|Review:||Violet Gryfindor says:|
This story is extraordinary. I don't know if I can necessarily be of any help and say more than the other reviewers before me because I'm made speechless by this story. It's a very thoughtful story, and I keep pausing while writing to think over the things that happened, the subtle style and repetitions throughout that paint a very sad, yet very real picture, not only of Snape's life, but the lives of many. Like he sees at the end, his whole city is trapped in that bleak, terrible cycle of life, its people browbeaten and downtrodden. Everything was always against them, probably from birth, and Snape too is caught up in that cycle.
What's most powerful about this story is the style. You keep everything subtle and brief, which leaves so much more to go between the lines - you say much without saying it, and that's a true mark of skill for a writer. The little clues that Snape catches are set in stark contrast to the shrieks that fill the house, but they lead to the same sad conclusion - you don't need to say what's really going on. Snape dances away from it, refuses to put a name to it, just like he refuses to visit his mother's grave and face the actuality of what happened.
There's also a fantastic attention to details in this story, the little details of banal things that give life to the story and its characters, more life than they'd often receive in a novel-length work. I love the off-hand reference to Lily most of all because too many Snape stories focus on her role in his life, but you remind me here that his mother was another, more important guiding force. Lily's abandonment is like another straw on the camel's back - it doesn't break him, but it does increase his negative view of a world that seems hopeless.
This story is a fantastic examination of Snape, both in youth and as an adult looking back. It's interesting how JKR made Snape return to his childhood home, just as she did for Sirius - both wizards return to places where they were traumatized, but instead of Sirius's stubborn hatred for Grimmauld Place, you show how Snape accepts Spinners End and the city around it. His experience has taught him to understand that it wasn't just he and his mother who suffered - it was a larger problem that involved everyone. This is what makes the story so thoughtful, how you expand it beyond Snape's personal angst.
I'm very glad that I had the chance to read this story. It's definitely going on my favourites list. This is one of those rare gems that the archive yields, and it deserves a lot more attention.
Author's Response: Hello! I've finally gotten here and I'm so sorry for the very late response!
One of the things I appreciate about JKR's characters is that they are painfully realistic. There is no added fluff because the series is a children's fantasy novel. The underlying themes are very real. The tale of domestic abuse, though rather subtle, is evident in more than one character. It doesn't have to be physical either. Snape's story was no exception. One of the things that made me respect him was the fact that he'd come from very harsh means. People are very good at hiding things from others and at the same time, people are so caught up with their own problems that they fail to see what's in front of them. When the story opens, Snape, as a young boy wonders - as he watches the town - if he is alone in this. He wonders, if for a moment, that what he's going through can be easily relatable to his neighbours. In the end, as you've mentioned, he realises he was never really alone. I've mentioned to a reviewer that even if Tobias Snape's actions are inexcusable, it's probably the only thing he knows having lived in such a place all his life.
Since this is such a sensitive topic, I wanted to be as subtle as possible, but still allowing the audience to see what was really happening in Snape's world. While that was my intention, you extend it to Snape being in denial about it, which I happen to like a lot. I should go back and add a note that the scene with Snape in the room trying to block out the shrieks is based on his worst memory in OoTP. That was the inspiration for this entire one-shot. It is what made me stand up and properly notice him as a character, and like Harry, I was stunned. For me, there's more to why he never visits his mother's grave. A bit of it can be guilt as well. After his father's explosions, young Snape always went down to tend to her afterwards. Even if he did not feel protected, he felt that as one of the few important people in his life, he could have done something for her. Maybe this could explain his valiant effort for Lily's sake too.
Most reviewers have said the same thing when it came to Lily's brief mention here. I wasn't planning to mention her at all, but at that point in his life, his view of the world changed, even with his mother's admission that he shouldn't have to be in such an environment.
I like the comparison that you draw here with Snape and Sirius, and it's something that I never thought about before. I think Snape becomes a very accepting cynic at the end of his life. Yes, this is what the world is, and nothing about that is going to change. Perhaps it took him years to see it. After his mother's death and his failure to protect Lily, he comes now to look at his hometown through different eyes.
I'm so happy you liked the story. I'm grateful for the discussion you've brought to my page and it makes me reflect on what I've written.
Thank you so much.