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The House of Black - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The House of Black
Well, I really need to friend pedantic_celia--this is the second time I've gone off on a tangent from one of her essays. This time, she's written a rant about the fetishization of abuse in fandom, and as a sidenote, the question of Sirius's upbringing has come up. What was life like at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place?


First, I hadn't realized that people were writing it as an abusive set-up. That hadn't even occurred to me while reading OotP. Suffice it to say that I don't write it as such--closest I came was Mrs. Black cutting Sirius's hand in order to scry out his participation in Andromeda's elopement, but that wasn't some obscene punishment; it was dark magic for which she needed an ingredient.

This is my take in a nutshell:

Sirius was unhappy, but not abused, and raised by a mother with whom he had an intense, often angry relationship because they were so much alike in personality. There was a constant clash of equals once he got old enough to realize that his opinions and values differed from hers in significant ways. (Now that I think about it, it's something like the way I write Leia and Vader, though Sirius and his mum are a lot louder and more passionate about it.) They both adored and doted on Regulus, but the poor kid turned into the rope and prize when they got into their regular string of arguments. Mr. Black was superfluous in the house, married to provide heirs but mostly chosen because Mrs. Black figured she could safely ignore him, and was right about it.

Granted, there's not much in canon, clue-wise. This is what I'm picking up on.

Unhappy: Everyone pretty much agrees that Sirius was miserable at Grimmauld Place. I think that's the one definite.

Intense and angry relationship with his mother: When Sirius interacts with his mother's portrait in the opening scene, Harry has just arrived--Harry, who is supposed to be the absolute center of Sirius's life. But he deals with his mother before he says hello to Harry. When he's showing Harry the family tree later, it's his mother he keeps going back to--"She did this, she did that, she removed so-and-so." The anger is obvious, but the intensity is what strikes me about it.

Further, on the intensity of the familial relationship, it's notable to me that Sirius makes a point of showing Harry all of his (Sirius's) relatives, grumping about who was removed, but giving the whole family story. He points out that all pure bloods are related and casually mentions his connection to the Weasleys, but it doesn't occur to him to tell Harry how the Potters are related, or to elaborate on how the Weasleys are. He's totally focused on the Black family, even in the midst of complaining about them. To me, that suggests a very intense familial bond.

Alike in personality: Obviously, Sirius and Mrs. Black disagreed on a lot of philosophical points, but their behavior is mirrored in one another quite frequently. Mrs. Black's mad portrait screams; Sirius yells back at it. She calls him a blood traitor and an abomination; he calls her a "horrible old hag" and tells her to SHUT UP!!! She burns his name off the tapestry, he purges her influence from the house. To add PoA to the mix, we also see Sirius taking out his rage on a symbolic object. (Mrs. Black burns holes in the family tree when her family betrays her; Sirius slashes the Fat Lady violently when she won't allow him to enter his "home," Gryffindor Tower... a betrayal of sorts.) This points out another similarity, in that both are absolutely convinced of their own correctness, so much so that no amount of affection, no trace of sympathy, can interfere. When Sirius betrays his mother by choosing his friends and their alien ideas over their family (and what she sees as beleaguered tradition), she doesn't consider rethinking her position, or allowing that Sirius might have his own reasons for doing what he does. Any affection she had turned to rage, and she burned him out of her life. When Peter betrays Sirius (and James and Lily), Sirius immediately goes off to kill Peter. Not to turn him and certainly not to try and understand him, but to kill him, to burn him out of their lives.

Now, I don't mean to suggest that Sirius's choice to reject pure-blood racism is morally equivalent to Peter's choice to betray his friends and cause their deaths. Obviously, Sirius is in the right and Peter is in the wrong. But the parallel of Sirius's emotional reaction to Peter's betrayal and Mrs. Black's emotional reaction to Sirius's betrayal--which in both cases leads to total isolation for a long time--is what ticks in my mind as a sign of personalities that are very, very similar.

