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Review:oldershouldknowbetter says:
So I'm back to review your work. I was feeling a bit burnt out so I gave reviewing your story a bit of a break, I didn't want my reviews of such a wonderful and enjoyable work to be any less than my best. Also there are only so many chapters, once I've reviewed them all it'll be gone :(

And here is a brand new chapter for me to review - hooray!

James has a burning secret, his supposed girlfriend is cheating on him with the boyfriend of the love of his life. What does he do, he tells Rose about it. He doesn't ask what he should do (he already knows), instead he simply tells her and sees what she says to do (Thus confirming what he already suspected he should do). He must tell Sarah.

I read over my previous review before starting this one and found I'd called it - James went to Rose first - the emotional heart of the pack. As Sarita said in her comments, 'James always takes Rose's intuition as pure hard fact - she has never steered him wrong.'

I wondered how long this mess would drag out, how long it would take for James to finally tell Sarah? Sarita said James would think it a betrayal not to tell her and true to her word, it's not a day later (story-wise) and he's going to. This is what really makes this story different from a lot of others - the lack of mis-communication. I've read fictions where this sort of thing would be dragged out over multiple chapters, hell, I've even seen entire stories devoted to just this. But not here, within the Pack feelings and information are shared. The only mis-communication/misinformation happens with the individual character's own feelings. Yes they may lie to themselves but the others do not lie to them.

He confronts Sarah, gives her some 'forgive me' jewelry (nice touch by the way) and then just rips the band-aid off - 'Danny is cheating on you'.

She's gutted, yes, but when she hears who she is cheating with, Amy, she feels almost more upset for James rather than herself. James reveals a bit too much when he says, 'she's dead to me, always has been,' but it slips by Sarah in all the emotional trauma.
James is upset for Sarah, upset he had to tell her and even upset at himself for being secretly glad that it has happened.

We switch to Sarah's POV.

Sarah recounts the breakup she had with James and it is used by Sarah to juxtapose the events this time around with those of the past. The one main thing that we see is Sarah still loves James and always has, it's just that she has been able (unlike James) to push those feelings down and try to hide them away. Try to move on and forget. She has been a bit dishonest with herself, or is it that she has deliberately squashed down her feelings for James to ameliorate her hurt and pretend to get over it.

She needs to go to someone for comfort and that person is ... Albus?

He comforts her and does what he should for a friend; and I get the feeling it may be the end of his little played-out-in-the-background not-so-secret-crush that he has had on Sarah. He wanted someone and she is hot, but that is not enough and he might just realise it now. Plus all that other baggage Sarah has ... someone else (namely his brother) is welcome to it.

James finds Sarah after a bit of a panic, only to find she has revenge on her mind. And it's ... well, it's almost exactly what James wants. Actually after a bit of to-and-fro and honesty between them it turns out to be exactly what James wants - Sarah and he back together. And happily it seems that is what she wants as well, now that she is finally being completely truthful to herself. She did move on when she broke up initially with James in everything except the deepest part of her heart. Now that her heart has been broken again, the only whole piece she finds still belongs to James.

They are going to pretend to be with their nominal partners, but in reality the two of them will be secretly together. We might though, have to have a bit of sympathy for Danny and Amy, because THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE!
Neither Sarah or James have truly loved the partners they were with. It was very obvious in James' case, but now we learn that it has been true of Sarah as well. So both Amy and Danny have tried to love people who would never/could never truly love them back. I don't feel as sorry for Danny as I do for Amy. That Sarah slept with him, meant that she had a lot more than just like in her heart for him. Amy though probably knew something was majorly wrong when a boy wouldn't sleep with her when she wanted him. I think when the secret affair is finally revealed as a punishment to the two cheaters, some of it will rebound back onto Sarah and James.

Things are quiescent with Castle Rose,
she has time to help out a neighboring kingdom in need.

Author's Response: Thank you for taking a break from it instead of being half-hearted - good choice :)

'Yes they may lie to themselves but the others do not lie to them' - brilliant... and true to the letter. James can easily lie to himself - attempt to bury his feelings etc - but lying to Sarah would be criminal.

James tries to lessen the blow, but finds Sarah is not so easily distracted. She is good at focusing herself... better than James . She was infinitely more successful in hiding her feelings than James was, and paying lip service to closure is her game.

I needed to use Albus here. He is the wild card as we've discussed, and here is where he wildly pops up. Sarah cannot turn to Rose, busy as she is. Ditto Scorpius. Becky came seemingly unscathed from her own long term relationship, so is seemingly unaccustomed to pain like this. Dom has never been in love - she cannot begin to empathise. Lily wants too much for Sarah and James to reconcile that it clouds all her rational judgement.

Albus is the quiet, unassuming character. An obvious choice in an otherwise bad selection. We see his teenage crush on Sarah is present... present but not serious. He enjoys looking at her, enjoys daydreaming about her... but she is not his to have. He knows this and has managed to keep his lust in check. He knows that it soon will pass... or is in the process of passing. He begins to see her as a sister, a platonic friend.

After all, James is top dog. He gets the pick of the pack, and he has picked. Albus slinks away, not too affected, and directs his energy elsewhere.

You have made an excellent point. In the rubble and destruction of Sarah's heart, she wanders through the wasteland and picks up a huge, battered, dusty sign. She blows off the dust, and what do we have carved deep into it? "JAMES WAS HERE"

She finally accepts her denial. Accepts the truth. Accepts her fate. And she begins to try and control it.

Punishment for the offending party - Danny and Amy - is hurtling towards them. But as you've said... nobody will get out unscathed. James and Sarah were in the wrong in varying degrees. Danny and Amy too. There is no such thing as black and white... just varying shades of grey. Retribution comes for all of them based on the severity of their discretion.

Castle Rose watches quietly, and prepares to rejoice through the ashes of heartbreak.


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