|Reviews for The New Skin|
| Luna Rapunzel chapter 20 . 7/8/2015
Okay, coming off of that last bit, Snape/Funke is definitely going to be a ship. I support this. Her banter with Snape in the rainforest where she was teasing him about stereotypes for potions masters was my favorite part of the chapter; you do a great job of writing her English as basically fluent but still clearly a second language (like "Whenever there will be a boat ride, I am there." and "I want one, and you also, yes?"); and I think she's a good match for him in any kind of relationship because she's serious enough that he doesn't get impatient around her but she's funny in her own way and nicely mellows Snape out. Also, I LOVE that his immediate internal response when Funke comments on how her thoughts go in circles if she's indoors for too many days in a row and then comments that he never leaves his rooms is to wonder whether /his/ thoughts have been going in circles - it's good to see that she has such an effect on him!
[The previous evening, I had considered Grossman's proposal about how to handle my RAs. I had come to the conclusion that the personal remarks had created a problem between us. However, it wasn't the remarks in and of themselves, I decided, it was how the RAs were taking them. They simply hadn't been trained properly, and didn't understand how to take them. If I could train my snakes, I could train anyone.] - I loooove that Snape is using this line of reasoning, and I love that he messes around with them by Transfiguring Grossman's clothes, but I don't totally see the connection between how the two things are related. (Also, I was super entertained by this: [I could see that Grossman had returned his clothes to their original state. Pity.])
[Everyone was laughing. I knew it was all a joke. No one had a wand drawn, except for me. I felt almost elated, in one way. We had won, but my heart was still pounding and I was gripping my wand so tightly that my hand ached. I forced myself to put it away and shake out my fingers. Nothing is happening, you don't need it now. I took a deep breath.] - Oh, man, Snape! So much PTSD from the war. That's so sad and was such a poignant moment, so well done on this.
Nice attention to detail with Snape barking at Mata about how smoking is bad for a future in potions because it ruins your sense of smell. I wouldn't have thought of that, but that makes sense and it's clever.
| Luna Rapunzel chapter 19 . 7/8/2015
The highlight of this chapter for me was Benji's talk with Snape in Dick's office when he tried to talk Snape down, explain why he was driving a wedge between himself and his RAs, and suggest putting Park on prep work for Mata. It's great to see Benji's talent for communication coming out here to really demonstrate what it was about him that made Dick want to hire him in the first place - his suggestions were very intelligent and made a lot of sense, and it's clear he's got great people skills that he was able to wheedle agreement out of Snape and that he had the patience to apologizing for behavior that probably wouldn't be a problem if he were working under a potions master who was more easygoing than Snape is.
The confrontation with Mata ending in Snape yelling at everyone to leave for the day was great, too - nice tension and emotion and escalation. Even more than the fight itself, though, I liked what you showed of Snape's reaction in the aftermath: [I turned on the rest, who were staring at me mutely, god, just like dinner in the Great Hall behind enemy lines, any one of them happy to kill me given half a chance. ... Now I could do my work, in silence, without idiots around me, without distractions. Only I couldn't even think about anything but all those eyes on me in the Great Hall, all full of hate, I have to watch my back all the time, and I couldn't get my hands to stop shaking.] - This is great because it really hammers in how Snape's anxiety about having been such a hated figure back at Hogwarts (both as a professor and before that as a student) is to this day affecting his ability to have healthy interactions and relationships with others. It's almost like a mild form of post-traumatic stress, with how he constantly has flashbacks to having been an outcast that totally blind him in new situations to the point of having a physical reaction, complete with shaking hands and racing thoughts and, later on, feeling like he couldn't "face" being in a large room and feeling exposed to others. (More flashbacks later on with Benji: [Pulcipher's words came back to me: "…wreck everything you touch."])
More great implicit avoidance going on when Snape's having nightmares that clearly have their root in his emotional imbalance but then blames everything on sweat and temperature and hunger. And this exchange - ["If I had known that he was required to report on my activities I would have come to you myself and saved him the trouble. I have done nothing wrong," I said stiffly. / "Oh, hell, Cyril! Do you always assume the worst? This isn't some disciplinary thing. If someone pulled out a lighter in the arid greenhouse, I would kick them out faster than you could say Lophophora williamsii! Ben didn't come to me to go behind your back or get you in trouble."] - was another lovely example of Snape jumping to irrational conclusions as triggered by social anxiety.
["Or something to help you sleep at night? Dreamless Sleep?" / I shook my head at that. It was ridiculous, I knew, but even after all these years there were simply too many associations with my mother. I still couldn't bring myself to take the stuff.] - Oh dear. My first thought is that Eileen committed suicide by overdosing on dreamless sleep potion, but whether it's that or something else, this can't be good.
I've got two favorite funny lines this time:
[Having a little chat with Grossman about my shortcomings in lab was about as far down on my list of things I would enjoy on my half-day as I could get, just marginally above a picnic lunch with Sirius Black or a nice heart-to-heart with the Dark Lord.]
