Snape has always been a favorite character of mine, if not my all time favorite, and finding this was truly a pleasure I'm glad to have held. I have ready a large amount of fan fiction, most of it on this wonderful site, and just as with Draco I feel all too often that the authors romanticize the character and form them into this 'misunderstood but with a heart of gold' hero. I feel like talented or attractive actors from the movies have warped how we see these men and we start to view them differently than they are. This is, however, more of a problem with Draco - who was no knight-in-shining-armor hero. I do not despite him, but I am a fan of characters in fics who are kept canon. But alas, I have gotten off track (I tend to ramble if not stopped) and the poing of what I was saying is this: thank you. You showed Snape as who he was at that time. You showed that he made these choices and had to deal with them. He made mistakes. He is imperfect. Thank you, you made him canon, real and just plain human.
Now without further ado, my review of each section because that's simply the best way to organize a slew of thoughts.
I: Beautiful descriptions caught my attention straight off the bat. I was immediately captivated and you had my undivided attention, I assure you. I loved the personification of him as death and all the characterizations that arose with it - stunningly beautiful, I adored it very much. At that point, it was merely the beginning and I was uncertain as to whether death referred to either Snape or ole Voldement, but it became clear. Although, mystery is initially fantastic.
II: Ah, it is Severus Snape. I loved your incorporation of his past but neglect of heavy dialouge. In fact, I loved the lack of dialogue, I loved that for the most part depictions of his thoughts told the story. My heart pained for him in this section. His broken home...I wanted to take him in and hug him. Although I always wish I could go in this story and convince him not to follow Voldemort. Oh, how differently things might have turned out...
III: Oh, Snape.. no, don't kill. His soul's deterioration in both the books and this story had my heart writhing in agony. I just want to stop him so badly! In the end, we of course know he becomes a good man, but he certainly went through a rough spot and with how he turned out, seeing these skeletons in his closet (even though I see them coming) is still upsetting. Seeing him a murderer is still painful.
IV: I had to re-read this section a couple times to make sure I read it right if I'm being perfectly honest. Then, it hit me. Voldemort could have loved Snape! He certainly favored him...it was an interesting concept that I think deserves both exploration and debate. Well, I do not think it was love persay, I feel he only loved himself, but there could have been an attraction which explained his preference and trust for Snape...hmm...
V: By this point I realized we were just about to Godric's Hollow and the loss of Lily and I swear my heartrate quickened. I was not emotionally ready and as this section proved, neither was Snape.
VI: Certainly an accurate depiction of grief through the eyes of a man who knows he is partially accountable. No matter how it is written, this moment always breaks me and brings tears to my eyes. He loved her so much...although not enough. He thought he had chosen the right path, I believe it, and I feel like he thought he chose right and eventually he would prove that and Lily would return to him. Oh, how mistaken he was indeed...
Although short, I loved this section. I thought it beautiful both in and of itself and as a conclusion to this masterpiece. His thought seem so real, almost tangible.
I adore your writing style. It's a work of art and I believe you have done justice to JKR's work. Bravo.
I love the way you refer to Snape as Death. Because he is - not only is a he murderer, but everything he has seems to wilt and die before him. I think it's that aspect of him that makes people love him, but really everything's his own fault.
'A green light fractures the darkness' and its various forms is brilliant. We know exactly what you mean without you ever telling us. Your style of writing is brilliant too - it flows and you fit in all these amazing descriptions without it ever being blocky.
Snape and Voldemort as lovers? I've seen that before, but usually in crack!fics. You've taken it and twisted it and made it something entirely plausible. Voldemort is like a Lily replacement, and Snape is just a toy to Voldemort. A thing to be used. He always was, really.
'They are nothing (compared) to him.'
THIS!!! In one sentence you've shown us an entire aspect of Snape's character: his distaste and dislike of people below him, his will to be higher than them, the way he judges and views himself compared to them. Always comparing, always judging, always needing to be the top. Another thing woven well between the story is his need to be wanted. Lily didn't want him in the end and now that Voldemort wants him he feels special and wants to do everything for Voldemort.
This was a brilliant one-shot. Good luck in the Dobbies, and au revoir!
Hey there! I'm so so sorry this is so ridiculously late - RL has been manic for the last while with all sorts of things and I didn't want to do a short review (because, really, I have far too much to say about how much I love this to fit in a short one :P) so I'm here way later than I should have been, so I'm so sorry about that.
Okay, so I loved this. You have this incredible gift of taking characters - often you manage to pick the ones I could never write, as well - and just writing them so well and so perfectly and in such a different direction to what I was expecting or thinking. Every time I read something of yours, I come away with a new idea about something or way of looking at someone. It's honestly incredible.
