Actually, I think Petunia can take James if she wants. ;) Then Lily gets Severus! Sorry, totally off topic!
I loved your characterization of Petunia! It puts her in a whole new light! Great job!
Wow! What a beautiful one-shot! An interesting idea and one that I think you've mastered wonderfully. James and Petunia, who would have thought it?
I'm sure many would see this as a completely improbable pairing but I think your characterisation of both Petunia and James makes it believable.
I love how you show Petunia's insecurity. When reading this you get the impression that she has been overshadowed by Lily all her life. Lily was popular, magical and got the perfect romance - everything Petunia wanted. Her belief in her own insignificance particularly comes across in this line:
Again, her face registered surprise, presumably at the fact that he remembered her name, but she quickly masked it.
It was excellent that even though you proved that Petunia was significant through James recognising her and kissing her she still has low self esteem at the end.
Each step she took was a reminder that the next time she saw him, he wouldn’t remember anything; he may not even recognise her at all.
Your characterisation of James, in my opinion, was also spot on. I liked your opening line:
James shuffled through the cool evening, hands stuffed in his pockets and head bent towards the ground.
as it is instantly at odds with the arrogant, happy go lucky James we're used to reading about. It shows a different side of him, and I think that's important. It shows that he and Lily hadtheir problems and are not perfect as Petunia believes.
The focus not only on James/Petunia but James/Lily is well done. There was a strong Lily/James dynamic even though Lily was not actually present. I think you wrote the memories of James and Lily very well. This part in particular made me smile:
I was so proud when she first said yes…I held her hand all the way back to school, and I could hear people whispering about us, but I didn’t care.
It's just so like James :D.
I like how you captured that James, like Harry, has a bit of a hero complex. He likes to be a knight in shining armour. This shows itself in James kissing Petunia because she is upset. She wants this whirlwind romance and for a split second he gives it to her. It's a nice touch to James' character - that he doesn't like to see people upset.
Your dialogue was great and it was good how you brought in James' drunken slur gradually:
“I’ll never forget it, y’know. ‘S times like this that make me realise how far we’ve come.”
Also you have a gift for description. This linen was really excellent:
Eventually, he pulled away, aware as he did so that his lips were stinging with this new secret.
There's one thing, however, that could be improved to the story's benefit. Sometimes the alternating POV between James and Petunia can be confusing. The two POVs are intertwined, and I got confused at times. Also at the very beginning I spotted this:
but seemed to decide
As you're in James' POV here it shouldn't be seemed, it should just be 'decided'. 'Seemed' indicates that you're in someone else's POV. In James' POV you would know that he had decided for definite.
I just feel that by clearly indicating a shift in POV from James to Petunia it would enhance the brilliance of this story.
However, that is just my opinion, and you can do with it what you wish. I really did enjoy this, it was creative and original. You even had me feeling sorry for Petunia, something I never thought would happen. Brilliant job, well done :).
This is amazing, I adore it! *clicks add to favourites*
Amazingly written and IC!
Wow.................... um, what just happened?
All in all, it was fairly well written. I'd never thought of Petunia that way. It only made me respect her more.
I love when you write rare pairs. They’re always such wonderful fics! I dunno if this is really considered James/Petunia, but you know what I mean.
I really like your characterization of James. For me he’s a difficult guy to write, for whatever reason, but you did a great job. He’s young, which is something I think authors sometimes forget, and he’s in love, even though he’s away from Lily at the moment. And you capture all of this very nicely. Hell, you even capture drunk James rather nicely, which is to say I could still see the James we know even when he’s drunk, instead of just a random drunk person.
It’s lovely little twist to have him meet Petunia at a pub; she isn’t exactly someone I’d picture frequenting a pub. But the whole night is like that, isn’t it? A couple of coincidences and odd decisions. Because that’s the only way James and Petunia would ever really meet up. You could have written this pairing in a huge, over-dramatic way, but you didn’t. You kept it simple, and I think that’s partly what makes it so great.
