Wow. Things got really, really intense in this one. This Stannous guy doesn't go away, does he? I'm getting really, really curious about how he ties into her past and what his interest in her was or is.
But that's getting ahead of myself. The two of them were so cute, it makes you want to vomit. You know, Selenia and Al aren't the only ones who are acting pretty cute at the start of this chapter. I really enjoyed the secretive sort of approach Rose and Scorpius are taking to their relationship in the beginning. I've seen that play out several times when two people who are part of a larger group of friends start to date. They don't want to make things awkward with the rest of their circle, so they try to keep it on the down low until they feel "sure". At least as sure as you can ever feel about something like that.
"I was referring to my Uncle Ron, of course," James said, not missing a beat. -- Ugh. Yeah, there's that. Alluding to confrontations yet to come, are we? ;)
Ah, they're waiting around for that post-party snog. Definitely the sign of a couple with strong chemistry. If two people can make it through an entire party without annoying one another and they still want to snog when it's over, that's a good sign!
My one suggestion for this chapter would probably be to slow the pace of the first section a little. The thing I like most about the chapter is the contrast between the first section, where Rose is feeling comfortable and secure and excited and just all around happy, and the second section where she ends up terrified and exposed and eventually broken. I feel like you could have enhanced that by spending more time in the first section, focusing on Rose's feelings of safety and comfort and fulfillment.
On to the second section. I really liked the kind of hazy, mysterious, "is this really happening or is this a dream" quality that it had, at least at the start. Before Stannous completely reveals himself, I definitely would have believed that Rose was just having a nightmare. But the scene gets more and more real as the chapter moves forward. Terrifyingly real.
Interesting. Right up to the point where Stannous abducts Rose, he seems like a really good guy. He was obviously an excellent teacher, one that the students liked and I daresay admired. It's curious to imagine that all of this was an act, geared toward the capture and seemingly pointless torture of a single student. There's definitely something deeper going on here. A brilliant mystery!
You did an amazing job of capturing the paralyzing terror that Rose feels in his presence. For a while, she can't move or speak. It almost feels like an autonomic reaction when she finally cries out in panic. But her body sort of takes over for her. I guess it's tired of dealing with the physical abuse.
The things that Stannous seems to know about Rose made me even more suspicious. Either he's going to great lengths to keep tabs on her -- something that would be very difficult for a wanted fugitive -- or he has an inside connection to her life. Very suspicious, indeed...
And here comes the cavalry! That was a brilliant tactic on Dom's part, using her patrons to summon Al and Scorpius. Good on you, Dom!
I felt horrible for Rose at the end. She's so consumed by what just happened that she can no longer tell friend from foe. She's collapsing in on herself again, having another panic attack. At least her friends know now. I think that's where the next phase of the healing begins.
Excellent job with this chapter. Looking forward to the next!
Author's Response: Hey Dan,
Glad this chapter didn't disappoint. I'm going to go back and look at the pacing. I wanted the first part to seem like things were going a bit too well for Rose. It was just too easy for them. Their relationship wasn't completely based on honesty because Rose hasn't yet told Scorpius about her torture - that is bound to get in the way at some point.
It does seem like a lot of work for Stannous to build up trust, just to abduct Rose. He has his motivations ;).
That is kind of weird, huh? Stannous knows a lot about what Rose has been up to, although he has been in hiding for the past two years. He is a slippery one...
Dom has a cool head and at least knows when she is outnumbered.
Rose, of course, will view her panic and unconsciousness as weakness, no doubt. She would most likely have never revealed her secret to the others willingly.