I used to write.
There is no love between them; there is only passion and burning desire.
But for Susan, this is enough. She has loved and lost before, and she can’t handle losing again.
The lust is much easier to deal with.
* Originally written for the What a Pair SPEW Drabble Challenge.
Nominated for a 2012 Quicksilver Quill Award - Best Same Sex Pairing.
Ariana- this is going to be a brief review (sorry) but I just had to say how utterly brilliant this was. I would wait until next month to review it for SPEW but, honestly, its so flawless that I can't think of anything critical to say (talking of SPEW- you don't mention in the summary that it WON. Which you should :) ). From the start the emotions and tensions are at a a very high point, and you retain that pain but also vulnerability throughout. And I love the additions (or in all likelihood things that had to be cut for length) to the drabble- like that twist at the end with it not just being Susan's way of dealing with Theo, but her way of getting revenge on him. I love how concise and perfect your writing is- the lines "Theo has changed her and he has broken her. He chose Daphne – but Daphne chose Susan.
And this is Susan’s way to break him, no matter how much it aches inside.
" In particularly. Anyway- sorry for such a brief/ awful review but that was just brilliant. Alex
Author's Response: Squee! Thanks so much for the lovely review, Alex! I am very happy you liked it; I was a little obsessed with Daphne while writing it so I'm glad that a plot actually formed somewhere along the way :). This is *not* how I'm hoping the Susan/Theo relationship would go, but all the same it was fun to write and to cough up the unedited version. Thanks again! xx Ariana
Note: due to a site glitch, I have reduced the rating of this story to 3rd-5th years. This is still a 6th-7th years-rated fic. Read at your own discretion.
Hello! I really enjoyed your story, and how you took two canon characters and portrayed them and their non-canon relationship very well, so thought I'd leave a review :)
I found the first line slightly strange, however, because I think hospitals are glum places but I found Neville's reasoning very interesting, as well as revealing about him. "He couldn’t think of anything more depressing than faking being happy" shows that he finds fakery rather depressing, more so than death or the illness of his parents. The phrase "more to keep an uneasy silence from forming than from a need to know the private details of his friend’s life" also shows Neville's dislike of awkwardness, and not wishing to pry. However its nice that Harry, from the first moment he appears, very obviously needs to be with someone, or even talk with someone, and that Neville recognises this, when it says “The pain and bitterness in those words lanced straight through Neville’s chest”.
You write dialogue very well, and Neville and Harry’s awkwardness but also sympathy with each other, comes across, particularly with the hesitancy of this line: “There’s not much I can say, except that the last two years...well, I have some small idea of what it must feel like.” as well as the kindness of the sentiment expressed. I found the shift between this awkwardness to “the sudden intense desire to not be left alone with one’s thoughts” rather sudden, though I realise that’s how Neville and Harry both feel.
However, your description is also good. I liked the phrase “the clouds bleached with sunlight but hoarding it for themselves, the leftover light providing poor contrast among the grays and browns that made up the stones and buildings of the city” is such a beautiful description of the city. However I thought the phrase “They weren’t clouds that threatened rain; Neville thought he might have died of melodrama if they had been.” was somewhat over the top, as the phrase “might have died” is in itself melodramatic, whereas Neville doesn’t come across as melodramatic. You also use the word “sidewalk” which is rather American, and also occasionally you use too many saids in a row, although admittedly not very often.
The detail about Neville’s accommodation, was good, particularly in contrast to Grimmauld Place, however Harry’s line “It’s yours,” Harry responded, pulling off his jacket. “And it wasn’t just handed to you. You...earn it. I wish I could have that…satisfaction.” He bit his lip and flushed slightly. “I sound like a poor little rich boy, don’t I?” This did not strike me as very Harry-ish, as you’ve never felt he’s had a chip on his shoulder about his wealth. He’s felt awkward about his wealth in comparison to Ron, but given that he hadn’t had any parents, I think he’d feel comfortable in his wealth. However on the whole, I think, for a story which is essentially rather domestic, in terms of just two lost people finding each other, your dialogue is very IC. I liked the ‘banter’ between them and the way that Neville is “relieved Harry had picked up the banter to get them past that bit of awkwardness”.
I also like the way you don’t reveal too much about what happened to Ginny. The focus on your story is Harry and Neville, and since presumably both characters know about Ginny it would be awkward and slow down the narrative to explain further. By having them meet in the ward and exchange horror stories about what’s happening, and subtly having a sort of top trumps over whose hardest done by, was a very clever way of putting these very different, but both heroic, characters on the same level. I think Harry, as Harry sometimes does being not as sensitive as many characters, takes this slightly too far, and Neville realises it, hence his outburst, which seemed very realistic.
However I think one of my favourite things about this story was the way you had Neville think “They were both of them wounded, both of them desperate for something to hold onto to keep them from drowning. They were both vulnerable and very much alone in a world that was too busy celebrating their accomplishments to realize what they’d had to sacrifice.” and then say, after the kiss, “But I’m damned willing to pretend that I am if doing that again helps half as much as it just did.” ...“We’re two…very lost and lonely friends who are in a very exclusive position to understand one another almost perfectly. And we’ve got a rare opportunity to offer comfort and let out tension that doesn’t hinge on breaking down into tears and hating the world.”
Sorry to throw your own writing at you but I think the change and the clarification in his ideas between thinking and then vocalising them is very well done, as it moves from being about the individual to being about how they can help it. I don’t mind smut/ more explicit sexual situations but I actually thought your ending of “The stove beneath the tea kettle went out again, as though fully aware that its services would no longer be required this afternoon.” was incredibly witty, and ending a story with a melancholy tone on a very light note. Overall I thought this was a very good story, and I enjoyed reading it very much. I’d love to read more of your work- Alex
Author's Response: I don't know what I've done to deserve such a fantastic, thoughtful, critical, and illuminating review, but I thank you for it from the very bottom of my heart. I am truly flattered that you spent the time not only to read my work, but also compose a review that not only praises me, but also contains advice to help me improve as a writer. Thank you so much!
