When there are extraordinary events happening, it is often common for people to overlook the more mundane aspects of their life. For instance, when a husband and wife are going through a divorce, sometimes their performance at their place of employee suffers, or their relationships with their friends weaken, simply because all of their energies are going into the extraordinary event that his happening in their life. Or, as Lily Evans reacted when her parents passed away, she did not neglect the more mundane aspects of her life, but rather became so involved with them that the meaning or purpose of doing them was lost.
With the war going on around them, with the presence of black envelopes looming overhead, many students were going through this. Their romantic relationships, so strong at one point, began to unravel as they worried more about their families than the well-being of their loved ones. Schoolwork suffered on the whole, and as consequences teachers had to reduce their workload, understanding the nature of the times.
What's strange is that, often, the trick can work in reverse. Somehow, occasionally the more normal parts of a person's life can act just as the extraordinary parts, usually only if the more mundane aspects have first been ignored. It then feels as though they have snuck up on that person and, in reaction, must be given the utmost deference, as the person usually realizes then how much that particular part of their life has fallen by the wayside, maybe even into disrepair.
It was that which was encountering the students of Hogwart's that year. As the extraordinary horrors of the war continued to become more and more evident to them, the more the things they normally would have been worrying about at school seemed to disappear. But, as the first week of June and, hence, exams came closer and closer, it was suddenly as if all the normal things had reappeared all at once.
Even with war brewing, the last weeks of May 1976 were filled with, of all things, normality. Students hurried into the Library for hours at a time, usually not coming out until just before curfew. And, as consequence, the normal aspects of Hogwart's life began to improve. More random couples were caught snogging in broom closets, wandering the corridors became safer because even the Slytherins who might have been terrorizing them at night had to make sure they didn't fail their examinations.
Unsurprisingly, the Marauders did not spend their time studying, but found other ways to bring normality back to their school. They took to Remus' suggestion to try more advanced magic to plan pranks to heart and, using their April Fool's Day prank as a template, they would appear in random corridors, surprising NEWT students with singing pop quizzes that would hit them with a tickling charm every time they got an answer wrong, or in the library with Exploding Snap flashcards they invented that only blew up when you threw the an answer card on a question card it didn't match.
Lily, oddly enough, had been splitting her own time. She was dealing with school and her 6th year exams with studying, but she also occasionally helped the boys with some of their more difficult pranks. She was unaware of their reasons for doing so, but was interested and pleased to be involved with their incredibly unique theories and ideas of magic. It could be construed as another attempt to use an abundance of work to keep herself from thinking of her parents and sister, and it was, but it was also a product of genuine interest.
It was such a practice that the group was now involved in, huddled in front of the fire of the Gryffindor Common Room, with parchment in front of them, Lily's Potions textbook discarded over the side of her chair. Notes littered the parchment and a particularly abused stuffed animal sat on the table, the subject upon which they tried out many of their pranks. Hilariously, the miserable bundle of cloth and stuffing once belonged to a young James, a fact that Lily enjoyed teasing him about, though James laughed it off just as easily. It was incredibly difficult to get James embarrassed about anything, unless it was Lily, but Lily herself was unaware of that fact.
"I don't understand," Lily was insisting, "How this is supposed to work!"
Sirius looked at her, a mocking expression of pity and condescension on his face, "Evans, mate, you don't have to understand how it's going to work. Just trust us that we understand that it is."
"No," Lily countered stubbornly, pointing again to something they had been scribbling, "If you're just standing there, Filch could get you at any time. Are you not worried about that?"
"Not even a little bit," Sirius grinned, causing the other Marauders to laugh along with him.
Lily looked uncomprehendingly at the four boys, "Why not?" She asked incredulously.
"Evans," Sirius started, "We've snuck about the castle for six years," He said easily to growing grins from Remus and James - the Marauders loved to build up their own legend and, while that was something that traditionally Lily would have hated, knowing the boys as she did now caused such a statement to simply make her roll her eyes behind her thin smile, "And, besides, we're not particularly terrified of getting detentions."
"Besides," James added, "I don't think Dumbledore would even give us detentions for this."
"Oh, really?" Lily countered, ticking off the rules they were breaking on her fingers, "Out after hours, outside after curfew, unlawful use of experimental magic, possession of banned items, use of banned items-"
"They're just fireworks, Lily," James interjected.
