I have to say that I loved this story very much. I think this story of yours was on the shorter side (compared to your other ones, at least), and usually stories like that come off underdeveloped or lacking plot. Yours, however, was neither. It seemed like the perfect length for a story like this, and kept everything simple but thought-provoking. I particularly liked the ending of this story; it was a wonderful, albeit tragic, twist.
Your characterization is superb throughout the story. I loved how Katie still felt a tie to Fred, even though she claims she is in love with someone else. You did a great job of projecting Katie’s uncertainty and need for justification — very real and believably done — into her hallucination or illusion of Fred. Their love was also written very well, even though there is only one scene of a real interaction between them in the story. It is easy to see how close they were by witnessing Katie’s imagined moment with him in the bar. Katie has fallen in love again, or so she says, yet she still tries to speak with Fred in order to clear her conscious. Her tie to him is wonderfully tangible, displayed brilliantly through the projected image she creates of him.
What I especially love about the way you’ve portrayed Katie is her complexity. We see little of her throughout the books, but you’ve maintained what little canon elements are there and intermixed more unique characteristics to distinguish her as an individual. Her thirst for justification in loving someone else, and moving on from Fred, was wonderfully written. You showed how Katie still needs Fred, despite her insistence that she is in love. Her backing away from the passion she experienced with Fred in order to feel “safe” — almost self-preservation — made her seem so human.
Perhaps I’m just slow, but I really never expected the man who left Katie to be Fred. I expected that it was some character who had willfully abandoned her, or something of the like. The way the twist was done was perfect; just enough details were given so the reader was not left confused (although I admit I didn’t quite get the‘maybe I'm just a half’ line) and everything unfolded brilliantly at the end. Great job with this! Upon rereading the story before I wrote this review, I also saw several hints that sort of belied that everything was not as it appeared. The bartender’s wariness of Katie (who was, at that time, talking to herself), as well as Fred’s inability to touch her hand after she accuses him of leaving, add to the brilliance of the story and make it even more of an enjoyable read.
Wonderful job with this story, SPEW Buddy! It was one of the best I’ve ever read.
The introduction of this reminds me of this poetry collection called the ‘Back Maria’; the only here is that the gender roles are reversed. The subtle opening of the piece is rather interesting because you drop such small hints. It says more, though, because you paint a scene that we all know. It’s interesting that you have Katie feeling guilty because the other person left. Isn’t it funny how that happens? What’s done is done and it all settles and remains. That’s such a powerful line. The interaction with the barman is just priceless. It is reminiscent of an Ernst Hemingway novel, in many respects, and, he, too, turned to the same relief.
There are a couple phrases here that I didn’t understand on the first go round because they rather sound like misplaced personification: “… the gulps she takes are desperate.” On reading that over again, though, that makes sense for someone who wants to drown themselves in drink. I played that line in my head again and again to finally fit that one into place. The emotion that drips from this piece is done rather well, especially if you consider she is the drunken, disoriented thinker who can’t really piece anything together. Drink doesn’t fix anything.
Again, and I’m sorry to mention this, but you do this again and again for such a small piece. I kept on thinking of the different meanings of ‘left’. Of course, I landed on the in the context of ‘abandonment’ or ‘dumped’. But, damn it, you surprise me again. The psychology that you pour into this is simply fascinating. We twist ideas in our heads to rationalize them and we especially do that in regards to death. Saying that he left sounds better than he was murdered or he died. The same goes for the displaced anger that she feels both towards Fred and this barman.
The characterization of barman comes out ever so slowly, but he’s there. The line about the other half is just written so complicated, but it’s probably one of the best lines that I’ve read in a while because it says so much. It’s quite a talent that you craft these lines that can be read on so many dimensions, and they are just fascinating when you think about them. I don’t know why I thought this, but the whole time through this piece I kept thinking, ‘This is going to end up being Draco’, and then you mentioned the shop and that shifted to this, ‘Well, George got Angelina, what if his brother got a shot?’ Well, I have to say that I’m blushing like a school girl now.
Fred got some.
Well done, Hannah. Thank you for the read.
Hello there Hannah,
This was such a wonderful story in all respects. It was captivating and had all the elements of a good one-shot. So often people (including myself, I have to admit) take a more complex idea and try and write it in one go. This story, however, was just the right length with the right amount of content. In general, the present tense worked wonderfully, as did the pacing; it really put you into that moment. The reason that it works so well as a one-shot is because you’ve simply painted a single moment, and not tried to make it any more or any less than that. I think you have to be in the right mood to read this story though. If you’re looking for something exciting you might find the start to be a little slow.
