Congratulations on having this story nominated for a QSQ. I agree with the nomination completely in that you portray the shifting dynamics between Harry, Ron and Hermione very well, so I'll be interested to see how this story does.
I really like the way that you portray Hermione. In the books, she comes across as so bossy and know-it-all-ish that I think it overwhelms her more emotional and uncertain moments. In this piece, she seems far more sensitive, tentative, and emotional than I had expected. I like how you show her uncertainty over Ron and her insecurity about herself, which I think is definitely present in the books but is downplayed by her bossiness. However, I think that you keep Hermione in character wonderfully by mixing the moments where she's emotional with moments where she's handling the situation more pragmatically (e.g. the scene in which she tells Harry that she just likes him as a friend). You blend these sides of her together seamlessly, which makes her feel very three-dimensional to me.
On occasion, Harry feels a little too mature to me. He seems to view his relationship with Ron very objectively, and he seems very empathetic and understanding about how Ron feels (e.g. "even though Cedric is a perfectly nice guy, he kind of hates him too. So Harry understands." or when he admits to himself that he hasn't really been fair to Ron). In the books, Harry generally seems, to me, to be somewhat oblivious to other people's emotions and motives (e.g. in his relationship with Cho, or his relationship with Ron after being selected as champion). I like how you counterbalance his empathy for Ron with his attempts to justify his secrecy about the relationship. However, I still feel that at times his ability to empathize with Ron is slightly out of character.
My favorite part of this story is the way in which you depict Harry's relationships with Ron and Hermione. You capture Harry's care for his friends beautifully. The way Harry struggles with guilt over his relationship with Hermione, in my opinion, makes his loyalty to Ron obvious; yet his participation in that relationship, I see as proof that he really cares about Hermione also. All the subtleties you include in their relationships, for me, make them much more believable.
I've always had some trouble completely buying Harry/Hermione while Ron still likes Hermione romantically. That said, I really like how you develop their relationship as caring rather than romantic, and it makes it much more believable for me. However, I still have some trouble seeing Harry having a physical relationship with her. I can see him comforting her and hugging her, but I feel like Harry would be too loyal to Ron to start a relationship with Hermione while Ron's still interested in her.
The style you wrote this in sounds almost poetic. The present tense and third person make Harry's confusion about his relationship with Hermione and his care for his friends feel more ongoing than, I think, writing in past tense would. One of the things I like best about the style is the almost blunt narration. The certainty with which you state that "it's not love" emphasizes that the relationship between Harry and Hermione is more caring than romantic really well. I think the bluntness also helps keep this from feeling in overly emotional at all. The other thing that I really like about the style is the way that you make a statement, then expand on it-- "They aren't dating, don't take long walks around the lake or make out in the Astronomy Tower later at night."-- I think it makes the narration sound more casual and more like Harry's thoughts. The only nitpick I have about this is that on occasion, it feels like a dash might have been slightly clearer than a comma.
I think my favorite section of the piece is: "They don't have sex, don't fuck in some abandoned classroom like a bunch of stupid hormonal teenagers. He does kiss her for a long time though". The way that the bluntness of the first sentence contrasts with the more gentle second sentence works really well to emphasize that their relationship is more caring and tender rather than just physical.
I finished this story feeling happy. Regardless of how their friendship sometimes hurts them, I like how you showed how blissful their friendship can be. The story feels happy and optimistic, but without sacrificing realism. I really enjoyed reading this, and good luck on the QSQs-- I hope you do well!
Author's Response: Wow, I had no idea I had been nominated for a QSQ. That's such a huge compliment, and I was so pleased to find out from reading your review. This is probably the most honest, thorough review I've ever gotten, so I'd really like to thank you for that. The balance of Hermione's character was interesting for me to write, so I'm really glad that you enjoyed that part. Going to be honest here: I'd never really written a story that involved the whole "trio". At least, not a good story. So to really get down to the nitty-gritty and explore their characters was my favorite part of this story, and I'm really glad that you appreciated it. While I like to think that Harry's "relationship" with Hermione would make him a bit mature and thus empathetic, you're probably right that it's a bit out of character. He was always a bit more (for lack of a better word) emotional than thoughtful in the books. So you're right on that one. =) I really love that you pointed out how his relationship with Hermione makes it clear he cares for her, but that his guilt shows his friendship with Ron - because that is EXACTLY what I was trying to portray. In terms of Harry having a physical relationship with Hermione, I do agree with you that it's unlikely. In the wakes of what I consider Ron's betrayal in GOF, I think it'd be a bit easier for Harry to forget his loyalty to Ron though. I totally agree about the dash, instead of comma thing. I tend to overuse commas and underuse dashes. Your compliment about my writing was SO nice . You haven no idea how much I appreciate something like that. Sometimes I'm afraid my "blunt" style doesn't work, so a review like yours just reaffirms my faith in my own abilities. And what a coincidence, but your favorite section is my favorite too. That was my absolute favorite line to write, and probably one of my favorite lines I've never written. So it means the world that you liked it too. Thank you SO much, again, for your kind and detailed review. It will help with my future writing.
I was so touched by this story. It actually brought tears to my eyes, and that doesn't happen very often. I can't believe I haven't stumbled across it before!
