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I definitely saw that it was fifth year, and you showed it so well in your complex, yet eloquent description. I don't particularly ship Snape/Lily, but I am not against the idea of them either. And this is just pure perfection. I couldn't read a fanfic of these two in a normal relationship. The story between them is unique (even if ordinary if one really considers it), but just because the magic behind their relationship - you displayed it in this story - so incredibly. I can read something like this every day and will never grow tired of it.

I have not read or heard of "Heart of Darkness" before, but reading this one-shot, I can only imagine you captured the author's essence of that story so well - I wouldn't have to read it, but if I ever do come across I will try to.

Reading this was like watching the scene "Snape's Memory" in the movie. Snape introduced Lily to her true self. They both could have had something special. Unfortunately, Severus fell to darkness. Lily perhaps hoped she could have saved him, but couldn't because he was already in too deep. Their childhood will forever remain in a snow globe. Nothing goes in and nothing comes out.

Another amazing fic to enjoy by you Susan! Thank you! Thank you indeed! ♥

- Asphodel
I love stories with little to no dialogue. There's just something special about them. Perhaps it's because we don't often speak the way we think, therefor a story with no spoken lines is somehow more poetic.

The idea that Lily may have held love in her heart for Severus is fascinating. As I read so many thoughts swirled through my mind...

If only he had realized, had acted, we might have read a very different story. So many story lines go with the concept that it was always James. Even though they bickered and fought throughout their years at Hogwarts, it always seems like there was never anyone else.

But what if Snape's love wasn't as unrequited as we were lead to believe?

I loved this story, not only the flow - which was perfect - but the fact that when you're done you sit and think about what you've just read. Now that's a sign of a story well written.

Even though the whole story was wonderful I have to say my favorite line was:

"She breathed it in and thought of him, her friend, that other side, her equal and opposite, all shadow where she was flame."

It just seemed to sum up the feel of the whole piece in one line.

You did a fabulous job here!
Keep up the great work!


Author's Response: Thank you very much for reading and reviewing this story! It's wonderful to hear that you enjoyed it! The no dialogue aspect of it turned out to be a challenge (which was the point, of course :P), so I'm glad that added to the story - it definitely gave me the opportunity to dig deeper into Lily's mind. Perhaps more importantly, it placed greater emphasis on the characters' actions, down to the tiniest twinge or shudder. It makes the story rather like a silent film, where the actors have to "say" everything with their faces. It's a fascinating way to write - yet it /sounds/ like it should be very simple.

Ah, I'm so pleased that you've picked up on that "what if" between Lily and Snape. If this situation had gone a step further, what kind of story would we have ended up with? I've seen a piece of fanart where Snape looks into the Mirror of Erised and sees himself in the place of James Potter - would that have actually happened? If so, does that mean that he would have instead died that night? There's no way of truly answering that question of what if, but all the same, it's such a big, burning... thing. So much so that it makes me lost for words. :P

You couldn't have given me a better compliment than saying that the story made you think afterwards, that it somehow stayed with you, even if for a little while. I love to be able to do that - it's what I love finding in stories because, when I do, I know that I've come across something amazing. Thank you, thank you for that! And thank you for this review! ^_^
Now normally I'm not inclined to read Lily/Snape, but I know from experience that you not only flesh out the characters and make it believable, but you also make it rather beautiful, even if it is in a haunting sense as this one was.

For me, you always have been and always will be a master at description and conveying emotion. It was seamless, the way you wove the story and the emotion with these gorgeously dark descriptions of the dungeons. One aspect doesn't hinder the other. In fact, it helps create this intense atmosphere that had me holding my breath almost the whole way through. I felt like I was there right beside Lily as she picked her way through the dungeons. It was just gorgeous!

Wonderful stuff here, Susan!

Author's Response: Oh wow, thank you for coming in to read this one! I was thinking of requesting you, but I hesitated because of the whole Snape/Lily thing - this made it twice the surprise to receive a review from you! :D

Also thank you for the compliments on characterization! Being able to properly flesh out characters and make them believable - not only in their personalities, but in their actions and relationships with others - is something I hugely value. It takes precedence before all other aspects of the story because, once I have the characters in place, the events will unfold around them - it's the characters that drive the stories, their decisions produce the plot. So it means a lot that you like that aspect of my stories!

That's exactly the kind of effect I hoped that the descriptions would have. *cheering ensues* I wanted to immerse the reader in the atmosphere of the dungeons. If anything, this story was as much an exploration of atmosphere as it was of Lily's character - the two converge at some point, her journey becoming one of the mind and emotions. It was a very strange story to write, but I'm really pleased with how well readers have been reacting to it. ^_^ Thank you again! It was wonderful to hear from you!
To see him as follower when he could be so much more... He had a voice that could stir the soul, a mind as sharp as a fatal blade, but ever did he bury himself in the depths of these dungeons, a pawn in the games of others when he could be their king.

