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Reading Reviews From Member: FireOpalQueen
  
23 Reviews Found

Review #1, by FireOpalQueenTraitorous Hearts: An Unwelcome Visitor

4th May 2016:
Traitorous Hearts, Chapter 1:

Hello, there, Penny!

This is Kapa, here for our swap! Thanks for the two(!) reviews you left me, they were really insightful (and don’t worry about being nit-picky, I love nit-picky!). Oh, and sorry that this review is a little late! I thought I’d spend yesterday at home in front of my computer, but instead I went on an impromptu excursion to visit a museum which took up the larger part of the day. But now I’m here, and it’s time to get reviewing!

As you may or may not have noticed, Traitorous Hearts has been on my Favourites-list since Dobby-season last year, and I’ve been planning to review it for a long time, so this swap of ours is a good opportunity to get my lazy butt to actually do it. The problem with stories that are both as good and as long as this one is that I feel that they deserve my very best reviewing efforts, and that takes a lot of time. So even though I plan to review all of this story ‘unprompted’, so to speak, it might take me a while to get around to. So yeah, maybe it would be a good idea for us to make another swap soon, as you mentioned… : P

This first chapter, and the ones immediately following it, approaches perfection. Really, if the whole story had just been Draco and Astoria matching wits in the Greengrass parlour for 80 000 words I’d happily have read it; I’m always a fool for tense games of mind-chess. I mean, I enjoy the later chapters too and I appreciate that the story you want to tell is about more than just this moment, but this scene is so well executed that it could easily have stood on its own. Actually, this chapter is so good that I doubt I’ll have much of worth to say about it; through edits and reviews you’ve clearly already polished this chapter ‘til it shines. I mean, with lines like “Tall, blonde, thin and sharp as a rapier. Draco Malfoy.”, how could I not love it? Of course I know that the very same Draco Malfoy spent much of the year before crying in bathrooms, comforted by Moaning Myrtle, and yet your characterisation of you is not only compelling, but also enough in keeping with canon to not be jarring. We’re seeing the persona that Draco himself wants to show to the world (just like Astoria is presenting hers to him). And Astoria sees through it, at least somewhat, when she thinks that he looks “like a child playing in his father’s clothes, filling a role he was not made to fit.”

There are so many good lines in this chapter, omg! “Draco Malfoy was here to do what he had to do to survive.” is great (and reminds me of Hamilton, haha!). Another favourite of mine is “Austerity in one’s tea additives had never struck her as admirable”. Lines like this is what makes good character writing, and it’s just plain funny! : ) My absolute favourite line in this chapter is probably “She could not afford to be kind in front of Draco Malfoy.”, tough. It perfectly encapsulates the whole scenario set before us in this first chapter, and sets off the constant interplay between kindness and tartness in Astoria’s personality that runs throughout the story as the main inner conflict.

(Also, hehe, it always amuses me when people talk about light blonde hair as an unusual hair colour –because I’m from Sweden, where it’s almost the default. I actually used to have almost white hair myself, but it has darkened with age.)

All that said, I have found a few things to remark on:

When Astoria first sees Draco you describe him as looking “as if he might have emerged from the grey mist”. You seem to mean that he looks so much like the mist that he might as well have materialised from it, but due to the dual meaning of the word ‘emerged’ I first read it as you saying that he looked like he had arrived through the mist, which he probably really did, unless he Apparated straight to her doorstep, which I imagine would be a bit rude.

You also mention Draco wearing a ‘suit jacket’ which strikes me as a pretty weird piece of clothing for a Pureblood wizard. I think I’ve read somewhere that you’re going with a mix of book and movie canon for this story, though, and movie Draco admittedly wears clothing that book Draco probably wouldn’t be caught dead in, so maybe this is a moot point…

“‘That would be kind of you,’ he confirmed”. I think ‘confirmed’ is a somewhat weird word choice here. Maybe ‘agreed’ or ‘acquiesced’ could work, though none of those is perfect either…

“You will bring Mr. Malfoy and I some refreshments” – here, the correct phrasing, for once, would actually be ‘Mr. Malfoy and me’, haha!

“She had thought to let him begin the conversation, but he wasn’t,” – I believe ‘hadn’t’ would work better here.

“He tapped the manila folder” – the last ‘he’ that you mentioned was Mr Greengrass, and it’s been a little while since you mentioned Draco, so calling him by name here wouldn’t hurt (wow, and you thought you were nitpicky!).

The last sentence is great as it is, but maybe it would pack even a little more punch as “From the perspective of her daughter, the unexpected death of Lavinia Greengrass was a sight more than ‘unfortunate'.”

And lastly, a more general piece of advice, for you to take or leave as you want. This is actually advice that I’ve gotten myself in the past (and am still looking to implement better, oops), and it is to look over your paragraph spacing. You have many very short paragraphs, which runs the risk of making the text seem ‘choppy’ and not flowing well. I’ve heard that each paragraph should contain one whole idea, and with that rule in mind the progression of three paragraphs that begin with “This was not the boy she had known at school.” and end with “Draco Malfoy was here to do what he had to do to survive.” could easily be one paragraph instead of three (as just one example).

All in all, this is an amazing first chapter of one of my absolute favourite stories on the Archives, and re-reading and reviewing it has been a treat! : D

/Kapa

Author's Response: Kapa! This review was such a treat! And I completely understand about it taking a day or two--that happens :) I absolutely love museums, though, and I'd love to know what sort of museum you visited!

You know, I hadn't thought of it, but now I think I do remember seeing your username on the list. Haha, I understand. I find myself frequently leaving short reviews on my favorite stories when I'm trying to catch up, and then feeling terribly guilty for not leaving longer ones. It's always the question of what's best--a bunch of short reviews that I'll remember to give right then, or long reviews that it may take a while for me to get around to. I try to intersperse them, but definitely understand that feeling. And I had a great time with our swap, so I'd be delighted to do more!

Honestly, this review made me so happy that I literally did the thing where you are forced to cover up your face and peer through your fingers from sheer delight. I didn't even know people really did that, but apparently *I* do! :D I feel like you put into words what I was going for, just, near perfectly! On the inside, Draco is still the sort of boy who cries in bathrooms and is lost and miserable, but Astoria's first glimpse is of what he *wants* her to see, just as he first notices the false image that she projects. But both of them are perceptive enough to notice, fairly quickly, that neither person is exactly what they're pretending to be. It's only that neither of them initially knows the extent of it. You just NAILED that, and I am so, so pleased! You really got what I was going for.

Favorite quotes are such fun for me! It's cool to see what stands out to different people. I have to say, I've always been rather fond of the "tea additives" line, so I'm glad you found it funny. :)

Also, I'd definitely never thought about how that might sound--the rare blonde hair thing--if you're Scandinavian! I'm American myself, and while blonde hair is common enough, that white-blonde shade is pretty rare here outside of childhood. Mostly if you see it, it's dyed hair. But that's pretty funny, and I'm glad you shared it!

And Kapa, thank you so much for CC! I'm sure you can tell that I'm a perfectionist, so it means so much to me that you'd take the time to give me notes--I always want to be making everything better, so I appreciate the nitpicking. It helps me to grow as a writer!

You make a bunch of really good points, and I'll have to run back through and do some editing on these things. The word choice and grammar stuff is especially useful, as is letting me know when "he" might be misleading! At some point it just gets hard to see all those things, as the writer. And you're right about the robes vs. suit jacket conundrum. I veered a little towards movie Draco, there. When I first read that comment, I thought about going and changing it this very minute, but the suit jacket *does* serve a sort of purpose in chapter...5, I think it is? Maybe when you get there, you could help me brainstorm a solution on that front, and I could switch it to robes? Because I certainly see your point. I'd just need to do a bit of adjusting in order to change it.

I totally understand what you're saying about paragraph spacing. I believe some of them used to be chunkier, and I ended up splitting them because some people say that, when reading in the on-screen format, they find split paragraphs easier to process? That must be more of a personal thing. I can see the point of it, but I'd always been given to writing in larger paragraphs prior to. So, I guess it's something I'll have to work harder at balancing. I definitely see what you're saying, and when I make those edits I'll try to have a look through and see where it might be possible to pull some sentences together.

Thank you so very much for this review, Kapa! I absolutely loved it. And certainly let's swap again sometime!

--Penny


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Review #2, by FireOpalQueenIn The End: Chapter One

3rd May 2016:
Hello, Leigh!

Kapa here, for our swap!

Aw, this was a sweet little chapter! I always find this kind of ‘missing scene’ story interesting, to see how different authors handle events from Canon that aren’t actually shown in the Harry Potter books. I’ve always liked Remus and Tonks as a pairing, but I’ve also always wondered what made them fall for each other (just like Sirius here, who doesn’t seem to think that the two of them have much in common), so it’s interesting to see your take on their love story.

I spotted two little mistakes, though. The first is towards the end, where two sentences (“Her mind was racing at a mile a minute. She truly cared deeply for him.”) are written in past tense instead of present. And in one place you write “molly” instead of “Molly”.

The short, staccato sentences that make up his story serve to drive the story forwards in a somewhat feverish pace, which works very well with the plot and Tonks’ nervousness. However, they also make text seem a little monotonous at times. In your future writing you could maybe try to mix short and long sentences together a bit more. This can help to create flow. A tip that has worked for me is to read what I’ve written aloud to myself to see if it flows well or not.

All in all this chapter works well in following Tonks in this nervous moment, and I feel sorry for her, because I know that Remus will say no at first. : ( The dialogue between Tonks and Sirius was also funny, and very in character.

/Kapa

Author's Response: Thank you for your review! I try not to make too many mistakes when i write. I read everything afterwords and sometimes miss mistakes. I am glad you like the story so far. I hope you will continue to follow this story. I have a lot planned for it. It will be a great story. I can feel it. Let me know if you read the later chapters.

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Review #3, by FireOpalQueenEqual Measure Good and Bad: The Curse of the Stonehenge

3rd May 2016:
Hello there, Kshitij!

This is Kapa, here for our review swap!

I’ve actually had this story on my ‘To Read’-list for a long while, and now our swap has given me a reason to finally get into it, yay! In this chapter you set a very intriguing scene for the story to come, which is exactly what a first chapter should do, isn’t it? You have a good feel for dramaturgy and making the story flow well. Starting the chapter off with the POV of a muggle works well to set the scene, and I can’t help wondering if Dr Brady will show up again. (I hope he does.) The way you jump between different POVs and showing how no one knows what they’re dealing with really builds suspense in a very effective way, and I just want to read on to see what’ll happen next. And there is, of course, the image of the restored, obsidian Stonehenge that looms creepily over the whole chapter and sets a very ominous tone that I’m sure will reverberate for the whole rest of the story to come.

The only place where the story flow breaks is when you introduce Draco into the story. I realise that ‘good guy Draco’ can be a bit of a hard sell, but the secret to hard sells is to not come on too strong. You don’t need to spend several paragraphs to assure the reader that Draco has changed – just the fact that he’s working as a Healer goes a long way to show that, and after a certain point of going on about how he’s changed it feels a little like ‘the lady doth protest too much’. I actually think you can trust your readers to come to believe that Draco has changed when you show his ‘new self’ over several chapters, rather than having to force them into buying it immediately. This is especially true as you generally seem to have a firm grasp of the characters we all know and love, even though this chapter is more plot driven than character driven. I also like that you made Dean an Auror, it’s a way to populate the minor roles with characters we know, which helps make the scenario feel ‘lived in’ so to speak. The only thing that seemed a little out of character was Hermione calling Ron ‘Ronnie’, which seems unnecessarily condescending, as we’ve never seen her call him that before and his brothers only did when they were teasing him.