I will admit I am at a severe disadvantage, both my beta and myself having been raised on American English. I try to catch my missteps but some things are just so mundanely colloquial that there's no mention of them in the typical Britpick guides. Thank you for pointing out the use of "sidewalk;" you'll notice that it's been corrected to "pavement" in the story.
I am always so glad to hear that readers think I keep Harry and Neville (Neville in particular) in character. There is always the risk in same-sex pairings, since canon must be twisted just so, that one character or the other becomes something alien to the reader. It delights me to hear that readers think I keep everything believable, while still managing to tell a story so very far outside of canon.
Once again, thank you so much for this lovely review. If you do find time to peruse my other work, I hope you'll find it equally as enjoyable.
Nominated for Best General Story in the 2012 Quicksilver Quills Awards
Hello Minna. I’ve recently become interested in Founders, and so was really intrigued to read your take on them, particularly with such a title.
I think dialogue was a really good way to start this piece, because with Historical (fiction as well as fanfiction) I think there’s always a tendency to feel as though you have to set the setting well, and establish you are In The Past, which can be rather alienating and you successfully avoid throughout the story as in the setting never dominates your characterisation or plot. I love the way the statement “He wears only a slight smile, but she reads impatience in his movements and eagerness burning in his eyes” shows the reader not only Salazar, but also how well Helga knows him, establishing the sense of, at the very least, friendship, between them very quickly. I also love your characterisation of Helga, with her ironic comment, ”Only” which immediately prevents her from falling into the jolly cook from a fairy tale type that I’ve read one too many Helga’s cast as. The sneaky fact that Helga knew all along, and wanted to see what it was like. I also love, however, her honesty with Godric about it, which is very sweet.
I think your characterisation of Salazar and Godric’s friendship, that of intellectuals but then as their conversation goes on, to reveal the emotional attachment they have, is also excellent. You play with the reader over whether you’re going to pair Helga with Godric or Salazar very well- comments like “Nothing incriminating,” could refer to Salazar’s emotions, or something Godric’s told him, and as the story goes on the reader realises it refers to both. I think it is also a testament to the strength of Godric and Salazar’s friendship that Godric is willing to trust Salazar (even if he doesn’t know the exact details) with his face. I found the expression “the product of an old and tricky bit of spellwork” slightly off-putting. I think it makes sense that the polyjuice potion might not have been invented at that point, but aside from potions, we get no sense of spells having a particular age attached to them, and therefore the ‘old’ seemed somewhat redundant. Godric is by far the character you develop least in this story, and I think he might have played a more important role possibly, as the hints you give about him are rather stereotypically Gryffindor rather than being specifically Godric, or rather, as Salazar sees him, as we never get Godric’s point of view. I do love the phrase impulsive, stupid and completely in character. particularly the irony of Godric in reality being too afraid that Helga won’t reciprocate to kiss her in his own stead.
I think the last scene between Helga and Salazar is beautifully done. From the first moment Helga speaks, you know, maybe due to the confessional atmosphere you quickly develop by describing the cosiness, and that no-one else is there, that she has something to reveal to Salazar, and from then on the lead up to the kiss is quick, and their dialogue flirtatious, but never forced.
I think one thing I especially like in this story is that things are hinted at, but not fully developed. For example, when you explore Helga and then Salazar’s memories, you clearly have a strong idea of the events in the Founders’ timeline (the hints about Salazar covered in blood and grime, Rowena’s father’s house as well as the mention that Godric and Helga’s relationship lasted two years, are particularly tantalising) which helps ground the story and make the reader trust the narrative all the more. I think the present tense greatly helps this, though it may not have worked with a longer story, in providing the sense of immediacy, having few flashbacks and only stating what is pertinent to what is happening in the moment. It’s also a rather unusual tense to use, which can feel forced, but here never does.
Earlier I said I felt that Godric could be developed more, as the structure of the story does feel somewhat - lopsided. I think you could possibly make the first two scenes one, and then your story would be bordered by two longer scenes, with two short scenes in the middle, which would give it a more balanced feel. Like you could have Helga and Salazar at the river straight away, and Helga worrying about the weeding, but being there to help Salazar, and then specify that its a way to call for friends, and Helga’s memory of Salazar’s background, before he goes on to talk about its similarity with Legilimency. I hope that makes sense.
I have very few nitpicks, other than the fact that a few times a “br” has been replaced by a “p”- I think this is part of the problems MNFF is having at the moment, but this happens at “but he can’t ping himself to care” and ”their dream is pought to life” as well as “He raises an eyepow” and ”her pown eyes sparkling in the firelight”. I hope that helps :)
Overall, if you haven’t been able to tell, I really loved this story. It had a lightness and optimism about it, without seeming contrived, and giving an interesting story with strong characters within a very short amount of words, which I think is lovely. Alex
Author's Response: Oh, my, Alex, thank you so much for the gargantuan review. This was such a nice surprise. =D (Hmm this reminds me, I need to read your Founder’s Era sometime…I’m behind on my Potterverse reading and especially my FE reading).
I think dialogue was a really good way to start this piece, because with Historical (fiction as well as fanfiction) I think there’s always a tendency to feel as though you have to set the setting well, and establish you are In The Past, which can be rather alienating
Ugh I started this fic about four times – it was going to be a different thing at first, I think, and mutated as I kept restarting it – and trying to establish setting was just – grr, so I decided to do something light where I didn’t have to give a lot of information.
As for Helga’s characterization, the jolly cook stereotype (…which I’ve not run into because I’ve been too busy planning my Founders’ headcanon to actually read much Founders fic) sounds like complete nonsense. I mean…she was one of the greatest witches and wizards of the age. No one ever said anything about “the three greatest wizards and witch and that one chick who likes to cook” so I assume she’s clever just like the rest of them. And it tickles me to imagine her with just a bit of slyness in with her people skills.
-cough- The “old and tricky bit of spellwork” was just me going “go away logic, I just want to get on with the story.” >.> I really should have fixed that a bit before posting, I just…really suck at editing my own fics apparently. I think I called it old because maybe if it was old/esoteric then it might make sense for it to have been forgotten by Harry’s time…?
