Reading Reviews From Member: nott theodore
  
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Review #1, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: nine.

20th June 2016:
Well, I have to say, I was not expecting that to happen.

I mean, I'm kind of glad that it is happening and that the school is doing what it can to protect its students, and Dave will be able to stay with Lorcan and not have to deal with his homophobic parents. But I also feel like something is not going to go very well here and there's all sorts of potential for chaos and everything to go badly?

The wards going up seems like a kind of extreme reaction at first, and I didn't think that August was going to do that much to help when Dave first told him, but at the same time I'm glad they've done something. Because nobody deserves to have to go back to a "home" with parents who can't accept them for who they are, and at least the school is accepting and protective of its own.

Essie really seems to be in her element at the start of this chapter, and I think she'll do a good job of guarding Leopold (I hope). Even so, I think that Leopold being there is probably going to cause a lot of trouble. Maybe he won't realise at first that the wards have gone up, but he's bound to find out at some point that there's a Muggle pupil and the staff have just gone to perform an illegal memory charm on a Muggle and all of that is highly illegal and enough to get the school shut down.

Lorcan was so adorable ♥ I felt so sorry for him when he was convinced that it was his fault and he didn't understand why nobody was blaming him. I'm glad that nobody was, though, because it wasn't his fault at all.

I liked the ending of this chapter, too, when we saw that Essie was starting to feel a bit lonely and left out from the others in her school. It's definitely true that she has really different needs to those in her year, especially emotionally, and even if she's more mature than most people her age, she's still in a different position. I'm glad that Maisie has recognised that she might need someone to talk to, and I hope that Essie takes her up on that offer soon!

Sian :)
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Review #2, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: eight.

20th June 2016:
Nonononononononono.

Please don't tell me this is really happening, no.

I should have known that this was too good to last, because things have been going so well in the story to now and it was surprisingly simple and easy for Dave and Lorcan to get together. And then there's the fact that Leopold has helpfully not realised that Dave is actually a Muggle and he's at a magical school, and now I feel like everything is going to go wrong and I'm not entirely sure that I'm ready for it.

The first part felt kind of different to the second part of the chapter, and maybe a few more links there would have helped, if that makes sense? I think the broody walk in the rain fitted how Dave was feeling but it would have helped if you'd maybe mentioned those feelings a bit earlier, so he was trying to get away from the questions.

It's so brave of him to try and prepare to tell his parents, especially after the fact that he's heard his mum saying homophobic things in the past, so he knows there's not much chance that it's going to go well. I really wish there'd been someone who could have helped him and understood how he was feeling about it, but it is something he had to do on his own. Now I'm really regretting the fact that he didn't ask his sister Claire to come back for the weekend. I know it's something he felt that he had to do on his own, but surely the support from his sister would have helped temper his parents' reactions, particularly since she's a bit older?

It's not helped that he's been lying to them about having a girlfriend so they were probably shocked, but oh my god his parents' reaction is so homophobic and not okay and I don't know how they can still react like that because it's 2030 and they need to get over themselves and their prejudices. Even so, I know that there are plenty of people who can't come out to their parents at all because they know that the reaction will be a terrible one, and I know people with really awful stories about their coming out, so this is completely believable, if heartbreaking.

I'm so worried about what's going to happen now. If his parents really want him to leave the school, I don't see what can be done about it, because he's not meant to be there in the first place and he's not even an adult so I don't know what's going to happen. I just don't want all the characters to be heartbroken and I really help August can help ♥

Sian :)
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Review #3, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: seven.

20th June 2016:
*flails*

THIS IS ADORABLE.

Seriously, I love these two together so much. They're so cute and I'm glad that you didn't decide to be a cruel author (yet) and tear them apart before they'd even had a chance to be together. They're just really, really cute and I hope that they stay together.

Your characterisation of Lorcan is so realistic. I like how the style that you use when you write about each character is subtly different from others, and then when you write Lorcan in particular, it's much more logical because that's the way that he sees the world. I don't think you even realise how many unspoken rules we have as a society until you meet someone who struggles to understand them the same way a lot of people do (or at least I didn't) and how hard everyday life can be for them to navigate.

I loved how it was quite simple for Lorcan in some senses of the word, and that he knew how he felt about David and that he wanted to be his boyfriend, but he just wasn't sure how to navigate that because he knew he couldn't kiss friends the same way that boyfriends kiss. In the end, I wasn't expecting him to be the one to open up and say to David that he wanted to be his boyfriend, but it fit so well with the story and I loved how simple and natural it seemed.

Basically Lorcan feels a lot like a brother or friend right now and I keep wanting to give him hugs ♥ Relationships are confusing and stressful things for lots of people and it's no wonder he was so anxious about it. But I love the fact that him and David have come up with a way to work around it, and have a rule book for the two of them. David seems to understand Lorcan so well, and Lorcan really trusts him, and I'm so excited to see them together ♥

Sian :)
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Review #4, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: six.

20th June 2016:
Hello again!

It was so nice to return to Lys in this chapter, and so interesting to see the way that he's developing as a character after what's been going on in the last few chapters. I feel like he's definitely more disillusioned with the school here than he was when the story started, and that makes a lot of sense. Leopold's presence has made him question things that he'd come to accept as fact, and remember that there is a different way which might even suit him, as an extrovert, better. I think it's only natural that he's questioning those sorts of things and wondering about what he wants to do, though, because he's at the sort of age when you start getting restless about being tied down to what you've been used to all your life.

