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More RABbity thoughts - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
More RABbity thoughts
Okay, so it's all but a given that R.A.B. is Regulus Black, and many interesting theories about who he may or may not have worked with to get the locket are floating around, but, as might be expected of a fanficcer with a particular interest in the Black family, what interests me is the somewhat troubling question of how Regulus's actions compare with Sirius's total dismissal of him.

Now, psychologically, I think I get why Sirius would mutter on about Regulus being soft in the head and so on--Sirius loves people completely and very unwisely, and when the people he loves do things he can't stand, he responds by being contemptuous, as we see with Peter. If Sirius adored his brother beyond all reason, and his brother became a Death Eater, then given Sirius's character, "soft in the head" and "idiot" and just about any other designation would be natural things for him to say.

However, narratively, it's the only thing we ever hear Sirius say, and since he's dead, he's never going to have the chance to re-think his position, which leaves him in the very unattractive light of totally dismissing a person who defied Voldemort personally and took steps to ensure his final defeat. For readers who don't like Sirius, this may not be problematic ("Of course he did; he's a jerk"), but it's clear from interviews that Rowling likes Sirius quite a lot, despite thinking him deeply flawed... how, narratively--in the midst of a workup to a pretty big battle--could Sirius's snap, post-Azkaban judgment be seen in a halfway decent light, since it's the only time we'll ever actually hear him speak on the subject? Is it likely that we'll get deeper information on the Black brothers as kids, and see where Sirius was coming from? (That quite a lot of people read his comment as that of a loving but frustrated older brother is a hopeful sign, but it is pretty harsh, if Regulus ends up having tried to save the world.) What would be the best way to address it so that it's clear Sirius was dismissing Regulus because Regulus hurt him, not because Sirius was too stupid to see that Regulus had more too him?

Maybe it's not necessary. Maybe it's fine for Sirius to just come off as a jerk and Regulus to be the Really Important One... but I somehow don't think that's what JKR has in mind, simply because of her obvious affection for Sirius. So I think that somehow, in the course of learning about R.A.B., we're going to have to see more of Sirius, and who he was, and see a kind of tragedy between the brothers, which Sirius quite unfortunately never got a chance to learn the truth about. I could see a few ways for it to happen--Lupin is still there, and could probably tell Harry about the relationshiip between Regulus and Sirius; Dumbledore's Pensieve could have come to Harry, and they actually use it to skim Kreacher's memories; Harry finds artifacts in his search for the first Horcrux that hint at it...

I don't know. Probably, I'm making too much of it, and we'll just settle for, "Well, Sirius didn't know all that much about his brother," because there's also a strong sense in her interviews that she can't imagine anyone not liking Sirius as much as she does, so she may not feel any need to explain it further than it's explained by Sirius's obvious character quirks.

On a related but unrelated subject, if Sirius's blood brother Regulus, whom he dismissed, turned on Voldemort, it sets things up well for a mirrored action of his "brother" Peter, also dismissed (and in a very similar way), doing the same thing.

And unrelated, but also spoilery...

When I did Flames, Violet Azure asked about how Tonks got into the Shrieking Shack with all of the protections and so on. I've been thinking about that, because I plan on using the Shrieking Shack pretty extensively soon, and I thought of this: When Harry and Dumbledore are flying to Hogwarts, Dumbledore has to undo the enchantments as they go in. Tonks can't go through the gates when she drops Harry off at the gates. Yet Tonks is able to get into the school to see Dumbledore when she's worried about the werewolf attack, and of course the Order is able to get in the night of the battle. Would it fly reasonably well that the Order of the Phoenix, along with their special talking Patronuses, also has the "keys" to the enchantments around the Shrieking Shack, and can use the tunnel under the Whomping Willow to get onto school grounds? (I'm probably going to use this in fic-terms anyway, but it might be fun to toss around.)
31 comments or Leave a comment
From: tunxeh Date: July 25th, 2005 05:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's telling that Slughorn talked about wanting to collect the pair of the Blacks for his club. It was in the context of talking about Sirius, but it hinted that Sluggy saw a lot of talent or potential in Regulus too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2005 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I think it's a given that Regulus was more talented than Sirius gave him credit for, but that doesn't help the perception of Sirius himself... I'm concerned with him playing as a complete idiot if it turns out that Regulus tried to save the world. How can it be shown in the narrative that Sirius himself wasn't a horrible brother?
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: July 25th, 2005 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm wondering if Regulus might turn up alive. It's very safe being dead, after all...
narcissam From: narcissam Date: July 25th, 2005 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
As Stubby Boardman?
gehayi From: gehayi Date: July 25th, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think she'll really bother to explain it. The fans tend to get more into explanations of behaviour than she does. After all, she had Sirius and Remus established as the best of friends for several books, and then had Sirius leave Remus nothing--not even a keepsake--in his will. NOT a nice thing to do, especially to one's best and oldest remaining friend. And it wouldn't have taken much to write Remus in. All Dumbledore would have had to say was something like this:

"Aside from a few keepsakes from his days at Hogwarts, which Sirius left to Remus Lupin, he left everything to you, Harry."

But no. She didn't do that. She just went for the easy plot device, and didn't think about what it said about Sirius's character.

I suspect that Sirius's cruel dismissals of his brother and of Peter will be similar to this, in that there won't really be any explanation for them. We'll never see, from Sirius's point of view, why he called his brother "soft," or why he believed that Peter--who was clearly terrified of Voldemort and of Voldemort's weapons even twelve years after the fact--had been sufficiently in control of what seems to have been a torture situation to die.

She'll focus on Harry getting the Horcruxes and on his defeat of Voldemort.
But she won't try to reconcile pieces of information about a character's personality. And since Harry is a notoriously unreliable narrator who thinks very little about even the people he likes, much less those whom he doesn't...well, I don't think we can count on getting a well-rounded world view.

