10 Reviews Found

Review #1, by water_lily43175 

3rd October 2015:
You really do write Dumbledore so incredibly well. Bouncy and world-weary in the same scene, it's just SO him. And I just adore how he cares about his students so much. Suspending Emily when it's the Easter holidays anyway. What a genius man. He truly does know what's best for everyone and it's MAGICAL, pun entirely unintended.

One thing you've done really well in this whole fic is the slow reveal of certain aspects of the four characters, in such a way that doesn't feel contrived in the slightest. Laurel is the obvious one - we didn't even have her POV for ages, and now we get that insight into her home life which begins to explain why she was the girl we met in the first chapter. It's so wonderfully done, and I just love all the LAYERS. And I think Laurel's recovery is one of the most lovely things about this whole story.

Oh Mary. You're such a darling mum.

And with this chapter Emily becomes a bit easier to understand as well. The poor, poor doll. The sad thing is I think most of us probably know someone who's been in her situation (at least I do, at any rate), and it really does leave a mark. But on a happier note, at least the girls are repairing their friendships.

OH and that reminds me about a thing I missed, Emily's reflections on the different friendship bonds between the four of them was immensely well thought-through and I guess shows just how multi-dimensional these characters are. Which is GOOD.

Author's Response: *FLAILS* DUMBLEDORE. Man, he is just SO SCARY to write! Like, I sort of sat there being like "what are the wisest things I can think of?"

Yay for layers! It's weird because all of these characters started off so much more simply when they were just plans and notes on a piece of paper, then when I started writing them they each demanded so much more NUANCE than I had originally thought of. Like, seriously, this story was originally planned as a totally lighthearted romp about Hogwarts Stoners, but then just as soon as I started writing the characters were like "haha, NOPE! This will be a harrowing angst fest!"

As for Emily, I think I remember the statistic being something like one in five girls has been or will be the victim of sexual violence (usually before the age of 21)--which is a pretty staggering statistic. Part of Emily's backstory, in context, is to show how there isn't really a hierarchy for pain, and it's not always proportional to what people think are "better" or "worse" traumas. Like, a lot of people reading assumed that Laurel had to have some BIG DARK THING that was causing her behavior, but she really doesn't. Her life has just been a bit crap in a bunch of little ways. By contrast, Emily is consistently the best adjusted and least acting-out-y of all of them, but had something really objectively bad happen to her. So like, just because someone experiences trauma, that doesn't mean they end up falling apart. Conversely, someone does need an 'excuse' to feel pain. If that makes any sense?

UGH these later chapters are so weird to reply to because they always end on such a bummery note!



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Review #2, by moonbaby11 

6th September 2015:

This chapter had a lot of pov jumping, but you made it all flow so well that I'm honestly jealous of your writing skills? You never seem to make any changes too jarring and everything seems to fit together so perfectly.

That letter Emily sent to Tristan at the beginning was truly heart breaking and I hope that the two of them can sit down and have a serious talk about their feelings and all that stuff because I feel like it would only do them well. They need to discuss everything that happened with Laurel and decide where they stand. Honestly, I just want to see them repair their friendship! I feel like that's the first step.

I'm so glad this piece of Emily's past came to light, especially when she was comforting Isobel and letting her know that it wasn't her fault. I had an inkling that something like this was what she was referring to a few chapters back when she thought about what had occurred in the shack but I, obviously, couldn't be sure until I read this. I feel like it adds a whole different side to Emily's personality and explains why she's prone to being with so many different guys. It's also interesting to see that the Hufflepuff and the most cheerful of the group has as much emotional baggage as the rest of them.

Your Dumbledore is brilliant, once again! I loved how his password was a muggle sweet as opposed to a magical one -- that just seems so Dumbledore. His voice was spot on and even the punishment he gave Emily seemed so compltely in character that sometimes I question if you really are JKR. I find that Dumbledore is really hit and miss in most fanfics -- either you get him perfectly or you don't and there's no in between -- and you've definitely got a hit here with the way you characterize him! It's almost magical.

