I'm not really sure what to say.This was dark, and twisted... and yet somehow beautiful. Poignant. Bitter. Truly, truly heartbreaking. Her death caught me off guard, in fact many of the plot twists did, which made it even more powerful.
The reference to Lavender (at least, I interpreted it to be Lavender) was also powerful, it made what Nicolas was doing so much more justified and understandable.
Really, this was amazing. I know this'll be one of the stories I'll never get out of my head.
Author's Response: It was Lavender - I'm glad someone picked up on that :). This review means so much to me, thank you for reading and taking the time to leave one. xx Ariana
Wow. I was completely blown away by this story -- it was beautiful and yet melancholy at the same time; the characters were extremely well-portrayed, and the writing style (as per usual for you) was gorgeous.
I think your biggest strength in the story was the plot. The concept of a potion giving the drinker who they desire, even if they are dead, is genius -- it’s like the Mirror of Erised, only better, and I think it’s entirely plausible especially given the Muggle elements of it. Even though I’ve never come across such a thing in fanfic before, I think it could slide into canon easily, and seeing Dennis’s descent into near madness as a result of it made me truly understand why Dumbledore said the Mirror of Erised could drive people insane. It was also very scary watching Dennis quickly becoming addicted to the potion and for his neighbour to have heard him torturing himself when he thought he was having sex with Gabrielle.
The story on the whole was mainly character-driven, and I think it worked very well like that, because your exploration of Dennis was spot on. He was beautifully portrayed, his reaction to Colin’s death and the way he clung on to Gabrielle because of that completely understandable given he had lost his brother. I liked that Dennis became tongue-tied around Gabrielle and then said something that was actually rather witty and that that was the basis of their relationship. There was some really strong chemistry between them, which I know can be difficult since they’re both minor characters, but you pulled it off easily. His denial of Gabrielle’s death therefore was entirely plausible and just so heart-wrenching to read, especially the fact that he was willing to take a horrible potion in order to see her again, even if it was temporary.
Gabrielle, though, was a bit of a mystery -- she seemed to have quite a few sides to her personality, so I wasn’t entirely sure I knew much about her until he started hallucinating, by which time she became a completely different person anyway. Besides her beauty, I wasn’t certain of her characterisation, but perhaps that’s because I see two versions of her here. That’s not criticism, as such, just that I definitely don’t think I’ve ever come across a character like your Gabrielle, so I would love to read more of her -- I want to know what makes her tick. :)
However, I think there was one character who wasn’t as fully-realised as the main cast -- Mark. I think he could have been more fleshed out. I understand that he was a very minor character in the story, but I would have liked to see more of him, as he didn’t seem defined enough as a character to me; he just seemed like Dennis’s gay friend, if that makes sense. However, the other OCs were excellent: Betty was really well-done, and it was nice to see that she was concerned for Dennis, and Nicolas’s characterisation as the dealer was great, because even though he was making money out of the potion, I could tell he might have felt guilty for the consequences of it, and that really humanised him for me.
I did find the timeline jump -- between their first time together and when he was about to propose for the third time -- threw me off somewhat, and I’ll admit I had to reread to work out the order in which the story was being told, as when you went back in time, it wasn’t always italicised. And it wasn’t that it was always confusing, more the fact that the flashbacks were sometimes abrupt. But on the second reading, I understood things better. On a different note, I did pause at Dennis having such a large amount of money in his Gringotts account. After all, at one point, the Weasleys only had one Galleon and a pile of Sickles in their account (if I remember correctly, in CoS). Yes, the Weasleys were poor, but my point is, I’m wondering if Dennis -- who doesn’t seem to be that well off in canon as far as we can tell from Colin -- would really have five hundred Galleons in savings when the Weasleys had one, especially given how I’m not sure if he had a job in the story or not.
