I read your story through a few times to completely understand all that you were saying. This is a great story, and it deserves more reviews. It does a good job of describing a girl who wasn't malicious, but just doing what she had to do to survive. The series of vignettes establishes her careful attempts to balance her mother's advice, her place in the social milieu of Slytherin House, and her own repressed need for love.
It is posited in this story that after Draco betrays Pansy (in her mind) by marrying someone else, she decides that she wants to take revenge on him. It is a little hard for me to understand why she has this reaction. True, she hoped that after the war he would come back to her by default (having no other friends), but when he does not, why does she react so strongly? Because without him she has no future (paying job, dingy flat, nights in clubs drinking, nothing like the status she was born into, no respectable man with money to feed and clothe her)? Or because she wanted him so badly that she began to believe that it was guaranteed she would have him? My father used to remind me and my siblings that "Wantin' ain't gittin'", and I quote that wisdom often.
It is amusing to read Pansy's wild fantasies about how she might take revenge, including something as ridiculous as abducting Draco's baby. But she shows her cunning nature, which has gone far beyond mere survival now, in the elaborate plan to have Draco make a fool of himself with a prostitute in front of his wife. When at the last minute Pansy doesn't go through with her plan, what is she thinking? Sympathy for Astoria? For the baby, which whom she suddenly identifies?
There is a subtlety to this story that invites re-reading and pondering. A lot is suggested in a few sentences here and there. Well-written.
Lovisa--when I validated this, I thought it was excellent. Pansy is such a hard character to get right, but I think you manage it so well, without whitewashing the --to put it frankly--b**** she is the books, but making the reasons behind that understandable.
I think this story is excellent in being characterisation focussed but also having a clear narrative. The moments you choose to show us, highlight exactly how Pansy feels about the situation, and why her world view is the depressing one it is. I also love the way that each section has it’s own distinctive character, without the transitions between those sections feeling awkward. I think the main way you’ve managed this is through the present tense, which you control brilliantly. It never feels forced, and gives us simultaneously Pansy’s thoughts, and her assessing her life at that stage. I think this works particularly well in that the first section provides the ground rules as to why she, at the age of eleven, had a rather Machiavellian mind-set in her approach to school society and Draco.
The dynamics between Daphne and Pansy are so well presented. That’s such a childish, school girl assertion of power--choosing the bed, and such a perfect way of encapsulating how Pansy got her position as the Slytherin queen. However the main relationship is the one with Draco, however you don’t make it about Draco. You manage to make it about Pansy and her relationship with him, without him dominating the narrative. That doesn’t really make sense, but with romantic narratives it’s so easy to make the focus on the man the main factor, whereas here it’s about Pansy dealing with her emotions. THe way she manages herself according to what he believes is so sad, when she says, “But she keeps her distance, because she believes that’s how he wants her - on his arm, not in his heart.” and then later finds him in her heart, but not her in his.
The way she’s been haunted by the life she might have had, and what her mother’s taught her about how to use men to manage a life, rather than be someone in her own right is so painfully sad. And that Pansy acknowledges that life at Hogwarts is not the same as life outside, and her domination over people will end.
She wants to ask him what’s wrong, but she can’t, because then, he’ll know that she still cares about him, and then she has lost. If only, if only he’d come to her… this line is so sad. I love how you don’t say she’s in love with him, but it’s obvious that she is at this point. I find it interesting the distinction between love and need, and when you take us into her thoughts about how obvious it is, and how he’s too self-obsessed at that moment to see it, and so they have sex and then that’s it. Your tone shows that she knows it’s ending--there’s a sombreness about it which is so sad. This line She’s the size of his feet on the floor. is so absolutely perfect.
