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Chapter 10: Double, Double, Toil and Trouble
I apologise for not getting this into the queue when I said I would. Going back over it I realised I’d lost a whole section and had to rewrite what was essentially the most important part of this chapter. Sigh. But here it is! Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Years!
To every other person standing in the Gryffindor Common Room, Evie Ford seemed to have absolutely frozen. Peter Pettigrew, who had watched the entire thing – from James disappearing hand-in-hand with Remington to Evie and Lily stepping out of their dorm room – kept his eyes solidly on Evie and sunk down low into his chair. He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping desperately that Evie wasn’t coming anywhere near him.
He squeezed his eyes shut tighter.
Maybe if he just stayed really, really still she wouldn’t see him.
“IDON’TKNOWWHERETHEYWENT, ISWEARITONMYLIFEPLEASEDON’THURTME,” he shouted keeping his eyes tightly shut.
Peter heard her sigh loudly, a noise he knew too well. As strange as it was, her sigh made him feel guiltier than if she had shouted at him. He opened his eyes to an Evie with her face in her hands.
“Evie…” he stood up suddenly, hesitating and then gently prying her fingers from her face. She wasn’t teary, Peter was yet to see Evie cry, but immense frustration was deeply etched on her face.
“Look Evie…maybe it’s not what you think…” he tried to console her as Evie’s intense stare burned into him.
“Not what I think Pete?” she whispered, eyes flickering from Lily who was still on the stairs, back to him, “He grabbed her hand and pulled her into the fireplace with him. Alone. James doesn’t do that. He doesn’t…he doesn’t…”
Evie dropped her hands, her shoulders slumping forward. Peter bit his lip unsure of what to say or even what to do. He was afraid if he tried to hug her that he might step on her foot or something.
“Could you do me a favour Pete?” Evie asked, keeping her voice low, “Let’s forget about our new plan. I don’t think there’s a point…a point to Operation Happy Ending anymore.”
Pete’s jaw dropped a little before he recovered.
“I…I can tell S-Sirius…”
Evie nodded quickly, before flashing him a quick grimace. The strong and brave Evie that Pete had always known was little more than an uncertain girl standing in front of him. Evie opened her clenched fist to reveal a small glass bottle – the potion that was the centre of their next plan – and handed it to Peter before walking back to Lily, who was still standing on the stairs.
Peter had been contemplating how he was going to tell Sirius that their plan was over. He was going to make sure Remus knew why Evie wanted their plans to end. All of this was running through his head as he watched Evie and Lily exit Gryffindor Tower.
But that was before he saw the look on Lily’s face. That one sole expression made Peter Pettigrew more determined than he had ever been in his entire life.
Clutching the potion firmly in his right hand, Peter Pettigrew followed the two girls out of Gryffindor Tower.
James and Remington tumbled out of the other fireplace onto a clean stone floor.
“What the hell Remington!?” James said with a laugh, “Dumbledore’s office?”
“It was the first thing that came into my head!” she laughed back.
“I worry about you. Seriously. Next time I need to prove to someone that I’ve actually achieved some sort of extraordinary mischief-making, I am not coming to you,” James finished off, dusting the soot from his jet-black hair as Remi patted down her clothes. Between the two of them they created a semi-thick black cloud hanging precariously in the air around them.
Perhaps that was why they didn’t see the Headmaster of Hogwarts sitting at his desk.
Albus Dumbledore began to clap enthusiastically, a beaming smile spread across his face.
“Mr Potter, I must say you are quite right in supposing that this is – ah, what was it you called it? – extraordinary mischief-making!” Dumbledore exclaimed, not only coming to stand between the two of them but also momentarily poking his head into the fireplace and looking around as if he could find the source of James’s magic.
He turned back to James, his blue eyes dancing and a little soot smudged onto the tip of his nose.
Remington and James were yet to breathe.
“You do find yourself in the most interestingly uncomfortable situations don’t you Mr Potter?” Dumbledore finally said after a moment’s awkward pause.
“Sir…” James began. Dumbledore’s eyebrows shot up, waiting for an explanation that he knew would be somewhat fascinating if not a complete bundle of lies.
But James stopped and looked at Remington. He had nothing. More silence followed causing Dumbledore to just simply, smile.
