Eeee! This is so impressive, I really enjoyed it!
And yes. Here I am. Finally. I am here to judge your story for my Film Noir challenge that I might have slightly abandoned back in the summer due to work and exams and the pressures of real life and my horrific memory and impressive procrastination ability. And I can say how happy I am to be here.
I was a little wary about reading a sexy!Voldy story, but you really captured Bellatrixís infatuation with him and, because of your writing, I could believe that Bellatrix would still love him as the handsome youth from Hogwarts (who I could easily fancy) AND the nasally-challenged snake-face of later years. The sensation itself was not unfamiliar; sheíd often closed her eyes and indulged her rare girlish tendencies when seated before him, listening to him speak of a world where he alone would reign.
You are very good at description - your various passages about Bellatrix's time at school and then her preoccupation with the darkness at Malfoy Manor were really well done, and allowed the reader to get the backstory and allowed you to show off your wonderful writing skills. I would have liked a bit more description of Bella and Voldy dancing - it seemed such a beautiful image, and while it was nice to hear her comparing him to her other suitors, I would have like MOAR. I tihnk itís because I donít usually associate Bellatrix with being graceful (thatís more Narcissa) so it was nice to see her be feminine and ladylike once in awhile.
I really loved their encounter - the dialogue was well characterised and flowed wonderfully (I particularly love how he simply batted away her attempt to learn about the Horcruxes). Both their obsession with the darkness and how you described it and used in this fic fitted them perfectly - especially the section with Bellatrix and the shadows. Gaaah, it just works so well with the film noir genre. Well done, well done.Author's Response: Hello there! What a pleasant surprise :)
First off, thanks so much for awarding me second place in the challenge! I had a lot of fun exploring the various tropes that are present in film noir and toying with a brand new style.
At the time that I wrote this, I had been wanting to try out Bellatrix/Voldemort for a long while. The challenge just seemed kind of perfect, but in a very backwards sort of way. Voldemort is supposed to be like the femme fatale, using his wiles to ensnare Bellatrix's heart and get her to comply with his plans. Bellatrix, then, is meant to be an odd sort of anti-hero, drawn into Voldemort and struggling to hold onto some shred of herself. I think part of her knows that he's disingenuous and self-serving, and yet she wants to be part of his plan so much that she sort of lets herself be lied to in the process.
I entered this in Susan's Figurative Description Challenge as well, which is why there's a lot of imagery in there. Then again, though, I frequently put a lot of imagery into my work. I'm happy it accentuated the story instead of taking over too much, which is something I continually worry about. I didn't want to play up the dancing too much; it was tough for some readers to grasp (romantic!Voldemort, I mean, even if he is using it to manipulate her) and I didn't want it to go on much past a strong, quick image. I can see wanting to explore an unusual characterization of Bellatrix, though, so perhaps I'll write more of that in if I choose to write her again (I wouldn't be surprised).
My thought was that by the time he got to the point, he would have her in his web, and she wouldn't pick at the Horcrux idea too much. I'm glad you liked how I executed that.
Thanks so much for your very kind review!
-Amanda Report Review
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!
Amanda Report Review
Hmmm... I really like this. It was an interesting way to write the scene where Voldemort asks Bella to hide something for him. And it was more interesting how he didn't boss her around. But I suppose if he did do that, then she wouldn't be such a loyal follower. I like how you almost touch on romance there with the dance scene though. Even though while we know Bellatrix loves the Dark Lord we also know that he is incapable of love...
The ending was very curious, as well. I found it amusing that, while talking to Bella, Voldemort says "our descendants" when neither of them have children. He's the last of his lineage and she only has her sister's son for a descendant, and she kills her niece, Tonks. I wonder if Voldemort is just playing her or if he really thinks they'll "be together."
Well, as I said this was very interesting and thought provoking and I did very much enjoy it. I was literally, like, leaning in, glued to the screen the entire time as I was reading it, haha.
xxEnigmaticEyes16Author's Response: Hello again!
I always figured that while Voldemort probably didn't have true feelings for Bellatrix, he would treat her a little differently than most of the other Death Eaters. I conceptualized that by having him toy with her feelings in a way that would seem romantic to her but is all part of the ultimate end for him, if that makes sense. He's surely spent time researching his followers and knows what to do to unravel each of them.
