Chamomile and Celandine

By ACI100

Status: Complete, Word Count: 32,600, Pairing: Harry Potter/Fleur Delacour, Genre: Romance

Read the Fic Here:

Author’s Summary: A Part of the Emily Collection: Fleur Delacour was impossible to miss, yet Harry Potter never truly knew her. What might have happened had the convoluted chess board laid out in books 6 and 7 been arranged just a little bit differently? What might have happened had Harry known Fleur Delacour as a person and not the beautiful champion from Beauxbatons?

My Thoughts:
Characterization: Alright, let’s start with something that is completely and undeniably positive. The characters in this fic are fucking great. I’ll mention Harry and Fleur in a minute, but let’s get a few minor characters out of the way real quick. Ron and Hermione are both done very well, mostly. Hermione is as close to perfect as one can get. She reads exactly like she was in canon, and while that isn’t the most creative decision I’ve ever seen, it definitely makes sense for this fic, and it’s impressive that Ace manages to nail her character so well here. Ron is great for about 95% of this fic, but there is one moment during the beginning when Harry is mentally comparing his OWLs to Ron’s that kinda pissed me off. You see, the way I always read Ron was that he and Harry were fairly equal in terms of drive to improve and academics. While neither of them were prodigies or anything, they were both fairly good. Sure, they needed Hermione’s help every once in a while, and Harry was a bit more focused on Quidditch, but they were both decent students. That’s how I read canon. However, this fic seems to fall more into the “Ron is a slacker” camp, which…..I mean, Ace is free to write Ron in whatever way he sees fit, but I got the impression that this fic was supposed to be canon compliant up to year six, and this is never how I pictured canon Ron. It doesn’t ruin the fic or anything, but it is certainly a bit annoying. However, as I said, after this misstep, Ron is written really, really well. I was especially happy with the way Harry and Ron’s fight in the tent played out, because Ace did a good job of not bashing Ron during that scene, which is always greatly appreciated. Scrimgeour also makes a brief appearance here and he’s quite fun too. Lastly, kudos to Ace for not bashing Bill. This is something a lot of Harry/Fleur fics do, because the author’s often seem to feel threatened by the idea of another guy being a complex and interesting character, or something like that, and I think that tweaking the battle with Greyback so that Bill dies is definitely one of the better decisions I’ve seen. Does this fit with the tone the fic claims to be going for? Well….I’ll get to that in a bit, but from a characterization perspective, this is the right choice. In fact, it allows for Fleur to have some of the best character moments in the fic, and speaking of Fleur, she’s great from beginning to end. This fic is honestly a bit light on the romance, but Ace does a good job not wasting a single moment of fluffy Harry and Fleur interaction, and both of them are written very well. Harry is pretty much the same as he is in canon, except he’s just a bit more driven than normal because Fleur keeps pushing him to succeed, and Fleur, while not being the same as in canon (mostly because canon fucks up her character horribly and anyone doing a canon compliant Fleur is a moron), is also really fun! I’d say both of their characters are at their absolute strongest when they’re discussing the Gringotts break in, but they’re really solid throughout. Oh also, kudos to Ace for allowing Ginny to have a happy ending and not doing any bullshit bashing. So yeah, overall, I really liked this fic’s characterization. In fact, I’d say that this is the best character work Ace has ever done in a fic, so….yeah, well done Ace!

Romance: So this is a bit tricky, because there isn’t really all that much romance in the fic. It’s much more of an action fic with a sprinkling of Flowerpot on the side, but on the other hand, the romance that is there is really great. Specifically, the moment near the end when Harry finally realizes how he feels about Fleur hits really well. Also, I gotta give credit for the scene when Harry sees Ginny and Dean together and is super happy for them, cause that was nice. Good, heartwarming shit right there. Also, I have to give a lot of credit for the romance’s setup. Harry and Fleur’s interactions during the summer before year six were all around fantastic, and a lot of this fic’s fluff scenes took place during this period, and…yeah they all worked very well. My main issue here is that I came to this fic expecting fluff, and….I feel like it didn’t really deliver. Did the romance that was there work? Absolutely. However, I left the fic wishing that there was more of it, and that the romance I did get was a bit fluffier. This fic is 30k words long, and the fact is that there are large swaths of story here that just weren’t doing the thing I wanted the fic to do. Now, I am not saying that a fluff fic can’t have other stuff going on, because that would be ridiculous. There are excellent fics out there like If Not for Umbridge, Protection from Nargles, and Trust Me that manage to balance fluffy, cute romance with some more serious, dramatic stuff. It’s just that the balance here feels like 10% fluff, 90% drama, action & angst, when I was hoping for something closer to 40% fluff, 60% drama, action & angst at the very least. It’s all an issue of my expectations. When I go into an Emily collection fic, my expectation is to finish reading it and think something to the effect of “wow, that was cute and fun” and I just didn’t do that here. I thought a lot of other things, many of them quite good, but it doesn’t change that I’m a bit disappointed by the lack of fluff. So, while the romance that is there is quite good, this section is, overall, held back by the lack of fluff.