All in all it’s obvious that you know where you’re going with this story, and this chapter lays the groundwork for what promises to be a very exciting tale. However, the execution isn’t always as good. I see you’re from India, so I reckon English isn’t your first language either? (Mine’s Swedish!) Your English is generally really good, but here and there your phrasing is a little awkward (as with “a strange foreboding entered him” instead of, for example, “he felt a strange sense of foreboding” and “He espied Bill Weasley twirl his arm” instead of something along the lines of “He spotted Bill Weasley twirling his arm” ) or abrupt (like with “It was no longer a ruin”, instead of, say, “Except it was no longer a ruin” or “But now, it wasn’t a ruin”). You also often use very formal language, which works well in the narration, where it gives the story a feel of weight and importance, but not as well in dialogues. Two examples of this are Dr Brady thinking that his sweating in the rain is “mighty strange” rather than, say “really weird”, and Draco saying “The outlook isn’t so bright for them” instead of something like “It doesn’t look good for them”. Because of this I’d suggest getting a beta reader who can help you make your phrasing as good as the story it’s there to convey.

A beta might also be able to cut down the text mass a bit – there are a few repetitions and over-explanations here and there, like “he looked at the structure in front of him. // In front of them stood the Stonehenge” which break the forward motion in the narrative and adds bulk to the story that can make it unnecessarily daunting to read. (And lastly a beta can find the little typos and things that a writer miss in the heat of writing, like writing “Don’t wake up” where it should be “Don’t wait up”, forgetting to make a new line between “Harry chuckled as he looked at Bill.” and “Hermione turned to look at him” and missing the quotation marks around “AH!”.) You also make a few consistent grammar mistakes, mostly when it comes to your using (or failure to use) commas that a beta reader could help you with.

I’m sorry if this review comes across as just listing a lot of pretty minor mistakes – the reason I do is because I believe this story deserves to be the best it can be, and that means sweating the small stuff. Because, as I said, this was a very interesting chapter, and I’ll definitely keep reading this story to see where you’re going with this and what the curse is all about. Like Harry I have a bad feeling about this…

All the best,
/Kapa

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Review #4, by FireOpalQueenSchrodinger's Cat: Anhedonia

2nd May 2016:
Hello, Kevin!

I hope you like it in your hot seat, because I’m here to give you a hot seat review! This is a great opportunity for me to get reviewing more, and also to do at least something related to the fundraiser (as I couldn’t afford to donate, and was too busy during the campaign to participate in some other way). Especially as this gives me an opportunity to review this story, which I’ve been thinking about a lot ever since I first read it. That was as a part of my mad dash through (most of) the Dobby nominations, and back then I liked it, but I didn’t expect it would stay with me the way it has. Your description of this slow, and yet instant, death of love has really haunted me over the month since I last read this story.

I’m in a pretty long term relationship and I can definitely see myself in the whole ‘is it still love or is it just routine’ question that the story deals with and you mention in your Author’s Note. I actually think this is a question one should ask oneself every now and again, as a way to actually keep the love alive. Maybe if Harry had thought about it before Hermione asked her question, he could have started ‘fighting’ earlier and actually won...?

One thing I didn’t pick up on in my quick Dobby-read through, but really appreciated on re-read, was Harry hyper focus on the Healer’s hair in the beginning, and how you describe it similar to Ginny’s without making the comparison explicit. Very subtle work that sets the tone for the whole story (and maybe hints at Harry not being so over Ginny as he thought, especially together with the last line of the story).

I also generally like the focus on what’s happening in the moment during the ‘interrogation’, little things like glances and scratching at chins gives life to the situation, and also conveys Harry’s discomfort with the situation in an, again, pretty subtle way. Together with the Healer paying such close attention to Harry, too, it gives the whole scene a sense of two master chess players scrutinising each other. Like in this passage, which are my favourite lines from the story:

“She looks perturbed.


‘It was interesting.’


She looks intrigued.”

The interweaving of this… Healer session?… and the flashbacks also works really well

Overall you write Harry incredibly well – the right amount of sassiness, the tendency to get frustrated when people don’t understand him immediately,

Actually, you write Hermione and Ginny – and their respective dynamics with Harry – really well too. Generally your dialogue writing is superb – it reads like real people talking, while still being easy to follow.

You also do wistfulness very well in this story, just like in ‘Meant for Two’. Maybe it’s a specialty of yours, or maybe I’m just drawn to that kind of story… The whole story aches with it, in Harry’s preoccupation with trying to save him and Ginny, which seems to still be present, even after the divorce. I mentioned the last line above, and it really does pack a punch, and puts the whole rest of the story into question. Did Harry’s love for Ginny really just die and he just wishes it hadn’t, or is it somehow still there, hidden away, possible to get back if he just finds the right thing to do, the way to prove the experiment wrong?

My only real gripe is with the Author’s Note at the end. I don’t think this was your intent, but in it you sorta present one interpretation of the story as the ‘correct’ one, when you say “the reality is supposed to have been more a hybrid of the proposed reasons that are given by others at the end”. It kinda forces a reading where Harry is all wrong about his own inner life – even though he seems a lot more self aware than he was as a teenager. It does of course make a lot of sense for Harry to struggle with (a pretty low key) depression, and the whole ‘slow death of love’ thing that I talked about above also obviously plays a part, whatever Harry says about it happening in an instant, but I still think what Harry says makes sense as more than a way to diagnose what’s ‘really’ going on, and I think saying otherwise takes away a little from the uncertainty of the story (which otherwise really fits with the quantum physics theme – maybe what I’m saying is that the Author’s Note unnecessarily opens the cat box in the end, when it should remain closed?).

(Oh, and two another, super minor things: In birthday party scene, Harry mentions Ginny and Hannah cleaning up after dinner, and you write ‘I’d offered of course’ – I wonder if this should be ‘I’d offered to help, of course’? Or does it work on its own as a phrase I’ve just never happened to come across before?

And then, in the scene where Ginny’s come home from grocery shopping, it says “She spun I away” instead of “She spun away”.)

Anyway, this story really is a treat that just keeps giving, and I’m sure I’ll come back to it again. : D

/Kapa

Author's Response: Sorry I've taken so long to get back to you on this AMAZING review, Kapa!

I will start with the end, where I think you rightly struck the nail on the head with the A/N...I actually have toyed for a long time with doing away with them in my stories other than as thanks and possibly previews as I think one of the great parts of stories is the ability for readers to interpret them in their own way, giving them different lives and creating lively debate (sometimes) in the process. I'll probably edit that part later when I come around (at some point) to editing the many flaws lying around my fics, but I thank you for pointing it out.

You raise a good point about the relevance in a practical example of the timing of the observation and its starting point. While I don't know that it's always possible in a relationship to necessarily notice before you've slipped past a "point of no return" in terms of viability (especially in a long-term relationship or marriage, when often there is much more incentive to keep it together and often there are many more "distractions" from regular if not frequent introspection, but the point is well taken and maybe the outcome would have been different.

Interestingly, I think you're the FIRST PERSON to point out Harry's fixation on the Healer's hair. Obviously it was deliberate and you are absolutely correct that despite his decision and the divorce, Harry is NOT "over" Ginny no matter how much he pretends to be capable of simply dismissing it (especially on previous occasions).

I really appreciate all your comments and your positive feedback about the tone and the dialogue. With the former I think, for better or worse, a lot of it comes easily to me due to personal experience, but with the latter it feels GREAT to hear that the conversations sound authentic AND easy to follow. I actually try to write my dialogue a little in the style of Aaron Sorkin in that way with plenty of tag-less back-and-forth, though I try to ease off the rapid-fire and it's much slower (for obvious reasons) in this piece because I think it achieves that authenticity and so I'll try to look to this for inspiration as a success story in that regard for future stuff!

Thanks so much again! I truly appreciate your very thoughtful, incredibly detailed feedback!


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Review #5, by FireOpalQueenBleeding Hearts and Bitten Tongues: -1.

4th December 2015:
Hello, Plums, and Happy Holidays!

You gave me such a nice review for Teddy’s First Letter From Hogwarts, and now I’ve decided to return the favour and give you a little review as part of the QTR Holiday Fun!

And what better story to review about one of my absolute OTP, Hannah/Neville! Hannah is probably among my top three favourite HP characters, and you definitely do her justice here. I love her Hufflepuff-ness and that you let it be a strength, not a weakness. Yes, she cries out in pain, but she doesn’t break down and betray her friends.

I love the line "She'd learnt far more than she thought she would from Harry Potter, had cast her spells almost flawlessly after a good bit of work and had diligently attended to the rest of her Prefect duties as if she wasn't part of an underground and illegal society." There’s that Hufflepuff hard work, and I love the part about being both the perfect Prefect and part of something so illicit! : P

My only real concern is that the story is a little heavy on the exposition at times. The flashback to fifth and sixth years slows the story down a bit with its references to Dumbledore dying and the Trio being away. The reference to Hannah’s mother dying almost disappears in all the exposition, which is sad seeing as she becomes so important later. I think this story would improve if you focused only on the super important things – like, you could change “So she returned to Hogwarts to finish her schooling in her seventh year. Dumbledore had died. Snape was Headmaster. Everything was upside down,” into something like “When she returned for her seventh year, everything was upside down”. Or something like that. (Also, in this section you move back and forth between past perfect and past tense a bit, maybe look into that a little too? It’s not a big deal, but use of tense is always something to watch in one’s writing – trust me, I know.)

(Oh, and here’s a super, super minor concern, sorry if I’m just being petty, but the order of the courses in the line “after the quick use of an Avada Kedavra and a few Cruciatus Curses” bothers me a little. I think it’d work better as “after the use of a few Cruciatus Curses and a quick Avada Kedavra”. That both follows the actual chronology better and puts the biggest emotional punch at the end of the sentence…)

I’m a sucker for little worldbuilding lines like “for everyone knew that excessive use of this charm would quickly ruin the robes”, and I love the quick but full portrait you sketch of Hannah’s mother in just a few sentences.

(Typo alert: “hum all the while” should be “humming all the while”. “I’m the one that’s supposed to a reckless idiot” should be “I’m the one that’s supposed to BE a reckless idiot”.)

(Oh, and if you want to make it clearer when Hannah starts hallucinating you could maybe add the word ‘now’ to the sentence “It was almost like she was there.”?)

The line “the DA Headquarters (the seemingly permanent state of the Room of Requirement for the foreseeable future)” made me smile, which was a bit of a feat in such a heavy tale. : ) And it’s so sweet how Hannah is still concerned about sleep talking in front of her crush even after all that’s happened. They truly are still just teenagers, even though they’re also seasoned warriors (and what a tragedy that is!). And I adore how Hannah still sees the little first year Neville once was in him, when everybody else sees this cool leader type. It bodes well for their future relationship that she knows him so well. : )

All in all this was a very interesting take on one of my favourite characters. I really liked it a lot! It was interesting to see this darker side of Hannah – I’ve only written her later in life, when she’s put that darkness mostly behind her, but I always know that it’s there, and this was a great peak at what it might have been like.

/Kapa

Author's Response: Hello!

Sorry that it took so long for me to respond. I didn't really have enough time to properly do so and I really wanted to give a long response instead of a quick "thank you".

It's funny because I'd never really thought about Hannah/Neville until I received the prompt about Hannah for the challenge. It took writing this for me to appreciate what they must've gone through in their days at Hogwarts/the war.

Yeah, I took extra care to let it shine through that she was a Hufflepuff. I wanted to show that she was brave, but it wasn't necessarily a Gryffindor trait. Loyalty can be a form of bravery, can't it? That's what I did here. And I'm glad you liked the line about fifth year. I liked juxtaposing the sweet, innocent Prefect with the girl that was part of an underground society, though not for the reasons that, say, Harry taught it. For Hannah, the DA was more about working hard to get her hands-on knowledge one way or the other. Later, it finally becomes about the resistance for her.

