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Fic: "The Absence" (2/2)

Title: The Absence
Ship: Draco/Hermione
Rating: R
Summary: It all begins when Draco is declared insane.
A/N: Two years ago, I promised (probably in exchange for some Orlando/Leila fic) onecrimsontie a D/Hr fic. So, for onecrimsontie--for international phone calls and cheer packages, everything in between.

Big thank you to streetscribbles for reading this monster and brainstorming titles with me :D It's been a long, painful process. Thank you for helping me with it!


Part 1/2

“What?”

“The mirror…” Draco’s voice is wistful. “The Mirror of Erised.”



***


“What?” she repeats. She remembers what Harry and Ron told her about seeing the mirror in their first year, and the memory swims ghostlike into her mind, Harry saying distantly how he would have snuck down every night to see the mirror. She shivers, wondering what she would see.

“I see it again, in my dreams.” Draco is staring at the blank screen enclosing his bed. “I see…it’s magnificent. Have you never seen it?”

Something curls on the end of her tongue. She swallows. “No.”

“You ought to. It’s huge, the tallest mirror I’ve ever seen. It probably just fits inside here.” He glances at the ceiling of the hospital wing. “Its frame is gold, the color of melted gold. Darker than Galleons, but brighter sometimes when it reflects things…”

“You mean as light reflects off it?”

“No…” He sounds troubled. “I don’t know. It’s beautiful. There are words around the top, and I figured out what they mean.”

She’s heard this before and knows the answer, but she prompts, “What does it say?”

“Backwards, it says ‘I show not your face but your heart’s desire.’” His voice is wistful, his grey eyes clear with longing. “Your deepest, most secret and intense desire. I never wanted—I never wanted anything that badly…that much. I wanted it…”

Her breath catches. She feels like she’s teetering on the end of a precipice. “What did you see?”

He turns his head away, his fingers clenching convulsively on the bedspread. “Leave it alone, Hermione.”

“It might help—”

“NO. I’m not telling you.”

“All right.” She relents because she can see he is grim and seething. But he’s just given her the first clue. In all the long months of searching, he’s finally given her an idea, a direction.

She excuses herself quickly to the library. “Homework,” she explains.

“Of course,” Draco says politely.


***


The next day feels interminably long. Ron and Harry are nowhere to be found all morning, and when she finally finds them in late afternoon, Hermione feels that it has been much longer than just half a day.

“Where have you two been?” She demands. “I can’t believe you skipped Charms.”

“We didn’t have—” Ron defends automatically, but cuts himself off abruptly. His smile is tight.

Harry looks guilty and says in a wretched, contrite voice, “I’m sorry; we didn’t mean to just—vanish.”

“I told you I needed your help—” Hermione insists. “Anyway, you two really shouldn’t be missing class. I don’t think Flitwick noticed, frankly, he was preoccupied with Neville, but that just means you were lucky this time.”

“We won’t stay away so long again, Hermione,” Ron adds earnestly.

“What did you want to talk about?” Harry changes the subject.

“The Mirror of Erised,” Hermione says. “Remember it?”

Harry frowns, his brow furrowing. “The Mirror?”

“I never saw it,” Hermione reminds him impatiently. “You did. More than twice. How can you have forgotten?”

“I know,” says Harry. “It’s been a while.” After a pause, he says gently, “What did you want to know?”

“Just tell me what you know about it. Anything.” It might help.

“The mirror traps people, Hermione,” Harry recalls, echoing Dumbledore’s words. “I guess it traps people who can’t stand to stop seeing what they see because they want it too badly.” He grins ruefully. “I know I was. If Dumbledore hadn’t taken it away, I would’ve gone down there every day, every break. You know, I can still feel what it felt like to see my family, even though I know that it isn’t real. Dumbledore told me that it was empty, that it didn’t give knowledge or truth, and that people had either been wasted away or driven mad by it.”

“It entraps the weak,” Hermione says slowly.

Harry pushes his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. “You could say that. Anyway, I never saw it again. I don’t know what Dumbledore did with the mirror after we got the stone from it. Hermione, why are you asking?”

“I just wondered, that’s all,” she says, mind drifting again. “Thanks a lot, Harry.”

“I see,” says Harry. He smiles at her. “I’m glad I could help.”

“You did,” she assured him. “I’ve got to do some more research, but…I’ll find you two at dinner, all right?”

“We’ll save you a seat,” says Ron.


***


She’s checked his mood—he seems okay, so she’s lying on the bed speculating aloud to him, not caring that it’s clearly annoying Draco. “So whatever you saw, it must have been—”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Because people treat you differently when they think you’re crazy.”

“Yes, they treat you like you’re crazy!”

“No, they treat you differently. You know what it’s like. They pretend you’re not crazy and suddenly every insane thing you do isn’t insane, it’s normal. They play along and cater to your madness. It’s really free.” Draco’s lips are thin. He considers his words again and amends, “It’s liberating.”

She has to take a moment before she can speak again. “But you don’t do anything, you just lie there rotting,” she points out.

“It’s that I could if I wanted to that matters.”

Hermione has a hard time swallowing. In this moment, she hates him for being so blindly irrational. Some process in his head is not working because there is no logical, cognitive thought. She says weakly, “You’re crazy.”

“I know, that’s what everyone else says too,” Draco says generously. After a moment, he elaborates, “They try so hard to keep things normal. They even talk to you like you can talk back. They tell you everything; you’re the best secret keeper. But the only thing they never say is that you’re crazy, that you’re never going to leave this room.”