[...you've been living in the armpit of the Amazon for weeks and you haven't seen the river. All you get is armpit and no Amazon!]
| acctdisabled chapter 18 . 7/8/2015
You know, for someone who always wants to downplay his actions, Snape sure is very defensive over his delay process potion idea. I can’t blame him for feeling annoyed with Grossman, but he seemed to jump out of the gate right away and defend his actions. His predicament over not having enough RA’s isn’t too surprising because either you lack the funding or the interest from the students to get a decent number of RA’s. Snape now has to rely on Grossman for translational issues, so he merely can’t ignore the student anymore. The line “I would have to make an impression on unknowns…” really stood out to me. Snape is not the type that concerns himself with what other think of him, but yet again with the prospect of this study all of a sudden he cares.
His speech was very fitting to the dialogue he used during his Hogwarts classes, albeit dialed down to fit the language. Now we have teacher mode Snape back who wants nothing but the best from his students. His speech though, was a strong reflection of his lack of social skills because although it is clear he has high expectations and wants his students to succeed, the execution is just down right horrible, and in fact if I were one of those students I would have been turned off immediately, I thought it was very telling Snape immediately jumped into the lab rules and his study plans instead of taking the time to get to know his students or even make them feel welcome. Again this shows his social ineptness, for anyone running a lab knows you have to connect with your students if you want anything out of them.
For example, he way overreacted to the ‘puffer adder’ part, and instead of handling it appropriately, just created more tension with Grossman. Was there something more to the salute the readers don't know about? That seemed like a way OTT reaction from Snape over something so benign like that.
Even with Park’s good cutting, the fact the technique was unorthodox was the first thing to come out of Snape’s mouth. Again, I see a great parallel to his rigid nature and refusal to open himself up to completely new concepts and ideas. Grossman grew a pair when he talked back to Snape and I’m honestly surprised that Snape didn’t snap back given his confrontation with Grossman earlier. I am anticipating some more tension between these two down the road. I liked the part where Snape talked about the strategies and the manner in which he plans to use his students. That is one thing about him- he is very observant in nature and often picks up on the things people tend to miss. You have done a good job of highlighting this personality quirk as well.
I liked seeing the conversation develop between Funke and Snape, which increases the suspicions I had in the previous chapter about a future romance. I died laughing when she asked him if he wanted a beer and he simply looked at her flabbergasted. It was nice to see Funke trying to encourage Snape to go out and explore, because god knows out of everyone there he needs the most unwinding and relaxing. I think their senses of humor go well together too, because instead of ignoring or trying to cheer Snape’s thoughts up, she simply offers a witty line in return.
| acctdisabled chapter 17 . 7/8/2015
Lol, after all of this time Snape still cannot find some sort of proudness in his accomplishments, downplaying that gold star like that. Not surprised that most of the staff hadn’t seen him, wouldn’t be like Snape to be an unbelievable loner. The timing joke was pretty amusing as well, I would imagine that Dick knew very well that timing was not Snape’s friend.
I’m curious to see how a potential trial run of Snape’s curative potion, because that could end up being a major liability. I’m not sure how familiar you are with pharmaceutical testing, but it is highly regulated and has several caveats when you decide to test a treatment on subjects. Human testing is actually way more complicated than simply getting supervision from the university- you have the IRB, government, sponsorships when applicable, and all of these procedures to follow. I am wondering how you are going to handle this down the road, because potions can be considered the wizard version of medicine, so subjects have to handled with absolute care and not put in any risks.
That 60% is a very rough deal, but not surprising at an academic institution. This is why a lot of academians get grant funding so that they can spend how they want for the study and not have to worry about funds and profit being taken away from the university. Snape, in this case, is right about being an independent but he would have to get some external funding in order to avoid the case Dick is presenting to him. Intellectual property normally does not belong to the institution barring the person has a patent and uses external funding, and most universities pay faculty by their research outcomes- they normally do not have the right to take credit for faculty work.
I’m assuming Dick either brought the newspaper with him or has a subscription? Very cool to see that Snape got the highest award along with Sirius, and this is a neat AU because realistically the Ministry probably would never give a former death eater that big of an honor. Funny how once again Snape won’t acknowledge the good out of that outcome and instead remains skeptical of others. “I felt a thrill of excitement..” was great to see, seems like Snape is finally finding himself more of a purpose. Carvalho sounded like a good time, too bad we couldn’t have seen Snape get condescending and frustrated by her. Fish that can’t die either? In a way it reminds me of a skin, a seemingly dead entity that no matter what you do does not go away.
The herbologist line “physically incapable of walking from one point to another in a greenhouse without stopping…” was hilarious because that is exactly how I felt when reading the books. Sounds like Snape might start having some adventures out in the wildlife and his reaction to the scenery really fits his personality of denying himself so many things for years. He never really branched out of his comfort zones before, and Funke serves as a good foil to demonstrate them. Foreshadowing a potential romance perhaps? Interested to see how their dynamic ends up.
| Luna Rapunzel chapter 18 . 7/8/2015
I thought the standout biggest strength of this chapter was that Snape's interactions with Grossman and the RAs masterfully demonstrated Snape's own insecurities, social anxiety, and general social ineptitude. The extent to which he put effort into crafting a speech in Portuguese in the hopes of intimidating his students - and stressed over needing it to be absolutely perfect to gain their respect to the point that he couldn't sleep and nearly made himself physically ill - I thought REALLY spoke to Snape's innate conviction that he won't be respected and the need he feels to gain acceptance through respect, and everything about the way you worded it, by fixating on the need for the speech to be perfect and then the effects that that caused in Snape, was very realistic to me in that of course Snape's not going to be explicitly acknowledging to himself that what he's looking for is acceptance and that he feels insecure about not having it, because even in the way he talks to himself, he's putting up this really tough exterior just like in the way he talks to others.
