This is beautiful, Susan ♥
Whoa. The image of Regulus trying to rid himself of the Dark Mark is so powerful. I've pondered it before, though more in terms of Severus, and I can imagine it repeating through the years, one regretful new initiate after another. I love the part where he takes the blood from that arm, though. It has this feeling of triumph to it, like he's literally attacking his Master, clawing his way out of the pit he dropped into no matter what the cost is. I feel sort of like it's a tribute to all the other souls who got into something bigger than they intended. I also liked your little jab at Voldemort, where Regulus would not force his servant to do his work.
I love the historical and literary allusions, particularly the concluding reference to Hamlet in the Danish winter and the theme of King Arthur. I can imagine young Regulus playing at emulating these heroes, wanting to be bigger than himself. It's interesting that only in death did he accomplish this, having always lived as the lesser of two stars. Oh, and Cain! Another interesting idea - I think of him more as Abel, the one his parents were proud of, and so I like how you twisted things around.
Speaking of the brothers, the way you portrayed the relationship between Sirius and Regulus was fantastic. I think it really shone here, especially when you mentioned Regulus standing outside Sirius's room and wanting to say goodbye. That broke my heart, honestly! I love how you talked about the "Blackness," too - did I pick up a bit of a double meaning there? What I'm seeing is the literal idea of Sirius trying to throw off his lineage, but I also see Regulus trying to escape the "blackness" or darkness of his life as a Death Eater.
I don't know what you're seeing as unfinished, but I really love this as is, and I'm glad I got to read it.
Author's Response: Finally reached your review! Whoo! Sorry about the wait on the response - I've been looking forward to doing this one for a while. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review this story! It always means a lot to hear your opinion. ^_^
You're the first reviewer to mention Regulus's arm and his desire to clean the mark off of it. For me, it was a very strong image, but I was worried that his taking the blood from his arm like that would be too much for HPFF's rating system, so I played down that scene as much as I could. I'm glad that its significance was still noticeable. The Dark Mark is what Regulus comes to see as his brand of Cain, the thing that marks him as the evil brother, and he will do anything to get it off. I was struck in the later books of the series by the pain associated with the Mark, how Voldemort used it as a tool of torture for his own followers, and I couldn't imagine what a 17 year old, bred in wealth, would do with such a mark. The only thing that came to mind was that teenagers want to be free from parental oppression, from any kind of thing that chains them down - Sirius does this, and thus I find a way for Regulus to do the same. When he visually destroys the Dark Mark, he can believe that he's found that freedom - you're very right to see it as a triumph.
Yes, the twisting around! Once again, it's like you've looked into my head to find what went on behind the scenes of this story. Regulus sees himself as Cain, but in body and manner, he actually is Abel, the softer more eager-to-please brother. And in a cruel way, it is Sirius who becomes Cain in this story - Regulus dies for him, because of him. The difference is that Sirius has no active role in his brother's death. It was an interesting dynamic to play around with throughout the story, showing how Regulus's guilt and pain had twisted his thoughts and dreams. He saw himself as something he was not. Though I think he becomes like his heroes before his death - when he decides to get revenge for Kreacher's sake, that's when I see him as finally taking on the heroic role. However, with his death, he becomes more closely aligned with Hamlet and King Arthur, perhaps the most fallible of the heroes Regulus worships - the ones who made the most mistakes and who died for them. Regulus makes the mistake that he has to be the one to die - he cannot talk to Sirius, he doesn't allow Kreacher to help him, he just walks into the face of death. He makes the mistake of giving up. It's a waste, a tragic waste.
Haha, there is a double meaning in the "blackness", meaning both the literal name as well as the reputation associated with it. One sees how Sirius tries and tries to get away from it, but he's always a Black - there's always that strange dark haughtiness clinging to him, as much as he despises it, coming out in ways that he often doesn't notice (like his treatment of Kreacher). As much as they try, the two brothers cannot escape their genes and their upbringing (I've actually read some strange things in Victorian psychology which claim that a person is composed of all their ancestors, and that no matter what they do, they cannot fully escape their family history - it makes sense in terms of hereditary disease, but it's interesting to see how it applies to mental health).
Thank you so much for this review! It's wonderful that you've enjoyed the story and that you've caught many of the main themes I wanted to work through in this look at Regulus. :D