This is really fantastic, Alex - your characterisation of Sirius and Bella is really quite wonderful. Bella is such a manipulator - I loved the line Bella looks at him, and Sirius suddenly feels like he’s often imagined his chess pieces must feel, being appraised for its strategic use and pushed in directions against its will. But then this feeling goes as she bends down so their faces are level and speaks to him kindly. I think this really shows Bella - for a moment, Sirius sees that she's just manipulating and controlling him, but most of the time she is a great actress and, perhaps because of her own experience, knows to treat him more like an adult because she knows that will get a response from him.
I also loved the idea that the hat considered Gryffindor for her - or at least that she says it did. There is something very brave about Bella - I think all 3 Black sisters are quite different, because whilst Bella and Narcissa both remained "acceptable" and Andromeda didn't, they are vastly different. Narcissa never (well until DH when she saves Harry) seems to take matters into her own hands - she never becomes a Death Eater - and I always think of her as ordered, whereas there is something wild and chaotic about Bella - especially post-Azkaban, but it has to have come from somewhere. (Sorry, that was a long sentence.)
I also loved this paragraph - e’s always known his cousin was considered insolent and disliked but also respected by most of the family. Yet he can’t think where he’s got this idea from, other than a general impression of the way people behave around her. Thinking about it, most of the time, at family gatherings, he’s quite liked her, liked the way she sits and talks with him and Regulus, treating them as adults, likes the way she pokes fun at their older relatives. I think your explanation of how Bella's family would treat her is very realistic, and I also love the idea that Sirius looks up to her and likes her. As I've said before, she's a great manipulator and actress, and I think it would take Sirius a few more years to see through a little bit of it.
I think it's very in character that Sirius decided to leave on a whim and just runs out into the snow at age 12 - we all know he ran away at 16, but I think it's fascinating that he may have made an earlier attempt. I think Bella is especially able to manipulate him because at this moment he feels alienated and lonely. I also loved how you used the snow and the coldness to show this.
Present tense worked perfectly for this - it really put me in the moment with these two characters and it always flowed naturally.
When you do--” her voice begins to shake with excitement, something he has never heard before “--we will be great. Not our family. I love our name, and I wish to honour it, but we have become so pathetic. And we will be great, you and I. We will show them that we are greater than they ever expected us to be, and in ways they never thought people could be. Understand, Sirius?” - That line of Bella's reminded me a bit of Voldemort to Harry, which I think is an interesting connection, because even at this age Harry refused him. Although Harry had had far more guidance as to right and wrong by that point.
Anyway, in general I just loved all the characterisation and the way the story panned out - fantastic as usual!! (And I promise I will get around to finishing LAOS).
Author's Response: Sorry it's taken me so long to reply to this. This story was written very quickly--I was, ha, trying to be more mainstream :) I really enjoy writing Bella, as you know, and it was interesting having her act with Sirius. I was rather pleased with myself for that line-I'm sure it's from someone else, but I've always imagined Bella as a great manipulator, as you said, who is very controlled most of the time, but Azkaban unhinged her somewhat from this.
I think Bella is definitely potential Gryff material-she wasn't lying. Ha, I don't mind long sentences- I'm guilty of them myself. The three Black sisters are very interesting--I miss writing Andromeda and Narcissa.
I have a vague idea of a follow up to this about Sirius and Bella's relationship, when he sees through her, so I may write that one day.
I liked writing about the cold. I was very cold at the time, and I had a very clear idea that it should seep through the story, so it's great that you picked up on that :) And I'm glad the present tense worked for this.
I think Bella, like Voldemort, wants to escape her family, and sees Voldemort as the way to do this. I hadn't thought of that connection, but that is interesting.
Anyway thanks so much for reviewing! And I was very glad you finished LAOS and really appreciated all the lovely reviews you left for me. Thank you. Alex
OOOH, fabulous, Alex. This is brilliant. I love the twist that it's Bella who is there and listening to him. I was, obviously, expecting Andromeda, but wow - this was superb.
Sorry, this is wildly incoherent, but I literaaly reading with my mouth open. I adore the bits with the cigarette and her crushing the snowball under foot in the grey slush.
Yes, that's it - I love it.
Author's Response: I don't mind incoherent reviews! Thank you so much Carole :) I'm pleased you enjoyed the twist, and Bella. I do think I enjoy writing Bella maybe a bit too much, but still, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for this lovely review! Alex
This was well done, Alex. It was really interesting to read because at first Bellatrix comes off as almost ... nice, but by the end I totally got the impression she is being quite manipulative about recruiting Sirius. Very original, and so very interesting to think about what happens between them later on, especially when Sirius really runs away.
When she plunges her hand into the snow...was that a new Dark Mark? Just curious.
I thought your style here was well done - it flowed well and was easy to follow without too many flashbacks, but just enough introspection. A neat character study for both them - nice job!
Author's Response: Thanks for your lovely review Gina. I really enjoy writing Bella alot (perhaps a little too much :p) so I'm pleased you enjoyed her characterisation. I am considering writing a sort of sequel to this, about Sirius later on, but think this works in its own right.
When I wrote that it was supposed to just a weird/ slightly creepy thing Bella did. So when I saw your take on it, I immediately thought, No, in my chronology Bella has the Dark Mark long before this. But thinking back, actually, this is Christmas 1971, and she would have got it around then. But it wasn't intentional on my part, much as I wish it had been.
Thanks so much for your review and kind words! Alex