Absolutely beautiful, Marie my dear!
I of course, am shamefully behind in my January requirements. My sincerest apologies and hopefully this humble review might brighten your day and renew a my favor in SPEW just a little. As I looked through your multiple wonderful stories, I started looking for one that hadn't received many reviews, or any SPEW reviews. Of course your work has all been received with much appreciation and review love. When I stumbled upon this one, I originally thought I had read it and reviewed it once upon a time. When I checked the reviews, I realized I couldn't have read it because there was no review from me. An oversight of horrible consequence. Because I had known of this story for a long time. I think I may have even helped with a few sentence wordings way back when you were writing it. For this oversight, all I can do is apologize and affirm just how wonderfully written this story is.
I absolutely loved the beginning. At first I was put off my Isabelle's forwardness, her forwardness was so stark for an interview. And yet, it fit- both her personality and what, I think ultimately, what attracted Orion to her.
I loved the descriptions of the house, the imagery of the tattered house we've seen in Grimmauld Place, back to its days of splendor. I wanted the tour of the house to continue. I wanted to see every room through your imagination's eyes. I also wanted to see Isabelle's introduction to the boys. At that moment in the story, I felt like it was a huge hole in the story-- seeing as she was their governess... and yet, as the story progressed, the scene seemed more and more insignificant. The focus of the story was not her work, but her relationship with the father and the house.
I liked that the relationship developed slowly. Even in a one-shot, so many people would have had them immediately attracted to each other, and in each other's beds within weeks, days, hours. And yet, within one chapter, you developed a companionship, to an almost friendship, to an attraction. The use of time jumps helped. The flashes of insight, the seemingly insignificant moments in passing all building up. I like how Mrs. Black's torments equaled the level of affection between them. In the beginning they were benign- missing quills, flashes in the corner of an eye. As the relationship developed her rage emerged and became more evident.
My one major crit was this line at the end: "Hovering and spinning around the ceiling of her room, the beautiful dress robes she had intended on wearing to the Summer Solstice Masquerade were torn into shreds, and the ends of each piece were dripping with blood."
You probably just changed the timing of the events around at one point, and this sentence just went unnoticed. But she had already worn these robes to the ball, so the sentence should read "...the beautiful robes she had worn to the ball..."
I am saddened by the end. Because there is always, that what-if moment that comes with already knowing where the characters end up. Sirius could have felt the love of a mother. Regulus might have had a more positive influence, maybe he wouldn't have ended up as a Death Eater. And yet. without these events, they would not have developed the way we needed them to.
The last line was particularly touching and poignant: "She’d had her scores of men that hadn’t been more than sex, and he’d had his one woman who had been so much more."
That really sums up and surmises the whole sad tale. Her search for love destroyed her. His lack of love destroyed his one chance at it.
Overall, an excellent story Marie. Well written, well laid out. The dialogue wasn't forced or weak. All the markings of good writing!
So sorry about the tag issue!
Wow, this was amazing – just fabulous! Being a fan of stories like this in real life (Bleak House and Jane Eyre in particular), the whole idea of a governess in the Black Household is a realistic one, and you’ve made it work marvelously.
The description is wonderfully done and tasteful – it’s not overly done or made up entirely of flamboyant language, but hinted at in the dialogue and thoughts, only laced with synonyms for words that would have been fine in the beginning.
I also like how you included what I perceived as subtle threats towards Isabelle from Walburga – fabulous! I love how, at first, it was just recognition then finally progressed to a violent threat. That’s definitely a characteristic of classic novels.
Speaking about the classic novels, I would like to say that this was a wonderful example of a fic influenced by them. :P I just loved that idea, and I clicked on the title after thinking I read “Bleak House”, not “Noir House”.
Finally, I’d like to tough up upon Isabelle and Anne. There is only one word that can describe Isabelle: FABULOUS. She was a very dynamic character, and wonderful characterization. I would like to say that I have never read about an American OC before and this one was wonderful. I especially love how you made her come from New Orleans and be able to speak French well – that shows that you took your time with her characterization. Good job!
Anne, in herself, was marvelous. She was the obvious friend who told Isabelle what she had right in front of her nose but had never noticed. She was wonderfully blunt and I just loved how she had no problems telling Isabelle to sleep with her (much older) employer.
Overall, I loved it. The last sentence brought tears to my eyes! *claps* Well done!
