Reading Reviews for House of Cards
125 Reviews Found

Review #26, by TidalDragon Eight of Clubs

7th April 2014:
Hmm. Perhaps this chapter was mostly to set up the finish? I just didn't get a strong feeling from it, unlike previous ones. It was awful heavy on the Sirius and Regulus family dynamic which, while present throughout the story hasn't really seemed significant to the mystery.

I'll confess I'm also a bit puzzled about why Sirius seems to be getting accused at the end of the chapter. Given the distance away you seem to describe him being when whoever is behind him emerges and the incredibly short time period, it seems unlikely he would ripe for suspicion. I do suppose the scream preceded the person's emergence, but just felt a bit odd to me, along with their apparent calmness about the incident. Shrug.

Just not my chapter I suppose. It happens to all of us. Still looking forward to the next one.

Author's Response: It was kinda to have both the first scene and the third scene, with the middle one linking them and while it's not especially important, it's kinda building up on things for later. Yeah, the Sirius/Regulus dynamic is heavy in this one, and it's not quite mystery-specific, but there are two pretty important things in this around that.

Ooh, yeah, I think it's not as clear as it could be, tbh - I think I got the mystery kinda thing a bit too heavy in it, without implying too much of what actually happens. I'll definitely have another look at it - I've been meaning too, just been busy - and it's meant to be a bit more obvious about why he's being accused, but the oddness is kinda intentional.

Yeah, there's always one in every story which just doesn't agree with you! No worries about it! ;)

Thanks so much for the great review, and I'll take another look at this one! :)

Aph xx

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Review #27, by TidalDragon Seven of Hearts

7th April 2014:
Okay! Excellent beginning and excellent ending for sure! You really injected some great intrigue back into (I think) the will bit and you left us with a delicious cliffhanger. Good on you!

As for the middle, I enjoyed the touch with Bellatrix alluding to the fact that she would kill Sirius in the future - another clever little nod to canon there. I did not terribly enjoy the dinner scene too much. I thought it seemed to be kind of taking us from Point A to Point B while providing little short of some tiny insight into Barty. Perhaps I missed something, but I just didn't find it incredibly substantive.

The mystery is back in full force though after a previous chapter that dragged a bit to me, so I'm happy to see that.

Author's Response: Hey again! Thanks so much for stopping by once again! :)

Ah, I'm so glad you liked this! Haha, yeah, I have to admit I did kinda chuckle to myself at that one - I liked being able to slip it in. Yeah, the dinner scene was difficult to write, tbh. I wanted to include something which highlighted the tension and could lead to the final moment, though I'm not sure if it was too long...

Thank you so much for that! I'm so glad you think it's come back and it's going well! Thank you for the great review! :)

Aph xx

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Review #28, by TidalDragon Six of Diamonds

7th April 2014:

To focus on the high points here, I think the detailed descriptions of Narcissa and her movements in the scene with Sirius were a particular strong point. I also liked the touch of closeness between Regulus and Barty. And the revelations about Bellatrix and Lucius having already killed and their differing reactions were well done and supported the mystery in your plot by reinforcing that they could be the killers. Lucius's alleged reaction to the killing also seems in line with Draco's future reluctance to kill, so well played.

As far as things I was not as big a fan of, I think Lucius's character has put me off a bit. I can't put a finger on it exactly, but he seems...different. Obviously he's much younger here, but it feel like at times you've written him as a bit of an amalgam - cold as canon, but lacking composure and according to Narcissa, fearful. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

I also was not a particular fan of Sirius in this chapter. He just felt a bit awkward. I understand that was slightly purposeful, in that he's in an escalatingly dire family situation, in a family he's barely a part of anymore, but some of his dialogue and thoughts seemed a bit much. Shrug.

See you next chapter!

Author's Response: Hey there again! :)

Thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked that - I like writing Narcissa. There's a nice fragile sort of strength with her, which I love portraying. Ah, Regulus and Barty... yeah, I love showing friendships and things in stories - they often seem to get neglected. Plus, I felt I needed to explain why he was there, hence closeness. Ah, I'm so glad you spotted that! :) I really, really wanted to include some references to the Death Eaters, so I popped it in here. It felt the best way to do it.

Yeah, Lucius is... well, kinda tricky to write. I wanted to show him as less put-together and perfectly marble/polished/cold/etc. that people normally show him and make him a little more fallible and human. I don't know if it quite worked, but yeah, it was kinda my intention. I don't know, I've never thought he's the bravest person either, so that was kinda coming through, too.

Ooh, really? I'll go back and have a look at it later - I know some awkwardness as intentional, as you say, but there might have been too much. I can go overboard sometimes... I never know how much is enough. Thanks for pointing it out! :)

Thank you so much for the amazing review, as always ;) :)

Aph xx

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Review #29, by TidalDragon Five of Spades

7th April 2014:
Well, this chapter was a bit shorter, but I think more powerful than the previous two. Another death gave you a chance to return to a lot of your strengths from the first chapter, which shone through again, particularly in the nuance with which you wrote the discovery of the new body and the reactions of the characters.

We also got people noticing who was "missing" at the time of this death, which is a good start to either honing in on the killer or sending us chasing a red herring. I think you've done a solid job of not tipping your hand about which this is so far, but I personally think Crouch is a red herring (based on particular aspects of your story so far).

Picking up the pace here and mixing up the flow with another death and the use of the house elf, Wipsy, to make certain things happen more quickly was a wise course as well I think.

Things are shaping up nicely!

Author's Response: Hi there! Yeah, I find it really hard to make chapters the same length, so they tend to vary a bit. Is it bad that I'm happy I killed someone else off? Probably, but ah well ;) I'm glad it made the chapter stronger, and I'm glad you liked it! :)

Yeah, I really wanted to use this to make certain people seem suspicious and to show some of the relationships, a little. Red herrings are kinda necessary, I think, so yeah I tried to focus on some people rather than others, without making it too distorted. Mm... Crouch as a red herring... possibly, very possibly ;) Couldn't say of course!

Gah, thank you so much! I'm glad you think the pace is a little quicker here - I know it's something I struggle with dealing with and doing. Omigosh, I never really appreciate how useful house-elves are before writing this - it really does help speed things up and make things easier.

Thank you so much for the great review - I'm so glad you think it's going well and your reviews are always so helpful and honest, it's amazing! :)

Aph xx

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Review #30, by TidalDragon Four of Clubs

7th April 2014:
Jumping right in, I like that you are continuing to prod the will element. It seems like it could certainly be a viable motive, though you do a bit to dilute it here (probably purposefully). Still, you have done such a nice job nudging us in a number of directions as to the identity of the killer, this seems to be really the only possible motive that has been revealed, which undermines some of the characters as possible killers (at least as I see it). Maybe that's on purpose though too.

I do think Pollux and Orion are starting to seem a bit similar for characters that you portray in this chapter as having a strong conflict, but perhaps that will change in the future if their interests diverge after this little disagreement.

What I perhaps appreciated most in this chapter though was the impactful end. You left it open-ended both as to the identity of the person and precisely what has happened to them and it was very well done.

The middle of this chapter seemed a bit sluggish in terms of pace, but overall I think it's moving nicely.

Author's Response: Hi again! :) I'm so glad you like the will element - I was really worried initially about including it since I thought it might be a bit dull, but it seems to have gone down fairly well. Yeah, I wanted to push a, I guess, solid sort of motive (well, potential motive ;D), since most of this is kinda less solid, particularly at the beginning. I couldn't say about on purpose, though ;)

Ooh, yeah, I worry mostly about them as characters - I'll definitely take a look at their interactions in this chapter, and see if there's anything I can do to make them a big more distinct. Hopefully it will get better in the later chapters! :)

Ah, I'm so glad you liked it! It was the scene in this which worried me the most - it felt very strange and odd when I wrote it, so it makes me feel so much better to hear that you liked it! :) Thank you!

Thank you so much for continuing to review - it's amazing that you have the time to review so much! :)

Aph xx

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Review #31, by TidalDragon Three of Hearts

7th April 2014:
Hello again!

So I thought you picked up right where you left off at the beginning of this chapter with strong descriptions. Their power came and went a bit more than it did last chapter, but I think much of that is down to your introduction of more dialogue.

In large part I thought that dialogue was much more consistent than last chapter in terms of its helpfulness and impact. While still not on par with your excellent talent for description, I felt less of a gap in effectiveness from piece to piece of dialogue this time.

As far as characterizations go, I think you're doing a good job so far keeping the characters distinct while still giving them common family qualities that make them believably related. I think Sirius and Bellatrix certainly seem firmly in character, which is also good to see. I'm not sure I've seen enough of the other characters aside from Barty and the grandfather to comment, but I'll keep my eyes on them in the future.

See you next chapter!

Author's Response: Hey there again! :)

Thank you so much! I really enjoy writing description, so I do try to improve it constantly, so I'm so glad you like it. I'll definitely see about things dipping here and there when I edit - thank so much for pointing that out!