“Run along now,” he said cocking his head toward the office door.
Remington took two slow steps and then shot out the door, her footsteps echoing loudly on the staircase. James was about to follow suit when Dumbledore interrupted his attempt to escape.
“I trust you will be at Professor Slughorn’s gathering this evening Mr Potter?”
James turned on his heel and gulped loudly. Damn, forgot about that. He wasn’t sure his throat could actually get more words out but if there was a moment he had to try, it was this one.
“Excellent. He honours only those students he admires and respects. He has high hopes for his Quidditch star. I don’t think it is a night – or an opportunity – you want to miss.”
Dumbledore looked down at James, over his crescent-moon shaped glasses. James felt strangely as though he had just heard a prophecy. Stranger was that he felt, not as if he didn’t have a choice, but as though tonight and its opportunities couldn’t come fast enough for him.
“Of course not Professor,” he heard himself answer, “I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
Dumbledore nodded his head in satisfaction.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, it seems I have some security issues to discuss with Professor Flitwick. Off you go then!”
James lifted his hand in farewell and walked almost groggily out of the office. Remington was waiting for him, shuffling from side to side.
“JAMES! What was he saying to you? I was so…” she fussed, “James…are you alright?”
His eyes connected with hers.
He pointed back up at the office and then thought better of telling her about Dumbledore’s strange stare and the words that felt…magical just in themselves.
James turned back to an anxious Remington and shrugged his shoulders.
“Nothing. I thought nothing.”
It was on his second ‘nothing’ that they heard the scream.
James and Remington burst into the Great Hall to find everyone laughing outrageously.
“Tahw evah uoy ENOD??!” Lily squealed, clutching at her throat and then at her head, “Tahw si gnorw thiw ym ECIOV?”
By this time there were students rolling on the floor they were laughing so hard. Slytherins were banging on the tables and Ravenclaws had even looked up from their books to stare. Remington couldn’t think of when she’d seen a more clichéd response from each of the Houses. It was a bit disconcerting really to see how well the Sorting Hat did its job. Remington kept James back, the two of them hiding away near the door.
“Lily calm down,” they heard Evie say in between fits of giggles, “It’s actually funny.”
“SITH si ton YNNUF! I nac raeh flesym dna mi gnillet uoy thgir won I MA TON GINKAEPS SHILGNE!”
“I don’t get it?” James said confusedly, turning to Remington.
“Evie must have given her a potion,” Remington answered biting hard at her lip to keep from laughing, “We discovered this potion back in our Fifth Year that made you speak in…well, nonsense really. We would spring it on each other at really inconvenient times, like just before a lesson with McGonagall or something. That was funniest to give to Lily. For almost half a year each of us girls carried our own flasks because we were all so terrified we’d get caught out.”
“But…” James continued, his brow still furrowed, “She doesn’t sound any different.”
Remington looked at him in shock, loud laughter finally escaping her lips.
“James! That’s a terrible thing to say, I mean Lily gets on my nerves as well but to say she always speaks nonsense…”
“No. I mean, I don’t hear it. She actually doesn’t sound any different to me.”
Remington’s smile faded quickly.
“You mean…you can understand her?!”
James threw a quick glance at the still nonsense screaming Lily and shrugged.
“Why do you think I was confused? I can understand what she’s saying but then she’s screaming about not being able to speak properly…”
“Is that what she’s saying? What is she saying now?” Remington asked curiously, a strange sensation creeping its way through her body.
James looked toward Lily and listened closely.
“TSUJ ESUACEB I SAW EHT TSAL ENO OT TEG UOY EIVE DROF…TAHT SAW OWT SRAEY OGA! I tnac evieleb uoy did sith!” Lily continued, her fists on her hips in frustration. But it was in vain. Every single time Lily opened her mouth, Evie would just laugh more. James did notice a giggling Peter just behind the action.
“She’s saying it was unfair of Evie to do this to her just because Lily was the last one to get her two years ago,” James quipped.
Remington stared at him, looking like someone had just smacked her in the face.
“EVANGELINE!” she shouted out to Evie, still keeping her eyes on James, “EVIE!”
Remington grabbed James’s hand and began walking quite determinedly towards the two girls. Evie’s joyous expression dropped immediately.
“What do you want?” asked Evie. Lily was still garbling away next to them not paying attention.
