Everything was beautiful, and Hannah felt calmer than she had all day; she felt all of the unsettled thoughts beginning to find their places in her frazzled mind.
Oh, Lori, this story is just beautiful. It's so bittersweet and understated, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have to confess that it was the gorgeous banner that Julia made for it that drew me in to read it, that and the fact that I knew from the lovely Hannah Abbott drabble that you wrote for me for the I Challenge Thee how well you write her.
Like I said, the bittersweetness was lovely, and I totally understood Hannah's watery, little laugh at the end because I had tears in my eyes but a smile on my lips whilst reading the ending, especially her father's comments about her mum being there with them. I think it was the subtlety of it that worked so well: whilst it was sweet, it wasn't at all saccharine, and whilst it was sad, it wasn't in any way melodramatic. The emotions were really well handled and really well pitched. What this story really does have is heart, and genuine emotion. I think it was very easy to connect to because that feeling of happiness at a special event mixed with regret that someone who you cared about is gone and isn't there is sadly familiar to most people even if the specifics vary, and I think you wrote that wrote that conflicting emotion in a way that was instantly accessible to the reader.
I think that what I enjoyed most of all though were the relationship dynamics between the characters (both Neville and Hannah's relationship, but also Hannah and Hermione's friendship), and the clear thought that you had put into them. So often, writers seem to put loads of focus into characterisation, but then forget that how characters relate to one another is such a vital part of it.
I love the way that you'd clearly thought about why Hannah and Neville would be together in the first place – what connects them. It had never occurred to me before that losing a parent young was something that they had in common, but that made a perfect 'hook', if you will, to hang the relationship on. Similarly, so many authors would expect the reader to accept that of course Hannah and Hermione were always friends but that we just didn't get to see it in canon, I love that, instead, you explained their friendship in a way that did genuinely having me going 'well, of course they are friends'. You made it make so much sense that they had similar temperaments and interests, despite Hermione being more academically inclined, that when they got to know one another through Neville they would become close, and that, with neither of them ever having had a close female friend, they fulfilled a need for female companionship that had been lacking before for both of them (a particularly marked absence as well, I would guess, for Hannah, given the loss of her mother).
One tiny, little thing I wasn't sure of was purely a matter of practicality: the way that, when Hermione joined Hannah just before the wedding, her reaction to Hannah's appearance, and how lovely she looked, seemed as if it were the first time that Hermione had seen her ready, but it just struck me as a little odd that Hermione wouldn't have helped her to get ready (especially in the absence of Hannah's mum). I would have figured that Hannah would have needed a hand with her hair and make up, not to mention that wedding dresses never seem to be the most practical things to get into and out of without some assistance, but then again it's probably all much simpler with magic or perhaps, now that I think about it, Hannah specifically wants to do it alone precisely because her mother isn't there?
I was really impressed, talking of relationships though, by how rounded you made Hannah and Neville's relationship and how many facets of it you managed to show in such a short story; you really showed what made the relationship work and what made them tick as a couple. I liked the balance between the support that they gave one another, but also the protectiveness towards one another that led Hannah not to want to talk about getting upset and Neville to visit his parents alone, because neither wanted to burden the other on what should be a happy day. But then, in contrast to that maturity in their relationship, you've also got hints of passionate young love and a real playfulness that shows that they have a lot of fun together (“I’ll be the one at the back, in white,” is possibly my favourite line). It just makes the relationship feel very real.
This is just an utterly lovely, honest, uncomplicated and heartfelt story, Lori, that I'm so glad I read.
Author's Response: Well, I'm realizing that if I wait until I think I can respond in a manner worthy of this review, it will likely never happen. Um, Greatest Spew Review EVER. LOL. I can't tell you how glad I am that Julia's brilliant banner led you here, Hannah, and that you were able to connect with the story in such as way as to talk about it like this. You really got it, and that means so much. The prompt was to write a minor character on their wedding day, and I just got Hannah stuck in my head, permanently. To be honest, I used to be a Neville/Luna shipper, but after I started thinking about it, and realizing the connection these two shared, and really how powerful a connector grief can be... well, Luna can have Rolf, can't she? And I've been obsessed with Hannah ever since, writing about her nearly as much as I do Hermione.
*These are the times that try men's souls.
Well, that couldn't be any more real for Draco Malfoy than on the eve of his wedding. He was getting married the next day, but all he could think about is how his life was about to become so much more damned complicated.
He had no idea.
*Quote - Thomas Paine, American revolutionary.
This fic was nominated for a 2010 Quicksilver Quill Award - Best Humour
You are an evil genius, Jess. I haven't giggled this much at a fic in a very long time. I came here meaning to read some of your next-gen stuff and got sidetracked by this instead.
I love how this is the utter antithesis of every wedding fic that's ever made me feel slightly nauseous. Draco's internal monologue, peppered with snide asides, bitterness and most of all the utterly vivid cracking hangover, is just brilliant. You've done a great job with making him cruel, and sarcastic, and yet at the end of it all I still felt rather sorry for him (and wondered just how long it would be before he goes grovelling back to Pansy). I think he rather got the wife he deserved all things considered.
I really enjoyed too that even in his hungover state his innate cunning let him escape the house elf, and that in dealing with the wedding arrangements you credited him with common sense, a rare attribute sometimes in the wizarding world. I think it's a pretty balanced characterisation of him all round.
Afraid I can't stop chuckling enough though to leave you a properly analytical or in-depth review, but I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it.
This is so awesome, because I wrote this for a Weddings Challenge with exactly that effect in mind. I hate romantic, soppy stuff in large amounts, because it makes me gag. I wanted to break the mold, so to speak, on the other pieces written for the contest. This is what came out. I wanted it to be different, irreverent, and a little bit raunchy. I love raunchy. It makes the rockin' world go 'round. :D
I think my favourite part to write was the bit about the soap. Going into his wedding day smelling like his mistress's soap just seems so very Draco to me. Plus, with his round of 'problem solving', I wanted him to be like 'who the hell cares', because this is stuff that people worry about that no one even notices. And the hangover...I think most people end up going through their wedding days with one, or the bachelor(ette) party phenomenon simply wouldn't exist, lol.
I'm glad you enjoyed the story. This is the only thing I've ever written that I would consider funny, so I'm glad it was giggle-worthy. Thanks for the lovely review and for stopping by.
I think it's a shame that this story doesn't have more reviews, Mere, because it deserves them.
I'm always surprised that this pairing doesn't get explored more often because it makes a lot of sense to me for there to have been some interaction between them. They presumably would have come in to contact with each other, because there's a connection through both Sirius and Severus. I also tend to imagine that it would be easy for something to come of that connection because I've always assumed that Harry gets his 'saving people thing' from his mother (it makes a lot of sense to me given her friendship with Severus), and Regulus would have been a prime target for that.
I really liked though how you didn't fall into the cliché of having a 'love of good girl turns bad boy around' motif and instead just used Lily as a catalyst for Regulus' growing dissatisfaction with the brutality practiced in the name of his cause. I like how you used Lily to show him the reality of his actions and the way that they hurt people, and the acknowledgement at the end that perhaps his views on blood purity and pride in his heritage hadn't changed but he was simply human enough to be shocked at the needless deaths of children was much more powerful for its subtlety than any grand romantic turnaround.
