Penname: The owl [Contact]
Real name: Sophie
Member Since: 02/24/12
Website:
Beta-reader: Yes
Status: Member
Bio:
Hey everyone :) I'm a Welsh teenager who has grown up (or nearly grown up) with the Potterverse. My main interest is music, and I must admit, it will always come first. I play piano, oboe, cor anglais, and occasionally attempt to sing, and play the guitar or accordion. However, a lot of the time that I don't spend doing schoolwork or something music related, I am to be found reading and writing, hence me being a member of this site.

I'm a proud Hufflepuff over on the beta board, and I'm also involved in SPEW and the SBBC. I've had a lot of fun with these groups and met some fabulous people, and would thoroughly recommend joining them to anyone who's curious.

I may have ten stories up here, but I still feel like a pretty new author. As such, I really appreciate any feedback you can give me, because I know I have a lot to learn yet. My favourite characters to write about are Lily, Tonks and the Marauders, but I'll dabble with pretty much any character, so I hope you find something on this page to interest you.

(If you can find the time to leave me a review, I will love you eternally!)
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Reviews by The owl
 

Summary:

Daphne Greengrass had until her twenty-first birthday to pick a husband, or her parents would choose one for her. With only months to go before the deadline, she found herself with a perfect suitor in Theodore Nott.

But when a freak pregnancy landed her in the care of cranky Healer-in-Training Michael Corner, Daphne started to realise that things she thought she knew were slowly being turned upside-down. And what she thought she knew about Michael Corner began to dissolve into something different entirely.


This story has been nominated for two 2012 Quicksilver Quill Awards: Best Non-Canon Romance and Best Post-Hogwarts Story.


This story has also been nominated for a 2013 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best Post-Hogwarts Story.



Categories: Other Pairing Genre: Warnings: Character Death, Mental Disorders, Sexual Situations, Slash, Strong Profanity, Suicide

Word count: 41545 Chapters: 11 Completed: Yes
Published:
05/12/12 Updated: 06/12/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 06/02/12 Title: Chapter 8: Chapter 8

Happy birthday, Jess! I saw the new chapter up, and couldn’t resist leaving you a birthday review.

Darius is so pitch perfectly evil! Not in a cartoon villain way, thank goodness, but he is just horrible. How can a father possibly criticise his daughter for being “snide” when he has just had her drugged? Then there was the “unfortunate affliction” thing, and then he referred to himself as her “benefactor”. He made me want to shudder, then go and hug Daphne. You have managed to engender a lot of sympathy for a character who started out as a bit of a cow.

I did confuse myself slightly when you first introduced Darius in this chapter, because I had forgotten your earlier mentions of him, and was reading slightly too fast for my own good. The way he kept calling Daphne “dear” and “darling”, and your use of “drawled” made me imagine him sounding quite camp, and not father-like at all. Even when I had figured out exactly who he was and had a good laugh at my idiocy, I kept imagining him as slightly camp. That’s just me and the same crazy brain that brought you Pirate!Michael though, and not a fault with your writing.

I laughed along with Daphne when she described her outfit. She needs to get together with Michael already! She’s already wearing his clothes for goodness’ sake. As in previous chapters, I’m so glad she found the courage to stand up to her father. I was slightly surprised that she lost control to the extent where she yelled at her father, but then I suppose she had been provoked enormously. When she said she wasn’t “some painting to be hung on a wall”, I winced slightly on Michael’s behalf, but then I think she might find herself willing to have a double standard here.

I was so glad to know that Astoria and Iris were on Daphne’s side. The detail about the Muggleborn grandfather was a brilliant way of showing why Iris wasn’t like her husband. I liked seeing that she had used her influence to the exact opposite of her husband’s ends. Even in a patriarchal family, the women can get their own way. The teacup Portkey made me smile; I love little family details like that. Astoria seems so sweet, but thankfully not too innocent.

I hate heights, so I absolutely understood Daphne’s fear while on the window ledge. However, I found the sentence
“She feared looking down and seeing the ground rapidly approaching far more.”
quite awkward to read, and according to MS word, it isn’t a complete sentence. Maybe it would work better if you said “She was far more afraid of…” instead.

And then you left me on another cliff hanger! I cannot wait for the next chapter, and it’s a relief to know that I won’t have to for much longer. Congratulations on the QSQ nomination by the way. Lori beat me to it! One last thing; there is something in my Dean’s Corner thread that might make you giggle, if you have time to look. (Shameless self promotion, I know :P) Happy birthday again!

Author's Response:

One thing I've always loved is a good villain. One of the things I've always loved about good villains is the lack of repentance, the fact that they are certain what they're doing is right. A brilliant villain, to me, holds his ground just as a hero does. How boring would Voldemort or Bellatrix have been if they felt bad about the things they were doing? Sure, Snape was considered a villain by many, as were the Malfoys and many of the Slytherin lot, but really, were they? To me, they were antagonists, and antagonists are a world away from being villains. No, I wanted Darius to be a villain in the true respect of the word, because he, even after his daughter disowned him, thought she was in the wrong and not him.

I think it was important for Daphne to know her mother and sister were on her side, though not publicly. I don't know if Daphne would've forgiven herself if she had written off her entire family. After all, even Michael has his old Aunt Effie. They basically gave her the go-ahead to take down Darius because he was a relic of an era that was crumbling as the years passed.

The bit about Daphne wearing Michael's clothes...I had to throw that in. First off, it makes me giggle at the thought of it, and second, I think Daphne was trying on not just a new style of clothing, but the newborn freedom to wear whatever the hell she wanted because there was no one to cluck disapprovingly at her choices. Do I think she's a jeans and man-shirt girl? She might be, but I actively root for her freedom to find out by trial and error. ♥

Heights. Yeah, while I don't fear them specifically, I appreciate the honesty of gravity. It's clear, consistent, deceptive only in the eye of the beholder, and doesn't discriminate. And it was very much something I could attribute to myself when I said that the height didn't bother Daphne so much as the prospect of falling. Speaking of, I might just go back and prod that sentence a little bit. Naturally, it says what I wanted it to say, but that doesn't mean it reads the same across the board. Thanks for pointing that out.

Thank you for the lovely review, the birthday wish, and of course, the adorable drawing. MNFF has been so good to me today, and it reminds me of why I do what I do around here; you all (especially you right now) make it worth it. Squishes and hugs. I look forward to seeing you again!

~Jess

 

Brown by Northumbrian
Rated: 3rd-5th Years [Reviews - 17]

Summary: Lavender Brown is not the easiest of people to get along with. Mark has managed to overcome the first hurdle, she has finally agreed that they are going out together. Now Mark faces another challenge.

Categories: Other Pairing Genre: Warnings: Mild Profanity

Word count: 12287 Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes
Published:
05/23/12 Updated: 06/14/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 06/05/12 Title: Chapter 2: Rye

I hadn’t read any of your Mark and Lavender stories until a couple of days ago, (although I do remember you mentioning Mark in other fics) but then I started reading Bare. I was intrigued by your take on Lavender, and so I read straight through the rest, right up to this point. I’m going to review the first two chapters here

Firstly, I love the setting that you created at the start of chapter one. The pathetic fallacy reflects Mark’s mood perfectly and your descriptive writing is rather gorgeous. I think that you have captured Mark’s voice really well. He sounds exactly as I would have imagined from your other stories about him. His exasperated comments on Lavender’s shoes made me giggle, but you balanced it nicely with genuine concern for her.

The Portcard is a really good idea I think. I always like the level of detail you provide about the Auror office and other magical institutes because it makes the story seems so much more real. You seem to have a knack for explaining your inventions succinctly and clearly without patronising the reader at any point.

You have handled the Scottish slang skilfully too. Mark’s explanations, the one for “braw” especially, fit in smoothly, letting you convey his accent and make it comprehensible to those who live further south, without interrupting the flow of the story.

I felt so sorry for Mark when Lavender mentioned “Mary Moon”. He seems to end up out of his depth with Lavender quite often, but this was a whole new level from her. I could learn a lot from her manipulative ways, not that I’m sure I would want to. I would feel a bit of a fool saying things like “Little Lavender is vewy sowwy, big Mr Marky”. I did feel that it seemed a little demeaning for her, saying things like that. It would certainly fit with “Won-won” though. My issue here is probably more with the character herself than with your writing, so I don’t mean to criticise. I’m just feeling a little feminist-y right now hahaha.

Your descriptions of clothes never fail to impress me, partially I think because many men would run a mile from things like that. However, you do it and you do it well. I always feel like I know your characters a little better every time you describe what they are wearing.

Carmine’s apron is a good example. She, like Molly Weasley, another apron-wearer, seems to be a motherly type, and very much in control of her family. The metaphor of “tiger about to pounce” reminded me of Molly a little too. Don was nothing like Arthur though, so the comparison ends there. Once more I felt rather sorry for Mark, being sprung into that situation.

Much as I enjoyed this, there are a couple of little thing I think you could improve. The first is a minor grammatical point: run-on sentences. I seem to remember noticing one or two in each chapter. For example in chapter two, you wrote “It wasn’t surprising, after all April was the month of showers”. It doesn’t detract from the story, but, grammar obsessed as I am, it always bothers me a little.

Also, I have never been a big fan of italicised flashbacks. Sometimes, I suppose it is the easiest way to signal a change in time. However, you signalled that change very well, with things like “I continued my contemplations”, so it seems a little redundant to add the italics.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this, and as with all of your stories, cannot wait to see where you take this next. Do you plan on writing Exsanguination soon? All of your references to it have intrigued me.

~Sophie

Author's Response:
Thanks for the long review, Sophie. I hope I've done it justice.

Lavender has been a surprising (to me) constant in my stories ever since I wrote Grave Days. Thinking about it, she had a part in After Breakfast, too, so even as I was starting my timeline, she as already wheedling her way into it.

Mark is a bit of a fool sometimes, but he sees through a lot of Lavender’s bluff and bluster, not that he always knows what to do about it. I wanted to write him in the first-person and this story idea has been floating around forever. He’s a decent bloke, just because he thinks her shoes are ridiculous, that doesn’t mean he wants her to fall off them.

The “invention” of the Portcards is a part-written story, so you’ll eventually find out how and when they arrive, along with several other jumps in magical “technology”.

I think it’s difficult to get accents right. A few ayes instead of yeses are okay, but if I drop dialect words in, I try to provide an in-story translation. A few hint-words work a lot better than a “haud yer whisht” which needs laborious explanation.

With the Mary comment, Lavender emasculated him and don’t think she expected his reaction. I hope that it’s obvious that Mark simply allows himself to be manipulated. I also hope that it is Lavender who is annoying you. As you say, anyone who can call Ron “Won-won” is clearly not going to baulk at “vewy sowwy”.

