Reviews For The New Skin


Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 19 Feb 2020 06:05 AM · For: Chapter 32: The Hunt

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

This is quite a story, and extremely well written.  I had to go back over it to re-establish the timeline of the story in my mind, what happened when and in what sequence.

 

Some questions remain for me.  Was it a coincidencee that Aberforth Portkeyed Snape to Boston and then Avery turned up in the same city, or did Avery know in advance that Snape was still alive and going to Boston?

 

I could see Avery fleeing England and going to a foreign country to establish a new identity.  Did he take the library job, assuming that Snape would come to the library sooner or later, or did he do that only after seeing Snape in Boston (walking down the street)?  Snape's final thoughts seem to suggest that Avery decided to make the skin man and set it to hunt Snape only after seeing Snape in Boston, but then why was Avery carrying around a vial of Snape's blood (salvaged from the Shrieking Shack)?  

 

Avery must have made the skin man right after obtaining Snape's fake signature from the library sign-in sheet because only a few days later the skin man was chewing up Snape's island hideout.  So when did Avery kill the real Charlie and take his place?  How long would the real Chariie's corpse have stayed fresh?  (I suppose Avery had ways of keeping it fresh.)

 

So now Avery is gone, and the Ministry will never know where he went or what happened to him, alive or dead.  And Snape will never go back.  He has a new name, a new job, a new home, new friends, a new life if he can hang onto it, though a life forever haunted by his past.  He describes himself as a wrecker of everything he touches, but in this regard I think he has just had very bad luck (in contradiction to my previous statement that he has very good luck).  Life has dealt him a lot of bad hands.  It's time to start over.

 

Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 18 Feb 2020 04:32 AM · For: Chapter 31: The Joke

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

I see that things are starting to wrap up.  Almost six weeks after their return from Tepora's village, Snape's potion research is bearing fruit.  I love the descriptions of the theory behind his research, based on the four humours.  It is good that you give a lot of explanation of what Snape is doing, the wizardly counterpart of chemical engineering, but of course it can't be anything like moderrn Muggle chemistry.  What you came up with succeeds beautifully.

 

I'm thinking back -- where did we last see the skin man?  Was that when it was swimming down the river, trailing after the bloody lab coat being towed from the boat?  Did it trail Snape all the way to Massachusetts, and then back again to Brazil?  I guess so.

 

Snape is so incredibly lucky, given the life he has led and the company he has kept.  He is like a super-cat with ninety lives, not merely nine.  So smart to rescue Tepora's bundle out of the dirty bloody sock and keep it in his pocket.  He was right to fear that the skin man would no longer be distracted by bait.  (Well, no, maybe the skin man did eat that sock first, but maybe not.)

Snape was lucky that Mata was there, lucky that the skin man grabbed his arm first, not his head, lucky that he could remember the word in time, lucky that the bag worked as designed.  

Maybe there's something in Snape's makeup that gives him such incredible luck.. He should try distilling that.

 

So now Snape has decommissioned the tracking mechanism in the skin man.  It seems to have been a pretty simple procedure, compared to creating the potion or even manufacturing Tepora's sedative.  I can see a potential flaw in the proposal to send the skin to Svalbard -- a recent news article stating that the shrinking of the glaciers due to global warming is threatening the seed depository in Svalbard.

 

Poor Mata.  What a thing to have witnessed and been involved in. He's going to have a few nightmares about this.  Will Uli ever find out?

 

One more chapter.

 

Vicki



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 17 Feb 2020 06:31 AM · For: Chapter 30: Birdsong

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

So it's farewell to the jungle now. The scene of the men singing around the fires was pretty funny.  It made me think what song I could sing if I were caught off guard the way that Snape was.  Maybe "Old MacDonald" with all its animal noises, or a rousing rendition of "Deck the Halls". Not a scene that drives the plot line of the mystery forward, but a fun scene to read.

 

The description of Snape's experience (his "trip") after drinking the bitter concoction in Tepora's longhouse was vividly described but blessedly restrained, not "over the top" into uncontrolled flamboyance which would make it hard to follow.  The language you use here is precise and concrete, not so abstract and metaphorical that I would be left with no idea as to what Snape was actually envisioning.

 

That is as it should be.  The story is written in the first person, as if Snape himself were telling us this whole period of his life as a reminiscence some years later, and he would only tell it in his customary speaking style, with precise, concrete words, even an unusual experience such as this drug-induced trip.

 

As for the skin man, we are once again making visible progress.  Tepora's creation will hopefully put the skin man to sleep.  Not as much as Snape had wanted, but much more than Snape had expected.  And Snape cannot help being impressed by Tepora's success in making a functional bead with Dick's hair.  This feat may reassure Snape that Tepora's skill level is top-notch, even if he does not have the same magic as Snape.  Thus we can hope that the skin man sedative will work.

 

Great story.  Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 15 Feb 2020 07:41 PM · For: Chapter 29: Friends

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

Again, as in chapter 28, we get a lot of information about how the Oi live, but no information on how to defeat the skin man.  Well, at least Snape's safe for now.  I can't imagine the skin man crashing through the jungle in pursuit of him!  (Humorous vision.)  I wonder whether Snape is feeling impatient or frustrated or worried about how long this visit with the Oi is taking, as the skin man problem has not been specifically addressed (to Snape's knowledge), and Tepora doesn't even seem to have any magic.

 

It's notable that Snape's first interpersonal break-through is with children.  I suppose that makes sense.  His career has consisted of working with children, and although he hated the Gryffindors on principle, he seems to have had kindlier feelings toward the Slytherins.  Perhaps he sees some children as less threatening.  But not all children, given how the Marauders treated him.

 

By bargaining with Viti and learning the new fly-manufacturing technique, Snape may also be demonstrating to the other members of his party that he is not just 'useless baggage' on this trip but can function to some extent with this tribe.  Only Dick knows about the skin man, and Uli and Grossman may be wondering why Doctor Ramson is there.

 

Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 15 Feb 2020 07:11 PM · For: Chapter 28: Upriver

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

Now we see a close description of the journey through the jungle to reach the home of Dick's friend Tepora, with lavish detail of the things that Snape encounters in the jungle and has to cope with -- the flora, fauna, and terrain.  This gives lots of background, and the length of time that it takes to tell all of this emphasizes the length of time this journey takes.  One can imagine that Snape's attention is so occupied with the moment-by-moment challenges of making forward progress on this trek that it would almost make him forget the ulltimate reason for the trip in the first place --to find a way to defeat the skin man.

 

Concrit tidbit: 'larva' is singular.  'Larvae' is plural.

 

There is a lot of ethnographic description of this indigenous nation in the Amazon jungle, and description of Snape's effort to cope with an unfamiliar society, but not much furthering of the plot (how to foil the skin man), except to suggest that it is necessary to go through this elongated getting-to-know-you process before anything can be accomplished as regards the skin man.  Frustrating for us impatient westerners, and maybe for Snape also.

