|Review:||Toujours Padfoot says:|
It's only when I'm reading stories from the perspective of the dead that I'm thankful when couples die together. Thinking about it now, if Lily had somehow survived, it would have changed absolutely everything. Harry would have had one of his parents. She might've eventually remarried. She might've had more kids. And it's the same if James had survived and Lily had died - the dynamic is so different, it would almost be more different than if both James and Lily both had lived.
The most heartbreaking part of this one-shot was when James initially assumed that both Lily and Harry were dead:
The sound that escapes from my throat is like nothing I've ever heard. The piteous wail of a man who's already died on the inside as he begs the outside to catch up. There are no words for how much I hurt.
I like how James's memory came back to him in staggered increments. First all he knows is the never-ending white fog and that flash of green, and then slowly things seep back into his memory - the fact that there were children dressed in costumes, that it was Halloween, that they were hiding from something. It was a very realistic touch that James wouldn't automatically remember it all. It makes sense that his brain would suffer from an amnesia of sorts because the events of his death were so traumatic and happened so incredibly fast. Literally, one second Voldemort was at the door and James was telling Lily to take Harry and run, and the next second James was dead. So reacquainting himself with these events gradually was so, so heartbreaking as a reader because I could feel his increasing awareness of where he must be now.
I felt so terrible for both of them as they pieced together what had happened. Lily was much quicker on the uptake, her mother's intuition just inherently knowing that Harry was alive - which must mean that something had happened to Voldemort. And that feeling of detachment, of being so far from their son, was evident in the way they could view Harry's future. Being somewhere so physically different from home lent them a perspective where they could determine how it all came about. James's thoughts flitting between Peter and Sirius, feeling like a traitor for doubting either of them and his subsequent denial when Lily gently told him that Peter must have betrayed them - it was so sad and so real and I just want to hug James.
You are very talented at getting inside the head of someone who has just experienced something the living can barely conceive - all of James's confusion, his anguish, his reaction to Lily being there that was relief and horror mixed together. For a few seconds, James was utterly alone. For a few seconds, James was dead and Lily was still alive. And when he stood there, his brain trying to wrap itself around it all and his memory abstractly delving back to Lily talking about the stages of grief, it made it very real and vivid. I felt like I was James.
And this bit:
I remember exactly how he feels when I hold him.
:'( Oh my goodness, that is a hard hell to digest, the thought of never being able to hold your helpless little baby ever again. All of the things a parent would miss out on...
I'm quite curious about what they're waiting for. Are they waiting there until Harry dies? Until Harry recalls them with the Resurrection Stone? Oh my goodness, to think that they might be trapped in that wide white fog for seventeen years at least; I have no idea how they wouldn't lose their minds. I desperately want to know when they'll get to go 'on' and what 'on' will be like, and if Sirius will eventually join them in this place.
This was a fantastic read! Very moving and realistic.
Author's Response: Hi, Sarah!
Now that you mention it, everything would have been incredibly different if either Lily or James had survived Voldemort's attempt to murder Harry. Either case would definitely make for an interesting AU fic, although the number of things you'd have to sort out seems really daunting.
I wrote James's gradual realization for pretty much exactly the reasons you described. I was imagining it as being like that sense of disorientation you get when you wake up in a strange place... erm, not that I'd know anything about that. ;) Anyway, rumor has it that you go through this process of backtracking to the last thing you remember for sure, then trying to work your way up to how you got where you are.
Lily is certainly putting the pieces together faster than James, and she does have mother's intuition on her side. The two of them have lost so much. All they have left is one another, which is still an enormous improvement over where poor James was at the start of this. I'm glad you felt like hugging James. I tried to humanize him every way possible in this.
That's nice of you to say about James. I think that in this strange purgatory they find themselves in, the passage of time doesn't really correspond to how it passes in the world of the living. So the short amount of time between James's death and Lily's drags on a lot longer for him. Another way to look at it, I guess, is that Lily and James were reunited when they were both ready to see one another again.
As a parent, I know that line definitely hit me hard when I read it again after writing it. I can't fathom the loss and emptiness of knowing that your child is going to grow up without you and you're going to miss everything.
What are they waiting for? Well, I think the best way to answer that is to tell you what my original plan for this story was. James and Lily were going to be in this ethereal recreation of the Forbidden Forest instead of the waiting room. After some significant amount of time passed, Sirius would have arrived there, as well, and finally Remus. Then, when Harry used the Resurrection Stone, he would have "appeared" in their world just as they appeared in his. The stone would essentially bring the two worlds together. But when I tried to write it, I wasn't happy with the way the passage of time was working out, so I changed the plan.
I'm really glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for offering this chance to enjoy one another's writing!