You got it--again, just playing with her. Bellatrix probably did believe that she'd eventually have a future with him, whether that meant children (likely not, knowing her) or just an army of loyal followers (much better! hah.).
I'm glad this pulled you in, and that you liked it! Thanks for another fantastic review :)
Amanda Report Review
This gave me chills. Really. i have goosebumps.
(although when Voldy and Bellatrix were dancing i did have an avpm flashback xD)
Anyways, this was positively beautiful. Bellatrix is such a complex character, and you did an amazing job in characterizing her. Voldemort was... surprising. My first thought was that the tenderness must be a ploy to get her to help him, but by the sound of it she's so devoted she'd do it anyways. It seems quite out of character for him todisplay any sort of tenderness or caring, but you made it seem believable.
My favourite part of this story is "It was her favorite time of day, the few sparse moments in which the sun succumbed to the horizon and night took over like a predator. The black patches played about her legs like the children she would never have, lashing out at one another in jealously each time she twitched or took too deep of a breath, but she paid them no mind, staring instead at the drizzle that fell outdoors. The shadows swept over her cool, pale skin daringly, coming closer to her than her husband ever would in their marriage of convenience, their relation little more than a shared name. The invading darkness hemorrhaging into the sky before her knew her better than almost anyone."
I love the word choice and the description. It really paints a picture in my head.
All in all, this was exquisite.
~GillAuthor's Response: Hello! Thanks for the review, and I'm sorry it's taken me a little while to post a response!
I did try to play around with Voldemort's character a little bit in this story, in terms of trying to make him more a figure of desire and attraction. It was almost like I tried to see him the way that Bellatrix sees him. Your first thought wasn't wrong, though; it is part of his plot to get her to help him out, and she definitely fell for it hook, line, and sinker!
I like that paragraph, too. The challenge this story was written for (well, one of them) required me to use imagery, and while I ordinarily love toying with description, it was fun to just go all out in this one-shot.
Thanks for your lovely review :)
-Amanda Report Review
I am a huge fan of Bellatrix and you have done her justice. I also adore one-shots and how much you can convey in them but you still get to hold back information. Something you just can't do with longer stories.
I love this little snippet of her life, it really adds to the character we saw so little of in the series. I love the way they acting around each other it was very realistic and well executed.
The descriptions were amazing but at the same time they were concise.You didn't topple into over describing which would have taken away the lovely pacing.
EmmaAuthor's Response: Hello! Thanks for tagging me :)
I'm so glad you liked this, especially being a big Bellatrix fan! It's great that you found her interaction with Voldemort realistic and that you felt like I added to her canon characterization. It's usually my goal with characters to add new flavor to what I know, flavor that will fit in and make sense with canon. Also, I'm SO glad you mentioned imagery: I've been working lately on not letting my descriptions take over, but merely to allow them to enhance a piece. It really makes me feel good to hear that you felt like they didn't overpower the plot or disrupt the flow.
Thanks for your wonderful review :)
-Amanda Report Review
This is a fantastic piece of work, Amanda. Once again your writing is breathtaking! I haven't read a lot from Bella's point of view but I thought that you really brought out her character. It's really a moment of clarity in a mind that is said to be so off center!
I enjoyed that you brought her feelings of Voldemort into it but even more so that you kept to his character. Voldemort was written wonderfully, how he speaks, his reactions and his actions are all perfect.
Great job, Amanda! :)
RecenseoAuthor's Response: Yay, you're back :D
Bellatrix was fascinating to write, especially at the beginning where I was talking about her childhood and years at Hogwarts. I was trying to find a way to avoid whatever cliches might be out there, and this is just what came out.
I'm glad Voldemort seemed realistic to you even with my slight twist on his character. Thanks so much for your very kind review :)
-Amanda Report Review
My lord. My good lord. Let me pick up my brain here...
this was beyond amazing. Beyond fantastic. Beyond brilliant. God almighty, this was beyond mind blowing. I just...wow! I am so impressed with this! And I thought you other stuff had really set the scale, but this is your best work! I can't even think straight because this is that good! I wish I could, for then you could understand just how amazingly brilliantly wonderfully FANTASTIC this is but I can't.
This was just more than I could have ever expected from anyone! Holy crap. I can't...just wow. I am boggled.
