Hey, Amanda! Tagging you from the Review Tag 2.0 thread!
So I'm normally about as anti-Snily as they come. I think maybe we've discussed this before, perhaps in a review/response or perhaps elsewhere. It all starts to run together sometimes. But the way you wrote this really spoke to me, mostly, I think, because it's all from Lily's point of view. I've always found Severus's love of her rather... hmmnn, I think "tainted" is the right word. Tainted by a something that always felt kind of selfish and possessive to me. Tainted by the fact that Severus wanted to have Lily on his terms, which is to say without James, Remus or most of her other friends in the picture. He wanted her in such a way that he didn't really seem to place a whole lot of importance on her happiness. And when he couldn't have her on those terms, he lashed out at her. But enough about him, let's get to your story, shall we?
The image of the Lily in the glass jar was touching in one way but also kind of sad, and I think Lily captured that duality in her thoughts about it. There's a part of her that really wants to destroy it. To release Severus -- and why is it that I always seem to call him Severus when reviewing stories that are sympathetic to him and Snape everywhere else? -- from this self-imposed, perpetual reminder of his loss. It would certainly be healthy for him, once he'd had a chance to get over it. In a way, it would have forced him to get over her. But she couldn't bring herself to, even if she were able. There's a bit of a selfish side to Lily, too, and I really like the way you wrote it. You didn't canonize her: Saint Lily, the beatified mother of the Chosen One who sacrificed herself to save him from the Dark Lord. No, you left her a bit flawed, as well. It's such a nice touch, one that adds a lot of depth and believability.
The next scene was a little harder to get my head around, mostly because there was no obvious clue as to how to place it in time. By the end of the story, I came to realize that you're jumping around a bit among the events of Severus's life. Some of them Lily would have been alive for and others she would have been dead. It seems that the scene with the frogs took place at some point before he became the Potions Master of Hogwarts, perhaps when he was still an apprentice Potioneer? Or maybe when he was trying to win his way into the Dark Lord's good graces by inventing a virulent poison?
Regardless, I liked this idea of Severus Snape: destroyer and healer. The small observations about the gentle way that he administers the antidote to the frog that he is able to save and the almost sympathetic way he treats the one that succumbs to his poison. I thought the line about the purple liquid -- that it could be considered poison or antidote -- was particularly clever. Sometimes the end is merciful.
The way you detail Severus's meeting with Narcissa and Bellatrix was a very interesting take on things. It's obviously colored quite a bit from Lily's point of view. She seriously downplays Dumbledore's role in the whole affair, and instead focuses on Severus's tendency to want to save people. The idea that she might be just a little jealous of Narcissa was clever. I never would have thought of it that way.
Ah, so I see that this story is actually somewhat non-linear in terms of its timeline, because she already knows how he dies. I like the way you introduced that concept.
The scene with young Severus was probably the most humanizing, at least for me. It is pretty well established that he did not have a happy home life growing up. That his father was not pleased to have a wizard for a son. This really put a lot of color around that premise and drew a really concrete connection between his relationship with his father and the dislike for muggles that helped to push him into the Dark Lord's camp. So he came to hate his father so much that he doodled a Dark Mark on his arm as an act of rebellion? That's really sad. And it must have made a big impact on young Lily, knowing, as she does, what that mark really means. Yet she still can't bring herself to turn her back on him -- at least not yet. This really helped me to get my head around what comes two sections later. Why she's still so attached to him in spite of the terrible things that he allowed himself to become involved in. She needed to save him in spite of his flaws. Or maybe even because of them.
Ah, James and Lily's wedding. It must have been the worst moment of Severus's life. There's not much to say about it, really. The way you wrote this section is crushing.
And he finally arrives at her side in the great beyond. If I had read this section all by itself, my normal reaction to Snily stories that I explained at the beginning would have taken over and I wouldn't have found it at all believable. But you built the story up so well, section by section, event by event, that I am here now and I'm ready to accept it. You're not claiming that Severus's love for Lily is some sort of pure, wonderful, admirable thing. You don't claim anything about him at all. You make it so that Lily's most perfect world -- her heaven -- would be one where she was never forced to choose between James and Severus. And that is a thought that I can very easily embrace. Her childhood friend and her adult lover, mortal enemies of one another, and she can have them both.
Your writing was lovely in this. Just lovely. Everything flowed beautifully. Your word choice was excellent and it really sounded like Lily. I couldn't find a single typo or grammatical problem.
Amanda, you find ways to make me really like things that I don't normally like! Well done!
Author's Response: Finally tackling the response to this very lovely review, and I apologize for my lateness! :)
Yes, I do believe we've spoken of it before. If I remember, you have about as much fondness for Snily as Jami does, so kudos to you for taking on this story with an open mind! (Shameless plug: I attempt to expose myself to those perceptions and qualities in Post Scriptum, just as a personal challenge.)
Gosh, I always canonize Lily. I think I look at her the way Severus does, that's the problem. I feel like a lot of people do, in a way, because that's sort of also how James looks at her. But yes, this story was about her in a lot of ways, because I wanted to let her be selfish and greedy and imperfect for once in her... death. I really love your analysis of her behavior; she wants to release him, and in doing so she wants to release herself, to not have him clinging to her and trying to keep her anymore. Yet in death, he provides a lifeline for her, and she doesn't want to let it go yet.
Correct, it's during his apprentice phase, which to me (as a fellow scientist) is one of the most interesting periods of his life. I can imagine him really throwing himself into work after losing Lily's friendship (and especially following her death). I did play around a lot with time and stream-of-consciousness writing, and I hope it wasn't off-putting. It was meant to be a little hazy and confusing.
I think in this story part of messing with Lily was letting her thoughts taint what she saw. In the potion scene, she was allowed to revel in his intellect, which is one of the things that first brought them together as friends, in a way. In the scene with Narcissa, she's able to feel jealous that someone else could even approximate feeling as comfortable around Severus as she once did, could be the recipient of his assistance and compassion.
Young Severus is hard for me to write, because he makes me want to cry each time. I thought of him sitting up in his room (or outside, in this case), doodling on himself or his papers and books and trying not to listen to his parents arguing downstairs. I would think that any woman with feelings for Severus would pull them from a desire to help him escape his torment, and I see his first friend, Lily, in much the same way. That attitude of compassion must have been so addictive for him, being so starved for love.
I'll take 'crushing.' I definitely tried for that!
Yeah, I can see that. I resisted giving them an unrealistically happy ending. Part of the beauty of Snily for me, and in a lot of my favorite ships, is the pain. It's imperfect and ugly and that's what makes the fact that it's happening so, so important, so significant. I always saw Lily as a bit of a peacemaker, so it made sense to me to have things end this way.
Thank you so much for your thorough review and all of your wonderful compliments. I'm really glad that everything flowed well, seemed realistic, and felt original to you. Thanks, once again, for giving this a shot :)