Wow! This is definitely one of the most gripping and chilling stories I've read in a long while. I literally had adrenaline coursing through me when Harry fleeing with Catherine. The first couple of paragraphs really set the scene and the mood so vividly and that ran throughout the story and then the twist at the end was just amazing, but so sad.
It was a fabulous portrayal of Harry too, I've very rarely seen him written well as a father, but I thought you caught the relationship that he'd have with his child perfectly.
Author's Response: I\'m glad it is getting people\'s attention again. I think we should have a creepy stories category, I would definately put this one in there. As far as Harry as a dad, I used my own hubby and how he interacts with our our kids. ~Kristy
Well, after Kasey deemed this required SPEW reading, I thought I ought to dip into it. So I settled myself down with a few spare minutes and a cup of coffee, and I’m so glad I did, Anna. One chapter has me utterly captivated.
I really like the way that initially we have everything we would expect of Lucius, given the older man we later know, but that you gradually lead us away from that. Initially, everything about him is so calculated and dignified and calm. He is the perfect host, proud of the occasion but detached, and he has that same distant pride in Narcissa. And yet, you start to drop hints early on that perhaps his composure, and his attachment to his fiancée, isn’t much more than skin deep.
Lucius followed in his tracks, enjoying the childish pleasure of standing taller than his father on the stairs
I adore this line, because suddenly in half a sentence, you sweep away all of his carefully constructed dignity and leave him a silly young man, who can then so easily be entranced by Grace.
He was struck by the feeling that she was in fact guiding him, and did not quite agree with the idea.
And yet, he does nothing to stop it…
I love the way that in one chapter you’ve completely turned my patriarchal expectations of the wizarding world on their head. I’ve always assumed that, given the old-fashioned-seeming values of Pureblood society, the men would have affairs and the women would, as they always had, pretend it wasn’t happening. So, I find it wonderful that in Lydia and Grace you’ve created two strong-willed women who can change this view utterly. It’s Lydia, and not Abraxus, who encourages Lucius, and presumably after whom he takes in his views, and Grace has the power to leave our usually suave Mr Malfoy a disconcerted, all-but-stuttering wreck, whilst she has utter control of the encounter.
She thanked him not with words, but with the sight of her lips touching the silver.
So subtle, so restrained and yet hinting at so much (just as Grace would intend, I assume).
Are you in pursuit of a husband?
I couldn’t help but giggle at this because something in the phrasing led me inexorably to Pride and Prejudice, and there’s a certain parallel in this ball to the Regency balls, and yet Grace’s forwardness and couldn’t be more incongruous with that. And of course, the last thing this single woman in possession of a good fortune is in want of is a husband!
“Are you planning on escorting me to somewhere more private? Or are we to risk a scandal behind one of your draperies?”
Oh, Grace is simply wonderful! The sheer audacity to be able to utter such a line has just made me adore her character completely!
You've managed to pack a lot of very astute characterisation into a very short snapshot here, Vorona. It's insightful but concise, which is a hard balance to find. You give just enough to give the reader everything they need to know, but it feels like not a single word is wasted or superfluous.
I like how it's a very character-driven piece with very little emphasis on setting, but the little touch of setting you provide at the start on describing the chaos around them holds so much. I love the contrast of the chaos of their surroundings set against these two very logical, ordered men and how of course the cause of that chaos is the one boy who consistently strips the order from their lives and forces them into the sorts of rash decisions they are forced to make here.
Severus' voice is very true to his character, and I really love the little flashes of bitter dark humour, but the fact that you nailed his characterisation doesn't surprise me at all, given I know your fondness for him. I particularly liked his mental run-through of who he might be forced to betray and the insight it gave into the way he views the other characters. I've often thought that there is probably at least a professional respect if not a somewhat amicable edge to his rivalry with McGonagall. I have to confess though that I'd never really considered his views on Molly much before. Your take on it makes a lot of sense; he seems to have been shown kindness by so few people in his life that it seems very much like him to feel a sense of duty towards someone who has treated him kindly.
What does impress me even more than Severus' characterisation though is how well you've characterised Dumbledore. He is a painfully hard character to write, I always think, and you've painted him very well here. I'm really impressed, given it seems you wrote this pre-DH, that you really drew out his manipulative side that was a much more subtle element of his character before the revelations of DH.
One of the things actually that I find most interesting about reading pre-DH stories like this is to see how close they often end up flying to what actually happened in canon and where they differ. One thing I enjoyed here as opposed to canon was the justice you did Severus by allowing his actions to rest on the evolution of his own conscience. There were hints of it in canon with things like his 'Lately, only those I could not save' line, but they rather got overwhelmed by Lily being his motivation. I actually found the way that you allowed his own conscience to be his motivation much more satisfying.
