Hey there, dropping by for our review swap! Sorry for the late swap - this weekend ended up being busier than expected.
I know this isn't your most recently updated thing, but it looked so interesting, I couldn't resist stopping by - I hope that's okay! :) I'm not a huge fan of Snape, I gotta admit, but I find him fascinating in the way that he's such a twisted and dark character, with such a rich backstory and with so much potential, yk - and this story, his side of the first war, is so rarely told. Most Marauders Era stories focus on James and Lily and their side of it, so this is really unique as far as I know to focus on Snape instead. With Karkaroff, I honestly think I've only ever seen him even featuring in like 2 stories, which just makes it that much more interesting :)
I love the way you write both Karkaroff and Snape - how Karkaroff is old even in the Marauders Era, how he's so disdainful and so hateful towards almost everyone around himself, how he looks at Lucius, with his old money and old blood and everything, and just thinks he's going to be useless. It's such a great characterisation and so vivid! Severus is great, too - I love how you deal with his feelings towards Lily, his broken relationship with both of his parents - though more so with his father than his mother - and his reluctance to join the Death Eaters in this first introduction to him. It's not exactly the backstory I always imagined for him, tbh, but I like it - it gives him a different side, and a more neutral landscape to explore him in. I loved as well how you talked about how much he loved potions - it rings so, so true with the canon.
I'm so excited and curious about the world you've set up here: the details in it, from the journeyman and apprentice set-up, with a Guild, like the old Guilds in the City of London, to the secret notebook Karkaroff took from the dying merchant who may or may not have cursed his endeavours to make the potion successfully, are so, so good. You've built up this super rich world in this one chapter, and it's amazing - honestly, your worldbuilding skills are incredible. I have so many questions, too - why was Severus' mother murdered? Why had he fallen out so badly with his parents; why had his mother decided to abandon the magical world so absolutely? What is the owl he's sending off about? What is Dorcas doing in the Ministry in that kind of low-end job if she's so clever (I'm guessing the Order?)? What's going to happen with Karkaroff and Lucius - will they, or when will they, catch up with Severus?
I love your writing, too - though that's no surprise, I've heard so many good things about your writing to know it's going to be good ;) You have such a great style, and your description and dialogue are both so, so good - you have a real eye for details and settings, and conveying things so clearly I can picture them so easily. Ahhh, it's so good!
This is a super, super exciting start - I'm probably going to have to come back soon, because I'm so, so invested in it already :P
It's crazy, going back and looking at all of these old reviews. It doesn't seem so long ago, but it's been years. Here's another...
Although they don't really contribute to the plot, I found all of Lucius's revelations -- maybe you'd call them confessions -- to Severus really interesting and humanizing. Throughout the story, you've portrayed him as this very hard, all-business, mid-level boss in Voldemort's organization. Sort of like a capo in the Italian mob. I thought it really added something to his character to show that even he is feeling the stress of Karkaroff's ambitious plan. And I really loved the fact that Narcissa keeps little Draco away from him as much as possible. You've never introduced her as a character and already I think highly of her.
"Her dreadful sister is still there. The woman never knows when to leave and doting in front of visitors isn't my style." - Loved this line. Bellatrix is such a fascinatingly awful human being. Twice now, you've managed to tell me something very interesting about a character who doesn't even appear in the story. It's a great way to add breadth to your world without investing many words. I love it.
The way that Severus keeps drilling Dorcas on the plan was classic Snape. Aside from the use of the word "please", it could have easily come from one of his Potions lessons. You keep developing his character, but in certain ways that matter, you keep him the same, which I love.
And now the strange shadows in the Potions shop are talking to Severus, too. I'm very intrigued to see whether I'm right about them. I keep thinking that it's some method that the Guild uses to communicate with one another. At any rate, it gives Severus a terrific idea on how to not give Karkaroff back the notebook.
Avery is such a goofball. "Would have put me right off for the night." The guy can't help being amusing, even when he's threatening somebody.
This chapter was really lovely in a lot of ways, despite the ever darkening plot of the story. All of your characters come through in such a believable and human way. They're easy to relate to, even the bad ones. I have to imagine that something big is coming up in the next chapter.