Ah, I'm so happy! :) I think maybe it's coz there's less long speeches? I'll have a look over it and see what the difference was - hopefully I'm improving, but I wanna make sure! Thanks so much for commenting on that!

Gah, the cast is so irritating to manage! I always feel like I'm forgetting someone in a scene... but I'm so happy you think I'm managing them alright! I tried to work out all the connections and traits before I started, so I had it clear in my head, so I'm glad it seems to be coming through! :)

Thank you so much for the wonderful review - it really is incredibly helpful! :)

Aph xx

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Review #32, by TidalDragon Two of Spades

7th April 2014:
Howdy! Dropping by in response to your review request. I apologize for the delay - I've been absolutely swamped trying to wrap up a couple of pieces for challenges and preparing for and starting a new job. Still, I'll do my level best to finish reviewing for you by my promised 5-day deadline (tonight).

I thought this chapter started out lights out. Your descriptions of scene and mood were exemplary and really helped to set the tense, shocked, somber tone that you were going for. The descriptions of the characters were also very strong. You took the care that so many don't to point out things like expression, tone and posture that can make all the difference. This largely carried through the chapter in its entirety.

I initially thought the dialogue was also excellent, but ultimately I'd settle on very good. I think the sharp, short lines that marked much of the chapter were very appropriate, but some of the longer bits didn't match up as well with the lofty standard you set in the descriptions and internal thoughts you addressed. This was particularly evident in the first long speech in the drawing room.

I did like though how you set up some possible culprits and at least one possible motive with nuance and care.

As for extra commas, I'm afraid I'll disappoint you on that score. If I were notorious for anything as a writer, it would probably be excessive commas myself...

Anyway, I thought this was an exceptional start and I look forward to following as things develop.

Author's Response: Hey there! Thanks so much for volunteering to do this - it's honestly so nice of you, and I have no idea how you have enough time to do it all! Don't worry about any time lapse (hopefully you'll forgive me for how ridiculously late this response is - law school has been hectic the last couple of months) - I completely understand that sometimes RL catches up with you :)

Gah, thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked it - it took me so long to get the beginning right! Yeah, I kinda wanted to use different things to distinguish between them, mostly coz they're all quite similar looks-wise, really, haha, so I'm glad you liked it!

Ooh, yeah, I'm really not all that comfortable writing long speeches, so I found that really hard. I'll definitely look back over it and the rest of the dialogue, and look more closely at the bits of it I'll write in future. Thanks so much for mentioning it! It's always nice to hear where to improve! :)

Thank you - I'm so happy you thought it worked! I was so nervous about that bit - it's so hard to judge what is and isn't subtle...

Haha, no worries about it! Commas are incredibly tricksy creatures... *hides*

Thank you so so much for the wonderful review - it was incredibly helpful - and, again, I'm sorry for the late response!

Aph xx

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Review #33, by UnluckyStar57 Jack of Clubs

5th April 2014:
Oh my goodness. How much more death can this story hold?!?! Will it only end when they're all dead, having killed off each other out of suspicion and fear?!?!

I'm kind of in shock right now--Pollux AND the house-elf?! But WHY? Who's behind all of this? I can't even guess or make any predictions about who I think the murderer is because I don't even know!

But let's be real: My favorite stories on HPFF are the ones that are not cliche, and this one definitely isn't cliche at all. Your words captivate me-I'm sure I've said that before, but I just wanted to reiterate that. Every character is so mysterious and secretive, and it BUGS ME TO NO END that I can't know what's going on with all of them at every single moment. The Black family needs to have surveillance cameras trained on them at all times--who knows what they might be doing when the action of the story is focused elsewhere?!

I do agree with your statement that there was more action in this chapter, but as with the previous chapters, the main action is the act of dying. There were no violent scenes of accusation and duels to the death--no, the Blacks aren't about that life. What was supposed to be a drink with the men turned into an elimination of one of them. In this way, the story is like Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (it's the only memorable murder mystery that I've ever read). People just keep dying and the killer is still nowhere in sight!! I couldn't even guess ATTWN's murderer, so I'm sure that I won't be able to find the hand that holds the smoking gun in this story! D:

So yeah, Pollux has now snuffed it. So much for whatever he was doing with those wills in the last chapter... And the house-elf--her name was Wipsy, right? I'm almost positive it wasn't "Mipsy," but the Blacks have a bad habit of not referring to "lesser beings" with respect, so they've caused me to forget. :( But anyways, may she rest in peace--but why did she have to die?! Obviously, she knew something that the murderer didn't want her to know, so she paid the price...

As for Alphard, well, I think he's just as bad as the rest of the Blacks, but in a different way. Sure, he disagrees with some of the most treasured Black family beliefs and traditions, but the way he speaks about Sirius in this chapter really gets on my nerves. He's just as manipulative, just as prone to using other people to make his point or to get his own way. I hope that I'm right in assuming that he isn't the killer, but he's definitely one of my least favorite Blacks in this story.

I think that the pacing of this chapter was just right. It was pretty shocking when Pollux keeled over, but the flow of the action seemed to demand it. Of course, the Black way of dealing with sudden death is to pretend that it was totally planned and expected, so the action following it sort of buried the death, causing it to play second fiddle. (Hahaha, burying pun. Whoops, sorry not sorry.) :)

In my opinion, the most important things in this chapter are Walburga's confiscation of the vial and the death of Wipsy the house-elf. Why did Walburga take the vial instead of just letting Sirius show it to Orion? Of course, she's a super-control-freak, but since she told Sirius to hold council with the older men, couldn't she have ordered him to show the vial to Orion then? What is she up to? Is she really sad about Pollux's death?

And Wipsy's death bothers me a lot. The Blacks all assume that she is a dumb animal--they don't get her name right, and they refer to her as an "it." Surely they would also assume that she wouldn't be able to make sense of murder plots and things like that. So the killer is either: A) Not a Black, or B) A Black that doesn't think like the other Blacks do. I can't even say for certain which of those things would be more likely. And then Bella's being all "rational" about Wipsy's death--was she the one who found Wipsy, or was she the one who killed Wipsy?! There are so many things that I don't know!! D:

Perhaps (zany prediction time...) each man had a different killer. Maybe all of the Blacks have a motive to kill each other, and they all decided to enact their plans at the same time. Perhaps Pollux killed Cygnus and maybe Alphard killed Pollux? Or something like that. Perhaps Bellatrix killed Wipsy because Wipsy heard her talking about wanting to kill someone else. Perhaps I should stop making wild guesses.

In your review request, you mentioned that this story was nearing its end. Well, I guess we're on Jacks now... The only ones left are Queens, Kings, and Jokers (if you count Jokers as a part of the deck). However, I'm still waiting for the Ace. That's the one you're going to end on, right? I think it would be fitting, but that means that there are only three or four chapters before this whole thing wraps up! Oh no!

I can't wait to find out what happens! I hope that chapter eleven is going well!


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Review #34, by Lululuna Jack of Clubs

3rd April 2014:
Hello! :) Ahh, sorry for taking so long to get here - groceries took longer than anticipated. :P

Hmm, the mysterious vial... poison does seem quite likely, and I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to seal a bottle by magic. And interesting, well I'm not really surprised that Alphard and Orion don't like each other, but it does make them seem perhaps a little suspicious. Walburga's comment about them not killing each other in front of Sirius seemed quite cryptic, as did the mention of the house elf (well, you know my theory about the elves :P). It's so sad how Walburga calls Mipsy an "it" as well, goes to show how cruel they were to their servants.

Haha, I love the comment about Lucius looking like a cat in a bath, it's just hilarious. :P

I really liked the fact that "Alphard wasn't as nice as he pretended to be." It takes him from being this possible saviour figure who will be there for Sirius, and shows how all of them are just so corrupt even if they are a little better. His comment to Sirius really made me sad, and it's quite depressing how even though Sirius' situation is so helpless and he hates being with his family, the idea of not being a part of it anymore still manages to upset him.

Aand another one bites the dust! Hmm, very suspicious about this poisoned alcohol, and how Sirius almost took a sip! I thought Alphard was acting quite suspiciously, assuming he might have a reason to kill his father. And oh no, the poor house elf! Well that diminishes my theory from above a little bit, though it could still have helped out with all the other murders. It was great to see Lucius acting a bit like a scared little boy, and I loved the way you described him - I think of him and Draco as being quite weak-willed and falsely polished for the most part, so it was nice to see him crumble a little bit.