Also agreeing with you that my portrayal of Godric could have used some work. I honestly had very little worked out about him at the time and am still a bit vague on the details of both him and Rowena. He probably could have stood to have a little more presence in the story as well, and poor Rowena just had passing mentions. I think the aspect of the friendship between Godric and Salazar really suffered with my need to rush and get the fic to its eventual Helga/Salazar conclusion (I was working under a deadline and I think it was quite close at the time). Which is sad, because I like to think they have a bromance type thing going (...that sounds weird applied to medieval people) and I definitely need to write more about them, though I probably won’t do it justice. I think the lesson learned here is that I need to edit fics better, especially challenge ones – think about things besides just getting the SPAG right.
I think the last scene between Helga and Salazar is beautifully done[…]their dialogue flirtatious, but never forced.
Can I just like…hug you right now. I have so much trouble with writing romance and especially with the concept of flirting/flirtatiousness. That scene makes me especially self-conscious because a few people commented about Salazar’s awkwardness there. >.> (Not here, at the comm where the exchange was).
For example, when you explore Helga and then Salazar’s memories, you clearly have a strong idea of the events in the Founders’ timeline (the hints about Salazar covered in blood and grime, Rowena’s father’s house as well as the mention that Godric and Helga’s relationship lasted two years, are particularly tantalising) which helps ground the story and make the reader trust the narrative all the more.
I’m glad that helped rather than detracted. I kind of worried about having snatches of their pasts without explaining further, but I didn’t want to bog down a rather light fic with explanations. As to the present tense…the fic just sort of came out that way, and honestly I keep reverting to present tense mid-fic even now. >.> I need to get off this kick.
By the way, the issues with brs turning to ps was probably me fixing some issue with formatting on lj and clicking “replace all” rather than an archive issue. Ooops, not doing that again. I will fix it as soon as the edit box stops threatening to turn all my quotation marks into question mark icons.
Um, is that all? Probably. I’m awful at review responses, but I’m really glad you enjoyed the fic, Alex. And, wow, I know I said this before, but this was a very lovely review. Thank you! <3
Natalie! That was so gorgeous- its amazing that for the first two chapters I didn't know whether I wanted Dominique to be with Maudie (who is lovely) or Lakshmi, and didn't know what exactly Dominique wanted. And in this chapter (I loved Dominique arguing with Turner about the job) as romantic and beautiful Lakshmi and Dominique dancing in the rain was, the second Dominique siad, "Maudie," suddenly brought back the reality of her being in love with her now, rather than in love with her first love, if that makes sense, and was a surprise to her as well as the reader. And for a moment I thought that Dominique was not going to tell Maudie, and therefore leave problems for later, and was so glad when she did, even though it hurt her to do so. It shows how much she loved her.
I spotted the LOTR line :) I'm quite pleased with myself for that, though its a mark of how good your writing is that the fact I noticed didn't detract from the quality/ emotions of your story at that point. Argh I don't know what else to say, except that last scene with Maudie and Dominique was just so beautiful, the dialogue especially, and I loved the last few lines. This whole story was stunning- Deathlex.
Author's Response: Deathlex!
Natalie- sorry this is going to be another short, incoherent review but that was lovely. I love how beautifully calm the first scene with Dominique and Maudie is. It's very romantic, but also sad, and I love the idea of stopping time and you can sense Dominique's confusion. And then you're into the two weeks earlier, and I just loved the idea of the swans. It was so random, but also so amusing, and then when we realised about it being Lakshmi's gran's, before Dominique did, was excellently done.
Maudie, Dominique and Lakshmi all come across so well, and your writing is lovely. The idea of Lakshmi trying to help Dominique, and Dominique being angry because she wanted to be promoted through her own work, was very real, and fleshed out their characters wonderfully. THe one bit of the story that dragged, for me, was in chapter two with David and Dominique's conversation. When David appeared in chapter 1, you put a good sense of him across, particularly considering his small appearance, but in the second it just seemed a bit- as if it could have been done with indirect speech, rather than in dialogue. But that is a minor point. I really can't wait for the next chapter, and am really looking forward to seeing how the relationships in your story work out. Thank you (and sorry for this incoherent review)- Alex
Author's Response: You know what, I think you are right about that section with Merton. I was unsure of it myself. (This is why you must always get a beta-reader, I suppose D:) Anyway, I will tighten my writing in the next chapter. :D Thank you for reading and reviewing, Alex! I hope you enjoy the rest.
This story has also been nominated for a 2012 Quicksilver Quill: Best Non-Canon Romance Story.
Jess- that was lovely. As usual for you, it was beautifully written, but this story also had a lovely romantic quality, about the possibility of redemption and forgiveness, as well as the growing friendship between two people affected by the war in very different ways.
Their dialogue was lovely, the spite and fear on both sides at the start, moving to begrudging respect and then finally being able to meet on equal terms. I loved the image of the tangerine and the ribbon, as well as the way the lines "He tasted of citrus and chocolate and something secret" and the final line bringing the story to a beautiful close.
Hehe, I'm surprised you went for this story. It's a bit on the fluffy side in comparison of my normal fare, but I like a good redemption tale, as well as some deserved forgiveness. I never was on board with demonising the Slytherins for not staying for the battle. With the pre-existing emnity other houses held for them, it was only good sense. I think Harry would understand that after some thought.
Anyway, lovely visiting with you, and I'm glad you enjoyed the story. :D
Oh Jess, this is too brilliant. I love your snarky Pansy (and the doctor who joke with “Well, it’s bigger on the inside!”) and your slightly world-weary post-war Harry, who is rather sweet when it finally comes home to Pansy that her father was dead. I thought you did an excellent job of her characterisation--I love how vain and bitchy she is when hgetting ready to go out, how Daddy's girl-y, but then shows some common-sense when hiding, and her thoughts also jump to her mother very quickly once at the Ministry.
