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Oneshot A Question of When

Discussion in 'Romance' started by vlad, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. vlad

    vlad Seventh Year Prestige

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    The last time I humbly didn't blow my own horn, Romilda had to wait years because everyone assumed she was already in the library.

    So, none of that nonsense.

    Title: A Question of When
    Pairing: Harry/Romilda, many mentions of canon Harry relationships
    Link: A Question of When
    Genre: Romance, I guess. Though it's very twisted.
    Rating: T, at worst.
    Author: Vlad the Inhaler. I'll be honest fam, even though I'm writing under new pen name now, couldn't resist idea of having two best Hogwarts Harry/Romilda under one roof. /humblebrag

    Summary: Romilda Vane realized she'd been going after Harry Potter the wrong way; it wasn't a question of how, it was a question of when.

    To be frank, I think in a lot of ways this actually outdoes 'Whatever Happened to Bromance'. It was more challenging to write, at any rate. In addition to the chaos of the chronology that had to still make sense, it was also much more of a challenge to get into the head of a time travelling, Harry obsessed and quite self-absorbed teenage girl than it was a horny teenage Harry and Bro!Cormac.

    I hope you all enjoy and find it equally worthy of inclusion.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
  2. TallDarkStranger

    TallDarkStranger Third Year

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    Just finished reading it. Was reminiscent of BajaB's The Greatest Minister of Magic.
    So Romilda essentially plays the whole game from start till she knows every little quirk and starts optimizing in her last round, which is what's concluded in the closing lines (that she's already made it this time, and it isn't Ginny he likes).

    The penultimate attempt, I don't get - if she gets Harry to stay with her after Dumbledore's funeral, she's already won - why restart at that point?

    Criticism:
    I don't like the jumps without warning, because it's confusing as hell to read 4 lines and have the next 4
    make no sense, then you infer there was a restart in between. And it's not immediately obvious where they went.

    When does Granger pretend to trip and drop a sickle with a listening charm? I don't remember that in canon.

    I'm gonna go 3.5 with this one.
     
  3. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    The trick Romilda was stealing from Hermione wasn't a Sickle-bug specfically, it was the idea of enchanted coins linked by the Protean Charm.

    Anyway, I'll just repeat myself from the WBA thread. I like this piece a lot. It's romance with a twisted twist, probably my favorite kind of romance. Technically sound, the POV, the concept and execution create a good mix.

    I was iffy on the deliberately blurred lines between different timelines, but I realized that vlad blurred them for a reason. As Romilda says herself, Harry broke up with her twenty-two times at Dumbledore's funeral and she took a few attempts to even get to that point, so the lack of concrete separation of subsequent timelines and jumping from Romilda's fourth year to her second year between paragraphs goes to show the lengths Romilda goes to to get what she wants. It has to have gotten Groundhog Day blurry for her to some degree.

    She's insanely manipulative here, but not really malicious, which allows me to root for her while keeping in mind that she's the idea of stalking incarnate. It's like those videos that recut movie trailers with different music to make Toy Story look like a horror movie - the fic can be interpreted as a cute, unconvential love story, or an account of truly fucked up creeps. I like that it's ambiguous like that.

    Props to vlad for taking a minor canon character and putting a unique spin on her.

    I was going to give this 4/5, but you know what - there isn't anything here I dislike to justify docking a point. Fuck it. This is a great little fanfic, I enjoyed it. Full marks.
     
  4. TallDarkStranger

    TallDarkStranger Third Year

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    I don't know this author enough to say whether the intentional blurring is intended to create the groundhog day effect/ montage of blending attempts.

    You sure you're not giving him too much credit here?
     
  5. vlad

    vlad Seventh Year Prestige

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    It's why I used present tense as well - the idea of past and present and future aren't really concepts that Romilda gets anymore. She gets Harry to tell her how to get him to take her to a ball that happened two years ago. She thinks of running out of time as something that happens backwards. She likes when Harry looks at her as her, someone special, in way he hasn't since the Triwizard Tournament... which is still a year away.

