Hi Lia! It's Renny with our review exchange. Well, right off the bat I was excited since this is a Severus story and I'm just an eensy-teensy bit in love with him :P
This is my favorite kind of one shot; a missing moment, slice of life piece that really explores a single character more deeply than what we're given in the original books. I thought you did a great job with this. I know from "When the Storm Breaks" (which I have shamefully, SHAMEFULLY not gotten back to recently!!) that you're really good at getting inside a character's head, especially one where you don't get much of their interior motives from canon like Lucius or Severus (at least until the very end of DH).
So one thing I love about Severus-centric fics is that I don't think I've ever read a bad one. People like us who write about him tend to deeply care about the character and therefore are really careful about trying to write him accurately and respectfully, as much as you can respect a fictional character that is. Like I already said, you did a great job capturing Severus as a child. I can see easily how his bitter, sarcastic personality as an adult could stem directly from how you've written him as a child and adolescent: first his innocence about magic being slowly chipped away and smothered by his father, which leads to an almost temporary rejection of it before he starts school to simply keep things at home having some semblance of normalcy. The realization you give him right at the end is great. Again, it sets the tone for how Severus is as an adult. You'd think that since he had such a rough childhood, it would make him more understanding of what Harry went through growing up, especially since he cared about his mother so much. But life in Spinner's End hardened Severus and made him into a survivor, not an empathizer. Sort of the type of man who must have looked at scrawny, first year Harry, seen both himself and the hateful James in him and thought, "So what? Life sucks. Get over it and get used to it, kid." and moved on to continue to hate him despite his promise to protect him.
I like how you broke up the story into short snippets. It helps to show time passing or even just his thought process changing without needing a big explanation. The picky part of me would prefer if there wasn't so much spacing around the line breaks, but I know the site can make it crazily hard to format the story correctly and often doubles the spacing you originally intended. As far as other nit-picky things, I didn't notice any errors like spelling or punctuation, but I was reading for enjoyment and not critically. I doubt if I had my beta hat on, I would have found anything anyway. :)
Personally, I really appreciated how you didn't even touch how Lily influenced his character. Maybe it's because I was already so invested in Severus's character before DH came out that I sort of excepted his love for Lily without it making me all, "Aw!! That's SO SWEET!!!" and going off to write dozens of stories about it. I don't mind Severus/Lily stories at all, but I also like ones that are just about him, you know? I still like the idea that he could have changed sides and joined the Order simply because it was the right thing to do, not because he was obsessed with a woman.
For me, the brief snippets we saw of his childhood in OotP was what made me start to really care about Severus early on in the series. It helped explain why he was the way he was and raised more empathy within me than for his counter-point in that book, Sirius, who only made his life worse than it already was. I think this one-shot is a great fleshing out of some of those snapshot memories we saw during Harry's Occlumency sessions. You should definitely be proud of this little piece! Great job!
Author's Response: Renny. I am so sorry I took so long to get back to this. I have no excuses at all.
I'm a bit daunted of writing Severus Snape. He's an incredible character and a very complex individual. He's one of those characters I like to call 'untouchables' - only JKR can write them how they are supposed to be written. When I do attempt them, I try to be careful, like you've rightly said.
I LOVE missing moments and they can only be written in one-shot or drabble form. They are just enough to keep a reader satisfied especially with characters like these.
I was curious about Severus as a child. Most of what I've seen is based on his teenage years and later. The scene that plays a lot in my head when I think of his childhood is the one where we see a child crying in the corner as drama unfolds somewhere else in the house - from OoTP, Snape's Worst Memory. Before that, most readers considered Snape an awful, jealous man with a grudge. But as children we never really think that these traits are made and not born. I think he was stuck in an unfortunate household with someone who was much like Petunia was to Lily about magic. The major difference here is that while Petunia chose to distance herself from her sister, Tobias Snape lashed out against something he could not possibly understand.
I love that you said Snape's experiences made him into a survivor. You would expect him to understand what Harry has been through, but things were a bit more difficult for Severus. He didn't have many friends at Hogwarts though, while everyone wanted to be Harry's when he arrived. In the end things never really got better for Severus while Harry's life improved over time. I'm not an advocate of the 'tough love' concept, but I completely understand your point there.
Snapshots within a big snapshot. There is (hopefully) enough information there, but not an entire essay, you know? I hate formatting, seriously. Before it wasn't this difficult! I got frustrated, so I decided to leave it as it was, otherwise I would have spent more time than I intended.
Aww, why thank you. Honestly, I didn't think it was completely necessary to include her. His life continued without her for years afterwards. He still had his demons to deal with and I'm sure this is one part of his life that he'd like to keep to himself. I don't mind the pairing either, but I like seeing Snape stand alone too. I wonder how much I would like him if he were to switch sides. Like you said, it would be different if it did happen because of Lily. To be fair, he did turn his life upside down for her.
Ooh, exactly! Like I said before, I like to believe that certain things happen to people because of their experiences, not because they were born that way. My heart softened towards Snape in OoTP as well, especially how he was bullied unfairly. Like it or not, James and Sirius were bullies, plain and simple.
Thanks so much for such a long and thoughtful review, Renny.