Clash of equals: This one is the second hardest to support canonically, because we never see them interact when they are both human. (The portrait, not having the free will to change its mind, can't be considered an equal.) The mother-son relationship carries the implication of inequality--she held all control over his life, after all. So I suspect it was pretty unequal, as any parent-child relationship is, at first. However, we know that by the time Sirius was eleven and Sorted out of his parents' preferred House, he'd developed quite an individual personality, and it probably continued getting stronger as he got older and reinforced his identity via his "alternate" family, his brothers--the Marauders. All I can hang this intuition on is the "horrible old hag" line, which sounds like something that Hermione might say about Pansy (a peer), and the total petulance required for Mrs. Black to blast Sirius off the family tree after he left. That's such a you-hurt-me-now-I'll-hurt-you reaction that almost by itself, it establishes equality.

The position of Regulus: If the last one was hard, this one is almost impossible. It's based entirely on tone and assumptions. Sirius's merely calling him a "stupid idiot" because he joined the Death Eaters contrasts so sharply with his usual hatred of all things Voldemort-ish that "stupid idiot" comes across as affectionate in context, despite Sirius's statement that he hated the lot of them. That Regulus was younger and Sirius is well-established as having a caretaker streak probably contributes to the image. (There is also jealousy, in his comment that his parents considered Regulus a much better son, which also mitigates against the "I hated them all" statement. It's pretty clear that he wanted their affection and didn't get it... that he defined the terms of that affection as clearly as they did--accept me and agree with my opinions, or don't accept me at all--doomed him.) His assertion that Regulus was called the better son suggests that the parents both at least liked him better.

The thought I have about Regulus is tied up with the clash of equals and similar personalities business--here is this person in the house who is "soft-headed," according to Sirius, which I'd take in context to mean malleable rather than stupid. (switching to talking completely of the cuff now) Unlike Sirius, Regulus doesn't especially like huge clashes with the people he cares about, and probably will go along with Sirius or Mrs. Black, depending on who he's talking to. What a perfect playing field to try and score points off one another... I can get Regulus to say this! Well, he believes me about that! (I doubt it was ever put in words, but that kind of dynamic.) Ultimately, after Sirius leaves, Regulus would probably associate this kind of unpleasant blow-up with the influence of all those outsiders, just like Mum says. Presto-chango, Death Eater. Only then he finds out that they're even more confrontational than Sirius and Mum. He tries to leave. (Of course, that would be after the Blacks got cold feet about Voldemort--a part of that little speech that gets forgotten a lot--so he wouldn't be getting as much reinforcement from his parents about it, either.)

Mr. Black: He's almost never mentioned, and when he is, it's either in tandem with Mrs. Black ("my parents thought...") or as a lesser figure ("Kreacher wasn't quite as devoted to him..."). The only time we hear of him separately is with the protections he put on the house, and that doesn't seem to have much of an emotional component to it.

The other thing I didn't address was the position of the cousins. The placement of the family tree at GP and the statement that it's "the house of my fathers," etc, suggest that the Grimmauld Place Blacks are the "royal line"--everyone is related in degrees to them, not vice versa. So I'd guess that it would be the locus for family gatherings, and that Sirius would have seen a lot of his cousins growing up. Bella, in canon, seems to be a real sociopath, and I can see her visiting that sadistic urge of hers on anyone smaller than she was. Both of her boy cousins would be younger (at least if the birth order on the family tree is right), and I doubt Sirius would let her near Regulus; I'm willing to bet that she tormented him something awful as a child, and that Andromeda became his "favorite cousin" because she was able to run interference and possibly took his side. But Bella, the zealous protector of the family's stated priorities, would have huge advantages over trouble-maker Sirius when it came to being believed about such encounters.

Okay. Enough rambling. That's my take on the Ancient and Noble House of Black.
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Comments
ashtur From: ashtur Date: August 13th, 2004 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, hadn't ever given it nearly that deep of thought. Generally what you say sounds about right to me.

However, the big difference is that yes, I would imagine that the Sirius Black was abused as a child. Not sexually. Not physically. However, verbally and emotionally? Absolutely. I would imagine that is the cause of a fair number of the similiarities you pick up on. Sirius thinks that yelling and fits of anger are appropriate behavior, because that was what he was exposed to on a regular basis.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 13th, 2004 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure I'd agree with that. Did she start in on him when nothing was disagreed with, the way Vernon does with Harry? Somehow--for no specific reason I can think of--I suspect that she didn't. I think it was when he started challenging her; she started challenging back. Battle lines were drawn, and their inherent natures made them fight the battle the way the did.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: August 13th, 2004 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hard to say, just reading between the lines the way we are. On the other hand though, being verbally abusive isn't simply to abuse without cause. It can also be a time where you most certainly have cause, but your reaction it totally out of proportion to that cause. Both Sirius and what we see of Lady Black have that problem.