Clothing requires research, but so do a lot of things. The release of “Ladies in Lavender” is contemporaneous and correct. I usually keep clothing neutral, because fashions change. I’ve read stories where post-Hogwarts Hermione, still in her late teens wears obviously 2012 fashions.

I have a family tree for the Greengrasses (it’s the only one I’ve written) so I know a lot more about them. I know more about Don than you’ve seen here, some of it was in Tales of the Battle, but much remains unwritten. I feel sorry for Don, too.

I know that I’m not good with run on sentences. I try but neither I, nor my betas, catch them. I tend to write and rewrite, and often I can introduce new errors. It’s something I’m very good at, sorry. I’ll try to fix them.

Italicised flashbacks are, it seems, a fanfic staple. I put them in because, when I started writing it seemed to be expected, and it’s a habit I find hard to break. Again, I’ll try.

This will be three chapters, and I’m now working on the third. Exsanguination is two chapters (including Mark and Lavender’s first (or second) encounter). However, until I finish Hunters and Prey (and Aurors and Schoolgirls) I won’t work on it. I simply can’t start yet another chaptered story until I finish one of my “in progress” tales. Lavender (before Mark) is in the Muggle Interface Team stories, and Exsanguination is also an MIT story.

-N-

 

Draught of Living Death by Skarlett
Rated: 1st-2nd Years [Reviews - 4]

Summary:

So be left to linger in an everlasting sleep...
In which death is nonexistent, and life cannot be reached.


Categories: Poetry Genre: Warnings: Mental Disorders

Word count: 115 Chapters: 1 Completed: No
Published:
05/23/12 Updated: 05/30/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 05/30/12 Title: Chapter 1: Draught of Living Death

Hello, Ashleigh. I see it didn’t take you too long to get something accepted :)

Depressing is definitely the right word here, but not in a bad way at all. I like the personification in the first stanza. Your word choices create a chilling atmosphere from the very beginning. I particularly like the claustrophobic feeling of “suffocate”. The one thing I would question there is your use of “throughout”. I think that “through” would make more grammatical sense here, and it has the added bonus of putting that first line nicely into iambs. Using “throughout” is fine, of course, but little tweaks like that can take a poem from good to great.

I can’t fault the second stanza. The assonant last line is deliciously atmospheric. The third stanza confused me a little though. What is the “light” meant to symbolise? I would have instinctively said it was supposed to be life, but in the next line you say it is “wishing to awaken” which made me think it was supposed to represent the sleeper. Maybe adding punctuation could help clarify this. Mainly, it didn’t bother me that you left this unpunctuated, but a full stop or comma might have helped to show what the light is representing here. Add a full stop, and it isn’t the light doing the “wishing”, but the person. Add a comma, and the light represents the person. Simples!

The fourth stanza is, once more, very effective, but again I find myself a little confused by your grammar. Using “when” sounds very good, but it implies that you are starting a sub-ordinate clause, with the main one to follow. Here, the main clause never comes. Anyway, like in the first stanza, the personification you have used works really well for me. It’s kind of scary, thinking that the darkness is in control to that extent. Then those last two lines. Wow. The binary opposites of “life” and “death” add to that claustrophobic feeling I mentioned before, and it just sent a shiver down my spine.

Overall, I think this poem works really well. However, I tend to like clear structures in poetry, so while I like your imagery a lot, I did find myself wishing for a more standard grammar in places. I suppose that’s at least partially down to personal preference, though. Well done!

~Sophie

Author's Response: Sophie, your reviews are amazing. ;) I never really thought much about my use of "throughout", but you make an excellent point here. I can see how "through" might have worked much better. I'm happy that you liked the second stanza, and I can see what you mean about the third. The "light" was originally meant to symbolise life, but I didn't make that very obvious. I will probably try to go back and edit that later, so that my original intentions are more clear. I can also see what you mean about the fourth stanza, with the clauses. I definitely could have improved that. I'm happy to hear that the personification worked well, though. I was sort of going for that scary effect, so it's great that you got that feeling! As for the last two lines, I'm glad I could make you shiver. I really wanted to wrap the whole thing up with some sort of bone-chilling effect, and hopefully those lines did so. Once again, thank you so much for such a lovely review! I can see what Carole meant when she squee'd about your sorting into Hufflepuff. You are a wonderful reviewer. ~Ashleigh

 

His and Hers by Acacia Carter
Rated: 3rd-5th Years [Reviews - 6]

Summary: Past Featured StoryIn a perfect world, Neville and Hannah's wedding would go off without a hitch. This is not a perfect world.

Categories: Other Pairing Genre: Warnings: Mild Profanity

Word count: 4954 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
06/11/12 Updated: 06/11/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 06/11/12 Title: Chapter 1: One-Shot

Aw, Jamie, you just made me cry. Then after all of the beautiful fluffy (in a good way) romance, those last two lines were so funny! Do you know exactly what Harry did in the end, or is it entirely up to my imagination? I loved this so much that I had to let you know. I may come back and review properly later, but right now I can't bear to pick it apart. Now I need to go and read it again.

~Sophie

 

Trains by kiwiana-inked
Rated: 3rd-5th Years [Reviews - 3]

Summary: All the poignant moments of Remus Lupin's life have been played out on a train.

Categories: Remus/Sirius Genre: Warnings: Character Death, Mild Profanity, Sexual Situations, Slash

Word count: 2405 Chapters: 1 Completed: No
Published:
07/09/12 Updated: 07/18/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 07/20/12 Title: Chapter 1: Trains

I absolutely love fics involving the Marauders and slash pairing, so this story was right up my street, as it contained both. I admit, when I read your summary, I wasn’t sure if you could pull off such an unlikely premise, but you convinced me pretty quickly. Right from the opening, I found your use of the present tense really effective; coupled with the short scenes it gave the piece a lot of immediacy, and kept it moving nicely.

I really liked your use of “pack mates” in that initial list. It’s like the werewolf never completely goes away (and neither do the stag, dog and rat). Remus’ characterisation seemed spot on from the start. The line “Remus had just been looking for a spare seat” seemed so unassuming; I could just see this lost, lonely boy wandering down the train. His lie about the car accident and Sirius’ reaction to it were really funny and demonstrated instantly why they ended up friends.

I have one little issue with the first section: Americanisms. In the UK we call “ER” Accident and Emergency, or A&E, so that’s what Remus would know it as. There were a couple of other Americanisms later on -- “apartment,” instead of “flat,” for example. It’s not a big deal, but it is a little irritating for British readers. (If you want help on this, I suggest you go ask around on the beta boards.)

In the second section, the tension that you created between Remus and Sirius was sudden, but that matter-of-fact first statement just made it seem equally inevitable. I love-love-loved the line “it’s hot and wet and messy, too much teeth and tongue, and it’s utterly, blissfully perfect”. The listed adjectives showed perfectly how Remus’ thoughts were getting all tangled up in the moment and made me wish I could kiss Sirius too…

Moving swiftly onwards, I’m not sure that I liked Remus’ assumption that Sirius was being cruel. Yes, that insecurity is very much like Remus, but Sirius is one of his best friends; I don’t see Sirius as the type to be deliberately cruel to a friend, and I reckon Remus would have known him well enough to agree. Then again, it also seemed a very teenage way to react. We don’t know exactly what Remus was like as a teenager (and I suppose he would have grown up a lot during the first war) so maybe that could explain the melodrama.

Actually, on that note, I really liked how you developed Remus’ character through the piece. I wasn’t a huge fan of the angsty teenage bit, but it was good to see the development from lost little boy, through that and on to the maturity of the last sections. The way he forced himself to stay in control after Sirius’ perceived betrayal was so sad, and I liked that you reused of “Pack”. The capitalisation there gives another hint of the wolf lurking within: subtle, but undeniably there.

The little glimpse you gave of Harry was lush. Remus’ nostalgia for Harry’s infancy was poignant and so sweet. I liked Remus’ insight into Harry and his similarities to both of his parents, as it was a good reminder of how close he (Remus) was to James and Lily. Then from familial love to some good old romance: that was a very effective transition. I felt so, so sorry for Sirius, seeing how much he was worrying Remus. Remus’ reaction revealed so much. The holding hands and never letting go thing was so sweet. It wasn’t overly romantic and gushy, but you really could feel the love. (Me? Cheesy? Never.)

The last section, after his death, made me cry. I already love Remus, and this fic played on that a lot. Watching him meet James and Lily “ and especially his moment of fear for Harry “ touched me. I liked Lily’s feistiness; that’s how I tend to write her myself, so seeing her as very sweet and gentle bugs me. Also, James’ smirk at the thought of Sirius and Remus back together amused me greatly.

Then the bit where Remus and Sirius finally met was, well, hot. It was such a small, understated bit of writing, but that was all it needed. I was rather relieved for them, being back together at last. The line about sounding like a girl was fabulous, as was the way that James found out about them. Poor Prongs, indeed! The following transition from this bit of levity to more sadness really got me. Teddy: that one word was enough.

I am very glad that Tonks got a mention at the end, because I had been wondering how on earth she fitted into all of this. I don’t think I quite agree with Remus’ statement that they were “never going to board the same train”. I see as Remus’ biggest love, and Sirius coming second, but that’s just my take on things. Forgetting my opinions, I guess you handled it quite well. I suppose she would have known, from their time at Grimmauld Place, and, especially after Sirius died, she wouldn’t have made a big thing of it.

Actually, speaking of Sirius’ death, it is the one thing I really would have liked to see mentioned. The premise of the story is that all of the poignant moments have happened on trains, and I feel like this would have been one of the most poignant of them all. Certainly, given the degree of love you have created between the two men, I think it’s major enough to warrant a mention. What you have included all works fine without it, but it could have been a nice touch, and made their reunion even more moving.

One more nitpick, and then I’ll leave you in peace. I love semicolons; they are a very addictive punctuation mark. However, it can be easy to overuse them, and there were a couple of places where I felt you could have lost one or two. There were also one or two incidences where I thought that a colon or a common-or-garden comma would have been more appropriate (I think that “Remus barely hears him; too busy staring at the door in front of him” should have a comma, for example).

I really am being picky, but that is only because this story is of such a high standard. I absolutely adored the story, and I’m only picking you up on these little details because it’s so close to total amazing-ness. Anyway, I hope you write more soon and if you ever need a beta reader, I would love to help (as, I guess, would many people on the boards). Sorry that this review turned into such an essay, but there was a lot I wanted to say!

