(Written for March RvG and Gryffie Review Tag)
Hello dearest! While I'm waiting for chapter 29 to come out... not hinting in the slightest... I thought id stop by another of your amazing fics to drop some review love!
The opening of this was brilliant, even the first section when you put into words that Walburga doesn't *really* have an identity. In a way she's just the gatekeeper of her family's values and house until she passes it on. Her soul belonging to the tapestry agh it's perfect and horrid all at once. She's a character that, as you know, has always intrigued me and the way you've started here is just a perfect hook.
Eugh... theres a level of toxic hatred that the Black family just seem to ooze, isn't there? Your descriptions of the house, of her and her daily routine are, there's no other way to say this, beautiful. They creep along and paint this dark picture of the world she inhabits, almost by herself. Her thoughts follow a similar pattern, brainwashed and in pain but still repeating the same words. It's heartbreaking when we know that even after death ehr image will still be repeating this mantra taught to her as a child. She's layered and while shes wrong there's also a streik of tenderness there when she thinks of those she loves, which surprisingly includes Sirius.
Your take on her relationship with him was intriguing, i've never really imagined what she would think after his arrest but here you've shown it perfectly. There would be heartbreak and pain at being left alone, it must have hurt her to think that her son returned to the "family values" only to be locked up while his brother died turning against them.
Lastly the veil imagery... Eugh this was horrid and beautifully written, linking her so closely with the fate of Sirius and linking the black tapestry with the veil, the voices, the souls returning from the dead. The image you create of the souls returning to take the only thing she truly owns, her name, is so tragic. I really do feel for her here.
I am in awe at your talent, as always!
All my love,
Hey there, Abby! I'm back (finally) for our review swap redux. Sorry it took me a few days to meander back here. (Dratted RL always gets in the way of things. Thanks for your patience!)
Anyhow, I liked this piece. It humanized Sirius' mother a bit and gave a bit of insight to her.
My overwhelming feeling after reading this - it would have been far better for Walburga to have married into a family that didn't have the last name Black. Or, if at least, she'd had a different mother. Toujour pur. I can't even begin to explain just how apprehensive that motto makes me feel. (Studying too much on the Halocaust I think.)
It's sad to know that for an old spell book, she basically owned nothing truly hers. Things decribed by who'd originally owned them is poignant because it's everything that surrpounds her. We all like heirlooms, but that was tragic.
I'm glad she had Kreacher for company (that old carmodgeon. He's truly dutiful and loyal.) He takes good care of his mistress.
I feel bad for Walburga. She had to blast her favorite cousin off the family tapestry. Just for marrying a Weasley of all things. It's sad that a society had to be so hung up on a status. But we've basically seen this throughout the ages - and nothing's been learned from history.
(That's the saddest part.)
I like how you've built up Walburga. You gave her a human side, shown her emotions and reasons for doing what she did. Said what she did and cut of those she 'had' to. At the end, I assume she's dying, but maybe she's not.
That's the mystery of it.
Thanks for writing this!
UGH. My heart. It hurts.
Because I can't form words on my own, I am going to focus on answering the questions in your End Notes.
1. Walburga. OOF. You did her justice and then some. I have never liked this woman, but seeing her upbringing first-hand, how she couldn't even see the wedding invitation because it involved her cousin marrying a Weasley... I just... The level of hatred and bigotry in this family is unfathomable. Being raised in such a toxic environment is going to create toxic people. And I can see cracks appearing here and there, moments where she questions the life she is leading, but ultimately, her brain can't function any other way. These ideals are so deeply rooted that she can't escape them--it would be like a betrayal. But then the ending... when she realizes what this life has left her with... UGH MY HEART.
2. Does she earn my sympathy? Ummm... YES YES YES. A MILLION FREAKING TIMES YES. I mean, yes, she could have run away like Sirius or fought back like Regulus and become a hero, but honestly, how many people actually do that? Like--Sirius and Remus are heroes for what they did, because not many would do something like that. You know? And Walburga--it feels like she was just caught up in this mess and trying to please others so much that she lost herself in the process. I really love the darkness vs. light imagery in this piece, by the way. How ironic that her wedding veil is bright white while the tapestry is now dark and smeared with ashes. I wonder if she sees her wedding as the transition from innocent, well-meaning Walburga to dark, stained Walburga. Stained in that she becomes complicit to the crimes of her family.
3. The ending though! I don't think this is her dying moment. It seems more like a turn towards insanity. Now, obviously this is Walpurgis Night and so the dead are coming back to communicate with her, so it's hard to say how much of this is genuinely her family come back to speak with her and how much is her own mind playing tricks. But oh--it is freaking HEARTBREAKING that Regulus is here and re-telling his last moments. As a mother, that made me cry. Literal tears. I know that she can't fully understand what he did or why, because she is still so "in," if you know what I mean, but that she has to imagine him alone, in the dark, and that she still wonders what happened to his body... I am broken. And the tenderness and pride with which she paraded around young Sirius. THIS WOMAN. SHE IS A REAL HUMAN.
Everything about this piece makes me ache. It is so complex, so nuanced. I still blame Walburga for being complicit, but I blame her less now, after reading this. I can't imagine being raised in such a dark family--her only influences were terrible, unhealthy people who in no way, shape, or form should have been allowed to raise human beings. I feel for her. And I want better for her. And I just...