I really like the differences in the curriculum at Haversham's and Hogwarts. I know that part of the reason Hogwarts has such a magic-focused curriculum is because it was intended to be different to Muggle school, but at the same time it doesn't really provide for a rounded education or different interests. Health classes and different sports are such a good idea! (Although rugby with a school of 29 pupils must be interesting :P)

I loved Lorcan summoning the dictionary to prove a point about the definition of terrible :P That was so sweet, but fits in so well with his character.

So many good lines in this chapter! I want to quote them all back at you but it would take half the review and I suspect that other people have already beaten me to it. But I love the fact that Lysander was so accepting and encouraging to Dave, because even though he got to talk to Essie, it's a bit different talking to someone your own age about it. I really hope that Lys was right about it not being awkward if Lorcan doesn't feel the same (but mostly that he does feel the same)...

Sian :)
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Review #5, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: five.

20th June 2016:
Hola!

It was really interesting to see a chapter focusing on Leopold, actually. I was hoping we'd get to find out more about him and what he's doing - because after all, his report is the basis for the whole story - so I really enjoyed this chapter. He's kind of an outsider to the rest of the group and still is, even after this chapter, but it was great to find out more about him.

I think there are a lot of people who feel like Leopold does at his age, to be honest. If you do well in school and get a "good" (safe) job, you're led to believe that you're going to do really well in life and be successful. But I think we measure success the wrong way, to be honest, and it's no wonder that so many people are unhappy by the time they reach their thirties because they've pursued what they think they should be doing rather than happiness. I feel like being put in a class with a lot of sixth years is going to make him face some truths about himself that he'd rather not face.

Yes, Lysander! That's so true about labels - I think that so many people who don't really understand concepts about gender identity/sexuality etc. say "we don't need labels for everything" because they don't get that the difference can be so hard for some people and finding out that you're not the only one who feels that way and you're not alone makes so much difference. I really hope that goes back to the Ministry and they can make some use of that, because it's true that they can save lives. Plus, once you have a label for something, it becomes real and people can make provisions for it and offer support.

Okay, I'm going to try and stop myself before I go on too much of a rant about education here, but basically I love the fact that this school has such an alternative way of teaching. There's no one right way to educate people because one size doesn't fit all, and these teachers actually seem to have understood that, at least.

Since Haversham's are meeting the requirements for the Ministry curriculum, I really hope that they don't get in any trouble and they can continue with what they're doing, rather than being shut down.

I'm glad that Leopold hasn't worked out that Dave actually is a Muggle, but the theory he's come up with to replace that and will be suggesting to the Ministry is actually a pretty good one. There's no reason that people with HMDD (I love that term by the way) shouldn't have access to an education that allows them to stay involved in the world they've been born into.

Sian :)
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Review #6, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: four.

20th June 2016:
I think you might be reading my mind (you know, very far in advance because you wrote this quite a while ago now :P). A chapter about Essie was just what I wanted right now!

Like I said in my last review, I was intrigued to see how she handled the more emotional side of things, because she's obviously clever enough to handle sixth year classes and compete with the others intellectually, but emotional maturity is a very different ball game. I really liked the fact that you showed she's not all that likeable, in spite of how clever she is. I know she probably didn't realise how mean she seems - and maybe she even thinks that people won't be as upset because they're older than her? - but her ignorance is kind of normal for someone her age, I think. Maybe being with people who are older than her will actually help her on that front more than being with people her own age because she'll be introduced to ideas she wouldn't have encountered otherwise.

I kind of wanted to have a proper talk with her when I saw her asking Lysander about his gender. It's obvious she didn't realise how offensive she was being and I think that's probably because of her age, to some extent, too - like I know when I was that age my ideas were a lot more fixed because that's what I'd been surrounded with and taught, but as I got older it was easier to see that the world wasn't black and white. I'm glad that Dave stood up to her and told her that talking to Lysander and Lorcan the way she was doing wasn't okay.

It was surprisingly nice to see the empathetic side to Essie, though! I mean, she did kind of keep pestering until Dave gave in, rather than wait for him to be ready to talk to her, but I think that maybe he needed that really and at least he finally got to talk to someone. I definitely think that the empathetic side to Essie should stick around a bit more, and I hope that talking to her has helped Dave a bit, too.

I want to give Lorcan a hug again for the fact that he's so used to people teasing him, even when half the time he doesn't quite understand it. He's so sweet, he doesn't deserve for people to pick on him all the time.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of Leopold in the story, too, with the rest of the group. He could really change the dynamics!

Sian :)
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Review #7, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: three.

20th June 2016:
Hello!

Aw yay, it doesn't seem like it was too early to start shipping Dave and Lorcan together! I don't know if you realise how happy this chapter made me, but the fact that I'm not shipping them with no foundation is making me smile a lot.

I love Dave! It's great to see him becoming a more important character and essentially getting his own chapter here, because I wasn't sure how much focus there'd be on him after the first chapter, with him being Dave the Muggle and not necessarily really belonging to a school of magic? But I love the fact that you've shown he does belong there and that we got to explore more of his character.

All of these arts and humanities classes are so important, so I love seeing them getting the opportunity to learn more about that side of things. Like the politics focusing on the links between the Muggle and magical world makes so much sense, because even though the two communities are different they're living in the same country, and you can learn important lessons from the other.

Aw, Dave though ♥ I thought he'd been thrown out of class for being protective over Lorcan and that's so adorable, although he's right and the teacher really should know better. There are definitely people who are old-fashioned and don't understand things as well because they've not grown up in the same society, but that's not an excuse for intolerance.