 

Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 15 Feb 2020 05:07 AM · For: Chapter 27: Voyage

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

I am glad to see that you have posted some more chapters of this story.  

 

Thi chapter is shorter, mostly a link getween the gruesome but revelatory im age in the mirror and the arrival at the Oi village where lives someone who maybe can help.

 

The meatier part of this chapter is the pair of discussions between Severus and Uli.  Severus seems to be softening a bit.  He tells us that it would have been easier just to tell Uli some story or excuse to keep her happy, but he couldn't bring himself to be dishonest.  Not like him.  And at another point he says, "I', sorry."  Again not like him.

 

The newspaper report in The Pronosticator may hold some clues within that list of names of people net yet accounted for.  Of course Avery's name is still there; is the victim's name there also?  It wouldn't have been Rookwood -- he was too old to appear like a man in his mid-twenties, but the victim might have been one of the "lower level collaborators" named in the article, someone who trusted Avery until the moment when he found himself being murdered.  But would that have been safe, to Polyjuice yourself into the image of someone who also was wanted by the DMLE?

 

So now they are off into the jungle again.  I get the impression that you like writing these jungle scenes!

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

Yes, Snape is finally showing a little more self-awareness and honesty in dealing with others, not just Uli, but the RAs too, when he realizes how he might be making them nervous. And Uli! She is very honest with Snape about how she is feeling and how his evasivness is affecting her, and in return he is honest, up to the point of what he feels he can't tell her. And while he's considering lying to her to make things easier, which is his usual impulse, it's actually being honest that makes things simpler and easier in this case. An important lesson for him. We'll see if he can keep that up.

 

Your thoughts about the victim as a lower level collaborator are very interesting, that would be a neat direction for the plot! I know you are already far enough ahead to know more about the victim's identity now.

 

And yea, you know I love those natural descriptions and landscapes!

 

Thank you!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 15 Feb 2020 04:28 AM · For: Chapter 26: Reverse

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

Oh my gosh.  This chapter is so clever, with Severus and Dick using Professor Zosimos's mirror to see images that go back in time to show the flaying of the corpse that produced the skin in the little room off the side of the abandoned subway tracks.  Now they know that the perp is Avery and that he saved the victim's hair to use with Polyjuice doses to disguise himself.

 

So now the two problems to be solved are:  how to disable the skin man and how to ID the victim, whom Avery is possibly disguising himself as, from time to time.  Mid-twenties, fair haired, medium height, someone Snape knew.  Who could that be?  A former student?  I'm racking my brain.  And of course if Avery shows up from time to time in the form of this Person, no one will realize that the real Person is missing/dead.  1998, too early to make use of the amazing facial recognition software that is available nowadays.

 

And what do you suppose is the white thing that Avery sewed underneath the dead man's tongue?  Anything in the skin man literature about that?

 

You have said that you were inspired by old Icelandic tales and beliefs about supernatural stuff.  How closely did you stick to their descriptions?

 

The description of what the two men saw in the mirror was horrific, stomach-turning.  To actually see such things, not merely read about them in a story, would have been even worse.  Thus you get the reader fully immersed in the experience without have to use lots of descriptive words.  We immediately know how awful it was.

 

Quite a chapter.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki,

 

I answered a little about the Icelandic traditions in the last review response, but here's a little more. The length of time that the skin will be active (40 years x 3) is straight out of Icelandic folklore, I lifted that verbatim. Also, the part that I skimmed over quickly, of Avery bringing the skin's mouth close to his. In Icelandinc folklore, a wizard raising a corpse has to dominate the corpse, or they will be killed by it. Part of the dominance is licking the froth and mud out of the corpse's mouth and nose. Yep, delightfully disgusting.

 

Both the white thing under the tongue and the dead man's identity will be explained more in upcoming chapters. The white thing isn't from Icelandic tradition, though. There's a little bit of the golem in that.

 

Yes, I wanted to show how disgusting all of this was, not through super-detailed descriptions of the act itself, but through Dick's physical response to what he's seeing. He's not as used to Dark Magic practices as Snape is. I'm glad it worked for you!

 

Thank you so much!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 14 Feb 2020 07:37 AM · For: Chapter 25: On Track

What an interesting chapter!  It's so fine to see Snape's mind at work.  After the horror of almost being accosted by the skin man, Snape seems to have calmed down some and is back to thinking clearly again.  And as a result he is making progress.

 

Thanks for the information, what little you have given us so far, about how a skin man is created.  You mentioned in a response which I just read quite recently that the old Icelandic traditions had quite a body of stories about wizards and ghouls.  I will have to check that out, since old Iceland figures in the background of my screenplay Relics, of which my daughter keeps bugging me to write the Iceland-based prequel.

 

That bit of tooth might turn out to be a clue as to the former identity of the hapless skin man, if indeed his identity matters at all.  He could have been only a random homeless person victimized by the maker of the skin.  But now it's clear that the skin man was created in America seemingly by someone who knew that Snape was in America.  Who would have known?

 

Have you been down in the tunnels of the Boston subway yourself?  Or only read about the history of the subway system?

 

A fascinating story, with so many different scenes, that the reader could never get bored!  I was glad to see on the forums that you mentioned putting another chapter into the queue.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki,

 

Another busy week here, so, I'm only able to carve out a few minutes here and there to answer more.

 

I got most of my specifically Icelandic material from Jacqueline Simpson's collections of stories derived from Magnus Magnusson's larger collections. Iceland has some extremely specific traditions involving wizards raising the dead to send out for revenge, and creating sendings, sometimes from bones, sometimes from the corpses of many animals. This skin man isn't enitrely one thing or another, It's a little bit Thorgeir's Bull, a little bit Dead Man's trousers, and a little bit golem for good measure. But in any case, I highly recommend Icelandic folklore for the most delightfully gross dark magic traditions!

 

I've been in the Boston subway before, but not in the abandoned tunnels, which do really exist. I am fascinated with those kinds of hidden and abandoned places. I used photos and maps to help set the scenes down there.

 

Thnak you so much! I'm trying to get caught up again. I finally have the last chapters of this story up, and I hope to start putting up the sequel, The Clear Cut, in a few weeks.

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 12 Feb 2020 04:54 AM · For: Chapter 24: The Return

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

Just when we had a humorous chapter about Snape's research and were enjoying seeing the 'new' Snape beginning to relax and have fun, then suddenly we're back to the monstrous skin man again.  A sharp change of pace that keeps us surprised and intrigued.

 

Snape came to Brazil via Dick's vanishing cabinet.  So how did the skin man track him?  Snape says it's by scent  Did the skin man go through the cabinet also, or can he (it?) smell something 3,000 miles away?  Grim thought.  At any rate, nowhere is safe now, and Snape must come up with a new plan to save his own life.

