It's never really occurred to me to wonder about the Fat Friar, I have to confess, despite his being the only House ghosts' story we know nothing about, but this story has persuaded me that was quite an oversight. Like you highlight in this story, he's interesting because he calls into question the role of religion in the wizarding world but even more so he raises the question of why a man of God should fear death enough to become a ghost, which at first glance is quite a puzzle.
I felt like you answered those questions in ways that left me totally satisfied. I really liked how you didn't expand at length on the place that religion holds within the wizarding world. It was so matter of factly handled that I didn't even question it to be honest. The tone just lead me to accept that there are, or were, monasteries because it didn't try to over explain so I didn't feel the need to pick over the details.
As for why Hugh became a ghost, I thought that again was well done. I like the little mention of fearing death coming in during the battle as a little red herring before you give him a reason so much more fitting to his character. I felt like the comment made about thinking too much with his heart was astute and really tends to sum up a Hufflepuff failing across the board.
I think perhaps that was the only thing I was a little hesitant about in this story - the depth of characterisation - but even there I'm somewhat in two minds. I really like the voice you've created in Hugh's narrative and it suits the story and gives a good strong feel of both the era and his role as a friar (his Godliness really comes through), but I just feel like, where it's such a short story, I didn't get to know him and care for his fate as much as I'd have liked to. That said, I do kind of like that in some ways he is a simpler character, because it gives him an everyman quality that demonstrates what is important to be a Hufflepuff and makes him a fitting representative for the House.
The historical element of the story was very well handled, because the details were subtle and gave a flavour of era and setting without leaving me feeling as a reader that I was being battered over the head with lots of background research. Little mentions of compline and scribing and the bees had me trusting from early on in the story that I really was in a medieval monastery but without drowning in a deluge of the mundane daily routine of a monk or anything like that.
The dialogue worked too and that's a hard one to get right with stories in quite such archaic setting. It's a balancing act because it needs to sound appropriate, but yet at the same time full accuracy would actually be virtually incomprehensible. I felt like you struck that line well, because the speech certainly wasn't jarringly modern but neither did the few more archaic forms that you worked in (like 'Did not the Commandments ...') feel in any way forced.
This was a tightly woven, original little tale, which gave me new insight into a character who I don't think I've ever seen used before, and I'm very glad I read it.
So sad :( But very good! I'll file this in my head-canon (;
Author's Response: Hehe. Thanks. =D
First off I just want to say that the start of this one-shot was very striking. It was almost reminiscent of the famous Pride and Prejudice opening passage. The subject matter is also, of course, not something very commen in fanfiction. I also liked the fact that you used the opening section entirely as an introduction or prologue to the piece. This is often left out in one-shots, and I think it was a great way to prelude the piece, introducing the characters and setting the scene.
You managed to use the religious element in a very clever way, mingling it with the canon concepts such as the social order of Muggleborns and Muggles, thus making sure we know we are still in the Wizarding world. The final sentence of the omniscient narrative, “I believe that it is the duty of monks to offer hospitality to all who come to their door, but it is true that not all men follow the right path,” was a great little teaser of what was to come, and certainly made me eager to continue on.
The change into first person narrative was very smooth and effective. I think you managed the slight cliché of waking up to voices in the night well, and managed not to linger too long over descriptions. The tone of the narrative worked very well to immerse the reader into the time period this takes place. Just a question here on the subject of their monastery - if they are wizards, why can’t they just cast simple protective spells which would keep them safe and the muggles unable to enter? Thick walls and boarded windows seem like a very primal muggle defence which would be unnecessary if they could do magic.
“And so the siege began.”
I love this line as an opening to the section. However, the rest of it puzzled me. They can do magic, as the monk tried to stun a Muggle, but couldn’t they just cast simple Disillusionment Charms on themselves when they went outside? Or cast Shield Charms around them – none of which would have harmed the Muggles, but kept themselves safe.
When Hugh wakes up dead, I was quite shocked. I didn’t think this was the direction you were going with the story. However, I understood as the piece went on.