Keep writing! This was so amazingly impressive! Please shoot me a PM or whatever if you write anymore bellatrix/voldemort's
EverAuthor's Response: Hi Ever! Sorry this response has taken ages!
I'm certain that I don't deserve such high praise, but thank you!! I am really proud of this story, and I'm very happy that you liked it so much.
I don't currently have plans to write any more Voldemort/Bellatrix, but I do think the ship is fascinating, and it was fun to dive in for this piece. I will definitely let you know if I get any other plunnies that lead me down that path :)
Thanks for your very kind review!
-Amanda Report Review
wow. I'm a little... bemused. I started reading this and was instantly... warpped into the story. Just following Bella. It's hard to explain but I just needed to "get there" to that point where I'd understand where the story was going. This was.. fascinating. The plot was quite simple, but the way it was written was... stunning.
I'm not quite sure how Lord Voldemort would've made himself "young again" (or most importantly, why he didn't care to keep that appearance) but I like it^^
You could see how he was manipulating her, and that was amazing. I really liked the way you portrayed both of them. I thought you rendered them justice.
So, wow! great job! :D
-JuneAuthor's Response: Hi June! It's sweet of you to come by :)
I think I sort of understand what you mean, and I'm pleased that you enjoyed following Bella and getting swept up along with her. I intended the plot to be simple, and it's great that you still felt like it had a big effect.
Well, I tried to make it clear in the story that Voldemort was using his own hair (from when he was young) to make Polyjuice Potion so he could transform into his younger, more attractive self. I could imagine him making those plans once he started to realize that his appearance was changing with each Horcrux he made. I felt like he would only pull the potion out for "special occasions", though, and I thought it would be a cool way to aid in his seduction of Bella, as well as another expression of his desire for immortality. I'm glad you liked it :)
It's lovely that you could see Voldemort manipulating Bella so easily, and that the portrayals both felt authentic to you. It's great to hear that I've done both of them well.
Thanks very much for your kind review!
-Amanda Report Review
Hi there! Tagging from the Slytherin Review thread.
But oh my, this was wonderful. I usually have a slightly pessimistic predisposition to one-shots, but I read this one straight through and didn't even nitpick anything. I was too enraptured, much like Bellatrix, by the story to do anything. Your descriptions of her succumbing to Voldemort's seduction were effortless and really gave a picture of her flightless feelings being swallowed up by his darkness.
Her back story was also very compelling, describing her feelings without clamoring to the maniac that HBC portrayed so well in the movies. Indeed, I think Bellatrix gets amusingly typecasted as this crazy, sociopath and while there is some truth to that, your story gives it a more grounded feel and avoids the tropes usually associated with her character by assigning actual reasons behind her actions.
I entered the Film Noir challenge too and so I enjoyed this very much. I hope you end up doing very well in that challenge!Author's Response: Hello! First off, I apologize that my response has taken a little while. My schoolwork got really crazy in the last month or so of the semester. I hope it doesn't put you off reviewing my work in the future :)
It's so lovely that you felt so pulled in to the story. That's so magical, to imagine that my readers could get swept away along with Bellatrix as she is romanced into giving up her Gringotts vault.
I know exactly what you're talking about, and I did want to show a more vulnerable side of her here, so that she's more like the anti-hero and Voldemort is the "femme fatale" of sorts. How's that for a twist? :D I did put some thought into the reason she might have turned out as she did, and I'm glad you could tell and that you appreciated it.
Thanks very much for your kind words! :)
-Amanda Report Review
This was beautiful...
Perfect, in every way!Author's Response: Thank you so much! I'm quite flattered :)
-Amanda Report Review
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.
-NaidaAuthor'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! :)
-Amanda Report Review
Well I choose this story if yours to read because of the title and of course Bellatrix. I mean yeah it's a simple title but still somehow it lured me in. The I looked at the summary and I was sold I knew I had to read this. So well done for that! But the best job you did was when I read it I just fell in love. It was just amazing the way you described everything, the mood of the story everything was just fabulous. You really captured Bellatrix's essence in the little piece. So bravo! IF I have once time I will check out your other stories!Author's Response: Hello! Sorry this response took so long!
I'm very glad the title and summary reeled you in; it's always great to know that those elements work, because I usually don't spend a great deal of time thinking about them. I'm even happier to see that my imagery and my characterization of Bellatrix worked for you.