This was another completely brilliant chapter overall and I can't believe it's almost done. What?

Author's Response: ERMGERD, I'm SO SORRY I've taken SO LONG to reply to your AMAZING REVIEWS. It brings me a lot of joy to respond to reviews, so I used it as a sort of prize once I completed my To Do lists. Which took forever. BUT NOW I AM FINALLY HERE!

I'm really glad the POV shifts work. For the first just-over-half of the story, the POV rotation is really consistent, but I liked the idea that the more their lives got mixed up, the more the perspectives would get mixed up. Like, all Form Following Content and stuff. BUT YEAH - kind of a risky move, so I'm really glad it flowed and wasn't jarring.

UGH TRISTAN. So I'm not sure if it's obvious or not, but I wanted each one of them to have these little quirks about their perspectives, and how they were written. So like, Isobel uses a lot of parentheses, and Tristan has a lot of long blocks of texts (kind of like soliloquies). But yeah, for someone who monologues so much in his own head, he's just an AWFUL communicator. I think it's because he's always trying so hard to HIDE himself, and is so worried about being EXPOSED. It's like he thinks everyone can see him, and then doesn't realize that people DON'T. Just an awful communicator.

I felt bizarrely guilty about giving Emily this backstory, largely because I really love her. I was all like "I'M SORRY EMILY!" It's not something I planned, more like I kind of realized it about her. Also, just statistically speaking, if you have three female characters, it's probably happened to one of them :(

But as for the cheerfulness vs baggage thing, I kind of wanted to show that our experiences don't necessarily dictate everything about us. This really awful thing happened to Emily, and it's something she struggled because of, but she's still easily the best adjusted of all of them. Laurel, on the other hand, hasn't had any one Big Thing happen to her, but still struggles a lot. Like, a person doesn't need to have "an excuse" to feel the way the feel, and conversely, one bad experience doesn't mean they can't live a full and happy life.


Dumbledore is DEFINITELY the most terrifying character to try to write. I'm, like, SO stoked you thought I did him well! (I always read a lot of his dialogue before writing him to try to get his voice down).

YEE thank you again SO MUCH for these reviews and I'm SO SORRY about the delayed reply!


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Review #3, by TidalDragon 

23rd August 2015:
Very interesting installment. It's encouraging to see that there's some healing going on here amongst the quartet and that things seem to be brightening or at least really being brought to light and confronted. Isobel, though Emily's monologue suggested otherwise, I would hope will have benefited from her house arrest somehow.

Emily though - how awful. To be taken advantage of so completely and at such a young age. It certainly explains something about her that's gone unexplained for some time, but ugh. I just. Anyone who would do that disgusts me. And I know from my line of work that there are far too many, but still - they say people get jaded about it, but never. Just...words can't even describe what I'd like to do to this Andrew character.

I'm also glad that Laurel and her mother had it out after we learned more about that dynamic as well. One can only hope it will create a more supportive environment or at least engender some more trust between parent and child for her as well.

The one I remain worried for is Tristan though - the same fears - and he's the one who's still been most disconnected, despite Emily's letter. I fear with three chapters left, something's got to give with one of them before the end.

Author's Response: UGH ANDREW UGH. I'm glad you recognize the full terrible-ness of all of that. I decided to leave the language light and hoped that it rather spoke for itself. It's also really great that you haven't gotten jaded, and good thing you're a Gryffindor! I don't think being jaded is any use, but it does take a huge amount of strength to manage so much unpleasantness regularly!

I really struggled to find sympathy for Laurel's mom, because I didn't want to flatten the issues so much that she was just terrible. Flawed, to be sure, but human still (and therefore flawed). And while Laurel has had a lot of trouble, she still has a number of really admirable qualities, and isn't a BAD person. She isn't hateful, and she's open-minded, and she has a great capacity for wisdom. Yes, she's made mistakes, but ultimately mild for an addict. She really is quite a good person, and SOME credit must go to her mother, even if her mother is also very, very flawed.

