Reading Reviews From Member: CambAngst
1,256 Reviews Found

Review #1, by CambAngstDevlin Potter: Convergence Riddles: Evidence

28th September 2015:
Hi, Tori!

You know, I don't care for this Kendall Green kid. Nope, don't care for him one bit. I'm glad that Devlin has at least made a firm determination as to who set him up. Once again, Andrew is sticking by Devlin's side. He's a good egg, Andrew. I just hope that doesn't get him killed in the end.

"You were supposed to be loyal to me," he said, while his chest pounded and his ears rang and his wolf screamed for domination. -- An interesting sentiment. I get these shades of Voldemort from Devlin every once in a while. The need to control and be in control.

"Don't touch me!" He said, and his gaze rose to look at her now. His hands were curled into fists, blood locked away from his whitening knuckles, pounding amply in his chest. "I don't like people touching me when I haven't said they could!" -- There's a flash of the old Devlin. Anger and fear taking away his self control. We don't see that often anymore. I wonder whether Snape would approve or disapprove? It's one of those rare moments where he's not playing the dangerous game.

Instead she seemed simply taken aback - an expression that appeared almost like realization filtering across her face. -- In that moment, I imagine that she briefly saw the wounded child and not the carefully crafted echo of a monster.

Dumbledore watched him with patience; infuriating because of the way it acknowledged his awareness of Devlin's internal struggle. -- I love the way you always capture the layers of subtle games that are being played whenever Devlin and Dumbledore share a scene. Subtle, but no less important.

Wow. Snape to the rescue. Sort of. Kind of. OK, maybe not as much as Devlin would like to believe, but it at least spared him from having to set a series of events in motion involving Kendall Green. I really liked the little drama that plays out between Snape and McGonagall. It's so rare in fan fiction to see any sort of situation where the two are portrayed as evenly matched or, as in this case, Snape has an edge when it comes to understanding a situation.

Devlin recovers pretty well after McGonagall is dismissed. One small thing I should point out is that it was a little difficult to follow who was speaking when Devlin asks about the letter M. I think it would help if you moved the words "Devlin did not move" into a new sentence starting the next paragraph.

"Because I thought he was my friend, but he never really was." -- Once again, Devlin manages to come up with a near-perfect answer for the situation. In an odd way -- whether or not he meant to -- I think he just gave Dumbledore exactly the information he was looking for. But he did it in such a way that there's really no action Dumbledore can take against Kendall Green. Except perhaps watch the boy more closely and wait for him to mess up on his own.

Ooh! Dumbledore's parting words weren't half bad, either. Once again, the chess match comes to a stalemate.

Maria has such an effect on Devlin. Somehow, she leads him to take the risk of trying to be normal, which is not trivial if you're Devlin. By managing to survive and reclaim something of her childhood, she shows him a slim hope that he could possibly do the same. Part of him doesn't believe it, part of him certainly doesn't want to. But I think there's a small part of him that thinks it's possible and she helps that part to come to the surface on occasion.

Speaking of chess matches, there's also the ongoing exchange of half-truths and carefully selected bits of information between Harry and Geoffrey. I think the both learn a thing or two they find surprising here. More Geoffrey than Harry, I guess.

Another beautifully vivid mind sequence shared between Snape and Devlin. Hmmnn... I wonder whether Snape knows about the Horcruxes in your timeline? Knows about them or at least suspects that they exist. His question certainly seems to suggest it.

Aww! One thing I've always loved from Deathly Hallows -- the reason that I will always believe in the Harry/Ginny pairing in spite of all the reasons that people have for why they don't like it -- is the imagine of Harry watching her footprints on the Marauders Map. Again, we see him keeping tabs on someone he cares about.

I saw a few little typos:

-- He did not recall his scarce years of childhood, and he was certain the behavior of a six year would be ill-received in such instances. -- six-year-old?

-- "I am always so pleased to see how much you care about your Slytherin's, Severus." -- Slytherins

-- If looks could kill, Devlin was fairly certain Severus' would be an unpleasant, drawn-out poison. -- Severus's

-- Of course, that hadn't been what Severus' had dared him to ask -- no apostrophe after Severus

Neat chapter! I'm hoping that you're building toward a major moment involving Harry and Devlin. The two of them have been rather distant in this story. Until next time...

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Review #2, by CambAngstThink of Funerals: Five Stories

25th September 2015:
Hi there!

This was a really neat story. I admit that I didn't figure out most of the techniques you were applying until I read your author's note. Some things made a lot more sense after that. ;)

I think you did a great job of rising to the various challenges and making great descriptions and imagery fit within some tight constraints. I didn't even notice the alphabetical arrangement of words in the Diary section until you pointed it out and I think that's a big compliment. It's really hard to have your word choice limited like that and you did a great job with it.

For some reason, I pictured the wedding in the first section as being Lily and James Potter's wedding. The narrator seemed like an ex-lover of James's who showed up solely to remind him of what he'd chosen to pass up on.

I really liked the Diary scene. I could imagine the sharp words of remonstration that Tom Riddle used to control and manipulate poor Ginny.

If not for the words "the last time I saw her", I would think that the narrative voice in the Narcissa section is Draco. Perhaps Lucius has written from Azkaban. Maybe I still think that.

How to be a proper heterosexual. Wow. Great job with the bitterness and self-loathing. I'm not a Wolfstar advocate, myself, but the sentiment is perfect for a one-sided version of that pairing.

I love watching you challenge and stretch yourself as a writer. Excellent job!

Author's Response: OK so I've still yet to reply to your last review on Y5 BECAUSE ERMGERD THAT IS SUCH A REVIEW TO REPLY TO.

But I can at least do this :)

This was actually only one challenge (disconnected short stories under 100 words each), and then I imposed the other stuff to make it interesting. And it is a HUGE compliment that the odd devices were invisible! Yay!

Ooh, I like your idea about it being James' wedding. I honestly didn't have a specific character in mind, though I kind of pictured Pansy at Astoria/Draco's wedding fitting after the fact. But yeah, it's definitely open to interpretation.

YAYAYAY so glad you didn't notice the alphabetization! That one was weird to write because I couldn't plan it, I just had to GO. Like, I started without any idea what it was then was like "after... buying... countless... diaries--oh, I guess it'll be about that." Doing it almost felt like automatic writing and was kind of trippy.

I had definitely imagined the narrator of "Narcissa" as Draco, and now I feel hella guilty because I'd imagined it that Narcissa had died after succumbing to crippling depression, and that was the last time Draco saw her. But I feel GUILTY because you always do such cool/strong/show-stealing Narcissas.

TECHNICALLY "How to Be..." isn't WolfStar, as I never named Remus (there are a handful of Sirius/James shippers out there). But yeah obv I imagined it as WolfStar. I'm not sure if I actually ship that ship, but I really like that ship. Then again, I'm not sure I actually HAVE any ships, I just like it when things are done in interesting ways.



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Review #3, by CambAngstIt Comes in the Night: 1

25th September 2015:
It's adorable, that's what it is! If there's a shortage of anything in the world, it's stories about the Slytherins just being normal kids when they were little. OK, there are shortages of lots of things and most of them are more important than this, but you can only deal with the ones that are within your control. ;)

I love what you did with the wee little snakes. Draco was absolutely perfect, being all hat and no trousers. Blaise was "too cool for school" and Pansy was eager to be one of the boys. They make for a great little gang of pureblood snowflakes.

So I'm curious, why was Theo in the hospital?

If there was one thing in the whole story that I would think to do differently, it was Theo's father. Seeing as how he was referred to as "Nott, Sr.", the name David threw me a little. Also, he was supposed to be much older than the Malfoys, so it was weird to see him calling Theo "buddy" and kissing him goodnight. Putting all that aside for a moment, it was pretty sweet to see the affection. Even marked Death Eaters love their children. Aww!

Neat story. I hope this little muse grabs you from time to time!

Author's Response: I love writing little Slytherins, I should do it more often. I actually find them easier to write than others - these Slytherins in general, not just as little Slytherins. But they are adorable when they're little.

He was ill. He's better now.

Normally, when I write Nott Sr he's a lot scarier, even around Theo. But he's all Theo has and it was hard maintaining that while keeping this adorable. So I gave him the night off, we'll say he's a little calmer with Theo being so young.

Thank you so much for leaving a review!

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Review #4, by CambAngstLet Perpetual Light: In Resurrection

23rd September 2015:
Hi, teh! How do I not keep going after an author's note like that? :D

I never feel like this story gets as much attention as it deserves. It can be really hard to build a following around a story that doesn't fit a certain mold on HPFF. The pairing of Albus and Gellert doesn't seem to draw the same level of readership as Next Gen or Marauders-era pairings. Another thing that occurs to me is that an awful lot of people would find your story somewhat intimidating to review. Your writing style is so unique and intricate. The imagery you create is unlike any other story I've read on the archives. You're truly one of a kind.

Another bitter, angry letter from Gellert to Albus. You can really feel Gellert descending into madness in this letter. He's losing control of his message, wandering back and forth between being conciliatory and spiteful and nostalgic and vicious. It doesn't have the same focus and obvious purpose as his earlier letters. Near the end, he even sounds somewhat desperate.

