I'm diving right in so I don't have to trim this like I did the last one to keep it in the word count!
Yay for some Remus and Lily time. We haven't seen a moment between them in a while so it was lovely to see them share a little something here. And in answer to your first question, no, I didn't think it started off too slow. If you are really worried, there were a few spots where you could tighten up the opening paragraphs, but I loved that you started Lily out by having her sorting through the potions. And it was great to see her return to the idea of being a Healer. Often authors mention things and forget to return to them later (I know I'm guilty of it), so it's great that you don't let these little details fall through the cracks. And, of course, you also managed to tuck in the bit about the passage of time as well, which is obviously very important.
I really like the idea that Lily had at least an inkling about what's been going on with Remus. And yes, it was perfectly clear that's what was going on here. At this point, they've been friends for a few years. Plus, she's been at school with him for nearly seven, and there aren't THAT many students at Hogwarts. She has to have noticed all the classes he missed, the weird bruises and scratches. My favorite part was how you tied it back into Snape (and no, not just because I like him. Okay, maybe a little). But obviously we know from canon about the prank the boys played on Snape, so that's a factor. Plus, it's just like him to want to try and make her dislike the Marauders in any way he can. Of course that would never work on someone like Lily, but that's not the sort of thing Snape would understand. Anyway, I just thought the bits with him were a very clever way to plant the seed in her head that he's a werewolf. I think it's a much better way to handle it than (1) having James tell her, since he would never betray Remus's secret without his permission, or (2) having Lily so smart, she just guesses it. That's too similar to how Hermione figured it out. I see it that way a lot (or him just blurting it out like you say). This was more original. Lily's smart enough to put the pieces together, but she gets help along the way
Hitting your third (?) point on the list, I totally agree with your choice not to have Remus spill his secret, at least not yet. I think it's more true to life -- okay, not the werewolf part, but that sort of "I know you know my secret but I'm not ready to deal with it so let's ignore it for now” sort of moment. And it was also perfectly clear that she now knows and will keep her mouth shut until he brings it up on his own terms.
The only thing about the scene that felt a little off to me was Lily's insistence about finding out what happened to Remus. While she's hiding, she goes through her suspicious about why his story doesn't add up and maybe Snape was right all along, but she never pauses to think that maybe Remus really just doesn't want to talk to her about it. She did ask him what happened and it was clear to her that he lied, but she never asks why he didn't want to tell her what was going on. Lily is pretty attune to people's emotions, so I thought it was a little surprising that this didn't give her more pause. She does say at the end that if he needs to let himself believe his secret is his own she'll allow him that, but that she's ready to talk if he wants, and THAT'S the Lily I'd expect, but she does burst back in on him and press him pretty hard to tell her what's going on. If she really thought he was being bullied or Hagrid had wild creatures, the pressing would make more sense. She's Head Girl and might feel compelled to help her friend AND find out if there is something in the school that needs addressed, but if she all but knows that he's hurt because he's a werewolf, then I guess I would expect her to be more gentle with him -- let him know she knew what was really happening but not push him to confirm.
Gah! I'm running out of space already. I'll try to be quicker through the next scene. I love the parallels between Belle and Sirius's life stories. Clearly they have their differences, but the pair really understand where the other one is coming from. I think there has to be some symmetry in relationships. If either of the characters had lived perfect lives up til this point, they'd have a hard time understanding each other. It wouldn't be impossible, but it just all works really well between the two of them.
Hitting on your AoCs, I thought the transition was just fine. The line break was more than enough. Unlike other scenes, it isn't so important in this one when it's happening. We can assume it's around the same time as the Lily/Remus scene, but even if it's the next day, it doesn't matter in the greater context of the chapter. And yes, I thought Belle's reasoning for needing to make peace with her family, or at least close the door on them, made total sense. Some people would just rather cut them off and forget they existed, while others would need to take a stand and have their final say. Either one would be totally understandable. And I REALLY like that Sirius pushes her into it. We know from OotP he has a bit of a tendency to live vicariously through others. I imagine he'd love to have been able to tell off his family and slam the door in their faces, so I can see him pushing Belle to do it, whether or not it's the best decision for her. And I do hope we get to see him punch Christophe. I'd love to see Sirius's wild side come out. Not to mention that Christophe totally deserves it!
Dang, I'm over again. I'll PM you a few typos I spotted. Another great chapter. I noticed the next ones are pretty short. Maybe I'll even manage to catch up this week! And you're right. You got me to talk about emotions without breaking out in hives. It's a miracle :P
Author's Response: I'm going to try *very* hard to get my response to cooperate with the maximum character count ;)
I am trying *really* hard to not mention something then forget about it. I'm sure there will be a few things, but this wasn't one! yay! I'm happy you liked her sorting through the potions and sort of dwelling on her future. I see a lot of times in Marauders fics where authors forget that this group didn't realize they'd be joining the Order. Like, their making no plans about their future. Obviously we know where they end up, but I don't want to fall into that trap where they aren't planning for their futures. Because right now, they have no idea where they'll end up. Wow, did any of that make sense? Haha
Your favorite part would be when it tied back to Severus :P I really have an issue when anyone other than Remus tells Lily that he's a werewolf, because like you said James is too loyal. And Remus does whatever he can *not* to tell people, so I don't ever want that "i'm a werewolf" sort of scene. Like you said, Lily is smart enough to piece it together, but she probably wouldn't have without the clues she already had. There will be a time when they talk about it, but it'll be under interesting circumstances. See, now I'm being all vague. Mwahhaa.
I really agree with you about Lily and how she acts. I worried about that before, but then I think I sot of let it go and figured I was only noticing it because I wrote it. Apparently not :P I've been thinking of editing this part a bit so that Lily kind of argues with herself, and decides that letting Remus know that she is there to talk is the most important thing. So she'll still press a bit, but she'll at least give it a second though. Thank you for bringing that back to my attention ♥
Ahh I'm so happy you're still liking the dynamic between Belle and Sirius. I love the idea of Sirius kind of being able to help someone whose been through too much like he has, because he knows how much having James saved him. It adds a really intimate connection between Belle and Sirius having both understood what the other lived through, and one that's completely emotional. And I think Sirius needs something like that.
I was worried that Sirius would seem insensitive by pushing her into doing it. But like you said, we learned that he does do things to live through others, and he doesn't often think too much about those repercussions. I can tell you that we will absolutely see Sirius's wild side come out. Belle's too. Really, the entire chapter is just going to be a bit crazy. Haha.
Thank you so much for PM'ing me the typos &heats; They are all edited in! Yay!
Ahhh Becky. I don't even know how to thank you so much for all the reviews you leave. Not only do you give me awesome feedback, but you ever made giving the feedback seem like a chore, which means a lot to me. Thank you so much for all your feedback, and you're so close to being caught up :O! Also, I have an OF idea that I'm going to PM you about later. It's one I want YOU to write ;).