Your way with words is beautiful.
Maddy! Hello! :D
So, after a long, long, far too long space of time, I am finally back to read and review chapter five. This one, as you know, was a long one, but it was so totally worth every word, my dear.
I absolutely love the beginning, of course. The way you describe Regulus’ state of mind at the time is simply astounding. I mean, I know how it should be from a scientific, psychological standpoint, but you wrote it in prose wonderfully. I especially liked all the mentions of the triggers from that night, because it not only served to bring the memories back to Regulus, but it brought the memories back to me as the reader. Because it was just a word or an image and you didn’t elaborate, I found myself thinking about that scene again and why those certain things brought back vivid pictures to Regulus.
I was a little iffy on the scene with Sirius and McGonagall, to be honest. For the most part, it felt all right, but when McGonagall suggested the hangover cure, and then followed with the mention of a hope that was too much of Sirius coming to her class sober, I was a little skeptical. If Sirius frequented McGonagall’s class in any state but sober, wouldn’t she give him detention, or at least be more cross with him? I felt that McGonagall’s characterization there was just a little sketchy.
The scene with Voldemort was another great one. You know by now how I adore your descriptions, similies, and metaphors, and here you did not disappoint. Each word felt like the perfect choice; from the description of a brain itself to the images of Voldemort going through Regulus, as you so perfectly put it, ‘like a cheap catalogue’. It all came together really well and made the scene very vivid to me. Honestly, I couldn’t bear to stop reading, something I can scarcely remember ever happening while reading fanfiction.
Your Voldemort feels … slightly different than JKRs, but not in a bad way. I think yours just seems like a magnified version of hers, but I like it. It is perfectly in character for him to want to prove that he is the highest, the best, the most powerful, and you certainly showed that, and you showed it well. Yet at the same time … he then proceeds to ask Regulus to explain something to him, and it made me think that perhaps the show of altering Reg’s memories of Adele, of scaring Reg out of his mind, was meant for more than that. I took it as not only to jolt Regulus into a fear that won’t question orders, but also almost like a defense mechanism for Voldemort, as a way for him to feel better about the task he has set Regulus. It is his way of showing both Regulus and himself that he is indeed the most powerful, before he does something as humbling (though, I also imagine that after Voldemort was through, he no longer felt it a humbling act, thus he had succeeded in his intentions) as asking for an explanation from a eighteen-year-old, albeit brilliant, wizard.
And, of course, your Regulus. I envy your Regulus, I honestly do. I don’t think I’ve ever read a fanfiction that has yet brought a character, any character, to such life, but your Regulus really feels absolutely human. I really can’t find words enough to tell you how wonderful and absolutely alive you have written him.
Regulus Black didn’t usually get angry. He got a lot of other things. Sometimes he got depressed, and sometimes he got worried, but anger was an emotion he left to Sirius.
I really liked this bit of characterization, both for Sirius and Regulus, because it is so true. I liked that you touched on this particular contrast between them. Also, Voldemort’s description of Regulus, when he said that a part of him really craved the death and destruction, was one of my favorite points as well. I find its something people often want to forget with Regulus – they make him out to be a hero, because he ‘tried to be’ at the end. I really loved that you touched on this absolutely Slytherin quality within him, because I do think he was a true Slytherin, but because of how it ended people want to make him much more of a Gryffindor. I was really pleased to see that you had given us a trait that could very well be true, but that was so utterly unlikable, and that I am sure some people wouldn’t want to believe he could have. I, however, think its great that you added that because it further humanizes him, but it also sort of de-humanizes him, if you know what I mean. Really, in essence, it makes him real, but he has such qualities, and he acknowledges them, even if at the same time the fact that they exist within him disgusts him. You have really made Regulus into a complex human being, and that is what I love most about this fic as a whole.
Then the scene shifts and we see a new side of Regulus, but one that works just the same. He tells her that he is a different person around her, and as I read the scene I can see that it is absolutely true. The way you write them together is wonderful; it warms my heart, but not in an overly fluffy, mushy way. I really can’t help but love them together. The way you have written their relationship, where the reader sees almost nothing of the two of them and yet everything, doesn’t often work, but here you have made it work wonderfully. Even with what little we actually see of the pair, and even though there is a lot of Regulus telling the reader that he is in love with Adele, when they are together I can really see that it is true. That, my dear, is talent.
