It gripped me, something inside me was knotted, twisting and turning all the while I was reading this. It's painful, but there is hope in the end. Nicely done!
Author's Response: Thank you :)
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 :)
Well hello, Madam Julia!
There is something sad and heart-breaking about this fic, and it’s not that my heart bleeds for the ship itself. I think there is something dark and twisted about torturing oneself by watching the object of your desire flirt with someone else — especially if they know you know and do it anyway. But I think Hermione deals with it quite well. I smiled at her borderline cattiness at saying ‘So Not His Type’.
She felt in-character to me throughout. It is a bit strange that she ends up with Draco after Harry is dead, and I’m assuming Ron is, as well, but after reading, I felt like it was almost like she was punishing herself by forcing herself into his affections and accidentally fell for him a little bit herself. But her persistence in not admitting her feelings for him, it almost felt to me like she was fighting like hell not to let go to her loved ones and that she would’ve been doing so in giving into Draco.
Draco felt in-character, as well. I can see him wanting to make her suffer by watching him feel up another girl. I think he would’ve done even if he and Hermione hadn’t had a thing going on, but it seemed like a true and correct act of pettiness to take every jab at her heart that he could and when he could. It was just so very Draco.
The idea of Hermione getting drunk and stumbling home breaks my heart. When she seemed relieved to even have made it via the Floo just conjures a pathetic picture of someone accidentally bouncing out into someone’s living room or kitchen, or maybe she hoped she would never come out at all. It makes me wonder how much the ever strong Hermione Granger can take before her resolve cracks and she turns into this mournful, shell of a person that she is in the fic. You really must write that sometime. :D
I got the shivers as she waited for Draco to come, almost glad of the distraction of the bickering neighbours downstairs. I knew he would be coming and for her sake, I hoped that he wouldn’t so she could finally let go. I didn’t care that she loved him; she needed to be freeeeee. DX And when he did come, it actually made a knot form in my stomach because of what I knew would happen.
Hermione stripping almost robotically was both potent and disgusting all at once. It made her look like a sad excuse of the woman she should’ve been and little more than his kept woman. Then and there I wanted to chop his bits off and make him suffer, but then he spoke and changed my perspective of everything.
He was tired of being punished.
She was leading him on. :O I never would’ve guessed that was coming, but she was making him pay for deaths he probably had nothing to do with. This makes me think that he did genuinely care for her in his own way but had lost the patience for her games, instead jerking her around by flaunting other women and trying to goad her into saying what he wants to hear, even if he himself isn’t able to say it.
All in all, this story, this game of affections between them, is so well drawn. You managed to make me sympathise with both of them, which I didn’t expect would happen with Draco. I remember the initial drabble, and the additions that you made to make it a one-shot really filled out the story and gave it so much more depth of character which is just… ridiculous for a 1200 word fic.
Your writing style is just so engaging, and it really wraps me up in the story. Once again, you managed to master the art of using sentence length to make the emotions of the fic move along at such a carefully measured pace. It felt like you orchestrated this on a stage, composing the score to elicit all the right reactions in all the right places in the story line. It was utterly stunning, and I’m glad I chose to read it today.
Author's Response: Hey Jess! Sorry for taking so long to reply to this. I wasn't ignoring you, I was just wondering how on earth I could leave a decent reply to this giant review xDDD Wow, Draco certainly did rile you and I'm glad! I didn't want to present him as this character who had miraculously lost all his flaws because he realised the error of his beliefs and was no longer under the influence of Voldemort. He may regret his past actions but he still has that cruel and vindictive streak to him. However, Hermione isn't perfect in this either and I really tried to get that across, too. She isn't perfect in canon and I love how you picked up on that cattiness because we see it time and again in the books, particularly in HBP regarding Ron and Lav Lav.
Hm, and while I say I'm glad Draco riled you up, I'm also glad you were able to sympathise with him after the slight twist. They're both playing games with each other and their stubbornness (which they both share) won't let them give in. I liked building up that dynamic because I think it fits certain aspects of their characters rather well.
I do have a back story in my mind as to how they ended up in this mess together and maybe one day I'll write it down but for this particular one-shot I really just wanted to explore a moment in time and the complexities of their relationship. Thank you so much for this wonderful review, Jess! It makes me smile to know that something I wrote could evoke such a response, especially from someone who does not like this ship! Keep on being awesome xD
Sad stroy. but well told
Author's Response: Thank you :) It is a very sad story.
Ah Julia - I've already given you many of my thoughts about your story, but I did want to come by and publicly tell you how much I liked your story and enjoyed working with you and your writing. Forgive me if I repeat myself, but it's just so amazingly evocative. It's hard to even pinpoint what and how, but from your word choice to your sentence structure, your style is all your own and its really beautiful to read.
I admitted I knew nothing about the GG pairing, but as far as I'm concerned, this works on its own. Draco is done particularly well. And like many of your other fics, it leaves the reader wanting to know more about these characters you've developed as your own. What happened to the people in that photograph? How did Draco and Hermione first hook up? And of course - what happens next?? That's one thing you do so well, is give the reader just enough to want more.
Really wonderful story, Julia! I hope you get more reviews. Thanks for allowing me to work with you on it!
Author's Response: Awww Gina, thank you so much! For your review, your patience, and everything else! It was such a pleasure to work with you :)
Sad, sweet and really good writen.
I love when the writer keep the core of the character.
Author's Response: Thank you :)
Noooo, you killed them both. Oh, Julia, heartbreaking story and totally AU, but wowsville you made it work. (I'm sure wowsville isn;t a proper word, I'll never be a Spewer).
What amazes me about your stories is not how poetic you are with your prose (because I think you're one of the best poets on the site) but how it keeps me totally entranced. You manage to make description essential and not overdone, and the emotions you invoke in this short piece are so very true.
I do want to kill Draco for chatting up the blonde bint though. I know he's annoyed with Hermione but, really, he shouldn;t be punishing her! That's not a crit of you, by the way, I think it shows great Draco characterisation because although he wasnts redemption, he's still a manipulative git.
Darn, I need more Dramione, now.
Brilliant story, Julia, just BRILLIANT! ~Carole~
Author's Response: Eep thanks so much, Carole! I know a lot of description bores some people but I really love to write like that, it's just how I see things in my mind, but I do worry that it reads rather tediously, so I'm glad you didn't think that. And yes, Draco is infuriating, isn't he. But I don't like him being this suave gentleman in fanfiction. He's not. He's inconsiderate, manipulative and has a cruelty about him that some writers like to ignore. It's good to know that came through! Anyway, thanks so much for the review, Carole. I really appreciate it :)