Wow, very powerful, very deep. Narcissa is a fascinating character and you've done her justice.
I truly loved Decretum.
It was incredibly well written and thought out, and Narcissa was portrayed amazingly well.
I hope you don't mind, but I used it for the Narcissa Malfoy character study in the forum!
One of my favorite things about reading fanfiction is stumbling through the waves of mediocre stories and suddenly coming across a gem. I knew from the first sentence that this story was going to be special, and I wasn’t at disappointed. “This is her world, and these are her rules, and they’ve never, ever been compromised.” The sentence itself is uncompromising – straight and direct and to the point; you illustrate your meaning with your words. In the first sentence you manage both to interest the reader and to set the tone for the entire story.
You have the ability to make simple, important statements that are all the more powerful because they’re understated. “No, she says, and doesn’t finish her sentence. I’m doubting you.” Instead using a lot of words to describe her feelings about her husband and his affairs, you’ve shown us exactly what they are in a scene that is much more emotional (and interesting) than the narrative could have been.
I absolutely love your writing style; your imagery, your word choice, and especially the way you show us what’s going on through very concise and evocative scenes. My one general critique (other than a few nitpicks) is your comma usage. Commas are, of course, a matter of opinion and are subject to debate, but I think your story would have even more flow if you could crop a few of them out. Some of your paragraphs flowed perfectly, while in others I found myself being halted by too many commas. The stream-of-consciousness style in which you are writing naturally lends itself to long sentences of many clauses, and as a writer you want to be clear – it’s a natural tendency to put in commas between every clause. But when you have long sentence after long sentence, the commas in combination can be a bit much.
“But that goes against her edicts, it goes against everything she’s ever pretended to believe, and every hidden belief she’s ever sheltered from them. Without her rules, she has nothing to blame but herself, and her rules take away the fault. They give her a scapegoat, a safety net, insurance that when the gates of hell try to receive her, she’ll be able to point the finger.”
Every sentence in that paragraph is good by itself, but altogether the effect is stilted; there are too many pauses for it to be able to flow. Try looking to see where you can pull out unnecessary commas; the fewer pauses you have, the more effective they’ll be. In the second sentence, for example, if you only used the first part, “without her rules, she has nothing to blame but herself,” the first comma would be fine. However, when you add another clause on the end, you no longer need the first comma. “Without her rules she has nothing to blame but herself, and her rules take away the fault.”
This is the tiniest of critiques, but: “She has a bad feeling that it’ll get her killed as well.” The phrase “a bad feeling” felt somehow out of place, a colloquial phrase caught in the middle of grander and more dissociated language. Once again, though, this is just a matter of opinion.
To move away from technical matters, you’ve done a wonderful job with the characters – and that’s what makes me like this story so much, even apart from your writing style. You’ve kept Narcissa totally in character – she’s still cold, and reserved, and judgmental, and firmly entrenched in her own world – but you’ve also made her real, and pitiable, and interesting. To do that to a character like Narcissa takes real talent, and I can’t wait to read more of your stories!
Aw, that was so beautiful! Narcissa is my favourite female character, and there's so little of her in fanfiction, especially written well in character studies. I couldn't have asked for anything better than this.
The sentence, "It’s the same lie she tells herself when she sees the man they chose for her teaching the same rules that have brought her to the deepest pit of Hell to the only person she’s ever really loved," was really confusing, however. I had to read it over quite a few times until I understood it. Other than that, the sentences flow very nicely and are right to the point. I love the metaphors you have scattered throughout the story, comparing her to ice and such. This was a really powerful one-shot... I felt like I actually was Narcissa. You showed how hard it must truly be on her, and how unsure she is of her choice about the way to live her life. I love the beginning, when you speak of how weak she was emotionally which is why she conformed to her superior's rules and made them her own. I think it's great how you elaborate on that throughout the fiction. I'm definitely adding this to my favourites; it's a one of a kind work. Great job!