I was reading this on the bus on my way back from college and gah. Susan you are an incredible creature and there is really nothing more to be said. I haven't read fanfic in so long and decided to pop in and see what else you'd written and I'm so glad I did.
The first part of the story is probably my absolute favourite. I'm going to go so far as to say that it's one of the best opening paragraphs I've ever read. It's like you're sitting in Lily's head and thinking everything she's thinking, and every line is so real and incredibly crafted. What I loved most about your characterisation of Lily is that you didn't make this all about her love/non-hate for James. You stayed in touch with her background and it seeps into her every action and thought. The entire character development is just impeccable (as expected) and I am so jealous. James is wonderful. You make him so mysterious and enigmatic, yet there's enough about him that's made obvious for the reader to be absolutely besotted with him. Just loverly.
I'm so glad I read this, in all honesty. It's charming, sweet, with a tinge of bitterness that you capture to perfection. Oh look, I've run out of words. Report Review
I've been eyeing this story for ages and ages, probably ever since you first posted it. :) I actually remember seeing your announcement at the top of your page about an upcoming James/Lily, and reminding myself to check back and read it... and somehow I have managed to forget, and remind myself again, only to forget again. (My brain sometimes leaves something to be desired.) So now I am finally here to leave you a very long overdue review for this story for the review tag, and it feels like many planets have aligned perfectly!
As with everything you write, this had an incredibly beautiful tone and quality to it. Your style of writing is... I feel that with each review I leave for you, I try and fail to describe it, but maybe it's just beyond words. There is a sort of warmth that I feel in the pit of my stomach when I read really mellifluous words, and that is the kind of warmth that I get when reading your stories, and especially your one-shots. I aspire to have the command of language that you do! Several times in the course of this story I stopped just to read a sentence over again, because there is a precision of English here. I am mixing and muddling up my words, but I hope you know what I'm getting at. :) You know what you want to say, and even better, you know unconventional ways of saying it, and that's what makes your readers listen. It's an incredibly good thing to be able to do.
And then, of course, there is your portrayal of Lily and James beyond how your words flow -- but it is your words that convey them so accurately, actually. I can't remember the last time I read something centered around this pairing that got them so right, without a wall of flat characteristics that are stale and overused and dry. It's like you know them personally, and write about them from experience. This line, especially, was one of my favorites:
James Potter wasnít the sort to have nightmares, and Lily doubted that he ever would. -- That's just so James! And probably the best thing you did with him is make him simple on the surface, which I would have bought anyway, but you (pleasantly) surprised me, alongside Lily, by making me remember that no one is as simple as they seem on the surface. And it's that sort of character arc that is so, so hard to achieve in novels, let alone one-shots, and it's another reason I love reading your work so much. You get me thinking, and I think maybe three or four other fic authors have accomplished that. I love that.
I can't imagine why I've left this story so long, but I'm so, so thoroughly glad that I've finally found the time and excuse to sit down, and read and review it properly. Every character you write, you do them such poetic justice. :) I'm going to have to go now and recommend this on the forums. I adored this! ♥Author's Response: How do I even begin to respond to this review! I will offer my apologies for putting off a response - there's no excuse except procrastination. Thank you so much for stopping by to read and review this story! It means a lot to hear your feedback, and I'm very glad that you also enjoyed this story. ^_^
*blushes* Your compliments! Wow! Most of my one-shots are like showpieces to me, where I can experiment with different styles and forms. Unlike the longer stories, which allow for more exploration of character and plot, these short pieces give me the opportunity to play with words. It's why they take me months to write - I keep going back over each part to rework sentences and smooth out the language - it's fantastic that it shows. It's important to me that each sentence not only convey the right meaning, but that it sounds right - the syllables have to be arranged in a way that pleases the ear. Sentences literally have to end on the right note - a flat note takes away from its power. I also love being able to twist meanings and find new metaphors for things. My professors always find it annoying, but I'm glad that you like it. ^_^
Now to respond the next part without just going asdfghjklsquee because that's what came out first. I can't put into words how much it means that you've said these things about my story. Writing Lily and James correctly is what I've striven for for a very long time, and it's never felt as satisfying as did when I wrote this story. They're probably the most difficult Potterverse characters to write because every fan of the series has their own idea of these characters and their (admittedly strange) relationship. They mean so much to the series... and I'll stop now before I ramble on. :P Needless to say, it's the awesomest, bestest thing that you like how both characters turned out in this story.
What you've said here - "no one is as simple as they seem on the surface" - is so important. It's often the lesson that Harry has to learn in the series, and I liked the idea of Lily needing to learn the same thing. Instead of making her hate James, which just leads one into cliche, why not simply make her prejudiced against him? There he is, the pureblooded wizard of comfortable means, while she is at the opposite end of the social spectrum as a Muggleborn from Cokeworth. It made understanding the two characters and how they act toward one another much easier, and I'm kicking myself why I hadn't thought of it sooner - it would have been quite an experience to write it as a novel. :D
Thank you, thank you, thank you! *huggles* No response can be enough for this review. Report Review
Ok I have to admit, I partly clicked on this story because the banner was really cool, and unusal, and I know that you're not meant to judge a book by its cover, but I'm glad that I did this time!
