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. :)
I'm sorry I'm not up to the lovely long reviews other people have given- I found this through the restricted section and think it is the most interesting characterisation of both Sirius and Regulus, as well as James. Its beautifully written, as well as avoiding all cliches- I particularly loved Sirius' defence of his family. And I think Ootp mentions Sirius had been drinking- so his alcoholism in response to a difficult situation is not Ooc at all.
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm glad you agree with my depiction of Sirius and alcoholism; a lot of people write that off as a fanon cliche, but I actually think it's one of the more believable ones, due to evidence for it in OotP, as you mentioned. Sirius was a great person, impossibly flawless and good-natured despite the way he was brought up in an abusive home, and to me I think alcoholism would be the remnant of that abuse. There has to be some sign that he's not entirely emotionally stable, and to me alcoholism makes the most sense, because I think his mother was also a raging alcoholc. Thanks again for the review, it was lovely and I hope you enjoy the rest. :)
After reading this lovely chapter, along with your response to my last review, I agree entirely that Regulus would have decided to leave with or without Elise as his friend. You’ve written his experience as a DE thus far pretty much perfectly. I find that I agree entirely with the way you’ve written his journey so far.
I like that you wrote him as excited, rather than hesitant, to join in on the raids, as if he doesn’t truly understand what the consequences will be. Of course he doesn’t, otherwise he would never have joined in the first place. He’s naive at this stage, brainwashed even, and unaware of what effect his rash decision will have. “I heard it’ll be a massacre!” And I laughed along with them, speculating and making ridiculous bets, cheeks flushed and heart pounding in anticipation. His laughter after the word ‘massacre’ kind of startled me, however, as it gave the impression that he’s malicious, but after thinking about it, I agree with this aspect of characterisation in that it’s quite likely he wasn’t considering the reality of the words.
What amazed me most within this chapter is your ability to convey the reality of murder, of ending someone’s life. We see that Regulus had a fairly romanticised view of what life as a DE would be like: being powerful, superior, and deserving of respect – and now, after his first murder, reality sets in and he falls hard because of it. You’ll shove it to the back of your brain, hard, and you’ll keep it pinned there until something innocent crosses your path – a flower in a girl’s hair, the smell of smoke, the tinkling of a bell – and you’re done for. The memory rips through you like an animal unleashed, made more ferocious by its long captivity. This simply blows me away as it’s capturing the result of murder, and the fact that, once you’ve committed the crime, it’s unavoidable. I’ve always felt that Regulus would have reacted this way to what he had to do as a DE, and I was really pleased to see that you’ve written it this way in your fic. I believe many writers would avoid the complexities of being a DE and committing murder, or struggle to write it well, but you’ve written it with such believability. So really great job.
Does it sound like I went crazy? I did, for a few months. They have a clinical name for it, I think. Post-traumatic stress disorder mixed with a healthy dose of psychosis, cognitive hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. I loved this, because you’re connecting his experience to what is real, and that’s what many fanfic writers forget to do. Anyone who is basically forced to kill and witness horrible things is going to slowly lose touch with reality, with what’s right and what’s wrong. So I agree entirely with your decision to portray him as losing touch with the world. The world became a sort of spectral kaleidoscope, greens and greys and blues and A-flats and arpeggios all blurring into one another until sometimes I couldn’t even figure out where colour ended and sound began. This, of course, perfectly captures my point.
“There must be some mistake,” was all he said. I really felt for Regulus at this moment, because it’s quite a harsh thing, to hear your brother suggest that he doesn’t know you, nor want to know you. I found that it was very cruel of both James and Sirius to do this, but I suppose, in their eyes, Regulus deserves it. I found that, at first, I didn’t agree with this characterisation of James and Sirius, but we do see evidence of them being fairly cruel in the books. Even though I myself would never have thought to write Sirius this way, I certainly can’t consider it as a fault in characterisation as JKR has shown a fair bit of cruelty on his part, especially when his friends are around. This scene just struck me as interesting, that’s all.
The only nitpick I found in this was: reminding you that it is always, and will always, be waiting. I think the comma should be after ‘be’ as otherwise it’d read ‘reminding you that it is always be waiting’, which isn’t right.
I was fairly horrified during the scene with Lindsey, as I’m sure was your intention – to portray another awful side of the world of DEs. JKR only hinted at the concept of sexual assault with Fenrir Greyback (although I think that that was purely fan speculation) but I don’t doubt that it would have played a part in the DE’s lives. So this scene, for me, was reinforcing your ability to create perceptive and original ideas for your story. It also showed excellent characterisation skills, and the diversity between the DEs. You don’t just have everyone eager to assault the girl, but show a range of opinions. This is great because you’re proving that no character is the same, and some won’t reach a low that others will without hesitation. Regulus reaches a certain low by killing her rather than attempting to escape with her. I think it would have been unrealistic to do the latter, and I’m glad you didn’t.
I like that you included the fact that there was a funeral for Lindsey; this reinforces the fact that Regulus will not be able to escape what he’s done. It also suggests that he’s got it harder than the other DEs; do they have to face the funerals of those they’ve killed? I doubt it. Perhaps this is another factor contributing to Regulus’ rebellion.
I enjoy how you continue to reference things that we in the real world can relate to, such as art references and Muggle spirituality/religion, but I do question where Regulus would have got his hands on this stuff, as I can’t help but assume he would have been fairly sheltered for anything Muggle in his own home. I’m sure there’s always a way to find these things, but it’s just something I thought about...
Overall, an amazingly complex chapter, with loads of aspects of his life to take in and consider. I love that about this fic; it challenges us as readers, and gives us a whole new insight into the life of this character and those around him. I hope this review wasn’t too much of my own random thought. I try my best to critique you, dear, and usually fail to find any faults.
I’m ever so eager to read the next chapter.
Author's Response: As always, I have no idea how to convey my immense gratitude to you for writing this type of review. You said you were worried about adding too many of your own "random thoughts" but of course you shouldn't be at all, since your thoughts are always intelligent and thought-provoking in their own right. I never get sick of hearing them, and I always feel like I can never thank you enough for your close reading of this story.
I imagine, as I portrayed, that Regulus would be excited at the first thought of going on a mission for the Death Eaters. He was incredibly naive. and thought it would be something like a movie, or a game. XD I think Regulus is also kind of a "yes man" at this point in the story, i.e. he falls easily to peer pressure. That will change very soon. :)
Yep, the main tone I strived for in this fanfiction was realism; I came across this INCREDIBLE one-shot, "Afterimage" by Gravidy (it's on fanfiction.net), and it was just, the most beautiful thing I've ever read. It was gritty and it stressed realism above everything else, so from that point forward I was sold on the notion of adding realism to a magical world. Regulus does start to lose touch with reality in this chapter, as you pointed out, and it becomes more noticeable from here. This was my first try writing some who is slowing losing his mind -- and I think, by the end of the story, he really has. :( It's hard to convey losing your mind from first person because obviously, he'll always think he's being perfectly rational, when in fact, he's making these horrible, reckless decisions and completely falling apart. But, I'm getting ahead of where you are haha. I'll be interested to know it you think I pulled it off. :)
You're right about that comma placement; I'll change that. Yeah, it's interesting that J.K Rowling never mentioned sexual assault overtly, because most of her other depictions were pretty realistic. She seems to purposely avoid sexual assualt (or sex at all for that matter), even though she touches on other weighty topics not "appropriate" for a childrens' novel, i.e. cannabalism, genocide, and animated corpses. I'm not entirely sure why she was averse to it as I believe it would play a role and maybe even be a motivation for some of the Death Eaters under Voldemort's command. However, sexual violence does reach a certain low that I don't believe all Death Eaters would fall to, and that was why I showed a range of opinions, as you mentioned.