Thank you for such a kind review, and I do hope you'll consider checking out my other work!
-Amanda Report Review
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.
-lilyAuthor'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.
Amanda Report Review
Here for Slytherin Tag!
Wow, your writing never ceases to amaze me. I must say you have captured Bellatrix brilliantly, shown her in a different light, yet something that is very much plausible. I absolutely love your writing style, the narrative flows so flawlessly.
Voldemort's characterization seemed slightly strange to me at certain points though, as I just can't imagine him behaving the way he was with Bellatrix, but otherwise for the most part I think you painted him satisfactorily enough as well.
I didn't see any "technical" issues with the story either. Again, I loved the story and your portrayal of Bellatrix. It was a very neat one-shot. The descriptions were brilliantly written too.
Over all, good job!
ADAuthor's Response: Hey! Thanks for coming by!
It's great to hear that you liked Bellatrix, even though she was painted in a slightly different way here, as a more vulnerable woman.
Voldemort probably seems strange to you because he, like Bellatrix, was affected by the film noir aspects of this story. Bellatrix represents the anti-hero, the flawed individual with a mix of good and bad intentions, and Voldemort represents a male version of the femme fatale, which is why he's trying to persuade her with the dancing and romancing. I know it's not a totally canon portrayal, but I hope you can appreciate it in an artistic way.
Thanks so much for your kind review!
Amada Report Review
This is a fascinating story, though I rather expected it to be out of the ordinary and beautifully done, seeing that you had written it. But I didn't expect just how you would combine the two challenges together. In my mind, because of the film noir influence, I pictured a black and white film, with, oddly enough, Voldemort as the femme fatale and Bella as the manipulated hero. While Voldemort isn't effeminate in any way, there's a sort of mystical allure to him in his youthful form, emphasized by your observation regarding his scent and the way that it draws Bella into his web. It was an interesting reversal and it worked very well, especially since you had framed Bella as a hard-working, isolated person, rather similar to the detectives of old noir, driven by her cause, which, in her mind, is a cause for the greater good. My brain is exploding from all of the thoughts your story has brought to life, so I'll move on before I get too distracted from my challenge's expectations. :P
Which you, of course, fulfill perfectly. I love the imagery in this story - there's a great sense of airiness and movement to this story, fuelled by the language and the dizzying dance. There's also an effective use of water imagery... well, it's not exactly imagery, but you use verbs that evoke the image of waves sweeping across the shore and the tidal wave that is Voldemort sweeping over Bella, easily drowning out her reason and practical mindedness. The use of darkness and shadows effectively accentuated the noir-esque atmosphere (and it's probably why I visualized this story in black and white). Your language is subtle, not overdoing the images at all, making them just enough to immerse the reader in Bella's state of mind and the power that Voldemort has over her. It's all very beautifully done, right down to that wonderful last night. You've hit my weak spot for dark/shadow imagery. ;)
Going back to the characterization, I am interested in the way that Voldemort reveals his secret of the horcruxes, showing that, to a degree, he does trust Bella more than anything else, perhaps because her has the greatest power over her. He has to use force with others, even his own followers, but she follows blindly, loyally, blindly, entirely under his spell by her own will. It's very canon because it highlights her fanaticism, but you take Bella a step further by showing that she is her own person beyond her loyalty to Voldemort - she has interests and ambitions, but she willingly puts them aside for Voldemort, partially because they are, she believes, heading toward the same cause of eradicating Muggles and Muggleborns. She prides herself on her strengths, but he is her fatal weakness, the only person she puts before herself. I can't decide whether she knows how much he is manipulating her - I don't think she does, of if she does, she has long ago repressed that knowledge. She plays right into Voldemort's desires, and he knows exactly how to get what he wants from her. It's an extraordinary relationship the way that you've portrayed it here, one that works frighteningly well for both of them. *shakes head*
Anyway, thank you for this story. It has been a delight to read and ponder over (not to mention analyze, sorry about that), and I wish you the best of luck in the challenge. As I mentioned in my comment, with the quality of the works being entered, it will be extremely difficult to choose a winner - all of you are interpreting the challenge so differently that I don't know what I'll do (perhaps cop out and give you all the prize? I rather like that option). Amazing work, once again! You are getting better and better with each story of yours I read. :DAuthor's Response: This review. Wow. Okay... time to respond :)
As I've already mentioned to you, you basically read my mind. You saw the characters exactly as I planned them, even to the point of the noir-themed role reversal. Bellatrix is the anti-hero, the person who isn't wholly good or wholly evil, and ultimately the victim of Voldemort, the male femme fatale who seeks to manipulate her in any manner possible. I'm ecstatic to see that you caught my little twist on the traditional, and even more so that you enjoyed what I did with it!
