Here with the final requested review!
THAT OPENING SCENE, THOUGH. Gorgeous prose! Mystery! Intrigue! Who was it that went into the study? And what did he burn? It gives me a sense of unease since we so often see the story though the eyes of Sirius. Is it Sirius who burns this mystery document?! And if so, WHY?!?! I like to think it has something to do with money. It always has something to do with money...
I'd like to take a moment here to just point out some fantastic wordcrafting in this chapter, like "gathered together in some semblance of safety they all maintain they don't need" and "he wonders, in those spaces between self-loathing and boredom, if there's something wrong with him. It wouldn't surprise him if there was." It's lines like these that lend extra richness and strength to your already strong narrative.
It's fascinating to see how differently Sirius behaves around Bella than he does around Narcissa. I love the line "he spent half his life trying to impress her and the other half trying to annoy her." I can totally see that being the case. Bellatrix may be psychotic, but she also strikes me as the sort of person you would secretly want to impress, especially if you're a family member like Sirius.
Omg, Bellatrix's "one day" line. UGHH. The foreshadowing! MY HEART. D:
I think you do an excellent job of showing glimmers of younger Bellatrix's instability. Even here, during her conversation with Sirius, Bella betrays a short temper and flashes of madness. And of course Bella WOULD use the thought of Regulus in danger to coerce Sirius into helping her. Very solid work here at painting a Bella that's both dynamic and fitting with JKR's portrayal of her in the books.
Yeah, how is anyone in the Black family ever going to eat again? With that much paranoia running rampant, I wouldn't even trust a breath mint to not be poisoned. o.o Sirius would totally be the first one to take a bite. He's a Gryffindor after all. YEAH. And it's so in character for his father to be vaguely amused by the whole thing, despite the gravity of the situation.
MYSTERIOUS LETTER. What does it say?! What does it mean?! Fantastic cliffhanger! You've left me wanting more.
I think you crafted some excellent character development over these past three chapters. Plot has tended to be a little on the slow side action-wise, but I think that you make up for it by injecting a lot of telling conversations and character insight. And as for the air of mystery...oooh yeahhh. You are certainly doing an excellent job of keeping up the suspense!
Great, great work, Aph! Again, I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read more of this work. Life may be busy, but I hope to return to this story some time soon. After all, you've left me hanging, and I wanna know who the murderer is!
Author's Response: Hey there - thanks so much for dropping by! :)
Gah, thank you so much! I really liked that bit - it was one of the more fun scenes to write - I'd known I wanted to do it for a while, which helped :P You know I can't answer questions, though, haha - though it's definiely not Sirius going in there :P And money is probably a good bet, since everything being to do with money is pretty true, after all ;)
Thank you so much! I really like writing Sirius' pov, for the random little bits of sort of self-deprecating/faintly nasty humour you can add into it, which are always so much fun to write.
Oh yeah, Sirius' relationship with Bellatrix is very different to his relationship with Narcissa - and I really loved getting the chance to explore that in this too. Especially because I imagine a young Sirius, wanting to be brave and strong and everything, would have looked up to Bella a lot, since she was that much older to be impressive but not an adult, if that makes sense. And yeah, the fact that she's family, probably only makes it that much worse and more of a drive, you know? But thank you so much for picking up on that! ;)
Haha, carefully-placed foreshadowing :P I couldn't resist it, truly... :P
Thank you so much! I've always loved writing Bella, strangely enough, and I've always thought that most of her madness would probably come from Azkaban, given how insane most of the former Azkaban prisoners we meet are (including Sirius, ofc), but I imagine her being somewhat unstable when she's younger - like it wouldn't take too much to push her over. So yeah, lots of sharp flashes of temper and changes of mood and so on. And yeah, Bella really does know how to get to Sirius - disadvantage of being family :P
Haha, poisoned breath mints! :P I love it - maybe I should use that in a future mystery? And Sirius is both a teenage boy and a Gryffindor, so eating food is sort of what he does, even if it means risking his own neck :P Though the paranoia around him I imagine would be very stifling - and Orion is just amused by most things, apart from those he's not amused by, ofc :P
Ah, I can't tell you! :( But yes, mysterious letter... to be fair, though, with this one, you will find out about that soon enough ;)
Gah, thank you so so much - I'm just so glad you enjoy this and so so grateful for the series of lovely reviews you've left me during this. They've been absolutely amazing to get, honestly - so thank you so much for that! :)