Great chapter, I'm looking forward to the next one and finding more about what is going on! :D

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Review #35, by LavenderBlue Four of Clubs

29th March 2014:
Mergh. What is UP with this tampered will?! Whether changed by Cygnus or an outside party, there is a larger story here that I am using all of my brain power to figure out. And alas, I can't, which is frustrating, but just the place I ought to be as the reader. You're dropping more hints, more info, and you're weaving back in plot points you introduced in the first two chapters--but at the same time, you're not giving too much away. I can't put together the pieces yet, which is good, because it shouldn't be that easy; but I don't feel as though I'm being cheated. You're walking that line--which I think is the hardest line to walk in mystery-writing--like a true pro.

Pollux and Orion's convo is chilling. The 'something else' bit... o.o That they don't even flinch when talking about illegal magic, that it's a cut and dry solution to a problem, nothing more--it's a creepy implication that got under my skin because it's woven so naturally into the narrative.

Ugh, REG. Interrupting this juicy conversation!! Why the request to go flying? I don't think Regulus is simply going out for a little afternoon zooming on his broom... Suspicious eyes.

I wonder if the latter part of this conversation between Orion and Pollux might benefit from a little paring? The pace got clunky here for me, and I felt as though I was reading information that I already knew or could infer from the surrounding clues. For example, the paragraph starting, "There is, after all, nothing they can do." Most of what follows in that paragraph has already been established. I think you could cut all of those following lines and keep it at that first sentence, period. The reader is smart enough to fill in the gaps, and they can get to the next piece of action sooner.

You continue to give Sirius such a strong portrayal. Something as simple as his little game of breath-holding and his morbid speculations add yet another facet to his character. Yet, for all that morbidity, he's no less empathetic.

This line is priceless: "Then again, he supposes his mother has already killed the silence; Bella is just making absolutely certain that it's dead, like the sadistic cow that she is." It's such a treat reading your fiction, because gems like this invariably show up. Yummy, yummy.

Baha, the magnificent contradiction of Walburga threatening to wring Barty's neck for accusing their family of murder. Lolz. Why so defensive, Walburga? Mayhaps YOU have something to hide! Seriously, though, this story has me thoroughly paranoid now. I've felt the increasing need to look over my shoulder...

Also, I should point out how much I love the way you've painted Sirius and Regulus' relationship. It isn't as though the reason they don't get along is because they go around spouting their ideological differences. It just seems like they simply don't connect as brothers. And sure, being part of different Hogwarts houses may have something to do with it, but the tension and distance between them is something that can happen between lots of siblings who just aren't close.

And that relationship is indicative of Sirius' place in his family as a whole. You can see how he does belong to this family, but you can also see all the myriad ways he doesn't click. It's nothing overblown and dramatic, just little things, like his annoyance with Walburga's tiresome rants and his jealousy of Regulus being the favorite one. It's subtle, but it gives an added depth of realism to the family dynamics. It also adds depth to Sirius' character. He's full of contradictions, several of which involve his family identity. "A part of him is disgusted; a smaller part of him wonders if he'll react similarly when his parents die." That line pinpoints that tension perfectly.

Excuse me while I salivate over that last Druella section. Such beautiful writing, especially the way you tie in Cygnus' own name to the imagery. Names are obviously a big deal in the Black household, and I like that you emphasize their importance here in such a pivotal scene because OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED, DID DRUELLA JUST JUMP, I CAN'T EVEN. YAHHH. You have totally won yourself a devoted reader, because I cannot simply stop the story there. Such a great way of pushing the action forward in a way that isn't gimmicky but that makes it impossible not to read on. And that's stellar in the pacing department.

At this point, I'm looking back over these first three chapters to assess big picture plot development, and I must say, things look watertight from where I'm standing. It's been a solid, gradual build-up so far. I say build-up, because I can only imagine that this rising action is leading to even more reveals and an eventual climax. Given that assumption, these chapters have been everything I'd hope for them to be. You've effectively set the scene with your imagery. You've introduced a cast of increasingly compelling characters--and done particularly fine work with Sirius. You've introduced enough clues to leave me feeling anxious and befuddled but not conned. In short, bravo, bravo!

Thanks again for letting me review this exquisite story. I'm hooked, and I plan on revisiting to read and review out of pure curiosity. I really hope the reviews have been helpful/close to what you were looking for in terms of feedback. You mentioned that you're writing the ending, and given everything I've read, I can only imagine that it is going to be mind-blowing. Yet more motivation to read on!

Author's Response: Hi again! :) Thank you so so much for reviewing three chapters - in a row, no less! It's a big task, particularly when the reviews are so long and detailed like yours! So thank you for that, first! :)

Haha, sorry about that! Unfortunately, it's one of those things you won't find out just yet - there's, well, another character, lol, who's involved in that, so that line will pick up a lot more pace when they get involved. Ah, thank you so much! I'm always so worried about that when I write this - I'm hopeless at telling what's too much and not enough to give away! So hearing that from you is so, so lovely! :)

I'm so glad you liked that bit - there's always this implication in the books that Dark magic is something almost normal to them, so I liked the idea of bringing that up for something almost trivial. More creepy than for the murderer, haha :P

Ooh, Regulus.. well, yes and no! I don't think it spoils anything if I say he is going flying, but not just flying, if that makes sense. There's definitely more behind that than 'he's bored' ;)

Ah, thank you for mentioning that! I honestly hadn't really looked over that scene since I wrote it, so you're probably right! I'll definitely go back and look at it and cut it down. I'll keep an eye out for it in future, as well! :) Thank you!

I'm so happy you like Sirius! And yeah, he's pretty morbid... It's kinda funny that you find him empathetic, since I vary between finding him empathetic and just... not. So yeah, I like that! :)

Haha, yeah, Walburga is a bit unstable. Kinda like Bellatrix... she has no idea of the irony of her own words. And maybe she does... *whistles* Haha, sorry about that! Don't worry, you're not in any danger ;)

Gah, thank you so much! It's one of the things in this I love writing so much, and I really want to get right, you know, so I'm so happy you like it! And yeah, that's kinda always how I saw them - just always missing each other. Never quite on the same page, kinda thing - except that sometimes they are, and then you get it, but often they're not. It's kinda sadder than if they were fundamentally ideologically different, you know, because there's almost this sense that they could have been close - maybe. Such a shame... :(

Thank you! :) I love writing Sirius - while writing this I've grown to love him so much more as a character, and grown to have a huge head canon surrounding him, haha. You're absolutely right about him, though - in everything! I kinda wanted to show sort of normal teenage feelings - jealousy and things - but it's just really exacerbating and exacerbated in turn by the relationship he has with his family, that there is grounds for it. It seems worse than it is, but it's worse because it's true... if that makes sense.

Gah, thank you so so much! I was honestly so worried about that section because it's a bit weird and a bit different from the whole rest of it so far, so to me it seemed to stick out like a sore thumb, so I'm so glad you like it! And yeah, with the Black love of names and meanings, I couldn't leave his name out now, could I? :P

I'm so glad you've liked it so far - and that you think it's been solid so far, too! It's completely new for me, and a real challenge at times, so to hear that is just great! Thank you! I'm especially happy you like the characters - and Sirius! - since I know they're perhaps a bit different to how people normally portray them and are used to seeing them. There's definitely a lot more to go until the end, don't worry - and I'm, er, glad you're feeling anxious? o.O :P

Thank you so so much for the brilliant set of reviews! They've been amazing to get and amazing to read (and re-read and re-read, because honestly they're just so lovely!), and you've been so helpful! Thank you so much! :)

Aph xx

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Review #36, by LavenderBlue Three of Hearts

29th March 2014:
BAH, Barty. I had great expectations for him based on chapter one, and you did not disappoint! I love your portrayal of him so far. He's irreverent, charismatic, and just the sort of catalyst necessary for a murder mystery investigation. He also seems to have a hidden agenda, which makes him all the more intriguing. You do a great job of using him and Sirius as foils to each other. I think their first bit of dialogue sums them up very well, indeed:

"Why are you doing that?"

"Because I want to."

This sets up Barty as the one who stirs the pot, who sticks his nose where it shouldn't be. And it sets up Sirius as someone who does what he wants for the sole reason that he WANTS to. It's a fantastic interaction.

I'm curious as to why, if Barty and Reg are so close, Barty is enlisting Sirius' help and trying to keep things hush-hush around Reg? Hmmm. Hm hm hm.

I love that we see Regulus through Sirius' eyes: how Reg's mannerisms remind him (unpleasantly) of their father, how Sirius knows that Reg's baby eyes are just a ruse to get what he wants (typical younger sibling move; I know from experience :]), and how he doesn't have any problem accusing Reg of being a suck-up to his face. This tells us a lot about Regulus, but it also tells us about Sirius and his relationship with his brother.

"Sirius can't decide if he's more annoyed with Regulus for lying to him or with himself for believing that his brother would actually tell him the truth." Wonderfully worded, and it delves even deeper into the obvious tension between the brothers without getting expository. Great!