I thought it was great how you showed Lily's gradual relisation that she did in fact love James, and the fact that she stopped breathing when they were both in the same room, is a pretty significant sign!
Ooh spliting it up into parts, it was almost as if they were acts in a play, well I guess the whole Lily/James debacle was a play that the school had seen from the beginning of their 1st year, so the audience were eager for the outcome. Or you could say due to the title having anatomy in it, it could represent Lily picking apart James's mindset. Sorry if I'm reading to far into this, I've just finshed writing an English essay, where I had to analyse basically every single word in Of Mice and Men!
I'm glad that you remembered Cokeworth, as most people tend to forget it, I still think it's amazing that JK gave us that clue in the first book, from where the Dursleys and Harry stayed in the hotel, she is such a genius!
I thought it was interesting that you said Lily would be pleased to almost swop, her exciting magical life for one of normality like Petunia's, I've never really thought about whether Lily would ever not want to be a witch, but given the current climate, I could see why she may not want to be one.
I felt so sorry for James, when Lily accused him of doing something stupid, when in fact, all he was doing was saving his friend. You can see Lily regretting though, when she thought 'She had taken too long.'
I'm so glad that I read this, even if it was just for the banner, as otherwise I would have missed out on a lovely story! Kiana :)Author's Response: I'm glad that you liked the banner! They are wonderful hooks for stories - the only thing I have to do is make sure that the story lives up to its banner. ;)
Yes, she does have a certain attraction to him, though whether or not she's actively resisting them or just isn't aware of what her reactions to him mean, I leave it up to the reader to decide. It's wonderful to hear that you liked her gradual realization. I actually had fun putting the pieces of this story together, putting Lily for the painstaking process of understanding not only him, but herself.
I hadn't thought of this story as a play - rather it was your second interpretation that I had in mind - but it works to see their strange little drama as a play. For Lily especially because she isn't in control of her actions and reactions, nor does she understand everything that's going on around her. She's like a character in a play who keeps resisting her role.
But going with the second interpretation - the one that links to the title - the question becomes who is the genius and who is the one being picked apart. By the end of the story, it's not certain whether it's Lily or James - both are equally picked apart, their hearts laid bare for one another. It's great that you saw that interpretation and there's no problem at all with analyzing like that! I do it too. XD
That Cokeworth scene is my favourite, I guess because it's easy for me to relate to Lily in that scene. It's strange to meet someone from school in one's neighbourhood, and for Lily, there's more at stake because of the Magic/Muggle divide. I remember reading that the war was already underway by the time that Lily began at Hogwarts, so she entered into a very dangerous magical world - not one full of wonder like it was for Harry, but one where her accident of genes makes her a target. I wish that more authors would incorporate that kind of thing into their stories! It would make Marauder-era stories more interesting and complex. :)
Thank you once again for a fantastic review! I can't thank you enough for all of these reviews you've left, and for your kind words. ^_^ Report Review
Hello there :) Returning your very lovely review for our swap!
I'm so happy to be finally reading some of your stories! I haven't been on HPFF for too long, but your work is very well-known, and I've been eyeing Out of Time for quite some time, now. Despite that, I have absolutely no idea why I chose to read this oneshot of yours, especially since I don't have much interest in James/Lily (or most popular pairings :p).
But thank all the gods of fanfiction that I clicked the link. Because this is an amazing story. It's an amazing portrayal of the (nonexistent) relationship between two people, the tension and the conflict and the resentment and most mysterious of all, the attraction. Your characterisation of both James and Lily was so incredibly original. I get the sense that Lily sees James as a brilliant but sheltered person, infuriatingly smart, seemingly invulnerable - and utterly protected by his own apparent inability to think, to see beyond himself. At least that's what Lily thinks. Which makes the final segment of the story so poignant and heartbreaking, when all that invulnerability of his is peeled away, and his usually quick mind is dulled by all that alcohol - and there's just James, a surprisingly fragile and human James.
I really admire how you've written the shift in the character dynamics, especially in this line: He remained silent, all his effort going into the action of placing one foot in front of the other... It really shows how James, for whom everything is slick and easy and quick becomes the one who needs to be helped, and Lily, for whom everything feels laboured, has the upper hand here. Gah, sorry...I'm repeating myself. But your characterisation of Lily is just so wonderful. So much detail! So much conflict of being torn by existing on the boundary of two different worlds. Her attraction to James, which she hates(ish) is just written so beautifully - and yet it unsettles her - all the things she notices about him: the shape and movement of his hands, the twinkle in his eye. Lily is so guarded in this story! And the ending just took my breath away. I thought that was a fantastic way to end the story - I was so sure that the two were going to have a happy ending and confess feelings and get together - but no. And I'm so glad this turned out completely different from what I expected! It was heartbreaking, those last few sentences - how sparse they were, and yet how much they said.
Another thing I really admire about your story is the use of dialogue. Your dialogue is just so...pure. Every line uttered by the characters is sharp and so full of meaning and emotional impact, there's hardly a word out of place. I've come across so many fanfics where dialogue just drags on even when characters don't seem to be saying much.