“Do you want to leave this room?” she asks. “I’m sorry, that’s a stupid question.”

“No, it isn’t.” He pauses. “Don’t you?”

“What do you mean? Don’t I want to leave this room?”

“Yes, why do you stay?”

“Because…” She finds herself at a loss for words. How can she explain it—the peace, the comfort, the safety.

“Never mind,” Draco says quietly. He looks askance at her. “You’ll figure it out. You always do.”

“Draco, what did you see in the Mirror?” It’s not the first time she’s asked him. She now asks him almost every time she sees him, hoping to catch him in a mood where he’ll reveal the secret.

Draco stares at her with limpid eyes, not rising to the question.

Frustrated, she says impatiently, “Why do I feel like you think you need to be here? Is this a trick of your mind? Do you believe you have to be here, for some reason—”

She expects a rejection, but not the violent one she receives.

“No, you need to be here!” he shouts at her. Lowering his voice, he mutters wrathfully, “You want to be here with me because I’m supposed to forgive you. This is just a manifestation of a guilty conscience.”

“Don’t say that,” Hermione snaps back at him. “You know perfectly well that’s not true.”

“Isn’t it?” His lips twist ironically. “You mean—why are you here then, Granger? Why are you here?”

“I don’t know!” she cries. “I don’t know, all right? I just—I want to know why you’re like this! You shouldn’t be alone; I’ve read it doesn’t help! I want to help even though I know you don’t want my help!”

“Marvelous,” he says sarcastically. “I’m a case study for you. You want to know something, Granger? You’re not helping anyone. You can’t help me, and you’re not helping your—”

“You don’t know that,” says Hermione, unconvinced. “Maybe there’s something, you don’t know that…”

“You know what I know? I know that you need me to be here.”

Hermione raises her chin and says in return, “You want me here because you’re bored.”

He laughs hollowly. “You’re so wrong.”

“What do you have to forgive me for anyway?” she demands.

“THE MIRROR!” he bellows. “You sent me to the Mirror! You knew what it was. You made me look. You lied to me. You said it would tell me the future. Listen to yourself, asking me about it. Why don’t you listen to yourself? Do you believe—do you think it’s possible to lose yourself in yourself? To get lost in your own mind? You told me about the Mirror,” Draco says harshly. “I am what I am because you made me this way.”


***


The Mirror. Of course it’s the Mirror. In the night on prefect rounds, she had found the Mirror. She had touched the frame, admired it and looked deeply into the reflection that wasn’t. And the next day, secure and happy in the knowledge that now she knew what she wanted, she had chanced upon Malfoy making snide remarks to Pansy Parkinson about Professor McGonagall. She waited until Pansy had left for class before impulsively, she told him about the Mirror.

“I know what I want,” he had scoffed.

“It tells you the future,” she said. “I’d take a long, hard look if I were you, Malfoy, because your future doesn’t look too promising right now, does it?”


***


That night, she dreams of black and white checkered tiles and real life chess pieces. She is the Black Bishop. Across the board, everyone is moving slowly. She slants this way and that. If she wins, this will all make sense. She has puzzles to solve.


***


“Just a second, Mr. Potter, I’ll wake her. Hermione, someone’s here to see you. Well, dear, she’s been sleeping all afternoon, so I’m sure she’ll wake up soon; she usually wakes up around 8. A regular night owl, our Hermione. I’ll be just outside if you need anything, Mr. Potter.”

“Thank you, Rosemary.”

“Hermione,” Harry says in a low voice. “Ron’s outside. We just wanted to tell you—something came up today in work, actually.”

Her limbs feel heavy and asleep, so she just lies there and listens. In a moment, she’s going to wake up and ask Harry what was so important that he needed to see her in her room, and how did he get up the stairs anyway…and he has to be careful because Lavender is a light sleeper…

Harry draws a deep breath. She thinks she can see him from behind her eyelids. He’s seated next to her, his hands clasped tightly, his eyes bright with fervor. Hang on Harry, she’ll say in a minute, I was up late last night…studying…

“Ron would tell you himself, but…he has this fear.” Harry laughs shortly. “Um. I suppose I do as well. We just sort of banked everything on this, on finding Dolohov, and I guess we thought that if we found Dolohov, everything would be—well, all right—”

Hermione shifts restlessly in her bed, her eyelids still feeling heavy. Harry, what on earth are you talking about? Hang on, I’m just so tired. Late nights catching up, that’s all.

“—You know how it is, when a wizard dies, his magic and what he left behind of it usually dies with him. So it makes sense that it would, you know, end. Hermione, we killed Dolohov.” He continues in a rush, “We were sent on a routine house search, there were rumors that there were still some old Dark artifacts in this house, suspicious sounds and lights coming from it at night, and it was Dolohov. He was old, but we recognized him. Ron killed him. It was—”

“Harry,” Hermione croaks, opening her eyes to stare at Harry. “What on earth are you talking about?”

Harry is sitting tensely at her side, and he doesn’t answer her right away. “I’m sorry. I just have to—I know Ron and I said we’d never talk about this because we know you can hear us, you can, but—Hermione, are you ever going to wake up?”

“I am awake,” Hermione tries to say, but he continues talking.

“How can you just shut down?” Harry asks. “You were the most brilliant in our year…the smartest witch at Hogwarts while we were there. It’s not fair, is it? We wonder what you would have become, you know. We wonder what you would be doing. Ron thinks you would work at the Ministry library, but I don’t know. You surprised me a lot. I really didn’t know…”

“What?” Hermione gapes, disbelieving at how weird this conversation is.