It also comes through in moments like when he snapped at Grossman for his puff-adder joke - a rational person with great social skills and confidence would realize that Grossman was just joking and not think anything of it, so the fact that Snape flipped out like he did and internalized it as something directed at him (first assuming that they were making fun of him thinking he couldn't understand the Portoguese, then insisting that potions is Srs Bsns and not recognizing the humor) was extremely indicative of Snape's lack of confidence in himself and of the notion that he was projecting that lack of confidence onto others by assuming that their intentions are malicious when really they aren't. Plus, I get the strong sense that by insisting that they not joke around the lab, he was trying to save face by not just admitting that he'd made a mistake thinking that they were being cruel to him when really it wasn't about him at all, and that was great, and all of it was executed wonderfully by demonstrating these things about Snape through his actions and through where his attention is focusing instead of by having him say anything about his intentions and "true" inner thoughts to the reader.
"UFAM's magical division" - okay, so it's a Muggle university with a wizarding division contained within it. You haven't said this explicitly (and I actually really like that you haven't said it explicitly, since that's realistic to the first-person POV that Snape wouldn't walk around explaining basic world setup facts to himself in his head), but this is definitely starting to confirm my suspicion that the Statute of Secrecy in your world is an exclusively British thing (hence the Death Eaters' beef with exclusively the British Ministry) and magic and Muggle worlds are integrated everywhere else.
One of my favorite lines in this chapter was Snape's mental quip that he could have used Park's help on prep work during his stint as a short order cook - it was funny, and it had Snape's personality written all over it. Also, the entire scene with Funke was really sweet and lovely, and I'm starting to REALLY like Funke as a character. She's funny without meaning to be (like taking it for granted that Snape will know what she's talking about when she offers him beer while still fishing it out of the water, because who would even store it down there), and she's different, and I like that about her. I'm almost curious whether she's going to be a love interest for Snape in the future? But I'd be perfectly happy seeing them as just friends, as long as she gets more screen time!
[He clicked his heels and gave a mock salute. I gripped the edge of the lab bench. How dare he? I leaned towards him. "Don't ever do that again. Do you understand me?"] - This was confusing to me. But by now I assume that it's something you're going to explain more fully later on, which I look forward to reading about!
| Luna Rapunzel chapter 17 . 7/7/2015
Again, speaking as a chemist, I really enjoyed the connections that you made in this chapter between potions and chemistry as Snape was making his research proposal to Dick about researching the effects of timing elements in Wolfsbane Potion variants to try to develop extended-release potions. So much science! And Dick translating out Snape's proposed salary in dollars before in Galleons was another nice element mixing magical Americas with Muggle Americas - I feel like you've done this earlier in the story as well, but it's another interesting bit of overlap to me that American wizards use the same currency as Muggles rather than a currency system of their own.
Interesting that the front-page headline in the newspaper Dick gives Snape is about Bush. Publications like the Prophet don't contain Muggle news at all (unless it's something like Sirius's escape where a bastardized version of it was also appearing in Muggle news), but I like that you're having American wizards keep up with what's going on in the Muggle world. All of it's almost starting to make me wonder whether the Statute of Secrecy is just a British thing and doesn't apply elsewhere within the world of this story...
[A few who died before the battle, including Alastor Moody and former Minister Rufus Scrimgeour, also received the Order of Merlin. More controversially, the Minister also awarded the highest honor to Severus Snape and Regulus Black in a separate private ceremony. Ministry spokesman Chester Venables denied that this was to avoid protestors at the state funerals of the other recipients, but "simply because of the lack of a body in both of the latter cases."] - But that doesn't work because Moody's body was never recovered, either, was it? Or is that just the Ministry making obviously flawed excuses up for themselves?
["Well… she was supposedly working on pain relief, but really she was selling off ingredients and buying drugs on the Dark Market with her profits. Had an affair with one of the RAs, tricked the others, stole a lot of rare plants from the greenhouses, then ran to Bolivia. We haven't heard anything since."] - This entertained me VERY much.
["Ha, even a marginally competent research project would be raising the bar." Marginally competent? Is that what he thought of me? I sneered. "Complete the inventory in here, if you think you can manage it." I swept out to the other storeroom. I would check his work later and see if he was marginally competent.] - Great characterization of Snape here - this isn't something I would find at all offensive, but it's so in character that Snape would misconstrue it and take it as a personal insult (and then get huffy).
[He was also singing, an inane little tune about someone with eyes on the back of their head. The words had seemed nonsensical at first, but now they were worming their way into my brain. What was he playing at? He couldn't know, could he?] - What? Is this foreshadowing, or am I missing something? because I can't for the life of me figure out what this is referring to.
| acctdisabled chapter 16 . 7/7/2015
A good cause and Death Eaters? :)
Flying ointments is a really cool concept- I love when people build on the wizarding canon and make it their own. I could see it being a conflict of interest with the broom business, who needs competition when you can simply wipe them out. Again, the subtle nuances of Snape recalling his past are so interesting and compelling. He seems to be a gluten for punishment based on his past failed experiments, that is for sure.