 

I see that you have reverted Snape back to his previous mode of desperation and near panic, falling back into his old habit of assuming the worst, but what's different now is that you have given him Dick as a companion and helper to calm him down, give him perspective, and offer alternative plans of what to do.

 

I enjoyed reading the conversation in Dick's flat in Boston, where the two men discuss what to do, but it's plain that they don't know how to stop the skin man, or if it can be stopped, or even how it travels.  This is setting us up for some fascinating and exciting detective work.  Your plot is complex, but at the same time it's simple because you have not lost sight of the goal, the arrow of your story line.  That's good.

 

Enjoying this very much.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

Yes, I wanted to keep the mood and pace variable in the story - it's not all lighthearted, and not all terror. Just a nice humor/horror salad. Or something.

 

The story isn't going to reveal all the particulars of the skin's actions, since we are limited by Snape's viewpoint. However, since he was transformed by polyjuice when he used the cabinet, it would have been difficult for the skin to track him that way. On the other hand, he was wearing his same clothing, so perhaps...

 

Yes, while this is a sort of recovery story for Snape, he's not going to be uniformly progressing, I don't think that's quite realistic. There will be backsliding of various kinds. But yes, at least he has Dick now. One of Dick's roles in this story (and it's sequels) is to talk Snape down when he starts going into crisis mode. And he's pretty good at it.

 

Thank you so much!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 11 Feb 2020 08:03 PM · For: Chapter 23: Simple

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

Another great chapter.  I loved it.  It was so funny.  And it warms the cockles of my heart to see that Snape is working with the people around him, not at cross purposes with them.  He is again seeing the advantages of congenial relations, as he used to know in the old days in his dealings with secretaries in the Ministry and at Hogwarts, but which he forgot during his period of super stress and paranoia  He taught his Slytherins to work as a group.  He can do it here also.

 

Good to know that he may be making some progress in his research.  Being stuck was so frustrating.

 

I loved Professor da Silva's deadpan "Good day, Potions lab," when the entire population of the Potions lab tumbled into his own lab suddenly and without explanation, and left a few minutes later just as suddenly.  The entire caper, so planned out and carefully set up over a period of a couple of weeks, is just the kind of thing that Snape would do at his best.  He honed his skills by years of scheming and planning with the Death Eaters.  This caper must have seemed much more light-hearted, except for the fact that Snape is deadly serious about everything.

 

Lots of enjoyment with this chapter.

 

Vicki

 



Author's Response:

HI Vicki,

 

This is definitely a fun break chapter, but it does set up closer relationships between Snape and the RAs and Snape and Uli. I also wanted this to be similar to the flashback in chapter 12, of the sorts of games he played with the other Hogwarts' staff members. He is finally back to being constructive with others, and viewing his RAs as allies. And to their credit, they make quite good allies in their own way. He's finally taking to heart Grossman's statement that they are on his side, and like Grossman suggested, treating them as on the same side really makes it true. A self-fullfilling prophecy, but, you know, the good kind.

 

Professor da Silva is a very calm guy. He had to be, he's from the Interzone. He has seen everything.

 

Thank you so much!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 11 Feb 2020 04:36 AM · For: Chapter 22: Metamorphosis

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

I got great enjoyment from reading these scenes of Snape interacting with Professor da Silva and then Professor Zosimos.  There was much humor, which made me smile.  The understated absurdity, which Snape handles, for the most part, with his signature calm exterior, is my favorite kind of humor.  Each of these professors has a unique personality that is fun to read about, and each time we see them, we learn a little more.  Both of these laboratories are described in enough vivid detail that I can envision them easily and feel some of what Snape is feeling when he sees them.

 

Professor da Silva is a fascinating guy, and I love all the invertebrates he has in his lab, including his good friend the wandering spider (obviously you just need the touch...)

 

Zosimos is a whole 'nother creature.  He thinks he has Snape over a barrel as regards possession of the distiller, and although the two of them get into a battle of sarcasm and insults, as Snape is guaranteed to do, it's almost like a comedy -- two fools staying true to form -- with the RAs listening just outside the door.

 

I was very happy  to see that Snape is learning.  Instead of battering his opponent with unconstructed rage, he is obviously going to counter with a devious, well-thought-out plan in order to achieve his desired end -- the repossession of the distiller.  Good for you, Severus.

 

Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

I do like the idea of each separate lab in the building as it's own sort of fantastic world, and each head researcher as the liitle god overseeing their realm. Each section has a very different mood and environment. Da Silva's office could be seen as extremely creepy on its surface, but there is an undercurrent of genuine warmth and, uh, healthy relationships between him and his charges.

 

Zosimos' lab, though it may be a realm of pure imagination and whimsy, has an undercurrent of real danger, at least in Snape's estimation. Both Zosimos and Snape have a very healthy level of arrogance and self-importance, so they were destined to butt heads at some poit. Myron's initial veneer of professional courtesy breaks down almost at once. I had so much fun writing their fight.

 

The fact that Snape is clearly about to put some cunning plan in motion to get back his distiller is a sign that his research project is slowly becoming a 'cause' to him that he is willing to fight for. He always needs to have some cause in his life.

 

Thank you again!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 10 Feb 2020 05:44 AM · For: Chapter 21: Rules

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

Back again for Chater 21.

 

In this chapter, Snape seems uncharacteristically losing his grip.  He attributes it to carelessly not following his own rules of self-protection.

 

I see that you provide two explanations in Snape's mind.  First, he has lived for so long, almost twenty years, with a firm and rigid plan in his mind, so occupied with covering all the bases and anticipating every possibility that he scarcely has time to think about anything else.  And so he feels adrift, rudderless, and he doesn't know how to live without a long-term plan laid out in front of him.

 

And second, he has firmly avoided any attachment to a woman.  He knows his six rules, his six "Thou shalt nots", and now he sees himself breaking every one of them.  No wonder he feels that his life is about to fall apart.

 

Uli is an enigmatic character.  She seems attracted to Snape (although I don't know why; I certainly wouldn't be), and she puts up with his vague answers that are really no answers at all.  What could possibly be her motivation for pursuing this relationship?

 

We don't see much of Snape's lab work in this chapter, just the hints that things are progressing more smoothly than they did before, and that metamorphosis may be the clue concept, once Professsor da Silva gets back.  I am left wondering whether Snape's lab project of creating the anti-lycanthropy long-term potion really ties in with the plot, or whether it's just a background for his real need -- to avoid detection and attack by the lingering forces of the Death Eaters.  We shall see.

 

Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

Yes, he has been flailing in one way or another since his unexpected survival. He has had these rules for self-preservation, but some of the bassi for those rules has been removed, some of his foundation has dropped out.

 

Yes, we don't know Uli that well yet (neither does Snape, for that matter). And of course, physical attraction is a mysterious beast, so there's no accounting for her taste one way or another in that regard. We can see that she seems to appreciate his bluntness, thay have bonded over that in regards to Zosimos. She likes someone who says what he thinks, and is very very honest. I'm sure it will be a great match.