Sirius' trip-up is another solid way of showing the reader his character. From a simple mishap, we uncover that Sirius finds his identity in the fact that he is both a Gryffindor and a Black; he doesn't want to show weakness; and he doesn't like pity. He realizes the ongoing need for familial support, yet he feels alienated in that family. And all of this makes Sirius simultaneously strong and vulnerable. You're beginning to paint a very empathetic picture of Sirius for the reader to follow.

Yeepsters, Bellatrix. Though she's only on the scene for a little bit here, you make great use of her. "Bella always did miss the balance between sugar and spice, wildly rocketing backwards and forwards between the two." Such a fantastic line! In so little words it tells the reader just what to expect from Bella--namely, that she can't be trusted. But who can in this story?!

To sum it up, excellent characterization here. You painted a good preliminary sketch in chapter one, and you've done nothing but color those lines in with finesse. It makes me want to read chapter three even more than I wanted to read chapter two, and that's always a good sign.

Omg, this line: "A cynical voice in the back of his head (which, when it shows up, he likes to call 'Remus')." And this: "Mr I-have-peacocks-in-my-garden-didn't-you-know Malfoy." Bahaha. Love it. You do an excellent job of incorporating humor into a dark story without throwing off the tone.

As far as plot/mystery development goes, I see nothing amiss here. Pacing is solid throughout. I never felt as though I was trudging through unnecessary detail or exposition. Also, I like the flashes of different characters who skirt in and out of this chapter, from Lucius to Cissa to Reg to Bella to Pollux. After Barty has planted his seed of doubt in Sirius' (and the reader's) head, each of Sirius' interactions seem suspicious. Why does Bella tell Sirius off? Why would Regulus lie to Sirius about the coroners? Why did Lucius seem so out of sorts as he hurried by? Early on, you're setting up an atmosphere of distrust and paranoia. There's no one strong lead yet, but there's the definite sense of hidden motives and untold secrets--clues dropped now for us to start piecing together later.

Just one miniscule typo that I caught: "Sirius pushes himself too his feet," change to *to.

Riveting read. I'm looking forward to seeing where the third chapter leads!

Author's Response: Hey there again - thank you so much for doing this! I know I write long chapters, so even two in a row is a pretty big ask! :)

Okay, so I have to admit that I love Barty Jr as a character, and always have done since he was introduced to us in the books. He's just so wonderfully complicated and mysterious - so that was really what I tried to duplicate here! He really is utterly out of place it's almost ridiculous, haha; you described him pretty much perfectly! :) He is definitely a little stirrer, too...

I never thought of him and Sirius kinda counter-acting each other, tbh - though they kinda do now you pointed it out :P Barty and Sirius are strangely similar, but not, if that makes sense. Like, they both do their own things just because, but how they do it is so completely different. They're so fun to write - apart or together!

*whistles* I can't say anything of course, but it is a weird thing for him to do... there is a reason, of course, and hopefully it'll make sense in the end... but not now! ;)

Omigosh, I love writing Siri/Reg interaction! I've always been fascinated by them as brothers, and so writing them in here was something I wasn't going to avoid even if I could. Haha, yeah, I have two younger sisters, so bits of their relationship are kinda based on mine with my sisters, like the puppy eyes thing, and Reg reminding him of their father... Their relationship is fairly big in the story - it will come up again and again - so I wanted to give a suggestion of it without outright saying anything, so I'm so glad you liked the bit of it here and thought it worked! :)

Okay, so while I love Sirius as a character I find that fics often paint him too light, almost. Like he's really nice and happy and always up for a laugh, and I wanted to focus more on the darker, perhaps more pureblood side of him, you know? So he's pretty different to a lot of Siriuses, I think, so I'm happy you like him! He's a teenager, so yeah, he's struggling with his identity and all - what's more important, being a Gryffindor or a Black, since he's proud of both, really. I really wanted to show, well, exactly what you said, tbh, how he wants his family - or a family - but feels like he doesn't quite belong at times. It's such an interesting relationship to explore so I'm so glad you like it! :)

Ah, Bellatrix! She's just... she's honestly a great plot device. If I need the tone of scene changing, I bring her in; or if I need something moving along, I bring her in :P Interesting that you say she can't be trusted - but yeah, they're all pretty suspicious! :D

Mahaha, thank you! I'm always really excited about putting in little bits of humour here and there because, honestly, I'm dreadful at full-on humour. Really terrible. It's Sirius, though, so there has to be some! And I couldn't not mention the rest of the Marauders, either! :D

Gah, thank you so much! I wondered at first if the continual cycle of appearances would get kinda annoying or confusing, but I'm glad you liked it! :) I really wanted to build the suspicion and confusion, so there's lots of things which would otherwise perhaps seem normal, but in this are really weird... :P I'm so happy you think it's going well so far, though! :)

Ooh, thank you for catching that - it'll be out in the next edit ;)

Once again, thank you so so much for the fantastic review! You are so incredibly nice and incredibly helpful! I always love reading your reviews! Thank you! :)

Aph xx

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Review #37, by Lululuna Ten of Spades

29th March 2014:
Hello! :)

This was such an amazing chapter, and I loved each scene and how vivid and descriptive they are. Your writing here is honestly beautiful. The first scene especially, with the boys walking outside, had this feeling of forlorn loneliness, and it was just so incredibly written, I felt like I was there. The mist, the wind... something I like is how you play with the words to make an ordinary action seem interesting and even haunting.

As the wisps of mist fly past his wand, they wind and merge to form a ghostly ship which sails off away from them. This was a gorgeous image and a really interesting use of magic. It felt very typical of Barty - everything he does seems so haunting yet deliberate, but I just thought this particular moment was so lovely.

The whole scene, with their flirtatiousness but Barty's fear of going too far, pushing Regulus too far, was really interesting. As you know I love this pairing, but the distance between them and how Regulus holds himself back while Barty is generally without inhibitions does a good job of how difficult it would have been for a boy to love another boy in this kind of family. It's bittersweet, in a way, and though I don't think either of them are necessarily redeemable characters all the time, your characterization is amazing.

and allows a sly smile to flicker over his mouth. Little lines like this show how instead of acting naturally, Barty really controls his actions and the way he is presented to other people. It's interesting, because I feel like his natural character is quite wild and very odd and quirky, but he holds that back and turns it into this charismatic yet manipulative person who is in control of something as minor as his facial expressions and very aware of how each word or movement makes him appear to others.

Barty's chin smacks into Regulus' shoulder, beginning to throb immediately. Okay, I just wanted to point this line out because it felt so realistic, how when things like this happen they're not just cute and adorable, but sometimes a little awkward. :P And hitting one's chin on something is really the worst, and this made me think of that feeling and how painful it is!

Hmm, I really have no clue what is going on with the mystery and the will. I'm not sure if I suspect Bellatrix or Barty, to be honest: they both just seem like too obvious murderers because of the Death Eater connection. Alphard seems a little questionable as well. For now I'm sticking with my house elf theory, especially with the house elf at the beginning who seemed to be up to something suspicious.

let alone his family's library where there are books which bite and scream and make you go blind... The descriptions of the library were really amazing - I liked how the Black library almost feels like the Restricted Section. And the creepy, hand-written children's books... and then the idea of there being secret passages behind the walls - those were some really incredible images and ideas and I felt like I could entirely picture it.

I have no idea what is going on with the vial - maybe it's some sort of poison which was used to kill Cygnus, or truth serum... I really have no idea, but I do think it must have some significance. The fact that it was in a crystal glass makes it all the more ominous.

Another wonderful chapter, I'm nearly caught up now! :D

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Review #38, by LavenderBlue Two of Spades

29th March 2014:
LavenderBlue here with your requested review! I simply adore a good mystery, not to mention the Family Black, so your fic is right up my alley. As requested, I'll be reading through the first three chapters. I thought it'd be easiest to give specific feedback for each respective chapter. I'll include my thoughts on overall development in my chapter three review.

For starters, may I just say what a gorgeous tone you have? Within the first few paragraphs, you've already done an excellent job of introducing a sinister, enigmatic ambiance. "The thud of his cane on the floor like the murmur of an extra, fading heartbeat." I love how you use imagery to enhance what's normally the most prosaic of sounds. It reads like something straight out of Poe. :] Again, a line like this: "the taste of rich red wine is replaced by shock, bland fear and the unmistakeable bitter flavour of death." YUMMY. You have a gift, and you use it so effectively for your story's purposes.

But enough gushing over your prose. On to pacing! You have a beautiful way with words. However, I noticed that, at times, your prose can weigh down the pace. I think that you can easily remedy that situation, however, with some paring. Example:

"It's a slow nod, a sure nod, a definite nod. There's no need for him to say 'yes', for him to affirm it out loud; his very reaction has confirmed it."

All the reader really needs is that first sentence--Pollux's action. The reader takes Pollux's nod for a "yes." The reader knows that Pollux's closed eyes and definite nod have confirmed Orion's suspicion. You've shown all you need to with that solitary nod; no need to explain.

