Reviewer: Ginny Weasley Potter
Second Childishness and Mere Oblivion
So once I’d read your other James/Lily fic, I was curious about this one. I must say, I should read more of their fics. As I’ve told you before, I’ve read very few Marauder Era fics and it seems interesting, now that I’ve read your take on it.
This fic was sweet and sad and very beautiful. What James would do for Lily is touching. He wasn’t very nice when he was fifteen and he’s grown up naturally and his maturity has progressed well in your fic. He’s very recognisable from the little we got of him in the books and I really loved how you characterised him. And then a look of worry flashed on his face. “Did I... hurt you?” This line, in particular, shows how much James has changed and matured. He’s so concerned, so caring, I couldn’t help but love him in the whole story. He’s progressed from the arrogant toe-rag to the man who would die to keep his family safe, and fight against Voldemort.
Lily was like a feminine, softer version of Harry-- Dumbledore does mention that Harry is really like Lily, and you’ve used that in this fic. She was such a loving, considerate character, and her love for Harry, her love for James-- they portray her the way I’d always imagine her to be like. The whole time James is in the hospital, she’s thinking about him, and after Harry is born, the love she feels for him is very evident-- you’ve written her emotions perfectly, and I loved that you chose her point of view for this story because it brings out all the emotions very well. She doesn’t want to let him go, afraid that the slightest slip-up, the tiniest mistake, the smallest betrayal from anyone will jeopardise Harry’s safety. This line, in particular, proves what I want to say here. She regards Harry as her whole world, she’s ready to do anything for him and it validates the sacrifice she made for her son later on.
I think your choice of the present tense was good. Somehow, it made everything ten times more realistic and the emotions more intense than they would have been in the past tense. I felt like I was with the characters, experiencing what they were going through. It brought me closer to them and made me feel for them much more than past tense would have. I liked the Shakespearen pattern of the story too, and the quotes from As You Like It, which happens to be my favourite Shakespearen tale.
The last few paragraphs, I must say, gave me a heart attack. I knew at the back of my mind that Harry would be okay, but I was still very anxious. I gasped aloud when Lily couldn’t find a pulse and I found myself mentally egging her on to resuscitate him successfully. It was very well written-- Lily and James urgency during those few minutes, and Lily’s inability to conjure a Patronus was well described. The story was slow and sad at first, and then it suddenly picked up pace, it was rapid, and it made my heart race. Well done on that!
All in all, I really loved this story, and it definitely deserved the QSQ nomination. Lovely plot and characterisation… and the last line, Harry starts to cry, and she has never, ever been so relieved to hear his wailing in her life. This was very nice. It made me smile. It’s so true! Lily must be tired of Harry wailing, and this one time, it would have been such music to her ears. I liked the irony of it and it was a very good way to end the story too. So yes, well done, and do write some more of Lily/James, because both your stories have been lovely! :)
Author's Response: Pooja! D: Sorry I've taken a while to get to this -- I've been busy basically just wasting my time for the last two weeks, lol, and I therefore have no good reason for taking this long to reply to your beautiful review. *grovels at Pooja's feet*
I do like this story. Kind of. I am so glad you chose this to review, because it was when I was going through my should-I-shouldn't-I phase with smut. (Of course, you know that I *did* write it in the end XD) It was also when I was contemplating deleting my chaptered J/L (which I have since done), but there were a couple of scenes that I wanted to expand on, hence why this kind of happened. :)
I have always always wanted to write someone's first time purely because I've seen it done so badly both in fanfiction and OF before. I mean, of course, I haven't had sex, but I do know that it's not easy the first time, especially for the girl. I wanted James to see that, and I think, in spite of his bravado, he would care about how Lily felt -- hence why he asked her if he had hurt her.
Yayyy, you liked Lily :D Yes, she is loving and considerate, but she's also rather snarky :P and she has her faults, just like James does. In my head canon, Lily is actually suffering from post-natal depression after Harry is born; the only thing is, everyone's so concerned for Harry that they don't really realise/pay much attention.
