Hi, Carl! It's Gubby with your review.
I'm going to do concrit first (not much, though!), just to get it out of the way. The only real problem - and I thought it was a sizable one - was your dialogue, which read as a little stilted to me. Maybe part of it is that this is an era I'm not used to reading, but it didn't read organically to me. Lines like this - Dadís a bit harder to fool, but heís so blinded by his own ambition that he canít see whatís under his nose - don't seem to be something that Barty, even as a dangerously intelligent and unbalanced person, would say to his friend, even one who knows his otherwise hidden opinions. I didn't feel that sort of stilted sense in the Umbridge and Moody sections, because he is speaking with an adult and is trying to hide his sympathies, but returned in the last section. Again, much of this may stem from Barty being insane, believing himself to be on some dramatic pedestal, but that was really the only aspect of the story that didn't sit well with me.
You said wanted to know if you showed Barty's psychopathy enough and I think you absolutely did. Because I get distracted easily while reading, I had to check to see whether these were his OWLs or NEWTs. The focus in fanfic is on NEWT-level students, and I expected that to be the case here, and would have found it easier to accept a psychopathy that pronounced in that age. Realizing that this was a fifteen-year-old who was Imperius-ing a proctor and holding his own with Moody really unsettled me. But what I remember now is that Barty was maybe nineteen when Voldemort killed the Potters and he joined the Lestranges on their attack on Neville's parents, and so I can see why you chose to set this story at this point of his life. Yes, I was unsettled - somehow I always imagined a more pronounced, sudden "fall from grace," as it were, and this very early example of his behavior surprised me - but it was a good kind of unsettled. I like seeing that level of thought in a story, especially one with such subject matter.
You also asked about the characterizations of Moody and Umbridge, but again, I feel like you did really well there. Me being dense, I didn't realize that it was Umbridge until she said so (I saw the Hem, hem and thought, That's convenient, then saw the toad and thought, hmm..., and...), but looking back, it makes utter sense that she be there in this time and be desperate to climb the Ministry ladder. It's amusing to think that she started out as a lowly examiner - also telling considering her time as Headmistress - and was already so ruthless. Her section, as I'm sure you intended, was the one where Barty's crazy really revealed itself. I actually felt sick to my stomach at him forcing her to eat flies - that's such a vindictive thing and yet it makes so much sense for a (crazy) fifteen-year-old to do. Moody was also done well, but what really showed me his true colors, so to speak, was his line about knowing that Barty was hiding something. After seeing (or rather, being told; interesting how you don't really show him doing any of this) him do all of this seriously advanced magic, a la Tom Riddle, it's good to realize that he wasn't pulling things off as perfectly as he would like to. Moody would not be taken in by a fifteen-year-old, although it does make me wonder what he did after this encounter. He couldn't have forgotten, and wouldn't have ignored it, constant vigilance and all... but...
And this is why I always like being introduced to stories like this. They make me think, they show me a missing part of canon. It's always difficult to make something fit into canon, and this has done so quite well. (:
Author's Response: Wow! Thanks so much for the concrit. Looking back at it, I can see what you mean about his dialogue sounding a bit stilted, especially with his buddy. Thanks for pointing it out. I will probably go and edit this. I should start working with a beta again, I think. You're right that at the end, he has more than a touch of the 'megalomaniacal villain' (I will tell you all my plans and then kill you; oops you escaped, etc.)
I'm glad I unsettled you. He was brilliant. He had more OWLS than Hermione (12 according to his dad!) so I expected him to be super-brilliant. I wanted to show him exceeding his grasp with Moody early on, but then showing him how much he knew later, so I'm glad that came through. I like writing the minor characters and giving them some flesh.
I'm glad you liked the characterisations. I knew I had to have Umbridge trying to climb the ladder and have Moody seeing Barty Jr. for what he was, so I'm glad that came through too. The fly-eating came organically; I thought it was something that a 15-year old would do. If he had been older, it probably would have been more horrible and not 15+.
As for after the encounter, I think that Moody always had an eye out for Barty Jr. but it took a while to catch him. It took someone else selling him out to give Moody what he needed. I like the idea of someone brilliant getting the best of Moody.
Thanks so much for the long review, and especially thanks for the CC. Nice to get a good, meaningful review.