You think everything I do is stupid.
Perfect. Love love love how spartan the dialogue is, and how there's just so many unspoken things between the two. Sadly.
Brilliant title, by the way. Lily really does attempt to examine and dissect the way James thinks, only to find out that he doesn't. She can't read him very well, as is revealed in the final bit.
Oh, I could go on and on forever about this story. But I'm just going to favourite this. Never thought I'd favourite a Jily fanfic! But this is just so superbly written, and original, and beautiful and human.
Lovely writing! Thanks for sharing this story L) And thanks so much for agreeing to do the swap with me!
-tehAuthor's Response: Wow, teh, this is an incredible review! Thank you very much for taking the time to write something so long and detailed! I appreciate it. :D
This story isn't about James/Lily so much as it is about both characters separately, and even then, I'm not so sure. I'm very bad at writing ships, even though my reputation says otherwise, because I prefer to place emphasis on the individual characters and the style of the story rather than on the "ship". In this story, it's like what you said: an nonexistent relationship between two individuals who are, for some unknown reason, attracted to one another. And Lily, try as she might to deny it, simply can't avoid that attraction.
You've perfectly described how the story works and, most importantly, how Lily's characterization works. She's always been a challenge for me, and it's a wonderful relief to hear that you enjoyed how both her and James were portrayed. I loved playing with the idea that Lily's perspective is skewed - she does not see the "real" James, just as I think most people in the world see each other incorrectly. It's very difficult to ever discover what a person is actually like behind their social facades, and it takes until the last scene of this story for Lily to see what James is without his mask. Most people will never have that opportunity - for Lily, it's enough that she has to re-evaluate her perspective on James, and probably on other things as well.
Wow! You've found a lot more in Lily's characterization than I intended to include. It makes the story sound a lot better than I expected it could! It's a fantastic thing to see, and I'm very glad that you've pointed it out. :D I never realized that the final scene reverses their positions, that she is finally the one offering assistance, while James struggles. Perhaps it's always been that way, if only Lily had seen it. And that ending! I'm so glad that you liked it. That style of ending has fascinated me for a long time, and I enjoy being able to try it out. This is probably the most effective use for it I've found so far because, like you said, it's sparse, but there's a lot of meaning to their words and actions, more than narration could properly express.
You know, that compliment on my dialogue is a very significant one to see. It was my weakness for a long while, and to hear that it's a strength of this one-shot is a wonderful compliment. ^_^
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing this story! I'd love to be able to say more in response to your review, but I'm too floored by it (even after all this time!). There aren't enough words to properly say thank you for this. It's a confidence-booster, and far, far more. Report Review
Iím so excited to read a bit of Lily and James from you! Well, Iíd be thrilled to read anything from you, but having it be of my favorite people is an extra treat ;).
I really, really liked this first section with Lilyís thoughts dwelling on him. How it started, with her refusal to Ďhateí him because that was for the cowardly really spoke a lot about her character. You kept alive that sense that they donít like each other, or at least that he doesnít like her, but at the same time itís clear that the amount of time sheís spending dwelling on him wouldnít be just because she dislikes him.
She seems very intrigued by him, like she wants to dislike his ability to do certain things like write a perfect essay without any planning, then let it be passed all around his group, but more than anything she just wants to figure it all out.
I like how Lily kind of takes herself in full circle during this second section and her thoughts regarding Petunia. You canít blame her for wanting, even if itís just that occasional tiny moment, to be able to give it all up. But by the end of it, she knows normal isnít for her.
Ahh my heart got a bit on the feelsy side with the latter half of this second section. I love the idea of Lily being, not quite ashamed, but almost, of where she comes from. Itís like sheís already expecting James to turn around and leave because she is Ďjust lilyí in this. In the crappy town she grew up with, without Hogwarts and all its magic surrounding her. And then James, in his usual fashion, says something really incredibly and makes my heart melt.
I like seeing such a judgmental side of Lily in this third section. Youíre making it obvious that she isnít perfect, sheís even a bit self centered to think she could be the only one to slave the way she does to get everything she wants, and that James just gets it all on a silver spoon. Not that thereís no truth to that, Iím sure from her point of view there is. But everyone has to struggle in someway or another, and I like that Lily doesnít really seem to see that.
And even when she comes upon James, half intoxicated and alone, she still canít understand that he could have things dwelling in his shadows that she has no idea about. She calls him the naive one, but in this part she seems just as naive as him and I really love the irony of that.
Aww this end is actually rather bittersweet. Obviously we know they finally work things out, but the look into how deeply she may have hurt him.. and again, you gave us a really good bit of irony to play with. She spent so long disliking James because he would pick on students and such, and the things he did werenít nice, but was she that much better when she called him hurtful things and acted so much better than him? Her look into how much her judgement and lecturing may have hurt him was very, very sweet in a odd way. We always heart that James grew up and thatís when Lily fell for him, but youíre giving us a different look into this. That maybe they both grew up and thatís how they fell for each other.