Mar, seriously. I’ve come to the conclusion that when you’re good, you’re really good. Seriously. Out of probably all of the things I have read of yours, Noir House has to be one of the best. I still haven’t added it to my favorites list yet [!!! …Why haven’t I?!], but I shall after I get done with this review. Seriously. I, once more, have either lost my ability to nitpick in the ground or there is just nothing to nitpick to death. I’m 97% sure that it’s the latter, so I won’t be nitpicking, unless I find some little detail I’d like to discuss when I’m in the midst of my review. So, let’s continue!
First: Your characterization is Fab. U. Lous. I’m serious. Anne, for instance, was so hysterically funny and reminded me slightly of Anna. [*cough*] “L’Université only contracts the most connected socialites in England, dear. But this is all beside the point. You, Isabelle Bingham, are governess to the children of a widower who is very rich and has been lonely for years.” I LOVED that first part, because it showed so much culture of Wizarding America. And the second part just insinuates so much - even though in a split second, we know what she is insinuating, there is that moment of wonderment of what she could possibly be talking about. Her knowledge of the wizarding society really makes the environment seem all too real as well. Mrs Black died of an STD. *sniggers and then dies of laughter*
And then we get to Orion Black and Isabelle. How, oh how you created their dynamic relationship is still beyond me, but you did it, and you made it very convincing. SO convincing, in fact, that I really hoped that is would work out between them. That d@//# Walburga. You make me feel love, amusement, fondness, sadness, and hatred towards your characters. That’s how masterful you play with them. It’s just guh. Guhguhguh.
The way you show the relationship that buds between Sirius, Regulus, and Isabelle is evident when you have Sirius’ hair turn blue, thanks to Isabelle. Oh, that was funny. So much amusement. Regulus snorted, and a moment later Sirius also caught on. “What did you do to my hair?” he exclaimed, rushing out of the room to look at his reflection in the mirror at the end of the hall. "Parle français, et tes cheveux redeviendront normaux!" Isabelle yelled after him. Like I said, it was so funny - you include many moments like this into you fic, including giving those gossiping witches something to talk about. Seriously, I almost wet my pants laughing. Never have I laughed so much at a non humor fic. XD
However, the emotion and sadness comes in at the end - What WAS haunting her in the house? - and she must leave, with Sirius and Regulus not understanding why, but Isabelle suddenly understanding. Or not, we really don’t know, but we hope that Mr Black is correct in saying that she will. And the last line? It was absolutely fabulous. It just really showered emotion and ended the piece perfectly.
Mar, once again, seriously. Fabulous.
Guh. I lurrrrve this story. First of all, the idea that purebloods are bound to the house and home, per se, as well as the other person (the spouse)...that idea is really, really cool. You really portray Walburga and Orion well.
I love that Orion is a grey sort of character, you know? You like things about him, and at the same time, you kind of dislike the way he is, too. You love that he kisses her at that dance, and you hate that he gives up and doesn't leave the house. :D
Isabelle - you get a really good feel for her too. Actually, I'd love to see her again if possible. ;)
Mar, honestly, these people came ALIVE for me. Really, they did. I think that was the BEST thing about them!
The one nitpick - syphilis? Really? I just can't see Muggle diseases in the magical world. >.< But that's a personal thing, nothing canonical to contradict it. *rolleyes* So it's really not a nitpick at all. Heheh.
See? You're so good I have nothing to criticize. :D
This was by far one of the best stories I have read on the fanfic site. It was so beleivable. I would never have thought to write a story using Mr. and Mrs. Black. And to think you did this as a one shot, too bad it couldn't have been longer. I love a good mystery.
I thought this story was just fantastic! I'd comment on everything I liked, but it'd be far too much to mention. I liked how you kept the mood consistent throughout the story and still managed to make everything believable/not too dark. It was just great. And the ending! Well, it broke my heart, but I fully agree that it had to happen that way.
I don't know where to begin. O.O - I guess I could start with "I'm sorry I didn't review this sooner." But, then, I still need to start somewhere... gah.
How about that this is very Rebecca-esque. I really liked Rebecca. [As far as I'm aware, you've read Rebecca, and so I'm assuming you took some inspiration from it. Which is fun. Because, I too plan on drawing from Rebecca at some point in the distant-distant future. If, howerver, you haven't read Rebecca -- well, I still like the similiar elements that are shown in this tale.]