While it's not abusive per se, Sirius' reaction to Harry's worries about his safety in the Floo conversation very much show that lack of proportion. It's even easier to see it in Lady Black's rantings.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 13th, 2004 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think we're at the nature/nurture debate. I tend to see this simply as part of their shared nature, which would express itself however their lives happened to be. Sirius is always going to be short-tempered and absolutist, and probably likely to yell. He's just an emotional guy.
meredith_eats From: meredith_eats Date: August 13th, 2004 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did she start in on him when nothing was disagreed with, the way Vernon does with Harry? Somehow--for no specific reason I can think of--I suspect that she didn't.

I agree that Mrs. Black probably didn't abuse Sirius (physically or otherwise) just because she was sadistic or she needed to take out her own anger on a weaker person. In that sense, she's not the classic abusive parent. But the kind of things she probably said to Sirius when "challenged" could still have been abusive, and I think they probably were. Given the kinds of things her portrait said, I imagine that she probably told Sirius that he was not only a disappointment to the family but also a less worthy person for his association with half-breeds and blood traitors. Her portrait called him "shame of my flesh;" if she said that to him when he was a kid, even if he came back with vitriol of his own, it had to be painful and damaging.

I always imagined that the problems started when he was sorted into Gryffindor. If the sorting hat can somehow determine the essential characteristics of a person, it would have been proof that he was inherently different from the family. How would someone like Mrs. Black have reacted to the shock and horror of hearing that her eldest son shared the essential characteristics of the enemy? I can't imagine she was kind ot him after that. When Sirius was older, closer to his friends and more aware that the Potters could provide a surrogate family, he and his mother might have had a relationships of equals (by which I mean, two people who were equal in confidence and conviction); when he was only 11, I doubt that was the case. I think you could make the argument that her behavior toward him then -- whether she was cold or ignored him or outright told him what a miserable disappointment he was -- constituded abuse because he lacked the mental and emotional resources to fight back.

*phew* that was longer than I meant for it to be
From: blacksatinrose Date: August 14th, 2004 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's pretty much what I took away from the scene, yeah.

I always imagined that he would have been fairly spoilt until he was sorted, really, being the heir. Then when he was placed into Gryffindor, I expect she would have turned on him just about as quickly as she found out, and probably pretty much tore his 11 year old heart into pieces. After having spent his life being built up, being torn down by the same person would have been devastating.

For her part, she probably took his placement to mean, yes, that he was found to be, at core, more like the enemy than like her and the rest of the family. And, as others have said, she probably did not love her children save as extensions of the family/herself, therefore his being that different is taken as a much deeper offense than most healthy parents would have taken it. I mean, I don't think the Malfoys are abusive either (in fact, I think they are probably far healthier as a family than the Blacks) but if Draco were put into Gryffindor, there would have been a problem.

Anyway, back to Sirius.

So she rejects him, and he's devastated, but since a person's basic personality and self of self-worth are, I believe, formed before 11 years old, though he would have been heart-broken, he would also feel justified and wronged, as he had been previously instilled with a sense of his own correctness. So on one hand he'd be terribly hurt, and on the other hand he'd be thinking, "WTF?!?!" This would only worsen when she became overtly verbally abusive (not through intention but through rage,) because on one hand his mother is calling him the shame of her flesh (ouch) but on the other hand, WTF is her problem?! And I expect, as he got older, and increasingly withdrew from the family (both due to their rejection of him and his becoming closer to halfbloods and blood-traitors at school) his reaction would have shifted increasingly away from "ouch" and more toward "WTF?!" finally culminating in his running away.

Also, the fact that this verbal/emotional abuse came about after he already had a sold self-image would explain why he is not a wreck like so many emotionally/verbally abused kids, but instead has a great deal of rage, which he then expresses by, for example, harassing Snape.