 

Thank you!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 09 Feb 2020 07:47 AM · For: Chapter 20: The Meeting of the Waters

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

Back again after a hiatus in which I addressed my to-do list.

 

There is an impressive amount of local detail in this chapter about the fishing trip in the jungle.  All the sights and sounds made me think that you had been there yourself, or else it's a great piece of research!  Have you been to Brazil?  Your descriptions made it very easy to visualize not only the river and the jungle, but also the hi-jinks on the boat.  Snape is actually relaxing some and enjoying himself, and that impression could not have been conveyed to the reader without our seeing in detail why this environment is functioning so well in taking him out of himself.

 

It was really a good idea to take Snape on this boat trip.  Interacting with his fellow lab workers in this setting has allowed him to see other aspects of their personalities and to come to know them better as human beings, although he has not stopped being judgmental about them (he still thinks that Park looks foolish) and he still needs to come out on top.  Thus he teases them by getting back aboard the boat unseen and letting them think he's still underwater (drowning?) and then getting both Gtossman and Mate tossed overboard also.  Sure enough, in the end he's the "champion".

 

And he still has to protect his dignity, as we see in his conversation with Uli about the descriptions of alchemists, seers, herbologists, and potions masters.  It's fine, even fun, to mock the others, but potions masters?  Never!

 

I would have liked to think that his question "Who else lives on this floor?" indicated that he was beginning to think of the others as persons with personal lives, but I suspect that I am hoping for too much.  He is only looking to increase his self-protection by knowing who is around him.

 

Snape starting to get sentimental in the closing sentences?

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

Yes, it's a time for Snape to have his "start over." He's probably aided a bit by his playing a mental trick on himsself to try to think of the RAs as Slytherins he needs to train, rather than all the eyes on him in the Great Hall, watching and hating him. And who knows what pep talk Grossman gave the RAs to get them on board, but they are all interacting in a much less guarded way now.

 

What you noticed here about Snape is exactly right, he can mock others but he cannot let himself be mocked. Uli will point this oput to him in a chapter or two as well.

 

I'm not sure Snape is getting sentimental exactly, but maybe he's almost ready to take a small risk. Aided by a few beers and a nice day...

 

Thank you again!

 

Mottsnave

 



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 02 Feb 2020 05:26 AM · For: Chapter 19: Start Over

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

I have been otherwise occupied for a few days, but I am trying to get back to your story, bit by bit.

 

This is a powerful chapter.  Snape is so dysfunctional with his RAs that I'm surprised that they haven't all quit.

Snape is losing his grip, and you write this process in all its painful detail, blow-up by blow-up and breakdown by breakdown.  It's painful to observe, but it engenders a gruesome fascination.

 

Snape's interpersonal skills are rudimentary and he wears a suit of defensive armor a meter thick, but in this chapter he goes even beyond his usual self.  I suppose it's a combo of the stress of running from his enemies, the lingering physical effects of his near-death experience, and the psychological trauma as evidenced by nightmares and lack of sleep.  But he can't really leave this university because he has no other place to go.  He knows that somehow he has to make this position work.

 

The intervention by Dick and Ben is also painful to read.  Snape is so resistant to suggestion, so convinced that he's always right and the other person is always wrong, so reluctant to entertain any other way of seeing things, that I was surprised that he grudgingly agreed to make any changes in his own approach or behavior.  But I fear that the changes are only on the surface.  "I didn't want to concede the point to Grossman.  It would only puff him up."

 

Snape is certainly not an attractive person now.  Any story, in its structure, will have some high points of success and low points of crisis.  This is one of those low points, but not the last, I'm afraid.

 

Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki,

 

Yep, Snape is really having a breakdown here. We know from canon that the guy is capable of change, but it's also canon that things have to get VERY bad first.

 

I did want to show, beneath the surface of his indignation and temper, some real discomfort on his part about how he's slipping into something he can't pull back from. Even though you're afraid that this chapter only shows grudging changes, he does have this little flicker of how not right this all is, such as when he realizes that the peace and quiet he has gained feels like a defeat and doesn't really help his mood. And how the words of Pulcipher that he wrecks everything he touches come back to him when Grossman points out that he is hurting himself. Part of him knows that Dick and Grossman are right, even if he desparately doesn't want to concede any points here. Grossman and Dick are kind of geniuses to make sure to frame this all for Snape in terms of what is best for him and his goals, rather than on any sort of moral basis. I'm assuming they've dealt with some difficult personalities before (*cough*Zosimos*cough*). And yes, Dick recognizes, like you, that there is a physical component to how Snape is acting. The guy is running on fumes.

 

Thank you so much!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 01 Feb 2020 02:02 PM · For: Chapter 18: Another World

Hi, Mottsnave,

 

I just have to shake my head and sigh.  Snape is downright paranoid, twisting every remark directed at him into a perceived insult and assuming that everyone is his enemy.  The very first dialogue in this chapter is such a perfect example of what he does continually.  Snape's true enemies may be the skin man, the person who set the skin man onto his trail, and uncaptured Death Eaters in general, but his worst enemy is himself.

 

He can't recognize a joke; he thought that Grossman was serious about threatening to throw puff adder in Mata's cauldron.  He almost sounds like he's somewhere on the autism spectrum.  But surely in his years of teaching adolescents and overseeing Slytherin House, he's heard all sorts of casual talk.  He must have heard Hogwarts staff members making humorous or exaggerated remarks in the staff lounge.

 

Professor Funke tries to calm him down by saying "There shouldn't be joking in a lab."  Never?  Not even the mildest and most harmless, the kind that any normal person could recognize?  She laughs, and he worries that she is laughing at him.

 

I did not perceive such a degree of paranoia in the Severus Snape of the seven Harry Potter books, although the scenes, even the ones in which he was the main player, were not from his point of view.  For example, Chapter One of Deathly Hallows was not from any individual's point of view.

 

A reader of this chapter would have serious concerns about how Snape's relationship with his RAs is going to develop and how that will affect his further tenure in this department.  After all, Dick's patronage can extend only so far.  Dick didn't really know Snape at all well when he offered him this position, and Dick's patience might run out.

 

In your response to my review of Chapter Two, you mentioned the old slogan "Show, don't tell".  The book "The Emotional Craft of Fiction" by Donald Maass has an excellent and much more nuanced analysis/discussion of this three-word rule.  An excellent book; I use it all the time and highly recommend it.  It would be useful for a story that is constructed like yours.

 

A bit of concrit:  When you say that Snape "poured over his Portuguese textbooks," the verb you want is 'to pore', not 'to pour.'  Your dictionary will clear this up.

 

Thanks for writing about this frustratingly self-unaware charater!

