This is a neat way to have Sarah interrogated about her feelings for James. Lily's POV. Without going into Sarah's mind, so that we can literally read her thoughts, we need someone outside the pack to find out. Those inside the pack already know or know not to ask the question. You need someone outside but close to the pack to ask; and who better than pack-lite herself, Lilly.
Unfortunately it doesn't work as Sarah literally chokes on her reply. Instead of finding out more we have the furthering of another subplot, Lilly's mission to play cupid and reunite Sarah and James.
Rose is going downhill, emotionally, at this stage in the overall story. We see glimpses of it here she's worried about her secret spreading and is nervous about what Lily is up to, unwarranted worry about her concerns. It is as well the aftermath of the scan and it's all becoming a bit to real for her. The pack surrounds and comfort her as her need rises and it serves to calm her somewhat.
For most of this chapter there is not very much to talk about. It is all good character interactions. Its all furthering the plot and our understanding of the players.
What is up with Lilly? One moment she is doing something stupid, putting amorentia into someones drink, and the next she is showing wisdom beyond her years, when she prevents James from telling Sarah of his love at a very inopportune time. I think it is Sarita showing us her immaturity. She is much more of a child than the rest of the major players and it shows here.
What is up with Sarah? She is upset over the supposed poisoning of her boyfriend, naturally. If it's a poisoning she reckons, who would be the most likely culprit, hmm. So she goes after James. One thing I like a lot about the way you write your characters is you let them talk and reason and not take the wrong end of the stick all the time. This is shown, to great effect, here when Sarah goes after James. She jumps to a conclusion (it just happens to be wrong in this instance), pursues it. When she is presented with evidence to the contrary (James obviously truthful denial) she listens, reasons it out and reacts as she should. She doesn't fly off the handle, or storm away in a huff, or not listen to reason. The pack is always communicating with each other. The uncomplicated nature of animals is one way their animal nature shines through. Where you have miscommunication, in this story, is in the characters knowledge of themselves and what everyone else can see/knows/or can tell about them.
What is up with Amy? We have here the weird thing between Danny and Amy alluded to in chapter 2. The fact that she's normal around him says something. The fact that she goes as soon as Rose and especially Sarah arrive says something. It says something but what? Even with some further knowledge from the future (chapter 31) we still don't know what is truly going on between them. Way to play the long game Sarita.
What is up with Becky? Finally one of your background threads has fallen into the main story. Hints of this have been weaving throughout the story but every now and then we need to touch base with what is actually going on. So it is as we suspected, she is falling out of love with Rich. She will give it a bit more of a go, to see if what she's feeling at the moment is just one of the natural ups and downs, but we are all fairly certain the end of the relationship is in the cards.
What is up with Rose? Being the heart of the pack has it's burdens as everyone comes to you and you are needed to help them all.
What's up with Danny? Jealousy.
... and something else. We get a bit of an insight into his character with the way he fights. Kneeing a superior opponent in the groin once in a fight is kosher, but to repeatedly punch another guy in his junk? That's just dirty pool - it's just not done.
Detentions all around, the pack covers for its own and Sarah proves the truth to her words that she would protect James with all she has. It is telling that she comforts James and not her actual boyfriend Danny.
As to your footnote ...
I cannot believe people complained how long the story took to get places. Don't they know the more story there is the more there is to read? Don't they know anything about character development and plot development?
We didn't know Rose was pregnant until quite a few chapters in? Good! It gave us enough time to know the characters, to like them and want the best for them. We got to know Rose before the pregnancy changed her so that we actually could tell the difference.
And also, this is where you hoaxed me. The chapter numbering and the numbers of the chapters are one different, because there was a prologue. So I got to the 29th chapter, all excited for the big reveal, only to find it was actually chapter 28.
Author's Response: I loved using Lily as an interrogator here - she is close enough to the character's hearts to not be threatening, but not close enough to know not to ask, as the pack do.
Rose really is stressed and emotional here. The pack serve to calm her to a point, but there had been a scan - there is no more hiding from the reality any more. The world is edging closer to the truth and she has no idea how long she has to prepare herself.
Lily's maturity (or lack of, as you pointed out) is really displayed here - she has the intelligence to know not to poison people (or spike their drinks, seeing as she didn't actually know it to be poison) yet she shies away from the reality that James and Sarah have broken up. It is naivety as it's best - she wants so badly to fix it, and believes that a potion can magically heal all wounds. Her heart is in the right place though, I wanted that much to be clear.
I love what you said about Sarah's reaction - I wanted to convey the animal spirit - she attacks first and asks questions later. Her communication with James was important too - it needed to be put across that despite their split, they still communicate well and understand each other. You are so right about the reasons for miscommunication - only denial hinders the progress of the pack. Any problem can be dealt with, and situation can be rectified (i.e. James/Sarah's split, Rose/Scorpius' awkward chemistry) - everything has a solution, and the pack can find it every time, given time.
Amy's behaviour is weird here - It is very important to me to point out that Amy didn't actually fight with Sarah here. She didn't have a single word to say. I bet you know why that is, regardless of the information given in Chapter 31.
Becky's interweaving story is fun to play with - very few readers ever comment on her storyline, what with Rose/Scorpius James/Sarah storylines in the forefront. But her story is no less life-changing. These poor teens.
Rose does get her fair share of everyone's burdens, and yet I really think she rather enjoys being the heart of the pack. After all, who better to tug the heartstrings of, than the heart?
Danny's 'typical' jealous guy routine goes above and beyond here. He can only win a fight with James by playing dirty. In a more animalistic way, he feels in sway to James' alpha maleness - attacking the offending article in this case may be very telling of his inner turmoil, jealousy and rebellion. James is not the only man with feelings for Sarah and he wants to break the chain that binds them. Little does he know that James holds an emotional bond over Sarah, not a sexual one.
Concerning my footnote, I really did have a lot of stick regarding the length of the story - but at the end of the day, I could let it wash over me as I think I got everything into this story that I wanted to. I'm glad you feel the same way, and I'm so grateful to you and all the other readers who don't mind a long wait!
I really must remember not to put a prologue in my next fic. I may have a riot on my hands...