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In his four-poster bed in the Slytherin dormitory, Regulus Black burned. It had started out as the kind of jitters you got from drinking too much coffee; it had plunged into a fever that left him with beads of sweat pearling on his forehead; and now it had progressed towards the stage where anything that touched his bare skin immediately caught fire.

Narcissa, in an uncharacteristic gesture of thoughtfulness, had cast flame-proofing charms on his pyjamas and bed-clothes. But she couldn't do anything about the fever. Nobody could. Thoughts streaked their way across the hot darkness in his head like forks of lightning, bringing temporary flashes of illumination – brief moments of certainty, where every truth about the world was laid bare before him – followed by what seemed like centuries of dark, sweaty confusion.

And there was no cool, ministering hand pressed to his forehead anymore. Narcissa had wisely withdrawn her hand when she'd seen him set fire to the sheets. Burns would not go well with her carefully-cultivated pallor. But she was still hanging around. Regulus didn't know why. A sense of remorse seemed too much to hope for, but she sat silently by his bedside, bringing him glasses of water that bubbled in his hand and steamed at the touch of his lips.

She looked… different. Paler than usual. When she passed him the glasses of water, he couldn't tell where her hand ended and the glass began.

And Kreacher, who came straight from Grimmauld Place to deliver a cold compress twice a day, had started referring to them as 'Young Master Regulus and his invisible nurse-maid'. Puzzling as the 'invisible' part was, Regulus was sure it was the 'nurse-maid' that would annoy Narcissa most.

The fever had brought hallucinations. And the hallucinations had brought company. There were two of them – if you didn't count the fading, pouting spectre of Narcissa. The worst one was standing, motionless, at the end of his bed, in the shape of Euphorbia Coren.

She looked exactly as she had on the night she died, down to the last detail. Every bead of sweat on her forehead, every crease on her blouse, was achingly familiar to him from his nightmares. Her magic – because she was the quintessential Ravenclaw – took the form of a tiara, which glimmered on top of her bowed head and threw her accusing eyes into shadow. She wouldn't speak to him. Perhaps she wouldn't have been so terrifying if she did.

But, because there was still a spark of life left in him, wretched as he was, Regulus had hallucinated a protector. His little Catherine-Wheel, the muggle-born toddler he'd seen on the corner of Oxford street, was standing beside his bed (she had to stand on tiptoes to see over the mattress), and giving him a gummy smile.  

She had a button-nose, and her mittens were dangling from her sleeves on lengths of string. Regulus found the sight of her unspeakably comforting. She symbolized a time before potions and politics and pure-blood had messed up his life forever. He'd always been good with children, in a reckless kind of way. He swung them round, told them stories, made them giggly, hyperactive and excited, and then let the parents deal with them while he slunk off to the nearest pub for a drink.

He supposed the sight of Narcissa was comforting, too, but there wasn't much to see. Only the watery outline of a pair of elegant shoulders. She tutted every time one of the sixth-year boys stomped into the dormitory, but, otherwise, she didn't seem much inclined to conversation.

The three women were on an ascending scale of dreadfulness too. His Catherine-Wheel-girl was standing closest to him, looking angelic, even with a runny nose. Then there was Narcissa, on the chair beside his bed, still proud and cold and perfect as an ice sculpture – but drooping and transparent, like an ice sculpture that had been left in the sun too long.  And then, at the foot of the bed, the horrible, staring form of Euphorbia Coren. They were like the three ghosts in that Christmas Carol book (a muggle reference of which Narcissa would have deeply disapproved).

And Euphorbia Coren was definitely the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. If he tried to leave the Death Eaters now, he would die on his knees, just like she had, in front of a crowd of former-friends who were baying for her blood and queuing up to step into her shoes. Since he was almost certainly going to die of the fever first, he didn't know why that should worry him. But it did.

