Hello once more! Another review rescued from the Nifflers! Hooray!
Ooh! Where there’s a murderer, there’s a murder mystery! At least, I hope there is a murder mystery. I was waiting for someone to be gruesomely murdered the entire chapter, but alas! No one dropped dead. Perhaps next chapter!
This was a wonderful introduction to your ensemble cast for this story, in my opinion. I got a good idea of who the likely major players in the story are going to be. It felt a lot like the prologue, rather than chapter one! I also thought it was an interesting choice to keep the first chapter about the characters, rather than the plot – unless there was heaps of hints about the plot that I completely missed, and will only make sense when I reread the finished piece? This leads me to believe that the story is going to be more character-driven, than plot-driven, about which I am really excited. Your ensemble cast has got my interest piqued. I am especially curious to see what the nefarious Tom Riddle is going to get up to. I love the idea of him being such a wonderfully manipulative sociopath, using his social skills and understanding of people around him to his utmost advantage. (I hope he isn’t the murdered. I’d love to see Tom have some competition in the serial killer category!)
I eagerly await the first appearance of a murder – and the accompanying murderer! (I may be too enamoured with the idea of this being a murder mystery. If I am wrong about this, OH WELL. I am still enthusiastic to see where this story goes.)
Hi Laura, so sorry this is a v short review from my phone at the airport haha, but just wanted to leave at least something! As always, your descriptions are incredible and so tangible nd I am in love with them. I have to point out this one:
'the word dropped into the air between them, heavy and laden with contempt - it sizzled. If there were anything more on it, any more scorn or condescension or disappointment slathered onto it, Cygnus rather thought it would have dripped onto the carpet, like oil from a lamp' --- This is amazing
Also I love the way you write Tom Riddle. His... interview, for lack of a better word haha, was so perfectly done, how he is calm and so in control and the tactic he used would work for absolutely no other people ever, but it's almost /easy/ for him to get this job just by saying that he will have the job. Also Tom/cygnus what an interesting pair, love it. I wonder if Cygnus has any idea he's just being used - I get the feeling that the idea has occurred to him but he just doesn't allow himself to think about it, pushes that out of his mind bc it's easier for him to believe that Tom is being genuine.
This is super good so far <3
Wow, that opening paragraph!! Your description is lovely, especially comparing the panic to orchestral noises. It builds tension and I can practically hear those discordant violin notes. Brilliant!
I loved this too: "...weakly bright, miserably sunny in the way that only British weather can be." The fact that you chose this setting, versus lashing rain, etc., that we usually associate with dramatic scenes involving a ship, adds a very realistic touch. It's also more of that lovely discord that we see in the introduction.
I don't know if this was intentional or not, but the fact that this scene takes place with what appear to be immigrants of some kind is very nicely done, especially in today's political climate. Tom clearly has a distaste for Muggles and non-Purebloods--again, I could totally be grasping at straws here, but the parallel is a nice touch.
Also I LOVE "with a crack like a nut being broken." How many times have we read descriptions of Apparating? Yet this one rings totally unique.
I cannot pick a favorite scene here. Eileen in the funeral home (I think?) was lovely, and the part where she wishes she was pretty--for some reason I'm 100% picturing Saiorse Ronan here, even though she is beautiful--and I cannot help but like this character. But then the scene with Tom and Cygnus, and in particular Tom stretching out his arm and feeling the tendons extend infinitely--wow. And Cygnus being so naive here, really. I see why this won an award for the best description!
"...the sweat that clustered there, beads gathered in a mockery of jewelled bracelets..." STOP IT. Your descriptions are insane! And the greenhouse, ripe with orange blossoms and moss and humidity, so lovely. I like how the two scenes with women feature so heavily flora and greenery and life, amidst everything.
This is so so SO well done, I wish I had more constructive criticism to give, but it's just very well written. I'm hooked!
I'm finally here and it's only chapter one and I already love this so much. I'm so excited!
I love the descriptions. You paint such vivid pictures, it's like watching a movie when I read your work. The beginning with Tom - I'm assuming it's Tom - was amazing to read. It's like I was there, watching him come home, seeing how still and cold he was.
I can't wait to read more of Eileen. I loved her introduction.
DID NOT KNOW I NEEDED TOM/CYGNUS UNTIL NOW. Everything about them together was perfect. The touches, the conversation, the setting, the hope in Cygnus's eyes. I'm sensing (or maybe hoping... is that weird) a tragedy.
I'm excited for more Adelaide and Lycus.
I shall be reading more soon!
Hi Sam! :) It's so lovely to see you back around again!
Ahhh thank you so much! It's such a fun story to write and I do love it, so I'm always so happy to hear that other people are also enjoying it :)
Tom is a ridiculously fun character to write, simply because of the way he thinks. It's not like any other character: cold, calculating, with this undercurrent of violence he can't always suppress. It was interesting writing him quite that disconnected from the world, yk, in comparing him to others and it was a harder scene to get done than I'd originally thought it would be, so I'm so glad you liked it :)
Eileen is, well, tragic, but I do love her. I'm putting her through a really rough time (my bad), but hopefully she's a decent character?
Hahaha, so Tom/Cygnus came out kinda organically - originally I was only going to have them be friends from school, but as I thought more about it, that wasn't enough and it sort of changed until when I came to write it, they were a ship and that was that :P They have such a fun dynamic though, so I regret nothing :P As for a tragedy... well, their relationship is definitely complicated, and it won't be smooth sailing all the way through, but you'll have to let me know if you think it's a tragedy in the end ;)
Adelaide, honestly, is my favourite OC. That's not saying much, because she's pretty much the only major OC I've written, so yk... but she's great. It's the first time I've ever taken an OC and given them a backstory and a storyline and developed them properly, and it's been so great, and I'm excited that you're excited because it's nervous and amazing at the same time :P
Thank you so so much for the lovely - and incredibly wonderful surprise - review :)
So, wait... did Cygnus poison her mother? And is he planning to do the same with Orion now? Or am I misinterpreting everything? I knew they had some trouble, but... oh, well... not going to get in between all this crazy pureblood conspirancy... :P Btw, two things:
1) I hadn't realized Cygnus and Druella were married. I love the idea that they are each other's best friends, btw, even if their marriage is a bit of a cover... I still wonder what Druella's feelings are, though? Does she care for him just as a friend or would she like their marriage to actually mean something? I have a feeling it is the latter, but maybe not, I don't know...
2) I still haven't figured out Jophiel's role in all this? He's surely a fascinating character... charming and dangerous? A bit like our "dear" Tom? I wonder what he's planning, if anything. And what was that paper Cygnus gave him? Mmmh... always more questions...
Speaking of Tom... oh, my! Did he just visit Hepzibah Smith? I didn't really like the woman when we saw that glimpse of her in the books, and I didn't like her now that you introduced her in this story. I still feel bad for what I know will happen to her soon... and a bit terrified, as well... :/
And Eileen and Tobias... aww... once again, if I didn't know how Tobias will turn out to be, I would find those two so damn cute! Also, Eileen's habit of keeping her own vase of flowers collecting all the leftovers is such a sweet image, I love it, I love the care she puts in it... (I'm that person who can't keep a plant living for more than a couple of weeks, so... yes, I know, that's totally irrelevant...)
Oh, and Adelaide... not exactly sure what she's planning either, but I feel like whatever it is isn't going to end well... the fact that she has family who care for her and worry for her is sweet and sad at the same time because they can't really help her and she doesn't really want to be helped either? I'm still not sure how I feel about her, to be honest. I mean, I feel bad for her, but I'm kind of frustrated by her at the same time? Now that I think of it, I feel that way a bit for all of the characters in this story,,,
This was such a great chapter! Thank you so much for the swap, my dear!
Lots of love,
I had a whole review typed up for you and my computer freaked out on me and it's now gone. Which makes me so sad because now I feel like I'm going to forget something that I typed. I'm sorry in advance, because I feel like this review won't be as good as the first. :(
I do remember that the first thing I commented on was your STUNNING prose. I forgot how much I loved it because it has been TOO LONG since I last read your work. It's amazing how vividly I could imagine every scene. The details paint a beautiful picture. It's like poetry and I'm obsessed.
I also commented on how I love the structure of each chapter, how you split it into four "acts." It seems fitting for two reasons. One, it's a great way to juggle your various characters with neat breaks, so I know who we are following and when the perspective shifts. Two, this story already feels like a play in the way you are establishing tension. It all feels so ominous. Shakespeare would be proud.
And of course, I had to comment on Tom Riddle. Tom is delicious. I love the hidden flashes of malice in his expression, like when the officer at the docks is questioning him about his purpose and his belongings, and Tom is acting so calm and collected, giving the "appropriate" response, then his gaze becomes dark, hinting at the danger he has brought with him. His manner is so cool and calculating. And with Cygnus, how he is able to manipulate the man so smoothly into believing that he is at his beck and call, when in reality it is Cygnus who would roll over for Tom in an instant. He clearly loves Tom. He's devoted to Tom in a way that Tom has clearly caught on to and is using. What will he get from Cynus' death? An inheritance? Or something more intangible... power? Esteem? Position? I'm curious.
