Now, I offer up DVD-style commentary.
One Fractured Fairy Tale: or a Dozen Stories That Aren't True In Non-Chronological or Possibly Sideways Order
Author's Notes: Inspiration from the Renaissance, nursery rhymes, Shakespeare, sangria, getting lost on Canal Street, religion, Plato, State of Grace, and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events are used to horrible effect.
The title, first of all, is slightly based in the cartoon The Adventures of Rocky and Bulwinkle. One of the cartoon 'shorts' was called Fractured Fairytales, that would start off with a traditional fairytale premise and things would go off the rails really quickly. With the subtitle, it's a reference to the fact that well, technically these 'stories' could all be read separately. However if you look at it in a sideways order, it can be read as a fractured, i.e. incomplete, story.
Go South in the Winter:
Well the thing with the titles for each section is that originally this was just supposed to be a dozen drabbles. I tend to like giving my drabbles titles if I can. As for this one, well, it's a favorite of mine, I'd used it before for an X-Men story I just couldn't get off the ground, and I've applied it an original poem. So all the titles in this piece are assigned to fit a theme in the section. This one is about Sirius in warmer places, set during the summer after PoA. So yes. It's very clever. :-P
That the winter isn't cold at all is not surprising, for since settling in the tropics, one comes to terms with the relentless sun.
Bah, I tend to use 'one' in order to not use 'you' or 'he' when really, I shouldn't use it.
Every bird that returns to him carries letters of good news, of little hurts, and sometimes, of questions, which he tries to answer. He wants to end each letter with, "ah, but this too is a lie," but instead he scrawls Sirius and remembers vaguely of a time when his hand was steadier.
Okay, so the ending Sirius never writes, I think it didn't quite come out how I wanted it to from some of the comments I've received. You see he's writing these letters saying he's okay, trying to regain some sort of normalcy, but that isn't happening, it's all a lie, everything, because he can sense that where he is at the moment, in this warm place, is just a lie, a temporary reprieve from the cold of winter.
The precise, carefully written letters addressed to a Mssr. Padfoot, The Beach, Wandering Around in a Drunken Stupor, remain unopened and stacked neatly in his unapologetically messy room.
I just assume that Remus has excellent penmanship. And that he still retains a bit of that sarcasm/humor we saw in the flashback in OotP.
He's going to stay here for a very, very long time indeed until there are no more winters to dream of.
Again, this is a lie - he's in the south, but it's just for the 'winter' - I use winter here as the encompassing sign of the dead months, of things broken and never to be mended. Of course, he is still haunted by all this in the tropics. The letters are a worrying sign that he can't keep on avoiding the 'winters' - those many hurts now overwhelming him.
Come to Paris in Spring:
I had a hell of a time getting a good title for Paris, but I figured this worked. As it's set in Notre Dame, and one of the biggest religious celebrations is Easter - spring - I figured it worked. It's the time of rebirth. Er, also because I heard it was nice to be in Paris during the spring.
Remus lights the candle not for affection or to show his hushed reverence in the cavernous hall of Notre Dame, in fact when he watches the little votive candle flicker and then burn out the instant he ignites it, he feels a sense of relief.
Sort of extrapolating from my own experiences in Notre Dame, which really is quite incredible. However I wondered how someone like Remus would feel in such a place of spiritual power. Would he even notice it or care? It's so strangely personal in that enormous place, and I wanted to get that sense of being alone, even in someplace as huge as a gothic cathedral.
His prayers are useless in the end, and he feels no sense of redemption from the overwhelming Catholic spirit of the Church. Indeed, even the light pouring in from the extraordinary stained glass windows only irritate his eyes and he feels a strange pricking, closing them for only a moment. It passes.
He'd almost prayed for Sirius. Fancy that.
So, from the subtitle or a Dozen Stories That Aren't True In Non-Chronological or Possibly Sideways Order, I left this one up to a more vague setting, I think it should be understood to be pre-PoA, considering Remus's ambivalence at Notre Dame, but it doesn't have to be necessarily. This scene is one that's seen a lot - the conflicted character going to a religious place, so I was also playing with that, but I wanted it to have a bit of an atheist perspective, or a doubter's perspective. He is too burdened with the past to give any consideration of absolution.