Moving right along to the next review on the list...
Very interesting. This chapter had the distinct feel of a lot of things beginning to spin out of control. It doesn't bode well for either Dorcas or Severus.
First off, Dorcas has decided to take matters even more directly into her own hands. While I'm sure Moody is busy up to his eyeball, it does seem a little odd that he's not watching her more closely, considering her mental state. The response to the slaughter of the McKinnons was sadly typical of the Ministry. Not even the Order seems to be able to find much closure or resolution. So Dorcas sets out on her own to make things right.
Her excursion into Gringott's seemed to be going so well. I kept expecting something to interrupt her in the ledger room, but that never came. Instead, the ending was much, much worse. I find myself hoping that Severus is able to get her away and protect her, but I know that isn't going to happen. It's very sad.
Severus just seems so natural in a small, cramped, mixed-magical pub. And he hates Pac-Man, which I can totally appreciate, having lived through that ridiculous fad. (I sheepishly admit that I have Pac-Man Fever in my MP3 collection, but only for nostalgia purposes, I swear!) Very interesting that he's making all the preparations as though he's going to flee the country. If he only knew what was coming...
Netterheim is one step ahead of him. I'm very curious about these talkative shadows that always seem to be inhabiting his shop. Is this how the members of the Guild communicate with one another? I like the fact that the Guild is clearly a pan-European organization. It would give them an extra bit of leverage, not being contained to a single country which Voldemort appears well on the way to taking over.
This chapter moved the plot along nicely on several fronts. I can feel all of the disparate plot lines beginning to converge toward a single confrontation that Severus, Avery and Karkaroff obviously survive, but Dorcas does not. I'm going to be kind of sad when I get to the end.
Here's another review, coming to its forever home...
I feel like I can see the end of the story rapidly approaching, and it makes me feel sad. Severus and Dorcas have been through so much an sacrificed so much of themselves to to try stop Karkaroff and his minions. They deserve more time to be happy together. Sadly, it seems like this is not to be. Now I have a strong suspicion as to why Avery has been such a focus of the story up to this point, and it frightens me.
It was really touching, the way you unfolded the encounter where Severus tells Dorcas that he wants her to come with him. You took her through the depths of despair and then he shows her a way to a future that she really hadn't imagined possible. Very lovely.
Her conversation with Moody was oddly humanizing for the old grump. He seemed so worn down. And he really didn't want to tell her what was about to happen.
Then her unintentional phrasing helps him figure out how to make the antidote. That was pretty funny, and it said quite a bit about the seriousness of both of their commitments to completing their mission.
The ending was just chilling. So now you know that I have to find out what happens next!
Another review transferred...
I have to say right away that this chapter was incredible. Just amazing. The way that you got so deep inside of the characters and their scars left me blown away. I can't say enough good things about it, but I shall try.
First off, and it's really the tip of the iceberg for this chapter, I really liked the way that you had Dorcas take her time to deal with her anger and grief instead of just throwing her into Severus's arms. That would have been the easy way to do this, but what you did was so much more realistic. After such a traumatic loss, she wasn't going to be ready to deal with anybody.
The scene were Severus extracts the bezoar from the goat was so atmospheric and detailed. And the little tidbit from his childhood about his mother butchering the cow really added something to my appreciation of the man.
Sybill is prophesizing again? That bodes poorly. I was having a hard time figuring out who or what she was supposed to be channeling. The accusing tone she takes with Severus almost sounded like he was being chastised for revealing part of the prophecy to Voldemort. The voice sounded vaguely like Dumbledore. Not quite sure what to make of that encounter, but I'm sure I'll figure it out sooner or later.
And then Dorcas returns to him. As much as I want to say about this scene, there's one part that sums up how I feel about it all:
"He touched her cheek, where one of his shirt buttons had made an impression, somewhat elated that he had marked her as his, even if it was superficial and temporary. It was easier when the wound was tangible. He wished he knew how to help her with the mess it left on the inside. Not likely when he could barely manage his own scars." - This paragraph was just beautiful. I'm in awe of it. The creativity and the emotional depth were incredible.