- There were so, so, so many lines I wanted to quote back at you, but if I listed them all I'm sure you would be irritated because you, of course, are already quite aware of everything you've written here. ^ ^ But I couldn't resist that quote up there. It is a perspective I have never considered, never thought about, but it makes perfect sense that Lily might notice that. Severus is capable of so much, so to become a drone would seem like an enormous waste. Lily would be able to see his talents in a different light than he could, see how he could use them for good instead of Dark purposes.

Oh, if only Severus had been in Gryffindor instead. :(

This was such a lovely one-shot. I've seen it circulating around and it was very much recommended to me, and of course since you wrote it I knew it would be brilliant - but you still managed to blow me away, anyhow. There were certain parts that I reread several times just because it was too beautiful not to. I love the way you used aspects of their surroundings to explain their emotions as well - his heart turning to stone, Lily's hair turning to torch flame and her eyes becoming the moss on the walls. That description was so incredibly creepy to imagine but absolutely amazing, and I'm still just reeling about your fabulous description here. How she wanted to drink him in, to taste the dregs of his tea, how she wanted to push him out of the shadows and into the light, how she knew that they must keep this mutual silence intact because words could ruin it all... This was marvelous, Susan. It shone a different light on Severus/Lily than I've ever seen explored, the tone and emotions, which is a difficult feat in the fan fiction world. I'm so used to seeing themes I've already seen before, so to have something new and refreshing and unbelievably eerie like this injects fresh life into the ship. The polarities of their personalities here - flame and shadow - were perfectly highlighted.

And the ending - oh my goodness. I feel for Lily because she's stinging with rejection and I feel for Severus, who responded too late. It's so sad, but there's something cathartic about thinking that maybe Lily shared those feelings he had, if only briefly.

Lovely story! I wanted to return the favor after you left me that wonderful review on Water Dragons, and I'm so glad I picked this one to read. It was beautifully written. :)

- Sarah

Author's Response: asdfghjkl what is this?! I'm still flailing over this review - thank you so much for taking the time to read and review this one shot! I never expected this one-shot to garner the recognition it has, but I couldn't be happier about it, to be honest. To hear that people have recommended this story to others, and to see it featured on TGS, it's been a huge squee-fest for me. Haha, I'm glad to hear that this story exceeded my (totally blown out of proportion) reputation - it's the stories that matter most to me, the ability to craft something new and interesting each time I write, to explore the limits of various styles and genres or conventions, constantly challenging myself as a writer. So if I can do that and still please readers, I don't know of anything more I could want.

That quote you pulled out is an interesting one because it came more from my stylistic inspiration of "Heart of Darkness" rather than from a conscious characterization of Snape. I wanted to draw more of a parallel between Snape and Kurtz, and remembering that Kurtz had this incredible power of speech, where he could rally crowds and pretty much stir them into war, I wanted to somehow include that. It would probably better suit someone like Tom Riddle, but at the same time, maybe Snape does possess it. I have in mind that scene in the first book of the Potions class and Snape's speech - there was something in the way that he spoke which drew me in. Even before the movie came out, I was fascinated by that moment, the way that Snape made Potions come alive as a subject. So those two things came together to make that quote.

But I really like your interpretation of it - it fits perfectly. As his close friend, Lily would have a different picture of him than he even would of himself - Snape has this inner insecurity due to his childhood, and he might not have realized all the things he was capable of doing. He may have even tried to repress them to protect himself from others who would be threatened by such abilities. Anyone who can convince Voldemort of his loyalty without meaning it must be a real silvertongue. Imagine what he could have been, if the environment was right, or if he'd pushed himself harder? That's one of the saddest aspects of Snape's life - there's a lot of potential there that's just unrealized, entirely wasted.

The most frustrating thing about Snape/Lily is that it's so often a one-sided ship - unrequited love can only be written in so many ways before it loses its pathos. I've played around with the idea of Lily being equally in love with him, but repressing it, partially out of disgust for his chosen loyalties and partially out of self-protection - I wouldn't blame her for being scared for herself and her fellow Gryffindors and muggleborns in the climate of the First War. She embodied the muggleborn threat to the Death Eaters because she was powerful, talented, and attractive. Yet it doesn't mean that she didn't love Snape, for all his faults. He was the first magical person she had known, the one to show her this new and fascinating world. Maybe she only loved him a little, a passing crush of sorts, but their friendship would still remain, and to lose that must have been crushing to her as well. Gah, I could go on for hours about the two of them. I should just break down and write a novel to get it all out of my system. :P

Thank you for this amazing review! To hear these compliments from you means a fantastic amount. :D This story was crazy to write with those descriptions, each seeming to become darker, sometimes more gruesome, than the next. It's downright violent in places, enough to make your skin crawl. This is what comes from reading the books I do, oh dear, but it's wonderful you found that, together, they made for a good story, even a great one. Thank you!
I’m not an huge Lily/Snape fan but I just decided to try it. I’ll be honest with you I haven’t read many fics featuring them but if all of them are as great as the one you just wrote perhaps I should read more of it, because the way you portrayed them was absolutely fascinating. I am blown away by your writing style. You gave us just enough, not too much and not too little. I like the fact she was the one chasing him as far as I know it’s mostly the opposite so well done!