Madrid is Hell This Time of Year:
This is paraphrased from a tour guide, speaking about Madrid's weather in the summer - 'It's seven months of hell.' Plus, the state of Sirius's mind and his ramblings, it's sort of a dark madness, but I hoped it had a touch of black humor to it.
It is exactly only many amounts of some just a bit maybe a little more okay so pissed out of mind considering that's just a couple of well it didn't feel like that many -
He's rambling, he's sure of it, and he's sweating and he's mad as hell and give him a proper hat and he'll throw a tea-party for you and declare just exactly why indeed a raven is idefinti...identik...identically like a writing desk -
I like capturing the drunken ramblings of characters. I don't know why. As for the Alice in Wonderland references, it's a sign of madness, but in a slightly humorous way, I hope. Just like the 'hiccupping' of identically. Plus it's me mocking my own shitty spelling. I typed out 'idefinti' before I realized I was using the wrong word.
Look, he'll transfigure it out just for you, and you'll never know the difference, which is why a raven is like a writing desk.
Can I say how much I like this line? I really do. Sirius's main talent in magic was apparently transfiguration (I think there's a reference to how he and James excelled in it) and the thought of Sirius says he'll basically use magic to explain that question just tickled me. (As he could, you known, turn one into the other.)
He sloshes sangria all down some bird's (raven's) black dress and explains to her how very much she reflects the Moon, and grins when she doesn't push him away.
Summer's hell this time of year, and there are hot days waiting for him, which he will happily meet.
Again, the use of weather as a theme to describe the character's emotional journeys. I wanted to leave it up in the air about what he's going to do with that woman, considering he is extraordinarily pissed and sees her as looking a lot like Remus, you can infer on your own. Sangria is delicious. If you are legal, have some. Right now.
As for the timeline - I had it as sometime right after PoA, with him making his journey to the south of the first section, so as to keep the scrambling of his mental state a bit more understandable.
Autumn in New York:
I think it's one of the best times to visit New York. Er. That's about it. Actually this whole passage was inspired by ignited who mentioned something about how someone should write a story of Remus Lupin in NYC and it stuck in my brain. So I'm playing with that just a little bit.
He's quite lost, which is madness, because this isn't a maze, not exactly, it's just Downtown, which polite locals explain quite simply and in simple terms, and it should just be a matter of navigation. However, even with using his wand, he's still somewhere on Canal Street and not making his way at all to his intended destination.
I tend to get very lost downtown. I have a poor sense of direction and those streets are seriously out to get me. But he's also lost because he's really lost - at this point in time, he's confused about what he's going to do, he's at a crossroads.
So he sighs, readjusts his scarf, and waits for the polite, electric man of white lights to appear, directing him towards somewhere, and somewhere not here.
He's not just waiting metaphorically. Plus, I liked calling the traffic signal a polite, electric man.
He wonders how one can get lost on a bloody island of this size, and if he hits water, whether he should dive deep, out of shame for his poor sense of direction, but he knows indeed, that this city must be cursed, some sort of magics intended to confuse and he's without a Map, once again, and wonders what trove of mischief-loving youth managed to find all the secrets of the city.
Er. That's a bit of a run-on, yes? However, I liked to think about Remus's perspective on his past, and that he, as a Marauder, must still have vestiges of that reckless spirit. So his pondering on the NYC version of Marauders - I just felt that was a really good image.
And then he finds what he was looking for, and indeed, the man could be Sirius's doppelganger, only far, far madder. And there is blood on his hands, both metaphorically and physically there, but he has been alone for far too long.
So if you haven't seen State of Grace, you probably have no idea what this means. And it really doesn't mean much. Just that Remus has gone out of his way, really out of his way on purpose, to find a Sirius-look-alike. And that final statement of being alone for far too long, again leaves it up in the air. Either both he and Sirius went looking for a reprieve from themselves in other people, or they didn't. I didn't want to make it too obvious, considering there's already the remark upon how much the other people - the woman at the bar and the State of Grace character remind Our Heroes of their long-lost...ya know.
As for timeline issues, this is also after PoA. Remus has been sacked and he's at this 'what the hell I am going to do?' (only he probably isn't swearing) figurative crossroads. So I put him in the busiest, most frenetic city and have him see a madman. Fitting, really.