"And I don't even want to know why or how you have them," Lily countered quickly, before taking a deep breath. "Remus," she started suddenly, looking at the other boy in an exasperated manner, "Do you realize we're prefects?"
"I feel less bad about that than I should, probably," Remus remarked dryly, to laughter from the other boys and a giggle from Lily.
Maybe it was a way to forget, for all of them. Lily could forget about her parents. She couldn't really, of course, but there was something still worthwhile in the smiles. Because of this she could smile even when she did remember. Not always, but sometimes, and that was worth more than Lily could say.
For the Marauders, they could forget about their new reasons for these pranks, their de facto practice for the war. Truly, it was always in the back of their minds, their experiments serving as a unique magical challenge for entertainment purposes, but also hid more serious undercurrents. The more serious possible applications of their magical talents were notated elsewhere, away from Lily who, as much as she helped, wasn't a Marauder.
It was just nice to let, for once, the mundane overwhelm the extraordinary.
* * * * * * * *
It wasn't like James to stay up late to study but, then again, when it came to Lily Evans, it wasn't like James to do a lot of the things he did. It usually wasn't exclusively Lily that did it, but she was an important contributing factor, no matter James' honest desire that he could make decisions without the redhead being in his brain. The pair were going over Potions, specifically on the history of truth serums, breaking down what ingredients provided what properties to the truth serum, and how these properties came to be found in the first place.
It was dreadfully boring work, but James was still smiling.
"So," Lily was explaining, "They use different poisonous parts of plants, like belladonna or elderberry, and the more poisonous the part, the more compelled the subject feels to answer the question truthfully."
"And they're made safe for human consumption by dragon's blood," James said, partially in statement and partially in question.
"Right," Lily confirmed, "One of the uses Dumbledore found, actually," She added thoughtfully.
"Oh, really?" James asked, interested, "Good luck for Dumbledore that Sluggy is younger than him, he'd have taken all the credit," James added cheekily.
"Oh, stop it," Lily scolded him, "I happen to like Slughorn."
"Like Slughorn?" James asked, incredulous, "I've heard of tolerating the codger, but liking him?" James made an exaggerated expression of disgust, to which Lily gave him a withering look.
"He's a bit overbearing, sure-" Lily began.
"A bit?" James said, and was about to add more, but stopped himself at Lily's serious glance.
"He's a bit overbearing," Lily repeated, "And I know you are innately distrustful of Slytherins," she added parenthetically, before James again interrupted.
"I'll give you Sluggy, he's alright as far as the snakes go," James agreed.
Lily shot James another warning glance at the interruption, causing James to hold up his hands to her in a gesture of surrender, "But as much as he is the way he is, he cares," Lily said firmly, coming to the crux of her argument, "He actually cares about how these students do, and wishes them to be successful and happy, and it's easy not to like him, but I can't make myself ignore the good in him."
James smiled at Lily's passionate speech wanly, looking at her for a long few seconds, a thoughtful expression on his face as he shrugged back into the couch.
"You know," James said seriously, bringing Lily's eyes to his more firmly, "If you replace 'students' with 'Lily Evans' in that sentence, you could very well have been talking about Snape."
There was a pregnant pause, and both knew immediately with the mention of Severus Snape's name the mood had changed and they had crossed a line in their new friendship that hadn't been touched on before. Lily stiffened at the end of James' sentence and, while James posture was still relaxed, there was an almost undetectable tension in his chest that the other Marauders would have picked up on. There was a part of Lily that wanted to react angrily but, their newfound friendship in mind, she rolled James sentence over again in her mind.
"You're right," Lily said softly, "I suppose it could have been. Last year, it could have been," She quickly amended.
"Of course," James said easily, knowing he was toeing the lines of their relationship but unable to stop himself, "With Sluggy, "he is the way he is" means trying to hook you up with someone in the Ministry of Magic, or Magical Law Enforcement. With Snape-"
Lily interrupted, "With Severus it's the Dark Arts, James, yes," She said sadly, ending the sentence with a sigh.
If had just been the sentence, James probably would have kept going, but something in that sigh, patient but exasperated, accepting but defiant, that cowed James in a way that no one else had ever really been able to do.
"Sorry," James said, truthfully but without real apology, "I didn't mean anything by it," He added.
"We've had this conversation before," Lily said, the corner of her lip curling up gently.
"We have?" James asked, confused.
"It was about Amos Diggory, then," Lily confirmed, "You said "I didn't mean anything by it" and I said "You never mean anything by it, James, but that doesn't mean it doesn't affect people.""