The greater good slogan was a very nice odd, because it hints at the fact no one is entirely good or evil. You could argue Voldemort served as a parallel to Dumbledore in some ways, but obviously one was way more evil than the other. However, both were manipulative and cunning to get the outcomes they desired, but the only differences were the execution and motivation. The Statue of Secrecy was very thought provoking, as I never considered the freedom of speech angle that could be taken in regarding wizard’s rights, so kudos to you for expanding on the canon.
Very interesting to hear Snape’s thoughts on the Death Eaters, particularly how the Ministry was his main grievance rather than the Pureblood issue that was the primary agenda the Slytherin house at least tried to enforce. But, having been raised in Slytherin, wouldn’t he have some sort of level of prejudice? Not sure I agree that he didn’t care at all about this issue. I thought it was a thought provoking move to have the Death Eaters promote the Pureblood cause to a greater extent than implied in the books through the use of the Statue of Secrecy. Very chilling line you-who-know used when talking to Snape privately: “the opposite reaction…the protection of our blood.” I do buy that Voldemort would want to promote a Pureblood sort of culture, making sure those who follow him are of the highest nature. But..I had a very hard time buying that the Ministry takedown would be a prime motivation, because Voldemort was way too arrogant to ever believe the Ministry would take him down or be worth fighting against personally.
Voldemort, for one was a major sociopath who wanted worldly power and really only made decisions for the benefit of himself. The Ministry, although he cared to take it down and did have concern over it, was not at the forefront of his mind. Being the most powerful wizard in the world was, and it was clear based on the number of failed attempts to achieve this that he does not fully plans things through due to arrogance. No way would Voldemort be concerned about wizarding freedom of speech, because again, it is all about him- who cares if anyone else’s rights are limited. As far as the other characters wanting more freedom of speech due to a minority standing? Maybe- you could argue as you have done in the story that they did, however the book was very ambiguous on this topic in relation to the characters in question, so it is not an easy argument to make.
Snape’s terror and fear over not only Voldemort’s words but also the actions of the Death Eaters was well-executed- I could really envision his emotions as the scene was unfolding. He really could not tell whether Voldemort was being sincere in his words, which is a good sign of describing a sociopath. The ‘snake of our cause’ was a nice nod to the Slytherin house and also Nagini, foreshadowing perhaps events that took place during the books. Also shows how good Voldemort was at manipulating people for Snape really bought into the Death Eater message when he first started. The “Beast” was a nice metaphor to compare the two different sides of Voldemort. Only con-crit I have for Voldemort is that his dialogue seemed too formal- normally he gets straight to the point and doesn’t use such flowerly prose.
Snape was clearly never meant to be a Death Eater, which you effectively conveyed through the flashback and his immediate feelings of guilt and regret over the deaths that took place. “It’s the only way out” was a very chilling line- killing is the end game no matter what sadly. Aberforth sure was not friendly back then. The part with the ‘one thing’ was great too, because this really conveys Voldemort had a one-track mind and again never planned things out properly. Dumbledore seemed to really time things out perfectly with the prophecy and I would be interested to hear about Trelawny’s conclusions given that she would be the most logical person to tell Dumbledore. Snape’s thoughts on prophecies were great because pokes fun at people who really believe any darn conspiracy out there.
Great job and very neat chapter!
| acctdisabled chapter 15 . 7/7/2015
Ugh, Zosimo and that hole! Of course Snape would have a nightmare about it. The creepiness of the gray body was well-executed with the “I know” part, because I immediately thought of you-know-who. The next couple of paragraphs about Dick keeping the letters was really touching, because clearly Snape had struck a cord with him deep enough to truly value him as a friend, which is something Snape lacked a lot of during his youth.
Hilarious when Snape said “oh god, what a pompous 17-year-old arse I was,’ because he did come off a little demanding in the letter. The next line was great too about ‘of course he could understand…he wrote the bloody book!’ You have done a great job of nailing Snape’s self-deprecating mannerisms and also having the ability to effectively use sarcasm along with it.
I loved the memories Snape talked about with the Felix Felicis- especially where he caused one of his classmates to hallucinate for a couple of days, which probably was not helping his cause for friendships. This sort of stuff is what engages me, for Rowling didn’t provide this sort of character building and deep insight into the adolescence of Snape. Again the guilt comes out of him as he remembers this part of his life, automatically taking the blame for others that he is not necessary or should be held accountable for.
“So it would not profit you to attempt to publish them?” Oh boy, Snape, someone was really pushing their luck. He probably was entertained on some level because despite the junior bastard claim Snape makes, Dick kept replying to him. And on this note, now I am intrigued to see what Dick’s childhood was like- maybe they have something in comment that caused Dick to want to maintain this relationship. It clearly was not Snape’s charismatic writing that drew him in. XD
This line was very poignant and summarizes Snape’s character in a way: “I had wished for a quiet house and the freedom to do what I wished, only to find it was a terrible curse.” You could argue this the same mannerisms as his anti-socialness. The ending was very interesting with Snape talking about owing Lucius something for getting him out, which perhaps draws even more light on why Snape felt guilty over him being placed in jail.