And witch meets punks :) Although I would say that most punks I know (well, I don't know any but see around) tend to quite like being looked at/ are incredibly polite- but maybe Harry's just saying that to freak Pansy out :) I liked her response to the thought of kissing Harry, when that's obviously where this is going....;) You've got a typo "After the First Wizarding World" where you mean war, not world. One thing I love about your stories is how quickly the tone changes- silly partying girl, to girl upset, to the sadness of "they were Ginny's"...Anyway straight onto the next chapter I think and lovely story :) Alex
I love writing Harry in the role of a damaged war veteran, and pairing him with a snarky, self-absorbed girl is almost a sure way to make him forget his other troubles and spend his time being annoyed/attracted to her. I'm glad you approve.
As I have the focus of a squirrel in a bait shop, I need a variety of emotions and situations when I write pairing fic. I find it necessary in order to legitimise the pairing I'm writing by throwing in some various forms of adversity.
I'm glad you got the Who joke. Only one other person so far got it (Gina), so it's a nice little nugget I'm glad you spotted, hehe.
Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you're engjoying it!
Jess! That was lovely :) Your characterisation of both of them was spot on, though I liked how this was all from Pansy's point of view. I also quite like the fact that Harry knew it was a trick from the start, but let Pansy, at least for a bit, walk into it, very like Dumbledore did with Harry when he realised Moody was an imposter.
The phrase "His expression was bizarrely uncharacteristic to the point where he looked nearly orgasmic." made me laugh out loud, though I did wonder, given how little Pansy knows him, the extent to which she'd think it uncharacteristic-unusual perhaps instead.
I also liked the way Pansy was sure something was wrong, but was kind of confused as to whether it was because there was something wrong with Dawlish, or that she wanted to be with Harry.
I loved how Pansy was brave, and snarky, and I also liked how she Disarmed Runcorn as well, and her joke about the paperwork and the handcuffs!. And, as you know, I'm not too keen on premature declarations of love, but I liked the hint of a greater intimacy beyond sex at the end. It was very nicely done :)
Anyway lovely story, Jess, which I really enjoyed reading. Alex
I didn't want to rob Pansy of what made her innately Slytherin, which was good instinct and an ability to spot potential danger. She could definitely tell that something was awry, even if she wasn't sure right away what it could've been. This is one of those occasions were her horrific seventh year Dark Arts education came in handy.
The story had to end on a note of bonding. I was going to choose emotional bonding overy physical, but being as greedy as I am, I decided I wanted both. Though Harry's words say a different thing, he really did care about her (as evidenced by his comment about never wanting to kill someone so badly in his life).
Anyway, while this was a departure from what I normally write, I sort of have a soft spot for this pairing now. It's fresh and fun and chockfull of possibilities. Thanks for riding along! :D
Oh Carole, this was lovely. I really enjoyed the way you started with a general description of Christmas which was not overly sentimental, whilst still being heart-warming, and then going into Dean's specific memories of the day. The way you paralled the football-playing with Gary, and the football playing with Ted was also very neat. Ditto with the bacon.
I liked how realistic the story was. These strangers who needed each other for support had their friction with each other, their disputes, and misubderstandings, but ultimately were there for each other, particularly the scary moment when they think Ted is trying to go home.
Dean was incredibly well-felshed out- I liked the way every detail was pertinent to how he was feeling - thinking about Harry, Ginny and his family, for example. And his drawings of Ted's family was such a lovely idea.
I also liked the gentle humour. It wasn't laugh out loud funny, but the idea of wizards getting confused by football, and also the joke about the stables leavened the general awfulness of their situation-I also liked the stubborness of the fact they'd rather be there than in Azkaban. that says a lot that, after several months, their spirit hasn't been broken, but there's also the underlying sadness that we know Ted doesn't survive :(. Anyway-beautifully written as always and lovely story- Alex
Author's Response: Thank you very much. I have to admit the temptation to be overly ironic with Ted to foreshadow his death threatened to take hold in this story but I resisted largely because I wanted something a bit different. Ditto making it an exciting fight to death type story which may have been better to read, but didn't fit with what I actually wanted, which was a look at how boring their life could be on the run.
Plus I like Spurs and wanted Ted to be a fan - ha ha. Seriously, when I think of football in my house, a large part of our holiday is planned around which football match husband and son are going to watch on Boxing day, so it seemed natural that Dean would have been to Boxing day matches and would miss it.
Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks again ~Carole~
Carole-this was so good. As you know, I probably shouldn't have read this, but I'm very glad I did as it's excellent. I sympathise a lot with Molly, and so quickly, and I liked the way Aaron was rather sweet even before Molly really noticed him, if that makes sense. Barnabas was a sh*t from the first mention of him, and I liked Molly shouting at him. While it's horrific what he was trying to do to her, and lucky that Aaron heard and could stop it, I liked the fact Aaron said that if he hadn't been there, someone else would have, or Molly would have fought him off. It empowers her, rather than making her weak and helpless, if that makes sense.
I love how smoothly the ducks/swans imagery fits into your story, and I LOVED the mention of Dominique. And yes, Audrey is awful. I liked the way Kingsley talked to her, and the way he talked about Percy--it was interesting to see him as the next Minister. And, of course, I loved the mention of Dominique. I don't think I ever reviewed Stars Or Carousels, which is one of my favourites of yours, but will try to rectify that. If I don't review this now, the same thing might happen.
I love the last few paragraphs in particularly, and how much clarity Molly has gained from her experience. And the last paragraph is a beautiful image, and I love the way you Potter-ise it smoothly, without that seeming clumsy.
I can't wait for the next update. Alex x
Author's Response: YAY!!! thank youuuu. I don;t deserve such a fabulous review as I'm so so behind on my flist reading/reviewing. But ♥ anyway. Glad you like Molly - poor love. Yes, I empowered her because whilst she might not be as forthright as other members of her family, I don;t want her to be perceived as a wimp. She wouldn't have lasted as Kingsley's secretary if she hadn't had a bit of fight in her. And, yeah, she would have totally fought very very hard against Barnabas if he'd gone any further - I feel sure of that.