I wanted to give Dave a hug here, too - this is becoming a common theme with these characters. He's clearly struggling with his sexuality and is not really dealing with it in the best way. I'm really hoping that he and Lorcan can get together but I'm not sure that he'll be able to subtly hint at it with Lorcan and actually have him understand? It also sucks that his mum was so bigoted and insulting, because why does it matter if he's gay at all, or any sexuality, as long as he's happy? Ugh. I really hope that he does find someone to talk to about it, but it can't be easy with such a small circle of people there.

Essie is a really cute character, but I'm interested to see how she develops over the rest of the story. She's obviously really clever and can keep up with all the others intellectually, and proves that regularly, but on an emotional basis she's probably at a very different stage to the others in her year just because she's quite a bit younger, so I wonder if that's going to change dynamics at all.

Poor Leopold, I can't help feeling sorry for him being thrown into all of this without really knowing what's going on :P

Sian :)
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Review #8, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: two.

20th June 2016:
Hello again!

Each of these chapters that I've read has made me love this story even more than the last! There's so much variation and representation in this story and it's so much fun to read and see all sorts of characters in it. I'm actually reading this and likening all the different characters to people I know in my own life so hopefully that tells you how realistically you've written them.

I liked the fact that Lorcan is so different to Lys, as well. I know loads of twins (sometimes it feels like a disproportionate number haha) and some are really similar, some are really different, and some don't get on at all, just like normal siblings. I think it's really realistic to have two people that are so different and aren't that close, particularly as Lys seems like such a big personality and Lorcan finds that hard to deal with.

I love the fact that there's so much variety in the different classes they choose, too! And that Lorcan has picked his classes on the teachers that he likes most and finds easiest to deal with (also yes, thank you, being good at a subject does not mean you're going to be a good teacher, so I love the fact that Leebs has studied teaching and knows how to adapt her style to different pupils). It's interesting that Defence isn't a really popular subject like it is at Hogwarts, but I think with the different histories that makes a lot of sense.

Is it wrong for me to be shipping Lorcan and David already? Oh well, too late :P David seems really sweet, and it's so nice that Lorcan can trust him to adapt and be on his side. One of my best friends has Asperger's, too, and it's definitely hard for people to register how much more difficult seemingly normal/easy things are for them, so I found your portrayal of Lorcan really believable and I kind of wanted to give him a hug. I'm glad that he has David there!

Sian :)
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Review #9, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: one.

20th June 2016:
Back again :D

“so, are you – sorry – um – are you a boy or a girl?”

“Nah,” Lys would say, flash them a grin, and move on.


This is perfect. I just love the answer that Lys gives to that question, and the fact that you've included a gender queer character is so great to see. I feel like there's more inclusion and visibility for different sexualities but not necessarily for different gender identities, so it's really exciting that you've included Lysander.

Also, of course Lorcan and Lysander would be sent to Haversham Westley's instead of Hogwarts. I can definitely see Luna and Rolf making that decision for their kids and wanting them to have access to a more inclusive and alternative education.

I love how inclusive the school seems so far, too. The years are really small (four people is so tiny!) but I suspect that means the teachers can stretch their students a lot more because of it. And Dave the Muggle! That's so brilliant, that he was enrolled before they realised he wasn't actually magical and now he still hangs around with them. I'm surprised poor Leopold hasn't had a fit yet about the Statute being broken.

The curriculum sounds like a lot more fun, too. I love the fact that there's languages and different subjects available (that's a surprise) that people might need after school as well.

I feel like Leopold just walked into this school and has been caught up in a real whirlwind now and doesn't quite know what to make of it. This is going to be so much fun to read :P

Sian :)
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Review #10, by nott theodoreHaversham Westley's School for Boys: prologue.

20th June 2016:
Hello! I've been intrigued by this story since I remember seeing you post about it during NaNo last year, but stupid uni got in the way of me reading it. Plus, I've not read enough of your work and I could hardly leave you out in a review event for LGBTQA+ Pride, could I? :P You're like the master of writing diverse stories, and I was really excited to read this!

This is going to be SO MUCH FUN. I can tell already that I'm just going to enjoy this story. You have such a nice writing style, it's really witty and engaging, and my first impressions of this story are like a magical version of St. Trinian's.

Haversham Westley's sounds so interesting and so much fun - I love the idea of a pureblood deciding to go against everything that his family has taught him and go to Muggle (gasp!) university to study, and then set up this school. An alternative school of magic that teaches all sorts of different subjects that aren't offered at Hogwarts is going to be so much fun to read about.

I love the teachers' reaction to the news that they're going to be audited. Nobody likes school inspectors and I love the idea of Leopold having to spend an entire term taking the same classes as the sixth years - although I kind of feel sorry for him a little bit too. From the sounds of the sixth year students, there's going to be chaos - I can't wait to meet them!

Sian :)
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Review #11, by nott theodoreThis is Chemistry: SN1

20th June 2016:
Hey!

*digs chemistry from years ago out of brain*

I have to admit that a lot of this chemistry was kind of alien to me because it's been so long since I studied it (and even then I don't remember using all these terms? Maybe they teach us different things in the UK :P) but I really liked the way that you used it to tell your story. The ideas of attraction and balancing each other out fit in really well with chemistry, and also the idea of two people (or house elves, in this case) being attracted to each other and forming a bond.

