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Review #1, by SlideYear Five: Cleaner, More Brilliant

7th June 2015:
WOO LAST CHAPTER but also BOO LAST CHAPTER.

Obviously part of the issue for these characters is being underage, but I know I'm as guilty as any writer of wilfully ignoring forms of magical travel apart from Apparition. Which is supposed to be kind of unpleasant and dangerous if done wrong, so the Knight Bus and brooms and Floo are all relied on heavily. But regardless, in a story like this one, I think it's important to use little details like the Knight Bus to ground it in the Potterverse, and you always use them perfectly. It's apt, not like a tour of canon stuff.

The kids are better, but of course they'll still smoke outdoors and break the rules. Because they're still THEM. And still teenagers.

...I envy the wizarding world for having to think so little about fashion. MY BANE.

Yay, Isobel is getting her disorder under control. Laurel's advice sounds wise. And thank GOD she's identified it as an addiction to starvation instead of an addiction to FOOD. I realise that perhaps the saddest thing about this story - you know, aside from Tristan's attempted suicide and parental issues and Laurel's overdosing and addiction and Quirrell's sexual assault... ASIDE FROM ALL OF THAT the saddest thing is that Isobel's eating disorder has been kind of a footnote to those problems. I don't mean that it's not been given the right dramatic weight, I don't mean it's been a footnote in the writing, but those big problems hit all four of them. In another life, Isobel's struggles would have consumed a friendship group with worry and support. In this life, some of them didn't notice just because their own situations were genuinely too overwhelming. That's rather sad.

Just as I was thinking, 'I love Laurel,' Isobel goes and thinks basically the same thing. That's GOOD WRITIN' THERE.

CHUCK WEASLEY. That name has to stick. I love Tonks. For some reason I tend to love Tonks cameos in stories more than I love Tonks-centric stories. It's hard to keep the Tonksness of Tonks when it's all about Tonks. She should whirl in and out, being Tonks at everything. Okay it's late and I'm determined to finish but you'll just have to put up with this phase of my reviewing.

I love it when wizards think simple Muggle things are awesome. Because they ARE.

Yay, the inevitable but still delightful hookup of Emily and Tristan! You crazy kids try something healthy for a change.

Year Five: Sponsored by Weetabix.

And they are, of course, rather alright with their exam results in the end. And it IS the end. I have adored the story, but then, a story about OCs set against the backdrop of canon is right up my alley (and you make me want to brush up my old stories and make them way less... dated, by which I mean terrible). But this has had great characters and been tremendously character-driven, which I adore. Your determined adherence to canon has kept a story where magic is hardly ever a plot point (magic drugs aside) still perfectly rooted in the Potter-world. Sometimes this kind of drama fanfic can feel like you could transplant it to the real world and lose little, but doing that to Year Five would be to rip out the heart of it.

Or one of the hearts. Another's the aforementioned characters, who you've weaved and introduced masterfully. While Isobel remains my favourite, I've loved how Laurel snuck up on me as a reader, introduced far more slowly and more gently than any of the others. I still don't feel like I have a full grasp of her, but that's okay - because she's in a transition herself, so my sense of her being incomplete feels apt, as her OWN sense of herself is incomplete.

Then there's the moral complexity and messiness of issues, which always gets me on board. You neither shy away from nastiness, nor do you condemn or justify, which is just perfect. And again I must commend you on your deft touch. The big, important moments get the perfect amount of attention. You give them all due deference and focus, and don't let them bog the story down. An attempted suicide and a visit to meet one's Nazi birth-father could have had chapters upon chapters dedicated to them, but they weren't THE point, they were just SOME points. And they were handled brilliantly but not over-indulgently.

'Over-indulgent' might be what this review is in danger of becoming, so I shall start to tie it off (I also have a cat asleep on my forearms which is making typing harder). I must absolutely go through the rest of your work, but if there is no sequel, especially no continuation reaching to the HBP-DH era and Second War, I'll just have to throw a tantrum.

This has been a pure pleasure to read. Thank you so much for writing it.

Author's Response: AH this review has been so hard to respond to because I never want them to ennnd!

You know how it feels to put a weird amount of work into a story and then be like "OOH LOOK THE PERSON IS NOTICING ALL THE THINGZ (or at least commenting on them!)"

Confession: 'they all ride the Knight Bus at some point' was totally on this story's to-do list. It might have just been a pit stop on the canon tour.

Ugh, Isobel's ED. I worried SO much because I didn't want to make her arc seem unsatisfying, but then thing is... That's sorta the NATURE of anorexia. I once read an article about how it's impossible (even irresponsible) to write about anorexia at all because to write about it would be to make it seem interesting, and writing is an art so putting it in language is aesthetesizing, but ultimately the author argued, the real experience of anorexia nervosa is TEDIUM and BOREDOM. So yeah, that's tough, because I never wanted this story to seem tedious or boring, so I kind of DIDN'T go too into detail (and I think spending too much time describing or quantifying physical wasting or mechanisms of starvation is irresponsible, too). And, ultimately, it's just not that interesting or glamorous, I think. It just sucks, and then maybe it gets better a bit later, and you look over at your old friend and think "hey, there you are! Huh, you're better now! When did that happen?" No fireworks. So, ugh, I hope it isn't too unsatisfying. TOGGLING REALISM AND GOOD STORYTELLING IS HARD!

(Because my wizard story has to be realistic)

CHUCK WEASLEY IKR! Take it, have it, pass it along. I'm also trying to make "Dom" not be a thing (Nikki, Neeky, Mini, Nik--there are other options!)

That's probably the best explanation of Tonks' characterizations I've ever heard :)

Oh gosh, so I have to tell you something. When I first read your 'Weetabix' comment I started laughing, out loud, and couldn't stop. FOR MINUTES. Like, I got into that slap-happy hysterical thing where you think you're calming down but then start cracking up again. I got so rent with laughter I silent laughed (you know, the almost paralyzing mirth that shows you REALLY mean it). And then I read it again and it happened again.

BUT TO BE REAL, every time I go to London it's like all Weetabix all the time--I blame your people.

This is a very FANFICTIONY sort of fanfiction. When I first wrote this all out, I hadn't yet discovered HPFF or read ANY before, so I didn't realize how much of it was, like, really original stories that could excise the Potter and still stand. I thought it would be a pretty niche audience that would ever have any interest in this story, one which necessarily presupposed Potter nerd-dom, so I played that up and wove in as many meta and thematic references/plays/subversions as possible.

I'm REALLY glad Laurel snuck up on you, that was VERY much what I was trying to do :) And yeah, I didn't want to tie a big bow around all the characters as if they were all done cooking. 'Coming of Age' always struck me like a weird idea because WHAT age? It's more like 'Coming to Another Age.'

My original idea for this story was 'Hogwarts Stoners' and 'reluctant Slytherin Lestrange child brought up as close to mudblood as possible while remaining realistically plausible,' and it was planned as a rather lighthearted romp. But then I thought about it, and realized it couldn't possible be so light, and remembered that being a teenager SUCKS. So, erm, TADA!

AND YES THERE ARE SEQUELS IN THE WORKS. I am still sobbing about them and stressing out over it, but one day. ONE DAY.

Thank you SO much for leaving me all this amazing, insightful, thoughtful reviews. It really makes it all worth it :)

xoxo
Roisin




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Review #2, by SlideYear Five: After

7th June 2015:
Tristan's Uncle Frank. Well. I guess everything's connected.

I have often wondered how much McGonagall and Dumbledore clashed over issues with Harry. How much has she known, how much has she guessed, how much has she simply chosen to ignore or accept through trusting Dumbledore? Not really the point of the story, but for a story which has wonderfully showcased the best of Dumbledore, I adore you reminding us of some of the worst of Dumbledore.

I suppose Tristan picked a fantastic time to bury bad news. I bet the whole school was SUPER confused on how everything went down at the end of PS and COS.

I shouldn't laugh at Isobel learning about Voldemort living under Quirrell's turban. I shouldn't. It's horrible. But it's also kind of hilarious. OH GOOD they also find it funny I'm not a bad person -

TRISTAN TELL ME THE STORY. ACK! I DID think it was possibly the Lestrange brother, but I prefer to cling to my more crackpotty theories (if I must be wrong, I prefer to be hilariously wrong). UGH I am going to need continuations of this story to see how this all pans out in the war, I SWEAR I WILL NEED THIS IN MY LIFE. But this one's not over yet.