Author's Response: *blushes* Thank you so much for that compliment! Oh my gosh, if it does get you to try more Lily/Snape stories, then that's a wonderful thing. There are many great ones across the archive far better than mine, so please do try them! :D

I'm really glad that you liked how this story turned out, particularly the characterizations and the style. It means a lot to hear that. ^_^
Okay, I am here, finally. Sorry for the delay. You know my feelings on Snily so I had to work up the courage to tackle this. ;) Of course, I go into each fanfic as unbiased as possible so I knew I had to have an open mind while reading this while also remembering that it was you who wrote it.

I must say, you certainly have a way with words (as if I couldn't have told you that many years ago) but it still strikes me every time I read something of yours how intense your prose is. I feel a little bit overwhelmed right now and I love that your story - of a pairing that I don't even like - can make me feel so much emotion. Your imagery and description is phenomenal. I honestly don't know you paint such vivid pictures but it's beautiful and dark and awe-inspiring to read your words and to be able to imagine everything that I'm reading. Your words bring your story to life and I think that's a mark of a great writer.

I think Lily and Snape here are so unbelievably canon. I've kind of gotten over all those Snily fics were Snape pines for Lily from afar and laments his loss of her to Potter and blah blah, so it's interesting to see this take of Lily who has taken the initiative to kind of throw her feelings out there by kissing him and then feeling her emotional turmoil at his supposed rejection. It seems natural to me, especially considering the timeline, and how easy it is to develop feelings for your male best friend (it's a story we've heard so many times, and why should Lily be any different? She's still a girl...nothing extraordinary).

I think my favorite part of this was the contrast between Lily and Snape. Fire and shadow. It's beautiful and so true, not only in looks but in personalities and actions. Plus, the fact that she's a Mudblood and oh man, that line about how they would eat her alive if only her blood wasn't tainted...that was just so hard hitting and honest. That's what I like about your writing. You tell it how it is without glossing things over and making them all pretty, you know? It's truth in your words, like the truth in their silence.

My favorite paragraph in this was this one: He was becoming an object of horror, a shadow too fine for her fingers to grasp, a mere spectre among the monsters. To see him as follower when he could be so much more. He had a voice that could stir the soul, a mind as sharp as a fatal blade, but ever did he bury himself in the depths of these dungeons, a pawn in the games of others when he could be their king. It's just...gah, it's perfect. It's Snape and I love Lily's view of him here. It's just gorgeous writing.

I feel like I should have some sort of criticism, but I find no fault in this. I'm getting all gushy and flail-y in my age with every new fic I read. It's always refreshing reading something of yours and I should make a point to read more of your work - it's only fair considering how loyal you've been to my work for so long. But it's not an obligation that makes me want to read more of your stories, but your mastery of words and storytelling and your firm grasp of canon characters. You could write anything you want and you'd have people believing it was strictly canon. You have a gift and I envy your ability to write all these perfect stories. :)

Author's Response: For some reason, I mistakenly thought you didn't mind Snily, which was why I asked you to review this, so I'm sorry about leaving you a difficult story to review. It is, however, worth it to get your opinions on Lily and on the style. Your thoughts always mean a lot to me.

Wow, I'm still fangirling over what you've said about this story's style and my writing because they're what I would have used to describe /your/ writing, the powerful emotions and imagery, the beauty of the words. I really don't know what to say except for thank you because your compliments give me an indescribably happy feeling of accomplishment. So thank you, Missy. ^_^

The most interesting part about writing this story wasn't, in the end, the stylistic aspect, but rather the portrayal of Lily. I thought that whole Conrad influence would have a greater effect, but while it guided Lily's journey through the labyrinth of dungeons and influenced certain images - for instance, Lily's strange statement about blood purity and cannibalism - it did not have the same influence upon the characters. I think I've finally "got" Lily and written her in the "right" way, or at least in the way that best satisfies me. She's challenging because of the way that characters such as Snape have controlled her image in the books. He places her on so high a pedestal that she's no longer real, and I think that's where the Snily cliche of Snape's unrequited love comes from - we never hear her side of the story, nor can we because no one else seems to know it. I'm glad to hear that her reaction to Snape and her desire of him sounds natural. She is, in this story, a fifteen year old girl, with all of the issues of that age, including raging hormones and curiosity, so it just made sense to take that risk and make her the one in pursuit of something more between them.

I'm also pleased to hear that you liked that contrast I drew between them, though I'm surprised that it stood out - it seemed like something someone has to have written about before, and I worried that it wasn't very original. Yet, at the same time, it's a fascinating contrast because it works on so many different levels. Lily's life is short, quickly burned and easily snuffed out, yet in that time, she casts such a light upon many people and the memory of her light and warmth persists. Snape, however, is the shadow, a thing that always exists - when there is no light, there is only shadow. Snape lives the life of a shadow; he is the ultimate absence of light, even from the beginning - unwanted, despised - but he too feels Lily's glow because she is his equal and opposite.

