Though I never was much of a Snape fan, I left HBP with a distinct impression that he was innocent, and since then I’ve found myself supporting him with great passion. Not only do I love that your fic supports my theory, I love it for being wellwritten and beautifully constructed, and for digging deeply not only into the question of Snape’s innocence, but into the characters of both Snape and Dumbledore. You’ve developed them both wonderfully, looking at their motives and their motivations, but especially their feelings.
He had no doubt that Eileen Prince's half-blood son was the stronger wizard, but how much could Severus be asked to sacrifice? I found this line, and the entire sequence, actually, very intriguing. Dumbledore is worried about what will happen if Severus is forced to kill Lucius, his friend, and wonders if he will be strong enough. Despite this, he goes on to ask Severus to be prepared to kill his mentor, Dumbledore…It makes me wonder what’s going on in Dumbledore’s head. Does he underestimate his own importance to Severus, or does he overestimate Lucius’ importance, or does he merely trust Severus? I’m inclined to go with the last one – he believes that no matter the odds, Severus will, in the end, do whatever it takes to defeat Voldemort.
When was the last time Snape had begged for anything? It’s strangely moving to see Snape in such a position. Snape does not beg, he orders, or agrees with a curled lip, or simply ignores. But here he begs, and it works perfectly. “Do it because it is my wish, and because I ask you not in fear or desperation, but in love." This is beautiful, and it’s so like Dumbledore, to base everything upon love. The relationship you’ve drawn between him and Snape is very, very well done; you’ve reached a balance between friendship and admiration and love, and their mutual devotion to overcoming Voldemort, which in the end must come before everything.
Though Snape had always been a survivor, tough and gritty, he had never in Albus' recollection been truly happy, and now he never would be: he would carry first the burden and then the guilt of fulfilling this request for the rest of his life. Wow. This sentence has implications on so many levels! First of all, Snape’s devotion and love (no matter how much it is disguised), that allow him to do this no matter the consequences of his guilt. Secondly, the Dumbledore’s devotion to the higher ideal of saving the world and defeating Voldemort – he will convince Severus to undergo this pain for the cause. Finally, the trust Dumbledore has in Snape – the trust that Snape will be able to do the right thing and that he will endure and go on. Dumbledore trusts Snape enough to ask him to sacrifice both of their lives. …there was nothing left for him here now except the faint hope that Voldemort's evil would not prevail. Once again, you show the full effects of what this will do to Snape, and it makes the fact that Dumbledore is demanding it even more significant.
You’ve raised a very interesting question throughout: do the ends justify the means? In general, the good guys usually proclaim that they don’t, that happy endings must be brought about by just means. But really, though I’ve never seen it like this before, Snape killing Dumbledore is using murder to bring about good. Coupled with Snape’s realization that he can’t fix everything and that sometimes his best is not enough, you’ve written one of the most thought provoking stories I’ve come across in a while.
Really believable conversation. Explains a lot. I love Snape stories and this is a good one. I really hope Snape's okay (ie. supposed to kill Dumbledore). I also liked that you included Regulus he's one of my favourites. Don't like it when Snape is mean about Sirius though, but that's Snape not the story. Is this just a one shot?
Long have I thought that Snape is more innocent than portrayed – or perhaps it’s just what I want to believe for my own sanity. The naysayers have no idea how a conversation would have gone, and you really covered this for them. It’s believable and brilliant.
“…the potions master's eyes…”
This was the only mistake I found. Potions needs to be capitalized.
"I didn't know for certain. I had hoped to be wrong."
This is very nitpicky. Dumbledore doesn’t tend to use contractions. Yet, despite this, the language sounds very much like him. You still did a good job.
“…for having come to him with yet more proof that his headmaster was only an aging, frail mortal.”
It’s been an increasing image in the books. JKR is slowly bringing the reader and Harry around to realize that Dumbledore is an old man, and he’s becoming weak as most old men do. I think you portrayed that very well here, and continued that thread of thought.
‘It was, perhaps, the cruelest thing Albus had ever had to ask from anyone. "You've told me that Draco Malfoy has been instructed to kill me," he said heavily. "I need you to stop him from becoming a murderer."’
“Draco must not be allowed to start down the same path as Voldemort."
And here, you explain why it’s important for someone else to stop Draco from killing Dumbledore. So many say that Dumbles just doesn’t want Draco to become a murderer, but you make something very clear. Draco has the potential to become another Dark Lord, and even while the headmaster is working toward the destruction of one, he’s working at saving the world from another. It’s interesting, though, that it would take only one major death to turn Draco completely away from his capacity to be a good man. Isn’t he bound to be all that he fears anyway?
“Severus was staring at it with a combination of loathing and disgust.”
Very interesting! Same language as in book 6. This could be how he stared at Dumbledore in that manner before killing him – this was a big argument among the naysayers. Nicely done!
Overall, I gushed. It was an excellent one shot.