The Bleak Season:
Now I'm finishing up the weather themed passages with the most 'doom and gloom' contemplation. This is a landscape portrait of desperation and well, it's Sirius in Grimmauld Place. The bleakest time and frustrating because everything is at a standstill, something that is antithetical to Sirius's being.
Still Winter without a sense of spring approaching, the sound of nothing, not even snowfall, a grey world of cold and pale shadows, passing over the ground with horrified dread, knowing that life once existed here, but it is forgotten.
I've capitalized several words throughout for different effects. I think of it a bit as the code word to each section, this is all that is negative about winter, not the snowy days, but that bleak cold as the beginning paragraph describes.
So. Still. Winter.
He repeats the words with cracked lips, fading into his snow-white skin and feels that there are no fairy tales in wait, all the magic has dried up and all he feels is the steady chill, death is not approaching, it is the in-between, not even violent like rot, it is worse, bloodless and without design, save one. To never cease.
It's the image of Sirius as a fairytale figure that fascinates me. Because, when originally Black is revealed, there's a lot of references to him as a vampire. The supernatural characteristics are always fascinating, how Remus is also a part of the fairytale stories - the monster - and this is the tragedy of the fairytale. There's no pause in a fairytale, moments of uncertainty occur, but they eventually can be fought again by the wiles of the heroes in the story. Here, there's the effects of the Dementors and the certainty of eternal winter that are Sirius's challenges and he doesn't defeat them.
He's quite forgotten his name and waits for nothing, knowing nothing has come and gone, without him to remember.
This line is a bit of a cheat, because in Grimmauld Place, there's no escape from his name, and it makes it more questionable regarding when this section takes place. But I really liked this line and maybe I shouldn't have left it in.
The 'rebirth' - the age of a new era borne of the past, but better, improve, and oh so shiny. Should be a treat, right? Yeah, not likely.
It's like rebuilding a world with a new epistemology at your side, and you have no idea how you're going to make due with all the little hurts that tore apart the faith originally.
First, I fucking love this line. I was so damn proud of it.
I go into second person here because I love second person like whoa. I kept the perspectives even, pretty much switching between Remus and Sirius until the Renaissance series. I made it a bit more vague at this point to represent the beginnings of the conflict. This is actually the Sirius section, which means I've disturbed that original balance, as a way of letting structure inform the disruption caused by the reunion.
Well, you can say, that was then, and this is Now, only Now isn't Now, because you know you're trying to manipulate Then and make it Now again, so really, Now is Then and Soon will be -
It will be Before, and you're too confused to think. So you take fragments and construct a thousand new lies to fit your circumstances, or you just don't explain the pieces and mend it with forethought and deep concentration and maybe it'll still be like Before and yet, it's New and Now and it's you and him.
However, the project is doomed to fail, but flourishes anyway, while you are confident in the failure of this late, golden, happy age.
Lots of capitalization used here, all about time. Time's the key here, the seasons have been used up as a metaphor, now it's just time, it's placing things in their historical context. I just love using the whole experience and history of the Renaissance as a metaphor for what happens at the end of GoF (lie low at Lupin's) and during OotP. Because, it should be a happy time, but it can't be, because it's so doomed to fail, and almost because of that, because of the improbability of it all, it makes it all the better, a golden age, spurred by the hard-headedness of Sirius.
The Renaissance in Winter:
Okay, one last seasonal reference. The more negative approach to what's going on between them. Which means, Remus gets to speak.
The gold was gilt and painted over pretty cages, and you've mixed your metaphors shamefully, but some of the best literature has done such a thing and gotten away with it, and it's all in your head, it's all there, and it won't be anywhere else to hear, because you'll stay silent until asked.
That last statement about silence acts as an indication that this is Remus's argument. He's not one for outbursts, really, unless forced it, there's a measure and a weight to his words, which is also why I tried to give a certain gravity to the words, with also that passive acknowledgement, that this isn't the best argument, the metaphors are not being used properly.
So, it isn't an experiment exactly, nor a failure, it's something far worse, and deeper and unspoken, and there are many foolish enough to find an answer for it. It is Friendship, it is Love, it is Faith, and it is Selfish. It is You and Him, once again, creating a world that never existed and thriving on the illusion for so long because there aren't two happy memories to rub between your fingers, and damn, there goes another horrible use of imagery, that thankfully, will not divert from your point.