    Every time is now, because absolute cause-and-effect no longer apply. Except at a single point, where she's 'out of time'.
     
  6. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    vlad, you thought this through further than I did. That is some dope themeage going on.
     
  7. Jeram

    Jeram Elder of Zion DLP Supporter

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    Always nice to see another time traveling romilda fanfic
     
  8. TallDarkStranger

    TallDarkStranger Third Year

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    In light of Vlad's explanation, I'll up that to a 5.
    Well fucking done.
     
  9. Quiddity

    Quiddity Auror

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    The sickle is a reference to the DADA SNEAK galleon.


    I'm a big fan of this one shot.

    I also found the transitions confusing when I read it as a Drabble, but it worked when I read it again in WBA. I'm not sure if that's simply rereading helping, or the fleshing out working.

    I love how you hint at all of these character details in Harry and co, which Romilda never picks up on because of incessant vapidness. Makes them all the more successful.

    The age gap made this a legitimately believable challenge. Some of her late-realizations initially didn't work for me, but on reflection they did. The Sorting Hat made me laugh, even though I knew it was coming - that struggle I think is what made the fic actually work, as it layers the challenge sufficiently in a very believable way.

    I agree with what was said in the WBA, that it doesn't feel creepy. You don't shy away from That, but using her perspective it becomes almost innocent because of her vapidness.

    I also think it wouldn't have worked any more sexually, because that tone would have been lost.

    Overall, 4.25/5.
     
  10. vlad

    vlad Seventh Year Prestige

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    Quiddity I completely agree re: drabble

    The transitions didn't work in the drabble in large part because I was writing from Harry's point of view - and Harry has no knowledge of any of the previous events. He is a blank slate every time, and so you just have him in a bunch of repetitious-if-differing scenes in isolation from one another.

    But Romilda does know what's going on, at least on the big picture level, and so it had to be from her point of view - there's no storyline from anyone else's angle.

    Once I made that change, it was amazing how all the things that I had in my head came together in a way they refused to before.
     
  11. Quiddity

    Quiddity Auror

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    Ha! I hadn't even noticed the difference in point of view, which perhaps says something about the level I read this on. That explains it perfectly.
     
  12. Donimo

    Donimo Slug Club Member

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    I enjoyed the fic, but I don't see the high praise you guys are giving it. Despite Romilda altering the past the same things happen at the same time years after the point of departure. The inability to alter anything is just lazy writing, and unsatisfactory when groundhog-day style time looping offers such wonderful opportunity for shenanigans.

    This story could've been Romilda trying to get Harry to love her while not screwing things up. Getting Harry killed by separating him from Ron/Hermione, making him a git by inflating his ego when he's still young, making him into a womanizer, or many many other things.

    3/5 An enjoyable enough read, but not a great fic.
     
  13. Miner

    Miner Groundskeeper

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    It was an interesting fic to read, and I certainly think that, as far as time travel fics go, this was of a pretty high quality.

    I'd point out, though, that either there's something seriously wrong with Romilda (this goes way beyond normal stalking, if one goes through near infinite loops of time in order to capture the attention and interest of one person) or the idea of time in the story is improperly shown.

    If there's something seriously wrong with Romilda, then, well, I never really got that vibe from her. She seemed exactly like the stereotypical fangirl that we see in canon.

    On the other hand, if there's nothing wrong with her, then her behavior in the story doesn't really add up. She appears to have an awareness of how she ages (so I'm assuming that she isn't 11-15 forever and has lived life beyond that). "Romance" at those ages is actually just crushes and puppy love, and it doesn't ever last long enough to turn into the obsession that Romilda appears to have.

    It's not like Harry's the only stud at Hogwarts anyways, I'm sure others would have caught her eye eventually if Romilda didn't have some neurotic disorder or something.