I noticed other similar instances of over-explanation, but pace-blockers like this are easily fixed. In your case, you don't tell instead of show. You just show AND tell. Cut the telling, and you're golden! Storytelling-wise, I think the pace is perfect so far. It's just smaller, sentence-crafting changes like this that can give it some extra pop.

Lastly, a look at characterization. It's early on in the story, of course, but I think you've already done a good job of differentiating your cast of characters. That's no easy feat, either, when you're dealing with the Black Family. As you write, the Blacks work so hard to be "one family, one clan, one wand," and it can be easy to lump men like Orion and Pollux together in one nebulous, vaguely evil and aristocratic personality soup. But so far, you've done a great job of drawing attention to the differences in personalities present.

The best part is, you characterize through the characters themselves and not the narrator. This begins almost immediately, with the varying reactions to Cygnus' death. Narcissa is an emotional mess, Bellatrix is impatient, and Sirius is just uncomfortable. Druella is recovering from shock and Barty is grinning to the Funeral March. That's all it takes. The characters' reactions and their words--or lack thereof--speak volumes. I think that's a promising sign for the rest of this story, and I'm really looking forward to seeing (and giving more feedback about) how you continue to paint the various members of this household.

Strong closing lines. I can't wait to read on! This whole first chapter was chock full of mystery, and you've done a great job of leaving plenty of questions unanswered. As the reader, I get the immediate sense that present company is hiding something, that not all the cards are on the table (hehehe, card pun, couldn't resist). Accusation of murder, discrepancy in the will... Ooh hoo hoo, I'm already beginning to brew some theories. :]

Thanks for letting me review this lovely work, and expect reviews on chapters 2 and 3--with special attention to plot development--soon after this one!

Author's Response: Hey there - thank you so much for stopping by, and I'm so sorry this response is so late - RL has been very busy lately! :)

Gah, thank you so much! I'm so glad you like it - it took me ages to get the beginning right! I did three drafts, and this was the only one which felt right, you know? I actually haven't read much Poe... I should probably at some point - it'll have to go on the list of things to read! I know enough to know that's a huge compliment, though, so thank you! :)

Pacing! Can I just say thank you for being so honest? I know pacing is something I struggle with - even though I've got better, I know it's something I need to be conscious of when I write and something I need to keep an eye on - so it's so great that you've taken the time to go through this and pick up on it! :hug:

I will definitely, definitely go back through this when I have a bit more time (revision and exams, boo) and cut bits like that out! I'd never really thought of it that way - though I always try to show rather than tell... I'd just kinda missed that a bit, I think. Thanks so much for pointing it out! :)

Ah, thanks you! It was such a weird thing to think when I approached it - having to give them all distinct personalities and all, and developing the relationships between the different characters... yeah, they all can be kinda similar - particularly in looks! - but I'm glad you can tell the difference between them! Ofc it does become more obvious throughout, particularly with the less-known characters...

I do try not to have the narrator tell the differences, if that makes sense. I prefer using actions/reactions to do it... I'm so glad you like it, though! I wasn't quite sure if it would be enough as it was, tbh, but it seems to be alright!

Haha, don't worry about that - you have no idea how many I make to myself whenever I plan/write this! I find myself having to delete some occasionally because they're just terrible... I'm so happy you thought there was enough mystery - and yeah, there's really a lot of secrets floating around! ;)

Ooh, theories! Exciting! :)

Thank you so so much for this lovely review - it was such a gem to get and so incredibly helpful! :) Thank you again! :)

Aph xx

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Review #39, by Lululuna Nine of Diamonds

26th March 2014:
Hello! :)

Ahh, it's so bad but I actually did read ahead a little bit after the last chapter and didn't review - this last month has been insane between RL and school! :( But I'm really excited to be almost caught up, I enjoy this story so much.

Oh, poor Sirius. :( I'm not sure if I've said this before, but I really do love how you write him here. In so many stories he's this arrogant playboy, which is great, but this story really shows how vulnerable and mistreated he is, how his unhappiness comes from such a personal and private place. There is so much nuance in every action - kicking the floor to leave a mark, as if he wants to mark the house and prove that he was a member of the family after all while simultaneously destroying the fancy furnishings. The focus on Sirius leaving marks in the house reminded me of the tapestry which he was blasted off of - he wants to leave a mark to prove he existed since they are so quick to vanish him from the family history.

And then the comparison to James' father was quite interesting as well. I liked how Orion doesn't add "do I make myself clear" at the end of his statement - it was so interesting in showing how even though Sirius is the underdog (no pun intended...) of the family, Orion doesn't want to insult the family honour or pride in his own spawn or something by implying that Sirius is stupid. It's such a complex duality in their relationship.

Well I'm glad Narcissa isn't dead! :P Sad how everybody treats her so delicately, so preciously, while Sirius is both a possession yet also disposable at the same time.

The contrast between Regulus and Sirius is quite interesting. I like how Reg is so polished and held together, and how in comparison Sirius is a bit of a mess, both physically and emotionally. The moment where Reg woke him up was a perfect example of that, and who holds the power in the brotherly relationship.

Alphard! He's so funny, and I like how he's presented as a bit of a goofy character and the Sirius feels that he can safely laugh at him as well as with him. Seeing the exchange of wits with Barty was quite interesting as well - I love how so many people are hinting at some sort of more-than-friendship between Reg and Barty, and how it's a bit of a sensitive subject for Barty. Hmm...and Bellatrix is having a bit of a fit, it seems. She's never quite normal, but I'm very curious about how exactly her head is working.

I do love all the hints of Reg/Barty though, they're quickly becoming head-canon for me! I was actually quite sad that you guys didn't place in the Speed Dating as your stories were some of my favourites! :( (fan girl moment, haha).

Great chapter! :D

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Review #40, by MidnightBlue_x Seven of Hearts

22nd March 2014:
Hi again!

So, firstly. Very mysterious in the first bit there, that makes me think that maybe my theory could be right? Or that could be something completely unrelated...I really have no idea!

Secondly, I absolutely loved the interaction between Bella and Sirius in this chapter. I love how there's obviously feelings of hatred between them, but there's also something else. I really liked seeing that, especially as I think most fics seem to disregard that they are, ultimately, still family.

Even though there isn't much in this chapter, I love the small little interactions between Barty and Regulus. I especially love how Sirius picks up on them and what he believes is going on. So good!

I think the story itself is progressing very nicely. I think developing the family dynamics are just as important as developing the mystery. Well done!

x Ely

Author's Response: Hi there - thanks so much for stopping by again! :)

Ooh, maybe ;) As I said, it is a brilliant theory! But unfortunately, I can't say anything, you understand!

Thanks! I'm so glad you liked it! I've always imagined that Bella and Sirius might have been relatively close when they were both younger, since I always thought they're pretty similar in character, in certain ways, and so I liked having them in a room together and sort of 'ganging up' together. They are family, and I think in a family-bloodline-obsessed pureblood society, that would count for a lot, you know?

Barty and Regulus... yeah, haha. Little things ;) Sirius is picking up on some things, but he really is a bit oblivious, poor boy :P

Gah, thank you so much! I'm really enjoying developing the family relationships and the way they all interact, because it's something which I find really interesting, and really fun to explore so I'm so glad you like it!

Thank you so much for the wonderful set of reviews - they are always so great to get! Thanks again! :)

Aph xx

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Review #41, by MidnightBlue_x Six of Diamonds

22nd March 2014:
I am completely terrible! Really, I am. I'm so sorry that there was such a gap between the last review and this one. I really have no excuse. I'm finally going to finish my reviews today though!

I know I say this every time but I really do love how to write Regulus and Barty. I love them in general, but I just...can't deal, when you write. That kinda sounds like I'm criticising you...what I mean is I love them so much that I can't even put it into words.

I still have absolutely no idea who the murderer is. I can't remember if I wrote this in my last review, but I have a feeling it might be someone outside of the current casts of characters. There's just something that gives me that feeling. As for who that might be, I have no idea.

I'm sorry this review is a little bit shorter and again, apologies for such a late review!

x Ely

Author's Response: Hey there - and seriously, don't worry about it! It's not a problem at all - I completely understand! RL can be such a pain at times.

Gah, thank you so much! Haha, no worries - I love writing Regulus and Barty. They have this friendship and relationship which is so fun to write in this - like, they're so different, but somehow they get along.

Ooh, don't worry about that! I'd be devastated if you did, lol! That is a fabulous theory. I love it. No, genuinely, I do! It's amazing... the cast will be growing a little soon - in a couple of chapters, I think - so maybe that will answer your questions? ;)

It's fine - thank you so much for coming back and thank you so much for the lovely review! :)

Aph xx

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Review #42, by LilyLou Three of Hearts

17th March 2014:
Hi, here for the Ravenclaw Review Battle!

Wow, another suspenseful and haunting chapter. You are wonderful at writing these kinds of stories, I've noticed. You give it a fantastic atmosphere and mood, I just keep wanting to read on.