One other parallel with what ended up occurring in canon that leapt out at me was the contrast between your Dumbledore declaring his own expendability and how in canon Severus ended up angry that he felt Dumbledore was treating his soul as expendable. I think possibly that Severus here is far more loyal to Dumbledore than Dumbledore really deserves in fact.
For such a short story, this has really made me think, and I very much enjoyed it.
Author's Response: Hannah - What a wonderful review! Thank you so much for your thoughts. You put your finger right on the reason I tend to prefer pre-DH stories, and although the one I'm writing now includes DH, I have a few other in-progress stories that I started before DH and plan to continue. You put your finger on the reason why: I really dislike that somehow Lily became his sole motivation. He seems like a much more complex (and intelligent) character than that. I will admit, though, that I did see Dumbledore as rather manipulative, even before DH. I'm very glad you found my characterisations of Dumbledore and Severus accurate. Thank you again, very much, for your review! ~Vorona
This is story does perfectly what missing scenes ought to do - it fits seamlessly with canon and yet adds something new and fresh.
It's so nice to see that there's someone who still trusts Sirius enough not to turn him in, even if she can't help him. It makes him seem just a little less alone.
The trick steps are a lovely touch. I'd always just assumed that they were some part of the fabric of the place and had been there since time immemorial, but it makes sense that someone had to put them there, and who better than the Marauders? So like Dumbledore too to let a few remain because they amused him.
I found myself wanting to shake Sirius at the end and make him stay calm. If only he'd been rational and explained to the Fat Lady rather than letting himself sound like everything she expected, perhaps she might have trusted him and things could have been so different...
All in all, I really enjoyed both the characterisation and the little details in this story.
Well, I can definitely see why this won - it very much deserves to have. You manage to characterise the next-generation so thoroughly in such a short story, leaving the reader with a very strong grasp of who Albus ans Scorpius really are. Harry's response is perfect too. I think you got his reaction spot-on.
You also manage to deal with a difficult issue very well. The law student in me is going to be spending the rest of the afternoon now puzzling over the interesting issues of intention and consent that come up though.
The opening paragraph works really well, you set up Albus' concern and a very imminent dread but then break the tension nicely with the Bowtruckle comment before rebuilding it again. I think that break really helps to avoid any risk of encroaching into melodrama and has a very real feel because those are exactly the sort of absurd thoughts people have in such horrifying situations.
I think that you have some lovely turns of phrase in there as well. I particularly love, Albus could almost see the gears of vigilantism grinding in his father’s mind. Something about that works really well.
I also really like the understated realisation that Albus can't fix this and the way you tied it to the lamp. It really makes it so much more effective not throwing the point bluntly into the reader's face.
One tiny little nit-pick I noticed was in,
He turned back to Scorpius, who had risen from his chair, walked right up to him, and punched him square in the nose with all the force he could muster, sending him sprawling over the row off desks and onto the floor.
I assume you wanted 'of' not 'off'?
The only other thing is a sentencing niggle and sorry this is just me being a pedantic lawyer, but, presuming the Wizengamot follows similar sentencing guidelines to ordinary English courts, I'd expect a sentence of more like 8-10 years (possibly a couple more if Lily's still under 16) for a rape case with similar mitigation to this one. It may well be that the Wizengamot sentences differently but I just thought I'd mention it.
Author's Response: You know, I did not do any research to see what penalties the law would require. I had the idea of vengeful, old members of Ministry sticking it to the Malfoys, now that they finally had an iron clad reason - they have, after all, gotten away with so much in the past.
Wow, this is simply beautiful. Heartbreakingly sad, but very beautiful.
Not in many ways that characterisation is particularly relevant to this story, but I think that you've found a wonderful characterisation of Hannah Abbott that builds on the girl we see in canon, but goes so far beyond that.
You show her burden and her love so well that I'm sat here with tears running down my face. The way you wrote it is just so heartfelt.
A really well-written and emotional story.
I'm so glad you got this accepted, Kayla. It's a wonderfully cute little Christmas tale and I really enjoyed beta-ing it.
Author's Response: Thank you Hannah! Its all thanks to you!
Oh, Melissa, this is lovely! I love a bitter, painful Severus/Lily at the best of times, and you've handled them beautifully. I absolutely love the irony of the Potions Master hating a potion.
It was a clever choice of scents too. I really liked that only the vanilla was really her scent rather than one Severus associated with a moment with her. The floral scents are perfect for her, and the smell of the rain is so wonderfully IC for Severus. It's such a melancholy smell.