I don't read Harry/Hermione fics - I have never particularly liked the idea of them as a couple, but this fic has shown me how it could work. I was so pleased you enforced the fact that they're not in love: I feel that if the two were ever to be together, it would be to block out a loss - like when Ron leaves in DH.
I also loved your characterisation. I think it can be hard when you go against canon to keep them in character, but here you presented a scenario which seemed completely legitimate.
Your depiction of Ron was also interesting. It reflects all the friends who are left behind when their best friend gets a girlfriend/boyfriend, but of course with Ron it's both of his best friends, and you can't help but feel sorry for him. It makes you wonder what happened to Harry after DH - did he see them less and less?
Perhaps the best part of this story was the subtle way you wrote the emotions of the characters. That, I think was what most appealed to me, because I empathised so much with them. Possibly my favourite part was when Hermione said how she sometimes needed to be a girl. I think that was a very astute bit of dialogue.
So overall, I really loved it. I think your writing was beautiful, and you really have an extraordinary grasp of the characters you dealt with. Well done!
Author's Response: I take it as a huge compliment when my story can bring tears to someone's eyes. I'm glad it was able to affect you. And I completely and utterly agree. I don't buy Hermione and Harry as a couple. I've read a few fics in which I've liked it, but as a "canon" couple, I never bought it. That's why this fic was a stretch for me to write, and why I'm thrilled that you've found it enjoyable. This was one of my first times really writing Ron's character, and I'm really glad you liked him. The idea was definitely to feel sorry for him, so I'm ecstatic that that came across properly. I do feel for Harry after DH. With Ginny and all, I'm sure they all still hung out. But I imagine it would be rather lonely to have your two best friends be in love. As I've said before, "subtle" is a huge compliment to me. Thank you so much. "Needing to be a girl" was probably one of my favorite lines of dialogue I've ever written. I'm thrilled you liked it. I'm going on and on, but as you can tell, I really appreciated your review. It means a lot. Thanks so much.
What a beautiful, beautiful story. I'm not usually one to gush, and I nearly always have something that bothers me about a story, but with this one... there's literally nothing. You've blown me away, author. I suppose the least I can do is tell you the things that I loved about this story.
The best part was that you nailed the three way dynamic of the Trio that so few authors get right. During the parts where Harry and Hermione are hiding, of course, that dynamic dulls down to basically your standard Harry/Hermione, but even in those moments, you throw in tiny pieces of Ron--for example, Harry holding Hermione while Ron watches from the stand. Or Harry kissing Hermione immediately after she's so hurt over Ron (and you know, people can't hurt you unless you love them first). The emotions between all three characters are so neatly intertwined, and you make the mess--navigating this mess, this not-boyfriend, not-love mess--seem so effortless in your words. Personally, as a reader, I'm a huge proponent of monogamy, of dating-if-you're-in-love, and I've quickly learned that real life rarely works that way. But even with what I see and accept, I'm always questioning people's motivations, whether they are being genuine, etc. The fact that you can narrate such an unclear situation and guide me past these tricky scenes without any residual questions or doubts or disbelief is very striking for me.
Last but not least, the part that nailed me, that absolutely sealed the deal on this story for me, was Harry's explanation of why and how these two Gryffindors--the ones who hold their principles above all else, these two characters who time and time again prove that their friendships mean everything to them--could do what they have done. The realization of Harry, finally, that they had been hiding, that while he did nothing technically wrong, he "broke something sacred" was devastatingly honest to me. Very realistic, and very much something I could imagine a 15 year old boy feeling and thinking (and even being oblivious about for so many months prior!).
In short, this story has stood out to me as one of my favorites in a long time. It's subtle, it's honest, and it's very well written. Thank you for sharing this piece with us at MNFF. :)
Author's Response: Your review actually made me tear up. It's been quite a long time since someone's been so clearly affected by my writing, and I always feel so honored when that happens. Thank you so much for your long review. I'm really glad you noted the importance of the Trio in the story, since that's exactly what I was going for. The story may be about Harry and Hermione, but it is very much about who they are, in regards to the friendship amongst Ron and the two of them. I agree with you, personally. I'm big on the whole in-love thing, both in stories and in real life. But I was struck by the idea of writing a story in which not-love mattered just as much. I'm thrilled that you think I've succeeded in explaining that type of situation. I'm also really glad that you enjoyed the "explanation" part of the story. I was honestly afraid it had gotten a bit too preachy, but I'm glad you could hear a 15-year-old thinking and acting like that. Being "subtle" is perhaps the kindest compliment for me. It means so much to me, as that's really what I was striving to achieve. Well, you said you aren't one to gush. Normally I'm not either. But your review really made my day. Thank you again, so very much. This was one of the most different stories I have ever written, in terms of genre, characters, and basically everything, so I'm glad that it was enjoyed.
I'm not one to read too much H/Hr, but I have to say, I like how you tied it very close to cannon and still got the essence of their friendship down. Again, really good!
Author's Response: I'm not a big H/Hr person either, so I'm really, really glad that you liked this. Thanks for reviewing.
Wow! Fantastic Writing. Keep up the good work!
Author's Response: I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for reading.