I have always believed that there is a time in every writer’s development when either a large step is taken toward great things, or said writer is left behind with everyone else. Only a gifted few ever do the former, and the rest of us typically fall into the latter category. When I read a story of yours for the first time, which I *believe* was Doubt, I had such high hopes for you as an aspiring creative writer. Defiance added to that, and stepping outside of the box and writing a pairing you’d never before considered with Susan/Theo was yet another step in the right direction.
And then there was this story.
There are so many lovely parts in this story that I could practically write a one-shot worth of praise for it, but I’m sure neither of us have that sort of time. So, I’m going to touch upon a few of the reasons why this is definitely a ‘breakthrough’ fic and what I believe makes it so.
The ability to write a non-canon event with canon conviction — that is to say, making it fit into canon and just have that feeling that it really did happen — is not something that can be taught. It can be directed and given certain sets of criteria, but writing to add to a pre-existing dimension yet still making it your own in a fabulous trait to have as a writer. The way you drew from what we know of Parvati and Lavender in this story, yet still selling me on an idea that had truly never crossed my mind until I read this story, is a gift of talent. From beginning to end, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in Jo’s world and just reading a small file she’d tucked into her buckets of notes, something scripted that didn’t make the final draft. Those are my absolute favourite kinds of stories, and I love that you were able to do that here.
Writing about one’s battles with homosexuality is not an easy feat. It’s something that I know from experience, and it’s difficult not to sound patronising or make the character out to be homophobic or just wangsty, but I thought you handled the girls’ respective identity crises very well. I think the most unique thing about how you did it was that they weren’t both mirrors of one another in terms of reaction to their first kiss. They were two distinct individuals who acted far differently, and their trains of thought, while somewhat similar, had their own unique sets of factors and feelings involved.
It was interesting that, of the two, Parvati seems to be the more sexually open one. One would think that it would be the other way around, since Lavender has the reputation in fanon as liking boys more than normal (which seems like a misconception, considering that, as far as we know, she’d only gone to the Yule Ball with Seamus and dated Ron). But you so expertly drew on canon and made your alternate theory fit and seem even more plausible than what many assume to know about these two.
I thought it was fitting that Parvati would worry far more about how her mother would react than anyone else. It speaks a lot of her heritage and her cultural differences. I’m assuming you would know more about Hindi culture than me, but from what I’ve heard, it seems like something that would push some buttons in the family. It fit that you touched upon this as a deciding factor, but also that you made Parvati her own person and Gryffindor enough to decide what is right for herself.
Lavender seemed to have far more issue with her feelings for Parvati than the other way around. In her youthful lack of knowledge, she assumed that all girls who liked other girls have to be lesbians and that all lesbians had to be like her aunt — short hair, no makeup, and smelling like cigarettes. It humanises her in a very strong way, because I’m sure we’ve all had a wildly off-base assumption about someone of a different culture, creed, sexuality, or race, only to find out later that we were so very, very wrong. For instance, I used to think, before I’d ever actually met a gay person, that gay men were all well groomed and dressed nice. Hahahahahahaha… no. So wrong. Things like these that make someone identify on a personal level are what separate good characterisation from great characterisation.
Neville’s appearance was a bit of a squee part. I liked how you managed to show how the other DA members accepted the shift of leadership from Harry to Neville and that the latter had grown into a role of respect where he had formerly been the house spaz. The way he showed genuine concern for his flock was touching and felt right.
And as for the war, it felt almost like it was in the background, barely ascertainable, but in a way, at least for me, it worked better that way. I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but the bad parts about Hogwarts almost couldn’t have been non-stop. First of all, I don’t think Snape would’ve allowed things to get so bad as per Dumbledore’s final instructions for him, nor would the other teachers. So a lull in the Carrow fiasco (likely after the first round of torturing when everyone is on their best behaviour and trying to keep out of trouble) is not an unreasonable thing to assume. So the lack of it in the forefront is not a bad thing, I believe.
What I would call the only drawback of this story is the insertion of Lavender’s mum and how the next time It came up was because someone else mentioned it. I do think that Lavender would use her emotional struggle from the kiss to think about something else besides her mother being in danger, but her reaction when Parvati brought it up didn’t seem quite right. I don’t know how she could possibly not think about it for that length of time. If you have thoughts on this, then feel free to share, but I am a bit dubious on a girl who seems to love her mother being able to push something out of her mind for that long. Perhaps if she had said something like she’d been trying not to think about it, it would’ve rang a bit more true. Just something to think about.
The heart to heart at the end was so touching and raw. It was as if they’d decided that pretext was over and they had to be honest with one another. For Lavender to admit that she was apprehensive about being judged took guts, and for Parvati to initiate the conversation in the first place, even though she said she didn’t want to do it, either, also took a bit of courage. In the end, though, how much the girls cared for one another and the fortitude that stood them well in the Battle really shined through.
All in all, I think this is your best story thus far. I’ve not got a chance to read your chaptered story yet, but knowing your usual quality of writing, I have no doubt that it’ll be just as good, possibly even better, than everything else I’ve read from you. So bravissima! The story is fabulous; you are fabulous.
Author's Response: You happen to leave the some of the most gorgeous reviews I have ever received :) . I think this one will keep me smiling for the whole weekend. It makes me so, so happy to hear that you liked it. I have to admit, when it came up in the SBBC discussion I was worried you might think it was too fluffy/mushy/superficial, and I'm just so unbelievably glad that you enjoyed reading it. It was a fun challenge to write. I wanted to make Parvati and Lavender noticeably different in the ways they dealt with their feelings for one another. I think Parvati had an inkling that she wasn't straight before the kiss, which is why she accepted who she was more readily than Lavender. I felt like Lavender was probably bisexual, and that in-between-ness where she realizes she *can* have feelings for a boy and fulfill the life path she had planned out for herself puts her at more of a stalemate than Parvati. I'm glad you liked Neville, as well. He's such a sweet guy…I think he achieved his leadership in the group more through how compassionate he was towards everyone, whereas Harry already had the help of his fame (not to say Harry's not a nice person), and I wanted to sneak that in there. I purposefully set the story in their seventh year because Lavender and Parvati are the only Gryffindor seventh-year girls, and I think that forced closeness would act as a catalyst for their relationship to bloom. I was worried it would come off as a fic that was too much romance and not enough plot, but not enough to actually add in war scenes :). Shows you just how dedicated I am, lol. Anyway, I'm happy you thought it worked well.
I've been reading the SBBC discussions (*cough* more like stalking*cough*) on this, and both the SBBC-lings and you pointed out the Lavender's-concern-over-her-mum thing, which I really hadn't noticed before. I'm glad you all pointed it out, because when I read it it was more of a Lavender-is-trying-to-distract-herself-from-her-mum thing (which is why she is so invested in solving this relationship and why I don't think the relationship itself will last). But now that I read it over, she sounds a little callous. I think I'll take your advice and change the line a bit, as now reading it just makes me wince.
Thank you, so very, very much for reviewing this story. Your comments are always so eloquently put and it makes me happy to think that someone actually put the time into thinking so deeply about something I typed up :). xx Ariana