixileanin Self-Spelling

23rd July 2015:
Hey, I always planned to come back to this. Today I asked myself why not now???

Ah, so Isobel suspects bad things. Okay, you know what? I have also wondered what the difference would be between Transfiguration and Alchemy. I suspect that one is more an illusion and the other is a permanent transformation. But I digressÖ

Laurelís disappearances are becoming very regular and disturbing. I think Isobel is right to worry, but yeah, what would she say? But then, SO MUCH TENSION!! Isobel reacts with sleeplessness and situps, things that she can control, oh dear. Things are going down. And then the forever aftermath with the whispers. Thatís the hardest thing to face in school. Everybody talking about whatís none of their business. I donít miss it.

Tristanís reaction to Laurelís self-spelling makes me wonder several things. I would love to believe him that he isnít doing the same, but having spent a lot of time with Laurel, I canít help but think he hasnít done it at least once. Though he does seem to draw the line at going overboard, there are these niggling doubts about how strong he really is. I guess we shall see. I appreciated his reaction to all the attitudes. Walking out of class seemed to be more of a statement of protest against everyone thinking so badly about Laurel, instead of himself. He does seem like that sort of loyal friend.

Back to Isobel and her issues. Seriously, this girl thinks her friend is in trouble, but she canít look in the mirror and see her own downward spiral. Youíve written her so convincingly that I donít feel sorry for her as much as I worry for her. She thinks, like all the other characters too, that sheís FINE and sheís NOT. And oh, how thatís going to kill her if she keeps it up. But noÖ sheís in control, so it must be okay.


And I was right about the Alchemy. :P 10 points to Gryffindor!


Author's Response: PIX! Oh man I'm so glad this long-term swap is back on, and properly!

I really like your point about transfiguration possible being, like, more of an illusion. Which would explain why you can't /eat/ transfigured things. The appearance changes, but the actual matter stays the same. Hm. New headcanon accepted :)

Sleeplessness and sit-ups, oof. I'm glad you spotted the 'control' thing.

Hogwarts was always a rumor-mill in canon, so I def wanted to mirror that here (yet time Laurel's hex-out so that Harry would have been preoccupied and missed it. Also, I figured that since it was a drug-thing, it might have gone over Harry's head and people wouldn't have talked about it with the younger students.)

You're analysis of Tristan is really apt. This isn't really a spoiler, so I'll just tell you that you're right (it's confirmed later)--he has done it at least once. Because like you said, of COURSE he had. That was def written as a lie, so I'm glad you twigged it.

Hah, yes, Tristan's protest. Such a rebel without a clear cause, rebelling all over the place messily. All in all, a bad move on his part because it meant abandoning Isobel to go it alone :(

Isobel definitely uses anorexia as a method of gaining control when things are out of control--which is twisted, because obv that's actually her LOSING control.

YEE--thank you so much for coming back to this story and taking the time to review :D Sorry this chapter was so bummery, things perk up a touch after this, I promise!


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Review #47, by bigblackdog The Presence of Love

19th July 2015:
hello hello!
i have been completely sucked in to this amazing fic for the last 19 chapters and now i feel COMPELLED to review.

of course, your impeccable research is commendable and it's really gratifying to see how their actions have very realistic consequences (even while i'm still rooting for all of them, which is due to your incredible character development).

but the thing that COMPELS me to review is the inclusion of the lyrics to "five years." it couldn't be more perfect! (unlike a lot of other fics) i find the lyrics you include really contribute to the meaning and tone of your story.

Author's Response: Hello!

Oh my gosh thank you! I'm so glad you're digging this story! I'm also stoked to hear you've been reading it straight through, which was how it was designed to be read. I wrote this all out and edited before uploading, so it definitely has that pace and arc.

And yay you like the realism! Realism was VERY important to me (in my story about wizards :P)

I'm also REALLY glad that you dug the way I incorporated music. I really wanted that aspect here because I wanted to explore all the teenage realities and perspectives that didn't get included in canon--and yeah, music is HUGE for a lot of teenagers. I never wanted the music to just seem self indulgent, like me just throwing in all my favorite songs, but rather have it be really relevant to the story, characters, and era. Like, I'm not nearly as big a Nirvana fan as Tristan is, but Nirvana was a REALLY important band to a lot of people at this time.