Your point of course, is that it's par for the course, you there to make a mixed muddle of what's left and him to vanish once again into fragments of reality, of unreality, and like all aspirations to find the highest ideals, the greatest passions, and the true face of Living, it ended in death.
So here's the kick. The use of winter is the sign of death here; the final paragraph is Remus's anger and bitterness over Sirius's death. But it's not because he died, but because Remus almost believed again, that is what's eating at him - they did it all over again, they made the same mistake, and it should be all for nothing. It should be dismissed as an illusion, but it's not. It never was, even when they again fell into the old traps.
The Renaissance, Reinterpreted:
Of course, Sirius can't shut up, old ghosts do tend to linger.
It went this way, you argue, because you cannot imagine him anymore and you sought to remember the Moon and all the damn stars, even yourself up there, now scampering around Orion's Belt, so sure that not even the sky could limit you, and you'd go into the fray because that's what must be done.
Dead!Sirius: LOOK AT ME, I'M LIKE IN THE STARS, SIIIIIMBA! I AM THE LION KING. So yeah, I erm, I went a little overboard with the imagery there. It's the argument about how that's just what he, Sirius, would have done because that's what must be done. They 'went that way' (reunited) because there's no way to avoid it, and still, even though they were brought together, he'd still fight and die. The patterns repeat, as they must.
For just that moment, you'd tear across hell and back, and fall as tragically as all heroes must and wander forever damned, a mere shadow of a shadow's memory, but at least this time, a better memory.
And you did it not for the Great Reasons, but because that is simply what must be done, out of something that's just yourself, somewhere, everywhere, always.
He can continue hating you, there's nothing left to explain.
Sirius basically saying, look, I'll come back as a damn ghost, die all over again, and sure, maybe we'll have one more good memory, but it doesn't matter, because who we were, that's what matters. So if you want to hate me, fine, but this is who I am, and that is what we were. The Great Reasons here, are lies, there's nothing noble to it, it's just how it is.
It's our final argument. I was thing of Plato and Socrates originally for the themes behind this drabble, but it got away from me. Basically I totally broke with tradition and each paragraph is either Sirius or Remus, with very little to go by to explain who's who. The hints are very small sometimes. Er, sorry about that.
He doesn't hate because he's finished with that, he only knows he will have restless nights and worry over when the Questions begin and he will be forced to answer.
This immediately jumps to answer the last statement of the previous section - so this is Remus's response. The 'questions' are the doubts and regrets that are surfacing and the fact that he's not looking forward to dealing with them.
He doesn't want to regret not dipping his quill into his inkwell and slowly dragging out those agonizing words, "but this too is a lie," or leave a precise stack of carefully opened, but only skimmed-through letters for another day in the improbable future, and never give any answer save, there is nothing to be done of it.
This is Sirius part, calling back on the first section, the regrets of the dead.
Remus once discovered a stack of letters he never sent to Sirius, because he hadn't sent any, not a word, there hadn't been any time, and indeed, it had been a bit of a surprise to see that great shaggy mess of night and pure animal at his doorstep, welcome always, but never quite expected.
Remus reflecting on what was lost and unsaid, with flashback to a possible 'lie low at Lupin's' scenario.
Ah, but the discovery is just a dream, Sirius leaves nothing in his wake, and would have left a pile of ashes, smoldering on a gloriously sunny beach.
Still mostly Remus actually, because Sirius at this point, for all intentions, is gone.
Connecting the previous part about discovery, these are all the sort of 'but maybe this is what's going to happen next' scenes strung together all about words unsaid and unspoken.
Some children came upon bits of ashes and found some words mingled in the mess, and these words and letters said: "t," "t...o," "is," "a," and the clearest and best bit said, "lie," which would have meant something if they read English.
So, perhaps Sirius did write that it was a lie, but he tore it off before anyone could see it.
Or really, there was a stack of letters and a mess to deal with in one of the guest rooms, and since she had a break coming up, she read long, worried, and coded messages to a lost lover, or perhaps just a good friend until she remembered herself and tossed them into a trashcan, where they belonged.