Remington was too caught up in James’s revelation to even notice Evie’s annoyance.
“James can understand her!” she blurted, “He can understand what Lily is saying!”
Evie rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, her foot tapping impatiently.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody can understand her. She’s speaking nonsense.”
“No she’s not!” James exclaimed finally turning toward Lily, “Lily say something and I’ll translate.”
“I etah rouy gniknits stug,” she replied, also crossing her arms and staring at James with cynical eyes.
“She said, I hate your stinking guts,” James explained quickly to Evie.
Whilst Evie let out a disbelieving and rather annoyed sigh, Lily’s jaw dropped. This time what she spouted was nonsense however, as she was speaking so quickly that it was muddled from the first word.
“I have no idea what she just said but from all the pointing I’m assuming she’s trying to tell you that I can understand her,” said James, shrugging his shoulders and staring at a shocked Evie. Her arms flopped from their crossed position and she scratched her head, trying to make sense of it all.
“Why is this happening now though? Why not back in Fifth Year? We used to do it to each other all the time…” Evie muttered.
“Maybe James was never there when Lily was speaking nonsense. He did skip out on classes rather a lot back then,” Remington added.
“Yeah I did,” James replied with a cheeky smile. A smile that was wiped quickly off his face when Evie shot him a nasty glare. James’s expression went from cheeky smile to a mockingly serious one.
“I blame it all on Sirius,” he deadpanned.
Evie walked right up close to James, peering at him as though she could get the answer just by studying his nose.
“Well James Potter,” she said, her voice very low and sombre, “It seems as though you’re the only one who can understand what Lily is saying. The potion lasts 24 hours. Guess you’ll have to stick by her side then…just to…translate.”
And with that Evangeline Ford, walked past James and Remington, left a giggling Peter and a still rambling Lily, and out the door.
Not one student managed to catch the smug, satisfied and knowing smile on her face.
It wasn’t long before news travelled around the school that Lily Evans was speaking in nonsense.
And even stranger that James Potter could understand her.
From the first moment that James began to follow Lily around, it was clear that such an arrangement was perfectly fine with him.
For her…not so much.
“Isn’t it lucky that this is the day we have all the same classes,” James said aloud, as he strutted alongside a very grumpy looking Lily.
“Gnihton tuoba sith si ykcul,” she grumbled, crossing her arms, “Ruoy yllaer gniyonna nehw your yppah.”
“Happy I am, happy I will always be around you m’dear!” he said with a small chuckle, now swinging his arms to the tune of his strut.
“Won uoy kool ekil a allirog.”
James smirked and fell silent, much to Lily’s odd dismay. She somehow enjoyed this bickering. It was more than anyone else had said to her all day. Teachers treated her as though she didn’t exist. Friends would come running up with exciting news and then halfway through remember she couldn’t speak so they would do the oh never mind speech and run off. Lily couldn’t remember the last time she actually wanted James to talk to her. No-one else certainly was.
That didn’t mean anything though. Really, it didn’t.
Truth was, Lily had been trying desperately to completely avoid thinking about anything to do with James Potter since…since the hospital thing.
What that truly meant was that she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about James Potter since the hospital thing. Not that her brain had given her any sort of solution. All her logic, all her reasoning, even her intuition boiled down to one question.
Oh boy, did that question open a floodgate in her head. Why not!? Why not?! Oh he’s only the most arrogant, self-centred toe-rag…
But then she would look up. And there he would be, smiling at her, and all she could remember was him saving her life in that hospital corridor. She would look up and he would be diligently and softly helping Peter out with a spell that he couldn’t master on his own. She would look at James and all she could feel was that the hurt and pain created by Henry Vale…no longer existed. And she would remember that day, that long day in the Room of Requirement.
And especially how he had known exactly what she needed.
James was standing there holding the classroom door open for her.
“Yrros. Saw tsuj snikniht,” she replied with a little shake of her head.
It hit her then that that was the best part of Evie’s plan. Without being able to speak properly, Lily would have to go most of the day thinking and listening. For a moment Lily wondered whether she should be amazed by Evie’s insight or enraged that she was so transparent to her friends.
Either way it didn’t matter.