I loved the scene with Adelaide. It was such an eerie yet also picturesque scene, with this young woman caring for her dying husband, and feeling so trapped and desperate in her position as caretaker. I loved the descriptions you included, of the flowers, and the dripping of the sponge, and the way she moved around the house almost like a ghost, like she's suffocating and alone. The line where you described how her husband is always dying yet still not dead was stunning. As was how you described the air as cloying and sickly sweet. It reminded me of a funeral home full of flowers, how the floral scent sticks to your nose and covers up the scent of death. It was very fitting. I wonder what the letter at the end was about, and why Adelaide felt the need to write it "just in case." I get the sense that she fears she's in or will be in some sort of trouble.
And finally, Eileen. I've never been a huge fan of Eileen honestly, but I almost feel bad for her in this scene. She seems to live a rather thankless life where she's basically invisible. But the end of her scene hints at her involvement in something bigger, so I'm curious to see how that all unfolds.
Okay, I think I touched on everything from the first review. I hope I expressed how much I enjoyed this piece and how STUNNING all the descriptions were. It helped me to imagine everything so distinctly, and it also helped to characterize each of these "players" in a unique way. You are incredibly talented, my dear, and this piece is no exception. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me!
I have a question for you: How? How do you write like this? That is all. (Jk, I have loads more to talk about haha.)
The beginnings of your chapters/sections always bring such vivid images to the forefront of my mind, and I swear, this – “Weak and thin, the winter sun rippled lazily through the air, sliding off the windowpanes and the droplets of water spouting from the fountain in a tumbling, burbling trickle” – made me want to cry and to see it with my own two eyes and to be able to touch such a magical moment because, I mean. Your words are magic, I swear they are, and I just want to live them and breathe them, even when they’re depicting such a cold scene as this.
I figured the “she” in the beginning was Adelaide, but I had no idea who the “he” was until you mentioned Antonin by name, and I was shocked for a moment, though perhaps I shouldn’t have been. I remembered Antonin from the last chapter (especially the part where I fangirled over his name haha) and of course he’s a Pureblood (a Dolohov, goodness), so why wouldn’t he know Adelaide? Though whose death are they talking about? What connection do these two have? And he’s clearly figured out her request to Tom Riddle in keeping Lycus alive, and how do you keep track of all these characters, it’s so amazing. You’re amazing ahh. <3
Also how do you switch moods so sharply? From the cold hollowness of the first scene (have I ever mentioned how much I love the act-by-act play structure of this?), we get this section that’s just full of underlying anger, and I love love love it. Okay so Cygnus’s affair with Tom is public knowledge, and Druella seems to be alright with that. And Tom – what exactly are the Knights of Walpurgis? Is it something that all the Purebloods (thanks for providing all their surnames in this chapter haha) joined together to make? If so, how did Tom not know much about it until last chapter? And omg your characterization of Tom is just so delightfully dark, I love how you write him. His relationship with Cygnus makes me slightly nervous, but mostly because one half of the relationship is Tom and that’s always bound to make me nervous haha.
Aww Eileen, my heart has such a soft spot for her. Eep Tobias Snape?? SNAPE???? I knew this day would come eventually when she would have to meet the abusive jerk, but *sigh* I’d hoped that she could have a little longer. How fitting that they would meet because of a funeral ahaha. I’m so so curious to see how you develop all this and tie it into canon, though – you’re so good at doing that.
Whoa what is Jophiel up to? Asking Eileen for favors, running around at night? LAURA YOUR PLOTS ARE SO INTRIGUING SLKDJG. Everything that Druella hinted at, I just want to know more more more ahh.
Such beautiful writing. I love it all. I love just absolutely everything you write. Even if you wrote an entire story just about the growth of a tree, I think I would read it and adore it and treasure it, because your writing is just so, so amazing. <33
Hello, my love! It's been far too long since I've read anything from your AP, and for that I must apologize. Your writing is as amazing as ever; it's so beautiful and lyrical, and it reminds me of something that I'd read in one of my British Lit classes. Please, teach me your ways ♥
I am super stoked that we're getting another Tom Riddle fic from you. I love your control with him; he's so in character, so quiet and mysterious, but he walks around so importantly. He just has this essence, if that makes any sense, and I think you captured it so well in this first section. You don't even say his name, but it's pretty clear based on characterization that it's him. Starting this off with him coming back home to London is also a brilliant move; because your writing is so beautiful, I was able to picture everything like it was happening in a movie. All of the details from the noise to his yellow tie paint a very clear image and it was like I was walking with him. I also really loved when the official asked if he had anything dangerous with him; obviously he doesn't know who he's dealing with because Tom's the most dangerous 'thing' he could bring, and I loved that you had that sort of spark amusement in him, too. It's definitely a great way to set up this story and this chapter; it feels kind of ominous and I need to know where it's going next.
The fact that you didn't dwell too much on his arrival was great, though. I love that we're introduced to another character -- Eileen -- in order to get a better idea of the world we're in. I'm very curious to see how everyone is going to tie together, but again it's that ominous feeling that this isn't going to be a happy story. I think what I enjoy most about your writing is that you can take something as simple as Eileen bringing the men tea and make it something interesting, and I'm wondering just who this Mr. Fairbrother is. It's so curious that she works in a funeral home; I've often been intrigued by that career path (like, to explore it in writing) and I want to know how she came into it. ALSO, the handsome man that comes in at the end - who is he? WHAT DOES HE NEED FROM HER? I NEED TO HAVE ANSWERS.
Back to Tom! I am very curious about the relationship that he has here with Cygnus. Cygnus seems to adore him (and really, who could blame him), and it's hard to tell if the affection that's bubbling just underneath is mutual or one-sided. We all know Tom, though; as long as he's useful, he'll stick around. And this section, being further into Tom's head; I don't know how you write him so well? I mean this in the best way. Like, I can't get over how perfect and in control he is, and even though I know he's the/a villian, I like? Sort of get caught under his spell too in whatever you're writing about him. I'm eager to see how long he stays with Cynus and how it all pans out; they seem to have a fair amount of history together.
And your last section with Adelaide was like something straight out of Shakespeare. I feel bad for her, with her dying husband; that can't be easy, but she already reads as a strong woman. I want to know more about them and how their relationship came to be, too. And what sort of plea is she writing in that letter? And who is she writing to, exactly? (Unless you mention this and I happened to miss it, then you can ignore this question :P) What a way to end a chapter and kick off a story; I definitely need to know more about this.
Overall, I loved this chapter, and I loved that it was sectioned like a Shakesperean play; it's an interesting choice but it worked very well! As always, your writing is beautiful and your control over language and description is seriously impressive.
Amazing job ♥
Lauraaa omg that first paragraph?? It transported me to a different place. The imagery you use in all of your descriptive paragraphs just makes me want to cry, because I can see it, I can hear it, I can smell it, and I have honestly never read anything quite like your stories before. All of your sentences are long, but I love it; you fill them with so much beauty and honestly if you start that description journal you were talking about in your WJ, please post it in a blog or something because I would kill to read just your descriptions.
[Here for our swap, by the way, haha.]
Act III Scene I was actually…sweet, in a way. I didn’t expect that with Cygnus and Druella, but they are. At the very least, I’m glad that Druella knows about Cygnus’s affair with Tom, and though she might not approve of it exactly, I’m just happy that she doesn’t seem to be cut up at all over it. But these two have such a fun sort of rapport going on, and they seem to both understand that their relationship is somewhat silly (judging by the laughter at the end). I also love how Druella just knows that Cygnus doesn’t mourn his mother, but that he’ll most likely miss having someone to grouch about. I wonder who Little Boots is, though? I have a feeling it’s going to be some painfully obvious answer, but my head is still kinda stuffed up right now haha.
All these relationships between your characters are just so fun to think about, I love it. I have developed an odd sort of fondness for Druella, though of course it would be great if she wasn’t a part of a family renowned for their prejudice. I do hope we’ll get to see more of her later, though!
And the shift in tone to Scene II is just amazing. Immediately everything felt darker, thicker, heavier, and I loved that. I also love how much this short section says a lot about Tom, from everything about his newfound riches (or, at least, Cygnus’s gifts) to his unmovable disposition. This line in particular was delightful and creepy all at the same time – “What can frighten a man who conquered death at sixteen?” Tom Riddle is such a creepy human being, I got the shivers haha. Also omg all those Pureblood-sounding names that you picked? So perfect. I love Cassiel and Antonin especially. They sound so regal and like they’re just dripping with money haha.
Oh no, Adelaide going into that shop makes me so nervous. What is Tom Riddle going to use her for? I have a really terrible feeling about this, that he’s going to take this opportunity to do something absolutely dreadful.
OH, THIS IS LITTLE BOOTS. Who is this guy?? What does he want with Eileen? At first I thought this was going to be Mr. Snape the First, but I suppose not, considering he’s a wizard. What do people want with her? Is it because she appears to be meek and plain that they feel comfortable pulling her around this way and that? I HAVE MANY QUESTIONS.
