As you may know, my worst fault, at least when it comes to recommending stories, is that I frequently fail to write an adequate story description out of a fear of spoiling the story’s plot. I suspect this is going to be one of those posts.
As the story’s official summary says, Lily isn’t a witch. Instead, she’s a muggle who meets James Potter in a bar, not long after they’ve each graduated from their respective schools. The story then focuses on some fascinating relationship changes in addition to the plot alterations.
How will Petunia and Lily get along when Lily isn’t a witch? Initially I thought that the self-loathing I sensed in this story’s Petunia (as opposed to the loathing which canon!Petunia focused upon anyone magical; anyone who was a freak) was one of those things that was different. Later, I decided that Petunia’s self-loathing was present in both this fic and in canon; I had just failed to grasp Petunia’s canon characterization as well as this author. It’s strange how a story as AU as this is managed to make me understand canon better.
How would James Potter be altered when he hadn’t chased Lily Evans throughout seven years at Hogwart? James’s latent maturity is often credited to his relationship with Lily. Again, I suspect that the Monroeslittle had a better grasp on the potential within canon!James than I did. I like the idea that James grows up not necessarily because of the girl in his life, but because of the war and because of his own desire to be better. It speaks well of him that he grows up for better reasons than just to catch a girl.
This story isn’t solely about the romance of James and Lily, of course. The war is practically its own character within this story. Viewing the war through the eyes of a muggle, Lily, casts it in a very different light, too. It’s both a more distant threat, and a more terrifying reality.
What really captivated me about this story, though, is how the author handles the angst. Well, that and the way I was forced to contemplate the nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not one of my strengths, I’ll admit. And when James screws up big time, and then others screw up just as badly, it’s awful. So does forgiveness mean forgetting, or at least choosing to attempt to forget? And does forgiveness mean there are no further consequences for one’s actions?
When Lily opens herself up to love, it’s like James carves out a Potter-shaped hole in her heart. And when he blows it, it isn’t as if that part of her heart is emptied. It’s more like that hole is filled with a dementor, sucking all the joy out and poisoning even the good memories. As a result, I bawled my way through a good-sized chunk of this story.
“Just Stay Here Tonight” has a beautiful ending which makes the angst all worthwhile. And coming from one as angst-phobic as I am, that should mean something. I’m so glad I read this. I’m only sorry that the author has just two stories (this one and another) in fandoms I know.