“You left us alone,” he accuses. “We needed you, Hermione. I needed you. You know, I was so sure that I wasn’t going to make it after Dolohov cursed you. Which I know is selfish, but…”

“Harry, what are you talking about?” she asks desperately. “I don’t understand.”

“I just don’t understand, Hermione,” he says as though he can’t hear her, voice tight. “I don’t understand how you can just be locked away in your mind. I don’t know how anyone could ever lock your mind up. You’re too smart for that. And I’m sorry, okay, Hermione? I’m sorry I brought this up.”

She wants to scream, but something is stuffed down her throat, the dust of things unsaid over the years. She’s never been so confused in her life. Because suddenly, the room has changed. Some subtle shift has been made, and she cannot put her finger on it.

Her mind is spinning. She can hear herself thinking.

Hermione looks over, afraid that she is going to find out that it was all a dream, a manifestation of something she never knew she wanted. But she recognizes the crown of blond hair instantly. Draco is sleeping, and she can tell that he is truly asleep and not pretending…or maybe she only imagined that she knew him. The pale face, the shining, empty eyes, magical restraints cuffing his wrists, confining him to the bed. Achingly, she remembers the dim memory of him straining upwards to meet her mouth.

“Oh,” gasps Hermione in sudden comprehension, “Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.”

Harry draws back in alarm. “Hermione, are you all right?”

“Did you say something that would agitate her?” A stranger’s voice that she has become accustomed to. The name comes to her suddenly: Rosemary. Rosemary likes chrysanthemum tea.

Confused, Hermione twists away from their hands, arching away. Her spine is curved stiff.

“I just—I talked to her—” Harry stammers from somewhere behind Rosemary.

“You must be careful what you say to her!” Rosemary trills. “Remember what the healers said: she won’t be able to make new memories. She needs the stability and familiarity to heal. You must not introduce new things to her environment.”

“I know,” Harry says through his teeth, the frustration and anger clear in his voice. “Wait a minute, what are you doing—”

“We have to sedate her, a simple Sleeping Potion, Mr. Potter—”

No. Give us a few minutes. I need to talk to her, and I need her to focus. Hermione, look at me. Hermione, it’s me, Harry.”

“Mr. Potter!” Rosemary protests. “This is really not the way to go—you are stalling her progress! She must remain calm, no shifts or disturbances in her realities, and you’re exciting her!”

Harry spins around and pins Rosemary with a hard, cold look, his lips flat and his eyes angry. He is not going to compromise. “A few minutes,” he repeats forcefully. “I’d like some time alone with my friend.”

Rosemary bustles around them but finally leaves, muttering things under her breath. Harry sighs deeply and drops to the chair beside the bed. Hermione is still. Her mind catalogues. She is trying to think of all the things she thinks she knows and remembers, trying to separate memory from fantasy.

Her attention is drawn by Harry, who has reached for her hand.

“Harry, you look different,” she realizes aloud.

He does. He looks older…he’s not wearing the school robes, but the robes that mark him as an Auror…he’s older.

“Hermione?” Harry’s voice breaks slightly, his eyes change with a flash of familiarity as he recognizes her. “Hermione—wait, Ron! Ron! Get in here!”

Ron runs into the room.

Hermione looks at both of them, a heavy hurt resting low in her belly that is full of the things she wants to ask because she’s here and she can hear them now. How have you been, she wants to ask, what have you two been up to?

“Hermione,” Ron is crying, he’s really much taller now than he had even been in their seventh year, and some of the freckles have faded. He smells different too, no longer boyish and of fresh-cut grass and Chocolate Frogs, but like a man with cologne, something citrusy, he is broad-shouldered, and his hair is thicker and cut nicely although a bit messy across the forehead. His eyes are still very blue but a bit cooler. He seems bigger, larger than life. He’s beautiful, so vibrant and shaking with life and joy as he leans over her, trapping her hand within his. “Hermione! I knew it! I knew it!”

Harry is beaming, looking like he can’t believe this, breathless and excited. “Ron, stop, you’re not explaining anything—Hermione, we’ve got loads to tell you—”

Harry is handsome like she knew he would be. His glasses have changed, and the scar is still there, but everything else has changed. He’s not clean-shaven, and she smiles because that is so like Harry. His eyes are still bright green, and his face is planes and angles, harder, more defined. He’s still lean, but he is no longer a thin, underfed boy with a weight on his shoulders. The triumphant grin is also altered in some way.

Hermione doesn’t recognize either of them.

She stares up at them from her bed, their bright, grinning faces, so dear to her. They’ve left the cold of winter-spring long ago, and they’ve passed into prime and health, they are alive and happy. They haven’t lingered in the dark waiting for her (she thinks this without begrudging them of it). They wear the gold of summer on them. Twice she parts her lips to speak, but she can’t. The third time, she holds herself back because she can feel a tremor in her voice, and she must not let them hear, she can’t let them know. On the fourth try, she strangles the words because she isn’t quite sure what she wants to say now. The fifth time, she suspects she knows what she will say to them, but she is feeling the weight of it, knowing the loss. Seven times she tries to speak.

“Hermione, we’re sorry, this isn’t helping you. We just—” Ron’s grasp on her hand tightens. His eyes are eager and glad. He cannot stop shifting around.