I also always love the idea that she forgave him post-OWLs, because it makes his fall to the Death Eaters so much darker if he hadn't already lost her, that really caught my attention.
Simply lovely, my dear.
Author's Response: Thanks, Hannah! I know what you mean about it being darker if Lily forgave Sev - I thought about that while writing this. I think that still losing her to James might have been enough to drive him to the Death Eaters, even if they still managed to be friends. Anyway, I\'m glad you liked the scents. I sort of always imagined Lily having a vanilla-ish scent. Thanks for the lovely review, and I\'m glad you liked it! :D
It started with a Christmas visit and his father's question. "If you patrol during the day, who takes the night watch?" Charlie's search for an answer leads to his discovery of a nocturnal keeper named Nadia...and a thirteenth use for dragons' blood.
I'm really intrigued by this as the start to a story, Paige.
I always think Charlie's a really underutilised character. Something about him makes him one of the most interesting of the Weasleys for me (perhaps it's just that he's the most mysterious), and your characterisation of him here as very much an outdoors type with a strong sense of curiosity suits him.
I completely took the dragon-lore for granted that they'd sleep in caves warmed by volcanic sands, and it was only when I got to the end and saw your author's note with its nod to the Pern series that I realised why that felt so familiar and fitting.
The only thing is though, I'm not sure Romania actually has any significant volcanic activity. I may be wrong but I thought Italy was the only European country with any active volcanoes.
Romania is such a fitting location for a vampire story, and I love that you've taken a traditional folkloric take on vampires that reminded me more of Dracula than of any of the more modern twists on vampires. It was very refreshing and suits the setting perfectly.
There's very little fanfic that I've found that really draws on the fantasy elements of HP, so I find myself with high hopes that this story will be something very novel with its combination of vampires and dragons.
Yay! A fellow Pern lover! I'm not saying Romania has had recent volcanic activity. The research I've done says it's been 10,000 years, and the volcanic deposits are located in the Northern part of the Eastern Carpathian mountains. That's why I think Jo put the dragon centre there, it's remote, there are caves, and wizards can warm the volcanic sands (even if they have to conjure them first. :D).
I'm an old fashioned, vampires should be vulnerable during day, writer, so I'm looking forward to your feedback!
That makes sense then about the residual volcanic sands from ancient activity. Pern is a little like HP for me in that it's my old, familiar, go-to for comfort reading. And I totally agree that being old-fashioned about vampires being vulnerable during the day is a very good thing.
It was lovely to see things from Nadia's perspective in this chapter - I feel like I'm starting to really get to know her, which is impressive. You've done a really good job of sketching her out very well in not many words yet. She intrigues me because she isn't necessarily what I'd expect from a vampire, particularly with her very progressive relationship with her house elf. I'm assuming, being a vampire, that she's from a bygone era, and yet she has a level of respect for Costi that is rare even amongst modern wizards, and I find that interesting.
I'm really enjoying the sexual tension that's brewing between her and Charlie, and I really like too that there doesn't seem to be the power imbalance between them that is so common in vampire stories. She's as intrigued by and as attracted to him as he is to her. There's not that sense of the so-much-older-and-so-much-more-knowing vampire manipulating the human who is drawn in by her vampiric magnetism. It seems much more a meeting of equals, albeit from separate worlds, who have a professional respect for each other and a very much mutual attraction.
I love too that you seem to be setting up plenty of plot as well as romance: both the fleeting reference to the 'Council' and the elusive scale (and the significance Nadia seems to attach to that) have really piqued my interest now.
I'm so glad I started reading this story, Paige!
I think it's fan-bloody-tastic that you're reading, Hannah, and that you like Nadia! If she wasn't vulnerable during the day, (we won't mention sparkling, heh) I could see life, as she knows it, becoming wearisome, instead of something to be lived to the fullest. She's been a vampire for fifty years, spending most of that time at the reserve, so she's as single-minded as Charlie about dragons, and you put it perfectly, they have professional respect and mutual attraction.
Thank you for picking up the foreshadowing, and when you meet the council, you'll know why Nadia is lucky to stay away from them. :)
This is a very sweet, little snippet that fits so well into the framework of what we know and yet adds something so fresh. It’s always satisfying to see a little bit of the background of a seemingly inconspicuous canon moment woven in so colourfully.
It’s quite unusual to come across a story that actually shows the Potters as a contented family – rather than focussing on the horrors of being in hiding and Order members being killed. You have just enough subtle mentions of everything that’s going on outside of their quiet home to make it convincing but without marring the genuinely heart-warming nature of this story.