I mentioned in the first chapter that Regulus, out of mere curiosity, got his hands on Muggle books from a young age, so that's where I imagine he got most of his information about this stuff. He's a very curious and intelligent person and I think reading Muggle books might have been the very beginning of his divergence from his parents' beliefs, though obviously Sirius played the largest influence in that.
Regulus is such a complex character, isn't he? I just love him -- he never bores me and I think he's got so much depth. Unlike Sirius, who is sometimes completely incomphrensible to me (XD), I understand Regulus. His motives, at least, seem crystal clear. Well, I hope this wasn't too much of MY own random thought, but your reviews always make me think. Thanks again for the marvelous insight into this chapter, it means so much to me. :D
Hey kid. :D I’m back for chapter four! I’ll just jump right in, shall I?
I really love the way you’ve characterized Sirius and Lily in the beginning piece, but particularly Lily. You show her as caring and yet, still clearly the strong female I believe her to be. A slap to the face was just what Sirius needed in that moment, I thought, and I’m glad the reason she does it is not because she supposedly disliked him very much, but rather because he was being an idiot. This is exactly the sort of thing I could imagine her doing in this situation. The dialogue between them fits both their characters really well, too, which was another thing I liked about that first scene.
The next scene made me really sad, but at the same time I loved it because I think it showed their relationship really well. The fact that Sirius doesn’t view him as a brother after what we’ve seen in the previous chapters was not really a surprise, but you show that it was to Regulus, and you showed it well.
Then it clicked.
My brother. There must be some mistake.
I turned away and didn’t look back.
These lines, particularly, were like the ax that finally fell, and I, as the reader, certainly felt it.
He sat with James, Lily, and Remus, sipping a coffee for once instead of something alcoholic.
Hm. I have a problem with this only because I think it insinuates too much to the, I think, fanon made drunken Sirius. I’m absolutely sure that he drank probably more than most, probably even more than the rest of the Marauders. This sentence, though, seems, to me, to imply that he was always drinking and/or drunk, which I just don’t agree with. Granted, it could be that’s its simply bias, as this is from Regulus’ POV, but if that were the case it isn’t clear enough.
Ah, Regulus. Regulus, Regulus. Yours is … love. I really like the way you show him in that first scene with the Death Eaters – clearly very excited. I’m really glad you have him that way, because it’s annoying when authors portray him as always having the courage to stand up to the Dark Lord and never really wanting to be a Death Eater. You’ve shown the opposite, and you’ve done it really well. This is exactly how Regulus is in my mind; it just seems obvious – he did, at one point, truly desire to be where he was. You even show him knowingly looking forward to the use of an Unforgivable – something I’m sure other authors/readers might find outrageous because they want to believe he was never capable of such a thing. I like the anticipation and excitement you show, but I can also sense a clear hover of misguidance and, for lack of a better word, misinformation. It seems clear to me that he is excited, and while he knows what he is going to do, he doesn’t really know – hasn’t hit him yet, if you know what I mean. There is a sense of misunderstood wonderment that I get from it, but it’s subtle. The fact that you’ve managed all this in one paragraph proves your worth as a writer, my dear.
And the next few paragraph. Oh. My. Maddy. I really cannot describe it; I can’t think of words. The paragraph in which he ‘gained perspective’ is what really does it for me. I simply adore that you show this understanding in him (he’s come to the realization I mentioned him missing earlier) and the imagery in that paragraph was astounding. Not overly gruesome, but just gruesome enough to show the reader just what Regulus cannot handle, and the devastation that Voldemort and his followers caused. In so few words, you really capture something horrid, and yet you do it … beautifully. There is no other word for it, just beautiful. In that paragraph you show the sickening things that Voldemort and his followers can do, yet you also show some pretty wonderful characterization on Regulus’ part in that he clearly cannot take it. I always imagined that the reason Regulus changed his mind would be in part because when he really got into the thick of things he realized just what it all meant, whereas prior to it he would have been blissfully naïve. You’ve shown this view in the best possible way. Just. Wow.
On this note, I want to just comment on the chapter title. Lord, Maddy, you are amazing when it comes to aptly naming your chapters. The way you tie in both the biblical allusions you have running and the clear content of the chapter is just … astounding. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such well-named chapters as your, both because they fit the chapter and because they so clearly have meaning.
You really have very commendable writing skill, my dear. With characterization and your metaphors and allusions, not to mention that this chapter included graphic imagery; it’s all simply amazing. We talked about this in the Restricted Section, but I just want to tell you personally that you handled that scene really well. It was gruesome, but tastefully done, which is something I really admire in authors. I think that really fits into your story and what you have set up; if it had been too explicit I might have wondered how it fit with the rest of your writing, and yet I was also in complete awe. You have a clear balance, and this is something that I’ve noticed throughout this entire fic.
Killing someone is not the same as watching someone die. When you kill, you feel the death, like a light going out. That simple. That passionless. Something there, just outside of you, vital and pulsing. Then nothing.
God, Maddy. I really have no words. You’ve captured so much of Regulus, and yet, so much else. I’m really, really glad you still had him kill her, because most other writers probably wouldn’t. At this moment, after he’s had his realization, most writers would have him be too heroic. Here you show he’s human, and you show he’s still Regulus Black. He didn’t kill her because it was what he was there to do, because he was a Death Eater, but for an entirely different reason. I’m not justifying his killing her or saying it was the ‘right thing’ to do, per say, but in that moment … he had no other choice. I just love that his reasons for doing it were still selfish and yet, not.
Threw up abruptly, all over my robes and boots. Cleaned it up. Stumbled into the bathroom. Brushed my teeth. Threw up again.
I just want to say that the sentence structure of these few sentences really add to the mood. I like that they are different than other times; abrupt and short, because of the state he is currently in. Very good job of using sentence structure to further your point.
Does it sound like I went crazy? I did, for a few months. They have a clinical name for it, I think. Post-traumatic stress disorder mixed with a healthy dose of psychosis, cognitive hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.
Psych. Enough said. :D
No, really, though – I chose that line simply because it was so obvious, but I have to say that you really portray these elements really, really well. I think that is part of why I love your writing and this story so much – you have a clear grasp of something I really love, and you can take it and show it back with perfect precision. The elements of Psychology in this fic and the way they are portrayed was very, very well done, my dear.