Ahh I love your writing so so much. You’re so skilled and talented, can I be you one day? <3
Hey, Laura, here for our swap! :)
Okay, but... Now I have a question (well, I have many, actually...) Does Tom actually care for Cygnus?! I suppose it's more a matter of possession, not sure it could be called love... but it's still more than what I would expect? Then, again, Tom is way too good to manipulate people and make them believe what suits him, so maybe he only has a plan and I'm just imagining feelings here... sorry, I'm blabbering as usual... :P
I'm seriously worried for Eileen... what does Tom want from her? I know I've asked a thousand times already... what did that message mean? By the way, I loved this passage:
she could not imagine Tom Riddle, sly and charming and sharklike, making sure to preserve life.
He would be much more inclined to let them wilt and watch as they decayed on his windowsill, studying them with a thoughtless, detached air.
I can totally see that about Tom, too. It's just so great. And while I'm at it, your descriptions were stunning as always, they never cease to impress me... (yes, I know I tell you all the time and you are probably tired to hear it...)
What's Adelaide's plan? Killing her husband and then resurrect him? I'm not sure it is the best idea, illegality aside... on the contrary, I think it is a very, very bad idea... I have to confess, she isn't my favourite character, even if I do feel sorry for her...
And what is this talking about a serial killer? And I'm not sure I quite understood the rabbit ritual... It was creepy, though...
So, basically, I keep having no idea about what is going on... but it's intriguing and fascinating and I can't wait to figure everything out... And of course your writing is stunning and incredible as always. Where do you find your words? Teach me your ways!
Sorry for this disorganized review and thank you so much for the swap!
Lots of love,
I AM SO HAPPY AND EXCITED FOR THIS NEW CHAPTER
Reading this chapter has reminded me of all the reasons I love your writing; from the very first sentence, I was captivated and lost into the characters’ lives, almost if I was actually there (would you mind sharing that timeturner of yours?) because your description is completely and utterly beautiful. I’m actually at a loss for words, because nothing I say will be worth this beautifully-crafted chapter.
POOR EILEEN. The flower delivery man is so positive about Tom, and planning weddings, and the truth is that he’s a monster threatening her. I’m so excited that we meet Tobias at last, though — such tragic circumstances, off, but I can’t wait to see how their romance plays out and what effect Tom will have upon them (because he’s Tom, and you’re Laura, so how could he not?) and ofc there’s the dead people, and I’m wondering if Eileen is involved in this fic because sooner or later, one of Tom’s victims will end up as one of her corpses? Or is she doomed for something more tragic?
That scene with the rabbit — I’m convinced that Rollin knows, whether or not he realises it, just who Tom is, because there has to be a reason that they’ve come all the way up to the rookery just for him to mention that a serial killer exists. And Tom’s mask is slipping, which both excites and terrifies me; he’s not going to last much longer, and soon the façade will drop, and the chapters that are coming up... let’s just say I have high expectations and I’m sure you’ll surpass them! ;)
(On a side note, in the last sentence of Scene II, Rollin is typo’ed Rolling.)
OH GOD ADELAIDE. Part of me wants to yell at you for putting this poor woman through so much suffering, but the other part of me feels like that would be a little hypocritical, y’know? But one thing I really love about Adelaide’s scenes is that you highlight the issues of age-gap relationships when others don’t always do that in fanfic, like the fact she won’t be able to have his children, and she’s had to put aside her own dreams of motherhood, a sacrifice for him, and my heart really goes out to her because to love Lycus and suffer Abraxas and have those moments when she realises what she’s lost... she’s really going through the mill.
Those plants, though. I love how simply magical they are — growing five inches from just a little water added!
I cackled at Tom’s jealousy when Cygnus paid a little too much attention to Abraxas’ arse — it’s refreshing, seeing him with glimpses of humanity like that, because he wasn’t born a monster and this early in his timeline, there has to still be some humanity left.
That ending, that entire last paragraph just left me reeling, because it’s so true — and yet to end a chapter there, Laura, why?! This is another way your writing is done so cleverly — a gentle beginning to entice the reader into the chapter, and then shredding the illusion of being there in much the same way Tom intends to shred pureblood society. It’s so beautiful, and I love this chapter and your writing and this story and I can’t wait for chapter six already.
Thanks for finally updating though, it’s so good being able to immerse myself into this world again. <3
Hi! I’m so happy to be able to review this again.
I think I’m becoming a little addicted to your writing haha. It’s always so beautiful and glimmering, and being able to envision your world perfectly just really takes me out of my (never-ending lol) state of stress, and I just love it. Also I really love all of your descriptions and your beautiful, magnificent understanding of the English language (I’ve said this so many times, it probably means nothing to you anymore haha) and I just wanted to point out one paragraph (because let’s be honest, if I pointed out everything I liked we’d be here all day). That opening paragraph is such a beautiful way to start off a chapter. It could even start an entire story and be too marvelous for that; the writing is just so perfect, your words are so perfect.
I use way too many parentheses.
Can I just say how much I love that Eileen is in the same time frame as Tom Riddle? (Okay I have to be honest, dates and years and math…do not mesh well with me, so I have no idea what’s canon and what’s not haha.) I think I forgot to mention this last time, but I love the ensemble of characters you have going on. They’re all characters that (I think) could exist canonically in the same era but that not too many people seem to think about, and I just love the dynamics between them, and I’m so excited to see what further connections tie them together.
Okay but Eileen. Please take care of yourself. Tom Riddle is an asshat and the fact that you seem to understand that you’re unable to fight him makes me very nervous.
And Adelaide’s conflict with Abraxas sounds wearied, and that also makes me nervous. Because Abraxas’s threats (?) sound kinda ominous and I don’t know what they mean?? What is this man planning????
Act III Scene III was beautiful. (Another parenthetical statement but I love that you made this into the format of a play of sorts? It suits this story so well, with its various pieces and fragments that you’re slowly joining together.) That opening paragraph of this section was grotesque in all the best ways, and it really makes you wonder what Tom is doing with this. Is he trying to use this shop to find the items for his Horcruxes? WHAT IS THIS EVIL MAN DOING I WANT TO KNOW.
…I want to give a quick apology because I feel like my reviewing style is not adequate enough for your style of writing like how do I respond to such beauty I cannot grasp <3
Alright so facts I have obtained from this last section: Cygnus has a wife. Cygnus has a wife and he’s kissing Tom. Cygnus has a dead mother (who he does not like) and he skipped her funeral to hang out with Tom. Really, Cygnus is shaping up to be an all-around fascinating character; you’ve given him so much more than I ever could’ve imagined.
And what’s up with Orion?
But ughhh I love your writing so so much please never stop (though I already have so many stories to catch up on hahaha) <3
I have been eyeing this story for the longest time so I’m so excited to finally start reading it! Fully prepared to be blown away by your descriptive language and your impeccable choice of words, as always. (How do you do it? How do you always manage to pick the word that brings out the fullest meaning of the sentence? How are you so talented? <3)
[OKAY I HAVE NOW READ IT]
Can I just say, I love how from the very moment you mention the young man, still and quiet amidst all the frantic passengers, I know it’s Tom Riddle. Your description of him is so spot on, and putting him in contrast with the more mundane, normal, stressed-out actions of the other people as they arrive, makes him even more clearly Tom Riddle. I just went back and realized you never actually mentioned him by name in that passage, but the words you choose to describe him with are so fitting. I particularly loved this line here -- “a flash of something amused and malevolent, dangerous, skittering across his face in the second the officer was looking elsewhere.”
And the immediate tone shift between Tom’s section and Eileen’s was so clean and sharp and skillfully done, and honestly at this point my life goal is to be able to wield words and phrases as well as you do. But oh, Eileen. It makes me so terribly sad to think that she’ll soon have a son who’ll probably be the most debated Harry Potter character in history hahaha. But anyway, even though she’s not exactly sharp or witty, she’s definitely intelligent (especially from her commentary about the irony of the survivors’ deaths) and is really good at her job. I’m so intrigued to read more about her! And is this handsome man who walked in Mr. Snape the First? …I don’t know why I put it like that, it doesn’t even make sense. I meant to say, is this Severus’s dad?
Okay omg omg omg also this relationship between Tom and Cygnus?? I support very much. Like, not in a “these two are so cute together!!” way but like in a “these two are so fascinating together and I can’t tear my eyes away” type of thing. I don’t know how you managed to come up with this, but you have, and it’s brilliant. I love seeing the effects that Cygnus has on Tom, despite Tom’s attempts to remain cold and stoic. It makes me wonder what’s going to happen down the line, because as we all know, Tom Riddle does not love other people. Or is that a side effect of this relationship? WHO KNOWS. I’m excited to find out!
Adelaide’s section is so regal and noble omg. Even with a sickly, dying husband, she holds herself up with such grace and dignity (due largely to the amazing way you wrote her). I also loved the little bits you slipped in about the history of her marriage, how she’s thirty years younger than him, and how she never expected her life to come to this. And that description of the study was heavenly. (I mean, okay, even though it’s rotting in some places, I was just imagining what it must’ve been a long time ago. I also just really love the concept of plants filling an indoor room. So even though the current state of the study is kinda bad, and even though it’s tied to this dying man, I kind of want that study haha.) ANYWAY WHAT DID SHE WRITE??