I felt like I learned quite a bit about the three apparitions who haunt Ariana in this chapter. We also learn quite a bit about Ariana's madness. Or rather the method to it. She isn't as helpless or lost as Albus and Aberforth seem to assume. She has found a purpose and she pursues it in ways that they haven't realized.

I loved the scene you created with the imaginary soup party and the trestle table. It read like a constantly changing swirl between moments of hallucination and lucidity.

So it was Ariana who lured Marvolo Gaunt to bring the Resurrection Stone. I was convinced it was Gellert. It's also pretty amazing that she discovered something that Albus and Gellert missed in spite of all of their intelligence and obsessive pursuit of the Hallows. Albus is leading Ariana toward her death in more ways than even Gellert realizes.

By the end of the scene in Ariana's room, I was starting to think that the three apparitions are starting to merge into some sort of personification of death. That would explain some of their comments, as well as the way they call out to her.

Albus is completely smitten with Gellert. So much so that he's become convinced he can have it all: his life with Gellert, their pursuit of the Hallows, taking care of his sister, possibly restoring her to health... The world seems pretty boundless when you're young and in love, I suppose. You did a really good job of defining Gellert's feeling for Albus. There isn't much there that I would call genuine affection. There's certainly lust -- both physical attraction and a lust for the possibilities that Albus represents -- but I don't feel anything more.

I really, really loved the scene where Ariana escapes from the house. The way that she coopts Aberforth's wand and the way that she circumvents Albus's wards were brilliant. They made my inner magic nerd dance (awkwardly. he's a nerd) with joy. Also, the way that she performs magic made perfect sense. She has no formal education. Incantations and wand movements are unknown to her. She simply lets the feelings flow out through the wand.

And she lays a beat-down on Marvolo. I can't say that I feel especially bad for the guy. He's the nineteenth century wizard equivalent of inbred mountain hillbillies.

The scene with the shades of Percival and Kendra is beautifully written and heart-breaking. It's just perfect. I read the scene and thought, 'Yes! This is how the second Peverell brother was driven mad.' The shades of Ariana's parents have a palpable sadness to them. The whole experience is filled with regret and unfulfilled expectations. There is no peace for Ariana. There are only the Crone, the Tall Woman and Glass Girl.

Send us back, Kendra seems to be pleading through her eyes. Send us back. You and your brothers are nobody to us any longer. -- This. Oh my god, this.

This story gets better with every chapter. Until next time...

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Review #5, by CambAngstCircles: Circles

21st September 2015:
Hi, Sian!

I enjoyed reading this. It was clever and pithy and grabbed a quick image or an idea or a reaction for each of the characters that gave us a quick glimpse into what the aftermath of the war meant for them.

Blaise's escapism fit well with the idea of him being a very reluctant participant in the war. In spite of his bluster and blood supremacist attitude, he always struck me as a lover, not a fighter.

Millicent has a different way of dealing with her scars. Fighting a losing battle against the condemning eyes of a world that seems determined to keep her scars from healing.

Poor Goyle. (I never thought I'd say that) I can't imagine very many of the Death Eaters' children chose to return to school. It must have been a horrifyingly hostile place, filled with awful memories.

Pansy sort of buries herself in her OCD. It isn't as though she's getting any other form of support.

Then there's Draco, answering the question that he must have heard over and over and over again. I'm sure he felt as though it would never end. I suppose it's also possible that -- no matter how long he lived -- it never completely ended.

You did a great job with this. It was very well written and I couldn't see a single typo or grammatical problem. Brilliant!

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Review #6, by CambAngstComplicated: In Which Al Talks

21st September 2015:
Hi, Emma!

I felt like there was a natural-feeling progression to this chapter as Olivia gradually went from being devastated and overwhelmed to being calmer and more in control. Hopeful, even. She's had a lot of ups and downs in this story, but I'm hoping that the end of the last chapter was pretty much rock bottom for her. It would be nice to see her be happier and stronger for a few chapters.

It seemed that Al saved her from ending up as a puddle on the floor at the start of the chapter. She's clinging to him for dear life and he's just trying to get her to a place where he can calm her down or at least let her cry herself out. It's not a bad strategy on his part. Seems to work out well.

I think I saw a small typo in the first part:

I could feel his breathe in the movement of his chest more than in the air against my neck -- his breathing?

Al is such a gentleman! If there's anything I could possibly critique you on, it's that sometimes Al seems a little too good to be true. But, he was human enough to acknowledge the struggle in this situation. He obviously wanted to keep the kiss going, but he didn't want to take advantage of her in a vulnerable situation. Like I said, such a gentleman!

Aww! James and Jason are adorable. Well, James is anyway.

Oliver burned his hand in his rush to turn around and swore before nodding eagerly. -- He'll not only play, he'll give a big pep talk before the game and insist that everyone needs to practice when it's over.

I have to say, you set up a pretty amazing visual with Al and Olivia baring their souls to one another in the rain. Especially Al. He's been a little mysterious throughout the story, at least in terms of how he got to be so sensitive and such a good listener. That's doubly true when you compare him to James, Louis and some of the other Potter/Weasley males. Now it makes more sense. After what happened with his muggle friend, he's probably scared to death that it will happen again. That another person he cares about will be in trouble and he'll miss the signs. Nicely written, Ms. Emma!

You closed out the chapter on a really high note. Things aren't going to be easy, but I still felt good for Al and Olivia.

Excellent job! Until next time...

Author's Response: Hi Dan, sorry for the slow slow response. This review was lovely, thank you so much.

I think this chapter marks a bit of a change for Olivia. She's really been propped up a lot by Al, Rose and Louis, but this is the first time she's really made a conscious decision to start changing things. You're right that it ends on a hopeful note.

Ahh I know, Al's potentially a bit too perfect at the moment. More on him later :)

I now desperately want to write Oliver's pep talk.

Thanks so much for such a kind and thoughtful review.

Emma x

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Review #7, by CambAngstActions Speak Louder than Words: Bumps: Scorpius AND Rose POV

20th September 2015:

Hi, Beth!

Looks like Scorpius is making some real progress on this whole matter of "how to be a good fiancé". He not only came up with a great plan to make her feel at home -- OK, maybe he just went along with somebody else's great plan, but there's an art to knowing how not to get in the way -- but he managed to keep her occupied while the others executed on the plan. That was a great piece of work. This lad has upper management written all over him. ;)

Dom starting shouting louder, as if that would make Al and James move faster. -- Yeah, that always works. Weasleys...

Gotta say, it sounds like Dom, James, Selenia and Al crafted a pretty awesome nest for Rose and Scorpius. They'll be set for as long as they have to reside at Grimmauld Place. Still, I've got my suspicions that there's someone on the inside.

For the first time, it felt like this baby was real. -- For everyone I know who has kids, there was always some little detail that brought that feeling on. Something very tangible and immediate that suddenly made everything real. Good job writing the moment!

Aww! And they're back together in every sense of the term now. I'm happy for both of them.

Ah, the lengths Rose and Harry have to go to in order to get the Aurors not to be cavemen about looking after their physical well being. Sounds just about right.

I needed to clean out my locker at St. Mungo’s and, more important, I needed to finally get to work on my last medical records case. -- Yes, she has been putting that off for an awfully long time, hasn't she? Don't think I've forgotten about that, Ms. Beth!

But I don’t know if I’ll be able to completely escape a constellation name for this little one. Scorp is sort of insisting on it. It’s a really significant part of his family history. -- Don't sweat it too much, Rosie. There are sensible sounding constellation names, like... um... OK, yeah, there are no constellation names that sound even halfway normal. Leo is about as close as it gets. I hope they don't go completely nuts with Corvus or Vulpecula.

Ha! And you had Corvus in the very next paragraph. What are the odds that we looked at the same Wiki page?

I really, really like the way you wrote the scene in Diagon Alley. Or more to the point, the way you wrote Rose's perception of the scene. You walked the reader through a progression that felt exactly like the way she would have mentally processed her surroundings after arriving. I could almost feel her head turning, until...

Yeah, until that. I really, really hope that this isn't what I think it is. You've tricked us like this before. But somehow based on your author's note, I don't think it's a trick.

Well, I guess it goes without saying that I'm eager to read the next chapter. I hope for Al's sake that she isn't dead. Empathy for the characters is always a sign that you're doing a great job writing them! Until next time...

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Review #8, by CambAngstRabbit Heart: 31. Closer to the Heart

1st September 2015:
Hi, Pix! I've come to the end of another one of your stories and I'm feeling that little pang of emptiness that comes with each one. That feeling of knowing that there won't be another chapter to read. That Wren and Albus's story -- at least this arc of it -- ends here. It's wonderful to see everything come to its conclusion, but it's also a little sad.

And this story has come a long, long way. I have some very old drafts of things in my email that would probably make you cringe. I'm thinking maybe 2 batches of cookies and we could make those disappear forever, eh? ;)

Joking. Let's actually talk about this chapter. Nice job capturing the confusion and swirling imagery of Wren's semi-conscious healing process. Relentlessly gnawing at her unrest with tiny teeth. I think tiny teeth are going to haunt Wren for a very long time.

