I saw everyone talking about how amazing this story is, and I've loved all your other stories I've read so far, so I couldn't resist this. It was brilliant!
I haven't read very many soulmate AU stories, so I don't know much about the trope, but I thought you did a great job of incorporating it into the Marauders era here, and really delving into the idea that someone has the last words their soulmate will speak tattooed on their wrists. It's actually kind of... horrible. There's a strange inevitability around the idea of soulmates, but the fact that you know from birth what their last words will be is scary. I think I'd be one of the people that would be trying to get rid of mine.
The details that you included in this story - like the fact that both Muggles and magical people seem to have the soulmarks (so of course Lily wouldn't have known there was anything different about her from that), and that soulmates don't necessarily have to be romantic - really helped to flesh it out and make it seem much more believable.
(Side note: now I'm also wondering what would happen if your soulmate can't speak, or if your mark could change at all... This isn't relevant to the story, it's just me rambling. Please continue.)
I felt so sorry for Lily. I can't imagine reading those words from such a young age and knowing, as soon as you're old enough to piece them together and apply them in a context, that the person you love is going to sacrifice themselves for you. That's such a terrible burden to carry from such a young age, and no wonder that she's avoiding romance in general when she sees that as the ending.
I loved her conversation with McGonagall in this - I always find McGonagall hard to write, and I don't usually see people writing scenes when they ask her personal questions, but this was perfect. Her advice was so wise, too, and it really helped Lily to move on from her fear, I think - knowing that the person who was her soulmate would make the choice to sacrifice themselves, rather than doing it out of a sense of obligation.
Even though this was a really sad story, you did a wonderful job of balancing out the darkness and the sense of foreboding with splashes of humour - especially the remarks that Sirius was making about her and James, and the reason that James convinced himself that Lily was his soulmate. Her comment about how it could have just as easily been McGonagall really made me laugh :P
You captured James and Lily's relationship really well here, too. I haven't read them properly for ages, but I do love reading about them (it's just so sad! *sobs*) and these two were totally in love and very believable.
I loved the twist at the end - the way that Lily had been fearing all of her life that her soulmate was going to sacrifice himself for her, and that she would cause James's death, but it wasn't just for her, and as soon as Harry entered into the equation, either of them would have done anything to save their son. It's still completely heartbreaking, but beautiful, almost poetic.
(Next time you write a James/Lily AU, can it be fluffy and include them surviving, please? :P)
Omg help I'm so sad about the ending. Which I know is kinda silly because I knew how it was going to end, but sjduajslfksd I still wasn't ready.
I'm very new to the idea of soulmate fics, so idk if this is a trope or not, but I had never read anything like it before, and the words on the wrist didn't mean much until you revealed what Lily's were and I just. aaah. It's so bittersweet. Like there is so much love in this fic and I loved watching Lily and James fall in love and all this cute banter except there was always that reminder in the back of y mind that they were going to die. And then her final thoughts , in a way I'm glad she didnt feeling guilty about not showing him the mark, but like, it kind of felt like if she'd had time she would have regretted that she never showed him. I don't know why - maybe the comment how it wouldn't have made a difference anyway. That's such a punch to the feels to end the story with.
Anyway this was so good. <3 I'm so glad I read it and I can definitely understand why everyone was recommending it all over twitter.
(I'm sorry if this review is full of typos, i think I caught all of them but I had to type this on my phone)
Emma! I just a mention of this in the Twitter chat and then after our chat about the mind boggling world war perspectives, I was even more stoked to check out your writing!
At first, I thought: Lily/James AU... okay. Based on your summary, I thought that maybe Lily survives. Bracing myself for this heartbreak, I started to read this fic. The way you describe words (using words) is just... incredible. Your first section is poetic. You carry Lily's guilt through your descriptions. Even though I was unware of the concept of soulmarks, I was able to piece it together, bit by bit, and suddenly, I realized that this AU might not be about Lily surviving at all... (still anticipated the heartbreak).
And let me commend you for using THEM when Lily was referring to her soulmate. I smiled when she switched to him, when she finally fell in love with James. What a subtly powerful moment.
I love the Marauders (plus Mary) in this fic as supporting characters. They're barely in this, but you've written them perfectly. (Sirius making those lewd comments, I laughed out loud at that bit!). And James. He fits so well with Lily. I loved his soulmark's word, too!
This whole soulmark makes me wonder... what about the rest of the Marauders/Mary? And Voldemort? And Harry? (Does Harry have his already, or do soulmarks develop when you're older? And does Voldemort have one, being incapable of love?)
And that ending... Lily forgetting to feel guilty. Okay. Yay for not feeling guilty. But that last line is unsettling to me. It's not peaceful. We like to think we will be at peace when we die, but that's not always the case, especially in murders. This last line sounds almost resentful and entirely defeated. It makes me rethink the concept of "Rest in peace" because, after all of this, I do hope Lily rests peacefully...
Wonderful, wonderful story. I'm so glad you posted this.
Okay, so... since this was already up on the archives, I thought it was pointless to read it on Google docs... much better come here and leave a well deserved review... and honestly, this was perfect! Perfect flow, perfect descriptions, perfect characterization... I didn't catch a single typo (okay, not a guarantee there are none, but still...)
Speaking of your description... I so, so envy your ability to do it... you have the perfect equilibrium between description and dialogue, your narration is so compelling, you picture the scene so well but it never feels too heavy. It's just great. And me, with my dialogue-centric style, really, really envy you.
But let's talk about this beautiful story. I've absolutely loved it!
Lily was great, I've loved the way you followed her and her relationship with her words since she was a little child till that fatidic Halloween. The simple idea of the words is so scary, if you think about it... and Lily's words were especially difficult ones... how can you let yourself fall in love if you know the person you'll fall for will sacrifice themselves for you? But there are things you just can't escape from, right?
Btw, I like that you explained the whole concept of the soulmarks here. I mean, I trusted you with Sirius/Remus, but I liked that you gave us a bit more context now, that everyone in this universe is born with the mark and the taboo around it. I also like the idea of spouses showing their marks once they get married. It's kind of scary but kind of romantic at the same time.
She first said no to James Potter because he was being a dickhead.
This honestly made me chuckle! :P And the following paragraph, too. I suppose I should find James annoying only for the fact that he insisted so much, instead I find him absolutely adorable.
The scene of their wedding was just the cutest thing ever! Remus accepting the new suit... (yeah, so typical of me, focusing on Remus when he's just a very quick side-character...)
And the scene after that, their wedding night... it was all just so romantic and my shipper heart was going to explode... :P
I love that James would find his words funny... that's just so typical of James Potter... :D And the reason he found them funny is just so... funny? The fact that the more Lily rejected him the more he got convinced she was The One because his words were basically a rejection. :P (Only, they weren't... *cries*)
I have to say, I thought I would feel the heartbreak much more. Instead the ending was almost... sweet? I mean, it's sad... but it wasn't quite as painful as I feared it would be. And I don't mean it in a negative way, I'm actually glad of that (considering last time I read something by you I found myself sobbing on public transport...)
I think I loved the idea that in the end it didn't matter anymore. That all the guilt Lily had felt for her whole life dissolved when the end arrived. Which makes sense, because she was going to die, too, and she was going to save her child, making the same sacrifice herself. It's just so perfect because it shows how James and Lily were actually made for each other, the two faces of the same coin. I love those two so much...
I'm not sure if my review makes any sense at all, but my point is... this was just wonderful and you are such a great writer!
Love you so much!