Hi! Here for the TGS review swap, sorry it's so late in the month, but I'm so glad I finally made it over when I had enough time to dedicate to this piece.
The simple style of this narration betrays how much thought I think you put into this--there's a delicacy present that sort of reminds me of the way that Bellatrix herself sort of skirts the line, between being sane and whatever's beyond that; obsession, I think, in her case, but the kind that's even tricked her into thinking it's something noble, like love, like ideal. And it could be something like that, pure in a morbid, twisted way; morbidly, twistedly courageous. Your piece in particular has made me wonder more about really what's behind Bellatrix's devotion, what she herself thinks about it. Any story that can make someone sympathetic in even a little way to someone we want to hate is sort of a victory for that reason. This is definitely one.
I know you wrote this for a film noir challenge, and to me it had that dark and sort of constructed, elegant poise--Voldemort as the femme fatale is sort of bizarre but I think you made it work well. He's not using his looks, obviously, and it's so strange to see the whole ideal side of this, to see how much they've both thought about it, to see that Bellatrix apart from him is rather independent and hardworking. Sometimes people who work at things, who are self-made, in a sense, feel like the right personalities in writing to see all the small things, like the way that they're sacrificing lives for this idea, and be opposed to it--but here it feels so natural that they should brush these things off and look instead towards a future. I can't help but feel the whole "future" speech is a construct of Voldemort's, though, to coax Bella into helping him. I don't really believe that he's capable, as we understand him, of thinking of others as anything like family, or something to protect. I think what's more alarming is that here, while I was just reading it, before taking time to sit here and think about what you've given us, I found it wasn't difficult to believe him, to see him how Bella does, if only for a moment.
I wonder if Voldemort really does trust her; part of me thinks he must, but still in a reserved, tactical way. Still, it's enough to make me believe Bellatrix...believe that maybe she thinks that she's doing is right, if only for her love for Voldemort. I'm actually almost admiring her twisted sort of courage.
I'm so glad to have been paired with you in the exchange; this is a beautiful, insightful, strange but good piece, and I'm thankful that you've shared it with us.
Author's Response: Hi Lily! I apologize that I took so long to respond to your fabulous review. Midterms were last week and my brain has shut down ever since!
I'm glad the thought I put into the piece is evident to you. I, too, have always been fascinated by Bellatrix's devotion, particularly the fact that she didn't make that last, final step of leaving Voldemort in her tracks and taking the title of ultimate villain for herself. It was definitely a challenge (self-imposed, albeit) to twist her around and mold her into some semblance of an anti-hero, but I sort of mentally juxtaposed her obsession with Voldemort and transformed it into the still, small voice inside of her that steadily reminds her that magic is might, pureblood is the way to go, and the thieves must not go unpunished. In her mind, she's a martyr.
This was meant to be strange and unorthodox, and I think that was half the fun in writing it. It started out with this tiny plunny I had where I really wanted Voldemort and Bella to waltz together, to allow him to get under her tough exterior and seduce the woman within. You're very right that the "future" Voldemort paints for his captive is entirely an illusion; in his world, of course, no life is important except his own, and all that need to be expended in the process of achieving the dream will be expended, including hers. If I succeeded in momentarily pulling you in along with Bella, I consider that a personal triumph :)
But Bella is no ordinary follower, to which you alluded. I do think their relationship was slightly different than the relationships between him and the other Death Eaters, and maybe that did include a bit of trust. And that's all that's needed to pull her into his web.
Thank you very much for your thoughtful review! I'm glad you liked the story, and I really enjoyed swapping with you.