"All the mistakes below are mine." LOL You're ridiculous. This was fantastic, pixil!
Your Karakaroff is so wonderful. Now don't get me wrong, he's an awful person here, hehehe, but you write him just so wonderfully! He's a character I've never exactly cared for, never spared much of a second thought about, and whose past never truly intrigued me, so I'm very surprised to be enjoying reading about him so fully! It's because you've given his character so much story, so many layers and details. You paint this picture of a man who is so deeply rooted with prejudice and arrogance, so much so that it is on his mind at almost any given moment. And his hunger for power is just as heavy, his desire to be praised. You've worked him out so perfectly that I can see already how he is the same person that goes on to eventually name his fellow death eaters to get himself out of Azkaban.
Your attention to detail is stunning. These descriptions are just so perfectly balanced. So many times when I read a fanfiction, the author either completely bombards us with tiny details, drowning us is adjectives, so much so that I can barely see straight. And then others will just completely leave descriptions out altogether and focus on strictly dialogue and vapid internal monologues. But your words have the most beautiful flow to them, one moment just melts into the next with such ease, it makes me sick with jealousy. :-p
"They are not yours to discover." - Ah! So intrigued by this! Such a teasing statement that worked like a charm! I want to know about the book and the secrets!
This story is so full of these small details that, while they may not actually effect the story's plot at all, they add to it's believability and depth immensely. For example, when Karkaroff vanishes his cigarette butt and then says "Muggles. Messy lot, are they not?" Ha! It's just those tiny little additives that really create such believable characters, that keeps me entirely sucked into this story. And that little bit of snobbish humor helps to keep the story from feeling too heavy. The balance you've created throughout this fic is truly admirable.
You really depict well just how little the death eaters (Karkaroff especially, of course) care about those they see as below them. His ability to so easily admit to himself that he wouldn't be bothered for a moment at killing off Muggles if it meant he and others on his side would rise to power quicker. It's just terrible how little a person can care for human lives, and the way you so casually threw it out there, as if it was the most casual thought in the world to have, just made the statement land even more powerfully. You have a full understanding of what to say where and when to cause ultimate impact on us readers.
"He thought he'd loved a girl once. But that had been a mistake. One he vowed never to make again." - I love this, the nameless Lily slight. And of course it's a bit off canon because it's a Snape/OC fic, but I love the jab at her, the resentment and bitterness, and the fact that you aren't ignoring his life up until this point, but including it and simply moving him forward the way he never could in the books.
Severus seems to be fantastically created here. You've got a beautiful grasp on the character in his younger years. I adore the way you describe his love for potions, for their predictability. I think that completely fits into his personality, wanting stable environments to surround him, knowing the outcome before it gets to it. I think my only tiny, tiny criticism (and this is strictly opinion!) is to say that I think Severus is a silent worker, that he doesn't talk to himself like many of us do, so when he said "Almost Empty" out loud to himself... I don't know, I feel like he would only think that. He's just so private, so secretive. He doesn't seem the type to be in the habit of speaking out loud to yourself, you know? TINY detail and, again, my opinion only! :-p
The relationship between him and his mother was such an interesting one. His thoughts about her, having sent her the text book to let her know he'd graduated, wondering if she'd heard of his blossoming career, and mostly the concern that she may have forgotten him. And then her death - that actually took me completely by surprise! I can't even remember the last time I read a fanfiction with an element of surprise that I didn't predict ahead of time! It was wonderful to feel that again, so thank you! And even though we don't get an immediate reaction to their deaths, it's still so sad for him, that numbness...
I love seeing the more worried side of Snape, the side of him that's calculating all of his steps and excuses ahead of time, should he be cornered or questioned. We never really see that side of him in canon, the side that must have been frightened and constantly juggling so many roles, praying to keep them all straight. It was really well done and an excellent choice to add in.
Holy cow, it's Dorcas? I know she's a very minor character, but we saw her as part of the Order of the Phoenix and I was so not expecting a familiar face! And she also knows about Snape's past? I'm so intrigued! Eee! I love the way you wrote Severus' opinions of her and her career, and then the parallel you drew with Dumbledore being the man who set both of them up where they are, essentially.
I want to point out quick that I thought your Malfoy and Netterheim were both great, fully fleshed out characters as well, and I love seeing that in your minor characters this chapter, too. It's amazing how each of the four men in this chapter have similar personalities, and yet you've still managed to keep them so distinguished! That's undeniable talent, my friend.
Anyway, pixil, this was just a gorgeous first chapter and I sincerely look forward to the next!
Author's Response: OMG WYHO! What have you done??? That was awesome! (because I know you are. :P)
There WAS a crooked period. Didn't you see it?
THANK YOU for the awesome (it bears repeating) one thousand word one-shot, cleverly disguised as a review. I was blown away by the depth with which you both read and responded to this chapter.
It's interesting that you see parallels between the four men in this chapter. After thinking about it, they all have a certain amount of power, they all are focused on their goals, and they all realize that if they fail at their given tasks, the price will be high. I have spent far more time thinking about their differences, so I never connected them so closely in my mind. I"m glad you find them "distinguished" from one another. Whew!
When I was starting to write this, I thought it would be fun to play with the sinister aspects of HP. But I have to admit, in the first (twenty or so) drafts, I was drowning in my own adjectives and the internal monologues were indeed "vapid". It wasn't until I followed someone's advice and embraced my inner snark that things started coming together enough that I wasn't cringing at my own words. And that kept things from "feeling too heavy" as you put it. I'm glad it's working for you too.
I do have to say that asking myself things like, "what would Lucius do?" or "how would Karkaroff respond?" are much akin to waking nightmares. I would, however, not turn down an opportunity to ask them over for a spell, just so I can put too much lemon in their tea and watch them sputter about.
Snape/OC - I know it's everyone's favorite, right? That concept came out of a long-expired challenge that I didn't think I could write. So I tried. I believe that I was assigned the pairing too. I figured that loads of people with mountains of baggage and lousy people-skills are having relationships. Why couldn't Severus? Of course there are issues with how-to-make-Severus-recognizable thing as well as the who-is-going-to-give-him-the-time-of-day thing. If you stick around long enough, you'll have to let me know if it was remotely successful.
Haha! I DID think about Severus and how he might not be the type to verbalize while he's working. It was all too tempting to give him his two words. I don't have anything to justify it other than "the author said so". It's purely an early indulgence on my part. :)
I'm glad I was able to surprise you with something. I agree, it's hard to do. It certainly was not written as, "okay, and now I will kill off Snape's mother because NOBODY will see it coming!" or anything like that. And I always thought he had all these silent worries and concerns. He always appeared so purposeful. You can't go around looking so purposeful without a lot of planning.
So glad that you stopped in and said all those awesome things!