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Reading Reviews for Written in the Stars
  
13 Reviews Found

Review #1, by TheEmotionalTeaspoon Amidst the Thorns

10th May 2016:
Hello There!

Before I forget, and since you asked, I think a natural place to split the chapter would be at the line "And nevernot oncedid Merope Gaunt look back." But I did enjoy it at the current length!

First of all, I think this is a great characterization of Merope, I really enjoyed the way you wrote her. One of my favourite things was the way that, in some cases, she was an unreliable narrator because of her limited life experiences. So when she described her cross eyed-ness as a pureblood trait, you sort of left the reader to make their own conclusions. Also, when Tom said:

"You cant be kneeling there as a tripping hazard to any gentleman who walks past"

my natural reaction was: 'oh, how rude, he should have been watching where he was going' but of course, Merope saw his response as infinitely kind, as a result of her history of abuse. I think it's quite sophisticated that you're able to write in a way that keeps the naivet of your character intact, but lets the reader deduce what's really going on.

I also really enjoyed that first passage, where you set up Merope's feelings for Tom. I just loved the final few lines

"The boy, Tom, had stolen her heart. And she would have one in its place.

 She would have his."

There's such a great undercurrent of both romance and foreboding here.

To be honest, I really struggled to find anything to be improved upon in this chapter! There was just one line I was a little confused at, but perhaps that's me being dense: "In fact, if he had been anyone but a Muggle, Toms conviction in his worth would have been something Marvolo Riddle himself could have quite admired.

" Were you saying that Tom would have admired his own conviction if he was a wizard?

Aside from that, all I could think of was to maybe give us a little more detail as to why and how the ministry officials came for Merope's family, but that's not 100% essential.

This piece was beautifully written, and I just loved the way you balanced the darkness of the situation with a certain empathy. It would be easy to consider Merope's character as irresponsible for brewing love potion, and generally a bit crazed, but instead you sort of had me rooting for her! I suppose, having given us a glimpse into the sad life she's had, I finally want something to go right for her. I'm hoping to see a brief moment of perfection when Merope finally gets what she wants, but I suspect you won't wait too long to tear it all down again!

This is a really great start, and a joy to read, I'm interested to see what happens next, so thanks for requesting!

-Kate :)

Author's Response: Hey Kate! Sorry it took a minute for me to get to answering this *lovely* review!! It's been crazy over here--job interviews, traveling, yikes! So much happening! But I'm here!

Thank you for your insight. That does seem like a good place to split it, though I'm glad you enjoyed it at its length now! I just needed some outsider opinions on that one, because at some point I think I will have to split it out, but I just couldn't quite think where.

Okay, so I was so excited when you pointed out the thing about Merope's unreliability as a narrator, and specifically the moment you chose. I think that, from Merope's choices, it does eventually become obvious that her perspective is a little skewed, but that bit about her views on "Pureblooded features" was one of the earliest hints I'd put in of it, and I'm just really happy that you caught it and liked it and pointed it out :D

And then you also pointed out that Tom's reaction was *not* that great, which makes me so happy! I was hoping people would pick up on that. It's exactly like you say--Merope has no context to know what true kindness is. This grand romance she's creating is so much in her head, but I think you can kind of see why she confuses it with something real.

Oooh, favorite quotes, too! Thank you *grins hugely* :D

And thank you for the CC! I'll have to tinker with that sentence. Maybe: "In fact, had he been anything but a Muggle, Tom's conviction in his worth would have been something Marvolo Riddle himself could have quite admired."

Maybe that's better? It's supposed to convey that Tom has just as much confidence in who he is and what he is due as a Pureblooded wizard would. Merope is saying that, if he were from a "proper" wizarding family, he'd match even Marvolo Gaunt's standards for self-importance. But she means it in a good way. She knows how she was expected to marry, and she's basically saying that Tom may not have the right blood, but he has the right attitude.

Ooh, I *am* depending a lot on people remembering a rather small incident from HBP there. I probably *should* clarify that Morfin was carted away for attacking a Muggle, namely Tom (and I think Marvolo for attacking an Auror? I'll have to look that up to remind myself). That's a good point. Thank you for bringing it up!

Thank you! I'm so glad that you were able to cheer for Merope a little bit, if against your better instincts. I wanted to write an antiheroine, and I feel like she *is* one, but she became much more sympathetic to me than I ever expected. She does terrible things, and her actions have a truly terrible outcome, but she really was someone terribly lonely who had never been shown the right way to pursue love.

Thank YOU for your kind words and this wonderful review! I really appreciate it :)

--Penny


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Review #2, by horcruxxx Shy Little Thing

25th December 2015:
Hi!

