Have I been putting off writing this? Yeah, I've definitely been putting this off. It feels so strange to know that this story is over. Finished. Complete. It isn't as hard to deal with as it would have been if I didn't know there was a sequel around the corner, but it still leaves me feeling nostalgic. The good times are mostly over now. There will be some happy moments, like James and Lily getting married and Harry's birth, but the bad will likely outweigh the good. Childhood is truly over for our poor Marauders.
I loved the setting you created for Belle's grave. It was very fitting, I thought, for her to be put to rest in a beautiful place where the turbulent sea lies beneath her.
She did something that surprised even her; she reached forward and threw her arms around the elder man's neck. He accepted the hug without hesitance, and when they parted it seemed as if some of the happiness had returned to his gentle eyes. -- For some reason, this was the sweetest thing. Nobody ever really lays a hug on Dumbledore anywhere in the books. It seems perfect that Lily would be the one to do it.
"Professor," Alice said, her voice croaking. "Have you... have you ever lost someone?"
An unmistakable sadness washed over the wrinkled face. "I have lost too many someones in my time, Miss Christopherson. And the urge to let the grief simply pull me under has threatened to seduce me into its false promises of comfort. There is no replacement for feelings, no ability to forget those feelings or lessen them. We must experience each excruciating stab that death creates, and overcome it. That is, if we truly wish to remain as whole as possible." -- That was probably the most "Dumbledore thing" you've ever written. It was beautiful and perfectly in character.
The conversation that Lily has with the others and with herself about why she's turning down the Healer academy and choosing the join the Order instead was an important connection to make. It did seem like Lily could have done both, so it was good to really go through her thought process and explore why that wasn't an option for her.
I started to feel badly for Belle's sister until I remembered the letter she shared with Sirius. Then I couldn't feel bad, no matter what. Still, there was a whole lot of awkward in that scene. All of the emotions were so raw, even from Belle's normally polished, refined sister. I liked the fact that nobody held back or tried to sugar-coat anything. You did that scene perfect justice.
Maybe Belle's sister was right. Maybe, if she had it all to do over again, Belle would have chosen the short life she'd spent among friends over slowly suffocating to death in the Leclair Estate. -- I don't think there's much of a question there.
Sirius's thoughts during the graduation ceremony were perfect. He probably suffered the most from losing Belle, but the loss was certainly a shared one. And Belle certainly would have liked the attention, even if the circumstances were something that nobody wanted. And lastly, I can't let this line go:
But no matter how long he lived, he would never get over Belle. -- I think that's something we can all agree on. :'(
And then we come to the very end. One of the most interesting things about the final scene is trying to sort through all of the various layers of interactions and decide who I think is reassuring who. James has so many different, sometimes conflicting thoughts about what it means to be safe and secure and what the danger really is. He wants all of them to be safe and happy, and as dangerous as it's certainly going to be to oppose Voldemort, he's well aware that defeating the Dark Lord and his followers is the only true path to safety in the long run. I liked the way that he took his friends in turn, considering where their true motivations lay.
Poor Lily seems like she's speaking to herself as much as the others when we says that "it'll be okay." Because is isn't okay, and it isn't ever going to be. That's the saddest thing to realize.
McGonagall and Dumbledore feel so heavy hearted, yet so resigned to the necessity of what's about to happen. It was a perfectly somber end to a story that wrapped up on such a dark and emotional note.
OK, review over. I had to reserve some space here to say a few things. More than anything, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this amazing journey you've taken. I remember discovering your story and I'm still proud to have been one of the first to review it and fall in love with it. Since then, you've built a tremendous following and you deserve every bit of the praise that people have heaped upon this story. Before They Fall has reshaped so much of what so many people think and feel about James and Lily and their friends. It's added depth and life to the characters and given us an amazingly realistic, detailed picture of the events and relationships that shaped these incredible witches and wizards that we got to know in a very limited way by reading the books. I've cheered for the characters and pitied them, relished their accomplishments and mourned the loss of one of their own. Through it all, I hope that I've been able to contribute a bit. The experience has been incredible and the friendship we've forged along the way means the world to me. You're an amazing author and a wonderful person.
Before They Fall has been an incredible ride and I'll always be proud to have been associated with it.
Author's Response: Alright, fine. I'm going to reply to this. But I'm not going to be happy about it. I can't believe this is the very last review on BTF from you that I'll ever get to reply to. *sniffs*
Childhood really is over for them now, and unlike most of us who take the next step with all this excitement, they're taking it knowing its into a much darker place than they thought they'd be part of. Ugh, our poor babies. But you're right, there are still happy moments to look forward to. And the fact that everyone seems so invincible while they're young will hopefully play in favor to keep some happiness going through the story.
I though about when I was writing that. Poor Dumbledore, the twinkly old fool with all his faults, goes through so much. He just needs a little hug, haha. I'm so happy with how Belle's grave scene turned out. It was nice to get a bit of closure, too. I needed that, haha.
'rest in a beautiful place where the turbulent sea lies beneath her.' Yes, exactly! Okay, I'm quoting your review, hahaha.
I think that's the only bit of Dumbledore that I've written and ever been like, wow! hahahah. I feel like it's one of those things that happened once and will probably never happen again :P!
I wanted to find a good balance on Belle's sister between grief and acceptance. I don't think she understand to be sad the way everyone else does, with how she was raised. Sort of like Petunia, and how she tried to pretend her sister was already gone, but then having her *actually* gone was a lot different. I do think Adeline will do whatever she can to honor Belle's memory by helping her friends, though.
I love what you said about Belle certainly would have liked getting the attention. Agreed, haha! Sirius section was so sad to write. I just wanted to give him something to be happy about, but how can he? :( Just another notch on the terrible stuff he has to go through.
Your comment about 'it's never going to be okay.' Here, here's the rest of my heart, do you want to take a good stomp on that, too? haha! Ugh, why did I have to chose such a sad time, Dan? Why can't I go AU and give them all happily ever afters? I'm really happy you liked James for the ending. He felt like the clearest glance into it all, and the best person to see them step into their futures from. Really, this has been just as much his story as Lily's.
Oh Dan. I don't even know what to say to that last paragraph. You know how much I've relied on you during this, to talk to me when I'm in crazy Jami land and convince with every chapter I send saying, 'it's terrible,' that it's not actually so terrible, haha. I can't say that I'd have gotten even close to this far, probably not even half this far, without having you to listen to my whining, edit through my 8,000 words of typo filled 'must get chapter done' gibberish, and being an awesome friend through all that. I'll never forget how excited I was to get my first review from you, and how relieved I was when you offered to step in after Izzy, and gah.
THANK YOU SO MUCH for everything. The compliments mean so much coming from you. And now, we better rest up, because in 8 days we have a whole new books to start, m'dear ;)!