Hi, Jami! Long time, no see. I really hope we can get our groove back soon.
I think my favorite thing about Lily's section was how you developed the theme of "lost innocence" without letting it completely dominate the scene. From her choice of seating to the way she makes sure that the others know where she is to the relentless focus on personal safety, you gradually layer on the supporting information in the context of showing us the life she's started to settle into since Belle's death. Even as every member of the group is taking precautions to keep themselves and their friends safe, their lives are moving on. They're all living crazy sorts of double lives, in many senses of the term. I thought this line summed it up rather succinctly:
But she wouldn't stop living. Not when she still had a beating heart. -- Gulp. Too bad that won't actually be for all that much longer. :(
I also love the idea of her volunteering at St. Mungo's. Aside from the fact that it's perfectly consistent with her personality, I think there are lots of really interesting places you can go with that situation. She'll definitely be in a position to obtain medical supplies for the Order, as well as possibly overhear a thing or two.
You really had me chuckling out loud with the image of Sirius stabbing an oil filter with a screwdriver to try to break it loose. I, um, might have seen that trick attempted before. I've definitely seen James's trick with the belt, although it doesn't work nearly as well after some fool pokes a hole in the filter and lets oil leak all over the place. ;)
I thought you built up to James's outburst really well. You start him off in this mindset where he seems to feel guilty about not feeling enough grief. It's a different sort of twist on survivor's guilt, and one that would have come pretty natural to a leader like James. He always seems to internalize whatever is happening to the group, and watching the others all struggle with their grief and pain must have been awful for him in a completely different way. Especially Sirius. In a way, he's lost a very important part of his best friend along with losing a friend.
And what is this? James is even a bit happy with the way that Lily is rubbing off on him? I like the way he assessed the bargain in his head and decides that it's worth it.
The nickname they gave the other girl at Hogwarts was just perfect. It's really nice to have moments like that where you take us back to a more fun and innocent time!
Ah, another moment of powerful unrequited sexual tension between Lily and James! This story has so many layers going on, sometimes I feel like I need a scorecard to keep track of all of the subplots. Their relationship is still a work in progress, no matter how wonderful everything seems. I got this feeling of hunger from James while I was reading. There's no other way to describe it. He's hungry to keep moving their relationship forward even though Belle's death obviously makes it feel like this isn't the time. For these two, I'm afraid, it will probably never seem like the right time. So I'm really hoping that they just go for it anyway! To that end, I love the way that she finally puts the rooming arrangements to rest. Go, Lily!
Then comes the moment you'd been building toward for the entire chapter. James finally gives Sirius the what-for that he's really been needing to hear, I think. You did it in a really good way. I don't feel like either one of them surrendered their Man Card unconditionally. There was alcohol involved, and violence, although the violence was directed toward the alcohol, so kudos for thinking outside of the box. ;) James even feels appropriately guilty for doing what needed to be done, which I thought was a great little touch. And it didn't end with some huge, overdone, "I LOVE YOU MAN!" moment between the two of them. Sirius admits how much losing Belle still hurts in a way that's quintessentially him. Then James keeps it low-key in response, just a simple, "look, dude, pull it together." Sublime!
I can't really say much else about this chapter. Once again, you flex your amazing command over these characters and produce a winner!