It was lovely to see James’ pride in his son and Lily’s concerns – it made them come to life, not as individuals or as a couple, as we so often see them, but as parents. It was also a nice piece of continuity in characterisation that Harry should be as reckless and fearless when it comes to flying as a toddler as he was in later life.
I really enjoyed the allusion to the depth of friendship and understanding between Sirius and James too that James can read between the lines of Sirius’ letters in a way that Lily can’t.
Lily knew if there was one thing that would get her son off the new broom, it was the promise of a treat.
This was the only moment that didn’t entirely work for me, because it seemed that, whilst children may fairly easily be distracted by food, it just struck me as perhaps a little too much of a Ron-like moment rather than relating exactly to Harry.
I also noticed a tiny bit of an awkward repetition:
Even she could see that he was going to be just like his daddy, a Quidditch star.
She knew her son would surpass even his father at the game. He would one day be a Quidditch star.
They aren’t overly close together, but ‘a Quidditch star’ is quite a distinctive phrase, and the repetition just stood out for me without appearing to have a particular stylistic purpose.
But those little niggles aside, which are really minor, it’s a very enjoyable snapshot.
Author's Response: Hannah, Thank you for your lovely words. I am going to rephrase the Quidditch star part. As fas as the food part, I wasn\'t thinking of Ron, I was thinking more to the fact he didn\'t get treats with the Dursley\'s and how much he enjoyed the birthday cakes everyone sent him during Dudley\'s diet. On my last reread of DH, the plot bunny jumped into my brain when Harry put the torn photo into the pouch. It meant so much to him. I wondered at the story behind it. Since canon didn\'t give us one, I let the plot bunny have at it. Thanks again for your review. Terri
The title of this story caught my attention straight away. It seems to fit so perfectly with the characterisation of Rodolphus that you set up in this chapter. Is it inspired by the Queensrӱche song by any chance?
It’s definitely an interesting set up to a story that you have here. You have a very nice balance in this prologue between setting the scene and creating an air of mystery. There’s enough plot for me to grasp what’s happening, but enough mystery to leave me wanting to know more. The alternating point of view I think has a lot to do with that sense of mystery – the flashes all seem to be carefully chosen to harbour something of oblique importance. You’ve handled that device very nicely, although it might become wearing in a longer piece.
"I don't care what rights he's entitled to, I say we lock the bastard up and throw away the key!”
This is a very effectively dramatic opening line, but the one thing I would say is that grammatically-speaking it’s a comma splice. Either this should be two separate sentences (as each half could stand alone) or, at the very least, the comma ought to be replaced by a semi-colon or dash. It’s something I noticed several times throughout the story. I just thought I’d mention it because, other than that, your writing seems technically pretty adept.
You have some lovely descriptive passages in here that really paint a vivid image of each short scene. I think one of my favourite parts has to be:
His long, dark hair fell around him in a morbid halo, contrasted against his sunless skin, so pale it was practically transparent.
I think perhaps it’s the apparent contradiction in the juxtaposition of ‘morbid’ and ‘halo’ that’s so effective. You obviously choose your words with great care, and the narrative really benefits from it. Although, given ‘halo’ is quite such a distinctive word, I think that perhaps it’s later repetition in relation to the woman may be just a little too much.
something like unease sliding through its consciousness
This gave me chills more than any other part. The concept of anything that could unnerve a Dementor is quite scary.
This story certainly has me intrigued, and I’ll be watching out for later chapters with interest to see where you take it.
First, before I say anything else, can I just say that you have a real talent for simple but powerful sentences, Kelly.
You are caught in what feels like a hangman’s noose, only the hangman is the family that you love.
That line completely took my breath away and I think it’s going to be one of those lines that stays with me. It’s one of those sentences that is almost like a slap when you read it because its impact is so forceful it’s almost physical.
I’ve actually just finished rereading DH, so seeing your take on a young Dumbledore is particularly fascinating in that context, because it begins to fill in some of the gaps that DH left in his character and the seeming disconnect between the young man we glimpsed and the old man we thought we knew.
I particularly like how you do have him actually care about Ariana but in a practical way that takes account of her best interests, not necessarily her wants, and is foreign to Aberforth’s understanding of love. It’s much more in keeping with the man he later became. As is the line:
Forever would be an awfully long time without returned love.
It’s another very powerful line actually and typical of Dumbledore’s later wisdom, which is obviously just beginning to take root in his psyche.