~Sophie

 

Catching Fire by xxbabewithbrainsxx
Rated: 6th-7th Years [Reviews - 3]

Summary: It's the second time the Marauders have transformed with Remus, and things haven't gone smoothly once again. James is badly injured, and Sirius thinks it's all his fault.

Written in a rush for prompt #1 of SPEW 007: Embers.

Categories: Same-Sex Pairings Genre: Warnings: Sexual Situations, Strong Profanity

Word count: 1270 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
07/18/12 Updated: 07/19/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 08/06/12 Title: Chapter 1: Embers

Hello Soraya,

I promised you this review ages ago, so I’m sorry it’s taken so long to arrive. The Marauders, their banter and slash pairings are some of my absolute favourite things so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this story.

From the very beginning, I was drawn in by that luscious description of the dying fire. You worked the prompt into this story really well. I noticed several mentions of fires and flames, none of which felt contrived. In particular, the metaphor of, “the embers that flared between them singed the air,” was very effective for me. Also, I found the cyclic nature of the piece, returning to a description of the fire at the end, made the piece feel complete.

The terrible Sirius/serious joke really shouldn’t be funny now, but you still managed to make me smile. I can just see the boys trying to joke their way through the pain and worry of the situation. Their banter flowed really naturally without ever seeming too facetious or flippant for the situation. I particularly liked little details in their speech like “Merlin’s y-fronts” and “Healer Padfoot”; it helped to bring them alive.

While I really loved your characterisation and humour, there were a few details in your prose that could be tweaked. You generally struck a good balance between short, compound and complex sentences, but there were a couple of places where you could really have used an extra full stop. It wasn’t that the sentences didn’t make sense; they just became harder to follow because of their length. I suppose a beta would have helped, if you had had the time.

I think my favourite bit of the entire piece was when you wrote: ‘“James, what--” Sirius began, but then he looked down and understood. Oh.’ You conveyed so much shock with that one “Oh” and simultaneously made your implication crystal clear. It was so much more effective than actually trying to describe what he saw. I also loved Sirius’ snigger when James tried to speak. It felt very teenage boy, and showed his immaturity. It made me think that, yes, this is awkward, but they’re still best friends. They can still laugh at each other whatever happens. Moving from that moment of levity into the sudden tension of the kiss worked really well for me. There’s no getting away from it; James’ hiss was hot!

I loved the build up to the kiss. I noticed that you kept mentioning body parts “ “hip” and “knee” for example. It seemed to subtly hint at Sirius’ thoughts and the growing attraction between him and James, without being obviously sexual. I think that’s why I liked this so much. It was subtly and sensitively done, no smut present. Smut is all well and good, but it can take a lot more skill to make a relationship convincing to the reader without it. Needless to say, I was convinced. The awkwardness of it all fitted the characters very well; they may be best friends, but they’re still teenage boys and really not sure of themselves in this sort of situation.

During the kiss itself, I thought that the long, rambling sentence worked really well. The slight incoherency of it all mirrored Sirius’ thoughts and seemed appropriately breathless. I found myself caught up in the moment with him. I particularly like your use of parenthesis. That little question showed that, for Sirius, there was doubt and confusion mixed in with the pleasure.

However, I was a little less convinced by James and Sirius’ reactions to the kiss. Their initial awkwardness worked well, but I struggled to picture the sarcastic clapping. I always find reactions to this sort of moment hard to write, so it’s no surprise that this was the one place where you characterisation seemed slightly off. I think it might have been better if you had just gone straight to the line about going to bed. Sirius could have said that, and James could have been the one to make the joke and lighten the tension.

Overall, I really enjoyed this, and I just wish that you had had enough time to tidy it up a bit. It’s an enjoyable read as it stands, with a good balance between tension and lighter humour. The characterisation was convincing, and the way you developed James and Sirius’ relationship felt really natural. Nicely done!

~Sophie

Author's Response: Sophieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Thank you SO MUCH for the review! Seriously (lol), it means a lot. I loved Gina's review, but I was a little saddened by the fact that it only got one review. Then again, it was rather terrible, lol, so I kind of deserved it D:

I also love Marauder banter and slash pairings, as you know, so I’m glad you seemed to like it despite the story’s many flaws. With SPEW 007, I found it hard, at times, to stick to the prompts, but this was the only one that was easy, because... I don’t know, ha. “Embers” just sounds like something I’d write in anything, like a bit of a throwaway phrase that was therefore easier to shoehorn into a story, if that makes sense. Usually, though, writing description/prose in general is something I find hard, so it’s great to know that you thought I did a good job in that respect. With that prompt, it’s mostly in narrative, rather than dialogue, that I could convey the “embers”, really.

Hehehehe, I am rather fond of my Sirius/serious jokes :P And yes, my boys do tend to make jokes -- or, at least, James does -- when the going gets tough, so it’s nice to know you thought so too. And I like writing dialogue generally, particularly Marauder banter. (You saw that, I hope, in Butterbeer Bottles.) It’s fun and isn’t particularly serious (sorry, I really don’t intend to make the joke, but it makes me giggle anyway, lol) and is therefore a bit easier to write.

I gave this story probably one once-over before submitting -- I really had become sick of it at that point. I can remember that I kept yelling at them, virtually, on AIM to just kiss already, so I definitely know what you mean about sentence structure. I might just send it to you to fix up, in that case :) I know this isn’t particularly polished, both because it was unbetaed but also because I had written it in a rush and had just wanted to submit it more than anything, not that it should be an excuse or anything.

I think my favourite bit of the entire piece was when you wrote: ‘“James, what--” Sirius began, but then he looked down and understood. Oh.’ You conveyed so much shock with that one “Oh” and simultaneously made your implication crystal clear. It was so much more effective than actually trying to describe what he saw.I LOLed so hard when I read this. I was hoping someone would catch on to what it actually meant -- that, you know, James had had a very physical reaction to Sirius all of a sudden, but I really didn’t want to say it explicitly. Every time I see the word “bulge” in fanfiction, it just makes me want to laugh and laugh. Not in a bad way or anything, just that it’s such an obvious way to write it, and I wanted to go for something more subtle than that, without making it explicit. So yeah. I’m glad you liked that. And YAY to James being hot, lolol -- I divorced him several months ago, much to the delights of Gina and Natalie, so I’m chuffed you liked him that much :D

I tend to use a lot of body parts generally in my writing. I think, yeah, less is more most of the time. I didn’t want it to be smutty because I couldn’t see either James or Sirius going *that* far, and I also wanted to maintain that awkwardness between them.

Yayay, you caught my attempt at trying to be clever with sentences! I usually am not very good with details like that -- thank you for noticing, hehe, and for saying it worked. I use brackets quite a bit, but Alex sometimes tells me that I overuse them -- I do think they were necessary here, for the reason you said.

Yes, ha, I think the main issue I had with the story was the aftermath of their kiss. I will definitely revise that at some point; I completely agree that things were clunky and kind of unconvincing, but like you said, that kind of thing is difficult to write.

I’m really glad you liked it, despite your quibbles! I may send it to you at some point to beta, actually, because I really am not entirely happy with the story as-is. I was going to send it to Jamie for betaing, but then I threw in the towel, and then I started writing it again, but by that point, it was too late to get it betaed/I was going on my hiatus so I wouldn’t be able to write, hence why it is in need of some tidying up. Thank you for the lovely review; it means so much to me that I’m your first SPEW recipient :D and it was an excellent first review, too, so as a SPEWer -- and, more importantly, as one of the people who nagged you to join SPEW in the first place -- well done!

Soraya x

 

The Tempest by minnabird
Rated: 1st-2nd Years [Reviews - 5]

Summary: A storm bears down on Hogwarts as the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff match draws near.

Categories: Poetry Genre: Warnings: None

Word count: 104 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
07/24/12 Updated: 08/02/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 08/13/12 Title: Chapter 1: Poem

Hello Minna,

I’ve never had much luck at writing poetry within a strict structure like sonnet form, so I find it very impressive when you do it with such flair. Not all of the rhymes you used here were quite perfect, admittedly, but they all worked well enough for me. I would always prefer read a line that fits into the poem naturally than one has been twisted for the sake of the rhyme scheme, so I’m glad you didn’t try too hard. The rhythm, too, felt very natural and not like you had had to add/remove words to conform to it.

Another thing that fitted into the poem very naturally was your wide range of vocabulary. There were some really gorgeous words in there -- I particularly liked “expeditious” and “autumn squalls” -- but it didn’t sound forced. It made the poem seem that bit more mysterious and suspenseful for me, like there really was a storm brewing in the background. Oh, and while I’m mentioning “autumn squalls”, I smiled at the avoided Americanism. I couldn’t help but remember our duel the other day.

A technique I noticed you using a lot here was personification. The “sullen clouds”, the way the trees “shiver” and the school being afraid of the storm: these things really brought the elements to life. They seemed sometimes malicious and sometimes miserable. It’s like they were conspiring against the students, and that made the atmosphere of the poem a lot more powerful. All of the different weather related nouns you used added to that too, of course, but for me it was the personification that really brought it alive.

I think my favourite thing about this poem had to be the final couplet. Preceding it with the list of the students’ hopes -- building up the expectation levels -- made the come down even more entertaining. It sounds like some sort of reproof -- “No, you can’t expect the world to be as you’d like it” -- albeit slightly less gloomily done than that. I thought you got the balance right: neither to flippant nor too miserable. The rhyme adds to the whimsical humour of it, and it was just a brilliant note to end the poem on.

I felt that this worked really well, overall. You built up the tension of the storm and the hopes of the students, only to knock it down with the final couplet. It was atmospheric, without taking itself too seriously and still being enjoyable and entertaining. Nicely done!

~Sophie

Author's Response: Oh, thank you. <3 This was a lovely review. I had fun with the imagery/personification/atmosphere here, ha, it had been a stormy day out and I set out to catch that mood, so I'm glad I managed. Re: rhythm and not trying too hard for a rhyme - I do my best to eliminate both, though ha, had forgotten all the near-rhymes in this. As for the avoided Americanism - that's one I'm particularly aware of, like gotten and pants, because friends moan about it. :P (Although it also neatly fits the meter, which 'fall squalls' would not have, plus that's a rubbish phrase. So I'd probably have used it anyway lol). And I do love playing with nice vocab. <3 Anyway, glad you liked the poem - and again, thanks for the fab review. :)

 

Relativity by Padfoot11333
Rated: 3rd-5th Years [Reviews - 6]

Summary: Past Featured Story

Failure: fail·ure: a fracturing or giving way under stress, a falling short.

Hermione has faced a boggart before. The problem is, she didn't succeed.