Around this point in the story (starting with Emily kind of striking out on her own) I wanted to raise the question of whether the friendship between all these kids is good or bad. And I don't think there's a simple answer. But whether they are better alone or apart? I think they at least need each other, and hurt without each other. A break, of course, is good. And maybe they aren't fully equipped to be THERE for one another as they should be, but they're young, and we can't fault them that.

As a very wise friend of mine once said: sick things die when you leave them alone.

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Review #4, by Gabriella Hunter 

23rd July 2015:

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

They obviously lied. >.>


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love,


Author's Response: Gabbie!

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

Hah, adulting is SO overrated :P

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Review #5, by bigblackdog 

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

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

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

Author's Response: Hello!

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

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

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

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

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


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Review #6, by Slide 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Review #7, by CambAngst 

7th December 2014:
Hi! I was hoping I'd be able to help you get to review #200. Having kids often seems to get in the way of goals like that. Instead, I'll just get you started on the next 200 reviews. ;)

The past few chapters have been really rough on your characters, so this chapter was a really good change of pace for me. Secrets (some of them, anyway) were revealed, issues (a few) were confronted and conflicts (one or two) found at least the beginnings of resolution. It had a few bumps, like any of your chapters, but overall this was probably the most upbeat since the big party.

Poor Emily. The depths of her confusion where Tristan's concerned would be hard to overstate. You did a really good job of capturing the essence of her struggles and the way that it wears on her.

Once again, you wrote a scene featuring Dumbledore with a lot of finesse and sensitivity. You're really very good at it. You keep him so measured and circumspect. He never gets bent out of shape over anything immediate. It's all about the long game with him. The effect he has on Emily is profound and perfectly written. The wisdom in his words and actions feels perfectly like him. I also loved the subtle way that he gets his message across, both about Emily's transgressions and about her friends.

Yikes. The trip to Scotland with Isobel and her father was a frosty experience.

For most of the story up to this point, Emily has seemed a bit younger than her friends in several ways. This was the first time, I think, that we've gotten to see her as a brooding, disaffected teenager who rebels against the perceived hypocrisy of her parents. Although in her case, I think her parents' hypocrisy goes beyond perception. Still, it's easy to identify those teenage feelings of how unfair life is.

Laurel's confrontation with her mother was healthy in a very odd sort of way. Not that Laurel was right to say some of the horrible things she said to her mother, but that's just how angry teenagers react. Wow, I am NOT looking forward to that phase with my kids. I'll give her mother a lot of credit, though. For once, her mother was able to see Laurel's lashing out for what it really was. She was able to stay calm and let Laurel work her way through the anger until they were actually talking. The end result of the conversation was far from perfect, but it was an improvement. It had to start somewhere.

Seconds later, she appeared in the alley behind her neighborhood gastropub, startling a fox, and continued on her trajectory towards Orsett Street and home. -- I see what you did there. ;)

I feel almost as bad for Tristan's mother as I do for anyone else in this story. The self-destructive course that Tristan seems hell-bent on pursuing would be bad enough by itself, but she also sees the reason why. His self-hatred is heart-breaking, especially for the woman who took it upon herself to raise him.

It's nice to see the friendship between the three girls gradually knitting itself back together. You never wish anything like what happened to Isobel on anyone, but it seems that her horrible experience with Professor Quirrel has at least shown her that she needs her friends as badly as they need her.

Emily's back story was awful. To me, and this might sound odd, the most awful thing about it was how unexceptional it was. Older boy takes advantage of young, impressionable girl who revels in the attention and approval he offers. It happens all the time. That realization is a terrible thing in and of itself. The fact that her troubles didn't start with anything so exotic as being the orphaned son of a notorious Death Eater shouldn't make her struggles any less real.

Then again, with the Defense departmentís track record, Squirrel probably wouldnít be coming back next year. -- Ha. If she only knew...