People came in and out of the dormitory – sometimes walking through the hallucinations, or bumping into Narcissa. Regulus wasn't strong enough to get out of bed, so he had nothing to do but watch. He couldn't have helped watching, even if he was strong enough to lift a house, because their personal problems were deafening. He couldn't believe he had never noticed it before: the way Jen Morgan recoiled whenever someone accidentally brushed past her. The way Margot Holloway tried, and failed, to make friends.

The way Narcissa didn't believe in herself anymore…

Yes, that was probably the worst bit. Even though she was a cruel, manipulative bitch at times, you could melt steel with the force of her confidence. Narcissa's belief in her own superiority was the one certainty in an uncertain world. You could steady yourself against it, hide behind it, or just bask in its reflected glow.

But now, for the first time in her life, she was like a lost little girl.

Actually, the worst part - far worse than Narcissa's crisis of confidence - was that he couldn't give in to his fears in front of the little Catherine-Wheel girl. He felt as though he had to reassure her, even though she was almost certainly not real, and she looked quite serene, chewing her hair and idly swinging those mittens on the end of their strings.

So, one evening, when Narcissa was asleep and unobtrusive in her chair by the bed-side, he leaned over to the little hallucination and whispered:

"Don't be scared. About the ghost at the end of the bed. I'm not."

Catherine just stared at him. Young as she was – and fictional as she was – she could appreciate the irony of a deathly-pale boy with sweat running down his face telling her not to be scared.

"And don't worry about me, either," he went on. "I'm not going to die."

He said this in the Black-family tone of command – the one that had been used to dictate history through the centuries. A stupid little bout of magical overdose couldn't argue with that tone, surely. But Cathy could.

"I think you are," she said solemnly. She had the voice of a child, but it echoed strangely, as though she was speaking to him from the far end of a tunnel. "Or, at least, you are if you don't do anything about it."

Regulus recovered from the surprise quickly. He'd seen a lot of strange things in the past year: normal-sized girls with monstrous shadows, a door that led to the world of the dead. He'd seen Severus Snape let go of his twitchy paranoia, and kiss a mudblood on the end of the nose. Cathy was mild by comparison.

"I think," she went on quietly, "that the magic you stole is smothering you. That's the thing about healers – their magic doesn't like to be cooped up. Circulation is everything."  

She was an uncommonly well-spoken five-year-old. In fact, she spoke like a five year-old Dumbledore. But hallucinations – or angels, or whatever she was – could probably speak in any way they chose.

He was long past expecting an angel. Angels didn't visit the kind of man who dealt with life's problems by snorting powdered dragon scales and rubbing Scintillating Solution into his gums – but maybe that was why they'd sent him an angel with a runny nose. And angels always visited penitent sinners, didn't they? He wasn't so penitent, of course, but he definitely had the sinner qualification. It was the one exam he could have got an 'O' in.  

"I can tell you how to save yourself," she said. "But I don't think you're going to like it."

"You think I like dying?" he asked irritably.

"Why not? It's oblivion, and oblivion is what you're always trying to catch hold of when you drink Firewhisky, or that Elixir to Induce Euphoria."

Unthinkingly, they both glanced towards the end of the bed. 'Euphoria' was a little too close to 'Euphorbia' for everybody's comfort. But the ghost-girl was still just standing there, looming.   

Cathy ploughed on, without giving him a chance to reply. He didn't have time to agree with her, or glare at her, or tell her to mind her own business. Regulus instinctively felt that she wasn't doing this to triumph over him. She wasn't trying to win an argument. She had the subdued, reasonable tone of a girl who was trying to talk him down from a ledge.  

"Have you ever wondered why all that surplus magic doesn't kill Lily Evans?" she went on. "She's much smaller than you are."

"Look," said Regulus, running a burning hand through his hair. "I don't know how to give the mudblood's magic away. I'm not hoarding it or anything. The Black family is never stingy."

"Except with praise."

