My god, Susan. o.O
I didn't even realize at first that you had posted this! I recall discussing it in your help thread when this fic was but a little thoughtling in your brilliant mind, and I was drooling over the idea - because as much as I adore James/Lily, Sev/Lily will always break my heart, a wonderful and sad story of What If?
I was always one of those people who thought it entirely possible that Lily might have fallen in love with Sev (or maybe had already) if he hadn't lashed out at her and effectively ended their friendship. I know Snape is seen as mega-creeper and all, but a lot of feelings and emotions grow out of close friendships like theirs.
I love the themes at play here. Her naivete...her selfishness, even. Exploring this idea of life really not working out as she, in her always brilliant mind, assumed it would just because she willed it to be so.
And you've kept her in character - she's still canon Lily, just with a side that nobody puts in the fairytale version.
I actually felt very bad for James here. Like really, truly depressed for him. Even with Lily's attitude towards him - I almost want to say disparaging or disdainful - he came across to me as such a good person. Naive in his own way, obviously, but still good and so inwardly broken as a result of her choice to use him to further her own end. God. I want to *squish* him. And you characterized him in such a lovely way - not a caricature of himself - but lively and happy and pining, and then exactly the way I would expect him to be after coming to the realization he reached here about who he'd married. Quietly sad. It tears my heart. He almost shone more than Lily in this fic, probably because, while her actions are at the heart of it, it's the impact on James that gives her actions consequence.
Wonderful choice to do it in reverse chronological order. This is the kind of fic that reverse chronology is meant for - I think the impact is a lot greater than if it had just gone in normal chronological order. I also adored how you began it, talking about what this story is about. It was very effective - I adore that style in general, acknowledging that what you're doing is telling a story - and it had the added bonus, I thought, of easing the reader into the idea that this Lily is going to be different than we know her, but still the same Lily, and the ignorance as to her real motives has been entirely ours, since we've been suckered into believing a different version of the story.
Loved the literary references. Fits in with the references to telling a story. Makes it seem very classic and timeless, even.
A little idea came into her head, as though whispered into her ear by the tempting breeze that entered through the open window on her left. She listened to its soft, cloying words and fell prey to their power. The girl who had been, by all accounts, quite perfect, quite intelligent, quite brilliant for her age and background, opened her green eyes and thought about jealousy.
This was where it all began.
^ That is divine. It just felt...subtly wicked, I don't know. Delicious. Seductive, which went along splendidly with the bit about James putting his hands on her shoulders in a longing way.
Also, you string words together in ways I don't think my mind is even capable of. I hate you slightly for it. XD
She grasped at her memories with eager hands, sorting through the threads of many colours until she could pick out the one most lacking in colour, the one greyer than the rest.
For a moment he was someone else, too frequently an occurrence in these days of darkness, the endless mist surrounding them, ever hungry, grabbing at their heels, just for a single taste of the blood they scrubbed off the soles of their feet.
You are a freak, Susan. In the best way possible. A freak. ♥
I was so happy to read this. I think I'll read it again.
Author's Response: Wow. This is insane, Melanie! I don't know where or how to start responding to this review, so bear with me. XD First of all, a huge thank you, both for writing this review and for your help in fleshing out the original idea. I know that it emerged rather differently, but all the same, that discussion on TGS really helped me find a direction for my wild and crazy idea.
It's fantastic to hear that she's still a canon Lily, as I have, in the past, done evil!Lily, and the Lily in this story seemed pretty close to that, which was worrying me. I didn't want her to not be sympathetic or hateful, just a confused girl who couldn't sort out what she wanted and what she needed.
James is very sympathetic in this story, and my plot bunny was actually the expression on his face in the first part of this story. It started for me with him and, in a way, he is at the centre of the story - Snape isn't present except within Lily's mind (which is a crazy reversal of her place in the HP stories when she is realized in Snape's memories - she's real in those, not just a ghostly image), but James is always there, and it's crushing to imagine how aware he must be of his wife's feelings. How often does he ask himself whether she truly loves him? How often does he regret having married her? I suppose one could say that, in making Lily less than sympathetic, James became more so. I discovered that he's often forgotten or pushed aside in favour of Lily - like how people tell Harry that, although he looks like his father, he has his mother's eyes; it's always the presence of Lily in Harry that counts for more, except in Quidditch, of course. I see James as an "either way" sort of character - he's an idiot in the books, but again, there's no reliable portrayal of him, only biased memories, so there's the potential to do a lot with his character.
The "telling a story" introduction is thanks to you TGSers who helped me out - there was a discussion of Jane Austen and it stuck in my head, though I didn't carry it throughout the entire story. Like you said, I wanted to alert readers to how I wanted to tell Lily's story differently. You say it better, though, in that we've been lead into believing it from a particular angle. :D
The ending was so hard to write! I think the circumstances of the ending changed at least three or four times - there was a point even when Sirius would get involved, another where Snape would make an appearance, and another when it would return the story to the beginning and show a reconciliation between Lily and James. But when the current ending emerged, I couldn't resist that last image of the Lily who fell to temptation, who was still that perfect girl Petunia always complained about. Then the image of Lily's eyes came to mind - strange that they should be green, of all colours, isn't it? She's the girl all the guys seemed to have wanted, making them all jealous of one another, so I ran with that. :P It's like, throughout, the reader has had to peel back Lily's layers to reveal what's within her soul - it's a mystery story of sorts, in that regard.
I'm so glad to hear that you liked this ending, though. It makes me feel a lot more confident about the whole story, which was at first a disappointment because it hadn't achieved what I'd wanted. It's too dark and gloomy, and I think that it goes too far to deconstruct the good ship L/J, so I've been very critical of it, more so than I usually am, though the parts you quoted at the end contain images I really like, such as memories as threads - it really gets at the whole domestic imagery I wanted to bring forward.
Thank you so much for this, Melanie! You've really made me feel a lot better about this story, and I'm very happy to be the freak who wrote it. *huggles*