I saw a couple of typos that have somehow managed to survive:

Thereís been an owl from Hogwarts explaining what Emily had done, and her parents were furious with her. -- There'd

Or because youíre lifeís gone in the bin, so it became my job to be so clever and get good marks so you could have something to brag about, and you wouldnít look so bad. -- your life's gone in the bin

It's been ages since I left you a review, which I definitely feel bad about. Especially considering how long it's been since I finished this story. I'll try to rectify that soon. Awesome job, as always!

Author's Response: Dan! Hello! Yee, thank you so much for pushing me over the 200 mark!

Something I hadn't planned for Emily, but really enjoyed developing, is how she's really The Philosopher of the group. I mean, Tristan does a lot of thinking and all, but it's not at the same maturity level that Emily does. She's the one seriously considering the nature of morality and reality, and the idea that experiences are really collections of narratives. She extrapolates Greater Meaning out of her dramas, and she grows the most, intellectually.

Speaking of which--SO RELIEVED you liked that bit with Dumbledore! That was one of the HARDEST parts of this WHOLE STORY to write! I nearly cut it, and scrapped multiple versions. Dumbledore is just so intimidating to write, because it's so inherently presumptuous! Like, I am a pale interpretation of a Grown Up--MILES away from being a Wise Old Man.

Oh yes, definitely Emily at her brattiest! As sort of the moral center of the group, and consistently the most stable, her behavior says a lot about where things are at.

And AH! I'm so happy about your analysis of Laurel and Betty's interaction! :D That was EXACTLY what I was going for! Betty took a pretty bad character assassination by being physically abusive. BUT, you know, NUANCE. A person can be a lot of things.

Wait--what did I do there??? I MEAN *caughs* yes, that was super intentional because I am very clever! (The Author is dead, so whatever. Something can have meaning even if I didn't consciously realize it... Now I just have to figure out what that was!)

Dude, yeah! Mary was actually probably the most directly modeled on myself (she's my Mary Sue, if you will). I really wanted a sympathetic character in her, and since I'm the one writing it, I thought I could best argue her case from my own perspective.

And I wanted all of the parents to be imperfect in some way--because teenager-dome is just HARD, and everyone's different, and there's no Right Way. Since I'm not a mom myself, my naivete came as an advantage writing Mary; I don't know what /I/ would do in her position, so neither does she.

So yeah--that brings me to Emily. That's also her parents' flaw. So like, I don't agree with parents who are really strict and obsessive about protecting their daughters from Boys and Sex (which causes its own problems, and doesn't necessarily save them from assault [see: Isobel]). Then again, Emily's are pretty permissive, and that happened basically under their roof. Which isn't to say they are really to blame--bad things just happen. It's unfortunate, but it's true.

I almost didn't write Emily's backstory (I cut it and put it back SO many times), but I realized I HAD to. As you said, because its maddeningly common. To leave it out would have been, I think, dishonest. And, it kind of plays an important role in her relationship with Tristan, and why they take SO LONG to get together. Her journey to finally OWN her sexuality is probably the most inspiring of the whole story.

As always, thank you for leaving the BEST REVIEW EVER!


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Review #8, by AlexFan 

28th November 2014:
It appears that being ďin loveĒ with Tristan is a lot more work than itís worth. Honestly, Emily needs to move on from Tristan because itís not going anywhere. Sheís pined after him for so long but nothing but hurt has come from it so I think itís time for her to move on. I get that love isnít always easy, but whatever Emily and Tristan have isnít even functional let alone hard, how are they going to work towards something that is so broken, Iím not even sure that it can be fixed anymore?

I have to agree with Dumbledore on one aspect, suspending students seems absolutely absurd because all that happens is that they use it as free time and do whatever they want, unless theyíve got strict parents, in which case, there would be severe consequences.

I kind of feel like Emily is seeing a whole other world in her friendship with everyone else than the rest of her friends are. I know that there isnít mutual respect between them, infinite loyalty is most definitely not one of those things either, or deep affection for that matter. It almost seems like she is so unattached to what her friendships are really like that Emily has created this idea in her mind where everyone is really close and having a great time, when in reality, itís anything but.