I have to honest and say that while Snape is probably one of the best characters in the series, I've never been able to like him. What I loved about this was that I didn't have to, and I don't think I was really meant to. You said you wanted to explore the darker sides of Severus and how he became a killer and it just... made sense. I could see him spiralling down and getting out of control, and I could almost feel his emotions through your writing and understand, even if I didn't like it, how he got to where he was. I almost feel sorry for him in this, except that he has this big thing about choices, with Lily and how she's chosen her path and he's chosen his - and it's the choice which makes him almost irredeemable in this, you know?
Gah, I could go on about this for ages... I loved how you presented him - and Voldemort. I don't think I've ever seen someone write Voldemort so well and so creepy and so... caring? I dunno if that's even a word that can be applied to him, but sort of interested, at least. The amazing thing is that you have this way of making things like that which should be just 'whaaat? O.o' seem completely and totally believable. Like, I believe you about this. I think it could work, the way you wrote it - with Voldemort seeing himself in Snape and that maybe being the attraction, and Snape just wanting to be needed and wanted and loved, and... just, yeah.
Your Voldemort is just amazing, as well. I mean, creepy as anything and terrifying and he doesn't even kill anyone or anything in this, but he still manages to be creepier and almost darker than in the books.
As always, your writing is to die for and practically makes me drool. Everything is just perfect: the word choice, the flow, the length and pace... it's just perfect. I don't know how else to describe it :P
Gah, you're just amazing. Seriously. I'm going to have to favourite this, because I don't quite know what else to do since someone else already recommended it on the forums (drat! :P) but I kinda feel I should do something...
I think I can probably officially call myself your fangirl now :) Yes? No? :P
Hi Susan! It's been far too long since I read any of your stories and when Kiana recommended this one on the forums while ago, I couldn't resist, especially since it looks on the more negative aspects of Snape - he's all too often romanticised in a way which makes him easy to forgive in fanfiction, I think, but as always, you're never afraid to go against the popular view in your writing and I think that's what makes it so spectacular.
It's hard to know what to say about this. I'm not sure this was even prose - it felt like poetry, especially the early sections which were so lyrical and beautiful. They were packed with brilliant description and imagery as well, and I love the fact that you always manage to come up with unusual comparisons for your descriptions. It really was breathtaking. There were so many lines that I found really powerful, which just made me stop and think for a moment, that I can't quote them all back to you - I'd be including most of the one-shot in the review if I did!
The structure of the one-shot is fantastic, too, and something I've never seen done before. The coda at the end was probably my favourite section as it seemed to bring the whole one-shot together and tie in all the different pieces.
I loved the use of always. I'm not sure how deliberate that was but I think it must have been, using that word that Snape and Lily shippers do to make everything alright but twisting it, so it's used in a completely different context. I really loved that part of this.
Snape's characterisation was just brilliant. It's not something I've ever seen done before, since every story seems to try to understand him and explain his motives, giving him a sympathetic edge and kind of forgiving him for what he did to Lily and the Potters. You did none of that here, and I think it's quite brave to bring out all of his more negative qualities. He's such a cold character here and almost emotionless - not quite - and killing definitely doesn't seem to be something that bothers him, which ties in with what we've seen in the books. He's probably killed many more people than Snape fans would like to admit.
The relationship between Snape and Voldemort was completely fascinating. That level of love and adoration from Snape to Voldemort was clear, and I think at the end you're possibly suggesting that this transferred onto Lily, so that he could reassure himself that he'd done the right thing. The hints of a physical relationship are extremely unusual and original but I found myself thinking it was completely possible, especially since Snape is welcomed back with open arms by Voldemort, when technically, his information about the prophecy is what made him 'disappear' for so long. I loved the use of red and green colour imagery, too, as that tied in really well with either Voldemort or Lily at times and it was really clever.
This was a truly breath-taking and beautiful one-shot, Susan, and now I really need to find time to go and read more of your work! Thank you for sharing this with us!
Gryffindor House Cup 2014 Review
Author's Response: Okay, so I've left this response for far too long and I apologize for keeping you waiting. It is a glorious review, and those are, sadly, the kind I love to mull over for weeks. They are at once the loveliest and most difficult to respond to. Thank you very much for writing such a detailed review! It means a lot that you took the time, particularly during the competition, when most reviews I received were not only for the shortest stories, but were themselves short. This one is the cherry on the top of a sundae. ^_^
I'm so pleased to hear that you liked the style. It felt more like poetry when I wrote it - something in the rhythm and diction as it was coming out. The inspiration for this story was also a poem, which contributed to that style. At the same time, Snape's character calls for a certain roughness, his bitterness of spirit in contrast with his lost potential. It's a story of mingled anger and despair, obsession and imagined love, hence the strange comparisons, the slight off-feeling to certain images - it all reflects Snape's mind and his soul. Even the use of "always" applies here - that word, which means so much to Snily shippers, becomes twisted, reused in a new and terrible way. If the word represents the character of Snape's love, then it has the potential to be interpreted in multiple ways - that's the beauty of language, particularly the power of a single word.