Finally, your style was absolutely beautiful, as always. I find that there’s always something lyrical about your descriptions, and they really made the story come alive without it ever sounding hyperbolic; instead, they always added to the characterisation, making the characters jump off the page as fully-realised characters, regardless of how minor they may have been in canon. I also thought the smut was great; it was sensual but never crass. You definitely have the gift of making a story sexy while retaining tastefulness and without it ever becoming explicit or gratuitous. Having said that, it was horrible to see that the ghost of Gabrielle eventually became rough with him, but even then, the issue of that was handled so, so well.
I thought this was a brilliant story, Ariana, and I loved the optimistic ending, too. It gave Dennis hope after what had obviously been a very traumatic time for him, and I’m glad you gave him the closure he needed to face up to Gabrielle’s death. Great job!
Author's Response: First of all, I heart you so much for leaving me this absolutely gorgeous review. I wasn't expecting any more for this story so I was incredibly surprised and happy to get one, and then when I saw it was from you I absolutely squeed :).
I'm glad you commented on the plot, because I think that's one of the things I am weakest at in writing since most of my stories seem to revolve around the romance between two characters and not really anything else - so it made me happy to see that you thought it was well done. I wasn't entirely sure if the premise was a little too unbelievable, with the drug-like potion, so I'm relieved that you think it was one of the strengths of this story :).
I do agree with you about Mark…originally, he was going to be Dennis's neighbor instead of Betty and then when I dropped that he just became a name with no substance. If I ever get around to writing a follow up, I'll include him (I'm ashamed to admit that I almost forgot about him…). And I also had never considered Dennis's money situation, hm. I read somewhere that at Gringotts you can exchange Muggle money for Galleons/etc, so the best answer I can come up with is that Dennis's parents wanted to make sure he was taken care of when he moved out and distanced himself from them, so they gave him some money to help him get on his feet.
Thank you so, so much for reading this and leaving a review! It has left me smiling :). xx Ariana
This is a fascinating and well-written story... I read it a couple of days ago, but didn't have time to leave a review, but it has stuck with me. I really feel for Dennis in this - he's already messed up and grieving for Colin, and presumably went through something in the war, and then he finds someone to hold onto, and it's so heartbreaking for him to lose her all over again. I also liked the dynamic of their relationship before Gabrielle died - it was like Dennis was already holding on too tight, with always asking her to marry him etc.
I loved this part - When Colin died it was like the world was collapsing, falling to pieces, disintegrating in his own heart. Dennis was still struggling to clean up the aftermath.
Gabrielle Delacour was not dead, because Dennis’s world did not collapse. His heart did not ache and he breathed with the ease of a cloud. He was numb, and beautifully so, warm and comfortable and content. This was why she was not dead -- because with Gabrielle, Dennis always felt too much, and if she were gone he knew his head and his heart would explode with feeling. (Sorry for quoting that much back at you...). It's interesting, because with Colin's death, Dennis couldn't possibly refute it, but I think the idea of losing Gabrielle as well is so terrifying that he has to come up with something else.
I think you did a great job of showing the mess Dennis got himself into with the drugs - in the way you revealed he was self-harming, for example, through the landlady, because it really hits the reader as it hits him (I mean, we're aware from the beginning that he's taking drugs and it's not good for him, but I thought that was a great way to show the extent of the damage).
I was glad that he recovered in the end, though, and learnt to live without needing someone. I thought the last paragraph was fantastic and really finished the piece off nicely.
So all in all, I thought this was a great and very interesting story and examination of Dennis' character.
Author's Response: Katrina, you have made my day with this review. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! It almost killed me to write this because Colin's death is the one I find the most sad in DH and I felt awful making Dennis's life even more messed up. I wanted to explore what it would be like for a person to reach his breaking point, and it makes me so incredibly happy to hear you liked it! Also, thanks for commenting on the last paragraph, because that was the hardest for me to write and I'm still not sure I'm entirely happy with it :). xx Ariana
A very interesting piece of writing. It was quite depressing in the middle but a ray of hope at the end. Well done.
Author's Response: Thank you for reviewing! I am glad that you liked it and didn't find it completely depressing. xx Ariana