I also appreciated the spin that you put on Lily's characterisation and the added depth it gave her. Lily is so often portrayed as almost saintly, and I liked the way you played with the reader's expectation of that in having that be a mask that the outside world sees whilst inside she is angry and bitter at the way everyone relies on her and expects her to take on their burdens with no concern for if she has her own. It makes her much more human and relatable.
I thought as well that the way you utilised the slap was really effective. It's a device that could just be a weak show of temper and add very little, but the way that you had her apologise first made it a much more deliberate and pointed act that added to Lily's complexity as a character and really showed the conflict between her anger and her compassion in her realisation of the genuine nature of Regulus' guilt.
I know that the initial scene with Lily crying alone was necessary as set up, but inevitably the pace of that scene is slower than the latter scenes, where there is interaction between her and Regulus. That slower pace did, for me at least, make it a little difficult to get into the story at first, and whilst perhaps that dip in pace could be carried better in the middle of a story, with this being the opening, I find myself wondering if all of that scene is strictly necessary, or whether perhaps it could be tightened up just a little to give it a little more impact. There is a certain amount of repetition that could perhaps be cut without losing any of the significant exposition, for example, you have the line It was the people who had no idea why they were dying, which you then move on from, only to return to the same concept a couple of paragraphs later.
I do wonder if perhaps compressing some parts of that scene just a little (or maybe even just moving some of it to the second scene where Lily is crying at the end) might just draw the reader in a little more, and balance out the pace overall (because it may just simply be that it feels slower to me in comparison to the snappier pace later on whereas the pace would feel fine if that first scene stood alone, if I'm making any sense?).
That's just a suggestion though, and it's really not something that did anything to detract from my enjoyment of the story.
One last thing that I want to comment on is the point of view, because I thought you handled it really well. I'm often not a fan of switching point of view between characters, because it's so often not thought through and becomes dizzying head-hopping that serves no purpose other than to bulk the story out by telling the same thing from different angles. That really wasn't the case here though. The switches of viewpoint felt very deliberate and considered; they were very well timed in they way that they were between scenes, so that they weren't disorientating and so they didn't end up rehashing the same events from a different angle; and they served a very marked purpose in giving the reader greater insight into both characters motivations (I don't think the alteration in Regulus' views would have felt anywhere near as natural as it did had we only seen Lily's perspective not would Lily's characterisation have had such depth if we'd have only seen things through Regulus' eyes).
I really enjoyed this, Mere, and I think I may have to settle down and find a moment to work my way through your other stories, because I think I'll really rather enjoy them if the quality of this story is anything to go by!
Author's Response: This is possibly my favourite review ever. Thank you sooo much. I really don't have much else to say. I understand what you mean about the slowness and repetitiveness of the beginning, but at the same time I like kind of like it. Actually, the first part was a stand alone. I wrote it with every intention of it just being that but then when I was looking over it again I decided I could dig a little deeper with this. Maybe that's why the pacing is different . . . Thanks again! <3Mere
I succeeded in having willpower and not reading this chapter until this morning, and I enjoyed it more for actually being awake. :)
I love how the whole seriousness of the situation still hasn't really sunk in for Lily. It makes it feel very convincing that she doesn't seem to yet appreciate the full ramifications - she doesn't really seem to have thought through what keeping them will mean, but she doesn't want to give them up, and she's more caught up in what people will think than how it will affect her in other ways. I get the feeling people will start to find out soon and it may just hit her in the face - I'm assuming that's why you introduced the unpleasant Slytherin girls because I'm guessing they'll be particularly awful about it.
The nargle on the bracelet and Lysander's slightly hurt reaction was a lovely little touch that hints at his relationship with his mum.
Great chapter, as ever, dear.
I must have said this before, dear, but you write teenagers so convincingly. Your characters and the interactions between them feel very real. You've done a good job with Lily: she's likeable yet flawed and a product of her family yet her own person. I really like how she has her mother's fire and her father's disregard for rules (although just sometimes that can feel a little forced, I think, like in the opening chapter with the nail varnish where it seems odd that she wouldn't at least get why McGonagall would have an issue with it; I like it when her rule-breaking has a purpose like getting alcohol from Hogsmeade, but the way you've set her character up, delinquency for its own sake doesn't quite seem to suit her, to me at least).
The story is well constructed to in the way that you introduce the readers to Lily and her life and make us care about her before you bring in the issue of pregnancy, because so many fics dealing with things like teen pregnancy just rush in headlong without really setting up a strong foundation for the characters.
I love the relationships with her friends. They feel real, and affectionate and unforced. I'm a little less convinced so far though by her relationship with Lysander. I feel like I haven't got a particularly clear idea of who he is yet. He's a nice boy, but beyond that, I'm not really sure I can see any real depth to him at the moment or what makes the pair of them tick as a couple. Part of it may be because, as yet, I can't see what makes him Luna's son rather than just a random next gen character, if that makes sense.
A lot of that may just be due to him having not had much 'screen time' yet, and I'm sure that he'll become more fleshed out as the story progresses. I have to say though that he did feel a lot more human after seeing his reaction to Lily telling him she's pregnant – just swearing seemed a very genuine and likely response.
You've certainly succeeded in hooking me with this story. I find myself wondering if they can make it work (and I'll definitely keep reading to find out) and particularly how their parents will react (I'm particularly intrigued to see Luna's reaction because I just can't picture it at all).
I think it's a brave plot to take on, because it's such a difficult situation to relate to in so many ways, but I think you are doing a great job so far, Jen.
Summary: Sleepy Hollow School of Witchcraft teacher, Elasaid Campbell has a secret. Many years before, she was an alumnus of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, getting involved with two older students, Severus Snape and Regulus Black, put her in the midst of a battle for her life against the darkest forces known to the wizarding world. Now, many years later, Elasaid has a chance to go back and help Professor Dumbledore set things straight with the British Ministry of Magic. But will Severus Snape ever trust her enough to let her join in the fight? Or, will he lead her back into the clutches of Lord Voldemort…all over again? This is the stuff you missed when you read the book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
I have a decided weakness for a good Severus/OC story, and I haven't found a new one worth reading in far too long. Reading your opening chapter has given me hope that I may have finally found one!
You write well; your writing seems technically competent and your characterisation of McGonagall was strong, both of which had me breathing a sigh of relief that I could relax into the intriguing beginning without worrying if the basics would ruin an otherwise interesting story.
I am intrigued. Elasaid has a very murky background and this chapter asks a lot of questions that leave me wanting to know more about her and her past. I look forward to reading more.
Author's Response: Thanks Hannah for your words of encouragement! I worked this chapter through seven revisions and so many critiquers, I lost count. Chapter 2, A Sacred Dishonour is now available for your reading pleasure. Please! If you see anything that doesn't click, let me know. I have such hopes for this story. It's very close to my heart.
I'm even more intrigued now, and even more convinced that I'm going to enjoy this story.