“We got carried away,” Harry smiles. “Listen, Hermione, do you know what’s going on?”

“Don’t ask her that, idiot,” Ron snorts. “Hermione, you’ve been asleep. Do you remember the war? At the end of our seventh year, we found the horcruxes—you won’t believe—but Antonin Dolohov—”

Hermione frowns at him in a bemused sort of way and says, “Ron, what are you on about?”

Ron stops, stricken. Harry takes over again, studying her face intently. “Hermione, this is a shock. Just listen. Antonin Dolohov hit you with a curse, and we haven’t been able to figure out what it is. But you just seemed to revert back to school, you imagined that we were still at school. It’s like you—it’s like we hadn’t left school yet. We thought the curse might’ve been some speed-intensified version of Alzheimer’s, but without the physical aspects and all the mental effects. You’re in the Janus Thickey Ward at St. Mungo’s, you’ve been here since—”

She says reprovingly, “Harry, as I was saying, Professor McGonagall is right; you really can’t provoke Umbridge. We can’t afford to let her—”

She would have continued, but Ron’s face stops her. The last thing she sees is Rosemary, pushing Harry and Ron out of the room.


***


When the lights go out, Hermione opens her eyes. She sees the room clearly. It is clean but lived in. On her nightstand beside her head, she sees framed photographs, a ratty copy of Hogwarts, A History, a box of Chocolate Frogs, letters bundled together with a ribbon, a used hair brush. There are more books on the floor, stacked neatly against the beside table. This is her space.

She pulls several pieces of parchment from the nightstand towards her and leafs through them. The handwriting is childishly prim, the properties of vanishing an object, Charms homework, a half-finished letter to her parents informing them she would be staying at Hogwarts for the Christmas holiday. Her hand is shaking and her breath keeps stopping. She lets go, and it drops to the floor like a leaf.

Hermione stares at the ceiling, but she isn’t thinking. She has stopped thinking. She wants to dream, now, so she shuts her eyes.

There is nothing to light her way, no stars or lamps; there is only herself and the quiet in her head. But she finds her way to him anyway.


***


Ward 49 is dark and silent. Moonlight swims across the floor to illuminate beds with a pearly light.

She can creep over to his bed from hers in the dark. The Janus Thickey Ward, once almost filled to capacity during the war, has slowly emptied out—the families brought them home, or advancements made in magic medicine were able to restore them. The only ones are the hopeless ones, lost causes the lot of them, truly lost in their own heads, unable to find themselves.

Hermione is lying in Draco’s bed again, her cheek pressed to his chest. His hands are teasing through her hair.

“It’s like a dream. Is this a dream?”

Draco is quiet. “Why do you stay here with me? It’s just stasis. Nothing changes. Nothing passes on. Why?”

“Can you imagine cherry blossoms?” she asks in return. She turns to run her hand down his face, her fingers tracing his eyes, nose, his lips, his jaw. “Do you remember what they look like? I always thought that they were prettiest in spring, when they’re not in full bloom because they’re pale pink and not this burnished dark pink-red color like they are in summer. It’s sweet, and they fall so easily when there’s a wind so it’s like wind chimes all around you, and it’s the only thing that’s as beautiful as snow but not as cold and wet. It’s new, it’s magical, it’s pure and really perfect. It’s my favorite time of year because it makes me feel—” She breaks off to kiss him feelingly and murmurs, “Imagine it.”

He nods, but she knows he doesn’t understand. “Answer the question. Why? Hermione?” Draco sounds tired, but a good kind of tired—merely drowsy, and not heavy-hearted and soul-exhausted.

Hermione curls against him, her fingers digging into his skin as she clutches at him. He’s warm. Her lips at his ear, she whispers, “Eternal spring.”


“I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed and sung me moonstruck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”
~ Mad Girl's Love Song, Sylvia Plath.

FINIS.



Notes:

1) Hey, so I would appreciate feedback on this more than anything I've ever written. Because this was huge for me. I worked on it for almost a year, and it was frustrating and it confused me a lot. I wrote a lot, cut a lot, wrote more, scaled back some more. I feel like I worked harder on this than I have on any other piece of writing (haha don't know if it shows); it was exhausting. Once again, thank you to Betty for helping me out there!

2) Fic was inspired by the closing line by Sylvia Plath. Also, it’s one of Jenn's favorite quotes; she gave me the quote a long time ago, and I saved it.

Mad Girl's Love Song by Sylvia Plath
(Complete text)

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.

Poem was then made into a song by Fisher: "Mad Girl's Love Song" - Fisher

Comments

( 86 comments — Leave a comment )
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talithan
Nov. 20th, 2006 02:51 am (UTC)
...That was amazing. I don't even like Draco/Hermione and it was amazing. Just...wow. Truly beautiful work.
applecede
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC)
Hey! Thank you very much for reading! I know you're a big D/G fan ;D so thank you for giving this a try; it means a lot!
lyrela
Nov. 20th, 2006 03:04 am (UTC)
Wow!!! It was such a fantastic story! I never saw the twist coming! I love the dynamics between Draco and Hermione. Great job!
applecede
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC)
:D Thank you! Really glad to hear that about the twist - I tried being really subtle about dropping hints--anyway, I'm really glad it was a twist for you :) Thanks for your feedback!
dedra
Nov. 20th, 2006 07:35 am (UTC)
Wonderful story. I truly was amazed by the twists and turns of it. It was marvelous...
applecede
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked the twists :)
geewhiz
Nov. 20th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
It may have taken longer than you expected, but you make a strong case for the tortoise! I'll admit lately I've been avoid fics that deal with the emotional and mental fall out of the predicted HP war, b/c often it just seem so empty the way ppl write it. Like, Hermione is broken, Draco builds her up again. Or switch names, same thing. Like, good idea b/c war = srz biz, but often there's no substance to back up the premise.

