Hey, Laura! I’ve rescued this review from the Nifflers!
Man, it’s been so long since I read one of your stories, and I’ve missed it! It’s pretty self-evident, but it bears repeating over and over again, that your writing is beautiful. I love the lyrical quality your writing style has. I always have this vague sense that I’m reading poetry, honestly.
You’ve written so much about Albus and Gellert, and I’m interested to see in which direction you take each story. I think I read the first chapter of L’optisme back when you posted it on HPFF, and I’m very pleased to finally return for chapter two. I have a question about the format of this story: are these letters that Albus and Gellert have written to each other, but never sent? Or do they enjoy writing in their personal diaries to each other? Or are their internal monologues just directed at each other?
My other question is about the title. What was your inspiration for it? Honestly, I can’t see much optimism in their relationship at all!
Excited to see where this story leads!
Hey Laura! I’m here with your requested review! Sorry for the delay. Ha, so I’d wondered when I saw this appear on the archive with only one chapter. :P
You asked in your AOC how this new beginning works compared to how it was before. I have to admit, though, it’s been years since I read the first chapter of the original version of the story, and… I don’t remember it well enough to compare the two. *hides behind couch* BUT, I can tell you what I think of how it reads now.
I don’t recall if that opening scene was part of the original chapter, but I really like it as a way to set the tone with the pervading power of silence while Albus is waiting up all night for terrible news, and then the way silence envelops the house they move into, and how the feeling of it is tangible and always just there, until it finally leaves when Gellert arrives.
Setting the rest of the chapter a month after the duel works really well and adds to the reflective quality that’s been present since the beginning of the chapter. And it confirms the theme of the rest of the chapter - this story has never been about the duel, it’s about the silences, and the silence of the empty bed is just another example of that. I do remember from reading the initial version of this how much I loved the way you write this through the lens of older Albus as he reflects on events many years ago, and that has remained the same – it still has this quality I rarely see in other fics that I’m quite sure how to describe, but it’s an interesting combination of the naivete of youth and the wisdom of age looking back on it and making connections, if that makes sense. Anyway, I like it.
The flow is perfect. It sort of meanders a little, like one’s thoughts usually do, kind of giving the impression of someone lost in their thoughts – which is perfect, as there’s no one to talk to – and I like the way both sections highlight the silence.
You also asked if it was interesting – of course it is! because a) Albus/Gellert stories are always interesting, b) you wrote it, and c) your writing is asdjfhadjf so beautiful. I love the way you present ideas about silence and arguments in this first chapter and gah, just everything about it.
The hook at the beginning is great. I think that’s mostly due to the fact that it’s so visual, and I can see the first scene so clearly, him looking through wooden slats at the door while the wind howls outside, and it was just wonderful to read as I took a minute to place exactly when in time this scene was occurring.
Outside of Albus’ meandering thoughts, there are small glimpses of him and Aberforth and Gellert. Gellert is seen through rose coloured lenses for most of this chapter as Albus reflects fondly on those summer mornings, although there’s a line about gold scraping away to iron that lets him see this other, sort of darker side to him that Albus is kind of trying to ignore at the time, which is very telling about Albus’ characterisation and very fitting for him. I also liked the bit about how Gellert is a needy cuddler but would never admit it. :P And the few lines Aberforth has in here fit exactly with what I’d expect of him. So yeah, I think you did really well with all three of them.
I would be so certain I that that summer had never ended – think there’s a couple of extra words in there
And the paragraph that begins I would wake first is in there twice (though the second time, it begins with I always woke first but is otherwise the same)
All in all, this was a wonderful chapter, a very strong beginning to what I already know is an incredible story, and I’m excited to see how this story has evolved. Also, I would be remiss if I left you a review without saying at least once that your writing is absolutely breathtaking and I love it. *heart eyes emoji*