You amaze me more and more with every chapter, Maddy. Your writing is exquisite and your understanding of so many things, but mostly of Regulus Black, leaves me in awe. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more well-written Regulus, or even a more perfectly human character, in fanfiction. You’ve made him absolutely raw and real, and yet, so clearly Regulus. I can’t gush enough, but I will stop.
Long story short? You are amazing. Epic.
Author's Response: Well yeah okay so to start I guess at first I was just sort of incredibly insanely HAPPY to recieve this MIND-BOGGLINGLY long and complimentary review -- it was like the energizer bunny (except BETTER), it just kept going and going kind of like this sentence and so thanks for that, it really made my day.
Ah, Sirius and Lily. I just love writing scenes with both of them in it. I had another one in this chapter as well but I cut it out in the end for being off-topic. I do think they have a great chemistry all the time, romantic or otherwise. I definitely think it was a surprise to Regulus that his brother was so angry with him, so I'm glad you said I conveyed that well.
Ah, yes, drunken Sirius. I think we talked about this in the character clinic for a while, didn't we? Nah, maybe that was womanizing Sirius. I agree with you that it's a fanon cliche, no truth to it at all probably, but the way I look at it in the context of my story is: Sirius was an incredibly stable and well-adjusted person despite the crappy upbringing, all the verbal/physical abuse he endured, etc. The idea that he managed to be a kind, moral, optimistic, humorous person seems incredible to me, almost too incredible to believe. So I like to think that his one flaw was drinking, and drinking a lot. At least, for my version of Sirius, it's the way he copes with all the horrible stuff in his life. So I see him as being an alcohol abuser if not an outright alcoholic from about age 17-19. I like to think (and the story doesn't go this far) that Regulus's death made him snap out of it, reevaluate his life, become happy without the aid of alcohol. BUT, all that said, I completely agree that it's possible he didn't drink at all... maybe it's even more canon to say that his incredible recklessness and addiction to adrenaline was the way he coped, because we know, even as an adult, he took needless risks all the time.
What you said about Regulus -- yes, that's it exactly, I think. He knew what he was doing but he didn't really know at all. He was very young, only 16 or 17 at the time, and he was just completely misinformed and he didn't know a smidgen about war or any of it. The thing about my version of Regulus is that he's not very brave. Pretty much a coward, actually, and that's his greatest flaw for most of the story. But once he actually saw what the whole thing meant, what it really was, I tried to convey an absolute disgust. It was really hard for me to write such a graphic scene, but I felt that I needed to show the reader what exactly could have made Regulus do a 180, react so violently against Voldemort in future chapters. So I'm glad you thought I captured it well, and didn't overdo/underdo it.
Thanks, about the chapter titles! They're one of my favorite things to think of, and with Heavenfall, I meant to convey that his whole world just came crashing down after the St. Giles massacre. Religious allusions aside, I always try to think of a title that really sums up the content of the chapter, like you pointed out. :)
Really, you guys read this for the Restricted Section?! Oi, I feel famous now. XD Fresca mentioned something about featuring my story but I wasn't sure if she would actually go through with it or not. I'll have to go read people's opinions, see if they agreed/disagreed with the amount of graphicality. I'm glad you think I did all right though; that means a lot.
With Regulus killing Lindsey, which is the real catalyst for almost everything that comes after, I tried to walk a very thin line between making his action reprehensible and making it irredeemable. I hoped to give the reader some sympathy, some understanding, of what he did, without making it excusable. Because like you said, in one way it was incredibly selfish, but in another way it was selfless, or at least as selfless as he could manage given the situation. You really have an incredible talent for reading into a passage exactly what I meant to convey, Nikki, so that all I can do is agree with you and repeat what you said. :P
Oh, Psych. Psych is my one true love, besides writing of course. Like you, I'm absolutely fascinated by every aspect of it, and of course that bleeds through into my writing a lot of the time. I'm glad it entertains at least one reader then. :D
Well, I'm not really sure how to thank you for all the ringing praise, the extravagant tribute, etc. etc. I guess I could just give you my first-born child or something, what do you think? :D But no, really, I'm joking about it because there really is no good way to thank you enough for your careful reading of my story and incredible ability to understand just what I meant, and then read even deeper into what I only implied, and then write a mind-bogglingly crazy review about it. Thanks again, you're pretty epic yourself. :D
Okay, I just tried to submit this review about five times, and it kept cutting off at the second paragraph. I realised it was my own error, so my apologies if MNFF emails you with every review :) Anyway...
Maddy, this is a brilliant chapter. Once again, I was immersed in your characterisation and knack for painting a really vivid image of what’s going on for your readers. I’m often in awe of your writing; the light and colour motif through this chapter was especially nice to see.
I have to comment on the first scene with Voldemort in this chapter. Honestly, it took my breath away. I’m not normally as engrossed into a story as I was with this particular point in yours. His voice was power, poison, clarity. This line is absolutely brilliant; it captures Voldemort perfectly. I’m mostly amazed at how well you’ve written him. In most fics that involve Voldemort, the reader can’t help but feel removed from the story simply because of the poor characterisation of him. Not once was I removed from this chapter because of characterisation issues. There’s no reason to suggest the way you’ve written him isn’t entirely canon. You are lost – I offer you guidance. You are weak – I offer you power. You hover on the brink of death – I offer you immortality. You’ve summed up his character really well simply in his own dialogue.
The initiation scene was something I was eager to see from you. I myself would never have braved it, but you’ve done it surprisingly well. I like that you kept it simple and avoided some extravagant scene that would ultimately be over the top. No theatrics. No pain. From this I got the impression that you’d read an initiation scene in a fic before, and this was your attempt to avoid a stereotype. Regardless of this being true or not, I think it was a good choice to write this the way you have. Personally, some pain wouldn’t have been too bad to see, but I guess that if we’re taking Voldemort’s character into consideration, he wouldn’t have wanted to inflict paint on his new followers for fear of scaring them off too early. So, all-in-all, good job for this scene.
Elise is an interesting character – a Death Eater who appears to have a little bit of a heart. We’ve never really seen this in Jo’s world, aside from Regulus himself (and Snape, I guess). She’s practical, cut-throat, and I think these are qualities a female Death Eater would need to have. I think – and this is entirely personal opinion – that she kind of changes the circumstance a bit. She and Regulus seem to be getting fairly close as friends, and I wonder, had this friendship been a part of ‘canon’, if Regulus would still have been as uncomfortable being a Death Eater as he was. So, because of this, I’m a bit on the fence about her being a good character for this story. I hope that makes sense...
I loved the scenes involving Adele in this chapter. She’s an excellent character, and allows us to see a softer side of Regulus, but then eventually a darker side. He’s willing to abandon his friendship with her to remain on his parents’ good side. I closed my mouth when I realised who I would inevitably sound like. From this I get the feeling the main reason he’s able to cut himself off from Adele is because of his desperate need to be someone different from his brother; after all, Sirius would never have ended his friendships for his parents.
