Overall, I really loved this one-shot. I love the idea of Helga/Salazar, and you portrayed that really well. I also really love it when people show a different side of Salazar, not just as the 'evil guy'. You did this really well, especially with the excerpts like this:
There’s no sign of it on his face, but Helga remembers the twists of smoke rising from the remains of the hall, witches and wizards lying dead in their ruined homes, and Salazar staring out over the scene with sorrow in every line of his face. His home, destroyed by Muggle warriors. There had been no time to call for friends then; no way to Apparate out when he was needed to fight.
The violence gives Salazar a reason to not be trusting, and I think using it as the premise for the new spell is wonderful. Salazar is tricky, because, well, he did prefer pure-bloods and he created the Chamber of Secrets, but I love the idea that he wasn't all bad. You did that really well. I love the whole idea of him feeling emotions and love towards others, as Slytherins are most often not seen as the ‘caring’ type.
Some of the conversations seemed a bit off to me, though. It's something about the idea of the Godric and Salazar talking about Helga that didn't seem to sit completely right with me. Salazar does not seem the type to expose all that in a dialogue, as he strikes me as a secretive type of man. The first kissing scene was confusing, but I loved how you explained it all later. I found it confusing because it was Godric, yet I knew from the previous scene Salazar cared for Helga. I believe you did that on purpose, and if you did you definitely reached the desired effect.
I happened across one small grammar mistake: In the fourth paragraph of the first kissing scene you say ping instead of bring. It’s nothing big, just a small typo.
The really only major flaw with this is that Helga didn't tell Salazar she knew it was him. I can't see Helga, who, supposedly, is open, trusting, and accepting, would keep that from him. Just because she is a Hufflepuff it doesn’t mean she can’t lie, but I really do not believe she could go all of those years without telling him. A few months or even a year, maybe, I could see Helga not telling Salzar, but not as long as you put it in your story. Maybe you did this to add suspense?
One quote that I don’t think I could ever forget about, and probably my favorite of the story, is this:
Her lips on his are bliss. The heat that blazes between them almost eclipses the fire in the hearth, and it’s all he can do to draw peath between kisses. She pulls away first, and he says, “I might have to kill Godric for monopolizing your attention. Although that doesn’t explain the last four years.”
She laughs and pulls him towards her by the front of his robes, and he finds himself tumbling to the floor with her, not at all minding the lack of dignity. “Be quiet, if you please, and kiss me,” she says through a laugh, and he obeys happily.
This seems simply magical to me. As I said before, I love Helga/Salazar, and I think it really characterizes them both well. This was my favorite part of the story, and it just seemed magical.
This was really good, and I thought you captured the Founder's era very well. I hope you write more Helga/Salazar!
Hello Minna. I’ve recently become interested in Founders, and so was really intrigued to read your take on them, particularly with such a title.
I think dialogue was a really good way to start this piece, because with Historical (fiction as well as fanfiction) I think there’s always a tendency to feel as though you have to set the setting well, and establish you are In The Past, which can be rather alienating and you successfully avoid throughout the story as in the setting never dominates your characterisation or plot. I love the way the statement “He wears only a slight smile, but she reads impatience in his movements and eagerness burning in his eyes” shows the reader not only Salazar, but also how well Helga knows him, establishing the sense of, at the very least, friendship, between them very quickly. I also love your characterisation of Helga, with her ironic comment, ”Only” which immediately prevents her from falling into the jolly cook from a fairy tale type that I’ve read one too many Helga’s cast as. The sneaky fact that Helga knew all along, and wanted to see what it was like. I also love, however, her honesty with Godric about it, which is very sweet.
I think your characterisation of Salazar and Godric’s friendship, that of intellectuals but then as their conversation goes on, to reveal the emotional attachment they have, is also excellent. You play with the reader over whether you’re going to pair Helga with Godric or Salazar very well- comments like “Nothing incriminating,” could refer to Salazar’s emotions, or something Godric’s told him, and as the story goes on the reader realises it refers to both. I think it is also a testament to the strength of Godric and Salazar’s friendship that Godric is willing to trust Salazar (even if he doesn’t know the exact details) with his face. I found the expression “the product of an old and tricky bit of spellwork” slightly off-putting. I think it makes sense that the polyjuice potion might not have been invented at that point, but aside from potions, we get no sense of spells having a particular age attached to them, and therefore the ‘old’ seemed somewhat redundant. Godric is by far the character you develop least in this story, and I think he might have played a more important role possibly, as the hints you give about him are rather stereotypically Gryffindor rather than being specifically Godric, or rather, as Salazar sees him, as we never get Godric’s point of view. I do love the phrase impulsive, stupid and completely in character. particularly the irony of Godric in reality being too afraid that Helga won’t reciprocate to kiss her in his own stead.
I think the last scene between Helga and Salazar is beautifully done. From the first moment Helga speaks, you know, maybe due to the confessional atmosphere you quickly develop by describing the cosiness, and that no-one else is there, that she has something to reveal to Salazar, and from then on the lead up to the kiss is quick, and their dialogue flirtatious, but never forced.
I think one thing I especially like in this story is that things are hinted at, but not fully developed. For example, when you explore Helga and then Salazar’s memories, you clearly have a strong idea of the events in the Founders’ timeline (the hints about Salazar covered in blood and grime, Rowena’s father’s house as well as the mention that Godric and Helga’s relationship lasted two years, are particularly tantalising) which helps ground the story and make the reader trust the narrative all the more. I think the present tense greatly helps this, though it may not have worked with a longer story, in providing the sense of immediacy, having few flashbacks and only stating what is pertinent to what is happening in the moment. It’s also a rather unusual tense to use, which can feel forced, but here never does.