The hints at a past with Molly and Arthur and Rodolphus have me wondering, not to mention the very interesting concept of Dumbledore and McGonagall having different agendas.
I feel now like I'm really starting to warm to Elasaid as a character - her interaction with the cat and the plant were lovely and showed a much warmer, more human side to her and then the conversation with Dumbledore seemed to show a more vulnerable side. It's nice to see a character who appears to have been thought out and rounded so carefully.
A couple of very small points I was aware of in this chapter: the first is that unusually enough, in canon, Moody's name is spelled Alastor not Alastair; the other was just to say don't be afraid of repetition - whilst the same word appearing too many times isn't always great, sometimes forcing a an awkward synonym is actually worse for the flow than a minor repetition. There were a couple of phrases like 'appendages' and 'living quarters' that just felt a bit out of place and as if perhaps they are acting as a substitute for something simpler to avoid repetition, where that might not actually have been the end of the world.
I'm very much looking forwards to the next chapter of this story.
Author's Response: Thanks for your feedback. I agree with you about minor repititions rather than those forced synonyms. My writing critique group really gets on my case about repetitions. So, I'll do what any good writer does; I'll give my critique group what they want and then fix it the way I know better for Mugglenet. Please tell your friends about the story! I'm waiting for confirmation from the Gryffindor House head to join the house and the poor story just sits in the archives, not being read. It's such a shame! I need to get a banner made too! So much to do!
Summary: If Remus hadn't been born, the lives of the people he had entered would be different, correct? He wouldn't have caused them pain, disappointment... and grief. Most of all, he wouldn't have been the cause of why his parents' happiness was suddenly gone.
Of course, it was all just wishful thinking. He was still a werewolf, no matter what he did.
Like I've already said to you, Dinny – I think this a great concept for a fic that really explains a lot about Remus, particularly why he kept pushing Tonks away and why in DH he couldn't handle Tonks being pregnant. If he'd killed his baby sister then of course the thought of having his own child would be terrifying, and it makes even more sense, with that in mind, that he'd try to run away from his responsibilities and go off Horcrux hunting with Harry because of course he'd think distancing himself from the child would be for the best.
I think you've done a very nice job of characterising his reserve and the way he's pushing his friends away because he thinks he doesn't deserve them and he'll only hurt them too in the end.
I really like the way too that he's afraid of losing control and so he's bottling his emotions up.
He rested his back on the wall, sliding down to the floor, and putting his head in his hands. He tried to remember all the short methods to answer Arithmancy questions, and the ingredients needed to create the Draught of Living Dead.
I think this passage is just lovely. It really shows how he's struggling for control and the emotions are so much more powerful for their subtlety than if you'd have told us outright how conflicted he is.
He wanted to say he was sorry, but it wouldn't come out. It seemed like 'sorry' didn't work anymore. It wouldn't fix anything.
I like this part too for similar reasons. It's a lovely, understated way of showing how much what has happened has forced him to grow up so suddenly and how it's made him a little brittle and cynical. He's been forced to realise far too young that some things just can't be fixed and that sorry is just a word and it can be utterly meaningless.
I have to agree with what Vorona said though that there is perhaps just a tiny touch of melodrama in the conversation with Lily, and I think perhaps it stands out a little bit more than it otherwise would just because at other points you've kept the emotions so wonderfully restrained and subtle. I think, actually, that section would have even more impact and flow a little better with the tone of the rest of the fic if you reined in some of Remus' dialogue just a little.
I'm very much a believer that less is more with angst – I tend to think that sometimes you just have to trust the readers to find the emotion in a piece for themselves without signposting too heavily for them how you want them to feel. The most powerful emotional responses, for me at least, often come from atmosphere and a character's physical responses to a situation rather than necessarily what's said, or if it comes from what's said then it's more likely to be from very simple, direct dialogue than anything too explicitly descriptive of how the character feels.
It won’t be long before he starts ruining the lives of his dearest friends, and what he feared most in the world will come to him.
He’ll be alone.
Because he was a monster.
“I didn’t mean it.”
I think this is a very powerful ending, especially 'Because he was a monster'. It just makes my heart bleed for him that he's so scared of himself and has so much self-loathing. The tenses in this section are just a little muddled though. I think what you probably need for clarity's sake is something more along the lines of:
It wouldn’t be long before he started ruining the lives of his dearest friends, and what he feared most in the world would come to him.
He'd be alone.
You write emotion really well, Dinny, and I think that's one of the hardest and most important things to get right generally, so well done!
Author's Response: Hello, there, Hannah!
I'm very glad that you approve of my fic! I do agree that emotion is so very hard, and you saying that I succeeded (to an extent) means so much to me, thank you! I'm happy you particularly enjoyed the first detail you mentioned - it's my favourite line :) Also, thank you for pointing out those grammar errors. Tenses hate me so much. I'm trying my hardest to combat the strong enemy. And yes, I agree with you with the melodramatic tendencies. In some moments, I really would like to hang my head in shame.
I have to thank you again, Hannah, because you just pointed out the problem that I keeps on resurfacing at me. You are utterly right - with angst, less is always more. Ah, thank you so much!
Thank you for the wonderful review! I appreciate the effort you made for just reading it then leaving a good, thorough review :)
All Teddy Lupin had ever wanted was to be the kind of man his godfather was. He even followed in Harry's footsteps and became an Auror.
Harry wanted nothing more than to be the father that Teddy would never have, but work and obligations always seemed to get in the way. Before he knew it, Teddy was all grown up. How had he missed all those precious moments? He knew he had to make up for it somehow.
After all, they had all the time in the world, right?
This fic WON a 2011 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best Post-Hogwarts Story
This is just wonderful, Jess - tragic and so well characterised. Teddy is a lovely mix of puppyish, rash enthusiasm and warm-hearted acceptance - it just makes me want to mother him.
I can really see Harry having all of these good intentions but still being unintentionally neglectful like this because it's too much responsibility too young and his own life gets in the way, and his utter nonchalance towards the death threats is so him, and there's a very fitting irony in it finally getting someone killed that feels like it was inevitable.
You do realise though that now, in order to counter the melancholy of this, I'm going to have to go and find some utterly meritless Teddy/Victoire fluff in which he lives to 137 and has 12 children, and it's going to melt my brain. I hope you feel guilty!
Also, somehow your title triggered a connection to the opening line of To His Coy Mistress in my head and now my damn muse is busy deciding that that's a line it could definitely work with. Seriously, you've sent the flighty thing off on another jaunt. I hope you're happy!
Anyway, I've sidetracked. Awesome, if cruel, story, dear. Actually, even more than Harry, the person my heart really breaks for is Andromeda because she truly has lost everything and everyone. So sad.
Hello dear. :D
I won't lie, I had a hard time writing most of this story because I knew how it was going to end. I kept seeing the words popping up on the screen from my fingers like they were possessed, reading it, practically wanting to scream at Teddy to wake up and be mad at Harry for not being there. Even though that would never have made a difference, I wanted several parts to elicit fear and anger and sadness and grief and maybe some outrage. So far, it seems to have done it.