I have to say I really enjoy reading this story. Even though it's set up in the familiar HP world, I feel like I'm reading something completely different from what I know and I love how original your story is.

Can't wait to read more!

/And even though I don't ship it entirely, I will keep reading it until I do ;)/

Monika

Author's Response: Hey Monkia!

So sorry that I've been frightfully slow with answering reviews, lately. I've been on hiatus, but am just coming back. I really appreciate your lovely review, and your taking the time to write it! You're a star!

--Penny


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Review #3, by merlins beard Shy Little Thing

15th October 2015:
I'm back again, reviewing for the Slytherin October Review Exchange.

Well, I'm not quite shipping it, because it's just so wrong, but I constantly have to remind myself that it isn't real. The way you describe tom and his emotions, it would have easily fooled me. I don't blame merope for someday just thinking he's in love with her even without the potion and not giving it to him anymore.

I really, really don't like Cecilia. (The name is inducing bad feelings already, but that's not even it), she's just a hateful cow who thinks she owns the world. I bet if we weren't seeing them through Merope's eyes, Tom would be fairly similat to her. The way we get to know him is just as accurate as any lovesick teen's version of their favourite star. Reading this feels like reading my diary from back when I was 12 and had huge posters of Orlando Bloom and Robbie Williams (yeah I know, it's embarrassing) covering the walls of my bedroom... only that Merope's object of desire is much closer to her, much more tangible...
The other thing that's different here is that Merope is able to brew a love potion.

You're really playing with my emotions here. Half the time I don't know if I should be slightly disturbed, disgusted or if I should find it romantic and sweet...

You're also really good at writing this era. It was so easy for me to picture the scene in the stables, even the clothes and the people... this story is going on my reading list.

I can't wait for more.

~Anja

Author's Response: Hi again! Thanks for the second review!

Yay! I mean, darn that I couldn't trap you into shipping them, but good on you for having morals! ;) And I'm glad that you have to remind yourself that it isn't real. That's one of the things I wanted to get across. In the books, we only ever see love potion at work with Ron and Romilda Vane, but I figure that would have been a cheap Weasley's Wizard Wheezes one. No offense meant to Fred and George, either. I'm just saying those were meant to be inexpensive joke items, and Amortentia is the real deal--or rather, as close to fabricating it as you can get. I figured that would be just the thing: the potion *is* so powerful, and Merope is a witch with a lot of raw talent (Voldy had to get it from *somewhere*), so she really ends up getting swept away. This is her fantasy, and she *wants* so badly to believe that it's real. Besides, it's so convincing. She just really loses touch with reality.

Cecilia is *awful*. If she had access to love potion, she'd be using it left and right, and her intentions wouldn't be nearly so good, I can tell you that.

"She's just a hateful cow who thinks she owns the world." --YESSS!

As far as Merope's view of Tom...my idea of it is kind of two-fold. I think that Tom gets a bit of a bad rap, and kind of unfairly. Like, yes he did leave his pregnant wife. But that was also after he'd essentially been drugged and forced into a relationship he didn't consent to. For *months*. I think his reaction is pretty understandable, even if it is tragic. The only other "bad" thing that we know about him is that he was a bit of a jerk when he was around Cecilia. And maybe he does just takes pleasure in being cruel, but in my headcanon it's more that Tom is a bit weak. He's a people pleaser. So he laughs along when Cecilia laughs and he says things that maybe aren't kind (but *are* true) when he thinks that no one else can hear. I think that's a pretty human problem, even if it is a weakness.

Basically, my idea of Tom is that he isn't terrible, but he *is* a bit of a coward. Merope sees him unclearly because she's cast him as a hero, and he most definitely isn't that. But I don't think he's necessarily awful--just nowhere near as great as she makes him out to be. She doesn't love Tom; she loves her *idea* of Tom. It was a fantasy that she needed in order to survive, really, but she lost sight of what was real. :'(

But if you want to read it as, "He was just a mega jerk, and the potion covered it up," that's fair! All readings are valid!

Hey, no judgement! We are all fools in teenage crushdom.

That's the ONLY other thing that's different? HAHA! :D I'm totally choosing to read that as: if you could have brewed a love potion at age 12, you would currently be Mrs. Orlando Bloom.


MUAHAHAHA! YES!!! I am playing emotions like a fiddle--the fiddle of HEARTBREAK! thank you :) That's one life goal I can now check off the list, and I am delighted.

Aw, thanks so much! I love writing in historical eras, and I'm so glad that you were able to see it all in your head. And that you're adding it to your list! Thank you so much!

--Penny


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Review #4, by merlins beard Amidst the Thorns

15th October 2015:
Hey Penny,
I'm here for the October Review Exchange.