This was a really wonderful one shot. I love that you let it stand on itís emotions and imagery, without needing some elaborate story behind it. It was a piece that just grabs your heart, and I think you wrote it beautifully. ♥Author's Response: Thank you very much for this review! I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to respond to it - it's a fantastic review, and those always make me balk when I come to my responses page. It means a lot to have feedback from an expert on the James and Lily relationship, but your review is so positive that it's left me speechless! XD
The one worry I always have with writing James and Lily is that James could easily become that "nice guy" who pesters a girl until she agrees to go out with him. I didn't want James to be like that, but it meant navigating a fine balance. I'm glad that you like how it turned out, with Lily being curious about him... more curious than she could be if she just hated him. She's drawn to him from the beginning, but she's constantly put off by his recklessness and irreverence. Lily as I've written her here struggles with the juxtaposition of his genius with his role as troublemaker - she wants to admire the genius, but she dislikes the troublemaker, and it places her in an awkward position.
Your interpretation of the Cokeworth scene is fantastic - it goes beyond what I intended for the scene, making Lily's reaction even more significant. James is being sincere, and she almost wants him to leave in a huff - that would make sense to her because it's what most of the other purebloods would do. The culture of Hogwarts and the wizarding world have made her ashamed of her origins, but James doesn't care, and that does a lot to change her opinion of him. She won't admit it in this soon, but it's a scene that she won't forget.
Haha, yes, Lily is very judgemental. It made sense to depict her in that way after reading "the Prince's Tale" - why else would she walk away from her best friend? - and it also gives her a weakness, something she can't really help, but that seriously affects her relationships with others (one could also say that it's something she shares with Petunia). It means that her idea of James Potter is skewed - she sees him in one way, and it takes her a long time to realize that it's an inaccurate view. Her confusion really shows in that last part, and I also make it confusing for the reader by never explaining why James is in that state.
You have the story in a nutshell when you write that they both grew up. I hate the idea that Lily just fell for him one day - it doesn't suit her personality - so I wanted to see what would happen if both Lily and James had to change. It's fantastic to hear that it worked so well. :D
Thank you again for your wondrous review! Report Review
First of all, I love your banner. RDJ has that certain flair of sensitive genius you describe James having here. And he's a hottie. =)
I liked your similes and how Lily used them when she tried to dissect her and James's relationship in her mind. The Cokeworth scene was particularly telling. It gave a sense of how Lily felt about herself and her background, when she was discriminated against in school, and then again her magical ability was disapproved by Petunia when she was back home.
Only thing that I would have liked to see more, would've been some kind of resolution to her feelings. While she grudgingly helped James, her opinions of him hadn't changed much compared to the beginning. I know it's only a one-shot, but that detail kind of left me hanging. Of course you could always write more, which would be quite lovely. =)
Your writing was top notch. Descriptions were well thought of, maybe bit flowery in places, but they gave me very clear image of happenings.
It would have been interesting to know why James had been drinking alone. Clearly he wasn't as happy-go-lucky as Lily presumed, but that kind of behaviour without his friends makes me ponder about all the possibilities.
It was interesting read all in all. =)Author's Response: Thank you! :D The banner was a great inspiration for this story, though I obviously changed direction with the story, making it much darker than I initially anticipated. But a young RDJ suits the image I had of James in this story - one who can be both the reckless silly ass and the deeper, more complicated individual.
I'm really glad that that you liked the Cokeworth scene because it's my favourite from this story - it says so much about both characters. I like to imagine that scene from James's perspective and wonder how uncomfortable he may have been, standing in a strange, very Muggle place with Lily, who isn't subtle about the fact that she doesn't want him there. To her, it's a violation of her privacy - I suppose for readers it would be like having your teacher or boss over for dinner.
It's interesting that you don't see Lily's change at the end. It does hit her when he says that "You think everything I do is stupid." At that moment, she realizes that she's misinterpreted him, that he is weak, human. When she replies "not everything", she is admitting to her change of mind. It wouldn't be realistic to make it happen any faster, not with these two characters. He has been a pest, that "nice guy" who expects her to pay attention to him. But only now does she see that there's more to him than that - he has potential, and she has the power to encourage it.
Oh dear, that went on a little too long. Sorry about that. :|
Thank you again for reading and reviewing! :D Report Review
I was having a bad day, but then I came across your story and my day is suddenly made. Everything in this story is, honestly, perfection.
One of the many things I loved most about this chapter is that, it isn't just based in Hogwarts. It's kind of hard to explain, but, I guess, you could say that you went deeper into the describing the Muggle world than most authors would've. Describing flaws of the Muggle-world certainly made the whole story feel more realistic than it already is.
James's character surprised me here. I never really thought he would get drunk just like that. Sure, Common Room parties and all, but I never would've imagined him doing something like that. Though, it all makes sense to me. He can't always be the funny, idiot he always is, can he?
The story is definitely one of the best James/Lily I've read so far. It was such a fantastic read! And I can't help but be a little disappointment that there is no continuation of this. :( Gah.