I am in love with your writing, and I can’t wait to come back to this story later. <333
Hi Eva! :) Thank you so so much for stopping by! :)
Oh. my. god. thank you so so much for all of that - honestly, it's amazing and it completely made my day to read it all. You're definitely too nice to me, but thank you so much - you're so kind and it's so so great to hear, especially from you, when you're such a talented author <3
Honestly, I love writing Tom. Like, probably more than I should do, tbh :P There's just something so unique about the way he things about things and views everything: things, places, people. He has a completely individual way of thinking and it's so fun and fascinating to explore and put down on paper, even if at times it is kinda freaky, because, yk, he's Tom Riddle :P I'm so glad you could tell it was him, though, because despite how comfortable I am writing him (gosh that sounds terrible when I put it like that :P), I really wasn't sure if people would be able to get it instantly, but I didn't want to go back and edit it to say - partly because I couldn't work out where I would put in the name :P I had the image of him on the ship, surrounded by the mad dashing of other people, all the noise and the colours and the rush, in my head for ages for the beginning of this story, even if it's only really a small part of the chapter, so it was something I really wanted to put down, so I'm so glad you liked it. It was so hard to try and write him still and calm, with all the madness and the hustle and bustle around him :P
I think it helped me to have a set of very different main characters, which makes it kinda easy to give a clean break? And dividing it into acts means I think about them as separate things - I plan them as separate sections, write them as separate sections, even if I write them one following straight after the other. So I think about it differently, yk, if that makes sense? Tbf Severus won't be born for a while yet (about a decade, roughly, I think), but yeah, she's kinda such a tragic character in canon and I kinda wanted to write her for a while, so it was great to get a chance to do that - even if I don't give her any better of a time than canon does oops :/ YES I really always thought she must be clever, yk, because Snape is so clever and so talented, especially at Potions, so Eileen must have been good too, yk? And she's really compassionate and kinda naive about things, even though she has a good sense of herself and a fair bit of life experience. She's easily deceived, I think, which is really her downfall. The handsome man.... you'll find out (but no, not Snape's dad. Thankfully :P)
Hahaha, yeah, I think that's exactly it - fascinating, kinda like a car crash almost, in the sense that you know you don't really want to see it, but you kinda really do at the same time. They've got such a good dynamic, which I wasn't expecting, and since I started writing them, they've grown as characters and their relationship has developed and it's been so cool to uncover. There's so much more for them planned for later chapters :P Mostly, I came up with it because I needed Tom to have a rich pureblood friend for Plot Purposes, and I settled on Cygnus, because I'd already had ideas for Orion and Alphard and Abraxas and wanted someone like them but not them. Then, once I'd picked Cygnus and started developing his character and his friendship with Tom, it kinda occured to me that it needed to be more than friendship, and when I was writing them just in a sort of test piece of writing just to see, it was so easy to write them as a proper relationship, so I just kept that :P Tom Riddle is definitely not in love with Cygnus and definitely could never be (sadly for Cygnus). I really wanted to avoid going the 'Tom loved once, but can't now' route, because it was never something which worked in with my headcanon of him, so yes, no love there :P
Ahhhhh I'm so so happy you like Adelaide. I was so nervous about writing her - and still am, tbh - because she's my first ever proper OC that I've written, and so it's terrifying, building her myself and working her in with the others. But I do love her: she's a very strong character, imo, with a lot of moral judgement (though you'll see more of that later on ;)) and even though she's exhausted because she's caring for her husband, isolated mostly from her family and her friends in a house which isn't really hers as such, and she just... carries on. In my backstory for her, she's a Hufflepuff (I don't know if I've mentioned this in the story at any point), and she's very much the hard-working, faithful, dedicated type. She loves Lycus and this love is hard. The study... omigod, so I really wanted a room which wasn't boring and normal, haha, and I kept thinking of orangeries, with all the trees and the plants and the humidity you get, and so I sort of combined that with a traditional study. It always seemed to me a very pretty but kinda abandoned sort of room, so I'm so happy you like it, though tbh you'd want to dust a lot before you used it :P Mmmmmm you'll have to wait to find that out, I'm afraid! ;)
Thank you so so much for the review - it's amazing and you're amazing and I still can't believe you wrote everything you did write in this because it's so unbelievably kind and I'm floored. Thank you :) <3
Hi, Laura, my dear! Here for our swap! :)
This story gets more and more intriguing and mysterious... I love the way you write the pureblood society, with all its secrets and hypocrisy... it's so interesting and so well done, you have a great talent for that (and for descriptions, and crafting sentences... but that's a well known fact that I've told you already at least a thousand times...)
So, what does Doholov have to do with Adelaide? And who died and when and how? That first scene only raised hundreds of new questions and I'm always more curious to know where you are heading with this story and how everything will come all together in the end...
And then we have Tom, who's starting to form his army... and Cygnus who's starting to realize that he's been used... maybe? Maybe not? Surely Tom knows how to keep him close... he's so manipulative, and I bet so seductive... honestly, I feel a bit sorry for Cygnus...
Eileen has met Tobias! That came a bit unexpected. Well, not really, he had to show up sooner or later, but for some reason I wasn't expecting him quite yet... I'm curious to see how their relationship will develop and also what will happen with Tom and Jophiel and everything else... so many questions... can I have some answers now, too? Please?
And Druella... still need to figure out her relationship with Cygnus... does she love him? She clearly doesn't trust Tom, and I can't blame her for it. And she's worried for her little brother, who knows more than he lets out. That boy is surely interesting, I'm quite curious to know more about him and his agenda. Once again, so many secrets, so many questions. You have built such a fascinating story...
Thank you for the swap, dear, and sorry for the disordered and rambling review.
Tons of love and snowball hug,
Hi, Laura! Here for our swap! Sorry if it's a bit late...
So, some things are clearing up a bit... well, not really, but at least now I know who had been visiting Eileen... except that I don't :P Who is this Little Boots guy? Is he Druella's brother? That doesn't really sound right, since he's obviously of French origins... mmmh... I don't know... guess these are answers for future chapters. :)
I enjoyed seeing Druella and Cygnus together, btw. Maybe they don't exactly have a passionate relationship, but they seem to at least care about each other in a friendly way, which I guess is nice to see. :) Were they talking about Tom at the beginning? Does she know about Cygnus and him? Still trying to figure out all the dynamics here, but I guess that in the Pureblood society it's all about keeping appearences...
The start of the Death Eaters... that was an interesting scene... Tom already has everyone wrapped around his finger, which is a bit scary, honestly... as always, your descriptions are lovely, and I especially liked how you emphasized the contrast between Tom's aristocratic aspect now and the poor orphan he once was. Also, you really surprised me here. I had never considered the idea of Tom being bullied when he first came to Hogwarts, I'm just to used to imagine him as the bully, instead. But it does make sense, and it adds a new layer of complexity to his personality. I love it.
I'm quite worried about Adelaide, I have a feeling she's got herself into something bigger than she would have thought... the young assistant was Tom, right? And he was a bit too interested in her request. (And I can sort of get why, since avoid ingresso death is something he's particularly interested in). Still, I'm wondering whIchino consequences his encounter with Adelaide will have, because I'm sure something dark will happen. Also, did he use Legilimency on her, or did I completely misinterpreted it?
This story is fascinating, I'm so curious where you are leading us and how all these lives are going to intertwine. You'll need to keep writing, because I'm too curious to unravel it all... ;)
Thank you so much for the swap and sorry for the lateness again!
Hi Chiara! :) Thank you so much for stopping by! :)
Hahaha, yeah - answers to questions which only inspire more questions :P Sorry about that! Little Boots is... well, you'll find out in the next chapter - so you don't have too long to wait ;) And yeah, he's the handsome man visiting Eileen (other than, of course, Tom). You'll find out, though, why he's visiting Eileen - what he wants from her, why her - though you might have to wait a bit for that ;)
Ahhh I'm so glad you like Druella and Cygnus! I do love writing them - they have such a great dynamic :P They're best friends from school and they're still best friends (which will be explained in a later chapter), and yeah, they were talking about Tom in the beginning. Druella knows everything about Cygnus and Tom - well, everything important :P And yeah, definitely, there's a lot of weight put on keeping up appearances for the purebloods, and that definitely factors into their relationship :)
Thank you! :) I have such an in-depth headcanon for Tom, haha - the product of spending too long writing him, I think :P - so a lot of it gets put into this and feeds into his scenes. He's super manipulative and he's managed to carve this kingdom out for himself with his friends, and they definitely all look to him for leadership in a big, big way. Tom being bullied was an idea I got a while back, for Azrael Rising, and it kinda formed part of my headcanon from that point on. So yeah, I like to imagine he was bullied, and then he became the bully as well - so he definitely wasn't innocent in any way at school, and neither were his friends. Revenge is a key thing for Tom in this whole story :P
Adelaide is definitely in trouble, you're right to be worried :P (Does that help? Probably not :P) Yes, it was Tom in the shop! Borgin's young assistant, and he's so interested in her request. He did use Legilimency on her! I'm so glad you caught it because I wasn't sure if it was too subtle or not, yk, and if people would miss it - I'm never very good at telling what's too subtle or too obvious :P But yeah, she's caught his attention and it's not great for her - but, ofc, she has no idea that he's dangerous. She doesn't even know who he is.
Ahhh thank you so so much! They will all intertwine in the end, I promise, and there will be more answers coming soon! ;) Thank you so so much for the lovely review - it was so great to get! :)
Hello English twin!