I find it difficult to resist the urge of writing more characters into my stories, so there are a few more Weasleys and some other old favourites in chapter 2.
Thank you, once again. Now, GET BACK TO YOUR REVISION, WOMAN!!!!!
“But if you’d like to come around to fetch the ring, then you’re more than welcome. I dropped it behind the summerhouse, so I imagine it’s still there.”
I love Molly. I love how quietly determined, and thorough and sensible she is, even if she was caught up in Barnabas’ whirl somewhat. I really loved the part where she thought about how she was going to deal with Hebe, and thought ”I could ruin you”. It was a darker but stronger side to her, that she had the knowledge that she had that power, but was content in just the knowledge of it. And I love Molly Weasley Senior--she’s my go-to when a next-gen character is angry with her/his life too, and I think it’s very realistic that she’d occupy that position. And I liked the way she immediately said she’d never liked Barnabas. Also- Charlie has decided not to marry! I’m not sure whether I love him or Aaron more in this story (and his gf has a lovely name).
Your characterisation of the minor characters (to your story that is) was uniformly good, although I was thrown a bit by McGonagall saying “His eyes were far too close together, which is never a good sign.” Just she’s always struck me as a highly rational person, so that didn’t quite make sense.
But Aaron-ah what a sweetheart. And you saw him in a pub! No age gap problem for me....I love the way he is obviously very, very attracted to her, but is consciously trying not to pressurise her/ trying to take things slowly to suit her, and very aware of how uncomfortable she might be given how they, really, first met. And I love it that he doesn’t like swans (I never have--they’ve always struck me as arrogant/ one broke my best friend’s leg when she was five). I also like that when he says ”This could be a Muggle photograph” it’s clearly something he respects, and he appreciates the value of both types of photography- a bit like liking both colour ad black and white films.
I loved the bra strap. You mention Aaron stopping when in chapter one when he notices the strap of her dress is torn and here you mention it when they’re making out, but it’s not loaded with the same awfulness as it is in chapter one. And the pearl imagery as well was beautiful. I also liked the emphasis on taking it slowly (their relationship, if not the sex which I’m sure most readers, and Aaron and Molly, were very glad they didn’t take slowly) in contrast to Barnabas insisting on marriage/ proposing after such a short time.
Anyway, I loved this story. Best of luck with the challenge and thank you :) Alex
Author's Response: Thank youuuuuu.
Actually, I kind of agree with you about McGonagall, because she sounds more like Aunt Muriel in that section. I'm thinking she's less rational as she's got older and more inclined to say what she wants rather than be tactful, but the line isn;t quite her, unless I think up some other way of explaining it. I shall ponder, so ta lots.
Swans are evil. They do look so beautiful but I remember being terrified when I was told to stay away because they could break your arm. When I go to our local pond, I always try to feed the ducks first (geese scare me as well - ha!)
yes, the Aaron-a-like was in London last night - heh heh. I wanted to take a picture, but that might have looked a tad stalkery *snigger*. I know the sex wasn't being taken slowly, but sometimes that type of thing (uncontrollable lust) just happens.
Molly snr is full of no nonsense advice and I'm sure she'd be a lot less strict with her grandchildren so, yeah, go-to grownup in my book too. And Charlie is a lovegod. Ha ha - I'm glad we both like him. Hmm, him not marrying isn't just down to him. Darnnit, I need to write my follow up to Mirrors. It's Penelope Clearwater that he's with, in case you didn't know.
This is very late. I am so, so sorry. I read this when you first published it, and think it’s very good, so it’s sad it has no reviews. This is me trying to rectify that :)
Viktor is quite a rare character to read about in fanfic, and we always see him through Harry’s eyes, so he is a difficult character to get right. I think your strength here is that you stick to and yet expand upon the knowledge of him in canon, and make him very real. I love the detail about Romania, and the food--it really grounds you in his environment.
I knew this was George/Viktor and so the appearance of George in the pub did not surprise me. It is one of the easiest ways to get two unlikely people together--get them drunk, but I think you write their initial interaction well. It’s very interesting seeing George through someone else’s eyes, and also rather sad. I think the way Viktor so powerfully remembers how damaged the Weasleys were, and also later that he’s found them vaguely attractive because of their confidence, and George’s comment: “But we’re not a whole family anymore,” all emphasise the damage that the Weasleys have suffered in this war, and you show that damage through George. Although alcohol is an excellent ice breaker, I do think it would have been interesting to see the dialogue between them in the interval between that first drink, and the last orders--whether it was awkward, what Viktor could possibly say, given he’s broadly fine, and George is most certainly not. When they’re both drunk, I think your dialogue, however, is excellent. I don’t know whether this was intentional, but the line about the pub being nearly empty at closing time, and those that were there not taking last orders, made me laugh and become very, very aware that they were not in Britain. However given the lengths you go to to emphasise this, I also think it would be interesting to find out what Viktor thought of the war generally, and Europe’s lack of involvement in a British domestic crisis, perhaps while he is sober and George is not.
Like I said earlier, the main strength of this story, is your characterisation. I thought Viktor dealing with a drunk George showed his kindness and nobility very well, even if sleeping with George was very much a mistake. I do think his attraction to George could have been emphasised slightly more, though--I realise George makes the first move, but there’s no hint of Viktor feeling anything for him until that moment, and if someone you’d been platonic towards suddenly kisses you, I think it’s more realistic to back away, rather than return the kiss. And although the kiss was written well, I think there was little sense of sexual attraction, and though they slept together, they, from the next morning onwards, seemed rather platonic for each other. I realise this was written for a swap, but I think in a way, it would have been more powerful had they not slept together, as you don’t get much of a sense of attraction from Viktor to George.