So like, I determined that Emily and Tristan would both have a pre-existing Bowie love, because both of their parents grew up in the muggle world and would have been teenagers/young adults when Ziggy Stardust first came out, so Emily and Tristan would have grown up with it. So yeah, it would be the first thing they listened to together.

Thank you so much for leaving a review, and taking the time to read this story!


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Review #48, by greenbirds Cleaner, More Brilliant

15th July 2015:
i cannot believe how entranced i was in this! i usually try not to read stories so quickly, but i sped straight through this, so eager to read more. i finished it in a day and a half. i'm absolutely speechless. i couldn't even leave reviews when i had such strong views and opinions and praise- i was so keen to carry on reading. so sorry about that, but hopefully this review will make up for it? alright, so...

1. i love isobel. i see so much of myself in her, it's almost frightening. thank you so much for creating her. i'm not going to ramble on about my personal life, but yeah, yeah, yeah, isobel is SO GREAT. i've sent several screenshots of her persepective to some friends and they completely agree- i think writing characters that readers can relate too on such a level must be one of the greatest talents a writer could possess. you're absolutely amazing. BUT the quirrell kiss plot line- oh my god! oh my GOD! that was so crazy! when i read his death scene when i was like, eight, i remember thinking he died quite sadly- but now i'm so happy, i really think he got what he deserved, especially as isobel never officially filed the action against him.

2. i love how you've written oliver. i'm personally a fan of the rom-com oliver/oc stories you find on here, but i feel like they 'james potter II' him too much (if that makes sense? sorry i'm exhausted), not giving him his own character. how you wrote him is exactly how the football captain at my school acts, and i like how you embodied the bad traits of gryffindor within him too. it was so great seein the gryffindor/slytherin conflict from the slytherin persepective, like obviously gryffindors aren't going to be complete saints.

3. the way you crafted this whole story about eating disorders, addiction and mental health is just awing. i'm sure everyone's mentioned it to you by now, but you handled it with such sensitive neutrality and simplicity it reads like a professional novel. this kind of reminds me of 'girl, interrupted' by susanna kaysen, especially the laurel storyline. so brilliant, so awing, so talented. again, i'm so tired so i'm probably doing a terrible job of expressing how impressed i am- sorry! you just need to know (hopefully you already do) how incredible this is! how incredible you are!

4. tonks and emily's friendship is so great! i loved that! i know it's a smaller detail compared to the other happenings of the story, but i loved it!

5. onto a longer point (sorry if i'm boring you by now)- i really admired how you handled the plot of tristan and his parentage. you could have easily given it a constant presence to keep readers reading, or just for the sake of a good cliffhanger, but you didn't, and it made the story- and the writing- all the more stunning. i read somewhere that a good writer doesn't need to rely on cliffhangers to keep their readers, and it's most certainly true. and on the subject of tristan's parents- i'm so happy (like i was physically beaming at my computer screen) that he got that closure with rabastan senior, and got better. not completely, fully, wholly better- that would be unrealistic, especially for a teenager- but he DID gain a lot, i think, from speaking to his father, and i'm so glad. i'm so glad in general that the four all got better and defeated their problems, but especially tristan.

6. your references to muggle culture of the 1990s is so great! i loved it! i JUST missed the 90s that tristan loved so much, but you know, i still went through my emo year 7 stage, i still spent itunes vouchers on nirvana and my chemical romance whilst talking about how much i hate my parents on myspace, i'm down with that. kind of. anyway- i just loved how you really embellished the details of his passion for muggle music and literature. and speaking of details-

7. your commitment to keeping this completely canon is unbelievable. i've run out of adjectives to describe your talent and adverbs to describe my reaction to it, so i'm starting to sound really repetitive here, but IT'S SO ADMIRABLE. you deserved all the praise you've been getting, and so much more.

above all, you're such a talented writer, and this was an absolute pleasure to read. thank you so so much for writing this. i really hope you carry on writing, i'm so excited to read more of your work! you have such raw talent, and such a way with not only prose, but characters and plot. you're awe me, and i can't praise you enough.