I was going to read and review up to date as a surprise, but... I have :P So I guess you better get writing!
Morning tea has never sounded so flipping good. Cygnus and Druella literally sound like an old married couple. I really love how much you're able to say about their dynamic in such a short space of time. I love how perfect they must seem to outsiders, but of course have their secrets.
Oooh the Knights have gathered, ugh I loved it so much! How the others regard him with such reverence and that Tom has so much power of them and they know that. It's perfect. I like how he always keeps the memory of his childhood close. I bet it's always driving him.
OOH OOH so that's Little Boots!! For a minute I thought it might have actually been Avery, since he was adopted by Cygnus. I'm sooo intrigued by Jophiel and can't wait to find out more about him!!!
I'm wondering if Adelaide saw Tom in Borgin and Burkes, hm... If I'm right, I bet he's smirking a little inside at being asked how to preserve life. And what does Boots want with little precious Eileen? Ugh I'm left wanting to know so much more!!! I love this story more everytime I come back to it. I love all the story threads you're weaving and I'm so excited to see how they all join together!
Hi Aussie twin! :D <3 Ahhhh omg that's such a cute idea - thank you, even if it didn't work out exactly (and my bad, I'll start writing right away!)! :)
It is super good - though, yk, any type of tea is really, really good :P Warming and chatty and everything. Cygnus and Druella basically are an old married couple, haha, for all they've been married about, like, a year or two at the time of this story :P Though they were best friends for years beforehand, so that kinda helps, I think. They're a beautiful couple, yk, and I think aesthetic counts so much for a lot of people: they look good together, they seem happy - laughing and chatting - they're obviously rich... it's perfect, right? Only, as you say, they do very much have their secrets - both of them, so it's a lot less perfect underneath.
The Knights! Though they're not Knights yet at this point in time... (hopefully I'll remember to explain that later haha!) I always loved the idea of Tom sitting there, lording it over his friends, so content in knowing that he's cleverer than they are, that they need him more than he needs them, that there's nothing they can do to him. He's untouchable and necessary, and they're... disposable. I'm so glad you liked that mention - it's a small thing, but it's been a part of my headcanon for Tom since forever: the bullying, the difficult, poor background and the trouble that made for him at school, being in Slytherin with no money, no influence, and no pureblood or even vaguely wizarding surname. It's definitely still a big driver for his everything he does, how he thinks of them and all the others around him.
YES I was so excited about this reveal, yk, because he is going to become more important throughout the story, even if there wasn't much of a lead up to it. Jophiel is a really fun character so I'm so excited about showing more of him, because it's so fun and he's another one of my new OCs - even if I have put him into a canon family - so it's kinda nervous as well.
Mmmmmm can I say this? I think so? (It's not a spoiler, I'm pretty sure...) Yes, Adelaide sees Tom. He's the assistant she asks for advice, and he's amused, intrigued, curious. We're told in canon that it's not an unusual thing to want in the wizarding world so it's not the most out-there request, but it's Tom and he doesn't think of anything as unconnected or not suspicious. Little Boots and Eileen.... you'll have to wait to find that you, I'm afraid ;)
Thank you so so much for the lovely review - it was so so great to get and I'm so glad you're still enjoying the story :) <3
I'm back again, as promised. :)
There are so many things going on, so much that I still need to figure out...
I'm still wondering... Who went to Eileen's shop in the previous chapter? It couldn't be Tom, because you mention here that she was meeting him again after four years, and I suppose that was in Hogwarts... Un less we are four years after the first chapter? Okay, I'm confused... Also, Tom is starting working for Burke now? Sorry, I got a bit crazy over dates, don't mind me...
Anyway, what does Tom want from Eileen? Did they have some sort of relationship back in Hogwarts days? She seems to be attracted and repulsed by him at the same time (which is something I can totally see someone prove for Tom Riddle... but it still makes me wonder about their past interactions...)
And then there are the Malfoys... Adelaide, with her secret correspondence to Who-Knows-Who, Abraxan with his grief-striken rage... so many secrets, so many unsaidthings... You are killing me with all the mystery here...
And then there are the Black cousins... what's wrong with Cygnus? Does he have some strange illness too? And why did he hate his mother? Why is Orion so angry with him, apart from him apparently being an embarrassment for the good family name or something like that? Maybe it's actually just that... It wouldn't really surprise me...
And what is Tom scheming? Because he clearly has a scheme... I mean, I know he wants to conquer the world (and immortality, while he's at it) but I'm wondering how he's going to use all these people to achieve his goals...
Great job and stunning writing, as always! I will be back for more!
Have a great end of 2017 and start of 2018!
Lots of love,
Hi Chiara! It's so so great to see you stop by again and thank you so much for dropping by :)
Ahahaha sorry about that! Too many questions! There will be answers, I promised - eventually :P
Who went to Eileen's shop is [spoilers] but you will find out soon (next chapter, I think!), although yes, it's definitely not Tom. Tom is working for Borgin and Burkes now - but it's still roughly the same month as the first chapter; there hasn't been that much time passed, so don't worry about it ;)
Mmmm Tom and Eileen... well, I can tell you that they knew each other in Hogwarts - she was a few years below him, and he sort of took her under his wing to protect her (and then, also to manipulate her in a I-offer-you-a-favour-and-you-do-me-one-back kinda way. So it's not an innocent relationship, but it worked well enough for a time and now, he's back). Haha, yes, attracted and repulsed at the same time is probably about right for Tom, with his charming, handsome exterior :P But no, no past romantic relationship for them - just a kind of mutually beneficial friendship controlled by him.
Yeah, the Malfoys are in a difficult situation. Abraxas is really hurting and really struggling with it as, I think, anyone in that kind of situation where they're watching their parent die, slowly and painfully, is. Adelaide has two struggles, because she's losing her husband, and she's never got on with Abraxas who was too old to need or want a stepmother when she became his stepmother - and so she's sort of fighting both Malfoy men at once, while maintaining her secret correpondence at the same time.
So this is something woven in all of my Black-family-involving stories: Cygnus has haemophilia (as does Regulus), which is a blood disorder meaning that he doesn't clot, so injuries and bruises are far, far more dangerous for him than for other people, and he bruises very easily. He hates his mother for a whole host of reasons which I think should get unpacked in the story (I'm intending for them to be, at any rate) if not, hit me up and I can explain it to you ;) Orion is angry with him because it's good manners, really, to attend your parents' funeral - kinda what you're meant to do, yk - and Cygnus wasn't there, so people will talk and that fosters rumours and suggestions and half-baked theories. This all relates to spoilers you'll find out soon ;) Orion's trying to protect the family and Cygnus is, well, mostly self-involved where his mother's concerned, because he hates her, and he can't quite see the bigger picture on it.
Tom is always scheming, definitely :P Mmmm not all of them are involved in Tom's plans, as such, but they will all come into contact with him and he will affect all of their lives :) I'm sure that doesn't really help or answer your question - but it would be spoilers to tell you so you'll have to wait, unfortunately ;)
Thank you so so much for the wonderful review - it was such a lovely thing to get :)
Hello, Laura, my dear! Here with your requested review (I will probably review all three chapters between today and tomorrow, but one thing at a time... :P)
I'm really happy you requested for this story, because it sounded so interesting and I totally meant to come here sooner or later (but I thought I would finish L'Optimisme first... well, I will do that too... someday...) Anyway, I'm really happy of starting this and I'm really loving it so far!
I'm not going to comment on your descriptive skills, which are just as incredibly stunning as always... :P I will say, instead, that I love the structure, acts and scenes, like a play, with all the different POVs. You always have this great stylistic ideas that I love. It's so great!
Tom is honestly perfect. So cold, so controlled and measured and deliberate, so manipulative. I could picture him so well, totally calm amidst the chaos of the ship docking, secretly despising every single soul surrounding him but without letting any emotion transpire... such great characterization! And the scene wih Cygnus, too... I never thought about Cygnus being in love with Tom. I guess I never really thought about Tom being in a relationship, to be honest... admitting that it can be called a relationship? Of course, it's only something instrumental on Tom's side, or mostly at least. But apparently there is at least some degree of pleasure/physical attraction/whatever on Tom's side too, or am I misinterpreting? Anyway, it's something that surprised me, but I guess in a good way. It's definitely interesting.
I'm wondering how all these characters are going to mend together. Was it Tom who met Eileen at the end of her section? What does he want from her? And Adelaide, how is she going to fit in with the rest? What did she write in that letter? What's going on in her life, apart from taking care of her old and dying husband? So many things that I'm curious to figure out... Guess I just have to keep reading, right?
Wonderful job, as always, my dear! See you soon!
Lots of love and snowball hug,
Hi Chiara! Thank you so much for stopping by! :)
Ahhh thank you so much - although I wouldn't stress about finishing L'optimisme - it's a big beast and I'm working my way through editing it (super super slowly tbf) so it may well never be completely finished :P
Thank you so much - in this story, it's almost weird writing description because it doesn't feel, to me, like a super descriptive story :P I loved, though, working it out as a play - mostly, I knew I wanted to have four distinct sections each chapter, one per main character, and that I'd have to separate them out somehow. Separating them by Act seemed to fit - especially with the kind of mystery element. I'm so glad it seems to work out, though, because I honestly wasn't sure if it would work or if it would just get to the point of being frustrating.