Wow, I haven't even given Merope any thought. Sure, I knew she gave Tom love potion and that's how they ended up together, but I never stopped to think HOW things ended up like that.

I spent the first half of the chapter feeling really sorry for the poor girl. She didn't have a good childhood, and living with Marvolo and Morphin would have been terrible. I detest Morphin and his unexplained and unnecessary cruelty even more than I detest Marvolo's mad blood purity obsession. In a different world, were Merope's mother alive and had the family still had money, things could have been different for the young witch. The house elves would have done the chores, and Merope would have been able to just hide somewhere if her father or brother were looking for her.

But all things happen for a reason - we needed a villain for the series, so JKR decided to give Merope a sad and tragic background to make sure Tom Riddle grew up without parents.

I can't decide if I find it sweet or disgusting that she just gives him a love potion. I think the way you wrote it, it shows that she's just grown up with a very twisted understanding of right or wrong (Marvolo ins't exactly a great example), and she honestly believes that what she does to Tom is the right thing for them.

You really did a great job making me feel the despair, the confusion and then the joy Merope experiences as she's abused, left alone and then starts learning to be more confident. She's undergoing quite a big change in this chapter. I really can't wait for the next one. I might just go check it out right now.

Lots of love
~Anja

Author's Response: Hey Anja!

Thanks so much for stopping by! I'll be over to your page soon :D

Yeah. I thought it would be a fun sort of 'missing moment' to explore, because it's one of those that really gets lost in the shuffle, but really the entire HP series never would have happened without this set of events, so it's cool to think about.

Things definitely could have been so different for Merope, and it's such a shame that her life turned out the way it did. If someone had been truly kind to her earlier in her life, and had shown her love, who knows what might (or might *not*) have happened?

I'm glad that you find it a little hard to settle on what you feel about Merope's actions. That's really what I was going for. I wanted the reader to feel what she feels--she's so desperate, and you really *do* want her to have some happiness, and you can even understand why she's doing it and why she feels that it's *right*. But it's still so, so wrong. I'm really happy that you could see that she really does feel like she's doing the right thing, and she's never really had a positive moral example.

Thank you so much for this lovely review, Anja! I really appreciate it!

--Penny



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Review #5, by Mi Shy Little Thing

2nd October 2015:
Well I never imagined I'd find Voldemort's mother and father cute!

This was absolutely lovely to read! How Tom gently teased and coaxed a response out of her, the building of the tension was sublime. I much preferred this chapter to the first (that could just be my inner romantic). The first seemed to have a little too much into it - like it could have been separated a bit more. This was a lot more coherent and had a purpose.

I think your descriptions are really good and I kind of love the fact that Tom rides a mare instead of a stallion or gelding. Don't know why, but it's just great.

I really like this story and can't wait to read the next bit!

Author's Response: MUAHAHAHA! My evil plan has succeeded! :D

I really wanted readers to kind of get swept up in the romance, just like Merope does. She wants so badly for it to be real, so I was hoping to create the same response in the audience, so that, even knowing the truth, they'd be wishing it was real, too. So I am THRILLED that you find them cute!

I totally agree with you on the first chapter. It's a bit long and should be at least two separate chapters. I had to cram it all into one so that the story would make it through the queue before the deadline--it was written for a challenge. I've been meaning to edit it, but I can't until Dobby Award voting is over. But thank you for the CC. I appreciate getting it, and it'll help remind me to make splitting that chapter a priority once I'm allowed to edit it again :)

Thank you! You know, I really loved that bit about the mare, too, and I was never quite able to explain why, either. But I'm really glad that it caught someone else's eye and that they felt the same way about it.

Thank you for your lovely reviews! I can't wait to *post* the next bit! Things have been a bit crazy 'round here lately, but I should hopefully have the next chapter up soon!

--Penny


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Review #6, by Mi Amidst the Thorns

2nd October 2015:
Hi there Penelope Inkwell,

Can I just say - this is really good. I really like it. It took me a little while to realise who the protagonist's were. I've never read a story like this an you have really captured the characters well.

The torment that Merope goes through, personally through her love for Tom and physically from her father and brother - is written very very well.

I like the contrast you've given between Merope and Miss Cecilia - two girls both vying to Tom's affection.

Can't wait to read more :)

Author's Response: Hi!

Thank you so much for saying such lovely things! It is so encouraging to get reviews like this. I truly appreciate it.

Merope's really fun to write, because she's a total antiheroine--she makes a terrible choice--but at the same time, the more I explore her, the more I can't help but feel bad for her. She did suffer a lot in life, and I'm so happy that you thought that that suffering was well written!

Thank you again!