And then she begs him to help. The Potters' cottage was an interesting place to hold the memorial. I'm not sure I would have picked it if I were running the Order, since it seems like putting a lot of eggs in one basket. Still, the opportunity it gives Severus to confront Avery was clearly necessary. Before I get to that, another line that I loved:
"He thanked whatever being governed the greater mysteries that no one had come outside to witness him crouching awkwardly between the yew and the holly." - Wow. That was so clever, I don't even know what to say.
And then Avery breaks down in front of him and Severus does what he must. That was gut-wrenching. Severus is creating a monster. He knows it, too. But he doesn't have any other choice. Seems like life turns into a never-ending series of horrible alternatives whenever Voldemort is involved. That was a constant in the books for people like Wormtail and the Malfoys, and you did an awesome job of bringing that same dark, twisted reality to your story.
I am upset with myself that I wasn't farther into this story when the nominations for the Golden Paws were going up. This should have been in there somewhere. I really can't wait to see what you do next. This chapter was brilliant!
Hi, pix! You know what's awesome about transferring this review? I get to fix my little boo-boo at the end:
Poor Dorcas. So many things are going terribly wrong at once. One of the most interesting things about your story-telling style are the things you leave unsaid. Little gaps in the picture that I fill in with my imagination and then I have to wait another chapter or two to find out whether I was right. This chapter had a few of those. It really makes me want to read the next.
The section with Dorcas's uncle -- Rookwood, right? -- in the dungeon was interesting. It seems like there's a lot of duplicity even among those who are portrayed in the books as hard-core Death Eaters. You continue to build up Avery as a seriously creepy character. I found myself wondering why Rookwood isn't trusted. Did he tip his hand as far as his intention to leave?
The image of Severus trying to fit in at Malfoy's cocktail party is really amusing. It's just not a place that he belongs. And little Draco keeps on providing a bit of levity. The idea of him wearing one of those baby gowns is really cute and funny. Again, it seems like Lucius has a much more genteel affair in mind than what the party ultimately turns into. Otherwise, there's no way he should have his son around dangerous, unstable men like Avery.
And finally the image of Dorcas standing alone amidst the devastation. We don't know for sure whether Marlene or any of her family survived, but based on Dorcas's reaction to Severus, I'm going to guess they did not. Such a tragedy. It must have been some really horrible piece of magic to level the entire house.
Everything flowed perfectly and it read really fast and easy. I'm eager to read more. Stupendous work!
It just occurred to me that you might be getting an email for every review I transfer. Sorry/not sorry. :p
So just when you had me convinced that Netterheim was engaged in something really nefarious, you reveal that his shadowy co-conspirator is... Slughorn??? Kidding. I get that Netterheim's main agenda here is to make sure that it's Severus who gets thrown under the bus rather than himself in the event that Karkaroff's plan is successful. If I'm guessing correctly, you're slipping in a clever take on how Slughorn came to be out of Voldemort's good graces and had to start disguising himself as an armchair, in which case I will be very impressed!
Interesting that Karkaroff fell for Snape's ploy. I guess after the disaster in Snape's old flat, Karkaroff could understand his desire to not let idiots mess up his work. And he would also appreciate the fact that Snape's direct participation would make it less likely that they would all fail the Dark Lord. See, you put Severus back in the company of Death Eaters and all the sudden I'm calling him "Snape" again.
The muggle amusement park was a neat setting for, um, whatever it was that just happened. I'm a little bit unclear on who it was that Dorcas actually met and what they discussed. You hadn't introduced Mulciber prior to this chapter, so his appearance and Severus's reaction to him were a bit hard to put into context. Two small things that the final section that I thought were neat. First, the way that they don't really understand electricity and call it "muggle magic" and think that power cords are like hoses. Very clever and funny. Second, the two strips of photos that Severus pockets without a thought as they exit the photo booth... why do I have a strong feeling that we'll be seeing those again before the story is over? And probably not under happy circumstances.