Oh, wow, she's still at Hogwarts. Somehow I was expecting either St. Mungo's or some secret Vampire Council recovery facility. At a minimum the Hospital Wing, although I suppose with Madam Pomfrey also being enthralled there might not have been anyone to look after the place.

Aww, Wren still feels bad about having to leave Trudy behind. She's such a good egg.

Ten days! Wow. Albus must be near his wits' end. Good old Berkshire. He's a good egg, too.

"Ha!" Trudy shot at her, relief evident on her face too. "It's about time!" -- Yep, even the Quidditch-head knew what was up before Wren and Albus.

It's nice to see Rose and Scorpius achieving some sort of functional relationship. At least not wanting to kill one another. He even managed to get her to come and watch the try-outs. Sounds like the start of a promising teenage wizarding relationship.

Yay! They're finally coming around. And she kissed him -- at least a little -- and he kissed her back. And neither one of them screwed it up. And Berkshire didn't come bumbling around the corner and wreck the whole moment! Pix, I think you're losing your touch. Before this final chapter, you would have done anything -- hippogryff stampede, lightning strike, somebody fainting -- anything to wreck this moment. You're getting soft! :p

Everything clicked together, almost audibly, just above the breeze - leaves rustled above them -- I see what you did there...

Wren rethought that last bit. An hour. In the dark. With Albus. -- She's starting to get the hang of this.

Wow. Serena is such a weirdo. An artsy, hipster, voyeuristic weirdo. I guess that probably makes her a good photographer, in that Andy Warhol sort of way.

Wren thought she heard a cackle escape from Serena’s lips, and fought the urge to slap her. -- I'm relating to this so hard.

Still, it seems that Serena has a sense of decency about her. I love the rapid shift in Wren's emotions, from shattered to ecstatic.

The rest of the chapter read in kind of a soft focus. Very dreamy, with all of the sharp edges filed down. It was really sweet of Wren to want to spend a little time with Madam Pince. Poor old thing didn't deserve to go out quite like this. In fact, couldn't you have switched fates between her and Sloan? At least that would have shut him up.

Ooh! So Wren did take more away from the vampire rabbit experience than a new boyfriend and a lot of terrible memories. I like Smeed's implied warning, as well. I'm sure this "vampire invasion" of Hogwarts caused a lot of fear, anger and resentment among the wizarding population. I can imagine the vampires feeling uncomfortable about the possibilities.

I thought it was a really nice touch that Gran wants to see Wren for a bit and then wants her to go off and live her own life. She's a smart lady.

Gah, so here we are at the end. This story has frustrated the daylights out of me at times. And that's perfect, because teenagers are frustrating. Not just to adults, but it's just generally a frustrating time in life. You've stayed so true to your premise and explored so many aspects of this awkward, confusing, uncertain time of life. I can't imagine the temptation to have these kids snap out of it and behave like quasi-sane mini-adults, but you didn't do that. I'm in awe of how tough it must have been -- chapter after chapter -- to think things through from Wren and Albus's point of view and make sure that they were acting their age. You did a really amazing job with this. Congratulations on finishing another classic story!


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Review #9, by CambAngstDon't Leave Me: 1.

30th August 2015:
Hi, Tammi! I made it to 50 in our common room reviewing challenge! I wasn't sure I was going to get here by the end of the month, but I did with some time to spare. I really loved the review you left me earlier, so I wanted to make sure you ended up being part of my reviews. Also, Happy Belated Birthday!

GryCReMo (Review #50)

It took me a while to piece together what you were doing here. And I think that's a big, big compliment. This is really tough challenge, no doubt about it. Trying to start every sentence with the right letter must have made it nearly impossible to maintain your rhythm and flow, but you did a great job making the story sound natural.

Lavender and Theo Nott as a pairing? Well... you and I might need to agree that we'll have to discuss this further at some point. It's certainly not impossible. Nott was never one of those Slytherins who gloried in Draco Malfoy's snobbery and Dolores Umbridge's tyranny. He's one of those characters that allows an author all kinds of leeway to make him turn out however she wants him to. It's good to have characters like that. He's not really the half that I'm struggling with. Lavender doesn't seem like the type to cross House lines for a relationship. Maybe I'm wrong. This is much, much less cringe-inducing than watching her pursue "Won-Won".

Wow. I just breezed through the whole story again and I'm really, really impressed with what a great job you did of making an actual, honest-to-god story fit with the rules of this challenge. Only one thing I noticed, and maybe I just don't understand the rules well enough:

Jovial cheers could be heard from what seemed miles away, causing her to tear her eyes away and look up.


Is it me, or did you jump from J to L without hitting K? Oh, no. I really hope that I"m just misunderstanding. :(

You did a beautiful job writing this! Congratulations on a fantastic entry in a very difficult challenge!

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Review #10, by CambAngstComplicated: In Which It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

30th August 2015:
Hi, Emma! I'm all caught up!

GryCReMo (Review #49)

So... that was a pretty big mistake Daphne made there at the end of the last chapter. I take back anything kind I might have said about her in previous reviews. (Did I say anything kind about her?) She is an idiot.

Wow, even Olivia's owl is being awful to her at the moment.

At first I was sort of like Olivia: relieved to see her dad come along. But true to form, her dad takes care of that situation quickly enough. It's hard to fathom how the man can be this emotionally tone-deaf. I'm composing a list in my head, the topic being, "Things Olivia's Dad Should Have Considered". It's long. A few highlights:

▷ Does Olivia perhaps want to go to the hospital to make sure her mother is alright?

▷ Is Olivia tired or hungry?

▷ Why on god's green earth would Olivia want to immediately cosy up to the woman who just contributed to her parents' break-up?

▷ Is it possible that Olivia knows this woman's daughter from school and might or might not get on with the girl well enough to be roomies?

▷ Should I maybe act my age and not my hat size for just once and try to act more like a father?

I could go on, but you get the point. It's really no surprise at all when Olivia snaps.

On a side note, I guess this explains the "tough time" that Laura Brogan was going through. I'm in one of those "feel bad but don't feel bad" kind of frames of mind. Is it bad that her home life was going to pot? Sure. Do you fix that by betraying people you were obviously close to? Yeah, not so much.

You did a pretty convincing job of writing Olivia's splinching. I'm pleased to see that there are better solutions in the magical world that dousing her with ditany and waiting it out.

Hey, James knew exactly what to do for once. People usually write him as such a jerk in Albus-centric stories. I appreciate the fact that you gave him this moment of being an awesome friend and big brother.

I'm really curious where you'll be taking the story next. Do you have an idea of how long you mean for it to be? Maybe this would be a better MTA question. Until next time!

Author's Response: I kind of enjoy writing a horrible Daphne, but the more I do it the more I want to write something Hogwarts era to explain her a bit. Maybe I'll get to that at some point.

Olivia's dad is pathetic and selfish and every point you've made is definitely something he should have considered. He kind of goes half way to doing his job as a father and then fails where it really matters. In some ways I'd like to develop him more but every time I try he stays a terrible human being.

You're totally right about Laura. It's not okay to be bad to other people because you have your own problems. It's okay to be sad and angry but not to be cruel, and she's been cruel.

My current plan for this story is 31 chapters in total but I've had a few times where I've split a chapter when I'm halfway through writing it so it'll potentially be a bit longer than that. I just put up 19 so I feel like I'm hopefully getting there (slowly but surely).

Thanks so so much for all your comments. I really appreciate the time you take to leave such careful, kind reviews.

Emma x

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Review #11, by CambAngstComplicated: In Which It All Goes Wrong

30th August 2015:
Hi, Emma! One more before my day gets going.

GryCReMo (Review #48)

Well, that escalated quickly. But let's start at the beginning.

Louis and Rose aren't as easy as Al, but they're still pretty easy compared to what Olivia is used to. Louis can be quite the gentleman, it seems, at least when there's something he's trying to prove. It seems that he was hoping for something more to have happened between Olivia and Al. Al's family is taking to her at a rate that must feel positively alarming to Olivia. I don't imagine that she has any frame of reference for this, coming from a relatively dysfunctional family environment.

Ah, the Laura Brogan plot expands a bit. I felt pretty sure that there was more to her than a shallow groupie trying to get famous at Al's expense. I'm looking forward to the next dollop of Laura plot. Also, Olivia is doing her homework here. I think she wants to feel more for Al, but she's making sure the way is clear.

Aww, all four of them were so adorable in the train car. Louis and Rose snuggling up for a long ride. Olivia's nightmare was rather... disturbing. But then Al is there to help her get back to sleep. I'm thinking for some reason that we'll be seeing Rose's picture of Al and Olivia again.

Interesting that Katie didn't know about Pansy being dead. I'm at least initially suspecting suicide. After things falling apart with Olivia's dad, I imagine that Pansy had to be in a bad way, mentally.

Poor Olivia. The family drama just keeps piling on. I have no idea what's going to happen next, but I have a suspicion that the Potters will factor into it somehow. The good news is, I can click "Next" and find out!

Good job! Can't wait to

Author's Response: All your observations about my characters make me so so happy because they're just spot on, and I'm so glad you think about them the same way that I do. The easiness was the main contrast I wanted between Al's friendship group and Olivia's, and even though they've both had their separate problems with their friends Al's group are much friendlier and happier.

