Hello, I'm here for your requested review! :)
Wow, I really liked this story. It was beautiful, and a really fresh and original perspective on the PTSD that I'm sure many people would have suffered after the war. I love how you wrote about Hannah, since I've never read any stories about her, and how the focus at the turn of the year is on her decision to move forward and set Ernie free, as she says. I like the indication that she's moving forward and away from trying to cling on to the old memories: it's like instead of trying to recreate the time when "anything was possible" she's realized that isn't working, and that in order to be okay again she needs to start new.
You asked in your request about how the story felt as a stand-alone piece. For the most part, I think it works beautifully. I'm not sure what The Cloud Dancer focused on but I thought the balance and hints between what was happening to Hannah and what had happened to make her so broken were very skillfully woven into the story. I think the minimal references and not dwelling on the backstory worked quite well: for example, one big idea was how she had been injured and couldn't walk for a long time. You hinted and conveyed that very smoothly without saying too much, by saying brief lines about how she had slowly recovered and what her body looked like to her.
The only part I might have found confusing were the mentions of Wayne and Tonks. I'm not sure if Wayne was a canon student or not, but I figured out by the end that he was one of Hannah and Ernie's good friends. I almost feel like you could have put one or two phrases of introduction to Wayne to show how important he was to Hannah right at the beginning, even just something like "Wayne, who had always been the brave one" (or whatever) to show the level of familiarity between the two of them and why his death would affect her as much as her boyfriend's being tortured. The other slightly confusing one was Tonks, since I was a little unsure of how well Hannah would have known Tonks, enough for her to be mentioned as one of the ghosts who haunted her. If in the other story Tonks is mentioned, a way to make this even stronger as a stand-alone piece would be to mention how Tonks was known to Hannah- maybe she visited the DA and other students when they were living in the Room of Requirement or something? :) Just some ideas!
Your writing style is beautiful: I love the simplistic style of the story and how it says so much with a few words and images. It suited Hannah's sense of being entrapped and being kind of physically and emotionally reduced to this bare, almost unhumanlike person with ridges for bones. I really liked the use of phrases in brackets - the first use, with "Ernie being tortured (again and again and again)" was an incredible way to begin the story, it was so chilling, but also hinted at the repetitive nature of Hannah's life and how monotonous and continuous her grief and fear has become. The repeated section about the past at the beginning and the end of the piece was a lovely way to round out the story as well.
I really liked the characterization and descriptions of Ernie here and the things Hannah noticed, like his glasses on his head and his briefcase, and they helped show what he does everyday and what kind of character he is. And then the pain which Hannah felt when looking at him was so interesting, and how she feels obligated to love him but he's just a reminder of pain; I've never quite seen a relationship like that, and it was both fascinating and heartbreaking, what Ernie comes to symbolize for her even though she doesn't want to stop loving him, not really.
In your request you asked what I thought the end result was: I thought it was how Hannah realizes that she needs to move on and create a new start for herself, and how Ernie is a remnant of the ghosts of the past even if he is alive. I thought that idea of breaking the cycle and choosing to aim for a new kind of happiness - although Hannah still has a long way to go - is the perfect way to write about Hannah's journey to break free of the prison of her own mind.
As for the description balance, I thought it was well done and I wouldn't change that at all. The dialogue was sparse, but each bit of dialogue was important to the story, and the main battle and remembrance is going on inside of Hannah's head, which was beautiful to read about.
A couple minor things I noticed:
not the one she currently has Winning I think there's a period missing after "has."
all he would do is lay down beside her and let her breath. I think "breath" should be "breathe." :)
Amazing job with this, I loved reading it! I hope you enjoy this review and find it at least a little helpful! :)
Author's Response: Hey!
Sorry for the late response *hangs head in shame*. I've just been flailing about with work and doing 17 hour days that I haven't really had time to breath!
So anyway, thank you so much for stopping by reviewing this! I really appreciate it. Yah, i wanted to try and focus on what she is trying to let go. It's at a moment where although she's still scarred and hurting. Suffering a lot from PTSD, she sees a faint light at the end of the tunnel. She sees herself more clearly than she has in the past year and a half since the war ended. It's not really a happy tale, but there is a bit of hope in it as we know that Hannah is moving in the right direction.
Yah, it's riding off the Cloud Dancer. I don't think that it's really needed to understand this and i'm glad you felt so too considering you haven't read it and got this fine. I may try and make the connection to Wayne and Tonks stronger. Wayne was a canon character if you believe that JKR's notes are canon. He never made it into the books i don' think. I think i read him on potter more as well as lexicon. With Tonks. I suppose I thought that the last year the Order and the DA would have a bit more communication between them as they were communicating quite a bit through the wireless. So i assumed that they'd b e familiar with one another. Enough so that it would hurt to see them die as well. I think i'll try to make that connection in the story itself though as well as I did wonder if it was believable with just a mention of her name.
Thank you so much for your compliments about the style!! Gahh! Thank you, that's so nice. I'm always a bit unsure of brackets in stories myself. They always seems bit contrived, but as I was getting through this story it just made sense to add them in. It suited Hannah's character and, as you said, her repetitive nature.
I like Ernie quite a lot as well. He's seen a lot of horror in his life, but he's somehow managed to continue on with everyday things like going to work and combing his hair. He's grasped onto a little bit of hope long before Hannah ever does. He's been her rock for most of the time after war, but now this rock only serves as a reminder of it. He's become so apart of the memory of it she can't detangle him from it even though she still wants to love him and need him she knows that the relationship isn't healthy anymore. It's destructive to her, and him as well in a way because you can only be that person for so long before it drains you.
Thank you so much for your review and comments!! I really appreciated what you had to say!!