What now creeps me out about the cannibalism imagery in that line is that it comes straight out of Lily's thoughts - it's not part of a separate bit of narration. Although Hogwarts in the 1970's would have been just as dark a place as Hogwarts in Harry's time - filled with conflict and danger, where people take firm sides, even before they're of age - Lily's experience in such a place greatly differs from Harry's for one major reason. She has a friend on the other side. It would be like Ron or Hermione being in Slytherin. Lily sees first-hand what the dark side is capable of because she watches her best friend be seduced by it and it horrifies her. It angers her. Perhaps it's no wonder that she could not deal with him any longer because she came to believe that he was no longer the same Snape - he's the one who betrayed her, at least in her eyes, but he never really understands.

I'll stop rambling. I could go on for hours with theorizing, when all I mean to do is thank you for your wonderful review. Those compliments... I don't feel deserving at all. Your work has been a huge influence on me for the last eight years - I really don't know if I could have made it this far without that influence and the inspiration that you've given. Thank you for everything, Missy.
Hey there hun. This is Debra20's with one of the hardest review given yet!

I didn't find any better way of starting this review other than telling you that for the past 10 minutes I have listened to three different songs and thought how I should start your review. Yes, your story has had this kind of impact on me.

First of all let me say wow! I haven't read as many of your fics as I wanted but from the few I have, allow me to say that your style has changed a lot. To sustain what I just said I will have to look into one of your longer stories, but comparing a one shot of yours from now and one from let's say 2008 - 2009 you have evolved so much.

My first impression of this one shot was: how poetical. I don't know if this was the intended style you chose to write in, but to me, that's how it came out. Because there is no actual action (plot) but rather description of Lily's thoughts/feelings U had the impression I was reading a different poem. The flow was excellent in my opinion. You mixed the scenes of her memories and the intensity of her feelings with great care and not once was there a line to break the magic this story created. I would have just one observation to make: some sentences are a bit too long. It may only be me, but as English is not my main language I found it hard to keep track of the several ideas expressed in the phrases.

Characterization. Well this was a first for me. In every Lily/Snape story I have read, the one crying and suffering was Severus. But I must say I adored this point of view! If I remember correctly, it's never specified if Lily EVER had returning feelings for Snape. I believe I am not mistaken when I say that we have all lived, at least once, the situation when we fell in love with our best friend. Why would Lily be the exception? That things turned out differently in the end is another story. Even if it did feel a bit odd reading from this perspective, I found it rather intriguing. The way you portrayed her feelings for him were within the limits of possibility. They were not too frail but not too exaggerated either. You can easily imagine her sisterly love transforming into something else, this new feeling driving her to kiss him. His reaction was very believable as well. I can not imagine any other way for Snape to react to a kiss from Lily.

This is the problem with me reviewing your fics. I just love them too much that I can't find anything wrong with them. Like I said earlier, the only thing that made the reading difficult for me was the length of some sentences. But I am guessing it's typical for the style you wrote the story in. Overall I am happy to give 10/10.

Love, Debra20

Author's Response: I'm very sorry for taking so long to respond to this! I've tried a few times to get something down, but it's been difficult to find what to write - hopefully now I can make it sound somewhat intelligent. Thank you very much for this review! It's fantastic! It's wonderful to hear that you enjoyed this story and, even more so, that overall my writing has improved (or at the very least evolved, which is just as, if not more, important for a writer). My style /has/ changed, though it's funny because I haven't noticed it as I go, nor have I consciously done it - it's just happened naturally.

Wow! Your reaction to this story is downright amazing - I never expected it to evoke such a reaction from readers. The story sounded so strange in my head that I didn't think it would make any sense at all. Certainly the style I went for drove me forward, giving me a framework to build upon and embellish. The problem I had when writing was the lack of action and the focus on Lily's thoughts. I initially imagined this story as much shorter, more action-driven, but instead it became very internal. Who knows how far Lily actually goes in the dungeons - it's really in her mind that she's twisting and turning, struggling to understand herself and her emotions. I'm glad to hear that everything flowed together well - that was one of my major worries.

I will check through the story for those long sentences. They're still a bad habit of mine, no matter how much I try to control myself. Thank you for pointing that out! :)

Yay! I'm so happy to hear that you liked the point of view! That was the most risky thing about this story, not only telling it from Lily's perspective (which is always a challenge), but having her express... some kind of desire for Snape. I really can't believe that she wouldn't have felt anything, not when they were such close friends - it's too cliched to make Snape's love entirely unrequited. Even if all she felt was a fleeting curiosity rather than a dramatic passion, it's more likely that she felt something than nothing at all, like you said. And it's fascinating to play with in a story - it seems to come under those things that Marauder-era writers very rarely do (because shipping Lily with anyone other than James is a crime to some). It's great to hear that Lily's feelings were both intriguing and plausible - I wanted to put that seed of possibility into readers' heads, just to see how they would react and where it would take their thoughts.