One thing, though, that was a small spot of confusion to me – his age. At one point you mention that a birthday has passed, so I assumed he was seventeen. Yet then his age is said to be eighteen at one point, and then seventeen again at another.
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read so many words and have it felt like so few, not in fanfiction, and the very least. You are a gifted woman, my dear, and I am truly horribly envious.
P.S. Reading this fic always makes me miss Psychology so much. :[ I wish to be back in that class again. But, at least I have this fic to read. :]
Author's Response: Hello Nikki! First of all thanks for this incredible review, as usual. As always, you hit the nail on the head with most of your insights. :D
I'm glad you liked the beginning passage; I wrote it much later than all of the other stuff in this chapter, but I really like as well and of course, psyhological triggers are a must!
Ahh, yeah, my beta didn't really like that McGonagall scene either. >.> But of course, I was too stubborn to take it out. Believe it or not, it was actually worse before my beta informed me McGonagall was OOC; I changed it, but maybe I should have made her a little harsher with him. I guess by "sober" I didn't mean drunk, I meant hungover... which is only slightly better than drunk, but I think probably more excusable in McGonagall's eyes. In any case, you're probably right that she should have given him detention at least.
Ah, Voldemort. I really wanted to make terrifying in that scene, like pathologically terrifying, like Hannibal Lecter status. And I think you're so dead on with your explanation of Voldemort's motives for terrifying Regulus. He really hates asking people for favors, and if you notice, he does even "ask" Regulus, he just commands him to do it. He hates admitting that someone might have a talent that he doesn't possess himself, and hates "humbling" himself even more, that's the perfect word.
About the scene where Voldemort tells Regulus that he loves killing and "purging the race of filth." Regulus does fall apart at Voldemort's words, and he believes with all his heart that they are true -- that he's a monster, that he's a ruthless killer, and that he can't escape because he doesn't really want to. Now, as you may or may not have noticed, Regulus tends to have a very innaccurate perception of himself, and he looks at himself more judgementally and more negatively than anyone else ever would. Now since it's told from his perspective, a lot of readers (like you), may fall into the trap of seeing Regulus as he sees himself. But I hope to convey, at least by the end of the story, that Regulus isn't at all what he thinks he is. I won't give it away any more, but don't always believe to what Regulus thinks is the cold hard truth haha. :)
Ah, Regulus and Adele. I was really looking for a new dynamic in a romantic relationship, and I think her hemophilia helped me discover a viable one. Since they get really limited story time I did try to convey that he loved her in that really quiet way that's typical of him. I think even though Adele is physically weak she's strong deep down, like Regulus, and that's why they get along so well. I'm soo used to writing love/hate relationships (closer to your Honor/Regulus dynamic) that this was really hard to make interesting and passionate, but I'm so glad you like it. As for his age, I'm fairly sure he's 18 at this point. and his birthday's in February (in my story world), so he would have turned 18 after St. Giles. I can't remember where I said he was 17 but I very well could have made a mistake like that. XD
I miss Psychology too! I can't wait to go back and start taking Psych classes again :D Well thanks so much for this incredible review! Like I told another reviewer, I feel like a little kid on Christmas every time I get a review for this story! It's really silly but I do :D
Wow. Such an intense fic! Really impressed.
I think that the way Regulus and Sirius's relationship deteriorated was very well handled, and the way Regulus's regret almost consumed him was very believable too.
Btw, did you see the closing quotation in A Darkling Plain(Phillip Reeve) by any chance? 'Tis an awesome book if you didn't.
Author's Response: Thank you! I love your choice of words (Regulus's regret almost consuming him), because that's exactly what I wanted to convey. I just wanted to accurately depict the mindset of somebody who is SO SORRY for what they've done in the past. No, that's not where I got the quote! I took it straight from the poem, actually. I'll look up that book, though, as any book that has that quote at the end of it is bound to be wonderful. Thanks for the review and the recommendation! :)
I am going to start this review with a confession. No! Wait. Two confessions. The first one is that I used to avoid incomplete fanfiction. Yours is the third one I have ever tried (and I have been rather lucky with my choices as I happen to like the other two as well). The second confession is that, well, I used to think that the narrative style and language generally employed in fanfictions are prosaic and, often, uninteresting. But your first chapter left me in no doubt that this was going to be an altogether different rollercoaster ride.