Finally, I do think they had similar personalities at base. He does basically the same thing to Harry whenever Harry fails to do what he wants, like let him go to Hogsmeade: he shuts the kid out. Even so, she strikes me as FAR more extreme.
melyanna From: melyanna Date: August 13th, 2004 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
The bad-relationship-equals-physical-abuse notion is a pretty common one in fan fic. It's half the reason I've stopped reading fics about Faramir, my favorite character in LotR, because they all seem to include Denethor beating his wife and children. One of these days I'll finish up that essay on how the text itself refutes that. (Grr.)

Whether or not there was emotional abuse in the house is... up to interpretation, I suppose. I doubt Mrs. Black was intentionally trying to hurt Sirius. It was probably more along the lines of violent disbelief that Sirius didn't agree with her. But either way, the relationship did a lot of damage — to both of them, I'd imagine.

You mention Vernon and Harry's relationship, which is clearly abusive, but I personally think that Vernon and Petunia's relationship with Dudley is just as abusive, because they've failed to teach him anything that will allow him to function in society. Neglect and pampering aren't far from each other when it comes to the potential damage, and I think that Mother Black's relationship with Sirius is yet another complicated example of (often willfully) misguided parenting in the series.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 13th, 2004 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
But either way, the relationship did a lot of damage — to both of them, I'd imagine.
Right--that goes back to the clash of equals for me. Sirius did as much damage to her as she did to him.

Dudley is a victim of horrendous parenting, with no guidance whatsoever. Draco, though I think he has a similar situation, is at least getting guidance, even if it's guidance to be something hateful. I'm not certain I'd apply the term "abuse" to it (though I'm aware that Rowling has), just because the word has a lot of implications that aren't there, and when it starts to be tossed around for any situation of bad parenting--or poison parenting, as silverhill says below--it starts to lose its meaning as a useful word.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 13th, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the matter of emotional abuse... I think the question is whether or not the abuse is done in order to cut a person down, or if it's just an angry outburst in a series of them being thrown both ways. The former is abusive. The latter is just thoughtless and cruel (on both parts).

I'm not sure how much we can take the painting as an example of what she behaved like in everyday life. It was obviously painted when she was older, and I'd guess after she'd lost both of her sons--one murdered, one in Azkaban. If that's when she imbued it with her personality, it may well be pretty far gone mentally. I can definitely imagine her calling Sirius a blood-traitor when she was in her right mind (and him responding by calling her a hag), but when she was younger and saner... I'm not sure I'm convinced she'd have called him a "shame of her blood."

(Full disclosure, in the thinking I did for "A Drift of Azaleas," it occurred to me that she might have committed suicide. That's why I put the dagger in the chair with her. Kreacher would have cleaned up the detritus from such a thing. Then again, that's just purely my horror-reared brain clicking along... it works well for a "haunted" house.)
silverhill From: silverhill Date: August 13th, 2004 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that Sirius grew up in an environment that was not necessarily abusive, but poisonous. (The same is true for Draco.)

How well-adjusted can someone be if they are taught they are superior to others by the circumstances of their birth?

And maybe I'm being too simplistic about the parent-child relationships. But it seems to me that Sirius and Draco were valued by their parents not because of their uniqueness as people, but because of their contribution to the bloodline. And when Sirius rebels against that role, his mother can't value him in that way either.

Even if Sirius's mother did at one time love him (in her own way), I'm still willing to bet there was no warmth in that household. Add that to the pressure on Sirius to be something he didn't want to be, and it's no wonder he found that situation unbearable.
manicwriter1271 From: manicwriter1271 Date: August 13th, 2004 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've always thought that the household at 12 Grimmauld Place was not abusive, but merely extremely unpleasant--kind of like living with a parent who loves his/her children and means no harm, but is suffering from either a mental illness or is merely a product of his/her own misguided unbringing. In other words, Mrs Black thought she was right and had no intention of harming Sirius. I think the intention to harm has to be present in an abusive relationship. With Vernon and Harry, there was clearly a lack of concern and an intention to harm.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: August 13th, 2004 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
There are a whole lot of parents who consider their children as nothing more than an extension of themselves -- as a belonging of sorts. They "have" a baby like having a collie dog or a new dishwasher. This year we'll build a new home, next year we'll "have" a baby. This collie-dog-mentality tends to manifest itself most in child discipline -- you'll see these parents laugh when Junior smashes Mrs. Jones' vase, but they'll just flip out when the child insults them or embarrasses them in public. It's all about Me.