Thank you so much for your wonderfully kind words! It means a lot to hear them from you. ^_^
I've been meaning to read this one-shot for ages and ages -- I've heard near-endless things about its loveliness and profundity -- and you yourself gave me the perfect excuse to head over here. And oh my gosh, I am literally so angry at myself for waiting as long as I did to read this. This... this was perfect.

The entire way through this, I had a literal ache in my chest, right between my rib cage. There is so much harsh truth and blunt beauty here, and it's just so evident in your writing that you have an extremely rare and special view on the world that can only be shared in writing. I don't even know how to begin to describe to you the things that absolutely enthralled -- captivated -- me about this story. Your use of imagery and description is literally unparalleled, something I saw in reading "Riddle in the Dark" and re-enforced by reading this one-shot. I just fill up with something imagined, something lush and thick and rich, and most published authors can't get me to feel half of what you've attained in less than three thousand words.

I love Snape/Lily, but only as long as it's realistic and has ties to canon. And you know, that's a lot harder to find than it sounds. But this was absolutely everything that I could ever want out of a Snily story. Snape and Lily were characterized absolutely spot-on perfect, and I've got no qualms at all in saying that. They were canon in every capacity I am allowed to deem canon from non-canon. I was especially impressed by the comparison of Lily and fire to Severus and shadow; I've never picked up on, but it's exactly how you say it is: Equal, and opposite. That's a flat-out brilliant thing to write.

My favorite line:

Those little smiles that played upon his lips so tempted her to lean forward and take them with her own to taste the last dregs of the bitter tea he drank each morning. -- I literally ached with how beautiful and poetic that was, and that's probably kind of stupid-sounding. But that is life at its clearest, emotion at its peak, and there are very, very few people who can pen that so accurately. That is love in a way that most people can't even come close to reaching in writing. You've got a way of articulating emotions most other people call indescribable, and I just cannot get over how much that blows me away.

This is going straight into my favorites, and into a story recommendations thread -- if someone hasn't beaten me to it, and I would be the least surprised person in the world if that happened. This stands out as one of the best one-shots I can remember reading in a long, long time, and it's pretty clear I'm going to have to start making frequent pilgrimages over to your author's page when I'm in need of some truly quality work.

This was gorgeous, Susan, and the word doesn't even begin to do it justice. Fantastic, fantastic work!

Author's Response: OMG, thank you! O_O This is one of those reviews I've been staring at, only to have weeks pass before I realize that they have, and I still haven't responded. *gasps for breath* Yes, that's how it generally goes when awesome people review my stories with amazing things to say about them. And then you say that people are talking about this story and I melt into a puddle of illegible, unintelligible squee.

The end.

Or not. I'll try to sound more intelligent for the remainder of this response, but be warned that it may not be possible. :P

I don't think I can take credit for the darkness in this story, nor in the film noir, because although I love reading and writing about dark things, those things and places filled with secrets and depth, I'm drawing a lot from other sources. "Riddle" is its genre, while this one emerges from my adoration of Conrad's style. It's often that way when I write - I'll take out a "lens", a certain way of looking at the world, put it on, then the story emerges. It's rarely a happy lens, but that's mostly because I don't read happy books - even Jane Austen has jaded notes in her song. It's part of the curse of the English Lit grad student: a lot of my stories are interpretations and re-interpretations of things I've read, as a way of understanding them better, and sometimes I don't know how much of these stories is actually mine. It makes it more awkward to accept compliments, that's for sure.

But I am really, really pleased - tickled pink more like - that you have liked this story so much. You've pointed out something hugely important about Snily stories: that the balance between realism and canon accuracy is a difficult one. How can a person make the ultimate tragic unrequited love story sound realistic? JKR couldn't do it, not entirely - something must always be lost, and most often it's the realism side that suffers in everyone's scramble to remain canon. I liked the feeling of going the other way with this story. It may sound ridiculous to call this story realistic because of its style and atmosphere, but one thing I wanted to do was make this story about Lily's desire. It's a small thing still, she being hardly fifteen in this story, but she has something that she must act upon, and Snape is the one she knows best, loves, even, in her own way. That desire makes her the fire, whereas Snape remains strangely passive - but that's what he is throughout their relationship, the quiet one, hiding in the shadows, watching her burn brightly in a world that would always reject him. Snape is a void - he fills himself with love for her - but she, even in the books, is always so full - of power, of love, adored and adoring, defying and respected. She had everything Snape could not. James may have been the conventional match, in the end, but Snape would have been the scientifically perfect match because they would have completed one another... but is that a good thing? I don't know.

*blushes* That line! It mirrors the one later one, at the climax of the story, but unlike the real kiss, which demonstrates the violence of Lily's desire, this one is pure banality - it's so personal an intimate. She knows him, his habits, like she was already his wife of many years - and she loves him for what he is. That's a tragedy right there: he doesn't realize that she loves him in this simple, everyday sort of way. You're right, that is love - not that crashing romantic thing, but the actual one, the thing that lasts forever.