Last sentence was a little bit clunky to end the chapter, and with a little expansion, it would flow better to describe the dawn. Seemed to come out of nowhere, but I get the sentiment.
| Luna Rapunzel chapter 16 . 7/6/2015
OH, MAN, I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS AND OPINIONS ABOUT THIS CHAPTER. SO MANY. HERE WE GO.
So I'll start with the overall Death Eater ideology you've set up and then move from there into my thoughts on the individual scenes. I think it's a REALLY interesting ideological framework for so many reasons. I saw this screencap a month or two ago of the passage in Chamber of Secrets where Binns was explaining the founders' dispute underlining the portions that specifically referred to Muggles and Slytherin's attitudes toward Muggle-borns, highlighting the language that wizards were very much an oppressed minority and Slytherin's mistrust of Muggle-borns was because he didn't trust anyone who came from Muggle families because of the way that Muggles treated wizards, and it totally overturned my headcanon about blood politics at least in the founders' era - the view I've settled on is that originally distrusting Muggle-borns was because Muggles were the oppressive majority and wizards the minority and wizards feeling like they needed to protect themselves, with the tides changing a while after the Statute of Secrecy had been in place and the mistrust of Muggles and Muggle-borns no longer had the actual fair basis in politics that it used to and morphed into hatred and prejudice and the whole mess you see in the books and okay. So what you included about the war for them being about the Statute of Secrecy and freedom of speech and wizards' rights really resonated with me on /that/ level because you can actually see the sort of canonical basis that that thinking would have dating back to pre-Statute and it would make sense that there would be a faction who disagreed with implementing the Statute on the grounds that it wasn't fair to the wizarding community to have to go out of their way to conceal themselves just to avoid persecution. Which, now that I think about it, sounds a lot like Dumbledore's reasoning for initially joining forces with Grindelwald before Ariana died and they parted ways and he saw Grindelwald for what he really was. And I'm not even saying that Dumbledore is the white horse in this picture because I think he's disturbingly manipulative in a lot of ways, even if he's a good guy ultimately and has to make tough decisions simply because somebody's got to do it. (And I love that you hint at that parallel by showing Voldemort using the "greater good" slogan just like Dumbledore and Grindelwald did.) But anyway that's not the point.
The point is that I found it realistic that a minority group would latch onto that kind of ideology and fascinating that you selected the Death Eaters to be that minority group. That said, though, I /didn't/ at all find it realistic that Voldemort would share that ideology, because I think there's way too much evidence of his prejudice and sociopathic craving for power in canon dating back to even when he was a very small child for the ideology you present here to be reconcilable with the Voldemort in the books. I could definitely see maybe Evan Rosier as a rebel-without-a-cause figure and a group of Death Eater forerunners maybe latching onto Voldemort with Voldemort capitalizing on their anti-Statute, Greater-Good sentiment and presenting his purposes as being allied with theirs to win support even though they really weren't, and for that reason, I'm glad you leave it ambiguous at the end of the chapter when you have Snape in crisis wondering whether Voldemort ever meant anything he had said or if he was just manipulating them to get them too deep into his cause all along because I definitely feel like that's the more realistic option. And then that also nicely recasts the really cool Lord versus Beast dichotomy you presented in this chapter, where it makes you wonder which of those two sides of Voldemort is the more "authentic" one and how they coexisted in the first place (with my answer being that he was the Beast all along as proven in canon and the Lord persona was just manipulation).
So that was good, and the characterizations of the Death Eaters were great, even if I'm sorry but I cannot at all buy Lucius Malfoy as having been involved for those reasons, at all. It worked for most of them, though, because aside from Lucius and Snape, all these guys are such minor characters with their ideologies totally open to interpretation, and I think your Rosier in particular (and also Avery, and also all the rest, but mainly Rosier and then Avery after that) was really brilliantly fleshed out. That whole scene where they felt they had to kill the Aurors Petrificused on the ground with Rosier vomiting and none of their Avadas working on the first try? Hands down superstar scene of this chapter. Snape's terror and revulsion came through SO, SO clearly with him using Sectumsempra and freaking out trying to tell him he could find ways to make it easier later down the road and feeling responsible for Rosier's sick and wanting to nab the one who was facedown and then his fear heightening when someone else got to him first and he had to kill somebody face-up. Such high emotions and UNF YES.
I still feel like Voldemort's characterization was off, though - like, the ideology worked, the Death Eaters minus Lucius for me worked, but while it makes sense for Snape to remember Voldemort as being really convincing (and then therefore portraying Voldemort via the narrative as believing what he was saying), I feel like the Snape of present day retelling all this would be seeing it with a disillusionment that wasn't there because I was still left with the implication that Snape and the story wanted me to believe that Voldemort was someone that he wasn't. Also, Voldemort is such a hard character to write and I didn't feel like the phrasing of his dialogue was in character - it was off-key enough to already put the "sellability" of that ideology at a disadvantage for me because his wording already was turning me off from finding your Voldemort believable.
