Hiya! Wow, I'm so sad you didn't get this up on time, because this story was BEAUTIFUL!
I used to be really into reading James/Lily but these days I've kind of drifted away from it for some reason, and the only time I really read it is when it pops up in things like review tag. It's always lovely to see it pop up on my screen for something, though. And here you've managed to capture a real and true beauty in their relationship that is often missed out on.
You've really shown here that for James, this isn't about the 'chase'. He is truly captivated by Lily, feels like he doesn't measure up to her light. But what says the most is the way that doesn't seem to bother him - he's content to watch the lights in Lily's eyes, rather than searching out his own. That gives his love a beautiful kind of quietness to it, that he seems to be putting himself in the background, just a little, so he can watch her shine.
I also happen to be a little obsessed with 'Aurora Borealis' - I've never personally seen it but I've read about it a lot and my dream is to go on holiday somewhere north and see it. My grandad lives at the top of Scotland and claims he has seen the northern lights from his house! So adding in this incredibly famed sight also gave a kind of majesty to this story, a uniqueness.
Some of my favourite lines were:
She looked up in wonder as though she could see the sound waves weaving ice-touched knots around them. He followed her gaze, seeing nothing. Only the air, the night sky littered with stars, flakes of snow floating down from mountain peaks, craggy rocks on which the snow collected, all things, but not the magic of the place.
^such beautiful imagery, and I love how James realises he doesn't see magic in the same way Lily does, because he's had it all his life so it doesn't really seem so 'magic' to him.
She was the dawn to which he opened his eyes and the star of his dreams each night. To see her pass by, to find her eyes upon him, to listen to her speak and smile and be was a balm, a sweetness that sent the shadows away.
^You really show just how truly James loves her with this beautiful imagery.
James had no interest in consuming, in possessing. He wanted only to bask for a while and, if he was fortunate, make her brighter still.
^This really stands out to me, because the issue I can take with some James/Lily fics is that they focus on the fact that James has chased Lily for so long and when they get together it's like he's 'won' her. Here you totally remove her from her status as a possession, inasmuch as rather than chasing her, James is kind of following her, just happy to be taken along on the ride that is Lily.
But there would be years and years for that and more. For living and being and laughing. And for all the colours of life to reflect in her eyes
^This last line was heartbreaking to me because James might have thought that, but truly, they would only get about four more years of life after this. At least they got to spend it together.
Overall I really did love this, and I think it fit perfectly with the quote. That's one of my favourite Sylvia Plath quotes, and you really did it justice! I may have to go and stare at some pics of the northern lights now...
Author's Response: I started to respond to this, then hit the backspace at the wrong time, and lost it all! So I'll try again, but it won't be as long as it should be. This review is fantastic, and I thank you very much for taking the time to read and review this story even though it didn't make the challenge deadline. It was almost done on time, but the ending didn't fit - it took a few extra days to flesh out the present version of the conclusion, and I'm glad that I waited. It's happy, yet bittersweet. The sadness of it comes only from the reader's knowledge, not from the story itself. That kind of dramatic irony is one reason why I love writing fanfiction, especially Potterverse fanfiction because one can assume so much about what readers know about these characters and this world. To anyone who didn't know about Lily and James, this would be a happy ending, but to anyone reading it as fanfiction, it will always contain that tragic note, that painful twist.
It was the style of the story that was challenging in the end - much of it had to do with the influence of Plath. That second quote you provided hit the right spot of my muse - Plath's words are beautiful images presented in minimalist phrases, and I wanted to include a semblance of that rhythm in this story. The poem from which the quote came didn't fit my idea, but I still enjoyed reading it. I keep meaning to read more of Plath's poetry, and I was glad for the opportunity. :D Thank you for posting the challenge - the results from all the entries were fantastic!
The James/Lily ship is one that I've been strange about, somewhat here and there over the years. A lot of the fanfics sounded the same - they featured what you mentioned regarding James first chasing, then "winning" Lily, and that wasn't satisfying. The aspect of their relationship that always stood out most to me was that they fought Voldemort together, defying him three times even before he came after them in the end. Voldemort wanted to recruit both of them as Death Eaters, which only further demonstrates that they were special, that they had a lot more between them than a relationship based on an adolescent love-hate romance. They were partners; they shared some sort of deep-rooted connection, and I wish the books had shown more of it so one wouldn't have to guess so much!
It's more interesting to write about James and Lily being fascinated by each other. In this story, James is closer to the narration, so we don't see Lily's perspective except by what she says. While he sees the light coming from her, she sees him in the light - both are complementary, and I'd argue that they're equally so. They both see each other as light, as something to bask in and admire/love/worship (all three apply in their own way). But I liked being able to explore James's side in greater detail because he is the more problematic character, not particularly well-depicted in the books and part of one of the most cliched types of stories in fanfiction. So I tried to address some of those issues here, particularly the idea that he pursues Lily and wins her so that she becomes "his" Lily. They end this story as equals, as ready to face the world together.
Thank you again for reading and reviewing this story! It means a lot that you enjoyed it so much!