Of COURSE he was worried, and of COURSE they accept him, and both were inevitable and natural. I adore Tristan meeting Voldemort on his birthday - because the First War was different, wasn't it, so many more of the Death Eaters had LIVES, and he had to at least PRETEND to be involved in them, to care about them, if only a little.

Isobel and Emily - ah, here we go. I don't have much to say on the scene, other than it's got lovely resolution to it which suits both characters, and yet the dangling threads and questions are also most appropriate and perfect.

Yeah, don't mention Witch-Nazi parents to the Muggle psychiatrist. It won't help.

HNG a reunion with Tristan and Rabastan I did NOT SEE THIS COMING. Okay so it might ease my burning need for the HPB-set continuation, but I may still have to start on my picket signs. Oh HELL, Bellatrix, you're so evil. I'd assumed Tristan's reaction to the Cruciatus was about witnessing the fate of the Longbottoms. Yay, Kingsley's the Auror! This whole run-up is brilliant, I'm GIDDY.

You know, for angst. Angst-giddy. And it was beautiful and brilliant and PERFECT. Again, you set up the complicated issues and questions with no obvious answer, no right and wrong - how 'should' Tristan feel about Rabastan senior? - and yet you don't DWELL. I envy you there; long-windedness and going over and over the same moral issues is something I know I do too much in my writing. You've handled this scene, this culmination of Tristan's entire story, with a light touch that seems effortless and yet absolutely more than enough. More and it would be indulgent. Less and it would be insufficient. But it's JUST RIGHT and I love it.

And the ending gave me ALL the feels.

Author's Response: Yes yes, even the muggles need to be canon.

I don't really blame Dumbledore, but I HAD to assume that that would be McGonagall's perspective. A lot of that scene was inspired by the very beginning of PS and the whole 'baby-on-the-doorstep' bit.

Yes, something that could have been a huge story around school got very conveniently eclipsed by Harry Potter. Which was also a necessary choice, because I needed to handwave away why Harry never heard about any of this stuff with them.

Do not feel bad about succumbing to that Dark Comedy! IT NEEDED TO GET LAUGHED ABOUT!

I think I need to go back and make this all a million times more subtle. I had NO IDEA how savvy readers would be! Like, I'm glad it still seemed to have at least a bit of surprise, but most readers had Rabastan near the tops of their lists.

I also think that, with Voldemort, he kinda considered Tristan to be sort of an investment. Or like, something that belonged to him. The child of his followers, a pureblood, and one day, another body for his chess board. :(((

I'm REALLY relieved you thought that this was the right amount for this scene. I worried I'd rushed it, as it's pretty BIG, but yeah... Just, what else is there to say once all the stuff has been established? It sucks and it's complicated and it's weird. DONE. I still think I want to go back and add more description, but it's SUCH a relief to hear that the amount of analysis was right. I'm a fan of your work and super trust your judgement!


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Review #3, by SlideYear Five: O.W.L.s

7th June 2015:
This chapter will apparently be from the POV of OWLs, based on formatting history. ;)

I want some Honking Daffodils in my yard. But it's nice to see the girls patching things up. Tristan is obviously going to be a harder one to sort things out with.

I think I'm now more anxious about these guys' exams than I was about MY last exams. HA YES quiz Laurel on Cheering Charms. Beautiful.

Yeah, Emily. Where DO vanished objects go? Which is a good question, but perhaps more important: ARE YOU DESTROYING MATTER? Bloody wizards.

Tristan, saviour of the giant squid! On the one hand, it's kind of satisfying, mostly because Malfoy & co try to stand up for themselves. But, as is apt for this story, it's still a sixteen year-old threatening some twelve year-olds.

You're right, Emily, if the animals didn't die, you're probably okay.

Oh, Christ. Oh, the giant squid might have saved him. Yeah, this was upsettingly not surprising, even if I didn't see it coming. I'm very interested to learn it wasn't planned! I mean, characters DO stuff, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been similarly blindsided as a writer, but it's all come together most believably. Also, we were kind of due a crisis of a climax, after Laurel's Ordeal (I will find my Campbellian monomyth in ANY story, I promise you). But now I also MUST press on, of course.

Author's Response: BAH. Yeah, that would seem to be what's being indicated ;)

I was so worried about getting the tension of the exam bits right. I was worried I was rushing, but then maybe rushing is GOOD because it has the frantic pace, and then I think my own worry just made it all a mess of nerves. So that worked out.

"Are wizards destroying matter?"--a question that needs to get asked a lot more often. Like, always.

HAH, seeing Malfoy as a tiny was infinitely satisfying to me.

And, the terrible thing... Sorry... I realized while writing that it WOULD happen and AT THIS POINT (Harry also missed his History exam), and I'd accidentally built up all this perfect foreshadowing for it. The Lake had kind of become its own character, and then there's the whole thing with CV and the river. I was SO upset when I realized what Tristan was going to do--which is stupid, because I was theoretically in charge of this story. So then I fretted, and considered how to save him (hence the squid scene). After MUCH deliberation, I decided that saving him wasn't just the sentimental thing to do, and that him dying would be too much. A RELIEF. I NEVER would have INTENTIONALLY planned for a story to feature suicide--but then once that decided to happen, I made sure to plan for it and build to it accordingly (the great benefit of pre-writing)--which is why the whole first bits of this chapter are actually pretty light. NEVER TRUST LIGHT IN THIS STORY. Well, I guess that advice is a bit late, now you've read it all.

Again, SORRY.


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Review #4, by SlideYear Five: The Presence of Love

7th June 2015:
Aw, poor Emily. How do you write that kind of letter? In simplicity, it seems. The penultimate paragraph of this section is kind of brilliant; 'If he'd loved her, he would have. But he didn't, because he did.' Love love love that - what it says about Tristan, what it says about love, how it so succinctly covers that beautiful complexity. I adore those kinds of emotional contradictions.

And the scene with Laurel is lovely as another flash of the 'real' Laurel, the one we're discovering bit by bit on-screen, instead in everyone else's memories.

Oh, the mention of Dumbledore reminded me of LAST chapter stuff, so, seguewaying - the Qurrell/Isobel stuff (ugh, putting it like that was not my best move) did 110% NOT either victim-blame and/or make Isobel out to be dumb. And I think the most absolutely perfect way you painted Isobel as not foolish for going with Quirrell was having her remember Laurel talking about Dumbledore walking her back. Like, genius; comparing the situation to one with Dumbledore makes it seem SUPER safe, trustworthy, kind, the PERFECT false sense of security. Soo, not sure you needed the reassurance, but that whole thing was handled to perfection - dramatically but also 'morally,' for lack of a better word.

And back to THIS chapter. Ha, Emily trying what Harry will try much later with the passwords. Oh my GOD sad Dumbledore. I just can't cope with this. DISAPPOINTED Dumbledore. This is the cruellest thing you've ever done. I think it's 'weary,' that's the word-choice which is punching me in the face; you painted him as bouncy and exuberant and then reminded me he's an old man. Christ. Though there's also a very strange disconnect of the most Potterly of moments - a conversation with Dumbledore in his office - combined with something crushingly mundane - the selling of drugs. It's kind of head-spinny, but I actually like the juxtaposition, bringing all the magical matters crashing to mundane Earth.

I've started working with ex-offenders recently, so this entire conversation about actions, consequences, and leading on to prisons and rehabilitation (and the condemnation of Azkaban) is most apt - and then I snorted at Emily worrying Dumbledore was going to send her there. This is what your writing does! I get all ponderous or infused with socialist righteousness, and then I giggle. BUT, Dumbledore handles this beautifully. She's aware her actions have consequences, there's a lesson learnt, there's no gratuitous punishment (gratuitous in that exam season is no time to make a point) - but her parents being told WILL help make sure this sinks in, and they'll doubtless have something to say.

Ahh, the awkwardness of parents when their kids are fighting. Though Emily's not wrong in her condemnation of her parents' hypocrisy. 'It was the sixties,' isn't a get-out-of-jail free card!

DRAMATIC MEANINGFUL MUSIC. Ha, good choice.

You've done a fine job of walking around the truths of Laurel's life until you've needed to reveal them, bit by bit: saying she lives in Godric's Hollow sounds twee, idyllic - the truth is something different. And, of course, paints a very eye-opening picture.

Isobel, Voldemort's going to know how to fly now. I hope you're happy.

There HAVE to be satellite Gringotts banks in wizard-friendly settlements, NOTHING ELSE MAKES SENSE. But in other news, I wholly appreciate how Laurel is becoming (or always was?) the acutely observant and honest and more even-handed one. Either showing her old self, and/or changed by her experiences.

