Interesting story. I loved your portrayal of Seamus and Pansy and how you allowed the story to end with hope. The society Seamus joined seemed reminiscent of the Red Circle or the Valley of Fear from Sherlock Holmes... don't know if you intended it that way. Very well written all around!
First off, a huge apology for not reviewing this so much earlier than this – I really should have been here ages ago telling you how much I loved this story, but I am useless and I’m sorry.
Anyway, on to more important matters, thank you so much for this story – I love it – it was just what I wanted – the perfect plot-filled angst but not so depressing that it left me feeling miserable or without hope.
The opening just broke my heart. I felt so awful for Seamus – his reaction seems so natural and so believable for everything they had been through. It makes complete sense that the battle would have left people damaged in this way. I think this line just summed it up perfectly: They weren't heroes... any of them; they'd all just muddled though as best they could — little more than kids and stuck in the middle of something bigger than all of them. It’s so true – no matter how well they coped with an awful situation, it didn’t change the fact that they were all just school kids and therefore had no real clue what they were doing. At the same time, however, they were old enough to really appreciate the true horror of the situation and be left scarred by it.
I really liked how you focused on the darker effects of the war. Of course, they won, but in canon we never really get to see much of the injured or those whose friends and families died and you’ve portrayed the emotions of these people really well. You also really effectively showed quite how differently different people react to the same situation, from Neville and his focus on joining the Aurors to catch the remaining Death Eaters, to Lavender, so scarred by the attack on her that she won’t even leave the house and yet still does not condone Seamus’ actions, recognising how little they can change anything, and then Michael at the other end of the scale, furious that people on the wrong side get to keep living their lives unscathed while some of the winners were so damaged, or even dead.
I found the way you explored Seamus’ motives for joining Michael’s gang interesting. I feel like he genuinely believed he was doing the right thing for his friends but I think Lavender was right when she suggested he was only doing it to make himself feel better. This was another really effective moment, It's like they're winning because they are destroying you, too because it really brought home quite how damaged Seamus was by the war and how it was continuing to damage him, even though it was supposedly over.
I can sympathise with Seamus and his need to do something to make him feel like he’s making a difference. And I think it’s good that he realises quite quickly that the things he’s doing aren’t really have the effect he went into it for. It keeps him true to his character – he wants to make a difference, but he is still able to recognise when the things they’re doing are getting out of hand. Not matter how angry he is, he still knows where to draw the line. He gets the most satisfaction at the end, by doing something good, than he was ever able to take from trashing gardens.
I liked the way you used Dean in his coma, to provide a narrative of what had been going on. I think it worked better than trying to show every single event as it happened and built up a picture quite quickly of the type of people involved in the gang and how it changed from starting off as a few fairly petty crimes to something a lot more serious. It was a good technique and helped drive the story. I think it was better that Dean couldn’t respond so that the section didn’t get bogged down in dialogue or arguments but was more of an internal narrative from Seamus.
The Pansy/Seamus interaction was also well done. Seamus was able to know that he didn’t want to be involved in hurting her, but at the same time, it didn’t mean he had to like her. I liked the way he constantly addressed her as Princess, and that she wasn’t about to fall into his arms and be grateful to him for saving her. The way you characterised her was also interesting, and I particularly liked her reasoning for wanting to give up Harry to Voldemort. It showed her to be more calculating (like a true Slytherin) than simply evil, wanting Harry to die. It was almost the same reasoning Harry himself used when going into the forest – there was no point in letting more people die than was necessary, except for Pansy she saw Voldemort’s victory as the inevitable result.
Your ending made me smile, particularly this: "There's no talking sense into you bloody Gryffindors is there?". I just think it was a great, slightly more light-hearted ending to Seamus and Pansy’s conversation.
You really managed to inspire a feeling of hope by the end. The beginning had been so hopeless that it seemed impossible to think that Seamus might be able to pick himself up, but from the moment he began to doubt the actions of the gang, I could tell that the real Seamus still existed and that eventually he was going to come through and do the right thing – it just took him some time to figure it out.
There is nothing that wasn’t great about this fic – the characterisation was brilliant – no matter how fleeting a reference a character got, it was always believable. I particularly liked Lavender – unable to cope with the stares and attention she got when leaving the house, but still a sensible presence in Seamus’ life, able to see that revenge was not the answer to any of their problems. The structure, and the pacing both worked really well and I was drawn into the story from beginning to end – it was a great read.
This was great! I have added it to my favorites--I haven't read something this good in a long time. I thought all characters were extremely well-characterized, especially Pansy. Seamus seemed extremely believable as well. Probably one of the best depictions of the post-war wizarding world I have seen; both plausible and surprising, and in my opinion, that is one of the most important components of any good story. It had both plot and drama, like you said it wanted too. There was never a dull moment reading this, and the ending satisfied me. The only thing I would change is a few typos and grammatical errors, but they don't really matter too much when the story is as good as this.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I always find it hard to believe that the war will have magically solved everything, just because Voldemort's gone, so it seems a lot more fitting to me that people will be damaged and things will be messed up.
for the love of Helga's bosom
I chuckled at that, it was a well placed humorous touch to lighten the tension. You fulfilled your "plotty with a bit of drama" aim admirably, making it easy to believe the Auror and MLE offices would have to deal with vigilantism after the war. Seamus talking to Dean was poignant, and while Pansy isn't a likable character in the books, you show her in a better light. At the end, are you hinting at a possible Seamus/Pansy romance in the future, a prior Seamus/Lavender romance, or both? Is that the reason for the "full circle" last line?
I do have a question about the flashback. The story seems to be third person limited, Seamus' pov, but the flashback slips from his pov to Hannah's--or is the entire flashback omniscient narrator?
In the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta H.M.S. Pinafore, a silly captain sings, "Never mind the why and wherefore," which is the opposite of writers. We want to know the why and wherefore. That doesn't mean people will always tell us, but I choose to live in hope. ^_~
Author's Response: Thanks for the review, Paige.
I think with that line, I've spent a little too much time chatting to Jess!
Damn it! I thought I'd successfully curbed my muse's impulse to always head towards ships and succeeded in writing gen, but clearly some hints of where my muse wanted to go slipped in. If I'd not been writing this as a gift and so let my muse have free rein, there would have been a failing relationship between Lavender and Seamus, being torn apart by Seamus' choices, and Seamus and Pansy would have probably spent the night snowed in in hay barn.
Hmmm, I'll have to have another look at the point of view and see what's going on there.
This was really good. Your characterisation of Seamus was great, and I was quite impressed with Pansy too. The whole revenge idea was great, and I could see how easily Seamus could buy into it considering what the war had done to him.
The ending line was beautiful, and in general I thought this was really well-written - especially the parts when Seamus was talking to a comatose Dean, so basically we were just reading Seamus' thoughts spelled out.
I was wondering - was Fletcher in anyway connected to Mundungus? Personally I didn't think Mundungus was quite like this in the books... too much of a coward... but it's probably just a coincidence with the naming.
Anyway, loved this fic!!
Author's Response: Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed. My beta deserves a lot of credit for keeping me in line with Seamus' characterisation. I'm glad that you thought the parts talking to Dean worked, because I wanted to find a way to get Seamus' thoughts out without it becoming too introspective, and it's easier to be honest with someone who can't answer back. As for Fletcher, I actually missed the link completely, but maybe it's a relative. ;)