Your muse never shuts up, does she? Our muses must be cousins or something, because mine is much like that. And no, I don't feel guilty for you reading brain-melting fluff. You get what you get...muahahahahaha!
I is ebil, just so you know.
Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you appreciate the emotive aspects of the story. Until we meet again...
In her seventh year, Katie Bell knew what it was like to fear death. A year later, she learnt what it was like to see it in front of her. Nothing she had ever experienced had prepared her to deal with the aftermath of that. And then he came.
Caught in a whirlwind of Quidditch, heartbreak, and a rivalry, Katie struggled with her jumbled mess of feelings, one of which she hadn't expected but was growing certain that she could never live without.
Oh my freaking Salazar! This story WON TWO 2011 Quicksilver Quill Awards: Best Post-Hogwarts Story and Best Non-Canon Romance Story. *flail*
This (late) update was brought to you by the (belated) birthday of the ever-lovely Hannah / h_vic. She is a star and an excellent friend!
Guh! I definitely had proper, intelligent things to say about this chapter, but they got driven clean out of my head by the excellent smut: hot and very intense. What's also very impressive with the smut is that you actually were never explicit or graphic but I knew exactly what was going on throughout. Given that you claimed the smut was just word count filler, it's rather fab word count filler!
I wanted to bang their heads together at the end though. Oliver was being an arse and totally lacking any empathy or understanding, and I don't blame Katie for blowing up at him, but really could she be any more ridiculous afterwards, assuming that they are over because of one fight? And as if the ever chivalrous Mr Wood would actually throw her out on the streets knowing she has no money and no place to go!
You really do make me care about these two, Jess (well not that I didn't already, even if I have been torturing them a little of late!), and I'm now on tenterhooks waiting for the next chapter and hoping they can fix things (and then have excellent make-up sex of course ;-) ).
Well, hurray that the smuttiness was the correct amount of smut and not an anatomy lesson. 'Twas my goal. If I had known I could crank out 800 words in like an hour with just smut, I would have it three times in every chapter.
Katie definitely has 'forest for the trees' syndrome. As I told Julia, she has this maddening inability to understand that Oliver would do anything and everything for her, and he was only hurt because she had seen Draco without telling him, not to mention still being strung out because of the douchebaggery in the press conference.
My next project is finishing my Harmony chapter. This will definitely be stewing in my mind for a while as I contemplate what to do with Harry in his little box, hehe.
Heart you, and I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter.
This is awesome, Jess! There just isn't enough Katie/Oliver out there, and certainly not enough good Katie/Oliver and this is bloody brilliant.
This is the draw back though of having a rare OTP - when confronted with it I become incoherent.
You will get a proper review from me for this at some point, but for now all I can do is squee - the characterisation is wonderful, the chemistry is great, the set up and the angst adds a real edge and the almost-smut is delightful.
~Hannah (who is just a little over-excited)
Oh, Hannah, my love...you have made my day warm and fuzzy.
As you know, this was supposed to be a one-shot, but as you also know, I freaking fail at brevity. A plot ravelled itself into my PWP,demanding to be a part of it. I can't say no to my muse or she might stop speaking to me altogether.
I hope you like the finished product, considering I basically started this story just for you. :D
Another wonderful chapter, dear. As I've said before, what I really love is the subtlety and the realness of it all. Like Elene said, I loved the normality of Oliver's declaration and how it wasn't accompanied by some overblown gesture - it was just honest and true to life. Life isn't picture perfect, and most of those big moments actually are very ordinary and not like something out of a fairy tale. That's why I love that Oliver telling her he loves her is almost an accidental aside rather than having some big build up, because it's actually the way life and relationships work.
I am in awe of how well you capture people and the messed up complexity that is life, Jess.
I had more to say, but I have a splitting headache and I can't think clearly, so you will have to excuse my lack of coherence for now.
Gah, you know I adore your reviews, great and small.
I do try to capture the normalcy of certain situations, coupled with the abnormalcy of their present existences. We all know that Harry found ways to deal with crap, as did Hermione, but they are people of above average moral fibre and drive, but seeing Ron freak out and leave during DH is a stunning portrait of how a regular person would react to such awful things. This is sort of what I had in mind for Katie.
Again, lovely visit, and I'm glad the story makes you happy. :D
I think what I love most about this story, Jess, is that Katie and Oliver act like real people, not glorified, fictional versions of how an author thinks real people ought to act - the way they feel about things is messy and flawed.
I adored the fact that for Katie the question of whether she wanted to sleep with Oliver and whether she loved him were two utterly separate questions and the former was in no way reliant on the latter - it was so much more real that way than some over-romanticised notion of waiting for love. Similarly, I love how Oliver is trying so hard to be a gentleman and asks her several times whether it's really what she wants, but at the same time he has to warn her that they are pretty much at a point of no return. But I think most of all, I love how Katie doesn't know if they are actually together or not, and doesn't feel she can ask, and yet she's annoyed that he doesn't say anything to his mother, even though she knows she is being silly.
You really do understand people, don't you, and it shows so clearly in this story. I love that the dynamic between the pair of them is complicated, and raw, and imperfect. It's so much more compelling than some twee, cookie-cutter romance.
Oh, and the smut was delicious, and the bed-sharing was so cute!
Awesome chapter, as ever, dear.
I have always and will always hold that people are fvcked up in the way they think (ourselves not excluded from this, either). I just think that perfect romance is just so rare and hard to find that most of us will never even come close to it. I wanted that normalcy for them, because they're just normal people with a streak of the extraordinary in their lives. I'm glad that it can be identified with.
Thank you for the lovely review. Until we cross paths again
Well, I finally have a moment to you leave you the much promised, somewhat more substantial review, Jess.
But before I launch, with gusto, into the lovely characterisation and chemistry, there's just a few little continuity nitpicks and a few Brit-picks that I spotted and may as well get out of the way first.
On the continuity front, when they are going to the restaurant, you say about Katie's aversion to Side-Along Apparition that Last time, when Oliver had brought her there, Katie had been asleep. But this time, she would be wide awake., but that just struck me as a little odd, given that in the interim he had also Side-Along Apparated her to the Quidditch tryouts when she was very much awake. Also in the restaurant, Oliver breaks his glass, but then downs his drink without it having been replaced when the waiter comes to take the order.
Brit-pick-wise, when Katie is looking for a taxi, we wouldn't say something was a couple of blocks away, we'd say it was a couple of roads away or a couple of minutes walk; Katie wouldn't be wearing a sweater in the almost-smut scene, but a jumper, sweatshirt, or just a top (probably most likely the latter as she's not wearing another layer underneath); when they go to dinner, Oliver would be wearing a jacket or blazer not a sports coat; and at dinner, they'd have a waiter not a server. That said, your use of tenner and loo warmed my little English heart.