This is Padfoot11333 of Hufflepuff writing for the Great Hall Mini-Challenge: The Boggart Challenge.

IT WON--alongside Gmariam's Afraid of the Dark. I am shocked.

Nominated for a 2013 Quicksilver Quill - Best Dark/Angst.



Categories: General Fics Genre: Warnings: Character Death

Word count: 1669 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
10/13/12 Updated: 10/13/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 04/15/13 Title: Chapter 1: (a relative concept)

Hi Lily :)

First of all, congratulations on doing so well in the Great Hall challenge! I didn't read this at the time, but I get the impression you beat some stiff competition. Secondly, I really, really enjoyed this, independent of it's success on the boards. Introspective things like this, when done well, are something I very much enjoy reading, especially when you give so much insight into a character.

Hermione's characterisation was most definitely a strength of your writing here. You gave me some pretty major revelations about her in the scene with the Boggart. I really appreciated that it was Harry's death she feared, and not Ron's as some might expect, because I can't imagine Hermione would have been focused on romance at this stage. The war needed to be about strategy, about being, as she said, “Exactly Perfect” (another line that I loved), and she wouldn't have had time to dwell on Ron. That being said, the hints of closeness between her and Ron were really lovely. You kept it subtle, with her recognition of his touch, his sudden quietness, the gentleness between them, but it showed me the depth of their feelings for each other while being entirely appropriate for the moment, and I loved that.

The other thing that I really appreciated is how you backed her characterisation up with the scenes from 1985. We see nothing of her as a child in canon, so I thought that looking back at her six-year-old self was a great way for you to shows us why she fears what she does. The pressure of her father's hard work and her mother's high expectations, combined with her near miss with failure, sounds like a powerful motivation to work hard later in life. To me, this makes her work ethic far more believable than it ever was in canon. I loved how that was connected to her magic too; of course it would take something pretty special to distract Hermione from her academics! I did have one or two moments of wondering if your young Hermione was perhaps a little too self-aware, when she was thinking about her mother not knowing that she knew, for example, but these were only passing. Overall, I thought you got her age just right. In particular, I liked when she said “Like Dad”, because it showed so much about the family dynamic as well as sounding very young.

I loved how you handled looking back to her childhood, as well as the actual content of those parts. I've always struggled with non-linear narratives myself, so it's always good to see someone else pull off that sort of structure so well. By having the date and place beginning each section, you made it all very clear and easy for me to read, and I thought you found a good balance between short and long scenes. It didn't feel too jumpy and hard to follow, but equally there was enough movement to add interest and keep each different time period in my head. I think my favourite part, in regard to times, was ending at the end of the battle. It was the resolution of all of the fears you'd explored, so that worked really well for me as a way of bringing closure to the story.

That was my favourite part in terms of your use of the time jumps, but I think my actual favourite moment was Ron's entry. I really did squee at that point. While I very much liked how you looked at Harry until that point in the fic, as above, it wouldn't have been right to not feature Ron in some way, and I loved that he was what brought hope to the story. He seemed, to me, to represent hope for the future and safety in the present, and it was a moment that really lifted my mood, despite the general sadness of the story.

As well as the sadness, I couldn't help but notice the tension you created throughout. In the very opening, I thought your short sentences were really effective at that. The first and third paragraphs in particular felt really punchy and sharp “ just right for someone full of fear in the middle of a war. Even when you wrote a longer sentence, I liked that you broke it down into loads of shorter phrases. I'm not always keen on comma filled sentences, but here I thought it created a very Hermione-ish sense of nervousness “ breathiness, perhaps.

I don't suppose it was easy subject matter to handle, but I think you crammed a lot of insight into this fic and it really carried me along very effortlessly “ a pleasure to read!

~Sophie

 

I Know by Gmariam
Rated: 6th-7th Years [Reviews - 4]

Summary: Past Featured StoryJames returns to the dormitory one night to find Sirius is not happy about his new relationship with Lily Evans. He is shocked to discover the reason his best friend is so upset.

Categories: Marauder Era Genre: Warnings: Sexual Situations, Slash, Strong Profanity, Substance Abuse

Word count: 2077 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
10/17/12 Updated: 10/17/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 05/29/13 Title: Chapter 1: I Know

Hey Gina!

I think I read this when you first posted it, but in the six months between then and now, I'd forgotten the exact details of your plot. In rereading, I felt its full impact once again, and that really is quite some impact. From the very opening, this seemed like it would be a dark, hard-hitting fic. The present tense, the instant mention of the darkness, and then the sudden drama of the enigmatic fist all set the tone. However, even that didn't entirely prepare me for how powerful this fic would be emotionally.

We both love James and Lily, so I suppose a James/Sirius fic by you only really could end unhappily. Right through the story, your prose conveyed this strongly. The prominent colours I noticed were red and black -- the Firewhisky and anger and the way James seemed to be in the dark about Sirius's feelings, and that moment of blindness without his glasses: it all added to the angry, tense mood. And then there were all of your different descriptions of their emotions. I particularly liked the image of Sirius with “eyes downcast as he takes a deep breath”. Well, liked isn't exactly right, but for me it really conveyed how serious (sorry!) this was for Sirius, as it seemed so unusual for him.

The only thing I was unsure of, in technical terms, was whose perspective this was supposed to be from. The majority of it seemed to be in James's head, which worked really well for me because it added to the tension of not knowing what Sirius was thinking or why he was so angry. However, there were one or two sentences which seemed to jump into Sirius's point of view, the main one being, “Sirius steps closer, all signs of sadness gone, a sudden strange confidence swirling around him instead.” I felt like it brought me out of the story a little, because all of a sudden I was wondering why I was in Sirius's head. The description itself was fab, and I love the alliterative “s” sounds. Perhaps if you had written a more significant, clearly structured section from Sirius's perspective it would have fitted in a little more smoothly.

I should probably confess now that I cried when I reached the end of this for all the right reasons. You convinced me so completely of the strength of their friendship and of Sirius's feelings for James, and I'm not sure who I wanted to comfort the most. James I pitied because he had done nothing wrong -- everything right, in fact -- and yet he still ended up in this horrible position and could do nothing to spare his best friend the pain he knew so well himself. His realisation and admission that no part of him wanted Sirius to kiss him again was absolutely the final straw for me. I could tell how hard he was trying to fix this for Sirius, but there was no way around it and it made for painful reading.

And then Sirius. The strength of his feelings were unavoidable from the start. Why else would he have punched James? He was a little bit scary when he was drunk, I thought. If anything, I was surprised at how well James handled that, but then I suppose he had got used to it, to a degree. The sudden changes in his behaviour and emotions -- anger to sadness to seduction to ever deeper sadness -- was very powerful. It felt like, through it all, he still didn't want to hurt James, but he was hurting so much himself that it was unavoidable. It's not a situation that can be fixed easily, even with magic, and even though I know that, I was still desperate for something to make this all better.

Despite being overwhelmed with feelings for James and Sirius, I still managed to notice some really nice plotty details in this. Of course, it was an emotion-heavy fic, so there wasn't a huge amount happening in the plot, but it didn't need that. No, what I mean are little details like the use of the Marauders Map. I could understand why James wouldn't tell his friends about Lily straight away -- anything to avoid jeopardising the relationship -- but it's something that Sirius would doubtless notice. That he had to find out through the map just added a whole extra layer of pain, I think.

And then there was the parallel of how they both tried to comfort each other. It was absolutely key to the story, I thought, and had a lot of power. The way that they're in the exact same position, foreheads together, holding hands, when they repeat that title line, emphasised that they really do mean it. Who else could truly know? That repetition, the realisation of the parallel, their parallel sorrow, really hit home for me and made for a very strong ending. It was an inspired structure, and it helped to submerge me in the story too, I think, because that moment of truly understanding the title intensified my connection with the characters.

Well done on this. It's rather different to most of what I've read from you, but it works really, really well.

~Sophie

 

An Oath Forsworn by Equinox Chick
Rated: 1st-2nd Years [Reviews - 3]

Summary: Firenze ponders his loyalty to the herd against his knowledge of what is right.

Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. I suspect her poetry, like her prose, is far better than mine.

Thank you, Minna for the crit in Poetry, Anyone? and Julia for setting the challenge.

Categories: Poetry Genre: Warnings: None

Word count: 125 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
10/28/12 Updated: 10/28/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 11/20/12 Title: Chapter 1: An Oath Forsworn

Hey Carole,

It really is a shame that poetry gets so little love around here, especially given the presence of gems like this. I loved how you took a little-written character and got straight into his head very convincingly. It could only help that the poem was so well written.

I think what made this work so very well is the contrast between your two repeated lines. Rebellion and a sworn oath: the opposing ideas reflect Firenze’s torn loyalty and conflicted mind, and make phrases like “my loyalty torn” seem more justified. I also found that the villanelle structure, with all of its repetition, added more emphasis to the idea of internal conflict and helped me to get into Firenze’s head.

I did find myself really starting to think about Firenze’s perspective after reading this poem. He’s not a character I’ve given much thought to in the past, so that was really interesting. That reflects well on your characterisation of him in this poem, I think. The way you wrote “Rebellious dreams and hopes are born” makes it seem like he didn’t intend to rebel; it’s not his fault; that’s just how it happened. That interested me, and I imagine that’s how he would have seen it. It’s not the sort of thing you would want to happen, really, but it might feel inevitable.

I liked the way you structured the story here. You started with the dilemma, but by the end you can see Firenze make up his mind. The way you built up Firenze’s thought process through the poem was very effective. The strong opening, seeming to definitely suggest his loyalties lie in the forest, gradually gave way to more uncertainty, then resentment of his herd and finally certainty once more. That development was interesting to track and held my attention.

Also, the resolution of the problem made the ending very satisfying to read. Twisting the repeated lines slightly was a great idea, I thought, because it kept the continuity of the poem while showing that things were never going to be the same for Firenze again. His decision was irreversible but it doesn’t seem like he will seriously regret it.

The language you used was so gorgeous. I don’t just mean that you have a good vocabulary, although that’s certainly the case. I mean subtle things like all of the centaur-related language “ “glimmering stars” make me think of divination, and “nags” made me giggle a little when I thought about it. That added to my sense of Firenze’s voice, made him feel more real to me. I also really rather liked your use of “forfeit life”. He has given up his herd, sacrificed it, almost, and using a noun as an adjective seemed to add more weight to that point. I thought it was very effective.

This was a gorgeous poem, and it gave me a lot more insight into Firenze’s mind. I look forward to reading your next piece, whatever it might be!

