I am a recent member of the Harry Potter fandom, but I have always had a passion for the written word, and I hope to fulfill it here. I live in a relatively boring corner of Idaho, and I like Kokanee and a good book!
So, I suppose you're wondering what's up with my username. Even if you're not, this is how that happened. No, I was not aspiring to be a Gryffindor. I can't think of any house to which I would belong less than Gryffindor, in fact. It was a moment of clarity that I got while I was battling with myself about whether I should want to be Sorted into Gryffindor to be like Harry or to be Sorted elsewhere and follow my own path. I thought it to be much like the contemplative scene in Hamlet when he weighed taking his own life. I'm not trying to be melodramatic. That's simply is what popped into my head when I was trying to sign up to leave a review. :D
Any questions or comments about my work? Please shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org — I'd love to hear from you!
Summary: Christmas is a time for couples to be together. But for Zacharias Smith and Cormac McLaggen, their time together ran out long before festive season had begun. It would take a miracle to get them back together. Or maybe a Fairy Godmother in the unlikely form of Romilda Vane.
Under My Skin is a sequel to Truth or Dare, but it won't be necessary to read that to understand this. But it did win a QSQ, and is one of my favourites. I dedicate this story to hestiajones because I know she loves a bit of ZacMac. Merry Christmas, Natalieeeeee.
I am Equinox Chick and this is my entry for Prompt 3 - Unexpected Guests - in the Let The Yule Tide Roll Challenge.
I am not JK Rowling, or Cole Porter.
This is so lush. So many stories featuring unlikely pairings end just when the relationship starts, usually because both author and reader know it won't last and don't want to think about it. The first ZacMac fic was like that, I think - two irrepressible gits in a nebulous relationship. This fic, however, picks up after what one might consider the inevitable crash 'n' burn, and builds it back up.
I think I like Cormac's characterisation the most, because you see how concerned he still is about what people think of him and allows himself to be controlled by his father, even if it's not for entirely selfish reasons. Towards the end, you see that he is taking a bullet for Zach by not making him a target for Cormac's dad.
Zach, of course, never realised this because he had always been so oblivious about the nuances of publicity. He saw and acknowledged that he was overlooked and it bothered Zach to an extent, but it didn't define who he was.
The part about Zach's dad was so very horrible to think about, so I was relieved when Jethro wasn't suffering. Sure, Zach took it so hard and probably thought about the circumstances of his father's dementia every day, but it gave him a humanity that he had lacked (certainly) in canon, and even in Truth or Dare. I nearly cried when he did because I understood what it meant for him to get to that point and the level of heartbreak and despair it entailed.
I like Romilda so much. Her laissez-faire attitude and droll sense of amusement (usually at Cormac's expense) make her an inviting change against Cormac's borderline alcoholism and lack of drive to make his own destiny. She makes him a better person, even if they couldn't work things out between them. Moreover, though, I think her true feelings of friendship make her Cormac's best and greatest ally. She could've easily ruined both Zach and Cormac by slipping a few sordid lines into her column, but she didn't. It makes her respectable in a characteristically non-respectable line of work, and thus an enjoyable contradiction.
Your storytelling is smooth and lovely, as usual. I found myself swept away by the fic and never wanted it to end. You really know how to write unsympathetic characters and make them light up a page, both good and bad. There are so many little things, like word choice and dialogue tags and so many others, that highlight the best portions of your writing and make the story just that much better.
Cheers, and thank you for the delicious slashiness.
Author's Response: Romilda is entirely down to you and the lushness of Steel Hearts :D.
Um, thank you very much for such a lovely review. I agree ZacMac was a pairing that was doomed to fail, a crash and burn as you say, not least because in ToD, they were both pissed and pissed off. But even though in my canon they didn't last much after that initial shag, I did think of them getting back together, maybe several times before finally coming out as a couple. This is a getting back together and Cormac is facing a few truths - not least that he drinks too much and really isn;t happy being this perceived womaniser.
I don't know why I've become more sympathetic to Zach. I do still think he's a tosser, but I don't believe he deserves such hate because of his 'cowardice'. There are worse things, imo. Yeah, he shouldn't have run ahead of the younger kids, but then again, he was the one who could have been made to fight.
Uhm ... I've lost my train of thought - ha ha. Just remembered, though, that Hamish McLaggen was supposed to have had a bigger part in this, so I might have to write something else for him. I hope you picked up on his wish to dress up as Harry Potter - ha ha. Made me giggle writing that.
Thank you for the stupendous review. I had a laugh and a cry writing this, so I appreciate you R & R'ing. ~Carole
Summary: An aisling on the state of wizards' relations with the so-called "magical brethren" depicted in the Ministry Atrium.
I would keysmash, but autocorrect doesn't do well with that. Your poetry takes my breath away, as usual. I think the best part is how you captured the various cast of the fountain, but colored by their respective views on not only their place on the fountain, but in the world.
Short but sweet, this poem has no less of your brand of magic than usual, but with an unexpectedly captivating subject. Well done!
Summary: She understands what it's like to rail against something you have no control over, how helpless you feel. She's no fourteen-year-old child any longer, and just because you shared one dance a thousand years ago doesn't mean you're in love.
Over the course of seven years Hannah Abbott loses her mother, finds courage, grows up, and watches as two best friends fall in love, all the while the war continues to close in around her and every day promises to be the last.