--Penny



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Review #7, by alicia and anne Shy Little Thing

21st September 2015:
YAY! I AM BACK TO THE NEXT MEROPE AND TOM CHAPTER! I can't wait! :D

Awww oh Pauline, looking out for Merope, and if only she listened, but she loves him so much and it's easy to see just how much she's taken with him.

I know I've said it before, but I'm so glad that she's coming out of her shell now that she's not in her brother and fathers shadow. You've done such a brilliant job at showing her doing that, getting that confidence up and becoming a more powerful witch.

They're quite adorable, and I wish so hard that it was because Tom liked her himself and not anything to do with the potion. Part of me thinks that possibly he would have liked her without the use of it, by some of the things that he's done.

I love how much Tom loves his horse as well :D That guy is such a catch and I know why Merope is so taken with him.

Oh he is smooth, and I know that it's the potion talking, but I wish so hard that it was him!

The way that you write him with Merope is fabulous! You've written his love amazingly, even if it is artificial, it just seems so real and it's making me so sad that it's not.

AH THEY'RE KISSING! THEY'RE KISSING!!! AND YES!!! IT'S AS EPIC AS I IMAGINED IT WOULD BE!

Oh my god! Please let it be real, please please please! Please say that the potion didn't work and that Tom is speaking the truth, I want it so badly.

I NEED SO MUCH MORE! I LOVE THIS AND YOU SO MUCH AND YOU'RE SO BRILLIANT! I need to just spend an entire day just reading your stories over and over and being more in love with your writing... and I'm not even sure if this makes sense because I've had an hours sleep and worked most of the day... but still! I have a lot of love and. hang on a minute... is this chapter laced with love potion?.

Author's Response: Tammi! Hi! Thanks so much for coming back :D

Oh, Pauline. She does try. Alas, to no avail!

Thank you! I'm so glad you like Merope's burgeoning power. I figure she is Voldemort's mother, after all, and he was a powerful wizard. Without schooling she may not be able to tap into her full potential, but I'd imagine she would have some native talent, you know? Besides which, I also think it explains a bit about her feelings and why she is *so* convinced that she's in love with Tom, even before she really knows him. It's one part the fantasy she created to survive her abuse, of course, but I also think that she's experiencing freedom and power and agency and hope for the first time in her life, and that's so potent. She attributes her happiness to being near Tom, and I think that would be a contributing factor, but maybe not the true root of it.

They are cute, aren't they? As to the possibility of Tom liking her without the potion, I wanted to set up that it was possible. The hard part would have been his noticing her, but once they did...it was mentioned somewhere in the books that the villagers, hearing of their elopement, just figured the two of them probably had a lot in common, because they were both essentially outcasts (the Riddles were unpopular). And I liked that idea. Whether he'd have married her--that would have been a toss up. But I think he *could* have loved her naturally. However, who has ever shown Meriope love? How could she believe that it would just happen naturally? She may believe they're right for each other, but I think Merope would struggle to believe she could be lovable, all on her own.

Yay! I'm so glad you love Tom's horse fondness! I think of Tom as a bit of a mixed bag--he's not very brave, by nature, and has a tendency towards pridefulness, and, while charming, he's a bit selfish. But he does love his horses. He can be funny and sweet. And he can also be considerate, despite his selfish tendencies. Love can bring out the best in us. It's a shame about those circumstances, though.

Tammi, thank you so much. You are the SWEETEST! I cannot tell you how much your kind words mean to me. And also HAHAHAHAHA! It might be. I'll never tell ;)

This review has made SEVERAL of my days. I'm smiling so much. So many warm fuzzies! Thanks again.

--Penny


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Review #8, by Gabriella Hunter Amidst the Thorns

11th September 2015:
Hello!

This is Gabbie from the forums and your nightmares back with another review! I'm sorry that this came a bit late but real life is out of control right now and I haven't been able to do much lately besides float around.

On to this!

Pure brilliance. I am completely in love (No pun intended, mind you) with what you've created here. There are quite a few stories on the forums that feature Merope but nothing quite like this, I don't even know if I can find the right words to describe how much I enjoyed this. I think that your version of Merope has so many interesting layers: At one point she's a victim struggling to stay sane in a home where she's treated less than dirt, which is why I think that she latched onto Tom as strongly as she did. Tom would of course be the ultimate fantasy, as far from her world as you could possibly be and I think that seeing him, imagining him to be what she wanted right then was enough to shift everything in her mind. A fairy tale ending would be just the right bit of romantic flare for someone like her and I feel like she was carried away by this idea because I feel that the alternative would have been sinking into what her relatives wanted her to be. I can say though that even as Merope has been a victim for most of her life, she still has negative touches about her that I really enjoyed. This line in particular:

Disturbed, but not entirely sorry.