~Sophie

Author's Response: Hi, Sophie. thank you so much for the gorgeous review. I started thinking a little about Firenze when I included him in my Lavender fic, and although I don't write about him much, and he's never been an MC of mine, I do like thinking about his viewpoint. The centaurs were such complex characters, both prejudiced and prejudiced against, yet Firenze really stood out as his own man/horse (I've probably offended him - eeep).

Enough of Firenze! Thank you for reviewing this. Yes, poetry gets so little love, and yet it's usually easy to read and reviews never take that long. Ha, I'm giggling a bit because I hadn't connected nags and nagging. the use of 'forfeit' as an adjective was deliberate, though. It sounds, to me, slightly archaic and formal which is how I imagine Firenze's life with the herd to be.

Thank you againnnnn ~Carole~

 

The Art of Acceptance by goldensnidget92
Rated: 3rd-5th Years [Reviews - 4]

Summary: Colin Creevey sees acceptance as an art form. It disguises his loneliness, his insecurities and his conviction that he does not fit in.



Luna Lovegood has never been accepted, but remains perhaps the most content person Colin has ever met. As his feelings for her develop throughout their years at Hogwarts, Colin must prepare to renounce the acceptance of his friends; instead learning to accept her and, ultimately, himself.

Categories: General Fics Genre: Warnings: None

Word count: 3639 Chapters: 1 Completed: No
Published:
11/07/12 Updated: 11/08/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 05/16/13 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Second Chance

Hello Helena!

Colin Creevey isn't a character I often get the chance to read about, so when I saw your summary, I was immediately curious. His canon portrayal is fairly simplistic, so seeing him fleshed out can be a real pleasure, and I think you really did him justice.

However, to start from the beginning, I thought your opening lines worked really well. The description of the Great Hall was lovely, with those gorgeous, colourful images. The simultaneous contrast and blending of the yellows and blues was just a little bit magical, enough to drag me into the room with Colin. I noticed similarly lovely bits of description right through the story, actually. On the walk down to the greenhouses, I liked the “cheerful wind” “ the setting seemed to match Colin's mood really well.

Then, the description of the greenhouse itself was so vivid! I felt like I was in a jungle, except somehow, it managed to be even more exotic. I think it helped that I didn't really recognise those plants from canon; they seemed doubly exotic that way. Your description of Luna's hair really added to that air of exoticness, I thought. The “waterfall” fitted in with my previous thoughts of a jungle, and overall it made the scene almost mesmerising. The contrast between all of that and Professor Sprout actually made me giggle. She was so real, with her waddle, and was almost out of place, even though she was actually in her element “ a really great entry.

Professor Sprout was by no means the only character I appreciated in this fic. Colin was, of course, excellent. As I mentioned above, he felt very much like his canon self, just with a little more depth. I could understand the person behind that irritating little camera, which made a very nice change. The contrast between his “confident smile” and his breathless voice when he joined Jimmy et al at the breakfast table made me smile too; it was very much him.

His naivety regarding prejudice and acceptance simultaneously charmed and saddened me. It was very sweet that he had such faith in his classmates, but I felt like if he had a touch more cynicism in him, he might have had a little more courage and stood up to the boys. I was a little surprised that he thought of Hogwarts as more accepting than the outside world when he had been petrified because of his blood status, but then I suppose it's a different sort of prejudice to the one he faced amongst Muggles. I was glad to see him developing, becoming more aware of this by the end of the chapter. I can imagine how he and Luna might become proper friends later on.

I really liked your Luna, too. Her first lines, in Herbology, struck a great balance between being obviously intelligent and very idiosyncratic. You can see exactly why she's a Ravenclaw, but her odd belief in the extraordinary comes across strongly too. Her idea about the “Graphorn” seemed really well thought out, not just some strange, off-the-cuff theory. It made me think about the contrast between her open-mindedness towards these strange theories and her occasional refusal to accept the truth; that contradiction in her character is key for me, so I was pleased that you worked it in.

An important moment for me was when you talked about Colin being bullied as a child. Not only was it clearly an important thing for his character, it also fitted really well with how I imagine life for Muggle-born children is in Primary school. The changing hair reminded me of Harry, of course, which made the whole incident feel like it could even have been canon. I also found the idea of Luna being bullied highly likely. The actions of the group of Gryffindor boys reminded me of things I've seen happen in real life. I reckon the peer pressure they used on Colin, and his later doubts, are pretty common among teenager. It made me kind of sad, that this plot felt so plausible, but you did it very well.

I hope you have time to continue with this soon! I can see there is a definite possibility of Luna and Colin becoming friends “ you've set that up well, I think “ but I'm sure there's plenty of conflict to happen before then. I look forward to seeing how you resolve it all :)

~Sophie

Author's Response: Hey, Sophie! Thank you for such a wonderful review! It's so great to get really detailed feedback, and I really appreciated the close attention you paid to the story. You picked up on some of the more subtle elements to it, so I'm glad they were apparent and I really valued all your feedback :) I've got the rest of the story planned out - it's just a matter of when I'll have time to do it now. When I finally get round to it, I hope that Colin and Luna's relationship will become even more believable and complex. This review has really encouraged me to get back to the story asap, so thank you!! --Helena

 

Summary: Past Featured Story

Slide on in and kick off your shoes. Celestina’s Songbook is back! Here are the hits of the summer season, brought to you by the authors of MNFF.



Categories: Poetry Genre: Warnings: Mild Profanity, Sexual Situations

Word count: 4289 Chapters: 13 Completed: Yes
Published:
11/13/12 Updated: 11/14/12


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 11/18/12 Title: Chapter 13: Summer Fights

This made me giggle so much, Carole. You seem to have worked every single Marauder Era cliche into the lyrics, which is quite a feat. My favourite line had to be when Sirius said "Think I slept with her friend". I'm glad I wasn't drinking tea when I first read it, because otherwise I'd have spluttered quite badly! I loved the upbeat, summery nature of the piece; it fitted the challenge wonderfully.

~Sophie

Author's Response: yayayay - glad you liked this. I certainly had a lot of fun writing it, especially the Sirius lines - ha ha. I love the original film a lot so this just made me giggle when I rewrote. Thanks for reviewing ~Carole~

 

A Palisade of Persuasion by Equinox Chick
Rated: 6th-7th Years [Reviews - 69]

Summary: It was true that Daphne and Lee had met at a most inappropriate time, but they had found love, lust and the glimmerings of a life together.

But the power of persuasion should never be underestimated. When they meet again, years later, his indifference cuts to her core. Can the past ever truly be recaptured?

This story is a present for Julia (the opaleye) because she is amazingly talented and has inspired me in so many ways. It is also her brthday.

Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling.

I am not Jane Austen.

I am not Sporty, Scary, Baby, Ginger or Posh.


Winner of the 2013 QSQ Best Chaptered Non-Canon Romance ~ I am gobsmacked and grateful to everyone especially JK Rowling, Jane Austen and the Spice Girls.



Categories: Other Pairing Genre: Warnings: Sexual Situations

Word count: 89290 Chapters: 18 Completed: Yes
Published:
11/22/12 Updated: 09/21/13


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 12/15/12 Title: Chapter 2: Chapter 1 ~ First Meeting

Hey Carole,

As I’ve mentioned to you before, I absolutely love Jane Austen, so I couldn’t resist this story. Sadly, I can’t find my copy of Persuasion, so I won’t be able to trace the parallels (as I’m sure there will be some) between the two stories as I read on. However, that hasn’t marred my enjoyment of this fic at all. Here, I’m going to review the prologue and chapter one, but hopefully I’ll come back to the rest later.

The first thing that struck me when I started reading this was its style. You mimic Austen very well, but it didn’t seem at all forced to me; it read like your own writing, but with that gorgeous formality and, for want of a better word, wordiness. It wasn’t overdone or hard to read, but instead made me giggle. I noticed the contrast between the prologue and chapter one in terms of language, and I thought that worked really well at signalling the differences between Daphne and her father.

I thought that a real strength of this story was its structure, and again, I thought you contrasted certain things to great effect. In the prologue, the way you contrasted the negative impressions of Daphne with her more positive sisters was very effective “ it was certainly an intriguing introduction to give to the central character. Then, that description was directly contrasted with the Daphne you present to us in the second chapter. She was so witty and, really, anything but “lacklustre” and the way you structured it made that really hit home to me.

Also on the subject of structure, the change of scene right after Lee’s introduction in chapter one killed me. You give us this little glimpse of a rather unexpected version of Lee and then immediately whisk us into a seemingly unrelated scene. It was a brilliant hook. I also thought that you picked a really great note to end the chapter on. It links back to Lee and Daphne’s meeting in the present time of the story very well, and I am now very eager to read on and find out how both instances of their acquaintance panned out.

Now, on to the most important thing: Lee and Daphne. Both characters already have me really interested, and there’s so much more to come! First, Daphne, as she’s the focus of the story so far. I’ve already briefly mentioned the contrast you created between her father’s perceptions and her real personality, and that’s something that I particularly like about her. It seems like she’s a really nice, interesting person (I really liked the line “Daphne had tried not to roll her eyes, knowing by ‘credentials’ her father meant blood status”) but she doesn’t fit with her family’s ideals and so they perceive her in a more negative light. This makes me sympathetic towards her, as well as curious to find out more about why she differs from them.

And then Lee. His entrance was so surprising. He didn’t seem at all like the teenager who commentated on Quidditch matches, and there’s no immediate explanation given. Is he only so reserved because of Daphne, is this what the war has done to him, or is it something else altogether? He intrigues me. I noticed that you created yet more contrast between Lee at the funeral and Lee meeting Daphne later. The earlier version of Lee was much more as I would have expected, which had the added bonus of making sure he couldn’t be said to be OOC, and he made me laugh a lot. I look forward to seeing his transformation explained.

Overall, these two chapters have got me desperate to read on and seem to set up your story brilliantly. I hope Julia has enjoyed this just as much as I have!

~Sophie

Author's Response: Sophie! Thank you so much for the lovely review (and sorry that I've taken so long to respond).

The start of this story - written in Austen style - was something I'd envisioned from the beginning, but I quickly realised that it wouldn't work for the whole story, which is why, when I switched viewpoints, I switched the style. I'm not sure how much you remember of the book, but Lee is acting very much like Wentworth did on first meeting Ann Eliot.

Obviously I have had to change rather a lot (Daphne isn't that much like Ann), but I think the main themes of the book are the same.

Sorry, this is a dreadful response to such an amazing review, but I don;t know how else to say thank you thank you thank you ... unless I say 'Merci', or 'Gracias', or 'Danke Schon' ... Ta - Carole

 

A Stolen Kiss by Ginny Weasley Potter
Rated: 3rd-5th Years [Reviews - 5]

Summary: Cedric Diggory is dead.

