OK OK SO I just finished reading to catch a swan and. I'm so picky about my Neal fic bc I'm a survivor of abuse and I see so much of myself in him, it's difficult to read a lot of stuff when I feel it doesn't do his background justice. But you've done it SO WELL I haven't gotten this excited about reading fic in like a year. I love how much he understands why he was abused but is still allowed to be angry and resentful and Not A Good Victim while firmly being a Survivor. Just wanted to say that
First off, this is probably one of the best messages I’ve gotten about a fic and you seriously made me tear up. This means so much to me, thank you.
Secondly, I just realized I write Neal as a coping mechanism to deal with the abuse in my childhood, so thank you for helping me come to that interesting revelation! No wonder I’m so protective of him and got so pissed when he was killed off…
I’m picky about my Neal fic too, especially fic that whitewashes the relationship between him and Rumplestiltskin. I think they will always have something of a prickly relationship with each other and I think a part of Neal will always have that bitterness and anger there, even if he gains closure. He is very much Not A Good Victim, in the same way Henry wasn’t (though they sort of erased that in later seasons, unfortunately) with Regina. I like complicated relationships and probably one of my favorite Neal scenes was when Gold was dying and we see Neal say quietly, “I’m still angry” before embracing his father. That just encapsulates so much of Neal. He’s allowed to be pissed, he’s allowed to be furious. He’s also allowed to be sad that his father is dying. He’s allowed to grieve and mourn while still being hateful and angry.