Hi Sian! :)
Wow, what a beautiful story. I can't believe you wrote this for the Speed Dating challenge - less than 72 hours AND your group was the first to finish. It's a true testament to your talent that you were able to write so speedily without compromising the quality. Not to mention the fact that the style of writing was so indicative of the actual time of the piece, rather than a stab at modern writing. How did you do this? haha It's just wonderful.
I love a story that gives us a glimpse at the future before telling us how the character ended up there, in a place of such distress and solitude. The way the story opens allows for immediate intrigue to take over and propel the readers forward. I had to know more - had to know exactly what Godric and Helena (fabulous pairing choice, by the way!) had been through - that got him to this place.
You've done such a great job at carving out Godric as a complete character. The tension between him and his wife allows for a perfect foundation to be laid for the not-so-appropriate relationship between him and Helena. Not only is he married, but there's also an age gap and she's the daughter of his colleague! Sort of a lot working against them... no wonder the story opens with everything falling apart! LOL I really love how it begins with a very public dance, so that their first connection is almost innocent, if it weren't for Godric's inability to ignore her femininity or Helena's meaningful look as she leaves. Of course, such details and looks never can stay as simply that, can they? Especially when in the next scene, Godric is saving Helena!
Speaking of, what a great scene! You really captured the high-stakes and energy of the battle taking place in the forest. We also got a great glimpse of Helena's character! I know that your partner takes the reigns on her, but I'm glad we were at least allowed enough information about her to understand Godric's attachment. This line here is when we really see her starting to take shape: "I heard tell of the creature and wanted to see for myself... to see if I was equal to its might and fury." - Ah, it's so perfectly fitting of who I can see Helena being. And what I love is that you've actually given her a bit of a Gryffindor quality, which makes perfect sense as to why Godric falls for her - she reflects a value he holds higher than all others, even with her intelligence and wit as her defining qualities. Perfect.
"They are not quite love letters, not yet, but he knows that he would like them to be." - Ah, I love this sentence! They're just toeing the line until one of them finally crosses it. And this, too: "The parchment is devoured silently, greedily." - It's obviously not right of him to be doing this behind his wife's back because, though they aren't love letters yet, the fact that he feels the need to sneakily write and read them speaks volumes.
"Setting down the letter, he pulls out his own parchment and begins to write, wondering whether words of love can come too soon." - Ah, so good.
Their relationship is so great. You've given them so much to work with - so much that makes sense as to why they would fall for each other, regardless of the fact that it's wrong. They both feel stuck, longing for escape, and perhaps escaping wouldn't be so troubling if they had someone to run away with. I love that they even toy with the idea by going undercover for an evening. Their secret meeting place becomes almost like an escape, too, and when you speak about his cold, harsh wife, it makes me wish they would just run away together! Except that now I'm remembering the beginning of the story and how things are going to fall apart instead! Why are you doing this to me, Sian!?
Ah, and there it is. Though his heart belongs to Helena, his duty is to his wife and school. :'(
The ending! Ah! It's so sad! But more than that, it's made me incredibly curious as to what the next installment holds! Because I know it's from Helena's POV, so now I'm wondering if we'll get to see the reason as to why she doesn't show up! Is it true that she loves him no longer? And if so, why?! What happened between yesterday, when she nearly busted down the door begging him to run away with her, and today, in which she doesn't show up to say a final goodbye? I MUST KNOW! So clever of you to have set the ending up for your partner's story.
The structure of this story was really fun for me. The small glimpses at their more important moments allowed for us to see their relationship from start to finish in such a short amount of time while also keeping the pace really uptempo, never dragging. I think it's easy for stories in this era or using this style of more formal writing to feel a bit slow, almost like pulling teeth, because people tend to feel the urge to over-describe and flourish, and while sometimes that's a beautiful way to approach a story, other times it feels like I'm walking through molasses to get to the point. You managed to both capture the formal style of the era, still describe the surroundings and the emotions, and not for a second let it lose its pace. Seriously impressive.
This was just fantastic, Sian! From top to bottom - every word was precisely chosen and executed! I know you said this to me, and now I have to say it to you: "I've never read anything of yours before and now I'm questioning why on earth that is, because this was amazing!" hehehe It really was amazing, Sian. I will definitely be checking more of your stories out as soon as I've gotten through the rest of these Speed Dating entries! Thank you for the great read and good luck in the competition! This was wonderful!
Author's Response: Hi Tanya!
When I first got the idea for this story I couldn't imagine it starting in any other place - that scene came into my mind straight away and I started writing it to see whether the story would work as a concept. I'm really pleased you liked it! I always like seeing a glimpse of the future in a story because it makes me want to read on more, and it's great it worked here. And you like Godric and Helena! Yay!
I have to thank Rose a lot for helping shape Godric as a character; I was really so eager to start writing that I hadn't thought about him in as much depth as I should have. It was great to work with someone else who plans so thoroughly (normally when it comes to one-shots, I just write and hope for the best :P) to improve my writing. So a lot of those aspects that you mentioned are really thanks to Rose, but I'm glad you enjoyed them! Haha it was always sort of inevitable that things would fall apart between them, especially with my love of tragic endings. But I'm so happy you liked the dance scene! I did want their first connection to seem almost innocent, and it's brilliant I seem to have managed that.
Again, I have Rose to thank for the inspiration behind the rescue scene! I've only written action a few times before but it was fun to imagine Godric racing to try and reach Helena in time and that the scene allowed me to explore Helena's character a little more, to give some more ideas about why Godric is so attracted to her. I think that she must have been a very brave woman to do what we know she did in canon - taking the diadem and abandoning her family, even though some people might say that running away isn't brave. But for the time she was in she seems pretty incredible to me, and it felt that Godric would admire her because of her difference to the traditional and conventional women - like his wife - that he's surrounded with.
I'm so happy you picked up on that part, too! It didn't feel quite realistic that the two of them would delve into an affair of any sort, not when there was so much at stake, so the letters are kind of what carried them to it. Besides, I love the idea of people sending love letters to each other, so when it was so fitting with the period I really couldn't resist the idea.
I can't tell you how pleased I am that you can understand why they would fall for each other even though it's wrong. I surprised myself by wanting to write this sort of relationship, but found myself warming to it more as I wrote it - there are reasons behind it and I tried to make them as plausible as possible, not that it could ever make something like that right. Haha I may secretly love torturing my readers, Tanya ;) didn't I mention that before you read this? Oops!
Well I'm sure that by now you'll have read Rose's entry and will have seen the story from Helena's perspective, so you know the truth about why she didn't turn up... but I'm really happy that you wanted to know what was going to happen and the truth behind it all, because that's what I was hoping for! And yes, I loved making the links to Rose's story so that the two fit together really well.
I'm so happy you thought I managed to capture the style and description at the same time as keeping the pace and flow right! Ah, thank you so, so, so much for this fantastic review, Tanya! I'm ashamed not to have responded before now but it's so amazing that every time I read it I couldn't think of what to say. But thank you so much!