Hey, this is Beeezie, here with your review! Sorry about the delay - RL and a Gryffie CR activity have sapped me of my time recently. No worries about taking awhile to respond - honestly, it can take me forever to fill requests and answer reviews, so I totally understand. As long as it's answered within, like, a month or two, I don't think anything of it. :P
The mechanics in this chapter were definitely stronger than the last one. (Not that the last one was bad, this just feels a bit more polished.) It flows really well, and there wasn't anything that jerked me out of the story. I was completely absorbed in it start to finish.
I also thought that your description was much better in this chapter. Again, it wasn't bad in the last chapter, but there were a fair number of points where I just felt like there was a little something missing. The description in the first four scenes of this chapter was excellent, however. You included enough description that I felt like I had a pretty decent picture in my head of what was going on, but not so much that the flow felt drastically different than in the previous two chapters (which can sometimes happen when people add more description in, and it sometimes ends up feeling a bit odd, at least to me).
My only comment is that sometimes, I felt like the narrative surrounding your dialogue could have used a little more detail. It was mostly a problem in scenes II and IV, which I think might have been because they were more emotional than the others. Your use of dialogue tags were good and definitely helped to get the mood across, but I wanted you to follow up on them. For example, in scene II, when Madam Pomfrey snaps at Kreacher, I wanted to see some follow up - what was her face like? How did Kreacher interpret her tone?
Does that make sense?
The fifth scene felt a little more like the last chapter to me - there was just a little something missing in it. I wanted a little more description of the setting or even just detail about Cygnus's thought process or subtleties in Moody and Kingsley's expression. Does that make sense? Otherwise, though excellent job. :)
All of that was pretty minor, though. This is probably my favourite chapter so far, even though there was no Sirius in it. It was really, really strong in a lot of different ways.
One of the best things about this for me is your characterisation. I think I said this in my last review as well, but it bears repeating. This, for me, is exactly what good AU should be: it's a different world, yes, with very different rules, but I'm still left with the feeling that you're exploring canon. This story does not read to me like you are just substituting in the names of Harry Potter characters in a Hamlet-inspired OF (which is often what AU feels like to me and why I tend not to like it). This is beautifully crafted; there are so many references that fit perfectly with what we know or have guessed about canon.
Kreacher is one of the best parts of this chapter for me. I know that you mentioned that you're wondering now why you took house elves out of the story, but I'm actually kind of glad you did (or, at least, that you made Kreacher human). I think that the dynamic here would have been different if he was an elf - he would have had less respect and less control. As is, I feel like you've eliminated a lot of the complex relationships that inevitably come up when you're writing house elves, which in this situation, would have just been distracting. I love Kreacher's loyalty and devotion to Regulus in particular - it just felt so perfect and in keeping with what we know about their relationship in the books.
In praising Kreacher, though, I don't want to sell the other characters short. You did an excellent job with them, too. The other two standouts for me in this chapter are Regulus and Cygnus.
I loved Regulus. Kids can be very difficult to write, but you did a great job with him. His mannerisms and reactions to a rapid series of very traumatising events was absolutely realistic - you included a perfect amount fear and the confusion and even a hint of a temper tantrum toward the end without going overboard. I also loved the exploration you've done into his and Sirius's relationship. Regulus is a scared little boy who wants his older brother to take care of him, and you know, I can see this being how their relationship might have been pre-Hogwarts, too. This is AU, but it's giving me a new perspective on canon, too, which I love.
Cygnus is creepy. Cygnus is exactly the kind of creepy, self-serving nasty piece of work that I would expect him to be. It's a nice perspective on the Black family, and it's one that I can easily extrapolate to canon.
In short? You have me convinced that this is exactly what Hamlet-meets-Harry-Potter would look like. I love this story. I believe that this is what Kreacher would be like at a human. I can totally see all of the arrogance and egotism that it's very clear the Blacks as a whole had in spades in Cygnus's and Pollux's plotting.
I can't praise this highly enough.
Please feel free to rerequest. (And if you see a slot open and you haven't answered this yet and you'd like to post, go ahead - I know you're good for the response. :P)
Author's Response: Hey, we're both busy, so I can totally understand. It's not like my chapters are all that short either and your reviews are so thorough that I get that it can take a while to get around to it. :)
I am so ridiculously happy that you love this story, no joke. Your opinion means a lot to me and the fact that you're so in-depth in your reviews blows me away. Every time. Thank you for this review, and for hopefully giving me the motivation to keep writing it. I've been sort of in a funk since school took a lot of writing time away from me so I'm hoping once I wrap my head around the idea that I do have free time, I can pump out a lot of chapters before school starts again and consumes my life. Thanks again!