It's telling isn't it that it's always Scorpius-centric dreams?
doesn't know what to think.
She starts to get pulled out of her funk by Rose and James. Mostly by James but not due to James' intent but as a reaction against the things he's saying. He is forcing her into defensive mode where she is obliged to defend her current boyfriend.
Yeah, real smooth James; make the girl defensive and now embarrassed, that'l really bring her around. Then you push it even further still and force her over the line into outright anger.
Becky/Rich only get a sentence and not even in each chapter, but it is enough. The decline of their relationship and the burgeoning of Becky + (spoilers) is wonderfully subtle stuff. We don't need the blow-by-blow, a little bit here and there is enough to know she's over it and he's oblivious.
Danny appears and acts like a real 'bloke' bragging about his conquest of the previous night. Good characterisation, even though James is doing the wrong thing, Danny telling the whole group about sex with Sarah makes him far less sympathetic in our eyes (and Rich too for his reaction). These men are not really worthy of whom their with.
We switch to James' POV; good, we need to see a little from his perspective. We couldn't the night before, it would have been too visceral. Now that he's calmed down we need to know his thoughts. We already know his feelings - they are obvious - but we need to find out what conclusions he's drawn, what decision he's taking. Especially when he runs across Sarah again.
Sarah : "You're acting weird."
After James asks "Do you miss me?"
Sarah : "What do you mean, Jay?"
*indrawn breath* oh dear me. These are all bad signs for James but she finishes it off with a corker.
Sarah : "Oh James, you do know how to cheer me up." and "I bet you make Amy really happy."
Poor James, I don't know if he truly gets what just happened to him. He knows that he is worse off than he was the night before.
We suddenly know what Sarah has been thinking. Being with James still means a lot to her but now she's with Danny. By hanging onto the good feelings associated with the past (James) is she somehow being unfaithful to Danny? By being with Danny is she betraying the great times she had with James?
Until James tries it on again. In talking with James she sees nothing underhanded in his behavior. He has her best intentions to heart and is just trying to cheer her up. 'Good on you James' she thinks, 'what a good friend you are to me'. Because to interpret his behavior in any other way could only make him appear to be a massively jealous douche. It is not just the cluelessness that your characters have towards their significant others raising it's head again. No, if she saw what his actions really were, she would be disgusted. This is especially true, and heartrendingly poignant, when you later reveal the reasons why they broke up.
Instead she construes the best possible interpretation of his actions and the result casts James firmly back into the friend zone. She can now happily close the door on the past.
I say again, poor James.
Quiet for a time is Castle Rose,
there is trouble raging in a neighbouring kingdom.
PS. I may have to halt the reviews for a bit as I have to finish crocheting a Dalek, two Doctors and a Tardis in the next two weeks.
Author's Response: Oh no, Rose cannot run away from her subconscious.
Yes, James and Sarah. In pushing her into defensive territory she implies (in James' mind at least) that Danny is better for her than he is... in more ways than one. In James' mind the most significant problem is her ignorance to his feelings and her physical relationship with another man. As an alpha he is undermined as his alpha female has somehow found an Alpha Plus... Danny is somehow higher on the food chain than he is... which confuses him also, and he will not stop beating himself up over the past.
Becky and Rich only have a background commentary, but it is placed with absolute care... I couldn't let it be said that the signs of their ending relationship weren't there... they were!
Danny (and Rich's) reaction to the events of the previous night are very telling. Rose is disgusted, Becky is furious... James even more so.
Yes, the POV of James was important. The feelings were apparent but the thoughts running through his head were not. Sarah's appearance just confuses and upsets him more... but her proximity elates him.
You have hit Sarah's conflict perfectly. I tried to make James' pain obvious and sympathy-evoking but as time goes by we realise the full scale of Sarah's suffering in a side-blow to the head and hopefully realise that they are both victims of each other.
I am glad to see your thoughts written out so beautifully on how Sarah would react to James' true intentions... the truth is that she is hiding his intentions from herself. James hurt her so badly that it is easier for her to think he is trying to cheer her up than allow herself to believe he still loves her. Remembering this piece of information is hugely important to understanding their relationship... and Scorpius/Rose's at times too. As you said, Sarah compartmentalises James' feelings in a little box and ignores them steadfastly. I don't know whether she would be disgusted with James for his jealousy and overprotection... I'd say she'd be eventually happy to realise his feelings (as Scorpius is when HE finally learns the truth.)
You can tell I'm a huge fan of echoing other characters in each other, can't you? :P
Castle Rose watches and waits for calmer times... and her Knight watches her just as constantly.
P.S. No worries, I'm just glad you've not given up reviewing... I LOVE THEM.
Thank you, as ever.