I love writing Tom. I probably shouldn't, but ah well :P He's such a fascinating character to write, though, because he has a very unique and individual way of thinking which is so fun to get on paper. He's so calm and so calculating, incredibly decisive and surprisingly good at reading people, working them out and then methodically destroying them. Ahh I'm so glad you like it - that was essentially the image in my head for this first bit, when he arrives back, a single calm figure against a rocking, rolling mess of people around him, all shouting and crying and rushing about. His relationship with Cygnus is definitely founded on the idea of manipulation for him, but there is something more than that - it's not love, it's not even really affection but it's that kind of unnameable possessiveness which he has for things like Nagini, for Bellatrix when she gets killed.
Ahhhhh mmmm well, who Eileen met at the end of her section is Spoilers so I can't say, sorry :P Adelaide will fit in, but I think of all of them she's the one who will fit in last - or, at least, it'll become clear how she fits in last, if that makes sense? You will see more of her life outside of Malfoy Manor and her husband, but you might have to wait a few chapters for it - her storyline is very secluded and very Malfoy-heavy.
Thank you so much for the lovely review - I'm so happy you like the story! :)
Hello, my love!
I love the fact that Tom Riddle appears like a fairytale hero in her eyes. I've never come across that comparison before, but it's another example of how charming Tom could be when he wanted. In particular I think it really shows how sweet and naive Eileen is, like she's a Cinderella waiting for a man to save her. It just really stood out for me!
Also can I just say how happy I am to be reading more Tom Riddle from you :D
This story world just became a whole lot richer with the mention of the ruins of Vurenau (and yes, I Googled it first to make sure it was original) and I love that it's an answer to the question of what Riddle did after Hogwarts. And it had something to do with Grindelwald? Also I love that he used that information to get the job at Borgin & Burkes.
And that last scene with Cygnus was just... wow. It was by far my favourite part of this chapter. There't just something in the way you write Cygnus that makes him really stand out, and it seems so vivid as a character. The dialogue between him and Orion was amazing.
I'm going to answer your concerns but they really shouldn't be concerns :P I'm dying to know what went on between Eileen and Tom - why she knows he's dangerous but she can't fight him, why she won't, and why she needs to in the first place. I'm really interested in her - even from the books I've always wished there was more about her, so I love that she's a character in this story. And I forget that Adelaide is an OC because you always write such minor characters we don't know much about and make them your own, I forget they aren't actually yours :P (even though they kind of are) I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Adelaide as a character, but her position is a really interesting one, surrounded by Malfoys, and I'd love to see how that plays out. Also, whoever she's writing to is also enough to keep me wondering and dying to know :P
You've got all these threads weaving around but still connected and I'm really, really loving this story. Keep up the amazing work! <3
Bianca! :) hihihi <3
Eileen is really pretty naive about Tom - even though she knows enough of him and what he's capable of to really not be. She still has this idea of him being charming and powerful - powerful enough to stop people from bullying her and powerful enough to protect her. So she sort of wavers between the ideal of Tom that she sees and the truth of him that she knows but doesn't want to admit. Poor Eileen :P She falls for all the handsome, dangerous boys :P
Ahhh thank you - I'm so so glad you're enjoying it, because I know how good you are at writing Tom yourself and you're such a great author so it's such a compliment to hear from you :)
Omg, so about naming Vurenau... I really, really felt I couldn't use a real place for it. Like, it felt so bad to assign wizarding Nazi palace to x village or y town, yk, so I found a Germanic name generator and flicked through it until Vurenau popped up and I just loved it. It sounded the right level of mysterious. Essentially, it was Grindelwald's palace, and it was burnt down and destroyed after the war by the local people and by foreign forces taking him down, so it's got that kind of spooky, dangerous vibe already, haha, and it's a place where people still remember and know all the rumours about what went on there. So it's a good name to drop if you want to impress people with your daring in front of dark magic :P
Honestly, I do love Cygnus as a character so I'm so glad other people like him too :) He's a troubled boy, with so many difficulties in life, but he's more than he seems. Orion, too - I'm hoping to include more of the two of them in later chapters and I'm really looking forward to it because they have such a fun dynamic to write. Ahhhh my god, I can't believe you actually said that, haha, thank you so much! It took me so long to write that dialogue so I'm so glad you like it :)
Okay so that I can actully tell you :P Eileen and Tom were both bullied at school by other Slytherins, and so Tom took her under his wing, so to speak, and protected her as he grew more powerful within school circles. So she knows what he's capable of, because he would ask favours of her - to get this book, cover up for him about x or y - and she knows that she can't tell him to go away or anything because she's never been able to do it before, and she kinda assumes that nothing's changed. Adelaide is actually my first real OC character so I love writing her even if it does terrify me, haha, and you'll definitely find out a lot more about what she's up to later on so... spoilers :P
Ahhh thank you so so much for the review - it was honestly so so lovely to get and I'm sorry for the response - it doesn't really feel very adequate, haha, but I tried! Thank you! :)
Hi Laura! Here for our review swap :)
So I was taking some notes as I was reading this so that I could form a coherent, well-organized, and helpful review... and well. All my notes were basically me quoting your lines back at you and raving about how beautifully written they are haha. I had to read this a couple times before I could finally come up with some good feedback points to offer you.
I wanted to start off by saying that, as always, I really appreciate the lyrical nature of your writing. I study a lot of classical literature for school and your writing mimics a lot of those writers that I'm familiar with—Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, etc. The only modern writer whose writing seems a bit like yours is Donna Tartt (I don't know if you've read any of her books?). Anyway. It's a compliment, I promise--your writing is an immersive experience. I really love the usage of colors, sounds, and other imagery to build the setting and illustrate ideas about the characters; this brings your writing to a whole other level.
I was hooked immediately from the beginning. I loved how you established the mood of chaos at the beginning, using different elements of the setting to convey that. I think it was a very smart choice to start with describing the sounds; loud, alarming sounds are the best way to capture chaos. I liked how you used the analogy to the "orchestra out of sync" and your other word choice too, recreating some of the sounds. There was even some nice onomatopoeia ("quick", "sprightly", "little", "sharp").
That first paragraph was, however, most effective in serving as a point of contrast to the description of Tom, who is so well put-together, standing perfectly still where everyone else is in constant motion, with his neat outfit and everything. I really liked this description because it emphasized his calmness amidst chaos, a sort of deadly quality about Tom that I don't find is really touched upon much in most Riddle fics.
I liked how you subtly mentioned other characteristics of Tom in this first chapter. For example, I loved how you described his irritation with the officer, emphasizing his passiveness. I think the use of the words "frayed" and "singed" here are very appropriated; they created an image of Riddle as a sort of ticking bomb, which is, firstly, very in-character, and secondly, creates an image of him being calm on the outside but chaotic on the inside—presenting one face, but showing another, which is completely 100% in-character. I'm impressed that only two words could illustrate that much to me; this just speaks to the level of thought put into this fic, with each word chosen so carefully.
I also liked Tom's interaction with the officer because it showed his malevolence and dangerousness--I saw this when he was alone by himself, running a hand through his hair, disrupting his composed appearance, and in the flare of irritation he felt when he was talking to Cygnus. I think these images together illustrated that Tom's natural state is not at rest but rather chaos, which is a really fitting characteristic and an interesting one.
Tom's interaction with Cygnus was the most interesting part of this first chapter. Cygnus is so clearly in love with Tom, so desperate for his attention—I liked how you conveyed this in the wistfulness in his voice and his overeager questions and his constant touching. I liked too that Tom knows that and manipulates that a little; that reminded me of his interaction with Bellatrix, in the future, how she was so endlessly devoted to him. I think that's an interesting touch, considering Cygnus's relationship to Bellatrix. It really showed that manipulative side of Tom.
The most intriguing aspect of this first chapter was Adelaide, and I actually think I like her the most as a character (although Eileen is a close second!). I loved how you developed her sense of separateness from Lycus and his family, describing her woe at being physically apart from her family, and the mental separation she clearly feels from Lycus's family. After all, she referenced the portraits on his walls as his lineage, not theirs. A single word, and yet it conveyed so much about Adelaide's relationship with Lycus. I also noted that her last name is Macmillan, which makes me think that she might've been a Hufflepuff, which would be another contrast between her and Lycus.
Eileen as a character is also fascinating. I feel that she hasn't really been developed much, other than sort of being portrayed as a quiet observer. Her perceptiveness is interesting though, and I'm excited to see more of her interaction with Tom.
The last subtle thing that I loved about this fic was hte description of the "delayed casualties." I think that's a brilliant, heartbreaking, but true concept, and one that really illustrates the unjustness war, its rhymeless and reasonless nature.
I've just raved for a while about how wonderful this was, and I'm struggling to find any CC. I think I would say that there are places were a quick edit would help--maybe just a couple commas missing, here and there. I also think that the "twins in the womb" description, which was Eileen's reaction to Tom, is a little bit of a strange image (but that might be because I'm a twin, haha!). The only major con-crit I have was that I didn't really get a feel for Eileen's character yet—though I find her inclusion to be very interesting. But these are, all, picky con-crits--really, this first chapter is wonderful the way that it is.
I loved it, and hope to read the next chapter soon!
