Hi, pix! Back again to see how the Next Gen kids and devil bunnies are playing together. Not so well, it seems.
It starts off on a fun note. "You can burn those," Rose said, motioning her foot to the image of her tripping over herself and shoving people out of the way. "I scuffed up my new trainers for nothing." Poor Rose! She isn't doing a very good job of convincing anyone -- even herself -- that she isn't interested in Scorpius, is she? Wren stared at the last picture in her hand, where Albus' eyes shone brightly back at her. She smiled to herself, remembering those eyes from a particularly vivid dream a few nights ago. And Rose isn't the only one who's having some unrequited (or maybe just unacknowledged) boy issues. You're still doing an awesome job of keeping these kids age-appropriate!
Poor Wren is starting to have more and more issues with Dillon's mental tendrils, it seems. At least she seems to be finding ways to fight off his control. The tea was a good start, but getting him out of her head seems to be becoming more willful and less of a passive thing. Good on you, Wren!
I have the strangest feeling that Rose and Callie's adventure outside of the castle is going to end poorly. Caught? Enthralled? Providing Dillon with the means to sneak into the castle? I just don't see any good coming of this outing. Given what Albus already thinks of James, if Dillon manages to enthrall James it's going to take Wren and Albus that much longer to figure out what's really happening. Sigh.
Now this is interesting. Is Bunny somehow shifting allegiances here? Perhaps becoming more Wren's friend than Dillon's friend? That would seem to be a significant development. She and Albus definitely need allies in their as-yet-unrealized war against the demon bunnies and their creepy little boy overlord.
Wow! So even though the demon bunnies are messing with Wren's magic, it doesn't seem like the effect is entirely one-sided. You are working so many neat plot threads into this story! I love it!
For one, small moment, Wren allowed herself to believe that the butterflies in her stomach were a good thing. -- Yes, they are! Wren needs more small moments like this.
It didn't actually matter how long or short her hair was, but this way, it made her look more... she blew her hair out of her face again... yeah, like that. -- Ha! You are pulling out all the stops in this chapter with the subtle signs of infatuation. Also, I really have to stop with the pull quotes or I'm going to run out of characters before I get to the end of this chapter.
Albus is dissing the trampy girl in favor of Wren! Good on you, Albus!
I liked the little side track into the politics of vampires in magical society. I feel fairly confident that you're setting something up for later on, although I can only guess at what. Maybe Wren does become Dillon's friend again at some point. Maybe Albus, with his less "enlightened" view on vampires, won't be pleased by this. Speculation...
I loved the "moment" that Wren and Albus have in the middle of the chapter. His hand on her arm, her inner battle over whether to tell him all about Bunny... poignant stuff!
Get out of my head, Wren demanded silently, and pushed back, hard. Her mind jolted free, and she had to blink a few times to reorient herself to where she was. -- Ooh, rudimentary Occlumency? Achievement unlocked...
"Oh Godric, you're going to cry. Okay, okay," Albus said softly, almost sounding like he was saying it more for himself than her. He took her hands in his and waited. -- Ha! The perfect teenage boy reaction! I mean, it would have showed a little more game if he'd managed to not say it out loud, but still.
Then the pace of the chapter picks up dramatically. It seems like Albus's rabbit has grown into some sort of monster in the restricted section. Maybe eating dark magic books isn't so good for a rabbit? The thing was definitely scary. And poor Wren has a 3-party call going on inside of her head. This section reinforced the idea that Wren's Bunny might not be completely in the same camp with Dillon and Albus's monster rabbit. I'm so incredibly impressed with the way you've set up Albus from the very beginning of this story. His paranoia about being pranked by James led him to take so many precautions that he feels perfectly natural being immune from the effects of the vampire thralls.
Wrapping up with Ian Sloan, I'm glad that you already conditioned us not to like him. Here, he's part vampire-enthralled zombie and part obnoxious jerk. Can't say I'm wild about either one. I just hope Albus and Wren get to Neville before he does, but knowing you, I doubt that's gonna happen. :p
Awesome chapter! It was a pleasure to beta read and a pleasure to read for real!
Author's Response: Ah! Just when I thought I was catching up... but I'm not complaining. This is amazing. All those shiny words!
I think we'd have to be very worried if the devil bunnies start playing nice with the Next Gen kids. Though now that you bring it up, I could do a dark version, where the Next Gen kids are completely overwhelmed by devil bunnies and become their...
Maybe another time.
Rose is definitely not doing great in the denial department right now. Just for you, (actually, mostly for me) there's more on that coming up soon. As for Wren, she's made a bit of progress, but her situation is a bit more complicated than simply admitting to a crush. Oh, the interfering plot!
Speaking of plot, Wren is making some headway with regaining control inside her mind. So there's that. I just hope that I've presented it in a way that I won't confuse anyone. I suppose time will tell.
There is some significant development with Bunny here. I hadn't shown much of what Bunny thinks through all of this, and I wasn't going so far as to write a scene from Bunny's POV (though I had a few of those that got trashed from the first draft. They were too weird and even I couldn't follow what was going on... silly rabbits!) but I felt like I needed to at least show that the affection between Wren and Bunny wasn't... erm... all in her head?
If Wren could get a mental break, I'm sure she would be having all kinds of thoughts that she needs right now. We'll see how that goes for her moving forward. Wren's new discovery about her abilities should help.
Albus' bracelets come in handy with trampy whats-her-name, don't they? I resisted inserting more of the sidebar about the girls following Albus around in this story. It's there, but it's so out of his focus at the moment that he's just ignoring it until he can't. I laughed out loud about Albus' lack of "game". Still laughing, actually. If he had any, he might have asked her out a year ago, and it wouldn't even be an issue now. I suppose everybody's got a learning curve. That moment was a nice interlude, so I'm glad you liked that.
You've got some interesting speculations about the vampire/wizard situation and how it impacts the story. Let's pretend that I planned all of that out and it will be fabulous. :) Seriously, I do have subtle plans, but Smeed threw a wrench in one of my subplots that I'm trying to pry apart. Again. He and I need a serious sit-down regarding the outcome. I swear I had the entire plot finished a few months ago. That's what I get for over-developing my characters. Bleah!
LOL! Three-party call, indeed! You may be impressed with the way I set up Albus, but let me tell you that he is highly displeased with his situation. I'm glad it feels natural. I didn't want him to come off as some great evil rabbit know-it-all all of a sudden.
Obnoxious jerks make the best zombies, I think. Maybe that could be a literary rule or trope of some kind: make all the zombies obnoxious.
Thanks again for the use of your eyes and this fabulous review!
Wait, wait. Does that mean you only "fake" read it before??