I also think that this could have worked as two chapters. There’s a very clear divide between Viktor and George sleeping together, and the morning after, and I think emphasising that divide, whether with a line break or a new chapter, would make the structure of your story clearer, but it’s up to you. Also, I think this story would be more attention grabbing in a way, if it was written in a non-linear manner. This may be personal preference, but I think there are several points in this story where you could have started it, then explained how Viktor and George reached that point, before continuing on with the story, but if you prefer linear stories that makes sense :)
Viktor’s confusion was very well written, and also his dialogue. I think it would have been wrong to shy away from his accent, when he speaks English to George, so well done on writing that, and it not being cliche. I did find the conversation where Viktor convinces him to go home to his family a little--forced. I think it would have been interesting to spend a bit more time in Viktor’s head so we know why he feels so strongly about this. You mention him going to have Christmas with his family earlier, but it’s phrased more like a chore, rather than something he feels very strongly about, and it would be interesting to see why he takes it upon himself to convince a stranger to do the right thing.
I love Molly :) ““But you’re home, and that’s what matters. “ is such a lovely line, which confirms what Viktor has been telling him and what George, in his heart of hearts, knows. And the comparison between that and Viktor’s reception at home, was very beautifully done, and even to someone as cynical as me, had a lovely Christmas spirit. I love the sense of their families which you create in so few words--the mention of Ron spending the morning with the Grangers, and Charlie’s girlfriend, both really fleshed out your post-Hogwarts world.
This was an excellently written and very well-characterised story for Viktor and George, even though I think the sexual attraction was rather brief and the dynamic between them more interesting as a platonic one, rather than a sexual one, I really enjoyed reading it. I hope my comments/ suggestions make sense. I hope it gets more reviews, because it deserves them. Alex
Gina, this story is beautiful. It’s rather simple in terms of plot, but shows a great depth of characterisation in a very short space of time, and you feel the emotions both James and Remus feel at that moment, as well as what they have previously felt, very powerfully.
I think the style you used, that of the present tense, was spot on for this story. I think the present tense works best when it is one long, sustained scene, and it certainly worked brilliantly here. I also loved the way you immediately grounded the reader within the setting, using absolutely beautiful imagery like:illuminating the lawn as if setting the stage for a dance of pixies and dust Which also gives your story an other-worldly quality, which befits what James experiences at this moment, as if it’s outside his normal life. I also love the phrase: late summer breeze whispers on the wind, which while poetic, also gives a sense of several sorts of breezes, and while James’ state of mind is rather pensive, the outside environment is, while not noisy, not silent either.
Your characterisation of James, and Remus, is excellent, but particularly James. His thoughts feel very real, and I love the way the pond acts as a conduit for memories of his childhood, and how distant he now is from it. I also think it’s realistic that his friends tried to talk him out of marriage--he is very young to be getting married, and I think it’s natural at that age (or even slightly older) for men to feel their friendship being threatened by the sudden importance of a woman in James life. The idea of him being nervous about the domestic and the war, and giving them equal weighting, is very clever, and realistic in that both are of importance to him. This continues throughout the story, including the moment at the end when he says to Remus that there’s a woman out there for him. Whilst I disagree with this idea, I do think given James fell in love at a young age that he would believe this, and it fitted with him perfectly.
And onto Remus. He was also very well characterised, particularly his jokes about ‘my inner wolf’, and how it was noted by James that it was unusual for Remus to do that. A sense of humour can help with very difficult situations, but I think it’s much easier for James, Peter and Sirius to see that, than for Remus to do so, and so it was a nice touch. Likewise, I liked Remus’ joke about hexing off James’ ‘bits’ off, and how this was also an unusually crude, but not so unusual for James to be shocked or surprised at it, sort of comment for him to make. As well as being very funny, it also linked Remus’ denial about his feelings for James with his denial, or at least battle with, his lycanthropy.
The dialogue in this was also very good. I loved the wizarding slang you used, like ‘kneazled’, and it just fitted in very seamlessly. I loved the banter, although I would say James’ comment about sleeping with Lily before marriage not being ‘legal’ was a bit odd- maybe ‘not with her father's blessing’ or something like that, would fit better, though it’s a tad more convoluted. My favourite line of dialogue, however, was Remus’ line: "Because the answer you'll give me is different than what you'd tell the others, and I just wanted to know." The fact that the potential of forever scares Remus (and, I also think, Peter and Sirius) shows James as, in a way, being far more mature than they are. It also shows the difference between the friendship James has with Remus, and the friendship he has with Sirius, in that while one may not be better than the other, with Sirius he would need to feel more masculine, and maybe live up to Sirius’ expectations of him, rather than his own. It was a very beautiful and concise way of demonstrating their friendship.
This may be rather over-flowing with (very deserved) praise, but I do have one criticism. This may be because I have a --thing--about italicised flashbacks--to me they always look clumsy, and unfortunately this is no exception. The change to italics somewhat disrupts the very lovely flow of your story, and I also feel that, particularly since this is mainly in the present tense, that it was completely unnecessary. I hope this doesn’t seem too harsh, but I think as long as you use the pluperfect for the first few sentences, then you pretty much wouldn’t have to change a word of it, and I think it would improve your flow.
The flashback itself, however, was beautifully written. I think it’s particularly notable that Remus and James seemed definitely more childlike/ teenagerish than at the beginning and end of your story, emphasising just how much they had matured in a rather short time. I liked how organic and natural the moment was--it wasn’t forced, as such, by either of them, but just happened, and once it had happened, they both went along with it. I particularly like the lines: And he had no idea if it was right, or if Remus was thinking the same thing, until Remus stepped closer, and they both knew in that moment, when another spark seemed to pass between them, that it was okay. I love James’ inner monlogue here- his uncertainty and yet sudden desire, are very realistic, and in character. My only minor nitpick would be that you could cut the word ‘seemed’ because it’s pretty obvious to both that there is a spark, and therefore not necessary.
I love the way that they were both thinking about the same moment- you have it in James’ mind, but then it is Remus who mentions it (and where you to not italicise the flashback, the switch to the present tense would alert the reader that you were back to the present. I love the way that they both accept what happened between them, but are not awkward about it, using very little narration. My final, and incredibly minor, nitpick is the use of the word ‘again’ in the final sentence. Throughout the story, they’ve never felt anything other than best friends, and so the implication that they at some point were not through me off somewhat. However, that’s a minor point. What I love about this story is that you explored their relationship, particularly in the last part, all through dialogue and the occasional expression. Normally bare dialogue is something of a peeve of mine, but here it was entirely suited to the subtle relationship you were exploring between the two men. Excellent story Gina-and I’m glad after an awkward first try, it worked out so beautifully. Alex.