Author's Response: Oh my gosh, thank you SO MUCH! This is really something of a dream review, right here, and I'm kind of squeeing and jumping up and down and generally having an explosion of feels :D

I'm SO glad to hear that you read this story all at once, because that's very much how it was intended to be read. I wrote it all out and edited it before uploading, rather than writing and posting chapter by chapter, so it doesn't really have the episodic structure of a lot of other fics. Hence why there's never any cliffhangers :P

But thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to leave such a moving, insightful, thoughtful review. You've really made my day! It's just so encouraging and means so much to see that this story resonated with someone.

My first draft of this review response was WAY over the character limit, so I'm going to have to shorten everything I wanted to say! To try and keep myself from just rambling at you and shouting THANK YOU while I smash my hands on the keyboard, I'll reply number by number.

1. You have no idea how happy I am that you appreciated Isobel's character and arc! I've known a lot of people to suffer from eating disorders, so it was really important to me that I wrote about it as accurately and sensitively as possible. And I also didn't want to reduce her to her illness, and have her be a lot of other things outside of just sick, so it means so much to me that you found her perspective compelling and relatable. As for the Quirrel thing... UGH. That was NOT a fun scene to write :( But I've noticed a trend in teen stories where teacher/student plotlines are kind of shipped, or treated as romance. I wanted to subvert that here, and show that NO THAT IS NEVER OKAY (hence it being an assault, rather than a 'consensual' thing--although I think consent is always dubious when there's such a pointed power imbalance).

2. I'm so glad you liked what I did with Oliver! Yes to everything you said!

3. I'm really stoked that you used the term 'neutrality.' I never wanted to do any grandstanding in this story and I knew that readers are smart enough that they didn't need me to tell them what to think. And yeah i was DEF inspired by 'Girl, Interrupted' when it came to Laurel! Well spotted!

4. When I was planning this fic and realized they would have overlapped with Tonks I JUMPED WITH JOY

5. It's funny, because Tristan's backstory was originally going to all get revealed really early on (like, in Ch1). Then it got pushed off to Ch10, and then LAST MINUTE I decided to hold off the big reveal until the end. And I'm super glad you think I handled well, rather than just as a little hook to get readers interested. I also love what you said about him getting better, but not "completely, fully, wholly better." I wanted the ending to this story to be happy, but still realistic. Things are better, and their memories of the past will eventually take on an almost rosy.

Like, when I originally got this idea, I thought it would be a really light and funny story. I had really fond memories of my crazy teenage years. Then, once I started writing, ALL this stuff started coming back to me, and I remembered how AWFUL being a teenager was. So yeah, the happy ending is that they'll look back on this terrible time, and only see the good. And the past is the past--it's just a story we tell ourselves, so you can change the past by telling a happier story.

6. THE 90S! I was so annoyed that the films were set ambiguously present day, so I had a LOT of fun being like HEY LOOK, THE 90S! I was a baby when this story takes place, so I did a WEIRD amount of research to get it right :)

7. THE CANON! That was also incredibly fun in a kind of nerd way :) I really wanted readers to BELIEVE that this could have been happening in the background.

I too am finding myself at a loss for words with which to thank you! This might be my favorite review I've ever gotten, and you have no idea how much it means to me!


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Review #49, by UnluckyStar57 War Children

15th July 2015:
Hi Roisin! You didn't think I'd forgotten about this story, did you? Eventually, I'll get all of these chapters reviewed, although the Finches helped me out a bit a few months ago. :)

Okay, I have to say before I go into the greater part of the review that I'm looking at this story through an innocent's eyes (well, you knew that already). So I'll try to keep my analysis intelligent, but some of the stuff just makes me feel this awful, aching sadness inside my chest because of the things these kids are going through.

(Also, I'm listening to 90s playlists on 8tracks to set the mood for reading and reviewing this. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is on.)

