Tagging you from Review Tag!
You never cease to amaze me, you know that? I never expected that I would read a story about sensual Voldemort without it coming across as cheesy or caricatured. This was nothing of the sort. You captured an incredible sort of sensuous malevolence. His manipulative nature was beautifully portrayed. He knows her perfectly, her weaknesses and desires, and he plays to them perfectly, showing her a moment of intimacy that cements her loyalty in a way that nothing else ever could. Even as he denies her the thing that she most desires, the permanent bond between them that she craves, he entices her with the prospect of something more. He's the perfect bastard.
Backing up, I thought you did a great job of taking us through the years in which Bella comes to cherish her isolation from the others. The events and the thought process fit perfectly for a woman we know to be sociopathic and borderline insane. The way that Rodolphus courts her and her true feelings about their marriage blended perfectly with everything we know about her. It completed the picture of her in a way that made the character your own. The way that she embraces nightfall and loves to watch the darkness consume the light continued to build on the dark, brooding personality you've created for her.
I groaned just a bit -- perhaps even audibly -- when you introduced Voldemort using polyjuice to resume his younger form. I freely admit that I'm not a canon expert when it comes to the effects of the potion, but I was under the impression that it transformed the person using it into whatever the current form of the hair donor would be. That's why it can't be used to impersonate people who have died. Moreover, most authors would probably have Voldemort seduce her.
What you did was so much better than I was expecting that I'm well past the point of caring about any possible canon violations. He teased her. He tantalized her. He showed her the barest glimpses of the relationship between the two of them that she desires with all of her heart. He danced with her! Seriously, who would have ever imagined Voldemort and Bellatrix dancing? I absolutely loved it! And while he had her under his distinctly non-magical spell, he extracts her commitment to help protect his immortality.
The way that he casually deflects her request to learn the magic of creating horcruxes was the icing on the cake! That was the perfect characterization for Tom Riddle. He isn't even willing to allow his most loyal servant any chance to equal or surpass him. "Only I can live forever." That line is echoing in my ears.
Just so this review doesn't come across as completely unbalanced, I noticed three things that gave me a bit of pause:
-- "... perfecting her abilities in an effort to make every part of herself pure and superior to the other half-breeds and imposters that attended the school." - I'm not sure about saying "other half-breeds" in this context, since she is a pureblood.
-- "... but she went through with it anyway, knowing that being married would mean leaving the busy household of her parents and retiring to a quieter existence where she could toy with Dark magic as she liked." - Seems a little strange. I never got the impression that Cygnus and Druella Black had any issue with their family dabbling in dark magic.
-- "She nodded just slightly, and he took it as a cue to continue." - This sounds a bit strange for him. I can't imagine him ever waiting for another person's leave to speak.
I thought this was really fantastic. As long as we can agree to disagree about Lily and Snape, I will continue to adore your writing!
Author's Response: Hello again! Look at me, catching up!
It was weird for me to imagine writing sensual Voldemort, trust me. It just so happened that my plunny for a Bellatrix/Voldemort and the Film Noir Challenge occurred at the same time. In film noir, two of the major archetypes are this idea of an anti-hero who isn't quite squeaky clean and a femme fatale who sort of leads him down the path to his destruction. What I tried to do here was reverse those roles and do a little bit of gender bending. Anyway, I'm really, really glad that the idea seemed to work well for you after all.
I wanted Bella to begin quietly. All I've ever seen of her is this woman who's maniacal from start to finish, and I felt like by doing that, you miss the part where she unravels. I really wanted to get back to her roots.
Eh, you're probably right about the Polyjuice. I toyed with it because it played into my little switcheroo fantasy where the femme fatale's beauty is used to pull the antihero in further. Normally I do more thorough research, not having re-read the series in quite some time, but I figured I was pushing the boundaries too much already to worry about little details ;) Anyway, it's great that you liked the idea of Voldemort romancing Bellatrix anyway. The dancing was another integral part right from the beginning. I definitely don't see either Voldemort or Bellatrix being into that in a canon setting, but it seemed to really fit here. That section of the story kind of wrote itself.
That part where he casually brushes her off seemed like the closest I got to canon Voldemort. He's drawn her in, got her hooked, and now he can give her as much or as little as he wants and she's still willing to hold on.
Thanks for your critiques as well. I agree that the use of the term half-breed needs to be adjusted so that it makes more sense there. As to Bella's fascination with dark magic, what I meant is more that her parents might not approve of her taking a leading and powerful role, of not concentrating her energy on being a proper wife and producing fine children. With the last one, I meant for it to be part of Voldemort's little ruse, but you make a point.
You know, I am more than just a Snily shipper, and I like to think of myself as being an open-minded reader and reviewer :)
Thanks very much for this kind review!