Wow. I don't think I've ever read a better portrayal of Bellatrix.
I really love the progression from child Bellatrix to adult Bellatrix. I've never imagined her being so solitary as a child, but the way you wrote it makes so much sense. I can just picture her, alone in her dorm, finding ways to perfect her magic. And that translates so perfectly into the adult Bella.
I think you've captured her insanity so well in the parts with Voldemort. Some of the imagery in there was stunning. You really managed to get inside her head, which is hard enough for any character, but Bella is so layered. She's more complex than a lot of people make her out to be, and you've shown all those layers. She's more than just insane, as you've shown. She's so eager to please Voldemort, and he takes complete advantage of that. Yet he seems to trust her more than his average Death Eater as well, as I don't think he'd divulge his secret to just anyone. The very end, when he refused to tell her how to make a horcrux, showed how taken in Bella is by him. She doesn't see that he won't tell her because he wants to be all powerful, because he doesn't /want/ to tell her. She believes that this is for the best. And you show Voldemort's charm in that section so perfectly as well. He knows exactly what to say to calm her, which in itself is terrifying.
Though it's obvious that Bella is devoted to Voldemort, this goes beyond that. She definitely loves him, or is at least so enraptured that she thinks she's in love with him. It's interesting, because while Voldemort can't love, it appears as though Bella can. I think that makes her all the more dangerous, to be honest. Voldemort seeks power and his own survival, which makes him dangerous enough, but Bella is not only motivated by her thirst for power, but also her love and devotion to Voldemort. I really like that she went weak-kneed when he walked into the room. That, along with the way you described him at that part, showed that devotion. I was a bit surprised when he asked her to dance, to be honest, but it was just another way of using his charm. He expected Bella's reaction.
You've given me so much to think about with Bella in this. Sorry I rambled so much in there xD It's a flawless one shot.
Author's Response: What a compliment! Thank you! :)
It's so funny that you should make that comment about insanity -- other reviewers of this story have complained that I didn't make her crazy enough. It's always interesting to see different readers' takes on the same piece. I think you hit the nail on the head, though, because I did want to go a little deeper. I feel like Bellatrix's insanity is used a lot for comic relief (including in the films), and I wanted to put a darker emphasis on it and show just how dangerous it is to her and the world of people affected by her actions. It's great that the progression from her student years to her adult life seemed accurate to you, and that you could appreciate her blind, almost helpless devotion to Voldemort.
Oh, yeah -- he's her world. He's the very symbol of everything that she has been taught and has come to believe in, and I think it would be hard not to fall in love with that if it was placed before you and beckoned you in. To me, Bella is just the most extreme and yet the most simplistic example of Voldemort's influence. All of his followers were seduced by him in one way or another, in my view. And he knows how to play that game, so much so that he is able to easily charm many different types of people and draw them into his web. For Bellatrix, who is still a woman under all of her bravado, he is romantic and charming, at least as I've written him here. To be honest, the Film Noir Challenge inspired much of that.
Thanks so much for your kind review! :)