Hm. I guess I am heavy on the exposition. I do see what you mean there, but it's a style of writing that I'm so used to that I wouldn't know where to tackle it, though I appreciate your suggestions! :) I haven't read over the one shot in a while so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but I'm pretty sure that I mentioned Dumbledore's death and the Trio being away to show what impact it had on Hannah's life, someone who is little more than a background character during the books. I'll read over it soon and try to edit it so that the importance of Hannah's mother's death seems clearer, though I still want it to be clear that - even though it wasn't like this for Hannah - the death was yet another in a string of murders in this year. But I do understand what you mean about giving priority to the most important facts and not going on with the detail. :)

Ugh. I didn't even realise that I slipped out of the tenses. I'm so used to writing in first person present that tackling the past tense is a challenge for me, especially when referring to past events in past tense, if you understand what I mean? That'll be another thing I'll look at when I get the chance :)

You know what, maybe I should've asked you to be a beta for the one shot! :P That suggestion about the chronology of the Avada Kedavra and the Cruciatus Curses is a great insight, one that I wouldn't have ever thought of. I'm just going to make a note of all your suggestions, really. :P

You're right. Hannah and Neville are just teenagers and even though they've grown up much faster than they should've, I still wanted to slip in some of the cuter aspects of their interactions in. And I loved writing Neville way she saw him: not as the leader of the resistance, but a sweet, caring boy that was forced to grow up.

Thank you for the review and all of your wonderful suggestions! I really appreciate it all :) Happy holidays!

Plums

xo


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Review #6, by FireOpalQueenWhen I Go Out With You: It's A Happening World

4th December 2015:
Oh, Sam! This chapter is so lovely! It might be my favourite among them all - but then again I don’t have to choose, yay! : )

(By the way, I have given up leaving reviews in anything approaching a timely manner, you’ll just get one every now and then when I have the time. That’s just how it is.)

This is a beautiful scene based on a beautiful song, filled with beautiful lines. My favourite lines (from the chapter, not the song, haha) are “At first I thought it was as if no time had bad passed since we had parted ways at Hogwarts. But that is not it at all. So much time has passed, and in that time we have somehow grown into people who fit so seamlessly together. Whatever it is that we have now, it is totally new.” Wonderfully expressed! It captures the mix of the old friendship and the new, well, ‘thing’ perfectly. : )

As always in this story I feel like I’m right /there/ with Hannah and Susan when I read it. There’s something about the way you use language that just pulls the reader in completely. (And speaking about language – I love the subtle play of simplicity versus complexity that you have going in this chapter.) Sentences like “She leans towards me, stopping my breath short as I take in her face, her hair, her breasts.” put me right into Hannah’s shoes and I find myself blushing from Susan’s closeness even though she’s just words on a screen, haha! Like, I get those little crush-tingles in my cheeks and chest reading this, so you’ve definitely captured the sense of new love perfectly.

And the conversation between Hannah and Susan! Ah, it’s so sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. “I can’t love you.” “You feel what you feel. There’s no putting rules to that.” Aaah, perfect! And so true! Susan is very wise. : )

And man, it must have been so hard to choose just three lines from this song to quote, it’s so amazing! It has a bit more of a mature sound than the two earlier songs you’ve used, but it’s still so happy and after all you can be as young as you want to be! : P The song is truly timeless too, in a way some of the others aren’t – I’ve been listening to it on repeat for like an hour now, haha.

There is a sense of endless possibility in the song – all those lines about throwing convention away, wearing crazy clothes and staying out all night – and it is echoed perfectly in the story. I love the way you repeat the word ‘possibility’(/‘possibilities’) almost like a charm towards the end of the story. It’s mentioned thrice, and each time it’s just like Hannah inches a little closer to the edge. Soon she’ll be ready to jump into the free fall of endless possibilities and love.

Yes, Hannah! Jump! It’s a happening world, let it happen to you now!

Much love,
/Kapa

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Review #7, by FireOpalQueenDance for Yourself: One

10th September 2015:
Kapa in the house, swapping like a swapper!

Aaaah, what a lovely Andromeda story! You mentioned in your review to me that she is one of your favourite characters, and that really shows in the dignity and care that you treat her with here. I’ve actually been thinking for a while that I should get more into the Ted/Andromeda scene, and this was a great start for that!

The dance motif/metaphor works really well and feels natural. I could read the story on two planes, so to speak, one ‘within’ the metaphor, where I saw the action as actual dancing, and one ‘outside’ the metaphor where I see Andromeda’s actual life as if from a bird’s view, ‘through’ the metaphor…

And then in the second part you break out of the metaphor in an almost jarring way, before you slowly let it creep back in. Actually, I’d love to see even more dance imagery in the second part, especially at the very end, to tie the story together. All in all it’s very well done, though; I’d definitely consider this a successful experiment!

At first I actually found your writing style in this story a bit too dense (English is not my first language, second person not my favourite POV), but once I reread the opening a few times I got into the flow of it and then I found the style really beautiful! There are so many lovely little turns of phrase, like “crane your neck backwards so far as though the bones you have don’t limit you” and “You are twirling your way between the bars that once were the pillars that held your world together”.

However, there are also a lot of unconventional word choices that I can’t tell if they’re intentional or not. Little things like ‘as though’ instead of ‘as if’ in the quote above, and Andromeda’s heart not being ‘into it’ instead of not being ‘in it’. (Also, the sentence “You’re entire existence was not sincere” sounds like most of it but not all was sincere. Consider using the word ‘insincere’ instead, even though that ruin the echo effect somewhat... maybe “Nothing in your entire existence was sincere”?)

Regardless of whether these unconventional turns of phrase are intentional or not, I believe this story could be tightened up considerable with another round of editing. (For example, you actually give the word ‘existence’ from my last parenthesis as ‘existent’, and a sentence close towards the ending has both ‘although’ and ‘but’ in it. There are also some words that are in the wrong tense, like ‘felt’ and ‘danced’…) Maybe get a beta?

But enough with the language nitpicks! Here’s my favourite line:

“But then you look in the mirror and realise that you look nothing like them. Where they were a pair of feathers floating, submissive to the direction of the wind and the music, one black and one golden, you were only hovering in one spot, brown and lackluster.”

I love this passage! The first sentence is great, because it’s so at odds with one of the few things we know about Andromeda from Canon: that she looks very similar to Bellatrix. And then, in the next sentence, you explain what you mean: it is in the ‘dance’ that she looks nothing like her sisters. I love the image of the feathers in the wind (and imagine Andromeda’s as a sort of lovely little sparrow feather, haha!).

So, all in all I found this to be a beautiful and unique story that could reach something close to perfection with a little bit of extra editing.

/Kapa

Author's Response: Hello! First of all, I want to thank you for the very thorough and helpful review! I did need some constructive criticism, so thank you for that!

I'm very happy that the dance metaphor makes sense. And I do suppose you're right about how it suddenly disappears in the second half. But by then, I wanted to focus on emotion and conversation more...? But I went back to it after your review and you're right. I did try to edit in some relevant dance images, and I do hope they work out well. So thank you for pointing that out.

I actually use 'as if' and 'as though' interchangeably, but I will look into it. And I used 'your heart's not into it' the way I'd use it by saying someone's 'into dance' or 'into art'. I'm not sure if it's colloquial or formal really, but I'll also study up on that when I have a chance.

I did, unfortunately, rush this story into the queue before closure. There are definitely a lot of mistakes, but I've gone over it and edited them out, and will put it into the queue once it reopens. But thank you for zeroing in on the points where there were issues.

Thank you so much for the amazing and helpful review and for a great swap!

-Manno


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Review #8, by FireOpalQueenCharlotte: Charlotte

30th August 2015:
Gabbie! I’m here for our femslash swap! Wohoo! : P

This was an interesting read, but I found it a bit difficult to follow at times. English is not my first language, and sometimes I had to read something over again to understand what was happening… Things like “Mistake. Of course, to some degree, it had been” would have been a lot easier for me to understand if it had been phrased as “Mistake. Yes, to some degree it had of course been a mistake.” or something.

You could also look over your pronoun use. A sentence like “The situation had been terrible for the three of them but the love that she had seen in her green eyes had been nearly too much to bear” would be much easier to follow if you used names instead of pronouns.

Moving on! Being asked to read this as a part of a femslash swap kinda ruined the story’s twist, didn’t it, haha? (But then again, so does the LGBTQA genre marker… It’s like in Twilight, were Edward’s supposed to be a mystery but it says on the cover that he’s a vampire, haha… but that’s just the problem with balancing promotion and mystery, I guess…) Oh well, knowing where this was going gave it more of a ‘dramatic irony’ flare like in a Greek tragedy which worked really well too.

That said, I felt that I kept waiting for the payoff of the irony a bit too long. I once read some writing advice that stated that you can always cut down your story by a third and it’ll still work, and while I think a third is a bit much to ask from people, I’ve often myself found the backspace key to be my friend. Generally the story gets a lot more interesting as soon as Sam starts showing up and I got a lot more invested then, so cutting down on the build up before Sam is first mentioned could be a good idea. If I hadn’t promised to review this – and hadn’t had the promise of femslash coming up – I might have stopped reading before even getting to the halfway point, and that would have been sad because then I would have missed out on Sam and the powerful ending. : (

One thing that made the beginning a little slow to read was that it was pretty repetitive. Repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it has to fill a function. Like, you mention Ryan stirring in his sleep many times, and a simple addition of “again” would establish continuity and feel less repetitive. You could even amp up the stirring to add more urgency, so he becomes more and more restless… until Charlotte puts the blanket on him (a great image, btw!). Now he’s seems equally restless throughout, which makes the story unnecessarily static, if you get what I mean?

But I hope this doesn’t make it sound like I didn’t like the story, because I actually found the core story and the characters very compelling! I love the little snippets of the Charlotte/Sam relationship we get, like the ‘sweeter than honey’ scene… aaaw. (Though I find Ryan’s motivations a bit confusing sometimes. Would he really force his wife to stay if she clearly stated her intention to leave, or is that something Charlotte just imagines? I guess we’ll never know, because Charlotte made her choice to leave the way she did, and she’ll have to stand by it.)

I also really like the theme of children ‘inheriting’ their parents mistakes, with two people who’s parents had marriages that were failed in different ways, one where they went their separate ways and one where they stayed in a loveless marriage, and now they find themselves caught in a similar situation. It’s also interesting that Ryan, who’s parents separated, wants them to work it out while Charlotte, who saw her parents grow older and colder to each other, decided to leave. (I truly hope Ryan will prove to be as kind as Charlotte describes him as and not as heartless as she seems to expect him to be, and allow her to keep in contact with their children.)

Here’s my favourite lines:

The two super short lines “Ten years of lying. Ten years of nothing.” Make a sort of mid point break in the story which works amazingly! They pretty much sum up the entire story to that point!

I love the poetry of the “This didn’t happened, don’t you dare say a word” followed by Charlotte saying a lot of words about it and writing a long letter, haha!

And call me a sap, but my absolute favourite line is probably “One kiss, two kisses, three kisses...endlessly delightful and more than anything she could have ever hoped for”. D’aaaw.

Sometimes I feel that you don’t get the most out of great lines, though. A line like “At least pretend you're happy.” might work better as the /first/ line of a paragraph rather than the last… And the reveal that Sam is a woman could also stand out more. Maybe “I can hardly imagine the pain that went through you knowing that I was having an affair with another woman,” could become “[…] knowing that I was having an affair… and not just that, an affair with another woman!” or even just “[…] knowing I was having an affair… with another woman!” …or you could even save the reveal to Ryan’s angry outburst later on, and have this line be something like “[…] knowing I was having an affair… and not just any affair, but an affair /like that/…” like Charlotte can’t even put it into words. That way you get some heavy foreshadowing in shortly before the reveal too, which is nice.

