Hey! I've been meaning to read this story for awhile, and the House Cup has not given me an excuse. (I saw that your name was the most recent in that thread and I was like, "MINE MUST HURRY." ... I am occasionally strange.)
I definitely wasn't disappointed, which means I'm going to have to find my way back here at some point in the near future.
The premise of the chapter - the Baron seeking out the mirror so frequently - was great. I can really imagine him just wasting away in front of it, even with his already being dead - Harry was starting to get obsessed by it in PS, but what you showed here is I think what Dumbledore was warning him about. The Baron had... well, almost a hunger for the mirror and what it showed, and while he's not wasting away there while he could be living his life, it does symbolise part of why he remained as a ghost rather than continuing on. It's a bit of a different situation than what Dumbledore talked about to Harry, but only in the details, IMO - the sentiment is the same.
Using the mirror in such a prominent role here helped to really convey his regret and longing, of course, but I also felt like it showcased a lot of other conflicting emotions that he clearly has regarding Helena. It seemed like he still had... well, almost a sense of bewilderment, I guess, for her running off. In some ways, it seems like he still doesn't really understand it. Amongst all of those emotions, the one thing I didn't really feel like I saw was anger from him. Maybe I was just missing it, but assuming I wasn't, that's a really interesting choice on your part, and it's one that really helped spark my curiosity.
Honestly, you did a beautiful job of depicting the Baron in a way that made him sympathetic without ignoring his pretty major crime of killing Helena, and you've left me eager to read on!
Author's Response: Hey Branwen! Thanks for stopping by!
Not strange. Lovely. I'm flattered :)
I think I did reflect on Dumbledore's words a little in writing this prologue. I'm glad you could appreciate the parallel between his warning and the despair that the Baron feels here. I tried to put myself in his shoes and really depict how painful it would feel to have to spend your days tiptoeing around a woman you desperately want but can never have, all within the confines of a castle full of students. There are certainly many ways to depict the Bloody Baron/Grey Lady story, and I chose a more tragic route because I thought it would be interesting to explore.
I do think bewilderment is a good way to describe the way he acts in this chapter; in my mind, it would make sense for a pureblood Slytherin to be a little arrogant and have trouble grasping the concept of a noblewoman saying "no" to him. Hopefully it's not too stereotypical or cliche :) I think you're right about the lack of anger, too; this is really a moment of sadness and loss, but I would be surprised if anger doesn't enter into it later.
I'm happy to hear that you felt like I balanced sympathy for the character and adherence to canon well here, and I do hope you return later on. I'd love to hear what you think of my Baron, my Helena, and how I've begun to tell the story of their tragic love.
Thanks for this wonderful review, Branwen :)