- Shreya :)
Laura!! I told you that I would be here eventually, and I have arrived!
So, you know this already, but I worship your descriptions. They're so beautiful, and poetic, and because I can't quote your entire story back at you, I'll stick to this wonderfully descriptive gem: With the heavy drapes closed against the chill of the October air, the air hung heavy and sombre, stifling almost, thick with the scent of cigarette smoke and sweat; they swamped an entire side of the room, a wall of deep crimson velvet from start to finish, the only part of them moving the shadows and light from the candles dotted here and there, on the desk and on the bedside table, either end of the fireplace, as the white-yellow flames jumped and flickered, their light fractured and refracted on the glass shades which surrounded them. Like... you've not only crafted this incredibly detailed scenario in your head, but you've painted such an image with words that I can picture it easily.
I love how you've described Tom's return from Lübeck! At first, I thought it seemed a little odd that he wasn't using magical transportation, but then I realised that he didn't want questions to be asked or something within his belongings to be found, and slipping through Muggle customs was the easiest way to do that, even if it meant he had to tolerate their presence. Wise, clever Aph! That port certainly didn't seem like the most pleasant place to be, too; no wonder he wanted to leave so quickly.
Choosing to have Tom dishevel his hair and appearance was interesting. We see a young Tom who's very sleek and smart in HBP, so to see this glint of a wilder, more animalistic, human personality in that tiny action was so interesting!
Eileen!! I love the career you've chosen for her! It's part of my headcanon that she disappears into the Muggle world after graduation, but your take on the situation -- on her job in a funeral parlour, this rather bothersome Mr Simmons, a general empathy towards Muggle soldiers -- I love it all, and Eileen's scene is so tantalisingly enticing that I want to know more about her life! (You wouldn't mind writing an Eileen spin-off to this story, would you? :P)
WHAT IS THIS TOM/CYGNUS SHIP?! I never in a million years imagined that this ship was possible (despite of course, in hindsight, the pair being around the same age) and it is thrilling to read this Cygnus, so perfect, so loving, so willing -- and to Tom, inconsequential. He's fun but temporary. I know that this pairing is doomed, but I want to read more anyway, and that's testament to your talent as an author.
Adelaide is so mysterious. She's married someone thirty years her senior... why? What are oranges doing in Malfoy Manor? Why did she use a key to open the door instead of magic? Where are the house elves? What's that letter she wrote, and who is she writing to? I think this may be my favourite section; you've given the reader so much information about Adelaide, but with that information comes endless more questions.
I can't believe that it's taken me so long to read this story - I've been missing out on something incredible. No more. *stalks story*
This is an amazing first chapter and, if I may say so, I think this may be some of your best work!
Isobel! :) Hihihi - I'm so excited to see you stop by and thank you so much for the visit :)
Ahhhhhh oh my god, thank you so so much! I love writing description but I always worry that I put too much in or that it's generally too much in one go or that it's too far-fetched or too much... ah one hundred and one different worries, haha, so I'm so glad you like it. It really does help so much that I just imagine things very clearly when I have images I want to put down, and I can hold them there as long as I need to think of some way to describe them. It's a bit odd writing description in this story because I'm trying to focus more on the plot and the mystery elements of it rather than the writing, yk, so sometimes it's a question of limiting myself, haha, but yeah. I'm just so glad you like it :)
Haha, so at first I was really worried it would be too similar to Newt's arrival in America in Fantastic Beasts and I didn't want to rip that off completely, but it made sense. There's definitely a lot of stuff in his suitcase he wouldn't want to have to try to explain to magical authorities - and Muggles are easier to confuse and hide things from then their magical counterparts. Yeah, I tried to make it busy and difficult - the flow of refugees or people trying to meet up with their families - as a counterpoint to Tom, who's so calm and collected, and unconcerned by everything going on around him.
I really wanted to use this story as a chance to show a greater range of emotions for Tom than anger, coldly calculating and charming, because there's more than that to him - especially before he becomes half-snake after the rebirth with the Horcruxes. This is so early on, he's still almost human - he's only three Horcruxes down, not too bad :P And he'll definitely get more animalistic later on in the story :P
Eileen. I feel so much for her, yk, even if I am the one putting her through all of this. I really wanted her to be a kind of different character, in a different world, and I always had this idea for her that she kind of hates life in the magical world because she's bullied and looked down on and sneered at, despite being pureblood, and so she sort of leaves them all behind. The job kinda came about because it's something simple and mundane - it's such a human thing, I think, looking after the dead and those who they leave behind, and it's profoundly Muggle (we don't know of any magical undertakers/funeral homes, after all), and it suited her. Mr Simmons is really very annoying (and I keep forgetting his name, oops), and the Muggle soldiers... she's a very kind, trusting sort of person with a lot of compassion, much to her disadvantage. (Um... well, maybe? I mean I don't need any more WIPs, but it's definitely a story I could write - I'd just need to work out what to put in it :P)
Haha, Tom/Cygnus is a ship I've really fallen for since I started it :P They're very much temporary - and there's that knowledge on both of their sides that it's not the kind of relationship built to last. Cygnus has his duties, and Tom has his dreams, and there's no way they can reconcile that with them. Plus, yk, Tom can't love people, which is a slight problem with it :P They have such a wonderful dynamic to write, though: super intense and complicated and everything, so I'm so glad you like them because it's so so fun for me.
Adelaide loves Lycus. They fell in love years after his first wife had died, when Abraxas was already almost an adult, and then got married. She's such a nervous character for me because she's my first real OC and so it's scary, yk, developing her and creating her from scratch with a backstory and a future and a plot in this, even if it is really fun. The letter is important and that whole correspondence she has with the mysterious sender will be big later on, but you'll have to wait and see what it's all about ;)
Ahhh thank you so so much for incredible review - it was so so lovely to get and such a great surprise. You've been far too nice to me, I'm sure, but I'm so so grateful and this review totally made my day. Thank you! :) <3
Hi! I came back.
I’m very impressed with your magic that let us visualize Eileen Snape who was a Slytherin but brought up in poverty and she had an inferiority complex about her looks. It sounds very convincing that Tom might have taken advantage of her unguarded mind. Then I wonder what Tom’s purpose to approach Eileen is. Does she have a special ability or something to accomplish his ambition?
You created two conflicts: Adelaide and Abraxas, Orion and Cygnus. The description, “while Abraxas, protected by dragonhide gloves and a bubble-head charm, sat by Lycus’s bedside, a pair of grimwhite-blond statues” is very picturesque and ominous, we readers wonder what plot Adelaide had sitting in the owlery. I reckon she wrote something related to a legacy.
If my memory is correct, Orion is Sirius Black’s favorite uncle, right? I guess he was a Gryffindor or he had Gryffindor traits. His caring seemed to annoy Cygnus who couldn’t have a good relationship with his parents. I wondered why he didn’t go to her mother’s funeral. I vaguely imagined Cygnus was starved for love. Under the circumstances, lack of parents’ love, perhaps forced pure-bloods marriage, he sought for a refuge and found Tom. Then here again, Tom tried to take advantage of Cygnus’s weak points, using his handsome face and figure.
The scene at Buke’s is also marvelous! You captured J.K.Rowling’s episode about Tom’s strong desires to get all magical items for horcruxes very well. To achieve his purposes, he used every trick he mastered. I expect more coming. I can’t wait!
Hi Kenny - thank you so much for stopping by again! :)
Eileen... well, the books always made clear that she was a Slytherin, that she wasn't very pretty, and I think it wouldn't make so much sense for her to marry a poor Muggle man (as Tobias Snape undoubtedly is) if her family were rich, yk? Her surname carries weight, but it's a weight which doesn't come with anything tangible. With her and Tom... their friendship (well, ally-ship?) is something which goes back to their schooldays, when they were both outsiders in Slytherin. As for what Tom wants from her, you'll have to wait and see ;)
I love writing conflict, haha, there's something so dynamic about it. Adelaide's conflict with Abraxas is a little more difficult to manage because she's his stepmother and he's an adult: there's no real relationship between them, as such, and the only reason for them to even really come into contact with each other is Lycus. Who's dying. Which is difficult.
Ahhhhh no, Alphard is Sirius' favourite uncle. Orion is Sirius' father. Cygnus really doesn't have a good relationship with his parents - especially his mother. I've developed something of a backstory for him and this whole family situation, which might get included to a certain extent in this story (I'm not sure yet, we'll see!). His parents married for love, but got married super quickly and super young and ended up hating each other. They didn't divorce, because it would be frowned upon, but it affected their kids and their relationships with them in the way that everything which happens between family members reverberates around the whole family. Tom is definitely something of a refuge for Cygnus - he's an 'out', something outside and away from his family and all the family problems.
I'm so glad you liked that scene - thank you! It was so hard to write, with the conversation and how Tom got the job. He's very manipulative and very decisive - when he wants something he gets it. But the job is just a stepping-stone onto bigger and better things - like the Horcruxes, but Tom doesn't yet know about those yet.
Thank you so much for the review - it was so so lovely to get and I really didn't expect a second review ;)
Impressive entering of Tom Riddle like one scene from the film. I remembered the movie, Fantastic Beasts, Scammander’s entry to America. I wondered if Tom had been abroad searching a way to find a horcrux. I was afraid Tom might do any harm on the Muggle officer when I spotted, “malevolent, dangerous, skittering across his face.”
