I don't know what it is, but Heart of Darkness allusions always get to me, as you well know. It's such a terrifying and engrossing book, and you evoked the same emotions with this. I've never thought about Severus and Lily in a Marlowe/Kurtz dichotomy (if anything I would have done the reverse, with Snape as Marlowe and Lily as a Kurtz figure), but this is so lovely and corrosive and intense. You do all of those things so well, obviously, but the intense is what gets to me every single time. As far as I can remember, no author's ever wrung the emotions and the intensity out of mere words like you without fail do (like in Out of Time, which just iaiprhskd idek how to deal with that -- congrats on finishing, by the way!). I've seen that Snape/Lily has experienced a little revival lately, and while I always sidestep the ship because it can be so emotionally manipulative, this was just... eee.
It's rare enough that we ever see one from Lily's point of view that doesn't explicitly bring up the role James plays in this, but one where Lily is attracted at all to Snape... eee. Your myriad interpretations of Lily are always among my favorites because you don't reduce her (or, perhaps more appropriately, deify her) to the pure angelic pedestal of honor and whatever. This Lily is fallible, feels things other than saintly pity and/or toootally 'justified' repulsion towards Snape, is lost and confused but not exactly in an idealized/romanticized way, if that makes any sense? Marlowe and the Intended never quite know what it is they're chasing. There's a very tenuous innocence, perhaps, but it's dashed away in Marlowe when he finds out (something resembling) the truth and sort of undercut when Kurtz dies and leaves the Intended hanging. It's tragic, of course, but again, it's not just the romantic sort of tragic. It's genuinely horrifying, and not in a swoon-y horror way, and there are elements of the romantic tragedy and the real horror (the horror~) in this, which I really, really liked. (I haven't read it in three years so my memory may be a little hazy, forgive me).
... anyway I really liked this. As usual. So.
Author's Response: Gubby! *glomps* It's always great to hear from you and see you around (a new story I see? It's long as anything, but I will read it *is determined*). Thank you very much for reading this (because school is... you know) - seeing that you'd reviewed too is a treat, and I really appreciate it. ^_^
Mush aside, I'm thinking over your idea of making Lily into a Kurtz figure. Somehow, I find that terrifying, but it would be brilliant to try it - with my luck, Lily would turn out to be a horrifying goddess devouring the flesh of the men who love her. Snape is definitely more suited to Marlowe - making him into a Kurtz was tricky, and if anything, he represents more of the disappointment Marlowe experiences at actually meeting Kurtz. I'm starting to think about what this would have been like the other way around, and I must stop and continue responding. Yes.
This story is very much in the wake of "Out of Time", so the crazy intensity of that one is still with me. Maybe that's what helped with Lily's thought process - one Lily ended up being like the other in many ways. It's fantastic to hear that this story is intense, and I like the word corrosive, too, because there's so much slime and fluid in this story - both characters are stained by the potions they brew and Lily sees her own blood as poisonous to others. The setting eats away at them both, destroying what could have been a fluffy moment. You always come up with the best ways of describing these kind of things - thank you! :D
Lily in this story is kind of like Eve - curious, impulsive, striking out in a new world, and she tastes the apple. Does she regret it? Does she like it too much? She has gotten what she wanted... maybe... and discovers that something is very wrong with it - it's the discovery that the Intended isn't allowed to have because it destroys all of the illusions and perhaps it even kills love. Maybe this is the turning point for Lily when she decides to leave Snape to his own devices, or maybe it's a beginning of something that was effectively dashed by the "Worst Memory" incident. You're right that she's so fallible and confused on this quest into the underworld - all of it goes wrong for her, and Snape probably has no clue what's going on. The story can be seen as exploring Lily's desire (oh god, Freud would love this reading) and her rejection of it in the end stands for the repression of desire for Snape that she exercises in the world above ground. I like what you've said about it using a different kind of tragedy. It's not romantic, and it's not meant to be a romantic story, though it could have been if the context was different. I can't even describe what it ended up being, but perhaps that's what makes it horrifying - it can't be named. Even in the book, Marlowe doesn't know exactly what "the horror" is supposed to represent - he can guess at it, but it remains unknown. Snape can name his "horror" - his love for Lily - but Lily can't. She remains, like Marlowe, in the dark.
No pun intended.
Thank you for this, Gubby. You've made me think about the story - like really think about it - and I love it when reviewers give me the chance to look back at a story and see it anew. Your reviews are always amazing! ^_^