After the tragic end of the Triwizard Tournament, Penelope Clearwater reminisces on a few hidden moments with Cedric, that no-one knew they'd shared.

This is Ginny Weasley Potter of Hufflepuff house, writing Penelope and Cedric for the Great Hall Cotillion.

Categories: Other Pairing Genre: Warnings: Character Death, Sexual Situations

Word count: 3375 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
02/01/13 Updated: 02/03/13


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 02/14/13 Title: Chapter 1: Cedric and Penelope

Hey Pooja,

I've been reading a lot of Cotillion fics of late, and I've really loved having the chance to read so many new and unusual pairings. Cedric and Penelope are both characters I've read about before, but never together, as there would seem to be a lot standing between them. However, I thought that you brought them together really convincingly in this story.

The first thing that drew me into this story was your style. The opening was very gripping because of those three verbs and all of the short sentences that followed. You threw me straight into the action, which I found very effective. It didn't give me time to think; I was hooked from the off. There were lots of little stylistic things throughout the story that helped to engage me. For example, I really liked how you wrote, “It was impossible… impossible…” The repetition reflected Penelope's shock, and the shock of the people around her, making me feel more involved in the scene.

Another place where your writing really stood out to me was in your description of the prefects' bathroom. I would really love to be in a “citrus-scented” bath right now, actually! Your choice of adjectives gave me a really clear image of the bathroom, and I liked Penny's relaxed mood, too. It was a total change of mood from the tension and sadness of Cedric's death, and I thought that the contrast was highlighted by how short the first section was. Somehow, that made me feel even more invested, made me even more eager to find out what had happened between Cedric and Penny.

The last thing I want to say about your style is that I was very impressed by how you structured this. Non-linear structures can be really challenging (or, at least, they are for me), but I thought you had this just right. The sections were all linked coherently and convincingly; it didn't ever feel like you were just jumping back and forth at random. It was a really good way of engaging my attention because there was always some new thought, some new memory, to interest me. Also, that structure meant that I could never forget what was going to happen to Cedric. It was almost hard to watch Penelope develop feelings for him, knowing how things would end. There were so many things that helped me grow attached to her!

That structure was also, in a strange way, a good feature of Penny's characterisation. I could follow her thought processes really smoothly, and it made her grief feel stronger. Just seeing that there were so many little things in her life that made her remember Cedric “ it convinced me of her feelings for him, far more than anything she could have said. Of course, some of the things she said were very effective, too. I particularly liked how you described her as “Almost dancing with happiness” when she had broken up with Percy. Her relief was palpable and showed how into Cedric she was.

Actually, one of the things I really liked about Penelope was the way she thought about Cedric. Of course she reacts to his blatant good looks, but she's never as obvious about it as the girls around her are. I loved Myrtle's line “Oooooh, I’d love to see him have a bath!”, but equally, I liked that Penelope seemed to have a bit more respect for Cedric. You contrasted her with Myrtle really well. Penelope didn't treat him as just a pretty face that she could ogle; she was interested in him as a person too, and that made me more sympathetic towards her.

Cedric, while he clearly had a very pretty face, had more depth to his character than that. As a canon character, he comes across as pretty much flawless, and not a very rounded character. However, I though you managed to make him so much more than that, while of course being faithful to the what we see in canon. When he refused to kiss her, he seemed almost (but not quite) too good to be true; that must have taken an awful lot of willpower for him. And then came Cho. I don't suppose that he meant to hurt Penelope, but that's what happened. He made a mistake and she got hurt and that's something that happens to everyone, no matter how perfect they are. That made him feel more alive to me than he ever had in canon.

I was also very impressed by your minor characters. Percy played a minimal role, but I could just imagine him, diligently writing to Penelope over the summer, but then being too engrossed in his work to give her any real time. His cluelessness, too, felt very familiar from canon. Then there was Professor Snape. In the few lines you gave him, he oozed venom and callousness, and leapt of the page at me. I liked Penelope's unnamed friend, too. Like with Myrtle, I loved her one line of dialogue, and completely understood where she was coming from. She sounds like a good sort of friend for straight-laced Penelope to have. It would have been nice to have had a name for her, though. Given this is from Penelope's P.O.V., it felt a little odd to me that she was just referred to as Penelope's friend.

In terms of plot, I thought you paced this really well. The shortness of each section meant that there was always something new happening. One of the stand-out moments for me was their first kiss. I really liked the way that you didn't make it too smooth and easy. It was awkward and borne of an accident and a moment of impulsiveness. It felt natural, like something that could happen to me too, and that was good to read.

The last thing I want to mention was that I thought you linked this all into canon really well. There would seem to be a lot standing between Cedric and Penelope “ Percy and Cho mainly. However, you worked around that effortlessly, and I spotted little canon references “ Percy's letters over the summer, for example “ which made this story fit in even better.

Overall, I thought this was a really well written fic. I can't quite say that I enjoyed it when it was so sad, but I certainly appreciated it. Your prose, characterisation, structure and plot came together brilliantly to convince me of a seemingly unlikely pairing. Best of luck in the Cotillion!

Sophie

Author's Response: Sophie!

Wow, sorry it took me so long to respond to this, but it's so gorgeous, that gah... you just made me flail and squee and die! Thank you so, so much for this lovely insight on my story! :D

Haha, I just wanted to choose a pair that (hopefully) had never been written, and this seemed like one. :p I didn't have a solid idea at first, but at least my plot was properly determined by the time I wrote this. But I am really, really glad that you found it convincing enough. :D

The points in my writing style -- the verbs, and the repetitions, then the show/tell thing, the gestures, etc are all things I've learned from some of my wonderful betas (including you). These things were never present in my older pieces (and I cringe as I think of it now) but I'm glad it's finally all coming to me, ha! The non-linear format is not too difficult, actually, but maybe that's because I'm used to writing it. But you should try it sometime, it's fun. :D As for the contrast between the feel of the first portion and the second, I did that on purpose, because I wanted the unease and unrest to show at first, and then move into a soothing atmosphere, depicting happier times. I've also learned, over the last few months, that mentioning certain gestures, and specifying certain actions of the characters can be really useful in pulling the reader closer to them, as this creates a bond between the reader and the characters. :)

What makes me really happy is that you identified some of the things regarding Penny's character, which I wanted to put across. Because of the way Penny felt for Cedric, it was essential to stick to the tinier memories, because even if you look at regular psychology, when you remember a person you know, who's dead, you tend to think about these small, insignificant things first, and they seem even more significant. Also, the poor girl did not really have much time with Cedric. It was rather unfortunate, really.

Penelope did not seem like a vain girl to me-- considering she dated Percy. She was far more serious and thoughtful, I guess, and I thought that she'd possibly respect Cedric more than the other girls who swooned over him unabashedly. But of course, we know from the books that Cedric was unmistakably good-looking, so I couldn't forget about that. I thought, maybe, just talking to him once, or knowing him a little would make Penelope respect him more. We're all like that. The respect arises once we know the person, hahaha. :) I was definitely giggling while I wrote Myrtle's line, so I'm glad you liked that!

In the books, we see Cedric from Harry's PoV. Harry, the poor guy, is always competing with Cedric and everyone around him seems to support Cedric so much, Harry bitterly seems to think that Cedric is too perfect (though at times, his initial dislike for Cedric is rather hilarious). But yeah. Since everyone is awestruck by this chap here, he comes off as perfect. We never do get to see how Cedric is with the people he knows well (all of us are nice to people we're merely acquainted with). We don't get to see any insecurities or imperfections. But I wanted to bring some of those out, because I was presenting a close-up of Cedric in this fic, and I couldn't let it be flawless. As for refusing to kiss Penny, it was something he'd do, from his canon representation. Plus, he's a Hufflepuff. He must support loyalty. :)



Ahh, Percy! He wasn't part of the plan, really, and later, I realised I'd left him out. I don't remember my plot before Percy stepped in, but I'm glad I remembered him. I had help from Croll on this, actually, she reminded me of how silly Percy was being in GoF. I figured that if he and Penelope broke-up at some point, it could be here, because of the all-too-common *he doesn't have time for me.*

The fact that you liked my two lines with Snape made me squee because he's one character I can't write. I am, however, good at passing such remarks in RL, so I just wrote what I'd say to a student who wasn't paying attention in my class. :p Plus, the detention and the points, which Snape always seems to be happy to hand out/cut off. Haha. And aah, I realise now that the friend should have a name. I shall think of a name and edit it, lol. Thank you for pointing that out!

The sections were short because I was bored of writing. Heh. :p But honestly, I hate to drag-on, and it just made better sense to keep the episodes short. It has a better impact too, I guess. And I'm so happy you liked the kiss! Awkward kisses and impulsive kisses are the easiest to write, because you can giggle to yourself while doing so, lol. Of course, this is from the various kinds of snogging that they show in movies and TV shows, which make ME feel as though they could happen to me. :p But thank you so very much!

I am very particular when it comes to canon, because, ha, I'm a proud fan, and hate going wrong in something I've read so many times, lol. But yes, I did refer to the books and the lexicon a lot, just to get my facts double checked. The Percy and Cho things were easy to resolve because there's no exact mention of when Penny/Percy broke-up, or when Cedric/Cho got together. I mainly took advantage of that. :D

Thank you soo much for that totally awesome review! I loved it so much, and it made me flail! I'm really glad you appreciated it, and this piece of loveliness has left me gasping at your excellent ability to review. Thank youuuu! <33333333333333

 

Rumour Has It by Equinox Chick
Rated: Professors [Reviews - 5]

Summary: It’s not that Pansy really wants to marry Draco Malfoy, more that she doesn’t want to see him settled with anyone. So when she discovers he’s getting married, she decides she has to break it up.

And the best way to do this is by rumour.

This is Equinox Chick writing for the Great Hall Cotillion Challenge.

Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. The title for this story comes from an Adele song and is the inspiration for this tale.



Categories: Other Pairing Genre: Warnings: Mild Profanity, Sexual Situations

Word count: 8254 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
02/09/13 Updated: 02/09/13


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 02/09/13 Title: Chapter 1: Rumour Has It

This is too fabulous, Carole. And this review is going to be too awful for it. But I loved the all of the twists, the Slytherin deceptions and double-crosses. They're such a fun set of characters to read about. It's just a delight.

I'm so glad Pansy got a good ending -- I grew rather attached to this version of her. Her and Daphne seem like a very good match, although the thought of their potential for trust issues makes me laugh a little tiny bit. I loved that even innocent young Astoria was involved in the web of deceptions. Okay, I think I've rambled incoherently for long enough. Fab fab fab :D

~Sophie

Author's Response: Glad you liked, or rather grew to understand, Pansy in this. She's not a character I like in the books, and in RL I'd probably dislike her, but I wanted to show that she had something about her, and that her drive (which is very Slytherin) was an admirable quality.

