Hey Jami! I'm here for your request :D
So, i like how this is a natural continuation from the last chapter and I like that you're introducing some other characters slowly. It's nice to see a full cast of characters come into play but i really appreciate how you're doing it slowly and not just throwing them all at the readers at once. Which would definitely be character and info overload so i think that's really great. You've focussed on James and Lily and Sirius in the first 2 and now you've introduced Frank a bit and there is this mysterious Belle who's also floating about :D
Speaking of Frank and Alice though, they were in Hogwarts before the Marauders. I know that's such a small canon thing but it does get under my skin a little when i see them in their year, kind of like how sometimes people put Lucius in that year as well. They were fully fledged and respected aurors by the time they were tortured. Something i'd see as nearly impossible if they graduated the same year as Lily and James. (auror training is three years i think and they wouldn't be respected being rookies)
I wouldn't worry about the cliche at the moment. It really just matters how you use it and what their purpose is. It only annoys me when it's just there for some contrived plot point, but you say that it becomes important later on so i will withhold my judgement for now. XD
I'm not actually sure what I feel about this chapter, character wise to be honest. I know i mentioned that i wanted to see a spark of Lily trying to be strong in the last chapter so i feel weird that i'm commenting on this now. But at this point, especially since the last chapter was so heavily focussed on her grieving and this one she's feeling joy and strange new feelings for James. It was too much of a juxtaposition for me. I think her own grief would sort of take precedence over romantic inclinations and i think it would be too early for her to realize this heart jumps and the like. Don't be afraid to let them take it real slow and have Lily come to a slow realization of seeing James in a new light. Also, i guess i just didn't really feel like she would've let him take her to bed without any complaint, especially after their fight. I think she might still want to prove a point or she's just uncomfortable with the whole situation. From what we know of Lily in your story so far is that she hasn't had any romantic feelings for James before and doesn't want to be just a notch on his bedpost. So, it seems fast, that in a course of chapter she's feeling something and is asking herself why she's so scared of it. The last weeks probably showed her something of his character but again, back to her grief, I'm not sure if she'd be thinking clearly about James as a potential mate.
About Lily's outburst, although there were parts that i obviously didn't agree with (which is what i mentioned above) it was interesting to see and i'm not sure if this is where you are going with her outbursts. But i think it would be kind of neat to see that a consequence of her grief she becomes a lot more emotional and has a lot of these sort of outlashes at people (not just James but her other friends as well) Anyway, that's just what i imagined as i read it and i do think that having her little attacks do make sense because when you're grieving sometimes you can take it out on other people and show a different emotion like anger because they want to feel something other than sadness. So yes, that part i liked :D
James wise, i'm a little uneasy here too with him. I liked how you show him flair some anger at Lily. I feel like a lot of writers make him this perfect match for Lily and is just this patient never wavering in his love for Lily. So i did like that he got irritated and mad, it showed a human side to him. I think you also did a good job with showing him consistently with your version of him. He's still the same person as the last chapter so great job with doing that! Also, I know our headcanons of him are different so take this with a grain of salt, but i'd like to see his motivations to why he thinks they'd be a perfect match. The impression i've gotten from this story so far is that they didn't know each other well before this year, so i'd like to see eventually why he thinks they're so perfect for one another. And he just seems to wonderful here, don't forget that he's also just a teen boy. Even his anger didn't take away from this wonderful picture because as soon as he got back he was back to cooing over Lily as if they had been married for 10 years.
I hope all that makes sense and I feel like i'm being ubber critical of this chapter and i don't want you to feel like i hated it or anything. I'm a bit more critical when romance is the driving force behind the story so that may be why. I think there were some great things that you've written, McGonagall for instance i thought you did a great job, even if we only saw her for a moment and i like Dumbledore, you showed that wise side of him and made it look so easy!! Great job with that because i can never do it! :D I also really liked the idea of the castle changing itself to suit the needs of the students. It played along the idea of the Room of Requirement.
Thanks for requesting from me and i hope you found this helpful and not overly harsh! I definitely didn't mean for it to be! :P Feel free tom come back and request again if you liked this.
Author's Response: Ahhh I know what you mean about Alice and Frank, but I just couldn't resist. Although I have thought about how to get them in the position of respect they'd be at at the point of death, so I'm excited to see of what you think of that when we get to it ;).
Hmm... your comments on this chapter really make a lot of sense. I think my biggest problem is that I write this like everyone knows what happened those three weeks, and they just don't (obviously because it's in my head). With Lily - yes, this emotional roller coaster is definitely not just directed at James. The next chapter she has a really good talk with Remus, and that sets the road to helping things, but then when she thinks James does something stupid she just lets her crazy amount of roller coaster-ness get the best of her and doesn't handle this well.
There's not much I can respond to with this, because I actually really agree with it all. Oh! And the perfect match. That (to me) is kind of just James acting like a spoiled brat. Haha. I think if I decide to keep that though, there are better ways to portray it. Okay! I'm going to rewrite!! Thank you so much for your help!!
Okay - I just paused in this response and rewrote the chapter. Parts of it! I think you're going to be really pleased.