That's enough for me to understand that while Merope is not nearly as twisted as her father or brother, she still carries a slightly worrying bit of apathy. It seems like most of her thought process centered around what she wanted Tom to be for HER and she chose to ignore the unpleasant things about him that were difficult to miss. Tom has been fleshed out so nicely, he seems just like the pampered dandy from that time period and I love that every minor thing about him is amplified ten fold through Merope's eyes. Touching his skin, having him near her are moments that are so exaggerated that you would almost think that she's lost in a dream. I forget what they call this but it seems like that attachment that stalkers get to their victims but maybe I'm reaching a bit with it. Hahah.

Now, I have to say that Merope is smarter than she gives herself credit for. The fact that she nad her brother weren't sent to Hogwarts but she's still able to create complex potions and even difficult spells, shows me that she may have been brilliant if she had been allowed to attend school. It makes you sense where her future demon baby got all his knowledge from and I got chills thinking about it.

Now, as for the minor characters that you introduced: I enjoyed their snobbery and contrasting personalities and the way Merope saw Celia really enhanced her desperation to have Tom for herself. I am literally speechless after reading the last lines, the HOPE that she has and the deliberate disregard for facing her reality are just mind numbing. Wonderfully written but just a tad uncomfortable. Hahaha.

You mentioned that you were thinking of shortening this chapter and weren't sure what would be a good place. I think that you should end it on "It was fate." That's a great cliffhanger and it gives you this ominous feeling that you can't help but shake.

This story is darkly beautiful and I'm really just just blown away by how you were able to perfect this. You've created your own universe and I'm glad that you allowed me to be a part of it. :D

Much love,

Gabbie

Author's Response:

Gabbie from the forums and my nightmares! It's so lovely to see you!

OH MY GOSH, YOU *GET* IT!

That's exactly what I was hoping people would catch on to. Tom has been this distant, impossible fantasy for her, because he was, like you said, "as far from her world as you could possibly be." She pretty much needed that fantasy to survive, but for so long that's all it was. And then her situation changes overnight and...well, what can she do? There's nothing tying her down now, and she's only had one dream all her life. It doesn't make sense to do anything but follow it. But yes, you can see why she gets so attached to Tom even before knowing anything about him. She truly did need a hero, and he looked like he'd fit the role.

And yes! I think that, given just *how* abusive Morfin is, Merope's thought isn't so terrible. Not like it normally would be--she just wants to be safe. However, you're right. Even though she didn't turn out like the others, that bit of her is still worrisome. I didn't feel like it made her *bad*, but it's not the typical mark of a heroine, either.

"It seems like most of her thought process centered around what she wanted Tom to be for HER and she chose to ignore the unpleasant things about him that were difficult to miss."
--YES! I really wanted Tom to be...well, not *bad* either. But I wanted it to be clear that he didn't quite fit the *hero* stereotype, on his own. Like, he does leave her to save his own skin. Granted, she tells him to, and he's terrified because he's never seen magic before so he's“ half out of his mind, no doubt. But it still wasn't the chivalry one would expect of a white knight. And then, of course, when he runs into her and blames her because he's embarrassed. That's his fault, and it's not cool of him to try to pass it off on her, but it's just so much nicer than anything she's ever been able to expect that, to her, he seems amazing. I didn't want Tom to be particularly bad, at all, but I wanted it to be quite clear that he wasn't the hero she was imagining. And you are SPOT ON about her imagining Tom as SHE wants him to be.

Merope definitely does walk the narrow line between MAJOR CRUSH and stalker. I'd say love potion moves it *a little* to the stalker side of the equation, but I was hoping that her thought process would be understandable enough that she wouldn't sound totally crazy. From her point of view, she's doing the right thing.

It's said that Voldemort favored his father in looks, but I wanted his personal traits to be more like his mother. Except, of course, Merope *can* love, and she isn't plain evil. But she is willing to do about anything to achieve her goals, and her native magical skill is quite pronounced, even if her lack of magical education means she only taps into a bit of it. And, of course, when it comes to goals, she tends to...obsess.

I have to say, I hate Celia. She's really no better than Merope and if she could get her hands on some love potion, she'd have dosed Tom in a second.

Heehee. Yeah. Merope's reality is pretty much another world altogether. I'm so glad that I could make you uncomfortable, evil twin ;)

And thank you! I think you make a good point there, and that would be a good place to split it.

Thank you so much for this lovely, lovely review, Gabbie, and for taking the time to write it. I appreciate it so much!