Speaking of which, how on earth did you come up with the idea for a love story (sorry - chemical reaction) between two house elves? I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before, and I liked the originality of it. Throughout the story I was kind of thinking that it was two students who were thrown together in the container known as Hogwarts, and then it turned out to be two elves. I'm really intrigued whether or not you had any specific elves in mind for this, or if it was up to us to choose? I think maybe it would have helped to have names or something to anchor the story into canon a little more, but I really enjoyed it anyway, and the way that you used chemistry to explain their attraction and bond. Now I'm imagining lots of cute love stories between house elves at Hogwarts :P

Sian :)
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Review #12, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Luxembourg

20th June 2016:
Laura! Yay, I'm finally caught up and this is so exciting :D I can't believe that these last few chapters haven't had any reviews yet, so I'm glad I get to show them some love, even if they're not quite as long as my usual reviews would be.

This chapter was perfect ♥ When I read the opening section, and the sadness that tinged all of Gellert's thoughts, I honestly didn't think that I would get to read about them later on ♥

The opening was beautiful, if sad - I loved the way that Gellert reflected on the seasons and birth and rebirth. Considering the way that he (and Albus) intended to master death, it's really intriguing to see the way that you use those motifs to explore their feelings about each other. And I loved the reference to Olympus and the Greek gods, too - I meant to mention this in some of the other reviews, actually, but I love all the references to mythology that you include. They fit so well with the characters of both Gellert and Albus, and the way that they see themselves in stories of people who have gone before, at the same time as trying to carve out their own paths.

I can't lie, I may have been fangirling more than a little at the ending of this chapter. I don't think that Albus and Gellert is an entirely healthy couple, for either of them and for everybody else, but they love each other and they got to be together again, and it was so adorable to see that ♥

Gellert was actually kind of funny in the way that he was trying to tease the information out of Elphias about Albus, because he didn't want to be so obvious as to ask. Then, at the same time, even though he was convinced that there was nothing to Elphias that made him a rival in Albus's affection, he was jealous of him, and of the time that they spent together. I think that - and the fact that he dropped everything to return to Albus - shows how much he really loves him.

I'm actually really glad that it was Gellert rather than Albus that sought the other out, though - I feel like Gellert has so much power that it's good for him not to be the one in control all the time, commanding people around him? And then Albus and Gellert got to be together again ♥ I don't know how long it's for but I am glad that they get another chance to be together, even if it's not going to end up in a proper relationship and any future together.

I love the way that you write the relationship between them. Those last lines, and the fact that Gellert is always Albus's, and vice versa - it's just so heartbreaking. Their relationship is so interesting, and there are so many facets to it which you explore, and it's fascinating to read about. I can't help wondering whether they would have actually been able to be happy together if Gellert hadn't been so determined to conquer and rule - but then, I don't think Albus would have been half as attracted to him. The dynamic is just so interesting and it's like they're lovers and enemies all at once - true equals.

I loved this chapter and now I'm all caught up with the story (finally! It took me long enough :P) I can't wait for the next chapter! ♥

Sian :)
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Review #13, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Syntax

20th June 2016:
Hello!

Oh dear. I feel like this will not end very well? But maybe it's necessary. I don't know...

The opening section was so bittersweet, as Albus lingered on all the memories that he held so dear to him. I think you got that exactly right; it's the small moments, seemingly insignificant at that time, which are so important later. The memories of them having that time together were so sweet and I couldn't help feeling sorry for him for missing that, even though so much time has passed.

There is so much truth in this story. I love the way that you're getting all of this wisdom into the story through Albus and Gellert, because it doesn't often fit into novels unless you have a character that can actually recognise it and communicate it.

I don't know why, but I'm kind of nervous about what this sabbatical is going to do to Albus. He's going right into the heart of the land that Gellert is planning on conquering, and he'll be brought so much closer to him - I don't know whether he'll be able to resist the lure of seeing him, although I hope that he'll at least be able to resist the lure of those ideas they both once held so dear.

At the same time, I think that Albus does need freedom. He took the teaching job for protection (for his own, but maybe for other people's too?) but if he's not enjoying it and his heart isn't in it, then it isn't fair to stay there. Teaching isn't a job you should settle in, it's one you should be passionate about, because a good teacher can make such a difference to someone's life. I think Professor Black recognises that, and realises that it's not right for Albus - at least, not at this point in time. I'm hoping that when he comes back from his sabbatical he'll be able to enjoy teaching more and see the value in it.

Aberforth knows Albus so well. Even without saying the words, you could see that he really cares about him and doesn't want any harm to come to him - for him to be hurt again by Gellert or for him to be drawn into Gellert's schemes. Albus has already said that Aberforth uses few words, but I think the ones he did say carried a lot of meaning and showed how aware of the danger he is, and how much he cares about Albus. That was actually really sweet.

Sian :)
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Review #14, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Germany

20th June 2016:
Hi Laura!

I don't know how you're doing this, but this chapter actually made me want to give Gellert a hug. A HUG. He's Gellert Grindelwald, I shouldn't be feeling sorry for someone who did so many bad things! This is your fault :P

The opening was kind of sad, though - I think this chapter did a really good job to emphasise how lonely Gellert was, and his own knowledge that he was lonely, which of course only made him wish for Albus more. It's kind of like he's been permanently lonely, with his childhood (although there were people there for him) and then choosing to rise to power. The fact that he hears his father's voice sometimes is sad - it really shows how much he's missing the life he once had.