Yay! I'm glad that the coda was effective in bringing it all together. I wasn't sure whether to include it, even though it had been an important part of my original idea - it was the time-jump that made me uncertain because it could have been too jarring.
Snape is more fascinating to write as a negative kind of character. I personally found his romanticized side boring because it gave him too many excuses for what he did - the tragic backstory of a dark character does little to make him psychologically complex. There's a point where Snape chooses to perform certain actions and behave in certain ways - he's naturally drawn to darker things and ways, and I wanted to see more of that side to him. Who knows how many he killed as a young Death Eater! The only death he ever felt guilt about was Lily's, and even that is arguable, depending on who you ask.
It's great that you liked his characterisation in this story. It is pretty radical, in fanfiction at least, but somehow, even when I think of it now, months after I wrote this story, it still suits him.
If I continue, I'll turn into a melted mess. I admire your writing a lot, and so hearing these things from you makes every compliment that much more beautiful, so now I'm grinning madly and can't be trusted with proper human speech. Thank you for reading and reviewing this story!
Susan! This is beautiful!
I absolutely adore this style of writing, the very rhythmic, poetic, lyrical kind of writing, which makes it feel as if the story is carrying you away across an ocean of storytelling.
I love that you chose to do this, to explore this side of Snape. I've seen all of the discussions floating around tumblr about Snily as well, and this is a brilliant response. Snape is one of my favourite characters in HP precisely because he is so complex and layered, and a bad character that isn't black and white evil. Exploring this side of him is something that rarely gets done, in fact, most stories are much too focused on the "redemption" side of his story (if you can call it a redemption), and not the reasons which led up to him requiring a redemption.
Having him have a relationship with Voldemort is not something I would have picked, but it works so well! It makes sense when you think about what could possibly rival his love and obsession for Lily. Having it be another obsession makes perfect sense.
This is just such a beautiful piece, in so many ways. I could ramble on and on about how beautiful the writing itself is forever, and the same with the character analysis, and this angle on Snape.
Author's Response: Thank you, Sian! It's fantastic to hear from you about this story - I'm so glad that you liked its style. All of those compliments are beautiful to receive! It's astounding how well readers have been so far reacting to this story. :D
The story was initially just about Snape as a murderer, but his relationship with Voldemort seeped in and I thought it a good opportunity to also explore that equally-mysterious part of Snape's life. Perhaps the two things are too related to entirely separate them - that moment when Voldemort orders Snape to kill Charity Burbage has haunted me since I first read it. I wanted to know what led to that scene, what was between the lines.
Thank you again for reading and reviewing this! It means a lot to have heard from you! ^_^
This is incredible. You are so talented. Wonderful work!
Author's Response: Thank you for these wonderful compliments! And also thank you for taking the time to read this story. :D
Susan, this is seriously just wow. I would love to write a long review pointing out the myriad amazing things about this fic, each line that stood out and each idea, but I think that anything I say just won't do this story justice and certainly won't come close to conveying how intense and brilliant this fic is. The prose was simply beautiful, and there were so many levels to the story. Most of all I loved how you explored this really obsessive side to Snape, how he almost feels most comfortable in an unrequited love. It was an interesting twist on his character and entirely believable, as it fit right in with his canon personality. It's late and I'm struggling to come up with a coherent sentence, much less write a good review, but I just wanted to say how impressive this story is and commend you for telling an unusual story while making it seem so believable - your writing is phenomenal and I'm glad I read this!
Author's Response: Thank you! It was a lovely surprise to receive your review - to hear your compliments means a lot, and I'm still squeeing over them. ^_^
It's a shock to hear such things about this story. It felt different to me than my other stories, but I never guessed it would get such a response from readers. Snape's darkness and obsessive personality are disturbing places to take one's mind to. But I really like what you've said about the way he seems comfortable in an unrequited love - he truly wouldn't know what to do with requited love. He's too dysfunctional to respond in a safe way - he'd more likely become another version of his father.
It's fantastic to hear that this story is believable, fitting into canon. My characterization here is radical, and I wasn't sure if it would actually work for readers. Thank you for taking the time to read and review! There's no way I can express just how grateful I am for your compliments!
Ah, it’s this one-shot! I kept seeing you mention it, and I’ve been so excited to read it as it just sounds so intriguing so yay :D
Susan, I have no words. I seriously don’t. I think this is honestly your best work yet as there were so many levels to it and it was so complex and so beautiful and it’s probably going to take me several more read-throughs until I can fully understand and appreciate all of the levels but wow this was amazing!!