All in all I’m happy I read this story to its powerful ending, but it could benefit from a little more polishing.

Oh, and one last thing, haha: Charlotte thinks no one would call her brave, but I’ll prove her wrong right now: I think she’s brave for daring to pursue the life she actually wants! I wish her all the best, and especially I wish her a chance to keep a relationship with her children!

/Kapa

Author's Response: Hello!

Thanks for stopping by with this review, I don't normally write Slash and this was my first attempt. What's funny about this is that I kind of give it away not only in my Authors Note but the actual genre tag. Hahah.

The fact that no one was really shocked by it was just kind of funny to me after I posted it. I actually don't think that the pay off about Charlotte's relationship with Sam was really what this story was about, now that I think about it. I mostly wanted to focus on her marriage with Ryan from the very beginning because although the "twist" towards the middle is a part of the story, the fact that people would rather stay unhappy than reaching out for love is what this was about. I honestly didn't think about cutting this down at all because it wouldn't have the same impact. Ryan and Charlotte's relationship is crucial to understanding why she turned into the sort of person that she couldn't stand. It helps to understand why she fell so hard for Sam in the first place nd I also don't make much fuss about long paragraphs or anything either. This is the shortest one-shot that I have, actually (I think) because two of my other ones are pretty chunky. It's a bad habit of mine.

Anyway, the thing with Ryan reacting to Charlotte in his sleep: I had her talking to him and remembering certain things just to add a bit more depth to how they felt about one another so when he twitches or stirs, it's always as if he knows what she's thinking at that moment. I guess it didn't really come off that well and might have been a bit too silly? I dunno.

Well, Charlotte's parents were still happily married, if you can believe it. They were just mostly worn down by her behavior but I never really specify so that was a good parallel that you came up with. Ryan on the other hand had already seen what happens when couples separate so he would want to hold on as long as possible, even when it was best to let her go.

I'm not sure if Ryan would be able to forgive Charlotte enough to let her see the kids. That can be up for debate, especially with the way this ends.

I honestly don't get too fussy about paragraph structure either for some reason. When I'm writing, I'm mostly trying to figure out the mood and if certain words fit, that's where they'll end up. By the end, it's mostly about Charlotte's marriage than Sam so I wasn't being too fussy about a lot of that stuff because the fact that she was having an affair with another woman should have been obvious by this point. I actually liked the way this turned out though, it was certainly not the easiest thing I've ever written. Which is probably why I stray away from this sort of thing in the first place, writing about affairs makes me pretty uncomfortable.

Charlotte's bravery can be up for debate as well. You should read the other reviews for this to understand what I mean, it's not supposed to leave you with a happy feeling. That's something else that I'm bad at. Hahahah.

Much love,

Gabbie


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Review #9, by FireOpalQueento the end of time: Move In

30th August 2015:
Hello, Claire! I’m here for our swap, yay! : )

So, uh, I accidentally read all of this and fell absolutely in love with it! I am a pretty slow reviewer and I have a few other stories on my list of ‘Reviews To Be Done’ but I hope I’ll be able to come back to this and review it from the start. As it is, I decided to go for the last chapter because it has the fewest reviews and because that means I can sort of review the story as a whole a bit.

I love the way you write this relationship, it feels very true to life /and/ very true to what we see of it in the books. I’m not a Parvati/Lavender shipper myself because I don’t see that kind of chemistry between them in Canon, but you really manage to stay true to Canon and still sell the relationship – or rather, Parvati’s possibly unrequited love – to me. IT makes sense that they would read as ‘just friends’ if one of them really feels like that and the other is desperately wants to project that image. Aaah, that hits pretty close to home, but let’s not get into that…

One thing that was a bit awkward writing wise was in the first part of the chapter, where Parvati first “shifted on Lavender’s bed” and then later, without any mention of her moving, “leaned back in her chair”. I think you should just change the last part to her leaning back against the wall behind the bed and it’ll work great. I love the image of Parvati in Lavender’s bed, hugging her knees and wondering what she’s gotten herself into, haha. It’s much more poignant than if she’s in a chair in my opinion.

I like that even though this story has a very tight Parvati/Lavender focus, we still get to see other characters, and especially Padma! I wonder whether she figured it out herself that Parvati is in love with Lavender, or if Parvati told her some time after third year. In the first chapter you show how tight the sisters are, and then we see enough of Padma to be assured that they’re still close, but this is not a Parvati & Padma story, so it makes sense that she takes the backseat mostly. But I love her here, telling it as it is and being supportive and worried in a way that comes off as exasperating in a typically sibling-y way, if that makes sense, haha. : P Like, this sentence perfectly encapsulates that sibling dynamic in my opinion: “Parvati groaned when she heard the tone of Padma’s voice and knew exactly what she was going to say next.”

Oh, and I love the sibling resemblance with Padma opening and closing her mouth repeatedly when she doesn’t know what to say, just like Parvati did back in chapter 5!

(Also, I love the idea of Lavender having a crush on Ron for several years! (Oh dear, how extra mortifying Ron’s ‘Uranus’ quip must have been in third year if Lavender was already in love with him then!) In the books their relationship is so sudden and seems like too much of a convenient plot point rather than an organic development to me. There are some hints before they start snogging, but only in HBP… But I digress, I should keep myself to this chapter!)

Another minor language nitpick is that “‘I think there are just two more boxes down stairs.’ Parvati froze as she heard Lavender call from the door to the flat.” Probably would read better as “[…] Lavender called from the door to the flat. Parvati froze.” Or “Parvati froze as she heard Lavender call […] from the door to the flat.” Does that make sense? (The next thing that happens, on the other hand, with Padma shutting up because she walks into Parvati, is perfectly executed and hilarious! Hahaha, that mental image! And then Lavender seeing them like that – comedic gold!)

On a more serious note I really adore the repeated contrasts between Parvati holding so many things in, unsaid, then her almost blurting out how she feels in chapter 5, and then her trying to build up the courage to let it out in chapter 6, and then here she’s blurting out the invitation to Lavender to live with her. All the oscillating between ‘can hardly keep it in’ and ‘can’t get it out’ is very realistic and dramatic in a low key way and builds a lot of tension. And even though I feel pretty sure that you’re going for Parvati/Lavender endgame you still keep me on my toes, and I’m by no means sure that that’s where this is going.

Oh, and with all this obvious secret keeping between the sisters in this chapter, will Lavender start realising that something is up? That could go to interesting places!

All in all this is a story I’ll definitely keep my eye on from now on, and hopefully I’ll come back for more chapter reviews when I have the time! Thanks for giving me the chance to read this!

/Kapa

Author's Response: Hi, Kapa! Wow, I completely forgot that you'd left this review and let me tell you, seeing it when I wasn't expecting it absolutely made my day today! So a very belated thank you for that!

I had never really considered the two of them either until I drew this banner for the challenge and then I thought "why not try it?" I didn't mean to ship it, it just happened and I am so glad that it did.

I really wanted to include the others, even if it wasn't the focus like Parvati and Lavender. Padma especially needed to be in there because of how close she and Parvati are and because Parvati needed someone to confide in. I didn't have this moment written, but I'd like to think that Padma figured it out sometime between their fourth and fifth year and helped Parvati come to terms with it too. The others are also important, too, just because I didn't want it to come across like Parvati only ever spoke to Lavender. I had a whole scene with Parvati and Seamus written, but it just didn't work out for what I wanted it to say.

The sibling resemblance was totally coincidental, I didn't even realize I had done that!

Thank you so much for this amazing review, I really enjoyed reading it again! I hope you can drop by soon to finish reading!

Claire


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Review #10, by FireOpalQueenWhen I Go Out With You: Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows

24th August 2015:
It turns out that ‘better late than never’ probably should be my motto for Review-writing. Oh well, I’m here now! (And again, spoilers ahead in this review!) (Oh, and er, one tiny thing, before I begin… shouldn’t the last line be “I *** love /you/ too.”?)

The two opening sentences to this chapter are such a lovely follow up to chapter 1. The taste of peppermint cocoa becomes a sort of stand in for Susan, and when Ernie tastes it on Hannah’s lips later it’s a bit reminiscent of the ‘smelling the other woman’s perfume’ or whatever trite cheating trope – but Hannah hasn’t cheated, even though she has to remind herself that she’s done nothing wrong. This sets up a very subtle comparison between this relationship and a good, working poly relationship, where (as I got to see in my special special sneak peak of chapter nine) partners are supportive of their lovers’ reaching out to new possible loves. Here, Hannah feels vaguely guilty just because she felt something intense for someone else, and she hasn’t even acted on it.

I actually felt really odd about this chapter on my first read through. A lot of reviewers mention how happy and bubbly it is, but I just felt pretty uncomfortable about it without being able to put my finger exactly on why. Like, I couldn’t tell what I was supposed to feel about Ernie/Hannah. Or, well, I knew I felt iffy about the housewife/breadwinner dynamic that is somewhat in play here, though with a ‘superstructure’ of modern gender relations so to speak… Like, it’s clear that Ernie fixing up dinner is not a common occurrence but an extra treat and he makes a suuuper big deal about it but in a ‘joking’ way and… ew. I’m sure this Ernie has redeeming qualities and I was prepared for him being redeemed, but no. Nope. Do not want. (This also explains Hannah later, according to Pottermore and whatever, wavering between careers – she spent a lot of time not working at all and has some catching up to do. Huh…)

Another more ‘tangible’ thing that makes me uncomfortable in this chapter I how well you capture that awkward sense of trying to get ‘back in the mood’ after something kills it – like Hannah’s mention of Susan does here. In this happy, bubbly chapter the awkward middle is a hint of what’s to come – and Ernie’s line “It’s not like you have to ask permission to see your friends” smacks uncomfortably of ‘

Also, to be completely honest, my very, very first reaction when reading this chapter for the first time was “Ernie!? Did you mean to write Neville?” and then “Oh god /if/ you meant Neville this wasn’t at all what I was imagining when I agave you that prompt!” and then I read on and was like “Oh, right, no, you obviously know what you’re doing, I should have more faith in you.” Er… haha. Oh well, rest assured that I by now have perfect faith in you knowing what you’re doing with this amazing story! (But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…)

And once again the song was very well chosen for the chapter. I mean, it might be that I’m just listening to the song in light of the story and reading into it because of that, but when I do I can’t help thinking that the song is kinda ‘empty’. The whole ‘sunshine, lollipops and rainbows’ thing seems a little /rote/, like yes, yes here’s a list of metaphors for having a great time but there’s /only/ metaphors, nothing tangible about what makes the relationship so great…

I also love the contrast between the line “just to know that you are mine” in this chapter’s song and very name the song that the story as a whole is based on – You Don’t Own Me! Obviously this song doesn’t work for a relationship where the partners don’t view themselves as ‘owning’ each other. And the bit about love being here to stay turns pretty bitter in your mouth when you know what happens later in this story, ehehehe…

Also, I mean, the line “that’s how this refrain goes, so come on join in everybody” could be read as an acknowledgement that this refrain is so extremely vague that it’s applicable to everyone – and no one! And the fact that the refrain ‘goes like’ that also doesn’t mean that it’s true, does it? Hasn’t Ernie and Hannah’s life together become an old refrain about happiness that they know by heart and take as true just because they’ve sung it together so many times. Sort of like how you write “I weave my hands into his, our fingers locking into their familiar position together. So comfortable, so complete.”