But in your fic, it's there! And like, it's such a breath of fresh air to find a fic like this that doesn't fall all over itself to make a point. You make the points without having to bash us repeatedly over the head, it was fun to read, not a chore. And I think half of it comes down to simple stuff like you're a good writer, and the other half is that you took your time, you didn't throw down words. At least, it doesn't seem like the words that made it here in the final version were chosen at random, it seems like you put thought into it, and if so, it makes it better.

And also (I know, it's a bad review), I like that you didn't let the style run away, it didn't become one of those ridiculous 'hauntingly beautiful' fics that have no substance at all and rely on the reader accepting appearance instead of content. Just, god. THANK YOU! For writing a plot like this in a style like this and making it good and showing that it can be done. You've set the bar high, and while I don't think there's a competition, still, I feel the need to reward you.
applecede
Nov. 21st, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot for reading this-and the great review! I actually found out earlier today that some final changes were lost cuz I made it directly into this document that was strictly for copying and pasting into LJ. But then I found out I went over the character limit per entry, so when I started over to break it into two parts, I forgot I made those changes--mostly small foreshadowing plot things. Anyway, I meant to say the plot occured to me first and then it was just writing it, and that I tried choosing words that created the mood I wanted--and I appreciate so much that you liked that :D

O yeah! Thank you for saying that about style! That was kind of what I was most worried about; most of what I cut a lot out of was prose I felt was ultimately irrelevant/unnecessary (ahhh still overlooked some) :P
greyskygirl
Nov. 20th, 2006 06:43 pm (UTC)
I hardly have words for this, Leila. I mean, it's Draco with Hermione, which should have been enough to keep me from reading, but it's you, too, and so I dove in. And I'm not sorry.

It's astoundingly good - your hard work definitely shows. Plus the inspiration - love that poem. I'm sort of at a loss here, which is obvious, but it's good. It's so, so good.
applecede
Nov. 21st, 2006 12:15 am (UTC)
Ker, thank you! Hearing from you on this is just the best -- cuz yeah, it's Draco and Hermione, like 13000dlfjlk words, and it worked for you! So THANK you for taking the time to read it and leaving me such great feedback :) The poem is really gorgeous - the song...I like it too, it has this evocative, hollow sound, but I also feel like the song could have been a bit more.

If I don't talk to you before this Thursday--going to visit friends in IL. and won't have a computer there--have a happy Thanksgiving and I'll TTYS!
sunflowerkudi
Nov. 21st, 2006 08:15 am (UTC)
Well done.
applecede
Nov. 21st, 2006 08:36 am (UTC)
Thank you! :)
bessorla
Nov. 21st, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC)
(Directed here from geewhiz.)

I really, really enjoyed this fic. It's quite refreshing and original for D/Hr, I like the idea of them both being mad, and us not finding out until the end definitely brought me up short (in a good way). My only OOC? moment was the first time Hermione climbed into bed with Draco, and the fact that they seemed to build up a rapport too easily, but after considering that she is mad it made much more sense. Still, if Hermione were to be convinced of the reality she's stuck in, I would think she would find a way to explain those hurdles.

However, you've done a terrific job here and I must say I enjoyed this fic a lot! And I really must commend you for putting so much time and effort into it, well done!
applecede
Nov. 22nd, 2006 10:58 pm (UTC)
Hi! Thank you! It was fun writing a twisty story :D Haha you're totally right about the OOC moment though - I had sketched out most of this fic and had to flesh it out, and one of it was transitioning between you know, their intense disliking for each other, to being companions, and I definitely feel the transition was too abrupt. BUT I also did consider the whole "well I can just rationalize it by saying they're not rational." :P

Thank you so much for your review! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)
eucalyptus
Nov. 22nd, 2006 02:00 am (UTC)
That's the only thing I've read in such a long time that I've felt any bit connected to. What a wonderful story. Vivid and emotional and spellbinding and pure and new. The beauty of her (and his) insanities really touched me. The thing I love most about Draco/Hermione as a couple is that you're handed this ugly thing to deal with (racism) and you get to write something that overcomes that. And when you do that, it's not just a story that entertains, it helps to restore the faith in people we lose in tiny bits to the more unpleasant experiences of life. I mean -- it's just a fantasy in one sense, but fantasy is very hopeful. I love that you told this big story within an even bigger one. And I appreciate it so much.

So other than being insanely envious of pretty much everything in this story, and other than absolutely loving the concept -- because it's absolutely a brave one, a risky one, that you absolutely pulled off, and was well worth all the work and all the angst -- it was just so poignant and touching and PERFECT. I would do anything to write as well as you do. You don't want to know where you rank on my list of "writers you can always, always trust to bring the AWESOME". Okay, maybe you do -- top three. Top three. ♥
applecede
Nov. 23rd, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)
Hey Tara! Thank you so much for your review--it means a lot. I'm totally with you on Draco/Hermione being really appealing because of the racism, which is so central in Draco's character, and the challenge is to work for a reconciliation between them. It's definitely what spun out this story for me (although I chose kind of an easy way out with this because they can plead insanity :P). And yes, I definitely wanted to play with fantasy versus reality, and how some might want to choose the dream over what's true instead, and I'm so glad that that came through for you! :)

Anyway! I really don't know how to say just how much I appreciate hearing this; when I read this I was like...red. It's my color ;P Thank you for reading this! <3
jandjsalmon
Nov. 23rd, 2006 10:34 am (UTC)
Wow! Completely not something I usually read... but I was rec'd and it's wonderful. Twisty and unusual. Left me for a loop when I didn't expect it. Really really well done.