Yet, then you balance that wisdom perfectly with the black-and-white perception of youth:
You would have said that he loves you, but he is late. It’s an insult not to be punctual without an excuse.
An older Dumbledore would never, I think, view things that definitively because he understands that life is greyer than that, so it shows just how far he still has to go.
I thought that the ending was particularly poignant and beautifully crafted too:
If he loved you, the world, despite its glaring troubles, might be a little easier to bear.
It’s so sad, and so true and elegantly presented that it fits both the character and this story so perfectly.
Dumbledore’s a character who has always eluded me at the best of times, and his younger self even more so. I make no pretence at understanding him still, and yet having read this I feel that he’s perhaps no longer quite as incomprehensible to me as he was before.
Author's Response: Oh, Hannah. Thank you so very much for your review and the complements therein contained. It's always extremely touching and gratifying as a writer to have someone say that a particular line struck them (physically or mentally ;)). I'm also so very pleased that you thought that Dumbledore's character fit with what we were able to see of him in DH. Dumbledore is my favorite character in HP, hands down. I kind of consider the stories that I write about him to be a sort of homage. I'm glad that you think that I did it right. Again, thank you, Hannah!
I'm not quite sure why I haven't read this before as Lavender is one of my favourite characters, but I'm glad I decided to start reading it now.
Lavender's characterisation is wonderful here - she is a true Gryffindor and brave (which is credit she so often doesn't receive in most fics), but she has her reasons for not instantly rejoining the DA and I'm sure, to be honest, that she's not the only one.
Having her father's words repeating is a lovely motif because it really emphasises that it's not her choice not to rejoin.
The Butterbeer incident was dark and shocking, and really sets the tone for the place Hogwarts has become, especially with Blaise's rationalisation of how it would be perceived by the Carrows. I think perhaps it even sets a darker tone than the detentions, because we already knew that was going on, but this just show that there are other horrors lurking now too.
Your Blaise intrigues me as well - when someone is that reserved they are either harbouring hidden depths or are just very shallow, and you definitely seem to be giving him depths, so I'm interested to see where you'll take him, especially after the revelation of his blood status.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed the first chapter and I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into the rest of it.
Author's Response: Thank you very much for the review. This was a fic that rather obsessed me and I'm still very fond of it. I hadn't written Blaise before and only something silly about Lavender, so it was good to write her as the Gryffindor girl she must have been instead of the Won-Won obsessed mush head. I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. Thanks again ~Carole~
I'm an absolute sucker for any fic featuring candles in any way, and reading this story just made me squee so much, Kelly dear, because you use the metaphor so perfectly throughout.
I love the balance of it – you've really made the non-linear structure flow effortlessly from scene to scene and it works to slowly reveal the story and alter mood from the fun sexiness of the start through to the bitter brokenness of the ending.
I've read a fair few Charlie/Fleur stories, but they have always involved Fleur being unfaithful to Bill. It's such an interesting and original premise to switch it around so that it's Bill stealing her away.
I think you've found a great, characterisation of Charlie. Although, we know Ron is jealous of his brothers, it had never occurred to me before that Charlie too, even as the second eldest with his own impressive achievements, might resent Bill for being perfect and always getting there first. It makes perfect sense though.
In the first section in which he is alone brooding in particular, the narrative voice you create for him really shines through. There's a sort of casual, everyman bluntness about him that really suits him, like here:
Now those, those were the days.
Those were the days when a bloke could expect his girlfriend to be a devoted person who would be there at the end of the day, preferably in a good mood.
I think the snide and moody little fragments like, Stupid Bill. similarly work very well, especially in the way that their slight childishness really serves to re-emphasise the sibling rivalry element.
I think that perhaps gets lost a little in the latter stages of that section though, where there are lines like:
Bill had taken away the light in his life, leaving Charlie in the darkness.
Every time he remembered it, it was like there was a guttering light that just might live again, but every time, every single time, it always died.
These bits don't to me have that same authentic Charlie 'voice' that the earlier narrative has, and instead have the more poetic feel of an omniscient narrator. I'm torn though, because although I slightly feel that change of 'voice' disrupts the flow of the story, I also think those lines are amongst the most beautiful in the fic. Regardless, you have a really compelling turn of phrase, dear, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
This is a very cute and enjoyable fic. There's something rather lovely and fitting about Neville/Hannah, and there's just not enough of it about. I think you have a great characterisation of Hannah here that works with what we know of her in canon and yet builds on that and gives her more depth and the necessary added maturity that comes with age. I thought her very Hufflepuff determination to force herself into work despite feeling dreadful and her reluctance to be the centre of attention with wanting no fuss for her birthday were really nice touches in your characterisation of her.