Saint Mungo's using the 'once a user always a user' mantra kind of makes me recoil, though I've found it interesting how some people I've met with a history of drug use refer to themselves perpetually as addicts, even if their usage is years old - and some just as ex-addicts. I commend you on how you brush through these issues, give them the attention and complexity they deserve, but you don't get bogged down when it would be so EASY to go in circles on these issues. SHOULD Laurel define herself as a hexhead? In some ways it's very important. In others, that's not the most important question.

I again love how the parents are creeping in more and more to the plot and the issues. They were always there, but they fill in so much of the wider context and are genuinely interesting in their own right. But then, dealing with damaged teenagers REQUIRES dealing with parents. That particular Philip Larkin poem springs to mind.

UGH I am kind of tearing up at Isobel finally going to Emily this is embarrassing. But more helpfully, I love the animosity fading almost at once; such a genuine thing, sometimes, after fights between friends. Once the initial barrier is broken, bitterness can evaporate. Sometimes. And now Emily makes a whole lot more sense.

Onwards!

Author's Response: RESPONDING TO THIS REVIEW IS SO HARD BECAUSE I KEEP GOING OVER THE CHARACTER LIMIT!

Emily, out of all of them, is definitely the best at abstract ideas. I think it's why she handles things relatively better, because she's more comfortable with ambiguity and more accepting that sometimes there aren't right answers.

YESYES, the Dumbledore and Laurel walk DEFINITELY was supposed to normalize it. But REALLY a student shouldn't think it odd when a teacher offers to walk them somewhere.

SO GLAD that /disappointed Dumbledore/ was devastating! I thought that HAD to be the most soul shattering flavor of Dumbledore--and he's hardly the yelling type (LOOKING AT YOU, GAMBON)

Wow, I'm SO stoked that, as someone who works with ex-offenders, those ideas resonated to you. This is one of the FEW points in the story where I do sort of offer my perspective and try to argue a point and preach, because it's something I'm PRETTY SURE is true. Punishment for the sake of punishment never made sense to me, and most evidence seems to suggest that it doesn't work (be it in parenting, or education, or criminal justice).

"I get all ponderous or infused with socialist righteousness, and then I giggle"--THAT. That is the highest praise this story has yet gotten!

Dumbledore's diary must be a strange read. "11am, give massive revelation to my child-soldier assassin about his family. 12 noon, discuss the fierce battle between good and evil with my triple agent. 1pm, explain to a teenage pot dealer why her actions were irresponsible."

So yeah, Emily's parents aren't perfect either. Or maybe I'm being too hard on them. The other kids smoke, even if their parents weren't hippies in the sixties. And something bad DID happen to Emily basically under their roof when she was a kid, but something bad ALSO happened to Isobel at SCHOOL. So yeah, no method is fool-proof.

Yes, I definitely don't know the answer re: once-a-user-always-a-user. In the one hand, Laurel's really young, and wasn't actually using for all that long, if you think about it. Does she really need to take that on as part of her identity? At the same time, maybe accepting that as part of herself--really accepting it, and forgiving herself and loving herself anyway, might be the sort of thing she needs. I don't know! She doesn't know! And I've never been an addict, so I'm not really to be trusted to argue one way or the other. But it's a thing to think about, at least!

I'm really glad you appreciate my kind of reluctance to do much grandstanding. I know it frustrates some readers, since SO much gnarly happens in this story--but I figure they don't need ME to tell them it's bad. I already showed it being gnarly, and they come to their own conclusions just fine :)

I LOVED WRITING THE PARENTS. Teenagers were easy, since I've been one, but it was an interesting exercise to consider the parent perspective (probably for the first time ever).

Oh Emily... So I would never sex-shame someone, even a teenager girl (I grew up in a city so 15/16 was pretty standard, and I know it can go older or younger in other environments) But for teenager to have SO many partners seemingly starting from age 14, in a school as small as theirs (so it's not like there's a wealth of options) is sort of a red flag that something might be going on. And that something is almost always a recent experience with violence or abuse... on that depressing note, thank you SO MUCH for this (and the other!) reviews! Most reviews I get focus on story and character, and I SO appreciate that you discussed some of the larger themes and ideas here. I'm just so pleased that it WORKED or rings true or is just generally interesting :)

xoxo
Roisin



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Review #5, by SlideYear Five: 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!
xoxo
Roisin


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Review #6, by SlideYear Five: 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 #7, by SlideYear Five: 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.

Yes, Laurel, TELL ME THE SECRET.

DAMN IT, LAUREL, YOU HAD ONE JOB.

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 #8, by SlideYear Five: 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 #9, by SlideYear Five: 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 #10, by SlideYear Five: 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.

xoxo
Roisin





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Review #11, by SlideDerailed: tres

1st June 2015:
YES MOAR.

Prone to saying "yah" rather too much - snerk. And personally I'm quite sure Lucius Malfoy is capable of misbehaving with the eyes of the wizarding world upon him. I guess we'll see! I never did buy him dodging a prison sentence, but Pottermore proves me wrong on this count (and I don't recall you being specific in Railsverse if he dodged Azkaban entirely post-Second War, or if he's out after 25-30 years, which wouldn't be unreasonable).

I am of course most curious about your Scorpius Malfoy, and how he's turned from bully to going out with Rose - which says things about both Scorpius AND Rose herself.

It's fun to see James, still, from someone else's point of view. From in his head, we could often take his tolerance of people like Scorpius as a virtue, a capacity to look beyond reputation, but Carla's not wrong in this less-charitable assessment. A lot of people have a lot of reason to be upset, and James should probably make sure he's being compassionate to THEM, too.

BUT STILL IT'S THE EXCITING SHINDIG. Announcements! Ballrooms! It's like a magical Austen! Snarky Carla - ouch, ouch, wasn't expecting the invocation of 'Parky.' Suppose she's entitled to mention it as she pleases and she's doubtless tense, but poor both of them.

Oh Freddie, now you and Brigid are happy I can love you without reservation. YES, Ryan and Della are engaged. *fist-pump* HUGO. Stahp, Hugo. Stop. At least his inducing of nausea has led us to Louis, about whom I have NEVER had reservations in loving.

You know, it took until Roxie's arrival before I realised this was a very-suave update of the many faces of Railsverse and what's changed in the time-skip. Smooth.

Still curious about Scorpius. I like him and Carla being somewhat allies against the Weasley Brood and their involved extended families. Ah, Lucius did have another stint in Azkaban. Good!

Yay, Lily, Kit, and Maddie! Very judicious selection of character updates. God, writing Next Gen is SO HARD if you want to cover ALL the canon characters, AND their logical additions (other halves, that sort of thing), AND your own characters. You handle the entire thing better than any I've seen, and definitely better than me!

Harsh call from Audrey about the illness. I can understand it, and rules like that are there for reason, and Carla is a rather unusual case (though doubtless not unprecedented). It's still pretty harsh to know that even if magic can't cure her, it could alleviate the symptoms and people are CHOOSING to not do so. However justified.

Aw, poor James. Your name brings money, boy. Do it for charity.

And, ugh, the torture room. I always have a morbid fascination in how any story which deals with reconciliation of the Wotters and the Malfoys post-war deals with the Manor itself. Hrm! Nott and Goyle, though as-yet no indication on if it's Junior or Senior, and their deference to Lucius doesn't really elaborate!

Percy to the rescue! D'aww, I love Percy, he always deserves moments of awesome. And, yes, Lucius is up to something! Or he's connected to people who're up to something, I am so THERE for when this plot explodes!

Good chapter! Mighty fine shindig!

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Review #12, by SlideHamartia: two.

24th April 2015:
I have a small burst of pride in Slytherin solidarity at our gallant hero's coming out. Of course, it's difficult to say how a pureblood-dominated society is going to be with such matters, though I do approve of the explanation you give. I also like seeing the virtues of the House, and having one another's backs with politics thrown in sounds most appropriate. I can totally see Slytherins with an Old Boys' network in the working world; I doubt Slughorn was the first to propagate such a notion.

We know nothing of the Selwyn family other than they are one of the Sacred 28, so I enjoy seeing them developed here as a non-Slytherin family, giving some hefty history to the other Houses. It's so easy to make them Yet Another Pureblood Supremacist household. And the Latin has tickled me.