I'm so, so happy that you liked the imagery. I worried when composing this piece that I was overdoing it and making it too intentional, but all the feedback so far has been great, and to hear you add to it just sets things in stone for me. The shadow imagery just played in absolutely perfectly with the film noir theme of the other challenge, and I loved using it to play around with Voldemort and Bellatrix and really try to delve into such a complex pairing.
You think it's canon? Oh, I might cry. So many others have told me that it's not canon, that they're really disappointed with it, and all I wanted was for one person to read it and say that they appreciated my tricky little move. In my mind, it fits with canon, because Voldemort did seem to relate to Bellatrix slightly more than some other Death Eaters, even though on the surface he really cares for no one besides himself. I'm also really happy that you liked how I tried to portray Bellatrix as an independent woman who gave herself up for love, because that, too, is how I've always seen her. She's clearly a powerful witch who is more than capable of taking care of herself, and yet her devotion to him is almost like that of a servant to a master.
I don't mind your analysis! Seriously, I love it. Thanks for issuing such a fun challenge, and I'm so glad that you're happy with my entry. Looking forward to seeing the outcome! :)
Amanda Report Review
Hi Amanda! Char here with the requested review. Oh, how I enjoy reading stories from good writers! Having already experienced your story-telling skills, I can look forward to a good read, Iím sure. Especially when youíve started out with a premise that I personally havenít read a lot about. I also really like your summary. Itís succinct yet intriguing.
Itís unusual to think of Bellatrix as studious but you put the motivation as having pureblood supremacy as well as a way for Bellatrix to get back at the Mudbloods and half-bloods and it makes sense. Thinking of Bella as sort of a Dark Magic Hermione is actually kind of funny. Itís also nice to see Bella as not being completely insane, at this young stage in her life.
And we kind of skipped the whole becoming a Death Eater and being in Azkaban dealio. I know this is a one-shot but perhaps we couldíve spent a wee bit of time on it?
Oh but Iím liking this description of Bellatrix at the window. Itís dark and creepy and sets the tone for the older Bella that we all know. ďThe black patches played about her legs like the children she would never have, lashing out at one another in jealously each time she twitched or took too deep of a breath, but she paid them no mind, staring instead at the drizzle that fell outdoors.Ē This imagery just captured my imagination.
Iím loving the whole exchange between Voldemort (I think) and Bella right now but, Iím sorry, this line Ė ďHe smiled, leaning against the sill, close enough now to exchange his carbon dioxide for hers.Ē made me kind of laugh. Maybe itís just me, but the statement is soÖscientific and a bit out of place for the darkly poetic moment youíve set here.
Youíve neatly captured Bellaís obsession and primal love for Voldemort/power here while at the same time showing us how Voldemort definitely knows of this love and uses it to his advantage without actually giving one wit about the woman connected with it. He plays her like he would a piano and she responds, blindly.
This moment between Voldemort and Bellatrix was beautiful in a black way and very well done. Bella was different but still the Bella we know from the books. To me, thereís a bit more insanity in here rather than the wish to learn, but you put it that it was a thirst for knowledge to have power over others and that linked it to the character that I came to know in the books. Voldemort, even with the polyjuice mixture, was true to form, really only doing it to manipulate Bella. You somehow were able to show this through the eyes of one who sees no wrong in him.
All in all, I enjoyed reading this because of the imagery and the way you pulled it together.Author's Response: Thank you so much! I knew I could count on you to leave a thorough, comprehensive review :)
I'm glad the summary caught your attention and that the premise isn't too overdone. I didn't think so, and I was intrigued by the ship and wanted to explore it.
