Out of all the chapters of this story, I'm finding this one to be the hardest to review. It's tough to even know where to start. This was the chapter where everything came crashing together. Every character, every event, every stray plot thread -- well, every one that I can think of, anyway -- they all converged in this unbelievable roller coaster ride of suspense, fear and "oh my god, so THAT's why ABC happened way back in chapter N!" I think it's going to be incredibly hard to review this without sounding like a gushing, squeeing mess of a fanboy, but here goes. I owe you a good faith attempt, but I can't promise much.
The way you wrote Regina was absolutely terrifying. She was cold as ice, but imbued with the same false sweetness I remember from her first appearance. Her maniacal hatred of Viktor was combined with a win-at-all-costs compulsion and a fiendish sort of genius. She was going to take absolutely everything from him and then leave him to take the fall for it. Rose's life was nothing more than a tool she was using to cause him pain. I felt like I was seeing shades of Jami's Bellatrix, but with a more controlled and focused strain of sociopathy. What makes it even worse, at least to me, is that Viktor's only "crime" was disappointing this horrible, shallow, fake, manipulative person by turning to an out-of-control lifestyle that she probably drove him to by being such a b... um, bad person. That's how I'm interpreting things, at any rate. Maybe he would have found that lifestyle no matter what, but I'm sure she didn't help.
Poor Rose held it together better and for much longer than I would have expected. I loved all of the physical details that you used to convey her terror, anxiety and even anger.
I am completely in awe of how you wove all of these seemingly unrelated plot threads together into Regina's "master plan" to destroy Viktor. The overdose was especially brilliant. If it was me, I probably would have given in to the temptation to drop some sort of hint, some little bit of information so I could come back and waggle it in the reader's face and yell "gotcha!" later on. But Regina's not like that. She leaves no evidence. And she knew Viktor so well that she knew that he'd have drugs hidden somewhere in the flat. She's so frighteningly single-minded, it's crazy!
And then all hell broke loose. You couldn't have pulled me away from my computer while I was reading the last quarter of this chapter with a logging chain and a bulldozer. From the moment that Rose lunges at Regina until those awful final six words of the chapter was one of the most amazingly tense, suspenseful action sequences I've read anywhere on HPFF. I could feel my heart pounding when it was over, and then I was instantly empty.
This paragraph hit me like a kick to the stomach:
But that was as far as she got before she felt the impact and the pain overtook her. A horrible, ice-cold fire that spread through her back and arms. It took her breath away, stole the spell from the tip of her lips. And for a moment, even made her forget who she was. It was just pain.
I have nothing to offer you in the way of constructive criticism for this chapter. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. It was absolutely brilliant. Please accept this nearly irrelevant typo as my small attempt to brush a stray bit of dust off of your masterpiece:
But Regina had gone suddenly quite, apparently having said all she intended to on that matter. - quiet.
And with that, I'm almost at the end. I'll do some more gushing in my review for the next chapter, but please know that I mean the following with complete sincerity: This is one of the five most incredible chapters I've read on HPFF.
Author's Response: I have to start this off by apologizing for the delay in responding. A review this nice deserved a prompt response, but I shall do my best to try and make up for it now.
I tried so hard not to leave plot lines dangling out there! Since I don't plot much of my stories in advance, there were a lot of little bits here and there that I threw in along the way without knowing where it all was heading. That this chapter didn't feel like a total free-for-all is a minor miracle.
Jami's Bellatrix is awesome, and I do think Regina has some of that same psychopathy. She just channels it all into this one venue. She doesn't even really hate Rose -- she doesn't see her as enough of a person to bother hating. From my end, I didn't really see Regina as a cause of Viktor's problems in the past; I think he would have been on the same path with or without her. But she definitely didn't help, and I certainly don't think he really did anything to bring this about. He could have been a perfect husband and she would have found some reason to hate him. She had crazy inside of her -- he was just a trigger.
One of my regrets on this story is that I didn't drop more hints to the reader. I tried several times but it never came together. I tried to have Rose walk in on Regina in Krum's flat, tried to send an Auror there on an anonymous tip, have a mysterious package delivered. I even wrote out a whole scene in the last chapter where Krum and Rose arrive at his flat to find it ransacked. But I couldn't make any of it work. I always wanted the ending to be a surprise in terms of the villain being Regina, but I wish I'd threaded more of a feeling of outside danger throughout the story.
Wow, just... thank you! This was my first attempt at any real level of violence. I didn't want bloody or gory, but I was aiming for tense and real. If anyone saw my internet search history for the day I wrote this scene, I'd probably look like a psycho myself! Who knew stab wounds feel cold, not hot?
Thank you for such an amazing review. I'm really a little speechless that you liked the chapter so much. I'm sorry again for taking so long to reply. Please know it wasn't a reflection of my appreciation for your comments!