Comment on These Walls Stand Silent

  1. birds flying high at sunset

    Wow. I found your fic today thanks to a Twitter thread mentioning We Were the Potters, and while that one was a hard read for it's own theme, this one knocked me back even more, probably due to current events. I hope you don't mind me babbling, but this gave me so much to digest that I'm amazed you crammed it into a relatively short fic.

    The way you've taken elements of the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Color Game that originated at Occidental College and combined them with Wizarding World events is chilling. And when you start with the premise of James Potter being an utter sociopath, and that Harry devises this elaborate exercise in part to address issues that should have been handled Right Then, not in 6 years, how this goes makes complete sense. But by the time of The Event, James has already turned the same corner as Tom Riddle had by that age. If Harry and Ginny hadn't been so attached to their expectations for the kids vs the reality of who they were, things might have gone differently. Which you also explored in WWtP, but with a different slant. And leaves me furious at Harry in particular for dragging so many people into the maelstrom rather than addressing James' sociopathy/prejudice/hatred directly when he was 11 and Harry realized that there was A Problem.

    The nonlinear storytelling really serves it well, leaving the reader, like the Auror and parents, trying to piece together how we traveled from the beginning (or what the adults in the story think is the beginning, seeing the "children" only as extensions of their parents rather than as driven by their own desires and demons, just as they had been at 15, but seem to have forgotten) to the bitter end. I had to read it through three or four times, jumping back and forth, to make sure I'd unpacked everything. Because I would characterize James as evil in this story rather than just out of control, though it took those additional read-throughs to be sure of what I thought I'd picked up: the grooming manipulation and eventual breaking of Lily to his desires, devising new Unforgivables to get around the rules as early as age 12 because rules weren't for Potters, and the carefully crafted façade he presents to those with power over him (teachers, adults in general).

    You also did a remarkable job illustrating how those under the control of someone like that, who are on the same "side" can respond. Lily's initial fear of him at 11 when she can't stop him, and that she eventually tries to temper his rage by being compliant and a voice of reason, and is then betrayed and broken because it still won't protect her from who he is because to him she's just a tool to use/control. Caleb's collaborator response due to his own deeply rooted anger that he wants an excuse to unleash, to Elaine going along with torturing Sebastien due to stories she's heard that James, I presume, exploits as an eye for an eye. Audra going along to get along and keep James'wrath from decending on her, to valiant Rose who Will Not Condone This Monstrosity that even Teddy, who is supposed to be the safety net, willfully doesn't see. And Franklin, while not sure enough in himself to defy James alone, is a good and loyal No2 for Rose taking a stand, but needed her leadership to act.

    In fewer words - holy motherforking shirtballs. I've read novel-length fic with less to unpack. This was an amazing bit of work, and you give just enough detail to demonstrate the horror without wallowing in it. I do have one question remaining: Was the timing of the initial scene of Lily on the tower before The Event starts, or during, once she's seen just how far James will go? No pressure to answer, as it works both ways.

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    1. asexual flag overlay

      Oh my goodness. Hi, and thank you for reading. :) I'm so glad you found something in this fic worth thinking about and leaving such an incredibly detailed review on.

      These Walls Stand Silent was originally written for the nextgendarkfest on LJ, where the prompt involved the Stanford Prison Experiment--I forget the exact wording of the prompt now (this was almost a decade ago!), but that is definitely one of the elements. That it took multiple read-throughs for you to pick up on many of the other elements was part of the design of this fic and I'm also glad to hear that it works the way it was supposed to, even all this time later.

      Re: your question about Lily on the tower at the beginning: I always imagined the scene taking place before the Event started, before the kids even knew about it. Because Lily knows her relationship with James is highly forked up (hehehe, The Good Place reference! I see you!). She's always been aware of that, but has had to force it down and force herself to believe she loves him in order to survive, just to keep her sanity. In that moment, she was closer to losing it than she had ever been before, until the final moments on the Lightning Struck Tower.

      I'm always willing to answer questions. :)

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      1. birds flying high at sunset

        Thanks for answering, and please excuse the tl;dr review, as that's what happens when I get thinky and excited and don't stop to edit. Because I'm usually so focused on character development, which is most often linear, I get all excited when a story grabs me by the throat because the writer has played with the craft of storytelling so effectively that the structure evokes something about the story's theme. So I got a little excited - plus it was 3am and I couldn't sleep.

        Thank you for leaving your work up for folks to read, even though you're no longer writing in the fandom.

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        1. asexual flag overlay

          Don't ever apologize for being thinky and excited. I love thinky and excited, and get that way often myself! It usually leads to fics like this.

          I also get insomnia, it's not fun.

          You're welcome. And to be honest, this whole thing has me kind of want to start writing again. Not in the HP fandom (though, I have had the thought of writing every single HP character as trans just because). I've been working on an Arrowverse fic for the longest time and I really should get back to it. This has kind of given me a boost in confidence about my writing.

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          1. birds flying high at sunset

            Would be interested in reading any new stuff you write, and understand what might drive you to thumb your nose and write everyone in HP as trans, if just to satisfy the frustration of JR's expressed political views creating more danger for trans folk. But, even as much as I'd love to see continuations of so many 'verses and stories I've loved, I never (now that I've grown up a bit more) want to pressure a fic writer to continue once their muse has moved on.

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            1. asexual flag overlay

              That Arrowverse fic is here: https://archiveofourown.org/users/noxcaelum/pseuds/noxcaelum

              That's really the only other place for new fic, and that's probably the fic I'm really going to keep working on.

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              1. birds flying high at sunset

                Thanks! Have dl'd first fic to read.

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                1. asexual flag overlay

                  Cool, I hope you like it. :)

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