Ah, Hannah, why must you do this to me, make me feel for Snape? How could I hate the man in this story, this broken, lonely, self-hating man? You've gone and done it. You've made me want him to be happy -- or at the least, less miserable.
I really like the voice of this story. What I suppose that means is that you told the story, but it was still seen and felt through his point of view. And what a miserable place that was, I should say.
The flow, as well, was wonderful. Each flashback was put in just the right spot, and they were sequential as well, which lends itself to his story, his descent from a boy who loved his best friend and watched her play in the snow to the man who drank alone in his office and everyone around him that mattered to him was dead.
Charity was an interesting addition. I guess I never considered the idea that he had known her on anything more than a professional level or had purposely interacted with her outside of that. Just the simple act of turning a page for her gave her the idea that he was not quite what he seemed, and even as she was murdered, he was still that different man. Having him keep the chain with him always really touched me on a deep level. It made me think of him as someone incapable of murder who was capable of pretending that he was.
I've been meaning to ask and should probably look it up, but is Mary MacDonald as Severus's first kill canon or your own canon? Either way, it's brilliant, because it signified that Severus had truly been lost. He seemed to genuinely care for Mary on some level, at least enough to seek her help in buying a gift for Lily. That it still haunted him and he thought of her often, both as she was before he became a Death Eater and how she begged for her life before he took it from her.
It's always fascinating to see that stray thead of humanity in him, because sometimes I have a hard time reconciling myself to the fact that the man that we met in the books was really good enough to sustain such a ruse for so long, that he was capable of loving Lily that deeply when he was scarcely old enough to understand what love is. Somehow, fan fiction givs him that where it did not previously exist for me. Your story is really on the top of that list right now in that regard.
I am curious about the church service and its inplications in regard to religion in the Potterverse. I know it's a heavy subject and not something best brought up in a review, but I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas on the subject. I do, however, like that magical elements managed to blend their way in, but certain Muggle things remained, such as lighting the candles manually, yet the stained glass people could move around amongst themselves. Very nice detail and very nice touch.
I shall stop now, but before I go, I would love to re-iterate that this is a fantastic fic and I wish I had read it before QSQ deadline, or I would have nominated this in D/A. I love it that much, even if it does deal with a character that I cardinally don't like and almost can't. A testament to you and your abilities, my dear.
Until we meet again,
Author's Response: This review put the biggest smile on my face, Jess, because this story has always been a little ignored, but I have a serious fondness for it - it was the first thing I'd written that I ever really and truly loved (I think it's probably one of my best stories to be honest). I think that's why I'm so fond of Severus, because I see him more as pitiable than contemptible. Yes, he has serious flaws but I actually think that no one is more brutally aware of his failings than he is, and by DH he is an utterly broken man (I rather think he probably welcomed death when it came), and compassion is exactly what I wanted the reader to feel for him (because warmth is probably asking a little too much). I really love the idea of a friendship (or even something more) between him and Charity because I figure at the absolute least they were colleagues and watching someone he knew be killed can't have been easy for Severus and it's just one extra weight of guilt for him. It made me think of him as someone incapable of murder who was capable of pretending that he was. You've summed up how I view him perfectly there, at least by this point in his life (there's the comment to Dumbledore in The Prince's Tale of "Lately, only those I couldn't save," when Dumbledore asks how many people he's seen die that rather suggests to me that he's come to regret a lot of his earlier actions as a Death Eater). Mary as his first kill is just my canon (I don't think in canon there's anything to conclusively prove one way or another whether he'd killed before Dumbledore or not, but it's always seemed like a total cop out to me to have him not given he was a Death Eater wholeheartedly at first, and no matter how manipulative Dumbledore is, I don't think he'd make a ma whose soul was previously unblemished rend his soul by killing him). I got into a discussion with someone once that got me to settle on the idea that a DE was forced to kill to prove their allegiance to the Dark Lord as part of taking the Mark. I liked the added conflict of making Severus' first kill someone he knew, and in fact I think that would probably appeal to the Dark lord too. I actually do have a story about Severus killing Mary but it needs a bit of a rewrite before it goes back up. As for the church service, part of my person canon for Severus is that, as this story mentions, he encountered religion in his childhood because of his father (it's Catholicism in my mind actually, because I rather think the Catholic guilt suits him), and originally I didn't have the wizarding elements in the church in this story, but one of my betas pointed out that there wouldn't be a Muggle church in Hogsmead and suggested I give it some magical elements to make it a wizarding church. It makes sense to me that there should be religion in the wizarding world, because there is such an overlap with the Muggle world in terms of Muggleborns coming into the wizarding world and Muggles like Seamus' dad marrying into it that plenty of them would be likely to have a faith and wouldn't give it up simply because they entered the wizarding world. I just think that there's no real reason for wizarding society to lack religion. Anyway that's a fairly brief comment on it, but like you said, a review's not the easiest place to discuss it. Thank you so much, my dear, for such an utterly awesome review!