I seem to have a love/hate relationship with present tense. I hate it because it restricts my writing, sometimes, but I also think it can be effective. Yay to that seeming to be the case ;) And really, the Shakespeare thing was honestly just the only thing I could think of to find a title. My sister had mentioned that passage to me before, so it was her fault, really :P
Haha, I can imagine it would shock you. I think I should have finished the story properly -- I did think it felt unfinished, but tbh, I was so sick of this thing by the time I'd finally finished it that I just wanted to submit it. I was thinking one day that I would like to add an extra scene at teh end. I might. We shall see. But yay to your heart racing, lol.
Awwww, thank you. I pretty much died when it was nominated for a QSQ because I seriously did not think it was good enough, lol, especially with the ending.
Anyway, thank youuuuuu for the lovely lovely review. You are lovely, too. I do want to write more James/Lily, but it maaay end up on ClickySmut instead of here, lol, depending on what the content is :P I heart you lots for the review, and sorry for taking a while to respond and for using far too many emoticons!
Second Childishness and Mere Oblivion
Well, I am finally here to review my SPEW buddy. I’m so glad that you asked me to review this story, as it is so brilliantly written.
The irony was very well done. I felt like Harry stopping breathing felt very sudden, with nothing incorporating it into the story. However, when I stopped to think about it again, I wondered if it was an intended effect. As the story is from Lily’s point of view, I suppose that having her son stop breathing would be quite a sudden shocking thing, and perhaps you just threw it at me to try and recreate Lily’s shock. I'm a bit of a sap, so I didn’t really like it because I thought that after all you put Lily and James through in this story, they didn’t deserve to have that happen to them. I’m seriously glad you put the last bit in at the end when Harry recovered.
I liked how the repetition in Lily's thoughts intensified her emotions, but didn't feel over the top. This worked especially well, in my opinion, when she was panicking, because it made her sound like she was almost praying for Harry not to be dead.
Your characterisation of James and Lily is very different from any other I have ever read. Your portrayal of them as adults living in a war zone, which is, of course, who they are at the time, felt unique to me. Often, people write James and Lily fluff and, like I said about the sex being fluffy but unrealistic, that’s all great and nice, but I think that the believability of your characters was great. You show so much of Lily’s emotion that it’s almost impossible to connect with her, and I even began to understand her more than I would’ve done before -- as if she were a friend rather than a character I was reading. The other thing that made the whole story very believable was that, the war aside, everything that took place would’ve been quite mundane. People get drunk and couples argue all the time and I think that this is what you really nailed -- Lily and James were ordinary people in a unique situation. Their proposal was simple, over dinner a suitably romantic situation in a suitably unromantic manner; Lily’s concern for James in the hospital was so natural for two people completely in love; I could go on with the examples, but I think that I’ve made my point: the believability was down to the ordinary portrayal of Lily and James lives.
Actually, as a sucker for fluff, I think the proposal might’ve been my favourite bit. You handled it well, in my opinion, with a good balance of love and war. The reminder that Lily and James were fighting in the war worked well: it kept the scene from feeling too fluffy. In a way, I think, this section provided a little bit of humour and light relief in quite a ‘heavy’ story. James really lightens the mood at that moment, and I think you’ve made me like him a lot more by giving me a different insight into his character. I especially like that you clearly avoided the ‘James is rash’ stereotype in the proposal. It felt like Lily and James’ roles had reversed: James was the one worried, and Lily was just ‘OMG yes!’. I don’t think I’ve ever read such an emotional Lily, and she was especially emotional in the role of mother, despite James being initially the more enthusiastic about having a child.
