Hi, Susan! I've wanted to read one of your stories since...oh...forever. :) I was scanning your author page looking for a banner with actors from the movies on it for the review challenge at TGS (you did NOT make that easy! Though they're all gorgeous, and I actually prefer banners without movie actors to see how the authors imagined their characters to look, not Hollywood.) Lo and behold I found one that so happened to have my absolute favorite character and about two of my favorite time periods with him. I'm always so interested to read what other writers do with Snape since he's so enigmatic and has so many layers.
So right off the bat I can see why you're a legendary author at TGS. I haven't read as much fan fiction as other people, though the review challenges are helping me out a ton to broaden my horizons, but I find there are usually several types of writers on this site. Some aren't very developed yet, maybe because they're young (and if so, how awesome is it that they're writing?!) and tend to not flesh out their stories or fall into cliche traps, but then there are some like you who I can tell have been doing this for a long time. Straight away you've hooked me with your attention to detail, something I always greatly appreciate. Descriptions like Snape's disdain for Dumbledore's sugary passwords or him commanding the revolving stairs to stop moving (something I never would have thought of myself at all) really make your writing truly enjoyable. I'm already looking forward to reading what else you come up with, especially how you deal with canon events. The writers I truly respect the most are the ones who are able to write brilliantly within canon, even if it's pre-X-book canon since those of us who have been writing for a while kind of got stuck in that respect with our stories sort of ending up AU on us. SO...on to the actual review now that I've rambled your ear off!
"Had he ever tried, he could have been handsome, with a long solemn face, intense eyes, and strong features. But the hardness of his heart was what would keep him from ever being so." --I think this is what every single person who's in love with Snape thinks. He *is* hot! In my mind! He just needed to care about himself more.
Ah, ok. It took me a second to remember that we're pre-DH here, so obviously we didn't know about Severus's true motivations for joining the Order yet. It's funny how quickly we forget that we used to not have all of the answers. I definitely like your reasoning, that he joined because it was simply the right thing to do. That's kind of what I had thought as well because the idea of him being in love with Lily at the time seemed just so stupid to me. I ended up really loving how JKR handled that aspect, but I personally wanted to believe that deep down, Severus was just a decent person and couldn't stomach seeing such atrocities committed in front of him.
"Even years of practising Occulmency could not protect him from the gaze of Albus Dumbledore." --I also always had the idea that Dumbledore would be the only person in the world (besides Lily) who could see through Severus's protective facade. It's cool that we think alike :)
"He reveled in the knowledge he had of both sides in this new war." Sort of like by risking his life, it made him more alive where Voldemort was unable to truly live because he was so focused on preserving his own life. Interesting.
What's also really interesting about this one-shot is that I feel like you never truly proved one way or the other what side Severus was truly on. I think depending on the reader's preconceived notions of Severus's loyalties, it can go either way. You have Severus not wanting to give up Dumbledore's weakness, which could mean he either wanted to protect Dumbledore or the weakness, which we assume is Harry. You have the mysterious She, which most of us would now think is Lily, but at this time it could have meant anyone, maybe a remembrance of Severus's mother telling him to do the right thing. You have Severus say, "This could be his chance to prove to the Dark Lord that he was loyal..." but does that mean that he IS loyal, or that he just wants the Dark Lord to BELIEVE he's loyal? So unless I just somehow missed an obvious clue (I did have my toddler hanging off of me, refusing to nap while I was trying to read this) it seems like you managed to do a very accurate character portrait of Snape without deciding definitively what side he was on.
This was a great read, and I'm glad I was finally able to check out your writing :) Great job!
Author's Response: Wow! Ever since I've received this review, I've just stared at it when I should be responding to it. I did not expect to get a review for this story, though once I started reading what you said, it makes sense - it's the only real Snape story I have, one that places him in the starring role, one that's untouched by romance. This reminds me that I need to write another Snape story. It's been so long! The other great surprise was seeing your name on the review! You're one of the biggest Snape writers out there and I'm incredibly envious of your talent in writing him, and for you continuing to write Snape/OC. It's so good to see people still writing it.
What's extraordinary about your review for this particular story is that this is one of my oldest stories - I was only 18 when I wrote this, so for me, it's still from an early-ish stage. It was edited the year after, but all the same, it still feels like forever-ago that I wrote this. But like you said, many of the writers on this site are very young (so young that 18 would sound old to them *shudders*). It's a wonderful compliment that, even when I wrote this story, I was in that second group. :D
Oddly enough, since you mention it, I love to work within canon - the presence of a set structure makes me feel more comfortable I guess. Fanfiction is all about canon - whether you want to break it or go with it, you can't ignore its presence. The best fanfiction for me is the "missing moment" type - those that depict alternate points of view (predominately Snape's, but others too :P) and moments that were left out of the books. I don't like changing things too much, even in AU situations. This mindset does, however, mean that ships like Snape/OC and Snape/Hermione became impossible for me after the last book came out - I'm only starting to think about approaching them again now.
Oh yes, I agree that Snape had the potential to be good-looking, if only he tried more. I've always seen him as an opposite to James (which is what JKR wanted us to see as well, I think), but only in nurture, not nature. James was the spoiled only son - Severus was the only son of an abusive relationship. One grew up rich, the other poor. One was loved, the other not. It changes everything. Lily's influence could only do so much - Severus would have always been in the darkness, even if his nature never quite fit. He was always different, even from the Death Eaters.
Like you, I prefer the idea of Severus not doing everything /only/ for Lily (JKR's emphasis on the love aspect was on the overdone side), but rather because he thought Voldemort was wrong. And if he only did do it for Lily, then what does it say about him? It makes sense in that no one but Lily ever gave him affection, ever gave him anything for that matter, but at the same time, it's very selfish that he only cares about her, whether for her sake or his, when countless others are suffering. As for Snape's loyalty, what I admired JKR for doing was placing Snape in the grey area for so long. His motives are never clear until the very end, and that must have been difficult for her to keep up, especially since she knew how she was going to end it. In this story, I did include shades of Lily (the mysterious She), but I never expected it to actually turn out that way in canon! (Cor_Leonis was the first I knew of to write Snape/Lily long before DH came out). But I did intend to keep Snape's loyalty up in the air, partially because I couldn't decide which way he'd go, and also because it leaves things up to the reader, letting them pick out the clues and decide for themselves. I like to put the reader to work. ;)
I think I'm going to have to cut this response short. *cries* This always happens with the interesting reviewers, but if you want to talk more about Snape, just get in touch with me at TGS or the HPFF forums. :D Thank you again for this amazing review! It means a lot to hear these compliments from you!