Gah, what have you done to me with this review?! I never saw these things like this until your review! You've made me think, you've recommended my story, you've reviewed it, /and/ you've read it, and I don't know what else. This is too much! Too much! I'll never be able to thank you enough.
I loved this, it gave me chills and depicted a whole new side of Lily's feelings for Severus that I never considered before: the temptation to darkness. I absolutely love your careful, detailed examination of Lily's feelings as she descends into the dungeons in search of Severus. The romantic anticipation turns to fear as she contemplates how he is changing, turning to stone.

Passage I wish I wrote: ;)

"Each drop of water into a distant hole, each scrabbling of a rat's claws, each tormented spider's cry, resounded like a pealing bell. No words could be spoken that could not be heard by another. It was at once a place of silence and of endless sounds, the castle settling all around them, leaning into the mountain's embrace."

Gorgeous chilling description. I felt I was immediately there with the damp dungeon walls around me.

Another passage I wish I wrote:

"He was becoming an object of horror, a shadow too fine for her fingers to grasp, a mere spectre among the monsters. To see him as follower when he could be so much more. He had a voice that could stir the soul, a mind as sharp as a fatal blade, but ever did he bury himself in the depths of these dungeons, a pawn in the games of others when he could be their king."

You've captured something I've been trying to say about Snape; why does he maneuver into subservient positions when he is such a powerful person? Character wise, I've wondered whether his half blood status made him feel inferior enough to constantly underrate himself. Certainly after Lily's murder I can see why he demeans himself. Or does he play it deliberately to keep his cards close at hand? I'd love to hear what you think.

When I finished this one shot I had the immediate desire to work on my Snape/Lily which I've been stuck on for weeks! So thank you for that as well! And if there's a little darker twist to that romance in the next installment, I'll tip my hat to you!

Author's Response: Thank you so much, Mary! I'm glad I was able to nab a spot in your review line for this story - you and academica are the two main names that come to mind for Snape/Lily, and hearing your opinion is a wonderful treat. That those opinions are complimentary... well... there's nothing better. :D

It's interesting that Lily's temptation is something rarely examined because I've seen it in Sirius/Lily stories, but only there a couple of times. Surely someone who had been such a close friend to Snape, growing up in the shadow of a looming war, would have been tempted. Voldemort had respected her, in his own strange way, for her power, so he must have asked her to join him (now there's a story I'd love to write!). I generally like to push the boundaries of Lily's characterization, which is sadly limited in both canon and fanon, but this may be the only time that it's actually worked. I liked the idea of using the temptation/descent into the underworld model to demonstrate how Lily observed Snape's slow "transformation" from childhood friend into Death Eater. She doesn't see his love, doesn't see that he isn't really transforming at all - he's adapting to his surroundings in order to survive.

I'm so glad that you like that description! It's my attempt to immerse the reader into the world of the dungeons using sound. When you're in a place like that, the echoes are terrifying in their volume. It's fantastic that the description did its job! :D

That's definitely a major question about Snape that JKR never really answered. He has /something/ about him that places him at the hand of the leader of both sides of a war - how can both Voldemort and Dumbledore trust him unless he has a silvertongue, a way with words that makes him utterly convincing. Even his introduction to the first years in PS was astounding in its power, and while it had a negative effect on Harry, it certainly captured my attention. I agree that it was likely his social/blood status that held him back, as well as the aftereffects of his father's abuse and the Marauders' bullying. His self-confidence must have had a delicate balance, and although Tom Riddle was also a half-blood, he was also handsome and charming, which would have made a difference in the amount of power he could gain over others. Does that make sense? It's something I need to think over more - until this story, I hadn't considered that aspect of his character, but it is worthwhile to explore further. :)

Thank you very much for your amazing review! I'm really glad that you liked this story and that it has inspired you with your story! ^_^
Wow.. I think there are few writers who can truly express emotion to such depth like you have here, and who can really write so beautifully. I really loved this - I could feel everything from Lily so strongly and powerfully. And the physical action of her going into the labyrinthine dungeons worked so well with the path of her thoughts. Oh, the different perspective of Lily here was also so amazing - it's hard for me to believe that Lily could have loved Snape at all, but in this, Lily's thoughts are so strong that you really make me believe that she does.

It's just amazing how much you are able to convey in this.. and your writing is just so.. powerful. Like, every single sentence in this actually makes a point. Every sentence is actually important to the story. And the ending was so sad! and heartbreaking. Wonderfully written and such a deep piece :)

Author's Response: Thank you! This is a fantastic review and has definitely brightened a rather down day. I hardly know how to respond to your kind words. It means a lot that you've enjoyed the story so much!

I didn't think the result would receive such acclaim - the story seemed over-long and aimless when I was writing, but that same aimlessness suits the dungeons and the way that Lily wanders through them - her path runs in every direction, just as her thoughts do. I really like that way of reading the story! And I'm also glad to hear that every sentence contributed to the story. :D All my fears dispelled! Thank you for this - I greatly appreciate it!
Amazing. Completely amazing. This is so amazing. I don't even know what to say, really.