If you don't mind, I'm going to rec it over at thegoldenseeker on Monday (I'm the Monday Mod and besides... I have that darn exchange fic to write before that... in fact, I read this as a distraction to NOT type the exchange fic). ANYWAY -- do you mind if I rec it?
applecede
Nov. 24th, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC)
Hey! Thank you very much! I'm really psyched to receive positive feedback on this one cuz it was such an effort, it's good to know it came through for other people :P I don't mind at all! I'm glad you think it's rec-worthy, and thank you for it!
pardonthelitany
Nov. 28th, 2006 03:16 am (UTC)
lee! i am so sorry, i wrote this really long (probably too long) review or comment or feedback or w/e for your story and my computer crashed, and so it's gone. so i'm sorry.

but i know how long you spent on this story and how important it was to you, so i had to tell you that it amazes me. i love the way your writing remains clear even as the lines between reality and ...illusion blur. and it sort of reminds me of science of sleep (you're a movie person, have you seen it? you MUST) in the way that everything is very separated in the beginning, but as we move forward into the story, reality is lost and we are confused, only reassured by hermione's certatinty.

you use these fantastic descriptions (the cherry blossoms.... absolutly breathtaking) and your straightforward style to create a dreamy feel that just...swallowed me. it is a beautifully worked story and the closing sequence/scene took me away. i felt breathless, and i was totally overwhelmed.

this is gorgeous lee, and i'm sorry that i'm not doing justice to it here, but i really did love it.
applecede
Nov. 29th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC)
Hey Jen! Don't be sorry at ALL! Just...thank you so much for taking the time to read this huge monster of a fic, and thank you for the review! Cuz your review reassures me a lot - that I did in some way achieve what I set out to do. This was a fic where I had some vague idea and just ended up going out, not quite sure how to do it but knowing what I wanted to do. And it totally confused me when I was writing it; at one point I got sick of the constant present tense and tried to change everything back (like 5000 words at that point), lost heart not even halfway through and changed it all back. So it's SO nice to hear that the story still came through!

<3 Thank you!
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purple_ladybug1
Nov. 28th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
Wow. I did not even see the twist coming at all. This is beautiful and brilliant. When I have more time, I'll have to reread it and pick up on the subtle hints. You did an amazing job.
applecede
Nov. 29th, 2006 02:28 am (UTC)
Thank you very, very much! :) I'm glad the ending was a surprise! There was supposed to be one part that might have given it away, but it got deleted when I was posting to livejournal, can't decide if that's a good or bad thing. Thank you for your review!
terry_evy_moon
Nov. 29th, 2006 03:44 am (UTC)
You practically left me speechless when I've finished reading this. It's so beautiful and... deep. Really. This one of the best stories I've ever read. It's so well thought out (the plot) and the characterization was perfect. The twist was surprising, but the end... Oh, the end! It was poetry!

It is great. Simply, Great.
applecede
Nov. 29th, 2006 04:16 am (UTC)
Hi! Thank you very much! I'm especially grateful for the compliment on the characterization; this fic was in a big way an attempt to write the characters (Draco, specifically) as canonically as I could :P Thanks for reading!
tonksflamel
Dec. 1st, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC)
This was amazing! I've read plenty of Draco/Hermione stories but so far this is the only one that stands out. In most of the other stories that I read, one of the two immediatly falls in love with the other for no apparent reason. But this was brilliant. The character development was great and I liked how you kept their true personalities (such as the way they are portrayed in canon). I can tell that you put a lot of thought into this and it wasn't just something you did to kill time. Where do you find the inspiration for writing stories like this one? I'm trying to write a Dramione fanfic right now and I'd really appreciate any advice you could give me. ^_^
applecede
Dec. 3rd, 2006 02:18 am (UTC)
Hello, thank you very much! That's such an incredible compliment :P I first hit on this as an attempt to write the characters as close to canon as I could, and the plot just came from it. I'm not sure where I got the inspiration...I know that I started writing it because of a comment I got on my last D/Hr, that they (specifically Draco) was more fanon than canon. Nothing wrong with that. But I wanted to try and strive for canon, just for fun (uh, it was hard and not that fun). Also, I wanted to do a fic using the Mirror of Erised cuz I find that really fascinating. Oh, and the music I was listening to had a HUGE inspirational factor in this - like "Moon" by Sia, "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" by Melanie Doane - and of course, the poem by Sylvia Plath. So music played a huge part. But I HIGHLY recommend this: go to the Harry Potter Lexicon and just browse. That's inspired a lot of my fics because JKR has created such a GREAT world :P

I'm sorry that wasn't very helpful! For me, it's usually just having a small idea and the rest of it is making it up, riding off that idea. For example, when I began "Absence," I didn't know how Draco became crazy; originally, I wasn't even going to write it :P

