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Review:Violet Gryfindor says:
This is a fascinating chapter with a lot going on, all building to that final moment - a moment that falls into my definition of epic. It had quite a heavy feeling to it, the atmosphere close and oppressive, yet the pace was quick - it left me breathless to read, hanging on every word.

What strikes me is how both Regulus and Snape have this two-sided nature, where they can be caring, though slightly selfish, teenage boys working through school, then they take on the Death Eater role and become cold, as though reflecting Voldemort's personality. It's chilling to watch that switch and it leaves readers questioning these characters' motives - what is the role and what isn't? If they're both of these things at once, then how can anyone ever trust them? You especially emphasize this for Snape because of the scene that precedes this one - although Snape in anxious in that previous scene, there is still a significant transformation in his manner. If I remember correctly, Lily mentions Snape's duality in "The Prince's Tale" chapter from DH - she interprets it as a form of hypocrisy, in which Snape treats her differently from other Muggelborns. It supports the way that you have Snape constantly want to spend time with Lily on their own - he distinguishes her, and I still wonder whether he understands the implications of that at this point in his life.

But that still leaves Regulus. I think it was important to keep a bit of a distance from him in that last scene because it would have revealed too much otherwise - it also lets you emphasize his numbness of both thought and feeling. When he uses the crucio curse, it's like another person takes over, entirely unlike the way that Bellatrix seems to use it - Regulus takes no enjoyment from the act. However, when he decides to leave Wilkes behind, is that just for show to impress his cousin and Voldemort? And certainly Wilkes won't forget the way that Regulus proved to be the better Death Eater, so I guess that would further bolster Regulus's position. Can we trust him? I'm looking forward to see Regulus's reaction to this scene after the fact - where will he go from here? How will he get from this point to his death in the cave? So many questions!

It contrasts quite interestingly with the first scene because Moody isn't less ruthless - he wants them to get hurt in order to prove themselves, but in a typical Moody-esque way, he uses the most complex means to do so, mimicking the Auror training sessions. It's a far more physical thing - while it requires cleverness and a quick mind, it relies equally so on stamina. For the Death Eaters, everything is in the mind - even the use of the forbidden curses relies entirely on the mind and heart of the caster, not their physical prowess. That's what makes it so much more disturbing. To join the Order, one needs an open heart and mind, but to join the Death Eaters, one has to be closed to everything but Voldemort's goals and desires. Voldemort is in control of everything that goes on during that scene.

Your depiction of Voldemort is particularly strong. The appearance you've given him fits very well, marking the long (painful) transition between Tom Riddle and the resurrected Voldemort - he's made about four horcruxes at this point, so the state of decay you've described, with this bloodless, emaciated man balding in the most disgusting way possible... it's right out of a horror film. Your description is so vivid that my skin crawled to read it - the whole scene played out like a film, actually. It was amazing how you did that.

You also continue developing Lily's story in an excellent way. I'm curious as to when she'll decide to join the Order - at this point, I'm guessing it will be after her exams because she's not the type to skip a step, especially not as important a step as the NEWTS. Her interactions with both James and Snape placed her, once again, in the active role - it's clear that she's in control of her life, even if the world around her is moving toward chaos. Your characterization of her is fantastic, and I can't wait to see whether she'll get a more action-oriented scene before the end of this story. :)

I know I've said it with every chapter, but this is a very well-written and exciting story to read. Often I have trouble finishing novels online, but yours makes me want to continue right to the end (so that I can complain that there should be more :P). Amazing work!

Author's Response: The ending to this chapter is probably my favorite in the whole story, though it totally rips me apart to make my Regulus so heartless.

Yeah, I think you made a keen observation there. For me, it goes back to Snape's simplistic view--in his mind, it's totally logical to treat Lily differently from other Muggle-borns because she's Lily and she's his and she's special, and that's just that. Regulus, I think, has a slightly greater comprehension of the potential ramifications of this allegiance, and yet he's also drawn in by Voldemort's power and the idea that satisfying his parents could also earn him respect among the people he admires. He can't help but love being treated as "special" by Lucius, Bellatrix and the others. Actually, now that I consider it, it's almost like he's the foil to Lily. Now that was totally unintentional!

Anyway, this contrast between Regulus and Wilkes will obviously mark a turning point in their friendship, and ultimately in determining whether Regulus is just an idealistic student or a potential Death Eater underneath it all. The story may not go quite as far as you mentioned, but you can at least imagine what it would be like given his personality here.

Becoming and living as a Death Eater is definitely a mental process, or at least it is in my mind. If you can't outrun the Order and Aurors, you have to at least be able to out-think them, and if that trait doesn't scream Slytherin I don't know what does. I love the quote about how the Death Eaters are basically a mixed bag of weak people, all of whom are seeking an escape from reality. They make it easy for Voldemort to use them.

I'm so pleased you liked my Voldemort! He's a challenge to write, but I actually find characters like him and Dumbledore to be less difficult as some people claim. It's fun trying to balance his utter, literal soullessness with his tendency to feign etiquette and speak calmly and professionally. I think it's that sense of calm that really makes him scary. (And your compliments made me feel less apprehensive about my current/next project, which is a horror story, so there's that.)

Hmm, you'll have to keep an eye on Lily. I do think her plot line starts to pick up a little bit and she gets to shine more in later chapters.

You're lovely, as always. Thank you! :)

-Amanda


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