My final little nitpick is actually more of an Oxford-pick really. When Katie is trying to get a taxi, you said that she was near the university campus. Oxford doesn't have a campus though. It's not a campus-based university; the various colleges and departments are really just an organic part of the city itself, scattered throughout the centre of town (the oldest of the colleges are about 800 years old so the city and the university sort of grew together). It would make more sense to simply say that she was near the centre of town, or if you wanted to be a bit more specific, there are big taxi ranks at Carfax (a major crossroads in the centre where the main shopping streets meet) or Gloucester Green (by the main bus station and the cinema), both of which have various parts of the university in their vicinity.
Oxford is such a perfect place to have a Wizarding pub and branch of Honeydukes though, because a large Wizarding population there would make sense – they could hide in plain sight. Wizards wouldn't stand out in Oxford at all because with so many students there are constantly people wandering around in fancy dress, not to mention that full academic dress including black gowns is required for exams, so even if Wizards walked about in robes, it would just be assumed that they were sitting Finals!
I really like the structure of the first chapter – I have a thing for non-linear story structure at the best of times, but I thought you used it particularly effectively here. The way that you started with the funeral rather than launching straight into the Battle set the more sombre mood of the chapter rather than leaving the reader to expect a high octane chapter about the Battle. It also meant that, as a reader, I already knew Katie survived but was a bit of a mess so I knew I could focus on her descent into that state rather than whether she'd live or die as events unfolded.
The back-drop of the fallout from the Battle and Fred's death, Oliver's broken engagement and the Quidditch-based plot are what successfully elevate this from just a simple romance to a truly, richly textured story. It amazes me that you have so much plot going into something that was intended to just be PWP.
There's a really nice balance between the darker elements of the fallout from the Battle, the building romance, technicalities of Quidditch and humour (Oliver's creative swearing rather suits a Quidditch player, who's bound to have encountered some choice language on the pitch, and the term 'Snitch bunny' is a wonderful creation). All of those elements are blended well, which creates enough variety to keep things interesting, and there's no overload of any particular one element to make it too dark, or fluffy, or silly or dry.
Now we get to what really captivates me about this story – the characters. You've achieved that crucial, but yet really tricky balance, necessary with minor characters and kept them true to the little we do know of them from canon, whilst putting your own stamp on them - you have a Katie and an Oliver here who are truly your own. They have the facets that I expect to see in their characters, but they also have traits that are fresh and new and not how I've quite seen them handled before.
I love the way you've really brought out the Gryffindor side of dear Mr Wood, because sometimes I think all we really see of him in canon are more Hufflepuff traits of determination and commitment, but his chivalry and slight 'saving people thing' that seems to be a motivating force behind what he's doing for Katie are very Gryffindor-like.
Katie, however, is perhaps more Hufflepuff-like that I've ever seen her and I find that a very interesting take on her character. I think punch she throws at Blake though does definitely showcase her Gryffindor streak, and I actually don't find anything un-Gryffindor in her running and hiding after watching Fred's death rather than fighting, because that strikes me simply as her being in shock, which can obviously be incredibly powerful, rather than a lack of courage.
However, the fact that what draws her out of her funk over Fred was guilt that Angelina was worrying for her, her forgiveness for Draco (where Gryffindors a often seem to hold a grudge), the fact that she doesn't want to get involved with Oliver because she's too much of a mess for it to be fair to him, and the way that her first thought on finding out about Heather was in fact that if Heather and Oliver weren't broken up she owed Heather an apology rather than any concern for the fact it would also mean that Oliver had used her, Katie, abominably too, all strike me as far more Hufflepuff-like. I think perhaps bringing out that side of her is one of the major elements that make your Katie quite unique.
I'm intrigued to see, as, being Quidditch players, they seem to both be 'very physical beings' as I think Hermione described Victor (or something to that effect at least) – Katie won't talk to her parents about the Battle when she first comes home so she flies instead because she can't cope, and Oliver kisses her because he doesn't know what to say when she's upset behind the Burrow – how that will play out within their relationship as it develops, because I could see that their unwillingness/inability to talk things out could be a source of conflict (and after all there's only so much ground make up sex can cover!).
I do think they have a wonderful chemistry building between them, that had a real spark to it in the almost-smut scene, and I like the way you reversed the roles there – I always see Oliver as the more dominant of the pair, but it was Katie taking charge there. The little comments though about how he is 'letting' her take charge, and how he's the one to put a stop to it for Katie's sake, show that actually it's really just that compulsion to save her coming through again. Oliver is still ultimately in control (and I do hope at some point we will see the situation reversed and he will ravish her finally!), but Katie lacks control in every other aspect of her life at that point so in letting her have control of something then he's redressing that balance for her, but only so far and then he takes back that control as soon as he thinks it's for her own good. Gentlemanly certainly, but I wonder if perhaps there's a slightly darker side to Oliver that could be at risk of becoming a little controlling. I may just be, and probably am, somewhat overanalysing now though, but really you've written such wonderful characters that it's hard not to search for the nuances.
Anyway, dear, as this is fast becoming a respectable one shot in its own right, I'll just end by saying thank you for writing something so lovely just to satisfy my Katie/Oliver craving, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
It's like a present, getting a review from you. I've always adored our character discussions, so going this in-depth in a story is just pure awesome.
I see your Britpicks and raise you a 'I shall go back and fix those'. :D And the Apparition thing...I realised it when I wrote it but didn't want to go back and uproot anything in the story. I think I might have them Floo to practise for the first time so Katie knows where she is supposed to Apparate. I could definitely change that with minimal editing. Laziness is what that was.
I sort of want Katie to be more submissive at first, because she's still unsure of a lot of things and is perfectly willing to let Oliver lead. After what happened to both of them, she is glad that someone else can take the reigns and he is glad to have someone to distract him. It's kind of an emotional symbiosis for the both of them.
Honestly, I never really noticed that I had made Oliver sort of bossy, but I think Katie would be so used to him like that that it wouldn't bother or offend her. He spent years being the martinet Quidditch captain that being in control of a situation is far more the norm for him than not, not to mention he plays a position in which he relies solely on himself. It just seemed to me the natural progression of his off-the-pitch personality.
That being said, I agree that they are more inclined toward action than talking, because every time she brought up anything Oliver didn't want to talk about, he slammed the proverbial door in her face. He's not comfortable with that level of verbal intimacy, as he admitted in chapter 1.
I'm glad you like the story, and the overall response to it was that people wish it were canon. So do I, actually. JKR shoudl just come out and say that Oliver Wood married Katie Bell and they had a dozen smexy children. :D
Wonderful review, dear, and as I'm sure I've missed a score of things you brought up, such is my giddy haze from reading it, please feel free to prod on AIM if you would like to chat about it further. :D
Summary: Lily Evans wasnâ€™t the only Gryffindor with a childhood friend. Whilst she was meeting the boy who would introduce her to the magical world, someone else was learning how to mix with Muggles.
This is not, however, a story about Lily Evans. This is a tale about James Potter and the Muggle girl that he never quite forgot.
This story is for Natalie (hestiajones) who makes me laugh more than most people and has been a very supportive friend, despite our separate continents. Happy Birthday, mate!
Iâ€™m indebted to Gina (Gmariam) who kindly offered to beta this short one-shot, and then didnâ€™t complain when it mushroomed into a chaptered fic.
