Hi there! I'm stopping by fo the Magical Menagerie :)
I'm really glad I clicked on this. "Missing moment" type stories are my favorite, and I absolutely LOVE anything that focuses on minor students who were at Hogwarts during Harry's time. Zacharais in particular is a character I've always found intriguing, and I think this might be the first story I've read where he was a central character. I really like the angle you took with him. You explained his rationale for choosing not to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, but at the same time, you didn't apologize for his actions. Because really, there's no apology necessary. I don't think any person, regardless of whether they were of age or not, should have been made to feel guilty for not fighting.
I loved how you explored the theme of fantasy vs. reality with this. It's a universal human experience, I think; we all have that thing we dream of doing or being, until the opportunity arises and we see just how challenging it actually is. War, especially, is something that is over-glorified, so I loved your take on that. Zacharias, just like so many kids, fell in love with the idea of emerging from battle as a hero; the scene where they were reenactingDumbledore's duel gave me chills for this very reason. However, when faced with an actual battle, he realized his heart couldn't handle it. And I LOVE how you showed Zacharais as having no shame in that. It's okay for us to admit that we aren't cut out for something; it just shows that we've grown and have learned more about ourselves.
Furthermore, I really appreciate that you pointed out that there's more to being a hero than winning a fight. Sometimes, simply being there for someone who needs you is heroic enough. Heroes come in all forms - something I think Hufflepuffs are well aware of - so this was an apporopriate outlook for Zacharais to have on the whole situation. His devotion to Ariadne sister was beautifully handled as well.
All in all, this was a lovely read!
Hey Reilly! I'm really glad you clicked on this too, because it meant that I got this absolutely wonderful review from you! Thank you so much!
Missing moment stories are my favorites too! And I really love writing stories about characters that aren't generally well-liked, and Zacharias is a pretty universally not-liked character :P In the books I disliked him for walking out on the DA, but... it's easy to forget he's still a kid, and he had no obligation to fight. Fighting a battle against adult Death Eaters is a lot to ask of a teenager, and not everyone has it in them. I'm so glad you liked the angle of the story and how it doesn't apologize for him but makes him more understandable as to why he did what he did (at least that's what I was going for :P )
I like that you read in depth into the theme of fantasy vs reality presented here, and you picked up on everything I was trying to say there.
And yes to the idea of there being different types of heroes. I'm so glad you liked the way he and his sister were portrayed.
Thank you so much for reading, and for this lovely review! ♥
Here from the review swap! This one looked like it could use a read. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fic that focused on Zacharias Smith before, so this was certainly intriguing - although I think any fic centering on a minor character is uber intriguing.
I really liked experiencing the war’s breakout with the students. They’re woken from sleep and suddenly flung into this dark, chaotic event. You captured the utter confusion and fear and how this atmosphere works its way into Zacharias’s mind really well.
The scene with Tommy was such a contrast from the opening. I loved that they were playing a game of Dumbledore vs Gellert, and that Zacharias always wanted to be Dumbledore because he hated being the villain. From the game to Ariadne’s name, I got the feeling that tales of war - of good conquering evil - had a big impact on his family, and ultimately him.
I liked that, after joining Dumbledore’s Army, Zacharias finds his belief of fighting for freedom against an oppressive authority challenged by his own skepticism, which comes from a valid place. The war against Voldemort is obviously very different and more dire than any game he’d played. That’s a brilliant way of adding complexity to his character, so that his criticism against Harry and his followers has reason.
It’s saddening that we as readers are given his backstory and can see a progression of doubt and fear that gives reason to why he chooses to abandon the fight, while his friends just see him as a coward. I love that he at least had Ariadne to offer comfort in that difficult time.
Overall, I thought this was a sad yet wonderful exploration of a minuscule character. It portrays that not every one can do what they desire to do. Difficult times cause difficult feelings to surface, and they can make one act in ways that are not expected.
Thank you so much for the swap! <3
Hey! I'm glad to hear this caught your attention! Minor characters are my faves, and most of my one-shots focus on minor or unlikeable characters - in Zacharias' case, I suppose he's both, since he's not usually liked :P
I'm so glad to hear you liked the beginning of the fic as it opens on the war, thanks! It's great to hear that it shows his frame of mind well. And yeah that's part of why I chose to follow it with an unrelated section in a nonlinear way - I think that night must havr just been complete chaos and all jumbled up, which is partly why the timeline's jumbled up here.