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki,

 

Thank you for recognizing that Snape is getting worse. You're completely right - he's exhibiting a much higher degree of paranoia here than even in the last year of the war when he must have been under tremendous stress.

 

I think there a couple of crucial differences with Snape now that is leading him into this breakdown. First of all, his all-consuming purpose has been removed and he is unexpectedly alive. I think in this situation, a person like Snape who has probably been holding himself together under very strict mental control, would begin to slip.

 

Second, he really is in a completely unfamiliar situation now. I mean, the last years of the war must have been horrible. But they were familiar in a way. He was surrounded by people he knew in places he lived and worked all his life. He didn't NEED to be paranoid about anyone, because he already knew exactly who wanted to kill him and probably had some good guesses of how they might go about it. But now... with the exception of Dick, he knows none of these people. He has already identified one as a physical threat, (Zosimos) and he has decided that Grossman might try to undermine him. He is jumping to these types of conclusions because he is so out of his depth in this unfamiliar place that he has subconsiously decided that it's safer to treat everything as a threat.

 

The irony being that the real threat to his well being is his own mistrust and distance from others. Oh well, old habits die hard.

 

Thank you for miaking it through the chapter without slapping Snape through the screen. And thanks for the concrit and the book recommendation!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 27 Jan 2020 07:52 PM · For: Chapter 17: In Order

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

This is actually a lovely chapter, and a refreshing change from the darkness of the previous chapter.  Things seem to be going all right for Severus -- his language skills are coming along, his research proposal is taking form, his contract negotiations are completed to his satisfaction, and he has an entertaining visit to the zombie piranhas and their feeding behavior.

 

Too bad that he takes Grossman's casual, generic remark so personally.  To say "..even a marginally competent research project would be raising the bar" is a slur again the previous postions master, not against Snape, but he is quick to see insult when none is intended, and to take everything in its worst possible light.  True, Snape has enemies, but sometimes he is his own worst enemy.

 

Professor Funke gives hints of becoming a friend, or more than a friend.  Perhaps she will be an actor in Snape's rehabilitation.  He definitly enjoys being with her.  She is not a bumbling Research Assistant or a charlatan,or perpetually grumpy and suspicious.  Besides, she's young and pretty.  Can Snape loosen up on his lifetime devotion to Lily Evans to give another woman a shot at his heart?  Will his experiences in this new world eventually soften his protective shield and allow him to open his heart to happiness?  We shall see.

 

Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

Yes, I felt there needed to be a little relief after those intense flashback of the last couple of chapters. It's also setting up a bit of the relationships to come with Grossman and Uli, both good and bad. Snape is partially so quick to take offense here from neutral remarks, in part because of how unfamiliar he is with this whole situation. He's in a strange place, among strangers, doing work he has never done before (in a professional setting, of course, he's researched privately.) It's putting him on edge, and he's not quite ready to come down off that edge yet.

 

Thank you!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 27 Jan 2020 07:23 PM · For: Chapter 16: A Good Cause

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

This chapter is quite the tour de force.  Maybe I should just burn all my own manuscripts.  I am in awe of how you have created this broad and satisfying explanation of what Tom Riddle's philosophy was and how he managed to instill it into his followers.  It was also surprising to see how quickly Tom's organization developed into a mass killing machine and how quickly his idealistic followers became disillusioned and horrified by what they had been caught up in, even to the point of "suicide by Auror."

 

I would bet that Snape had pushed all of this terrible early period of his life out of his memory, too painful by far to even think about, for all those years when he had nevertheless been trapped in his position of double agent, unable to put Lord Voldemort out of his life entirely.  All in all, what a waste of a life.

 

In canon, that was the end of it.  But in your story, Snape has a chance to build a new life, especially if he can get away from the skin man and whoever sent it.  These letters that he feels compelled to reread bring him back to his nightmare years in all their clarity.  Could he just decide not to read them any more?  Surely he can come up with some directions to his potions research in Brazil without torturing himself like this.

 

A powerful chapter.  Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki,

 

Thank you SO much, but please don't burn anything! I've mentioned in my reply to another review how I was attempting to address some inconsistencies in canon through this interpretation of Voldemort's rhetoric and the prophecy. I was also trying to match up a bit of what I've studied about how genocidal movements begin, commonly with a feeling of victimization or fear by the group which will become genocidal. So, I thought, what would make wizards feel victimized by Muggles? What in their society feels unfair or unacceptable to them? And I think anyone of that time period could have some very legitimate grievances about the way their society was going, so I wanted to play up the most rational arguments. The more convincing Voldemort is, the scarier he is, after all. By the time the second war rolls around, he's lost that rationality, and his followers have hardened.

 

And yes, it would have been a waste of a life! That's why I love fanfiction, we can give characters second chances. Or third. Or whatever. Ok, Snape needs a lot of chances, and he does have a bit of a drive to torture himself with his past. I feel like we have some pretty strong indicaitons in canon that he's got a streak of self-loathing and he feeds it. Hopefully looking back at what he was in that terrible time can help to point him in a new direction.

 

Thank you again!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 27 Jan 2020 06:30 PM · For: Chapter 15: Adrift

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

Another chapter to review.

 

This is a very interesting backstory of Snape's final years at Hogwarts and immediately thereafter.  The timeline was initially confusing to me, but I think I finally got it figured out.

 

The first letter dated February 22, 1977 -- that would have been during Snape's sixth year.  His mother apparently died during his seventh year, so he did not have a summer alone in his house in Spinner's End until after he finished at Hogwarts.  Then he was arrested in September of 1978, during the First Wizarding War, with the threat that the Ministry would let him die while imprisoned.

 

This experience with an apparently corrupt Ministry impelled Snape to join the Death Eaters.  Not finding any mention of these events from any other source, I conclude the the imprisonment episode is your own creation.

 

And a clever device, to use the dating of the letters as a trigger to retell the events of this portion of Snape's life.  Other than the mention of the youthfu Snape's analysis of the Felix Felicis potion, you don't mention all the other ideas he may have been pondering, in the field of potions, only his focus on the timing elements.  

 

Ah, the recklessness of youth, cavalierly trying out the potions on himself and others without recognizing the inherent dangers in these unproven concoctions.  So proud of his careful notes and his correspondence with a famous researcher, and so blind to the effects of the ignorance of youth.  Yes, I also have been the parent of teenagers.  

 

We do not get through adolescence without scars, but his was a big one.  "... unfortunate permanent results that my timing was always a little off.  It was just enough to line me up for a hundres unfortunate coincidences, to see my goals evaporate in front of me."  Great perception, great writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki,

 

Snape's arrest etc aren't in canon, but I don't think they are unique to my story, I'm pretty sure I've read others that speculate about similar events. I liked the idea myself and wanted to incorporate it because it seems to suit that time period of a very brutal Ministry crack-down, and it fits my theme of there being no entirely good or entirely evil side in the conflict. It also helps explain Moody and Snape's antipathy (I remember one scene where Snape has a visceral fear reaction to being surprised by Moody... iirc its the scene where we learn that Snape wears an ugly nightshirt to bed) and his reactions to Neville. It also fits with a portrayal of the early war being a sort of tit-for-tat cat-and-mouse between the ministry and the Death Eaters. If the auror Longbottom is known by Death Eaters to be carrying out brutal interrogations of prisoners, what happened to him and his wife makes sense as a brutally twisted punishment.