~IzzyAuthor's Response: Wow, thank you for the compliment! I'm very glad to hear that this story made your day - I can't think of any better compliment. :D
It was interesting to take Lily and James outside of Hogwarts for once. How strange that many authors don't do that, or if they do, they focus on James struggling with Muggle things, forgetting that Lily's Muggle life had some curious aspects about it. We don't know what kind of jobs her parents had, but in a place like Cokeworth, not far from Spinner's End, they couldn't have been too well-off (Petunia's marriage was a step up the social ladder). What I liked best was being able to describe the Muggle world from Lily's eyes /after/ she'd seen and lived within the magical world. The Muggle world, particularly the world of Cokeworth, might have seemed so dull in comparison.
Even I can't explain why James would have gotten drunk like that. Another review suggested that his parents may have died, or perhaps it was just that the pressures of school and the war caught up with him. You're right to say that he couldn't always be that boy with a ready laugh. Isn't there a saying that the people who seem happiest are, inside, very sad?
One of the best, wow! Thank you so much! It's wonderful of you to have taken the time to read and review this story! ^_^ Report Review
SUSAN! Firstly Happy New Year and I hope you're well. Secondly ahh I adored this. It was absolutely not what I expected from hearing that you'd written a James/Lily one-shot. This reminds me of... I think it was The Third Man, or whichever of your other stories that examined the pedestal James puts Lily on? I'm pretty sure it was The Third Man but my memory is really awful so I may be wrong but anyway -- you know how hard it is to find Lily/James stuff that transcends trope. And I don't think I've read anything that ends on such a note as this and I love it.
I see that some reviewers have said that this needs more but I don't think so at all. I think it's such an innovative take on Lily and on James. James as a privileged but talented wizard isn't rare, but making him so naive (and so perceptive, evidently) and so cut to the quick by Lily's constant evisceration of him, whether verbal or otherwise, has never been done with this level of expertise and empathy. It's never examined, but as Sarah said, it couldn't have been easy for James to put himself out there and constantly get rejected, and his pain is palpable that it makes my heart twist a little, a little sick.
And Lily, of course, navigating the spaces between one life and another, between boys, her struggle for the success canon tells us came to her almost as easily as it came to James -- never better. Perhaps one of my favorite Lily portrayals ever. I'm just constantly impressed by what she said and amazed by her brusqueness; you see Lily being harsh to James all the time, but it never cuts as bitterly as you did it here.
Tbh, though, I have a feeling that most of my praise is colored by how floored I was by the ending, because that was where things really picked up for me. James walking away in the middle of what we as readers and devourers of other pop culture and literature and stuff are conditioned to believe is a ~significant moment~ was something I've never seen before and it elevated the whole thing, which was remarkable to begin with but not something supremely lazy me felt like reviewing immediately, to something really super remarkable. (Wow, I'm eloquent. Very out of practice in reading and reviewing so blargh please forgive me!) It makes me look at everything in a different light, in a much darker light than the one I went into the fic expecting. Just. ack I really liked this. After all this time you never fail to bring something new to these parts and I love, love seeing it.Author's Response: Gubby! It's always a pleasure to receive one of your reviews! Thank you very much for reading this story, too. It does build from "The Third Man" in its examination of Lily, and a bit also from "Seasons of Discontent", though that Lily was quite a lot darker. In "Genius" I think I've finally found a characterization of Lily that feels right - there's something far more natural about her here that I've not been able to capture in any other story. It probably means that I'll never be able to write about her again, haha (not that it'd be a bad thing to stop writing about her - she appears in half of my one-shots XD).
I can't even start to describe how happy your compliments have made me. I can't even explain how this version of Lily came to be, but it's fantastic that you like how she turned out in this story. There had to be something that brought them together, yet I've never been satisfied with the way I've seen it done (or done it myself). Both characters underwent a significant change within themselves, whether willingly or not is never certain on Lily's side. If James had remained, it would never work between them. He had to leave in order for Lily to experience her epiphany, to realize that she has misread him. This is also why I never explain why he had drunk himself into a stupor - it might be about Lily, it might be about something else entirely. What is important is how Lily reads the situation and reacts to it. It goes back to the way in which she builds him up onto a pedestal while she observes him at work. Is he really the careless genius she has believed him to be? Probably not. But for some reason, she places him on the opposite side of the spectrum from herself. It is in many ways a safeguard, but from what? I wouldn't blame her for being wary of any pureblood who came her way. She's already in a delicate state after both Petunia and Snape have betrayed her. There's a lot going on in Lily's mind, her emotions a whirl of uncertainty. Perhaps that's what makes her so interesting in this story.
I hadn't realized how much the story was focused on her. It should have been obvious, but I distracted myself but thinking of this as a "pre-relationship" story rather than a character study. We have to read between the lines to find James, but maybe that's always been the case. He "rescued" Snape from werewolf!Remus for a reason; Lily fell in love with him for a reason. There's a lot that one could do with James - I imagine that a sheltered, well-loved young wizard would be slightly naive. How much of his behaviour in the books is bravado, I have no idea - maybe more than we think.
It's absolutely wonderful that you liked the ending. It needed to be sharp, something to make the story memorable, if frustrating for some readers. Like you've said, it makes the story feel darker - perhaps deeper or more intense. I never thought the story would end in this way - it was supposed to be a fluffy story... - but it forces Lily into a position that she can't avoid any longer. It's the kind of ending that I love to find when reading stories.