The passage of time is handled artfully. You're setting up snapshots of life and history at Hogwarts, a combination of sweeping explanations - like spending time in each others' common rooms - and then specifics, like the Hallowe'en kiss. It's a very effective match to summarise what's happened and still keep it real.

I also share your interpretation of Slytherin feeling 'got at' by the rest of the school, and for Snape's favouritism, flawed as Snape is, to be an effort to redress the balance. That dang House Cup theft. But the idea of the seventh years having a sense of unity is nice, too, and kind of realistic as people start to grow up.

And after all that sweeping prose, the dialogue is just as pleasantly punchy. I snerked at, 'Then I don't know your first name.' It's very effective chemistry, two kids being caught up in one another without a Deep and Meaningful bond (yet, I mean, there for the moment clearly hormones at work getting in the way of TALKING) and, honestly, it's rather believable for teenagers.

Excellent stuff. I am greatly enjoying this.

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Review #13, by SlideHamartia: one.

24th April 2015:
This is tremendous. I haven't been sucked in by prose in a long time, and from the Ominous Opening, a killer of an introductory line, and incredibly efficient exposition without ever feeling clunky, I've struggled to find a gap where I could pause to note down thoughts.

'She looked like a hard frost on a winter morning,' has made me flail and start writing so I can get my opinions in as I go along. Gorgeous description. Just perfect for the visual and atmospheric. Athena's not done a thing but exist in the story and yet she is THERE and I want to know more.

So, yes. I love Slytherins, I love moral ambiguity, and I love, I LOVE stories set alongside canon which deal with the hardships of the war. I also adore Amelia Bones so that's a random hook you've caught me on. As such, this story promises to be catnip for Slide.

I would say more, but I haven't been grabbed by the throat by a fanfic in a long time, and I shall go revel in this for the second chapter. Onward!

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Review #14, by SlidePainful Bliss: Love

2nd April 2015:
I like starting with the memories. It's an interesting atmosphere being set up, something slightly off-kilter amongst the emotions. I'm not yet sure what to expect, but it's keeping me curious.

Good use of the different senses for setting the scene; keeping consistency on smell for description and characterisation is a nice touch.

Ah, so I see there's trouble in paradise. Nice move to contrast the current tensions with the dreams/memories which implied much simpler affection. Also I find it interesting how there's a lot of Draco ruminating on how much she's made it difficult for him, how she doesn't care about stuff - these things are never this simple, so it makes me curious to see what *he's* done to push the situation to this.

There we go. Intentional or not, he's certainly emulating his father in his frustration, isn't he?

Interesting to go into Astoria's head. You'd drawn attention to her being thin, now we're seeing she's got problems keeping down food; I'm guessing that Astoria's got problems which were already there pre-Draco, and he's probably not that equipped to cope with them.

No wonder Astoria can't stand dinner with Blaise and Isabella. Anyone who says 'we're' pregnant isn't worth that dinner. ;)

I'm enjoying the premise of this story. I enjoy romance as a primary focus of a story when the romance is complex, and this one is. Both Draco and Astoria are proving themselves very flawed, and I appreciate that; it's all too-easy to demonise just one side or the other, and you're not doing that.

Good stuff!

Author's Response: Me too! I don't remember why I wanted to start with memories but I think I felt like the prologue was almost dream like, was it reality or not? You know what I mean?

It's definietly not intentional for Draco to emulate his father. You see Lucius later on in the story and he's a little different but still familiar. I think some of him is still ingrained in Draco though so he can't help it. It's just who he is.

Yes, trouble indeed. Marriage, so I have been told, isn't easy. There are ups and there are downs and right now they're experiencing a major 'down.'

Haha! Don't you hate that? We're pregnant? Nah, unless the man is also carrying the baby for 9 months SHE'S pregnant.

So glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the review!


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Review #15, by SlidePainful Bliss: Prologue: Beginnings

2nd April 2015:
Right! Here for the review exchange. I may not get the whole lot done yet but I DO intend to give this all a good old crack. I don't read much of Draco-centric fic, so I'm looking forward to reading something different.

I can see Draco in an awkward place after the war, to put it mildly. Everyday domestic and family stuff just wouldn't happen. Or even just life-building. It'd be difficult, anyway. It's a good place to start a story.

I like the description on Astoria. Tying in the flaws with her appeal make both her more real as a character, and any of Draco's blossoming affection for her more real.

I chuckled on Blaise advising him to not smirk. Little things like that do rather suggest Draco has the capacity to change - and the desire, which I reckon is rather necessary to make him sympathetic for a story.

It ends simply and effectively. We've not seen much of their interactions to get a handle on any dynamic the two of them might have, but it was fun to see this from Draco's perspective, to see him ruminating on her and what he felt about her. It's a good establishing piece and I'm looking forward to seeing more of the relationship.

Good stuff!

Author's Response: Hello!

I love Draco actually. I don't read too many fics with him anymore either. I think they are hard to come by. I think Draco would have struggled after the war. He would have been in between the new and the old war, trying to find a balance with his beliefs but accepting the way things are now. It would have been hard so he would have been lost.

I wanted Blaise to be his go-to because for one I don't think Draco would have had too many people to talk too. Blaise wasn't exactly thick into the war and the Death Eater movement so he's a good choice for Draco to be friends with. A safe choice.

I didn't want to give too much away in the prologue. Thinks are different in the first chapter. Time jump!

Thanks so much for the review. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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Review #16, by SlideDerailed: dos

26th February 2015:
HNG SECOND CHAPTER.

Oh James. You're a terrible influence. First names with the kids, they know they can get away with things? I love you so dearly. Good Carla. Don't feed the runaway kids alcohol. They need to learn to be more sneaky. They've got to EARN it!

NEVER MIND YAY BRIGID. D'aww, Brigid WEASLEY. This makes me happy. Oh, the family drama of dealing with Malfoys. Hilarious and inevitable and kind of sad - not that anyone's reasons for not going near the Malfoys aren't 110% reasonable. And I adore that Louis is just going to party. Bless Louis. Oh JESUS you can't just have one tiff in the Wotters, can you? It starts small then ripples and the moment you think you're free, someone's found a whole new point of contention. Poor Lily. Poor Rose. Probably poor Rose. Not yet sure how much of a prat her Scorpius is.

And it's gotta SUPER suck when the Wotters are just your in-laws. Carla's point about not having the right to one's own opinion is a harsh way of putting it, but I can see why they feel like that. It affects them directly and yet DOESN'T, but they still have to deal with it.

WORD OF GOD Freddie is a saint to Brigid. Case. Closed. :D

Oh noo, Carla, James' breakdown is not your fault! I mean, it's very sweet that James is taking such responsibility for what happened, and it's probably worth considering if he has a rocky relationship with alcohol - not necessarily sure he does, but it's certainly a question worth asking himself. But there were so many things other than Carla going wrong, and STILL!

BRIGID IS WRONG. THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST SHINDIG EVER.

Yesss James. You rip the system apart. It IS completely ridiculous. Except for - oh yeah. Harry. It's like you're beating me to the point. Flying lessons - MORE flying lessons - make so much sense! Fandom kind of has everyone happily Apparating and getting Portkeys easy (*cough*, guilty as charged), but canon explains that Apparition isn't everyone's cup of tea and Floo doesn't get you everywhere, so flying is a VALID form of magical transportation. Witches and wizards should be properly taught how to fly! Aww, I assumed the Unicorn League was for first years, but this makes a lot more sense. I mean, especially IF Hogwarts is assumed bigger than the ~300-odd mark on size (bloody JK maths), the idea that you play Srs Quidditch or no Quidditch at all is silly.

Ohhh it's another little pigmy puff it'll die a horrible death.

I'm with you, Carla. Stubble on men IS a double-edged sword. Okay, no, I wouldn't let anyone shave my legs, definitely not a man, definitely not with a wand, and what the HELL is Hugo and Alice's relationship?! Have I forgotten something integral here??

On with the show! To the dinner of DISASTER! I can't wait.

Author's Response: Apparently I'm as terrible at answering reviews as I am at leaving them. HNG.

Ha, can you imagine James as a strict teacher though? It would never happen. I like to think of him trying his hardest to enforce his authority, but the students knowing he's the biggest pushover ever.

Brigid makes me so happy in Derailed. She and Carlotta have the most adorable friendship. NAW. And yes, big rifts, poor Wotters - still, at least they're not the type of family to bear grudges, and we'll see what - if any - long-lasting effects this event will have on the family fairly soon after.

I think you'll like Rose's Scorpius. He's adorable.