The sex between Lily and James felt, to me, realistic rather than just beautiful and perfect. The exchanges after their first time felt sweet, innocent, and caring to me, in contrast to the ‘messy and painful’ sex. I think this almost emphasises how much of a ‘fumble-as-we-could-die-tomorrow’ affair it probably was. The second time, when they’d argued as only couples do, was far more loving and beautifully written, and contrasted again with the messy first time. I liked how their blissful second time also contrasted with the arguing before. I think that again, this emphasises that there are bad things in the world, but there are also good things: there is death and dispute, but there is also love and new life. You also linked the second sex scene really well with the preceding one, with the line: “the last thing on her mind was the contraceptive charm.” I really liked how it emphasised how surreal that their lives were: living in a war, but having wonderful sex.
I like how you're consistent about when you change your tense; it makes the non-linear sequence of events easier to follow. It’s something I have trouble with, even in linear writing, so I admire that you did it so well here. Merging the flashbacks/memories and the present was really effective, in my opinion. It made it very easy to understand because everything was very relevant, and without some of the information from the flashbacks, the story couldn’t have progressed. Keeping your tense consistent throughout each scene was also very helpful in keeping me on track.
The scenes also connected well with the quotes, as it felt a bit Shakespearean with the playwright connection. I thought the quotes were really well selected because they were very relevant to the story.
This story was really unique, and I really enjoyed it. I only hope my review can do it justice!
Author's Response: Hey BP! Apologies for taking a while to respond to this. Life has been very busy at the moment, and I wanted to do your review justice.
Okay, I know the ending wasn't quite right. To be quite honest, this was the first story I had written in a while, and I really just wanted to get it over with, lol. That doesn't excuse the ending, of course, but that was why it didn't seem right. I do think that I torture James and Lily quite a bit :P and I can see this scenario happening, but I needed to give them more closure, really. Maybe I might fix that up one day, so ta for the tip :)
Ha, it's interesting you mention her praying. In my head canon, she is actually a lapsed Catholic, so yeah, she would legitimately be praying there. And I'm really glad you liked James and Lily's characterisation! It is difficult to get characters right when they're living in what is essentially a war zone, and it's even harder to make things romantic and yet un-romantic at the same time, lol. It's lovely to know you thought it was believable, because that was really important for me.
YAY to you liking the proposal! :D And an even bigger YAY to you liking the smut, hehehehe. I hate it when people's first times are all silver strands and not really painful because (I'm not talking from personal experience) I know it's not like that at all. There is always awkwardness and almost definitely some kind of pain, and I think it's silly not to include that. And hot, drunk make up sex is... interesting to write :P
Ooh, I was worried the non-linearness would be hard to follow. I'm glad you found it easy to understand. And I only used the Shakespeare quotation at the beginning and end because I needed a title for the thing, lol -- I didn't actually have the whole playwright connection in mind till after I had written it.
Thanks for the lovely review, BP, and apologies for taking time to respond to you!
Second Childishness and Mere Oblivion
That was a very good story. enjoyed it alot.
Author's Response: Thank you very much for the review. I'm very glad you enjoyed it.
Second Childishness and Mere Oblivion
Wow, Soraya. This really was a stunner. :)
I am hardly reigning in my fangirling right now. I loved the dynamic between Lily and James, how it isn't a little fairytale, and the Shakespeare ... gah. I can't believe I hadn't read this yet. I really don't have anything constructive to say right now, so I apologize for that. This is just ... gah.
Just ... amazing. That's all I can say. :)
Author's Response: Ellie, thank you so much for the review! It really isn't half as good as you say it is, but I'm flattered all the same. And yeah, teh whole point is that it's far, far from fairytale or anything, but they're still sweet together as a couple :) Fangirling is always good, lol, even though I don't deserve it! I'm glad you liked the Shakespeare -- my sister introduced me to it. Thank you lots.
Reviewer: Equinox Chick
Second Childishness and Mere Oblivion
Yayayayay - you turned that drabble into a one shot. It was such a tense drabble; I remember getting very worried that you were going to kill off Harry ... and then where would we be without the hero. God, it might have been Ernie MacMillan and the Philosopher's Stone - hahahaha.
