Ooh, Dean and Lavender. Not a pairing I've considered much, but you sold me on it here. I think it likely that Lavender would crash after the war, even without Seamus' death (I will forgive you for this, eventually, haha), so that fit well. I like the way you implied that there were feelings between them that lasted somehow from the Yule Ball all the way up to 7th year. It was believable, for sure, but I wondered how Ron fit into all of that. I can certainly understand why you chose not to go there in this one-shot, but the conversation in Dean's living room would have occurred only a couple of months after her and Ron's break-up, so I was just curious about all of that... especially when she was tempted to run away with Dean. Complicated, and I think that's a good thing. The hearts of 16 year olds are complicated, for certain. The part at the Yule Ball where she hurt Dean by walking past him to Seamus felt just a bit off to me, as I think Dean would have known long before that about her saying yes to Seamus. I think even Ron and Harry knew that in canon, so Dean (as the best friend) surely would, don't you think? But that's a small issue and certainly didnt' hinder my enjoyment of the story. I'm glad this ended well for them, though I think it could have gone either way. But I like Lavender and want to see her come around from the devastation of the war. I hate to think of her never trusting anyone again, not with someone like Dean there. As always, your writing is lovely. Interesting structure as well, which I thought added to the power of the story. I enjoyed reading! ~Lori
Hello Hannah :)
I should probably start by confessing that I almost never review Professors-rated fics, as I'm really not that good at writing coherently about the smutty stuff. However, when I enjoyed the fic so much, it seemed unfair not to review it! I never really thought of Lavender and Dean as a possible couple in the aftermath of war ‚Ä“ Seamus always seemed the likely one ‚Ä“ but now I can't quite imagine it being otherwise.
I guess a large part of why this worked so well for me is how you structured the plot. I loved the back story you created around the Yule Ball ‚Ä“ it fitted in very smoothly with canon, and worked very well at setting up Dean and Lavender's later relationship, I though. All that hurt and disappointment so early on helped me to make sense of their later, dysfunctional relationship, and when you add the scars of the war, I almost wonder how they ever arrived at their happy ending.
Sandwiching that between the italicised, present-time section made it even more effective. Right through, I was hoping and hoping that things would work out happily for Lavender, even before I really knew what was happening. The more I read, at least initially, the less likely that seemed. Even without the constant suspense of waiting to find out what Lavender was doing, waiting for him, and whether that would work out, I was constantly on tenterhooks to see where their relationship would go. The plot was just so well paced, and I don't think you could possibly have structured it more effectively.
Another thing that really drew me into the story was your characterisation of Lavender. In the opening, the situation you put her in wasn't one that initially fitted with my idea of her, so of course I was intrigued. After how she was in her relationship with Ron, I couldn't quite imagine her being so cruel to a lover that he would yell like that. By the time it was all explained, I couldn't quite imagine her being any other way. I loved how almost cowardly she was about her feelings for a lot of the fic ‚Ä“ even Gryffindors struggle with some things, however confident they might try to seem. But in the end, her Gryffindor side won out with that massive declaration, sharing everything with Dean like that. It was heart-warming and it gave me so much hope for her, for them.
Dean, too, I loved. Even though you never directly told us his thoughts, I felt like I really understood him. That was largely because Lavender understood him, I suppose, but what I thought was great was that you managed to show more than that. I felt like I could read him better than she could at times, which is amazing considering we're in her head. His fear when he was about to go on the run seemed so obvious to me ‚Ä“ I wish she had seemed to consciously understand that a bit better, although I do think it was kind of unfair of him to expect her to go with him.
Then, to just make this fic even more perfect, there was your lovely, lovely prose. Sometimes, it was such tiny touches in your prose that seemed to reveal so much to me. There was the way you said the scars ‚Äúgraced‚ÄĚ Lavender's skin, and all of a sudden her bitterness hit home to me. In fact, the sensuality of that scene as a whole had a strong effect on me ‚Ä“ it finally solidified their feelings for each other in my head, and I felt like I absolutely understood what was at stake.
The bleak setting of that warehouse scene worked really well for me, too. Initially, in the last section, I found myself nervous on Lavender's behalf, and that image of an ‚Äúemptiness, broken only by the bare walls‚ÄĚ intensified everything I felt for her. Then, when things were looking up, it seemed like the perfect place for them to make a fresh start: an empty room to build a new relationship from. These might seem like small touches in the scheme of the story, but for me, they really make a difference in bringing it to life.
You played my emotions brilliantly throughout this fic and I feel very invested in your characters. I'd love to see a sequel, to see if happiness was really possible for them in spite of dysfunctional past. Well done!
Hannah- I really enjoyed this story. I love how you can say so much by saying so little- you don't give us any access to Dean's thoughts, except through Lavender, but its very clear how he feels towards and about her throughout the story. Also the moments you've chosen to show their relationship and the way in which its changed, were very well picked out, None of them felt unnecessary, or dragged, and all were pertinent to the relationship you were exploring.
But what I loved most was your characterisation. I thought Lavender's reaction, to being 15 and getting asked to the ball, to not being quite able to deal with Dean having to run (although I also think it was unfair of him to have asked her to join him), and then the possibility that Dean and Seamus would die. I do however *think* that Seamus is seen talking to someone after the battle in the book, so that isn't quite canon, but I'm not sure (sorry) and the way you describe Lavender's emotions at the wake are very well done.
I must admit, when Dean interrupted Lavender and the guy I thought exactly what Lavender thought, but I liked the way his conversation showed he cared for her very deeply, and the idea that through one friend dying, and another not being able to deal with it well, he was losing both, was very poignant. I also liked the way you contrasted Lavender sleeping around, and Dean's running, and different ways of dealing with the events of the battle.
You are very good at writing sex scenes (I've said this about the Bookshop Owner's Gift). They are very sensual and the language you use is very original. I absolutely adore the description "his fingers ghosting instead across the pale, peach silk and tracing her scars beneath it like a man denied sight". It's just stunning. And very realistic of Lavender that given how uncomfortable she is with her scarred body, she'd want to remain in control.
As the flaws in their relationship, of Dean wanting more and Lavender being unwilling to give it, you showed their arguments, and the different sides, very well. In fact I don't think I sympathised with one over the other, as both had valid reasons for behaving in the way they did, which is a very difficult trick to pull off, but you did. The reconciliation scene, and them opening the gallery is a very romantic idea (although from first-hand experience I know this doesn't always work).
The one thing I would say (and its a very minor nitpick) is the forward slash in "t's an art gallery / or at least it will be.". It just didn't sound right in speech, and was rather jolting, given how good your dialogue had been up to this point. Also (and I know this isn't your fault) but the question mark symbols are annoying. If they have replaced a dash then by breaking the dash up- so it looks like this: -- will, hopefully, get rid of them (it does in my docs). Anyway Hannah, lovely story-Alex