I think that Gellert's right - there is a difference between winning and losing. I'm not sure that Albus won, though, or that it was just Gellert who lost. If Albus had won that day, he'd never have had to fight Gellert in the first place.

I may be a little confused trying to work out if there's an answer to Gellert's philosophical questions about asking questions, but I really loved that. It was kind of poetic in the way that he pondered the subject and shows the sort of person he is really well.

The conversation with the king of Prussia was really interesting! I actually love the idea that a lot of the European rulers could have been witches and wizards or had magical blood in their families, because it would have been quite easy for them to gain power when the magic and Muggle communities lived together, and then use it to keep power secretly later on. Hmm, new head canon possibly...?

The warning that the king gave Gellert was very true, though - I know that Gellert doesn't want to listen to it, and he thinks he's already lonely, but I think it was good advice. The people that he wants to rule for are going to get hurt - he can't possibly protect everyone. I'm really intrigued to see whether he still cares about them the way that he seemed to in earlier chapters, or if he'll learn to accept their suffering as a necessary for him to rule.

The idea of creating yourself a country and a homeland is actually quite powerful; I can't help but be a little impressed with the notion. Gellert is definitely someone who will take what he wants, and if he can't find it, will make it.

Sian :)
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Review #15, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Phonology

20th June 2016:
Hellooo!

Again, the reflections on language and music ♥ It's just so beautiful and I love the way that you write about both of them, as living, breathing entities that are comparable to living people and their lives. The style of the opening, in particular, of this chapter, was actually almost musical in the way that the words flowed so beautifully. You're so talented, and I am very jealous :P

I can definitely understand Albus wanting freedom from Hogwarts. To be honest, I can't imagine having been there as a student - as exciting as it would be to go to a school surrounded by magic, surely there would be times when you just want to get away from everyone and everything. As a teacher, at least you have some freedom to leave the castle and go off on your own, but for a man who once had such wonderful dreams, who planned on travelling the world, the confinement must have been frustrating.

I think, knowing more about Albus - what we learnt in the seventh book in particular - it's so easy to see that this must have been an incredibly hard path for him to follow, even if Gellert had not been in the picture. As it is, though, it feels like he's constantly balancing on the edge of the precipice.

I'm glad that Albus managed to resume some normality, though, and stay in touch with his old friends and continue seeing them, and even begin to enjoy teaching. They might not be distractions enough for a mind like his, but even so, they're better than wallowing in self-pity.

The description of Diagon Alley in that year after the war was really striking; I can't imagine what it would have been like to live in Britain (or any of the countries involved) at that time, when the Spanish flu was ravaging a recovering population. I don't think that Albus could have prevented the war and so many deaths single-handed, but it's the turning points of history, isn't it? One decision made in those moments could have had such an impact.

I love the continuation of that secret language between Gellert and Albus, too, and the fact that, though nobody but Albus recognises it for what it is, Gellert is throwing down the gauntlet. I'm actually really excited to see how you develop his campaign and machinations!

Sian :)
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Review #16, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Bavaria

20th June 2016:
Hi again!

The image of the fairy tale castle at the start was so beautiful. I've still never seen Neuschwanstein in person, only in pictures, but I think you captured the beauty of it. It's unusual but I really like the way that Gellert is someone who does appreciate the beautiful things in life, and can love. That much alone sets him far apart from Voldemort, who doesn't understand love, and was born from the absence of it, whose only understanding is hatred. It's really refreshing to see Gellert as a character in his own right and not just an earlier version of Voldemort. There have been plenty of evil people throughout history, and terrible, tyrannic rulers, but each of them had their own motives in different ways and I feel like this story reflects that.

I loved the reflections on them both living again, but in history. It's true that you never get to choose entirely how you will be portrayed later on, when you are dead and there are others looking back at what you did; the only way you can affect it is by writing as much of that history as possible yourself. Having read the last book and the way that Rita Skeeter wrote about the two of them, I actually feel kind of sad for Gellert that nobody knew about the other side to their relationship.

Each of your chapters links so well to the previous ones, and flows on so smoothly. I loved the way that the sending of flowers from Albus to Gellert here reminded me of what they'd talked of in the last chapter, and especially the way that Albus said they had their own language between them. It's like this is their own version of that secret language keeping them connected through the years.

And Fawkes ♥ I've always wondered how Albus came by Fawkes and I love the idea of the phoenix kind of being both of theirs, which Gellert kept until Albus took over. It's no wonder that Fawkes was so dear to Albus, really. (Now I'm also wondering if, after Albus's death, Fawkes returned to Gellert in his prison one last time.)

The end of this chapter really felt like things were building, like Gellert is starting to put his plans in place and is going to begin his work. The final line about standing on the edge of the cliff was really powerful, and I love the idea behind it - one misstep could cause him to falter and fall, but if the wings he's been building work, then he will soar and fly...

Sian :)
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Review #17, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Expressions

20th June 2016:
Hola!

The language nerd in me (so most of me :P) loved the opening reflections on expressions and the way that languages change and grow. The idea about expressions is so true, the way that we each gain our own through our lives and one word can become filled with meaning for us because of its association with someone else. I liked the fact that Albus has all these expressions that he associates with Gellert, too, even if he's forgotten some of them.

The rose and the lilac - hmm, is this flower meanings? Or more specifically colours? Because I know that roses symbolise love and passion and lilac is often a reminder of first love... maybe I'm missing something here?