Thanks again!
the_lone_jen
Dec. 10th, 2006 06:03 am (UTC)
The thing is, you had me going the whole time. The shift of reality was expertly done, and the way you wove the plotline was like a Charlie Kaufman movie. Wow. It really captured the dynamic of Draco and Hermione on a canon level and beyond. I loved this.
applecede
Dec. 10th, 2006 08:50 am (UTC)
Hollly, thank you! Charlie Kaufman movie = love. High of HIGH compliment there, thank you so much :P I'm especially grateful that you felt it caught some of the canon; that was my goal. <3
innerslytherin
Dec. 10th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
Hi! I was directed here by the_lone_jen, and though I don't read a lot of Draco/Hermione these days, you really drew me in. I love how dysfunctionally they relate to each other. The twist at the end is really fascinating, to think that all that's going on in her head. Or is it? *grin* I love the ambiguousness of the fic. And I was once familiar with the Plath poem, though I'd forgotten it. I thought I owned everything by Fisher, though, and I love poetry-to-song adaptations. Any chance you'd be willing to reupload? I can't seem to find the song anywhere. *G*
applecede
Dec. 10th, 2006 08:57 am (UTC)
Hey, thank you very much! :) Yes, of course! Reupload: "Mad Girl's Love Song by Fisher. The song and just the poem really moved this piece along - the song in particular is really haunting.
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(Anonymous)
Dec. 10th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
Absolutely fantastic!! I love stories that make you think! I was completely hooked from start to finish!

I am nominating this for the dramione awards... NOW!

*hugs*
angelpiphi
Dec. 10th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
Absolutely fantastic!! I love stories that make you think! I was completely hooked from start to finish!

I am nominating this for the dramione awards... NOW!

*hugs*
applecede
Dec. 10th, 2006 06:17 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you very much! :D It's really nice to hear you were hooked cuz when I sent it over to streetscribbles for a look, it was because I worried it dragged. But anyway - thank you! <3
librosparami
Dec. 31st, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
i started to tear up when i realized what was happening. it was just amazing an almost heart wrenching twist.when harry and ron showed up it was just....so sad, but not because she had draco, but she didn't have her boys. how time had just passed by. wow. a truly amazing story.
applecede
Jan. 2nd, 2007 07:12 am (UTC)
Heyy! Sorry for the late reply! I got sucked into the holidays :P

Yeah, I intended this to be sort of sad, bittersweet, but ultimately not too angsty :) Thanks you very much for your feedback!
floorcoaster
Jan. 14th, 2007 05:07 am (UTC)
Wow, I loved it! I kept coming up with all these scenarios for what was happening - my favorite was that Snape was giving Draco potions to make him act crazy for his own protection or whatnot.

And then.... the Mirror.... when Draco said she'd done it to him, that's when I knew. I hope that was right! Maybe there were signs before.... when she talked to Harry and Ron and they weren't in Charms...

Anyway, congrats on the nom at the dramione awards! :) And really, it was beautiful!
applecede
Jan. 14th, 2007 09:35 am (UTC)
Hi, thank you! I'm glad you had all those explanations as you were reading! And YES! You're totally right - I was TRYING (haha really hard, *I* thought but okay I kind of hit/missed it) to make the conversations Hermione had actually be conversations she was taking out of context, and Harry and Ron were just playing along with the crazy. Err this is where I really confused myself in writing it :P

Thanks again for your feedback!
aphoristic_a
Jan. 17th, 2007 10:49 am (UTC)
By the time I was near the end, I was almost in tears. I love the plot twist of Hermione also going insane. It was excellent! I thought that it was strange though, that Draco and Hermione would build something in just a short space of time, but other than that, I was really hooked on it. This was brilliant writing. You didn't give me the point of it blatantly but made it draw out and made me think about it. This was truly remarkable.
applecede
Jan. 17th, 2007 11:58 am (UTC)
! Thank you! re: the quick bond over a short time - yes, you're totally right. I had planned for it to really happen over a longer period of time, but I had sketched out most of the fic and seriously? The devil is in the details. So I ended up rushing that :P Thanks for reading this!
allthingsgood
Feb. 3rd, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
Whooooooooooooaaaaaaaaa.

I am floored. I respect you so much for having spent so much time on one piece of writing. And you did such a spectacular job. The story is completely real, your way with words is completely astounding. Amazing.
applecede
Feb. 3rd, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
Hi, thank you for reading and your wonderful review! I think because of the time and frustration I put into this, the finished product really feels like the most rewarding fic I've done and getting feedback on it is just doubly amazing. :P

P.S. I heard you signed up for the latest dmhgficexchange exchange? I'm looking forward to seeing your post! :D
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roedhunt
Feb. 19th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC)
Okay. I have cried from reading a fic in a long time. It tore at my heart. I had to re-read it because of the ending. So she had been in her mind all this time? From the beginning? It seemed like she was still at Hogwarts because she kept going back there? It was just in her mind that she did this? How did Draco & her talk? Were they both awake when they were talking? What did Draco see? What did Hermione see?

Aaaah! Did you make this ambiguous on purpose to drive me nuts? *g*

Brilliant story! It was worth the year that you worked on it. Sorry I had so many questions. *laughs*

Thank you for tugging in my heart strings. *hugs*
applecede
Feb. 20th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you so much for reading this and for all your questions :D Questions are totally welcome!