The suspects. Hmm... Bella, of course, I think could have something to do with Cygnus's death. I wouldn't put it past her killing her own father for whatever reason she finds necessary. Definitely not Narcissa, I'd be shocked. And Reg, I hope it wasn't Reg. Pollux is definitely catching my attention, what with his cool demeanor and rushing to get the Healers there. I suppose that's natural though.. Oh gosh, all the different theories!

I cannot wait to read on and find out more about the murder. This is definitely interesting. Great chapter, yet again!


Author's Response: Hey - thanks so much for stopping by again! :) It's so great to see you coming back, so thanks! :)

Thank you! It's kinda fun writing about old, gloomy houses, with sweeping staircases and annoying portraits :P I'm so glad you like it, though - sometimes I get worried people will get bored with the same setting and all.

Ooh, suspects! Sure it's murder? :P Bella is nuts, that much is definite, haha. So yeah, it's not impossible for her to do something like that. Funny how everyone hopes it isn't Regulus, haha - little, sweet Regulus ;) Don't worry about theories - I love hearing theories! The more the better! :)

Thank you so much for the lovely pair of reviews - they were really great to receive! I'm so glad you're enjoying the story - hopefully you'll stop by again! :)

Aph xx

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Review #43, by LilyLou Two of Spades

15th March 2014:
Here for the Ravenclaw Review battle!

This is so suspenseful and ominous. It have me the chills, listening to them talk about Cygnus as he lies there dead on the floor. You wrote this wonderfully, your details really adding to the dark mood of the story.

I have to agree with Barty when I say that Cygnus was probably murdered. Oh gosh, I wonder who did it! At first I suspected Barty, but now I'm not so sure. Orion gives me the creeps, I have to say.

Ooh, it's so odd seeing Sirius surrounded by all of these people. I cannot wait to see how you write him acting around these evil people! Sirius is often written as a smart-mouth and all of that, being snarky and all that jazz. Will he be like that in this story? Hmm.. The questions!

Brilliant job! I understand why this story won the Dobbys! You've got a great start here, and I will definitely continue in reading this fantastic story!


Author's Response: Hey there - thanks so much for stopping by! :)

Thank you so much! It was a difficult thing to do, getting the start right - I rewrote the first scene about three times, I think, just to try and get it right - so I'm so glad you like it and think it works!

Really? Interesting :P Yeah, Barty is very suspicious... and Orion... interesting idea, that! He is a bit creepy though... then again, I suppose they are all, haha! :)

Sirius is such an interesting character, and I've always found the most interesting relationships he has are with his family - to me, at any rate - so I love writing him in this. He will almost certainly be a bit darker and perhaps moodier than most Sirius's around, but I like to think he's still Sirius! :)

Haha, it didn't actually win the Dobbys - it was TGS Awards - but thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked it - it really is my baby at the moment, so it means a lot! Thanks! :)

Aph xx

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Review #44, by UnluckyStar57 Ten of Spades

13th March 2014:
Yes!! More Bartegulus!!

Of the three sections of this chapter, I think that the Bartegulus section is my favorite. It's actually one of the only times that they've been outside the house, if I remember correctly! However, outside seems to be just as dim and gloomy as inside. I love your use of colors here--or rather, your use of colorlessness--the greens and greys of the world, combined with the mist, definitely indicate that the weather patterns match the atmosphere inside the House of Black.

Also, this was the first time that I saw Barty as a normal boy. Inside the house, he's creepy and sinister, a real devil when it comes to stirring up controversy. Outside, he becomes more playful and, it would seem, a bit nicer to Regulus than he has been up to this point. I saw Bartegulus emerging in the last chapter or the one before that, but in the solitude of the mist, I actually LIKE it. Before, I saw it as threatening and creepy because of Barty's penchant for being that way, which it might still turn out to be! With a nicer Barty comes a more pleasant scene.

It's really adorable that they sort of knocked into each other and ended up in a... um... compromising position. Reg's blush, Barty's footpreint-following, the grabbing of hands--all were pretty cute. Well, as cute as a Black and a Crouch can get--after all, Barty still may have dubious motives for flirting with Reg! But here in the outside world, I totally ship them. I am by no means an expert on the art of writing slash, but I think that you made their relationship seem very realistic: how they seem like pretty close friends in the presence of other people, but they have a different sort of relationship when they're alone.

Bellatrix's arrival kind of ruins the little scene, though (thanks, Bella...). Now Barty becomes a "did he, didn't he?" character again, and I'm still not sure that he didn't have at least SOMETHING to do with the murders. I think it's really funny that Bella, instead of choosing to ask why the boys are rolling about together, asks why Barty automatically assumed that Cygnus was murdered.

And of course, the last line of this section was like a punch line: ""Okay," he agrees blithely. "Shall we go in now? I'm getting cold and my socks are wet."" The little twerp!! I love how this line contrasts with the rather serious material of Bella and Barty's previous conversation. :)

Okay, I've spent A LOT of time on that section... I'll try to balance that with the other two.

So the elder Black men are holding council about the will. Alphard, in contrast to Pollux and Orion, is rather boisterous in his movements and speech. It seems to be rather jarring for the other two, who are reserved and calculating! The big question (to me, anyways) is: What is in the other two boxes? Pollux pockets the will that Alphard gives him, but why does he have two other identical boxes? Do they contain alternate versions of the will? Perhaps those wills (provided that they exist) are forged?! What is going on?! I definitely need to go back and read from the beginning of this story up to this point--it's been a good while since I started reviewing this story! Actually (I just checked this), March 31st will mark the one-year anniversary of the first review that I left on this story! *ah, nostalgia*

But let's not waste time on that...

The third section introduces EVEN MORE MYSTERY to the already-mysterious events!! This is incredible! When you tie up all of the story threads at the end of this story, I am going to be shocked and amazed by your genius-ness! Sirius, because he can't be still for more than five minutes without dying of boredom, goes to the library. *big shock!* The storybook that he finds sounds incredibly scary. Like, what does that do to a kid's mind, to hear those haunting tales night after night?! "Here, sweetie, let me tell you a bedtime story about thorns and poison and blood." Yep, that's a happy childhood memory. Perhaps that's why 100% of Blacks seek psychological help in the afterlife: they were traumatized as children. :P

I really think that the pinkish stuff in the vial is poison. What else could it be--pink lemonade?! Nope. That's something that the Blacks hate, because it actually brings happiness to people. There's definitely going to be a plot concerning this vial, I know it!! Objects in mysteries are supposed to hold extra significance, right? So this vial... OMG, MAYBE IT'S THE ONE WITH THE POISON THAT WOUND UP IN CYGNUS' DINNER!!! ...Sorry, I only JUST put that together in my head. But yeah, that's my prediction! We have found the smoking gun, and it's going to raise Cain!!

So, when I read your chapters, I get so caught up in the beautifulness of the prose, and then when I write the reviews, I forget to mention how lovely your sentences are.

I particularly loved this sentence: "A wind starts to pick up, soft fingers playing with the ends of Regulus' hair, longer than perhaps it should be, and Barty feels his scarf unravelling from around his neck, being stretched out in the space behind him." It's like the wind is another character in itself, and that's pretty darn magical!! Your writing style is delightful to read.

Oh yeah, and don't think I forgot about the mysterious house-elf at the very beginning of the chapter! Amidst all of the other hullabaloo, he/she almost got lost in the fray, but not forgotten! Was he/she playing in the flowers? I don't think so, but I have no earthly idea what he/she was doing. Or his/her identity, for that matter. Perhaps it was Kreacher?

All of that being said, I would like to add that I am very disappointed that this chapter has zero reviews, as does chapter 10. I feel that people might have something to say about all of the stuff that's happening!! So I hope you don't mind my mammoth review! I want to give credit where credit is due!

Out of space.


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Review #45, by toomanycurls Nine of Diamonds

7th March 2014:
The idea of Bellatrix slapping Sirius just seems incredibly awesome to me. I can picture it in slow motion with all the hate and drama going into it and the shock afterwards. I love the imagery of the black scuff mark on the floor - how perfect with Sirius having been a stain on his family tree.

I like the reference to James' father doing a talking to. Generally people write that James had free reign and never got any discipline but this small comment makes it clear that there was structure in the Potter household.

Oh god, I just want to hit Walburga. I've read a lot of stories where Sirius is quite abused at home and while you're not showing that here I get a vibe of dark punishments.

I do like that, despite his dislike/hatred of the family, the idea of accidentally killing his cousin weighs on him greatly. I mean, it'd be a bit disconcerting if he were excited about the prospect of offing her, but I would understand indifference to her pain.

Of course Remus is the voice of reason in his head! Go WolfStar!!

Tell me more about Sirius changing clothes. Were pants involved? :D

I'm incredibly curious about why he needs to be presentable...

