Hello, my SPEW buddy :)
This may only be a short one-shot, but I thought you worked a lot into it. While the story was, on the surface, about two people having drinks together on new year’s eve, I liked that it actually went a lot deeper than that. I felt that I gained a lot of insight into both Oliver and Susan. There was a lot of back-story, but you fitted it all in very smoothly and it never became too much to take in. The way you used the conversation to move the plot, especially towards the end, kept my attention really well.
The details that you worked into their conversation seemed very well thought out. For me, the story was more powerful because of the level of detail you provided about what happened during the war. You didn’t just vaguely mention that certain people had gone on the run; you showed how it had affected them short- and long-term, and it helped me to understand Oliver’s emotions a lot more. His guilt and regret made more sense because of it.
I think Oliver’s characterisation was a definite strength of the fic. The line, “His love for Quidditch had counteracted any need for anything physical beyond him and his broom,” fits him perfectly. There aren’t many men you could believably say that of, but with Oliver it seems right. It also fitted in very well with that final revelation about Hermione. I think it was easier for me to understand that reference because I had read What the Stories Say, but I expect I would have figured it out even if I hadn’t read it. I thought that was a very good note to end on. The sadness seemed right for the pensive mood of the story, without being too bleak.
Susan isn’t a character we know a lot about from canon, but I think you did a good job of fleshing her out. Her insight didn’t feel forced or plot-devicey to me; it seemed natural and I suppose it’s a good trait for a Hufflepuff. The one thing I would say, though, is that I’d have liked to see a bit more of what Oliver thought of her. Early on, you gave a lot of detail about Susan’s appearance and said that Oliver found her pretty, but it wasn’t followed up. They confide in each other heavily, but there is no mention of how they feel about each other.
I don’t necessarily mean that a romance would have been right at this stage; that could have detracted from the Hermione thing, and from the sadness of Susan’s feelings for Ernie. What I mean is that I’d have liked to see a hint of why Oliver trusted Susan with such sensitive, personal information. I liked that you made the conversation more and more personal as the evening wore on and the alcohol took its toll, but something more would have been good, I think.
I can’t criticise your prose. I thought you struck a good balance between description and plot, emotion and action. I particularly liked the way you wrote speech. It seemed very natural, never forced or stilted, and that was important when speech was used to reveal so much of the plot. The only thing I would say is that you could have used speech to give some hints of their drunkenness. I don’t have much personal experience with alcohol, but Oliver and Susan seemed just as sober at the end as at the start to me, despite them having had plenty of Firewhisky.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the story. The idea of Oliver and Hermione having a relationship is an unusual one, but you make it convincing even from such a small mention, and I felt like I really understood Oliver. This wasn’t exactly an enjoyable read because of the subject matter, but it was certainly a good read.
Author's Response: Oh my gosh, latest response ever! I recently reread this story, and I totally agree with how I need some more indication of trust between the characters - it wasn't something that I had really thought about before you mentioned it, but you are totally right! I'm really glad you liked the dialogue - I find that I have a hard time making dialogue realistic - I make them sound all like University professors, ahaha! I'm also really, really glad that you liked the story - the story is something that I am very, very proud of! Thank you for the very helpful review, Sophie, these are things I am definitely going to keep n mind as I continue to write! ~Maple
So the girl at the end was Hermione? Other than that, it was a great fic, interesting conversation between Oliver and Susan. :)
Author's Response: Hey, yeah, it was! You are the first person to pick that up :) Thanks for the review :D Maple