Because of an archive gliitch, this fic has been temporarily put down a rating. the content remains the same and it is still a 6th-7th. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. If I had been, then Sirius, Remus, James, Lily and Tonks would not have died. Peter, however would have died in an icky manner
OMMPP! Juggling won 2 QSQ's for Best Chaptered Marauder and Dita won Best Original Character. Seriously pleased and shocked here. Thank you.
The chapter titles are all from Keane songs.
I have to confess that I was really pleasantly surprised by this story, Carole. Not that I don't expect to enjoy your stories, because I always do, but because James Potter is generally one of my least favourite characters. I don't dislike him in any of the usual scary, ardent sevgirl-type ways or think he is a despicable human or anything like that. My antipathy is purely based on how uninspiring most characterisations of him tend to be. I've read too many stories that make him a really obnoxious mix of cocky, misunderstood and yet irredeemably bland, so I tend to shy away from stories that feature him, but I think that, shockingly, you may have actually converted me to appreciating that, written well, he can be complex, layered and ultimately sympathetic.
I really like how you have him think of himself as this chivalrous, brave Gryffindor, and his actions towards Dita really do play that out, but yet you don't brush his teenage thoughtlessness (however intentionally cruel) under the carpet either. I really like the way Dita calls him out over his actions towards Snape and makes him view things differently - it really gives him space to grow as a character and mature and he's far more interesting for having his less admirable traits taken into account as well as the positive ones.
I found myself developing a lot of respect for Dita throughout; she comes across as a girl with a real core of inner strength. Growing up as a mixed-race girl in a rural village in the '70s, not to mention being smart enough to end up at the local grammar, can't be an easy situation, let alone being excluded from the world of the person she loves, and yet she carries herself with dignity and grace. I found myself wondering if perhaps Remus was right at the end and if perhaps, had things been different and James weren't so hardheaded in his desire to protect her, her sheer determination may actually have been enough to save him.
Despite the fact that the story manages to span very few scenes over such a long period, the progression from friendship to love to heartbreak felt entirely natural and the whole story was effortlessly well paced.
I think part of why it felt so natural was that the emotions were very well handled, and I love how you aren't afraid to be understated with them either. Dita's stoic acceptance of James death and her lack of surprise is so much more affecting and shows the depth of her understanding of the sort of man he was so much better than any more melodramatic reaction would have.
The only thing, style-wise, I found I did struggle with at times was the point of view. I found myself a little muddled at certain points as to whether I was in James' or Dita's head, which did just jar me out of the story a little. Mostly your writing is so fluently written and comfortable and easy to follow, but I just found myself feeling a tiny adrift on the rare occasion when the point of view didn't feel quite as firmly rooted.
Finally, I thought the concept of the parallel to Lily's friendship with Snape was very astute because of the way that the two friendships are almost the inverse of one another: for Severus and Lily it was the magical world that brought them together but they grew apart as people; whilst for James and Dita, they grew together as people but the magical world wrenched them apart.
I'm so very glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and read this.
Author's Response: Hannahhhhh, Thank you so much for the lovely, in-depth review. I feel very humble because this response cannot possibly do it justice.
I like James Potter very much, but I agree he can come across as a very bland character. There isn't much we know about him compared to the other Marauders, so I think people tend to fixate on the two things they do know - he was an insufferable prat when he was 16, and a hero when he died trying to save his wife and child. But obviously there has to be a lot more to him. I wrote this story for Natalie and at the time it wasn;t supposed to be much more than a short oneshot about James and a Muggle girl, but as the story progressed, Dita and James became a lot more important. I wanted someone else apart from Lily to be the person who showed him what a prat he was, and yet ... she also had to see that Snape wasn't as defenceless as she'd thought because I simply don;t believe that's the case.
Anyway, so that's why the story developed as it did. I take your point about the head-hopping. My beta (Gina) did point it out to me a few times, and I thought I'd rewritten it to assuage her concerns, but I can see where it might not have worked.
Thank you again for the tremendous review ~Carole~
From the first time Rose Weasley saw Scorpius Malfoy on the Hogwarts Express, she knew they were fated to be enemies. At least, that was the plan. But as the years went on, she found that it was easier said than done. The gap between who she was and who her family wanted her to be was always widening. Her life becomes a tangled web of mistakes and regrets as she finds herself drawn to the one boy she was told to hate, until finally she makes a choice. A choice that might have just lost her the only one who had always been there for herâ€¦
I think what I enjoyed most about this story, Ariana, was the way in which you managed to write Rose across the entirety of her teens and show her growing and maturing but yet remaining the same character at the core – the girl who went back to Scorpius at the end was recognisably the same girl who first walked away from him on the train, but just older and wiser. That's quite a difficult progression to handle, particularly when you are doing it in such a short span of words and with such brief scenes, rather than having the luxury of following that growth more extensively (like in canon for example), but I think you really succeeded in it.
I also think you managed really well at capturing each age and maintaining the distinction between the different ages. I particularly liked that peculiarly childish mix of uncertainty about going to Hogwarts and yet certainty that her dad must be right, and only seeing the world in terms of black and white that Rose has at eleven. I think my favourite scene though was Year 3. It made me cringe, because it made me vividly recall the awkward, self-consciousness of being thirteen that you captured perfectly, where of course falling over in public would have been the end of the world. I loved the little details too like Rose knowing the age difference to her crush to the day – they seemed so very much like the silly obsessiveness that exists at that age and show the care that you clearly put in to making the characters sound appropriate to their age.
The only place that the age-appropriate feel to the characterisation broke down a little for me was in Rose's relationship with her mother, because it struck me as being more like that of a younger teen and her mother than a grown up mother-daughter relationship. I find it totally plausible that Hermione could have been tidying/throwing out Rose's things (because mothers never seem to lose that instinct to tidy up after you no matter how old you get), but the way Hermione was so brazen about demanding Rose explain the letter as if she had a right to know (which she doesn't given that Rose is an adult who happens to be living at home rather than a child still under her parents' care) and the way Rose was so accepting of that just didn't entirely sit right for me.
I know that Hermione was intervening out of concern that Rose had made a choice for all the wrong reasons rather than any autocratic purpose, but whilst I could see Ron blundering in bullishly, I do wonder if perhaps Hermione might show a little more respect for her daughter's privacy and the fact that Rose is a grown woman, so her choices are her own concern no matter how wrong they might be, and approach the issue a little more circumspectly, given how she generally seems to react with a certain amount of patience in canon to Harry and Ron being stupid about things even when she clearly just wants to bang their heads together.
I did really enjoy though how you have clearly thought carefully about Rose's characterisation, because so often the fanon-accepted characterisation of her seems to be as Hermione version 2, which can get quite tiresome and repetitive, so I love when authors are willing to take a risk and break out of that mould. I see a lot more of Ron in your Rose than Hermione, and that makes her so much fresher and more original to read. You've created a great balance between her being a very sympathetic character, who I can empathise with, and a character who at times I want to strangle for being so blinkered, especially with the really effective way that you highlight her immaturity when she ends her relationship with Scorpius by drawing the direct parallel with her walking away on the train.