    So, essentially, Romilda and her manipulations are portrayed well and were entertaining to read. But, I think that you tried a little too much with the time travel, and while the idea is solid I don't think you quite nailed the time aspect of the story.

    Then again, I've never read anything that has hit time travel perfectly either.

    3.5/5
     
  14. vlad

    vlad Seventh Year Prestige

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    Donimo,

    Thank you for your review. I don't object to your rating, because that is your right and it doesn't matter what I think or what I meant or what I felt – it's my job to communicate all those things in the prose and if it didn't, or it did but nonetheless doesn't merit full marks, then that is fair enough.

    I would however like to respond to the charge of lazy writing.

    Note: I reference the final version on ffnet, and not the draft in WBA, as the former is now error-free to the best of my knowledge and most accurately expresses my intentions.

    Nothing in this story is without cause. Nothing is just there because I couldn't think of anything better, or didn't think through what it meant.

    When I started, I made the decision not to make any wholly new scenes, because the style of the scenes is jumpy and confusing enough without adding noncanon elements. I also added anchors – Potions of Anatolia always shows up at scenes before the first task of the TWT in the library, for instance. The 6th year carriage always ends with Slughorn. However, I could have in fact added more butterflies and still kept the 'canon' recognizable. I didn't.

    For simplicity, let's say there are two types of butterflies: active and passive.

    There are no active butterflies beyond Harry and Romilda's relationship, because Romilda isn't trying to change anything else. Frankly, she's completely fine with the canon history except that other girls win Harry's affections. But beyond that, she gives zero fucks. At Dumbledore's funeral, she cares only that Harry doesn't break up with her. She considers saving Cedric Diggory not because getting killed by Voldemort sucks and it might make the war effort go better, but because Cedric 'helps' her by blocking Harry and Cho from going to the ball together, every time. In the end though she doesn't bother worrying about it. She likes Hermione when Hermione rooks Cho, and she dislikes Hermione when Harry pulls the same manuever of 'I need to go now and see Hermione', but on Romilda. She never, even when she's clearly 'in' the group, ever refers to Luna or Neville by given name; the only time she mentions Ron and Hermione by name are when she's speaking to Harry and has realized what is the best thing to say, and the only time she mentions Ginny and Cho are when she singles them out as making her unhappy by being in the DA. She refers to Ginny by her full name, Ginevra, when she contemplates hitting her with sectumsempra (though she doesn't know that's the curse) for snogging Harry. Incidentally, even when Harry either doesn't know her name, or calls her 'Vane', she always calls him 'Harry'.

    Romilda is still a gossip, and even when she's completely missing things going on around her, she takes note of Parvati and Padma and how that changes sometimes. She sees neither girl as a threat but an interesting tidbit.

    The only exception here is Sirius, and this is in my opinion Romilda's greatest saving grace: she is willing to try and change history and save Sirius, because she finally realizes how important Sirius is to Harry, and how necessary this is for Harry. It's the only time she does something that puts her own self in mortal danger – and she does it multiple times – by redoing the Department of Mysteries until she concludes it's futile. This is an enormous part of her development, even if she doesn't recognize it in full.

    There are few if any passive butterflies because – and Romilda never really understands this – she's just not that important. She is always limited by her own narrow perceptions and priorities, as well as being in the body of a young schoolchild. She has no real effect on the war, even – when with Sirius – she tries. She starts the story honestly assuming that if only she's not rude to Longbottom and Lovegood, Harry will fall in love with her. She is very frustrated when she finally realizes this is not the case.

    She is aggravated and does not understand why simply helping Harry in the library doesn't stop him from asking Cho out – as if some younger student saying something nice would have any impact on your crush on an upperclassman. It's only when she takes Harry's advice two years later (in book time) and flat out asks him to take her that she succeeds on this front – and even then it's not as if Harry 'loves' her at this point, it just keeps him from worrying about the Ball and subsequently pining over Cho. Stillborn crush.