I quit liked the Bible reference. I must have taken a wrong turn, or perhaps dozed off, somewhere between sunlight and Noah’s ark and the colour of rainbows. This is cute, and I love its continuation of your colour motif. It’s a really good device to use for a story so intense; it allows a sense of consistency and comfort for your readers. Also, I like how you had Voldemort discuss how religion has failed humanity. This, and the ‘Muggle Bible’ reference, gives this story another layer which your audience can attach itself to; you’re connecting the two worlds really well.
The only nitpick I managed to find was: “But Sirius, what about you–” I think there should be a question mark before the quotation mark.
The final scene had me all excited too, wondering if Sirius was going to end up hospitalised. I found myself smiling at the fact that Lily showed up. Unexpected, but appreciated.
My favourite chapter so far. I’m excited to see where you go next.
Author's Response: WOW. Thank you profusely for another amazing review!!
First of all, thank you about my characterization of Voldemort. I really tried hard to convey him as someone almost frighteningly charming when he wants to be. I tired to keep the scenes with Voldemort in them to a minimum in this fic because overusing him, in my opinion, takes away his ability to frighten. He always has to remain slightly unpredictable, enigmatic, to retain his scariness. I'll be interested in your opinion of how I characterized him in chapter five, when that comes about -- I struggled a lot more with keeping him in chracter in that chapter.
Agh, the initiation scene. That was one of the last scenes I wrote for the story, just because I was dreading writing something large and extravagant. Every Death Eater initiation scene I've ever read has been a painfully extravagant affair, and I've been guilty of write the exact same kind of initiation myself. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, persay, it can be pulled off well, but I decided with this one to go against the cliche of some crazy, sacrificial rites type of thing. In a way, I think that something clean-cut and simple like the initiation I wrote sort of would be scary in its own way; if you're expecting something completely mental and cult-like, I think you'd be bound to feel, as Regulus did, cheated or somehow tricked, like you missed something along the way. And I think that's how Voldemort would want his recruits to feel. ;)
What you said about Elise does make sense. I think you're right, that her presence does make Regulus a little bit more comfortable at first. At this point in the story, he feels pretty comfortable being a Death Eater. Not much has really deterred him yet, and he believes that not everyone there is a horrible person. In a way, that was the reason he probably joined in the first place. I think, as the story progresses and he begins to realize what these people stand for, he'll become sufficently uncomfortable, with or without Elise's presence.
Yep, I think most of what Regulus does in the early chapters of this story is a desperate attempt to differentiate himself from his brother, who is completely overpowering, whether he means to be or not. And ironically, Regulus's actions in later chapters stem from a desperate attempt to make himself more similar to his brother. Right now, I don't think he knows what he really wants to be like.
I'm a huge fan of the religious allusions, as you've clearly noticed lol. I always thought of this whole story as sort of a manic-depressive attempt to bring everything, all of it, together: science and religion, Muggles and Wizards, good and evil. Kind of lofty aspirations, I guess, and I'm not sure I pulled it off in the end. Thanks for that nitpick, I'll change that.
I'm happy this was your favorite chapter so far; unexpected, but thanks. I can't wait to see what you think of the next one. :D Thanks, and I mean, really, THANKS for being such an amazing reader and reviewer. You really inspire me!
This is an amazing story. Regulus is perfectly in this.
Author's Response: Thank you! Regulus is an incredible character overall -- I'm so happy you think I wrote him right.
I admire your delicate handling of the debased behaviour of the Death Eaters. Just enough described to elicit disgust; just enough left out for the imagination to shudder against.
You have built up Regulus's character beautifully and believably. I am looking forward to reading more!
Author's Response: Thank you so much! The St. Giles scene in Chapter 4 was one of the hardest to write, for sure, just because of its repulsive content. I'm very glad you didn't think I overdid it, or for that matter underdid it... it had to be just graphic enough so that readers can understand Regulus's wild actions against Voldemort in later chapters. I think seeeing a scene as horrific as that one would induce anybody to lash out at something. Thank you, about Regulus's character. He's one of my favorites, so I'm glad you think I'm doing him justice. Hope you enjoy the rest of the story!
Well, first off, let me say this is the first time I've been moved to actually review any story on this site - I'm a read and bugger off sort of bloke, enjoying society but contributing little to it...
This is quite simply the best example of fanfiction I've ever come across. The writing is intelligent, the metaphors and similies both wonderfully imaginative and beautifully precise ('He used his intelligence like a scalpel', 'uproot morals like weeds' etc.).
The character interaction is fantastic, highly believable and, for my part at least, induced total immersion (so much so that a client had to wave his hand in front of the screen today in order to gain my attention).
I loved way you have chosen to portray the main characters, and how they fit perfectly with the canon. With your story in mind, it seems clearer than ever before how sincerely, and with good reason, Sirius could have despised the house he was forced to remain in by Dumbledore, or how easily Regulus could have submitted to his family's wishes, then seemingly harmless, only to regret it in the future.
His Intelligence is key to your story, and a quite brilliant and surprising addition to his character. You utilise the classic flaws associated with such a character extremely well, allowing his intelligence to blind him from his own potential to be mistaken or wrong (e.g. about his brother and James' motives for fighting Voldemort), whilst at the same time allowing the reader to feel empathy and yet complete separation form the protagonist (akin to Dr Frankenstein as portrayed by Shelly in my opinion). I find many authors attempt to write genii, then fall short of meeting the criteria such a character demands. Writing a child prodigy (especially in the first person) is immensely difficult to pull off, and yet you do truly a fantastic job.
Anyway, others have done a far better (and more concise) job of reviewing it than me, this was just really to say thank you, a day, which could have been consigned to unprofitable boredom at work, was saved by your story! And with that, je vais fumer un pétard.
P.S. I’m English, and thus can be of some assistance and tell you that we generally call them vodka jellies. Oh and kudos on the English mannerisms, use of words like ‘mate’ (and rather more graphically: ‘wank off’) were used perfectly (although we’d probably not refer to someone as ‘kid’).
Author's Response: Wow, I'm incredibly flattered by just about everything you said here. Not sure I deserve it all, but thank you! If this really is your first review, you should review stories more often, because you said some really insightful things. ;) It induced total immersion?! You have no idea how happy that makes me!
Ah, Regulus's intelligence. I had to be sort of incredibly arrogant to think I could pull off this character in the first place: a male child-prodigy (I'm a female non-child prodigy) with a cowardly streak and a large inferiority complex, all in first person XD. I worried a lot about the whole genius aspect, whether or not I was coming anywhere close to portraying it correctly, so it's a huge relief to know that at least one person thinks I did. I decided at the beginning of the story that Regulus simply had to be a genius; there's no other way he could have pulled off what he eventually does. After all, it took Dumbledore, a genius himself, twenty years to discover Voldemort's horcrux secret. So how did Regulus do it in a little over a year, at the age of eighteen (at most), all the while managing to keep his discovery hidden from the most powerful and evil wizard ever? He must have been extraordinary, hence the story. Empathy is another thing I worry about, looking back on the completed story. I definitely do think that readers will feel a seperation from Regulus, a distance, as you mentioned -- after all he does atrocious things, he's a coward, and he's largely a character that is acted upon, at least for the first half of the story, so I don't think readers will have a lot of sympathy. Also I was hesitant to write a boy from first-person because I'm not sure how willing men are to admit emotion to themselves. Depends on the guy, obviously, but I still wasn't sure how likely Regulus would be prone to think directly, "I'm sad I broke up with my girlfriend" or anything like that.