You just keep drawing me in more and more. I'm feeling so apprehensive for Dorcas, so sorry for Severus and so much loathing for Karkaroff, Malfoy and all the rest. Well done!
Transferring another review from the old to the new...
Whew! After the last chapter, I feared that you had something gruesome in mind for poor Dorcas. That was a very interesting look into the mind of Master Netterheim. He's clearly more than the grumpy, all-business wizard that you've made him seem to be so far. He actually seems to take an interest in Severus beyond just seeing him as an employee. He wants to know more about Severus's "lady friend". I have a very bad feeling that his interest could be Dorcas's undoing. Why does his shop have a hidden entrance in Knockturn Alley? Very suspicious...
I really, really loved the was that you progressed Severus's feelings and attachment to Dorcas in this chapter. He tries so hard to maintain his annoyance with her and keep his emotional distance, but he can't. When she refuses to stay away from the McKinnon's, he finally cracks and drops his emotional walls. They both do. Her concern for him finally comes out in very concrete terms. I thought you wrote this in a very sweet, touching way that really put me inside each character as they came together. You've given the reader an amazing connection to these two.
I couldn't find any typos or grammatical errors in this. The writing was lovely. Everything about this chapter was great and I enjoyed it thoroughly. If I smoked, I think I'd want a cigarette right now. Look at that, I just wrote an entire review without once referring to him as "Snape". You see the effect you're having on me? Very well done!
Happy little reviews, all migrating in a row...
I had a lot of suspicions about what Avery kept in his secret box, but you surprised me with the truth. He is one sick puppy. The evil ones who are also a little childlike are always the creepiest, if you ask me. You have to wonder how a man who seems so simple in many ways also wound up so bent. He's not a major character in the story, but I think you've done a terrific job of building him into a minor antagonist who adds a lot of atmosphere -- and occasionally comic relief -- to the story. The closest analogy I can think of is Skank in The Crow. "Fire it up! Fire it up! Fire it up!"
Snape's solution for dealing with Dorcas's bug problem is brilliant. It's amazing the little ways you keep finding to build the rapport between the two of them. Little baby steps here and there. I felt badly for Dorcas when he takes off to go deal with Lily's protection issues. I feel like I have a pretty good idea where that's heading. Poor Dorcas has no idea what his real motivations are, although I'm pretty sure that Severus won't be enlightening her any time soon, either. It just helps him to keep his guard up against getting close to her.
The two-sided non-conversation between Dorcas and Marlene was hilarious. You did a great job of pulling that off.
So the potion that Snape is trying to make for Karkaroff is some sort of super-weapon for spreading poisons? Interesting. It's definitely consistent with the scale at which Voldemort usually thinks. "Wipe out all of the muggles and mudbloods in one shot. Cleanse the earth." Very Voldemort-like. You manage to work a lot of nobility into Snape's response. Sometimes I feel a little surprised that she doesn't question his sincerity a bit more, but then again he's already sacrificed so much and given her so much information. It's a good balance, I guess.
Augh! Dorcas, why can't you just stay away from Knockturn Alley? Seriously, does this girl have a death wish? Well, you've given us an interesting cliffhanger, to say the least. I guess I'll be back soon to find out what happens next. ;)
Transferring another review...
So a question dawned on me as I was reading this chapter. Is Moody meant to be the head of the Auror Department in your story? I don’t recall from the books whether he ever had that position. He seems to be in charge of everything around him, but he wouldn’t necessarily have needed to be the head of the department for that. It’s just his personality.
Watching Dorcas engage in this dangerous and somewhat self-destructive behavior was a very realistic touch, I thought. She seems to be suffering from a lot of shock and maybe just a bit of survivor’s guilt. It often motivates people to put themselves at further risk after a traumatic event. Her trip to Knockturn Alley is certainly not wise, and she realizes it a bit too late.
Then she moves into the sanctuary of Sybill’s shop, if you can call it that. I like what you’re doing with the barmy fortune-teller. The way that her ancestor's portrait rolls its eyes at her is such a clever touch.