 

Felix is such a strange potion in canon - the only one we see that apparantly changes outside events rather than the imbiber. In my interpretation, it doesn't effect outside events at all, just the imbibder's state of mind and interpretation of them. This is kind of exactly my analysis of Snape here. He is, in my story, outstandingly lucky. He has escaped death by inches several times. But his personal outlook is so bleak he can only see how unlucky he is. This will come up again.

 

Thank you so much! More soon!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 27 Jan 2020 05:37 PM · For: Chapter 14: Introductions

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

My head is spinning after reading about all the people Severus met and all the places he visited.  The way that you can describe all these places as if they were actual places you had visited, taking copious notes all the while, is  remarkable.  One rarely sees this in a story.  He is going to be challenged to memorize who all these peole are and where everything is.  Not to mention memorizing an entirely new language.

 

I appreciated the understated humor that is spread throughout this chapter, most noticeably in the alchemy lab, but in other places to, such as "...until I found the pile of animal traps in the closet."

 

Bus Snape's salient atttribut of being quickly and openly judgmental of others, such as Dr. Zosimos, is probably going to get him into interpersonal trouble.  After all, it's only Snape's first day at this lab and already he is dismissing the alchemist as a "charlatan", strictly by Snape's own standards, and refusing to acknowledge that the man makes useful discoveries.  Snape must never heard of the concept of making a favorable first impression.  I can see that he is likely to alienate some people, just when he needs allies and supporteers.  He's a smart guy; why can't he see that this type of behavior is counterproductive to his needs?

 

I was surprised that Snape saw the similarity between Dick and Lucius during the visit to the governmental office.  He was 'disturbed' by the thought of Lucius in his condition of downfall, and that surprised me.  I knew that Severus and Lucius had worked together, but I had concluded that Snape had initiated that relationship only for his own protection, not for any concern about Lucius's well-being.  Does Snape have a tiny spark of sympathy for another human being?  Or does he just use people?  Is he just using Dick now?

 

Another point that struck me was when Snape thought to himself that the trip into town had been "overwhelming" but that that was ridiculous -- he ought to be able to handle the simple job of following Dick around.  It is a sign of how bad off he had been that he sets the performance bar for himself so low.  Well, it won't remain low for long!

 

Sometimes watching Snape is like watching a slow-motion train wreck.  We'll have to see what happens next.  Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki,

 

Yes, I'm afraid this was a bit of an info-dump chapter. I thought about parcelling it out in another way, but at the time it made sense to get it over with, after all, it was overwhelming for Snape too. And yes, having a little humor helps all the info-dumpyness go down a little easier.

 

Yes, Snape is throwing around the snap personal judgements here. You ask why he can't see that this is counterproductive - it's simple really, he can't see it because being able to quickly recognize someone as a potential threat used to be a crucial skill for him. Zosimos is a potentail threat, in Snape's estimation, and his snap judgement is that he very much doesn't like him and needs to stay far away from him. Plus he's an alchemist, everyone knows those guys are insufferable.

 

Yeah, in this story we'll only be getting a few hints about Snape's friendship with Lucius, in some offhand flashbacks and comparisons. But to a Slytherin, I don't think having a genuine friendship and using your friends are mutually exclusive. After all, aren't all relationships give and take in one way or another? Slytherins don't mind making that explicit.

 

Slow motion train wreck is completely right. I think you can hear the screeching on the rails in the next few chapters.

 

Thank you!

 

Mottsnave

 

 



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 27 Jan 2020 04:23 PM · For: Chapter 13: Transported

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

This story has taken a big turn in just one moment, from Snape in survival mode in Massachusetts to Snape in apparent security in Brazil.  Surely out of the skin's range so long as he stays there.  (Will he eventually acquire a "new skin" of his own that the fiend skin cannot track?  We'll see.)

 

Wherever you place Snape, your provide ery detailed descriptions of these places and action-by-action accounts of everything Snape does to address his problems, of which he will have many in this new environment and new life as Cyril Ramson.  that will certainly keep you going for many more chapters.

 

We can see that the unceasing stress of the past couple of months has finally caught up with Snape  to the point where he can't make any more decisions.  Dick notices that Severus is in extremis and steps in to make all the decisions for the time being and lay out a definite plan to follow.  That's perceptive of him.  But when he says, "It's been a hell of a year, not as bad as yours, nothing close to that," we realize why he perceives as much as he does.  

 

"I felt like I was getting my footing back, if only a little."  It's not just that he is getting his footing back, it is that someone else is caring for him, easing the burden.  Interesting that Snape does not express the thought in that manner.  "I...my...", not "he, him."  Snape is not accustomed to recognizing friendship when it exists; he continues to live in his life-long milieu of aloneness.

 

"...the ruin that followed me around."  What a great phrase.  If he cannot escape that ruin, here in the Amazon jungle, would any place be safe?

 

Nice job.  Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki,

 

This chapter is mainly about how far Snape's mental state has fallen, and to set up Dick's character. Snape's immediate danger has been removed at the moment, but that release is letting him fall apart a bit, finally. Also, he desparately needs a plan, as you noticed, which Dick provides.

 

I also did want to set up a little bit of, how to say it, a normalization of Snape's situation. I mean, yes, we're talking about magic and curses and all that, but people suffer trauma from war and are victims of attempted murder all the time. It is a horribly normal thing. And so are Snape's reactions of paranoia  and nightmares and trauma. So, since Dick has lost another friend to conflict and murder, he has a bit of perspecitve on Snape's situation, and he can deal with some of the side-effects of Snape's slow recovery. And, I think I mentioned before, I wanted to set Snape up with a truly supportive mentor, in contrast to Albus. Dick just wants Snape to be well, he isn't trying to manipulate him to some other purpose.

 

Re: the ruin: it's pretty hard to escape ruin when it's coming at least in part from one's own self-destructive behaviors. Snape might actually have to fix himself. We'll see how that goes.

 

Thank you again for your very perceptive reviews!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 27 Jan 2020 03:33 PM · For: Chapter 12: Meeting

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

Once again you have smoothly slotted a flashback into your story to flesh out a newly introduced character and expand our understanding of Severus.  I was a little surprised that the staff --Pomona and Minerva in particular -- would pry so forcefull into Severus's personal affairs and that he would tolerate this prying with as good grace as he did.  Apparently he was using his side of the conversation to tease them, stringing them, particularly Pomona, along, just to get a rise out of them.  The whole flashback reveals that Severus does have the capacity for friendship and thoughtful dealings with someone else, a quality we do not see in him elsewhere, except perhaps with Bella the car.

