Hello, again, darling! Lily sure didn't have to date James for very long before he started to affect her behavior. He's infectious that way, I think. People are drawn to him and want to see whether they can push their luck the same way that he does. Oh, if eleven-year-old Lily could see herself now. What would she say?
But first, we have to talk about Sirius. Being rather attached to all of these characters, I couldn't help but be disappointed with how he dealt with Belle's revelations. But all in all, it was perfectly consistent with how you've built up his character and it gave you a great chance to keep reinforcing the important things about him as he grudgingly talks through his feelings with James. I definitely liked the way that Sirius gave up and simply started to spill because he knew that James wasn't going to give him any peace until he did. Like I said before, "he'll keep calling and calling..."
Sirius has that kind of insight into Belle's situation that you can only get by suffering through a lot of your own problems in life. The additional things that she apparently revealed to him beyond the things she told Lily and Alice -- the fact that her mother micro-managed her weight, the fact that her parents would ignore her when she didn't behave as they wanted -- added even more heart-breaking layers to her life story. If Sirius decides to hop on his motorcycle and fly to France to curse the lot of them, make sure there's room for me in the sidecar.
"From the day he'd met Belle, he understood that she came from a closet full of skeletons. He had enough of his own to recognize someone hiding theirs." - Brilliant way to sum up the bond of understanding that the two of them share. Sirius just chooses to wear his on his sleeve while Belle has been taught the hard way that skeletons are something to be carefully concealed.
Ah, dear Lily! In spite of all the rules she breaks in this chapter, I thought you did a great job of keeping her natural leadership skills and her overwhelming tendency to do what's right at the core of her character. If you look carefully at each rule she broke, at the core of her actions was her deep love for her friends and her insistence on taking personal responsibility for their well-being. These are some of the things that are going to define Lily Evans and eventually Lily Potter as she's remember in Harry's day. So even though she's correct that James is wearing off on her, those traits that she's picking up only seem to add to the things that make her who she is. Bravo for that.
And some more of her natural protectiveness comes out when she confronts the four Slytherins. Grrr, she's a lioness! This confrontation was one of my favorites that you've written so far. It's hard to keep track of all the different power struggles, agendas and other strange dynamics that are playing out in this scene. You have Lily trying to assert control over a group of students that clearly view her as a lesser person because of her heritage. You have Abigail obviously trying to impress the Slytherin boys who are part of the "in crowd" of the Dark Lord's supporters. You have Mary, who has a history with Mulciber, and Rosier who has a history with all of the Gryffindors. You have Lily and Severus and... whatever it is that's left of their childhood friendship. I feel like I need a score card to keep up. And I think you managed to do justice to each of them.
The last confrontation between Lily and Rosier was really nicely done. You didn't drag it out or belabor the point. Lily is perched on a razor's edge, full of adrenaline and things happen in an instant, as they should. It was immensely rewarding to imagine Rosier hitting the floor.
I did feel badly that Lily had to see Severus make his choice. It's plain where his loyalties now lie. And who would have ever imagined that Filch's appearance could be a good thing?
The way that you tinged the entire scene in McGonagall's office with nervous humor was really clever. I've been in that situation, myself. In so much trouble that the only way your brain can process things is to find them funny. She holds up beautifully under the stress, recounting things in a very fair and accurate manner. I love all three teachers in this scene. McGonagall's righteous outrage and intense disappointment come ringing through, along with the small amount of pride she allows herself once it's clear what's happened. Slughorn never struck me as a pure Slytherin homer in the way that Snape was as Head of House. He wants to see his students do well, and this isn't anything of the sort. And Dumbledore was sublime in this. Measured and somewhat abstract in his comments, but with that edge of powerful fury lurking just below the surface.
The ending, with the three Gryffindors breaking down into fits of laughter, was perfect. For James and Sirius, in particular. Of all the things they've ever gotten into trouble for, this has to be the most noble. And Lily finally succumbs to the pure ridiculousness of the entire situation.
There are a lot of things, good and bad, happy and sad, heavy and light-hearted, that happen in this story. This was one of the most enjoyable chapters you've written in quite a while, I thought. The ending was such a happy moment shared between the three of them. And we all know that there are a limited number of those in their collective future, so I'm going to enjoy each and every one.
Until next time!
Author's Response: Hi ♥
I was disappointed with Sirius too. Bad dog, bad. But like you said, it's just him. Lily and Alice understood to just be there for Belle, but Sirius wants to fix it. Just being there doesn't feel like enough, and he wants to make every single person that added up to hurting her pays for it.
Hahaha I'll be sure to have him (and the other three, because we all know that Sirius couldn't go without them!) take you along ;)
I'm so happy it was clear that, even if she was breaking rules, Lily was still doing what was right. She lied, but she needed to help her friend. She went out past hours, but really, she *is* the head girl. She should be able to. And of course what comes next...
I really want make it obvious that even though she is a rule follower, her instincts and her need to help her friends comes before the rules. We're shown from canon that she doesn't like bullying, and that she's a very good student. Not that she worshiped the rule book to a Percy sort of degree.
Speaking of rule books... I wonder how large one to accommodate all of Hogwarts rules in it would be? Haha.
She may be blaming James for her new found... tendency to stretch the rules, but we always know that side of her has been in there somewhere ;)
That entire scene was quite the dance, wasn't it? I really don't like Abigail. Which is weird for me, because she was never meant to be a central character and still obviously won't be. Not as prominent as Malfoy was as a foe in the books. But I just really dislike her. haha.
I almost *almost* had Lily drop her wand and go the Hermione route, but I decided to save that for a time when she's really *really* angry.
Haha that scene was one of those total unplanned ones. It was originally Dumbledore and McGonagall talking about securing protection for the trip to Wales for L and J, but then I figured we'd learned enough through this chapter and we just needed to laugh. And those three *certainly* needed to laugh!
This one is one of my favorites, so far. Moony, Wormtail, Padfood and Prongs has been my favorite for some time, but something about this one just felt *good*. And we both know know it wouldn't be nearly what it is right now without your help ♥
Thank you so much for all your encouragement and awesome reviews/beta help/everything else ♥