Laura's going to appear a bit more in the next few chapters so I'm glad you're interested :)

Thanks again for another lovely review! Emma xx

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Review #12, by CambAngstComplicated: In Which Al Sits Still

30th August 2015:
Hi, Emma! Looks like I'm not going to make my goal of 100 reviews this month, but 50 is within reach! Pardon me for a moment while I keep count:

GryCReMo (Review #47)

It's been ages since I stopped by your story! I'm not really sure what happened there, but I do know that it didn't take long at all to get right back into the flow of it.

I think if I had to pick one word to describe Albus in this chapter, that word would be "easy". NO! Not "easy" like that, but just easy in the sense that he's fine with doing whatever Olivia wants to do so long as he gets to spend some time with her. In that sense, he's pretty much the opposite of Cassie, who's extremely high-maintenance and demanding. He also doesn't come with all of Scorpius's emotional baggage. I think it goes without saying that Olivia could use more "easy" people in her life at this point.

Ugh. Well, Scorpius didn't take that well at all. He and Olivia seem to be growing farther and farther apart. And the unfortunate thing for Scorpius is that he seems to be getting worse for the separation while Olivia is finally able to relax and unwind. It's not that she doesn't miss him or care for him, but it seems very nice that she doesn't need to deal with his moods and anxieties all the time.

Again, after Scorpius storms out, Al just makes things easier. He doesn't pry or try to get her to talk about what happened. He just asks how he can help and is happy to do something small to give her a moment to collect herself. Easy.

Wow! So this scene was sort of like Titanic in reverse, with Olivia drawing Al. "Draw me like one of your Slytherin boys!" ;)

And... they almost kiss. Maybe not that close, but there was definitely a moment there. For a couple of teenagers, you're pacing that aspect of the story well. Call me a pessimist, but I still think you're going to bring them together right before Cassie makes her return. And then things are going to go pear-shaped for a while.

Let's see, what else? I like the image of the red jumper that you threaded into this. It's the small things that show where the story is headed sometimes.

Great job! I've missed this.

Author's Response: Dan! I wrote a really long reply to this review and then my internet disappeared and the reply was no more :(

THANK YOU for all your lovely comments. Your reviews are always so so thoughtful and I really appreciate it.

I really like that you've described Al as easy. That's kind of what I was going for with him. I think teenagers are very attracted to drama and kind of angsty friendships and relationships, and I wanted to emphasise the value of simple kindness. Al's just a good person and that's why Olivia's starting to appreciate him.

I'm absolutely going to edit 'draw me like one of your slytherin boys' into this chapter when I come back to it.

Thanks for the lovely review! Emma x

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Review #13, by CambAngstPrecipitate: Solution

30th August 2015:
Hi, Kevin! Well, it seems that 100 is pretty much out of reach, but 50 is dangling right in front of me.

GryCReMo (Review #46)

No doubt about it, you nailed the creepy factor. Maybe this is just me being sentimental, but I also wanted to find it a bit touching. The lengths that Blake is willing to go to in order to not let his wife slip away from him. In turn, that can also be a creepy thing, his obsessive need for her and his unwillingness to let her go. But she doesn't seem to mind overly, at least not when she's young.

It's when his wife is near death, at the beginning of the story, that I actually feel the most creeped out by Blake. I felt a sort of distance between the two of them in the first scene. It's obvious that she's less than totally enamored with him and he's very perfunctory in his affection for her. It's like they're both going through the motions. I wasn't completely sure how to interpret that, but one possibility is that he only really wants to be close to her when she's young and healthy.

“Yes. Of course it is my fault,” the greying wizard offered, kissing his wife chastely on the lips before pulling back to regard her carefully. -- This line seemed to hold a couple levels of meaning, beyond just the light banter.

“I know,” she said flatly. “But I don’t like it here.” -- Another line that jumped out at me not he second read-through. Is she referring to the place or to the body she's inhabiting?

The murder scene was pretty gruesome. It seemed obvious to me that there's some very dark magic at work here, basically draining a living person of all life so that Elizabeth can be, I don't know, poured into a new, young body. I'm sure that's oversimplifying things, but still. Yuck.

Once Elizabeth is young and whole again, the creepiness factor really goes up a notch. I wonder whether she retains all of her memories from her previous "life" or whether she starts over each time? I'm curious whether Blake is aging naturally or does he do something similar to extend his own life? Lots of questions. Maybe you should turn this into a longer story.

Great job with the writing. I could tell you felt a little constrained by the rules of the challenge, but you made the most of what you had to work with. Also, I didn't see a single type or grammatical problem. Bravo!

Author's Response: Howdy Dan!

You captured in your first paragraph exactly what I was going for! I wanted people on some level to be able to connect with his desire to preserve their happiness, but then ultimately be repulsed by the obsession and the lengths to which Blake goes to "keep" her.

For the beginning, the situation between them is interesting and you've definitely picked up on part of why. She is rather distant because of the "I don't like it here" (which is referring to BOTH the place - the land of the living - and the body - basically a "fake" of her and not her own). And he is perfunctory because he knows then what it's time to do AGAIN, and decides no time can be wasted before doing it.

You're not oversimplifying things at all really, the idea was kind of that the magic Blake uses reanimates his victim with Elizabeth's consciousness - sort of like a zombie/Frankenstein's Monster meets the Resurrection Stone. The difference is, as you rightly pointed out, that she essentially "reboots" when this happens, to the point in her life she was when he lost her. With Blake, he goes to a lot of magical lengths to preserve the illusion that he's the same age as she reboots to, though I included the greying to show just how long he's been at this given the youthfulness of his victim. It's not so much extending his own life, because ultimately, when it's his time he'll be happy to go so he can be with the REAL Elizabeth, but he goes to a lot of trouble (until the cycle is winding down like it is at the beginning of the story) with stuff in the vein of dying his hair, glamour/concealment charms to fix aging defects, etc.

Sometimes I do think about making this a longer piece, but alas, I have so many things on the table already I doubt I'll ever get there.

I'm glad you enjoyed it though! Thanks for the great (and detailed) feedback as always!

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Review #14, by CambAngstThe Harder Struggle: Heroes

29th August 2015:
I'm back again! I wanted to get one more chapter in before bedtime.

GryCReMo (Review #45)

I think you're pacing this story brilliantly. I love the fact that you're taking your time and allowing things to unfold in a very organic, unforced way.

Poor Ron. He's going to have a lot of hard days ahead. It's wonderful that he'll have Hermione by his side to help him through it.

Ginny's letter was well written. You hit on all of the notes that I would have expected from her: frustration, relief, affection, sadness and just a bit of that temper of hers. I think Harry has a very interesting conversation in his near future.

The conversation between the trio was vital to where it seems you're taking the story. In all of the best post-war stories, Harry's trademark humility and unselfishness shine through. Also, his desire not to be the sole center of attention. You did a good job capturing all three of them being supportive of one another and generally making the most of the few precious moments they'll be granted before things go completely crazy.

Again, beautiful writing. I didn't see a single typo.

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Review #15, by CambAngstThe Harder Struggle: We're Alive!

29th August 2015:
Hi, there! I've had this story on my "plan to read" list for quite a while. It seemed like a good time, since I'm in the middle of a reviewing event. Please pardon me while I do a quick bit of scorekeeping:

GryCReMo (Review #44)

I thought you did a really great job with this first chapter. You hit a really good balance with the emotions of all of the characters. The mood was somber and respectful, but it's obvious that the huge emotional toll hasn't fully set in yet. They're all shell-shocked and exhausted and they will need a lot of time to process what's happened and grieve. But for right now, they just need food and sleep.

Kingsley and McGonagall were pretty obvious choices for the "authority figures" in this chapter, but I thought Bill was a unique and interesting choice to round things out. He is one of the elder members of the Weasley clan and I imagine that Arthur and Molly are indisposed between their own grief and trying to help the younger siblings. He also brings a little more perspective, since he was at Shell Cottage with the trio as they planned their final assault on Voldemort's horcruxes.

I loved the thinly-veiled fury that was emanating from McGonagall when she talked about Hogwarts under Snape and the Carrows. In general, it was good to see real emotion in her words and actions. I can't imagine that she was immune to the consequences of everything that happened, although a lot of people write her that way.

The explanation of the horcruxes seemed about right. There was no way that Harry, Ron and Hermione had the energy or the time to go into all the details, but they got the key information across to Kingsley.

Overall, you write very well. Everything flowed very smoothly and this was an easy read. You did a really good job with the dialog. Each character spoke with a voice that was appropriate to their age and their mood.

I saw one small typo:

It hadn’t stop either Ron or Hermione from carrying on with their mission though. -- hadn't stopped

Great job! I'm looking forward to reading more.

Author's Response: Hi,
Thanks for the detailed review. As a writer you will know how much a meaty and considered review is appreciated.

You have my reasons for using Bill instead of Arthur down to a tee.

Thanks again,


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Review #16, by CambAngstDating Hannah : Liquid Courage

29th August 2015:
Hi, deeds! I need some good reading/reviewing material tonight. Aside from the fact that I just feel like it, I'm also doing my darnedest to get to 1̶0̶0̶ 50 reviews by the end of the month so I can f̶i̶n̶i̶s̶h̶ not completely embarrass myself in:

GryCReMo (Review #43)

I remember this story so well from before your hiatus. This was one of the stories that really inspired me to try my hand at humorous writing. Which works. Sometimes. At least a little bit.

