This story is beautiful in so many ways. The structure, the concept of personal growth, and seeing truth in oneself through others are all wonderful engines to paint a character like Hannah, who we barely knew in canon but couldn't imagine her not being there. It's nice when she can get the nod and have a story for herself.
The vignette format worked so well for the shifting timelines, and the enumeration of them helped it read like a list of life-changing events for her, somehow amplifying their relative importance. Also, it allowed the story to span a greater amount of time so we could see how Hannah went from that shy girl with a crush on boys she thought would never look at her to the one who still had a bit of a crush but knew it wasn't the be-all-end-all. That's marvellous character development, but also a life lesson that most of us have to learn the hard way, via broken hearts and shattered dreams of true love and grandeur. In short, it anchored the life and times of a magical fictional character heavily and completely in the annals of reality.
It was lovely to watch Hannah grow throughout the story. She didn't seem to think much of herself for most of the story - thinking herself weak, too shy to be attractive, and not a brave go-getter who got what she wanted because she wouldn't let it be otherwise. It's not hard to see that she envied her mother's fire and desperately wishes she'd inherited more of it, and I think that did a number on her when her mother passed because feeling like that towards a dead person would stir up a lot of mixed feelings for someone like Hannah. In a way, I think the war helped her come to terms with how her personality differed from her mother's and from how she wished she was.
In a way, the Michael/Terry sub-plot was just as much an element of Hannah's character development as it was a device for it. There is a heavy parallel between Michael's skittishness of being outed in fourth year and Hannah's shame over her dreams of being swept away. Both of them are hiding from themselves via illusions, with Hannah fancying herself in love with the first boy who pays attention to her and Michael aligning himself with a series of beards.
It took a defining moment in rescuing Timmy from the dungeons for them to both understand what mattered: Hannah that she was strong and could be strong for someone else, and Michael that he needed Terry as much as he loved him, that depriving himself of that was hurting both of them. There's a certain symmetry to it that I can't help but appreciate.
All and all, despite the gaps in months and years between segments, this story feels very complete because it hits all the right notes for me as a reader. It tells a story about a person, about important events, and even touches on other characters' lives and makes them more vivid than even JKR's work. Moreover, it adds a different hue to the spectrum of Year 7, which is one of my favourite genres.
Well done, and thanks for sharing.
This is an interesting little fic. I was pulled in right away by the nice flow of your writing and your take on Hannah. She is actually one of my favorite characters, so I had to click on this because there just aren't alot of Hannah-centric fics appearing on the Most Recents. You've especially captured her well in those younger years, which can be hard to do (at least for me), in terms of voice. It's interesting that you chose to have her liking Neville all along, even from before the Yule Ball. I didn't always understand why Michael's love for Terry bothered so much, when she seemed at least as hung up on Neville as she was on Michael that whole time. But really, that's how it is sometimes, especially at that age, when love and crushes are confusing and you aren't really certain what you feel for who at any given time. You know? You captured that uncertainty very well. I have to commend you on the portrayal of Hannah's little brother's grief. My younger brother was actually that exact same age when we lost a parent, and those sentences could have been written about him, exactly. I share that only because I just know how validated I feel when a reader with experience shares that something I wrote bears the ring of truth. And from my perspective, that section was extremely well done and powerful. My only hesitation with the piece at all was that Hannah was so enamored with friends from other houses and there was less mention of her own friends in Hufflepuff. It's not a huge deal, really, as you don't do anything to suggest those relationships weren't there... it's just something that stuck out to me, as she is so often portrayed side-by-side with Ernie and Susan and Justin in canon. The song you used for the title is actually one of my favorite songs right now. It's not every day you see a worship song title popping up in fanfiction (haha), so I was intrigued. I can see how you sprinkled the imagery of the lyrics throughout the piece, especially in the beginning... nicely done. Nice writing on this. We need more Hannah fics in the world.
Author's Response: First off, thank you for your wonderful, constructive review! I'm glad you liked it! To answer your comments, I really wanted to show Hannah experiencing two very different kinds of love - with Neville, that kind of slow, building friendship which could turn into something more given time and with Michael, that all-consuming, burns bright and dies fast kind of first love. How you can be enamored with two people similarly for two very different reasons. Also, I didn't want Neville to be her first and only love interest. At that age, teenage love is often so messy and confusing and I'm glad it came off like that. I didn't want her pining for Michael either though, but Hannah needed to learn to accept that which she couldn't control, especially given that Michael wasn't exactly upfront to her about his feelings. Thank you, also, for your next comment. Having not personally known that kind of loss, I can only say that I wrote what I think I would feel in that situation and am glad I was able to portray it realistically and that it was able to resonate with you as the reader in some way. Since discovering Hillsong United and their song while looking for a title for the story, this song has quickly become a favourite of mine too even though I'm not religious or usually listen to worship songs. Funny, how sometimes lyrics just FIT though, and this one did, for me, instantly. -paperrose
The last two paragraphs just made this story a joy to read.
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for reviewing!