This is a very strange review for me to leave, and hopefully it won't be quite as strange to read. :) I would normally start out by saying that I started this story two weeks and one day ago, but I suppose in this case that'd be a pretty dishonest statement. In truth, I started this story over a year ago, and through a number of factors which you already know -- time and distraction and a bit of writing of my own, which this story inspired -- I left it at something like chapter 9. And you, silly Sarah, thought I'd leave it for good! But you know I couldn't do that; it wouldn't be fair, and besides that, I hated leaving something from my favorite fan fiction author unfinished. Every time I scrolled past it in my favorites list, I felt a bit more guilty.
And now I'm here, at the last chapter, with all sorts of emotions running through me. Predominant among them is a sense of accomplishment, but that's not what it should be about. It's closure, and happiness, and curiosity, and a bit of regret that this story ended quite before I wanted it to. I know it's not your favorite thing you've written, but there is so much of you in this story, and I hope you can read that without facepalming. :D It's your style and your voice, and the characters that you and I've spent a lot of time talking about elsewhere, and it's your time. Countless hours are documented here in these words, and you really should be proud of this. As writers, we don't love everything we write, and we shouldn't have to feel as though we do, but everything we do write is still very, very much us. I'm proud of this story on behalf of you, and it really is fantastic!
I loved Nora, even when I wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled, because that just made me root for her all the more. I loved Snape, of course, and it's no secret, but you very much did him justice in this story -- his emotions, his appearance, his mannerisms, all so spot on. Your Tonks was so much fun, your Molly endearingly stubborn, your Remus heartbreakingly pensive. And, last on purpose, your Sirius -- there is no comparable Sirius anywhere, not that I've read. If I'd never talked to you outside of reviews, I'd know the immense appreciation you have of him, just from the justice you did him here. He is J.K. Rowling's character, but you breathed new life into him and gave him the happiness she couldn't afford to, and I'd like to think that somehow, she would be grateful on knowing someone did that for him. I could go on and on and I'd never reach the end of the list just because I cannot tell you enough how much I truly respect you for keeping this so canon, so real, so vivid. It's a work of art, if fan fiction can legitimately be termed such. I thoroughly loved every single minute I spent reading this story; I wouldn't trade it for anything!
You've accomplished something here that so, so many people only strive for, but never attain, and you just need to know how seriously awesome this story is. I regret immensely not finishing it sooner, and am so glad that I did come back for a second try at it (not that I ever doubted I would!). I can't tell you the times when something you said, some way you turned a phrase or analyzed something, sparked more inspiration in me, as well. You heap tons of undeserved praise on In The Black and In The Red (and how I'm ever supposed to thank you for that, I haven't the foggiest), but it all comes from YOU. Reading this story was what made me write a Snape/OC in the first place, and even though I know you know that, it warrants reminding every now and again. :) And it's not just Snape: Your battle scene with Lucius and Nora in the Ministry (my very, very favorite chapter in the novel) is something I still reference when writing action scenes. I don't know if you remember my initial reaction to it, but I was so completely blown away by it, and even re-reading it in the past week or so, it gave me goosebumps that literally did not go away for a good fifteen or twenty minutes. You're an inspiration to me, one of the biggest since I've started writing more than just drabbles here and there, and I don't want you ever forgetting that!
I don't know why I chose to leave such a long review on this; I mean, I know you'll appreciate it, and I know it's to make up for the however-many chapters I stayed silent on. But I think also it's because I feel like I needed every one of those 6,000 characters (or however many I'll end up using) to convey to you how happy this story made me. You've grown as a writer since writing this, undoubtedly, but this is your very first, and without this story, I might not have known you -- and that thought's horrible! I'm so proud of you, and this story, and everything you've written since, and I cannot wait to see your books on shelves. Because they're going to be, and I'll be first in line every time, camping out for midnight releases and reading until my eyes are sore.
And now you're probably rolling your eyes, wondering when I'll stop and if I'm just a little pile of oatmeal on the floor now (and basically I am, but that's beside the point). So, once more: This story is fantastic. Fantastic. And I refuse to ever hear you say different. I love you, and every single word above is the absolute truth.
FORILLZ, YO ~
Author's Response: BLEERRGGGHHH
Okay, so firstlies: You are awesome. You've read more of my writing than anyone else, ever. If anyone is familiar with my stuff, it's you. I think, actually, that you're more familiar with my style than I am because you tell me a lot that you see me in my work, and I go back and ogle the lines as if expecting to see a miniature version of myself waving back at me saying RIGHT HERE, HERE I AM, because I have difficulty seeing any of my stuff with any kind of perspective. That also makes me nervous because I recycle words/phrases like a boss and if anyone's able to recognize that, it's you. SO JUST PRETEND I NEVER DO THAT, OKAY. ♥
Also must commend you for finishing this whole thing, EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO, and God knows I tried to talk you out of it, but you plowed onward anyway, ignoring my rants and eye-rolling and fingernail-biting. You could have stopped midway, declaring that you would rather take a two day jog through a desert while drinking salt water than watch Nora and Sirius getthisclose and then break away all angsty-like, lamenting their inner woes and turmoils all while staring at each other lustfully, etc., barf.
SO, ROUND OF APPLAUSE, AHOY!
♥ You are the best, and I mean that.