The single biggest "what if" I've encountered in the Rails universe is, what if Carlotta hadn't gotten mad at James for not telling her everything at that exact point in time? She - inadvertently - hit him at his lowest moment (at that point in time) and it went and made it all worse. And I can't help but think to myself, WOULD HE have broken apart in that way if he'd gotten home to a supportive, happy Carlotta who'd have calmed down his anger and not stoked it? I think he'd have had some sort of Moment, but I don't know if it would have been quite so bad. But then, he was a very messed up and confused poor kid at that point in time, so something else would probably have pushed him over the edge instead. Still, it happened the way it did, and poor Carlotta sees herself as the catalyst that broke him for good. And forgets that she also FIXED him.

Had so much fun creating the new Quidditch curriculum. SO MUCH FUN. It really makes no sense at all - I mean, I expect we missed a fair few flying lessons in PS because Harry didn't necessarily go to them, but even so - flying lessons for a year tops, and that's it? Yeah, that's not at all fair. Enter James.

ANOTHER PYGMY PUFF.

Haha, you haven't missed anything of Hugo and Alice's relationship, don't worry. They were the "are they, aren't they?" couple of Rails, and now they're very much a couple, and what's more, they're THAT sickeningly sweet couple that does everything together. If only because that's the sort of thing that would annoy Carlotta. I am cruel to my characters.

Ta for the review :)


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Review #17, by SlideUnconfirmed Reports: [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

18th February 2015:
Here for the Gryffindor monthly review exchange! And first off I must say I am an absolute SUCKER for Investigative Duos and OC fics.

Very good scene-setting at the beginning, a nice slow build of the atmosphere and environment to bring us into the situation. I could very much see the Department of Mysteries being subject to bureaucratic demands, both internal and from the rest of the Ministry, not to mention getting diverted by their own research obsessions. I snorted pretty loudly at 'assiduously documented attempts at resurrecting amoeba'!

You're building a good degree of curiosity as to exactly what it is Samuel DOES. Obviously he's a field operative of some type, but I'm keen to know precisely where his expertise/purview lies.

Food-based metaphors about boring conversations is inspired and pretty accurate. And I got inordinately excited by the idea of magical microfilm. For all your gritty-and-yet-magical investigative needs!

I see Kieran is equipped with an official JK-esque accent. :D I get the impression Samuel is drawn more to the cynical and misanthropic types, based on their conversation? Aand the reference to the mysterious 'Cassie' kind of confirms that. So Samuel's a walking disaster of work commitment and emotional avoidance, I take it? And he's obviously winning Landreth over nice and quick with his manner!

I'm feeling very much we're seeing Landreth through Samuel's eyes only; he's immediately very dismissive of her, even if her offences are, 'Showed up to work dressed formally,' and 'sat in his chair.' Even that she had the foresight to dress appropriately for field work has him ruminating on how she's likely a carrier of vicious old pureblood beliefs. I will be curious to see how the layers of her are peeled back, both to Samuel and to us as readers. And yet she knows how to put up a tent without magic and how to dress in public. HMM!

I am totally on board with runic markings and runic magics; I love stories which extrapolate on the canon (which you'll have to do with Unspeakable stuff) and I think Anglo-Saxon culture has clearly had a huge influence on wizarding society; it's a logical place to start looking for inspiration.

Very much enjoying how the dynamic between Hatch and Landreth is developing; she's starting to show more of her merits and seems already to be figuring out how to drive him better. Asking the right questions which make him more effective at setting his experience and talents to the specific case. And, well, being pretty sharp at reacting to problems, like the barrier hurling them back.

Oh hoo, wooden cages. That is NEVER a good sign. So much, as Samuel thinks, for this being accidental. I do wonder what the wizard was up to? Likely nothing good with such abductions. And by the end of it, Landreth is showing her mettle and Samuel's actually acknowledging it! Progress. I look forward to seeing how the two of them develop in a partnership; this was very much an establishing sort of shot, but the dynamic is settling in nicely.

But, yes, thoughts on the main plot. It's very hard to develop stories like this, because you as the writer have to make up lore things and then immediately make them into mysteries, which can be a bit baffling for the reader. I'd put this case down into two 'halves' as it's presented; the sequence in the house, and the later sequence with the runes. The latter, I would say, stands up stronger for one simple reason: you introduce the basic pieces in play to the reader, and then have the characters figure them out while we, the audience, are along for the ride. Even if we can't figure out the mystery ourselves, because we have no way of grasping runic magic, the prose still very effectively led us through Samuel's thought process and I felt like he (and you) were bringing us to a solution quite sensibly.

So I think the first half would have been stronger with more of a 'briefing'; it's not until after the sequence in the house that we really get details on who's gone missing and what the situation is, and I confess I was a little lost on what Samuel was UP to with marking out the spot above the disappearance, etc. It's sometimes good to surprise your readers, but I'd suggest handling that kind of trick one of two ways in future: either equip your reader with more information on what the mystery is, so we can have our own little conjecture as to what Samuel's trying to figure out, or maybe put us in Landreth's POV, where she can be just as confused as us readers on what samuel's up to. Of course, I recognise that this particular story was more about Samuel than about Landreth, so I'm confident we'll get more of her being bewildered alongside the reader in the future.

But that's really my only criticism, and mysteries - especially fantasy mysteries about fantasy magic - are quite tough. I really enjoyed the rune magic elements, and how Samuel figured out that puzzle, and moving on to the obelisk; it's exactly the kind of lore extrapolation I love, so I will definitely be checking out future chapters.

Very much an enjoyable story, and I think a very worthwhile idea for you to continue. I love my episodic TV show-esque tales, and I really like the idea of Unspeakables X-Filesing their way across Britain!

I hear you on not necessarily making the relationship between Hatch and Landreth a romance. I think you're taking the right stance; if the story starts demanding it, listen to the story, but otherwise we're good with our mystery solving duo... probably complaining at each other for a little while longer, heh.

Great work. Oh, and I'd absolutely be up for bouncing ideas or the like if you wanted a sounding board with magic and mystery stuff; like I say, I'm a right sucker for the genre, and I was stoked when I realised what story I'd got in the exchange.

Rock on! (Oh God this is maybe my longest review ever)

~ Cath

Author's Response: Howdy Cath! Let me start by saying thanks a million for this long, thoughtful, detailed review. It's EXACTLY the kind of review I need before editing and then pressing beyond what is essentially a "pilot episode" for this story!

Ahh Samuel... Like Churchill said of Russia, both he and the Department of Mysteries itself are something a of "riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma" - naturally that won't ALWAYS be the case for the life of the story, but that's where we're starting. And you're quite correct about the type of people Samuel is drawn to at present. While I'm not certain it will happen in a big way this first season, we'll get to see more of why that is through a variety of different mechanisms.

The Hatch and Landreth dynamic is something that I hope to continue to develop into a complex one. For now Hatch definitely has Landreth under heavy scrutiny and that probably won't change soon for a variety of reasons that will also slowly be revealed. While some of his reasons are based in legitimate professional concerns, others lie a lot deeper and more at the heart of who Hatch is and his experiences.

I definitely understand what you're saying about the first half of the story and that's something I'm going to probably include in some way when I go back and edit. I originally had some of that included in an early draft of the duo's arrival in Pluckley, but cut it in hopes that people could look past that bit and be more intrigued. I think the total absence of it was too much though and that's something I'll look at for sure.

Like I said, I really appreciate all the detailed and thoughtful feedback you gave here. It's going to be hugely instrumental when I edit this bit soon - including a little more at the back end so the ending doesn't feel so rushed (which it honestly was to an extent because I wanted to get it into the January review exchange).

Now that I've beaten back some of my outstanding professional and HPFF obligations from even before the exchange pairings, I'll be by to check out your story soon!

-Kevin/TidalDragon


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Review #18, by SlideYear Five: Recreational Magic Abuse Recovery

20th December 2014:
'THE GHOST OF BOTH OF OUR HYMENS.'

I'm sorry, I'm just - I'm dead. I laughed loud enough to scare the cat and it's early morning and he's not impressed. Right. Sorry. GOOD. HERE. REST OF THE REVIEW.

ISOBEL, you slept with her sister! ...okay, no drama. Emily is cool with it. Lucas seems cool. I must amend my previous concerns: good for you, girl! I think this was handled with about as much attention and gravitas as it deserved. Addressed, fussed over 'cos they ARE teenage girls, and yet the world hasn't bloody moved and it's not the romance of their lives or any such.