Ooh, I really like how you've described Alphard. I like to think he has to be a decent guy to have helped Sirius out when he left home. I thought your comment about being brothers not meaning much was a great parallel to Sirius and Regulus.

Barty seems oh so oily and annoying. He can really turn on the charm when he wants to. I love Alphard even more for calling out the strangeness of having Barty at a family-only event. I really liked their banter back and forth (especially the biting comment).

The ending to this chapter was amazing! I'm so glad you had Alphard mention Barty/Regulus as their reactions kind of give away their relationship. Regulus' reaction to Barty's little rage was hilarious.


Author's Response: Hey there - so great to see you back again! :)

It is a strangely awesome image, haha! You feel kinda bad about it because it is slapping someone, but ah well :P It's a very emotive, sudden thing - slow mo would be very cool! I honestly didn't think of that when I wrote it, tbh, but I do love the idea when people point it out to me!

Yeah, I wanted to put it in for a whole bunch of reasons - because people see James as such a free spirit but his parents must have told him off at times, and also because Sirius goes to stay with them afterwards, so I wanted to show the difference between them.

She isn't the best mother, that's for sure! I actually really disagree with the idea of Sirius being abused at home, haha, so that wasn't quite what I was going for with this, but they're not exactly the normal sort of punishments you'd get, perhaps. Harsher and longer.

Thank you! I know I portray his relationships with his family different to a lot of other stories, but I can't imagine that even if you didn't like your family, you'd want to kill them. Besides, Sirius isn't much of a killer!

Haha, it's mostly coz Remus is the only sensible Marauder! But feel free to read WolfStar into it if you want! (Though it's unlikely there'll be more of Remus in future, sorry!)

Haha, yeah, there were :P

I find it kinda ironic that you say that since in my head Alphard is just as bad as the rest of them, haha. Though there wasn't all that much of him in this so far... But yeah, helping Sirius out is a fairly nice thing to do... the brother thing.. I think it's both a parallel and an opposite, if that makes sense, because Sirius at least wants to have a good relationship with Regulus, whereas Alphard sort of couldn't be bothered.

Barty is kinda annoying :P He's so much fun to write though! Yeah, I kinda included it because people had remarked on it in reviews, so because I can't answer 'why' yet, I included it :P The banter was so great to write! Ooh, sure there's a relationship? ;) Alphard is definitely trying to stir things up, though, but their reactions definitely aren't exactly screaming 'no', haha!

Thank you so so much for the review - I really loved it! Thank you! :)

Aph xx

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Review #46, by Pixileanin Four of Clubs

22nd February 2014:
I love the set up you have in this chapter, the person crouched behind the painting, eavesdropping on what is clearly supposed to be a private conversation. Immediately, I want to know who it is, and more importantly, if she's going to be found out or if she gets away with overhearing them.

The thoughts in Sirius' head about how he looks at the people around him as unreal, that says a lot. It's almost like he knows they're all faking something, calmness, acceptance, anything. There's no emotion in the room. And the breathing thing. I guess when you're forced to sit around in silence, there's nothing much to do except breathe. So it makes some kind of morbid sense.

"Bella is just making absolutely certain that its' dead, like the sadistic cow that she is."

Really great characterization here! And I love how the description from Sirius' point of view isn't just pretty pictures. It says so much about him and how he's feeling in the moment. That's what great description does. It pulls you further in and locks you into the story.

And oh! What just happened in that last scene!?! What has she done?

There was a lot of underlying tension in this scene. So much that it could be cut with a knife. And then to top it off with that last bit, I'm sitting on the edge of my seat here. Your writing was just so beautiful in this. Everything was placed so well. I really enjoyed this chapter!

Author's Response: Hey there - thanks so much for stopping by again! :)

I'm glad you liked it - though unfortunately, you won't find out for a long while, haha, sorry! But yeah, it's a pretty private conversation... eavesdropping isn't great :)

Ooh, yeah, Sirius is such a fun character to write with his family! Like, it's so interesting what he thinks about them, and then how he feels/acts around them, because it's such a complicated set of relationships... and there is this sort of fake calm around. I'm happy you like the breathing reference! :)

Gah, I'm so glad you like it! Yeah, there's not much going on which is particularly pretty, though, haha.

Ooh, couldn't say :P

Thank you so so much! I'm so happy you like this and how it's going, and I always love receiving your reviews because you pick up on so many things and it's wonderful, so thank you! :)

Aph xx

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Review #47, by Lululuna Eight of Clubs

22nd February 2014:
Hello! :)

I lov how Sirius-centric this chapter is! Hmm, I'm a little suspicious about that note, and I'm not surprised that the adults weren't particularly curious about it. But if there is something going on between Barty and Regulus, then maybe Barty is attacking the family members to protect Regulus and get them away from Reg? We do know that Barty doesn't have a problem with killing his own family in the future... :P

I loved the suspense of the first scene though, and thought for a moment that Regulus really was the killer and Sirius was accusing him! Ah! It's interesting how if there is a killer, there's a good chance it's one of the adults in that room, but Sirius still goes to them anyway. Even though he's estranged from his family he still acts like he thinks the adults know best.

I loved the descriptions here of the house, and especially of the portrait of a woman who was indignant about Sirius. Her not knowing what a rude hand gesture might mean made me laugh. :)

The relationship between the brothers is so intriguing and upsetting. I think Sirius' behaviour towards Regulus and Reg's feeling of being abandoned and ignored fits very well with what we know from canon and how Sirius spoke about Regulus to Harry. This feels like the sort of rift which could inspire that sort of memory of his brother. I thought the fight was so realistic and a little terrifying in how Sirius said he hoped the killer got him next - that seems like one of the ominous statements which is impossible to take back, and I'm a little worried now. Regulus calling Sirius a ... word that starts with a B which I'm not sure I'm allowed to write ... was strangely perfect as well since that word symbolizes an illegitimate child or someone who is related and not really part of the family so it's kind of a double-fold insult which I loved.

Uh oh, I hope Sirius won't get in trouble for hurting Narcissa, even if it was an accident! I'm a little suspicious about this accident as well: it's almost as if there was someone else there in the way, maybe setting up Sirius to look like he's hurt Narcissa.

Oh, another thing I loved in this chapter was the mention of Lily and James! It was the perfect reminder. :)

Another great chapter, thanks for swapping with me! ♥

Author's Response: Hey there - thanks so much for stopping by, and for the swap! I really love swapping with you - you're such an amazing writer! :)

I'm glad you like seeing a lot more of Sirius! It's strange, but whenever I have a chapter where he's not in it less than usual, I feel almost like I've cheated on him or something, haha. Like I've neglected him :P The note is definitely suspicious - but don't worry, you'll find out soon (I promise!)! Ooh, that's a good theory! I like it! Kinda like a weird, defensive honour-killing type thing? Barty's definitely weird enough and creepy enough for it...

Haha, I'm glad I confused you! I tried to write it to be confusing... not wanting to give anything away... :P Yeah, it's strange, but a bit of that residual childishness in him - he wants someone almost to tell him how he should react. Like, he's still young and they're two people he looked up to when he was a child, and it's this sort of panic...

Haha, yeah, Sirius even manages to offend the portraits in the house :P It's something of a talent, I think!

Yeah, it's really upsetting, and it was a pretty hard scene to write! Just so difficult to find the things they would never normally say, but would only say when they're angry - which aren't quite true, but sort of are, you know? And yeah, the fight really wasn't great! It is a really ominous statement - really cruel, too - but I couldn't say more, you understand :P I never thought of that other meaning, tbh, I was just looking for a word which wouldn't sound strange from Regulus' mouth, haha, but I love it more now you've pointed it out! :) (I just wish I could say I'd thought of it)

Hm... well, he did/n't knock her down the stairs, so... who knows? :P All will be revealed soon!

Omigosh, I forget about his friends, haha! But seriously, I go 2/3 chapters and then remember I haven't actually mentioned them for ages. So I have to find a place to slip them in... :P

Thank you so so much for this review - I really loved it, as I love all your reviews! And thank you for the swap - it's always so great swapping with you! :)

Aph xx

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Review #48, by toomanycurls Eight of Clubs

21st February 2014:
Poor, poor Sirius. He's going to his elders in good faith and is completely disregarded as a credible person with valid concerns. I mean, he's not articulating himself very well but they seem to disregard him completely. :(

I'm kind of glad I'm working at home. I laughed quite loud onced I worked out what seen-ee-mar was! you don't use a ton of humor in this but when you do it's incredible!

Hmm, Pollux's reaction (the slight smile at the paper) is a bit weird/suspicious. I do think it's a bit nice he tried to praise Sirius for his concern for Regulus. Though, I can't help but think it's all to obvious that Regulus is the favorite child. It's subtle and well excecuted but must be so obvious to Sirius. It's quite interesting that Orion is willing to show interest in the parchment after Sirius is dismissed. I feel like you've told us so much about Orion in just the few setences you use to describe him (especially thinking too fast for his mouth)

Oh I laughed so hard at "It is an office, Sirius," Orion says coldly. "Not Azkaban"

Partially because it was funny and partially because of the lovely irony in that statement as Sirius managed to escape from Azkaban. Though, it feels like a phrase wizards would use.

