I think I'm just overly emotional but the end of this story had tears pricking my eyes. This is so beautiful, Amanda. I'm so happy you've done one of my favorite ships justice. I know how hard it must have been for you to write this, considering your disdain for the ship, but you have honestly done such a wonderful job with these characters and the strength of their relationship.
I love how James sits at the table, with his elbow in food, totally encompassed by this one girl. You reiterate the fact throughout the story how his life revolves around her, that she's the only reason that he's fighting in this war and the only thing he believes in. It's powerful and it just makes me sigh happily. I love your James, here. His quiet contemplation, the small observances he makes about her - the furrow of her brow and her green eyes. It's perfect.
I love the contrast between his anger and his sympathy for Snape in this. The backtracking thoughts on how Snape is nothing like Sirius, but really, he kind of is. It's sad that James doesn't think Snape deserves a happy life like Sirius does, because of his actions with Voldemort. The contrast is nice just because I would find it hard to swallow if James kept spewing off evil things to say about Snape.
I love how Lily's trying to come up with a seating plan as a way to forget about what's going on, what they're missing out on. Though, I have to admit that my first thought when he talked about X's and familiar names, I thought Lily was writing up a battle plan or something. It's obvious the war is something at the forefront of my mind as a reader, so it was lovely to see her doing something so trivial while still worrying about the war outside.
I think my favorite part of this story, though, besides the relationship you've written between James and Lily, is James's thoughts on the war. It's interesting because usually James is seen as this leader and everyone automatically assumes that he was gung-ho about the war and willing to throw himself into the midst of it. Here, he's more reserved, more like the scared young adult he should be. It's something I see so rarely in fics written about James, and a characterization I find fitting for this story.
The last line killed me and caused me to tear up. It's just such a beautiful way to end this perfect piece. I love how he's just so consumed by her. Perfect. :)
Author's Response: As usual, I'm speechless! I'll try to form a coherent response, though :)
I'm not so sure 'disdain' is the right word anymore. I've really gained a new appreciation for them after writing this, which of course is the point of challenging yourself, right? I still lean toward Snily, but now I can read stories like Amaranthine and Lost in the Dying Light and not feel those pangs of guilt for being able to understand James/Lily. It's a nice feeling, the diversity I've got now :)
Really? James was perfect? Oh my. Thank you! I did want to convey his maturity here for sure - his thoughtfulness, his appreciation for the little things, his serious wrestling with his thoughts, and his grown-up attitude toward Snape. The last part was especially important: I wanted him to critically evaluate his feelings toward Snape and realize that the world must be viewed in shades of grey, that he must understand why he hates Snape if he's going to.
A battle plan... interesting. It makes me wonder, if she looks back at it later, how many of those names will now belong to dead people. She's trying so hard to focus on the positive and the normal in the midst of chaos, poor thing. I wanted James to help her here.
It is kind of an interesting characterization of James, or so my reviewers have told me. I do agree that he's a scared kid, barely old enough to Apparate, though my perception was heavily influenced by the aforementioned Jily stories.
I loved writing the last line, so I'm glad you liked it. Sometimes things just fall into place and you wind up writing the perfect finale :)