This time, there was an opportunity for Regulus to glare, and he took full advantage of it. But she didn't seem to mind. You couldn't provoke an angel with hostile eye-contact; she drank it up willingly, as though she was just relieved – in her cautious, reasonable way – that he was looking at her.  

"There's a solution," she said slowly. "If you want it. It's a kind of a penance, but there's no reason why it should be yours. The debt isn't yours specifically. Your forebears accumulated a lot of debts, morally speaking, but there's no reason why you should have to pay them. In life, everyone is connected to everyone else but, at the end of it, each man faces up to what he's done alone. Your portion of this debt is minimal, so far. But, if you wanted to honour your family, I could show you how. You always wanted to be a credit to them, didn't you? It's just unfortunate you never knew that 'being a credit to them' involves doing exactly the opposite of what they did."

"What are you talking about?" he asked, in a hollow voice.

She was frowning a little, as though she thought this was a long shot, but she still went on. "If you wanted a responsibility – if you wanted a test for your strength – you could have it. Because everyone gets bored of luxury eventually, don't they? And besides, where can you find pride in a life that's easy? You could atone for your family's sins. Rather than drinking yourself into oblivion."

She said all this very solemnly, very reasonably. There was no outrage or indignation. And that was just how he'd always thought an angel would be. A real Slytherin angel. No condemnation – because what's done is done – but a reasonable tone, as though morality was just a problem she was trying to work out in her head. As though it was all an academic debate and no lives were at stake.  

"The point is, I can set you a task which would not only stop the healer's magic from killing you, but bring the Black family back to square one. All spiritual debts wiped out. Where you take your dynasty from there will be your decision. I'll even take away your ability to see magic. You'll be a normal person again, in a normal family. And you can decide where to go from there."

"You're talking like I'm the eldest son," said Regulus sullenly. "This should be Sirius's job."

"He won't take it. You know why? Because it's not a particularly dramatic penance. It doesn't involve swords, or prophecies, or pitched battles; well… not unless you want it to. It's very local. More a sign of faith than a quest. You see, even tiny acts of kindness have consequences – far-reaching consequences. And the big acts of heroism that lead to the defeat of evil – well, they're just the last acts in a chain of little kindnesses that can stretch back for years – sometimes centuries. There is a war coming; and its end is going to be determined right here, in this room. You are going to be the source of the victory. Nobody will know, of course – nobody will thank you – maybe you won't even survive to watch your actions bear fruit – but you and I will know. Only you can decide whether or not that's worth it. But do something, Regulus. Choose a side. Make a decision. Stop trying to forget the things you've seen and start thinking about their implications."

Regulus was still processing the beginnings of this speech. "Sirius gets spared all this because he's a pathological attention-seeker?" he demanded. "That's not fair!"

There was no eye-rolling or exasperation either, as there was with every other person he spoke to. She just gave him a sad little shrug and said: "Life is unfair, Regulus. Especially yours."

Short as they were, those two sentences would occupy his mind for the rest of his life. But Cathy didn't tell him that then.

"When you get to the common-room," she said. "you'll find two helpless, lonely, exhausted people. People who need help. All you have to do is look after them. Give them what they need."

"How do I know what they need?"

She looked at him sadly. "You have the instincts of a born healer now," she pointed out. "You stole them."

Regulus said nothing.

"If you succeed," she continued, "the healer's magic won't kill you, and you'll have raised your family's stock considerably." She wiped her nose on her sleeve, and went on: "You'll know when you've done it, because I'll send you a sign."    

"What kind of a sign?"

"Believe me, you'll know it when you see it."

"Can you give me a clue?" he asked desperately, as she started to back away. It was difficult for a girl with a halo of sparks spinning behind her head to fade away, but she was managing it. "A place to start?"

Cathy was silent for a moment, and then shrugged. "Charity begins at home," she said, and vanished.

It was common knowledge that Mr. Burke of Borgin and Burkes had died years ago. But the kind of cultured, refined and – above all – expensive knowledge that Lucius Malfoy possessed said otherwise. Mr. Burke could still be found, if you were important enough to merit his attention.