Her crash and burn over this eating disorder is not going to be good. I'm glad Emily's noticing it; she's much more likely to DO something about it than I suspect Isobel was going to do anything about Laurel. I give Isobel credit for observing and analysing, but for something delicate and emotional and requiring that kind of social confidence? Call Emily. OR they could continue to be teenagers and fail to do anything about anything.

That does sound more likely.

'Succeeded by proxy.' Yeah, Emily, close enough. I hope Iman's noticing what's up with Isobel, though sisters aren't always the best people to hear these truths from!

Oh nooo anti-charming pamphlets. They're about as awful as one would expect. Oh, small Luna cameo, yay! ...oh, Xenophilius is laid up in rehab... less yay, not surprising.

YES, Emily. SECOND GUESS THE WISDOM OF SMUGGLING DRUGS INTO REHAB. These kids. It might only be biscuits but the principle is entirely ill-founded! You wouldn't smuggle in booze, either!

Poor Laurel. Kid doesn't deserve this. I mean, it could have been a lot worse, even aside from almost dying, but she's still in a hell of a place. I'm not surprised her mother blames Tristan, even aside from him being in cahoots with her, it's just natural to want to blame somebody, but I hope that never reaches his ears, he doesn't need that. I'm glad Isobel's being told she did the right thing, it seems she entirely did.

Well, all of this rehab stuff was thoroughly and appropriately depressing. It seems Laurel's in the right place, but it's a long as all hell road, and Luna needing to be with a social worker is just icing on the depressing cake.

HA no baby photos, I'm onto you. Oh, so's Emily, I feel less smart.

So this chapter veered wildly between making me almost suffocate from trying (and failing) to not laugh, and depressing me. GOOD WORK.

Author's Response: I AM SO GLAD YOU LIKED THAT LINE! I first got that idea sitting in a university dorm--like, so much has probably happened in those walls...

I really wanted to show a lot different First Times, and different reactions to them. Whist on Holiday and Not A Big Deal is definitely a thing. You can also think of it like a calculated and logical decision--because OF COURSE Isobel would make a calculated and logical decision.

Yeah, it's funny that Isobel is kind of the Mum of the group, because Emily might actually be better suited.

Pamphlets are necessarily terrible, by their nature.

I'm SO GLAD the Xenophilius thing makes sense, and seems to fit. That's a rather BIG backstory to give such a major canon character; a dangerous game.

Oh teenagers... They're perfectly well meaning, and then they smuggle special biscuits into rehab...

Isobel definitely did the best thing, and definitely in a difficult situation (I wanted Finite there to kind of mirror the real world, where withdrawals can be really dangerous, or even fatal).

*Shuffles feet* They lost the baby photo album in the MOVE.

Thank you so much for all these reviewwws!
xoxo
Roisin





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Review #19, by SlideYear Five: Muggle Magic

20th December 2014:
Sneaky Isobel, with all of her cooking for the family only to dodge it herself. I was wondering how she got away with it, but it seems hers are the domineering kind of parents, having a good old time trying to care and instead contributing to those body issues, sigh. They seem well meaning, but, well, parents. Her dad's job is AWESOME, though. Poor bugger, nasty Department of Mysteries.

HA, I bet Dumbledore and Doge were a thing at one point, too. Poor Doge, clearly way more into Dumbledore while Dumbledore was into Grindelwald.

And the Amazing Hippy Family of Emily's! Yipes, they really are dedicated hippies, aren't they? Oh noo, hot brother. Alert, Isobel. Don't go for the brother. It's rarely a good idea. Still, Lucas seems cool and SENSIBLE, checking up on them. Alas, he'd probably be able to be a much more useful tempering influence if he was physically capable of it, but, Hogwarts isolation. I'm glad Emily's clearly capable of being honest with him about her habits... even if I suspect she's pretty dang wrong about Tristan being 'off all that now.' Maybe not magic, but...

I suspect Isobel's not going to have as big a problem with food when it comes in Baked Form! Heh, fun chapter. It was nice to see the girls' family lives, explained an awful lot more about them. Everyone has such a rich and distinctive home life and family!

Author's Response: Oh yes, her parents definitely aren't EVIL or anything. I was really interested in showing different types of families and parenting strategies. Isobel's lucky in a lot of ways, but then there are very unique problems that come out of privelege :(

Oh Dumbledore and Doge SO had a thing! I mean, RIGHT?! My mom originally thought Doge was female, because the obituary was so CLEARLY written by a former lover. But then Dumbledore got confirmed gay, explaining EVERYTHING!

Ha, I snort-laughed at your 'alert Isobel' comment.

I definitely think there are some real problems associated with the concept of Boarding School--at least for SOME kids. Emily and Tristan would definitely benefit a lot from less isolation from their families.

Oh man, mind-altering foods are actually an EXCELLENT method of convincing anorexics to eat (assuming they're into that kind of thing). It's basically exploiting one problem (substance use) to combat another (eating disorders).


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Review #20, by SlideYear Five: War Children

20th December 2014:
It might not be a very KIND thought, but I can't really blame Tristan for being a bit relieved Laurel's not 'his problem' any more. It's not explicitly cowardly to be relieved to be out of a very stressful and difficult situation. The guys COULD have done more for Laurel - but realistically, they weren't equipped to do so, and while it's horrific it degenerated so badly, they're kids. There are a lot of complicated issues here, and Tristan can't HIDE from problems, but, yeah. He's not a bad person for this thought.

Why am I pleased to see Snape? I guess he's been pretty mysterious in this so far. OH NO HE'S BEING MORE MYSTERIOUS, DAMN IT SNAPE.

This is not his birth family. Can't be. I recall the reference a few chapters ago to him thinking of his mother as 'Mary'; it's been weeks since I've read this so I couldn't remember if that oddity had been addressed sooner. Longbottom reference (did he witness what happened to them?), his name being a 'nickname' which stuck... no. HA. Taking him home from the hospital. I see through your allusions intended to throw me off the trail.

Sega and old Sonic. PERIOD. DRAMA. (apparently, I see from the Author's Note, complete with mild anachronisms. We'll forgive you)

Oh, Tristan. Right, amazing time for you to completely descend into a spiral. Inevitable, but you don't do anything by halves, do you? I really like the direct comparison between this and Laurel's charm blend; when it's recreational charms there's an inherent sense of whimsy or harmlessness for us, readers (Cripes, I almost called us 'Muggle readers'). Even with what happened to Laurel, it's magic, fiction. Tristan descending into harder mundane drugs and describing the sense as being comparable to magic ties everything together in a very Real sort of way.

Poor kid. Very curious on how this will all pan out.

Author's Response: Oh good--I'm very relieved that I'm toggling 'realistic and flawed' with 'still sympathetic' well. It can be such a difficult dance!

I LOVE writing Awkwardly Nice Snape :) He's one of the most interesting characters to me, and also tricky to get right, because it's so hard to kind of tease apart his feelings and motivations. I really love writing him, in all his weird complexity, and the challenge of coming up with inscrutability like the books. Like, he's at once this weirdly controlled person (amazing Occlumens, managed to be a double agent, etc), but then he's also weirdly ardent and passionate and loses his temper and stuff. DELIGHTFUL.

Hahahahaha, you are too clever for my 'taking home from the hospital' tricks!

IN MY DEFENSE, they take turns with the sega controller, rather than playing in a multi-player mode, so NOT AN ANACHRONISM! (I originally had them each have a controller and play together--before being compelled to look it up and check!)

Laurel's blend had been intended to be an analog to opiates, and I'm really glad this sequence did it's duty in explaining how TERRIFYING that is! Because, yes! It just seems so clean and easy and fine, using a spell. But the more you think about it, the more you HAVE to think that the concept of mind altering charms is a dangerous one. There is simply NO WAY that that doesn't have serious consequences!



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Review #21, by SlideYear Five: The Big Thing

20th December 2014:
Sooo I've just been full of fuzzy feelings for a certain recently-concluded animated show and its romances, and obviously this means I need to throw myself back into this old ball of angst.

I just realised I was predicting Laurel's self-spelling in the chapter called "Self-Spelling". IT'S LIKE I'M A FREAKING DETECTIVE OR SOMETHING.

Oh good, Emily. We need someone with their finger on the emotional pulse right about now. Also, Emily's clearly too stable for this group. I'm waiting until we discover that she's secretly a pirate and nobody understands, or something. She can't be this even-minded. Though a part of me's wondering if Isobel's going to have a much greater reaction to Laurel's self-spelling than the others; weirdly, this didn't occur to me before, and all of them are entirely entitled to freak out as much as they please over the incident. But Isobel definitely suspected, was Laurel's housemate, knew her longest. And, above all, was there at the crash moment. That's going to sear in your dang mind.