I actually found myself feeling bad for Petunia, something I didn’t think was entirely possible. But the emptiness you portray her as having, the longing for a magical relationship like her sister has – it tugs at my heartstrings. I want Vernon to turn into this prince for her. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I want James to kiss her, but you know. He’s drunk. /consoling self
The kiss at the end is so bittersweet. I don’t want James to do anything like that and be an idiot, but I don’t want Petunia to be so empty. And she would have to turn away as if nothing had happened, letting the secret escape her lips in a sigh which would be lost in the wind. How do you do that? Sarah, you’re such a wonderful writer. I love this line, and most of the lines, really. I rather enjoyed this fic, with its drunken rare-paired-ness. -wink-
Ooh! I’m always interested by Petunia stories, and Petunia and James together is a great combination. It’s made even more interesting because they’re interacting without the mediation of Lily; usually when we see them together, Lily’s there, which definitely creates an interesting dynamic. I really like your reading, which seems to imply that Petunia’s animosity towards James is more related to Lily than it is to James – when Lily’s not around, she’s almost friendly.
I really like what you did, defining Petunia by her jealousy of Lily – it really does seem to be one of the driving forces of her life, which is terribly, terribly sad. Interesting how she snatches the chance to try out her sister’s life, talking with and even kissing her boyfriend. James’ perspective on how she tasted different than Lily was fascinating – I’d have liked to hear what she thought about kissing James, though. What was it like to test out what Lily has, what she’s always wanted? I’d also be curious to know what drove James to the bar – what happened in his horrible day? Was it merely a lover’s spat, or does it have more to do with the conflict in the wizarding world, and how much he’s worried about his family?
One small quibble: when Petunia leaves for the lavatory, James seems fine, and when she comes back, he’s suddenly very drunk. A minor detail, but it distracted me from the flow of the story a bit.
I love the way the story ends, with Petunia walking away sure that James won’t even remember what happened. It says a lot about Petunia’s character, I think, that she sees this as sort of a stolen moment, something not real for anyone except for her. She’s clearly so lonely, and she wants what Lily has so badly; at the same time, she’s absolutely convinced that she’s never going to get it. She can’t believe that James would remember this encounter, because she can’t believe that it happened, that she had even so much as a taste of Lily’s happiness. Or perhaps she can’t quite believe that Lily and James would have problems enough that it would result in James winding up in a bar – in her eyes, Lily’s life is perfect and hers is lacking. Petunia had fallen silent and was gazing almost wistfully at James. “You had the perfect story,” she murmured. *sniff* Great job.
This is my third time writing a review for this story. It seems like I'm having trouble writing my review before my account login expires. I have forgotten some of what I had meant to put in my review, so you'll have to excuse me for not providing as thorough a review as I would've hoped.
You never told me you had put this story up (let alone the fact that you were the author). Obviously, I've read it already, but I have to let you know in more detail how much I loved it.
Firstly, I loved your attention to detail here. Your first and last paragraph were filled with such sensations that it literally blew me away. Your attention to the Muggle pub made me actually envision James to be there, a place where I normally would never have been able to see him. And the cold, bitter wind outside was so apropos to the mood of this story. Your last sentence was so wispy, so dreamlike and beautiful. *sigh* (I'll have you know I sighed quite a few times while reading your story).
He stared at it for a long time, enjoying simply watching the beer eddy before him, and concentrating so hard it was as if he believed looking at it for long enough would make the rest of the world disappear.
One of my favourite sentences in this story. It showed how distraught and how necessary it was for James to be alone in a pub at this time. This is where I began to feel an urgency to find out what had happened to force James into such a shady place. Excellently worded and very very powerful.
I also enjoyed seeing Petunia through James' eyes here. Not just that, but Petunia's character overall in this story was superb. I did, however, have reservations in the beginning. I didn't feel that Petunia was in character after she recognised James. While I did like to see the warmer side of her personality, I don't think she would've begun the night with James without showing at least some animosity. After all, James embodies everything Petunia wanted and hated Lily for. Not even a bit of hostility for old times' sake? Even James seemed wary about Petunia's presence in the pub. But after that, you won me over. I began to feel more for Petunia, especially after her moment of weakness in the bathroom. It reminds me that everyone's got that vulnerable little girl inside of them. It's amazing how well Petunia was able to hold back her tears; I can't imagine how I'd have reacted if I had to keep hearing about how much a guy loved my sister.