One little thing that didn't feel quite right to me though in terms of her characterisation (and in fact Neville's too) was the reference to them splitting up after a blazing row that had them screaming at each other for half the night. Neither of them really strike me as all that volatile, and whilst I could see long, difficult, occasionally angry or tearful discussions occurring, I just somehow can't see them having an all-out fight like that: they both seem a little too gentle and reserved and the sort of people who are more reluctant to say things for fear of hurting the other person. Perhaps that might have seemed more in character to me if the row or the reasons for it had been a little more gone in to, because then I might have understood what had driven them to that, but as a passing reference, it just didn't sit entirely right with me.
The other slight issue I had was the pacing. The story just feels like it races forwards a little quickly, which is fine early on, and I think in the early stages, where there's a fair amount of set up to be got through, the pacing works quite effectively (we don't need long at all at the pub for example, which you handled very deftly), but it just felt a touch rushed after the hospital. It seemed like Hannah rushed to tell Neville before she'd even come to terms with it herself, and I didn't feel I really got to see how she felt about it, which was a shame given how well you'd set up her character. It struck me that there'd be a lot for her to rationalise for herself before having to deal with Neville. I mean, it clearly came as a shock to her, and she'd need to come to terms with the thought of becoming a mother, and how Neville might react to the news, and whether he'd want to get back together because of it or even whether they should get back together at all even if he did want to given they must have split up for good reason, and whether she could cope with a baby on her own if he didn't want to get back together. I think perhaps just slowing down the ending of the fic a little by having her think things through a little more might have really set the latter stages off as the important part of the story and allowed it to have a little more emotional weight. That said, it didn't take away from this being a lovely and uplifting story. :o)
This is the sort of story that serves to remind me why I love the D/A category. It's so evocative, and chilling and heavy in mood – everything I expect from a good, dark story. Right from the darkly mysterious opening line, this story grabbed me by the throat and had me staring wide-eyed at the screen.
The opening paragraphs really invoked a Lady Macbeth parallel for me, which was wonderful as it foreshadowed the madness which was wasn't yet that apparent in the early stages.
I'm no psychologist, but I can only assume that what is happening to Hermione is essentially a psychotic break with reality, and to see that from the inside, from her perspective, is doubly chilling. As a reader it becomes as hard to distinguish reality from delusion as it is for her, which is an incredibly uncomfortable experience. That's why, in some ways, I found her moments of clarity the most chilling of all – particularly the way that Harry's arrival provoked her recollection of what had occurred only for the delusions to resurface, and then:
Green eyes—not grey. I am going mad.
The simple bluntness of her realisation gave me chills – not least because it must be a terrifying thing to suddenly appreciate and yet she is so far gone that she is almost matter of fact about it.
The brief, broken nature of the flashbacks/dreams adds to the picture of her mental state too. They are so fragmentary, as I would expect her thoughts to be, and they paint such vivid but incomplete pictures. I find the second set particularly interesting, because the narrative thread through the first set about Ron's death is clear, but I'm less sure about the second set, and that sets up all sorts of interesting questions for me as to what happened with Draco's death and how much of those second set of memories are real and how much is delusion, because I assume the break with reality must have occurred between the two deaths.
Bodies rolling across silk sheets, consumed by lust, desperate for revenge . . .
This line is especially powerful and leaves me torn between several very dark interpretations as to whether it's simply a corruption of her happier memories with Ron, whether she seduced Draco in order to get close enough to kill him or whether she actually did have some sort of particularly messed up desire for him (almost Stockholm Syndrome-like, I suppose). I really like the ambiguity here and that it can suggest so many possibilities, each darker than the last.
Something else that I found both unsettling and interesting was the way you used description. I'm normally a huge advocate of using setting to create a dark mood, and I was intrigued by the way, in contrast, you barely used setting at all. I found it unexpectedly effectively though that Hermione moved between two locations that weren't heavily outlined and what or where they were didn't really matter. Focussing the description in so narrowly on Hermione and her actions gave a very claustrophobic feel that added to the intensity. I love it when fics challenge the way I think about writing like that, and you've given me a new perspective on how to create a dark mood.
One piece of description that I really loved was, It is a swirling vortex of death, threatening to pull me into its dark depths. It's both vivid and yet very poetic, and again there's an early hint of her delusional state in there, creating a horror out of something simple and mundane. My only qualm with that paragraph though is that there is a lot of alliteration, and whilst it adds something in moderation, to me it just felt a little like overload there. That really is a tiny little quibble of personal preference though in a great story.