I think you've brought a very interesting perspective to the interactions between most of the characters. Dorcas, Marlene, Snape, Sybill, most of the Death Eaters, they all seem to be schoolmates and people who are more than passingly familiar with one another. Yet here they are thrown into this situation where they find themselves facing each other in life or death situations. I think that was far and away the most poignant thing I took away from this chapter. Call it the “small world effect”. There are so few witches and wizards in Britain that you’re almost bound to know the person who’s trying to curse you, or possibly even be related to them.
Severus and Dorcas come so close to having “a moment” in her flat. I can see them both resisting it with all their might. Somehow, I suspect that Severus won’t decide to leave, and I further suspect that she’s a big part of the reason why. I’m still eagerly looking forward to all of the canon events that we know are upcoming and seeing you retell them with your own special focus and perspective. This story is really, really good.
Isn't this fun? Copy and paste for the win!
I thought you created some really good tension around the Death Eater attack on the Ministry. You built it up really nicely, not doing anything too overt but still getting a good mood going.
Now I see what you meant about Josef. So much for him, I guess. I still have remote suspicions that he was imperiused, but I guess it doesn't really matter now.
Severus's visit to Malfoy Manor was similarly chilling. The only little thing that lightened the mood was Lucius's revelation that little Draco was making all of the screaming noises because he didn't want to nap. Even then, it's kind of disturbing to me that Lucius would even allow Draco to be present with such dangerous men in the house.
I really liked your ideas on the workings of the dark mark. I've always imagined that receiving it is not at all a pleasant experience and neither is being summoned by it.
Karkaroff seems like a really powerful Legilimens. I like that you haven't turned Snape into a powerful Occlumens just yet. You're letting him struggle with it a bit and learn as he goes, which feels a lot more natural to me. He's still relatively young at this time. Your descriptions of how the process works and the way that Karkaroff is likely to damage Avery's mind were gripping stuff.
I wonder who will wind up taking the fall for what happened in the Auror Department? It would be easiest to blame one of the dead men. Is the implication that Wilkes and Rosier were two of the men who were killed? That's what I took away from their absence at the meeting.
What more can I say? Another terrific chapter. This story is really compelling and tense and suspenseful. You're doing a great job!
Reviews, reviews, reviews! Here comes another...
You continue to amaze me with the smooth, casual brilliance of your writing. You have an amazing knack for bringing these very dark, dire and unpredictable situations to life and making the characters feel very natural in the midst of them. This chapter was also completely free of typos as far as I could tell.
The exchange between Netterheim and Karkaroff is a wonderful exercise in slow-played drama and brinksmanship. I felt like I could feel the chess match going on as the two of them jab and counter, jab and counter. The Guild is obviously powerful in its own way, although with Snape in his pocket, Voldemort would seem to have an advantage.
I liked where you took Dorcas and Severus's relationship in this chapter. She still doesn't trust him and she has no reason to trust him, but she seems to really want to like him. Or at least mother him to an extent. His dilemma with the corned beef was a really clever way to draw out his feelings. If he really didn't care, he wouldn't have tried to spare her feelings. Nicely done!
And the way he springs to her defense when Josef pushes his way into her flat... very noble of him. I'm not sure what to think about Josef. The physical description you give us could be any number of things. Is he drunk? Imperiused? Did he intend to do her harm? Turn her over to the Death Eaters? Keep her out of harm's way? So many possibilities.
My favorite, still, was the scene where Snape visits his old Slytherin housemates. It was so reminiscent of the one guy who actually got a real job after college visiting his buddies who still live together in a dive apartment and work as waiters. If you're wondering, I got a real job, myself, but I kept living with buddies in the dive apartment for a few years. ;) Avery is still the village idiot, although the thing he does with the crickets and the contents of his mysterious box are kind of ominous. He seems unstanble and maybe a little dangerous. I also have a bad feeling about the McKinnons. Whatever Snape overheard, I think it might be about them.
Overall, this was a fantastic chapter. It was lovely how you worked in so much detail and so many little things that shine light on your characters. Looking forward to more!
Hi, pix! Transferring another review...
