This is a clever story about a guerilla mission by Dumbledore's Army during Snape's tenure as Headmaster. The action moves along quickly in the students' multifaceted caper, and it was necessary to re-read it a few times in order to grasp all the actions and their purposes. The story fits into the canon timeline of events by taking place at the same time as the D. A. attempt to steal the (false) sword of Gryffindor from the Headmaster's office. The Carrows are depicted, as usual, as brutal but not very bright.
There were a few points I could not get sorted out precisely at first. In the first scene in the Room of Requirement, Hannah is present and delivers a few lines; then Nigel asks where Hannah and Terry are, and Anthony says "Hannah and Terry went to get the first years..." I think they mean to speak of Susan and Terry, not Hannah and Terry; shortly thereafter, Susan and Terry burst into the room.
When Anthony, Demelza, and Nigel invade the detention room, Susan seems to be in there, tied up and having recently been tortured, but how she ended up in there is not plain. When Hannah and Ernie, playing the role of turncoats, escort Demelza and Anthony "to the Headmaster's office", the story seems to refer to them as the three Prefects, but there were only two of them.
These editing defects are easily overlooked after one studies the story to feel confident that they are just flaws that escaped the beta's eye.
In the last conversation in the Room of Requirement, where Nigel reveals his actions in the back room of confiscated objects, he speaks as if he wrote the weird love letter in the duplicate book while he was in that room, but I can't imagine he had time for that; the second book must have been all prepared before the caper began. (Tell me if I'm mistaken.)
I also wondered whether the Carrows noticed the Stupefied bodies of the six Slytherin torturers lying on the floor.
But all of these points are very minor and easily fixed up with a few minutes of editing. The story is fun; we all enjoy a clever scheme. And the writing was good; the sentences flowed easily and the principal players, who are mostly minor ones in the books, were well characterized. Anything that helps fill in the mystery of what was going on at Hogwarts during the 1997-1998 school year is a welcome addition to the whole saga.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for the review! (Just a warning I wrote this about a year ago, so I'm not sure how much I remember :/)
I know that it's a little hard to grasp, and thank you for pointing out the wording errors (*headdesk* on my part). Nigel did have that letter prepared, he just chose not to spread it around because no one knew that he was planning to switch the books. Susan was serving detention for having been caught with the book, but I should have made that clearer. I'm really glad you enjoyed it, and thanks again!
This is a very interesting story, and I didn't even know you had written it! I liked how you took a movie canon character and ingrained it into your story so that he felt like he belonged. It was a very creative gesture, and I think it really gives this story a bit of uniqueness to it. While Nigel could exist in the book universe, we never actually see him, so it was nice to see how you took this movie character and fleshed him out to make him a believable book character.
I was intrigued with the opening section. While there is nothing overly new about it - the torture of a young student - there was something that just grabbed my attention. I think that the fact that you wrote the opening from no particular point of view gives it a very matter of fact tone that makes the whole situation feel more tolerable and easier to read, which kept me reading. There's one part I'm a little unsure of in the first bit. Is the woman Umbridge? The description of her and the way she talks leads me to think she is, and I'm unsure if she would be at Hogwarts at that time. I really, really liked the line "the boy knew he had made his choice, and his pain prevented countless others from suffering as he was". I think it really exemplifies what the DA stood for at this time - protecting others and fighting for what little justice they could.
One issue that I had with this story was the amount of head hopping. While it was easier to understand as the story went by, it was a little confusing in the opening part. While it was definitely necessary later on in the fic, to show what is going on, I think that it would have been much more effective to have just stuck with Nigel's point of view in the Room of Requirement. I did, however really like the head hopping in the latter half, as it really gave an in depth look into the overall structure of the plan. I think that it helped make this story into something fairly exciting and fun to read, and it wouldn't have been accomplished if it had been from one point of view.
I liked how you didn't sugar-coat all the abuse that was definitely happening at Hogwarts at the time. Everything is straight up and matter of fact. This makes the story so believable to the reader, because you aren't trying to hide something or make it seem less real. Statements such as : "just today (and rather a good day, too) Nigel had acquired a large bruise over one eye" really show the drama and the abuse effectively, while mentioning first years running away from punishment emphasises the horror of how deep these punishments went.
I was a little unsure of the characterisation of Neville. As someone who was left on the outside for much of his Hogwarts life, I can't see him coming across as so elitist and secretive. I also think he'd be a little more concerned about the missing book. If the book was that important and it was taken, I couldn't see Neville putting it off, I think he'd be right on it in order to protect the rest of the DA.
I thought that your characterisation of Nigel was very interesting and quite fleshed out. I think that the line that really put him together was that he was "better with parchment than with people". Given how little we are given of Nigel in the movies, what you did with him really fits the feel of the Nigel we see in the movies. To me, his character felt very well rounded and I totally believed that he existed in the Harry Potter universe. He is meticulous and organised, and he really fits the role of the person who would rather make plans than run them. I also loved his self-sacrificing nature. I think it really shows off how the DA is supposed to be. All for justice, and all for protecting each other.
Finally, I really liked the ending of your fic. I loved how it surprised me because it was the beginning and it was completely unexpected. It gave a very circular feel to the piece, which was very satisfying for the reader. It clarified the beginning but also gave the beginning a whole new perspective. The fact that didn't feel like skipping that part shows that it gave it some fresh meaning.
Overall, this fic definitely has a lot of potential, especially in the characterisation and believably of a movie canon character. It was a lot of fun to read and explore Nigel and his world.
Author's Response: Oh, drat. I completely forgot about this review, and I'm so, so sorry it took me this long to respond, Maple. D:
Anyway, thank you so much. :) I know that the head-hopping can be a little hard to follow, but I'm glad you thought it worked. The challenge was a mystery challenge, so I figured if I went out of Nigel's head (who was the only person who knew the entire plan) that it would make it a bit more exciting and mysterious. Looking back, it really wasn't necessary in the beginning, so thank you for pointing that out. :) I'm also thrilled you liked Nigel- for some odd reason I decided that when I wrote this I wanted the main character to be him. I'm glad you think I did him justice.
In regards to the first bit, I realize now that it does sound a lot like Umbridge, but it was the female Carrow (I forget whether that's Alecto or Amycus now). I *think* that was clarified the second time that bit came around, but in case you were wondering. I'm also glad you liked the ending. It's fun writing something that ends where it begins.
Lastly, on Neville: I realize that his characterization is super shaky here, but I don't think I conveyed my reasoning right. This wasn't nearly all the time, as Neville would not draw away for long, if at all. But he knew that it was a delicate matter, (trying to steal the sword) because it was so obvious Harry needed it, so he kept that under wraps. The rest of that year, however, he would be that fearless leader who never abandoned Hogwarts. I love the second version of the DA for the reasons you mention; the unity, the self-sacrifice, and how they're protecting the castle while the hero is away.
Overall, thank you for the amazing SPEW review, Maple!
Hi! I really enjoyed this one shot :-) I think it was awesome how you took minor characters that tend to get overlooked and created a setting and plot that brought out thier strengths... Thanks for posting
Author's Response: Thank you so, so, much for the review. You're the first. :) I'm glad you like my take on the minor characters, because I know most people don't like Nigel from the way he's portrayed in the films ... but I'm glad you think I did him justice. Thanks again for the review, and I'm glad you liked it. :)