Oh, I know what's next -- the library! Oh, I do love libraries. But even more so, I love when there's a connection between a man and a woman in a library. I love it when Orion tells Isabelle that she is welcome to any of the books in the house. It all stems from Beauty & The Beast, for me, I'm fully aware.
Among other bits that I omg!enjoyed... when Orion says "I need you", when they're dancing and Isabelle tells him "We really ought to give them more to talk about", and then he kisses her neck? GUH. And... Walburga died of syphillis? L.M.A.O. >.> Sorry, that's not funny. [No, yes, yes it is.]
Sirius was so fantastically IC, and it pains me to know there will be a breaking between him and Regulus [whatever actually happens in canon, Sirius obviously believes the worst about him.] I'm also trying not to like Orion Black, even though the very last paragraph is just... amazing - 'his one woman who had been so much more'. It's hard not to like a man who feels that; but, I still have this image in my mind as the father that Sirius would resent, a father he would dissociate himself from. [I guess this is how most people feel when reading Sins!Lucius, eh? Ah, a taste of my own medicine. I see.]
I also adore Anne. She rather shamelessly tells Isabelle to go to bed with Orion. XD How wonderful. I like supportive people. Coincidentally it seems very like something Anna would do. *cough*
This is an incredible fic, Mar. It's ... well written, it has a great plot, it has great passion, intrigue, characters. *sigh*. You are an amazing story-teller. You just... shine in originality, and you're work is very close to flawless. *love*
-jumps into bag of amazing reviews-
I just don’t know where to start with this. It’s absolutely lovely and wonderful and just guh. I heart it like whoa. Now, as you know, I am quite fond of the Black family. But I’ve never really read a fic about Orion Black (or Walburga, for that matter), so this one wins.
To start off, the first two paragraphs begin the fic perfectly. You set the mood for the whole fic, and the descriptions are just lovely. As the reader, we have our own images of Grimmauld Place in our minds, because Jo has provided them for us. But here, you give us a different dimension of the house we already love (okay…that I love, because I’m weird like that), and we’re able to really be transported to the time period of your story.
I love Isabelle. I just do. I tend to be really skeptical when it comes to OCs, especially American ones. It’s like a reflex. But you rose above the cliché with Isabelle – you gave her a past and a real dynamic. One of my favorite parts is when she visits Anne, for a couple of reasons. First, it’s really great to see Isabelle with someone who’s an old friend, someone she can open up to. Someone to point out that Orion Black is not so bad looking. -wink- Second, it adds another facet to the story. It brings in something other than Isabelle being at the Blacks’ house, or being with Orion, or being with the boys – instead, we get to see another person influencing her decisions.
Another one of my favorite parts is the scene between Isabelle, Sirius, and Regulus during the French lesson. It’s one of the only parts we get to see Isabelle with the boys, and it’s adorable. I love that already Sirius is remiss about his schoolwork, and Regulus is more responsible. It’s interesting to see the differences between the two of them before they even get to Hogwarts. I think maybe the only criticism I have for this fic is the fact that Sirius and Regulus don’t show up that often. Even though the fic is really centered around the relationship between Orion and Isabelle, I think that because Isabelle is introduced to the Blacks as a governess, it’s important to see her interact with Sirius and Regulus.
The ball! -dies- The ball is just amazing. I just love a good ball scene in a story, really. And the kiss! Her heart did something when her name rolled off his lips, but she didn’t have time to figure out what it was because his lips quickly captured hers. That was the most perfect to write their kiss. Guh, just perfect. What a delectable kiss.
The ending is also just perfect. I think it almost works better to have them end up apart than to have them end up together. It’s a different dynamic, and it’s a good one. The relationship between Isabelle and Orion could never be anything more than what it was, briefly, and even though it makes me sad, I think the ending is still right. The last line – I love. It’s the perfect end to the story, and I know I keep saying that, but it’s true. I just heart this fic like whoa.
Any character’s loose resemblance to persons living, dead, or in SPEW is entirely intentional but not quite accurate.
Okay, to actually begin this review – Mar, those two first paragraphs are simply amazing. I would usually say that characterisation, dialogue and development in scenes are the best features of your writing, but here you prove that you have some MAD description and mood creation SKILLZ!
The man had been questioning her for a short while, and she was ready to be done for better or worse.
