OH MY GOD this is the end. Ooh, time-skip. Ooh, James and Freddie. Ooh - WEDDING? OH MY GOD WEDDING. WHOSE.
It's so vague. I swear I could give a thoroughly coherent assessment of this setup, and the people, and how adorable that it's another Weasley wedding in a marquee out in the back garden of the Burrow and that's very sweet but WHICH ONE OF THEM IS GETTING MARRIED.
...I wonder what sort of qualification/cultural role 'old wizards who conduct weddings' have in magical society. I mean, obviously it's not religious; is it just a Job People Go Into or is there some sort of tradition of a community elder or the like? Wait. Now is not the tme for this kind of rumination.
Okay, Carla's shown up - too soon, yes, no - RIGHT! Not the bride. Yeah, you would mess with us at the last minute, wouldn't you? You're cruel.
YAY BRIGID AND FREDDIE ARE GETTING MARRIED.
I'm sorry, you wanted this to be a coherent review? You have picked the wrong circumstances in which to set your epilogue if that's the case, bucko. Oh, of course it begins with a wedding and ends in a wedding; I was too distracted by my sheer, uncertain squeeing terror to be able to analyse that properly. But a nice case of beginnings, a nice opportunity to nod at how much James has changed over the course of the story. D'aww, and Carla noticed how happy it made him, and that it made him so happy for his friends makes ME happy.
But he's not changed that much, because marriage is still pitting him into blind terror. That's my boy! Nooo not Cordelia. She had so much to live for! The final tragedy to remind us of the frailty of life amidst all this happiness and new beginnings!
Derailed Derailed Derailed. *hops up and down*
Okay. Right. Phew. Post-story analysis and overview and stuff. FIRST, your James is a sweetheart, and the James Potter to end all James Potters for me. I've adored him and adored following his story. I think what I've enjoyed the most is that you set him up as the typical arrogant playboy, learning the error of his ways and growing up, but most of all he was ALREADY a lot older and more mature than the first glimpse implied. The story wasn't just about seeing him change, it was also about peeling back the layers.
The James Potter we thought we knew was neither the James Potter he became NOR the James Potter he was in the first place. A play-boy, but with reasons for his apprehension - and nevertheless a devoutly loyal friend, the furthest thing from selfish. A Quidditch player star keen to succeed, but who hated the fame - and on the pitch was where he was his most sensible, level-headed, and mature. And these presented both beautiful contrasts in him but also the beautiful conflicts for him to resolve.
That, and the side characters. Carlotta's a darling, though for me my adoration does fall all the more on Brigid, Lily, and Maddie. Two original characters who just dominated every scene they were in - one with raucous hilarity, the other just by being such a solid friend and solid character as to stand out. And Lily - the best, most original take on Lily, and yet one which somehow fits so perfectly. Honourable mention in the end to your Audrey, too. The coolest aunt.
Three moments stand out for me in the story. The Lily twist, the one which was set up all along and so OBVIOUS when it came out, but which I never saw coming. The first proper conversation with Harry, which I had been so keen for, to finally discover what James' daddy issues were - and I remember you put it when he was at its lowest, where something I'd been hankering for just made me SAD, because it hurt him so much! And, of course, the Carlotta revelation, the one we knew was coming in some way, shape, or form, and yet anticipating it didn't make it any less satisfying, any less heartbreaking.
I got into your writing (aside from returning the favour on the reviews) because I was ALL ABOUT the war-time angst of Frozen, and mostly checked out Rails Because It Was There. But there are reasons I can get snobby about Next Gen dramas; they need to feel like logical continuations of characters and the magical world, not just high school hijinks with Next Gen names slapped on, and this does everything a genuine continuation of the Potter world should do.
I'm hyper-excited for Derailed, but if nothing else this is a superbly well-rounded and finished story, and if they rode off into the sunset at this point, I would have no regrets.
Good story, bro.
Author's Response: ...I don't even know how I'm supposed to respond to this review. It's like having two reviews in one - the wonderful incoherent mess and then the good wording bit. It makes me oh so happy.
THE WEDDING SWITCH. Oh, there was much evil cackling as I wrote this. OF COURSE James and Carlotta aren't getting married. And yes, we both start and end with a wedding because I am clearly Very Good at doing symbolism things. I think it's a nice way to see how James has changed over the course of the fic though, bless him.
Yes, Cordelia's fate is evidently a reminder of the frailty of life. Or just demonstrating that James still isn't quite capable of looking after a pygmy puff. But he's getting there. :)
James. Oh, James. I always knew he was going to be a deeper person than who we thought we knew at the beginning, but he honestly surpassed my expectations in every way. Initial plans for Rails were different to how things turned out - because Carlotta was meant to have a bigger part to play, she was meant to be the person who grounded him. But in the end I had to change it, because James saved himself. And I'm glad that happened because I think it makes for a far better story than "girl saves guy". He's been so lovely to write, and I know I'm going to miss being in his head for Derailed.
I do hope Carlotta wins even more of your adoration come Derailed, but even so I can see why Brigid, Lily and Maddie get the love. The Lily twist was so satisfying to write, and it gives the opportunity for all manner of wizarding/Muggle contrasts which I never get sick of exploring. Much more of THAT to come in Derailed.
Oh, that Harry moment. It absolutely broke me, having to post that chapter, when I knew you were so keen for the Daddy issues but the conversation that came wasn't quite the one you were hoping for... that was James' lowest point by far, and it was nice to be able to write the HAPPY father/son conversation a few chapters' later.
Derailed WILL happen. I won't be able to live with myself if I don't get that plot written. Trust me, I'm as excited as you are for this.
I was so surprised when I saw your first Rails reviews. I saw your username and thought "ooh, she's come for Frozen" - and then I looked again and got VERY excited. It's been so lovely to have your reviews and support while I've been writing, because I know your thoughts on Next Gens and it's very satisfying to know this is a fic you've genuinely been able to enjoy. And the reviews have all been so helpful, especially when I've had worries about a particular chapter. THANK YOU.
Good review bro.