I'm happy that you liked how I did Bellatrix. Others have complained that she wasn't crazy enough in this piece, but I wanted to portray her as being a bit more subdued and innocent, as framed by the requirements of the Film Noir Challenge. It is kind of creepy to think of her like Death Eater Hermione! I can see what you're saying about leaving out some of the other parts of her life, so thanks for mentioning that. I suppose I didn't want to dwell too much on those details and instead wanted to focus purely on her love of magic and desire to keep it all to herself and other purebloods like her rather than doing a re-telling of everything she experienced.
It's great that you liked the imagery! I worked hard on it and the reception has been really positive so far. As for that one line, my only explanation is that I am a scientist and so I'm used to speaking like that :) I guess it does sound a little strange, though.
I'm most pleased, perhaps, that you like the way I did Voldemort and his treatment of Bella. Others have complained that I made him too human, but you picked up on all the undertones of manipulation and deceit that I tried to lay as the foundation of this piece. It's so great to hear that worked for you!
Thanks again so much for your very kind review :)
Wow. I just love your writing. You have, like, the perfect balance of descriptions and dialogue, your characters are never OOC and I can actually see this happening, and,back to description, I can see everything clearly in my mind like it's actually happening.
This is wonderful. 10/10!
Sam.Author's Response: Hey Sam!
I'm really glad that you enjoyed this, and especially that the imagery and characterization worked for you, as those were my primary concerns. I'm flattered by your compliments about my writing and I hope you come back and read more of it soon :)
Thanks for your very kind review!
Amanda Report Review
I noticed this story a few days ago and I'm so glad that I've finally gotten the chance to review it! The summary was just so interesting... It immediately captured my attention.
And I was not disappointed in the least by this story! I loved your description here- the night seemed alive and I loved the way you placed it around her. The poetic descriptions helped this story to seem even more fantastical and dark.
As well, you also captured Bellatrix's personality beautifully. You gave her character depth and you truly showed her fascination and obsession with both the Dark Arts and the Dark Lord. It was interesting to read about how she married her husband so that she could be alone, about how, at Hogwarts, her family's expectations limited her ability to become friends with anyone (though friends is hardly the best word...). I never thought about how she might not have had anyone in Slytherin to talk about, how she might have preferred to stay in the dorms and explore magic, but it does fit in with what we know about her.
I was a little confused by who exactly had met her in the library- was it Tom Riddle? It seemed like it, from the way she said that this was when she first met him, but when she said that his looks weren't the best I became a little confused. Perhaps I misread the paragraph...
All in all, I really enjoyed reading this and I found it fascinating to watch as Tom manipulated her without her realizing it. The reasoning behind the idea to hide it in her Gringotts vault was well put and I found it interesting to watch Tom talk his way around Bellatrix's wish to make a Horcrux by appealing to her desire for pureblood supremacy. A beautiful job!Author's Response: Hey there!
I'm happy to see that the summary made you want to come check this out. I struggled for a few days about what exactly I wanted to say, and I'm fairly proud of what I finally settled upon.
I'm so pleased that you liked the imagery and characterization. I was afraid that the imagery was too overpowering, but everyone seems to like it, so that's good to hear. The characterization is largely a result of the constraints of the Film Noir Challenge, and again I'm happy that you felt that I did both of them justice and kept things interesting with each. I always thought of Bellatrix as a loner because of her desire for power, and I wanted to showcase the twisted, manipulative relationship she has with Tom.
It was Rodolphus, actually. I tried to make that distinction by couching it in with the other parts about him and by emphasizing Tom's good looks, but maybe I need to go back and re-evaluate that if you missed it. Thanks for pointing that out!
Thanks for another very kind review! :)
Amanda Report Review
This is gorgeous, Amanda. Very beautiful and vivid, full of imagery that simply takes my breath away. I say it time and again, but I swear your writing gets better with each piece you write.
I think my favorite paragraph has to be the one with the shadows, like the children she'll never have, dancing around her legs. It's just fantastic and it speaks a lot about Bellatrix as a character. I love how she married Rodolphus out of convenience and the line about them sharing nothing more than a name - god, that is just such a fantastic line that reveals so much about their relationship, or lack thereof.
Voldemort's entrance is nothing short of perfect. The loss of her composure says so much about Bellatrix's obsession with him and he plays off of that, knows her so well that he can manipulate her with a handsome face and sweet words. As you said, he trapped her and Voldemort is nothing if not adept at ensnaring people into his web of deceit. He plays her so well and she's all too willing to help him and keep him safe. It's a very interesting look at Bellatrix as a character.