- I love you introduce your new OC, Isabelle, at once. And not just by putting here in the scene, but also by showing us how she thinks, what she wants and how she reacts.
“He is a strong-willed young boy and very bright. He may not like you. Regulus is nine and also very bright. He is quiet and he’ll try not to like you until Sirius does.”
- it feels a bit superfluous telling you that your description of Sirius and Regulus is spot-on. But, yes, it definitely is. And there is of course your interpretation of what they were like as youngsters, and I think it is very convincing indeed and fits well together with what we know from canon. Yay!
Oh! A question before I continue – does Orion care about the purity of Isabelle’s blood? Because you didn’t bring it up in the first scene, so I’m curious whether Orion already asked, or if he found out about that before he even contacted her for an interview, or if he really doesn’t care?
Neither Orion nor Isabelle noticed the eerie flutter of the drapes as they passed.
- *shudder* Anyone who has read the HP books will know what drapes you refer to here. But the word ‘drapes’ also made me think of veils… and of course, the veil, that would one day lead to Sirius’ death… You create some seriously scary association there, my dear.
Oh, and I must mention that I love how you’ve included the detail of the missing quills! It’s so traditionally ghost story-ish, yet it’s wizardy and something I can personally relate to, being addicted to pens.
And then, speaking of me - I AM IN THE STORY!!! :D And so are Aska and Sirius, and Teddy even! Squee!
“Why not?” her mentor cried. “Theodore and I met in the most unexpected of places. And Orion Black is not a balding fool.”
- *giggles* I just love this. Anne is encouraging her to something scandalous, and I adore the description ‘not a balding fool’.
I really appreciate how you made the first scene with Sirius and Regulus in to be something else than their first meeting with Isabelle. If you had done that, you would mostly have been repeating yourself. As readers we’ve already had an introduction and a first impression of her, and the boys have also been introduced through their father’s words. And YAY, do I love it that you included French on their curriculum and in the fic!
“You’ve sent me a formal invitation to your Summer Solstice Masquerade?”
- I simply LOVE that you chose to write a Summer Solstice Masquerade! And much laughter at Orion for sending a formal invitation to her.
“Make sure you send your reservation back promptly.”
- *giggle* Yes, because it would of course be very inconvenient to say yes or no in person whenever they happen to bump into each other, wouldn’t it?
In the next part of the story, you have mixed the excitement about the Masquerade with Isabelle’s fear and worried about the happenings in the house in a very effective way. You could have focused more on either of them if you wanted to, but I think the brilliance is in the mixture of feelings you’ve created here.
“I need you.”
Was he really being drawn to this young governess? He was so much older than her.
- Oh, I ADORE Orion for asking himself this. One would think that it’s not unusual for British pure-blood wizards to wed younger women or have affairs with them, and it would have been so easy for your interpretation of Orion to just take it for granted, but here he is actually thinking about whether it’s really possible, and even if it might be wrong.
The walls were covered with honeysuckle, enchanted to grow and bloom before its audience throughout the night, giving off the most delicious, sweet scent.
- *is a description whore and licks lips greedily*
Instead of quoting the whole thing (especially the Orion/Isabelle parts) of the Masquerade and putting a great big ‘squeee’ after it, I’m just going to say at once that I think it is brilliantly written and completely captivating.
Isabelle, Sirius and Regulus came tumbling into the house, eager to get out of the heavy rain, but laughing all the same.
This is one of my favourite lines of the story, actually. You don’t tell, but show how Isabelle and the Black boys have gotten close. And that is, of course, love.
There was a smattering of blood on the mirror, but she closed her eyes quickly, not allowing herself to read whatever morbid message was scrawled there.
- Ma-ar! Don’t do that! What did the morbid message say, what did it say?!
He wouldn’t leave the house, either; all Black heirs were bound to the house.
- Firstly – HA! You have no idea how wrong you are, mister Black!! And secondly – awww, poor, dear Orion! Yes, perhaps he is bound to the house, and perhaps it’s hard but not impossible to break away, but surely it must be worth it.
She’d had her scores of men that hadn’t been more than sex, and he’d had his one woman who had been so much more.
- *deep breath* Oooh, Mar love, that ending was perfect! And so… *SIGH* Poor Orion/Isabelle! *hearts ache a little*
And then there was one single little error that I found:
She could’ve sworn...but it was only the two of them, no one else.