Also, Snape not having any problem at all with Muggles or Muggle-borns, and then it all being about Muggles oppressing wizards and he and Voldemort having no issue with Muggle-borns who shared their views? Didn't buy that, either. What about all those "Mudblood" slang we know he was throwing around at Hogwarts long before he got involved with the Death Eaters? And I LOVE that you had Snape being in the Hog's Head at the same time as the prophecy was told because that was the day of his interview, too (and also this line was pure gold: [I had no idea why Dumbledore would hold staff interviews in a room at the Hogshead, of all places, but I always knew he was a bit off]). What I took away was that Dumbledore set up the timing of the interviews intentionally, and that doesn't work for me at all because how could he have expected Trelawney to make the prophecy at all, let alone at that moment? But it was a cool way to place Snape there at the right moment, anyway, and I like that Dumbledore initially rejected him and then he used the prophecy as a way to get back into the school and get back to actually doing potions and out of the front lines of the war.
Other best line ever: [God, didn't everyone know that you couldn't pay attention to prophecies or they try to take over? ... Yet there he was, talking about rounding up all the children born at the end of July, as if he were Merlin, Arthur, and Herod rolled into one, as if there weren't a hundred loopholes, a hundred ways to read it even if it could be believed.] Loved it. And your whole conception of the danger of prophecies - [My relief soon turned to worry as it became clear that he thought it was a prophecy and he believed it. God, didn't everyone know that you couldn't pay attention to prophecies or they try to take over? The only thing to do is to ignore them until they go away. Even the Ministry of Morons knew enough to lock them up until they were safely forgotten.] - LOVE IT SO MUCH.
This was simultaneously one of my favorite and one of my least favorite chapters in this story. FDGHJKLADAGHSLKGKLHJGSAD
| acctdisabled chapter 14 . 7/6/2015
The warning note was hilarious to me because I write super long chapters and never apologize for it- makes me wonder if I need to work on my manners a bit. ;)
Creepy image of Bella to dream about, particularly given Snape’s concerns over the skins coming to find him. I have to disagree with Snape about Lucius being treated differently as disturbing- I think it is amazing and awesome to see him humbled so far below his arrogance panders himself to be. Snape doesn’t seem to thrilled about the Portuguese immersion class with his comment of: “I used to have nightmares about that…and I couldn’t understand a word.” It kind of makes sense though if you think about it both literally and figuratively, given the way Snape was treated as a youth in Hogwarts- it probably did feel like at times he was being spoken to in a different language.
I’m particularly interested to see how this university unfolds and how Brazil relates to the Muggle world, and if it differs from the US and England. We really didn’t learn too much about the US relations to the Muggles, which is understandable since Snape was in deep shite for the last couple of chapters. Interesting comment by Dick where he talks about Professor Wormburg with “…but we haven’t had any reports from them since they entered the Mato Grosso…Probably found a lost city or something.” Dick seems a little too overly confident about the missing faculty being safe and alive at this point, given the correspondence just dropped off. I feel most faculty wouldn’t be so casual and respond to something like this without a serious level of concern. I’ll take his word for it though that Wormburg and crew will come back in 4-5 years.
Snape seems to have trouble without formalities, as he was surprised that Benji didn’t require or want a formal response from him. Then he goes, ‘Oh, I’m Dr. Ramson,’ showing he still is set in many of his ways. Sounds like Benji is a tad bit nosy which I’m sure Snape is going to be thrilled with down the road, and his response over the octopus gesture was hilarious.
I thought the way you introduced the university and the professors was very well done- they all had different personality quirks that both provided familiarity and the unknown for Snape. Dr. Zosimos seems like a total kick- he messes up with some experiments big time and shrugs it off as if it is not a big deal. The suggestion I have for this part of the chapter would be to possibly have a few professors meet Snape at once so that it does not feel as monotonous in nature. I understand professors are going to be working, but the process did get a little repetitive and perhaps it would even be beneficial to break this down into two chapters and slowly introduce the faculty, but overall it was entertaining to read.
It also seems the university is far more advanced than Hogwarts when it came to Potions, and it begs the question as to why that is the case. Another case of being more Muggle conscious, which makes me again think about whether the England wizardry system is behind the rest of the world, which really challenges the ideas Rowling put into the book, which is refreshing to see. Either Hogwarts skimmed on the Potions funding, or they need to implement the RA system this school has which really reflects the way Muggle universities are run. Very neat that Snape is going to get some RA’s as well, very intrigued to see how he can take this to his advantage and possibly start working on those old ideas he mentioned to Dick years ago.
I died laughing at the part about Dr. Zosimos making some awesome glue and then cannot open it- sounds like he might end up being some comic relief in the story. Can’t blame Snape for not wanting to enter his alchemy lab ever again- that might even be worse than having to deal with skins.
“Take it out of my salary” is now the new one-liner for this story.
| acctdisabled chapter 13 . 7/6/2015
Really interesting to see an American school, I always wondered what the wizarding world was like in America. I laughed super hard at the comment Dick made afterwards: “Shit, that is going straight to the campus gossip mill.” It totally explained why Armitage (cool name btw) was giving Snape a funny look. I agree with Snape that he should probably do more of the lying from now on.
So far it seems that Dick doesn’t really press the issue with Snape or inquire more information as to what is going on, which is somewhat surprising. Maybe he is reluctant on one level to know what the issue is or perhaps he is not the type to butt into things that don’t really concern him? I didn’t read the Clear Cut so I am making assumptions based on Dick’s character in this story. Glad to see the Dick admits he didn’t believe Snape at first though, I was starting to think he might be a little naïve.