Don't take the trippy as all hell Divination potion, kids. Or - or, okay, take the potion. That's good, too.

Oh my God she's so high. I shouldn't be giggling like hell over this but I totally am. It might be magical but I couldn't possibly comment on conversations I've had just like this. And it's an entertaining ambiguity as to whether this is magic or just some trippy substance which is prompting honesty in Emily of ideas and questions she's contemplated all along, and is prompting Tristan to be honest in his replies. Well, until she reads his mind.

I'm a little more sympathetic to wizarding society, and would assume it has some greater elements of art and culture than the books show, than Tristan. But he certainly has a point in his assessment. I also don't think that fearing the loss of culture which is going to be at the heart of a lot of pureblood prejudice got very explained in the books. We saw prejudice stem more from superiority than fear.

And then we get the hate of it in Marcus Flint's mind, which is very believable and yet still pretty sickening. Aw, this is all good stuff, with clues on the Big Thing and a very believable show-down with the Slytherins and reactions to it. But there's definitely something with Tristan's family that isn't sitting right. Didn't he say his mother was a Gryffindor, and Muggle-born, except he's commenting in the flashback that it runs in families... Hrm. I may just be sleep-deprived and mixing my clues. OH nope, Emily's noticed it too.

And again Snape doesn't react badly. Something up with him. Though I suspect he's sympathetic to Tristan's situation in Slytherin House, but, hrm.

Fun chapter! All the clues and ruminations of Stuff alongside the emotional arcs.

Author's Response: In your defense, I did throw in a little red herring in the self-spelling chapter (namely, Isobel self-spells to induce vomiting).

BAHAHAHA, Emily secretly being a pirate--YOU ARE ON TO ME. (And you're right, she will have her day in the, erm, 'angst spotlight.') And yeah, Isobel and Laurel are the closest, so Isobel's definitely more affected.

YEE! The ambiguity of the magical potion! You may have noticed that I'm a BIG fan of ambiguity and ambivalence ;) There's definitely a literal magic element, but how much is debatable. And either way, the magic is of a much subtler variety than, say, Charms.

Hah, Tristan is basically speaking to the silly complaints of people on the internet (mostly Cracked videos and the like).

So much of blood purity prejudice is CLEARLY absurd--like, even if there ARE 1000 students at Hogwarts, and even if only a minority of British magical children attend rather than being homeschooled (which seems unlikely), that is one TINY population. They'd have LONG since died out if not for intermixing. I had a lot of fun trying to conceptualize these attitudes, and the sources and manifestations of these prejudices (and I'll admit, the whole 'loss of culture' thing was very inspired by, say, certain people rattling on about 'the birth rates for immigrants' and stuff).

I shall keep my lips sealed as per your analysis of Tristan's 'big thing!'



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Review #22, by SlideYear Five: Self-Spelling

19th December 2014:
Yaaay, Isobel. Being right about Emily and cheating. Putting things together with Laurel and Tristan, though the theory that the two of them have hooked up is not an unreasonable one to reach under the circumstances. Oh, and then she seemed okay coming out of the bathroom? Self-spelling. Jeez. DISASTER in the air.

(It's 2 AM and I MUST read on so you're just going to get my sleepy ramblings for this review)

(I think the differences between Transfiguration and Alchemy sound interesting)

Poor Isobel and her weight! I bet she's perfectly healthy... er, aside from what she's cutting out of her diet... and could happily rock around with a rocking body, but noo, being a girl and being a teenager and being remotely curvy is time to have body issues. I want to grab her and tell her she's BRILLIANT already. Don't get an eating disorder, girl. Ugh, more catastrophes looming.

But for now she's noticing Laurel, and good for her by being too busy being concerned by her friend to be proud about her schoolwork. I mean, she deserves to be proud for it, but when her back's to the wall, we're seeing Isobel's priorities.

Aw, Ced. You're a good egg. I kind of like how Flitwick's becoming an 'antagonist' teacher here! In a very mild way, but like with the last chapter mentioning him overlooking the gang's skills in Charms because he knows it comes from some charm 'abuse'. It would make sense that he'd be a teacher a bit too disconnected from teenagers and their problems to understand the right way to deal with it, and to end up throwing around some mild disapproval and perhaps some power as an authority figure. Perhaps well-meaning, but not understanding and not being helpful.

ISOBEL. NO. BAD. 'The delicious feeling of it being empty'? No! You're going to kill me with these kids. No wonder she's getting worse with controlling her eating when the situations with her friends are spiralling out of control. This girl seriously needs a hug with her self-defeating; she's competing with Tristan for failing to recognise her own qualities.

Aaand this situation with her eating habits escalated 'quickly'. Not in terms of it not being seeded, because it absolutely was, but it's degenerated at a much quicker rate than I'd expected. This is painful to read, in the... satisyfing, well-written sort of HORRIBLE way. The way she still goes back to the same sort of habits - trying to out-do Laurel in knowledge in the corridor, committing to working on her essay a good while longer needlessly, is almost unsettling. We have the climax of the scene of her making herself vomit, but everything goes right back to that unsettled drive and struggling for control, which makes sense but is also really just like trouble's barely ducked back beneath the surface.

I like it.

And at the end of it all she still manages to pull through in this frankly HORRIFIC incident with Laurel, possibly saving her life by being smart and decisive.

Ack, you're gonna be the death of me with this story. SO GOOD. Aside from the tackling of sex, drugs, rock 'n roll like the books never did with hormonal teenagers, I think it's the differing perspectives on canon characters I'm enjoying... not the most, but a lot. Oliver being seen as something other than a good-hearted, Quidditch obsessed nutter, while still being sympathetic. Flitwick who obviously has no idea how to handle this. Oddly I'm not sure I take Snape's reaction as COMPLETE indifference, though Snape's a terrible and unsympathetic teacher. I suppose I'm used to him being outright HORRID if he doesn't like someone; mild indifference is practically affection from him. But he can't have a vested opinion in every student.

ANYWAY. Good stuff. The descent into darkness begins!

Author's Response: Going in reverse chronological order because I am a rebel! THANK YOU FOR THIS REVIEW FLURRY :D You have made my day!

Oh man, coming up with fake magical academia, or just generally having scholarly discussions was SO MUCH FUN.

One of the most exciting things about having this ensemble cast is seeing how different readers have their favorites! I really enjoyed making each of these characters, and it's amazing to see how they resonate with people!

And yes, her self esteem issues are particularly upsetting for me for incredibly superficial reasons. I just happen to think that her faceclaim (Kat Dennings) is THE PRETTIEST PERSON EVER ZOMG. It would be a TRAGEDY if Dennings ever lost her curves!

Yes about Flitwick! Ah! Your analysis is so on-point! I definitely don't have any bad feelings about Flitwick, but yes--he just doesn't really know how to handle them, and his sort of style just doesn't gel very well with them.

Isobel definitely sort of internalizes the problems that are around her. She tries so hard to stay in control, and definitely can't see that she's actually LOSING control to her eating disorder :(

[Also, so stoked that you found that scene 'horrific!' I rewrote it SO MANY TIMES to get the tone down!]

EE! I'm so glad you like these little different POVs of people! I never wanted to get too far off the reservation with any of them, or go OOC, but it was fun playing with whatever wiggle-room there was around more minor characters!

And you are SO SPOT ON about Snape! Yes, 'indifference' here is most definitely a calculated and intentional kindness! (There's so much dramatic irony available for writing Snape circa 1991).

BLARGH, thank you sososososo much for these amazing reviews!
xoxo


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Review #23, by SlideYear Five: Troll in the Dungeons!

19th December 2014:
Oh, Tristan. It's the date of your birthday, be a little more chirpy. He's so SOULFUL (by which I mean, such a moody teenager). Bless. He and Laurel got 'stuck' there to drink all of the booze? Not their smartest move ever. Sounds like they paid for it if he had a multi-day hangover. Of course, no lessons learnt. Or, no good ones. As it should be.

I cannot believe that all other Slytherins are not worth Tristan's time. No doubt there's a whole slew of odious personalities, but I'd be confident half of this is Tristan refusing to give individuals chances. If he can give Oliver Wood the wrong impression, no doubt his moods can drive other Slytherins away. Poor fellow and his self-loathing.