About the English mistakes, I'm painfully American, as I explained to another reviewer, and by beta reader basically deserves any credit where English mannerisms are concerned! Vodka jellies, interesting. I'll change that then! Really, you wouldn't refer to someone as kid? That's such a common phrase in the US!
Again, thank you for the excellent review, it was very inspiring and it helped convince me that the story wasn't total crap. :D Enjoy your smoke then!
Love the ending quote and poor Regulus, I love the story so far you should keep going for sure.
Author's Response: Thank you, that is so encouraging! :D Yes, poor Regulus indeed. I will definitely post another chapter soon!
Wow!! I must say this fic is very interesting and incredibly well written!!
I addored the conversation between Reg and Sirius at the end, with the 'translations'... Very good detail.
I liked Regulus' appreciations of his brother and his steem of his character.
Adele seems like an interesting character as well. And Reg's brilliance as an awful good explanation of why Sirius might have initally needed to be outrageous and antaginist - he was jealous of his little brother. as he grew up, he realized one too many truths about purebloods I guess!
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm glad you liked my portrayal of the Regulus/Sirus dynamic. :D You're right, now that I think of it, about Sirius being outrageous and anatagonistic out of jealousy. Sirius had many things to be jealous of, I'm sure: Regulus' intelligence, his easy fit into the family, etc. But I think in many ways, Regulus was jealous of Sirius too. Thanks again for the lovely review, and I really hope you keep reading. :)
I’m back for chapter three! Finally. Lol. Before I get into the actual chapter, I just have to comment on the title. I really love it; it sounds great and the allusion fits perfectly. Now, that said, let’s get to the actual body of the chapter.
As the chapter plays on, the reader can really see the significance of the title, of Sirius and Regulus, Cain and Abel. You did a great job of making it known but not abundantly obvious. The relationship between the brothers at this time is debatable, but the dynamics you show are further strengthened by the allusion, particularly Regulus’ reactions to any mention of his brother.
The fight at the end was just beautiful. Not for what it was, but for what it represented, how it was written, what it really meant. In this scene, as well as the one Regulus and Elise witnessed, you really show your knack for understanding and portraying serious mob mentality. It was beautifully written. I think that last between Regulus and Sirius, that last Cain and Abel, was my favorite bit of the chapter because it symbolized so much and had so much power. “I used to suspect I was better than you. Now I know it.” My mouth fell open. I’m not even kidding. That line is so perfect.
The set-up in the beginning was great; I liked that you had everyone else as well as Regulus use a Portkey to get there. This line: Evidently, Voldemort liked to have everyone under tight control. not only shows your insight into Voldemort, but it shows your insight into Regulus as well. The ‘evidently’ that begins the sentence says a lot for just word, and I can almost hear the way Reg would say it.
Nevertheless, I breathed a sigh of relief. Normal people in a normal room. No formalities, no chanting, no animal or human sacrifices like I had half expected.
Ha. This is a great line. I like it because it made me laugh, but also because it shows a bit of apprehension on Reg’s part, which is great characterization. While we’re on the subject of him, I also like the attention you gave to Regulus’ intelligence. We know that Sirius was a very smart wizard, and I think that Reg could have been as well, especially given that he entered Voldemort’s circle of followers at an unheard of age. That, of course, begs the question of why, and I think you’ve given a very believable answer.
“In a world of anarchy, let me be your king. In a world which holds nothing sacred . . . let me be your God.”
Though JKR never did it as explicitly as this (that I can remember, anyway) I really loved this. This sentence is the embodiment of Voldemort, and it really shows the power he held, the power to persuade and instill belief. This whole scene really brings light to what Voldemort really was – a cult leader. The Death Eaters were his people, and together they were a cult. You can see that clearly in the scene you wrote, and, just like a cult, it is easy to see how someone can get sucked right in. This idea is even further exemplified just a little farther down, in these two sentences: It struck me as the kind of voice that would alter something small inside of me, seemingly insubstantial to the whole. But it would burrow deeper, unnoticed, and uproot morals like weeds, cast off foundations like cheap overcoats. The smiles only make it that much more powerful, and they provide great visual imagery for Voldemort burrowing into the hearts on the people. The mention of weeds was especially powerful and vivid.
I like the way you portray relationships as well. The relationship between Sirius and Regulus I’ve always talked about, but I also mean the relationship between Regulus and Adele, Regulus and his parents. The way he speaks and acts around each displays the dynamics, and I think you show it well. The jealous and anger inside Regulus was so intense, and, for me, reminiscent of his brother. I don’t know if that is what you were going for, but I liked it nonetheless. Having Sirius break up the kiss, rather than Regulus, was a good touch, and added, yet again, to the Cain and Abel allusion you set up.
Also, Elise and what she said about the Death Eaters and her reasons for being there. It shows a different side of that circle and also adds to what I said before about it being a cult following. I like that you show that not all the Death Eaters were sadists like Bella, but that not all of them were not as well. Regulus wasn’t the only one uncomfortable with the Muggle torturing. There was a balance, which you showed, and I liked that.
Lastly, the quote at the end. Very, very fitting, and good choice. It completed the chapter and left the reader with a certain sense of unsettlement. Overall, very, very well-done.
GAH. When is the next chapter coming up? I can’t wait! Lol.
Author's Response: Omg another EPIC review from Nikki! :D It made my life, as usual!!! Thank you. Thanks also, about the chapter title; I love archetypical stories like Cain and Abel. With this fic, I'm sort of trying to get the reader to wonder which brother is ultimately Cain and which is ultimately Abel, because it could go either way at times, couldn't it? Cain killed Abel, because Abel won his father's approval... now that sounds a little like Sirius, no? But Abel was the better, the more moral, of the two brothers, and that sounds like Sirius too. Both brothers end up dead, but who killed who, really?
The reason I made Regulus genius status is because if you really think about it, about Reg's whole situation, you realize that something about him must have been extraordinary. It took Dumbledore twenty years to discover Voldemort's horcrux secret, and the man was a damn prodigy in every way you can think of XD. How did Regulus discover Voldemort's secret in a year or less, at the age of 17-18 no less, and manage to steal a horcrux, AND manage to keep all of it a secret even after his death? Seems extraordinary to me, and so I made him a genius to explain it... some of it, at least. ;)
Thanks, about my similes. Thanks it makes me happy majorly. :D I always thought of Voldemort being a cult leader at heart... some mixture between the Nazis and the KKK, small time fanaticism coupled with big time power, and what a scary combination that would be. Cults interest me a whole lot, being a psych major and all. The whole mentality is terrifying, and catching, I think, as I tried to demonstrate with Regulus here. The quote at the end comes from one of my favorite novels, Grendel by John Gardner... I adore that book to pieces for its style mostly, some of the best writing I've ever found anywhere. I'd recommend it to you, I'm sure you'd appreciate it! :D Thanks for this great review, I always enjoy them so much... oh and expect a review for Chapter 1 of Poppy Seeds soon cause I can't wait to read it. :)
I read this chapter a while ago, and I've been meaning to come back and review it. So here I am. First of all, I adore this story and usually say it's one of my favourites when asked.