– There should be a blank space after the ellipses there.
Mar, this story is truly wonderful. When I wrote the prompt I did not even have the Black family in mind, but I was sooo surprised and pleased when I began to read this and figured out who it would be about. And Isabelle is just wonderful – as a character of your creation, and as a person in the fic.
So, once again – THANK YOU!
First, I love how you began the story almost as if one were reading a passage out of a text regarding the Black House. Neat!
I also like how you describe Isabelle and Orion. I never picture Orion Black as a kind man. I like the relationship you gave him with Isabelle.
You're a great writer! I particularly liked how I felt chills in certain parts of the story like the sentence:
Neither Orion nor Isabelle noticed the eerie flutter of the drapes as they passed Creepy!
You really had that whole 'house surrounded by dark magic' down.
The Order of Ravenclaw House Elves
Hello Spewbuddy!!! Mar, I have to admit that I usually review the story with the least reviews, but Anna’s banner drew me in. It was just too pretty to say no O.O, and the story didn’t let me down either. I loved it! It was so elegant, decadent, and sad at the same time (all of the things I like). I read the whole piece with beautiful images in my head.
I always start with the characters do let’s do that. Isabelle Bingham is obviously a Mary-Sue (kidding) I actually liked her character very much. In just a one-shot you’ve showed us a great deal of her personality and who she is. At first I was a little startled because she was American, but then I thought, “This is Mar. She wouldn’t write the American cliché Mary-Sue.” So I kept reading and I was happily proved right. I actually like later on the fic the part where she’s comparing the British Wizarding society to the American one. I also liked how she favored her raven quill over the others. It was just a small detail, but I liked it. I think that the small details are the ones that bring a character to life.
I liked the characterization of Orion also. It also helped that I kept thinking of Hugh Jackman whenever he appeared (happy thoughts). Anyway, his lines where among the bests of the fics, for example this one, “I assume you’re smart enough to figure out what else they need, Miss Bingham.” I just love it. It shows his arrogant personality, but also it shows that he just doesn’t think of her as a dumb nanny, he gives her credit. I couldn’t help, but compare Isabelle/Orion with Siobhan/Lucius. Both couples are of similar age difference, and both couples are intellectuals that enjoy having discussions and teasing each other with witty comments. Or course, Isabelle/Orion is much more appropriate for a younger audience.
I think what I liked most about the fic is the setting. The descriptions of the house are just amazing. I’ll say it again, I just love how elegant and decadent everything was. “However, this house was darker. It was furnished in lush, dark greens and soft, black leather.” That description creates a perfect image in my head. The whole house just came to life with those few sentences you described. Another lovely place you described was the garden where Isabelle meets Anne, and I just love the comment on how she wanted to climb up one of the trees.
My only critique will go to the flow of the story. I know that this was the exchange fic and that it could only be a one-shot, but it felt as if the story had been chopped in a couple of places. I would’ve liked to see more interaction between Isabelle and Orion, a bit more of sexual tension. The same thing goes to Isabelle and the kids. It would’ve been nicer to see how they warmed up to her. It must’ve taken a while according to what Orion said at the beginning.
The plot is classic and simple. We’ve seen it before, but you make it work. You wrote it in a way that is refreshing and delightful to read. Something else, I just love the tiny paragraph at the beginning. It makes it all look as if it is almost a dream, something that was taken out of someone’s mind. It was beautiful.
Mar, this is the first thing I’ve read from you and let me tell you that it was a great first impression. I just loved the fic. Congratulations, you did a wonderful job.
Oh, Mar! The first line got me hooked when I read it. My saying I love absolutely everything you write makes me sound like a tragic fangurl, but I don’t care – Squee! I love the title. I’m guessing “Noir” means Black, and the use of it, a more sophisticated word gives it that little bit more allure and mystery. A fantastic idea for a fiction. I love the way you start it. It’s contemplation of sorts when I read it. Years and years later, the house would be nothing more than a dingy ruin of its former self. Stripped and fading wallpaper, cob-webbed corners and worn carpets home to a mad house-elf and many other magical creatures that had infiltrated the dwelling over the years of its abandonment. While the second sentence is long, I really enjoy it because by listing the number of things that are wrong, you’ve really emphasized the previous glory going to waste. Lovely.
