love it. :)
Author's Response: Thank you! :)
Author's Response: Thanks! :)
I think it was probably inevitable that I was going to enjoy this story, Natalie, because it slots perfectly onto the niche of my absolute favourite type of story: rarepairs with minor characters who are damaged by the events of DH. I've read a lot of stories in that vein, but yet you've managed to do something very new and fresh here that I haven't seen before.
I haven't encountered a damaged Ernie before, and so I found your take on him here particularly interesting. I suppose I always saw him as the sort of person who is pretty resilient and would just plod on through life, so it was a bit of a revelation to see just how damaged he could be, and made me reassess my take on his character. I really liked the way you made his decline quite so passive. It highlighted how different he is to the Gryffindors who so often seem to be so much more explosive in the way in which they fail to cope in these sorts of stories. They are all action, even if that action is self-destructive, whereas with Ernie, it all about his lack of action and the way he just stops and doesn't do anything other than just go through the motions of life.
I think you sum it up perfectly when you say he'd 'purposefully grown apart' from Justin and Hannah: he's not pushed them away or run away himself, but instead he's just sort of allowed things to slide. I think your phrasing there paints a very sad and believable picture of how a Hufflepuff could fall apart in the aftermath of DH.
I suppose the only thing I found myself wishing was explored a little further (and it's probably only because I really do love backstory) was what it was exactly that drove Ernie to this state. You mention him seeing people dying, which is clearly going to mess with his head, but I just found myself wondering why he seemed so much worse affected by it than his friends, who were also there but didn't seem to understand his decline. I know the story was more about his state of mind by this stage rather than how he'd got there, but I just felt like I was missing a little bit of a connection between where he is and how the battle took him to this point.
With Mandy on the other hand , I could really see how her scars had affected her. At first I assumed that her blunt brashness was just the way she was, but when her vulnerability started to appear, I began to wonder if part of that was a defence mechanism. Ernie's the more obviously damaged of the two (at least on a non-physical level), but I got the impression that perhaps Mandy is really just as much of a mess; it's just that she's much more adept at finding her feelings and doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve like Ernie.
I don't think I've ever read anything with Mandy as more than a supporting cameo, but you managed to develop her so well here that I found myself really caring about her as a character.
One little thing I did notice though is that where you have Ernie's speech being a little more stilted and formal to bring out his pomposity, that occasionally seems to bleed across into Mandy's speech too and it doesn't seem to suit her general demeanour quite so much. Like for example here: “I was unaware of the group’s existence during fifth year.” It just seems to sit a tiny touch awkwardly against the casual tone that she has most of the time.
Something else, beyond the characters, that I found refreshing was the subtlety of the ending. I thought it was great how you didn't fall into the sex-and/or-love-fixes-everything cliche and instead had something much deeper and more complex happening. I loved the way that it seemed that what happened between them was more about Ernie trying to help her accept her scars than about the sheer physicality of it and how that act of doing something for someone else unlocked that dormant Hufflepuff side to him and brought him back to himself.
I really did enjoy this story, Natalie dear. I think I'll have to start working my way through some of your other stories (there's a fair few to choose from after all!)
Author's Response: I love this review, which is why I have been kicking myself for not responding. D: I guess I just wanted to do it when my mind was unburdened. : ) When I got CA’s prompt for the Badgery Swap, I was very disappointed. Ernie is a character I’ve never felt much for mainly because his pomposity kills a lot of things for me. Then again, that was the very thing which motivated me to write the story from such an angle. Mandy could have been any random character, but not from Slytherin (didn’t want to make things further complicated) or Hufflepuff (which I found to be a basic choice). It was when Jess suggested Lisa Turpin that I gravitated towards Ravenclaw. I just found the name “Mandy Brocklehurst” more suitable for the character I had in mind, so it was her in the end. But as I started writing, I got so comfortable with the pairing and the characters. It was tricky to give a story like this to Ernie because he always appeared somewhat resilient to me in the books. I didn’t much go into the background because I didn’t want a lot of explanation in the beginning. But I guess I should have delved more into it. You’re right about the speech issue. I will reread Mandy’s dialogue and reshape them to suit her overall characterization more. Thanks for catching them! And it’s good to know the ending was more subtle, and the sex not overbearing. I can’t believe I resisted writing explicit smut heehee. I’m so happy you read and reviewed my story, Hannah! I feel honoured really. :D
I loved it! Wonderful story, Natalie. I am once again in awe of your ability to tell the minor characters' stories. Mandy Brocklehurst? Never heard of her, and now I love her. And what a beautiful job you've done of humanizing Ernie. He was a bit of a prat in the books, but he's so damaged here one can't help but feel sympathy for him.