You've taken a very dark and potentially unbelievable premise here and persuaded me of it utterly and made me really think about and reassess a number of things in the process – it really is quite an achievement.
Author's Response: Wow, what a review! Thank you so much! I've always thought this was something oddly different for me and figured that was why it didn't have very many reviews. Yours made up for that. :) Thank you for all the compliments, wow. I'm not sure how much you want to know about the story, but I will tell you a few things, particularly about that second set of memories and Hermione's break with reality. . . the backstory in my head sees Hermione setting out to seduce Draco in order to kill him. This is what happened, although it wasn't as…clean as she had perhaps hoped, hence the injury. Really, I saw her break coming with the realization that she had killed someone, deliberately and methodically, and that's where I started the fic. It was inspired by a rather mysterious banner that had a picture of Draco on one side, Hermione on the other, and "When Love and Hate Collide" in the center. I didn't picture them romantically involved, as in her love for Draco turning to hate, but rather her love for Ron turning to hatred for Draco after Draco killed Ron. I know I had a vague idea of how that happened, but as it was a year ago and not really within the scope of the story, I can't remember. Anyway, I'm so glad you felt that dark, claustrophobic feeling. I do remember setting out to write in such a way quite deliberately - not only the story, but the style itself, and I'm glad it came through. When you think about it, there is somewhat of a setting in this story: Hermione's mind. That was the focus, which was why I didn't worry about her house or the cottage or any other place. And again, I'm glad the descriptive elements relating to that came through. I'm so pleased you enjoyed this little piece. You've made me smile today - thanks again much for the amazing review!! ~Gina :)
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I thought you captured both Lily and Remus perfectly, and it's impressive that you kept them in character despite the situation, because infidelity fic often seems to stray wildly OOC in order to justify itself.
I've read a fair amount of Sirius/Lily but not much Remus/Lily as there seems to be less about, which surprises me as it seems to me that Remus/Lily ought to work better for a number of reasons. Remus seems more Lily's type, with his reserved sensibility, than Sirius, and he isn't as close as Sirius is to James so the depth of the betrayal is lessened. Also, I rather think Lily has a soft spot for the underdog that comes through in her friendship with Severus (thinking about it, it's probably where Harry got his 'saving people thing' from) and you use that well here to make the story work.
I think part of what works so well is that you created a space for them that was utterly separate from their everyday lives. Somehow, because there is this moment once a month that is just about them, it almost makes it seem as though what happened doesn't count somehow or isn't quite real in their minds. I wonder, if Lily hadn't fallen pregnant, if perhaps they might have both left it well alone without ever mentioning that morning again.
It intrigues me that Remus seems to view the mistake of a lifetime as risking losing Lily rather than the betrayal of James though and I wonder if perhaps he feels something more than he lets on for her.
“Lily, don’t. This is my life. It does no good to wish,”
I think this is my favourite line. Remus' bitter acceptance is both sad and fitting, and I really enjoyed his gruffness and the way he can't help but blurt out the one question he's already resolved that he can't ask. I really like too how you've captured the nurturing side of Lily, but balanced that with a no nonsense temper that keeps her very rounded.
All in all, I thought this was an interesting and surprisingly believable little tale.
Author's Response: Hannah, Thanks so much for your review. Sometimes, my evil muse takes over and I never know what she will come up with. Luckily, this one isn't as evil as some of her thoughts. I am glad you enjoyed it as I did enjoy exploring it. Truth be told, it all came from a picture I found of David Thewis and it just turned into a story. Thanks again.
She stares out across the great expanse of water.
He watches her longing gaze.
My final task for the 'Watching the Mirror' class on the beta boards.
Nominated in the 2010 Quicksilver Quill Awards for Best Non-Canon Romance.
I've not read this pairing in a very long time, and this story has reminded me exactly why it can work. I really like the way you haven't felt the need to get Ron and Ginny out of the way, as so many Harry/Hermione stories do (at least in any sense apart from geographically). The canon ships are still there, but this is something outside of that: this is two people briefly removed from their real lives and from all the rules and ties that normally bind them. That they arrive by Muggle means helps to distance them further from their world too and complete that disconnection.
Your wonderfully poetic use of language almost creates a sense of unreality, as if it's all just a hazy daydream on a summer's afternoon. The only things that seem truly solid are the food: the fresh tea in the pot, the smell or scrambled eggs and the glug of the wine being poured – these are the anchors that root the story for me. It feels as if to both of them nothing else is quite real and so it's not quite wrong and they quite aren't culpable and perhaps no one will get hurt.