I do hope you choose to write her again at some stage, because she seems so richly developed and at the end of the story I found myself wanting more (not because the story felt in any way incomplete but because I enjoyed reading about your Rose so much).
I think though, I'd have liked to get to know Scorpius a little better. Inevitably, with the love interest character, the reader is always going to get the main character's idealised view of them, which limits the depth that it's easy to develop and is something I know I always struggle with when I'm writing pairing-based stories, but whilst I liked him and I could see what attracted Rose to him and how they worked as a couple (which was great because that's something so many stories seem to lack), I didn't feel like I entirely got what made him tick (although, seeing him as a Healer at the end was great because it did give me a little more insight and was a nice touch).
I love to see clichés twisted and played with and made new and original, and so I really enjoyed what you did with the Romeo and Juliet motif that gets so overused with these two. It was very effective how in reality the problem was all in Rose's head and how in fact it wasn't their families keeping them apart at all but Rose herself and her own false expectations and insecurities. It was a much subtler way of creating conflict and much more enjoyable for that.
You say about a fluffiness warning, but I really wouldn't say this is a particularly fluffy story – as Paige reminded me in a review recently, fluff implies a lack of substance, which is definitely not a charge that could be levelled at this story. Yes, it has a happy ending, but it's a well deserved happy ending won through a struggle and a great deal of personal growth, which makes the ending feel both fitting and satisfying.
All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed this story, Ariana.
Author's Response: Wow. This is one of the best reviews I have ever received in my whole life :). Thank you so, SO much for that, SPEW buddy! And I'm so sorry it's taken me this long to respond -- RL is literally killing me. Anyways, I'm so glad you liked seeing Rose through the years! I was a little hesitant to write it like that, because I didn't want it to seem choppy or broken up, but I liked being able to write Rose at so many different points of her life. I am so happy you thought she was, for the most part, age-appropriate. With the Rose-and-her-Mother scene ... rereading that part makes me see what you mean. I'm not very good at writing Hermione in general, and I think I over-exaggerated her compassion (if that's the right word?) and insistence that her daughter not live and grow up in a hate-filled world as Hermione herself did. But I think I focused too much on Hermione and not realizing that Rose wasn't a little girl anymore, even at nineteen. I'm so glad you liked the characterization of Rose -- it was sort of nerve-wracking to write her because she's Next-Gen, and therefore almost completely unknown. I think her Ron-ness was a little inadvertent ... probably came from me trying so hard not to make her miniHermione :)). Hmm, Scorpius ... I do think I could have written about him more. It was difficult writing him in this story because while I like Rose, I have a work-in-progress with Scorpius/...NotRose. So it was a little more difficult for me to write him and I think that's why he doesn't appear as much as he should, which really just goes to show that I'm sort of a cowardly writer :). And I'm glad you didn't think the Forbidden Love was clichéd. In some S/R stories I've read, it definitely is a rewrite of Romeo and Juliet, as you said, and I was trying to create something that wouldn't necessarily be a forbidden love, but it wouldn't be an easy love, either. I'm doubly happy that you don't think it's fluffy, by the way! I loved Rose too much to give her a sad ending, and I thought the result was a bit sappy. All in all, I am so excited that you enjoyed reading this! Thank you for this amazingly wonderful review, Hannah! I was blown away by how observant you are. You definitely deserved that SPreviEW award :) . Thanks again! xx Ariana
For over four years, Dean Thomas had been sending his polite regrets to his mum, begging off of coming home for Christmas. But when he sensed discord in the most recent letter from his Muggle family, he decided that he needed to stop making excuses and start counting his blessings.
What he found when he got there, however, proved to be more than just a simple family gathering.
This story was nominated for a 2011 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best Post-Hogwarts Story
Merry Christmas, Jess!
You know, I think this might have just become one of my absolute favourites of your stories (and it's up against some stiff opposition!). There's just a wonderful simplicity about it - it's just ordinary people going about their ordinary messed up lives that just happen to be complicated by magic. It makes it so relatable and beautifully understated.
I love the attention that you give to backstory. The mess that Dean is in and how he hasn't been able to face going home before, and the backstory to his father and the side plot about his sister all add something, and I love how you tie them all so neatly together. The sub-plot with his sister would just be left hanging by a lot of less skilled writers as random filler, but instead you use it to illustrate so perfectly the lessons that Dean has learnt from finding out about his father and tie everything back up together in a neat, shiny little bow.
I always love your attention to detail as well. You clearly did a bit of research on London's transport because about half hour sounds just about right to me for a bus ride between Kings Cross and Bethnal Green (and I love that, given he's a West Ham fan, you thought to put Dean's family on the eastern side of the city). So few people bother to put the thought into those little details that you do, and for me it's something that always sets your stories apart, because it really shows the care you put in.
Also one other little detail I loved was Dean's mum's assumption that he hadn't had sex, because it really highlights that she is still seeing him as the teenager who left to go on the run, rather than the grown man he's become. It's not going to have occurred to her of course that he's grown up in the interim because she hasn't seen it happen. There's just so much implied by that one awkward, little exchange and it's such a subtle observation and one I'm so impressed you thought to include.
I could wax lyrical all morning, but I probably ought to go and peel sprouts instead really. Anyway dear, fab story, particularly as it seemed to be giving you no end of trouble when you were writing it.
Yayyyy, my endless harrassing of both Carole and Google for details about geography paid off. I tried very hard to make these details correct and unbothersome, but they're the parts I put the most work into. I just wanted that sense of Dean being so familiar with his surroundings yet still detached from them that the only thing on his mind is how long it's taking him to get from Point A to Point B instead of being excited that he's going home. I think it's something we can all relate to, which I think of as 'Are we there yet?' syndrome. :D
You know, I will be honest, I wasn't sure whether this story was good or just nearly 10K of ramble. By the end, I just sort of wanted it to be over so I could get back to my Snape fic that I just sort of posted and moved on. I really should go back and re-read it, since both you and Carole seem to think it's really good.
Like, um, Happy Christmas, yo! I miiiiiiiissssssss you.
Summary: Teddy Lupin decides to dress up as Father Christmas and surprise his family at the Burrow. Before returning to the party, he receives his own visit, as well as an enigmatic gift that may or may not decide his future.
This is Gmariam of Ravenclaw writing for the Great Hall Christmas Challenge, Prompt Three.
This is just lovely, Gina, and the perfect read for Christmas morning. It's left me with a warm, cosy, magical Christmassy feel, a big smile on my face and a little bit of belief in Father Christmas. :o)
Author's Response: A belated thank you, Hannah! I Thank you so much for reading this story and for such a lovely review. I wasn't sure if this story would come off as sweet and fluffy or eye-rollingly sappy and stupid, so I'm glad it brought a smile to your face! I really appreciate the review! ~Gina :)
Nearly eighty years have passed since the Battle of Hogwarts, yet Padma Patil cannot banish the string of tragic memories from her mind. A part of her still holds onto them as a way to see the faces of those she has lost once more.