Yeah, I'm not sure her and Daphne could ever trust each other, but maybe as they know each other so well, that's a good basis for a relationship - ha ha.

Glad you liked the story, I had a lot of fun writing it. You might well like 'Till Death (Eaters) Us Do Part' which I wrote about 2 years ago. It's Draco's side of things, but starting from the wedding (there's no Pansy in it, though)

 

Baby Boy by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor
Rated: 1st-2nd Years [Reviews - 8]

Summary:

Andromeda Tonks lost everything after the war except her infant grandson, but when he approaches adulthood, is she afraid of letting him go, of being alone, or that she didn't do enough to steer him in the right direction?

Of course, children are always full of surprises.

This is a (slightly late) present of birthday-ness for the wonderful Sophie/the owl. She's a great writer, supreme beta, fabulous reviewer, and wonderful friend. I'm so glad we bonded over fic, because it would just be wrong to never get to know you. ♥



Categories: Post-Hogwarts Genre: Warnings: Mild Profanity

Word count: 2884 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
02/12/13 Updated: 02/12/13


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 02/26/13 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi Jess,

Firstly, thank you thank you thank you! This was such a fabulous birthday present, and I hope the rest of MNFF has enjoyed it as much as I have. I wanted to write a SPEW review for you, but every time I read this, my brain turns into a pile of squee, so I think I'd best not.

From the first few words of this, you had me hooked. Your prose is gorgeous, and there is so much going on technically. Like, I loved how the pond could be a metaphor for Andromeda -- calm, but kind of mysterious in that you can't ever see through it, and only disturbed by something external and surprising. It set the mood really well, too -- pensive and peaceful but sad too. The alliteration of “simple and smooth” sounded so wistful and gah I just wanted to hug Andromeda already!

The gorgeous writing was something I flailed at right through the story. I don't know how you manage to sustain it so well without ever descending into cliché, or making it too much to read, if that makes sense. I think it works so well for me because you switch back and forth from the description into emotions and thoughts and actions all the time, and just--it's so well balanced! Like, I absolutely loved the ordinariness of you last line; that was spot on. For all of Andromeda's worries, these are entirely normal family scenes, things that so many people will feel, and you brought me right back into the real world with that. I couldn't help but smile.

In fact, there were so many details in this story that made me smile. Yes, there was a lot of sadness in there too, but Teddy, in all of his loveliness, balanced it out to a degree. Seeing him as a baby was adorable -- the orange hair made me think of the Weasleys and wonder what what mischief he'd get up to in his dreams. I could imagine the two sides of him, just from that -- the boisterousness that he might have gained from his mum, but the calm, gentleness of his father too.

Then, the sudden transition to nearly grown Teddy, taking care of the woman who was stroking his hair only a moment ago, well, it was almost painful. It certainly made me feel Andromeda's pain even more. More than that, though, it made him all of a sudden into a real person in my mind. I guess he reminded me a lot of Remus in that moment -- always looking after everyone else and never himself. That was true of him offering to give up his job for Andromeda too. I can only imagine how unhappy that would have made him, and how guilty she might have felt as a result, so it was a relief when she relented.

Clearly, I'm no mother either, but I found her worries and her love for Teddy so overwhelmingly convincing. I cried for her the first time I read this. If she had a Boggart, I imagine it would be Teddy dying, so for her to overcome that and support him in a career that she knows could kill him was huge. And the acceptance that he was an adult -- that must feel like she's giving him up and oh, my feels!

Right, I think that's enough squee from me now. Thank you thank you thank you once again! *tacklesquishes*

~Sophie

Author's Response:

First of all, I shall preface by saying it makes me so happy that you liked this story. It isn't the type of story I write at all, so the fact that you like it and don't find it to be rubbish and just don't want to tell me is a relief. However, I did make a conscious decision to step outside of my comfort zone a bit because I knew this sort of story is more in your wheelhouse. Let's just say that I was glad Maple rescued me and told me it wasn't crappity, because I honestly didn't know, lol.

The pond, as you mentioned, was a bit of a metaphor for Andromeda and the calm it gave her that she badly needed. Just months before, Harry was crashing into that pond with Hagrid, and ever since then, nothing was the same for Andromeda or her family. And even when the melee died down, there was still the issue of inner turmoil, threatening to surface at any moment from the slightest disruption.

I don't suppose I have much to say about my style, as it's the same one I've always had. However, I'm glad it works for you as a reader and for the story. But one thing I will mention that you brought up is the sudden shift from Teddy being a baby to him being an adult. That was a not-so-subtle device on my part to illustrate the striking grown-up quality of Teddy in the second, yet Andromeda still sees and thinks about the former section when he was a baby.

One aspect of Teddy's personality that I wanted to be clear was his deep love for the people close to him. He knows better than most how important loved ones are and how easily he could've not had them around. His parents died because they loved him too much to let him grow up in a world ruled by Voldemort; that leaves a mark as clear as the one Lily left on Harry, I think.

I kind of had to wing it on the parental feelings, but I was informed by a reader that I did pretty well in that aspect. But really, as corny as this sounds, I kind of transfigured my experiences as a mod mummy and watching my little baby modlets become proper, talented moderators. The rest was sort of natural after that. Feel free to judge me, lol.

Anyway, I am still so pleased you liked the story. I haven't had the chance to write a birthday fic and actually finish it for a long time, and you deserve all the squishes in the world for being so nice and hard-working. I'm happy to do this for you, despite it being the furthest thing from my cup of tea. Here's to another year of friendship!

~Jess

 

Dear Children by minnabird
Rated: 1st-2nd Years [Reviews - 2]

Summary: Past Featured StoryThe poet laments the fate of too many Squibs.

Nominated for Best Poem in the 2013 Quicksilver Quill Awards

Categories: Poetry Genre: Warnings: None

Word count: 102 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
02/13/13 Updated: 02/15/13


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 02/15/13 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi Minna,

I was really impressed by this poem. It's a powerful and emotive look at a Potterverse issue that I find easy to overlook. When fanfiction almost always focuses on those with magic, you don't tend to think about those who weren't lucky enough to be born with it. The picture you painted of squib children isn't something I will forget easily.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was your use of the direct address.”Dear children” seems like such an innocuous, almost sweet title, but from the first line the poem was anything but. Because you were talking to the children in question, I found that their situation felt a lot more real, a reminder that, in canon, there really were children in this situation. In the five lines where you used that technique, I was imagining actual children constantly, considering them in a lot more detail because you were always talking to them. The focus was completely on them, and I thought that was really powerful.

I think my favourite part of this poem was when you used the metaphor of the imprisoned children as plants. It created a really clear picture in my mind and really helped to bring the scenario to life. When you described them as “stunted seedlings”, I felt suddenly aware of the physical suffering that these children might go through, as well as the emotional hardship. That combined with the phrase “kept from light of day” gave me chills. Confining a child to the house out of shame is so cruel, and it's an image that really got to me.

Another things that impressed me about this poem was the way it sounded. Part of that was, of course, because of your use of sonnet form. I thought you handled the strict rhythm and rhyme really well; it felt very natural and added to the poignancy of the poem. However, it was more than that. For example, the alliterative “s” sounds in the first line set up the atmosphere of the poem really effectively. It was kind of sad and soft sounding, just right for the subject matter, I thought.

When I read a poem, I don't often find myself thinking about characters, but I was intrigued by the thought of your narrator in this poem, because clearly there was someone thinking. I don't suppose you had a character in mind to narrate, but I felt like the poem had a very clear voice. Whoever it was, their anger about this subject came across strongly. In particular, I loved that I could just imagine the ire dripping from their voice when you wrote '"sympathy"'.

The last thing I'd like to mention is that I found myself connecting certain canon characters and events to this poem. In particular, the images of a children locked up for their own good, deprived of normal life and unable to ever act evoked Ariana's memory for me. I think that remembering her only increased my pity for the other children you write about, because we know that she must have suffered greatly. The other character I found myself thinking of was Neville. We know that the Longbottoms, a family I think of as some of the “good” purebloods, were very worried by the idea that Neville might not be magical, and Neville talked about the things that they did to try and make his magic appear. If his family did these things, what might a family like the Malfoys do? It's not a pleasant thought.

I can hardly say I enjoyed a poem with such sad subject matter, but I think you handled the subject really well. I found it very evocative of certain canon incidents, but at the same time you made me consider the situation of squibs in more depth than I have done before. You made me think and feel a lot, which I think is really impressive for a fourteen-line poem. Well done!

~Sophie

 

Up in Flames by lucca4
Rated: 6th-7th Years [Reviews - 4]

Summary: Past Featured Story

A lot can change in a year.

Susan returned from Ireland to find Theodore Nott engaged to his Hogwarts sweetheart. Determined not to lose him again, she vows to keep Daphne Greengrass --the enemy -- close enough to watch over.

Little does she know that this is a game of fire, and it only takes a single misstep for one of them to get burned.

This is lucca4 of Gryffindor writing for the Great Hall Cotillion Challenge.

**Thank you to the wonderfully talented Soraya for being a fantastic beta :) **

Categories: Other Pairing Genre: Warnings: Character Death, Mental Disorders, Self Injury, Sexual Situations, Slash, Strong Profanity, Suicide

Word count: 11007 Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes
Published:
02/14/13 Updated: 03/01/13


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 07/17/13 Title: Chapter 1: Playing with Fire

Hey Ariana,

I read this fic when you first posted it, I think, and I definitely remember enjoying it, but thanks to exams, all of the details have left me since then. Coming back to read it a second time had been a real treat, because it feels almost new to me, so I've felt the full impact of Daphne and Theo's actions towards Susan, and of Susan's pain. I'm just going to review chapter one for now, so I can go into more detail.

The first thing I'd like to say is that I really appreciate how you handled the exposition of this. There's an awful lot of back story that you needed to detail - necessary, interesting back story - but you integrated it all very smoothly. The opening line for example, “It was funny, really, how quickly and easily two people could grow apart”, was clearly in the present time of the story but had me immediately wondering what their relationship had been like prior to the story. The whole first scene had me curious about both past and present, and made me really eager to keep reading to understand the whole situation better.