Thank you again, Gubby! √Ę¬ô¬• Report Review
Sorry for taking so long! Had to go make supper before I got around to reading. What a lovely one-shot. The ending left me feeling so sad and a little bit lonely, with Lily finding that little bit of vulnerability she had always wanted to find in him, and in doing so breaking his heart yet again. Everyone always moans about how she broke Severus's heart, but it's hard to put yourself out there repeatedly when the girl repeatedly rejects you. No matter how much you laugh it off, that's got to sting. To have the ultimate girl of his dreams think he's ridiculous, and tell him so all the time...it's so sad. And Lily's passed him off as so uncaring and unthinking about everything that she won't allow herself to think about how awful she must make him feel sometimes.
I loved the different tones in this. Sometimes it was funny, watching Lily try not to explode while James absentmindedly succeeded at everything while she killed herself trying to succeed at the same things, and then it gradually got more sobering, and by the time the tables have turned and Lily's standing there, triumphant in pulling something serious out of James, she can't glory in it because she's seeing at long last how her actions have affected him on a deeper level than she imagined.
A few parts I especially liked:
It was what she despised most: that he should love her without knowing her.
- There is so much truth in that statement. Finally accepting someone who's put you up on a pedestal is dangerous. It exposes you to their disappointment when they discover that the fantasy does not live up to the reality. Even if Lily liked James sooner, the second she started rejecting him and let him build her up inside his head in whichever way he liked, the worse everything would be later when/if he saw her for what she truly was and decided he didn't like it. Of course this must not have been the case, since they went on to get married, but it does spell a little something about Lily's avoidance of Snape. If anyone put that girl on a pedestal, it was him.
Potter did not think of those things. He simply did not think.
- Agh, people like this are so frustrating. There was a girl I knew in high school who was good at everything without really trying. Singing, art, math, writing, sports, you name it. People who worked solely in one of the academic fields she pursued weren't as good as her when she had no particular fondness for it. She simply did not have to try, so she couldn't possibly appreciate her success.
Lily threw her head back to look at the ceiling, the barrel arches leaping back and forth from column to column like dolphins alongside a sailing ship.
- loved this description!
"Will she be there?"
In your dreams, boy.
So there I was, feeling all warm and fluffy because of the snow and Lily dragging a drunken James back to Hogwarts, anticipating a kiss or something, and then suddenly he's gone and it's just his footprints left, melting away. And Lily is the one who's all alone. She kept searching for a weakness, digging and digging to find one, when all along, she is his weakness.
I'm finding myself genuinely wishing this continued, and in the next chapter we'd see another snapshot of their relationship, and in the chapter after that we'd see another one. So no pressure or anything, but YOU SHOULD TOTALLY MAKE THIS LONGER THAN A ONE-SHOT.
Wonderful job!Author's Response: Okay, so I've left responding to this review for much too long, but I've enjoyed having it sit here because I get to read it again and again whenever I remind myself that I really should get to responding. Thank you very much for reading and reviewing this story - it was a fantastic treat to see your name on such a long and perfect review. ^_^
I'm actually glad that you wanted this one-shot to become a novel. There was a point as I neared the end that I also wanted that - it wouldn't have been difficult to expand this into their seventh year. The important thing about such a story is that it would have to show that both Lily and James changed. Lily just didn't fall for him suddenly, and I don't think that James would have simply pretended to change. They would have gradually changed one another before becoming the ultimate power couple of the Potterverse. They have to convince one another and, more importantly, themselves, that any relationship between them could work. In this one-shot, they're only approaching that stage - they're still trying to figure each other out.
What you've said about James's point of view is fantastic, and I wish more authors would try to show things from his perspective with a tinge of bitterness. Even if he is upper-class and self-assured, Lily's constant rejections would (eventually) wound him, and her insults would do more than damage his ego. That's one reason why I'd argue that James matured - he had to learn that he just couldn't have something because he wanted it, that sometimes (if not often) one has to suffer along the way.
In regard to the ending, you had it nailed earlier in your review when you traced Lily's course through the story - how the tables slowly turned in her favour. At the end, she finds herself as the one who has been rejected, she is the one left without the answer. She has an idea that James had done this for her, but is that the case? And she never finds it out (within this story at least). It's left hanging. She is left dissatisfied and so is the reader.
I take too much enjoyment from defying readers' expectations. :P A kiss at the end or some other kind of romantic closure would have made this too easily forgettable - just another Lily/James that shows them getting together. Instead, there's a twist, an emptiness. I actually love that you want to hear more about these characters and how their story continues - it means I've done things right. :D
Thank you so much for this review! It means a lot to hear your compliments and feedback. ^_^ Report Review
Iím not really a Lily/James shipper, donít care much about the pairing to be honest, but Iíve read your writing in the past and I know for a fact that you are an amazing writer so I thought why not. If someone can make me like a story with this story the obvious choice would be you, especially considering the fact your summary intrigued me and I must say you didnít disappoint.
