Story Title: Finding Himself
Author Name: Minsinoo
Story Url: Story Link 1
Alternate Url: Story Link 2
Content Rating: Adult
Length: 352,724 words
Story Summary: The-Boy-Who-Almost-Died has to figure out what it means that he didn’t. Harry’s tumultuous 5th year at Hogwarts is Cedric’s 7th and final. Bound together by shared trauma, both boys fall under Ministry suspicion … Who is Cedric Diggory? Cedric!Lives AU
Minisinoo’s “Finding Himself” is more than a favorite story – it’s one which has impacted me so deeply that I find it hard to be rational, let alone concise, in describing how much I love this story.
In the opening chapter, Cedric survives the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament. Therefore, in some ways, “Finding Himself” is what Book 5 would have been if JK Rowling had left Cedric alive. In other ways, it’s a completely different story, and that is not merely because Minisinoo tells the story through Cedric and Hermione’s POVs, rather than Harry’s, which gives us the fun opportunity to view the wizarding world and Harry’s life through different eyes. “Finding Himself” is also very different from Order of the Phoenix because Cedric’s inclusion brings about other new and different individuals and occurrences in Harry’s fifth year. Cedric’s mother, a famous artist with a forceful personality and intriguing background, becomes an important figure in this story, bringing with her the very creative and effective incorporation of the Celtic “Summer King” myth into this narrative. Cedric and Hermione also are paired in this story, something which is utterly outside of canon, yet makes complete sense in both the reason for their true introduction and developing friendship, and the growth of a true romance between them. I also particularly loved seeing Cedric become the big brother figure Harry badly needed during his fifth year. Cedric is able to understand and share Harry’s terrible 5th year burdens. As Dumbledore says to Cedric, “…you’re a bit older and less rash – yet not too old. I think Harry might come to you before he’d approach an adult.”
Aside from all of those AU, if completely organic-feeling, deviations from canon, perhaps the most memorable element which sets this story apart from both canon and other Cedric!survives fanfics is that Cedric did not survive the Triwizard Tournament unscathed, and consequently his life becomes immensely complicated. Although the nature of that complication is revealed pretty quickly in the story, I hesitate to spoil you rec readers by mentioning it here without warning. Therefore, continue no further with this post if you wish to remain unspoiled. Spoilers commence after the next paragraph.
Minisnoo is an extremely gifted and prolific writer. As both an academic and a professional author, Min expresses herself intelligently and with flawless writing skills, eliciting clear images and feelings from her readers’ imaginations, all while keeping one riveted to her captivating, perfectly paced narrative. The fic closely follows canon, yet for all of the above AU reasons, and because of Min’s skill, you’ll never feel like you’re reading a regurgitation of Order of the Phoenix.
Now to the mild spoiler: Cedric’s souvenir from his confrontation with the Death Eaters is a degenerative curse from Lucius Malfoy which leaves him first in excruciating agony; then suffering emotionally and physically as he learns to use crutches and a wheelchair to remain mobile, constantly enduring chronic pain; all while knowing that eventually, while still a fairly young adult, he will be left permanently paralyzed from the waist down, and there is no escaping that diagnosis. Unless you or someone you know extremely well has experienced anything remotely touching upon such a diagnosis, you may not be able to imagine quite what all of that will mean; the raging fury and helplessness one experiences in being sick, in pain, crippled, and knowing it’s only going to get worse. Minisinoo will enlighten you, inspire you, and break your heart.
Cedric is very much Minisinoo’s character. She takes the unusual step here of incorporating both the book and movie canon into this story, something I’ve never before enjoyed. To be frank, normally when I encounter a fic in which the author has referenced movie canon instead of book canon, I’m inwardly a bit disdainful and tend to be rather snotty in my assumption that the author is not a real fan. Yes; I deserve a smack for that. But one would have to be a blind fool, or a more obnoxious prat than Zacharias Smith, to make such an assumption about Minisinoo. She knows her canon. So much so, in fact, that she is clearly aware of how much influence JK Rowling had in the writing of that particular script. (JKR partnered with the writers in all the adaptations, but her involvement in the GoF script has been particularly noted by The Powers That Be, as there were difficult choices to make about what could be cut, what must be included, and what should be expanded upon.) Therefore, even the most devoted fans can feel confident that Min’s Ced is firmly based on the Cedric in JKR’s imagination. Since neither the film nor the book gave us much information about Cedric, Minsinoo simply used JKR’s template to create an amazingly well-developed, fully fleshed-out Cedric Diggory of her own, who has long since become the Cedric I imagine whenever I read or watch Goble of Fire.
Minisinoo has the gift of being able to write a teenage boy in a very authentic-sounding voice. But I am most captivated by how she writes both Cedric and Hermione in relation to his disability. Minisinoo’s professional background, deep empathy, and gifts as an author of concise, coherent, emotionally-evocative narratives allow her to make it so easy to imagine what it is like both as the patient and as the one who loves a patient in these circumstances. When you read her story, you’ll know the frustration of feeling pathetic and weak, trapped inside one’s own traitorous body, the subject of pity and staring and condescension. You’ll also know what it is to care about someone in those circumstances, not knowing what to say, what will make things worse; how to help someone so obviously struggling physically without implying he is helpless, etc., etc.
Obviously I could praise this story endlessly. Suffice it to say that the story is brilliant. Best of all, there are sequels. First is a mostly-completed (two chapters were lacking for its true completion when the author retired from fanfic, but she posted her notes telling what would’ve happened in those two chapters), novel-length sequel, “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” which covers Books 6. The final sequel, “I Hope you Dance,” is a short story set when Cedric is 70-years-old, really deserves its own rec. It features a joyful, happy ending to the series which never fails to make me bawl. I have attempted on more than one occasion to write a separate rec for “I Hope You Dance,” but find it to be beyond me, as my rec was too spoiler-filled and also far, far too effusive and gushing. Just know that if you read “Finding Himself,” you absolutely must finish up by reading “I Hope You Dance” in order to end your journey with Cedric sporting a mammoth grin.