Hi, BrokenPromise. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on your story about Sybill Trelawney’s early teaching days.
Poor Sybill gets a bum rap in the books by JKR, depicted as a dotty and ineffective person, a figure of fun. Her reputation deserves some rehabilitation, as you have done in this delightful little story, focused on her early years as a teacher, when she was younger, probably prettier and more carefree, a person that a young man might actually come to love.
It is a gentle story, even with its calamitous ending. The lovers are circumspect; the dialogue between Quirinius and Sybill is frank but not florid, and there is a very even pace and tone. I like the way you told the story as a series of vignettes separated by breaks. Each vignette acts like a steppingstone across the landscape of the story, brief but significant, each one propelling the plot forward. Your have a spare, succinct writing style, but using enough detail to flesh out each scene adequately. There are no wasted words here; each sentence pulls its weight and contributes well to the story.
The presence of the letters gives a nice change of narrative style. Because each brief letter comes from a different geographical place, one gets a sense of motion and the passing of time. One looks forward to seeing the letter from Albania, but, ominously, it is not there.
Your ending wraps it up neatly, with no loose ends. You have Sybill say that it was after Quirinius’ death that she fell apart with drink and dottiness, due to the double blow of the loss of her loved one and the horrible circumstances of his death. This is all logical and does not contradict canon.
There were a couple of little points I noticed, neither of them very important. You assume that Quirinius was sorted in 1979, after Sybil had made her prediction at the Hog’s Head Pub about the birth of a boy who would be Voldemort’s downfall. I believe that that prediction, and Sybill’s subsequent employment at Hogwarts, occurred in 1980. The other point was the statement that, during the Sorting, “Andrews, Gillian, had been the first Gryffindor; Zeta, Carys became the last.” I interpreted this to mean that Carys was the last Gryffindor, but later you say that the Gryffindors and the Ravenclaw did not attend their Divination class together, yet Carys is passing around the blue chintz teacups in a class session where Sybill addresses a student as “my dear boy”, and I had assumed that that student was Quirinius. Of course any of these assumptions could be wrong: Carys might not have been a Gryffindor, or Gryffindor and Ravenclaw might have met together for Divination occasionally, or “my dear boy” might not have referred to Quirinius. But none of this matters to the impact of the story.
This is the subtle sort of story that improves with each re-reading. It was enjoyable to see how you managed to bring these two characters together in a plausible way. Nice job.
Author's Response: Hi Vicki, I’m very grateful for this old review. I really pleased that you enjoyed the story. The year of the prophecy has always puzzled me. I assumed she gave it in around March 79, then started teaching in September of the same year. It worked for the purposes of the story – it made Quirrell old enough to be a young teacher when Harry arrived. As for the Carys issue, I did not make it clear enough that this is in an earlier year. Finally, the letter from Albania was received – Quirinus kept his promise and wrote every day, so Sybil has hundreds of letters and postcards (in my mind they’re tied with ribbon by month) – I chose the 4 letters I wrote to show Quirrell’s passion for learning about other people, which is also what made him a good Muggle Studies teacher. As for poor Trelawney, well, I’m glad you feel I have contributed towards her character’s rehabilitation, as you say. To be honest, writing this pairing remains one of my proudest achievements on this website. I always cite it as one of my OTPs, no matter the looks I get from my friends! Thank you again for your most splendid review, and my humble apologies for taking so so long to reply to it.
This was an interesting piece. I never would have thought of shipping Quirrell and Trelawney, and this was an interesting take on it. I love how it followed them both through their relationship, yet still managed to stay canon.
The style of this was quite different when given the characters you chose. It’d bounce back and forth between pure conversation and internal monologues, which I imagine were difficult. It’s hard to get into a character like Trelawney’s or Luna’s head and maintain a balance between in character and lucid, and Trelawney seemed very comprehensive in this. She’s quite perceptive, which is believable, but there was still that slight ignorance of the world around her, and it showed. I especially liked how time flitted, as for a character like Trelawney I imagine it would. The story was told rather quickly, and I would have liked to see some more of their actual romance, though. I think it could have been expanded slightly, and maybe use more descriptions to go with dialogue. Touches and certain looks can say a lot, and really make the chemistry seem real.
I thought the characterization of both Trelawney were interesting. I’ve never really seen her as a person who truly needs human contact, so it was different to see her so fixated on Quirrell, even when he was a student. She seemed extremely invested in every conversation she had with Quirrell, when in canon we generally see her go off into her own head more often. This could be a result of the years after he left, but it seemed slightly unlikely that she would completely focused. Quirrell was also shown very differently from what I’ve seen; I never really saw him being interested in Divination. He seemed completely geared towards DADA, though without the experience. I think you showed his fear quite well, and I thought his ambitions to be an Auror were a nice touch, but his fascination with the subject seemed slightly off. His O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. marks did make it seem more believable, though.
One of the most intriguing pieces of this was the relationship. Not only was it borderline Student/Teacher, I would never have even thought of this ship. You took two characters on the complete opposite end of the spectrum and somehow got them together. I loved how their love was slightly like Marius and Cosette in Les Mis: they weren’t very focused on physicality, and they simply got lost in their thoughts of each other. It was very sweet, especially the letters, and a far cry from how we see him in Philosopher’s Stone. But because of their pure innocence, it made him falling prey to Voldemort so much more believable, though it did leave me to question their romance. Up until they got together, they seemed to have a very professional relationship, and then suddenly… they got together. I loved how impulsive it was, but it did seem a little unlikely to me.
I really liked the touch at the ending, about why Sybil was fighting. That was always a mystery to me, and this provided a nice explanation, while pulling it all together. She lost the only person she’d ever truly cared about to Voldemort, and now she was fighting to save others. There’s something so noble about that, and it just fit Trelawney for me. I also adored the explanation of her death obsession, because of the impact he’d left.
Overall, it was very interesting, and I commend you for taking on such a dangerous pairing. Keep it up!
Author's Response: Wow, has it really been 2 years since I wrote this story? Time does fly. Anyway, Ellie, if you’re still around, I’m sorry I never replied to this review. I think I was a little intimidated by how comprehensive it was. Both characters were a little difficult to write, and yes, in hindsight, the story is quick and perhaps lacking in chemistry. I think I was fixated on the idea of the pairing and just wanted to let other people see the possibility, however implausibly I’ve managed to present it. My personal ideas of the characters combined with not really wanting to read the books again probably led to the slightly off characterisation. I just felt that these two characters were so sidelined as crazy teachers that they needed more – they both needed someone to love them and care about them. I jumped on to this tiny little pedal boat when I realised they both seemed connected with the colour purple in the films. That’s why the title is forget-me-not: once Quirrell pressed flowers, these tiny blue-purple wildflowers would not leave me alone. Thank you for your review, and again, I am sorry for not replying these 2 years. I appreciate your constructive criticism and hope that you enjoyed the story. - BP
Author's Response: Thanks!