The only word that comes to my mind when I think of your narrative style is “beautiful”. Now, I already wish I had your skill- that ready, glorious tumbling of words- to describe how I felt when I was reading it. It wasn’t just the fact that you chose Regulus and saved him from “2-Dimensia”. It was that invasion into his brilliant mind, his shattered personality, his confused ego that oscillated between two different kinds of loyalties. An invasion that you mercilessly led and we, the reader, followed. I had never met this Regulus before- not in Rowling’s words or in other fan-fiction writers’. Regulus, always dismissed as the younger son who hoped to please his parents but ended up heavy price for his ambitions; Regulus- a foil to Sirius, a foil to Barty Crouch Jr., a foil to Draco Malfoy; Regulus, who apparently hated Muggle-borns but loved a house-elf. You gave life to him.
It was fascinating to know this person and the curse of his legacy. Fascinating how much he understood Sirius, in spite of being the latter’s polar opposite. I felt goosebumps when he described his older brother in all his glory and disgrace. How there was no way of capturing the one Sirius because such a thing didn’t exist.
This Regulus showed us everything- the immense hatred the pure-blood had for those different from them, the consequences of that hatred, the fear that enveloped the world like miasma and the laughter and love that survived, in spite of everything. For once, I saw what the Death Eaters could be capable of, given the chance. For once, I saw them their naked blood-lust in full rein. The St. Giles massacre froze me. I was shocked and disgusted beyond description. The Death Eaters have never scared me the way that single incident did.
And the Voldemort you presented us. If the word “perfection” can be used to describe evil, then it should be done here. Here was Voldemort with his poisonous yet intoxicating words, his jealousy and ambitions, his deceptiveness and his brilliance, his megalomania and his ruthlessness in full display.
To read what you have written so far has been an inspirational and poignant experience for me. I can only sit back and wait to enjoy whatever you bring next.
Author's Response: Thank you for this lovely review! I confess that I never trust unfinished fanfictions either; there's just something so scary about investing time and energy into a story when you don't know if it's going to be completed. Luckily, this one's already finished, and it's just a matter of getting it through the queue. :) I'm really flattered that you think my narrative style's interesting. It's the first time I've managed to work style into a full length narrative, and it's also my first try at first-person, so I'm relieved that you approvedof it.
Regulus fascinated me from the moment he was mentioned in the books, and I think it was that fascination which led me to explore his character so intensely. His story seemed completely incredible to me, incredible in the sense that I began to wonder how he actually pulled off something Dumbledore spent twenty years trying to achieve. That got me wondering about his motivation -- to be so wholly devoted to a cause and then suddenly do a complete 180 as Regulus did, I became fascinated with how someone could react so violently, so definitively, to a situation. I think, for Regulus to have engineered stealing a horcrux, for him to be a traitor to Voldemort in the most complete sense, he had to have a quiet sort of bravery, a less explicable kind, than his brother's brash type of heroism. Most Regulus fics I have read characterize Regulus as a classic bad boy of the Draco Malfoy brand, but I always saw him as someone with far less arrogance than all of that. I imagined Regulus as a deep thinker, with a lot of quiet intensity, grappling desperately with his own cowardice. It was hard for me to convey all of that from first person because obviously, Regulus doesn't see himself accurately at all. He tends to have a far more cynical view of his own nature and morality than is truthful, but hopefully actions speak louder than words, and eventually readers of this story will be able to see him as a character whose bravery runs deeper than he himself will ever admit. Sorry for the essay; in any case, Regulus Black has fascinated me endlessly and so I'm glad he fascinated you too, because he's such a complex and beautiful character.
I'm also so happy that you enjoyed my depiction of Voldemort! He's one of the hardest characters to get right, in my opinion. A lot of the credit for Voldemort's characterization here goes to my beta reader, who told me when I got it wrong and made me rewrite entire scenes to get him right. Also, you mentioned the St. Giles massacre, and that was such a horrifying scene to think up and write. I'm glad the horror got across to readers, but at the same time, I'm highly reluctant to go back and read it myself. I don't mind reading scenes like that written by other people, but there's just something so creepy about reading a dark scene written by myself. O_O
Wow, I think this is the most poetic review I've ever recieved. "Ready, glorious tumbling of words" -- what a beautiful phrase. :D The whole thing's beautiful, actually, and you have no idea how flattering it is to hear these wonderful things about my story. One review like this just makes my whole day/week, so thanks for that! :D I'll he very interested to hear your opinion on the rest of the story. Thanks again for the incredible review!
You are a beautiful writer, and this is a darkly beautiful story.
Author's Response: Thank you! I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. :)