--Penny



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Review #9, by Dirigible_Plums Shy Little Thing

9th September 2015:
Hey,

I'm back again. I have to admit, I've been looking for a good Merope/Tom story for a while and I'm glad I've found one! I do get a bit worried sometimes though because I almost feel myself rooting for them until I remember that this is all artificial. I guess it's just the fact that they're so different that seeing the gap between them crossed is so intriguing. Once again, the way you've written about it so - poetic, really. It matches the era and the characters incredibly well.

There were a couple of minor mistakes that I noticed. The first is: 'and from within she could here [hear] the small sounds of large creatures'. The second is Tom, dont be so tiresome. Youre just being asked [to] put in an appearance while we discuss the important things. [NEW LINE] 

Yes. The important things. Like table linens. And finally: "Which stallion? Cecilia challenged. [NEW LINE] 

Youve not seen him yet. Hes out in the paddock right now.

Plums xo

P.S. I was just wondering if - in this story, at least - you thought that Merope/Tom MIGHT'VE worked out naturally or if his friendliness in the last chapter was just, well, that.

Author's Response: Hey Plums! I'm so happy to see you back!

You know, I don't think I've run across another Merope/Tom story, though I haven't looked, specifically. Writing this makes me want to, though--I'd love to see other people's takes on this pair.

I TOTALLY feel your pain. Half the time I'm writing and I'm like, "I want to root for you...but that would be wrong? Right? Yes. Wrong. Totally wrong. Don't go there Penny."

That's sort of what I wanted the audience to feel, but I didn't want it to start pulling me in, too! Drat! ;)

Thank you so much!

OOoh, and thanks for pointing out those errors. That CC is *really* helpful, and I'll make those changes once edits open back up! :D

In regards to your postscript...kind of. The books mention that, when Tom and Merope ran off, people were surprised, sure, but most of the village just figured that the two of them found a connection based on the fact that nobody really liked either of them. They were both outcasts of a sort--people found Tom unpleasant, and Merope odd.

I think that there was a sort of chance. Maybe, if Tom had managed to really *see* Merope, he could have fallen in love with her naturally. However, I doubt that he'd have married her without the potion. My idea of Tom is that he's a bit of a weak person. He's not without good impulses, but he doesn't always heed them. And it's very subtly hinted that Tom isn't in love with Cecilia, but the bit of him that *is* fighting off the love potion--the reason that he isn't falling at Merope's feet immediately--isn't just the lower dosages. It's the fact that, above all, Tom is in love with himself and his position. (It's not an overt hint, but you might see it if you know it's there). Maybe he'd have found the strength to marry Merope if they fell in love, but there's just as good a chance that he'd have married Cecilia anyways.

But then again, people can surprise you. Look at Slughorn--another weak and cowardly person, but he fought in the Battle of Hogwarts and dueled against Voldemort himself.

Tom wouldn't have been so friendly, so quickly, without the potion. The first dose, from yesterday's tea, is definitely already at work when she arrives at the stables. But it's just enough to peak his interest a bit. (Admittedly, Tom's a bit of a flirt. But it's not all false. At least half the reason he finds her interesting *is* the love potion. But it's possible that the other half is because, once he looks, he actually finds Merope to be kind of interesting. It *is* kind of cute how shy she is, and he'd be pleased by the fact that she's clearly smitten, herself.)

So yes, that might suggest that there was a chance. If he could have just taken enough time to notice her in the first place, who knows where things might have gone? But then, it's understandable for Merope to assume that he'd need the potion to discover his love for her. Who has ever loved her? When has she ever had reason to believe she was lovable? How could she put all her trust in that? And the worst of it is that she really does mean well. She's truly convinced that she just needs to prime the pump--that he'll fall in love for real if the potion can just allow him to see that she *is* lovable after all.

So, basically, I meant to get two things across. (1) That Tom was never quite the hero she imagined him to be (most of the things she appreciates about him initially aren't moments when he's *wonderful*; they're moments when he's better than any other man in her life, but really he's just being decent, and (2) That maybe things *could* have been different, if Merope had let events run their course instead of trying to force someone to love her.

Which was a really long and round about way of saying...yes-ish. I didn't want to say there was, for sure, a chance. But I did want to imply that there might have been.

Thanks so much for this lovely review! It was really fun to answer, though I apologize if I got crazy wordy!

--Penny


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Review #10, by manno_malfoy Amidst the Thorns

3rd September 2015:
Hey, I'm here for the review swap!

I've been trying to read new things, and I've never read anything about Tom's parents before. But I've got to say that this was really enjoyable.

First of all, I'd like to comment on the writing style which was perfect. It helped set the scene and the time period. I was interested from the very beginning by the way you described things, even how you managed to describe the cottage. I felt as though I could really see it. And I also loved the way you've written the potion-making scene in the attic.