“We’re playing poker,” Harry grumbled. -- Boo! I always get stuck with the Old Maid in that one.

These guys are awesome when they've been drinking. I have my suspicions as to why you gave Seamus something else to do. He's the only one who might be able to hold his liquor well enough that he wouldn't be entertaining.

Neville took it upon himself to answer Dean’s question. “I like Hannah,” he confessed. -- Good on you, lad! Get it out in the open. Your friends will help you come up with a plan to court her. It will be a terrible plan, one that's guaranteed to fail comically, but that's still a better plan than what you have right now.

“Come on Neville…let’s see…use that ancient language, you know, the one your Gran spoke when she was born,” he suggested. -- Dear god. Does Ron realize that he's taking his life into his sweaty palms?

It seems that we're well on the way to having the parchment-and-quill equivalent to a drunk text that you send to your ex at 3:30 AM. Only Ron could come up with such impactful prose. I anon him.

“You search for Horcruxes with him one time and he just latches on.” -- There, there, Ron. I'm sure that Harry anons you in a completely platonic way. Or at the very worst, it's a bromance.

Poor Neville. The boy isn't gifted with a strong array of conversation material. Also, he's surrounded by idiots.

Aww! I love the way you wrote Gran. Sure, she's sarcastic, but she genuinely cares for Neville and she wants him to be happy. Or at least not starve to death.

Yay! Somehow or other, Ron's idiotic letter actually seemed to work. You're committed now, Neville. Man up and go see Hannah.

Awesome start! I really anoned this chapter!

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Review #17, by CambAngstYear Five: Cleaner, More Brilliant

29th August 2015:
Hi, Roisin! At long last, here I am at the end. This is going to be a weird review, I'll tell you that right up front. Not sure what the mix of substance and gushing is going to be.

GryCReMo (Review #42)

You managed to get a Dr. Who reference into the story. Many HPFF'ers I know will strongly approve. ;)

Apparently, when non-magic people dressed themselves, it signified what sort of person they were, or, at least, the sort of person they wanted to be. -- Isn't that the truth. I love the idea of witches and wizards struggling with the significance of muggle clothing. When you're used to mostly wearing robes, the decisions are probably fewer and less important.

I'm so happy to see Isobel and Lauren both doing better. I'm not sure I buy the idea of "starving the beast" until it's dead. I'm not sure it ever dies. But you can definitely make it a tiny, marginalized part of your life.

Only ten weeks old, so Charlie’s taking care of it until it’s old enough to bring to Norway and introduce into a preserve. Refuses to tell me where he got it from, though, except that it was illegally hatched. -- Cough, cough. Sorry, something in my throat.

Ha! I love the exercise of explaining animation to the two sheltered witches. Come to think of it, hand-drawn animation was a huge undertaking.

All in all, the good times were better than they’d ever been, and the bad times were further between. -- That's what I want to hear!

Everything considered, it sounds like they all did pretty well on their O.W.L.s. What I really loved about this scene was that there were no lingering feelings of envy and no recriminations for how anyone should have worked harder. They all made it through the year, and that was saying quite a lot.

OK, a couple of small typos before I wrap up:

“By way of Muir of Ord,” the owlish old driver muttered, annoyed, before shifting into gear. Scottland was hardly on the wa. -- on the way

his parents were glad for him to be spending time with his maters -- with his mates

Now... Whew, deep breath...

You can go a long time on HPFF without reading a story that falls very far outside of some fairly well-bounded norms. Next Gen teen romance with mismatched main characters that might or might not involve an unplanned pregnancy. Marauders-era story pairing Sirius or Remus with a female lead who's doomed to end up very disappointed or, in a worst case, dead. Missing moments stories from the Hogwarts years. The exciting lives of professional Quidditch players. Canon and non-canon characters struggling to overcome the trauma of the war. You get the idea.

What really attracts me to HPFF -- 99% of the reason I keep coming back -- is that every so often I find a story like this one. A story that parallels the books and is affected by the events of the books, but is truly, uniquely its own story. Your characters might share names with canon characters, but they are yours. You breathed so much life into them and made them so genuine and human. You made every part of them real: their strengths and their weaknesses, the good and the bad. You didn't celebrate their flaws, but you also didn't minimize them. You let them be four perfectly normal teenagers struggling with the things that normal teenagers struggle with, plus the added temptation of having magic at their disposal.

In doing this, you managed to replicate that rarest of feats that made the Harry Potter books so special: You allowed your readers to experience genuine empathy for these characters. To relate to what they're feeling and to want to see them be alright. It's no mean feat and my hat is off to you. This was an amazing story and I'm looking forward to whatever comes next!


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Review #18, by CambAngstYear Five: After

29th August 2015:
Hi, Roisin! I don't think I'm going to make it to 100. But 50 would be nice...

GryCReMo (Review #41)

Tristan hadn’t planned on there being an after. It was humiliating, and terrifying, and he felt like a stranger. -- Unfortunately, I know two people who've attempted suicide. Both of them grappled with this exact thing. Nobody thinks about the possibility that they might survive and have to deal with the aftermath.

I love Eddie's story. It will probably take Tristan a little while to process what it means, but I really hope it helps.

“Machiavellian,” McGonagall shot back. “That’s what you are. I hope you realize that.” -- I'm glad that somebody is saying that to his face. Because it's true, and would only become more true as the years passed.

“Yeah I bet if young Potter got a headache the school would assume it was the Dark Lord behind it,” Laurel scoffed. -- Slow clap. Brilliant.

I loved the scene in Cadogan's Corridor. It was familiar and comfortable, but not. For a brief moment, everything felt the same, but everything was different. And lots of walls finally fell, especially for Tristan. Poor Isobel, as though the whole thing with Quirrell needed to be any worse. At least Tristan's friends -- his support -- finally know the truth. As Aunt Esther used to say, "And the truth will set you free!" Wow. That show probably went off the air fifteen years before you were born. I have to stop dating myself like that...

Wow. Tristan got a birthday present from the Dark Lord. That really puts the awkward hover-hands hug that Draco Malfoy received in perspective, doesn't it?

There were many ways a fragile body might break, and each of them were playing out in Isobel's mind. -- It's a really insidious variation on survivor's guilt that you've hit upon there. If a friend succeeds in killing themselves, you ask yourself what you should have done differently, but the scope is contained. All of the opportunities have already come and gone. If they try to kill themselves and fail, the cycle of second-guessing repeats itself every time you let them out of your sight.

Ah, it seems that Isobel is having an awakening of sorts. All it took was Emily stepping up to shatter these walls of envy and self-doubt that she'd built around her self-image. Now she's questioning more things. Good on you, Isobel!

I'm glad that Tristan is feeling... something along with the memories of his birth parents. He's the sort of person who could easily construct emotional walls around all of it and feel nothing. It seems to me that he needs to feel more if he's ever going to survive his teenage years. It's also good to see Snape continuing to try to look after him. If there's anyone who understands how a person can be victimized by falling under the Dark Lord's influence, it's Snape.

"Believing that child-rearing was the sole dominion of women, after your mother's death, your primary care fell to your aunt," Snape added tensely. "A most unfortunate turn of events." -- Snape has quite the gift for understatement. Bellatrix would have resented every moment of being forced to look after a child instead of carrying out the Dark Lord's will.

Wow. Tristan has memories of the Longbottoms being tortured. Which the Dementors obviously bring right to the surface. You've brought so many amazing things to light in this chapter that clarify and reinforce this enigmatic character. Bravo!

Your physical descriptions of what it's like to be inside Azkaban are brilliant. The place is chilling, dead and terrible in every respect.

“That man isn’t my father,” Tristan answered the decade old question that had lurked silently, never being asked. Mr. Shacklebolt looked for a moment like he might say something, but didn’t. -- I'm so glad that's clear to him now. There's a good chance he'll be able to move forward. Better chance, anyway.

I really, really love this story. I never have to read for very long before I remember all of the reasons why. You do such an amazing job with these characters and their world!

Author's Response: DAN! Sorry for taking SUH LONG to respond to your AMAZING ZOMG reviews!

Oof, yes, the equal parts of "heartbreaking" and "awkward" there were super difficult to write. Especially because I had no desire to write about this topic in the FIRST place, and then just sorta HAD to, and UGH.

Eddie is such a two-dimensional non-character for so much of the story (which I think has a lot to do with Tristan sort of distancing himself/walling himself off), and so I was glad for this opportunity to really SHOW this guy. And I think it fits with some of the kind of Breakthroughs Tristan has here--like, this is the first time we see Eddie really being a DAD, because it's the first time Tristan's seeing him that way.

SO. LIKE. A lot of people pointed out that the Stone woulda been fine if Harry had just left the whole thing alone, or that those protections were a bit jank if 3 11-12 year olds could get passed them. But knowing everything we know now, I think that's a bit reductive. Obv Dumbledore engineered that exact thing that exact way in order to kinda train Harry, and since it all DID work out eventually, I can't fault him that. But McGonagall definitely can!

