New Jami story in the house! Yay!
There's something about the fact that we're jumping headfirst into this new adventure that admittedly feels a bit odd. I'm not over Belle's death yet. Not by a long shot. But the feelings are still so close to the surface that it was easy to reconnect and feel as though the continuity was never lost. It seems that poor Lily feels the same way, and it makes me want to hug her that much more. I love that she's pretty much decided to kick propriety to the curb and do what she needs to do in order to feel safe and soothed. She's taking care of herself, and in doing so I think she's going a long way toward taking care of the others, as well. As always, the strength and the depth of the friendship you've created between your characters is as heart-warming as it is amazing.
I really liked the way that you wrote Lily's awakening as well as the way that James's presence helps her to realize that everything is alright. That was clever. It sounds as though you've been there before. And then there was this: Now here she was again, lying awake in a pitch black room, trying to hold herself together as she imagined the face of her best friend. If she'd only known how little time she had left with Belle... -- I think we can all relate. :(
Another line that really jumped out at me: She and James kept their curtains closed tightly against the world, partly to stop the sun from assaulting them, partly to create a feeling of security that was probably far from real. -- It's awful to realize that almost any feeling of safety in the world these characters inhabit now is an illusion.
I loved Lily's little meditation on moonlight and the stars. It was really neat to have a small moment in this relatively heavy chapter where her mind manages to escape all of the fear and grief and dwell on something pleasant for a while.
Then Sirius comes along, and the mood of the chapter changes again. I can't stop feeling awful and empty for the poor guy. This story has cast a completely different light on the character for me, and that head canon now seeps into my perception in every story I read about him. I thought you did a great job of writing him. There are shades of the old Sirius trying to peek through, but it's still way too soon. The complete lack of concern for his own well-being and the way that he just shuts down as soon as Belle's name came up seemed perfectly natural for this stage of his grieving.
James came and sat beside them, he and Sirius still going on about something, and it brought a rare feeling of lightheartedness to Lily. She wished for a moment that she could slip out of the room and to the flat across the hall, wake up Peter and Remus then send a Patronus to Alice and Frank... they could all be gathered in the living room, joking and teasing the same way they had so many times in the Headsí Quarters. -- Oh, lord, yes. This! How I long for those light-hearted moments from the first book. I'd almost be willing to go back to James and Lily doing the awkward, "should we or shouldn't we?" dance. Almost. ;)
James is such a good friend to Sirius! It added a bit to Lily's character that even as brilliant and perceptive as she is, she can't quite get her head around why Sirius would need to blow off steam in a completely dangerous and destructive sort of way. It's a total guy thing and there was no way on earth that she should have "got it".
On to dear Bella, making her inaugural appearance in the new story. As always, you've captured that madly intense devotion she feels to her master. One kind of wonders how she would have reacted if Molly had only incapacitated her and she lived to see Voldemort fall. What would she have made of it? Most likely she would have simply lost the rest of her mind and just shut down, but there's an outside chance that she would have gone out in a ridiculous blaze of glory. That's neither here not there, though. For the moment, you can tell that she is completely in her element.
I love the way that Snape's emotional control frustrates her! There's a pattern that will persist for many years to come. Such an awesome little touch!
The initiation ceremony, itself, was wickedly intense. The Dark Lord's words were pitch-perfect for such an occasion. He plays his followers like fiddles, telling them exactly what they want and expect to hear. And then he turns Bellatrix loose on Mulciber and Avery. This ain't like joining the Rotary Club...
Awesome start, my dear! I can't wait to kick this story into high gear. Actually, scratch that. I can wait. Because I know how it ends. Whimper...