My two favourite lines are from the opening scene:
'The suns rays lingered on the boy, painting his cheeks with healthy roses, as though it, too, wished only to stroke desperate fingers across that exquisite face.'

And... 'He had unknowingly gained possession of her pierced, aching soul and, what was more, the delicate, dying sprig of her hope.'

They both are just so enchanting and elegant and really set the tone for the rest of the story.

I liked the characterisation of Merope and how dynamic she was. At the beginning of the story, I was sympathising with her and rooting for her. But after her father and brother were taken away and she was no longer a victim, and her deviousness surfaced, I started getting wary of her. And I like how you got me as a reader to transition between these two feelings toward her.

Another thing I liked is all the other characters you've surrounded Tom and Merope with. The other servants in the house with the accent gave me a Downton Abbey-ish feel which I quite liked. And even though I'm not on Merope's side, I can't like Cecilia either. I think you're delivering the frivolous rich girl vibe well with her.

I'm wondering what'll come next. And I also plan to check out Traitorous Hearts soon to sate my soft spot for Drastoria.


-Manno

Author's Response: Hi Manno!

I'm so glad you liked the writing style! Oooh favorite quotes! I LOVE knowing what lines people liked. Thank you!

I've really enjoyed writing Merope. She's proved to have much more potential for depth than I had expected. It's been a fun process, turning her from a victim into a villain. You're smart to be wary. There's a small part of me that can't help cheering for her, and then Tom's over here in my head like, "I beg your pardon, madame, but I am being magically bamboozled and this is no cheering matter! Most inappropriate!" So I straighten my face and am like, "Right. Very bad."

You know, it's funny. A few people told me early on in Traitorous Hearts that bits of it or one of the names reminded them of Downton Abbey which, at the time, I had not watched. For TH it was less because of the belowstairs elements and more because of the initial formality between Draco and Astoria. But I have since watched (and enjoyed) all of Downton Abbey and it definitely inspired me for the servant bits in this story.

Ugh. Cecilia. No, i can't condone Merope's actions, but I can also honestly say that I do not think that Cecilia is any better. If that girl knew how to get her hands on love potion, she'd have dosed Tom in a second. And she's so...irritating.

Suddenly I'm thinking, like, Poor Tom, right? He's far, far from perfect, but man, his romantic options were just never good!

Oh yay! If you check out Traitorous Hearts, I'd love to know what you think!

Thank you so much for this lovely review, and for swapping with me! :D


--Penny


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Review #11, by Dirigible_Plums Amidst the Thorns

2nd September 2015:
Hey,

When I first opened up the chapter, I intended to do a long, detailed review, but I kinda got swept away by everything. To put it simply, I think that this is perfect. I love the writing style; it reflects the theme about fairytale love well. I like the way that you've portrayed Merope - a couple of times, I almost forgot that her obsession with Tom is unhealthy just by the way that she's so convinced it's true love in its purest form. I also like the way that Tom's presented as well. He doesn't have honourable traits, but he doesn't seem that bad, just like how Merope sees him.

10/10

Plums xo

Author's Response: Honestly, that's the nicest thing you could tell me! Thank you!

Oooh, I like that. Can I make a version of that my tagline? "So romantic, you'll forget that it's morally reprehensible!" ;)

That's what I was going for, so I'm so happy to hear you say that! I really wanted the reader to relate to Merope, and to kind of be rooting for her even knowing that what she's doing isn't exactly on the up and up. She genuinely means well, is the worst part. She's never had real love modeled for her--all she's had is stories, and she's trying to make them come true.

I'm so glad you like the way Tom is written! He's fun to explore. I feel like he gets portrayed with a very tarry brush sometimes, but nothing he ever does is *that* bad--or that good.

Merope definitely romanticizes Tom, but then she doesn't know any better. She's looking for a hero, and there he is on his white horse. And, you know, it may not have been chivalrous of him to leave Merope behind when Morfin attacked, but at least he did hesitate. To Merope, that would mean the world--who ever took one second to worry about her before? And then when he trips over her, he's really being a bit of a jerk--he's blaming her for it because he's embarrassed, but he should have been watching where he was going; she was just doing her job. However, he's so much nicer than what she has come to expect--chastising her gently, helping her up--that he seems a paragon.

Thank you SO MUCH for this lovely review! And for nominating Written in the Stars for the Best Quote Dobby! I can't tell you how much I appreciate that--I really can't! Just, thank you again!

--Penny


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Review #12, by ScorpiusRose17 Amidst the Thorns

1st September 2015:
Hi Penny!

I am making my rounds on reading and reviewing the challenge entries! :)

I really enjoyed the way that you brought your one moment to life. I enjoyed getting to read Merope and Tom and how it all started to come together for her. It's nice to see the up side to things before the crash that will inevitably come.