HEEHEE, glad you liked my mEtA jOkE :D

I LOVE what you said about things being the same yet different. I think the corridor kind of acts as a 'control test' throughout the story. By having those variables the same, you can see how things have changed.

Yeah, I definitely agree that self-blame is like, THE response to tragedy. Even if someone passes suddenly and from natural causes, everyone who loves them will find SOMETHING to regret. And with self-harm, I think it can very easily become an eggshell-paranoia situation.

It's funny because I hadn't planned for Isobel to be gay, but just as soon as I started writing her, I knew. Things like that happened a lot with these characters--like how I hadn't planned for Tristan to be clinically depressed. OR the thing with Emilt's past, that was just something I realized was there whether or not I wanted it to be. THESE CHARACTERS. THEY DO WHATEVER THE HELL THEY WANT. And honestly, it's a far stronger story for it.

I'm not sure if this came across, but I wanted to imply that Tristan blames himself for the Longbottoms (again with the untrue self-blame). Like, if he hadn't cried then Bellatrix wouldn't have gotten upset, and it was because she was so angry that she just sort of destroyed them out of fury. And then I think he experienced a lot of guilt for just BEING there around all those people, even though that obviously wasn't his fault or his choice. But you know, people be blaming themselves.

It was weird because I wasn't sure how the meeting with Rabastan Sr would go. Like, I felt like it should be a big deal, and then it was... Nothing. Like, it just felt so irrelevant almost. And then I realized that was a GOOD thing--Tristan also realized how irrelevant her was. Faced the thing he was so afraid of and had made such a big deal about in his mind, and... Nothing. Just "that guy sucks, bye." I think he'd spent a really long time thinking there was something there, or worrying that it spoke to something inside of himself. And then it didn't.

Oh man, you always leave such interesting and thoughtful reviews! I'll need to write some brand new thing if only to keep it going!


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Review #19, by CambAngstRabbit Heart: 30. Into the Heart

29th August 2015:
Good morning, Pix! We've come to the second-to-last chapter. I'm really going to miss Wren and Albus when this is over. Just sayin' Ŏ‿Ŏ

GryCReMo (Review #40) {{-- Yay! 40!}}

Anyway, good to see that poor Minnie is still alive and kicking. She's obvious not lost much of her mind, because her first concern is still for the students. She even manages to spare a thought or two for poor, lost Dillon. Overall, you did a good job keeping her character consistent.

Stuffing their coats full of weapons. A couple of thoughts popped into my head. The first was Neo opening his coat after stepping through the metal detector in The Matrix. Something about that scene is way too polished and modern, however. Black leather and machine pistols just don't fit with Smeed and Burns filling their pockets with daggers, short swords and machetes. This is going to be a throw-down, 1700's-style. Well, except for the flame thrower...

Uncle Toby is such a calming influence on the process. Good guy to have around when tensions are running high.

Dillon has crossed the line into full-on "get me the heck away from this kid" megalomaniacal creepiness. His version of "friendship" and "sharing" have evolved into being exactly the way Wren described him: endlessly needy. I can only imagine why he needs the mingled blood of so many witches and wizards, and what I'm imagining isn't good. On the plus side, it seems like Madam Pince is on her last legs...

Burns fixed the group with a cold stare, holding the limp creature up for all to see. "That’s how it’s done. Any questions?" -- This line capped of a great scene. Scorpius thought that he was bad for having kicked one in the head. Burns showed him up with a quickness.

Dillon looked like a little prince of the library overseeing his kingdom. He was perched on a chair set on top of Pince’s circulation desk with a mob of restless thralls around him. -- Any chance you were thinking of the ill-fated King Joffrey here? That's how I see Dillon at the moment. He doesn't know enough to know what's in store.

Scorpius threw up his wand and hurled a red flash at the thralls. Ian caught his stunner square on the forehead and went down hard. -- I approve. Heartily. That said, it doesn't seem like Dillon and his thrawls have much of a plan here. They're sort of randomly throwing spells around, not accomplishing much other than trashing the room. I guess that makes sense for a blood-drunk little boy who only understands magic as a sort of abstract ideal rather than a practical tool.

Wow. The monster mutant rabbit emerging from the Restricted Section was a bigger deal than I expected, and I expected a pretty big deal. In my mind, the scene reminds me a little of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man attacking New York. If it's impervious to curses, James has the right idea, I think.

“Suffer, maybe die. You get in my way again and your fate will be more certain,” Smeed threatened before jumping from the column, another weapon in his hand. -- OK, it just got real.

I think you need to do a little work on the confrontation between Wren and Dillon. The part that wasn't completely clear to me was when he forced her to come to him. I think you need to make it more clear that she moves from wherever she was standing to be within arm's length of Dillon, because it took me a few passes to realize what had happened there. Other than that, I loved it! Wren has spent nearly all of the story doubting herself. Was she weak for letting her Gran's illness affect her. Was she losing her mind? Was she becoming a squib? In this one scene, she casts aside all of the fear and doubt and strikes a critical blow against Dillon. Bravo, Wren! Bravo!

When Wren realized that Bunny was truly lost, she gave Albus the means to kill him. I really liked the symbolism in that moment.

Dillon's final tantrum was pretty much perfect. In the final analysis, he's just a little boy, lost and alone and sad. Also angry. So very angry. And it was his undoing. His own minions turned on him. The line about tiny teeth scraping on bone was a fitting end.

Oh, no! What's happening to Wren now? I have to imagine that Smeed can help her, but no matter what, I loved her final line of the chapter. Beautifully done!

So now I wait. Eagerly, I wait. Wonderful job!

Author's Response:

Good morning!

Aww, I already miss Wren and Albus. There's this hole in my brain where they used to be... and I'd be a lot more worried about that if this story wasn't fiction...

I love the idea of trenchcoats filled with weapons. Maybe I got that from The Matrix, or maybe it's just a trope, but it was so much fun to write. I couldn't help myself. Especially the flame-thrower. Let's just say there's a reason his name is Burns and leave it at that. He's also rather good at rabbit hunting. Scorpius could learn from this.

You're right. Dillon's army is only as effective as he is leading them. Fortunately for the unenthralled wizards, he's not very good. But I'm sure you can understand how someone more competent in his position would be a complete nightmare.

Hee hee! I love your reaction to the monster mutant rabbit making its appearance. Rawr! It did have that Godzilla-feel to it, right?

Smeed's not playing around here. He doesn't want to make the same mistake twice.

Thanks for the heads up. It's hard writing action inside someone's head. That bit should be clearer now.

It was finally Wren's time. She's been so overwhelmed by everything, but once she got a grip on what was in front of her, she did pretty well. :)

Sorry for the wait on that last chapter. I was just doing a bit of clean-up on the story as a whole while I got everything together.

So much fun!


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Review #20, by CambAngstRabbit Heart: 29. Secrets of the Heart

28th August 2015:
More, more, more!

GryCReMo (Review #39)

It's kind of miraculous that Wren managed to keep her thing for Albus away from Rose for this long. Maybe it's because she couldn't admit it even to herself. Maybe Rose isn't all that tuned in to matters of romance. Callie obviously is. All that said, I liked the way that Rose reacted. There was a release of tension there. She wasn't making light of Wren's feelings, only of the fact that it took them all so long to come to an understanding.

More… he’d probably have to get his pants adjusted again before Winter Break, maybe even before Halloween, which was only a week away. -- So impractical! That would obviously offend Wren's sensibilities. ;)

So while Rose and Callie are laughing some sense into Wren, James smacks some sense into Albus. Figuratively, of course, but in a typical brotherly fashion. Good on you, James.

Aww, he doesn't think she's crazy and she gives him some credit for being able to help. It's a start.

Sharing a rabbit. It's sort of like when couples decide it's serious enough to get a dog together, except for teenagers in a vampire-enthralled castle.

One thing confused me a little. Albus seems to just know how "personal" the thrall bond is and I'm not sure how. Observing Wren and McGonagall was really no different from observing the Prefects. I wasn't completely sure why it was suddenly such an epiphany.

Ah, so the full-blooded vampires don't appear on the Marauder's Map. Interesting. I wonder what that makes Dillon? Some sort of hybrid with an unfocused soul?

Oh, wow. There's a cliffhanger for you. It doesn't seem like Smeed killed McGonagall, but he wasn't very kind to her, either. What on earth will happen next? Tune in next time...

So close to the end! I'm excited, but also exhausted. I think I'll do the last one in the morning!

Author's Response:

More!! I feel so spoiled right now. This is amazing.

If it were up to Callie, Wren would have come clean in chapter -1, and this whole Albus thing would have been a non-issue. Being that there are no negative chapters in this story, and that the main conflict would have had to be rewritten, Callie's idea of perpetual bliss had to be shot down. She also wanted this to turn into one of those "let's pair everyone off" romance fantasy things. Boy was she disappointed when I sent her to re-read her contract. Apparently now she's auditioning for the remake of "Friends". I wish her the best.

I always had this type of a scene in mind for Rose and Wren to come to terms with things. Rose has not been the most understanding of friends, so I had to show that in the end, she does care about Wren's feelings and she is ultimately supportive of her when it comes to touchy things. Also, Rose has a high opinion of Wren, or otherwise they wouldn't be so close. You know how Rose is...