The Malfoys and the Blacks just match this pattern. They have Blacks (or Malfoys) not children and certainly not persons. You see what upsets Malfoy -- anything that insults the Malfoy name -- the Lucius Malfoy name. (Getting lower grades than a mudblood or becoming nothing more than a thief or plunderer.)

I could rant here about what it *does* take to raise a child. How you have to LIKE them as persons, not just "love" them as babies. How they will disappoint you and they won't be what you think they should be and how parenting will be NOTHING like what you expected -- but that you will have these amazing, talented, self-sufficient Human Beings in the end of it, and somehow *you* and your partner actually had a hand in *making* them. It's truly awesome.

Back to the collie-dog method of child rearing, though. It's not the proper way to raise a child, obviously, but it *isn't* abusive. When the child shows his own temperament or choses something other than his Parents Choice (as Sirius did) it isn't love that is with held (or removed) from the child, it's doting. These parents do love their child, but as a Mini Me and not as a human being. JKR's holding up a mirror to much of contemporary society - including parenting - and I hope it feels uncomfortable to those (possibly) well-intentioned but horribly selfish parents who are following the same basic parenting path as the Blacks & Malfoys.

Off that tangent...

What bugs me is the Remus-was-abused storyline. I think it's obvious that his parents sacrificed everything to try to find a cure. (He says that in the Shrieking Shack scene.) They probably worked themselves into early graves doing so -- I get the impression he was from a very, very loving family. It's quite sad.

Abuse is vogue right now, but it's horribly unimaginative. I think fanfic writers could come up with a better storyline.
sistermagpie From: sistermagpie Date: August 14th, 2004 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. You've totally put into words the impression I got from OotP. Bravo!

I definitely thought that Sirius and his mother were very much alike. I suspect he was always a challenge, never just meekly followed orders, and this may have led to him being punished frequently, but that does not equal abuse. I think, as you describe, that as Sirius grew up his relationship with his mother got worse and worse and that he often gave as good as he got. When we meet him, I agree, he's still just as angrily stuck in their fight as Mrs. Black's portrait is. I really don't feel we scratched the surface of how he really felt about his family in canon, but I also thought his words suggested he did want their affection, that he was a Black through-and-through, and that his calling Regulus an idiot did suggest something different about his relationship with his brother. Maybe there was even a little guilt there.

Iow, ITA.:-)
jedirita From: jedirita Date: August 14th, 2004 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here via daily_snitch.

I feel compelled to comment on the simplistic view expressed here that abuse is defined by intention - that is, that it's only abusive if the person intends to belittle or harm another.

That is not the legal definition of abuse. Legally, an abusive situation is one that causes harm to a child. Example: my cousin is foster mom to a girl whose parents are mentally retarded. These people love their daughter, but they are incapable of taking care of her. She sometimes went for weeks without being bathed. She was not properly fed and cared for, to the extent that her physical and mental development were impaired by the poor quality of care she received.

This may be an extreme example - no one would want to call her parents abusive - but it *was* an abusive situation. The state intervened to remove her from her parents' custody. However, there are plenty of abusive parents who do not deliberately set out to belittle or harm their children. Many of them think they are doing the right thing, yet they may in fact be doing great harm. Many times the abuse stems from the parents' lack of child-raising skills, or is a result of severe stress in the parents' lives. But that does not excuse the parents in the eyes of the law. Abuse is defined by the result, rather than the intention.

I think readers can interpret the situation with Sirius and his mother in a variety of ways. But to claim that a situation is not abusive because the parent does not intend to cause harm is completely erroneous.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 14th, 2004 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I disagree--it makes a huge difference in characterization, which is the whole point of the essay. Is it a deliberately harmful relationship, or a mutually poison one? That's going to make a profound difference in how Mrs. Black is interpreted as a character, and how Sirius's relationship with her is interpreted. It's the difference between arson and a lightning strike--the house may be burned down either way, but the emotional component is very different.