Yeah, so Snape didn’t have a lot of planning in his ventures towards Brazil, as not knowing Portuguese would be a problem if he wants somewhat permanent residency there. Dick, however, is super resourceful throughout this chapter so of course he is thinking about this sort of stuff. Dick seems to be a person that shows he cares through his actions rather than his words, as he hasn’t narratively given too much away but yet his decision-making is solid. I thought it was very cool Dick saved all of Snape’s letters throughout the years.
“You look like you could stand to relax” killed me. The way Dick is handling Snape’s assignments reminds me of how a PhD student is treated with the process of coming up with ideas and then getting the okay from the supervisor. The way you have framed it is that it seems Dick wants Snape working for him for the long haul, which I am curious to see play out.
The John Aiken part was quite interesting, and shows that not everyone sees Snape as some heartless, bad person and Dick went as far to say that what Snape did was ‘good’ in nature. I thought this part of the scene was well executed because Dick is the first person to show legitimate concern for Snape without pretense, and I find it intriguing as to how an American kept up with all of the information over in England. Snape’s conversation with Dick was very powerful, and hopefully will help Snape to change his mindset a bit.
Really enjoyed this line from Snape, because the skin coming after him isn’t the only issue he has not addressed fully: “I haven’t had to think about what I’ve wanted…And now this freedom…its like a hole opening up in front of me.” The response from Dick was really touching and conveyed that Snape judges himself far too much on what he accomplishes rather than who he is. For once, Snape was able to be vulnerable and not worried about someone betraying him in some way- it was great to get a little more into his head.
| Luna Rapunzel chapter 15 . 7/5/2015
Even though none of the dreams as stand-alones have been as interesting to me as the one with McGonagall during the Battle of Hogwarts in the Great Hall was, I still appreciated the way Snape's dream at the beginning of this chapter established his anxiety and aimlessness really well, and I really like that in general you've been including nightmares to the extent that you have and especially that you've been including those nightmares as sort of throwaway paragraphs - not making a big scene out of all of them like the one with McGonagall was but just showing how he's being tormented by incredibly frightening nightmares that leave him in a sweat and get him on his feet with his heart racing, as the fact that he's having them and the fact that they're so commonplace for him both say a lot about his character.
Snape's pompousness in the letters was great, in all the instances that present-day Snape found so cringeworthy and also the detail he /didn't/ point out of how he kept insisting in repeated letters that there must have been /some/ cost for the clippings Dick sent over to him that Dick could charge him for because he was so resistant to accepting charity. It came across as arrogance and pride in the wording, but you have to wonder how much of that was motivated by Snape having grown up in poverty and being resistant to accepting what he saw as charity no matter the goodwill or intentions behind it for that reason - nice touch there.
[I couldn't even pass the pumpkin juice in the great hall. As if I would try to dose them during dinner with everyone watching. Ridiculous. I wouldn't have been able to properly time or record the effects.] - Loved this.
Seeing Snape recount the tail end of his teenage years through the pattern of dates in the letters he'd sent to Dick was really neat - another example of what a good job you've been doing throughout of dispensing information about Snape's past very gradually over time and blending it in nicely with the present-day plot. I also really liked how you mentioned the Death Eaters using Snape's childhood home as a meeting point and how Snape knew it was going on and allowed them to do it for a few reasons, the main one I took away being that he was just happy to be included even if he realized they were at least on some level using him for the locale. And all the chemistry you worked into his Felix variants experiments made me feel super excited as a chemistry researcher myself!
| Luna Rapunzel chapter 14 . 7/5/2015
Something I forgot to mention last chapter: I'm curious to see how Dick's career meshes with your view of American wizardry as blended with Muggle culture in some respects, seeing as (at least in canon) England doesn't have universities or labs for wizards. Are Dick's lab and professorial post at wizarding institutions? At Muggle institutions with a few wizarding coworkers in on the secret? If so, how many people involved are wizards and how many are Muggles, and how much or little do the Muggles know? I get the impression that at least the university in the US is a Muggle one because his "real" office was hidden within the one he keeps up for appearances, presumably because he doesn't want his work on wizarding Herbology lying around where anyone can see it, magical or not - but now I'm not so sure after reading this chapter, as everybody at the Amazon university seems to be magical, yet they've integrated a bit into Muggle life with phones and computers.
I thought you did an impressive job of making what could have been (and in some regards still was by nature) an info-dump chapter actually entertaining by giving the characters really distinctive personalities and adding in plenty of humor (like Dr. Zosimos and his universal solvent - I might have to adapt your alchemy v. potions setup as new headcanon). The format did get repetitive as the large bulk of the chapter was just Snape circling through the different labs and being introduced to more and more people, but I was glad to see you make all of those people very uniquely entertaining so that it wasn't just a tedious series of names. Benji's dog-like eagerness, Funke's ambiguity in some of her statements (like how Snape couldn't tell whether she was being self-depracating or besmirching him when commenting on people in new places not knowing the customs), and Zosimos's mad-scientist vibe all stood out to me.