This is probably because of your flawless characterisation and excellent dialogue. This is interesting, because we don't actually know much of Regulus anyway, but I truly believe you've captured him perfectly.
This quote from James “I know that they practice bloody Dark Arts and support a man who tortures and kills Muggles for a hobby. I know that you – you sleep on your stomach because the open wounds on your back are still fresh. I know that not one of them deserves your defence, but you defend them anyway because you love them in a way that they’re incapable of.” is really amazing.
Now, most people write Sirius as one who hates his family and will bad-mouth them at any opportunity. You've portrayed the complexities of his family life in a way that most writers couldn't comprehend. I like that you've written him drunk, because we get to see how he really feels.
The tension between James and Reg is great as well, and I love that they both agree about Sirius' drinking, but still find a way to argue. The humour in the 'drunk scene' is underpinned with the dark themes of the story, and I love that.
The only thing that caught my attention while reading this for the first time was that Adele just appeared out of nowhere - “I’ll come,” I opted, and let go of Adele’s hand reluctantly. I know it's totally irrelevant, but having a brief sentence about them meeting up would have improved this. Basically I'm being really picky because I struggle to find the flaws in this chapter.
Also, I'm not sure if you're British or American, but I think they'd call them 'jelly shots' rather than 'jell-o shots'. I might be wrong, but I always thought 'jell-o' was purely American. Again, this is an insignificant detail, but something to consider.
Now, the last few lines of this chapter make me really eager to read the next, so you've done that really well. I ask myself now: if I’m a genius, why didn’t I see the folly in my plan? I love that it's a reflection in present tense, which suggests this is Regulus looking back at his own life. I myself am trying to write something like this at the moment.
Overall, an excellent chapter that has me wanting to read the next. Which I shall do right now.
Author's Response: I... really?! O.O I'm like insanely flattered that this is one of your favorite stories. Speechless kind of. Ah, you're probably spot-on about the jelly shots. I'm pretty sure Jell-O is actually like an American brand come to think of it... XD I'm very much American, and if not for my beta that would have been more painfully obvious than it already is. Wow, that's awesome that you caught the present-tense insert at the end of the chapter. Indeed Regulus is looking back on his life, and this comes into play at the end of the story. Ooh, good luck with your current project. Well, you've inspired me to submit the next chapter. :D Thank you so much for the thoughtful review, I appreciate it madly.
Maddy! I’m finally back to read/review chapter two. :D
I’ll start, of course, with the beginning. I really love the opening line of this chapter as we again see Sirius through Regulus’ eyes. You show that Sirius is changing, and Regulus can tell, and you do that with just one opening line. It was a great way to start, my dear.
However, the first couple paragraphs were a little confusing, and I had to go back and read from the beginning again to understand. It started off at the party, but then it suddenly goes back to the dinner with the family. While I really like that you showed the dinner, the flow between the party and the dinner that took place prior to it could have been smoother.
I really like the dynamic you show during their meal. I can very much imagine that dinner at the Black house would be just like that; in fact, in one of my Regulus fics, Recipe For Disaster, there is a dinner scene with much the same dynamic. :D
I thought about opening my mouth, attempting conversation, but I likened it silently to firing the first accidental shot into the no-man’s land between two warring armies. Suicide.
I adore this simile, my dear. It embodies just the right feeling, and I think it’s especially great because it isn’t just a simile thrown in the description, but something Regulus actually, consciously compares. It is so perfect for the mood, too, and for the Blacks. I also liked that you made suicide its own sentence; that gave it a lot more power and worth.
Again, as I think I’ve said before, you do wonderfully well characterizing the Blacks. I simply adored the conversation about Sirius’ O.W.L.s, and you did everyone’s reactions flawlessly. :D
The words hung there, supported only by the latent tension between them, strung up like electric wires around the room.
[sigh] Beautiful. I love your similes, kid.
This party’s going to be ace.
:D I just really like the word ‘ace,’ and I love that you had Sirius use it. Lol.
A group of people surrounded him: James, talking to Lily Evans with the kind of intensity that told me he wouldn’t stop if the roof came crashing down; Remus Lupin, having a discussion with a group of serious looking Ravenclaws; everyone else, fixed on Sirius.
But where is Peter? I’m a bit disheartened that you didn’t at least mention him, even as one of the people watching/listening to Sirius. :(
The more miserable, torn, angry, rebellious he acted while no one was watching, the more charming and humorous he appeared in public.
You show a great paradox here. It’s a great connection between the harshness of his home life and how he acts among peers, and I love that it is the opposite to what one might have guessed, at least at first. This shows, though, that you really do have a great understanding of Sirius’ character. I’m guessing, too, that is alluding to the ‘duality’ in the chapter title, yes?
“Uh, Black? Hurry the hell up, I don’t have all night to watch you flirt with your girlfriend,” James snapped irritably. “No goodbye kiss or anything, my gag reflex is already starting to kick in.”
Hm. At first read, I thought this was rather uncharacteristic. However, as I read it again, I realized, it’s not at all. It is the perfect reaction for James to someone he doesn’t like, and I really like that you were showed this. Its not the typical, light-hearted, likable James often portrayed my fanfics. You remind us that he was not such a fantastic guy, but that he could be a bit rude and rather obnoxious at times. Thank you for that, dear; it really is refreshing to read something with such a clear understanding of not just some but all characters involved. You clearly know the various aspects of their personalities and they don’t come off one-dimensional. This is especially clear in the scene with Sirius after pulling him out of the room with that girl. In that instance, there is a different side to James, a caring side, and I really like that you showed the different aspects of him in the same chapter.
Now, at first I was a little skeptical of Sirius’ antics, particularly with all the women. Usually, that bothers me because it just doesn’t seem to me to be very Sirius-like, and there is almost never a good explanation. However, the fact that you give a reason – Sirius’ family problems – said a lot to me, and I decided that it was perfectly acceptable and believable for him to be acting as he does, given the circumstances.
Nothing like his brother. Not even close.
And that killed me.
Oh my, I love this. So short and simple, yet the meaning behind it and the hand it lends to Regulus’ characterization is so much deeper than that. I think you are doing a wonderful job with the relationship between those two, and it shows in instances such as this one. Also, I really like the duality between them and how it ties into the chapter title.
“Didn’t you get your O.W.L scores back yet?”
There should be another period after the ‘L,’ yeah?
I think you’re best strength is definitely characterization. As I said earlier in this review, and probably before, you really do have a knack for it, and it really shows. I also like your style; for the most part, it flows really well, and the dialogue seems to fit with the time and place of the story’s setting.