THE FEATHERS!! I think I got a bit too excited reading that part, because I loved the symbolism that was behind the giving of them, and was really intrigued to see what Albus was going to do. Then the way that you wove his reaction into canon was just perfect. Since phoenix feather isn't common and we know that the phoenix only gave two feathers for wand-making, it makes perfect sense that it would be these feathers used to make Harry and Voldemort's wands. There's actually something incredibly fitting about that, too, that they were given by Gellert to Albus - seen by many as the villain and hero of the generation - and then made the wands of the same characters in the next generation.

I don't think it's necessarily cowardly for Albus to run away from Gellert and not go back to him. I think it's quite brave to deny yourself what you want most of all because you know what the consequences might be. Still, he doesn't seem to be able to let Gellert go and actually enjoy a life without him.

I really like the way that you're writing Aberforth in this story; he's given so much more depth than we normally see. It's true that siblings often understand each other and know each other so well that words aren't needed, and they're the ones who can say what you need to here when it's hardest, so I like the fact that he pointed out to Albus that he didn't enjoy teaching and he wasn't being fair to his pupils.

I wonder if the loss of love is what made Albus believe in the power of it so much, and encourage it for those around him?

I was not expecting him to be sacked from teaching! I'd always imagined that he'd stay a teacher no matter what, so I'm really intrigued what might happen next!

Sian :)
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Review #18, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Sicily

20th June 2016:
Hello!

There were so many beautiful lines in this chapter (although aren't there always) that I want to quote back to you, but I'm afraid that it would fill the review and there'd be no characters left for me to actually write something :P But your descriptions of Lampedusa were beautiful! I really, really want to visit it now - I can picture it in my mind as the paradise that you described it to be.

I loved the fact that this chapter started with the notion of paradise for Gellert, and ended with the possibility of that paradise. Albus appeared in that dream of his paradise and then Albus actually appeared there too. I really liked the two possibilities that you offered us at the end, of what happened between Albus and Gellert after that meeting; it's so interesting to think that in a different world what did not happen here may have happened, and to let us decide what decision we think Albus made. It ties in with the whole dreamlike nature of the first section, too.

The idea of paradise is kind of interesting when you link it to Gellert's religion, as well. I don't think I'd ever thought of Gellert as religious, maybe because it's a topic that's largely avoided in the books and not touched on much in fic either, but it makes sense for his character that he does have some of those beliefs. I don't think he subscribes entirely to one church doctrine as people were expected to do at this time, but the idea of him having faith in something more powerful is really intriguing.

I also saw a lot more compassion in Gellert here than I expected, actually - he seems to genuinely care about the people that are losing their lives fighting in the war, and the fact that the wizards and witches are meeting in decadence to discuss it frustrates him. It's intriguing, too, that he lost half-brothers; that would make the conflict a lot more personal to him, even if he did not get on with them, and he does genuinely seem to believe in his speeches about unity. I know that it's all building up and laying foundations for the future that he wants to command, but it's interesting all the same.

I love all of the political theory in here, too, and the way that Gellert muses on governance and power! It fits in so well with his desires to rule that he would study all of the different theories, and it's so interesting to read. I've always found myself wondering what the wizards would have done during Muggle conflicts. I think I read somewhere that during WW1, wizards were banned from signing up to fight in Britain, but I don't think they could have avoided involvement completely when so many people were affected, even if their boundaries and policies were different.

The image of Albus and Gellert as two Cassandras was lovely, too! It always makes me smile when I see one of them aligning themselves with the other, as if they're the only person they truly consider equal. It's just a reminder of the way they feel.

Sian :)
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Review #19, by nott theodorePretty Little Thing: Pretty Little Thing

19th June 2016:
Hi again, Sam! ♥

But I cannot stand here and let her rewrite our history when I also hold a quill.

Excuse me while I just stand back for a few moments and stare at the beauty of this line.

This was such a wonderful story! I love angst a little bit too much, and your writing too, so this was always going to be great, but I really loved this. It was so interesting to see this sort of relationship between Septima and Rolanda - from the opening of the story, my brain was shouting at me that there were all kinds of things wrong with it, but I couldn't help wanting to read on.

I honestly loved Rolanda's character here. From the start of the story I could tell that the relationship she'd had with Septima wasn't a healthy one, and the fact that she was now working in the same place as her was obviously going to make things really difficult. I think the moment when Ro counted the days since they'd last seen each other highlighted just how much of an impact the relationship had had on her.

When we met Septima, I was expecting her to react a little differently, but she was just so condescending. Ugh, it annoyed me so much, the way that she treated Rolanda just because she was younger, as if she wasn't old enough to know her own mind and feelings, although perfectly old enough to have a relationship with her when she wants it. It was so frustrating to see her treating her that way - she's not the sort of person I imagine being a very good teacher, to be honest. Maybe my prejudice towards Arithmancy related subjects doesn't help with that view :P

I think my favourite moment was when Rolanda stood up for herself. Given their past relationship and dynamic, it can't have been easy to do, but I was so happy for her acknowledging that she's beautiful and worthy of love and doesn't need to be patronised. It's a much healthier place for her to be in, and the ending reflected that.

The description and imagery here was so beautiful, too. I really love your writing ♥

Sian :)
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Review #20, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Meter

19th June 2016:
Hello again! (Are you sick of me yet? I'm sorry, I still have quite a few more chapters to go :P)

The idea of life beating to a rhythm is a really lovely metaphor, actually, and I liked the way that Albus noted how it could change. It can definitely become monotonous if you're living by the same rhythm constantly, without any change. I also liked Albus's reflections on age and the way that he had changed with it. I definitely think people keep growing and learning as they get older, and from the character we see in the books, it definitely fits that he would get calmer and milder with age. I think he's probably more accepting of himself and what has happened as he gets older.

