Squeee! Not very manly, right? But still, so many things happened in this chapter that you've been making us wait forever and a day for. I couldn't let that pass without a squeee!
Lily Evans: one more human being who seems to do her best thinking at shower time. Her entire train of thought from start to finish was beautifully done. She definitely felt like someone who had that odd combination of worn out and over-stimulated that always comes from day-long travel. Staring at herself in the mirror, trying to imagine how she might look to James? Definitely the kind of thought that pops into your head when you're nervous as all get out and running on fumes and trying to think about anything aside from what you're nervous about.
"Lily, I can hear you thinking from over here," James mumbled. "Wanna talk about it?" - THAT line! Pitch-perfect James Potter!
I hadn't really stopped to ponder what words were exchanged between Lily and Petunia before the latter stormed out of the hospital. I'd probably just assumed that Petunia blamed Lily for the whole thing because she was a freak. What you wrote was ten times as heartbreaking. I'm never going to confuse Petunia Evans with a good person. You and I have had this discussion a few times. But every so often you slip in these details that make her seem like nothing but an overgrown child and it's just a wee bit sympathetic.
Sirius's story seemed like exactly the sort of thing Belle needed to hear at exactly the moment she needed to hear it. He's great like that. It was also a completely believable exchange between Sirius and Mrs. Potter. Like I said in my last review: Universal Parents. Everybody should have a William and Olivia Potter in their lives. The other thing I especially liked about this section was his one, brief line where he tells her how brave she is. To anyone who knows Sirius Blacks's story, that means a lot.
The scene where James and Lily arrive at the restaurant was a really great set-up. By which I mean, "Jami, you completely set me up to think that things were going to go just fine and boy, did you pull the wool over my eyes, you little sneak!" Two things: First, where is Lily's wand? Second, I think you did give a very slight foreshadow of what's to come when the hostess stops well short of Vernon and Petunia's table. If that was intentional, it was clever!
On to Belle and Sirius's arrival at Chateau LeClair. You did a fantastic job of capturing just how sterile the place is. In either the house or its occupants, there isn't a hint of warmth to be found anywhere. Her parents come off lacking any sort of emotional depth aside from the annoyance they feel toward their daughter. The contrast between Belle's youthful fantasy of marrying a man like her father and her present-day love of Sirius was a great idea. Their trousers are the very least of the differences.
But if I see them again, although I can only wish it wonít be until Iím standing over their graves, Iíll mention that you both send your regards. - THAT was a stand-up-and-cheer-out-loud moment if ever there was one!
The incredible emotional roller coaster that you take Belle on over the remainder of this section was gut-wrenching to read in some places and made me want to celebrate in others. The stunt that her parents pulled with her room was just beyond cruel. Their capacity for mind games seems to only be exceeded by their ability to maintain the thin veneer of gold-plated perfection that covers their fake, shallow and utterly meaningless lives. Good on Sirius when he finally decides that enough is enough and he's not going to allow them to torment her any longer! Without that, I'm not sure that Belle finds the strength to do what she ultimately does. The final paragraphs were like a punch in the stomach. It was the ultimate cruelty that her parents could inflict upon her. At least she didn't give them the satisfaction of crumbling.
I thought the switch to Sirius's point of view was a great idea. Belle is in a little too much shock, at least at the beginning, to give us a good account what what happens. Also, Sirius's descriptions are so much more colorful and emotionally laden.
If there was anybody left among your readers who didn't believe that the LeClairs and their erstwhile son-in-law-to-be were the worst human beings on the face of the planet earth, I think you just settled the matter. "... I Ďavenít forgiven you for what you tried to do to me..." Wha, wha, WHAT??? Is this guy for real? I'd rather spend an evening chatting with Voldemort and Dolores Umbridge than ten minutes in the same room with this bunch of jerks! When Sirius lays the well-earned beat-down on Christophe, that was his second stand-up-and-cheer-out-loud moment of the chapter. He's my hero right now.
Wait, Belle's mother slapped her? I seriously want to find a folding chair and go all Springer on her right now. Oh, no, she didn't!
I know I'm running out of characters, so I'm going to have to speed this up. What can I say about Vernon Dursley that hasn't already been said about the cast of Jersey Shore? He's crude, materialistic, unattractive, completely full of himself and seems to define his sense of self-worth by tearing down those around him. In other words, he's perfect! Don't change a thing. I thought James was magnificent here. This is "grown up, Lily-courting" James at his best. He puts up with Vernon for longer than anyone should have to, then puts him in his place.
The ending was so sweet, I just barely have the words. I've rarely been as happy for a character in fan fiction as I was for Belle. In short order, she has reclaimed a large part of herself, and she landed Sirius Black at the same time!
I know this chapter was long, but it just didn't feel anything like 10,000 words. The rapidly alternating scenes gave it a break-neck feel, and the events in Wales and France were so complimentary! Beautifully done!
Author's Response: Oh no Dan... ummm. that was a *very* manly squee. Yep. Really tough stuff. :P
I really had fun getting to play with Lily's odd kind of mood she was in. The poor thing is always thinking. She needs to learn to take a breath now and then :P
I *almost* gave away what happened in the hospital room with these two on the chapter where Sirius tells the truth about his involvement. But I decided I needed to keep that little card trick up my sleeve for a later time, and it just fell perfectly into place here! Good job Lily for thinking so loudly that James is forced to ask you what's wrong :P
I think that Mr. and Mrs. Potter probably put some work into making Sirius understand his own worth. Even if he did hate his entire family before Hogwarts, that hate wouldn't cover up the fact that they'd made him feel so useless his entire life. Poor guy needed some serious love :(. Thank goodness for our universal parents :P!
I'm not sure if you're thinking the same thing I was thinking with the hostess. Basically I'd decided she'd already met the couple once when she sat them before, and no way on earth was she going to talk to those two again, so she kindly directly Lily and James forward without her. haha.
I really had fun with that line of Sirius's. Leave it to him to make sure that he takes anything this family could like about him, and shoves it back in their faces. I can just imagine him standing there all casually with this thumbs in his pockets, smirking as he says it.
Your suggestions really helped the stunt come out more powerful. I think that these people were so set on making sure that their daughter crumbled back into their game, the never stopped to think of what happens when Belle realizes just how cruel they are. Though she might not have let herself realize it without Sirius. Yay once again for you lovely Mr. Black!
That line of Christophe's was one of my very favorite. He just started everything off from the worst place possible. Of course he's going to continue denying his involvement, and then to treat her like a little child telling a tale... oh man. He's lucky that Sirius wasn't there by himself.
HAHAHAH. The mental image of Belle's deliciously false family at the Jerry Springer show fighting this all out... perfect :P
A Jersey Shore and Jerry Springer reference all in one review? You're on your game today, Mr. Daniel. I had a lot of fun writing Vernon though. He's kind of a cruel sort of comic relief.
Aww Dan ♥ I'm so happy that you've built a connection with Belle and that you wanted to hug her in this chapter. Well, you didn't say exactly that you wanted to hug her, but who wouldn't after all this?!
Thank you so much for all your awesome help, Dan. And for not getting made at me when a 10,000 word message shows up in your in box on Friday afternoon. Really, you're amazing ♥