Hi, Jami! Such a mixed bag, this chapter. Awesome, but you did so many mean things to my Lily! Where did you get the idea to do such awful stuff? :p
Alrek was amazingly sinister in this chapter. Up to this point, he's always either been undercover or overshadowed by another character like Bellatrix, so it was neat to see him finally have a scene where he was the undisputed boss bad guy. He's also apparently mostly cracked. It isn't enough for him to just inflict an agonizing death on Lily, he wants her to be terrified. He wants her to see the end coming and beg for it. He's like a little mini-Bellatrix in this chapter, only without the highly purified sense of purpose. Or the results, for that matter.
I'll admit it: I spent pretty much the entire chapter being disappointed that James didn't turn Vile into a toad. Because she deserved it. Oh, how she deserved it!
"I don't even understand what you see in her!" Violet shouted, letting go of her quill, causing it to tumble to the ground. "She's a know-it-all. She never does anything fun, and she's as flat as a bloody-" This. This right here. Perfect Vile. She's catty and shallow and clueless.
I love Lily's spirit in this chapter. There were so many times where it would have been completely understandable if she'd just given up. She's taking so much abuse and she's under so much mental duress. There's absolutely no doubt that he means to kill her. None. But no matter what, she keeps fighting. She's so determined to make it out alive. That's my girl!
He wanted to make it slow. Drawn out. That knowledge brought Lily a small sense of relief. -- Not many people would react this way, and it shows Lily's mindset here. Avoiding pain isn't her primary concern. Surivial is. And she's as worried about James as she is about herself. Even facing her own death, she wants to know whether Alrek's done something to him.
You did an awesome job of writing Lily when her brain slips into all-out survival mode. The way that she uses everything at her disposal to fight him off, throwing elbows and kicking and scratching... that was perfect for the circumstances. She puts pride and propriety aside and does whatever she has to in order to live.
James balled his fists, wishing more than anything Violet was a goddamn bloke so he could sock her. -- I think I speak for the vast majority of your readers when I say that we wouldn't have thought any less of him if he'd set chivalry aside for a moment and rearranged her face. That said, you did a good job in this scene of keeping James true to his character. There are certain lines that he simply won't cross, no matter how upset he is. And oh, is he upset. There were a few instances where he took little pauses, especially the one right before he starts blasting away at the door, that seemed a little odd at first blush. But then it dawned on me how hard he was working just to hold himself together. I think a lot of things became crystal clear for him in that little classroom.
The scene in Lily's room was just brutal. I loved the way that you pushed the limits with this scene. As much as Dumbledore and McGonagall have tried to shield their students from the terrible reality, the fact is that they're in the middle of a war. A war being fought against terrible people whose fanaticism doesn't even allow them to accept the existence of someone like Lily and whose methods are nothing short of barbaric. Some of that reality had to make it into this story eventually, and you handled it beautifully. You let Alrek be the animal that he truly is, but you didn't glorify anything he was doing. Your descriptions were tight, functional and spartan. The focus was on Lily and her ability to fight back and survive. The glory was all hers. I know you were really worried about this scene, but to me it was an incredible moment for Lily. This is a person who has the guts to defy the Dark Lord himself.
No, said a small voice in the back of her mind. No. You can't give up yet or you're as good as letting him kill you. -- Exactly! This line really cemented everything she was fighting for.
The array of dark curses you came up with for Alrek was truly impressive. For a long time, I've been wondering exactly why Voldemort chose him for this assignment, and it's really apparent in this chapter. He's obviously very talented in a terrible sort of way.
"Yeah, well... couldn't do much else when he's already passed out," Sirius mumbled and she heard Dumbledore make some sort of tutting, amused response. -- THANK YOU, SIRIUS! As always, the incomparable Mr. Black delivers.
Everything about the scene when Lily wakes up was warm and happy and wonderful. James's sentiments were heart-melting. It's a shame that it really did take this much to get the two of them to admit what they were feeling for one another, but such is life when you're dealing with very stubborn people who seem a bit clueless about love.
"... I swear, loving you this much is going to kill me someday," he said with a quiet laugh. -- You stop that, Jami! You stop that right now!
Lastly, we come to Alrek's demise. It was oddly less satisfying than I was expecting. Maybe I was hoping that James or Lily would be the one to finish him off. Or maybe I was hoping he'd have some really ironic last words, instead of his pathetic last attempt to avoid death. Whatever the reason, his death mostly served as another ghastly lesson for Regulus and Snape. When you associate with animals, it's jungle law. You did a great job with Voldemort's dialog. He sounded perfectly in character. I liked the introduction of Snape into the inner circle. And I really like the way that you're very gradually sowing disenchantment into Regulus.
Once again, I'm out of characters. This chapter had been building for a long time, and I thought it was a huge step for the intensity of the story. The stuff just got real. Great job!
Author's Response: Poor Lily just wasn't going to get off easy in this chapter, was she? :(
In my head I think he's a combination of Bellatrix and Rodolphus. He's brutal and doesn't think things through, but he also has that same need to revenge that our little Bella does. I'm a tiny bit sad we're done with hi, actually... haha.
I know I know, you poor thing :P. Vile is staying a human. for now :P. I'm so happy you picked that line out. It felt like something just meant to be in Mean Girls, haha. Catty things, we are.
I really wanted to mix up her need to survive with the fact that she was absolutely exhausted. I mean she went through too much to just keep it up at full force, but like you said she's still determined to make it out alive. Even if she forgets that a few times. I sort of just want to huggle her... haha
Hahaha I was surprised when you didn't pose a formal request for me to change James's moral code in this and give Violet one good pop :P. But like you said, he has lines he won't cross and that's one of them. I'm so happy that after the initial 'huh' those little times of pause made more sense. I can't imagine who felt more helpless. James being trapped and unable to get to her, or Lily with a crazed murder going after her. Maybe I put the group through too much?
I was so worried about it! But I ended up so much happier with the result for really pushing it further, or more specifically having you to push me to push it further :P.
They have to grow up sometime though. my babies ;(. And Lily really faced something huge for with just having herself to rely on. See, don't you want to hug her?! I really am so excited with how this whole chapter came out and can't thank you enough for forcing me to get it here ♥
Hahahah Sirius has your back. I actually struggled so long with where I wanted to go. When did I want Sirius to come in? For a while I decided to have him come in during and restrain Alrek until James gets there. That would have made a damn good scene and insanely satisfying. But in the end I wanted this to be Lily's. Sure, Sirius did end up coming in, but Lily was already ready to live no matter what. She didn't need to be rescued. That was the hardest decision for me in this chapter I think, as as much as I would have loved to watch what James and Sirius could do to Alrek, lily deserved it more.
Yes, exactly. I love what you said about associating with Animals. No one is safe here. Not even the most inside of Voldemort's circle, and Regulus obviously knew that the moment he write the note for the locket.
Ugh Dan I can't even say thank you enough for getting me to push this chapter as far as I could and getting it where it needed. I think everything finally felt right when I added that last wake up Lily scene. We needed that. We could use a million more of those, actually ;).
THANK YOU LOVELY DANIEL.