That's so sad, but beautifully written! I feel so badly for Severus!
I picked this story because I liked the title. It's a summary in two well chosen words. The beginning has an air of mystery about it, and good use of details. I could picture the burning embers and imagine the slight itchiness of the scarf. I liked the way Lily took off the scarf and then had second thoughts and put it back on, the symbolism of her internal conflict about her friendship with Severus.
I noticed you had Lily look at the warm, knitted green scarf and then internally comment that it was definitely warm two sentences later. If you edit out the first use, the second will make a better impact.
What I didn't get from the story was a specific time frame. When is it taking place? Fifth year? Sixth? Seventh?
The friends' tradition of exchanging presents was sweet and showed their long history. You painted a vivid picture of the care Lily put into the refreshments. She scraped (marvelous use of the word, I could hear the rub of spatula) the best cookies off the tray and piled them on her mother's best plate. I wondered if the plate was crystal or china with a Christmas pattern.
You did an excellent job revealing Severus' character by his not being able to wait for the rain to stop to see Lily, by his meticulous way he wraps and unwraps gifts, his soft tone and the way he trailed his fingers over her picture.
When he's going in for the kiss, the phrasing of His face shifted infinitesimally to hers read awkwardly to me, distracting me from the awkward story moment. Infinitesimally is too small to be measured. If you put His face lowered towards hers or His head bent to hers it would convey what you want more smoothly.
The imagery of their cheeks burning for different reasons was excellent.
A whisper. ‘Come back, Sev. I’m sorry.’ was poignant, but "A whisper" took attention from what was said. I think would read more poignantly, ‘Come back, Sev. I’m sorry,’ she whispered.
The ending was bittersweet, showing both how well Lily knows Severus . . . and how much she doesn't, because he won't forget. The contrast of happy friends in the picture to real life solemn counterparts brought the change in their relationship home. That Severus would sit on a frozen riverbank in just a shirt in the rain portrayed both his emotional turmoil and his lifelong flair for the dramatic. :)
I came away with a sense of melancholy, because this is the beginning of the end of their friendship, but the last moment was incredibly touching.
And so they sat there, hand in hand, staring out at the reflection of the setting sun on the river.
If I'd been your beta, I would have advised you to make that your ending. The sentences that follow are stating the obvious and detract from the beauty of the first one. It's trying to gild the lily. Natural simplicity is best.
Author's Response: Thank you, dearest Paige! What a lovely review. In this fic they're about to go into their fifth year, so it's more or less the beginning of the end of their friendship, as you put it. I'm glad you liked the details; I've always been of the opinion that they're what makes a story. :) I'll take all your suggestions on board when I look over this story again (I'm planning to edit all my fics this summer). Again, thanks for a wonderful review!
Ooh, Jen. It’s almost May, but any time’s a good time for a Christmas story, right? And this one had lots of the warm Christmassy feeling I love, but a lot of colder bits too.
Now, to be honest, I don’t think this is your strongest work – but of course, it was written before quite a few of your other one-shots, and you're always getting better and better :) Anyway, at first I thought the writing could be brushed up a little bit. However, soon enough I was drawn in to this sweet and sad little story. The writing and storyline are simple, but they’re also very powerful. This was a very moving and lovely fic.
You captured Lily well – as she was in DH, your Lily is very caring and clearly does love Severus. Sev, too, was true to his young book!self. I absolutely adored this part:‘Thanks,’ he said, pulling gently at the tape on the ends. He was always meticulous in opening his presents – Lily had never seen him rip the paper. He always folded it carefully afterwards, so it could be reused.
It’s so like him – careful and neat. I really can imagine that he would take care of material things like that, as he probably realised that his family didn’t have enough money to be wasteful. That whole paragraph was a really nice touch.
And mmm, I could picture the scenes perfectly. I could smell the cookies, and see the rain outside and the warm snug house, and feel Sev’s cold hand and Lily’s hot cheeks. I don’t know how you did it, but your writing was so simple yet so evocative. Just mmm.
The couple of issues I had with the writing:
In the beginning, it just didn’t quite flow comfortably – part of the problem was that it seemed like too many sentences were beginning with ‘she’ - which prevented me from getting into the story straight away. As I said before, though, the story quickly fell into place and I happily read along without noticing any more awkwardness.
… er, well, except for a couple of spots where the POV seemed to switch and we saw things through Sev’s eyes, but I can’t find any way to fix them, really, so it’s probably not much use to point them out to you. Well, one of them was this:Friends. Best friends, actually. And that was enough for now, even for Severus.But I suppose that it could be Lily recognising that Sev’s accepted the situation for now, so it sort of works. Or, (I’m probably going to sound insane here but…) it was a switch from third person limited to omniscient which sort of felt like the final shot in a movie, zooming out from Lily’s face, to the two friends, to them sitting by the river (to all of Spinner’s End to the whole of England to the earth ;)…) [And on a different note, that last line really reminded me of Mark (eep, I think?) in Love Actually, after Juliet kisses him. “Enough. Enough for now.” ♥]
Oh, and one last thing – do Brits say ‘cookies’?
Overall, dear, this really was a lovely warm (but unfluffy) Christmas story about love and friendship. It's *contented sigh*-inducing, and just makes me want to curl up with a blanket and hot chocolate. Really nice work :D
Author's Response: Oh, yay! A lovely Chels review. :) Argh, I completely agree with you on this not being my strongest fic. I don't know if you know, but this was written from seeing the prompts to being completed within a few hours - it was an emergency SSIV when someone couldn't complete one. So I think that explains the not-so-great quality, although I should have probably fixed it up a little more. I didn't even notice the mistakes in POV or the beginning - I mgiht go back and try and edit a bit more. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, though, as I love it to bits despite it's mistakes. It's such a cutesy Christmas story, hee. You're absolutely amazing, dearm and thank you for this review. :)
I do feel sorry for Severus, but it is a very cute story with a perfect ending :)
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
I never feel sympathetic for Severus a lot, but this was sooo sad... Awfully well written, really.
Author's Response: I'm not usually a Severus fan, either, but with Lily/Sev I can't help but pity him. :( Thank you for your kind compliment, dear!
Awww, I love this!
Author's Response: Thank you!
*Looks around* First reviewer yeah! Cute fic, lovely!
Author's Response: Yep, you were first. :) Thanks for the review!