And because it's ultra-clear to her who the characters are--whether the information makes it into the books or not--she won't see any plotholes, and she won't see any contradictions or undeveloped aspects of characters.

After all, she hasn't up till now.

I suspect that Book 7 will be good--but it won't have all the detail about characters' personalities that I would like. Sad, but there it is.
From: tunxeh Date: July 25th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suspect that Book 7 will be good--but it won't have all the detail about characters' personalities that I would like. Sad, but there it is.

If she included all the details we'd like to know, there would be much less opportunity for fanfic.
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threnody From: threnody Date: July 25th, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't see anything really bad in Sirius calling his brother an idiot, not that made Sirius out to be a jerk, anyway. I read it as being more of a sad/disgusted 'I thought he knew better'. Which is a natural reaction when your sibling does something retarded and usually avoidable. I don't think he had the foggiest clue about what his brother had done, which would make it even dumber in his eyes- instead of laying low or going underground quietly if you weren't into it, he obviously did something grand and stupid that got him killed pronto. If Sirius was to be a real butthead, we would have seen a lot more venom directed at Regulus, of the sort we saw aimed at his mother's portrait.
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scarah2 From: scarah2 Date: July 25th, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
If RAB stole the Horcrux and didn't destroy it, he actually hurt the anti-Voldemort mission, since they had to navigate the cave and lost a key player.

I'm also more inclined to think that RAB stole it not because of some great change of heart and new devotion to the light side, but more because Voldemort had pissed in his cornflakes.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Shrieking Shack (Violet Azure)

Oooh, that's a brilliant idea! Works very well with canon. I've always wondered in Dumbledore or the Honeydukes knew about that secret tunnel. I can just see Dumbledore raiding the Honeydukes' "stash."

As for the whole Regulus subplot, I don't think Sirius means to "dismiss" him because Sirius is a callow person, but I think Rugulus and Sirius probably had a very strained relationship and then something catestrophic happened to "turn" Regulus away from Voldemort and Sirius probably never had the chance to discover that Regulus turned for a noble reason and no because he was "in too deep". Look at Harry and Dudley; I think Harry's pretty much written off Dudley. Can you imagine if Dudley did something incredibly brave and noble for wizarding kind because his beliefs about Muggles and wizards were shaken to his core? There are differences I'm sure, but perhaps Sirius used phrases like "soft in the head" and "idiot" because he had grown so far away from his brother by this point that he never saw the change in him. Malfoy is another example: we've seen nothing in Malfoy until Book 6 except that he is a petty, prejudice bully and then when faced with a MAJOR event he was unable to follow Voldemort's orders. If Malfoy had a sibling like Sirius, I can't imagine the two of them getting along. Plus, we don't know how Regulus supported Sirius when Sirius moved out. Good parallel between Regulus and Peter though.
cynthia_black From: cynthia_black Date: July 25th, 2005 10:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sirius probably never saw Regulus 'redeem himself'. He had already left home and had nothing more to do with his family. Siblings often do that after a troubled childhood (says she with a modicom of personal insight). that doesn't actually mean Sirius was being any more of a jerk than Regulus - they just never had the opportunity to find out what each other were like as adults. Sirius was still at school when he left home.

Sirius is a man with faults, but a very strong sense of loyalty and right/wrong (and Sirius was my favourite character for a long, long time). He just didn't get a chance to discover the man his brother became as an adult and through bitter experience. That's my take on it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2005 11:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I agree. The question is, how can she show this in book 7, with both of them being dead?
amelia_eve From: amelia_eve Date: July 26th, 2005 12:44 am (UTC) (Link)
My biggest problem with bringing Regulus back from a faked death is that it would mess up Harry's inheritance. He's approaching his majority and won't be going back to the Dursleys' except as required to retain their blood protection. He needs the house at 12 Grimmauld Place as his pied á terre for Book 7, especially if he does not return to Hogwarts. If Regulus came back and tried to dispute Harry's rights to the Black family home, it would be a very invonvenient distraction, and there's a whole lot of plot to get through in the next book without worrying about that sort of stuff.

I'm not so surprised that Sirius did not leave anything explicitly to Remus. I think he felt very protective toward Harry, and also, as a man whose youth was wasted in Azkaban, was as glad as Harry was to have a surrogate father-child relationship.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 26th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Is there some reason to assume Regulus would come back from the dead?

:am confused:

I've seen that theory in a few places, but I don't get it.
dalf From: dalf Date: July 26th, 2005 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you are reading way way too much into the Sirius and Regulus thing. INfact I dont see anythign at all wrong with his dismissal. Do you hold it against Remus that he thought poorly of SIrius when he thought he was a trator? Sirius never had at his disposal the information we have. For all we know Regulus was (and I think he was) on some level a real idiot. Mind being an itiot in this context does not mean untalented. We know Regulus did sign up for being a DE without really knowing what he was doing. That is not that bright. I am not ready to condem SIrius for what may have been a valid judgment. For all we know when he got in over his head it changed somethign in Regulus and supred him onto a degree of greatness inside himself that even he much less Sirius ever suspected.

I much prefer TOnks comming in through the womping willow. That was my thought when I commented on the other post. I much prefer the idea of the shreaking shak as virtually inpenatrable form the outside .... though being able to disaparate there might be ok as long as you can't aparate (without perhaps knowing some special charm which Remus woudl know anyway).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 26th, 2005 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, they'd still have to go into the house via the door--the Order would be using the Whomping Willow to get into Hogwarts. They'd go through the Shack to get to it. The Shrieking Shack looks like a regular house; it just has anti-trespassing spells on it (probably) and a reputation for being haunted by violent ghosts.
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