First, Snape. It seems so strange to me that he would offer a listening ear to his students, but then I remember that he's the Slytherin Head of House, so it was kind of his job. He is really awkward about it, though, listing all those names. I wonder if he had a specific point for doing that, or if he was just being typical Snape. And saying that he "slithered" is such an accurate description of him, so brilliant job on that!

Ooh, and watching Snape touch on potential mental illness was simply painful. It seems so odd coming from him, but I think he most likely suffered from depression himself, so he would know. Ooh, and I could really imagine Tristan's discomfort, especially when Snape mentioned "Longbottom." Remind me--did Tristan have anything to do with the Longbottoms before this point in the story? (Sorry, I have such an awful memory.) Even if he didn't, it seemed weird that Snape would just pluck that name out of a hat. I think he was really trying to get into Tristan's head, and he wasn't even using Legilimency.

Oh no, reading about Tristan from Mary's perspective was just heartbreaking. I think when it's just Tristan, I kind of accept that he is the way he is, like, "oh, Tristan is going through some struggles, this is normal," because the story is usually focused on his thoughts. They've become normal to me, and that is super scary. Looking at it from Mary's perspective though, this isn't normal. Reading about his childhood development was very sad, because I think it would've been terrible for Mary to watch her child stagnate. I'm glad that he caught up, though--he's very smart, but I can imagine that it must've been hard at first. (And if I ever use the wrong terms and/or language to talk about these things in my reviews, please let me know. Again, I'm trying to be conscious of what I'm saying, but I mess up a lot.)

Learning about his name's meaning was eye-opening. It's like his name lends an extra dose of sorrow to his character, like he was destined to have emotional and mental turmoil. Name meanings are important--I should pay more attention to them.

And the Sophie thing was just icing on the (lopsided, stale) cake. His parents didn't need to modify her memory? I don't know, there's just such a disconnect between Tristan and his parents--like the generation gap is even wider because of circumstance and they really just don't understand what he's going through at all.

Especially Eddie. Poor guy, trying to be a good parent, but sooo removed from the situation at hand. And Tristan isn't going to open up, of course not, because he's a teenager and he's ailing and maybe he doesn't even know that he needs help. Aggh, the parent scenes are heartbreaking because of the lack of communication and understanding, and mad props to you for being able to write that so well.

Uh oh, the drugs again. You know how I feel about the drugs. It's still so sad that he keeps descending to new low points. As if the Laurel situation wasn't already bad enough, he's got the knowledge that Sophie was Obliviated unnecessarily, and then her boyfriend was there. It's absolutely awful and scary how he's sinking, and I feel like I can only view him as his parents would--I don't truly understand him, but I get sad because I don't want him to hurt like that.

You've done such a brilliant job so far of characterizing Tristan and his friends, and even though I started reviewing this story a long time ago, I still remember how it was at the beginning. He's come a long way, but it's been mostly downhill. I'm still holding out hope for brighter times to come.

Catch ya later. I think I need a moment to process these feels.


Author's Response: Yay Mallory!

I'd hoped that there would be enough that was universal in this story that people could read it without having /personal experience/ with all this, or at least write things in such a way that it was accessible. I do hope that worked out!

Snape's convo with Tristan is definitely out of the ordinary, and I hope there will be an AHA moment later ;)

I think you're absolutely right, though, that Snape would have experience with depression. In fact, I'd argue he was pretty depressed all through canon. And it seemed like he had a lot of depression as a teenager too (bad hygiene and self care can be a warning sign).

Heh--I'd hoped for /exactly/ what's happening now! You vaguely remembering something about Longbottom but not remembering /what/!

YES! Mary's perspective, and adult perspectives in general, are designed to kind of pull back from the base-line angst of the story to kind of give a more accurate view of what's going on. None of the kids are really equipped yet to examine everything properly, and all of their individual POV's are slightly unreliable when it comes to interpreting themselves, each other, and what's happening. You've picked it up a lot earlier than other readers that Tristan isn't just a moody kid or an angsty dude, but actually suffering from /depression./ But I had hoped to introduce that in a gentle way, slowly, the way he and others would see it--so yeah, it would seem sort of /normal/.