I admit to being a little confused at the beginning with the respective fights leading to stays in the hospital, but having re-read I completely understand now (Plus I am not used to non linearness :) ) I loved the honesty you wrote between the pair. You didn't deify either of them. James was horrible when drunk, although he did recover after a while (so very James-like) and Lily was short tempered with him and snarky to Sirius - (yay).
Lovely story, Soraya. Great snapshot of their lives. ~Carole~
Author's Response: Caroleeeee, thank you so much :)
I remember writing the original drabble. It was very, very much a stream of consciousness type thing -- basically, I had had a free double lesson at school, and I was on one of the computers, only some teacher kicked me out and told me to go back to my classroom. So I was kind of bored (the classroom was half-empty) and I decided to write my drabble. I couldn't think of a good fear for Sirius or Remus, so I ended up going with James's worst fear, which sprang to my mind first, for some reason. And then... voila! Lol. That was my little story for you, hahaha.
I always intended for Harry to survive. You know me and AU -- we don't really get along very well. I think it was partly because I did a CPR course last year and we had to learn how to do emergency resuscitation (I'm sure I butchered the spelling of that) etc on a baby as well as a grown adult. Plus, in my first OF novel, there *is* a bit of that too.
I can see what you mean about the non-linearity, but I'm glad you got it in the end :) And yeah, it wasn't meant to be sunshine/roses/flowers/whatever. Drunk!James could be fun, lol, but when he's angry, it isn't :( Anyway, he still was quite sweet with Lily, so I don't mind him too much. He was a nightmare to write half the time, though. How could I ever have been married to him? *sigh*
I hope you liked Sirius -- he can be fun when he wants to be, lol. And I'm really glad you liked this, Carole :) The lack of reviews for this story (though both yours and Gina's were lovelyyyyy) did kind of upset me a little, especially since James/Lily is pretty much the mainstreamest pairing ever, but yours and Gina's reviews made me smile lots, so thank youuu.
Second Childishness and Mere Oblivion
I still think it's excellent! I really like this. I really like your style, writing seems to come very easy for you (in spite of your grumblings elsewhere, lol)
As I've already said, I think it flows nicely from scene to scene, and even from the present to the things she remembers - their first time, and the night Harry was conceived, which now that I think about it is nice contrast.
I of course enjoy seeing anyone beat up James. ;) No seriously, it must have happened at some point and it always adds such drama, and we know they'll both be okay, at least until October, 1981. Sounds like James got hit pretty bad, and Lily's reaction was very good. And then you complicated it well with the little surprise.
But what really comes out is Lily's fierce love, especially at the end. That she's held him so tight she's almost ended it is so horribly ironic. You wrote her panic well. And I really like the last lines, I personally think it finishes it just right. And it also shows us that last bit of her character when you write that 'she has never, ever been so relieved.'
I have no concrit since I already gave you all my suggestions, lol. I think it's a great piece and wish you luck with it!
Author's Response: GINAAAAAAA
Thank youuuuu so much! Lol, writing doesn't come easy for me at all, especially this story. Most of this was written painfully, hahaha. The last thousand words, though, were all written when I sat down, sans laptop, and wrote the ending in a stream of consciousness, all by hand. But I'm glad you liked the style :)
Despite this being quite a dark story from the outset, I did want to have some nice James/Lily moments in there too, because while I do think James/Lily is a pretty tragic pairing (everyone knows how they end, etc.), I'm sure they had their good times too, so yeah. And YAY to beating up James! This is actually a sequel to my chaptered James/Lily, Checkmate (tis terrible, though), so beating James up was always in the cards, lol.
In my head canon, Lily (as a relatively young mum in the middle of a war with her son being targeted by the most evil wizard in the world) actually has post-natal depression, though she, and everyone else, was so focused on keeping Harry safe that no one really realised/paid attention. So yeah, it is a really horrible situation Lily was in, but in truth, she just really wanted to keep Harry safe more than anything else. And I know you didn't think it felt complete without Harry breathing in the end, so I'm glad you liked the ending :)
Thank youuuuu so much for the review!