Eileen Prince, Snape’s mother. I raked through a timeline at that time in my mind. I have an interest how Eileen Prince will be an important person in your story from here. In her working place, the boss seems to work her hard. Reading summary, she didn’t have a happy life in her school, so I hope she will have a better life.
Oh, Cygnus Black had a relation with Tom? He is a father of Bellatrix. I tried to figure out the timeline again. So the most loyal servant’s father had a thing with Voldemort. It will be a dynamic development. I expect much.
Macmillan's daughter married Malfoy, who was dying soon. I tried to image who was his son, nearly grown when she married. Not Lucius Malfoy yet. I also need to make sure Voldemort’s age when Bellatrix worked for him!!
Overall, two women are impressive from the start. I’m sure Eileen and Macmillan will take an important role in your story as much as Tom.
I’ll be back to next chapter ASAP. Thank you for review swap, Laura. I really enjoyed your story.
Hi Kenny, thank you so much for stopping by! :)
Ahhh I'm so glad you like it - it was a strange beginning to write and I knew it was similar to Newt arriving in America and I didn't want it to be a complete copy, yk? Similar but different. Oooooohh that's a good guess - Tom has definitely being doing lots of Dark magic-related stuff abroad (actually, his journey abroad is in Antebellum, my latest one-shot in this series, if you wanted to know whether or not you're right ;)), though whether or not it's Horcrux-related, I couldn't say :P
She is definitely going to have a role to play, although I can't promise a better life? It's not the worst of everyone in the story though, if that helps? :P Yeah, her boss isn't a bad man as such, but he's kinda demanding and he does get her to do a lot of things - mostly fairly menial, easy kind of tasks, but she has a lot of stuff she's given to do.
Cygnus and Tom, yeah, I wanted them to have some reason to be friends and for Cygnus to help Tom out with a place to stay, clothes, etc. and friends didn't quite cut it enough to the extent that I wanted it to go, yk, and when I started writing them and thinking more on them, it kinda developed easily enough into a relationship and I liked it enough to keep it :) The year for this story is 1949, so two years or so before Bellatrix is born, so it's slightly less weird to think of Voldemort's relationships with both of them :P
I really wanted to include an adult son for Lycus (Lycus' son is Abraxas, who was Lucius Malfoy's father), since it created a different kind of conflict (also I couldn't really have written him out since Lucius is born in 1953, so not long after this and Abraxas couldn't really be a child at that point, yk?), and I wanted to sort of turn around the idea of the bad stepmother - Adelaide's a good stepmother, really, she's genuinely in love with Lycus, and taking care of him.
I'm definitely intending for them to have big roles in it - though not necessarily happy endings! :P
Thank you so much for the swap and the review, Kenny! :)
A TOM RIDDLE FIC FROM THE RIDDLE MASTER YAYYY! And a Victor Hugo quote in the summary yassss.
I don't even know where to start in praising your descriptions. They're so beautiful and paint perfect pictures. I espeically love the comparison between the noise and chaos of the ships and docks, and Tom Riddle's eerily calm persona. I can just imagine it - him standing like a rock while waves of people crash around him. It's also reminscient of Newt arriving in America :P
Eileen is fantastic. I love (in a non-weird, non-morbid kind of way) that she works at a funeral home. It's such a unique thing to read, and I'm instantly intrigued. I actually thought it was Eileen Prince at first. (Is it...?)
And Cygnus! Tom using him physically - that's something I've never read! But of course Tom is using him for his own gain. Everything about Tom in this scene is utter perfection, and I love the language you use, especially thissss: the flare of irritation, of something hot and dark and which whispered of twisting skin and cracking bones, pushing and tugging until screams sunk into the walls of the room, tears curling and drying on cheeks, and a wretched, broken voice begging for mercy, for clemency, stamped on by his own high, glancing laugh. LOVE IT.
And who are Lycus and Adelaide Macmillan??? I love their house. I need to know more about them. Make that happen.
Lovely work, as always. I expected nothing less <3
Oh my god, you're waaaay waaaaay too nice to me - thank you! I'm so excited you're excited! <3 (I'm a sucker for using quotes in summaries, haha, and it felt like it fitted too perfectly to not use it, yk?)
Thank you so so much! :) I love writing description from Tom's pov, even in third person, because there's the opportunity to be focused in a way which I don't really do with other characters: he's very aware of the world around him - almost hyper aware at the same time as being almost oblivious, yk? He knows what's happening, but things don't affect him the way they affect most people. Ahhhh yesss that was deliberate! :D I wanted it to echo that - how Newt arrives and how they both lie, but Newt's uncomfortable with it and Tom's completely fine with it; how they're both cases of wizards hoodwinking Muggles, but there's a different undertone with Tom to when it's Newt.
Ahh I'm so glad you like Eileen (and it definitely is Eileen Prince ;))! I always knew I wanted to include her in this story from the moment I started fleshing it out. It might not be clear why she's in it at first but I promise it'll tie together eventually! Oooh, yay! I wanted her to do something a bit unusual, yk - and it needed to be something you don't need Muggle qualifications for, because I don't think she's the kind of person to actually perform Confundus Charms on Muggles (she's timid and doesn't want to be found so is avoiding magic so there's no risk of being traced by anyone), yk?
Cygnus is my favourite so far :P I know really I shouldn't have favourites, but... yeah, it's Cygnus :P And yeah, this was something of Tom I created in my headcanon for him in Azrael Rising, though it's really only a throwaway line there, so this is the first time I'm really exploring the actuality of it. Omg, I missed writing creepy, violence-minded Tom so much, haha - it's probably bad for me, tbh, but yk, I did :P It's jus so much fun to write, the physicality of hte descriptions and the kind of connection to this inner thoughts you get when someone really irritates you (which are never like this, let's be real, but follow a similar kind of thing - what you'd do if you could, yk?) and Tom goes further, always further, and, er, actually does some of these things, so yk :P
Lycus is a Malfoy :P It's not Malfoy Manor - which is deliberate; I imagine Abraxas is living in Malfoy Manor, and there will definitely be more on them - though their story does involve some spoilers, so you might have to wait to get all of your questions answered ;)
Thank you so so much for the lovely review - it was so so great to get! :)
Hi Laura! Here for our review swap!
Gracious, where to begin? I've read your work before and I always enjoy your style. It's weighty and detailed and full of atmosphere. This, of course, is no exception. I feel like I pictured this as I would a movie--the scenery always coming softly into focus just before the camera finds its target and the action begins.
My favorite scene here is Eilene's. In all of these scenes it's like you're giving us little crumbs, keeping the secrets close but giving us just enough of a taste to lure us in, which goes alone wonderfully with the darker feel it seems that this story will have. Something about the way you wrote Eilene's though--I felt like I got a larger bite and it just made me want so much more. All the details of that scene, and the comforting things like tea and biscuits juxtaposed against the discomfort of a funeral home, it just stuck out.
Tom, too, was painted so well. You're already showing us that strange paradox--in some ways he's such a flat person since he's made all of ambition and has no true care for anyone. But still you make him so fascinating because we see the different facets that he shows people. Getting to watch his precision and his lazy calm, his blank face and his flashes of dark pleasure, I feel like you are painting him so completely, and that just in this one chapter that isn't fully about him.
One can't help but feel a bit bad for Orion. I mean, I'm guessing he's probably 100% behind Tom's horrible plans (well, assuming he knows anything about them at all), so sympathy is somewhat limited. But it's still there, the same way it's there when I think about Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Like, yes, you shouldn't support and be in love with someone so horrid and so willing to commit terrible cruelties but, then, you're also blinded by affection and being manipulated by someone who is more in control of their feelings/actions than you. It's a very similar situation and I can't help but feel sympathy. Especially since Orion is dying. And why "helpfully" I wonder? Another veeery curious crumb.
Adelaide, I easily feel the worst for. She's losing her husband and is so, so isolated, and being a caregiver to a fading loved one is one of the hardest things in the world.
My iPad isn't wanting to copy and paste or I would give direct quotes, but I just love your scene set up. You paint these pictures, but they aren't just there. They feel purposeful, set up to be reflections of the characters they reveal. I love the puff of orange scent and the leaves falling like feathers, the many colored inks of the greenhouse. I love how it sounds a bit beautiful, a bit abandoned and lonely, and full of some pretty morbid-sounding secrets, just like Adelaide. I love how Scene III opens with coils of smoke, coiling and overpowering--like a snake, which is just what Tom is, but also sickly sweet and sounding more like an opiate than a tobacco product--it sounds like a drug, and Orion is so addicted to Tom. Scene II is a carefully-tended flower arrangement in a dark, sad place, which seems to reflect Merope well. And Scene I is chaos and noise and busyness and humanity, and it's Tom standing apart from all of it. It's fantastic how you do that.
Oh, and the format was very good, too. I think splitting it up into scenes, like a play or movie, was a great way to organize a story that mixes in all these different people.
All in all, your writing is beautiful, I'm very intrigued by your characters, and your sense of place and your descriptions are outstanding. This is really great work and it's reminded me why reading your writing is such a pleasure. Thanks for the swap!