I know you wanted me to comment on Voldemort's characterization and I'm sort of stuck here. I feel like his dialogue is a bit more sane than I expected? I don't know, Voldemort has always come across, to me at least, as slightly mad. So in that regard, the dialogue seems a bit too formal for me. On the other hand, it's easy to picture this handsome Voldemort spinning these lies and trapping Bellatrix with his pretty words and when I imagine him dancing with her and looking quite dapper, I can imagine him saying those lines. So you can see how I'm not quite sure how to address it.
Also, I was a little surprised that he actually told her about Horcruxes. I guess I was just under the impression that she knew she held items valuable to Voldemort but she wasn't quite sure what they were. However, I can see the draw she would have to that sort of magic and how desperate she'd be to learn that from him too.
One minor correction - curses and poisons she invents in her spare time. This jars a bit while reading just because everything else is written in past tense except for this line. So invents should be 'invented.'
Otherwise, this was very well-written and beautiful, as always. I'm sorry I couldn't be very constructive about Voldemort since I'm still torn on my thoughts about him. I think if you feel that he's characterized as he needs to be, like this charming man, than you should leave it as it is. You know your story better than anyone and how the characters need to act and what they need to say, so don't stress too much about it. You have time to figure things out if you need to.
I'm so excited to continue watching you grow as an author. Your maturing talent just shines through with each new piece you submit and I can't get over how much you've grown in just the last few months. You're fantastic. :)Author's Response: Hey! I really appreciate you coming by.
I'm so happy that the imagery worked! I was afraid I was laying it on too thick, but if it all flows together well, that's great. That line where I compared the shadows to the children Bellatrix doesn't have is my favorite in the piece, and it's actually the first one I wrote. I built up and down from there. I'm very pleased that the eerie comparison worked for you.
I'm also happy that you liked Bellatrix. I've since gotten more crit back that suggests that I softened her too much, but I'm glad she worked as a kind of "victim" for you here. That's exactly how I meant for her to come across - easily manipulated into his web.
Thanks, especially, for taking a look at Voldemort for me. I think I was drawing on my portrayal of him in At Great Personal Risk and also that initial DH scene at Malfoy Manor when I designed him as the "femme fatale" here, all composure and charm. For me, the illusion of trust was part of that package, and I think that's why I had him tell her about the Horcruxes, though he didn't go so far as to actually let her in on how to create her own. Plus, we've seen that she continues to pine after him even after he refuses to show her attention, so I didn't figure that he'd be too worried about her betraying him. The Horcrux theme was kind of important for me to create the existential theme (again, for the sake of film noir), so I felt that it needed to be included. You've definitely given me a lot to think about and I really, really appreciate that.
Good point -- I struggled with that line, as neither one sounded quite right to me tense-wise, so I'll take a second look at it.
Thanks again! You've been helpful as always!
Amanda Report Review
Oh my /gosh/. I just... I don't even have any words left in my brain. Is this real life?
Amanda, this was one of my most gorgeous things I have ever read in my entire life. And I've read other things of yours, and each time I am more and more impressed and pleased, but this is by and large my favorite. The tone I have come to associate with you, this beautiful and enviable delicacy and lightness, was above and beyond here, and I am just sitting here and letting this wrap around me. SO AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL.
Your recurring use of darkness was perfect -- I can't think of anything that could possibly be better. I mean, it's shadows, it's darkness, and while in itself it hold a certain elegance, you made it so lush and rich here that I literally got up and looked out the window, while your words were still running in my head, just to evoke what you'd written. It's things like that, your ability to see beauty in everything and convey it perfectly, that duly impress me.
I just literally cannot find the words for this. I am so blown away. The characterization of Bellatrix and Voldemort, the canon details about Horcruxes and the hiding of the cup. Bellatrix's emotions, the symbol of the darkness, her own thoughts. They were all so /spot on/. I literally cannot even tell you how much I loved this -- by and large, my favorite thing of yours to date. :)
Absolutely tops, Amanda. This was incredibly, wonderfully gorgeous, and it's going immediately into my favorites. SO much love for this. ♥Author's Response: Jane! You are an angel. I was feeling really unsure about this piece, and to wake up to a review like this really cheers me up.