He lived in a room above the shop known as 'the counting house'. It was where all the most precious and ancient magical antiques were stored. The moisture was always being leached out of the air by a Preservative Charm, and this had had the effect of prolonging Mr. Burke's life by partially mummifying him. They said his heart stopped beating for minutes at a time, and the old man didn't even notice.

Still, he was amazingly well-informed. Borgin consulted him about all the magical artifacts brought into the shop. He was never fooled by a fake. He could identify gold by biting, diamonds by glancing, and curses by sniffing.  (Curses from different eras apparently had different odours. Burke always said the Ancient Egyptian ones smelled of vanilla).

For the other, subtler, charms that might be woven into the fabric of a magical antique, he used alchemical substances to determine their properties. The counting house was lined with workbenches, where pearls fizzed gently at the bottom of beakers full of vinegar. There were sets of scales, magnifying glasses, and little bottles of iron filings and sulphurous yellow powder. They were all covered in a thin film of dust that you instinctively looked away from, because you didn't want to be reminded that this greasy dust was currently coagulating inside your lungs.

Malfoy coughed when he was shown into the room. It was a gesture of politeness, but it was also because, after only a few seconds in the counting house, his throat was starting to go dry. Whatever business you had with Mr. Burke, it was always advisable to dispatch it with speed.  

Burke was – not surprisingly – a wrinkled man. His skin was getting translucent with age, and there was a dry, scraping sound when he licked his lips.

"You come laden with so much gold, Mr. Malfoy, that the floorboards are creaking underneath you." Burke spread his hands in a gesture of welcome. "I do hope it's all for me."

"Bribes are quicker than threats in this instance," Lucius said shortly. "But, believe me, if threats should become necessary, I will not be shy about handing them out. The coronet is my property."

Burke raised a hand to his mouth and coughed. A little cloud of yellow powder emanated from his fist. "Not technically the case, Mr. Malfoy. My associate paid eight sickles for it. He was careful to get a receipt from you."

Malfoy glared at him, and the old man, after some more coughing, swept on: "However, since I understand that you were under the Imperius Curse at the time the sale was made, there may be some dispute about the legality of the receipt in a court of law. But I doubt you would like the matter to be resolved there. In public." He gave Malfoy a shrewd look. "It is fortunate, therefore, that the artifact was stolen from our warehouse. That has saved us an awful lot of tedious negotiation."

Malfoy shook his head. "It was not stolen from your warehouse, Burke. Would you have me believe that the coronet of the Malfoy matriarchs – a two thousand year-old masterpiece of silver and opals – was taken to your warehouse, like a common house-elf head? Shoved in a cardboard box and forgotten about? Credit me with some intelligence. You would have brought it up here. And nobody steals from this room. I believe you still have the mummified remains of the last thief who tried to get in?"

"Fifty years ago," the old man exclaimed, with what looked like a painful, skin-cracking smile. "He is now old enough to be legally termed an antique himself. I'm thinking of selling him to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, as a mascot. You could scarcely have a more eloquent reminder that crime doesn't pay."  

Malfoy, much as he approved of the man's methods, didn't indulge him. His throat was closing up already. His eyelids felt as though they were scraping his eyeballs with every blink. And Narcissa didn't have much time.

"I want to know where the coronet is," he said. "And, if you are not co-operative, the Dark Lord will be most displeased with you."

"I gave him his first job," said Burke, with a cackle. "He owes me a favour – although, Merlin knows, I'd settle for just sitting back and watching him do his work. Very iconic. Exquisite imagery. The Dark Mark is a triumph of emotive design. I think the phrase 'Death Eaters' is a bit vulgar, though. Haven't you ever heard the expression 'you are what you eat'?"  

Malfoy cleared his throat again. "He will not tolerate - ,"

"You are a very good example of what he will and will not tolerate, Mr. Malfoy," said Burke, with a harder edge to his voice. "For him to retain you amongst his followers when you allowed yourself to be put under the Imperius curse by a mudblood argues saintly patience on his part."