Ernie and Hannah are both projecting this sort of ‘perfect, true, monogamous love’ onto their life, even though they both know it’s not completely true; Ernie is cheating on Hannah, and Hannah is ‘straying’ as well. Even if their relationship actually /were/ ‘love that’s here to stay’ they’d have to work through those things to get to a point where they don’t have to hide things from each other and project a happiness that isn’t fully there. (But life is messy, too, and I’m not saying that their lived truth isn’t that they’re happy in this moment – just that to be happy in this moment they have to suppress some other things.)

All in all a chapter that I don’t love re-reading because it makes me feel weird, but does it’s job as subtly setting up the coming Hannah/Ernie conflict really, really well while still showing what was good with their relationship. I mean, I focus on the negative here, but I do believe that they were generally happy together and that the relationship would have been worth salvaging if they’d both been prepared to do the work. And also all the other reviewers focused on the good parts so I had to be a sort of counterweight, haha.

/Kapa

Author's Response: Your reviews are the absolute best, I can't even.

First off, thanks for pointing out the typo in the last sentence. Leave it to me to leave out key words in sentences. No matter how many times I read over it, I still think it's there. Editing now.

I really love the peppermint cocoa motif. In chapter one it is something that Hannah associates with her schooldays with Susan before this attraction blossomed, but it has a new context here. Because she associates it so heavily with Susan, having the taste of it on her lips seems much more intimate than it really is, which is really interesting to me.

I find your insight into this chapter really, really interesting. There are several things I was trying to do with it. First off, I wanted to emotionally set things up for readers who are not familiar with polyamory. After that romantic first chapter, I know readers expect to see more of Hannah and Susan. Once they find out that this chapter is about Ernie, monogamy-minded readers expect this chapter to be rife with drama and angst. To crush those expectations I wanted to keep as much of that drama out as possible, and show that Hannah really is naturally predisposed to have a full and boundless love. What she just experienced with Susan does not contradict or undermine what she has with Ernie and vice-versa. And of course, I wanted to set up that this is a relationship with very strong domestic roles, and get a bit of Ernie's hidden personality in.

Everything you point out that disquiets you about this chapter is positively spot on. It is written with a lot of exuberant joy, just as the song is, and yet that joy definitely has a superficial element to it. I love that you were grossed out by Ernie's dinner facade. Totally there with you. I was concerned that readers would think I had poorly characterized Ernie by showing him so positively here in contrast to what's to come, and I was actually surprised that nobody has said anything like that. Perhaps they subtly picked up on what bothered you about him here after all.

I so deeply love how analytical you are getting with my song choice. I don't think most other readers think about the songs that much (or even listen to them), but I certainly do. Sometimes it was super hard to choose which lyrics to include because so much of the song applies. The songs played a huge role in establishing the arc of the story, as in they pretty much did it for me. There's also the fact that when I write these chapters I listen to the song on repeat, so yes, it's a huge influence.

As I started writing them, particularly with the context of Lesley Gore and the 1960's, I couldn't help but build them into an archetypal domestic relationship (which also was definitely manifested in You Didn't Look Round and Hannah's discovery of the secretary). To me it really speaks to the fact that even today the ideals that we have for monogamous relationships are so rooted in broken traditions and expectations.

I think that Hannah is certainly happy with Ernie, but it's a bit of a blind happiness. It's a happiness and a love that depends heavily on a great many rules and expectations. On one level there is the expectation of monogamy, but beyond that there are the many subtle expectations of how Hannah is supposed to behave in the housewife role, and the microaggresions that Ernie perpetrates to keep her submissive.

Much love!

Sam.


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Review #11, by FireOpalQueenAt The Lake: At The Lake

17th August 2015:
Hullo, Sam! So, why am I reviewing this instead of the second chapter of When I Go Out With You? Er… well, I found a draft of a review for this in my Reviews Folder and decided to give the story a quick read through and finish it. I’ll go back to WIGOWY as soon as possible – I really appreciated the little preview you gave me, btw, it seems really promising. : )

The first thing I have to point out about this story is, sadly, a negative thing: there’s some sort of grammatical error in the opening line. It reads “Gabrielle’s long silky dress blew playfully in the wind, its hem whipping at her bare feet nestled as they in the grass.” but I think it’s supposed to be ‘as they nestled in the grass’. Pretty minor, but still worth pointing out as it’s the first impression of the story and all that…

Narrative technique-wise I really love the contrasts between ‘then’ and ‘now’ – like how nobody notices Gabrielle’s suffering in the past, contrasted with how everyone is staring at her now, and, of course, “She left me” vs “I will never leave you”. Ah, yes, those two ending lines are so perfect.

The 500 word stories really lend themselves to looking at a relationship dynamic between two characters in just one (or in this case, two!) moment(s) which, and you do this beautifully here. We don’t see much of Daphne, but she’s so /present/ to Gabrielle… I get the sense that she’s been pretty much a constant ’presence’ in Gabrielle’s mind ever since that day when she was a child and I love the idea of Gabrielle coming back to her after growing up and going through loads of relationships trying to capture something that she once got a taste of… And with Dahne’s promise to never leave her she’ll be a literal presence in Gabrielle’s life from now on. Aah, so romantic! : )

The pairing is so counterintuitive and it still works really well, at least with how I see these characters. Like, I’ve always imagined Gabrielle was a lesbian (I think I’ve mentioned somewhere my headcanon about veela and their relationship to sexuality and gender?) and I’ve also always imagined Daphne as a sort of kind and dignified counterpoint to the Pansy Parkinson we get to see in the books. (Actually, I have a lot of thoughts about the Daphne/Pansy dynamic, but this is not the place for that. Actually, I’ll stop writing now before this review is longer than the story itself…)

All in all, a lovely little story, and, as always, beautifully written!

/Kapa

Author's Response: Thank you so much, your reviews always make my day!

I already know that you love WIGOWY (which is fun to say out loud), and although I can't wait to hear more of your wonderful thoughts on it, I'm also really glad to see your thoughts on this one!

In several ways these stories are quite similar, in length of chapters and the fact that they are the only two stories I've written so far about queer female protagonists, they are mostly happy-romantic, and are very rare in that the main characters are not deeply psychologically damaged! Well, just a little bit for Gabrielle.

Thank you for the grammatical note. I swear, I had to read the sentence like five times o figure out what was wrong with it.

I've been having so much fun writing really vivid short stories. As I'm sure you've noticed.

I like your note about Daphne being so present to Gabrielle. That's a good way to put it. You also really understood the dynamic I was trying to imply between he two of them and their relationship, which can be hard when most people just see their age gap at first.

I don't think I've heard about your headcanon about veela regarding sexuality/gender, but it sounds very interesting and kind of in line with what I had for Gabrielle here, plus the fact that as only part veela Gabrielle felt a certain amount of natural isolation.

And I'd love to hear your Daphne/Pansy thoughts as well!

Sam.


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Review #12, by FireOpalQueenPut On Notice: Put On Notice

16th August 2015:
Haha, this was such a funny little story! Favourite’d for sure! : )

Scorpius sort of reminds me of the archetypical ‘Private Eye’, narrating his way through life. (Oh, and in the beginning he sorta reminded me of Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables what with the noticing of a red-haired classmate and, well, the ‘hair on fire incident’, though in this story the incident in question is very different from the one where Gilbert ends up with a slate broken over his head, haha. But I digress… No, wait! He reminds me a bit of Locke Lamora too!)

I had no idea where this was going – you set up the clichéd meeting at a random place and then you subverted it completely! I was so sure that brunette was a polyjuice’d Rose Weasley! So sure. But this way is actually much better!

I love how self-centered and ridiculous this Scorpius is, and that he has built this whole narrative around him and Rose that has almost no basis in reality. It’s probably not very fun for Rose to be stalked, though, but… Yeah. And aw, rich kid vigilante saving kids with illegal unicorn blood, that’s cute. : P Though, just a minor thing, you mention a red blood stain, but in the Philosopher’s Stone it’s mentioned that unicorn blood is silver in colour…

My favourite lines were “Mystery. Intrigue. Too much alcohol, perhaps?” – very Private I – and Scorpius showing his hand with his “Oh, blimey! You're that assistant that sits behind her with the paperclip chain hanging off your lamp!”, haha.

Oh, and speaking of that I also loved Scorpius giving himself away by mentioning smuggling. Not as smart as you think, are you, Malfoy-boy? : P

All in all a fun, short read that went against type and repeatedly played me for a fool. Well done! : )

/Kapa

Author's Response:

Ahh, thanks! This was a bear to write under the challenge circumstances, but I kinda adore the end result, even a year later.

Well, let's just overlook that little bit about what color Unicorn blood is. Maybe it stains red or something... it was close to 3 am when I posted this, if I recall... so I'll use that as my canon-breaking excuse.

Nah, he's not as smart as he thinks, that's for sure. I'm glad I was able to surprise you with this. It still makes me smile when I re-read it from time to time.

Thanks so much for your review!

Pix


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Review #13, by FireOpalQueenBreathe: iv. Mistake

15th August 2015:
The hairbrush is back! Yay! I’m always happy to see my favourite plot device again. : P It really shows how well crafted this story is, from start to finish.

Also, yay, the first WHAM-chapter! : ) I think this was the chapter that really got me hooked when I first read this story.

As regards Sirius outfit for the party it’s amusing in a sort of dark way that he probably ‘objectively’ looked perfectly fine with his haircut and dress robes, but as he didn’t feel comfortable it made him look bad and that was probably what his mother picked up on when she didn’t approve… She probably thought of it as him showing defiance, though, at least subconsciously, even though she couldn’t find any way to fault him. And obviously she’d be even more disgusted if she saw him dressed up in a way he actually felt comfortable with, that’s for sure. Poor Sirius. Whatever he does is wrong to her. : (

Also, lol, this chapter is so amusing to me because in my story Grey Fire a major plot point is a party at Malfoy Manor where the main character kisses someone they ‘shouldn’t’ in the Manor Park beside a fountain! But my Ginny just /worries/ about being caught, while Sirius actually is seen… Anyway, it’s a funny coincidence. I guess the Manor setting lends itself to this sort of scene, haha!

I like the subtle exploration of the Black/Malfoy family dynamic and differences where the Black family view themselves as almost royalty but the bloodline is on its way to die out and they live in a pretty miserable flat while the Malfoys have a /ballroom/. I mean, Sirius just rolls his eyes about it, but it’s gotta grate a bit for Orion and Walburga, lol. Serves them right, though…

Frederic is such a realistic little minor character. Not extremely likeable, not unlikeable, just a random Joe living his life and finding himself stuck at a boring party. I can definitely sympathise with him, not really being a party person myself, but it seems that for him it’s really just a night of hanging out with boring people while for Sirius it’s a lot worse than that. The line about being dragged to the party is funny, actually, because that’s probably a lot more true for Sirius than for Frederic, hehe.

Oh, and you capture the thin and awkward line between ‘mingling’ and ‘flirting’ really well, too. Like, when Frederic first showed up the first time I read this I had no idea what sort of role he’d play and as he and Sirius started to talk their interactions slowly turn more and more, er… amorous in a very, well, subtle way. I know, I call pretty much everything you do in this story subtle. It’s just a pretty subtle story I guess. : P It’s also great how Sirius seems to partly just want to get away from the party and latch on to Fredric as a person being decent to him and partly sort of half-consciously play along with the flirting even though he knows he shouldn’t (which is probably why he makes sure to not do it fully consciously, heh). The whole thing is very realistically awkward. It’s thankfully much less awkward on the second read through when I know where it’s going.