I really loved Sirius going to find Regulus (again). Regulus is quite astute to question his presence as they hardly interact. Their conversation about who's been ignoring who was sad. It's clear they're both bothered by the alienation but have drive a wedge so deep between them that neither want to try to make it better. I did get a bit lost in their shouting who was yelling when but the dialogue was brilliantly written. The entire time I was chanting fight! fight! fight! so I was glad when Regulus lunged at him. Oh no! What's happened to Narcissa!?!?

Incredible chapter!


Author's Response: Hey there - thanks so much for stopping by! :) It's so great to see you come back to this!

Yeah, it's really horrible! He trusts them (oddly enough, haha) and wants them to help him, and thinks they will, and just gets ignored and shut down. It's not great. Particularly since they're people he does kind of look up to, in a way, so it's sort of doubly worse, if that makes sense?

Haha, sorry? :P I can do humour - very little bits of humour, but some! Yay! I'm terrible at humour, honestly, so I'm glad you laughed!

Is it now? :P Haha, sorry, but I really can't say anything! He doesn't want Sirius to feel terrible, if that makes sense. He wants to let him down gently - strange for a Black, but whatevs :P Yeah, it really is so obvious Reg is the favourite. It's not really his fault, or Sirius' either - there will be a point where some of the favouritism will be explained (I have something planned ;D). I'm so glad you think he's come across well - I know people have a lot of different opinions of him, and I kinda like him as a character, so I kinda wanna make him grow a bit more and develop, you know? So I'm glad that came through!

Haha, yeah, I had to include the phrase when I thought of it :P

Regulus is actually pretty clever, and he knows Sirius better than the later would perhaps think or want to believe. It was a really sad conversation and actually pretty hard to write - I'm an older sister myself so it was sort of writing the kind of argument I would never want to have with my sisters, you know? Strange... I think a lot of their problem is their combined pride and bitterness. It's an incredibly bitter, almost jealous relationship, I think, so I tried to show that with this. It had kinda been building up for a while, really, and I wanted it to at least get close to a proper fight and all, even if it never quite got there :P

Ooh, Narcissa! You'll find out soon, don't worry! ;)

Thank you so much for this wonderful review! It was such a great thing to receive - thank you! :)

Aph xx

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Review #49, by MidnightBlue_x Five of Spades

21st February 2014:
Sorry that this took a little bit longer than expected. With speed dating and real life, it all got a little crazy there. Anyway, I'm here to review these chapters for you today.

Usually, I sort of take notes for each review while I read, but I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't notice I hadn't written anything down until I'd finished the chapter. And this is probably my third or so reading of this chapter alone. I think that's evidence enough that your mystery is working. I don't really like trying to work out who the murderer is in stories because I think sometimes you can ruin it for yourself, but I don't even know who is innocent in this situation. Okay, so I can't imagine it being Narcissa, but who knows?

I love how you write Regulus. I think the fact that he is so disturbed by his aunt's body really suits him. I know he's close to the age of becoming a Death Eater here but I can't imagine him ever really being 'fine' with death. I think what you've written here supports that, and while others may think differently, I think that he's perfect here- after all, he is only a child. I still love the presence of Walburga and Orion, I especially like how they do care about Regulus in their own way. People often write them as being completely cold to everything, so it's nice to see them like this.

As for the pacing, I think this chapter and the story up to this point is fine. The story is only really starting at this point and going to quick would destroy the mystery of it all as would going to slow. I think at this point, the story still has a unsure tone to it- none of the characters really know what's going on, so the pace suits it perfectly.

I'll see you in the next review!

x Ely

Author's Response: Hey - and no worries! I totally understand - speed dating was amazing! So many brilliant entries! :)

Ooh, cool - that's a good thing, right? :P Thank you so so much! I'm so glad you're confused (if that's not mean to say, haha) since it really helps. I'm honestly so terrible at knowing what people will get and what they won't put together, you know, so it really helps for you to say something like that!

Regulus is a child - I think that's a pretty significant thing when I write him here. He's fourteen/fifteen here, so he's close but he's still so young and naive and yeah, I can't imagine him ever just being fine with death either. Gah, yeah, I remember Sirius said in the books, or implied at least, that Regulus was Walburga's favourite, so I kinda played off of that in their relationship, and Orion does care, really, about both of his sons, he just really has no idea how to show emotion at all :P I'm glad you like them, though - they're strange but fascinating characters to write! :)

Thank you so much! I'm always so nervous about pacing because I know I'm just really slow, haha, and it's something I'm trying to improve on so it's so great to hear that I might be starting to succeed with that! :)

Thank you so so much for this! I always love receiving your reviews - they're such gems each time! Thank you! :)

Aph xx

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Review #50, by Lululuna Seven of Hearts

18th February 2014:
Hello! :) Ahh, I'm sorry for taking so long to get here! Dogs and pizza and people dropping in got in the way. :P

I have absolutely no clue what is going on at the beginning - who is the man?? What are the scrolls?? Why is there faux-snakeskin?? Of course, all this mystery is a good thing. I love the descriptions, as usual, and how mysterious and vague all of the clues are.

A flick of his wrist, wandless this time, and the sparks leap a foot high, morphing into crackling flames, lighting the whole room up as they consume the parchment. Ee I loved all the descriptions of burning the parchment and how you wrote it. And this guy can do wandless magic as well? I'm kind of leaning towards him being Barty at this point, but time will tell (well, maybe :P).

I always feel so sad for Sirius in these chapters and how he's an outsider in his own family. The idea of him taking refuge in the drawing room and lounging there to be alone is so vivid and so sad. Hmm, the house elf popping in and out was a little mysterious. This might suit my hypothesis that the house elves were commanded to commit the murders and that perhaps they're keeping an eye out for whoever was raiding the study.

Well, he's a bit creepy, to be honest, and I don't really like him, but. Haha, this made me laugh as well. Poor Sirius, being bullied by Bella... the whole exchange was a little funny however. Until THIS:

While he doesn't want to believe that she would - because she certainly could, if she can kill others - kill members of her own family, he can't be sure. Oh, no, the irony! :( Poor Sirius, if only he knew. This was so clever of you, and I love the examinations into Bella's character and how she balances loyalty. Here, she does feel like she would want revenge on somebody who hurt her family, but I also liked the suggestion that she wasn't quite sane. Maybe her parents dying and seeing their bodies has driven her a little mad as well.

Of course Sirius would be the first to eat - he is a Gryffindor, after all, and I like how he is trying to shock them a little. I love how you've written him here, how he compares having dinner on the holiday with being at Hogwarts, and how he's so concerned yet trying to keep things light at the same time.

Ahh, what's in the letter?? I'm so excited to read on, this is so suspenseful!!

You did a wonderful job with this as usual, I love how vivid your writing is and how it perfectly evokes that creepy mystery feeling. Amazing job, and hopefully I'll be back for the next chapter soon! :)

Author's Response: Hey there - and no problem! Pizza is definitely a priority one, haha ;) Not much you can do about people or dogs, either :)

Haha, good! :) I'm so glad you're confused - it means it's actually worked! :) It will all be revealed at the end, I promise, but it is something important. Ooh, the guy - Barty is a really interesting choice! ;) And yeah, I liked writing that scene, with the fire and wandless magic and all... I've barely used any magic in this, haha, so it was nice to include it!

Yeah, Sirius is something of a loner in the house. Part of it is self-imposed, but so much of it is just this rift between him and his family and it is really sad, you know, for all of them? The house-elf... yeah, I like the house-elves! They're surprisingly useful characters to include, haha - but yeah, they can definitely get around places others can't and do things others can't. No idea if that gives you anything... ;)

It is kinda like bullying, isn't it? :P Like a child being told off by a teacher or something... poor Siri!

Yeah, I've tried not to include too many 'spoiler'-ish things because it might be a bit weird, but I just had to include that one! And yeah, if only! But I don't think it would really make it any better if he did know. I've always thought of Bella as a really loyal person, perhaps surprisingly so, so I kinda wanna play on that a bit - there's more coming up soon too ;) She is a little mad... innate tendency, perhaps? :P I'm so glad you like it, though - I wasn't quite sure how people would take it...

Haha, yeah, of course! He's probably the boldest and least paranoid out of all of them - which doesn't really say much for the rest! I'm happy you still like him, though - that scene was so much fun to write!

The letter... ah, yeah, well you won't have to wait too long to find that one out ;)

Gah, thank you so so much! I'm so happy you're still liking this, and this review was honestly a really, really great thing to receive so thank you so so much again! :)

Aph xx

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