Slash warning is for Michael/Terry pairing
This story is beautiful in so many ways. The structure, the concept of personal growth, and seeing truth in oneself through others are all wonderful engines to paint a character like Hannah, who we barely knew in canon but couldn't imagine her not being there. It's nice when she can get the nod and have a story for herself.
The vignette format worked so well for the shifting timelines, and the enumeration of them helped it read like a list of life-changing events for her, somehow amplifying their relative importance. Also, it allowed the story to span a greater amount of time so we could see how Hannah went from that shy girl with a crush on boys she thought would never look at her to the one who still had a bit of a crush but knew it wasn't the be-all-end-all. That's marvellous character development, but also a life lesson that most of us have to learn the hard way, via broken hearts and shattered dreams of true love and grandeur. In short, it anchored the life and times of a magical fictional character heavily and completely in the annals of reality.
It was lovely to watch Hannah grow throughout the story. She didn't seem to think much of herself for most of the story - thinking herself weak, too shy to be attractive, and not a brave go-getter who got what she wanted because she wouldn't let it be otherwise. It's not hard to see that she envied her mother's fire and desperately wishes she'd inherited more of it, and I think that did a number on her when her mother passed because feeling like that towards a dead person would stir up a lot of mixed feelings for someone like Hannah. In a way, I think the war helped her come to terms with how her personality differed from her mother's and from how she wished she was.
In a way, the Michael/Terry sub-plot was just as much an element of Hannah's character development as it was a device for it. There is a heavy parallel between Michael's skittishness of being outed in fourth year and Hannah's shame over her dreams of being swept away. Both of them are hiding from themselves via illusions, with Hannah fancying herself in love with the first boy who pays attention to her and Michael aligning himself with a series of beards.
It took a defining moment in rescuing Timmy from the dungeons for them to both understand what mattered: Hannah that she was strong and could be strong for someone else, and Michael that he needed Terry as much as he loved him, that depriving himself of that was hurting both of them. There's a certain symmetry to it that I can't help but appreciate.
All and all, despite the gaps in months and years between segments, this story feels very complete because it hits all the right notes for me as a reader. It tells a story about a person, about important events, and even touches on other characters' lives and makes them more vivid than even JKR's work. Moreover, it adds a different hue to the spectrum of Year 7, which is one of my favourite genres.
Well done, and thanks for sharing.
Summary: Hermione knew she had to try harder, either to heal faster or hide her failing more effectively. She did not understand why the PsychoSocial Healing sessions hadn't worked for her as they had for Harry and Ron. She did not understand why she was still lost, still low, still struggling to breathe, and talk, and see, and live.
This story was a great read. It had far more action and character-building than one might expect in a fic of its size, yet it wasn't so dense that it was difficult to get through.
I liked the anthropromorphization of Hermione's scars as a manifestation of Bellatrix when she was in a triggering place, because it contains that dark, aching realism for Hermione that she is someone who condemns part of herself for a pain she cannot bear to face, let alone conquer. And also how she associated Draco with that crippling fear, as well.
I think the real victory in the story, however, was the characterization of Draco. There are many, many reasons why Draco being someone's trauma counselor should fail dramatically, but you made it work by association with recovery rather than the actual trauma itself. I started reading the story with the expectation that this premise would fail, so imagine my surprise when you not only gave Hermione and Draco common ground, you gave them the time and space they needed to stand on that ground at the same time long enough to find one another.
One thing that did crop up for me as a bit of a stumbling block was the appearance of the Mudblood scar and the fact that it isn't how it happened in book canon, but rather in the films. One reason I could think of to validate the deviation is that we never directly saw Hermione's torture, rather than heard it, and that Harry often lacks empathetic perception of others and could have missed the scars while they were fleeing the Manor, but I digress. Most of the stories I read are ones I moderate, so I'm constantly on the prowl for things like this.
Moving on, the mental health aspect of this story was stunning. Anyone who has had PTSD, I think, could point out things that they understand and identify with. That pressing feeling of being broken and pathetic, and it was not the fault of the person/places/things that broke them but their own weakness. It also tickles depression in that way, as well, which makes both Hermione's illness and her recovery feel real to me.
Overall, this is a story I probably never would've read, as most of the stories I read are from the queue or of a pairing I ship and enjoy, but this has been a welcome aberration. Your writing is rich yet clear in its intent, and despite the pairing being one of the most abused in fanfic, your characterization lends credibility and believability to both the plot and the premise.
Well done, and thank you for sharing!
Author's Response: Hello Jess!
I appreciate you giving this story a chance. I agree that the Dramione pairing can be "abused", though I try not to be a perpetrator of too many fanfic felonies, hehe. I completely understand the stumbling block you found, which I should probably clarify. I wrote this fic for a fest I participated in on a Dramione-centric website called Hawthorn and Vine. The prompt was a gorgeous piece of fanart ("Branded" by Glutton - please do look it up!) that prominently featured Hermione's "Mudblood" scar. I couldn't very well leave that detail out! And actually, I think the inclusion of Hermione's scar in the movie was genius. It provides a beautiful parallel between Draco and Hermione and is a physical manifestation of the trauma Hermione must've suffered after her torture. I'm flattered that the mental health issues I dealt with felt real to you. I agree that Draco acting as a counselor is very likely to fail, but I never really considered taking the story in that direction. I think there is enough between them that they can support and heal each other. And I'm always pleased to hear that my character-building is on point. That can make or break a story.
Thanks again for taking the time to read this story and leave such a wonderful, detailed review! I'm glad I could show you that there is some merit to the good ship Dramione, and hope that perhaps you'll check out some more of it! ;D