Action: I’ll keep this section brief, because I don’t have ton to say here. The action is quite good. In particular, there is a gore scene that really punched me in the gut part way through and while I felt like Voldemort’s death was a bit meh, it didn’t bother me too much. My biggest issue is, once again, the context. No matter how good the gorey action is, it doesn’t change the fact that this is supposed to be fluffy. This is not fluff, this is a fucking brick wall, and once again, it’s that issue of expectations. I don’t even have that much to say besides this, because I’ll start sounding like a broken fucking record, but this section is basically neutral, because I love the action itself, and I really dislike the context its placed in. The gore in particular, despite being fucking fantastically written, really felt out of place. So….yeah, this section’s neutral.

Dialogue: Now, although I have never reviewed an ACI fic before, I have been openly critical of his dialogue in the past. However, I have to say that this shows a big improvement over pretty much everything else he’s ever written. This is mainly because I can finally read the dialogue and figure out who’s talking without dialogue tags! Hallelujah, this is a great day! Like, I think some of Harry’s final dialogue with Voldemort is a bit cringe, but I don’t even give a fuck, because this fic has consistently great tier dialogue, and that makes me really happy. Well done, Ace, this is the best your dialogue has ever been.

Tone: So we’ve arrived to my main sticking point with this fic, which is that it’s just not very fluffy. In fact, it contains not one, but two funeral scenes, and has a generally dreary and kinda angsty vibe. Like, look. Normally my philosophy is “if the story’s good, the story’s good”, but this feels kind of different, because the story is billed as a fluff fic. I understanding wanting to do something a bit more interesting than that, but I personally prefer when authors find ways to make fluff interesting without losing the fluff part. And to be clear, I’m not saying that the fic is unworthy of the Emily collection or anything like that, far from it. I’m sure she’ll get just as much of a kick out of this fic as I did, and I had fun with it, I truly did. I just can’t help but wish it was a bit more of a lighthearted read. So…..with tone, I’m thinking a strong average or a light good. Not fic breaking, but definitely a fair bit irksome at times.

Writing Mechanics: I don’t have much to really say here, because first of all, longtime readers of my reviews already know how little of a shit I give about minor mechanical errors, and second of all, this fic is really mechanically tight. Did it really need to be 30k words long? Eh…..probably not, but also, Prince of Slytherin is the hill I am willing to die on, so….I’m not in much of a position to be bitching about slight bloat in a oneshot. So….yeah, well done Ace.

Bonus “Point”: As with every oneshot I review that is a part of the Emily collection, this fic will get a small boost that will factor into its final placement, because this collection is genuinely one of the nicest things I’ve seen the fanfic community do. Every author who participates it is a wonderful person, who is doing a wonderful thing for an amazing cause. Great job to all of you, and kudos to you, Ace, for whipping this up in a week. It’s quite impressive, and I bet Emily’ll enjoy it, once she adjusts to the darker tone this fic goes for.

Overall: This is a very interesting fic for me. On the one hand, I really like a lot of what’s going on in it. Harry and Fleur are both great, it has some impactful as shit character deaths, and there are some absolutely heart-wrenching scenes sprinkled throughout. If this was a darker, angsty, like, short novel, I would absolutely dig it. Cause it does the things it attempts to do rather well. My main issue with the fic is that it doesn’t do the thing it promises to do. I went in expecting fluff, and I didn’t get fluff, and that left me kinda disappointed. It’s very possible that my take will change if I give the fic a reread in a couple months, this time going in expecting a more dreary, angsty story, and I suppose only time will tell. Either way, I still think the good points definitely outweigh the bad here, and I think the effort that went into this fic is very impressive. So….yeah, let’s move to my final thoughts.

Final Thoughts: If you’re a fan of Flowerpot, I highly recommend checking this out, because you’re almost certainly going to have a good time. Similarly, if you’re a fan of action with a slight edge to it, then you’re also probably going to enjoy it. However, if you’re looking for a fluffy fic that’ll just make you smile and feel good, this probably isn’t the fic for you. However, I should once again clarify that I still think this fic is good, and the effort that clearly went into it is very commendable. Overall, I’m thinking mid Great Tier for this fic. I had a good time with it.

Tier: Great Tier

Written on 05/23/2021

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