    The biggest change she makes to the timeline – both as a Gryffindor and a Slytherin – is when she genuinely (even if originally it was a plot) becomes friends with Hagrid, and then spends the day with Harry at the lake instead of him going to Hogsmeade.

    She's talking about Hagrid post Malfoy & Buckbeak... but that's not the only person who fits the bill, while his friends are at Hogsmeade and it's raw on Harry's mind that he lacks any familial love.

    This is why when she gets Harry to unwittingly describe what he (will in a week's time) smells from Amortentia, the third smell is now hot chocolate. It's what he subconsciously associates with his first memory of him and Romilda. (Incidentally, Treacle Tart is from Harry's first meal at Hogwarts, in canon.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
  15. TallDarkStranger

    TallDarkStranger Third Year

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    ^Well thought out response, for a poopy head.

    Questions I have unanswered:
    1. Did she reset the timeline even after the 22nd try when Harry didn't break up with her after AD's death?
    2. Was he infatuated with Romilda after the hot chocolate (which was a week before?)
     
  16. vlad

    vlad Seventh Year Prestige

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    Why do people keep calling me a - oh, oh right.

    THANKS Palindrome FORGOT U HACKED MY SIG

    1. Yes. Although I'm sure she didn't go through the funeral 22 times one-after-another, there were stops in between. But they aren't unique events in Romilda's mind as they were part-and-parcel of preventing the breakup. And from Romilda's point of view, 'not breaking up' is not the same thing as 'won, game over'. That doesn't happen in her mind until Harry, on his own cognizance (such as it is), has Romilda as an integral part of his Amortentia.

    2. I think I am misunderstanding your question. He does not consider himself in love with Romilda when they drink hot chocolate - his third year, her first. However, by the time he considers hot chocolate one of his favorite smells, which is the god-knows-which time he's taken the Hogwarts Express to start his sixth year, he has been dating Romilda for... about six months. [Edit: Doesn't matter really but I forgot the summer, so I guess it's technically closer to 9/10.] Since the DA snog. And had been on close terms with her since the TWT, and considered her a friend since the talk after they visit Hagrid. So yes, when he mentions hot chocolate on the train, as far as he's concerned he loves Romilda and has for some time, at least enough that it would register by the Amortentia test (which Ginny did, in canon, even though Harry didn't consciously recognize the chestmonster for what it was or what have you).

    Added: It didn't occur to me when I wrote it so it certainly isn't story canon but now I am seeing the possibility that the future never ends up happening, that Romilda has lost all of what tenuous grasp she had of past/present/future and everything is now Romilda just reliving her own custom-made highlights reel from now until the end of time. Which might be the most horrifying interpretation of them all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
  17. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Why must you give me nightmares?
     
  18. Jibril

    Jibril Headmaster

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    The first time I read this, I thought it was strange, confusing and for a moment I thought that it wasn't proofread. Than I got some sleep, reread it and read the spoiler. On one hand adding some kind of graphical breaks between 'timelines' would make this easier to read, but I understand that would break the feel and flow of the story, so right now it's good.

    Reading this story and reading your explanation for time travel reminds me of one interpretation on how the Great Race of Yith percives time - not as a flow of cause and effect, but as a construct, a sphere with geography and topography. The lack of recognition of what is past, present and future on part of Romilda is - in my opinion - quite grim and disturbing. If you had enhanced that part of this story its feel could easilly be changed to that of a horror story.

    I give this 5/5. I should extract one point for lack of bro!Cormac, but it can be forgiven ;)
     
  19. douter

    douter Third Year

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    This was great, there's nothing more to really add that hasn't been mentioned. Though I did like the length, any longer and it might have become a bit repetitive. Now I just have to figure if like this more than Whatever Happened to Bromance.

    Anway a clear 5/5
     
  20. Andrela

    Andrela Plot Bunny DLP Supporter

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    Obviously 5/5.

    Not only this has Romilda's personality nailed, it's also time travel done well.

    And, of course, Harromi is OTP.