I knew I would love this.
If I were the type, I'd leave the review with just that, but we all know I'm not, so here goes some more rambling. I like rambling. Especially about something as tender and lovely and dreadful (full of dread, not awful) as this, and about someone as genius as you. Sooo.
There was one fic from a long time ago, I can't remember what it was called, but Dorcas was a Seer and she fell in love with Sirius and all of that, so subconsciously I've always had that image in my head. But this Dorcas - I don't know, there's something about her that seems... unbalanced. Maybe it's her fascination with words, with Woolf's death (I hate Woolf), and how the works she's read color her perceptions of life and death, but I don't understand her. She frightens me a little bit, because she seems very volatile. It's like she resigned herself to dying, to forsaking all she purports to value, and I don't understand it. 99% of this is probably me being dense, as I've read this twice and still can't sympathize with her.
On the first read, though, I liked her more, especially once she got out of Hogwarts. I thought her chemistry with Sirius was excellent, moving, and touching, but was still confused by how ready she was to forsake it. The second time around, even in those last scenes, I didn't like her as much. I understand partly why Sirius would love her, and she him, but not so much why she does what she does. Is it a fascination with an idealized divide between life and death - even though she admits she is not "the ideal"? I'm not sure. I'm not even sure why Voldemort would want this girl dead (happy that you didn't elaborate on that, by the way), but it seems... I don't know, it's like she's proud of that. If nothing else, she'll die in a way as striking as Woolf did, and that, not Sirius' love, is what matters to her when she thinks her life is destined to end. She struggled to see the sun and the stars, you say, but couldn't; judging by that observation from Sirius, and Dorcas' very exact narration, she knows what she's doing, but doesn't stop herself.
I'm completely running in circles about this whole thing. I don't get why I'm doing this or what I've concluded or anything. Again, I'm 99% sure this is mostly me misinterpreting the text, specifically Dorcas' own words, and if it is, I'm truly sorry. But even though I don't understand or particularly like her as a person, as a character, she's pretty much perfect. Sirius, looking back on her life, mourns her, but he also seems as confused as I am; I like that you acknowledge she isn't an easy person to read (but then again, you say she was an open book or something similar, so maybe that's me imagining things). He mourns her life and the life that she could have led, even as Death dogged her steps (by the way, your wordplay is flawless and envy-inducing). That seems very Sirius to me, regretting that she gave up so much earlier than she could or should have.
Um, I'm not sure what else I can say because I'm pretty sure I've made a mess of this review and completely didn't understand anything. At all. That's a little worrying for me. I'm never like this, I swear, but the frustration I feel about this fic makes sense. It's coming from you, one of the most brilliant minds ever, and it's so beautifully, deftly written that I can't even be frustrated with it as much as with myself. Please tell me I haven't wasted your time with this review and please forgive me for being awful. I loved it, truly I did, but my inability to analyze your brilliance (what has winter break done to me?) may make it look otherwise, which I want to assure you is not the case. I really, really loved it. I did. It's the best sort of frustration and confusion, and I'm so glad you wrote this story with these characters in this way.
Author's Response: You're amazing, Gubby. My brain is whizzing around all the things you mentioned in this review, and I'm seeing the story from wholly different eyes. The only sad thing is that I didn't realize I was writing such an insane and disturbing character at the time. XD But then, I suppose, she would have been made that way, and it would have made her less frightening. It's the unintentional ones that frighten the most (and I'll also admit to my recent binge of Hitchcock films, which must be going to my head if this is the sort of story I write).
No, Gubby, you're right about her and how she made you (and Sirius, assumedly most readers). She's very different in the Hogwarts scene than she is at the end, and it's not just the books she's been reading, either. One could say that, as soon as you see her allusion to Woolf's death, one can tell that she's over the edge, just like Woolf was. She's not thinking clearly, seeking a deluded form of escape, mostly to escape herself rather than the world around her. Like Woolf, she leaves behind a man who is devoted to her and loves her deeply, but that still doesn't keep her from marching into death. It is creepy, and I can't believe that I didn't notice that before. It's probably because I didn't write all of this in order, constantly going back to add more and more, not noticing the monster that Dorcas was becoming.
What I didn't explicitly mention in the story was that, in the fire of her home, her family was killed too, they're the last "my" that Sirius cuts off with. This is probably the moment when Dorcas "lost it". That all she has left is a charred copy of Finnegans Wake tells a lot - a book that doesn't make sense, that can be seen as mad (and is certainly maddening). She reads it over and over and it echoes her mind too well. The same goes for the use of her repeated imagery from "The Waste Land". They have taken over for everything she has lost, and it's meant to be painful (to readers and to Sirius) that Sirius's love for her can't replace that.
At first, I thought that Dorcas was a reflection of me, especially in the scene at the Order meeting when she meets Sirius - that actually happened, though with different dialogue. Yet something different has gone into Dorcas - I didn't see it until I read your review and thought over how Dorcas had come alive on the page. But she does have her excuses - the loss of her home and family, the loss of her freedom (I'm glad that you're glad that I didn't include the reason why - I couldn't think of anything that suited her because she's not heroic in any way), and it resulted in the loss of her mind. She was easier to write as a teenager, still not difficult at the Order meeting, but the other segments felt like they needed such crafting to get her syntax right and include all of the allusions.
Sirius is the real heart of the story, and the image of him on the bridge by the water is the one that most affects me. His portions of the story were so natural to write, and I could feel great sympathy for him. I think he was as confused by her as you were, which was why he was unable to come forward with his emotions. He was cowed by her intensity, if you can call it that. But I loved him while I wrote him, and could see him there, whereas I could never "see" Dorcas at all. I could only hear her.
I understand you completely, and I'm absolutely floored by your compliments. It's brilliant to have a review from you, especially one as long and amazing as this, and I really appreciate it. *hugs*