Burke swept a speck of dust off his robes and settled back in his chair, apparently satisfied. "As it happens, you were right the first time. I am not at home to threats but business-deals will always find me hospitable. I can tell you how to find the coronet, in exchange for certain other antiques in your collection."

Malfoy's lip curled with distaste. "You are asking me to sell my family's heirlooms to a peddler of cheap, worn-out baubles?"

"Worn-out they may well be, but never cheap, Mr. Malfoy. Never cheap."

There was a silence, while pearls fizzed at the bottom of their beakers, and Mr. Burke's tongue scraped over his lips in a leisurely fashion.

"Borgin will tell you what I require," the old man went on, evidently taking Malfoy's silence for assent. "And don't look so downcast, Mr. Malfoy – you're rich enough to buy them back at twice their value. All I ask is that they pass through my humble hands first."

He extended the humble hands in question, and Malfoy wrinkled his nose. The skin was translucent, dappled with liver spots, and patterned with veins that resembled swirling blue tattoos. He wasn't happy about anything he owned passing through those hands. But his Narcissa was fading – along with everything else he could tolerate about this world – and he could make the old man pay for his insolence later.

Malfoy clasped Burke's right hand, pushing down all his revulsion by remembering decades of etiquette lessons.

"You will find me an extremely inconvenient enemy," he said, with a business-like smile.

"When you are as old as I am, you don't tend to plan for the future so much," Burke explained, with another skin-cracking smile. "By all means, take it out on Borgin when I'm gone. That is what I hired him for."

Severus sank into one of the leather armchairs in the Slytherin common-room and relished the cool shadows on his face. Silence and darkness were so hard to come by these days. Everyone was always screeching and clamouring at him. He had spent most of his school years in a cocoon of murky solitude and he'd thought – in moments of weakness – that he would have given anything for company. But the kind of company he had these days was so much worse than loneliness. Dumbledore wheedled, Elsa whined, and the Dark Lord just threw curses. They all wanted something from him. And the one person he wanted to want something from him was sunk in depression and being stalked by a Quidditch-playing buffoon.

He tried to force his attention away from that. Bruiser would turn the bastard inside-out if he came too near Lily. Bruiser's definition of 'too near' might differ from his own, but Severus was sure they understood exactly the same thing by 'turning the bastard inside-out'. And you could hardly find a man who was more qualified to do it. Bruiser knew how to dismantle people.

He snapped his eyes open, feeling his muscles jolt back into their permanent state of tension. Someone was coming down the stairs. But haltingly, as though they were in two minds about the whole enterprise. Severus realized, with a nauseous feeling, that he'd been holding his wand tightly in his fist all this time. His fingernails had been digging deeply into his palm.

When the door from the dormitories swung open, he peered out from the shadows of the armchair to see Regulus Black stepping into the common room. He was still wearing his pyjamas, and his long, floppy hair was messy in a way that was unpleasantly reminiscent of James Potter.

"Is it a good idea for you to be out of bed?" said Snape, making Regulus yelp with surprise. He was too tired to take any vindictive pleasure in it.

He had been pleased, at first, to hear about Regulus's illness. Slightly annoyed that he hadn't conjured up the malady himself but, Merlin knew, he had enough on his plate at the moment.

But Regulus didn't glide through life the way Narcissa did. He always seemed to be helplessly clinging onto it by his fingernails. It was difficult to glory in the sufferings of a man like that. Still, there could be no doubting that the idiot deserved to suffer. Lily was languishing in the Valance House, with no magic and a bloody Quidditch-playing stalker, and it was all his fault.  

Still, it was difficult to hate someone who looked so plaintively bewildered. He had looked bewildered before the onset of this fever, of course – slinking along with his messed-up hair and his five o'clock shadow, being weirdly enthusiastic, and blinking in bright lights. But now he was a sweaty, messy-haired caricature of all that bewilderment. However much you stared at him, you just couldn't see anything else.