Lily got to her desk only to notice that the boys had shuffled around so that James could sit across from her. They hadn’t made a fuss about it. They weren’t teasing her or James. Sirius wasn’t making loud crude remarks. They had just done it.
For the first time in her life, Lily Evans wondered whether…she was wrong.
No, her brain said forcefully, Any moment James will walk in and they’ll all start up. He hasn’t changed at all.
James Potter hadn’t given too much thought about the cause of Lily’s curse or what it was currently doing. Sure, she was looking at him a little differently, but then who knew what women thought? It was all nonsense to him.
James smirked. Of course with Lily it had to be a double level of nonsense didn’t it?
Someone with a very tight grip suddenly grabbed onto James’s arm effectively slamming the door in between him and the class.
“Oi, what are you…” James stopped as the owner of the hand became apparent.
“You’ll regret what you did to me,” Henry Vale whispered menacingly, “No one humiliates me.”
“Well maybe you should stop wearing ya Mummy’s underwear. You’re kinda asking for it,” James spurted without thinking. Henry’s grip tightened.
“Everyone has a weakness Potter. You won’t be so clever when yours is shown to the world.”
Henry let go violently. James could see in his eyes how badly he would have liked to have pushed James off the side of a cliff right now.
“Look Henry, I’m sorry about what I just said. But I’m not sorry about what we did to you. Lily Evans didn’t deserve that. And it wouldn’t have hurt my game anyway because I’m a competitive person so it really was a lose-lose situation for you. To be honest I probably would have just shown off more to get her attention.”
“She would have hated that and you know it,” Henry spat back.
“When it comes to Lily, attention is attention. I’d rather her hate me than not feel anything at all.”
James shrugged, gave Henry a moment, then turned to open the door to the classroom.
“Well I’m glad that you’re fine with her hating you. It makes what is coming a whole lot easier for you.”
James’s head snapped around to watch Henry Vale strutting away far too confidently for his liking.
James seemed to have suddenly swallowed something very heavy and sharp.
In truth, Henry Vale’s plan was already set in motion and no matter how many friends James Potter had, everything Henry planned was going to happen.
But not because of anything Henry had done.
Remington Oslo sat at the back of the classroom watching on, as James sat next to Lily.
Her loyal translator, Remington thought snidely, I guess every pretty girl has a loyal translator.
Remington’s eyes flickered over to Remus Lupin, who now that the boys had shuffled around, was across the row from Ana Hill.
He looked pretty happy about it too.
Something vile and with a bitter-taste rose in Remington’s throat. Something that made her want to simultaneously scream and clench her fists, none of which she could currently do without being looked at as odd.
Even at Hogwarts people didn’t do that sort of thing.
And then she looked at Evie Ford, sitting there all blonde and ethereal. A girl who seemed to have it all. If it hadn’t have been for Evie’s parents being dead, Remington didn’t think she could handle all the perfection that was in the room.
Remington was not a vengeful person and never had been. What she was however was a person who could very easily give in to what she wanted above the desires and needs of all others.
And at the moment, what she wanted more than anything was James Potter.
And if there was one thing that Remington Oslo knew how to do, was to get a boy.
It was towards the end of the day that Lily’s thoughts started to catch up with her and she didn’t think she could handle much more of them.
Problem was, most of them were about her translator.
Lily shook her head, hoping desperately to bludgeon to death any thought along those lines.
“Lily, are you okay?” James’s concerned voice suddenly broke through her desperate attempt to focus any raging hormones. Good timing James.
“On, semaJ m’I enif. Yako? Tsuj fine. Uoy og ruoy yaw and ll’I og enim and…I deen ot teg ydaer rof tghinot dna ereht si on yaw uoy nac pleh em htiw that.”
Lily knew that she was lashing out just because she needed to get away. Yes! Get away! Get out of this classroom! Her brain thought desperately, That’s the answer! Run.
James smiled and nodded, holding the door open for her and watching as she walked through it and down the corridor in a hurry.
“Tahw?! Tahw si ti?” Lily exclaimed spinning around in a huff trying very hard not to look at James again.
“Gryffindor Tower is the other way.”
Lily’s eyes widened as she looked back down the corridor and then back to a smirking James.
“Os ti si,” she said walking back past him still in the doorway keeping any eye contact to a minimum, “Aybdoog…niaga.”