Laurel has to have started self-spelling or something else equally unsuitable. There's no way she's just suddenly skipped off the habit without the others picking up on it. I do appreciate their rather innocent ignorance, leaving her kind of alone to her bad habits from not realising how bad it really is/could become. It's realistic without painting them as utterly irresponsible.

I had just been pondering the Auguamenti issue about it and him using it to hydrate them in the room and conjuring food. I'd absently assumed it to just be... well, non-nutritional water, a kind of empty substance which one could consume but which wouldn't actually sustain the body. And here Tristan demonstrates he's got a perfectly good brain when he finds where he wants to apply it, but isn't going to recognise this as a valued trait in himself.

"Free Time, and Also: Animals." I love it.

Oh, TRISTAN. I want to shake him and also hug him. A tremendously apt display of how anything can be twisted into a negative with depression.

I SEE. Tristan's in on what Laurel's doing these days? I look back and realise that Isobel and Emily, earlier, were doing the theorising while he remained judiciously silent. I'm still feeling there's more of this to sniff out, though. Crisis is looming, and if Laurel crashes while doing something Tristan's keeping schtum on, this isn't going to help HIM, either. There'll be tears before bedtime...

Isobel continues to earn favourite points from me for assessing the troll situation and de-charming her friends in a crisis. Smart cookie.

Oh, I see the 'more to sniff out' is that this new charming is making her need to charm EVEN MORE - Bloody hell. Nothing good can come of this.

...Isobel gives Hermione hair-care advice and is NOW CEMENTED AS MY FAVOURITE. Sure, doom and gloom is coming, but that girl rocks. Good stuff!

Author's Response: Tristan is the actual MOODIEST. There are times I want very badly to slap him. And no, no lessons learned EVER (because of course they're like totes immortal and everything).

You are so right about Slytherins! But that's the thing--Tristan really IS a Slytherin, albeit the traits manifest differently than they do in someone like Draco. The tendency to pre-judge people is a long established fault many Slytherin's share, so ironically, Tristan is prejudiced against SLYTHERINS. I'm certain there's a few good ones wandering around, he just refuses to give them the time of day.

I'm so so so glad you dig that whole thing of their being a little ignorant, and arguably yet REASONABLY irresponsible. I definitely wanted the characters to be realistic, and flawed, and TEENAGERS--but I hoped they would still be sympathetic and likable too!

Tristan is definitely very clever and very talented, but as his professors would say, doesn't 'apply himself.' [I suspect the water issue has something to do with it being inorganic? Or maybe it isn't really making water out of nothing, but like, pulling water vapor out of the air???]

Your analysis of Tristan (and desire to both shake and hug) are tremendously on point :)

YES YES YOU NOTICED HIS JUDICIOUS SILENCE.

Oh man, I am a survivor of Hermione Hair. It took until I was about 15 to figure out NEVER BRUSH IT DRY! It's a one-way ticket to puffy-town!


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Review #24, by SlideYear Five: Behind the Mirror

19th December 2014:
The Last Good Day - yeah, I was feeling like we've kind of finished our Ordinary World, now it's time to start ruining everything with all of the setup in place!

Fred and George, I love you. You write them well; sometimes it's so easy to get them being a bit too... creepily prescient in terms of finishing each others' sentences. But this feels like a natural banter and routine than anything else.

Laurel... you are absent for a reason. I HAVE MY EYE ON YOU. Spellotaping a note to her head sounds like what friends do. ...it's what I'd do. Okay, even though she shows up later, missing something as significant as the birthday cocktails is not irrelevant. And nobody really reacts to it; they should, but they're clearly too jaded by now. But her not using any charms at the party is WEIRD.

Transfiguring rocks for decoration and furniture... this makes sense. There are times Potterverse's magic makes the whole rest of the world, and economics, make no sense! Oliver Wood being a good dancer is pretty amazing. Having a great dance with Isobel is even more excellently fun.

I take back what I said about the twins and their weird synchronising - kidding. This is what happens when you give 13-14 year-olds booze, people! Let that be a lesson to you! And I can't fault the Hufflepuff password logic, which upsets me.

I really enjoy this chapter, there's just not a huge amount to say about it! The party's well-written - parties can be a pain to get the atmosphere of, young characters doing silly dancing and drinking and all that flows naturally, when it can be hard to get such an essentially physical kind of environment down in prose without it being clunky. Tristan and Emily are clearly getting closer, though it's hard to gauge what's 'progress' and what's just how it's always been, when we're coming to these characters several years into their relationships. Perhaps she's always been this overt. Perhaps he's always been this clueless. BOYS.

Ah well, Onward, to Torment and Angst, I'm sure!

Author's Response: Oh yes--there's only so long they can keep going as they are.

I was so intimidated to write the Twins! Luckily, because I love them so much, it's like KNOWING someone--they very much wrote themselves!

Your reviews make me giggle out loud a LOT :D So all has been revealed to you already about Laurel, but I'm really happy to see that you had those reactions at this point! (And liked the spellotaping bit--I was particularly proud of that, though it hadn't gotten any comments before)

Bahahaha--I so nearly didn't write that dance-off, and then felt like, SCREW IT I AM WRITING A MICHAEL JACKSON DANCE OFF. (Plus, I wanted to redeem Wood a little. Like, 'sorry I made you such an aggressive prat before. Here's some sweet dance moves to make up for it!')

Synchronised puking, bahahahaha. SORRYNOTSORRY. Gosh this is a self-indulgent chapter... Like keeping the Hufflepuff password joke even though it broke pottermore canon.

I don't usually listen to music when I write, but ended up making a playlist to get into the mood of this chapter. I'm so glad you think the whole tone and writing and all came off!



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Review #25, by SlideYear Five: Three Times Charmed

19th December 2014:
Somehow you've done the 'character looks at themself in a mirror' excuse to do a full description and made it work. I think it works cos you're combining it with 'action' of her getting ready, which stops it from being info-dumpy, but kudos! Much amusement at labouring over the issue of spots. Teenagers. Also much love for poor Isobel with her weight woes, and I rather appreciate that she cares about her looks and her grades.

Oh, Laurel. Counting down the days to your inevitable disaster. Ha, good for you, Tristan's old love life. Angelina's awesome.

The character assessments going on here are great. They're painting further pictures and yet are very much through Isobel's eyes. And she, while probably the most attentive and logical (by my reading) of the foursome, is also STILL a teenaged girl, with all of the biases and attitudes therein. It makes her flawed but not demonised, and you can kind of see the sort of person she'll grow up to be once the veneer of teenagerness is over. As such, I'm reserving judgement on if she's JEALOUS of Emily and Tristan, or if she's simply being a bit of a snobby, judgemental teenager.

Enjoyed the segment on Tristan changing his tune re: Filch, and Isobel's frustration with his attitudes. Very realistic. Young people indignant about things they should care about but also being undiplomatic! More apathetic friends not enjoying being told they're wrong for not caring!

Oh my God, the high antics of Laurel and Isobel are giving me life. Doilies are hilarious. ...socks knitted with plugs. That - I can see that. Never occurred to me before. I'm kind of upset by how much sense this makes. Just, this whole segment has got me ugly giggling.

TAPES. This is such a period drama. And Blondie.

I am going to run on the theory that Quirrel likes Isobel because she is justifying his inner evil.

Fun chapter! A really good one for the girls, especially, in terms of teenaged girl dynamics, mentalities, and friendships.

Author's Response: Bahaha, yes, totally guilty of mirror description! I'm glad you think I was able to get away with it!

And yes--there's a real coolness to Angelina (I mean, she ends up with GEORGE), so she seemed an obvious choice for a former fancy!

Eee! Rotating POVs is SO FUN because they do see things differently (and then since this is FAN FICTION, I can also toggle with all of the preexisting knowledge readers have!) As for the Emily+Tristan thing, there's definitely a mix of factors at play.

Isobel's definitely something of a sheltered pure-blood, with a decently liberal family. The sort of people who think Death Eaters are awful, but still far from social justice warriors. She's definitely complacent (I mean, she assumes Voldemort is dead after all, and that the worst is already behind them).

Those antics were SO fun to write! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading them. And yes, TAPES. This story is very 'hey look, the 90s!!'

I feel like Quirrel's reasons for aligning with Voldy had a lot to do with a desire for knowledge/being attracted to the power available in dark arts. So yeah, his liking of her is definitely motivated in part by his the opportunity for self justifications.

Yee, I'm so stoked on settling in and replying to these reviews! BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER THANK YOU!


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