I liked the way your character saw hatred it was such an unique take on it and in a way quite Gryffindorish. But the same went for all of Lilyís believes. It was rare to see her portrayed this way or the mention of things, like Petuniaís normality stuff, while are still canon are yet never mentioned. Atleast in the stories Iíve read featuring Lily. So bravo on that. You made Lily ( and James for that part) truly stand out among the others. It was canon yet unique. The both of them were quite fascinating.
This was a rather long one-shot but yet I didnít really notice it. You did an excellent job and to be honest with you it is too bad there was not more. Once again wonderfull!Author's Response: It's not really a Lily/James story, rather more of a pre-Lily/James story, a way of slowly bringing the characters together. Writing this has helped me see the ship in a better light, as something plausible and natural, the very things fanon often neglects to take into account. Thank you so much for the compliments about my writing! It's lovely of you to say that! And it means a lot that my stories work for those who don't necessarily like the ships or the characters. I really enjoy being able to depict these things in a new way and making readers rethink their expectations about them. :)
*blushes* That's exactly what I wanted to do with Lily in this story! Well, it's not what I originally set out to do, but after writing that first section, I knew that the focus would be more on Lily than on the ship. It's about her psychological development and her navigation through the strange ambiguities of her life as a Muggleborn, a teenager, and - if you want to take it a step further - her role as the object of two wizards' desire. There's still so much that can be done with Lily's character, if only more authors would take a chance.
Thank you again for your lovely review! ^_^ Report Review
Oh this was beautiful! First I must say both your summary and the graphic caught my attention for this oneshot! I was rather happy that you had asked me to review this one because while yes it is a rather long oneshot it is so well done and a wonderful James/Lily which is one of my favorite pairings to read about! The amount of detail and description you put into this was lovely! This whole thing kept my attention and kept me reading. I didn't want to stop at any point in time and take a break from reading this and actually, I'm rather sad that this has ended. I would love to read more about this James and Lily that you have painted for us in this oneshot as they were both just wonderful! I loved the different point of times that you showed in this oneshot and how they connected with each other. I also loved that the ending really changed Lily's thinking of James. Maybe he does have his own haunts but he is better than others at hiding them.
Gah I could just gush about this wonderful oneshot all night long. It was so beautiful and well written and I really don't know how else to describe it. I loved this and it will be added to my favorites as will you as an author if I haven't already! This is a wonderful addition to the archives and I look forward to reading more of your stuff this year! Great Job!
~Slytherinchica08~Author's Response: Thank you very much! :D I'm so glad that you liked the story, its summary, and its banner - summaries are especially hard for me to get right, but for some reason, this one worked. It doesn't perfectly suit the story, or rather what the story became as I developed it, but that's always the tricky thing about summarizing a story like this.
Anyway, it's fantastic that you think so highly of the descriptions and details. I wanted much of the story to be conveyed through the little things, the objects surrounding the characters, and more importantly, how the characters make use of those objects. I'm especially pleased that, in spite of the length of this (ugh, one day I'll be able to write something properly short again) you didn't need a break from the story. That's always important to me while I'm reading, too, and in this case, it lets me know that there isn't anything that needs to be removed. I wasn't sure about that third section, but you've helped set my mind at rest. :)
Thank you again for this fantastic review! It means a lot to hear how much you loved this one-shot. ^_^ Report Review
I thought i'd drop you one more before the end of December :P
There is just so much of this that i love. James/Lily in my mind is insanely hard to pull off. I'm not even 100% sure what i expect when i read them but most of the time i'm disappointed. But this THIS is what i think i've been expecting all along. It captures so much of them- who they are and how they worked together. I loved how you structured this. Just capturing these moments of impact and seeing the change in Lily. I like how she still had remnants of what she didn't like about him and yet she still found herself being attracted to him. She didn't just forget all that but in spite of it she found something she liked, even if she couldn't define it. I think this happens in life sometimes, when you can't figure out why you feel a certain way but you do even if there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn't like that or them.
I liked how even though this was in Lily's perspective you fleshed out both her and James. Even Sirius and Peter and Remus to an extent. it only took a few words and they just felt real- fleshed out almost because i'm sure you have, in your mind, who they are even. I like when it seems like there is more depth to a story than the author lets on.
You have some really lovely lines in this story. I love the imagery you use of the darkness, shadows, and light. I've always imagined and used similar ones when I write of the Marauders. It just seems to match where they were in life, being faced with the war and all that darkness and blackness that there were demons around every corner. I liked how you portrayed it and you made it seem new and alive.
I especially liked the ending. How he walked away, how she focussed so much on how James was so naive and how he had no demons and I liked how, in the end, it shows that he had his own in a way. She created them, gave some of hers to him. She finally understood that and I loved the real depth it added to both her and James. Also, the fact that it wasn't necessarily a happy ending. I don't know why i'm such a sucker for something bittersweet like this but even though they didn't get together or have a kiss or realize that they are perfect for one another, there is hope in it even if he's walking away from her.
So lovely, i just love how you can make an old story and make it so new and different, as if we hadn't read it before. Really, really lovely work Violet! I'm really pleased I got your secret Santa because it was a perfect excuse to read more of your work!!
-Zayne (SilentConfession)Author's Response: Thank you again for another fantabulous review! I can't thank you enough for them.