When I saw the length of this chapter, Iíll admit, it was a little daunting (but this was mostly due to the fact that Iím doing homework as I read your story so the idea of focusing on two things at once for a lengthy period of time was a little scary). But I can see that it was necessary, you covered the families and what kind of homes Laurel, Emily, Isobel, and Tristan went home to and what they had to deal with. Laurel has an abusive mother, and honestly, sheís come out pretty good considering how horribly her mother treats her. Isobelís family treats her as if sheís a stupid child that doesnít know better, and I get that theyíre trying to help her get back on the right track, but theyíre obviously not going about it the right way.

Oh my goodness, poor Emily! I canít believe what this girl went through as a child! Oh my God I want to punch Andrew in the face so much! (I want to do much worse things to him but I have to keep this twelve plus so I canít exactly go into detail, but I assure you, that it is in fact very painful.) Protect young girls at all costs, educate them on how to live healthy lives and how to be confident and most importantly, keep creepy older men away from them.

And as always, I am amazed at how much time, research, effort, and thought that you put into your story, itís what makes it so great and so interesting, you can really see all of the effort that you put into it shine in every chapter!

Author's Response: You are on FIRE right now! Thank you!

Loving Tristan is definitely a HUGE amount of work. And yeah, I once knew someone to get suspended for skipping too much school. Like... what???

Part of it, also, is that this story picks up during such a tumultuous time. They have some years of friendship behind them where Em's analysis might make more sense.

Ugh, I couldn't figure out a way to split or pare down this chapter--I'm SO glad you think it's ok as long as it is!

I agree--Laurel isn't so bad, considering everything. She's been pretty bad these last few chapters, so I'd hoped that seeing a bit of her home life would explain where she's coming from. And yeah, I think the wisdom of Isobel's parents' actions is very up to interpretation. In a way, it's good they are stepping in, and actually DOING something about it. Then again, you and Laurel both make good points.

I definitely wanted to show the flaws of different parenting strategies: the controlling-ness of Isobel and Laurel's, vs the permissive-ness of Emily and Tristan's. We mostly see the Madley's in a stellar light, but then here, we see that something terrible happened to their daughter very much under their roof.

I'm really glad you appreciate all that time and research! And I definitely put a lot of thought into these grittier and more sensitive elements, and pushed myself to write with as much accuracy and realism as possible (and it was often very difficult and uncomfortable and frustrating to do)--so I'm so happy you think it's worth it!

Thank you so much for another review!

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Review #9, by crestwood 

28th September 2014:
Hi Roisin!

It's been awhile, so I thought I'd come back and continue with this story.

There's something so sincere about Emily's letter to Tristan. A lot of people say they don't know what to say, but she honestly is thankful in such a way that she seems legitimately at a loss for words. For some reason the lack of embellishments in her signature meant something to me as well, even if that wasn't supposed to be important. And she's right, working out why Tristan does what he does IS tiring, but also incredibly entertaining, I must say.

And you've brought back Laurel's conversation with Dumbledore because again, nothing exists in a vacuum here. Their time-out is something I've employed before and it's usually a good sign that things can be fixed, if they can be ignored for the span of a conversation.

Somehow I think Dumbledore did all of this on purpose. In the same way he knew that Ron would want to be able to find Harry and Hermione in Deathly Hallows, he guessed that one of Laurel's friends would find it useful to know the way to guess his password.

I love the way you've described Dumbledore's office. The words in that scene felt like one of Wes Anderson's tracking shots; beautiful in it's perspective.

I think I can picture Dumbledore reading about Socrates. His thoughts on Azkaban here are something I was just talking about not too long ago. As a prison system, it's actually quite terrible, as I think it makes people more dangerous for having been there in the grand scheme of things.

Overall, you've written Dumbledore so perfectly as a Headmaster. I've seen quite a few stories about him in his teenage years or as the leader of the Order, but I've really enjoyed reading about him at Hogwarts, doing his job. You've captured exactly what makes him such an amazing character.