Her memories tell the story of a young woman too afraid to fight against Voldemort’s regime. Throughout her final year at Hogwarts, Padma had been forced to choose between defying the Death Eaters and keeping her loved ones safe. Her decision is one that will ultimately haunt her for the rest of her life.
Nominated for a 2011 QSQ - Best Dark/Angsty Story
I am lucca4 of Gryffindor and this is my final for the Missing Moments class on the MNFF Beta Boards.
** indicates a line taken directly from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pages 659-660
How have I not read this before, Ariana, because with damaged Ravenclaws and angst, it's so far up my street? I really enjoyed it.
You gave Padma so much depth as a character and really set up that twin relationship so well. I loved the way you made her and Parvati so outwardly different, but yet in the end the same at the deepest level, with that steely streak of defiance that ran through them both, and also so connected by the bond between the pair of them. It was a wonderfully subtle touch to show the effect of their estrangement on Padma because that echoes back at the end as a pale shadow of what Padma must have gone through being permanently separated from her sister.
I always think it's fascinating to see those students who didn't necessarily choose to take a stand against the Carrows but yet hated the new regime. I tend to think there must have been a fair few of them, because life isn't black and white and not everyone is always a brave hero or an evil villain. Plenty of people just want to keep their heads down and get on with their own quiet lives. I think you did a really good job of portraying that in Padma and the difficulty of that for her.
I think I've said this about your writing before, but you do have a real skill for covering wide swathes of time in your story. You cover the whole of seventh year in a series of vignettes, but it doesn't feel rushed, and it never feels like any section either starts with an info-dump of what's happened in the interim or, conversely, leaves me confused as to what has passed 'off-screen'.
You kept up a really tense atmosphere really well throughout the whole story, which is impressive given its length. There weren't really any truly light moments in the story: even Padma's burgeoning relationship with Terry didn't feel like a break in the tension because there was always a note of intensity and desperation to it and a looming cloud of impending tragedy. Yet, it never felt oppressive either, which is a very fine line to walk.
I always figured that Padma would lose someone, but the ending still felt like a punch to the stomach. Terry's death was sad, but I felt like Padma would survive it because she still had her sister at the end of the last vignette we saw. Then suddenly, you announced so starkly that she didn't even have that and the bleak, lonely world of this old lady came into heart-wrenching focus.
You have a real talent for writing emotion without it spilling into melodrama. Padma was a woman who'd lost everything, and I really, really felt that. The cascade of deaths and then blindness, on paper, sounds like Greek tragedy and too much to be convincing and yet you made it work without overplaying your hand at all, maybe because you didn't show the immediate aftermath but instead showed the effect on Padma both intensified and yet softened by the passing of a great deal of time.
The ending is so intensely tragic: this image of a lonely, old woman, buried in darkness in so many ways, with no joy left in life except in memories that bring as much heartache as pleasure and no will to live but no will to end the pain either, just waiting for death throughout a life that ironically spans many decades. I think an echo of this story and the tragedy of that image will stay with me for a long time.
A truly breathtaking story, dear.
Author's Response: Hannah, I was so happy to get a review from you! I forgot you loved the Ravenclaws so much…I'm so glad you thought I characterized them well. And I'm happy you didn't think the breaks were too choppy. The fic was already getting way, way too long that I didn't think I had time to cover every minute of her year there at Hogwarts. Thank you so, so much for leaving this absolutely lovely review! It made me smile, as I didn't think I would be getting any new reviews for this story . xx Ariana
Summary: They move in a circle. She goes one way, he the other. It is a punishment neither deserves nor wants, and yet she holds the power to stop it.
Nominated for a 2011 Quicksilver Quill Award in Best Non-Canon Romance.
How is it that your beautiful writing has the power to make my heart bleed for a ship that normally does next to nothing for me, Julia?
This story is intriguing in so many ways. I'm always fascinated by this sort of AU where the trio is ripped apart and whoever is left slowly fragments. It's so sad to see a character like Hermione, who has survived so much, become so brittle, but yet there is a macabre sort of puzzle to teasing out what it would take to reach this point. I almost wonder if it's the survivor's guilt more than the grief that eats at her. There's also the total isolation of tearing away the two people she is closest to, and perhaps there is a strange sort of logic in her turning to Draco because as the trio's nemesis, she has perhaps a stronger connection to him in some ways than anyone else she has left.
I also love the way that you invert the reader's sympathy here. It's such a clever manipulation, how you take us from this point where it seems Draco is being unjustly cruel at the start to the realisation that Hermione is actually the one holding all the cards and holding out on him. What Draco is doing to her isn't fair, but by the end it is understandable how he is only hurting her because she hurts him.
I think the moment that I really saw his vulnerability was when he went to make a cup of tea. There was something so mundane and domestic about that rather than the obvious choice of sending him off to the kitchen searching for Firewhisky. He's looking for simple comfort there, and it's subtler than Hermione's blunt, broken desperation but no less affecting.
The whole situation is a mess of who's most damaged and who is actually punishing who, but I rather think that actually they are both punishing themselves and that the other person is really just collateral damage.
I thought your comment about their reasons for the first time happening really summed that up because repentance and regret both scream of penance and atonement but from a different angle. They think they are both so different and need different things from each other, but really they are both just flip sides of the same self-flagellating coin.
What really makes this story though is, as ever, your use of language. You have a real talent as a wordsmith. It's hardly an original comment to say that your prose is lyrical and fluid, but it is. Even down to the way you weight short and long sentences. In the opening paragraph, the sudden switch in length at the end of it with, Eyes flicker over to her briefly, instantly draws attention to that as the most important line of the paragraph because all of Hermione's other observations pale into insignificance for her once he deigns to look at her.
I have to say too that I adore how you use description. I am a huge fan of imagery, but I get really frustrated by aimless description that serves no purpose. Every image you portray though adds something to mood or character or emotion. Nothing is superfluous. One of my favourite phrases, for example, is dusty light flickers through the thin skin of her eyelids, because not only is it beautiful but it gives so much in terms of highlighting fragility and faded, left-behindness.
In a similar vein, you manage to imbue even the simplest things with such symbolism, like with the lights dim and a bell tolls. I have to confess, I am in total awe of how you've taken something as everyday and bland as last orders and turned it into something that feels prophetic and powerful.
I think to be honest I'm more than just a little in awe of what you've achieved with this story in general. It is achingly sad and beautiful.
Author's Response: Hi Hannah! Oh my goodness, thank you so much for this wonderful review! I'm not sure what to say because I'm just so flattered and in awe, to be honest. It's always such a compliment when someone who isn't a fan of a particular ship tells me that they enjoyed one of my fics, regardless. AU Dramione is my not-so-secret indulgence and a lot of the complaints about both AU and Dramione fics is that often characterisation is lost to plot (which is something you continue to refute with every single brilliant AU you write, Hannah). So, when I went into writing this I wanted to focus on the characters and make sure that they were still recognisable despite the extraordinary circumstances they're in.
And thank you so much for your compliments on my descriptive imagery. I'm always quite self-conscious that I go over the top with that so it's always nice to be reassured that it doesn't read as superfluous or boring. Again, thanks so much for this review, Hannah. It brought a smile to my day :)