I like her presentation of Astoria as being everything Pansy is not, and that in some ways she can see why he and Astoria fit more together than she and him can. I think it’s interesting that she can see that, but her love is selfish and she can’t let him be happy. I think these lines To be able to move on from the hurt, she has to convince herself that the day will come when he will be begging for anything that resembles the perfect life he has now. So that’s what she does. She can’t seem to find the energy to scheme, but she tells herself that, whenever an opportunity presents itself, she will be ready. exemplify her Slytherin-ness, even more so than before. She’s willing to wait, and take comfort in the knowledge that she WILL get revenge one day. And because you’ve made the reader (or at least, me) sympathise with Pansy so much, that I almost want her to have revenge, even though it’s wrong. In a way, she’s gone beyond help now, and the last, somewhat flawed, attempt to get Draco back, is doomed to fall on his feet, with such irony that in her attempt to break their relationship, she strengthens it.
The ending, I think, was interesting. I found it slightly rushed however. Pansy and Draco have been the focus, rather than Pansy and her mother, though you make it clear that it’s important that her relationship with her mother made her what she is. There’s no sense of where her mother is in relation to her throughout the story, and maybe mentioning that the knowledge that her mother isn’t there to help her, or what she was doing, would make this surprisingly, but realistic attempt at maturity, more supported by the rest of the story. I hope that makes sense. It just felt like it needed more detail and explanation.
But overall this is far too squeey. I loved this story, and am adding it to favourites immediately.
Wow, my first SPEW-review. I'm honoured. This is definitely the most in-depth review I've ever received and, of course, you know as well as I how happy it makes us to know that someone's not only read but actually understood what we were trying to say. Thank you.
We know almost all of the teenage couples in HP ended up starting families, Pansy and Draco being one of very few exceptions. I think, many times people assume that it was Pansy who left Draco when the extent of his involvement with the DEs became known, because Pansy only wanted him to share his glory but I don't think that's the only possibility. I've always liked exploring the aspect of class in HP, because usually it seems like people assume that all Pureblood families are filthy rich- apart from the Weasleys, of course. The idea for this came from that. And I do think it's believable that a girl who has lost everything early in life and then been taught by her mother to never let her true feelings show, might develop a cruel side in order to stay in control.
I'm glad you like the present tense. I've always thought it often comes off sounding awkward and I don't think I've used it before, but it came naturally to me when writing the drabbles, so I stuck with it even though I considered changing it.
I've always found it very weird that not more people comment on the fact that the sister of Draco's future wife was in his (and therefore Pansy's) class. I think that if Pansy was in love with Draco, that must have been hard for her. It is stated in the books that Pansy is the ringleader of the girls, so I wanted to make it clear that all of them respect her even though people like Daphne gain more and more power when they get older. I do think Daphne and Pansy were good friends, but that Pansy was perhaps too self-conscious for the relationship to develop properly.
It's funny that you mention how the story is about Pansy's feelings rather than the Pansy/Draco relationship, because I thought about submitting this in the Romance category (possibly Draco/OC) and then I realized that this is not a romance. It's about dealing with emotions, like you said."
I must admit that I stole the line "She's the size of his feet on the floor." It's from a song by Laakso, a Swedish band. The song's called Once Again Late At Night and the line goes; "I'll leave you the size of my feet in the snow when I go." It was one of my favourite bands when I was 17. But thanks, anyway :).
I think that in many ways, Draco is the product of a over-protective mother and a father who doesn't give him enough attention. It sounds corny, but I think he needs *love*, simple, happy love and I think he gets that with Astoria. Sadly, I think Pansy is a bit too much like him to give him that. I'm glad you commented on the Slytherin-ness, because that was something I was very conscious about.
I agree with you on that the ending is rushed. I was thinking of ending with Pansy walking away from the café, but then I thought it needed a coda. I thought showing a more caring side to Pansy (cooking for the old mum) might show the reader how she is different when she doesn't need to play a role and mask herself, but you're right that it isn't very clear. I also wanted to make the parallel between Pansy and her mother who both fell in love men that they originally wanted for their status, then ended up falling for them, realizing that they were much harder to be with than they thought. The difference between them is that Pansy's mother still won't acknowledge that she actually loved a very flawed man (which would be a "double" weakness, to her.) It certainly wasn't as clear as I intended, but at the same time I wanted to leave things open for interpretation.
I hope what I've written makes any sense. I have no idea how long this response became, I lost myself to typing. Sorry :P But thank you, a million times, again for this review. I can't stress enough how happy it made me.