Zacharias' dislike of playing the villain came from a comment I seem to recall from Harry or the twins maybe, describing him as a bit of a sore loser. And as he's kind of a nosy, skeptical character as well, it fit that he always needs to be right. I'm glad you liked that scene, and the message you took from it about his feelings on good versus evil - I don't remember if that's something I had aimed for when i wrote it, but I really like that you got that out of it and how that theme that you mentioned plays into the ending witj him running out of the fight at the end. (It's really neat when a review like yours makes me see new things about my own writing. <3)
Thank you, it's great to hear that you thought the complexity to his character in regards to his skepticism explains his behavior there. And, tbh, after writing this, I could kind of understand his point of view here a lot more, about why he questioned Harry. No one else did. And who wouldn't be afraid to hear that their whole world is turning upside down, and have some questions about it?
Thank you for this very insightful review, and I'm glad you got so much out of the story and thought it explores his character and frame of mind well. And thanks for swapping with me!
Kristin! It's MEEEEE!!!
OOH how could I resist a story about Zacharias Smith? I think you already know that I love minor characters, and I don't know if I've ever read another story about him before - I've always been so intrigued by the fact that he was a member of the DA and yet he didn't feel like he could stay to fight, and so it was fascinating to read this story and see your character exploration.
I really loved the question in the opening of this piece. It felt really accusatory, using second person in that start too, and it was so effective in pulling us into the story and giving us sympathy for him.
The present tense in the sections focusing on the battle was a brilliant choice, too, because it gave us a real sense of the immediacy of everything that was happening at this point, and the chaos and fear around it. I thought you captured Zacharias's emotions during that time brilliantly.
The moments between Zacharias and Ariadne when they were younger were so sweet and lovely, and I thought it did a great job of building up the relationship between them and showing us a softer side to Zacharias.
I was really glad that you showed the way that Zacharias found out about the DA and wanted to join - the fact that he was late hearing about it because he'd been in a detention for speaking out against Umbridge made him a lot more endearing and likeable as a character.
I thought you captured his fear in the battle really well, and it was so sweet to see him focusing on his sister and looking after her in an act of loyalty, even though everyone else thought he was a coward because of it. This was such an interesting exploration of his character, and I would love to read more about him if you ever write it!
Siannnnnn! I'm so impressed with how you managed to get in this final review two minutes before the end of the event XD
Minor characters are the best! And yeah I don't think I've seen any other stories that focus on him. But personally, I just love the unlikeable characters and trying to get into their head. :P I'm so glad you liked this character exploration!
Thank you, I'm so glad you liked the stylistic choices in this with the second person opening and then the present tense/non-linear narrative. It was kind of an experimental fic in a lot of ways and I'm so happy to hear that it worked!
I'm really happy that you liked the moments between Zacharias and Ariadne as well and that you thought it showed a different side to him. And yeah, as for Umbridge - Zacharias is such a nosy person and always wanted information, and it seemed that despite him seeming at odds with Harry on some things, he was also against Umbridge because Umbridge never gave them any information about anything and I think that would have annoyed Zacharias. So yeah, I'm glad you liked the back story of how he heard about the DA because of that.
In the books it's suggested that Zacharias is kinda the worst for running out on the battle because the rest of the DA stayed to fight, but - honestly - can you blame a teenager for being too scared to fight in a BATTLE? So I wanted to show that side of it. And I'm really glad you liked the scene of him with Ariadne and how it shows his loyalty.
As of now I haven't written more about Zacharias, but Chiara wrote the companion piece to this which focuses on Ariadne, and it's amazing and you should read it.
Thank you so much for this review!! ♥
So I was looking for something lighter but something about it just jumped out at me! I guess I like characters that get a bit of rough deal in the books (part of why I'm so fond of Lavender.)
I thought this was an amazing back story for Zacharias. I love the idea that he was a hero. the bond you've created with his sister is so wonderful and I have new respect based on this back story because I feel like it's believeable but it could be canon and perfectly shows off Zacharias' hufflepuff traits. i love the flashback with them as children. I think you do wonderfully as portraying them as kids, I adore the idea that they pretend to be dumbledore/Grindelwald.
I've got quite an amazing mental image of him going down the path to Hogmeade, my favourite line here is 'Dark shapes and shadows surround him, and in his heightened awareness, each shape is an enemy'. it really creates that atmosphere of fear. I love that he uses stuff from DA so he doesn't feel so alone. I really adore the parallels that you draw between Hannah and his sister so he wouldn't very hurt Hannah because of his sister. it shows his personality but also this hugely strong bond between him and Ariadne. I really feel for her too though I don't know too much about her. I'm going to have got off to Chiara's story at some point now!