Lastly, I love the ending, and how you showed the beginning of Regulus’ Death Eater days. The reasons, especially coming form Bellatrix, were great. The hesitancy you showed in Reg was spot-on, I think, but so was the contemplation. I don’t think I’ve ever read such a perfect balance, and I truly, truly thought it was perfect. And, just like the beginning, the closing lines were absolutely epic. I … can’t even put my feelings into coherent words any further. It was such a mind-blowing ending, I can’t even believe it. This was another great chapter, my dear, and I’m so glad I finally read it. I can’t wait for more, I need to know what happens!
Author's Response: Oh, Nikki, you spoil the crizzap out of me with these incredible reviews! They make my life, in all seriousness they do. That transition in the beginning of the chapter is a little tricksy, isn't it... I think it's because I added in the dinner section way later, and didn't know quite where to fit it in. Dinner scene in Recipe for Disaster with similar dynamics, O RLY!? I'm so on it. I absolutely adore Black family dynamics, if you can't tell. ;) Ooh I never thought of duality as applying to Sirius's character specifically, but now that you mention it, it definitely does! Ah, yes, Sirius's womanizing. To the chagrin of most level-headed Sirius fans, I definitely see Sirius as a womanizer. I think it fits his personality to a tea, mostly due to the horrible relationship he had with his mother. It's a known fact that boys who don't have great relationships with their mums seek validation from other women, specifically romantic validation. I also see Sirius as too free-spirited to really ever be tied down to one girl for long, unless of course he really met the right one. Have we discussed this before? I feel like we might have. :D Well, in any case, the Sirius womanizer cliche is one fanon implement I think has some sensibility behind it. Sirius is probably my favorite character because he's deeply flawed and deeply courageous, moral in every way that matters but also arrogant and unforgivably careless. /endrabidfangirling O.O Wow, about the characterization, thank you. That's a good strength to have, so I'm very flattered you think I have it. Your in-depth review just made everything worth it... how will I ever thank you? :D
Normally I am very careful about what I read and I don't very often read Proffesor rated stories, but I decided to give this one a try becuase I simply loved your other story - the travel one. Also because I have a thing for the Blacks.
I really enjoyed this one so far. You did a great job with all the Blacks. But what I like most about this story and about the others you have written it is the way you write. You write in a way, so you simply just are there. You have good dialoges, are good are describing things.
Do you write non - fanfiction? Because I think you would be really good at that. I think you could be an auother.
I am looking forward to read more.
Author's Response: Thank you - I am flattered that you decided to overlook the Professor rating and give this story a chance. Most of it is minimally explicit (a few swear words here or there) except for chapter four, which is the reason I had to rate it Professors.
Thank you again, for the compliment about the way I write. More that with any other story, I paid special attention to wording and style in this one, so I am glad you noticed it. As for non-fiction, I have tried to write it, but I am not very good at it yet, and it doesn't come easily. I will keep trying until I get something good, though. :) Thank you, this review was very inspiring. Enjoy the future chapters!
This was really good. I've never really read a fan-fic before and I've got to say I can't wait for you to hurry up and get the rest of the story out!
Author's Response: Wow, I am flattered that this is the first fanfic you have ever read. I hope I made a good enough impression for you to seek out more. ;) The rest of the story is finished, so you won't have to wait long.
Maddy! [jumps up and down] YAY!
First, I have to say, thank you so much for writing this fic. There aren't enough stories featuring my darling Reg and I love it when someone writes another, and so wonderfully. I believe this is the first of your writing I’ve properly read – it is at least the first I’ve ever reviewed, I know that for sure. Either way, I am definitely, definitely glad I found this story by chance. :D
Ahem. Anyway. Onto the proper review. Lol.
The beginning. I absolutely adore the beginning. The short and abrupt sentences gave the impression, at least to me, of jagged lines and broken pieces of the whole picture -- I could see it in my head all broken up, like the static of a TV on the fritz. You further exemplified this with this line:
I can summon up only strange fragments of that day – jagged puzzle pieces of a whole I never want to recall entirely.
Even before this line, I saw fragments, the picture in my mind was jolted, and this just brought it all together. I love it.
Your description is, put simply, wonderful.
"...disappointment scrawled like a suicide note across his face."
[sigh] This, I absolutely adore. I love the simile here, it gives such a simple emotion so much power.
The bit about the light was great. I have feeling, given the title, that light is going to be an important aspect of this story, and I liked Regulus’ comments on its duality and inability to exist, but yet, it does.
“Oh, please, Mum. Maureen’s much more tolerable than some of the filth in our family . . .”
Excellent, excellent characterization of Sirius here. You've captured him well through Reg's eyes. Not just here, either, but in other instances too, like in the manor with Reg, Adele, and Cecilia. It is clear that you have a firm grasp on your Sirius, and you show it well. The teenage Sirius if often up to the writer, as we know little about those years, but your Sirius has some very clear canon attributes, such as this:
I don’t know why or how so many girls fell in love with my brother; he was immature, arrogant, and treated them all the same, but they still flocked to him with an intuitive sort of desperation.
This information I can relate exactly to Snape’s Worst Memory, and yet, by having it come from Regulus it takes on a different tone and a different meaning. You’ve made it your own. Also, not only does this line show Sirius’ characterization, but the beginning of the first sentence lends a hand to Regulus as well. I love the relationship between the two brothers that you show; it seems very real and very nearly canon itself. In even the very next paragraph (after the one I quoted above) you are able to show the reader the relationship between the two boys that really seems real. I like the confusion you show on Reg’s part in that paragraph with things like “He seemed, always, a little less this and a little more that, like a recipe I could never quite get right.” Love the simile, by the way. It works wonders there.
I grew up in his shadow, but there was nowhere else I would rather have been.
See that? Perfection. In just that line you’ve given Regulus a huge amount of character, and you’ve summed the relationship between the two Blacks in the most wonderful way. This, in my humble opinion, is the basis for Regulus’ characterization – or at least, the sort of Regulus characterization I like/would believe. I see him as any other younger brother – in the shadow of the older, perhaps a little resentful, but still content in his place.
Something stopped him from continuing, probably the so-called conscience that his friends insisted he possessed.
Ha. This made me laugh. I also like it because here, again, we get a little bit of Regulus’ character as he talks about Sirius.
Adele – you’ve got great characterization skills, my dear. Though it saddens me, I almost like how fragile you’ve made her. She’s a refreshing, new OC, and even in just the first small paragraph of her description a personality has already begun to take shape.
Lucius strolled into the drawing room as if he undoubtedly owned the place. He surveyed the room casually, and his lips twisted in disdain as his eyes came to rest on James Potter.
[snorts] I love this. Mostly because, yet again, you’ve shown your characterization skills. Just lovely. And not just with Lucius, with everyone. You’ve shown the Black family quite well. This was just my favorite example. :D
And last, but certainly not least, Regulus. Ah, Regulus. As I’ve said before in this review, you handled him very, very well. I certainly like where you’ve taken him. Regulus is almost an OC, with what little we know of him, but I think you’ve shaped his character well enough to fit right into canon. He can’t seem to decide if he wants to side with Sirius or his parents – he loves them both. And you’ve shown this. Too many times I’ve seen a Regulus that hates his brother, or vice versa, and I just don’t think that was the case. I think you’ve captured his first-person voice, my dear. With the POV what it is, the reader can really see who he is and what you have made him.