Earlier I said I felt that Godric could be developed more, as the structure of the story does feel somewhat - lopsided. I think you could possibly make the first two scenes one, and then your story would be bordered by two longer scenes, with two short scenes in the middle, which would give it a more balanced feel. Like you could have Helga and Salazar at the river straight away, and Helga worrying about the weeding, but being there to help Salazar, and then specify that its a way to call for friends, and Helga’s memory of Salazar’s background, before he goes on to talk about its similarity with Legilimency. I hope that makes sense.
I have very few nitpicks, other than the fact that a few times a “br” has been replaced by a “p”- I think this is part of the problems MNFF is having at the moment, but this happens at “but he can’t ping himself to care” and ”their dream is pought to life” as well as “He raises an eyepow” and ”her pown eyes sparkling in the firelight”. I hope that helps :)
Overall, if you haven’t been able to tell, I really loved this story. It had a lightness and optimism about it, without seeming contrived, and giving an interesting story with strong characters within a very short amount of words, which I think is lovely. Alex
Author's Response: Oh, my, Alex, thank you so much for the gargantuan review. This was such a nice surprise. =D (Hmm this reminds me, I need to read your Founder’s Era sometime…I’m behind on my Potterverse reading and especially my FE reading).
I think dialogue was a really good way to start this piece, because with Historical (fiction as well as fanfiction) I think there’s always a tendency to feel as though you have to set the setting well, and establish you are In The Past, which can be rather alienating
Ugh I started this fic about four times – it was going to be a different thing at first, I think, and mutated as I kept restarting it – and trying to establish setting was just – grr, so I decided to do something light where I didn’t have to give a lot of information.
As for Helga’s characterization, the jolly cook stereotype (…which I’ve not run into because I’ve been too busy planning my Founders’ headcanon to actually read much Founders fic) sounds like complete nonsense. I mean…she was one of the greatest witches and wizards of the age. No one ever said anything about “the three greatest wizards and witch and that one chick who likes to cook” so I assume she’s clever just like the rest of them. And it tickles me to imagine her with just a bit of slyness in with her people skills.
-cough- The “old and tricky bit of spellwork” was just me going “go away logic, I just want to get on with the story.” >.> I really should have fixed that a bit before posting, I just…really suck at editing my own fics apparently. I think I called it old because maybe if it was old/esoteric then it might make sense for it to have been forgotten by Harry’s time…?
Also agreeing with you that my portrayal of Godric could have used some work. I honestly had very little worked out about him at the time and am still a bit vague on the details of both him and Rowena. He probably could have stood to have a little more presence in the story as well, and poor Rowena just had passing mentions. I think the aspect of the friendship between Godric and Salazar really suffered with my need to rush and get the fic to its eventual Helga/Salazar conclusion (I was working under a deadline and I think it was quite close at the time). Which is sad, because I like to think they have a bromance type thing going (...that sounds weird applied to medieval people) and I definitely need to write more about them, though I probably won’t do it justice. I think the lesson learned here is that I need to edit fics better, especially challenge ones – think about things besides just getting the SPAG right.
I think the last scene between Helga and Salazar is beautifully done[…]their dialogue flirtatious, but never forced.
Can I just like…hug you right now. I have so much trouble with writing romance and especially with the concept of flirting/flirtatiousness. That scene makes me especially self-conscious because a few people commented about Salazar’s awkwardness there. >.> (Not here, at the comm where the exchange was).
For example, when you explore Helga and then Salazar’s memories, you clearly have a strong idea of the events in the Founders’ timeline (the hints about Salazar covered in blood and grime, Rowena’s father’s house as well as the mention that Godric and Helga’s relationship lasted two years, are particularly tantalising) which helps ground the story and make the reader trust the narrative all the more.
I’m glad that helped rather than detracted. I kind of worried about having snatches of their pasts without explaining further, but I didn’t want to bog down a rather light fic with explanations. As to the present tense…the fic just sort of came out that way, and honestly I keep reverting to present tense mid-fic even now. >.> I need to get off this kick.
By the way, the issues with brs turning to ps was probably me fixing some issue with formatting on lj and clicking “replace all” rather than an archive issue. Ooops, not doing that again. I will fix it as soon as the edit box stops threatening to turn all my quotation marks into question mark icons.
Um, is that all? Probably. I’m awful at review responses, but I’m really glad you enjoyed the fic, Alex. And, wow, I know I said this before, but this was a very lovely review. Thank you! <3
I liked this story, although the fact that Slytherin would fall for Hufflepuff and vice versa seems unlikely to me.
You writing style is a teensy bit oldfashioned(I don't know if this was intended for the story or not), which adds a great atmosphere to the story - after all, it all happened more than a thousand years ago, right? XD
Oh, and you have great descriptions - you manage to walk the golden path between simple and flowery perfectly!
Author's Response: Thanks for reading and reviewing. Admittedly Salazar/Helga is less easy than, say, Ravenclaw/Slytherin (except Rowena married someone else), but Helga's the most understanding of the lot, I think, and might be able to see past their differences. Honestly, though, I have no defined OTP; I just like playing with it. Glad you enjoyed despite your uncertainty about the pairing :D