The first section was just so powerful with so many amazing bits of descriptions and imagery I was just blow away and it really set the bar for what the one-shot was going to be. There were so many powerful bits such as here ‘It is a land of the blind, the deaf’ and ‘Death is only a man’ and even though at times they were so simple, the way you designed them was just awe-worthy.
Your entire structure of the one-shot followed on from this and it was just truly amazing! The mix of long and sort of dreamy descriptions contrasted brilliant with the shorter, blunter, singular words and it really showed the levels of their relationship and how it was always shifting from one form to the other. I can’t even quote anymore description as it would fill up the entire review box, but seriously, this contained some of your best description yet!
Wow, Snape, was just wow! You must have thought about his character and studied it a lot to characterise him so brilliantly as your version of him here is incomparable to any other one and it just blows them out of the water. You really showed the bitter and colder side to Snape which isn’t often shown, and that was highlighted really well in the second section when he left home and seemed to just lack feeling for his mother and viewed her almost as a weakling, like Voldemort did with his own mother too I guess and that link was really interesting.
One would expect him to become cold and evil from after joining Voldemort but you made a really interesting twist and I really enjoyed it! There was the almost warmth and affection when he thought of Voldemort and the mixture of pity and anger when he thought of his mother and Lily and how they had seemingly just thrown it all away. I can’t even formulate words properly as it’s still blowing my mind, but I just basically think this is the best version of Snape I have ever come across and nothing could ever match it.
His relationship with Voldemort was so intriguing. In the majority of it, you could clearly see that Voldemort was the superior one and it said so here ‘With that, Severus Snape became the Dark Lord’s man’ showing the power of the relationship and how it was Snape who later fretted about whether the Dark Lord would always want to remain with him. But then in moments such as in section four where you described their physical relationship it almost seemed reversed, and that they were equals, and just the way you managed to portray both sides with excellence is just amazing!
The final section, Coda, was possibly my joint favourite with the first, as it clearly see there where you got the basis of your one-shot from the Snape and Lily argument. It is really interesting to ponder whether that could have been the case as Snape was so desperate to live that I could imagine he could change his fixation with Voldemort to one with Lily.
Wowow, this one-shot was just amazing (I think that’s been almost every other word in this review) and I think you definitely answered those questions in such an original way that has to be applauded! This is definitely going into my favourites :D (also, sorry if the review is incoherent, I’m meant to be asleep but I saw this and had to read it before I went to bed)
Author's Response: Thank you again for taking the time to read and leave a lovely long review, Kiana! I'm sorry to have taken so long to respond - these long reviews always pose a challenge because it's easy to ramble on and on without saying anything at all. ;)
You see, you said best work, and I don't know how to respond to that. It was a hard story to write, coming out of somewhere else in my head, slowly unravelling while I was dealing with unpleasantness. For some reason, writing this story /slowly/ really worked - it brought out deeper emotions, the darker imagery, and it means a lot to hear that you liked seeing these things and admire the story so much. It's also just a weird story - that's easy to admit. I'm glad you picked up on the contrast between the dream-like and harsh portions of the narrative. It's not just that the story contains a lot of memories and dreams, but that Snape is caught between the word of illusion and disillusion - he's lost and takes the wrong path, not so much because the world around him is flawed, but because he is. He can never have the fairy tale narrative of the underdog who becomes a prince because, unlike the good-at-heart underdogs, his heart is already poisoned. It makes him very difficult to write. I don't want to demonize him, but rather keep him securely in that grey area.
There was always a gap there in Snape's story - his mother. She was the one person that looked like him, perhaps even was like him inside too, yet she disappears from his story. Was it because he wanted to be like Voldemort, motherless, unconnected and unaffected? It was possible that Tobias killed her, but surely that would have come into the story somewhere - it's too traumatic a thing for Snape to have entirely ignored. So he's the one who instead engineers the break, of course blaming her - because that's what he does: displaces the blame on to others rather than take the responsibility for himself. (Snape's a character study of people I've known, which probably explains why I find him interesting - his personality type is too familiar.)
It's really hard to describe what Snape and Voldemort have. Their relationship in the books was too close for it to have just been that of master and servant - Voldemort's treatment of Lucius, Pettigrew, and even Bellatrix shows otherwise. Snape was special to Voldemort, to the point where Voldemort is blind to Snape's treachery - that's incredible, when you think of it. Snape tricked Voldemort, lied to him, betrayed him, and Voldemort never knew! Voldemort only kills him because he wants the Elder Wand - and victory - more than he wants to keep Snape. There's so much there to draw from, so much that we can never know, and I'm surprised that more writers haven't looked closer at it (there has to be some out there - I've just missed them).
Thank you again for your review! It means a lot that you've liked this story so much! :D