The only criticism I really have – and honestly, its slight – is that, while I loved all the insight into Sirius’ character, it seemed a bit much. By that I mean there was a little too much observation into Sirius’ character and it took away from the storyline of the three of them in the foyer. I got distracted from the course of the story and when Sirius started talking again I had to take a moment to remind myself where and who they were, and why. I know this is primarily a Regulus story (that’s what I got from the summary, at least) but I think I might have better like to have actually seen more of the traits Regulus described rather than him, well, simply telling us. I loved viewing Sirius through Regulus’ eyes, but I think if it were more spaced out rather than all at once it would have been easier to take in and keep track of what was going on.
“Alright, Mum, I’ll be nicer. I promise.”
I think ‘all right’ is two words, not one, but I’m not positive.
All in all, it’s a wonderful start to what looks to be a promising fic staring my favorite Black brother! I think I’ve rambled enough about characterization, so I won’t say anymore on that, but I can’t wait to see where you take this plot. What you’ve shown so far is interesting and I am definitely intrigued. I’ll be looking for updates, my dear!
Author's Response: Oh my God. Best and longest review EVER. Thankyou. I'm kind of speechless actually. I'll try to respond now, like, coherently. I agree that there aren't enough Regulus fics out there. Great character, kind of my favorite character. No one has ever done like a definitive chaptered epic on Regulus's life -- plenty of good one-shots but nothing that's long and just about him. I completely agree with you that the "I grew up in his shadow, but there was nowhere else I would rather have been" comment is the basis for Regulus's character. I just always imagined Sirius as this larger-than-life figure to his brother, almost like a superstar, someone that he could look up to but never quite understand. Sirius, in my humble opinion, is almost so good it hurts... sure, he has his flaws, but at the center I think he's this ridiculously moral character. Regulus sees the disparity between Sirius and himself, and knows he can never be that wholly good, but by God he wants to. :) You will definitely see more of Adele, as she is an integral character in my version of Regulus's life. You ship Reg/OC too, don't you? Honor/Regulus, if I'm not mistaken. I've heard great things about that story, but I didn't want to read it while I was writing this one for fear of being influenced. In fact, I tried to stay away from Regulus fics for a while to give myself a clean slate. Maybe now I'll go and read your fic. :) I'm glad you think I've pulled off first person. It's my first time trying this POV, I was kind of nervous. And I agree with you that Regulus loved his brother, in the end more than he loved his parents. And as for your criticism about the Sirius description, looking back I agree with you. You kind of got straight to the crux of the problem. I love Sirius almost as much as I love Regulus, and he knows this and therefore takes advantange of me at any point that suits him, hijacking entire scenes like the one before you. He is a drama queen and loves the spotlight, what can I say? I suppose I shouldn't have indulged him quite so much. My beta said the same thing you did. ;) Well, it's always nice to hear from another Regulus enthusiast, and of course it makes me value your opinion all the more highly. Thank you, my dear, this review was ridiculously inspiring. :)
Doesn't suck. :P
LOL though seriously. When did I say that? Must have been one of those weird comments at 4 AM, eh?
Congratulations on a wonderful first chapter. You already know that I love it and I cannot wait to see what all your other fans have to say!
Author's Response: LOL I'm not sure if it was 4AM, but I said something like, "Uhm the last sentence thingy, does that suck or no?" and you answered "Doesn't suck." Which was pretty hilarious, actually, and typical(coming from you, it was a compliment). :D You should be proud, Fresca; you put a lot of work into this story and now it is here for everyone to read. Thanks to you, they won't be pointing out any mistakes! If they do we can just kill them. :D
Wow. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this quite as much as I did. Your writing is simply beautiful.
I rarely read Regulus fics as there haven't been many that caught my eye, but I'm very glad I opened this one. We see barely anything in canon about his true character, but in this first chapter you seem to have perfected him. The Sirius and Regulus interaction makes my heart ache. Regulus hates to see Sirius be hurt, but there's nothing he can do to stop it. I think you've captured their relationship perfectly by having Sirius never expect anything from Regulus, because he's the older brother and Reg shouldn't be the one to prevent bad things from happening to him.
The ending especially made me smile. I love how you had their dialogue, and what they really meant by it. It shows how close they are as brothers.
You've also represent the Black family really well. It's actually the most unique way of writing them I've seen. Usually writers have Bellatrix and Narcissa extremely rude to everyone around them, without giving them a reason for it. But you can also tell that the pleasantness they try to exude is forced, and you prove it at the dinner table during the arguement. The discussion itself is something I can definitely see happening, although a part of me wonders if Sirius would really have taken James over to visit. I guess I've always believed he wouldn't bring friends over. People in abusive situations are less inclined to invite their friends to the home in which abuse takes place. But maybe Sirius doesn't see it that way.
I honestly though that this would be the moment Sirius leaves home for good, but I rather like that you have him return to his seat. It shows that he's not entirely willing to abandon this family, or perhaps that he is afraid to.
A few nitpicks:
“Alright, Mum, I’ll be nicer. I promise.” This should be 'All right'.
Lucius reached over and squeezed my shoulder “Good man, Regulus. There should be a full stop after 'shoulder'.
Also, Adele is a rather interesting character. I'd love to see more of her in future chapters. I will be looking out for them, after all!
Brilliant start. ~ Cassie
Author's Response: Wow,thank you. This review just made my day. :) I haven't read that many great Regulus fics either; that's part of the reason why I wrote this story! I think that Regulus is a fascinating and extremely layered character, and I just couldn't believe there wasn't more fanfiction out there about him. I mean, come on, he joined the Death Eaters at an incredibly young age, and stole a horcrux right under Voldemort's nose! How much more dramatic potential can one character have? Some good Regulus stories that I have read are 'Seven' by Noldo and 'Fragmentary' also by Noldo. Dory the Fishie also has a great Regulus story called 'If You Can Hold On.' Oh, and 'Genesis' by Wings of the Morning! I guess there are a few great Regulus one-shots out there, and that's largely where I got my inspiration for this one.
I did try to represent the Black family differently, or at least in a semi-sympathetic light, which is the way Regulus would see them. I agree that Sirius would rarely, if ever, bring his friends over to the house, and I like to think of this as the one time he tried it. Obviously it didn't work out well. :P I think that in this case it's not so much that Sirius is afraid to abandon his family, but that he genuinely wouldn't want to, largely because of Regulus. His mother is really the only downright abusive family member; I like to think his father isn't that bad.
I'm glad you think Adele's interesting! I have a real problem writing interesting female leads, so I decided to just change it up and give her hemophilia to see if that would spark a unique and fully developed character. :D You'll definitely be seeing more of her in upcoming chapters. Again, thank you so much for this brilliant review, and for reading my story so closely. It means a lot to me.
excellent start! the writing quality is good, and it promises alot of emotion in future chapters. keep writing
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm glad you think it's promising. :)