"Honestly, and this sounds awful, but it's not often that I care if what I say affects people," James admitted earnestly.
"Which makes you seem like a right git sometimes," Lily seriously, "But less so when you realize how much you do care about those that are special to you."
"Stop it, Evans," James said laughingly, "You'll make me blush," he added with no indication that he ever would.
"Prat," Lily jokingly spat, giving him a faux-withering glance.
James only grinned in response, before turning back to his Potions essay, scribbling some nonsense or another that Lily knew she'd be unable to read. It wasn't that James had bad handwriting, just that the way he wrote certain letters was confusing to her, his "h"s would look like "n"s and vice versa, his "q"s a bit like "a"s. She figured everyone else was able to tell the words apart simply through practice with James and context of the words, but she hadn't had the experience of getting to know him that well yet.
"You're right, though," Lily added after several seconds of silence.
"'Course I am," James immediately added, the response to that particular sentence thoroughly ingrained into him, "'Bout what, now?" He asked, not taking his eyes off the paper.
"About myself and Severus," Lily said uncertainly.
James looked at her sensitively, "Lily, you should know by now you can ignore the things that come out of my mouth."
"No, it's alright," Lily affirmed, "Most of the things you say that I should ignore are the things that are most important for me to think about."
A quirky reply immediately jumped to James' lips, Lily could see it in his face, but his eyes grew wide for a moment, and he smothered whatever statement he had behind his teeth and instead simply went with asking, "Yeah?"
"I never thought about why I stuck with Severus so long," Lily said quietly, "But you're right. There was, there is, good in him, and maybe it was only when it came to me, but that means it's there..." Lily trailed off.
"But...?" James prompted, sensing there was continuation of her sentence from the expression on Lily's face.
"But hope can only get you so far. There needs to be something..." She struggled a moment for the word, "Something tangible. Something real. Something that justifies that hope."
"And now we could be talking about the war," James noted.
Lily opened her mouth to reply, then closed it quickly again, giving James an odd look of curiosity, "How do you do that?" She asked.
"What do you mean?" James replied, flummoxed.
"I mean, how do you make those sorts of connections so quickly?" Lily questioned, "I see exactly what you mean now that you've made the point, but I don't know if I'd have got there on my own."
"I'm a genius," James replied easily, grinning widely.
"James," Lily said, without humor, "Really."
James shrugged, still smiling, "I don't know, really. Just do. When you're running around with-" His eyes widened in shock almost imperceptibly for a moment, before tamping down again, "the Marauders, you need to be able to think differently about things," He paused only for the briefest of moments before adding, "Can I tell you something?"
Lily blinked a few times, thrown off initially by the abruptness of the question, "Sure, what?" She confirmed politely.
"For much of last year, I was jealous of Snape," He said, with no hint of embarrassment, though his status as a Marauder should have made that statement absurd.
"How do you mean?" Lily asked, tilting her head in confusion.
"You saw the good in Snape, and that hope led you to being his friend for years and years, despite no tangible evidence. I'm paraphrasing you here," He said, as if asking for a confirmation.
"Yes," Lily agreed, "That's the short story, yes."
"I tried to show you the good in me for all of fifth year." James began earnestly, "Evidence of the good in me all that year. And it was obvious enough that you were friends with Snape without that sort of evidence and I didn't understand, I was furious about, having to work so much harder for even the time of day," James sighed heavily, "I didn't want to just admit that," He admitted, laughing at himself, "But there you go."
Lily graced James with a small smile, "I'm sorry, James," She said genuinely, then continued, feeling the need to explain, "I'm stubborn, James. I gave Severus seven years because I did have hope. It took me five and a half to realize you actually had hope," She smiled a bit wider as James grinned at this statement, "There's little you could have done. Truthfully, I knew there was good in you most of fifth year, and much of this year as well, but I liked denying it more than admitting I was wrong," Lily said sheepishly, smiling shyly as James' grin grew wider.
"Thanks, Lily," James said honestly.
"It's just," Lily tripped over her words in an embarrassed fashion, "It's not... It's just the truth, James."
"Exactly," James said definitively, a smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth.
Lily sighed, rolling her eyes, "You're welcome, James."
"There it is!" James immediately cried, "Just the sentence we were looking for."
"You're ridiculous," Lily noted, shaking her head and returning to her own Potions essay.
"'Course I am," James agreed instantly, also turning to his essay, "I'd have to be to put up with Sirius all day," He noted jokingly.