Regulus was visibly trying to pull himself together. He flicked his tongue over dry lips. "I… um… I thought there might be more of you."

"More of me?" Snape asked. "I've only ever been one person, Regulus. And that's fortunate for you, believe me."

Regulus shuffled up to him. Close to, Severus could see the signs of the fever he'd been suffering from. His skin was sweaty, but as white as bone. He looked as though he'd just downed a gallon of Pepper-up potion – which was not unlikely, since this was Regulus.

"What have you been drinking?" Snape asked, knowing that 'drinking' might not be the right verb, but refusing to ask the idiot what he'd been smoking, snorting, or rubbing into his gums.

"Water," said Regulus distractedly. "Although it was mostly just steam by the time it got in my mouth."

"And Dumbledore doesn't know what this fever is?"

Regulus gave him a twitchy shrug. "Magical overdose, but he can't do anything about it. He says he needs Pomfrey." He looked over his shoulder, back towards the dormitory-staircase, and went on: "Look, are you OK?"

"Am I OK?"

"I… uh… I thought you might need help."

Snape glared at him. There were few sentences more likely to raise his hackles than 'I thought you might need help', but he didn't get a chance to shout. Regulus had been leaning against an antique mahogany side-board, and it was now on fire.

"Oh, good grief," said Snape, pointing his wand at the flames. "You know that's over four hundred years old?"  

He cast a charm that starved the flames of oxygen. It was more effective – and more impressive – than 'Aguamenti'. He wasn't going to have idiots like Regulus walking around, thinking he needed help.

"Sorry," said Regulus, running a sweaty hand through his messy hair. "Although my family did donate that side-board," he mumbled, "so, if anyone's allowed to set fire to it, it's me."

He gave another yelp, as a motion in the corner drew his eyes. Severus, feeling his insides jolt into nauseous life again, pointed his wand into the shadows. But then he recognized the short, pointy-eared, grumbling form that was lurking behind Regulus, and tried – painstakingly – to relax his grip on his wand.

It was Kreacher, the Blacks' House-elf. He'd been sent by Regulus's mother to wait on him, as soon as she found out he was ill. Kreacher was a substitute for loving care, which Severus could only suppose Mrs. Black thought unseemly in a pure-blood witch.

"How long have you been there?" Regulus gasped, clutching his chest through sweaty pyjamas.  

"He's always here," said Snape, who felt like lashing out at someone. "Muttering to himself about how one of his masters is dying, and the other one's a disgrace. I thought you were rich enough to afford cheerful house-elves."

Kreacher bowed so low that his pointy nose scraped the floor. "Kreacher didn't mean to frighten Master Regulus," the elf droned, in its cracked and ancient voice. "Master Regulus needs rest."

Severus scowled at it. House-elves had an annoying habit of talking in the third person. It reminded him of Voldemort, and any reminders of Voldemort were guaranteed to set his heart racing.

"Kreacher only wanted to be here, in case there was anything you should need."

Regulus was still clutching at his chest. His voice softened, though. It was strange, watching Regulus Black – who usually shouted and guffawed and talked loudly through every awkward silence – trying to keep his voice down.  

"That's OK, Kreacher. Why don't you… why don't you get me some water, huh?"

Kreacher scuttled off, his face a picture of grateful misery. He didn't use the portrait hole, which was just as well, because he would have walked right into the person who was now hammering on it. Snape and Regulus exchanged glances. It was nearly four o'clock in the morning. But they were both reassured by the fact that the mystery visitor was knocking. Death Eaters and Dark Lords tended to walk straight in.

Snape pointed his wand at the portrait-hole and muttered: "Perspicuo."

It was a charm that turned objects transparent, so they could see who was hammering on the canvas. It was dark out in the dungeon corridor, but there was no mistaking Jonah Valance. The eye-patch always leapt out at you.  