“I did not understand what I had done until it was too late. I had made the most foolish decision of my life, and I will pay for it for all eternity.”
This was a lovely, sad line. Unfortunately, I did not feel that I knew enough about him as a character to truly care about his fate. My greatest critique on this piece was that I wish it was longer. Your language and tone is spot-one, and it is very well written, but it is somewhat lacking in characterisation. Had you spent more time introducing the characters and making us care for them, the ending might have been more tragic.
I did like it though, well done.
Oh, and The A/N at the end was so surprising! I never would have guessed that he was the Fat Frair!
Author's Response: Elene, thanks for the awesome review! I know I totally responded to some of this stuff over AIM, but I figured I'd give a review response anyway. xD Re: the Pride and Prejudice thing - funny you mention that. Whenever I write historical dialogue, I tend to think "Jane Austen." xD (Seriously, if you ever read my story "The Mistake," I wrote that right after reading an Austen book - the tone - or whatever it is - always always gets stuck in my head).
I'm so very glad the religious element worked out. It's something that really intrigued me, when I saw mention of it (although, seriously, I have no idea where I saw that. D= I'm hoping it wasn't, like, a weirdly mundane dream or something. But either way, I at least like the idea of it. :P).
On the protective spells/Disillusionment spells thing: DUDE. I have no idea why I didn't think of it? I think it would be difficult to put up protective spells on-the-spot (if not impossible), and let's face it, these aren't really the best wizards - but why wasn't it protected already? I have no idea. I think there's a possibility that in the back of my mind I thought they wouldn't expect this kind of attack - they're men of peace after all. But I dunno. And the Disillusionment charm is just...why wouldn't they take that precaution? -flails- OB-viously I was not thinking too clearly when I wrote that bit. xD Their leader dude was not, I suppose, the best war leader out there. >.> (Seriously can't be bothered to find his name, I'm sorry. >.>).
Haha...I was hoping the Hugh "waking up dead thing" would come as a surprise. It came as a surprise to him, too, so yeah...
About the characterization thing: I am so so bad at characterization. It's really something I need to work on. I think I get so carried away with a story sometimes I forget to really give the characters life.
Thanks again for the review, seriously. I always love long reviews - especially when they point out what I could do better. =)
I really enjoyed this story. I was surprised by the mixture of religion and magic, even more so that JK Rowling said that the wizarding world is as religious as the Muggle one (going off your review reply). Then again, modern Europe is hardly religious.
I enjoyed the characterization of Hugh, particularly the idea that he becomes the Fat Friar.
I was a bit baffled about why the Muggle suddenly decides they have to attack the wizard monks. It seems a bit strange considering it was neither stated that they kept their magical status a secret nor that he had problems with them being wizards before.
All in all, really good interesting story.
Author's Response: Aida - I'm glad you liked the story. =) As for the Muggles...I see this as happening around the time when the whole witch hysteria thing was going on...I really should have written this better, to show the motive, but this was kind of a thrown-together oneshot. >.> The idea was: The Muggle didn't really mind when they were helping him, but once he'd gotten home safe and told other people about what happened, then that's when things started to go sour. Sorry that was so unclear. >.> I am glad you found it interesting though.
I can't believe this has no reviews yet! It was utterly amazing - very few people manage to successfully weave religion and Harry Potter together without offending one or the other, but you did a spectacular job of it. Not only that, I thought it was amazing that you also managed to give the reader a glimpse of the decisions of one character, a very minor one at that :) It was such a pleasure to read.
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked it, Apurva - especially the mix of religion and HP. I seem to remember reading somewhere that JK envisioned Britain's wizards as being the same, religiously-speaking, as their Muggle counterparts and the existence of the "Fat Friar" (Hugh several centuries after this story) definitely argues that wizarding monastic orders exist. But I was still a little iffy about mixing them - especially as religion is one of the main reasons HP is challenged in schools and libraries. Anyway. Thanks for reading and reviewing, and I'm glad you liked it.