Yes. Wren and her sensibilities. I'm glad that came through loud and clear. ;)

"... serious enough to get a dog together..."

Um. Yeah, actually. Just like that. :P I really looked hard at this section, and I couldn't figure out what to add to this without breaking up the flow. Sometimes I just have to let things go... without breaking into song, thank you.

Thank you SO MUCH for sticking with this story. Your reviews are gold!


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Review #21, by CambAngstRabbit Heart: 28. Reflections of the Heart

28th August 2015:
Moving along, moving along...

GryCReMo (Review #38)

Whew! At least Neville still has his wits about him. As long as Wren and Albus have Neville on their side, I think there's a good chance that things will work out alright.

Leaning back in his chair, he noted that Pince still had that wild glint in her eye, staring greedily at the mass of children like they were a tasty meal. -- Would it be entirely too much trouble for you to kill her off at the end of the story? Never liked that one. Pretty please?

Funny that the Ravenclaws are the ones who are cheering for Dillon loudest. Perhaps they're a bit too brainy for their own good.

Neville mentally kicked himself for not doing more than just passing along the information to the headmistress. -- I'm also mentally kicking him. Sheesh!

Even the Sorting Hat doesn't want anything to do with Dillon. The hat knows what time it is.

Scorpius squeezed himself in front of her. "What?" he snapped, affronted at their tight lipped faces. "She's clean. I checked."

"I bet you did," muttered Rose.
-- Brilliant! No scene is ever too tense for a little smutty humor.

Ha! Did you empty all of your unused (and gently used) British slang into a single passage of Scorpius's dialog?

So one thing is bugging me about this chapter. I think Neville seems far too OK with the idea of Wren continuing to be in harm's way. I know he's probably not as over-protective a parent as Molly Weasley -- who is, really? -- but still the idea of sending her off to the enthralled Headmistress's office seemed like a bit much. I'm still sort of surprised that nobody is trying to contact the Ministry or the Aurors. Granted, I know that would never work with the plot, but it seems like somebody should at least think about the possibility of contacting Harry.

Aww.. Rose and Scorpius are having a moment. Now's certainly not a bad time, since they could both be captured and enthralled before they get another chance. And it all started with talking about Wren and Albus's non-relationship. Now that Rose is clued in, I'd say it's only a matter of time. Neither Albus nor Wren is going to have any peace from her until they stop being so stubborn.

“A polarity-charmed banana,” she said softly, and the door slid open. -- Sometimes the simplest answer is also the correct one. ;)

Oh, boy. You are going to kill of Sloan, right? Seriously, this guy is nothing but bad news whenever he pops up. Now he's telling Dillon everything he needs to know to turn into some sort of over-powered psycho vampire. Maybe the giant, freaking rabbit from the Library could step on him or something? Please?

You're doing an awesome job driving your plot toward the big finale! At least I assume that's what's coming. I have to go find out...

Author's Response:

I see Neville as a pretty responsible adult. And with his own child on the line, he's not likely to abandon them when they need him the most.

Okay, so I want you to remember what you just said here about Pince for later.

So as you can see, this is the part where things go from bad to worse, and I had to figure out how to do that without making my characters look completely stupid. That was hard, I tell you. Fortunately, it wasn't too difficult to spread the second-guessing around.

Glad you appreciate the bit with the Sorting Hat. It's only supposed to work with wizards. That should be a big clue right there to anyone in the room who thinks Dillon is still a cute little kid, but alas. He's got most of them brainwashed already.

Scorpius and Rose... things are never easy with them. I couldn't let this story be any different. But I do have to admit, that line was so much fun.

Yeah, it bugged me too. Small revision to make him look more responsible. I think it put a bump in the prose, but at this point, I was just looking for places to keep the character consistency going.

You're reading Rose like a book, Dan. Actually, she's not that hard for everyone else to figure out. Too bad she couldn't just look at herself in the mirror a few chapters back and say, "Oh, THAT's what I'm supposed to do." But she's getting there. Slowly.

So, um... is it bad of me to actively look for a place to insert the word "banana" in my story as hard as I did?

I'm not sorry you feel so strongly about Sloan. At this point, I just hope you think his story arc came to a satisfactory end. I thought it was fitting.

Yes yes. Please find out what happens. Read like the wind!!

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Review #22, by CambAngstRabbit Heart: 27. Racing Hearts

28th August 2015:
Hello, again, Pix. Not wanting to give you wrinkles, but alas I do need to maintain some sort of pace here.

GryCReMo (Review #37)

So Albus in the Prefect's meeting... um, remind me why he thought this was a good idea again? He's nearly as crazy as his father, always needing to run right into the middle of dangerous situations just so he knows what's going on. I'll tell you what's going on, Albus: people are getting sucked dry and enthralled. Wouldn't you be better off finding Wren and a nice, quiet, safe place to talk instead?

Oh, man! The shoe phone scene was a riot to imagine. Here he is, surrounded by vampire thrawls, talking to Scorpius on his shoe. I'm adding Maxwell Smart to that list with Elmer Fudd and Vito Corleone on it. I can picture poor Albus, trying to play it cool.

Now he felt incredibly stupid. Yeah, of course he’d thought he was going to get away with walking into a room full of people who could read each other’s minds. -- Well, when you put it like that...

The conversation between Albus and James felt like it was missing something. For me, at least, I expected it to be harder for Albus to convince James of what was happening. I think the scene would have played better if the Prefects on the map were doing something more sinister. Either that, or play up what was going on in the Hospital Wing more. Just something other than Albus's word to make James realize that something very bad was happening in the castle.

Wren and Callie are certainly brave. They march right into the belly of the beast to retrieve Rose. Your descriptions of the Hospital Wing were pretty gruesome and creepy. Not a place I'd want to be.

I really liked the scene where they had to fight their way out of the Hospital Wing. Maybe "fight" isn't quite the right word, but it was no mean feat getting out of there, either. Poor Wren couldn't save everyone, but she has a pretty good group to work with now.

Oh, my. Dillon's coming in, isn't he? That can't be good.

Need to keep going. Story is so good now...

Author's Response:

You managed quite a few more reviews than I did, but that's okay. I maintained my facial cream regimen. I should be alright. See? The things we learn from our characters. Serena would be so proud.

Ah, let's think that through. What would have happened if Wren and Albus just took off to "talk" right now? *shudders* On second thought, I'd rather not contemplate that. Bad timing. That's what it would be.

I loved the shoe phone back in chapter *early on* and I really wanted it not to be a one-off in this story. Hence the return. And it added an element of "meanwhile on the other side of the castle" without actually saying, "meanwhile on the other side of the castle". If you know what I mean. Which I'm sure you do.

James sees more on the map now. I think that fixed the issue you felt about it. You deserve cookies for your good eyes and excellent suggestions. This is why I love reviews. :)

No, I don't think "fight" is the right word, but Wren and Callie did have to use their brains to get out of there in one piece. Obviously, I couldn't have Wren save everyone or there'd not be much reason for more chapters after this. I agree. She's got a really tight bunch of people that will stand by her now. It's what she needs.


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Review #23, by CambAngstFull of Grace: It's Better This Way.

27th August 2015:
Hi, Beth! I know I can't fix your unfulfilled review swap, but maybe I can make your evening a little brighter. :) Or your morning, if you've already turned in for the night.

GryCReMo (Review #36)

You can summon some very powerful feelings of sorrow when you put your mind to it! I really, truly hope that there isn't much personal experience shining through in this story, because it's hauntingly, heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The type of beautiful that you feel very deeply in a way that hurts enough to remind you how good life really is.

I think you touched on all the right things to show how miserable Molly's life has become. The simple, little things that she always drew such satisfaction from have become burdens. Awful reminders of how life once felt. The food has no appeal and the table is forever imperfect because it will always be missing one place setting. Everything reminds her of what she's lost.

Children are meant to bury their parents, not the other way around. -- Ain't that the truth. This saying always seemed so cliche until I had children of my own. Now it's an invitation to ponder things that I can't bear to think about.

Arthur tries to help, but you make it clear why Molly is reluctant to want to let him.

Feeling better is dangerous, because it makes the next wave of emotion so much more intense. -- Again, perfectly explained. A severely depressed person feeling a bit of relief can be like a sip of water for someone who's dying of thirst. It only serves as contrast to make the lows feel worse.

Talking always seems to help a burdened soul, and I'm happy that Molly discovered her own form of therapy. It was a brilliant way to wrap the story up, along with all of her children discovering her standing in the snow, talking to a gravestone and perhaps wondering if she'd gone a little ways around the bend. But if they can all find a small smirk in it, so much the better. It's obvious that the whole family has a lot of healing to do, and sometimes that starts with a laugh.

Your writing was absolutely beautiful in this. You paced it very well and the words you picked were a perfect match to the mood and tone of the story. Keeping the dialog mostly out of it was a good choice, as well. I only saw one small thing that might be a typo:

The wind would rustle the leaves to deafening levels and the garden gnomes scampered through the crisp brush would buzz through her head. -- scampering through the crisp brush?

Awesome job! I hope this helped to brighten your evening just a bit.

P.S. - Not joking. D-E-A-D!