Yay, it was so great to see Albus reconnecting with Aberforth! That was really lovely to see, because I knew that at some point the brothers started talking again, but it was great to see that they began to enjoy each other's company. Rifts between siblings are so horrible and painful and I love seeing siblings getting on well, so the scenes when they were learning about each other's lives in the last fifteen years were really sweet.

Aw, Aberforth is getting married and becoming a father! That's so sweet! I can't help but think that it's not going to end well, because we don't see Aberforth with a family in canon at all, but I really want it to, because it's lovely to imagine.

The idea of Gellert giving a speech to the International Confederation of Wizards was so interesting! The fact that it was called the 'Unity Address' was really amusing, and kind of ironic, to be honest, because of the only way that Gellert saw unity being achieved in reality. I think that Albus knew that, deep down. But I love the idea of Gellert coming to the forefront as someone who goes through the 'proper' political channels and entering the public consciousness as someone who promotes unity instead of hatred. It definitely marks him out as someone different to Voldemort, I think, and it's a really intriguing idea.

The ending was kind of sad; I felt sorry for Albus again, because I'm sure that he would want to make some sort of impact but he couldn't do that in his own words. I've always felt that the efforts he made to work against Voldemort were a result of the impotence he felt when Gellert was rising to power, and this ties in really well with that.

Sian :)
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Review #21, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Prussia

19th June 2016:
Hallo :)

The opening of this chapter was really interesting! I liked the way that Gellert reflected on the different places that he came from, where he was born and where he'd grown up. The concept of a homeland is really intriguing and especially for someone like Gellert who has spent time in so many places. He actually seems to care more about Germany and Prussia as his homeland than he does about most people, which is really intriguing and seems to fit well with his character. I'm not sure there's enough love in his heart for more than a handful of people.

Noticing the date was in 1912 makes me really interested for what's coming in the future of this story. Maybe I shouldn't be as excited to see you plotting the war and everything that's going to happen in it, but I know that you enjoy writing and plotting it so I'm not going to feel too bad :P This chapter definitely felt like it the atmosphere was becoming slightly more tense - perhaps that's just because I know what's coming in these countries, but even so, you did a great job of capturing the sense that something is about to happen. There's a kind of inevitability about it - not that Gellert necessarily wants it a potential war to stop, but he wouldn't want his homeland to be destroyed.

The appearance of the Kaiser (I'm guessing it was Wilhelm II?) was so interesting, too! I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Gellert is rubbing shoulders with European leaders at this time, and influencing them, but I'm so intrigued to see what role Gellert might play in the coming war. I loved the way you wrote the conversation between them; Gellert was so confident of his own abilities to manipulate the people around him, and there's no reason that he shouldn't be able to control the Kaiser, too. The way that he worked on building the links between him and the Kaiser was so like Gellert, and really helped suggest how he might be involved in machinations of war later.

The ending, when he was thinking of Albus and how Albus would react to what was happening politically was great, too. I'm actually really curious now to see whether Albus wanted to get involved at all, or whether he and the rest of wizarding England will play a part in the war. All the reflection on politics is really interesting.

I don't know if I've said this before, but your writing is so inspiring. There are certain authors I can read who just inspire me to write and get better, and you're one of them, so thank you ♥

Sian :)
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Review #22, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Clichés

19th June 2016:
Hello again!

The fairy tale motif at the beginning of this chapter was so beautiful ♥ I loved the way that you used it to apply to two men and the ideas of love that all of us are brought up on, which just aren't possible for everyone to achieve (especially for Albus at the time he was alive). It showed how similar everyone is, no matter what they choose to do with their lives and how intelligent they are; even people like Albus just want love in their lives. I think that made it even more heartbreaking that he'd had it and it had been taken away from him, and he could never dream - not really - of getting it back.

The wedding years. They're coming up for me (I already know a few people my age who've got married) and I really felt for Albus. As he says, not only is marriage something that's likely to happen for him, but he can't get married to the person he wants to because marriage between two men wasn't allowed at this time. That knowledge must have made it even harder for him to attend all of his friends' weddings and see them enjoying a happiness that he would never be able to.

I don't want to say that he's bitter, exactly, but I think your Albus has an edge to him that a lot of characterisations don't. Maybe because here he's very honest about what losing Gellert meant to him and has cost him? Anyway, I really enjoy reading this version of him because I think that, from what we learn in the last book in particular, there was a different side to Albus that he did a good job of hiding from the world, and we see that here.

It's so sweet that Albus was Elphias's best man! I'm really glad they stayed such good friends and I loved how sweet and innocent Elphias seemed in comparison to Albus. The scene between them also served as a really good introduction to Gellert intruding on his consciousness again. I felt so sorry for Albus then, when he was so jealous and upset and was trying to keep that at bay. It can't have been easy to never really explain to his closest friends who he was, and what pain he was suffering. I think his thoughts and feelings towards Nico are really believable, too.

I loved the ending, when Albus realised that technically Gellert could be his common law wife :P That added a much lighter note to the chapter and was a great ending!