And then! The kiss! OMG! I mean, I had figured out that they were actually flirting by then at my first read through even if I was a bit thick about it, but it still came as such a surprise! But it really, really works. It does feel like something that happens organically (if awkwardly!) between the two characters, and not just as a plot device to have Regulus catch Sirius at it. Actually, Regulus walking in on the two of them was even more of a shock than the kiss itself! I thought the kiss was just a way for Sirius to explore his ‘budding sexuality’ as they say, but then it turned out to be a lead up to everything else in the story. Aaah, this is such a great chapter, possibly my favourite one of the whole story. So much either comes together in or grows from this chapter, it’s lovely.

I also like how they both are just sort of *shrug, yeah sure, we might as well kiss* about it, haha. I imagine being gay in the Wizarding world wouldn’t give you too many chances for snogging, what with the minority-in-a-minority thing, so better take the chances when they come, eh?

And haha, “If he was going to be a queer, he might as well do it properly.” is an /amazing/ line! And I love “It was… well, it was a kiss.” too. I’ve definitely had kisses like that in my day, ehehe.

All in all, a GREAT chapter, kudos!

/Kapa

Author's Response: Kapa! Oh my goodness, this review is absolutely amazing. I can't even tell you how much it means to me that you're taking the time to do this. It absolutely makes my day every time I see I have a review from you.

What you said about Sirius looking bad due to his discomfort/Walburga picking up on that is definitely mostly right! You also picked up on the other element - whatever he does is wrong to her. That part definitely served to highlight that his best isn't good enough for her, and that she has an abusive nature.

That is a really funny coincidence! I can't put my finger on why, exactly, but it seems to me that a fancy manor house does lend itself to a "forbidden romance" sort of scene :)

I honestly didn't really think much about the Malfoy/Black dynamics, but you're totally right, I think it would definitely grate on Walburga and Orion.

Frederic is definitely a bit of a blank slate of a character, but that was pretty intentional as I felt it fulfilled a purpose within the narrative. Like you said, Sirius is just sort of latching onto Frederic, and isn't really considering him in a much deeper way than "friendly and somewhat average dude at the party" (which sounds mean, but tbh Frederic is doing the same thing, and just thinking of Sirius as "pretty lonely boy at the party". Does all that make sense? :P)

This chapter was honestly so difficult to write, mainly because of how awkward it is :P I got through it though!

I'm glad you liked this chapter so much, and thanks again for the absolutely amazing review!

-Kayla


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Review #14, by FireOpalQueenWhen I Go Out With You: Fools Rush In

20th July 2015:
Okay, so first things first: Wow, I’ve never had a story dedicated to me before! I’m so touched and honoured, Sam! And the fact that the story is so mind-bogglingly good only makes it all the sweeter, haha! I’ve read all the chapters over and over and the only reason that I haven’t reviewed until now is that I haven’t had access to a computer with a working keyboard in a while and when I got one I had some more pressing concerns to see to. But now I’m here, yay! : D

I remember reading this chapter for the first time and going “Wow, this isn’t at all what I imagined when I gave you that prompt…” In a good way, of course! I could never have imagined the immediacy and pure beauty of this chapter. You wield the first person POV like a true master, letting the reader in as close to Hannah as her own ribcage.

When I re-read this chapter just now to write this review, I listened to the song that the chapter gets its name from as I read, and I definitely think you manage to capture the essence of that song in this story. Especially the line “When we met I felt my life begin” seems very appropriate; both because Hannah definitely feels something as life-turning as that in the story, and because Hannah’s new life really does begin in this instant, doesn’t it, the life where she can be herself, as you write in the latest update… which I’m veryvery excited about, by the way! : )

Another thing I thought was a bit weird when I first read this story but came to love in time is how little the war is mentioned. In this chapter there’s a line about how Hannah and Susan fought “monsters and villains” side by side, but otherwise everything is so normal and happy – even when it’s unhappy, if you get what I mean. And the longer I read on, the more I like this, like that Hannah and Susan – and even Ernie as well – seem to have been able to move on, at least mostly. Hannah and Susan can run into each other in Diagon Alley and have an intense and meaningful connection without it being about the fight against Voldemort, and that is beautiful.

This whole chapter is completely stunning, but I especially love how incredibly reciprocated everything is. How affirming for Hannah (and for Susan!) to meet someone who makes your heart absolutely sing – and know that they feel the same way about you. That’s why my favourite lines are “My doubts fall away as I see my eager fascination echoed in her face.” And “I know in my blood that she is feeling the same electric energy as me,” and the lovely ending where they sit holding each other’s hands just to get to touch each other. Aaah, it’s so lovely, I love it, I love this story and I love this chapter and I love you!

(And I love me, for giving you the prompt that made you work this magic! : P )

/Kapa

Author's Response: This review just absolutely floored me.

I knew that you had Favorited this story, but had no idea that you even gotten a chance to read any of it. The fact that you have read all of it more than once is just amazing.

I had initially conceived of this story as following a little closely following your prompt by focusing on Hannah's relationships with Susan and Neville. However, I wanted both of those to be very healthy functioning relationships, and given the fact that I assume most of my readers are not super familiar with polyamory, I wanted a way to introduce readers to the concepts by having them learn about it along with Hannah, and so we went back further in the timeline and Ernie happened.

Oh, poor Ernie. I'm sorry I made so many people want to punch you in the face. You are an incredibly effective plot device.

"I could never have imagined the immediacy and pure beauty of this chapter" is just one of the most wonderful things to hear.

A lot of the lyrical quality of this story really fell into place once I figured out how well it paired with Lesley Gore's music. I am so glad that you went back and read this chapter along with the song. The music was a huge inspiration for me n every chapter of this story, and I made a big effort to mirror the tone and rhythm of the music through my writing of each chapter (which I think I was successful in all chapters so far except Off And Running).

That is a good point about the war. At first I had this set only 2 or 3 years after DH, but I moved it to 5, as I really wanted my characters to have a chance to establish their own lives outside of the world they had at Hogwarts and during the war. Yes, all of these characters have been through some difficult times, but the fact that they have come through is part of what makes the fullness of living their everyday lives so valuable.

I like your comment about everything being so normal and happy, even when it's unhappy. I think that is again something that is inspired by the music. Many of Lesley Gore's songs that are more emotionally heavy in theme (such as You Didn't Look Round) nevertheless have a very upbeat tone and rhythm, that I endeavored to replicate throughout the story. The sense that I try to create throughout this story is that there is boundless beauty in the joy of living, and even when times are hard the experience of being alive is infectiously amazing, and the dark struggles do not negate the inherent beauty of life.

Thank you SO much for this amazing review, and even more for this amazing story idea (I would never have thought to write these characters on my own). I'm so happy to get your feedback, and as you can tell by the length of this response, I am very enthusiastic to have a conversation about this story with you. Message me at any time if you want to talk about it, or if it's been long enough since an update and you want to prod me.

Lots of love!!!

And for you, a sneak peak of chapter 9 (i.e. all I have written of it):

"Okay, dating," I say with a deep breath. "Dating, dating, dating... How do you do dating?"

Susan laughs. "You're no novice, love."

"Yeah, well," I object, "Ernie and I were together forever, and you and I... Well, didn't really do the courtship part, we just fell into being... in love."

A kiss.

"You're a natural," she assures me.


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Review #15, by FireOpalQueenBreathe: iii. Trapped

20th July 2015:
Warning: this review contains spoilers, because I’m reviewing while re-reading, and let me tell you, if you’re here on your first read-through I advice you to re-read when you’re done because this story has such an re-read value!

Wow, Kayla, you’re really, really good at foreshadowing! And being subtle! Like, this couple of sentences here: “But now his parents were home, and with them came the return of screaming and cursing and insults and...well. // He wondered vaguely if other Pureblood families were like this behind closed doors.” The first time I reda that I just thought ‘Yeah, things have obviously never been great in the Black household’ but now I know what that “…well” alludes to and… well. : P / : (

I also love how you play with contrasts between ‘Sirius on the inside’ and ‘Sirius’ persona that he shows to the world’. Because as some people have mentioned the Sirius of your story is a lot… softer(?) than how Sirius is shown in Canon. And obviously partly that’s because we mainly see post-Azkaban Sirius, but also in the memory scenes Sirius seem much more like a stoic and thoughtless ‘cool kid’ than the Sirius in this story. But then you give us lines like “Sirius had felt a strange urge to cry as he’d watched curls fall into his lap, but he’d choked it down. Sirius Black didn’t cry, especially over something so trivial as hair.” where Sirius is sort of trying to ‘live up’ to his cool kid persona and yeah, it’s nice. It shows the connection between the Sirius we see from the outside and this exploration of his psyche.

Another great turn of phrase is: “He was fine. Fine fine fine. // ** // Four days later, Sirius had to admit to himself that he was not fine.” It’s a thing with your Sirius that he tells himself what he ‘should’ be thinking and feeling, and tries to overwrite what he actually feels and thinks which fits really well with the inside/outside theme I mentioned just above. Just like he ‘decided’ that Sirius Black doesn’t cry, he decided that things were fine even though they obviously weren’t. I also love how James sees right through Sirius downplaying his problems in his short letter. (And I’m sorta obsessing over how Sirius just writes “Prongs” while James writes “Dear Sirius”, like what does it mean? ‘Dear’ is good, right, but no ‘Padfoot’? Hm… And is Sirius writing just ‘Prongs’ because he’s back to addressing James in his usual informal way, but James isn’t quite there yet? Am I overthinking this? : P )

And ew, the paragraph that starts with the sentence “He was on a rigid schedule now that his parents were home.” reminds me of something a friend of mine who had abusive parents told me of how they pretended that things were fine by forcing the kids to interact with and show ‘affection’ to the parents. I’ve never lived in an abusive home so I can’t really say how well you captured the experience (except that your writing is really convincing) but at least this seems pretty spot on. Blegh, but good job!

This sentence – “Perhaps he was going to serve as the evening’s entertainment, considering how much enjoyment his parents’ Pureblood friends seemed to take out of scrutinizing him.” – also takes on an interesting new facet in light of the later scene at the wedding where Sirius sort of willingly subjects himself to scrutiny of the other guest by being who he really wants to be and by having James at his side…

Here, he’d just have Regulus at his side, heh… Aw, Regulus trying to reach out to Sirius – my heart! “Regulus’ face was painfully earnest” oh Reg, sweetheart. You deserved people to help you unlearn your parents toxic bull before you got in so deep with Voldemort… : (

And we also get to see another example of Sirius’ impulsivity and avoidance (in a smaller dose) with the ending line: “Regulus looked crestfallen, and Sirius suddenly didn’t want to be there anymore. He turned and walked away up the stairs, leaving his brother behind him.” Such a missed opportunity for closeness between the brothers, and what with what happens in the next chapter it gets even sadder. : (

This isn’t even one of the darkest chapters and it’s still making me so sadfaced. Poor Sirius. Poor Regulus. : (

Sorry for the delay with this review, I’m having a really busy summer! I’m still very invested in this story, and will try to come back for my next review as soon as possible. This story is such a treat, Kayla! : )

/Kapa

Author's Response: Kapa! This review is incredible, thank you so so much!

It's amazing to hear that you like my foreshadowing, because this is really the first story where I've tried it! I do try really hard with my subtlety though, haha.

I definitely feel like a lot of "cool kids" like Sirius have their own issues that they're dealing with. Considering Sirius' family situation, it's inevitable that he'd have problems. But of course, I did want to make the connection to the mask that he puts on, so that this wouldn't seem completely OOC, you know?

You aren't overthinking! ;)

I think the Black family would definitely be one of those abusive families that would have to put on a show like that, because they have status to uphold, but it's less that they want Sirius to show "affection" and more that they want to demonstrate that he's under their control :(

My heart honestly aches for Regulus Black! I really want to write a story about him soon.