The dialogue was great, and their lovemaking as a form of healing was perfectly done. But my favorite part? The mirror. Not only its wisecracks, but how you started and ended with it, and took us on a journey in between. Really well structured.
Fabulous story, dear. *hugs* ~Gina :)
Author's Response: You remember how difficult I found the prompt at first, don’t you? Ernie…is such a perfect picture of ‘unromantic’ that I had to dedicate a few angry AIM statuses to him. SO – I am relieved and happy to know you liked how I wrote him here. You’re one of those people whose opinion I value because you never shy away from criticism. : ) The mirror was my favourite part, too! Thanks for reading and reviewing. <333 ~Natalie
I think you know my opinion of this story, but I guess it doesn't do any harm reiterating it.
And here's why ...
Not only have you made Ernie come alive and stop being the pompous twit of the books, but you've created a great girl with Mandy. I LOVE the explanation as to why she wasn't asked to be in DA. OF COURSE there would have been DE relatives in other houses, that never gets explained. Then there's your phrasing - 'You're a poo.' That just made me giggle so much. It's such a childish term, but it so suits the piece and it really made me smile. (I'm trying to think whether I suggested it and am hoping I did, but probably it was your idea.) I also giggled that Ernie was 'almost a virgin' ha ha ha. Poor old Ernie, possibly not quite sure if it actually happened.
Ha ha ha ha ha - to the wizarding/witching world gag that seems to have become our pet peeve du jour (or du ans if I'm honest) Was that just for me, or does it annoy you, too?
(I do agree with the rating query. I don't think this should be 1st-2nd - 3rd-5th or possibly 6th-7th.)
Just a wonderful story and I hope it gets the reads and reviews it deserves despite being about Ernie and someone who for all intents and purposes is an OC.
Amazing. Fantastic. Write more - always! ~Carole~
Author's Response: Yay for Mandy! I think she’s one of my better OC’s. I do like non-weepy girls who have a smart mouth. Actually, you inspired the “Poo” insult. LOL! You often use it during our chats and it really fitted Mandy for some reason. As for the wizarding/witching thingy, I have wondered about it before, mainly because I usually wince whenever I have to use “man” while writing. You know, when we often use “man” for “human”…which should be huwuman now, lol. But it was your vehemence which made me think about it a bit more passionately. I have changed the rating – it is now erd-5th. Dunno what I was thinking leaving it open to the innocents lol. Thanks for the read and review – always! ~Natalie
Author's Response: Yay! ~Natalie
like it alot.
like it alot.
Author's Response: Thank you! ~Natalie
Natalie, I liked this so much. Mandy is such a likeable, and well-developed character. I liked the reveal with her scars but also the strength we see in her: she has been though much, and even weeps, but she is tough and somehow, not weepy, if that makes sense.
Your Ernie is different than mine, but he is still just wonderful. I love the darkness and the uncertainty and even the apathy... but that these things can be redeemed.
Really nice one-shot. I enjoyed the read.
Author's Response: My Ernie went a bit dark D: I thought it would be a nice twist as what we see of him in the books is neither at dark or apathetic. I wanted to see how that would play out. The only thing I was worried about was OOC-ness, which is why I left a few things in the fic which would still make him sound like the pompous Puff he really is in canon. I am so happy you read and revieweed, Lori! You’re one of the fanfic authors and I enjoy and respect the most. ~Natalie
i really liked this actually. it was interesting to see from ernies' perspective and from the perspective of someone who hadnt really been introduced before in the books. i found it refreshing though.
just one thing, though: im not sure if this would be ok for a first or second year reader to read, maybe a 3rd-5th year, but thats just my opinion. you can take it with a grain of salt. i thought the dialogue was very witty and smartly paced, and it made it that much more enjoyable for me. good job, and i hope u add more to it. :D
Author's Response: I do agree with you on the ratings – it really isn’t suited for 1st-2nd years. I have edited that part. Thanks! I am also glad to know you enjoyed it. I do like experimenting with new pairings which exclusively involve minor characters. : ) ~Natalie