Hi there! I'm so glad review tag lead me to your page and gave me the chance to leave some thoughts on this brilliant one-shot of yours! :)
First of all, I really love how you've written this crucial era and really think you've done not just the characters, but also the atmosphere of the times justice. The feeling of tension is enhanced by the short sections about Snape and Peter and the present tense. I love how you break up the dialogue and long descriptive paragraphs with short, impactful lines which really make the characters so much stronger. Another thing I liked was how the story didn't focus on James and Lily so much, as so many Marauders-type stories do, but instead the people surrounding them and how the existence of James and Lily and the prophecy affect them. For Snape, it is a turning point, and for Peter, an opportunity.
I really enjoyed seeing Lily especially through their tainted eyes, like how Snape sees her as an "angel" and his creepy, idealized impression really comes across. I felt like he didn't see the real Lily, and instead an idea of what he wanted her to be, yet at the same time he acknowledged how he is lesser to her other friends, as if he recognizes his own failures and lack of identity. This was so skillfully written, and truth be told I think you wrote their strange, one-sided relationship perfectly. As for Peter, I loved how he felt sick when he heard Lily's butter-soft voice, and this reaction was so powerful in showing his general distaste with not only her and James, but also with himself for feeling that way.
Another thing I found interesting was how you wrote the Death Eaters and Voldy. In my mind, Voldy as we know him in the HP books is a lot crazier and less human than he would have been before "dying" when Harry was one, with the whole coming back to life with a creepy potion and Horcrux thing. Though of course he would still be insane and terrifying, just a touch more human. So, I quite liked how you gave Voldy some moments of doubt and admitting he could be wrong, like when he wasn't sure if it was the Potters. I've never seen him written that way before, but it worked very nicely. Even Bellatrix seemed a little less... wild than usual in her brief portrayal, and I enjoyed the idea that perhaps she became more mad and inhuman over the long years in Azkaban, and was a little less neurotic before Voldy's fall. :)
Okay, now on to praising you for the portrayal of the two spies! I find Peter such a dynamic and interesting character to read about, and your portrayal of him was quite interesting. I liked how it seemed as if he lost much of his humanity, despite that Gryffindor soul still hidden somewhere inside him, and how you made him so despicable yet also slightly pitiable. The impression was of this broken, weak man whose very body seems to betray him: he's a wreck, like when he trips in the street and feels sick. Only being protected by the more powerful side can really bring him some sort of happiness, and it's very saddening. I liked the contrast of Peter being at the Death Eater celebration and feeling out of place, while Snape also missed that security a little and felt wrong with the Order.
As wonderfully as Peter was written, I think your Snape was the best part of this story for me. I think you got his self-deprecation, like how he thinks that he is ugly and looks like a criminal, so right and it was very heart-breaking. The mentions of his parents were very interesting, and you managed to say a lot about Sev's upbringing in a few short words and images. The father-son dynamic was very interesting, like how Snape relates to his father and sees the resemblances between them, and how at the end he seems to take on a father-like pledge towards Harry, while acknowledging through his own self-hate that he could never be a true father figure, only a sort of silent protector. I also feel like with Lily's death Severus would stop showing the emotion that he does in this story to the outside world and change into the abrasive and cold character he is in the books, so it's a turning point in so many ways for him.
I love how you've taken such an iconic night, right before the beginning of Philosopher's Stone, and given such a specialized and strong spin on it. I loved the writing and the characterization, but should probably stop rambling before I run out of room. :P Amazing job with this, and I hope I'll have the chance to re-visit more of your work soon! :)
Author's Response: Hey, thanks for stopping by! I'm sorry my response to this lovely review has taken so long.
It seems like you've picked up on some themes that tend to appear in a lot of my stories, so I'm very happy that you appreciate them! I don't know how I adopted the long-short style you described, but it shows up frequently unless I purposefully try to write in a different way. I'm also big on writing minor characters and writing major characters in new and unorthodox ways. Each new piece is like a fun challenge I issue to myself.
I tend to fall into the vein of seeing Lily as sort of pure and good at her core, and so it was interesting to imagine how Peter and Severus might perceive her. I feel like she would be a major sticking point in any effort to ignore or demonize the "good side." I'm sure she would be horrified if she had any inkling of what these two thought of her.
Oddly enough, I suppose I start to struggle with characterization once a character gets to bold-faced wildness and crazed, logic-less behavior. I definitely find people like Luna, Bellatrix, and Voldemort sort of difficult. It's great to hear that my portrayals worked well here, considering the chosen point in time.
I think you nailed Peter right on the head. He's so ephemeral, no matter how he tries to dress it up and disguise it, and he's hopelessly discontent with his station in life. He's too busy trying to get the upper hand to just enjoy where he is and what he already has. As you mentioned, he won't slow down even when his own body is begging him to stop. It's little wonder he got into so much trouble and met the unfortunate fate he received in canon.
Severus, I think, is also pretending--he desperately wants to be a normal man, the sort who could attract a wife and family. He's been dealt a bad hand from the very beginning and his fairytale is always going to be out of his reach now that Lily is gone. I think it must have taken something powerful like that to cause him to throw himself at his mission with such passion and fearlessness. I also agree that he seems much more restrained in canon than he did in those fleeting moments of begging for Lily's life.
Thank you so much for this amazing review :) I'm really happy you enjoyed the story so much.