I think a big thing with Sirius is definitely avoidance, as you mentioned. He wants to prevent himself from being hurt. He thinks letting himself be close with Regulus is opening himself up to hurt, what with the way his parents and dark wizards are pulling Regulus under, and he doesn't want to put himself through that. So he pushes him away :(

And hey, no need to apologize! There's no hurry or anything :) Again, this review is amazing! I really appreciate it.

-Kayla


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Review #16, by FireOpalQueenBreathe: ii. Bhaii

8th June 2015:
Ah, I’m back already, because I’m hooked on this story /again/. : P

Heh, the mention of the hairbrush is a very subtle bit of foreshadowing, good job you! And ooh, poor Sirius, shaking so bad is really serious. : (

Again your storytelling is subtle and refined with Sirius realising the letter is from James from context cues like the owl and its behaviour. It shows how well he knows James and how much their sending each other letters during the summer is routine – except that this isn’t a ‘routine letter’ at all! (Not sure if “unravelled” is the word you’re looking for regarding the letter scroll – maybe you meant “unrolled”?)

It’s a bit disconcerting how little concern anyone involved seems to have over the risk posed to Snape in Sirius’ prank. That Sirius would focus on the effect what he did had had on his friends this long after the fact makes sense – he already showed complete disregard for Snape’s life by doing the “prank” at all, after all. But that James would focus solely on Remus life being ruined and not at all on Snape dying or even Sirius becoming an indirect murderer is a little weird. But maybe that also has to do with the time that has passed since the incident. Snape didn’t die, and neither of them really cares about Snape, so he’s irrelevant now… Hm.

(Maybe change the spacing for the intro to Sirius writing his reply and his letter itself, so you have all the non-italics bit in one paragraph and the letter in its own paragraph?)

Haha, it’s great that after all the angsting over letter beginnings, now that Sirius really has something to say he doesn’t remember to write a greeting at all!

Again you have a really good grasp for how memory works. “It was just Snape and I should have ignored him, but we were at the same table in potions that day, remember, Slughorn put us together because you and I wouldn't stop talking” is an amazing sentence, it’s rushed and Sirius trying to explain, but it’s also Sirius (probably unconsciously) appealing to James emotions by reminding him of how good friends they are/were. Ah, I love it.

It’s also very realistic that Sirius doesn’t relate the exact wording of his discussion with Snape. And it’s clear from the letter that Sirius defensiveness over Remus and Snape’s calling him a “queer” are linked – but I don’t know if Sirius himself realises he basically just told James that he’s in love with Remus, or at least that Snape thinks so. And I don’t know if James picked up on it either. I didn’t even pick up on it myself on my first read through, really. A+ writing.

Ah, poor Sirius, laying awake with a slur ringing in his ears in his best friends’ voices. : (

Ah, you’ve done such a great build up of the importance of letter beginnings that not just Sirius’ heart leapt at the “Dear Sirius”, but mine as well, haha! Aw, and Sirius sits tracing his finger over it because it’s all he understands… And I get that going out to buy that dictionary and translating the letter the muggle way is a grand gesture from Sirius’ side, but I also think that maybe doing it that way was a way of postponing actually having to read the letter, so that he could live on the hope raised by the “Dear Sirius” a little longer, even though it isn’t enough. Oh, this story makes me so emotional and it’s so emotionally resonant!

“He didn't want James to be convenient; he wanted him to be James”, ah beautiful!

An ah, “When he sent it, he sent both rolls, just in case his translation was too bad for James to read.” Funny and endearing. And “he'd told James everything. […]he hadn't said anything at all about Remus.” Is so great, because both things are true. The first is emotionally true, because as you mention later he doesn’t want to think about Remus, so Remus isn’t part of “everything”, not yet… But the second is factually true – unless James was perceptive enough to pick up on the “defensive about Remus”/”called me a queer”-connection above…

And ah, the section about how Sirius could see through his parents’ bigotry when it came to muggleborns but not when it came to something relevant to himself hits close to home. It’s irrational, but I’ve done similar things myself (though not exactly the same). And the re-contextualisation of why exactly Sirius inherited Uncle Alphard’s money is again very clever and believable.

Ah, I read so quickly on my first read through that I didn’t notice that James sent Sirius letter back with corrected Hindi. That’s adorable! And a great way for James to say that he appreciates Sirius effort.

And the ending of the chapter is great, repeatedly reinforcing that Sirius parents are coming home and that this will mean trouble, making a subtle cliffhanger of sorts. A cliffsitter, perhaps?

(Though shouldn’t “and now that it had lost him Remus…” be just “and now it had lost him Remus…”?)

Another great chapter of this story. It’s a joy to read a story this good!

/Kapa

Author's Response: Wow, what a long and wonderful review! Thanks so much, Kapa!

I'm glad you picked up on the importance of the hairbrush! I just wanted to subtly show that Sirius' hair is important to him quite early on.

You're totally right about the scroll - "unrolled" is a much more fitting word. Thank you for pointing that out!

I can totally see your point about the lack of concern for Snape, and I can see how that's a little weird. On the other hand, I feel like that's what Dumbledore would have focused on when disciplining Sirius, and I also feel like it would be the easiest thing for Sirius to "get" and realize was wrong. The business of the effect it could've had on Remus is a little more complex and, like you said, Snape was fine - but now Sirius is dealing with a broken friendship, so that's his main concern.

My intention with Sirius' letter was sort of for it to be not the exact wording, just the gist of it, which is why I formatted it like that - however, I can see how that might not be the best way to do it. I'll think about changing it.

I really don't think Sirius meant to reveal anything about his feelings for Remus to James at this point. He just wanted to get the story of his chest and ended up saying too much.

"not just Sirius’ heart leapt at the “Dear Sirius”, but mine as well, haha!"" Oh, this made me smile so much! :D And the rest of that paragraph is spot on. You've really picked up on where I was trying to go with Sirius' character, which is great!

I've unfortunately been in similar situations to Sirius' before, where you know, logically, that what someone's saying about you isn't true, but you figure it must be for whatever reason. It's really not fun at all.

I think that the "that it had/it had" distinction is mainly stylistic, but I could be wrong! I'll ask my mom, she's good at grammar!

Thank you so much for this review! It's so detailed and flattering! It really means a lot to me.

-Kayla


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Review #17, by FireOpalQueenBreathe: i. Consequence

8th June 2015:
So, as I said yesterday (or two days ago?) I read all of this story in one go, because it was so addicting. I just had to see what was going to happen next. Lucky me for starting to read it when it was already finished, so I didn’t have to wait in suspense. : P Buuut I also wanted to review it, so now I’m rereading the story and giving you reviews as I go.

This is an amazing first chapter/prologue thingy. The first sentence is so good, it draws the reader right into the story. And the James/Prongs dilemma is a really good way of subtly showing the impact and importance of what Sirius did.

(Minor grammar thing: “but had many benefits” should be “but it had many benefits”.)

And Sirius goes with “James” in the end… ah, it was probably the right choice, but it makes my heart break for him a little. The letter is very well-written, it has Sirius voice and sounds like something a teenager would write to his mate-who-might-no-longer-be-his-mate.

The summary and the situation described in the chapter makes it clear what the “prank gone wrong” was, and it’s great that you don’t write the reader on the nose by stating it outright. I don’t think I was alone in thinking that the books brushed over the incident all too lightly, and it’s good to see a story that explores its impact. The lines about Remus, and Sirius himself calling what he did a “betrayal” really sends this home. And the complexity of Sirius feelings about writing to Remus, guilt, shame and selfishness intermingled, is very true to life.

And the re-contextualisation/explanation of the prank you get by adding Sirius being called “queer” by slur-user extraordinaire Severus Snape really works, and the way you explained what happened is again very subtle. That’s how memory works, especially when it’s a memory you don’t want to think about – it comes to you jumbled up, and you focus on the worst parts. An unthinking Sirius riled up by Snape hitting an extremely tender spot makes so much more sense than Sirius doing what he did for a laugh.

/Kapa

Author's Response: Oh yeah, I remember! It means a lot to me that you decided to reread and leave reviews.

The James/Prongs dilemma, as you call it, fits in with what you said later in your review about not "writing the reader on the nose with it". I wanted to try to show what was going on without just blatantly stating what had happened. So I'm glad that this worked for you!

You're definitely not alone in thinking that the books glossed over this incident. Then again, when it comes up, they are in a bit of an extreme and bizarre situation, so I suppose they might not get into it too much.

The phrase "slur-user extraordinaire Severus Snape" cracked me up! I'm glad that extra layer worked well for you. I always had trouble with the idea of Sirius telling Snape about Remus for a laugh. It just doesn't quite fit with his character the way I'd interpreted it. So I wanted to explore possible additional motivations.

Again, thank you so much for coming back to review! It really does mean a lot.

-Kayla


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Review #18, by FireOpalQueenin this moment: i am ticking like clockwork

11th March 2015:
Review Tag!

Hm, this was an interesting story indeed. I don’t know quite what to think about it. One could read it as a story that Lily is telling herself, that she’s not as hard and icy as she thinks/wants to be – but still a lot harder and icier than the ‘Lily Evans was perfect’-picture from the books. Trying to harden herself for the war that has been forced upon her through the thing she thought was an amazing gift: her magical talent. It must be so jarring, getting these amazing abilities that makes you stand out from everyone you ever known, but at the same time being seen as a second class citizen in the new world you’ve entered.

The language in this story is really beautiful, and I think it’s what makes the story work. If it was less poetic the story might just seem Out of Character for Lily, but with the flow of the story it gets a sort of dreamy feel that puts it in a sort of limbo where you can read what you want into it. Lily has to survive. Lily’s once best friend was a Slytherin, and this Lily would have made a decent Slytherin herself, it seems (just like her son would have!) – but blood purity fanatics and war has soured her on that House, and instead she finds love, or a moments respite, with the person she once thought was the worst example of her House. Yes, this story seems more and more plausible the more I think about it. : P

I didn’t catch any grammatical errors in my read through, but the large blank spaces around your page breaks or whatever they’re called were a bit jarring. I’ve noticed that the story editor adds those every time you preview the story, but you can delete them pretty easily, I think.

But yeah, this is a beautifully written story with a weird premise that works surprisingly well.

/Kapa

Author's Response: Thank you so much for reviewing! I tried to leave it up to interpretation from the reader a bit, and I agree with you: she came expecting wonderful things, and instead got treated like dirt. The Lily I imagine would try to not let that affect her, to show them they don't matter, and would harden herself to make sure that they really don't affect her.

I'm really glad you like the language! I tried really hard to make sure it still stayed IC for Lily :)

I'll make sure to delete the spaces- I don't think I knew how to fix it :P

Thank you so much for taking the time to review!


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Review #19, by FireOpalQueenNot entirely true: Will You Marry Me?

10th March 2015:
Hello there! This is FireOpalQueen who’s (finally) here for your requested review! I decided to review chapter 5, because it was the latest when I started writing this review. I’m so slow that chapter 6 is already up, so… sorry about that.

Overall, this story is very well written and engaging, and you’ve really managed to breathe life into your OCs. Actually, the biggest problem with this story, in my opinion, is a very uncommon one: your OCs are more well developed than the Canon characters! I love all the Maddie/Josh interactions (and while I was initially hoping for a romance between them and thought you were hinting that way, I can definitely accept them as just friends – we need more stories where a man and a woman can be just that!), but in these latter chapters I think Maddie’s interactions with her romantic/sexual interests – that is, Draco and Ron – are a bit hard to get a grip on as a reader.

The encounter with Draco in chapter 4 is very uncomfortable and confusing, but I imagine that that is in part what you are going for. But with Ron I find myself not intrigued but just confused. I can understand him and Hermione breaking up (temporarily? Is this story Canon compliant?) and him being on the rebound, but it’s unclear what makes him go after Maddie. Is she just that good-looking?