Like everyone else, I thought the story really well-done and I loved it. I've never seen Snape/Lily told this way, its always been Snape chasing and making moves on Lily. Not the other way around, so I was really enjoying myself as I was reading this because it gave me a lot of insight at what could've gone through Lily's head in those times. And the fact that she didn't mention James at all was absolutely fantastic; we all need a break from James Potter at one point in life.

I loved the fact that there's no dialogue in the story, not only because I couldn't imagine having them but it was really nice to read Lily's thoughts. I love how she was doubtful and confused about the war, Snape and how she was so concerned about Snape.

There are those times just after I read your stories that I would wish that Snape and Lily had just been together. Then I would wonder what would happen if the case was so; what would've changed and not changed. So yeah, your stories make me think a lot! :P

Anywho, I thought the story was really good and you have such an amazing talent for writing. ♥ You just made the task of deciding a winner for this challenge a million times harder. :P

CloakAuror9 xx
Recenseo 2012

Author's Response: Wow, thank you! It's wonderful to hear that you liked how this story turned out. I really enjoyed trying out your challenge - it made writing this a bit harder, but it suited the story to have no dialogue. The one thing I wasn't sure about was whether including so much of Lily's thought process would be somewhat like cheating. It's a great relief that the story fits the challenge.

I'm even more glad, though, that the characterization of Lily has proven successful. She's one of those characters who has been characterized by fanon moreso than canon, and that makes it dangerous to fiddle with her personality. Until you mentioned it here, I didn't realize that I'd entirely removed James from the equation. It makes sense that he wouldn't be in Lily's thoughts at this particular time, but I'm wondering why I forgot him. XD At the end, it is implied that Snape had been in a fight, but that's more likely to be Sirius's work. Haha, I'm glad that the omission made for a nice break. There's only so much Lily-James hate-love a person can take. :P

Yay! It's wonderful to hear that my stories make you think - it's what I love to be able to do. Fanfiction is mostly about "what ifs" for me, so it's nice to be able to pass that on to others. ^_^

Thank you so much for the challenge and for this review! It means a lot that you've liked this story!
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! ^_^
HPFF should make a new warning for stories. Something along the lines of 'warning this story is full of pure amazing' and then you need to put that warning on your stories, because seriously every time I read your work I am blown away by your writing style.

Author's Response: *blushes* Thank you! It's awesome to hear you say so and have your support. I know quite a few stories on this site that need that kind of warning, though I don't think mine are quite /that/ good. But it means a lot that you like my work! A writer is always their own worst critic, right? XD
So, I've been meaning to read more of your writing (and actually have adequate time to leave a review) for ages and ages. So, when I logged onto HPFF this morning and saw this in the new story thread, I decided to pop over to read it (and to leave this review). I am so, so glad that I did.

I adore Heart of Darkness and I'm not sure if I would have made the connection without your quote at the beginning, but after reading it (really a perfect choice to begin this one shot) I jumped easily to the Kurtz comparison. I don't read much Snape/Lily, so I don't really know how the ship is typically portrayed in fic, but this was gorgeous. I love them in a dysfunctional-never-to-be sort of way. Snape's characterization in canon is so well written and sad -- living his entire life for the charicature of her in his memory, it's really a beautiful pallatte to work with.

I'm gtoing to try and stop rambling now and actually comment on your story. :P I think this small moment in time worked extremely well without dialogue. The thought process buzzing in Lily's head did a wonderful job at carrying this. Your use of description... I'm so jealous at the way your words really meld with your setting, they are dank and musty and sort of dark and creeping. I could not only see the dungeon corridors, I could feel them as well. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but a lot of your paragraphs ended with very succint, simple statements. This sentance structure lends itself to situation at hand. Snape and Lily have sort of reached a end. It is what it is. I don't know if I'm making any sense at all, but the short sentances sort of tied into their relationship as portrayed in this fic.

The last thing I wanted to comment on was this sentence: "Anger was anger; it could not also be love." It speaks to the power of a word. Back when I was in Highschool, my english teacher always recited this mantra "table... chair" slapping his hand agains the table and the chair. It was sort of a way for him to tell us to use our words. A table is a table and not a chair. But your line on Anger not being love sort of took me back to that classroom. It made me think of how truly dysfunctional relationships can be that anger can be confused as love. distrust as love... habbit as love. gah. See, you made me think and now I've been rambling on for far, far too long.

I apologize for the lenght of this review and how mostly pointless it is, I'm am a champion of stream of concious-review writing much to my dismay. :P
This was fabulous, and I hope to read more of your work (and maybe even leave a more coherent review) in the near future.


Author's Response: Thank you very much for popping in to read this story! It's wonderful that you want to read more of my work, but it's even better that you enjoyed what you found. ^_^

I wondered whether people would make the connection, even with the quote, so I put off my explanation for the end, but for some reason, keeping that novella in mind while writing helped guide me through the dungeons alongside of Lily. It was very strange writing this, knowing only where I wanted to end, but nothing of what should happen before that. Sometimes I thought I might be forcing the story to follow the novella too closely, but you're right - it's not that clear after all. *phew*

This ship sails on a sea of pain. :P But that's the appeal. You've said it far better than I could - to live for years on those memories and what ifs... it's terrible to admit, but it does provide extraordinary inspiration for a story.