Author's Response: Dan,

You picked this one.

This was tough for me to write and (I've found) even tougher for me to reply to reviews.

I did draw on some personal experience for this one - but I can say thankfully that I've never had to bury a child. My experience might be considered a little 'lighter' than Molly's, but it was difficult for me all the same.

I wrote it for a bunch of reasons. It was cathartic and I'd read a few 'Molly grieving for Fred' stories and I didn't feel like they hit the mark. The song was also significant to me and when this challenge appeared, I signed up for it sort of as the push to get me to write it.

"...hauntingly, heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The type of beautiful that you feel very deeply in a way that hurts enough to remind you how good life really is."

Gah! This is probably one of the best things anyone has ever said about my writing. Your reviews are themselves little masterpieces of your amazing talents. I don't know how you do it.

Admittedly, when I wrote this, I didn't know where I was going with it or how I was going to end it. There isn't a turning point with grief - as in you can never go back to the way things were before, but hopefully Molly finds a new place to be that isn't so painful.

And haha! I didn't even think that the kids watching Molly would be amusing to them, but I really, REALLY like that the story can lead to different interpretations of how they reacted to her at that moment.

Oh! And I fixed my error and edited 'scampering' to the proper tense. Thanks for finding that!

And thanks again - you DEFINITELY brightened my day with this. It was so kind of you - and totally unexpected - and just awesome.

♥ Beth

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Review #24, by CambAngstRabbit Heart: 26. Straight Through the Heart

27th August 2015:
Hey, Pix! You definitely picked a good chapter title for this one. Blows to the feels happening all over the place.

GryCReMo (Review #35)

Oh, Wren. I'm not sure this is going to turn out to be a good choice she's made in the long run. I'm really curious, however, as to what happened to Bunny that came so close to killing him. Did he have a bad encounter with some of the other demon rabbits? Was it the separation from Wren? It didn't seem like that had bothered him so much up to this point. Was he simply starving to death from lack of blood? Inquiring minds want to know.

Ah, the Smeed and Burns story comes complete. And also neatly ties into Dillon's story. Wow, so Smeed and Augusta were a thing at some point? Crazy! I hope we hear more about that one later on. There are a lot of things happening here that I wouldn't have guessed, but that's the point of a Big Reveal. Dillon was a victim of a magic-drunk vampire, from the sound of things. His mother must have realized this, so if I'm reading between the lines correctly, she allowed Dillon to feed in order to save him from death. A very motherly thing to do, if not exactly a smart one. And perhaps she had no idea what Dillon could become. Ah, Uncle Toby has joined the party! One small observation: one of his names changed from "Travers" to "Trevor" between the last chapter and this one.

As I recall, you fell for the proper burial line from the grieving mother. -- Yeah, we've all fallen for that one at some point in our youth. ;)

He moved aside a chair full of rubble and swept half a century of dust off of the writing desk. -- Here's one more small thing I love about your writing style. Letting us know that Dillon has been a vampire for fifty years without somebody coming out and saying that he's been a vampire for fifty years. Bravo!

It's a good thing the vampire thrawls are sort of slow and clumsy, otherwise Albus and Scorpius would have been in even bigger trouble.

I've read through the last scene with Albus and Wren twice now. Something is still bugging me about it. I think it's that I'm having a hard time following the progression of Albus's feelings to the angry, disappointed place where he ends up. There's something -- ugh, is "disjointed" the word I'm looking for? -- about it. It just seemed to me that he was too quick to jump to the conclusion that there was something nefarious going on with Wren, or that her appearance was a sign of some personal failing on her part. My suggestion would be to mix up his feelings more. Let him be confused by the fact that he feels this repulsion toward her and let that confusion be a big part of his reaction.

Otherwise, another awesome chapter! I feel us barreling toward the conclusion!

Author's Response:

Hey again! I'm getting, I'm getting, but all these shiny reviews just look so beautiful in my "unanswered reviews" section. Oh well. Time to make that number go down. *sad sigh*

I revised a few things in this chapter after your review. Not sure if I answered your burning questions or not, but I definitely tried to brush up the clarity. You know me and clarity. Always an uphill battle.

There is something about the secret life of a vampire that intrigues me. I admit that there were many threads of backstory that kept popping out when Smeed decided to make a larger presence in this story, but I didn't have time for all of them, and besides, it's not HIS story. I kept having to explain that to him.

And now Smeed has the "Don't take my kindness for weakness" line to add to his repertoire, thanks to Burns' observations. #vampireproblems. This was the turning point for him, where he realizes that he really is a cold-blooded hunter and should start acting like it. That's why he gets a bit touchy with Albus later.

That scene with Albus and Wren, that RIGHT THERE received several lengthy discussions with my betas and everyone was coming at it from different angles. Needless to say, adjustments have been made. As I said above, I don't know if I managed to fully address everything, but it should be at least a more logical progression. Albus' feelings were very difficult for me to wrangle in this story. Such confliction.

That should be a word, by the way. "Confliction".

All the flattering things. I thank you again.


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Review #25, by CambAngstRabbit Heart: 25. Beating Hearts

26th August 2015:
Hi, Pix! It's me again, your suddenly motivated former beta reader turned serial reviewer.

GryCReMo (Review #34)

I really like how casual Nate and his uncle are about the whole vampire thing. I suppose it's no more casual than wizards are about the wizard thing or goblins are about the goblin thing, but the point is that the just take it all in stride. Apart from a few misunderstandings, there's nothing overly mysterious or menacing about Uncle Toby. And I love the name, for reasons we've already discussed elsewhere.

For his part, Nate kept really true to form. He feels badly for exposing his uncle to someone who might be prejudiced against vampires. Again, it's mostly a misunderstanding but it shows where all of the philosophical talk about vampire rights was coming from.

She took one of the sealed bottles of water and clutched it in her lap. There was no need to die dehydrated... -- That's my girl! Practical, to the last.

“I fell in love. Like you, Wren. And at about your age too. I was lucky enough to land a dream job at The Times, taking photographs of famous people, and we were never apart. Oh, she was a big, bony thing, all smoke and leggy tripods everywhere, not like the compact contraptions you use today.” -- Slow clap. This was completely brilliant. It took me two or three reads to figure out what he was talking about, and then it was brilliant.

Uncle Toby is pretty awesome. That line about looking forward to the children's birthdays brought it home beautifully.

“Smeed? Good man, he is.” Nate’s uncle looked her up and down. “I’d thought he had outgrown his tastes for a young thing such as yourself by now.” -- Ha! Yeah, that one made me laugh out loud. I guess it's a small world when you're undead.

Hmmnn... The line about what might happen to Dillon started me thinking. It seems fairly clear that the Vampire Council isn't simply going to leave him be. I know it's not the best analogy, but I'm thinking of how bears who've learned to attack humans have to be "dealt with". Not a pretty picture. Especially since we know that Dillon's motivations are basically innocent, if misguided.

Oh, boy. Nate is a thrill-seeker. If only he knew the kinds of "thrills" that Hogwarts students have stumbled upon in the past without even needing to seek them out. Perhaps he'd be less enthusiastic.

Albus is frustratingly thick. Or perhaps it's just that he can't focus on more than one thing at a time. Dealing with James or dealing with Wren. At the moment, he needs to be doing less of the former and more of the latter.

“You’re going to talk to her? As in, have a conversation, with words? What was in your juice this morning?” -- It's the new thing, Albus. Even Scorpius is doing it. You might want to give it a try, you ignoramus.

Well, there goes McGonagall's plan for dealing with Demon Bunny Zero. And it went so badly that Ackerly has gone from being the solution to being part of the problem. When will people at Hogwarts learn to stop trusting the creepy librarian?

Interesting. So it seems like Albus's rabbit got drunk on wizard blood and went rogue. Maybe Dillon will yet be part of the solution here and not just the problem. I have the strangest feeling as though Dillon's role in this story will evolve some more before it's over.

Great job! I shall return!

Author's Response:

What is this, Chapter 25?? How words fly by.

Good morning! If this is how you serialize yourself, I don't mind at all. Go right ahead. I'm enjoying all of it.

Haha, Toby's name was fun to come up with. I didn't know how to top the other vampire names in this story, already having 'Smeed' and 'Burns', but he got a good one, I think. He's also the only vampire with nomenclature options. I like that too about him.

Yes, Wren's practical. That was very important to me. It's a big part of her story.

Ah, I'm glad you liked that line about the camera. Still, if you had to read it more than once to get it, there's something wrong. I rearranged the sentences to lead-in with the camera. I think it clears it up a bit better.

I made you laugh I made you laugh! *bounces up and down* Do I get points for that? :P

It's sad about the bears. Now I feel sad. *mourns bears* And erm, yeah, Nate's enthusiasm gets tempered eventually. He doesn't know what he's in for until he gets thrown to the wovles... rabbits...? I just don't know anymore. My poor brain.

Naw, that line was totally supposed to be throwing it back in Scorpius' face. Albus is not anti-talk, he's just distracted by things, like James, and flesh-eating monsters. You know, the important things.

Don't you trust librarians? They are so knowledgeable and helpful, and full of information and... okay, maybe not so much here.

You hope for fantastic things, Dan. Thanks for another wonderful review!


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