It is the need for release, the one thing they must not do, the one thing they must admit, the one thing they only want to do once, just get it over and done with, to go on with their lives as usual. As friends. It is the one thing on their minds this evening. It is the one mistake they need to make.
That sums up the detachment of this one night from the rest of their lives perfectly, and yet it worries me because there's no such thing as 'just once to get it out of our systems'. I've never known that to work and not to just lead to more and more and their self-delusion that it could has a tragic edge to it in that there is a sense of inevitability that there will be pain and heartache from this.
There is a sense of inevitability too that this will happen, but at the same time it is also almost accidental – they don't mean for it too happen but it must. I really like the way too that when it does happen it isn't the gentle, considered union that you might expect with these two; it is desperate, and little harsh in its hunger, with nails and teeth and fire.
There is something universal to this story, perhaps it is the way that you have pared the characters down to the quick – they are recognisable as themselves and yet you have cut away anything extraneous, any part of themselves that can be left behind and not brought to this place – so that they could be any one of us, particularly in the way that they are together but still alone and desperate not to be. Perhaps too, it is the timelessness that you create with your beautiful choice of words and the simplicity of your phrasing – I could as easily see them sat beside the lake in the 1920s as now, and that gives it a real resonance and reminds me more than a little of reading Atonement.
There is a wonderful fluidity to your writing style that made this a joy to read, and I'm so glad I stumbled across it.
Author's Response: Hi Hannah! Thank you for such a lovely review. I was surprised to see this and it has truly made my day :)
I really did want this to feel like something completely forbidden. Like you, I like Harry/Hermione in a canon context with Ron and Ginny still in relationships with the other two. I wanted them to have that life, but to have some sort of escape from it. In my mind, it was a very surreal situation, which you picked up on as well. They are completely removed from reality, from their every day lives, and they use this isolation to justify what they want to do. Of course it is going to bring heart-ache and angst but they are in complete denial. It's very bittersweet. Oh wow, I love that you mention Atonement because I am one of the biggest McEwan fans out there. Atonement is also one of my favourite novels so it is entirely possible that subconsciously I have been influenced by it. You're right, the emotions and themes within the fic are entirely universal. In my mind this is definitely Harry and Hermione yet it could be any couple who are desperately trying to deny anything exists between them but being blinded by temptation at the same time.
Thank you so much for the amazing review. It was a pleasure to read.
It's never really occurred to me to wonder about the Fat Friar, I have to confess, despite his being the only House ghosts' story we know nothing about, but this story has persuaded me that was quite an oversight. Like you highlight in this story, he's interesting because he calls into question the role of religion in the wizarding world but even more so he raises the question of why a man of God should fear death enough to become a ghost, which at first glance is quite a puzzle.
I felt like you answered those questions in ways that left me totally satisfied. I really liked how you didn't expand at length on the place that religion holds within the wizarding world. It was so matter of factly handled that I didn't even question it to be honest. The tone just lead me to accept that there are, or were, monasteries because it didn't try to over explain so I didn't feel the need to pick over the details.
As for why Hugh became a ghost, I thought that again was well done. I like the little mention of fearing death coming in during the battle as a little red herring before you give him a reason so much more fitting to his character. I felt like the comment made about thinking too much with his heart was astute and really tends to sum up a Hufflepuff failing across the board.
I think perhaps that was the only thing I was a little hesitant about in this story - the depth of characterisation - but even there I'm somewhat in two minds. I really like the voice you've created in Hugh's narrative and it suits the story and gives a good strong feel of both the era and his role as a friar (his Godliness really comes through), but I just feel like, where it's such a short story, I didn't get to know him and care for his fate as much as I'd have liked to. That said, I do kind of like that in some ways he is a simpler character, because it gives him an everyman quality that demonstrates what is important to be a Hufflepuff and makes him a fitting representative for the House.
The historical element of the story was very well handled, because the details were subtle and gave a flavour of era and setting without leaving me feeling as a reader that I was being battered over the head with lots of background research. Little mentions of compline and scribing and the bees had me trusting from early on in the story that I really was in a medieval monastery but without drowning in a deluge of the mundane daily routine of a monk or anything like that.
The dialogue worked too and that's a hard one to get right with stories in quite such archaic setting. It's a balancing act because it needs to sound appropriate, but yet at the same time full accuracy would actually be virtually incomprehensible. I felt like you struck that line well, because the speech certainly wasn't jarringly modern but neither did the few more archaic forms that you worked in (like 'Did not the Commandments ...') feel in any way forced.
This was a tightly woven, original little tale, which gave me new insight into a character who I don't think I've ever seen used before, and I'm very glad I read it.