Sian :)
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Review #23, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Switzerland

19th June 2016:
Salut :)

Your characterisation of Gellert is so interesting! He's so different to how I would have imagined him after just reading the books, but at the same time there's something very convincing about the way you write him, especially in the opening section of the chapter. He's much more intellectual and thoughtful than I expected he would be - of course, I knew he had to be clever, just like Voldemort was clever, but there's something different about him. He doesn't use his intelligence just to get what he wants (although he's clearly very good at doing that too, and making the plans he needs to get what he wants), but he enjoys culture and learning, too. I think because of that it's really easy to see why both he and Albus would have been attracted to each other and shared such a deep understanding.

I also found the reflection on how history would paint him really interesting. It's like Gellert has realised that he was wrong but also at the same time doesn't think he was entirely wrong, if that makes sense? And he finds it kind of condescending to be compared to Voldemort because he sees so many differences between the two of them. I liked the opening section especially for the way that it showed there might be some remorse there, and that could prompt him to hide the truth about the Elder Wand at the end as much as he could.

The descriptions of Switzerland were so beautiful ♥ I love the way that you have each chapter of Gellert's focusing on a different country and we get all these wonderful, evocative descriptions of the scenery. He really seems to appreciate the beauty of the places he's planning to conquer, at least :P

Ah, Gellert is doing just the same as Albus has tried to do with other men, I think, trying to forget the pain of the other's absence while not necessarily admitting to themselves that that's what they're doing. I don't think it's entirely healthy, but then again, when have Albus and Gellert ever had healthy relationships? :P I can't really blame them for seeking solace and love (maybe? though not if you're Gellert haha) with someone else because nothing else is left to them. I can't help but wondering if they'd have been together or apart later even if Ariana hadn't died, and whether their differences would have made more of an impact. Even though I know mostly what happens in their story, you're still managing to make me question the different possibilities :P

Sian :)
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Review #24, by nott theodoreL'optimisme: Pragmatics

19th June 2016:
Hello again! And now I get to return to L'optimisme, too :D I've been away from this story for far too long.

The opening section was so interesting! I loved the way that Albus really reflected on his summer with Gellert there, and we got a real sense of what that time had meant to him, and how close he had probably come to joining Gellert on the journey that took him across Europe. The contrast between the opening sections and the later sections is great. At the start we get to see Albus's thoughts and nostalgia directed towards Gellert intensely, in comparison with the scenes when he is trying to live his life and get on with things as normal. Even then, Gellert is always there in his thoughts, but hidden from view. The description in the opening was lovely, too.

I found the reflection on Hogwarts as a home really interesting! I know in the books Harry thinks of Hogwarts as a home, and of him and Snape and Tom Riddle all finding a home there when they'd had no other, so the difference for Albus was intriguing. I think it makes sense that he wouldn't feel that it was entirely a home for him, maybe because he couldn't be truly happy anywhere after that horrible summer which changed his life forever? I think the line later about teaching giving him a purpose, rather than him wanting to teach, is really accurate for him.

The interview with Professor Black was great, too - I think you captured his character so well from what we know of him in the books. He's the sort of person who wouldn't want to be seen to beg and would always want to seem superior, and that came across really well. I liked Albus's honesty with him, and now we know he's going to begin at Hogwarts teaching, so I'm intrigued to see how actually having the purpose he wants so badly affects his thoughts towards Gellert, if it does at all.

The final scene, when Albus ran into Aberforth, made me want to give poor Albus a hug. I can completely understand Aberforth's animosity, though - if Albus lost everything that summer for someone he loved, then Aberforth lost everything too, because of someone he hated. Seeing his brother after that could only bring painful memories. I know that in later years they managed to reconcile a bit, but I think that encounter was a real reminder of what Albus had lost. Not only were most of his family dead, and Gellert far away, but his brother wanted nothing to do with him. You wrote it really powerfully.

Sian :)
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Review #25, by nott theodoreEidolon: Pink Silk

19th June 2016:
Hi again!

Well, I suppose I should have known that you would leave me hanging on all of the questions the last chapter made me ask, and introduce something completely new. You are a cruel, cruel author :P Now I'm asking double the questions and want to know how on earth Cato is connected to James or the Potters/Weasleys and what on earth happened. I'M SO CONFUSED.

I think you did a great job of writing Cato as a gender fluid (maybe agender?) person and using the pronouns they/their instead of gendered pronouns. Sometimes it can be a little confusing to read, and authors slip up, but you did a great job of staying consistent and clear throughout the entire chapter.

I'm so intrigued about Cato, though, and what happened to them. I've worked out that they're somehow related to Scorpius (I'm assuming that on the basis of the surname Greengrass. Maybe a cousin?) and that they were injured playing Quidditch, but past that it's all questions. I think including the medical report was a great idea because it showed the severity of what happened to them, even if I didn't understand a lot of the terminology because I'm stupid :P Seeing that medical report and then realising how talented a Quidditch Player Cato had been made me feel even more sorry for them, though. This injury has taken away the future that they dreamed of and should have had, and that must be so upsetting and difficult to deal with. It's no real wonder that they're fighting so hard to recover what they can and deal with the pain as far as possible. Someone like Cato is clearly a perfectionist and full of determination, so it makes sense that those qualities would apply to the recovery too, even though it must be really difficult to process that they're not going to play Quidditch again.

I'm really intrigued about the Quidditch accident, though. Maybe I'm overthinking things, but I feel like it has some kind of significance to the story as a whole or you wouldn't have included it. I know that Albus plays Quidditch so I'm wondering if he's involved somehow, or if it's connected to James? I'm basically just full of questions and now I want to read even more. Guess who's going to have to poke you for more chapters of this novel, too? :P

Sian :)
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