She was clever and calculating and I found myself feeling sorry for her throughout the chapter in many different ways, but in the end I was over joyed for her. Even if she does produce the darkest wizard ever.

You did a great job with description and making sure the reader could really picture everything going on as they read. I also thought you did a fabulous job with mixing canon and originality here too!

Good luck in the challenge!

-Jenn

Author's Response: Hey Jenn!

I'm really glad that you were happy for Merope! Like, what she does is so wrong, but the girl has just had such a miserable life and was still trying to make it better. I was kind of hoping people would get caught up in her happiness over Tom, even if it is, well, morally sketchy.

Super morally sketchy.

Thank you so much for this lovely review! :D And thanks for creating this challenge! It was a fun one!

--Penny


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Review #13, by alicia and anne Amidst the Thorns

30th August 2015:
You really use some brilliant descriptions in your stories. I have so much envy right now! You must teach me your ways!

I love that she's so taken with him and that she wants to have him fall for her too, and it's not until you remember what she does in the future that you realise the real meaning of her lines that she would have his heart in the place of her own.

I feel so sorry for Merope, she's trying so hard to keep the place clean, but the boys are no help at all.

You've really made her come alive in this, you've really given her a voice and shown that she wasn't just that scared and timid girl from what we knew. That when her brother and father aren't around to belittle her and knock her confidence that she can be happy and enjoy things, and I think that's brilliant :D

Awww she protected him! And he noticed and felt guilty for leaving her.

I love that she was free now, and that she was getting her confidence back from them not being around her.

Awww she's going to get a job there! She's going to be close to him!

She's so adorable in front of him! I just want to see them be so happy together!

And she's made the potion and he's winked at her even though she hasn't given him the potion yet, and I just love them so much! I wish that he had fallen for her without the potion.

No! YOU CAN'T END IT THERE! I NEED MORE!!! Ahhh I love this already! I just want so much more haha

This is brilliant! Such a wonderfully written story, and I love how you've made it so that she manages to give Tom the potion.

I can't wait for more!

Author's Response: Hello! Thank you so much for this review. You are such a review-writing superstar! I'm sorry you're feeling ill, by the way. I hope you feel better soon!

Thank you :D I really love coming up with descriptions, so that just means so much to me!

I really wanted to write a Merope that could take charge of her own fate, as well. I mean, she's been an abuse victim all her life, so obviously there's a lot of timidity there, and a desperation for love, but I didn't want her to be totally helpless all the time.

I actually imagined that Tom Riddle Jr. would have taken a bit after his mother. You can say a lot about Voldemort, but he didn't lack for gumption. I just didn't see that as being a big trait for Tom Riddle Sr. Merope, however, almost had to have had it, to do what she did. She also has an enormous void in her life, and she's looking to fill it with love. Voldemort lacked the ability to love, so he sought to fill his void with power. But still, it's a bit of the same thing, especially as they were both willing to go to almost any length to achieve what they wanted (Merope, however, seems to have been capable of remorse, unlike her son).

Me too! I actually surprised myself as I was writing it. I was like, "But wait? They're...kinda cute? I sort of ship it? Why can't it work?" Alas. Still, I like that shred of possibility, like maybe things could have had a chance, if Merope hadn't taken the choice out of Tom's hands.

Probably not.

Almost certainly not.

But maybe.

I think Merope is such a tragic tale. She just wants love, and she genuinely believes all her actions are conscionable. She's come from such a terrible place and is looking for security and acceptance.

And I feel like Tom Sr. gets painted with a pretty tarred brush, but he doesn't really ever do much that's cruel, canonically. He talks a bit unkindly about the "eyesore" of the Gaunt shack when he's with Cecilia, but it was *true* and he didn't know anyone could hear him. Besides, I imagine him being a bit of a "go along with the crowd, don't make waves" type.

And it was unkind to laugh when the Ministry official ran into Cecila's horse, maybe, but he was also wearing some ridiculous outfit that I think involved a 1920s bathing suit? I mean, someone just runs out of the woods in some ridiculous outfit? Probably lots of people would have laughed.

And we know he leaves Merope, but he was also essentially date-raped and kept drugged for a year, so I find it hard to blame him too much for that. He didn't consent to all that, after all.

I imagine him as a bit of a flirt, and maybe a bit of a coward, but you're right--he feels bad about leaving Merope behind, even when his mind has practically exploded because he just witnessed magic, and he was attacked! I've really enjoyed exploring the possibilities of both characters. I've found them much, much more sympathetic than I expected to.

Hopefully the next chapter will be up soon!

Thank you again for this lovely, lovely review :D

--Penny



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