It was intentional! It's fantastic that you picked up on that about the word choice and sentence structure. I kept placing myself in that dungeon and describing it as it should feel with the sharpness of the stone and the cold air. Usually I fall into the trap of writing endless sentences, but I'm trying to go back to a shorter, tenser style, and it's great to hear that it worked for this story. :D

Oh dear, that way of teaching leaves no room for metaphor! O_O But it captures the same straight-forward logical mind that I've given Snape here. He can't see that one object can be two things at once, at least from Lily's point of view. Lily's got a more fluid understanding of the world around her and can see it changing, transmuting, all beyond her power. When she lashes out at him after the "Worst Memory" incident, it's because she loves him - if she did not care, she would have no reason to be so angry. But because of Snape's experiences with his father, he sees anger only in its negative sense, and it controls how he reacts to Lily's anger.

Please don't apologize for the length of your review! It has been a pleasure to read and respond to. ^_^
First review, first review! -dances-

This was AMAZING. For me, you've done quite a few things that have really caused me to think about my favorite ship in different ways, and I can always appreciate that. For one, you've got two really impressive themes playing together here. One is this mega-theme of Lily and Severus being two mere pawns, just two examples of the many individuals who were shaped by the war and forced to choose one side or another, for many reasons. The other theme is evident in the minutia of Lily's own personal journey into the darkness, daring as much as possible to let herself fall into it, and then at the last moment, running away as she realizes that she may have gone just a little bit too far.

Another thing is that it's so refreshing to read a Snape/Lily where it's Lily doing most of the chasing. I can't think of a Snily I've read that I haven't liked, but so often they rehash the same theme of Snape sitting in the shadows, longing for Lily, while she is off leading her perfect life with James. In this one, though, I can really see her tempting fate, and it was nice to get her perspective on their relationship and to feel like it wasn't so perfectly one-sided. Canon obviously suggests that Snape had deeper feelings for Lily than maybe she had for him, but I don't see any reason why she might not feel what you've written.

Your imagery really shines in this piece. Sometimes imagery just flows for me, but I've definitely experienced the feeling of having to 'force' it. Your work never seems forced, though, and this story is no different. Your words really gave life to the world that JKR created, particularly in the way that you transformed the dungeons (which are, after all, still a part of the castle) into a whole new world of mystery and danger, reminding me slightly of the Underworld with Lily as an angel diving into it. I loved getting her flashes of memory and the way in which she focused in on every part of him, really attending to the details of his appearance and behavior. Again, I think it casts Snape in a light that I don't often see in more 'traditional' Snilys.

I could gush forever, but I think you get the point. I absolutely loved this. You know I'm favoriting ♥

Recenseo 2012

Author's Response: Oh dear, I'm so sorry to have left off responding for this long! Where has the time gone? It still feels like I just posted this story, and already a month has passed.

I'm really glad that you got the first review. These days, whenever I think of Snily, you're the first name that comes to mind. XD I was very much inspired by your stories, and it has surprised me that I haven't been able to write more Snily before now, so thank you for the inspiration to try new things with the ship and with Lily's character. She's always been elusive for me, but with this story, I think I've finally been able to grasp the kind of person she could have been.

But writing her in this way made me think about her place in the war. She and Snape (and the Marauders) were so young. How could they have been more than pawns? Talented, powerful pawns, but they were trapped in these positions that seem painfully predestined. The story of Snape and Lily is a very frustrating one for me because it feels like it was fated to end tragically. It would have made a great melodrama. But there's also something "big" about it, as though it's a grand moral tale about love and loyalty.

The mythical potential inspired me to make this like a descent to the underworld. Lily attempts to bring Snape back into the light, but instead of recreating the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, Lily discovers that it's really the story of Hades and Persephone, and she, Persephone, is in danger of being trapped within the underworld herself. So just when she tastes the fruit of her quest, she realizes its meaning and makes her escape.

But you didn't ask about that... I'm rambling again. *sigh* I am, however, very glad that you like Lily's characterization. I couldn't resist turning the tables on the old convention of guy-chases-girl, especially because poor Lily is one of those characters in fanfiction who is paired up with everyone. I've used her in this way in Sirily, but I didn't think it would be canon with Snily. Yet it was the image that hit me when I was thinking about writing a Snily story. I saw that moment when Lily kisses him and filled in the rest afterwards. I like to think that Lily would be perceptive enough to notice that Snape loved her, and that her friendship with him was not like her friendship with others; so knowing this, an impulsive teenage girl might take liberties (as Austen would phrase it :P). Canon is thin in regard to Lily's character, which gives one a nice amount of wiggle room. :D

Thank you for all of those compliments! I don't know what else to say other than to thank you profusely. There seemed to be so much imagery and description in this story that I worried it was overdone - it's a great relief to hear the opposite and a dream to hear that the words give new life to the Potterverse. I'll stop before I burst into tearful squees. Know that this is a wonderful review and it means an incredible amount to have you admire this story! ^_^


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