Then there was the way you set up the sexual tension between the three characters. Of course Susan's attraction to Theo was one-sided, but I still felt its leftover potency in her shiver. Between Daphne and Susan, however, the attraction was palpable, deeply convincing, even when Susan seemed to want to ignore it. That Susan notices all of those details about Daphne - the “faint red print” of her lipstick, her “sharp eyes” - when she enters the room seemed very significant to me, and set up the following scene very effectively, I thought. The touching hands thing, too, and the use of the olive worked very well as build up. I even found myself kind of attracted to the idea of Daphne.

That brings me nicely onto Daphne. She seems quite the enigma. First I would have assumed that she was very much in love with Theo, simply because she goes from not having seen him since Hogwarts to being his fiancee in about a year. Her eagerness to meet Susan is also something I would have attributed to loving him. But of course then she shows up and is so much more complex than that, seeming to betray him in her manipulation and seduction of Susan. She has me absolutely intrigued and very keen to read on. I don't know if I would like her as a person, but as a character, I think she's incredibly strong.

Susan is very different, but I thought she worked equally well, and I found myself caring about her very quickly and easily. This was partially because of how she was suffering, but also because of how she dealt with it. She didn't seem to wallow in self-pity or lash out at people; she didn't burden anyone, and that kind of made me want to help her, to rescue her even. After seeing how awfully Theo treated her, how inconsiderate he was, I was kind of pleased for her when she slept with Daphne. She wasn't entirely in control, but she was doing something selfish, rather than putting him first and being trampled on. I mean, the way Daphne manipulated her does kind of worry me, so I'm interested to see where that will go. That I care for her so much just shows how strong your characterisation is.

The thing that really brought this chapter together for me was your style of writing. One thing I particularly loved was your dialogue. Each character had a voice, one that I could hear quite clearly as I read, and their emotions came through very naturally in their voices. Susan seems to talk less than the other characters, apart from when Daphne is manipulating her to talk about Theo. Daphne pretends to be a lot less perceptive than she is and so speaks bluntly. These things not only contributed to the characterisation, but also helped to bring the story alive.

All in all, I feel like I've been absolutely drawn into your world. I've very quickly grown attached to Susan, so I hope she doesn't get mistreated too much more in the coming chapters. Sadly, my vague memories of reading this before make me think that's not the case.

~Sophie

Author's Response: Thank you so much for this review, Sophie. I have been meaning to write the entirety of the story I have in my head concerning Susan and Theo and Daphne for some time now. But sometimes I've realized that when I have such a complicated head canon for stories they don't translate too well to actual fiction. I am so, so happy the story worked for you though. I'm glad you commented on Daphne - she is probably my favorite character in the world to write, period (though, as you said, I'm not sure I would ever want to be her friend). I'm also happy you liked the dialogue, I find my stories usually have a higher description to dialogue ratio, so I thought I'd try something more compelling :) . Again, thank you so much for your review! It positively made my day. xx Ariana

 

Marriage and Other Matters by Acacia Carter
Rated: 3rd-5th Years [Reviews - 3]

Summary: Past Featured StoryAll Augusta wanted to do was apologise, but the minute she opened her mouth she somehow forgot how.

Categories: Femmeslash Genre: Warnings: Mild Profanity, Pottermore Spoilers

Word count: 2546 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
02/20/13 Updated: 02/20/13


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 03/15/13 Title: Chapter 1: One-Shot

Hello Jamie,

As the SPEW feature this month is Cotillion stories and I've not reviewed you in a while, I thought I'd give this fic a try, and I'm so glad I did! You took my emotions all over the place -- especially impressive in such a short story.

I think the first thing that struck me when I started reading was your gorgeous prose. Not a single word was wasted; everything oozed meaning and significance. Just in the first sentence, the implications of Augusta knowing Minerva's hair “intimately” had me intrigued. Then, the level of detail you provided in the description backed it up perfectly. Without knowing anything factual about their relationship, I could see how much Augusta cared about Minerva.

It was physical details that stood out to me right through the story. When writing about a relationship, I always find them really important in bringing the characters to life and creating chemistry, so I really liked how much emphasis you put on it. The line “Augusta's skin relished the warmth of her touch” was a great one, I thought. Personifying her skin -- it's like Augusta's body longs for Minerva out of her control. Their relationship seemed stronger for it. The last technical thing I'd like to mention is the way you wrote the women's speech. I noticed you adding these little touches of formality that felt so right for the period, for these characters. A favourite word of mine was “atrophy”; it made Minerva feel very much herself.

In fact, I thought these characters seemed perfectly themselves from start to finish. We don't see much of Augusta in canon, really, but I could absolutely believe your version of her. The nerves made her seem younger, less self-possessed, but there were some lovely traces of Neville's old grandma, with the way she questions herself sarcastically and has to refrain from glaring. You made her sharpness quite clear, and I enjoyed reading that. Then, in the last section, her manipulativeness made me giggle, especially because of Neville's reaction. I'm glad Minerva seems to have changed her, even if only a little, and that they're still friends -- testament to the relationship you created between them, I suppose.

Minerva sparkled. You never let me forget the steel core of hers that we see in canon, but equally, I loved seeing her young. Just the difference in her hair, more relaxed than her familiar bun, seemed to signify that she was more relaxed at the time. I would never have imagined her in this context, relating to Augusta in this way, so I guess the differences between the woman we see in canon and your version make the relationship more convincing. That worked very well, for me.

In terms of plot, this really impressed me. Pottermore has given us so much more detail about Minerva's life that, before I started reading and in the first few paragraphs, I couldn't quite see how a relationship between her and Augusta could avoid contradicting canon in some way. I shouldn't have worried though; you have form with making unlikely relationships fit into canon! I found their relationship more plausible because it happened when they were young; they still had plenty of time to become their canon selves. I really liked the Pottermore details you included, by the way. It showed how well you'd thought the whole thing through.

I thought this was a very well-written piece, and I'm so glad I chose to read it. Best of luck in the Cotillion, and may there be plenty more femmeslash in your future!

~Sophie

 

Set Your Spirit Free by hestiajones
Rated: 1st-2nd Years [Reviews - 3]

Summary: A desperate housewife. A forward female knight. Spice Girls. Petunia Dursley's thirty-eighth birthday is about to get interesting.

This is hestiajones of Hufflepuff writing for the 2013 Great Hall Cotillion. My chosen pairing is Petunia Dursley/Hestia Jones. Yes. Tuney and Me.

Categories: Humor Fics Genre: Warnings: None

Word count: 4003 Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Published:
02/22/13 Updated: 02/22/13


Reviewer: The owl Signed
Date: 03/16/13 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hello Natalie!

You know, I think you've written possibly the single most surprising pairing of the Cotillion here. When I saw it, I just had to read out of curiosity. From what we see of Petunia's feelings about magic in canon, it seemed nigh on impossible that she'd fall for a witch. Of course, you've managed to make it seem very possible indeed with this story!

First things first though: the humour. I laughed out loud more than once when reading this. The potato peeler moment in particular really cracked me up “ it was so bizarre, and yet at the same time, it felt plausible given how you'd written Hestia. All of the Spice Girls references, too, made me giggle. You chose such recognisable lyrics that I was singing along all the way through, which gave the story a fabulous, upbeat mood. Hearing those particular songs in connection to fusty, traditional Petunia was very amusing.

Anther thing I really appreciated in this story was how you wrote the dialogue. It may seem like a small thing, but it's something that always helps to engage me when it's written so naturally and amusingly. I loved the contrast you created between Petunia and Hestia in their first conversation. Even though Petunia was clearly emotional, you kept these formal stuffy touches with phrases like “for Christ's sake”, and I thought that worked really well against Hestia's casual tone and informality. Little things, like her saying “Dudley has apparently got dibs on Ginger Spice” brought her to life for me.

I thought your characterisation of Hestia all round was great. You linked her into canon really well with the potato peeler incident, but you also gave her a lot more depth than that. Because you gave her a Muggle-born girlfriend (watch the hyphenation, by the way), I could instantly understand what had drawn her to the resistance, as well as why she might be noticing Petunia in that way. She must have been so lonely, shut up in a house with the Dursleys and Dedalus, so latching onto Petunia is very understandable. I thought her friendship with Dudley was great, too; it felt very natural. She's the sort of person I could imagine Dudley liking, just for somehow seeming cool.

Petunia's relationship with her was very different, I suppose, because Petunia was never going to let herself be impressed by Hestia like Dudley might have been. Even when Hestia conjured the rabbit, something that would have had me gaping openly however little I liked its creator, Petunia seemed determined to keep her distance. I thought you made her thaw out very convincingly, though. Her homophobia at the beginning saddened me slightly, but it's what I would have expected. Then, seeing how she incrementally became more accustomed to the idea of it, eventually being so lovely about Hestia's girlfriend, felt very natural. It wasn't one sudden epiphany moment, just a gradual shift which, for me, worked very well.

The last thing I'd like to talk about is how lovely the birthday surprise was. I hope Hestia wasn't lying when she said it was Dudley's idea, and if she was, I hope Dudley learnt from her about being nice to his mum. It gave me hope for the family, with the exception of Vernon, I suppose, and that made me feel a lot less sad for Petunia. You made me very sympathetic towards her, more so than I would have expected to be, because of Vernon's awfulness when it came to her past birthdays and his awfulness in general. But even without Hestia around, after the war, I imagine that Petunia will be that little bit happier for loosening up a bit.

I've really enjoyed reading this, Natalie, and it's been fascinating to have this insight into Petunia's head, to see the Dursleys portrayed in a bit more depth. Best of luck for the Cotillion!

~Sophie

Author's Response: Sophieee! This was a very pleasant surprise! :) While your entire review makes me all warm and fuzzy, the part I love the most is this: "I think you've written possibly the single most surprising pairing of the Cotillion here." :D The Cotillion is so full of the unexpected that a compliment like this is priceless.

I'll never let go of potato peeler jokes. Hehe. When the canon Hestia found it funny, I warmed up to her immediately - IDK why. I'm glad you like the contrast between Petunia and the music. She doesn't seem like the pop music type, does she? But I guess one can get used to things; I did with Justin Bieber and One Direction lol. So, with Petunia, it was her unfortunate, long, compulsory holiday with HJ and DD, and the resulting lifestyle that forced her to get used to things she may have turned up her nose at otherwise.

The character development was necessary. I wrote this to amuse myself, but every tale should have a point to it. Humour aside, I wanted to see if I could make Petunia thaw. See, from what we know, I think Vernon is just another run-of-the-mill crazy conservative; Petunia's history, on the other hand, is interesting and salvageable. I wanted to work with that.

Oh, Dudley did remember it! :) I like to think he matured in those years. Thank you for the fab review, Sophie. I think my response is all over the place, but my connection's so unpredictable, so I need to respond in a hurry before it decides to die :X

 
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