"How true," Lily remarked dryly.
For several minutes, nothing but the sounds of their quills scribbling against parchment could be heard over the low, glowing crackle of the ever-present fire. It was late, but neither student was particularly tired, and both knew that the essay needed to be finished by tomorrow. It had snuck up on them, in all the volatility and extraordinary activity of the past few months and, truly, it was nice to have something normal to consume them for a time.
It wasn't an awkward silence between them either, which felt significant to James, though he would never admit it in front of Lily. Even around Remus, who would often tell him to shut up and do his work in quiet, he felt the silences unbroken by him or Sirius were awkward and unnatural. But to sit with Lily in silence, simply scratching about how Dragon's Blood and poisonous plants work together to create the non-lethal active ingredient of a truth serum, was infinitely comfortable.
But the mundane and ordinary could only last so long.
After a few more minutes of silence, James stopped writing his paper, but the look of concentration on his face remained, "Lily?" He questioned quietly.
Not looking up from her paper, Lily replied, "Yeah, James?"
"What do you think about the war?" James asked again.
The question stopped her quill mid-letter. Calmly, she dropped the writing utensil and asked, without looking at James, "Sorry?"
"What do you think about the war, Lily?" James asked again.
An expression of frustration and sadness crossed her face, and she consciously pushed down the lump in her throat that was bubbling up, "How do you think I feel about the war, James?"
"That's not-" He sighed, "That's not what I meant. I know-" He swallowed heavily, "I know better than most how much this has hurt you, yeah?"
The tears were threatening and, as much as she had cried in front of James over the past few months, she never liked doing it in front of other people, even him, "I know, yes," She agreed calmly.
"I just meant," He sighed again, "Do you want to do something about it?" He let the question hang unanswered, before helplessly adding, "I guess is what I meant to ask."
"What's there to do?" Lily asked hopelessly, managing for a moment to keep the emotions down.
"I-" James hesitated for a moment and it was that hesitation that caused Lily to finally look at him. He looked troubled, excited, sad, bursting with energy, completely downtrodden, handsome and windswept as he always did, his eyes tempered with pain. For a brief instant Lily wanted to reach out and touch his cheek in caring, but was still unsure of where the lines stood between the two of them.
"Do you remember Michelle outing my, um, "protection" of the tower?" He asked tentatively, changing the subject to better explain something as he often did, another example of his strange and occasionally brilliant manner of thinking.
"Yes," Lily agreed, pushing away the dull pain in her gut at the thought.
"The point of it was, the whole protection thing I mean," He clarified, looking down, "Was that I wanted to do something, yeah?" He drew his gaze to her again, and she nodded in agreement, "And I felt like, well, pranks and Gryffindor Tower, it's not enough."
"It was a lot, James. It meant a lot to everyone here," Lily said earnestly.
"Thanks," James said pointlessly, almost as if he hadn't heard her, or had heard the same thing several times, he looked down at the table again, "Dumbledore said much the same when I talked to him about it."
"Dumbledore?" Lily asked, that revelation quickly jumping out of his sentence.
"Yeah," James agreed, "And..." He trailed off, hesitantly, and looked back up at Lily once more, "Look, this isn't something he's letting anyone get involved in until after graduation, okay? So don't feel like you have to answer right now, yeah?" James asked nervously.
"Um," Lily stammered, confused, "Okay, James."
"He's starting an organization called the Order of the Phoenix," James said quietly, "To fight," He added. Then, after a beat and pointlessly he added again, "You-Know-Who."
"Oh," Lily said shortly, looking past James in an unfocused manner, unsure of how to reply. Again the emotion was bubbling up beneath her.
"You don't-" James stuttered quickly, "Like I said, it's not for another year and you don't have to say anything know I just..." He trailed off, moving his head until it was in Lily's direct line of vision, drawing her gaze back to him. He started more calmly, "I just thought you should know," He said.
"Yeah," Lily said, shortly again and James' shoulders drooped a bit at the tone. Noticing, Lily gave a tentative, weak grin, "Thank you, James."
There was a slight pause, as Lily went to again work on her paper before being surprised by James speaking up again.
"We've got to do it," James said, an intensity in his far-off gaze that Lily could see as she turned to look at him again, "Sirius and Remus and Peter and I? We've got to do it."
"You've got to do it, James," Lily corrected him, "The other three have got to follow you, you're their leader."
