Sigh. Dang it, Venn! You were so close. So very, very close. Yet here you are, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Or maybe you were never that close to being victorious after all. Either way, it seems like you've messed up badly. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Little by little, you're introducing more and more characters into your story. Godric Gryffindor is now the only Hogwarts founder we haven't met, and I hope that you're saving him for something really special. Helga Hufflepuff was very interesting. She definitely isn't afraid to ruffle feathers or defy convention. Still, there's an earnestness about her. She seems very grounded compared to these high-minded magical nobles that surround her. Her questions and observations are very practical in nature. The questions, in particular, are ones that Rowena probably should have been asking a while ago.
“I hear that they have little sunlight in the realm from which Salazar comes.” - Ooh! Is that a little dig, perhaps? A saucy bit of double entendre? The more I see of Helga, the more I like her!
I love the way you wrote Salazar in this chapter. He's all business, cold and formal. There's a definite air of malice about him.
Knowing now what's coming, I thought it was good that Venn's physical presence has such an effect on Helena. She really is quite taken with him. And he with her, it would seem. It's easy to forget that both of them are young, at least in the great scheme of things. The awkward moment of greeting helps to put them back into perspective.
And then it all begins to fall apart. It seems that Venn's bravery on the jousting field is mostly a matter of subterfuge and outright fraud. The way that he treats the commoner from the Ravenclaw lands was perhaps the most telling thing you've yet written about him. All I could think of was Sirius Black, telling Harry to pay attention to how other treat their inferiors.
Now this is interesting. If I remember my "Tale of the Three Brothers" correctly, Antioch is the one who received the Elder Wand. Of course, he was also supposed to have died shortly thereafter, so I suppose the three brothers haven't had their legendary encounter just yet. It was nice to see somebody openly challenge Venn for his cowardly cheating. I really can't wait to see how the duel turns out.
You left us with quite a cliffhanger. I love the conflict that Helena feels as she flees the arena. She's horrified by what she's learned about her husband-to-be, but she's equally terrified of having to start over with a new suitor. In the end, she simply chooses not to face the problem.
Brilliant chapter! You tied in so much canon detail and gave us the first glimpse of Helena's tendency that ultimately leads to the tragic demise of both herself and the Bloody Baron. I'll be back soon!
Author's Response: Hey Dan! I'm pleased to see you again!
Yeah, this is kind of the "Venn messes up" chapter. As I recall, part of Venn's behavior in this chapter was inspired by a reviewer's comment that he would probably show some of his Slytherin qualities here, so yeah, subterfuge and deception seemed to fit, along with a big ol' dose of arrogance. I'm sure he made Salazar pretty proud, but I'm with Helena on this one--not attractive at all.
Fortunately, and perhaps you should consider this a tiny spoiler, Venn's behavior improves from here on out. After the fall in this chapter, he has room to grow into the prince charming I always wanted him to be, the one who can really capture Helena's heart and hold onto it.
I don't know that I would say Godric's appearance is anything special, but I do love Helga. Her role continues to be important later in the story. I love her practicality; I told Jami earlier in another review response that no-nonsense qualities like that are what I really treasure in fictional female characters. She's the sort of woman I'd like to think I am.
I'm responding out of order with your comments, but I'll just keep following this thought train. I'm glad you liked the moment of awkward intimacy between Venn and Helena; I wanted to show that they're definitely more attracted to one another than they perhaps seemed initially and that the romance is continuing to blossom there.
I'd like to think having someone like Venn as a direct challenge might have inspired Antioch to strive more and more intensely for power, perhaps leading him to his ultimate demise, in a very abstract and indirect sense. It's neat that you characterized his actions almost as being brave, because as we know, Antioch turned out to be a bit of a coward himself. (And you've just reminded me of a plot point I need to re-insert into my outline. Thank you!)
I'm so pleased that you enjoyed this chapter and came back to visit me with a fresh review. Hope to see you drop by again very soon :)