James watched her back down the corridor.
“When will you learn?”
Remington’s voice seem to peal far more than it often did, effectively snapping James’s thoughts away from Lily.
“When will I learn what?” he asked walking over to Remington who was sitting cross legged on a desk in the now empty classroom.
“That there is more than just…one…girl James.”
James’s eyes connected with hers and just for one small moment, he almost forgot about Lily Evans.
It was difficult under the power of Remington’s smouldering eyes. That stare was legendary. Many a boy had fallen under it.
But there was something different about James Potter. There always had been.
“No…no, I don’t think so Remington,” James said gently, closing the door behind him and coming to sit on the desk opposite from her.
The smoulder vanished.
“What?” Remington blinked in disbelief.
“Look I know. When you kissed me…”
“That was a mistake.”
“Yes it was Remington. I don’t love you. I told you that then.”
“But don’t you see James? Lily doesn’t care for you! She never will and she never can.”
James looked at her blankly and Remington in frustration almost walked out the door.
“Have you ever seen something that takes your breath away?”
Remington, hand still firmly gripped on the door, couldn’t help but look back over her shoulder and listen to his words. James sat there on the desk, his back to her.
“And somehow you know that everything’s changed…that you’ll never be the same again.”
James dropped his head but continued.
“From that very first moment I met her…I’ve never wanted to protect and love anyone so much as Lily Evans. I’ve only ever wanted her in my arms.”
Remington thought better of saying something now. It felt as though something was slowly creeping its way up her. A realisation, perhaps.
That this was no schoolboy crush.
“Lily to me…is like the voice of a Healer to a dying man. She’s…the oasis in the middle of the desert. That silence after a loud crack of thunder. Her smile, it lights up the room and I’ll never be able to resist smiling with her.”
James looked up at Remington, his eyes brim with sincerity.
“That’s ridiculous James,” Remington said almost weakly. James just laughed and in fact, nodded in agreement.
“But you have to see…there is nothing in any way sane about how I feel for her. She…”
James stopped. But by this time Remington couldn’t help herself.
“What?” she whispered.
“When she’s around me…she brings me peace. Her just being there next to me…and the world is alright for just that moment.”
When James looked up at her for the final time, Remington had a sudden urge to let her tears and emotion just go. Because in those dark eyes that she herself thought she loved…was something far stronger than she had ever known. In that moment she felt like a child, first learning what it meant to love.
Because in James’s eyes, was a love worth living for.
Remington couldn’t look at him anymore. She couldn’t bear to think that what she felt was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to how James felt about Lily. And for a moment, Remington’s clenched stomach and painful chest, told her that she might not ever know such love.
And so she took a breath, as much as she could take, and closed the classroom door behind her. She was surprised to feel something drop on her clothing, and realised with a pang that she was crying.
It was another moment before she realised that Lily Evans was standing in front of her.
And from the tears running down Lily’s face, Remington knew she had heard every word.
Remington didn’t need to say anything. She did not even need to look at Lily meaningfully. There is never a moment so painful as realising that the person you love is very much solidly and unmovingly in love with someone else. And further than that, that you may never know what it feels like to be loved in such a way. With such passion. With such commitment. With such willingness.
It was clear that Lily couldn’t say anything. It must be odd to be on the other side of that love, Remington thought to herself. How lucky such people can be.
There was no more to be done here. And so she started walking. Where, Remington did not know. Her feet were leading her now. And as they did, Remington continued to wonder why she was so different. How she herself compared to Lily Evans and perhaps…if she was more like Lily then someone, just someone close to James, would love her like he did.
But comparing yourself to someone else is a dangerous game to play. And the deeper Remington thought about it, the less answers she gained.
Instead what hit her was something much deeper. She was beyond winning James over. It was clear even to her that was impossible. His heart completely and utterly belonged to Lily, whether she wanted it or not.
And Remington’s heart completely and utterly belonged to James, whether he wanted it…or not.
And so with a strength of character that few could match, and no-one there to witness it, Remington Oslo began to breathe again properly.
Because now she had a purpose.
Slughorn’s classroom had been transformed. In a tribute to the fast approaching Christmas holidays, he had laced the entire room with red and gold decorations. The walls twinkled and shined, as only Slughorn could make them. And in amongst it all, students milled around in dress suits and ball gowns.