[There was a little more paperwork here as Dick got me enrolled in the Portuguese immersion class, four hours per day, every morning for eight weeks. I had already missed the first week of class. Wonderful, I used to have nightmares like that, of walking into a class where everyone was speaking a different language and I couldn't understand a word.] - Aw, Snape! Another nice touch to hark back to the social anxiety the Snape who was bullied at school must have had since he was young.
["Professor Wormburg left on an expedition up the Rio Negro in '97. Looking for Anguista pinnatus, the feathered serpent of the Amazon. There'd been a few sightings in the Mato Grosso area. It was only going to be a year-long expedition, but we haven't had any reports from them since they entered the Mato Grosso. Probably found a lost city or something. There was an explorer with him, a Mr. Flanders, looking for the 'lost valley of the crystal skull,' or some such nonsense. I expect we'll see them in four or five years. If they're still alive. Ah! Look, here's an orthoptera!" he said, dragging me over to examine a brightly-colored grasshopper.] - Loved everything about this - it was really funny, for one thing, but also did a great job of characterizing Dick by showing how nonchalant he was in recounting what someone else probably would have taken more seriously as a cautionary tale.
| acctdisabled chapter 12 . 7/5/2015
I laughed very hard at Minerva giving Snape a bad time about the letter correspondence, and I could totally envision the snarkiness on her end. I noticed that you don’t really have any dialogue tags, which I am wondering why. People tend to overuse them, but I also think in a first-person narrative you need to have them once in a while because we aren’t privy to the tone behind the words and can only guess. This is especially the case when using flashbacks, and I recommend at least for the flashbacks to consider using some dialogue tags here and there.
It was great to see the people at the table fangirling over the fact Snape was chummy with someone very famous in the wizarding world, and Snape was so casual about it in response, which is what I would expect from him. And of course Pomona throws a fit as well when Snape reveals he is going. Once again, I feel this would be a great spot for dialogue tags to stronger convey the actions and emotions during the table conversation. I loved how Snape was being forced to ask Dick to come talk to students and the way he described it was effective. Of course, the Quidditch line was great, because really anyone would move mountains when it comes to Quidditch support.
It was also great to demonstrate Dick and Snape had some level of friendship, based on Dick’s experience at Hogwarts. Very rarely do you see Snape interacting with others, and the fact he essentially played tour guide is hilarious. I died laughing at the ‘resentful sheep’ as well, really Dick came for the professors and not the students- the students were just an excuse the professors used to justify why they wanted to hear Dick speak. I would suggest as before considering having section breaks between the present and flashbacks, because these are considered scene changes and helps to make the chapter flow better.
Snape’s hesitation to greet Dick was very interesting, as it seems so far not only does he feel reluctant for help, but also on some level does not feel deserving of it. Very telling that he feels so much guilt for not helping others enough (that he cares about), yet when it comes to himself he really does not cut himself any slack. I definitely laughed out loud at the ‘professional sodding bastards’ part. The italics were perfect and absolutely in character for Snape. I feel Snape kept acting a bastard to try and push Dick away because again, he probably doesn’t feel worthy of help, but I wish this was a little more expanded upon because some dialogue came off as a little static at times. I haven’t read the “Clear Cut” yet, so I can’t comment on Dick’s previous role but so far he interesting to me.
The dialogue between them felt very impersonal, given they haven’t seen each other in a while, and I would anticipate at least a minute of catching up would be logical given their interaction. The suggestion I have is to make a few lines greeting each other before Snape runs into panic mode, as Dick seemed to jump right into Snape’s plan without too much questioning.
Very good and enjoyable chapter!
| acctdisabled chapter 11 . 7/5/2015
First paragraph I found this line to be a little clunky: “I sat up sharply, clutching at my wand, then froze in the darkness, listening.” This could be reworded into two sentences or restructured because you are trying to tackle a lot with a little. Same with the two fragments following it. Yet, the rest of the opening paragraphs were done well to describe Snape's fear and angst over being caught.
“I sat up sharply and clutched my wand, listening intently as I lay frozen in the darkness,” as a modified example.
He is getting approached by a skin? How awesome of you to create this in light of the story’s title- very clever on your end! It is very metaphorical in the sense Snape is making a new skin by taking on a new identity and literally a ‘new skin’ is trying to take that away from him. The description was well done and very creepy in a way, I would not want to run into a skin. Do they track scents? It was kind of implied by one of Snape’s comments and if true, that is really not good for him. Reading Grinnel’s comments was not comforting, as it appears Snape might be on the run for quite some time.
I laughed super hard at Pulcipher’s comments, sounds like someone was not in a very good mood! It made sense when Snape put two and two together when he realized the skin had probably been there, which I can’t balme Pulcipher for being angry and putting the blame on Snape. “Everything I touched” is definitely a game changer. Have to be so careful with the polyjuice potion as well- at least he has a solution to this mess.
Yay at Dick responding and wanting to help Snape- at least something good is finally headed his way! I’m interested to see based on how much Dick knows whether he is also aware of the Death Eater background and whatnot. Excited to see how this meeting goes with Dick. But…I need some explanation as to why Dick is conveniently there because I never would have guessed he lived nearby. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the first contact for Snape to ask to see him? Sure, it is plausible, but this is something I definitely feel should have been addressed earlier, it came off a little jarring.