“Why did you come to England from America?” This line had me worried about cliché’s, but, I reminded myself that you’re MAR and you have so VERY interesting ideas. Moreover, I wasn’t about to stop reading it just because you made a satire of the commonly used and well-loved cliché! The best thing about this detail is that it’s plausible. I guess with cliché’s they’re hard to pull off because it’s been done this way and that way before, but you’ve put a totally new look on things here, and it’s a great storyline, as said before to boot.
It’s interesting you’ve mentioned the Mother’s death before Orion’s, because I always just assumed that Orion was prejudiced, yes, but not nearly as nasty and driven to live with the sole purpose of making people’s lives miserable as their mother’s. If that made sense. Orion doesn’t seem to … miss her very much. It makes his character deeper. I love the way some writers can take a background character and make it their own. You’ve done that here, and I love it. Orion Black shall never be thought of in simple passing when I read the books now, your image of him will fill my mind.
However, this house was darker. I love this line, because it captures everything I’ve thought the Black house to be. It just seems to ooze evil, if you know what I mean. Isabelle, as a newcomer is really just a reflection of what every reader felt when they first read about the house. I was awed by it, and then I realised how supremely evil the occupants were. Isabelle seems to have captured that perfectly, it’s great.
Well, I read it, skimmed back up to the top and read it again. I LOVE the foreshadowing, and how you’ve used it not only to manipulate Isabelle’s mind, by my own as well. I absolutely adored the ball scene, although I’ve never really thought the Black Manor would have a ballroom amongst the grubbiness, it was a nice touch. It rather reminded me of Pride & P, but I have to admit, the bath tub had me confused until you mentioned it was from her bathroom. A nice, slightly odd touch =)
“lovely border collies were right on her heels, tails wagging excitedly. Anne pulled Isabelle quickly into the house, ushering the dogs in as well.” I adore Anne. For many reasons. I love how she treats her dogs as people. Not many people would treat animals with such respect, and it shows what true emotion and kindness she has within her. You’ve created meaning in your character with this one line. One small nit pick, though, and I know it seems totally obvious as to WHY you chose the name Anne, but it’s slightly Americanised. I do believe Anna is a fine name, anyway. =) But I totally and completely adore Theodore’s name. It’s so fitting to his short description!
“In fact, if you decide to come, I think you will find I invited many people who don’t live here.” I love this line. It carries a little bit of an adult Sirius in it; it seems wiser than something Sirius would say, yet betrays their connection. A good hint, and it’s a great tip to his personality and character development. And I love how here - “Was he really being drawn to this young governess? He was so much older than her.” - you change from Isabelle’s point of view to Orion’s point of view. It’s done very well, and I can imagine it in my head. It’s great, almost as though they’re thinking the same thing.
As mean as it is, I like this part. “The section of floor falling into the ballroom was evidently from Isabelle’s bathroom. The large porcelain tub that fell with the floor shattered as the wood smashed against wood.” it’s a kind of ‘Okay, folk. Party’s over now.’ And it sorts of sets up for the next part, where it is OVER for good. I liked how you not only implied that the night was over, but this was the ticket to Isabelle and Orion’s relationship being over.
“There was a smattering of blood on the mirror, but she closed her eyes quickly, not allowing herself to read whatever morbid message was scrawled there.” I must say, I love the use of ‘smattering’ here. You have an excellent use of descriptive and emotive language throughout this, it’s truly wonderful and horrible at the images you create with it. I love all your gory details, because although they’re slight, they pack a whallop.
And so, dearest Mar, my love fest of this story has to end. I loved it. I loved the title, the characterization and the way the OC slipped into it. She seemed so real, because she had a life story and a background and depth, like all good OC’s need. A job well done!
Cool ideas and great writing. Hooray for you - good job! I love the combination of a Southern Belle and dignified British society member.
Argh. This story is one of those 'blow-me-away' stories. And I'm really frustrated cause I can't think of anything to say.
Very Jane Eyre...
That was wonderful!! I loved the character of Isabelle, and her tragic romance with Mr. Black was nicely done. Yay for that kiss at the Masquerade!! :) The entire story was beautifully written, and flowed very well through Isabelle's time at the Black House. It was also very spooky - you did a good job of dropping in little things here and there to give it that ghostly atmosphere. What a sad ending as well - poor Sirius! - and the last line was brilliant. I really liked this story, I hope you get more reviews - great job!! ~Gina :)