The start was gripping and immediately set the tone of what was to follow. I’m not a major fan of using only pronouns because at times it get’s confusing if there are too many “him”’s and “her”’s floating around, but you managed to avoid this, mainly because you gave us Katies name a short while in. I never would have guessed that it was Fred though. I guess the clues were there, but I really commend you for being able to keep that surprise for the end.
As in all your stories, you manage to really capture an emotion and just run with it. The piece was so dark and sad, and yet it was subtle. We could relate the all the characters and what they were feeling. Straight off at the start I could emphasise with Katie – we all know that conflicted feeling of guilt even though we don’t think we are to blame. I know a lot is said and debated on the topic of show and don’t tell, but I feel that you’ve managed to pull of “showing” perfectly. Lines like “The gulp she takes is desperate” tells me more about Katie at that moment than a whole lot of description. The little actions, like avoiding his eye, then avoiding the barman, really gives us an insight into her mental state.
The awkwardness of the next two paragraphs really just work so well – the story flows effortlessly forwards. I can almost feel the pain and tension in the sparse words of dialogue which follow. I always love a story where you have to read between the lines a little, and this is definitely one of those.
Your word choice throughout is also very clever. The line, “His smile is a flicker, like a fault in a recording, “ makes me turn green! It’s a magnificent description, and now, knowing that he is a ghost/figment of her imagination, it actually adds to and complements that spooky image for me personally.
I have to say that the line where he said he was “one of two of a kind” really confused me – but I realise now I was just being slow on the uptake!
The following dialogue is so beautiful it makes my heart melt: “That’s not love. That’s comfort,” summed her new life up. She had chosen not to take that risk again, not to play with fire and end up getting burned. I’ve spent some time now wondering about this. If I were in Katie’s position, what would I do? It’s so hard, because he left, but it wasn’t his fault. *sigh*
The flashback is so dramatically different from the rest of the story that it really stands out, and even some time after reading the fic I still remember it. It seems so care-free and easy, so natural and without pretence – the exact opposite of her life in the present.
And then, of course, the best line in the entire story, which made my eyes sting and my heart miss a beat:
"Does it ever scare you that the world's falling apart?"
Powerful writing, and definitely one of the best stories I’ve ever read. Well done.
Author's Response: Er, thanks, I think?
Ooh, I love love love this ever so much. I have to admit that I've had conversations with people who weren't actually there while drinking a bit too much. I so get now why the bartender was looking at her with concern...he thinks she's freaking crackers.
I like the realism and sheer possibility of this story, and while I still ship Draco/Katie in my heart, this odd, posthumous pairing is wonderful to contemplate.
Off I go now to read The Bookshop Owner's Gift. Rated Professors? Goody. :D
Author's Response: I've already told you that you made my evening with these reviews, my dear, but thank you again. I think it's probably something we've all done - I know I have. Actually, the whole concept stemmed from the beginning of a potential mental conversation with someone who wasn't there. I'm so glad that you picked up on the barman thinking she's lost it, because I wasn't sure if that was really clear enough, and I was trying to lay hints that something wasn't entirely normal. That's the thing, in my heart Katie/Oliver will always be my OTP, and yet my muse merrily and frequently pairs Katie with anyone and everyone in the vicinity (Fred, Charlie, Percy, Seamus, Dean and counting). I think I do need to explore Katie/Draco though.
This was a really creative idea for a fic, and written really nicely. It was great that you didn't mention who it was til the end, it kept the mystery up. I was almost in tears at the end. '"Or perhaps that should be one of two of a kind – or maybe I'm just a half?" he amends.' - this line was my favourite in the fic, great writing! Fred wasn't... quite how I imagined him from the books, but his character wasn't bad and I"m sorry I can't really pinpoint what didn't sit right. Great story!
Author's Response: Thanks for the lovely review. I'm glad the emotion of this story came through for you. I think I know what you mean about Fred - it was a hard line to tread to try and capture 'Fred' but at the same time keep a little mystery as to his identity until the end, so perhaps I did miss the mark a little. Plus, it's a much more serious conversation than he's ever involved with in canon so I had to extrapolate a little with the characterisation.