This piece shocked me almost the point of speechlessness. It was just so different, and while that can partially be blamed on the prompt, I think you handled it brilliantly. Everything from who was ‘chosen’, to the magic not working, to the ending… it was all so thoughtfully and meticulously planned out.
One really interesting aspect of the piece was the style. I liked how it was divided into three parts - and each part held such a different tone. First, the confusion and clarification, second the mindless following, and then last: the finale, the catharsis. In the end of the second there’s just a flicker of doubt, which leads seamlessly into the last part, and the flow was great despite the dramatic turns. I also found the dates intriguing, because of how close the timeline is to the real date. It’s hard to imagine that an apocalypse would start this month, but at the same time it adds something to the piece. The slight dredge of fear that this could actually happen, and how we see it only takes a few months for the entire world to disintegrate. Another thing that I found interesting was how you incorporated the omnipotent being ordering the destruction. It melds their thoughts with what’s happening, and it’s slightly jarring at times - especially when they don’t doubt at all the voice in their heads.
Because of the Alternate Universe-ness of this fic, the characterization was interesting, particularly with the ‘Claimants’. So much thought went into choosing the characters, no matter how brief or seemingly insignificant their parts were. Romilda, the communication; Terry, the magic expert; Hermione, the brilliant; Angelina, the impulsive; and Draco, the poisoner. I especially loved how Harry wasn’t involved, because it implied that while the Claimants were the best at killing, they were also too weak to resist the voice telling them to kill. Harry, having experience with voices, was able to resist, and started the resistance.
Hermione and Draco, and their not-quite-but-almost relationship especially intrigued me. In this, Hermione is different than I’ve ever seen her: cold and calculated, compared to the normally brimming with compassion. I think her intelligence was the strongest thing tying the canon and this version together, because otherwise I was slightly concerned that this was an OC with Hermione’s name. There were some points where she cracked, particularly when talking to Draco, but I wonder how someone painted as so strong in canon fell to the voice so quickly. It was like she’d accepted it, instead of always questioning things like she did in canon. I did like how glimmers of her did slip through the control of the voice, though, because it gave slight hope that she could stop this, only to have it crushed.
My favorite character in this was probably Draco, though, because he retained the most of himself. Always aloof in canon, but it’s been proven he’ll follow orders, even if he thinks they’re wrong. It felt like book seven again, when he doesn’t want to do it, but he isn’t strong enough to take control. It justifies why he was claimed, but also what they do at the end. He’s what ties this piece together, through all of what happens. However, I was still slightly apprehensive of his relationship with Hermione. While the Hermione in this is different from canon Hermione, it still felt as if their relationship was a little forced. Even though they were thrown into this situation together, both struck me as the type to try to find a solution or finish it quickly, without worrying about things. The conversation about their children helped ‘soften’ them, so to speak, but it still felt odd. The characters you created didn’t just didn’t seem to want to feel romantically for each other. This might be strengthened strong stance against the pairing, but I think the piece could have gone without it. It was a nice addition, but it added something to an already highly complicated piece. I did enjoy the ending, though, as it definitely seemed just very ‘Draco’. He kissed her after she died, but also acknowledged that even in a different world, it wouldn’t work out. It almost felt like ‘Romeo and Juliet’, with them being the last two alive, then committing suicide. A perfectly tragic ending to the end of a tragic piece.
In terms of the prompt and the piece, the most surprising thing for me was the ‘god’, or whatever it can be called. Why, suddenly, would a voice appear in the people best equipped to exterminate the world and tell them to do it? Why would they listen? I like how you have him almost possess the Claimants, because in canon they’re (mostly) considered the ‘good guys’. I think he was the perfect antagonist, because it made the people appear to be nothing more than chess pieces, tools. He made them aware, though, and I love how that fear came through at the end, because they, too, had to die, even if they were ‘claimed’. It’s hard to incorporate a religious aspect in a piece involving magic, because of how much they clash in history, but I think you handled it well. It wasn’t worshipped; it was just an evil force controlling everyone. On that topic, I know the prompt explains why this happens, but I would have loved to actually see it in the piece. Even if it’s just a sentence or two at the beginning, explaining the corruption of the world. It would validate the piece as well as free it from having to be supported by the prompt.
There was something extra you added to the prompt that I absolutely loved: you took away the wizard’s magic. While I don’t know how that’s possible, as the roots of why magic exists is something not generally discussed, it added to the gore of this. It forced the Claimants and the Resistance to do things the ‘messy’ way: there was no way to hide the terribleness or the gore of their actions, and that highlighted how wrong the idea that this was happening. They couldn’t neatly and nicely kill with ‘Avada Kedavra’; they had to do it the most raw and primal form. I could be looking too far into this, but I liked that, how it made it seem more part of nature - like this was simply secondary succession, or evolution. To bring the earth back to its state before humans ruined it, the humans had to ruin themselves in such a primal way. That’s what I truly think made this piece so incredibly dark. It was in the violence, the mind control; d/a was woven into every fiber of it, and it’s incredible how you did that while avoiding the angst. Even at the end, the final catharsis, it’s blunt and not at all angsty. That’s what I adored about this, even as an angst writer.
Overall, it was a fabulous and original idea, and it was a pleasure reading it. :)
Author's Response: Hi Ellie,
First: WOW. Wow, wow, holy mackerel and cheeseballs, what a review! Probably the longest I’ve ever received! I am humbled and flattered and so, so, SO grateful that you took the time to leave such a wonderful and insightful comment! I wanted to craft a reply worthy of your time, which is why it’s taken me so long to get this posted. Sorry for the wait! But here it goes.