'deep affection, fierce defensiveness, private intimacy, infinite loyalty, unconditional acceptance, mutual respect, intellectual joy, and fundamental contrast' No one understands their characters like you do. I'm a subscriber to the 'Death of the Author' line of thinking and everything, but from a literary analysis standpoint if you tell me something about these characters, I'm going to take your word for it.

This look into Laurel's home life is striking. There's a great number of things that could be cited as the cause of her troubles and I suppose they weren't helped by her being around the other's so often. But at the same time, who knows what she could have ended up like if that wouldn't have happened? I'm inclined to think (or at least hope) that the group is ultimately good for each other. But, I think that's up for debate.

I'm glad Isobel's parents have finally realized that something's wrong. I can't believe you had Voldemort steal Ahmad's research in order to learn to fly!! That's such a clever thread back into the main canon storyline because it gives the sense that these guys are actively affecting the way things are happening in regards to the series. I like the idea that this could all very well have happened and maybe we've seen some of the effects of it before without knowing.

I can certainly buy that Isobel's eating disorder stems from her desire to control things. After all, we've seen evidence of that throughout the entire story.

I'm so relieved to see Laurel and her mother having a positive interaction. And again with the ties into canon with Rita Skeeter. Your plans for this must have been the length of a football field.

Tristan's anxiety attack was almost difficult to read. I don't like to see him like this in the same way that you wouldn't want to hear about the same thing happening to one of your friends.

Feeling intense empathy for fictional characters is always a bit jarring. His confession is so fitting. "I might have done, I'm not above it, but I didn't." Even in his innocence, he can't be bothered to paint himself as a gallant savior of sorts. Also, Mary is, by far, my favorite of all of the parents. I find her to be an excellent mother to Tristan, even if he has his troubles.

Well, the story about Andrew was absolutely nothing like I thought. I mean, I didn't really think about it and it seems as though no one's ever acknowledged it out loud, but it definitely was not okay. The age difference, the "I dunno," all of it. Just not okay. You've really hit on so many different topics in this story.

And lastly, I adore the meeting with Sprout at the end because, well, I adore any scene with her that you write.

It almost feels trite to tell you that you're wonderful at this point, but you're wonderful.

Author's Response: Schmargloffputerfiggleshmorp!!1!1!! Joeyyy! You are the best reviewer EVAR!

As for what Tristan does and why--I think that has a lot to do with why him and Emily love eachother so much. She's one of the most philosophically interested of the bunch (HUFFLEPUFF, FUNK YEAH!), and has all these deep probing ideas about moral relativism, and the simultanaity of Truth. Does Tristan do something because he loves someone else, or because he hates himself? Does he do something because he's a coward, or because he's brave? Is Schrodinger's Cat dead or alive? Emily is uniquely qualified to answer those questions.

Dude, yes! The fight-time-out is a powerful thing!

And yes-yes-yes! Dumbledore did everything on purpose! Because Dumbledore really is a master manipulator--and you're totally right about DH, and how he managed to set up this whole plot before he died. Some people have criticized that as absurd story-telling, so I really wanted to kind of justify it here. No, it's not a silly plot, IT IS A FASCINATING CHARACTER. So here, basically, I'm suggesting that Dumbledore is meddling with all his students, even on their relatively petty issues. Because sure, "teenage angst" might pale in comparison to VOLDEMORT, but these things still MATTER to the people experiencing them, and I think Dumbledore is wise enough to know that.

'deep affection ... and fundamental contrast.' Gosh what a long sentence. I should really consider cutting that.

I'm really glad that you're starting to wonder whether or not their friendship with each other is healthy or not--because that's for sure a question I was hoping readers would raise. As with a lot of questions in this story, the answer is pretty much up to you the reader (and the best answer is probably "both.")

YEE! The Voldemort robbery! EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS CONNECTED! No one is an island! No series of events exist in a vacuum! Every life matters, and influences so many people outside of itself!