 

Snape's paralysis when he sees his old friend Dick arrive at the appointed rendesvous site puzzled me.  Why was he suffering this apparent total paralysis?  Nothing before, in this post-war adventure of his, had paralyzed him like this.  In fact, he'd been pretty active.  Noelle Zingarella's review of this chapter provided a clue.  His discovery that he was being hunted by a horrific fiend, combined with his long-standing inability to trust another human being, especially one who knew who he really was, prevented him from reaching out.  Snape's overly analytical mind (the couple on the bench might be Aurors in disguise.; his honorable, long-term old friend might be about to turn him in) creates a bug-a-boo where none exists.

 

"The sight of his back finally unfroze me."  I wasn't sure that anything was going to unfreeze him.  Professor Stoltz must have been confused upon first receiving Snape's unsigned letter after having read the newspapers and then seeing the state Snape was in when the two of them met.  A surprisingly trusting and unflappable guy, especially since he didn't really know Snape all that well personally.

 

But I'm glad that for once things seem to be going Severus's way (for the moment).

 

That you for writing this skillful and interesting story.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

This was one of my favorite chapters to write. I have this idea about Slytherins that one of their fundamental characteristics is that they play games. Good games, and also some very bad games. I wanted to give a little picture of the kind of games Snape might have played in better times, the kind of colleague he might have been without the pressures of having to fulfill his spying role, and the friendships he lost during the last years of the war. I thought  Snape would be the kind of person who enjoys setting up long-running mind games to mess with his co-workers, and that some of them, Minerva in particular, might actually enjoy the challenge of being messed with. I mean, you definitely need _something_ to spice up staff meetings, right? And, since you are a few chapters ahead at this point, I also wanted this to set up a contrast to how he deals with his colleagues in the lab. You can probably tell that he is not dealing well with others at all. But from looking at this flashback, hopefully the reader can tell that it's not normal, that his baseline should be something more like we see here.

 

Exactly: Snape freezing up here is partially a matter of just how isolated he has been from any human contact, the extreme stress he has been under, and how high the stakes are at that moment. If we look at his past, Snape does have a history of Albus rejecting him when he desparately approached him for help. He isn't sure what Dick thinks about him at the moment, and the risk of Dick rejecting him or betraying him is very high, in Snape's mind. It takes a lot for him to make himself that vulnerable to another person.

 

Thank you again! More soon,

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 26 Jan 2020 05:08 AM · For: Chapter 11: Wrecker

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

Man, that skin man is a hellish creature.  I presumed you made it up since I have never heard of it before.  Excellent invention.  And once inside the house, it traveled quickly.  It reminded me  of the Lethifold, which is described in the book "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them."  (I have a piece about the lethifold on my AP.)

 

"...I heard the skin padding down the hallway..."  Can it walk?  

 

Snape's desperate flight from one apparation point to the next is told in just a few words, seven short sentences.  This treatment creates the perception that the flight from point to point happened very quickly, almost non-stop.  Of course that's what you wanted to convey, so it worked well.  Also contributory was the fact that Snape didn't bother to take the time to tell us readers as much as he knows about skin men until he has finally stopped to rest.

 

A good phrase: "Whoever had made the skin man..."  This phrase conveys another level of horror - that people actually manufactured these creature deliberately.  Immediately the reader's mind is filled with another question.  How do they accomplish that?

 

I was happy to see another glimpse of Mr. Pulcipher.  He's a great minor character.  Even after a visit from a skin man, he is belligerent but not aggressive or violent, all business, confident in his ability to take care of himself.  I liked him.

 

So now, when Snape is on the run and facing a perilous, unsettled, future, the story takes another major turn.  Dick, to whom he sent a desperate letter the day before, has miraculously answered  the letter and offers to help.  The first really good break that Snape has had since he woke up in Aberforth's quarters.  Was it just coincidence that Aberforth portkeyed him to a location on another continent that happened to be close to the only person in the world that Snape could turn to?  Miracles do happen, as we all know.

 

A great story.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

I didn't completely invent the skin man; it's a compilation of a couple of things from Icelandic folklore (there is a very detailed tradition of gross dark magic in Icelandic folklore - wizards are always creating undead monsters to send against each other) and a little bit of golems tossed in. More details will come in later chapters. At this point, Snape isn't seeing its movement, just hearing it in the hallway, so we can't be sure if this is upright walking or all fours.

 

Thank you ! Yes, I absolutely wanted to show that his flight was automatic, he's not thinking at that point, just fleeing. I'm glad that came through.

 

Yep, Pulcipher's key trait of stubborn independance is coming through. He has no allegiance to this cursed stranger beyond the limits of their good faith agreement.

 

It's not going to be explicitly addressed here how Snape ended up in Boston vs. some other city, but it is implied that Albus had a hand in arranging it, just as he put away the sleeping bag and false IDs for him. And as you know from later chapters, Albus did know about Dick. So, in short, it's possible...

 

Thank you!

 

Mottsnave

 

 



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 26 Jan 2020 03:58 AM · For: Chapter 10: Traces

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

Another dramatic chapter.  No question now that Snape is being hunted by something that is out to get him.  The chapter jumps right into the massive destruction at Snape's place of employment.  A very effective way to grab our attention instantly.  The shock and horror are heightened by your giving a lengthy list of all the parts of the restaurant kitchen that have been destroyed.

 

Again you don't have Snape say, "I was freaked out of my mind by what I saw," but the statement "My brain only began to work again when I was halfway home," gives us a clue as to his mental state during the first half of that trip.

 

I notice that even as Snape prepares to leave his house forver, packing up all his possessions, he still has faith that his wards will keep him safe from this thing.  I'm not certain that I would have been so sure.

 

When he started on his broom journey through northern Massachusetts, at first reading I didn't immediately grasp why he was doing that, but upon re-reading the chapter I picked up the clues, the purpose of his behavior.

 

A couple of brief flashbacks about Dick and Millicent Bulstrode.  They were short, not many lines, and I liked that because a long flashback can take us readers out of the flow of the story and risk disrupting the plot line.

 

When Snape returns to his house and finds Bella's dead body, we know that this thing not only destroys property, it kills.  Snape is more attached to Bella than he wil admit (he has lived in this abandoned house for roughly two months with this cat), but we see his attachment when you have him lower Bella's body into the dumpster gently so that it does not make a "clunk".

 

Still, Snape trusts his wards, which is to say he trusts himself, and dares to sleep in the house one more night.  That wouldn't have been me!

 

This story is keeping me on the edge of my seat.  Good job so far!

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

I'm facing a few long days at work, so I'm going to be even slower than usual answering your lovely reviews!