"It's the Valance-boy," Regulus whispered shakily. "You know, they say that, when the goblins were removing his eye, he was glaring at them the whole time with the other one. They say he didn't even blink."

"That would actually have made the goblins' task easier," Severus observed.

Regulus ignored him. He could probably only concentrate on one thing at a time. "We'd better not let him in."

"We don't have to let him in to see what he wants," said Snape, swinging the portrait door open.

True to all the stories about him, Jonah Valance glared. He was not very talkative, but Severus knew the reason for that now. It was because his attention was always divided between the two completely different scenes that his two eyes were showing him. While he was glaring at the Hogwarts students in an unfriendly way, his other eye was off with Elsa, glaring in an unfriendly way at her china dolls, or her little terrier. Severus wondered if he saw the entire world in a kind of split-screen mode.

He took his time assembling sentences but, for some reason, nobody ever talked over him. There was something compelling about that lone, staring eye.

"You'd better let me tell you what I saw when she dropped me," said Jonah abruptly. "I know what's happening in the cellar of that pub. And as soon as Madam Pomfrey knows, she's dead."
Continuing from Resurgam [link]

I'm soooo sorry it's late - I've had a difficult couple of weeks. (They were the opposite of hectic, but they still prevented me from doing anything creative or sociable!)

Cathy first appears in The Silver Lining [link] and Euphorbia Coren first appears (and, in a way, last appears, because she dies! ;)) in The Rise [link]

Thank you for bearing with me, lovely readers! :hug:
Add a Comment:
joeyv7 Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2010
:hug: Glad you're back . . . I always end up being grabbed by your writing, and this is no exception. I've got some catching up to do in this series :reading:
ls269 Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2010
Thank you! :hug: :blowkiss: I'm so excited that you're reading the story! It is crazily long, but always basically about Sev and Lily trying to get along with each other - with varying degrees of success! ;) That's really all you need to know about the plot!
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
Ooh, great opening line - but you left it on another cliffhanger! You just keep me coming back...

I love this one! I know I say that about nearly every chapter, but nearly every chapter seems even better than the last. I feel like you're weaving the storylines tighter together, and things are gaining momentum (as well as time running out for Narcissa and Regulus, at least).
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2010
Yay, thank you so much! It's wonderful to hear that you're still enjoying the chapters! :hug: :) I feel as though I may have bitten off more than I can chew, plot-wise (every character seems to have a separate quest now! :faint:) but at least they're very strong-minded characters, and they probably have a better idea of where the story's going than I do! ;)
FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010
It is very seldom I find an author who captures Lucius' voice as well as you do! I get so much enjoyment out of his articulate, high-brow, threatening quips--and it amuses me all the more, because he is not one of Rowling's most popular characters. (Although what fans he has are very dedicated!)

This bit:
"Bribes are quicker than threats in this instance," Lucius said shortly. "But, believe me, if threats should become necessary, I will not be shy about handing them out. The coronet is my property." just 100% Lucius, exactly the way I envision the character, with his sneering intelligence and authoritative self-confidence. At the same time, his driving motivation to achieve this goal for Narcissa's sake reveals that passionately romantic side of him that adds so much depth to his character. I love how obsessive they are toward each other. I can't get enough of this couple!

Don't worry about taking the time you need to write. I'm sure you've noticed (as I have, and with sadness), that a lot of the HP fanfiction buzz has slowed down, a natural consequence of the passing of time. For me, fanfiction really helped ease the disappointment that the literature phenomenon of my youth finally had come to an end, back when I finished Deathly Hallows and the story was over. Now that fewer people are taking the time to write, it really is a special tribe of fans who still continue, let alone persist in developing a book-length saga like yours. For what it's worth--if the day ever comes when you decide to bring this one to an end, I'll understand--but in the meantime I'll be enjoying every chapter that your muse gifts you to share with us. :) And thanks for including my Malfoys!
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2010
Yay, thank you so much! :hug: Your support really means a lot to me (and I'm glad you like Lucius's sneering dialogue, because it's so much fun to write! :)). How could I not include the Malfoys in this story? I adore them! (Oooh, hey, I don't know if you've seen it, but I bought a commission from one of my favourite DA artists *Achen089 and she painted Narcissa as Lucius imagines her in his family portrait gallery, wearing the coronet of the Malfoy matriarchs and looking all sexy, cold and unimpressed! I love it! You can find it here [link] ).