Severus's contemplation of splinching himself as he traveled was very sad and very well done. The image of him slipping into Lily and James's yard to see how she was doing, then reinforcing the wards that he found there was perfect characterization, I thought. These two sentences struck me as maybe a bit odd: "He no longer felt punched in the gut at the mere sight of her. The heartache, the longing – gone." I guess he's begun to get over the pain of remembering how he lost Lily's friendship, but the idea that he no longer feels a yearning to be with her seemed a bit at odds with what we see in The Prince's Tale.
Avery, Rosier and Wilkes - the Three Stooges of the Death Eaters. It was a fun way to break up the chapter just a bit and also show that Lucius and the rest of Karkaroff's gang were not going to give up on completing the potion.
You more or less close the door on Dorcas's future with her ex, which seems like a key step to developing whatever relationship you may create between her and Severus. Once again, your characterization of Severus in the kitchen while she struggles to heal his wound and not throw up all over him was spot on. He's so stoic, so matter-of-fact about the things that he's lost and the risks that he's taking. Even his injury can't jar him out of his zone. Perfectly done.
I didn't see any typos or spelling or grammar problems in this chapter, so kudos for that. Overall, this was enjoyable to read and you're really moving the story along nicely. Well done!
Transferring another review from the old place...
This was a really terrific chapter. You brought in a lot of new characters and placed them in very complimentary roles, I thought. Starting out with Lucius Malfoy and Avery, you did a great job of laying out the touch-and-go life of the Death Eaters. Nobody seems completely sure of what's going on, and misunderstandings appear to be the norm. Even though Lucius is a detestable character, I adored his little jab at Snape about his mother. It was so perfectly in character for him. I still have a lot of questions about what exactly Karkaroff is having Snape do and how Snape's mother's death fits into the story, but then again, it appears that Snape is still trying to figure all of that out, as well.
So it seems that Sybill Trelawny has already made the prophesy that binds Harry and the Dark Lord together. I really liked the way you portrayed her. It's very important not to take her too seriously. She is the living embodiment of the phrase "even a stopped clock shows the right time twice a day." And holy crap, you used the term "microenvironment". Somebody has a chemistry or biology background…
The way that you're building his report with Dorcas is really nice. There's a definite chemistry there, and it's more than just the fact that they both have a knack for potions and she's his handler from the Order. I liked his brief exploration of his feelings towards her. Knowing how her story ends -- and assuming that you'll stick to canon -- I'm already dreading her run-in with the Dark Lord but looking forward to reading your exploration of its effect on Snape.
And you end it off with the Three Stooges-type routine in Snape's flat. This was my favorite line in the whole chapter: "Avery nodded and stood up, stretching languidly like an overgrown gnome after a badly executed Growth Charm… with really stupid hair." Just brilliant.
So where did Snape apparate to? I'm going to guess Hogwarts, but maybe I'm thinking too far ahead.
Hi, pix! Time to move these lovelies over...
So I do love a good Snape story, and based on your first chapter, I'd say that this has the makings of a great one. I like that you seem to be stepping in and filling some details that were left unclear in the Prince's Story in DH. There's certainly ample room to work with there. If I'm guessing correctly, this takes place between Severus's Hogwarts graduation and Lily's death.
Making Severus a reluctant Death Eater was a very interesting choice. He isn't really portrayed that way in the books, but we never really get his own, personal perspective on the matter. Here, it seems that he wants to lead a normal, quiet, respectable life. But that will never be an option because of his affiliation to the Dark Lord.
I come away from this chapter with a lot of unanswered questions that make me want to keep reading. What is Snape's relationship to Lily at this point in time? Why were his parents killed if, as it appears, he was trying to do what Karkaroff was asking? How will the death of his mother affect him, once he gets over the shock? And what will he do next?
Your writing is very good. Free of typos and grammatical problems, everything flows really nicely. I liked the balance of dialog and narrative, and you deliver information in a very pleasant way so that I never felt like you were hitting me over the head with a lot of exposition. Instead, you just sort of dropped me right into the story, which I really like.