That statement seemed to shake James out of his intensity, as he looked strangely at Lily, a strange grin on his features, "What?" He asked, "I'm not the leader of anything, Lily. Except the Quidditch team. The Marauders? We're all, you know, together. We're all leaders."
"No, James, that's just not true," Lily asserted, adding, "No, let me finish," When James opened his mouth to contradict her, "Maybe you don't want to be looked at like that, but you are. The entire school gets their cues on how to act from you guys, and Sirius and Remus and Peter get their cues from how to act from you," She continued on loudly as it looked again like James was going to interject, "I don't think it's intentional, or that they think you're above them, it's just the way it is. You're a natural leader, James, people can't help but want to follow what you say."
James shifted uncomfortably, "I'm no leader," He said with less conviction than he wanted, "I don't..." He trailed off for a moment, "I'm not asking for anyone to follow me, much less my friends. They're all their own people and..." Again his voice faded out uncertainly.
"They look up to you," Lily said strongly, "Merlin knows why, the berks, but they do," She said, just lightly enough for James to crack a grin, "Now, you can either embrace that or run from it."
James looked at Lily, still smiling, with it growing maybe a bit larger before he said, "Is that really a question, Evans? When do I run from anything?"
Lily smiled, "Exactly. So don't run from this. You're already a leader. Embrace it."
"I-" James began, the strange lack of confidence that he would never exhibit in public on full, vulnerable display for only half a second before he replaced it with a more natural smile, "Thanks, Evans," He grinned and turned back to his paper.
Lily rolled her eyes, "No problem, Potter," She said, deliberately stressing his name.
"So, what are you doing about this summer?" James asked, deliberately nonchalant.
"You mean..." Lily trailed off, the uncertainty now focused on her, "My living situation?"
James nodded, looking up from his paper, an calm but worried look on his face, "Yeah."
"I've been talking with Mary and Alice about staying with them. I-" She abruptly halted her sentence, noting internally that she hadn't told anyone about this particular fact, but then gathering strength up as she realized that, if anyone, she could tell James, "I wrote my sister, too. Asking if I could stay with her and Vernon."
"Yeah?" James asked kindly.
"Yeah," Lily confirmed, "I haven't heard back yet, but I can't figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing."
"You tried," James said, "That's the important part. If she can't pick that up, that's on her, not you."
Lily nodded, the emotion again welling up, "Yeah," She said brokenly.
"You can't blame yourself for something you did when you were a little kid, Lily," James continued softly, his arm reaching out to her knee tentatively, but after the initial touch rubbing it more comfortingly, "Where would I be if I did that?" James joked.
With a large sniffle, Lily let out a short gasp of laughter, "True," She allowed. Then, after a moment's pause, looked at James with determination and said, "See? You are a leader."
She said it with such vigor and defiance in her eyes that James couldn't even attempt to deny her, he simply smiled slightly and said again, "Thanks, Lily."
Lily returned his smile before inhaling deeply, brushing her eyes quickly, with an unsuccessful attempt at surreptitiousness. She looked at James with an exasperated expression and then indicated their papers, "Now, we have to get done with this."
"Absolutely, right, darling," James said, putting on his ridiculously lofty vocal affectation, "Or we'll of course be late for the gala," James added.
"Oh, do shut up," Lily groaned.
After a few moments of silence and scratching and the crackling of the fire Lily added, "It was nice this week, to forget about all the things going on outside of Hogwart's."
"Doesn't last," James said with heartbreaking ease.
"I hope there will still be moments like this, though," Lily added, a sense of pleading in her voice, "Moments where we forget that terrible things are going on outside, and can just worry about the twelve uses of Dragon's Blood."
"There will be," James said just as easily, not looking up from his paper, "It won't all be black envelopes and tearful conversations. It won't always be intense discussion and distrustful backwards glances."
"How do you know?" Lily asked quietly.
James looked up from his paper but, as opposed to looking at Lily, he instead turned his gaze, as he often did, to the fire. For a few moments he just stared there, before cracking a grin and turning to her and saying, "You gotta have both, remember?" He watched the small grin of recognition spread on Lily's face before continuing, "We're not wired that way. Even when things are at their worst, we're programmed as people to be able to find something good. We'd never survive otherwise."
Lily wondered idly when James got so wise about things, about people.
The pair smiled at each other and went back to work on their essays.
"Lea-der," Lily intoned in a sing-song voice.
James couldn't help but crack up laughing.