I'm so happy that you liked the tone and really felt yourself getting carried away with it. It's always nice for an author to hear that her work really pulls the reader in, as I'm sure you know. It's great to hear that you liked the imagery, as I did work very hard on it and I was worried that I tried too hard to put more of it into the story. Your compliments, though, suggest to me that it really was effective.
Oh, I'm so happy you liked the characterization! That was my real concern, as it seemed like the film noir aspect really clashed with canon more than I had expected. It's so wonderful to hear that you liked everything and that it all flowed together for you.
The fact that this made your favorites AND that you recc'd it over on the forums completely and totally makes my day. I simply can't thank you enough ♥
Amanda Report Review
Ah...Well that's one way to put it perfectly.
I've never been a big Bellatrix/Anybody that comes to mind shipper. I think, like you mentioned that the last thing she needed in her life was a man.
Though I HONESTLY believe that her husband, was bossed around to no end.
I think Bellatrix was captured by his power, and seeing he had so much it caused the attraction, I don't believe she was in love with him, but she loved the power he held and that just did it for her.
To be 100% honest, I was wondering how you were going to write this. I love your writing, but writing a Bellatrix/Voldemort, just seems, well odd, and very hard to write.
I liked it though, and I love that summary that was just pure genius! The story itself was lovely, well written, and showed (just as your others) what a wonderful talent you really have.
Lots of hugs,
LizzieAuthor's Response: Hey Liz! Thanks for coming by :)
I'm glad you liked the story. I don't find the pairing particularly odd, seeing as it does have a basis in canon, but it was a challenge to write. I do agree that a lot of her affection for Voldemort probably had to do with his power and ideals, though, and that her poor husband deserves a little bit of pity.
Anyway, I'm happy that you liked the summary, and that you enjoyed the story.
Thanks again for your kind review! :)
Amanda Report Review
Hello there! This is DarkRose from the forums here with your review. I'll talk about your concerns first, then move on to my comments. Away we go!
Imagery: wow...just, wow. I have no words good enough to talk about how much I loved your descriptions, especially the parallel between the shadows and children. It was amazingly poignant. I was incredibly impressed, some of the best imagery I've read in fanfiction. Great job!
Characterization: hm, here there are some discrepancies. Bellatrix isn't too bad. She's pretty good, actually. I liked the way you described her marriage-of-convenience with Rodolphus. That was very well done. I also liked that she wasn't able to keep her composure around Voldemort. Good job. Now...Voldemort himself I have some issues with. First off, I don't think he would ever change his appearance back to the more human-looking one. He LIKES looking snakelike and weird. For some reason. Then...he's too nice to Bellatrix. I just don't see him having that kind of humanity. And trusting her enough to tell her what his horcruxes were? I don't think so. He doesn't trust anyone. He doesn't want friends. So that was a bit odd for me. And that he danced with her. That's just such a human thing to do...and he's really far past that. But I understand why it was there. I suppose that makes sense, but it IS OOC, if that's what you wanted to know.
I already mentioned how great your descriptions were...awesome, by the way. Just awesome. The plot itself was pretty good too. I like that you showed a sort of...vulnerability about Bella that we usually don't see. That was well done. You voice here was great too, and tone, etc. I can't really think of much more to comment on. I think you did a very good job.
--EmilyAuthor's Response: Hey, thanks for coming by so quickly! I'm glad that you liked the imagery and it didn't come across as being too overdone. I'm also pleased that the voice and tone worked well.
I'm glad you liked Bella. I wanted to soften her up a bit and make her the weaker character in this exchange, which is the film noir aspect of it -- the anti-hero (or heroine, in this case) and the "femme fatale" (which I've transposed onto a male figure here).
Voldemort... hmm. I tried to make it clear with the summary and his actions that he was entrapping her with the way he was acting, that it was more of a seduction than a genuine romantic relationship. Everything he did - the change in appearance, the illusion of trust, the dancing - was supposed to be his way of getting what he wanted from her. (Also, she had to have known that the objects he selected had some significance, because she kept them in her vault for him. Maybe I created a bit too much of a leap with actually admitting that they were Horcruxes, though.) Your review suggests that I got that totally wrong, which is a bit of a concern, but this is why people request reviews, so I appreciate your honesty.
Thanks for your awesome review! :)
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