I love this idea for a story. I remember reading a story about the Black Death when I was very young - maybe about 8 or 9. It's rather interesting.
I also love that part where she is reading Secrets of the Darkest Arts. It makes sense given the situation. And I love the way you make this family seem familiar to us, even though they are OCs living in an era we know nothing about.
SIAN! :) You mad reviewing thing, you... so I'm stopping by on this because I read it a while back and never reviewed it, which I've been trying to be less bad at, so I'm here to make it up to you :P
You write everything well, but I do always love it when you write angst, because you have this real gift of digging out these uncomfortable, sombre emotions and putting them across so well and so vividly that I can feel them too and make me really sympathise with your characters, and as nothing you ever write is an exception to this rule, this was just heartbreaking.
I love Mara - the way she has this real love for her family, the way she lives among Muggles, with a pureblood husband who disdains them but likes to listen to their gossip nonetheless, the children who like to play in the village with the other kids, completely oblivious to everything going on above them. How she's so alone once they're all gone, how she buries them herself and carves the headstone, how she wastes away once they're not there, and seems to forget at times, that they're gone and how she counts the chairs to know they're not there, imagining them there, remembering the things they used to do. It's so devastating for her, and it really kinda brings out the real horror of the black death, and it makes her final, desperate attempt to bring them back, to use that kind of magic, so realistic and so logic, but so ultimately fruitless and devastating. Like, she can't even scream or sob out loud at the end, she just mouths nothing and cries, and she's so helpless in front of the disease, Muggle and awful.
Gah, despite all the horror of it, I love all the little details in here: the mentions of the things her family did when they were alive, how her heritage is a sore point in her marriage, the way she remembers them doing certain things when she thinks of them, imagines them still there. Those little things just make this come alive and make it so much worse that she loses them, and make the emotions that much sharper, yk.
You're so evil, killing them all off like that. I'm almost proud :P
But no, in all seriousness, this is a wonderful, wonderful one-shot, and I'm so glad I'm saving the more light-hearted one-shot for last :P
Hi Laura! Ah, you don't have to make it up to me at all <3
Ah, the fact that you think I'm good at writing angst and conveying the emotions well makes me so, so happy! I love writing it and I always find it easier to write than fluff (surprise, surprise) but it means a lot that you enjoy reading it!
Mara was a really interesting character to write - the prompt for the story was pretty open-ended and it was so fun picking out the historical setting and writing all the details around that - the plague, the interaction between the Muggle and magical communities, the way that she lost everything and the only way she could think of dealing with it was trying to get them back in the only way she knew how. I think it really shows that magic can be so powerful for so many things but when it comes to facing the most difficult things in life - grief and love and everything in between - it can't do much at all.
Thank you so much for this lovely review <3
Sian, this story is phenomenal... as is everything you write.
First of all - and I know this is really the least important aspect of the story but even this is great - the historical settting. I just loved seeing a magical storyline set at this point in time, and how the plague would have affected magical folk - clearly they were not immune to it. And because magic has its limits, they suffered the loss of their loved ones just as much as Muggles, if not more, actually, becuase for a moment Mara thought that she really could get them back, and having that hope and then losing it again is probably harder than never hoping in the first place.
I liked the way you described the societal structure, since this is before the Statute of Secrecy, and how Muggles and magical people sometimes interact, but in the case of the Macnairs, they just don't. I think it makes sense that the separation between Muggles and wizards was happening for a while before it actually became a law.
Most of all though, this story focuses on Mara's emotional state so well and is just heartbreaking. The way you describe the hole left in her heart, the way she feels that aloneness as a weight, it's all so real. And your descriptions are absolutely stunning. This one:
Bone-white fingers run over the black ink, words buzzing up through her arms and tingling into her brain, her cracked lips wrapping around the words. -- That's so good. I love the way your words are so evocative and how you focus on such particular details, it really brings the scene to life. (Pun not really intended, but I'm going to leave it there. :P)
Anyway, this is an incredible story. Great job.
I absolutely love writing stories in an historical setting, so I try and do it at almost every opportunity I get. The chance to write something about a mysterious witch who'd dabbled in necromancy proved perfect for that sort of setting. The plague is so interesting to think of in a wizarding context - we know witches and wizards tend to live longer than the average Muggle, and therefore you'd assume that they have some immunity from our diseases and epidemics, which made it even more difficult for Mara to process when she lost all of her family. The societal structure was so important to include for me to try and emphasise that distinction.
I'm so glad that you thought I managed to convey the emotions well, and that the words were evocative. That's so much more than I could have hoped for when I was writing this so quickly. Thank you for the lovely review! <3
Sian! I'm here for the flurry from Azkaban, and omg, I thought I had reviewed this at the time.
You killed it with this fic. You absolutely killed it. You captured two things really, really well: the dynamic between wizarding families and Muggles when the former remain insular (as opposed to merely secretive about their powers), and what it's like to be the last person left standing. Epidemics are so horrifying because they absolutely do have the capacity to wipe out entire families - and they often do. Being the only person left standing is such a horrifying thing, and I can understand why it would lead someone to take drastic measures and really re-evaluate what the right choice in a morality tale like that of the Deathly Hallows. That Mara ended up just making the situation worse for herself in heartbreaking - and I'm really, really curious about what kind of spell she used to have that effect, if it's something you're ever interested in exploring further!
Amazing job, as always.
Eep, thank you! I don't remember much about writing this story except I think I wrote a bunch in a couple of weeks, and coming up with plots for all of those was probably pretty interesting. I'm so pleased you liked what I did with the Mara the Mute prompt, though - and the way that Mara was led to her foray into necromancy, because it was the only way she felt like she could recover everything she'd lost. It's so horrifying to be the last person standing after an epidemic which has wiped out everyone you love, and I wanted to try and humanise Mara - have her trying to regain something she loved rather than just becoming involved in necromancy for the power it can offer her. I'm so glad you liked this!
Thank you very much! <3