It was truly a sight to behold.
Lily had been there for some time now, enjoying the jazzed music and the company of her friends. Evie had joined her at Slughorn’s insistence and was now being serenaded by the lead singer of the band. Evie couldn’t look more embarrassed if she was a beetroot.
But for Lily, there was not a boy in the room who could compare to the thought of James Potter. She was a little nervous, if she was honest with herself, to see him after what she had heard.
In a rage, she had rushed back to the classroom to find her translator, unable to explain herself to Professor McGonagall. And instead she had found…
Lily stopped there. It was enough she was thinking about what he had said. But to place mere words on the jumbled feelings inside her…impossible.
Life has a funny way of turning everything upside down. For Lily Evans at the beginning of Seventh Year, her life had been clear. Pass impeccably well. Date any boy who asked. Enjoy every minute of being at Hogwarts. And then collapse.
Evie suddenly appeared at her side and began babbling away about the band. Although Lily was listening, she couldn’t help but keep one eye on the door.
And found she felt ridiculous for doing so.
“Lils, everything alright?” Evie suddenly asked, peering at her best friend, “Are you expecting someone?”
“No, no not at all, who would I be expecting? That sounds silly that I would be expecting someone. This is a party I’m expecting a lot of people to come, no-one in particular of course, I’mnotwaitingforanyone,” she blurted out all very quickly.
Evie stood there looking like a stunned mullet.
“What?” Lily asked cautiously.
“Your voice! It’s back to normal!” Evie almost squealed, a little disbelief on her face, “I’ve never seen the potion wear off that fast…”
“You probably didn’t give me enough,” Lily said, shrugging her shoulders, “You always did get your portions wrong.”
“Oh har har, very funny,” Evie said with a smile, “Just because you had to endure it for three days once…”
“Three days! Three days!” Lily laughed with her friend, “It felt like a lifetime. Hey, hey do you remember that time we accidentally gave it to the Divination Professor in her tea leaves and she didn’t notice for the whole lesson…”
“Oh goodness, I feel terrible about that…” Evie said albeit with a stifled giggle.
“She left soon after.”
“Oh nooo I’m such a terrible person…”
“I can’t even remember her name.”
“We’re both terrible people!”
“Terrible twins, we were.”
“Still are, really,” Evie quipped, before her eyes suddenly went wide, “JIM!”
Lily’s stomach seemed to burst with nervousness just at that one word.
“I’m getting another drink, “ she mumbled quickly, and escaped from Evie. But even as she made her way to the drink table, she couldn’t resist looking up.
As James walked into the room, Lily thought her heart might take flight.
She was thankful that he was yet to see her for she was finding it increasingly difficult to take her eyes off him. The maturity that exuded from James Potter, the strength and protectiveness and stability…for Lily it was all a little overwhelming.
And all because he was wearing a damn suit.
Lily laughed at herself and turned her back to him. There was a heat in her cheeks that she hadn’t felt for a long time. It was the heat that usually meant she was flushed with anger at James Potter.
But she had a feeling this kind of heat was very different.
“I was wondering…” a voice suddenly began from behind her, “whether I could have this dance?”
Lily smiled to herself and then took a moment before she turned to face him.
“If I must,” she said with a shrug, her sarcasm bringing James’s smile to life. Momentarily she remembered what he had said about her smile. And found his own smile was just as infectious.
He did not take her hand but instead walked with her, side by side, to the dance floor. Once they were there, he hesitated to touch her.
He’s scared, Lily realised, He’s scared of touching me.
And so Lily Evans took his right hand and placed it around her waist and entwined her fingers with his left hand.
Keeping her eyes locked on his, she began to move slowly around the dance floor.
Lily could feel the heat radiating off the back of his neck where her skin touched his. She could feel the very goose bumps rise whenever her skin brushed up against him.
James Potter began to move with her but it was clear that he wasn’t really doing any of it knowingly.
Instead he was staring at the exquisite girl in his arms, with an expression that Lily didn’t think existed in reality.
It was as though holding her tightly had left him completely speechless.
And Lily found herself, feeling the very same thing.
I only just realised how much ‘inner monologue’ there is in this one. Hope that’s okay? Let me know what you thought!