* * * * * * * *
A/N: That chapter did not go at all how I planned, which is ridiculous since planning this chapter is what took so freaking long to get it out. Regardless, I rather enjoyed the way it did come out, and I hope you all did, too.
Before I get back to the reviews, I want to thank all of you who have made compliments on my writing throughout the course of this story and point you to something else I do, the blog I run entitled Racecar Brown. It has mature language, and deals with mature opinions, but if you're interested simply Google "Racecar Brown" and it'll be the first thing that comes up. Hope you check it out!
mebmarker24: Hey! I have missed your constructive comments over the last few chapters, thanks for reviewing again. I understand that it definitely was different than the other chapters but, like you said, it was a much needed break in tone, otherwise the emotion might have been too much. What IS it you like about my writing, by the way? Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks again!
Yvonne Park: Well, relationships move very slowly and, according to the books, Lily and James don't get together until the beginning of Year 7, so, yeah. I have to make it move slow in that aspect! Thank you so much for reviewing and continuing on with the story.
Julie AV: Between the last update and this update I turned 24. Yes, I am a nerd. These things happen. Thank you for your compliments!
elephunts101: Well, both of them are staying away form the topic of how they like each other. Neither of them are ready for that yet and they both know it, especially with what's going on around them. Thanks for the review!
rain...during winter?!: Aw! Thank you for enjoying my story so thoroughly. Hopefully it hasn't been too long since the last update where you have to recheck the whole story and become bleary-eyed again! Thanks for the review!
frecklemary: To answer your questions, I think it's going to take Lily and James both awhile to even get to a place where they can discuss those kinds of feelings. And, second, I have absolutely no idea how long this story is going to be. If I had to guess, I'd say at most 10 more chapters? But, hell, for all I know it could be 50 more chapters. I'm glad you enjoy my pacing, that was one of my focuses with this story, and I have full intention of not giving up on this. Thanks for the review!
summersrain: The story definitely needed a softer chapter, as it can't be that stressful all the time! Thanks for reviewing!
KaceyO: I thought the Alice story was pretty amusing, too, especially from Lily. I'm glad to count you as a reader, and thanks for continuing with the story!
Sarahrules336: I'm glad it seems realistic, as that was a big thing I wanted from the story! Thank you for reviewing!
The Marauders Are Awesome: Firstly, I agree with your name. Secondly, thank you for enjoying the story so much, and thank you for reviewing!
M'rika: It wasn't necessarily supposed to be ominous. I was more trying to paint that James didn't want to necessarily put himself in "The Friend Zone" as it is often called, but was uncertain on how to deal with that very issue. I like fake-haughty James, too. Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reviewing!
names are overrated: Thank you for your high opinion of my work! I'm glad to know that this story has grabbed you. Thanks for reviewing!
XXJAMESLILYXX: Sorry if this took too long! With holidays and jobs, etcetera and so forth, it took a bit longer to get this chapter out. Hope you like it! Thanks for the review!
Alicia: Thank you for you detailed thoughts on my story. They really make me want to work harder and put out something great for all my readers. I'm happy you think so highly of my story and, please don't cry! It's another chapter! Yay! Thank you for reviewing.
daughterofthemoon: I'm glad you picked upon that being my own explanation of how James might start garnering opinion for the position of Head Boy. I tried to explain it from a student's perspective in this chapter as well. As far as Chapter 1 goes, I wouldn't change it plot-wise or even dialog-wise, I'd simply tune it's writing style to fit the subsequent chapters. But that's a ways off of even being a possibility. Thanks for reviewing!
middlechild3of5: For a character to be likable, he has to be more than one-dimensional, which was my goal for James. And, yes, I am a dude! Thanks for enjoying my story, and for reviewing!
Heart of the Phoenix: Thank you for your kind words. I have always tried to make characterization a focal point of writing a story, so I appreciate it. Thanks for reviewing!
-EHWIES: Thank you! I truly enjoy "Through A Glass Darkly" and read it as often as it updates, so thank you for that, from one writer to another. Thanks for the review!
Randomisation: Picking a theme for each chapter imbues that chapter with a sense of purpose, so it's almost more for me as a writer than it is for you as a reader (embarrassingly). But I am glad you enjoy it! Thanks for reviewing!
Dustfinger's cheering section: I promise not to abandon this story. Yay! I hope that you enjoy this chapter as much as you've enjoyed the others, and I thank you for reviewing.