I wouldn't have skipped this chapter even if you'd paid me! Where to even start...!?
Wow, the opening started with such a bang! That last line of Alrek's was absolutely chilling. Actually, he had so many creepy lines in this, it's hard to know which ones to single out. I really, really liked: No, lovely Lily, you're going to understand what it's like to vant to die before it happens. *shiver*
And everything about the James/Violet interaction was spot on. I'm so glad you continued with that unwitting idiot vibe for her, at least in regards to what she's gotten herself into here. In contrast to what's really going on, it puts her shallow games in such context. She isn't a horrible person. She's a self-absorbed, hormonal teenager who has no frame of reference for the bigger stakes of what's going on around her. She walks away looking far less a villain and much more...pathetic. A really great exploration on your part of all those people (ie., most of the world's population) that fall somewhere between good and evil.
All that said, I'm still with James. If she'd been a bloke, I'd have wanted to knock her silly too!
The attack itself was terrible and horrific, but in all the right ways. It was hard to read in that you didn't hold back, but also gripping at the same time. You know she has to come out of it alive, but you really do make us wonder just how close to death she's going to get. And I think you hit a great balance of her wanting to live versus just wanting it all to be over. I liked how at the end, she stopped thinking and just started doing. I think that can happen in life or death situations. An instinct to survive kicks in, and here, it seemed to be just enough to fight him off.
I know it's almost a side note in the grand scheme of the chapter, but the ending? Wow! I loved it. Nothing anyone could do deserved the kind of punishment Bellatrix was capable of giving. Terrifyingly true. You hate Alrek and what he did, but unleashing Bellatrix on him... And Alrek and Karkaroff are related?! Was I supposed to know that? If I was, I totally forgot. If not, I loved that added twist. The ONLY suggestion I could make on this section is that this might have been another "cut for space" area. You could've ended on Voldemort's revelation that Karkaroff had to finish Alrek off. Nothing wrong with this ending, but the reader has no illusions about Alrek's fate. The rest could have been left to the imagination. Just trying to help you spot these "opportunities" for the next story.
Two other quick bits of CC -- which makes it seem like I'm picking on this chapter, which really was, IMHO, one of your best so far. I thought you jumped into the "terror" a little fast. A few lines in and Lily is already completely horrified. She's not wrong to be. Alrek was on their list of suspects, so I know Lily would have figured out pretty quickly this was a bad situation. But in that moment, I think there is something to be said for being so surprised, you can't put the obvious pieces together. And from a writing standpoint, it also allows you to up the stakes as the scene progresses. If she's already overcome with horror when he summons her wand, it doesn't leave her much place to go when he actually has his hands around her neck.
Last, be careful with passive voice. Well, I'm not sure it's exactly passive voice, but I think that's the closest grammatical-y term :P Example: Silence followed, the music of the flames as they crackled and devoured the logs being the only thing to fracture the quiet air. "Being the only thing" is a bit of an odd phrase. Something like: Silence followed, the quiet air fractured only by the music of the flames as they crackled and devoured the logs... it's easier on the eyes and brain. I've noticed you tend to slip into that sort of phrasing on occasion when the words 'being' and 'becoming' are involved. Not a major issue or anything, just something to keep an eye out for.
I'll say it again: Wow! This was just a wow chapter up and down. You really nailed the climax here. And I know what's still to come, but I love the way you've left this feeling like the danger has momentarily been subdued...
Just typos. Amazing job, my dear. Really, really well done.
-- "...And why are you wearing..." his eyes traveled over her... (wearing..." he began, his eyes.../ wearing..." His eyes...)
-- ...before she could duck out of the way he made contact with her cheek, his knuckles assaulting the fragile bone (way, he made)
-- Oh God (Oh, God)
-- ... she rushed to the fireplace and slid the long, metal poker from it's holder (its)
-- She broke into a sob, pulling her wand out a muttering a spell James hadn't heard of (wand out and muttering a spell James had never heard of/James had never heard before)
-- "Sorry," he shouted, his skin ... (should probably be an ! and not a , if he shouted it)
-- With one loud bang the remaining wood disintegrated into ashes... (bang, the)
-- But she couldn't couldn't risk the air, couldn't risk the pain (remove double word or add a comma or dash)
-- Her mind escaped from it's moment of lapsed control and she felt like she was somewhere else... (its)
-- It was like someone covered her with a cloud, gentle and soft as it lifted her body up
(love this imagery, but should probably be: It was like someone was covering her with/like someone had covered her with)
-- Professor McGonagall's voice became lower, hushed so that Lily had to stain her ears to hear the rest (strain)
-- "And what's going to happen to him," James asked... (question mark, not a comma)
-- But this evening there has been an occurrence in which I find a necessary time to gather us all together (awkward wording; consider rephrasing)
Author's Response: Becky!!! I'm on a review response spree before I go to the grocery store. Ah, the things i do to avoid that place.
I thought that line was a good way to start us off on a creepy note, so I'm really excited it gave you a bit of the shivers!
I love what you said about Violet and agree to it completely. She isn't bad. She's just so self centered that she doesn't understand not everything caters to what she wants. It goes to that old saying, if it looks too good to be true it probably is. She thought the set up was perfect with Alrek, not even letting herself consider what could be behind it. At least, that's what I wanted it to come off as!
hahaha she should be happy that the fact she still has her teeth is because she was born a girl :P. Or that it was James there and not Belle. If Belle was there, Violet would have been in bad shape.
Not holding back was definitely helped by Dan. I would send him a scene and he would tell me nope, turn it up. I would turn it up then again, nope... more. He really pushed me to go far with this, and the result ended up a lot better for it, I think. It wasn't supposed to be a little scary bit, but a full out attack that she honestly thought she might die in.
I'm SO happy you liked the balance between her wanting to fight and her wanting it to be over. It was tempting to have her just strong all the way through, but it didn't feel realistic. How could, if in that situation, someone not just want it to be over a tiny tiny bit? I was worried it would make her come across as too weak, so it's a huge relief that you think it felt right as well.
Hahaha no you weren't supposed to know they were related! That was my own little twist. I'm excited you liked it! I was going to have one of his parents involved when I first started planning all this out, but having him just be related to Karkaroff enough that they were blood, but not enough that anyone would know, was more fun.
Ohhh that would have been a good place to shorten it! Okay, I need to get better at spotting these for book two! No more 250,000 stories, haha!
No, it doesn't feel like you're picking on this chapter at all! It feels like you're trying to help me clean up my stye and writing, and that's exactly what I want. Oh my gosh. I'm so frustarted right now, because with your comparisons to the passive (or close to it) voice, and not passive, it's so easy to see the difference. But not I'm frustrated thinking that I won't be able to spot it while I'm writing. I'm going to make that a new goal, because the second version of that sentence is much clearer.
I'm so excited you liked this chapter Becky, and thank you so much for the suggestions! I added in the typos, but I want to work on changing the start a bit to build up intensity when my brain isn't so mushy.
Thank you so much for another amazing, detailed, and helpful review ♥