Minna-that was beautiful. I remember you saying on the LS that your original idea was for Flitwick to fall in love with a portrait, which in itself is intriguing, but the plot you have here is incredibly elegant. Time-travel is something of a cliche, but the way you use it here is wonderful. I think it's very realistic that Rowena, in her experimentation, would at some point over-reach herself, and therefore for her to be trapped in a situation like this, over which she has no control, strikes true, when most fan-fics dealing with time travel do not.
I may be wrong, but the description of her as The Woman, seemed very- Sherlockian, and made me instantly imagine Rowena to look like Irene Adler/ Lara Pulver. Likewise, this story reminded me slightly of the Doctor Who episode The Girl In The Fireplace. You have used the idea of a relationship developing between one character about whom everything is known by the other, very intriguingly.
I also love the way your story is broadly linear. You start with Pain, which is such a shock in what is, given it's challenge, ostensibly a romance, and end with a different sort of pain, in "it feels like death." However throughout, as the relationship develops between them, there's a lightness to your writing which is very expressive, and at some times humorous, like when you say: "He grows little, but he changes much. " which made me smile.
The imagery of the tide, the lack of control Rowena has, and, until the end, the cyclical nature of it, is also very well done. I also love the fact that there;s no explanation for why she is tied to Flitwick--it's a quirk of magic, destiny, or chance, and that's all there is to it. The ending line, as I said earlier, is very poignant, and for a such short story there's real depth to the emotions here. Lovely story Minna--Alex
Author's Response: Thank you for the review, Alex! Yes, the original plan was portrait romance, but it was turning out too difficult - oddly time travel wasn't hard at all. It does seem the kind of thing Rowena would do - get caught up in magic that's too much even for her. And "the Woman" was a deliberate reference; I was feeling a bit silly. It didn't occur to me to picture Rowena as Lara Pulver but that works perfectly, actually - may have to keep that in mind if I ever want a banner of this. O.o I'm rubbish at responding to these, but I'm very glad you enjoyed the story, and the review made me happy. =)
This is going to be short, but that was very silly and very funny. Gilderoy was an arse, and Sybil was also rather pathetic and silly, but yet you felt sorry for her, which is a credit to your writing. And I'm glad you found inspiration from Kaliq :) For a second though, I thought Sybil was writing it :O
I also loved the way you integrated the darker events of CoS into what is a silly story. Although Sybil is wrong most of the time, she does make some prophecies, and the way those interrupted (thankfully in the fantastically awkward sex-well, almost-scene at the end) the story was really well used.
And I loved the way you drew minor characters so well. I think I may ship Charity/Septima now.....anyway, very amusing :) Alex
Author's Response: Thank youuuuu, Yeah, I sort of think about Charity/Septima now. Trouble is I shipped Charity with Myron Wagtail (lead singer of the Weird Sisters in Teenage Witch and Septima was seeing a wizard called Gerard Bonbon, (it was a bit silly ... can you guess).
This was going to be a straight forward farce but there were dark things a slithering round Hogwarts an I couldn;t not ignore them - especially as Sybil does occasionally get things right.
Glad you liked 'Amir' - Kara thinks I've found my calling in life - ha ha ha. ~Carole~
I'd forgotten you were writing this story in two POVs, but I liked the way you did it. I also liked the non-linearity--the way you give us a little more of that scene, but from Demelza's perspective, and then go back and show all the events we've already seen with Tracey, but with Demelza. I don't know how you manage it, but this isn't boring, and I think. if you didn't have this story in the first person, it would be.
There are so many good things in this story. The image of teh Easter Egg was so sad, and I loved Demelza's line: Davis, a Slytherin girl, who hexed me in detention. Tracey, who saved me from Amycus Carrow. Gobstones champion and Quidditch fan. I also liked the fact she lied to the DA--it just made it feel like she wanted to keep Tracey for herslf, particularly when it sounds like they're sharing everything, the dangers and the secrets, of rebelling within the castle together. Privacy becomes more important.
And Drew is a right sh*t. When he said "Dykey Davis" in the last chapter I didn't like him, but this practically blackmailing of Demelza, and stroking her cheek while he does it, is just awful. I don't quite understand what rumours there can be about Tracey though-her interactions with the other Slytherins in earlier chapters don't imply that there's something 'wrong' (from their perspective, obviously not in reality) about her, so it didn't feel as though it quite fitted.
But that's a minor nitpick. I really, really can't wait for the next chapter, and to see how you tie this all up (I'm assuming there's another chapter? It feels like it needs one, if there isn't, though I know you're pressed for the word limit) or a sequel then! Alex
Author's Response: Helllooooo, thank you for the review. OHH, now, the thing about the rumours with Tracey isn;t explicitly stated. If they were strong rumours then Demelza would have heard them, but really it was more a fact of Drew (in the way that teenage boys and older do) decide that any female who doesn't have a boyfriend must be gay.Plus he's such a git he probably liked the alliteration of 'Dykey Davis' - and yeah I hated writing that line but it was IC for him (and again a large majority of teenage boys *sigh*) I will take a look at it though and see if I can tighten that up - so thank youuuu.
The reason I stuck with first person even though I hated it was exactly for the reason you stated. I needed it to be more personal and internalised. Use of third just didn't seem to work. I do find this a hard POV to write, even though it makes SSP easier - ha ha ha. I Needed the present tense, too, because I knew I had the opening scene of this chapter in my plan.
OH! The relief that you liked the non-linear bit of this chapter. I really did debate whether to chop it because I was worried people would get confused as to the time shift, but ... I REALLY wanted the chapter to open with the last line of the second chapter - it had been uppermost in my mind plan.