Okay, I'm done. This is beautiful. You are beautiful.
i thought this was certainly an original take on walburga black - i must say i have never read a story about her, and especially not from her own perspective so i have always thought about her like the walburga black from the books - crazed witch obsessed with blood purity who disowned her own teenage son and continued to haunt everyone after she died through her portrait.
the way you've written her doesn't really induce much sympathy from me, not because you haven't written her in a way that might not induce sympathy, because you did, but because when i read about her here, about how she was always only doing everything her family, her mother wanted from her, it made me think she could have known better, she should have, when it came to raising her sons.
walburga is a product of her upbringing, but we see she wanted more for herself, she wanted to continue going to hogwarts, to not be just another housewife, she admired her cousin cederella, and yet, when her own sons showed a similar willfulness, she tried her best to squash it.
the tie-ins with her family you've interspersed in the story really gave an added depth to the walburga who doesn't actually own anything and i thought it was a good way to incorporate that and to truly show the life she's lead.
the ending - i don't think it was her dying moment. i think it was the start of her descent into madness.
your writing is beautiful as always, even when you're writing about a character we may not like!
Hey Abby, I'm finally here with that review you requested a couple months ago (oops)!
I chose this piece to review as I wanted to see what other people came up with for the Anti-Protagonist challenge, and I knew you were doing Walburga Black so, I could only imagine how well you'd spin her character around to be sympathetic. You've done such a great job with this piece too! Honestly, I never really gave Walburga Black much thought besides that she was Sirius & Regulus's mother. What really makes this piece work is your amazing skill with description of settings and also her emotions are very finely tuned here. Even though she's definitely going through a haze with her memory during this day/night, it's off balance enough to also keep the readers on their toes as to what person she might think is in the house next or where she's going to be in the next scene as well. Walburga here seems to exist merely in relation to all of her family members until she decides to reclaim the veil from her wedding day that made her lose her sense of selfness. Her acknowledgement of Sirius is really quite touching here -- even though he was disowned, she never got an explanation from him as to how she had failed him as a mother. And as for Regulus, she doesn't even know where she went wrong wtih him as he truly was a Black through and through. The Walpurgis night element just adds to the mystery around Walburga in this piece and I am honestly just here for it. She knows that her mind is definitely going, but she can't quite figure out if it's her imagining her relatives speaking to her or if it's actually them from the other side. I'm just so happy you made the Black Family Tree tapestry a focal point for this story also -- it's such a neat thing and you really work with it through the various stages of Walburga's life and how it's changed (aka lost its members) over the years.
Overall Abby, a phenomenal job with this piece and I hope you do well in the challenge! :)
Hi Abby! Here for December's RvG Review Battle!
I spied this story last night so I'm really glad that I've got time to read it now - and it was so fascinating! I don't think I've ever read a story that focuses on Walburga Black before but this was brilliant, and I'm so glad that I got to read it.
The opening and closing lines were so powerful - there was something almost ethereal to them, like there was a distance and detachment between Walburga and the words that described her - she didn't have control of anything, and everything that was hers, even the most integral parts of her person, belonged to something or someone else. I thought that was so effective to lead into the story and Walburga's reflection on her life and situation; and then the twist on the same lines at the end was really impressive and showed how much she'd travelled and realised through the story.
Your characterisation of Walburga in this story was amazing. It was so detailed and complex, and you really delved into so many different aspects of her character and her personality. I think anyone who's coming to this story having read the books is predisposed to dislike (at the very least) Walburga Black, but your writing in this story was so clever and you really did make me feel like I understood her much more - and maybe there was even a sliver of sympathy there, too?
I thought that the way that you linked Walburga back to her family at so many points was really interesting - and it definitely helped emphasise the idea that you introduced at the beginning, that she doesn't own anything that belongs to her. Everything around her in the house - even the spoons that she eats with - belonged to someone else in the family before her, and all of them serve to reinforce the family ties and the reputation and name that Walburga has to live up to. Even the tapestry that plays such a big part of this story is a constant reminder of her connections to her family.
Walburga wasn't right, obviously, in adhering to her family's ideals - it definitely isn't something that's impossible to break out of, as her son showed all too well - but I think the sympathy came in realising how hard it is for her to break away from that doctrination that begins so early on. If your family is so inherently prejudiced and that's all you're surrounded with from an early age, it's hard not to accept those beliefs as your own. And there's definitely an element of fear here, too, about what will happen to you if you're banished from the family. I thought the moment when Walburga was forced to burn her favourite cousin from the family tree was really interesting, and very powerful in making sure she could see the consequences of actions that don't toe the family line (and it was interesting to see that they used (presumably Muggle) cigarettes to burn the relatives off, rather than their wands).
Walburga's thoughts about her children were fascinating! Especially the tenderness and worry that seemed to come in when she thought about Sirius. I was expecting her to be much more bitter in her thoughts of him, and compare him to Regulus, but this is a woman who's really lost everything and there has to be some regret and grief to have lost two sons and be completely alone. The idea that she passed on the desire for freedom to Sirius was so intriguing - it would make sense that she came down harder on him when he misbehaved because of that, seeing her own suppressed dreams manifested in her firstborn son.
The ending was so intriguing, as well - I loved the way that it tied in so well with the tone that you wrote the whole story in, especially the first and last lines, and the idea that there was a bridge at this point between life and death, and that Walburga is surrounded, constantly, by the family members who've already passed on. Them calling to her was really interesting, and the affirmation of her name, and the way that she took ownership of it at the end - you've definitely left that very open, but I like to think it was her way of saying "not today", and resisting, just a little, for once.
This was a really fascinating story, and it was so well written - I loved it!