Blagh--Tristan's anxiety attack was difficult to write :( And what's worse: I rewrote it about 40 times.

Feeling intense empathy for fictional characters is, I think, important! If you haven't already, I highly recommend watching John Green's analysis of "To Kill a Mockingbird" on youtube! (And really, all of his Crash Course videos). Also: JK Rowling's address at the Harvard Commencement. It's one of the most stunning speeches ever given, and I cry every time I read it!

Mary is for sure my favorite! I lovelovedloved writing her!

Blargh, Andrew. That was not at all fun to write.

On a lighter note: glad you liked the Sprout scene! I don't know if it came across, but it was meant to be something of an inversion of Harry's guidance with McGonnagall! (Because, to quote Teh Tarik: "MO META IS MO BETTA")

You really are the best reviewer ever, like, SJLKHFEKHFMBFKHVBW!!


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Review #10, by marauderfan 

24th August 2014:
Hi there! Wow, a lot happened in this chapter! I think you wrote Emily's conversation with Dumbledore really well. Particularly the bit about how his silent disappointment made her feel the guiltiest, and the fact that he set her 'suspension' as the same week as the Easter holiday, perhaps as he figured she'd already spent a good amount of time contemplating it and feeling guilty.

I love that you pointed out just how ridiculous the Hogwarts Express is for the students who live in Scotland! What a pointless train ride just to return the same way for 8 hours.

This chapter really delved into the relationshiops the students have with their parents which I think was such an important thing to add. It seems at the moment that perhaps Betty realises she was too hard on Laurel, and Emily's parents didn't have much of an idea what was going on in their daughter's life, and Mary doubts whether she's being a good parent by smoking with her son... but what I liked about all three of these snippets is it shows that just like the teenagers, the adults all make mistakes too and have their own problems; nobody is perfect. But they're all trying, and learning as they go along. And maybe their kids are just beginning to see that. I don't know, I just really appreciated the inclusion of all of that.

So glad that Emily and Isobel's friendship is healing, even if it had to dredge up unpleasant memories for both of them. I think they'll find it easier to work through those challenges together rather than alone and unhappy! Thank goodness Quirrell didn't end up returning the following year..

And it sounds like Tristan will be coming back soon, since Emily told the truth. I am eager to see how the group melds together again after some time apart.

Great chapter! Aah I can't believe there's only three left!

Author's Response: Hello again!!!

Gosh, this chapter was such a beast! The longest by FAR.

I'm so glad you liked Emily's talk with Dumbledore--I fretted over it SO much! There's just very little canon on how Dumbledore might approach a drug dealing student! So yeah, I ended up relying a lot on my thoughts about how Dumbledore would feel about rules/punishment/justice. And Dumbledore is kind of an ANARCHIST (in the Emma Goldman sense), so I ran with that.

And haha! The train! Yeah, getting picked up from London can hardly be convenient for a lot of the students! That was another little point on the whole "the Potterverse was created around Harry, so what happens to everyone else?" examination.

I'm so glad you liked how I did the parents! I figure that having a teenager must be a really difficult time, and no one parental strategy works for every kid, so they're all just kind of making it up. But I didn't want any of them to be all bad or all good. Emily's parents seem like the best in a lot of ways, but then things can go too far (Emily dealing at school; the older boy when she was 13). And I definitely had friends who's parents smoked, who just kind of gave up about it when their kids did, because they didn't know what else to do. There's a lot of different family structures and styles in this story, so I wanted them to be not all good, and not all bad.

And yeah--I introduced earlier ways that their friendship might get unhealthy, and here I wanted to show that it's better than isolation. They all just needed a break, and time to think (basically, they ALL got suspended, in the Dumbledore sense).

I hope you feel like this story resolves the right way! It's hard serializing it, as I feel like the last few chapters aren't really meant to be episodic--and kind of work as one movement. But whatever! Uploading each chapter individually ended up being an amazing way to see people's feedback, and really helped me think critically about my writing!

Thank you so much for reviewing! I always get so excited to see what you thought!!


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