Remus totally wrote to Sirius and tried to figure out where they stood. I just thought it would be interesting if although they were written, they were never read.
Or maybe there was an interception and the Ministry of Magic, quick to act, and always vigilant (some say constant), sent two starving Dementors to the warmth and bliss they so normally reviled and caught their prey, clamping down and sucking greedily.
The alternate action that never happened, the irrational fear. Totally, this one is an AU scenario.
Yet the words do not matter in the end. Would that the story ended in a kiss, and all happy stories must, or they did live happily ever after, but they had fragments to go on, and sometimes, that is all that is left, the imperfect renderings of memory, the body remembering, and things running deep and eternally, as magic always does.
Discoveries can be both blessings and curses, whether in disguise or in plain sight.
I think this section really stands well on its own. I'd hate to overexplain it, as it's about the fragments of their relationship, and that, sure, finding that one great explanation for it all might help, but that's just not how it was between them.
They look at each other with a macabre sense of themselves.
In this case, means, "what happens when two old men discover they are not only not quite the specimens they used to be (although really, one of them never really was much to look at, or even stumble over), and also are quite deathly pale and desperately need a bit of sun, but are rather savagely proud of being complete and utter prats when it comes to admitting anything."
So like all events, sex ensues, pursued by lingering guilt complexes and tenuous fears of reunions.
This is not an unfortunate event at all, which makes it completely untrue.
Hee. My Lemony Snicket passage. Written before I'd actually read A Series of Unfortunate Events. What can I say, I needed some sex and I thought it would be funny to write it in the diction of a 'children's author.' I am slightly mad, after all. And the punch of course it that it's a happy moment, but it's not exactly true.
I wondered how do you wrap up the story when you've written the part with dead!Sirius. Well, with Macabre, I've already backed up the timeline, so I thought about going back to the beginning. I like that concept. I am a huge fan of blacksatinrose and she's written several wonderful fics playing with time. Her glorious 26 Steps Till Home totally inspired this part. But as the seasons were all about the heat and cold, but not really about the weather (Bleak Season mentions no snow, meaning there's no action, it's just an insufferable pause). This is the action part, this is the fall. This is how it ended, right at the beginning.
He sings off-key and purposely, pondering when exactly one's voice is supposed to finally break through this quavering dilemma of not quite manhood and stuck in a frightfully high-pitched rendition of some wretched witch opera star whom his mother loves so dearly.
In any event, there is rain, rain, and it must go away.
If he remembers that name, perhaps he'll stop singing, which he is sure the sole remaining victim of his music stylings would indeed be grateful for. But he doesn't recall and continues on, almost missing Sirius's complaining over the sound of his unhinged singing.
Oi, go off on another one, Moony, I'm going to start melting into a puddle, which hmm, would be an awfully nice prank. Somehow get Snivellus to melt - he's already leaking enough foul grease - when he hears that dreadful mourn you call a voice.
Only Sirius can say this as thoughtfully, deceptively, confidently, and endearingly, and other adverbs which shamefully race through Remus's mind as he tries to remember the damn name. But the words are repeating in a nonstop loop, melt, voices, hmm, perhaps his voice is melting, and that's why he sounds so horrifying, and maybe his voice will simply wash away, into the ether of hallowed grounds, never to be seen again until the very first moments of dawn and dusk.
Remus thinks he speaks aloud some nonsense, not of that kind of nonsense, more a challenge of Sirius's own talents, prompting Sirius to stand next to him at the window and bellow out the rhymes mingled with some fairly impressive swearing. Even Remus has to take stock of it and highly regard Sirius's talents.
Sirius smiles, plans of turning the whole damn school population into quivering puddles dancing in his mad thoughts, and for a moment, Remus feels disconcerted, as if this is all some bubble that is about to pop.
When Sirius kisses him, he hears the sound, faint as anything, but sounding once in his ears, a long way off, but coming closer with every moment.
This is what the end feels like, and Remus wishes he could put off the regret until another rainy day, but everything he's stored up has begun tumbling down, unable to ward off the hurricane shining in the proud gleam of Sirius's eyes.
I hated to do any lame comments here. This is my favorite part and really, the whole fic was gearing up for this moment.