As to your comment that it's "simplistic," I think it's actually less simplistic to understand that not everything hurtful is abusive than to tar all bad parenting with the same brush. There are shades of gray out there.
jedirita From: jedirita Date: August 14th, 2004 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, got it. On the whole, this thread is good and I was not taking issue with that, nor with your characterization of Mrs. Black. I was just concerned about the implication that abuse is defined by intent to harm.

As to your comment that it's "simplistic," I think it's actually less simplistic to understand that not everything hurtful is abusive than to tar all bad parenting with the same brush. There are shades of gray out there.

I agree, and certainly not all bad parenting is abusive. But I still say that "intent to harm" is not what distinguishes between the two. (Sorry for being a little heavy on the real life issue here, but since this is such an important real life issue, I think we need to be accurate when we discuss it, even in fiction.)
sreya From: sreya Date: August 16th, 2004 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Strangely enough, I think I'm going to disagree with you, Fern. I was actually planning on posting something similar to jedirita's comment.

I think you're right in that it's important for characterization to consider whether the harm is intended or not, and you're right in that not all harm is abuse, but not all abuse is intended. The abuse I've encountered in my own life was certainly not intended -- in fact, the person I'm thinking of in particular was drunk at the time and had very little concept of anything right or wrong.

Abuse is, I think, something that just is plain unacceptable, regardless of intention -- it's not "something that could be accepted under some circumstances, and it's only a combination of factors that make it harmful." I think a lot of the harm Sirius suffered may have been of the latter kind, a bad mixture that soured and turned nasty in his teen years. But if living Mrs. Black was screaming at her son the sort of thing her portrait screams in OotP, that would cross the line into abuse.

So really, the question for the Blacks comes down to whether you interpret the portrait as an older, crazed Mrs. Black, or representative of her core personality that was there all her life.

Heh, sorry to be harping on a point of disagreement, and one which you've replied to already. The essay really is an excellent, particularly on your theories about Regulus and what you use to support them.

(Random thought -- I just realized someone may think that merely raising a child among the sort of dangerous things throughout the house could be considered "abuse", but I do believe there are two factors that argue against that. First, wizarding children certainly seem FAR more resiliant than muggle children. Second, it seemed to me that the layabout manner of everything was due to Kreacher having run of the house and trying to boobytrap the Order. Most likely anything dangerous would have been "child-proofed" or hidden away by Mr. and Mrs. Black. Even if they only valued their children as heirs, they still wouldn't have wanted anything deadly lying around for a son to play with.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 16th, 2004 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually disagree on the real life level as well. When a term comes to a point where it means everything--where every instance of negative or even hurtful parenting is called abuse--it ceases to mean anything. It's because I take abuse seriously that I don't want the word applied willy-nilly. Intention is morally important when you're talking about a crime--murder vs. manslaughter vs. accidental death; that's why they have different names. Saying that everyone who does something harmful as a parent is an abuser is like saying that the person who runs someone down because she looked away while talking on her cell phone is morally equivalent to the person who plots a murder for months, commits it in a painful way, then hides the body by chopping it up and hiding it under the floorboards. It may not make that much difference to the victim, but it makes a whole lot of difference in the moral (and legal) evaluation of the act. Naming the crime isn't about the victim; it's about the perpetrator... and it's about motive.
red_squared From: red_squared Date: August 14th, 2004 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
This almost word for word how I have pictured Sirius and his relationship with his family.

Thanks for writing this - I thought I was the only one...


red_squared From: red_squared Date: August 14th, 2004 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Forgot to add this - something I always thought was telling was that Kreacher keeps muttering about how Sirius broke his mother's heart when he ran away. I know that the house-elf can't be trusted on many things, but I choose to believe that this, at least, is true.

How could Sirius have 'broken her heart' if she always hated him, and always wanted him out of her life? I think she interpreted his running away as a supreme rejection of everything she stood for and believed in (which it was), and she lost it.

All of the horrible comments about Sirius being an "abomination" and the "shame of her flesh" and so on has more to do with his running away and embarrassing her in front of the rest of the family and her peers (who are probably also part of the family, when you look at the tapestry) than with anything he may have done while he was there.
blackxlupin From: blackxlupin Date: September 9th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Highly interesting.
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