Hopefully it goes without saying that the time it takes me to leave a review is not a reflection of how excited I am to read a chapter. But just in case ... consider it said. Also, I'm finding that my writer's block is starting to bleed over into reviewer's block, so if this seems shorter than usual or I seem to only be zoning in on your AoCs, know that it's totally a "it's not you, it's me" sort of thing :P
I thought you picked the story up again at a very natural point. Having this all happen on the train does make a lot of sense. Sure, it could have happened back at school, but then James would have wasted the chance to discuss his suspicions with all his friends present in one place, and it would have been a lot harder for Sirius to confront Regulus since they aren't in the same house or the same year... plus that pesky added complication of teachers always hanging around.
The bit with the snitch was a great added touch. Not only was it sweet, it also provided great continuity with the previous chapter. The snitch kept us grounded in place in the story even as we moved forward in time and space. The only transition that felt a bit abrupt to me was the move to Sirius's POV. Obviously the page break helps a lot, but we didn't have any "time" inside Sirius's head to help ease the transition. We are just sort of BAM! in the new moment and new POV. It's not really the starting of the scene with dialogue... Maybe just the need for some sort of acknowledgement that Sirius had been having his own life throughout the first scene, like... Sirius, who'd spent the last two hours since leaving King's Cross Station alternating between sleeping and playing with a strand of hair that fallen loose from Belle's ponytail, stopped his fidgeting as James's voice filled their now silent compartment. Obviously just a suggestion, but hopefully that at least helps illustrate what I mean.
I found everything James was feeling to be very natural. It doesn't really matter how in love he is with Lily, he's still young and it isn't at all surprising that he's nervous... even if he knows how good they are together. I think it's a perfectly human reaction to worry that you'll lose the thing you want the most, especially if you've waited a long time to get it. And I know you don't like Snape (:P) but I think you're right to continue to include some references to him. With everything that's passed between them all and their suspicions about his ties to the Death Eaters, his name is bound to come up from time to time.
I'll admit, I kind of thought the thing he was anxious to tell his friends was his continuing unease after Bella's attack. Since that was an important part of the scene immediately preceding this, I was anticipating that would tie in somehow. Not that I didn't enjoy the revelation of what was really bothering him. Of course, we know Alrek's part in all this, but I still hadn't really put together that THEY hadn't put together all the pieces with what was and wasn't said in the letter. James is so clever, isn't he?
For some reason, I really enjoy watching Sirius fly off the deep end. I find it... oddly gratifying. He's got a good heart, but he really is the loose cannon in the group. I'm not one for promoting violence, but it's not hard to want to see Sirius wipe that self-satisfied smirk off his brother's face. And can I just say, I loved the line: "This isn't the way we're going to handle it," James whispered. So cool. So collected and commanding. What a great moment for James.
You asked about the buildup and cause, and honestly, I'm a little torn. The resulting fallout with Belle was totally understandable. Of course, it would be nice if she was willing to be a bit more mature about it and understand this wasn't really about her, but her reaction and the offense she takes here seems very in character. And I do get where Sirius is coming from. He's got a lot of anger, not only over the attack but in his life too, and he's looking for an easy target to focus his rage. I think your line He'd wanted so badly for it to be Regulus, to make someone pay for what had almost happened really says it all. He wants both someone to blame AND a reason to lash out at Regulus.
That said, he literally doesn't even give anyone else a second thought. I can totally buy him reacting on very flimsy, circumstantial evidence -- not waiting around for solid proof. But I feel like he has no proof at all... are there no other students with the DM, or anyone else known to be talking to Bellatrix? If that's actually true, making that clear or even having Sirius trying to convince the others my bringing up these facts might build that sense of "cause" you mentioned. Again, I REALLY liked the scene a lot and I totally agree Sirius doesn't need a lot to nudge him in this direction, but since you asked about it, I do think there is room to give his leap to judgment a bit more oomph.
Okay, perhaps not such a short review after all! Sorry again for the wait!! Just a few typos below...
-- "Get out here, now he ordered Regulus, his fingers aching to clench into fists and give the boy what he deserved for ever getting involved in this life (now," he ordered)
-- Did he think the threat of getting in trouble was was worth walking away, despite the fact that he’d almost lost his... (double "was")
-- Her tone had changed just enough that it was clear she was daring them to say anything negative about the future Death Eater. (not really a type, but saying "future Death Eater" sounds a bit like a omnipotent narrator aside. Maybe "wannabe DE" or "negative about the boy Sirius had no doubt was on his way to becoming a DE.")
Author's Response: Hiii Becky! I hope you've broken through your writers block! I got so angry at this story Friday when I was trying to plan a few things, that I think it was the closest I've ever came to wanting to say heck to it all and never touching it again. I probably sound a tad dramatic, huh? Hahah but really, I was mad. I feel better about it now, so I hope you feel the same about Undertow and are ready to shower lovely chapters on me!!
Yes, those are exactly the reasons the train made the most sense to me. I'm sure James was eager to tell his friends, so why he'd pass this up I wouldn't know. And, like you said, having Regulus in such a close proximity made it a really easy choice.
I totally see what you say with bamming Sirius into his perspective. I thought something felt off but couldn't really place it, and that's absolutely it. Thank you so much for pointing this out. I'll edited it to give a smoother transition as soon as I finish this reply!
I agree about him being bound to come up. Severus, that is. And am happy that it seems right in here and my dislike of him doesn't bleed over too much. And at this point in his life, he's a lot easier for me to like than adult Severus. There's a part in the next chapter about him that Lily says, and I think you'll really like that, hehe.
I've been so excited to have James put together the fact that Bellatrix knew too much. Originally it was planned to be a chapter ahead of this and occur at Christmas. When James started saying something to Lily then cut himself off, that's what it was going to be. But then it felt like he'd want to keep that day happy, and I didn't want to write him telling her than retelling the group. Sometimes having eight characters is a pain in the butt. Haha.
I'm so with you on enjoying Sirius flying off the handle. As much as I love him, I think it's important to show there is a man who's capable of murder in there. Did he actually murder Peter? No. Are any of us convinced he wouldn't have? I don't think so.
I like the idea of giving Sirius's anger a bit more oomph. You're full of fun words today, missy. He's the only one the group knows of that's been marked, but that's addressed a bit next chapter. I think maybe having Sirius start explaining why it has to be Regulus, but more talking to himself and already too set on his own theory to listen might be what I need to do here. Okay, now I'm basically talking to myself through this response. haha. Sorry :P.
Thank you so much for another absolutely amazing review ♥ I'm headed over to rerequest!