Anyway, this is the idea I worked form that I typed up and basically followed to the end:

They lie side by side in St. Mungo’s
The only reality was that Malfoy was in the hospital wing before it was safe to transfer him
Dialogue in Hermione’s “dream” is stuff that they REALLY say to her, and it’s only when they’re not there that things make sense

So basically - Draco really was made insane by the Mirror that he found in Hogwarts. He was in the Hogwarts infirmary for some time, after which he was transferred to St. Mungo's. Hermione really was cursed by Antonin Dolohov and placed in St. Mungo's. The curse had an effect like Alzheimer’s, where her memory has deteriorated, and she's essentially living in the past, unable to register new memories. I was careful to make Harry and Ron's dialogue with her ambiguous - their moments with her are real, and they're basically playing along with her, pretending they're back at Hogwarts. So the story, which takes place at Hogwarts, is really happening in her mind while she's at St. Mungo's.

The conversations with Draco...this was deliberately ambiguous 'cause I suck and didn't know how to explain it. But basically, she can only connect with Draco when they're not lucid, which is why at the end, when Anontin Dolohov's curse on her was broken by her death and Hermione essentially realizes what happened, she chooses to retreat into her mind. I saw her interactions with Draco was REALLY happening - but everyone else, the rational people, wouldn't see it or understand it. As to what Draco saw in the Mirror to drive him insane - that's up for you to decide :P

Sorry if I just made this more confusing! Thanks for giving me the chance to explain it a bit!
lilycat81
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
Okay, so I totally missed this when you posted it back in the day. I only caught in now because of the rec on crack_broom!

Wow. It's amazing - your writing blows me away, because you have such a powerful grip on language and imagery and atmosphere, but it's not all abstract and (in the eyes of an uncultured reader such as myself) meaningless. It's all very purposeful and... well, meaningful. I clearly do not have the same gift, as I look this paragraph over. :)

I love that poem and I love the way your story pulls at the heart in the same way - they're both the same kind of beautiful.

Here's the problem. I'm a total moron and I have questions. I know that it's just me and NOT that your writing is unclear, so please don't take this as veiled criticism because it is 100% not (and I'm trusting you not to mock my stupidity here).

Is is supposed to be ambiguous as to whether Draco is "real" or not or am I just missing the totally obvious? And are they at St. Mungo's for part or all of this story? I'm just a little confused as to the timeline - does Hermione get cursed in the middle of the story and how much of what happens is actually as it appears?

Actually, now I'm reading the comment above mine and wondering the same thing - is it supposed to be ambiguous (all these things) or am I just missing things?

alksdjf;alsdkfja;lk.

You know what - either way, and even if you never answer my questions (though I hope you do) - it's a great piece, Leila. Absolutely beautiful and moving and lovely and real. You are amazing. :)
applecede
Feb. 20th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
HEY! :D Thank you very much! It means a lot to me to have you read this and get this kind of review from you :P

You are not a moron! Okay, some backstory: I had most of this fic imagined and key scenes written out and basically had to just transition from beginning to ending. And I got fed up and rushed it, so that's one reason why it's all unclear. Another reason why it was unclear is because I couldn't explain certain things believably, so I just left it all ambiguous. Then when I was posting this, I made final edits just in the livejournal entry itself, added more stuff that would've explained it better. But I didn't realize it was way over the max word count on an LJ entry, so I lost all those edits I made. Got angry and was just "GOING TO POST YOU NOW" and did. EXCUSES! Anyway, completely my fault as writer, not yours as reader! The ambiguity - half intended, half not, but it's not because you're missing things <3

Draco is real, and her interaction with him is real - but it was something that happened when both of them weren't completely lucid, or in a dream state. So those conversations they had, they wouldn't have been seen as these sane conversations by other, rational people. I'd say the only fictional part is that Hermione believes that no time has passed, that they're still at Hogwarts. Harry and Ron play along with this charade, but they know the truth; every conversation they have with Hermione was supposed to reflect this unbalance of realities - one of the scenes that got lost showed that Harry and Ron are talking to her from the present, while she thinks they're still at Hogwarts. The entire fic take places from St. Mungo's - Hermione suffers from Dolohov's curse, which has a sort of Alzheimer’s disease effect, where she has selective memory. I never specified when Hermione got cursed, but I had a vague idea that it was near the beginning of the war.

Okay, reading that over, it doesn't seem to explain much or make sense. Sorry!

Thanks again for reading this! Getting this comment from you made my day <3
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lemonsnapples
Mar. 14th, 2007 04:11 am (UTC)
You. Are. A GENIUS!! *claps hands enthusiastically*

I love this. Your idea is so fresh and new--something that no one's ever written before--and the story is so amazing, I really couldn't help but gape in awe after I finished reading this.

Great job, and keep it up!
applecede
Mar. 14th, 2007 07:28 am (UTC)
:O Thank you! :D I'm really flattered you would call this fresh and new because I really did try this time to write something different than what I usually do, and maybe contribute something differentish. Thank you for your feedback!
(Anonymous)
Jun. 6th, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)
lol I was just trying to wrack my brain into remembering what kind of poem that is. It has fourteen lines like a sonnet and repeating lines like a villanelle, but... I dunno anymore. I did find it in my binder from the poetry class I took, though.

Anyway, when you started talking about the Mirror of Erised I seriously thought he was going to say he saw Hermione in the mirror, which would have made me laugh because I wrote a fic in which she saw him in the mirror. (www.fanfiction.net/~marmaladefever, story is Her One Desire.)

The story confused me a bit, mostly at the beginning while I was getting used to your style and at the end when I was trying to figure out why Hermione went crazy and how the whole mirror/future thing works. But overall it was a great read. :) Keep up the good work!
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