You're totally fine here about language and terms, no worries :) And I was being sort of intentionally vague and obscure about specifics.

Tristan was the very first name I decided on (and man, the song "Tristan" by Patrick Wolf suits him to a spooky degree--probs cos Wolf was using the same associations as I was)

I honestly can't think of a way around modifying her memory, but I think Tristan has a right to still be angry about it. That was a terrible and traumatic thing to happen to him :(

I really REALLY like his parents, and they really are doing their absolute best--but what should one really DO in this situation? It's difficult and complicated, and they're separated from him for months on end, and yeah, Eddie is sort of out of his element. There might be a better choice of action, but it isn't exactly clear, and not having been around him, they don't know the full extent of the situation.

That bit of drug use was inserted to draw a parallel with what Laurel was doing, to show how bad and dangerous it was. And I'm glad for what you said about not understanding Tristan. Like, he has this pathological fear of being /exposed/, and I don't think he really realizes how much he keeps under his hat, and how much people DON'T see. Like, he thinks others see way more of him than they do, and doesn't recognize the disconnect between how he feels inside and how he appears on the outside. 'Walking enigma' is a BIG part of his character.

Yeah, a lot HAS happened, and you're absolutely right that they've come a long way--but not in a good way :(

I try to vary the amounts of angst in this story, so things lighten up a bit in the next chapter. 'A bit' being the operative word :P

Oh Mallory, thank you SO much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful and insightful review! It means so much to me that you've still stuck with this story :)


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Review #50, by wolfgirl17 Self-Spelling

15th July 2015:
Hey Buddy,

Me again with your next requested review, and I must say I see what you meant by the notion of this chapter taking a darker turn.

I was expecting that there might be some kind of fallout over Laurel self-spelling but I didn't expect it to be quite so sudden or so out of control. Obviously you've captured the notion of how easy it is to OD and how destructive such things can be, not to mention the guilt that wracks the friends who knew or suspected things might be getting out of hand.

I'm concerned too about this foreshadowing for the eating disorder/ self-loathing we're seeing from Isobel. Not to mention concerned over the idea that Emily might end up heart-broken if Tristan doesn't realise she loves him. And I'm worried about how moody he's been.

My goodness, woman! You've gone and gotten me all invested in these characters as though they are dear friends whom I want to shelter and nurture and save from themselves. Gah! I've never personally had to deal with anything like that from any of my friends. For the most part we're all pretty tame. The worst I've ever dealt with from them is one friend with minor self-image issues indulging in too many boys.

I mean, I've dealt with the occasional drunk-off-their-butt friend, (and been that friend myself once) but I've never known the agonizing guilt of having a friend suffer a drug addiction or severe self-image issues.

This story really is such a gem, Roisin. It's got it all. All the angst and the issues that come from being a teenager in a crowd where things have started to go a little pear-shaped.

I can't wait to read more and to find out how everything plays out for these wonderful characters you've created. Seriously such a brilliant story. You're a genius for thinking of it. I wish I could find things to con-crit for you, but this story is just perfect.

Keep up the fantastic work, my friend, and please do keep requesting. I'm hungry to read more.


Author's Response: You are on FIRE Ellie!

Oh yes--that guilt :( Since we get to see from all of their POV's, we get all the clues they each pick up individually, but each of them only has a third of the picture, so readers figure things out or understand things way faster than they all do.

A lot of worries there, and none of them unfounded :( But I'm so pleased these characters feel real to you, and like friends!

I don't think this group necessarily represents ALL teenagers, as you know, but I do think groups like these are pretty common. While none of these characters are exactly anyone I've known, a lot of their issues are pulled from RL things I knew people to go through--but my friend circle was sort of statistically predisposed to this stuff (urban, working class, inner-city, 'at risk' youth, and all that :P)

I'm sososososo glad you like this story, and your encouragement means the world to me!

Thank you SO MUCH for all of your consistently fantastic reviews!


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