But I trust that you know where you’re going and that everything will be revealed in time. This feels like a very well-built story, and I am delighted to see where old friends are in their life, as well as to see where the story is going. I’ll definitely keep reading!

Author's Response: Hello,

thank you so much for reading five chapter! I appreciate it greatly.

When I started writing this story I really wanted it to focus around my OC (Maddie) and used HP world as some kind of an excuse to write this story. I thought Maddie through (and Josh, though I admit I was less focused on him), so I'm still considering the fact that my OCs are more well developed than canon character a compliment :D I hope this proves that Maddie is not the mean to write a story, she is the reason why I wanted to do it :)

As for what's going on between her and Ron - I do hope you get to read Chapter 6 and then please let me know (even in one short sentence) if I have answered your question about why Ron chose Maddie.

And the biggest yay of course is for you not getting bored when reading my story (unless you were being polite and didn't want to say it haha).

Thank you again!

Monika


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Review #20, by FireOpalQueenUgly Eloise: Chapter 1

26th February 2015:
FireOpalQueen reporting for your requested review! : P

Aaaw, what a sweet little story! It was definitely a worthwhile read, and made me feel for a minor character who was treated a bit insensibly by Canon. : )

Two minor formatting/grammar things; there are huge empty gaps around your line break-thingy that look a bit weird? And also when Eloise talks about playing chess with her dad you wrote ‘we would play game after.’ instead of ‘game after game.’

I think you stay firmly on the side of fluffy-but-not-syrupy, except for possibly the line ‘Her horrible acne had long ago cleared leaving flawless porcelain skin.’ It is a little too perfect, maybe – you might get a stronger statement if she still has some acne or at least some scars left, but that no one is perfect and that she could see past it for the first time or something like that. : )

Also I’m not sure you want to send the message that you can get over being bullied just by standing up for yourself? Especially as you handle the issue so well except for a few things like having Justin say ‘You know, you only get bullied because you don’t stand up for yourself. They all do it because you make yourself an easy target.’ Eloise standing up for herself with her newfound self-assurance will probably be a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that the bullying was her own fault because she made herself an easy target, you know?

Other than those minor things, the story flows really well, and the chess thing was so sweet (without being syrupy!). Good on Justin for being brave enough to approach and stand up for the girl he has a crush on! And good on Eloise for being a chess prodigy, haha!

Lastly, I want to tell you that I fell absolutely in love with the line ‘Eloise shook her head as if she had just walked through cobwebs.’ – so poetic and at the same time it paints a really vivid picture! : )

Author's Response: Hi FireOpalQueen,

Thanks for taking the time out to review this story.

Ahh...grammar issues. I try to weed those all out when I submit the chapter, but obviously a few have escaped me. Thank you for pointing them out. I will go through and fix them both.

I like your suggestion about her skin. You're right. I don't want it to be perfect. I want her to be human.

As for the bullying, I definitely am not saying that the bullying is her fault. Clearly, she is a victim and I think that shows. What I was trying to convey was that having some confidence and being a bit more assertive could help. I will give it a good hard re-read and see if there is any way for me to rephrase that.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story. That line about the cobwebs was one of my favorites too. :)

~Kaitlin


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Review #21, by FireOpalQueenLilium: Chapter One: A New Start

24th February 2015:
Hi there! This is FireOpalQueen from the forums, with the review you asked for in my review thread! I might come off as a bit harsh in what I write below, so I want you to know that I actually really think this chapter could be the first seed of something great!

First of all, wow, what an interesting take on the Marauders’ Era! This is definitely very different from all other stories I’ve read from that era, and it feels very new and fresh. The reason I prefer to not read Marauders’ Era fic is that it often feels formulaic and rehearsed, but this absolutely does not!

However, as others have pointed out, you should probably go over the language and style of this story and see if you can make it flow a bit better. For example, for me this chapter lost a lot of its punch because the very last sentence contains several grammatical errors.

It reads: ‘“I am sat here you know.” Lily said harshly, her lips pursed tightly, thought the boys indeed took little more notice of her, and she, instead, and filled her plate with food once more.’

When it ‘should’ read: ‘“I am sitting here, you know,” Lily said harshly, her lips pursed tightly, though the boys indeed took little more notice of her, and she instead filled her plate with food once more.’

And that still leaves it looking a bit clunky… There are also several places where you repeat yourself or say pretty much the same thing twice in a row. Remember: less is more! I’d suggest getting a Beta Reader to catch any other mistakes and clunkiness.

I think another problem you have is a confusion around the term ‘AU’, that is, Alternate Universe. You say this is a story that is ‘AU and OOC’, but you still get people pointing out things that doesn’t fit with Canon, such as Beauxbatons not being an all girl’s school. I think this is because it looks like you’re writing a traditional ‘Alternate Timeline’ story. Alternate Timeline is an undercategory of Alternate Universe, where the universe and events are the same as in Canon up until a specific point and then it becomes different. But I think you’re writing an AU in the strict sense, where Beauxbatons is a girl’s school, and Petunia is beautiful and so on…

That said, I really don’t find the relationship between Lily and Petunia believable. You write both ‘It was not that she hated her sister Petunia, because she truly didn’t and loved her beyond anything.’ and then further on in the story ‘Lily loved her sister dearly, and would indeed do anything for her under most circumstances, yet she could not help feeling immense rivalry towards the elder sibling.’ This is, firstly, a bit of unnecessary repetition, but what I want to focus on is that it’s telling instead of showing, as they say. The reader doesn’t see anything but hostility between the sisters over several interactions, so it’s hard to understand why Lily would love ‘Tuney’ at all.

Because of these and similar interactions, the three characters of Petunia, Mrs Evans and Severus come off as a bit flat. Do you think you could rewrite some of their interactions with Lily to add a bit of nuance? With Lily and her sister, for example, you could either go all out and make them truly dislike each other (not hate, but still really dislike) OR soften the relationship a bit with a scene where you show that they really care for each other. Just an idea.

That all said, this is as I said a really fresh and interesting take on the Marauders’ Era and I’ll definitely keep reading to see where you take this! As long as you really get the plot ball rolling in the next chapter I think this can turn out to be a great story.

Author's Response:
Hi there!
Thank you for taking the time to review this!
I agree with a lot of your points here, and I'm currently scribbling away to change a lot about this chapter.
Indeed Lily's relationship's with several characters are rather all over the place, and I'm working to amend this and give better clarification between characters.

There is also still an issue with grammar and paragraphing, which I am also revising, and have carried this over into my next chapter, which is currently in progress.

It's a little difficult with the whole AU/AT thing, as there are a lot of similarities to canon, but I'm hoping after a couple of changes, both the chapter and description, this can be cleared up.

You're comments have been truly helpful and I thank you for reading, even if it is Marauders! I hope I can re-request when my next chapter is up :)

Happy Reading!

-JAA


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Review #22, by FireOpalQueenMeant for Two: You and Me

18th February 2015:
Wow, the style of this story is really interesting. I love it, it’s so dreamy and fleeting and still it makes sense and is easy to follow (except a few times, I’ll get to that). The way you use language makes such a commonplace interaction as buying Quidditch gloves become very romantic, haha.

There are only two places I get a little confused about what’s happening. The first is when you write “Yours stayed fixed for the first time since you’d entered when they finally caught mine.” in the beginning of paragraph four. This refers back to the paragraph before, but it is a little confusing. Maybe you could change “Your” to “/Your/ eyes”, with italics to show that it’s a reference back but still less confusing?

The other thing that I a little confusing is the bit “Maybe we could fix that. You looked panicked as soon as you’d said them.” Maybe you could change it to “You thought we maybe could do something about that. Then you looked panicked as soon as you’d mentioned it.” or something like that?

I really like these lines: “The darkness under my eyes and the dullness of my expression were an homage to sleepless nights haunted by shattering rock and screams.”

These sentences: “That stupid little angel with his stupid little bow. It was dark, but was his arrow aimed at me?” are a great juxtaposition, with the ‘stupid’ in the first sentence contrasted to the hopefulness (despite herself) in the next.

“But there’d be Ginny, the brilliant, blushing bride all in white turning my hopes irrevocably black.” has a similar juxtaposition, which shows what great a grasp you have on language, it’s really admirable. : )

I love the little details you add, like chasers noticing each others hands – and throwing in a hint about who the story is about too, clever you! I’m guessing Katie Bell (though at first I though it was Cho, heh…), because she’s the only Chaser left when Ginny gets on the team, isn’t she? Otherwise I guess Alicia Spinnet would be a possibility, but the writing doesn’t fit her personality as much, I don’t think…

Oh, here is some constructive criticism I have! The phrase ‘seductive situations’ just isn’t very romantic, in my opinion. But I get that you’re going for some thing that starts with ‘S’ like ‘screams’, and also probably some alliteration there… So what should you put instead? ‘Seductive scenes’, maybe? ‘Scenes’ even sounds a bit more like ‘screams’ than ‘situations’ does… Maybe you could even add an adjective starting in ‘S’ before ‘screams’? Like ‘senseless’, maybe? ‘Senseless screams’ and ‘seductive scenes’, eh? Eh? : P

My favourite parts of the story is the first scene where Harry is buying gloves, and the second to last paragraph – the part where the main character dreams about a possible life with Harry is just so heart wrenching and lovely at the same time. I hope that she, whoever she is, will find another ‘you’ after all.

Author's Response: Thanks so much for the read and the review!

I'm glad you liked the style. Though it owes a tiny bit of its origin to another story I've written it was still something quite different for me and it was a challenge at points to make sure it kept that dreamlike air, but remained comprehensible.

I definitely see what you're saying about those two segments you pointed out - hazards of writing after midnight when you've had a LONG day. I think part of why it happened at points was that I decided to make the whole story essentially a memory and for that reason wanted to avoid traditional dialogue or anything that would take us outside Katie's (CORRECT!) head. In the end though it's good I was able to make the gloves scene come off romantic because another part of the dreaminess was to give it that unexpectedly lovestruck vibe.

I appreciate the feedback too about seductive situations...it IS rather awkward isn't it? You got was I was going for precisely, but sometimes the simpler solution eludes you - scenes is a much better choice.

Thanks so much again for your detailed and thoughtful review!


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Review #23, by FireOpalQueenA Nearly-Headless Account: A Nearly-Headless Account

17th February 2015:
This was so funny, oh my god! I didn’t know what to expect when I opened the story, but this was really well written and engaging in its own long-winded way (but don’t tell Nick I said that!).

I love how ‘Nick’ manages to write almost 2000 words and still not really tell us anything about the battle – I can just assume that the ‘full book version’ is about as useless and full of self aggradations worthy of Sir Cadogan – who probably is a dear friend of Nick’s, now that I think about it…

In this vein, the line “This speech combined the greatest elements of Dumbledore, Shakespeare, Pericles, Lord Nelson, and Rocky Balboa, and was arguably one of the top five greatest speeches of all time.” was the most perfect example. Other than that one my favourite line was probably “There were giants, acromantulas, dementors, and worst of all, Delores Umbridge.”, ahahaha. Oh, and “when you can travel through walls, you tend to know just about everything that happens” was a great line too.

The only complaint I have is that a few of the diversions were more distracting than funny, in my opinion. Like the tangent on “irony”, for example. It doesn’t add that much to the story and it’s a bit weird that a long-dead wizard ghost would talk about pop songs…

Author's Response: Thanks a lot for the great review!

Nick does enjoy tooting his own horn quite a bit, and I definitely would have liked to see a bit more of John Cleese's Nick in the movies.

Yeah I get what you mean about the last part. It's always a fine line between what's going to be funny and what's just trying too hard, and not everything sticks.

Thanks again!



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