“She looked so beautiful that day — I can still see that afternoon sun reflecting off her hair and dress, if I close my eyes.”
I wish we could've found out what had chased Petunia all the way to the pub and how this whole feeling of dissatisfaction had come to pass. At first, I thought it was from seeing James and Lily so happy together, but then I realized that couldn't be the case. James had only met once before this, and Lily couldn't have really told Petunia about her love for James (I thought they had stopped speaking before their seventh year?). So what triggered Petunia to feel the way she does about Vernon? What pushes her so definitely toward James with whom she's so tabooically (not a word, I know) attracted to?
The kiss deepened, and he could taste the peppermint savour of her loneliness: so different to the cinnamon and sugar he knew.
Officially my favourite sentence I've ever read in any fanfiction. I've never thought to compare cinnamon to peppermint (much less make that comparison with the Evans sisters). So...perfect.
As you can see, I pretty much adore you for writing this, Sarah. This was truly a work of art, and I can't tell you how thankful I am that you wrote this story for me. It was very, very beautiful. Now then, you might have noticed my subtle *cough* nudging toward you writing something else related to this story: the Petunia/Vernon part of this. If you could make Petunia/James so beautiful and poetic, I can only imagine what you can do to Petunia/Vernon. Bravo, Sarah. Bravo.
Author's Response: Oh, I know, that happens to me a lot! Don't worry about it at all. This review is more than enough anyway! First of all, I must sincerely apologise for not asking you before posting it up - I realise it might have been nice to talk to you first. But I was thrilled to see you so ahppy in your first review, so thank you very much! And did you not see the masterlist? I'll give you the link next time I see you about. :) I'm really glad that you liked my pub: I had it so clearly formed in my head, but I had to rewrite that first part many times before it sat right! I do rather like the idea of James going to a place like that. The part about the beer is like my signature move in a story. I concentrate on describing one thing very closely, and reflect the character's feelings in it - so I'm always pleased when people particularly notice it! I wasn't sure whether it would flow with the rest of the story when I wrote it, but it seems it did, so yay! I definitely see your point about Petunia, but I wasn't sure how much she would hate James, per se, rather than just being jealous of him and Lily. I thought that perhaps after meeting him only once, and also the fact that she was upset already because she was alone for the weekend, she might have softened feelings towards him. Still, yes, I do understand why you felt that. I'm happy you liked th abthroom scene too - again, something I was unsure about. *giggle* So much of a J/L at heart, you are. :P As far as Petunia's dissatisfaction goes, it wasn't entirely based on James and Lily, you're right. In this story, I tried to portray a Petunia who is upset anyway about the lack of variety and excitement in her life - her lost youth, if you like - and because James and Lily embody everything she is missing, that makes her attracted to James. And she can't stand that her sister has this life [I presumed she'd know about a lot of it through their parents, or something.] Concerning what drove her to the pub - I would like to think she enjoys watching other people's lives, and this pub she has never been to before presents her with the perfect opportunity to do just that. SQUEE that you liked my peppermint-cinnamon-sugar line!! I was particularly proud of how that came out, I msut say. So I'm thrilled that you like it so much - you have no idea how much I'm grinning right now! Thank you ever so much for your wonderful review: for all the lovely compliments in it, as well as the con-crit. I'm really pleased you liked it this much, and that you want me to write a companion story! Hee! I'll see what I can do, my dear. ;) *huggles*
I think this fanfic was very well written, but I don't like this pairing. No offense, but I very, very much prefer the wonderful pairing of James and Lily. Oh well, thank goodness James wasn't thinking straight when he kissed Petunia, because I will never, never forgive him for cheating on Lily with her sister. I felt sorry for Petunia and her... well, unexciting love story. And I don't usually sympathise with her. Good story, though a little sad and depressing. (:
Author's Response: Thank you for your review! Yes, I'm not sure I like James/Petunia as a couple, but it was an interesting challenge that I was given, and I love writing pairings that seem almost impossible. It's great to be able to explore that part of their personalities. I'm glad you felt for Petunia! Thanks again.