I really like to go into my writing with a plan, some sort of structure. Free-forming doesn’t typically get me anywhere, and I find that I can focus a lot more on the little details if I already know the direction I want to go in. I’m happy that I was able to surprise you with where I went with the prompt. I’ll admit, I thought I was playing it a little safe by sticking so closely to it, so to hear that you thought it was ‘different’ and ‘shocking’ and ‘brilliant’ really tickles me! :D
The three parts has to do with my compulsive need for order and structure, but yes, the separation of tone was also important. The three parts are not quite chapters to me; I more saw it like a sweeping narrative – variations on a theme – more than discrete stories within the story, if that makes any sense. I chose the timeline that I did because I wanted all of the characters to be around their 30s – just settling into a new stage of their lives, but out of all the hustle and bustle and change that can come in one’s 20s. It’s certainly convenient that it added a slight bit of unease to the piece!
It’s interesting that you think Harry started the Resistance. In my head, he was dead – had committed suicide rather than kill his loved ones. I didn’t state it in the fic because I didn’t think many people would pick up on it, or even think twice about the detail, but now I’m doubly glad I left it vague! I did choose what characters I included in this very carefully. Each of them had a role to play in the grand scheme, and each, too, would have struggled (in their own ways) with the Claimants’ takeover. Some accepted it more easily than others, and whether this was a personal weakness or a personal strength, I think, is debatable.
I can see how Hermione is OOC in this. Honestly, I’d debated warning for it, but decided against exactly because of those glimmers. Only the exceptionally strong and experienced (like Harry) could withstand the Claimants. Hermione, for all her intelligence and compassion, still doesn’t have a ton of experience dealing with voices in her head. It was unlike anything she’d ever experienced and, since it took her so off-guard, she could do nothing to prevent it or dislodge it once it settled in.
I must say, though: that I could give you hope that she could win against it and then squash that hope really makes me happy. Lol. This is a horror piece written for a horror fest, and there’s nothing more horrific than the utter loss of hope.
Draco was my favorite character in this, too, and I think the story worked better with us seeing him through Hermione’s eyes than it would have seeing the world through his eyes. The inability to escape the remains of his family and the strength to which he had attached himself to them post-War helped keep him sane. I consider him mentally and emotionally stronger than Hermione, given the crap he’d been put through as a child and a teen, and so he was a little less controlled by the Claimants. I think, too, that he was the character best suited to end it, to kill Hermione and then himself.
As to the nature of Draco and Hermione’s relationship, it was supposed to feel forced and one-sided. In order to distract the minds of the people they had claimed, the Claimants drove them to be social. When talking wasn’t enough, they drove them further. What happened between Draco and Hermione, Bill and Angelina, and Neville, Terry, and Romilda was in no way romantic or fated or beautiful. It was forced, yet another facet of their lives over which they had no control. Since humans are, by nature, social creatures, I imagine it helped them deal a little bit better with the pain they were inflicting, but it wasn’t a cure-all, and it wasn’t meant to be long-term.
I really didn’t want to get too much into the ‘why’s of the piece. Religion is a touchy subject, and it’s not one I care to read or write about. I can understand the need to know, to have an explanation, but sometimes, there just isn’t one, and I don’t have one for you now. Hahaha
Taking away magic was something I knew I wanted to include in the piece from the very start. I think it makes things much scarier, and much more personal. Sending an Avada someone’s way is easy, really. It’s impersonal, distant, and clean. Taking that option away from witches and wizards forces them to get dirty, to get blood on their hands in the most literal sense. And I don’t think you’re reading too much into the ‘evolutionary’ feel. I think that could make the argument for considering the force behind the Claimants as beneficial, or benevolent, instead of evil, in fact. Lots to think about, there.
Anyway! How’s that for a reply?! Hahaha. Thank you so much, again, for leaving such an insightful, well-crafted review. It was a pleasure to read and reply to! Sincerely,
I always love your stories! This one was definitely dark, but that was its category, so I was prepared. Your writing is brilliant. You have wonderful character development and a nice flow to your plot. Enough description to keep the reader's mental picture yet not too much where it slows down the movement of the storyline. I hope you have a new story in the works... Perhaps a Dramonie fic? Quite a few of my favorites seem to have been abandoned and I love all of yours! How's that for a lengthy review?! :-)
Author's Response: Ah, I'm so happy you liked this fic! Yes, it is definitely dark. Not my first foray into horror, but maybe one of the most effective. Even I found it chilling upon re-reading, and I wrote the darn thing! Hahaha Long answer: Funny you should ask! I do have more Dramione stories in the works. One is for a 'remix' fest which will start posting around September, so I should be able to archive it here around October/November, depending on when it finishes up. I've nearly completed another story (romance, again!) that will need to go to beta (maybe I'll post that by December-ish?) Lastly, I'm about halfway done writing a 'paranormal mystery' Dramione, but I have no idea when that'll get done. Short answer: No worries! I have not abandoned you! :D Thank you so much for reading, reviewing, and sticking with me! I know I'm not the most prolific author, but reviews like yours are really so motivating!
Not a pleasant read. I am not sure if this is really a Harry Potter fanfic.
Author's Response: Lol, I definitely wasn't going for pleasant. I wrote this fic for a 'dark' fest I participated in, so there's not much happiness, or romance, or anything that I normally write. However, I did use JKR's characters - or versions of them, at least - so it' technically does qualify as HP fanfic. ;)