I love that you give him a voice and a reason and I loved it even more because it's so beautifully written. well done with this piece! :)
- Abbi xo
Omg, me too, I also love the characters that aren't portrayed that kindly in the books. The more I think about it, these characters who aren't shown in that positive of a light are often only that way because we see through the lens of Harry, who is pretty biased - sometimes for good reason, and sometimes not. :P (In the case of Lavender, I think not - he had no reason to dislike her. I love Lavender too, for the record!)
So anyway, I'm glad this story jumped out at you and that you enjoyed the back story. I'm always so happy to hear that something feels like it could be canon, so thank you! Glad that you liked the scene of him as a child as well. I always wonder about writing kids whether they'll sound realistic at all, as it's been a long time since I was a kid and I'm never really around them, so thank you that's great to hear.
Ooh thank you, it's wonderful to hear that you liked that line and that it was effective at creating the atmosphere! And yeah, as much as Zacharias annoyed and questioned Harry at DA meetings, I do think he valued them - he kept showing up, after all.
Thank you so much for reading this and I'm so happy that you liked it! Thanks for your wonderful review!
p.s. Chiara's story is so good, and explores Ariadne's character a lot more. I hope you enjoy it!
First off, allow me to rage at the idea that any teenager who didn't stay to fight in a battle is a coward. So many explatives. Yeah okay, moving on.
I really like that you chose to write about Zacharias. He certainly isn't a well loved character, and it's great to see him getting some attention and compelling characterization.
When I saw anxiety in the tags for this story, I thought you were going to have this version of Zacharias have anxiety, which seemed interesting to me, but I like even more that you gave the anxiety to his sister and having him being the supportive brother.
I love kids reenacting the Dumbledore/Grindelwald fight. hehe, gay thoughts. Anyway.
I really like that you showed Zacharias openly speaking against Umbridge. In OotP, since he is so hostile to Harry, it can be easy to forget that he is on the same side of the fight, and I like how you highlighted this and gave him a bit of a fearless moment. The fact that he did so before he was part of the DA makes it even cooler.
The fact that part of him holds onto the idea that Harry might be wrong, making it less dangerous, makes me want to hug him.
While I think Hannah would forgive Zacharias if she knew the circumstances, it bothers me that she judges him like that. Especially after he refused to torture her. He was only a sixth year! Come on, people!
You don't draw attention to this, but the fact that they stayed in that Ariadne's apartment through the battle instead of running was another level of bravery. It's possible they had no way to leave or Ariadne wasn't up for it, but being so close to the fight and hearing it all night must have been terrifying, and the fact that they stayed together for each other through that gets them many kudos from me.
I think you did a great job with Zacharias here, making him very believable and complex. He is a balance of bravery and fear. He is selfish in order to be selfless.
I definitely have to go read the companion piece now. Nice job with this!
Sam! Thank you so much for this review! ♥
Your rage is definitely understandable. I feel like Zacharias gets such a bad rap for being a generally nosy, obnoxious person, and even more so because he alone of the D.A. ran from Hogwarts and didn't fight in the battle. When I first read DH, I definitely judged him for it too. But later I realized that it's a very normal reaction, and in fact, I don't know if I myself would have fought in a battle. It made me wonder, if the books had been from another POV other than Harry's (who didn't like Zacharias), what kind of a character Zacharias would have seemed like then. But, I digress. :P
Honestly I love writing about unpopular characters, so I'm glad you enjoyed the character choice here and thought his characterisation was compelling, thank you!
Hehehe. Yeah, I thought about that with the Dumbledore/Grindelwald thing too. I laughed and then kept it in the story anyway :P
Yes - exactly! Just because Zacharias didn't like Harry that much doesn't mean he loved Umbridge. And since Zacharias is shown in the books to be a really nosy person, I figured he'd just loathe someone like Umbridge who refuses to tell them any information.
And yeah, his thought about Harry being wrong was more out of fear than any malice against Harry. Poor Zacharias. He's such a maligned character and I was definitely hoping to make him more relatable in this, so the fact that you want to hug him is great to hear.
As for Hannah, yes, I'm sure she would forgive him if she knew. But with that bit I was just going from the books where Zacharias literally knocked some first years over in his haste to reach the door and leave while the rest of the DA stayed, and so that is what Hannah saw too, without knowing any of the background. So she's disappointed, but doesn't really hold it against him.
Thank you so much, for reading this and for your kind review! I'm so glad to hear you thought Zacharias was believable and complex, that's just what I was going for and it's lovely to hear that :)
(And yes, defintely read Chiara's story :D)
Thanks again! ♥♥♥♥♥