This chapter was so beautifully written. I was shocked when he actually killed the girl, but you captured the moment perfectly. It's extremely realistic. You're a brilliant writer!
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 naďve. 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
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!
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!