This is my 200th review! (Well, not really, since I've left a lot of reviews on stories that have since been deleted, but close enough...) And I couldn't think of any story I'd rather leave it on :)
Wow, this chapter is a rollercoaster of emotion, isn't it? I'll just start at the top and work my way through. I really enjoyed the opening scene between the boys. I know I've mentioned it many times before, but I just love the interplay between them. Their relationships with each other are just as dynamic as any romance, and the back-and-forth here was great fun to read. They really all do have very strong personalities, and at times, you know that's bound to cause conflict. Of course, what they are fighting over all comes from a place of caring and protection, but they argue nonetheless.
You mentioned the Dumbledore/McGonagall scene in your post... I think I've mentioned before that I like the way you portray both characters, and that stands for this chapter too. Of course, I doubt under normal circumstances, the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress would meet personally with students over an injured animal, but we already know the Order has their eye on these two, and I suspect Dumbledore might already have a few ideas on what might be going on at his school, even if he doesn't care to share them here. In terms of James's worry about his parents, I think he rationalizes his desire to keep them safe by lying to them very well. I do wonder a bit though why Dumbledore is so quick to agree to it. James is young so it may not occur to him, but wouldn’t not telling the Potters at least something about what happened actually leave them at risk?
The letter from Petunia wasn't at all what I was expecting. I must have forgot that Lily had used it so I was expecting it to be for James. And while that might have actually been really fun to read, this makes a lot more sense, and I thought it worked really well. I like the way you continue to develop her and Lily's relationship. It's easy to just say they hate each other and leave it at that, but family is never that simple, right? Petunia still gets to take the high-ground here, making it sound like she's doing Lily the favor by allowing her to come to the wedding (and not missing a chance to through in a few jabs about the way Lily looks or the date she might bring), but clearly Lily knows her sister well enough to see this letter for the peace-offering it really is. Sibling relationships are complicated and I think you do this one a lot of justice by having them retain some (even if partially reluctant) contact.
And now to the kiss (but first, thank you for the lovely compliment in your review request -- though I won't pretend to be an expert on writing romance by any stretch of the imagination). James and Lily is a hard ship to write (IMHO) because you don't have the luxury of will-they/won't they. We already know that unless the story is totally AU, the definitely WILL. So that only leaves you with when and how. I think you totally set the tone for the whole scene to unfold early on with James's line:
Sure, he'd spent years telling her he was mad for her, but back then it was her waves of cinnamon hair and the way she smiled that caught his attention. What he felt then was nothing compared to the way he felt about her now.
That's the perfect WHEN... when James is at the point where he loves Lily for who she is, not how pretty she looks or how nice she is to others. Of course, James has been super supportive of her throughout the story, and not at all shallow in his feelings, but that was a really sweet moment, a great set-up for what follows.
In a zoomed-out view, I thought you did a great job with capturing the range of emotions, as you said, moving from the talking, to the wanting, to the kissing, and then to the worrying. I thought the light touches of humor in the lead-up were lovely -- Lily's line "He thinks he's so big and tough, but you’re tougher, aren't you?" was too adorable! And I thought the following was the most honest-feeling moment of the entire scene:
"If it helps, I can count the girls I've kissed on one hand."
"And the girls you've..."
"On one finger."
Simple but full of meaning -- perfectly executed!
If I can critique anything, it might be that the scene lacked a little tension, or a total sense of immediacy that often comes with a first kiss. It didn't feel like James was ever quite able to get out of his own head and just be in the moment. He almost got there with lines like:
-- Every part of him that was saying he couldn't let this happen, she wasn't ready for the next step, became drowned out by the sound of his heart pounding in his ears.
-- All of the warmth that their hug had held, all of the tension that was forever pulsing between them, gave way to a heat that James could have only dreamed about feeling.
But there is still a more intellectual feel here as opposed to just letting go and living the moment. I totally agree that they would immediately discuss what just happened -- that's just the kind of couple they are. But that also serves to cut the tension. Maybe even just making the sentences in the kiss a bit shorter would ratchet up that exact instant of the kiss all that much more. For a second, maybe they could just be two teenagers snogging. I think they deserve it :P
Well, no surprises here, but this is another wonderful chapter. I can't wait to see where we go next!
Author's Response: Thank you so much for stopping by to leave your 200 ♥
Your comment about their relationship being just as dynamic as a friendship made my day. I really want to show how important they are to each other. They weren't just the kind of friends you meet in school and enjoy hanging out with occasionally. I was about to go onto a ramble about how they'd have died for each other, even Peter at this point would have, but I realized I'd get all feelsy so I'm not moving on. Haha.
My head canon reason for Dumbledore not getting involved and telling James's parents is that he almost wants to test James. Not exactly like that... but he knows in about seven months, he's going to be asking this boy to become part of the order and he's giving him the respect of a man, even if he's still closer to a boy. Another reason is honestly just that I don't want the Potters involved much more, or they might as well just be apart of the Order. Haha. but the first reason sounds better :P
I regret not making the letter Lily sent to Petunia more noticeable. It's mentioned in two chapter, but briefly. The last mention of it is chapter 11 when James offers to send Beowulf back to Petunia's... maybe I can try and make that stand out more?
I'm so happy you liked the letter. There's too much canon evidence that they didn't just stop talking for good. With her being at the wedding and the vase she sent them for Christmas... so i really want a relationship, though a very fragile one, to be evident. And I really just want to keep reading this review again and again. Haha. I'm over here smiling at every new thing you say.
No ones pointed out that scene yet! The 'one one hand/on one finger' one, and I'm so happy you did because it feels like such an important part to me! haha. It was important for me not to make James completely innocent, but also far from a womanizing thing. I'm so happy you pointed it out, I was worrying that I'd made the meaning too subtle.
I like the idea of letting him just get to 'let go' and enjoy for a few seconds before they go into freak out mode... I'll definitely play with it a bit.
Thank you so much for your always insightful reviews ♥