I agree with you, I felt that fan-fiction helped ease the disappointment of the books ending. J.K. Rowling was so restrained with the details she gave us, and the world she created was so rich, that it seemed as if there was still so much potential there to be explored. I really hope she writes more books set in the Harry Potter universe!
FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2010
That portrait is dazzling! I left a very appreciative comment and am looking forward to viewing the rest of her gallery. What a great companion piece to your chapter!
AnCatDubh Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010
cool chapter. I particularly liked the scene at Borgin and Burkes. The atmosphere was very evocative, and the dialogue well composed (I liked Burke a lot :D). I too would like to see Regulus helping out Severus (well, trying)... I wonder what kind of relationship they had in canon...

I'm so glad Narcissa is getting what she deserves !
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2010
Yay, thank you! :hug: I'm so glad you like Burke, because I'm hoping he'll come back into the story later. For some reason, I enjoy writing creepy, knowing old people with dark senses of humour (like Claudia Black and dear old Idris Mulligan - and to a lesser extent Bruiser, I suppose! ;)) Lucius's quest to find the coronet is going to unearth lots of creepy cockney characters from the underworld of Knockturn Alley!

And hopefully Severus will let Regulus help him. I'd really like him to relax for just a minute and let somebody else comfort him. (I suppose he has done that with Lily, but it's very rare! Poor Sev! :() Thanks again for the comment, I'm really happy you enjoyed the chapter!
Melorik Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2010
Woot! An update.

Yeah don't worry too much about being late. If you've read any George R.R. Martin, it's been five years since he promised his next book... that is late. You just had a minor hiccup, and not even that. As long as you don't stop writing, we're all happy ;).


ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2010
Thanks, Sam :hug: I'm sure I'll get back into it soon. I just need Severus and Lily to be reunited, I think, and then I can write more of their meandering conversations. (Actually, maybe some Sev/Boggart Lily conversations would be preferable, because then they get to shout! ;)) I've never read any George R. R. Martin but I'll try not to keep you guys waiting that long! :giggle:
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Woo hoo, another update! It was awesome.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2010
Yay! :dance: :hug: :) Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it! I'm out of practice, but I'm going to try and lock myself away with my computer and my Snape-playlist in the next few weeks to write the next chapter!
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yea!!! :glomp:
shyfoxling Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2010
Oh, and I was really hoping we'd get to see Regulus doing something interesting and helpful (and curative) to Severus here. Drat.
shyfoxling Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2010
Again, "late"? It's only "late" if you've published some schedule you're expected to adhere to. As there is never any ETA you cannot be "late". And anyone who demands that you satisfy them by writing at least so much per interval should be shown the door and their arse and told to put one and one together.

"And, if you are not co-operative, the Dark Lord will be most displeased with you."

"I gave him his first job," said Burke, with a cackle.

True, that! lol.
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2010
You're right, of course, I just sometimes worry that the story will lose momentum (and the readers will lose interest) if I take too long between instalments. But I'm always worrying about something. Most of the people who know me just learn to tune it out! :giggle:

And yes, it would be great if Sev would let Regulus help him! Hopefully, in a few chapters time...
shyfoxling Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2010
I can't speak to whether you yourself will lose momentum, but it'd only been about three weeks since the last chapter. (Maybe it seems longer to you; I seem to recall having expressed a half-serious request that you slow down so I can keep up!) I can't write stories of the length of a single one of your chapters in a year - don't worry if you can't do it every week. It's not a television show.
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