I'm glad that I'm not the only one who has problems writing Lily and James. It's not even that fanon has constructed their characters in a way that's challenging to break - canon itself is filled with contradictions and holes, making it difficult to plausibly bring these two characters together. It's silly to think that Lily suddenly fell for James one day in seventh year - there had to be more to it, a slow, probably largely unconscious, growing attraction or change of heart. Something that crept up upon her until, at last, she understood what it meant. It's a more realistic way of coming at it, one that happily circumvents the cliched "falling hard and fast" routine of many romances. This story gave me the chance to explore that liminal state of not-yet-love, or love in the making, and it was surprising how much it lead to also exploring Lily as a character because she herself is ambiguous, in-between. A Muggleborn. A teenager. Uncertain of who she is and what she will be.
And I originally intended this to be a fully humour fic. Apparently I can't write those kind of things. :P
It's fantastic to hear that you enjoyed Lily's characterization as well as the story's imagery. It means a lot to hear you compliment those things. ^_^
The ending! By the time I wrote it, I'd realized how ambiguity had become a major theme (can it be a theme?) of the story, so I went back to some of my favourite short stories for inspiration, particularly "Araby" and "Eveline". I wanted to show Lily's change of mind as something almost unnatural, as though it causes her violence to acknowledge her love for James. She has to be left there on her own because it requires looking into herself, re-evaluating everything she has said or done to him, and he to her. To end instead with James still present would ruin the effect because it would take the focus away from her epiphany. So yes, that's why I like that you liked the ending. :D It's one of the rare times that I've been satisfied with an ending I've written, which makes it more exciting to have someone else like it too.
Thank you again for your amazing reviews, Zayne! *huggles* Report Review
Tag! (A wee confession: I've been meaning to read your fics for ages, so when I saw you post in review tag I thought to myself I will snag this even if I die trying).
First: happy new year! And second: I've never read a James/Lily before, as far as I know. So I'm looking forward to reading a new pairing as written by an excellent author :3
I love your characterisation in the opening paragraph. I've always been hesitant of reading Marauders, because I feel like most authors have such defined characterisations that I disagree with - playboy Sirius, James the git, Lily the fiery redhead, absent Peter, the likes. So even though I'm not far into this fic, I'm loving it already, because, well - this Lily and James seem like real people.
I really like this line: She had never hated James Potter, though he had certainly deserved it, time and time again. No, she only hated the pedestal on which he had placed her. There's an accurate justification here for her not-overtly-positive feelings about James, which is rare!
Also, I like how you've explored what it's like to be both a muggle and a witch. I never thought of it that way, but now you've written it, well...that's perfect.
All in all, I really liked this one-shot. It was impeccably written (I'm a bit flabbergasted by it, to be honest) and such a subtle take on the ship.
So glad I read this! ♥Author's Response: Julia! Thank you very much for reading and reviewing this story! It was awesome to see your name on a review and I'm really glad that you enjoyed reading this. :D
You're right that authors too often adhere to narrow fanon characterizations for the Marauder-era, characterizations that are too restrictive and that don't particularly suit the characters. I like being able to tweak, or even explode, those ideas of how the characters "should" be, especially with Lily, whose characterization most often annoys me. This story is the first time I've been satisfied with how Lily has turned out because it includes her Muggleness, her conflicted double-life, her lower-middle class roots, and the frustrations of being a teenage girl. She's one of the most difficult Potterverse characters to write, and the fact that you loved her characterization in this story is making me dance and grin and otherwise be wildly happy.
The story ends up being more about Lily than about the ship, which is interesting. Not at all what I'd originally planned. It's more a pre-Lily/James story, trying to show the increasing connection between them that comes before the actual relationship. Lily has to navigate her own issues and insecurities first, and when she discovers James in the final scene, she sees that he has, all along, been dealing with similar problems. However, unlike her, he falls apart, and she realizes that he's real too. The ideals of genius she had ascribed to them are just as false as the pedestal on which he places her. Only from this point can they see eye-to-eye. It actually became more complicated than I anticipated, but that's a good thing. :P
Thank you again! Report Review
Fantastic as always. Simply lovely. Gosh, you make everything you write seem so effortless! And the banner is absolutely stunning. 10/10.Author's Response: Thank you! ^_^ It's fantastic that you enjoyed this story so much (and that it seemed effortless - I can assure that it wasn't, haha). Thank you also for complimenting the banner! Report Review
Your imagery, word choice, and characterization are perfection. I don't think I've ever read Lily as such an angsty, tortured soul and James as so, innocent and naive. It was really beautiful though, and almost like reading a dream. There just aren't enough words to describe how wonderful I thought this was!Author's Response: Wow, thank you! I'm always on the lookout for new ways to portray Lily - because she appears so rarely in the books, and in such a limited capacity, I think that she has a lot of potential in fanfiction. It's interesting to place Lily in the angstier role that's usually reserved for the male Marauders - she existed in a difficult position, both with the First War and her Muggle upbringing, so her life could not have been an easy one.
It's great to hear that you enjoyed this story! I love how you describe it as reading a dream - it's such a cool way of seeing this story. I hadn't thought of it that way before. Thank you again! ^_^ Report Review
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