 

In the restauarnt scene, I wanted to give the impression that Snape is in such a state of shock that he's become minutely focussed on the details of the scene, which is the lenghty list of the destruction, and how he can only get his thoughts back together when he's halfway home.

 

Millicent turns up more in the other stories in this series, which I'll hopefully be able to start posting soon, and the one which is already up, Inconclusive Evidence.

 

Alas, poor Bella. I'm glad you picked up that Snape is more attached to her than he likes to admit to himself. Later in the story there are similar moments, where his need for control and his refusal to admit his own weknesses are in contrast to his underlying feelings.

 

Thank you so much!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 26 Jan 2020 02:56 AM · For: Chapter 9: Damage

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

Well, now we know that there is something that has been following Snape, something violent and vicious.  What an idea -- that this creature destroys any part of any object that it detects has been touched by Snape.  This creature reminds us of Snape's later nightmare, in which a large black creature was trailing him by scent, moving its big head from side to side.  I notice you don't have Snape say "I was scared out of my wits."  Instead you have him lunge up the stairs, the action of a terrified man.  We can tell by looking that he is freaked out by the sight of the the destruction in the little room.

 

But by the time that Snape has Apparated back to Boston, whaeever panic he felt has subsided, and now he's trying to analyze the situation logically.  Your Snape is one cold-blooded guy.  He doesn't seem afraid yet that the creature will come for him in the city of Boston.

 

I see that you have used Snape's manufacture of his proximity alert beads as an opportunity for another big flashback.  I had assumed that he wanted the Aarne-Thompson Substitution Manual for the sake of some printed information in it, but no, wrong again!  It's for the sake of the hairs of his friends/enemies, collected and tucked away in the book over many years, just in case.  That's such a Snape-like thing for him to do.  You reveal his personality in so many tiny details.

 

It is reasonable that as Snape performs the lengthy process involved in making the bead string, he would be thinking about the people represented by the beads.  So the backstory slots in smoothly  I am struck by how complicated Snape's relationships were  with the people he had known in the pre-battle years.  The final flashback conversation between Snape and Lucius in Albus's office is so very well done.  I love the hard-boiled dialogue.

 

I was a little troubled by the final letter from Dick, discovered inside the pages of the book.  If Snape had destroyed all the saved letters from Dick except this one, lying forgotten between the pages of the book, then why does Snape not now destroy this letter also?  We don't know why he destroyed the other letters, but one would assume that the same reason would apply to this one also.  Of course it turns out handy, later in the story, that he keeps this letter intact, but the whole handling of the letter seemed a little off.  Maybe it's just a comforting souvenir to him during these highly stressful times. 

 

A very interesting story.  Thank you for writing.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Hi Vicki!

 

As you know by now, I'm parcelling out the details and parameters on the thing that's following Snape over a few chapters, as he learns more about its capabilities. Analysing the thing from the safety of Boston is the only way he can regain a feeling of control over the situation.

 

The proximity charms are another way for him to take back a little control. He needs to get busy, taking concrete steps to protect himself and gather information in order to not panic.

 

I may have mentioned this already in another reply - throughout the story I wanted to give a few glimpses of Snape's friendships with the other Death Eaters. I feel like he would have deep, complicated relationships with some of them, and the more genuine their friendships were, the more meaningful is Snape's eventual betrayal of them.

 

I set up Lucius as Snape's conspirator for a few reasons. First, a spy in Snape's situation, working completely alone, would have been so ridiculously vulnerable to false information and discovery that he would be almost useless. Second, I think that while Lucius would have been a genuine idealogical follower during the first war, he strikes me as someone FAR more interested in his own personal status and the position of his family than any ideaology. And Voldemort's second rise puts his comfortable position in jeopardy. I don't think he was happy to see Voldemort's return. And finally, it allows me to contrast Albus' idealistic views on choices, and Snape's very practicle view.

 

Snape was destroying the letters from Dick just during the war. He thought that if he was discovered as a spy, Voldemort could conceivably extend vengeance towards his friends, so he didn't want to leave any traceble trail to Dick. That threat is now removed, so he doesn't need to destroy the letter anymore. And it's definitely comforting to Snape now; he's almost completely isolated himself from human contact.

 

Thank you again!

 

Mottsnave



Name: Oregonian (Signed) · Date: 26 Jan 2020 12:26 AM · For: Chapter 8 Initiative

Hi, Mottsnave.

 

This story continues to be one great scene after another.  In this chapter, Snape's trip to Dogtown was the outstanding scene for me.  The descriptions, both outdoor and indoor, really bring the settings to life.  I almost got the impression that you walked out to the Dogtown hill, looked around you, and wrote down what you saw, the features that stood out the most to you.  "...the sky was overcast and milk white, and the air was heavy and still..."  I can see it so perfectly, but I would not have thought to express it unless I were acrually on site.  Are there really Depression-era slogans carve on the rocks there?

 

Mr. Pulcipher's house -- cool, in the trees, with an old-fashioned air in the main room -- provides a refreshing contrast to the hot, sunny, weedy terrain just outside its garden wall.

 

Snape's dealings with Mr. Pulcipher are written perfectly.  The gentleman himself is a great minor actor; his personality and character come through so clearly  in the dialogue.  Straightforward, unadorned, two men who are all business, no extraneous chatter.  It is a pleasure to read dialogue that is to the point, not cluttered with a lot of off-topic stuff like a cabinet whose contents are obscured by spider webs.

 

Your reference to Snape's feeling hunted is getting less vague, more solid.  He feels it strongly when he is in the city.  This fact suggests that it is not just his imagination or jumpy nerves.  As you write it, it is becoming more definite, with more parameters.  This feeling of being hunted is obviously connected to Snape's request that Aberforth send him a certain book. But what is in that book we have yet to see.  Some of your chapters end with a scene being wrapped up, but here you have left us with a litle cliffhanger.  Nice variety.

 

Vicki



Author's Response:

Yes, Dogtown is a real place, and it is a very strange experience to walk through the overgrown woods there and have large rocks lecture you on your work ethic.

I chose Dogtown as a setting for this 'Dark Market' area, beacuse I love the contrast between the reminders of a strict New England society (there is a rock that literally tells you to 'get a job') and the people who carved out a freer society for themselves through the use of claims of witchcraft. Some poeple who lived there in the 17 - 1800s extorted food and wood from nearby towns by claiming to be witches. And the area was a refuge for gender non-conformists and anyone who otherwise didn't 'fit' into society. I wanted Pulcipher to be a representative of this in a way. He's conducting illegal operations but there's no malice or evil, it's just business, out of a kind of independance. Snapes feels quite at home with this sort of Dark Market dealing. I feel like in other circumstances, Snape and Pulcipher migth get along very well.

 

Thank you again! I'm still trying to get caught up with all your lovely reviews, I'll write more soon!

 

Mottsnave

 



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