Hi, Alice. This is Vicki from Slytherin House. I read your other chapter-of-cheer We Happy Few, and decided to try this story also, since it is set in the same situation.
This is not the sort of thing I usually read, and I know that I would be utterly incapable of writing it, but I was curious to see what you were going to do with this low-action, antagonistic-banter situation and where it was going.
You have created 8,000+ words of Hermione’s thoughts interspersed with a little dialogue and descriptions of sitting outdoors in winter’s cold. At first I thought that her ruminations and little flashbacks of memory were digressions to the main line of the story, but I finally concluded that they were the story. And oddly enough, you have her thinking primarily about Draco, about his mood and his attitude, and very little about the guerrilla war that they’re all waging. And in the manner we have come to expect, Hermione over-thinks and over-analyzes everything.
In fact, the only place where her characterization is a little off for me is the sentence, “The base itself had taken her some time to put together due to her general abhorrence of instructions.” I would disagree that she abhorred instructions; in school she followed instructions closely, as in her Potions class. I think she would be more bothered by the absence of instructions, if the “Instructions For Assembly” leaflet that once accompanied the artificial Christmas tree had been lost long ago.
The story is very slow-moving, as if the freezing weather had made everything sluggish, their bodies, their minds, even the pace of the story. And given that they are in a war, there is surprisingly little action; one would have expected more. Even the recounting of the attacks on the four Mugggle villages was just Hermione’s brief recollection in her mind, and it occupied only one paragraph.
After reading your story three or four times and getting the framework (the skeleton of the plot, over which is laid the blanket of Hermione’s thoughts and minute observations of the moment) solidly in mind, I could perceive that the story made more sense. But neither character is attractive. Hermione is so depressed and discouraged, and Draco is so cynical. He seems to be taking out his frustrations about the war by verbally harassing and needling Hermione. By choice he had no friends, preferring to consider that everyone on his side of the conflict was a moron, including, we presume, Hermione. And that is why his sudden change of mood/attitude/behavior at the end seems inexplicable. The last half-dozen paragraphs outline Draco’s apparent change of mood, as perceived by Hermione, but I still don’t see why. Yes, Hermione has told him the story about the Christmas Truce during World War One, but until this point his preference is to reject all her ideas, even to the point of saying that “agreeing to disagree” is the sign of losing an argument. This is what makes the ending not completely satisfying for me.
Still, your story is skillfully written, with sentences that work well and good word choices. I will have to read some of your other stories also, to see if this talent has also produced something more lighthearted.
Favourite story of 2013! Ah it was soooo good! The hurt, comfort, so well-written, such detailed emotions, such passion, so consuming! I died! This will be my go-to story for a while--I just know it! Ahhhhh
Another great story. I actually read "We Happy Few" when you first published it. I really enjoyed and noticed the undercurrents of Hermione and Draco's relationship in that fic (even though it really wasn't a romance). This little vignette was a nice companion to that story. I really enjoy your writing, it has a lot of depth. Please don't forget about "The Runaway". I still check all the time for your updates!! Hope all is well and you had a lovely holiday.