Thank you so so much for your review(s) ~Croll~
Carole-this will, again, be short, but I loved this. I think the present tense works really well, and smoothly, but more than that the first person does. You don't tell us much, but show us a lot about Tracey through this, from her whispered and unheard apology, to her desire to be liked, and to the hints of her attraction to women. I liked the interactions with Pansy as well--I love the idea of Tracey telling her she fancied Malfoy just to be rid of her/ get out, and the joke about the broomstick. That made me smile :)
But even if I didn't know this was Demelza/Tracey based, the hints at Tracey being gay are very subtle. Anyway, sorry for brevity, but this was very enjoyable. I look forward to the next chapter very much! Alex
Author's Response: *collapses in wibbling heap* Thank youuuuu. I was so worried about this POV and tense - as you know - so ♥ for reassuring me. ~Carole~
Hello Carole--I know this isn't your favourite story of yours at the moment, and that I talked about it with you a bit on AIM, but I think it's shocking that the final chapter has no reviews, and think I promised to come by anyway.
I think, out of the stories of yours I've read for the challenge, this suffered most in having to keep to the word limit, and the deadline. However that does not make it bad. You take two characters, about whom we know next to nothing, and make us care about them incredibly quickly. This is done very elegantly, and the first person really aids this, with their backstories fitting in smoothly and their characters really coming across. I'm very fond of Tracey :) She's such a Slytherin, (“Does Kirke make you feel like this, Melz?” she says. ha,) but also a bit besotted with Demelza, and a good person, which you know is kind of my weakness. Their dialogue, the way they interact with each other, the development from strangers to lovers, is so well done. I love the simplicity of Demelza's realisation at the beginning of this chapter--it made me want to reread it from Tracey's pov again (which I did) and the way you had the two accounts worked brilliantly, and couldn't have worked had this been in the third person. I know first person isn't your favourite POV but you do write it well :)
I think the problem with this story, was the ending. Maybe it's my essential DA-ness, but I really, really wnated to see what happened come the battle. That's such a pivotal moment in canon, and given you are working with little canon knowledge of what was happening at Hogwarts at the time, it's a nice moment to use, as well as one which would incite powerful emotions in both. I'd love to see whether their relationship lasted that long--and into the Carrows being harder on the DA post-Michael Corner being beaten up and nearly dying (I *think* that's what happened). I know you intended to write this, before word limits got in the way, but please, please once you've recovered, do, either as an epilogue or a sequel. I'd love to read it. Also, as a minor crit, the going back into Tracey's POV at the end threw me somewhat. Just you'd been so neat so far about having two chapters Tracey, then two chapters Demelza, that is offended my sense of symmetry, ha. It may have worked better extended slightly, as an epilogue, but then there was the word limit :(
This was a really interesting story, Carole, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. You may not be able to look at it atm, but I definitely enjoyed it, and thanks for writing it. Alex
Author's Response: I think you've hit on my dissatisfaction with the fic. Whilst this is an ending of sorts, it wasn;t the ending I had in mind when I first started writing. Maybe if I hadn;t written from two POVs then I could have covered it, but I always wanted the 'Does Kirke make you feel like this, Melz?' line to be spoken and heard - if that makes sense. The last part from Tracey's POV ... well, that occurred. It was always part of the plan to switch back at the end because I always felt this was more Tracey's story than Demelza's.
Anyway, thank you for the review and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I will think about an epilogue or a sequel (or a rewrite - hahahahahahahah - but I need some time to wibble and relax a bit. Gahhhhhd, I'm done with romance and pairings (for maybe a day or so -hahahahahahahahah)
Thanks again ~Carole~
OOH Carole this was excellent!!! It's very early in the morning and I'm not sure whether I'm tired or hyper but god this was good. I love the way you build up their friendship/ and how sweet Demelza seems. It gets talked about a lot- redeeming Slytherins, but I think it's just as interesting to muddy Gryffindors, and you've done it excellently here.
I would say Tracey didn't strike me as a Slytherin in the first chapter, but here she was just perfect. I loved the fact she went back to the shed to conquer her claustrophobia--such a small detail, but so indicative of her personality. She really is rather sweet on Demelza, not to have noticed anything suspicious, when I think she'd normally assume something was up/ suspect? It's very sad and sweet.
Kirke is horrible. That moment when I wasn't sure whether she and Kirke were together or not--the fact you could have built up DEmelza as kind and brave and good, and then suddenly have me thinking the worst of her, is very well done. And then Tracey's reaction--there's something rather dark about knowing someone's a honey trap and seeing just how far you can go with them. And then going as far as you can, and withholding it. That was cruel. I loved it :) You need to update. And soon. Apologies for incoherence. ALex
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked me muddying up the Gryffs. We see so much from their POV in the books, that it's hard to remember that they can actually be as prejudiced and horrible as the next person.
You'll get more of an idea about it all when I post the next chapter.
Thank you very much for the review and your comments. I do find it hard writing a redeeming Slyth when I don;t want them to be horrible. Far easier writing pansy, or Draco - ha ha. ~Carole~
That was so beautifully sad. I think fear for the future and growing up is such a universal feeling, and you captured it so well here. I loved your characterisation of Remus, and the Marauders--it felt very realistic, and in such a short piece as well! This story relied on the fact that everyone reading it knows exactly what happens to each of these characters, and you make use of that so well. The scene when Remus is reading his life-line and thinking about it, and what they make of it, is particularly heart-breaking. I liked the way he's neither completely right, but nor is he completely wrong, and the difference between what he fears, and the reality is so sad.
However, I would say the ending threw me off slightly. Having centred your italicised sub-titles thus far, even though the dates you have are different to the emotions you describe before, it just messes up the look of the thing. That's very shallow, isn't it? Feel free to ignore me. I honestly loved this story and am favouriting it right away. Alex
Author's Response: I originally had the last two titles centered, but somehow it didn't go with the five preceding ones :/ Ideally, I'd have them right and left aligned, but the archives don't allow right alignment. -sigh- This is a lovely review, Alex. Thank you so much!